Or at least the last word on this blog. It properly goes to Nick Cohen, whose original article in The New Statesman started the argument, here and elsewhere. He writes:
You do seem to rather concede my case when you say that the SWP's position is unprecedented for a Marxist party. As indeed is the position of many of the fellow travellers who are stumbling blindly into the wilds of unreason. Let's see how unprecedented the situation is not, just on the far Left but across the world's liberal left.
1. People who call themselves Marxists are rejecting Marx in their rush to oppose America at any cost. Marx had a progressive theory of history, as I'm sure you know. To prefer feudalism to capitalism was not merely morally wrong -- Marx wasn't that interested in morals -- but absurd. And in this the old boy was surely right. Islamism can't create a sustainable or good society: it can only kill and oppress.
2. I said in my NS piece that socialism was dead as a force across the globe. This isn't quite true. Iraq has a strong communist party and a part of the Kurdish leadership is socialist. Notice how these facts have been
ignored. When hacks from everywhere from the BBC to the Morning Star want to talk to Iraqi left-wingers they talk to a tiny group the Workers Communist Party. Why? Why not talk to the actual Communist Party? Because the Communist had learned from bitter experience that capitalism was preferable to fascism and cooperated with the occupation although they opposed the war. Meanwhile the Kurdish socialists, sell outs that they are, acutally welcomed the war because the cowards didn't want to be the victims another genocidal campaign. Sorry to do this to you again, but as I say in my book the left has 'broken the first commandment of the socialist religion and betrayed its comrades.'
3. The same betrayal has been magnified 100 fold by the liberals. They don't support Iraqi democrats. They don't lobby for a secular society. They display a kind of racism which dare not speak its name when they imply without ever quite coming out and saying so that Arabs and Kurds aren't fit to receive such luxuries from the West.
On Nick's third point, I should merely point out that his own newspaper doesn't fall into the category of liberal opinion that has disdained Iraqi democrats. The Observer's editorial after the murder by Saddam of its journalist Farzad Bazoft in 1990 presciently asked:
Does it really serve our long-term purposes in the Nineties to side with Saddam Hussein and lend him our money when so much of the world is crying out for help in achieving nobler aims? And is it not patronising, if not shameful, to dismiss the desires of not the people of Iraq, many of whom have died and been tortured in protest at Saddam Hussein?
John Sweeney (now at the BBC, where he made an outstanding documentary exposing the fraud behind Saddam's anti-sanctions campaign) spent much of the next decade asking the same question in the paper's columns. He and Nick Cohen have shown indefatigability in that cause, which has brought them a certain amount of discontent among large numbers of correspondents who (at least in Sweeney's case) for some reason almost all use near-identical phrasing.