All of a sudden abuse is the new buzz word in the Labour Party. Nasty stuff to be sure but the question arises; who is abusing whom? Let's try to unravel the mess. First and foremost, we have to deal with the vexed question of anti-Semitism. I would dare to suggest that ninety-nine point nine percent of alleged anti-semitism by Labour Party members and supporters is in fact wholly legitimate criticism of Israel's colonial project in the Middle East. The Zionist project is a colonial project without doubt and every progressive person should have both the courage and the right to say so.

 

As a person of Jewish descent, whatever that might mean, (I recommend Shlomo Sand's, The Invention of the Jewish People, for background reading), I believe I have an added responsibility to condemn Zionism in all its ugly colonial forms. To condemn western European and white South African colonialism and to condone or ignore Israeli colonialism would be a hypocrisy indeed. Speaking out against the Israeli Occupation, an occupation repeatedly condemned by the UN, should not be conflated with the irrational prejudices associated with centuries of European anti-semitism. And those that deliberately conflate the two, do the cause of battling this ancient prejudice a mighty disservice.

It is a strange coincidence indeed that just as the coup against Corbyn's leadership was gathering pace, the whole question of anti-semitism suddenly reared its controversial head. (I sense the grubby fingerprints of M15s dirty tricks department all over this one.) Personally, I have yet to meet a progressive person in Britain that holds to this petty and irrational prejudice but I have met many, including Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Livingstone, who have made principled and consistent criticisms of Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian land. For this they should be congratulated. To take an anti-Zionist view is, in the current climate, a courageous stance, and those that make the counter charge of anti-semitism are the bullies and the abusers. This form of abuse must stop now.

Another well-rehearsed form of abuse in the Labour Party takes the form of accusing those with a socialist perspective of being Trotskyites and entryists. On the charitable side of things there are probably no more than a couple of thousand paid up members of the myriad Trotskyist groupings in Britain, and yet there are some three hundred thousand new Labour Party members. And surprise, surprise, there has been a calculated and concerted attempt to brand all three hundred thousand pro-Corbyn supporters as Trotskyists. The maths simply does not compute.

Of course, even if those three hundred thousand pro-Corbyn supporters were all Trotskyists, Trotskyism should not be used as a term of abuse. If you disagree with some of Trotsky's formulations, or those of his erstwhile followers, then argue the case point by point. There are many roads to a more egalitarian world. Trotsky had one set of views. Other historical figures proposed a different way. Take what might be relevant and useful from each school of thought and jettison that which you consider to be historically redundant. In that way we can begin to formulate a collective programme for the 21st century. The Labour Party under a Corbyn leadership is as good a place as any to carry out that task. To simply denigrate someone as a Trotskyist is undialectical and next to useless. It is a form of mindless abuse and it should stop immediately.

A third and particularly insidious form of abuse is to conflate a considered critique of neo-liberalism as somehow hostile to traditional Labour values. Of course, that critique is inevitably going to be highly unpleasant to those on the receiving end. But not nearly as unpleasant as the consequences of those policies; policies that have created vast discrepancies in wealth across the planet, leaving countless millions of families in quite desperate conditions, homelessness being one of them.

Furthermore, the neo-liberal agenda has unleashed a series of western military interventions that has plunged the world into a darker and more dangerous place. The wholly illegal invasion of Iraq, complete with its shock and awe and its illegal detention and torture, has unleashed a wave of terror and misery rapidly approaching the levels of the Great Imperialist war of 1914-1918. More than a million civilians have died as a result of those western military interventions and the corpses just keep on piling higher and higher. Little wonder then that those Labour MPs that voted for those ill-judged military adventures are squirming in their boots. It is not so much abuse that we are hurling at them but legitimate outrage and condemnation. It is not abuse to call Blair and his inner circle war criminals. What else can we call them? Well-meaning but misguided civil servants? I think not

 

So when we look at things a little more objectively, the accusations of abuse have been sorely misdirected and I doubt if that is in any way accidental. Allegations of anti-semitism, Trotskyite entryism and left wing political bullying are, it turns out, wholly spurious. What we have instead is a carefully orchestrated campaign by those that accommodated themselves with austerity, neo-liberal globalism and western military adventures, to protect themselves from the new political winds that are starting to blow. Those that abused their position as defenders of the downtrodden and marginalised are seeking to deflect attention from their misdeeds and political opportunism by hurling abuse at the new wave of socialists joining the Labour Party. But it won't wash. The game is up. So I say most politely to the old guard; get behind Corbyn's leadership or depart the political stage. I hope that is not too abusive a message.

Of course, taking a few misguided turns does not a monster maketh - I should know  I've made my fair share of misguided turns over the years. And so, in postscript, I would say that our harsh condemnation of those Labour MP's that followed the neo-liberal agenda should be tempered with the belief that most, if not all, acted with good intent. For the likes of Mandelson and Blair I am not so sure. But for the bulk of the so called Blairites, perhaps their greatest crime was to be ideologically weak and therefore easily influenced by the prevailing winds.

To be charitable, many of the so -called Blairites no doubt sincerely believed they were on a mission to modernise the Labour Party, and who could disagree that the British Labour Party was in desperate need of modernisation. History has shown however, that their modernisation proved little more than an accommodation with the forces of corporate globalisation. And in so doing they virtually turned themselves into the Tory second eleven. But it is easy to be wise in hindsight.

Now, with the benefit of that hindsight, we can again attempt to modernise the Labour Party but this time ensuring that the ninety-nine percent, both here in Britain, and crucially, across the entire planet, are fully conscious of the monumental task confronting us all: developing forms of social ownership over all that we have collectively created. In short, it is high time to expropriate the expropriators. If that sounds hideously unfashionable and historically outmoded, it is because we humans, as one old German professor insistently explained, must inevitably return, again and again, to those historical tasks that have remained stubbornly incomplete. Everything else is just smoke and mirrors.

End JPK Copyright 27/9/16

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 19 May 2018 08:41 )