Sunday, June 25, 2006

To the Euston Station

The Priest and I met up a few days ago, in a real ale pub recommended to us by a member of the Socialist Party (the Group Formerly Known As The Militant Tendency). We had a bloody good row over some bloody good beer, about whether the SWP are politically and morally worse than the Euston Manifesto lot. I won't go into details of that for now (or who was arguing what) ; but how interesting to see that John O' Mahoney's article, published in the present issue of "Solidarity" and also on the Workers Liberty website, on the Eustonites, has attracted an unprecedented 2,500 (or so) "hits". And not one single reply.

Come on, you Eustonites: reply to ol' Sean. I'm sure it's not that you can't. Or that you don't want to hurt him with your ripostes. As for me: I got off at Watford Junction.

PS: I'd provide a link to the Workers Liberty Website and O' Mahoney's article, if I knew how. But I don't. So you'll just have to Google it.


Blogger voltaires_priest said...

... and I was still recovering the next day Denham, you blighter.

Anyway, yes, the crux of my argument was this: I may not agree with the way the SWP do politics these days, in particular the asinine "anti-imperialist" refusal to outright criticise seemingly any force that happens to be opposed to the USA. It sounds to me more like Stalinism than any sort of authentic "left" tradition.

But on the other hand, at least they're still claiming to be advancing a socialist politics of sorts. The Eustonites, it seems to me, can make no such claim on the back of their document. It is full of the most vauge platitudes that could be endorsed at face level by anyone from David Cameron to Tony Benn. The only people who might have actual difficulties doing so are some sections of the hard left, given the manifesto's stance on bourgeois democracy.

Which is all a great shame since I daresay I'd have a better time arguing about this in the pub with a Eustonite rather than a SWP'ie. However, more fun though they are, yes, I think their political basis is worse.

And you can find a link to the AWL website in the sidebar on the right of the main page.

11:56 PM  
Blogger Simon B said...

I think there's something wrong with the counter on that article.
It's a good article, but 24,837 hits in two days seems unlikely!

On the argument itself Jim, for what it's worth I'd probably be on your side, although I have differing problems with both sides.
As you say Volty, the Eustonites tend to be more pleasant.

1:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The SWP is poisonous. I have gone through some of its articles on Iran and it presents various claims by the regime as factual. For instance, it assumes there is an alliance of all Kurdish parties, the Iranian Mujahideen and the US. The only people giving this theory any credibility are the Iranian regime and the SWP. The division of the world into rigid pro-imperialist and anti-imperialist camps is not only dishonest, it alienates many progressive and socialist movements struggling against regimes such as the one in Tehran. As for their obsessive quibbling over the use of the term fascist in the Iranian context, it seems they wish to portray the regime in the best possible light with only casual reference to the nature and brutality of state terrorism.

I oppose war and I oppose aggressive interventionism, but I've met SWPers and Eustonites and while I disagree with their analysis I share their values of liberty and equality in the Middle East. I cannot find any common ground with the SWP's positions.

5:29 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

I agree with Jim on this one, which is something I tend to avoid doing! The thing is, I know the Eustonites aren't socialists. Everybody knows they're not socialists. They're bourgeois liberals and for their kind, they're quite decent. Though I think their politics is mainly mushy nonsense "je defendrai a la mort..." VP, you know the rest of the quotation!

The SWP, on the other hand, claim to be the hope of the left. They're undoubtedly a major attraction to young, rebellious people and even serious socialists. And they're leading them into a Charybdis of political and moral relativism that says even quasi-fascism is OK as an ally if it's in a foreign country and doesn't affect the West too much.

Therefore, from the point of view of one who believes in the need to unite the activist left, the SWP are trying to pull as many of those people into the toilet bowl with them while they maniacally flush away. So they're doing much more harm than the Eustonites, who don't attract the same people. I don't care what people who write articles in the Guardian think...!

5:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of the offensive articles from SW, that could have been penned by Pour-Mohammedi himself:

I've spoken to a UN official and independent observers in Iraq as well as Kurdish representatives and they categorically state that the Mujahideen is no longer a force. Moreover, the Kurds actually wanted to massacre Mujahids at Camp Ashraf - they hate them for what they did under Saddam. How can anyone take the claim that the Iraqi Kurdish groups (formerly backed by Iran), along with Iranian and Turkish Kurds (who do not get along at the best of times) and the Mujahideen are now part of a covert anti-Iran axis? Why is the SWP promoting these lies? What is its agenda, if it is not to support Iran's propaganda efforts?

I've also come across SWPers who whole-heartedly agree with everything Ahmadinejad wrote in his letter to Bush. I don't know if this sympathy is due to ignorance or a more fundamental position that the Iranian regime is an ally against America.

Whatever they are saying, it is dangerous. They are playing the same "us or them" game Bush and Blair are playing.

6:07 AM  
Blogger voltaires_priest said...


Surely if one follows that argument to its conclusion, it simply dissolves into the nonsensical.

For instance, a liberal Tory like Boris Johnson would probably not disagree with much of the Euston Manifesto's specific language, and could probably positively endorse large sections of it. By the by, he's also undoubtedly perfectly affable company over a foaming pint of real ale and a plate of beef wellington, probably more so than many SWP'ers would be.

However, does the fact that he's not on left mean that Tories of his ilk are politically and morally above the SWP? I don't think so. At the end of the day, on a basic level, it's better to be a socialist than not. The dusty old 80:20 dictum still applies here for me, and I think the SWP are at least nearer to that, than the Tory party are.

You also have to bear in mind that whilst the Eustonites may not have done as much harm to the left, many of them certainly have provided "left" cover to the right's support for the Iraq war. That's surely more harmful in the wider sense than any sectarianism by a trot group, ever could be. Even if that group is the SWP, and their sectarianism particularly unpleasant.

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I've often toyed with the idea of signing the Euston Manifesto. I opposed the Iraq War, but there is a case to be had for standing up for progressive and democratic values and against despotism, wherever it is. There are some (guess who?) who are praising sectarian suicide bombing in Iraq as a justified response to occupation, that radical Islamic values are not contrary to socialism but an expression of the oppressed which must receive sympathy rather than condemnation and that regards oppressive anti-American governments as less deserving of criticism than the American system of government. If these people are asking me to jump on one or the other side of the fence, give me liberal capitalism and bourgeois parliamentary democracy any day rather than the alternatives advanced by radical Islam. If it means supporting the Euston Manifesto, then so be it.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Darren said...

I understand that the 2500 hits for the article are for each and every pseudonym that John O'Mahoney has used in the AWL press - and its antecedents - during its 40 years of existence.

5:32 AM  
Blogger voltaires_priest said...


6:42 AM  
Blogger Darren said...

VP - sorry I've not replied to your email. I'll get to it pronto.

7:00 AM  

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