The Islamisation of the Left

Tuesday, 16th October 2007 at 8:57 UTC 3 comments

I have written about the need to confront the Iranian government at the same time as opposing war with Iran and about the case of anti-Tehran protesters trying to confront pro-Islamist tendencies within the STWC. Now regular reader Jonathan has written of Stop the War’s decision to prevent a group called “Hands Off the People of Iran” joining its ranks. While is an alarming case of censorship and highly destructive politics, I think this is part of a broader trend which is even more concerning.

I’d disagree with the apparent sentiment from Jonny that the STWC has overly inflated the risk of an attack by America, or its allies, on Tehran (obviously, inflation of risk being quite normal in all walks of politics). I think that risk is real, particularly with Israel factored into the equation; certainly these ambitions do still exist, even if we haven’t seen them carried out.

But to be faced with a situation where the bulk of the protests against the war with Iran might be completely saturated with pro-Islamist sentiment is just plain worrying. The authoritarian tendency of old-party Marxismis clear here; it is just one of many reasons I have moved towards the anarchist end of the spectrum. It is also worrying the extent to which the executive of STWC are able to act as arbiters over who is, and isn’t, a legitimate voice of opposition to war with Iran.

It’s true that a few groups within Revolutionary Socialist circles are going ‘the other way’ and opposing both Iran and attacks against it, but the balance, in terms of membership, seems to be towards Islamisation. But those who are coming out with Islamist ambitions and sympathies are not just old school revolutionaries, they are also reformists as well.

This is isolating almost everyone within the wider general public, particularly those from Quaker-esque liberal backgrounds and anyone with a real perspective on human rights, and is perhaps the reason why the STWC are losing numbers so quickly. Whether this provides a real opportunity to build a new coalition that opposes both Islamisation and war with Iran or not is another matter. Faced with the two options, will many not be pushed into tacit support for strikes against Iran?

As Jonny pointed out, my enemy’s enemy isn’t always my friend, and on this occaision such rhetorical support is becoming destructive, not simply of the Stop the War Coalition, but of left-wing movements in general. Support for Palestine must be brought back to secular or multi-faith principles, and the Christians must not go forgotten, for instance.

And those with radically different views, that focus on liberal personal values, should be encouraged to speak out to bring some kind of balance to this whole debate. I have found myself shouted down because I have stated that I don’t believe the ‘tiny minority’ of women forced to wear the headscarf is as tiny as many have made it out to be. The freedoms of those within the Muslim community are being erroded from within and without, as a politics of isolation and preservation brings in more and more conservative attitudes, and it is becoming less and less acceptable to speak out against this shift.

The wider trend seems to be towards those with socialist economic policies alongside aligning themselves more and more dangerous Islamist positions, showing more and more authoritarian tendencies. This should not come as a surprise to anyone, but the fact that they should be aligning themselves with the social repression of regimes like Tehran, and supporting openly Islamist groups like Hamas is truly worrying. Those who will lose out will be the people within Muslim communities who can no longer act outside the tight confines of Islamic social codes, and the people of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and the wider Muslim world.

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Entry filed under: Activism, Human Rights, Iran, Participation, Peace, Politics, Religion.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jonathan  |  Tuesday, 16th October 2007 at 15:26 UTC

    I’d disagree with the apparent sentiment from Jonny that the STWC has overly inflated the risk of an attack by America, or its allies, on Tehran (obviously, inflation of risk being quite normal in all walks of politics). I think that risk is real, particularly with Israel factored into the equation; certainly these ambitions do still exist, even if we haven’t seen them carried out.

    I should probably clarify. a war on Iran is a constant concern and has been for some time – I am in no way trying to minimise that danger. however, Socialist Worker, Stop the War and their allies have made it THE danger, essentially ignoring anything else and trying to keep the constant threat of war in people’s minds, which IMO seems like a fairly cynical ploy to make themselves continue to seem relevant.

    my other concern is their dabbling in a form of political astrology whereby the war is predicted to be “imminent”, “in the next few months”, etc. they also seem to be completely unwilling to consider that the situation in Iraq is such that a war with Iran would not be feasible for the time being – which, again, I would put down to their constant (fear-of-) war-mongering in an attempt to seem relevant.

    that aside, I agree with your post.

    Reply
  • 2. Greg  |  Tuesday, 16th October 2007 at 22:13 UTC

    For all his faults, I credit George Bush with at least some intelligence. He wouldn’t let Iraq go the way it’s gone for so long if his country could easily stand a double force there, so he can’t stand another war in the region.

    I agree with Jonny. The threat of a war in Iran is being talked up so the protagonists an continue their anti-Bush, anti-Neocon and anti-American tirade.

    Reply
  • 3. Graham Martin  |  Wednesday, 17th October 2007 at 2:42 UTC

    If you meant in terms of THE threat, then I totally take your point: look at how little interest, other than a mildly irritating attempt to infiltrate Climate Camp (I kid you not, unfortunately) and their belief that one day Campaign against Climate Change will be theirs to rule, they have shown in what might quite easily be argued is THE threat to humanity right now. Think about the potential for a 20 foot rise in sea levels and all the disasters across the planet this would cause, and then compare that with the tradgedy that has been Iraq and go figure which is the bigger deal.

    Reply

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