Sunday, July 25, 2004

Anti-fascist and anti-anti-semitic

Oliver Kamm has embarked on one of his periodic tirades against the SWP. Frankly, I'm not interested in his ill-conceived theoretical treatment (he tried his hand at undermining the theory of "state capitalism in Russia" a while back, which was embarrassing, and his latest attempt at understanding democratic centralism is no less so). But he has, as usual, scented blood in a particularly unfortunate interview with Gilad Atzmon in Socialist Worker. Atzmon's views are disgraceful, incoherent and completely at odds with what the SWP stands for.  He did not recite any of his more offensive ideas for the SW interview, but he does have plenty of stomach-churning bullshit on his web-site. It makes me sick to recite, but here's a taster or two:

Zionists complain that Jews continue to be associated with a conspiracy to rule the world via political lobbies, media and money. Is the suggestion of conspiracy really an empty accusation? The following list is presented with pride in several Jewish American websites.


Let me assure you, in Clinton's administration the situation was even worse. Even though the Jews only make up 2.9 per cent of the country's population, an astounding 56 per cent of Clinton's appointees were Jews. A coincidence? I don't think so.
We have to ask ourselves what motivates American Jews to gain such political power. Is it a genuine care for American interests? Soon, following the growing number of American casualties in Iraq, American people will start to ask themselves this very question.
Since America currently enjoys the status of the world's only super power and since all the Jews listed above declare themselves as devoted Zionists, we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously.

Yadda yadda yadda, Jews trying to control the world, where have I heard that one before? The trouble is, of course, that Atzmon was booked to speak at a Marxism meeting on Palestine with Ghada Karmi. Karmi is one of the most distinguished and eloquent voices for Palestine, so it is a real shame she ended up sharing a platform with this crank. Now, Kamm would like his readers to believe that the SWP therefore advocates, encourages, or at least is willing to tolerate anti-Semitism.

Having been involved in the SWP for eight years, having protested against anti-Semites being allowed to visit Britain and having been involved in mobilisations against fascist marches through local working class areas, I find such assertions counter-intuitive (to riot in understatement). Even Harry's Place , commenting on the noise, couldn't quite advocate such a view. Well, turn to James' account at Dead Men Left :

His incoherent statements about politics were by all accounts dire. Meetings at Marxism are generally taped, so I invite Kamm to listen to the contributions to his meeting and hear Atzmon clearly criticised by SWP member after SWP member - prominent members, too, like John Rose.

Once more, an explicit attack by the SWP on a particular view is ignored. Personally, I think it was a mistake to invite Atzmon to speak, simple as that, but I am glad that once there he was given a rough ride.

I share those thoughts entirely. If there is one thing that I have always been proud of about the SWP, it is its uncompromising hostility to racism in every form, even the deceptively 'respectable' kinds that masquerade as liberal critique of religion. The SWP does not tolerate anti-Semitism, never has, and never will. It was a mistake to invite Atzmon to speak at Marxism, and it is a relief to hear that he was roundly denounced and derided for offering such views.