SWP-LCR talks: Come with us to the mosque

The SWP's Chris Harman has slapped the wrists of his French group, writes Peter Manson

A comrade in New Zealand admits to having been “perplexed” by the ‘peace and justice’ turn of the Socialist Workers Organization, fraternal organisation of the SWP. However, all was revealed when he read of the latest moves in Britain, discussed in the Weekly Worker.

The comrade writes: “Your reportage is valuable because it means that we usually know what the SW here are going to do before they even know themselves (there is usually a small time lag between the British SWP doing something and their more boneheaded blind followers here catching up).”

It is the same with all the affiliated organisations of the SWP’s International Socialist Tendency - a good recent example being Socialisme Par En Bas (Socialism from below), the IST franchise-holder in France, which has seemingly embraced the SWP’s alliance with the mosque just a little too enthusiastically. Socialisme Par En Bas has gone so far as to adopt the slogan, ‘We are all muslims’ - a move which has brought this sharp reprimand from Chris Harman:

“… I must say that you have the tendency to take up slogans without having evaluated all the implications and that do not come across as serious. This can feed the criticisms of the worst elements of the LCR and those around them. Personally I find the slogan, ‘We are all muslims’, totally mistaken. For two reasons.

“Firstly, clearly you are not muslims. Muslims form a community where members share beliefs which they take more or less seriously. If you tell them, ‘We are all muslims’, they are within their rights to retort: ‘Come with us to the mosque then’, ‘Come with us to Mecca’, ‘Don’t forget to pray five times a day’, etc.

“I say that because at least twice at anti-war meetings practising muslims have tried to convert me. I also know that many SWP members from the muslim tradition insist on the fact that they are not muslims, but atheists.

“Secondly, because the slogan does not take into account the oppression suffered by muslims. It is as if we are ignoring the response of the black population in general, and black nationalists in particular, which would be to say, ‘You are minimising our oppression, for you do not suffer it every day.’

“The slogan is not sufficiently thought through and can only play into the hands of the ‘Cassenites’ and the right wing of the League.”