Wednesday, August 29, 2007

'Savage Capitalism' and Ecosocialism.

I'm very very impressed by the pullout section on 'Savage Capitalism' in the Sept issue of Socialist Resistance (pdf.) (scroll down to pp9- 16). This is a link from the MacUaid blog. It's a well written, well argued and highly accessible (without being simplistic) account of how capitalism is producing environmental crisis which it cannot itself solve and an introduction to 'ecosocialist' ideas. This is just the sort of propaganda that left wing groups should be producing.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

That Iraqi Interpreters Affair

Neil Clarke's article of 10 August in which he attacked a blog/petition campaign for the granting of asylum to Iraqis under threat from death squad retaliation for working for occupation forces certainly kicked up a bit of a stink. I'm sure most visitors to this blog will be aware of the various manifestations of that stink. I usually agree with much of what Clarke has to say, but this particular article left a rather bad taste in the mouth. The implication of Clarke's article is that 'quislings' deserve everything that they get - ie that they should have the back of their skulls pierced by electric drills and die slow agonising deaths. Although he is careful to point out in the comments below the piece and in follow up commentaries on his blog that he does not favour or support attacks on civilians or want to see any of the 'collaborators' killed, it's surely clear that his call for these people to be denied asylum in Britain is, effectively, to favour the meting out to them of lynch (electric drill) mob justice.

Clarke, of course, refers to the interpreters as 'traitors', 'collaborators', 'quislings'. They may, in fact, be all of these things. But Clarke's self-righteousness here is monumental. Who can say what motivated/motivates these people - perhaps some of them were/are the pantomime villains of Clarke's imagination, selling-out their fellows in return for bags of the oppressor's blood money. But perhaps some - most - the vast majority - were motivated by other less cartoonish thoughts and hopes. Perhaps some of them really believed that the coalition were going to bring peace, democracy and prosperity to their country. Perhaps some of them were desperate for money to feed their families. Perhaps some of them saw their loved ones shredded in market place bomb attacks and thought that the best way of stamping out such atrocities was to throw in their lot with the British army. What would you or I do in their situation (and, of course, 'there but for the grace of God...'). Apparently, Neil Clarke knows exactly what he would do. Neil Clarke would be a heroic anti-imperialist fighter or something. Of course he would. And so Neil Clarke, safe somewhere in Britain, has nothing but contempt for the cowardice of the 'quisling traitors'.

There is no contradiction in opposing the war and occupation and favouring the granting of asylum to all of those Iraqis who, for whatever reason, have thrown in their lot with the British Army. It seems to me that the anti-war Left should vocally support the right of these people to asylum in Britain (along with their families) not least because a government that is jointly responsible for the current blood bath in Iraq should be forced to do what it can to clear up the mess that it has made. The British should pull out of Iraq, but the very least the British government can do for those Iraqis who have worked for it and who face reprisals is to offer them a home in the UK. To leave them behind to face a terrible fate would be to exhibit the same brutal indifference to the fate of Iraqi civilians that the government displayed when it went along with the invasion in the first place.

In a follow up piece on his blog, something rotten which remained half submerged in the original Guardian piece comes bubbling and burping to the surface. In this blog post Clarke gets all indignant that 'the British tax-payer' should be asked to pay to re-settle Iraqi interpreters in the UK:

"The idea that the British people, the majority of whom did not want the Iraq war, should have to pay the price for it, not only in terms of the billions of pounds already spent, but also in the terms of the extra-cost of resettling Iraqi refugees fleeing the hell-hole the policies of the warmongers have created, is outrageous."

That this argument is a thoroughly reactionary one should be bone-crunchingly obvious. That a Left wing commentator should be falling back on such an argument ('these cowardly foreign 'quislings' coming over here, living off our benefits, taking our tax-payers' hard earned money' etc etc) is extremely depressing.

I've signed the petition (which has been pushed, amongst others, by Blood and Treasure - an opponent of the war). I don't like some of the wording of the petition - but then again I don't like the thought of people who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time being tortured to death.


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