I cited yesterday the support given by some parts of the declared Left for the Iraqi "resistance", which is doing its utmost to destroy a nascent constitutional democracy. One or two correspondents, along with one of the less alert political bloggers, evidently found this fact incredible – as, in principle, it certainly ought to be – for they demanded evidence for the charge that this "Left" is in any way implicated in support for yesterday’s suicide-bombing in Iraq.
All that was necessary for them was to follow and read the link I provided, but I am happy to spell it out. The link gave at one remove a report from The Independent last October:
The Stop the War Coalition was accused yesterday of supporting the killers of the British hostage Ken Bigley after it drew up a draft statement saying the Iraqi people should use "whatever means they find necessary" to end the occupation by coalition forces.
Two Labour MPs attacked the anti-war group, claiming that it sent a "scurrilous" e-mail to its supporters that would strongly imply "support for the so-called resistance and thereby acquiesce in the murders of more people such as Ken Bigley, as well as hundreds of ordinary Iraqis". The group responded by accusing the MPs of making an unfounded accusation because the draft statement was not sent out.
The draft statement was of course sent out, which is how the rest of us got to know about it. You can read it here (emphasis added):
The StWC reaffirms its call for an end to the occupation, the return of all British troops in Iraq to this country and recognises once more the legitimacy of the struggle of Iraqis, by whatever means they find necessary, to secure such ends.
My friends at Harry’s blog, who originally publicised this extraordinary statement and perform a public service in tracing the political mutations of the anti-war campaign, have drawn my attention to a more recent stage in such reasoning. It is an open letter written by one of the principal ideologues of the Socialist Workers’ Party, Alex Callinicos of York University. The letter is here, on the SWP’s own site, which appears to be down at the moment; it can also be read here, at Znet, a far-left outlet with a distinctly murky pedigree.
The letter is at one level a candid statement of the relationship of a front organisation to the revolutionary party that controls it. Callinicos is concerned to keep both the link and the policy covert so far as the front organisation is concerned:
In Britain – where a robust mass anti-war movement does exist – we are very clear that the Stop the War Coalition should not campaign in support of the resistance (in the narrower sense of those engaging in armed struggle) because it seeks to unite everyone, irrespective of their politics, who wants to see the occupation ended and Western troops withdrawn. We have had some measure of success in this: the British military is blaming a decline in recruitment on the impact of the anti-war movement and in particular of the unprecedented campaign by Military Families against the War.
But so far as the controlling organisation – "the anti-imperialist left wing of the movement" - is concerned, the aim is clear. Callinicos condemns his interlocutor for "warn[ing] us at such length against supporting Zarqawi, when only the radical Islamist hard core and a few sectarian-leftist idiots would contemplate doing so" – oblivious of the fact that the readiness of the Stop the War Coalition, which he falsely depicts as a broad movement, to support the "resistance" in "whatever means they find necessary" implicitly allies the anti-war campaign with precisely such a position.
What is more interesting, however, is the type of solidarity that Callinicos commends as the alternative to Zarqawi’s barbarism:
What about the other tactics that are being used – for example, road-side bombs that kill American soldiers and attacks on Iraqi recruits to the puppet regime’s army and police and on its officials, like the Governor of Baghdad, who was assassinated last week? If you condemn these in Iraq, then you must condemn similar methods that were used again and again in anti-colonial guerrilla struggles – from Ireland to Vietnam to Cyprus to Algeria to Zimbabwe. I presume that you do in fact regard these as ‘legitimate attacks’….
We cannot know if the terrorists who planned and carried out yesterday’s murder of 114 Iraqis queuing to apply for government jobs in the security services read Callinicos’s words beforehand. Had they done so, as is not inconceivable, then they might reasonably have inferred that the section of the British "Left" that controls the anti-war movement counts "attacks on Iraqi recruits to the puppet regime's army and police" as legitimate. Callinicos’s late comrade Paul Foot entitled one of his collections of articles Words as Weapons – and with such words, in this context, 15 years on, when publishing has become instantaneous and global, the phrase ceases to be purely figurative.
But in the next few weeks the movement in the US and Britain especially will face a huge ideological offensive that seeks to portray us as anti-democratic supporters of terrorism.
Not an ideological offensive; just a statement of fact.