Left tails of liberal bourgeoisie
He who pays the AEIP piper calls the AEIP tune, says Jack Conrad
People’s Vote is less a campaign for a second referendum: more a campaign for a national government that will rescue Britain from the chaos of Brexit. Such a national government, with or without an early general election, could conceivably conduct a second - rigged - referendum and secure the required majority for some form of ‘remain’ deal.
Such an outcome is, at the moment, a mere outside possibility, but one earnestly desired by key sections of the capitalist class. However, a second referendum would surely deliver a wide body of the population straight into the hands of the far right. In the name of ending Britain’s “vassalage”, Boris Johnson, David Davis, Jacob Rees-Mogg, European Research Group Tories, Nigel Farage, Tommy Robinson, Ukip, Arron Banks and Britain First would rail against the political elite’s “great betrayal”. A category-five reactionary storm would be whipped up. Conceivably, therefore, Britain could join the growing list of countries run by democratically elected ‘right populist’ governments: US, Brazil, Philippines, India, Italy, Turkey, Austria, Poland, etc.
To praise, to cooperate with, to promote a People’s Vote is to praise, to cooperate with, to promote the interests of big capital and bourgeois politicians, such as Chuka Umunna, Vince Cable and Anna Soubry. Organisations such as the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, Socialist Resistance, Left Unity, etc, do exactly that. To all intents and purposes they constitute themselves the extreme left of liberal opinion.
Despite Marxism’s long-standing and well-founded principled opposition to referendums, they advocate a rerun of June 2016. They claim that the interests of the working class lie with continued UK membership of what is a capitalist bloc. Instead of recognising, both in theory and practice, the necessity of establishing working class independence from both wings of the bourgeoisie - Brexiteers and Remainers alike - they advocate what appears to them as the lesser evil. A hopeless and self-defeating form of politics.
The embodiment of such abject opportunism is Another Europe is Possible. Its perspectives are thoroughly reformist; its attitudes tailist and accommodating.
Formed in February 2016, the AEIP’s stated aim is to “work across party lines” on the basis of campaigning for “democracy, human rights, and social justice”. “Brexit,” says AEIP, “is a national disaster for Britain.” In that bipartisan spirit, AEIP bemoans what it considers to be a loss of “faith” across Europe for the “project of unity” and the ability of “European democracies to deliver social justice by working together for the common good”. AEIP wants to “rebuild this hope”.
Reviving illusions in the capitalist states of Europe combines with a strikingly naive endorsement of the EU’s supposed “core values” of “peace, democracy and ever closer union”. Konrad Adenauer, Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman would have approved.
Communists, by contrast, strive might and main to expose the class reality of the capitalist states of Europe. How what passes for democracy serves as a means of mass deception. How democracy is limited, hollowed out and always countered by all manner of checks and balances. How the EU capitalist states act to uphold wage-slavery and the global system of exploitation.
Naturally, communists advocate reforms. Struggles to win them organise and train the working class. But the objective is to overthrow each and every capitalist state through closely coordinated revolutionary action. Suffice to say, that means defying, violating and junking - certainly not perfecting - the European constitution. Only working class rule can unite Europe and begin the global transition to communism.
AEIP promotes a range of anaemic establishment politicians, charity-mongers, liberal journalists, Keynesian economists and trade union functionaries. Recent examples include Greek finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos, António Costa, Portugal’s prime minister, The Guardian’s Zoe Williams, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and Asad Reham, executive director of War on Want.
Interestingly, there are bitter opponents of the CPGB who share some of our assessments. The AWL’s Martin Thomas describes AEIP as an “NGO operation” and dismisses the “mostly rubbish speakers they choose”. Then there is the “head honcho”, Luke Cooper, “who is only very soft left, if left at all” (AWL-external list [Amongourselves], ‘What we do with Left Against Brexit’).
AEIP provides a “progressive left” flank for People’s Vote and the interests of anti-Brexit big capital. Unsurprisingly, given the invaluable nature of such a service, AEIP has received some substantial financial grants and donations.
Figures for February 2016 to May 2017 reveal £45,000 from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, £2,000 from a certain C Lucas, £4,000 from LUSH Ltd, £5,000 from N Marks, £5,000 from Open Democracy and £2,000 from Unison.
Note, the “values” of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust “are rooted in liberalism and Quakerism”. Its board of directors is stuffed full of Liberal Democrats. LUSH Ltd is a privately owned cosmetics company committed to ‘ethical’ capitalism. Open Democracy is a political website funded by a number of “philanthropic” organisations, including George Soros’ Open Society Initiative for Europe, the Mott Foundation, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Ford Foundation, David and Elaine Potter Foundation, LUSH, Andrew Wainwright Trust and the Network for Social Change.
From June 2017 to May 2018 the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust upped its AEIP contribution to £75,000 … and more recently still George Soros chipped in with £70,000.
The more stupid amongst AEIP’s paid employees, partisans, allies and dupes claim that taking such money is essentially no different from the Bolshevik leaders, Lenin and Zinoviev - along with a range of other leftwing Russian émigrés - negotiating with the German authorities to travel from their Swiss exile back to revolutionary Russia in 1917.
There is, in fact, no such parallel. The Bolshevik leaders did not agree to opt for Germany over Russia in the inter-imperialist war. Getting Lenin and Zinoviev back to Russia suited the German high command - that much is true. But the only condition the Russian revolutionaries agreed to was trying to secure the release of a corresponding number of captured Germans (a common practice between the belligerent powers).
And, needless to say, Lenin and Zinoviev in no way compromised their commitment either to a democratic peace or the overthrow of Europe’s crowned heads. No German gold was accepted - that despite the numerous offers made by Alexander Parvus (a leading figure on the German far left, who became a key conduit for regime-change funds provided by the kaiser government).
Accepting money from individual capitalists is not automatically wrong, corrupting or treacherous. The cause of working class self-liberation wins all manner of fine people to its ranks. Eg, the reluctant capitalist, Frederick Engels. The Bolsheviks too had their rich donors. What counts, what decides the matter is whether or not there is an unbending commitment to uphold the Marxist programme. True for the Bolsheviks, but hardly the case with AEIP.
AWL leader Martin Thomas concludes that “the [AEIP] operation is run so as to get money from Soros”. In other words, AEIP exists for the sake of AEIP. In receipt of a “lavish supply of money”, AEIP boasts a “relatively large paid staff”. Amongst those on a “lot of money for short hours” are, though, he admits, AWL chums such as Michael Chessum and Ed Maltby.
The Weekly Worker has rightly rounded on the acceptance of Soros money. It shows that AEIP is more than acceptable to bourgeois liberal opinion. Yet, revoltingly, descending to the level of the gutter press, defensively, wracked by guilt, AEIP paid employees, volunteers, allies and dupes have responded with utterly baseless accusations of conspiracy-mongering and anti-Semitism. Just like Viktor Orbán, Breitbart News and Glenn Beck, AEIP paid employees, volunteers, allies and dupes highlight Soros’s Jewish background (he was born in 1930 in Hungary to well-off anti-Semitic Jewish parents).
In the context of Brexit, Soros’s Jewish heritage is totally irrelevant, except in so far as his horrendous experiences of the 1940s informs his liberal world outlook and heartfelt detestation of blood-and-soil nationalism and Stalinite ‘official communism’. In London he was famously a devoted pupil of the anti-Marxist philosopher, Karl Popper. What matters to us, though, is that Soros is one of the world’s richest men: he is a capitalist magnate and currency speculator with a personal fortune estimated at some $8 billion (his foundation at some $18 billion).
Since the 1970s Soros has been channelling huge sums of money to chosen political causes: eg, Solidarność in Poland, Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia and Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet Union. In 1984, Soros founded his Open Society Institute in Hungary, providing an annual budget of $3 million. Similar sums have gone to an ever-widening range of NGOs.
Needless to say, as anyone who cares to read our press will find, we consider anti-Semitism vile, diversionary and stupid. Whenever necessary, we have ensured the political exclusion of those peddling modern-day versions of the socialism of fools. Accusations of conspiracy-mongering and anti-Semitism are therefore clearly unfounded - a desperate attempt to prevent, to close down, to head off critical discussion of the AEIP’s politics and finances.
This is particularly unsavoury, particularly unforgivable, because today there is not only the question of Brexit and so-called socialists promoting politics approved of and financed by liberal capitalist individuals and institutions. Over the last two or three years there has been a huge, unprecedented campaign to equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. A campaign carefully crafted, hatched and skilfully promoted by the US right, the Israeli government and the British establishment. The AWL and its Clarion outriders provide a useful ‘left’ cover.
To state the obvious, the Labour Party is not riddled with anti-Semitism. Inevitably there are examples of real anti-Semitism - after all, there are 570,000 individual Labour Party members. But such examples are isolated and extraordinarily rare. However, much to the fury of the Israeli government and political establishment, the Labour Party’s rank-and-file activists, as wonderfully demonstrated by the 2018 Liverpool conference, are overwhelmingly, militantly, anti-Zionist and pro-Palestine.
Because of his historic championing of the Palestinian cause Jeremy Corbyn has been a particular target. But there have been many victims of what is a skilfully executed, immensely well resourced and relentless witch-hunt, designed to delegitimise criticism of Israel as a state - and, along with that, the whole Zionist settler-colonial project. Good comrades have been expelled, suspended and even sacked from their jobs. Not insignificantly, many victims are anti-Zionist Jews.
The witch-hunt is not only aimed at ousting, taming or turning Corbyn and defeating the Labour left. The witch-hunt is a blatant attempt to rewin public opinion for another war in the Middle East. Israel is the number-one US ally in the Middle East and the UK state core desperately wants Britain to remain the number-one US global ally. The Iraq war was a public relations disaster. In that sense, the ‘Anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt is a continuation of the Bush-Blair war on terror … only by other means.
The witch-hunt scored a huge victory in getting the Labour Party’s NEC to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s so-called definition of anti-Semitism - along, of course, with all its 11 attached examples. Geoffrey Bindman QC describes the IHRA’s so-called definition as “badly drafted” and leading to the “suppression of legitimate debate”.
Ironically, it is quite conceivable that Soros would himself be found guilty of anti-Semitism under the IHRA’s so-called definition and its 11 examples. When asked what he thought about Israel, Soros said this: “I don’t deny the Jews a right to a national existence - but I don’t want anything to do with it.” And, according to hacked emails, Soros’s Open Society Foundation has a self-described objective of “challenging Israel’s racist and anti-democratic policies” in international forums. Israel’s much vaunted claim to be a democracy is questioned too. Soros has also funded NGOs which campaign for boycott, disinvestment and sanctions.
There are, inevitably, those in the workers’ movement with all manner of sectionalist, nationalistic and xenophobic ideas, including anti-Semitic ideas. Unless this takes organisational form the best policy is patient education, inculcating elementary class-consciousness and encouraging participation in joint struggles. The slogan, ‘zero tolerance’, is politically misconceived.
Note, some deluded individuals believe they have an anti-racist duty to search out every victim of fake news, every ill-considered blogger, every sadly confused muddlehead and shop them to Labour’s thoroughly discredited compliance unit. The practitioners of such heroic methods kill themselves as socialists. They count amongst the living dead.
Clearly, to concede ground to the witch-hunt, to call for opposition to the witch-hunt to be toned down, to surrender before the witch-hunt is political suicide for socialists, leftwingers and communists.
The witch-hunt must be fought with all the strength at our command.