This is a cross-post from Howie’s Corner
One of the more bizarre blogs on the Internet is the one run by Andy Newman and policed by Tony Collins called, astoundingly, “Socialist” Unity. Of course there are all sorts of people who call themselves socialists, most of whom accuse the others of not being the same or worse “right-wing”, centrist or, heaven forbid, ultra left.
The Nazis called themselves “National” Socialists and back in the thirties it wasn’t unknown for people to cross over between the two. Mussolini was one and considered a “loss” by Lenin and was joined in the thirties by one Oswald Mosley whose New Party seemingly went from the left to outright fascism including all its trimmings of political violence and anti-Semitism.
For some time Socialist Unity has been pursuing a political line that is seemingly subservient to an odd mixture of Islamism and praise for the Chinese Communist Party.
A couple of years back they published a grovelling hagiography by Seyed Mohammad Marandi which extolled the virtues of the foreign policies followed by Ayatollah al-Udhma Imam Khamenei, Iran’s brutal dictator. This caused a few stirs amongst their readers at the time, the first comment simply being “um, what is this doing on a socialist website?” This was answered by “John” (probably Wight) who tells us that:
Iran is a country at the centre of resistance to western attempts to colonise the region. Surely it is prudent to know what the view is of Iranian intellectuals on Iran’s role in the region and wider world.
He continues further on:
…that the current Iranian regime is both progressive and regressive, depending on which aspect of its role you care to take.
Andy Newman adds without blushing:
Well “progressive politics” is a very broad and possibly contradictory concept.
It would be foolish to deny that there is a legacy of an ideological support for egalitarianism in Iran, following the influence of Ali Shari’ati in the revolution; and that support for sovereign state independence has allowed Iran to support redistributive social policies that would be outside the Washington consensus.
Iran is of course a country where you cannot stand in the elections unless you are a Muslim approved by his holiness Khamenei, elections have been routinely hijacked, political prisoners are tortured and raped, women are second class citizens, Baha’i and Christians are routinely persecuted and Gays are executed under the guise of being rapists.
Nothing progressive there.
In more recent times Socialist Unity have spent time witch-hunting secularists and defending some of the most appalling theologians like Yusuf al-Qaradawi. John Wight has defended the Assad regime in Syria, though Newman himself attempted to distance himself from this when challenged on Left Futures. Their latest wheeze is to call for the end of the Middle East peace process.
In an article rejecting peace John Wight argues that “There is no need for a road map or peace process between Israel and the Palestinians”, obfuscating his desire to see the Jewish state destroyed by focusing on 1948, the year of the “original sin” in his eyes. They have managed to dig up the almost forgotten and almost irrelevant Stalinist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to justify their stance.
The PFLP were in the news recently for backing Assad in Syria. In this alliance Socialist Unity are in some very strange company indeed as Nick Griffin along with some other European fascists took a paid tour around the Baathist (Socialist) homeland. But even this comes as no surprise as the Iranian regime that SU supports holds conferences for Holocaust deniers and their ilk. Strange bed fellows all round methinks.
Whatever the past in the Middle East, as in Northern Ireland there are always obstacles to peace. Ideologues and populists amongst them. I notice the so-called Palestine Solidarity Campaign has not yet mentioned the attempt to get a peaceful settlement between Israel and Palestine. You’d think that establishing an end to the violence would be a priority for everyone, but no, there are large sections of the left, both in the UK and elsewhere, that are so focused on hating Israel their world view is distorted to the extreme.
Finally a word of warning to Palestinians who think that Socialist Unity really have their interest at heart by looking at their views on Tibet. Andy Newman dismisses the claims of the Tibetan people as it doesn’t suit his world view. In a long and tortuous article he says:
No people can have self determination if they cannot control their own culture and economy. Tibet is too marginal to the world economy and too poor to be genuinely independent and develop a national economy and high culture of its own.
I think the Tibetan people might take issue with that!
How anyone can define Andy Newman, Tony Collins and John Wight as being progressive in any shape or form is beyond me. Socialist Unity aligns its politics with the oppressors and reactionaries of the world.
Sharia & Stalinist Unity seems more appropriate a name to me.
Update: ‘The courtesy of your blog has somewhat lessened of late’. HP has tracked down some interesting footage of Tony Collins trying to help Andy Newman gatekeep undesirable elements away from Socialist Unity.