Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Church of the SWP-Counterfire…

... except when that religion is Marxism.

The connections between Marxism/Communism/Trotskyism and religion are legion. Bertrand Russell, for instance, realised this right from the start: not only in 1920, when Russell visited Russia and the disciples of Marx and Marxism had really got going, but before. Marxism itself, partly because of its Hegelian basis, was already religious in nature and Russell realised this well before the Russian Revolution of 1917; and certainly before the official and well-known Stalinist outrages. Russell writes that
‘Bolshevism is not merely a political doctrine; it is also a religion, with elaborate dogmas and inspired scriptures.’
Thus if we have a religion, with its elaborate dogmas and inspired scriptures, we must also have both the followers of these texts as well as their interpreters. Lenin was one such initiate and interpreter:
‘When Lenin [whom Russell actually visited] wishes to prove some proposition, he does so, if possible, by quoting texts from Marx and Engels.’
Today you can still come across such blind faith in sacred Marxist texts. For example, you often hear members of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) saying things like,

What was Lenin’s position on Islam and Muslims?

as if Lenin would by definition have insightful and profound things to say about such things - and even if Islam and Muslims didn’t feature that strongly in his career. Others always quote passages, texts and books by Marx and Marxists. If you go to a SWP conference, or check its agenda on the Internet, you will have titles such as 

What did Marx think about Sadomasochistic sex?


What is the Leninist position on 19th century Italian opera?

I have genuinely seen Marxist books and lecturers on things as diverse and esoteric as quantum physics and chaos theory. Unbelievable! Why would Marx or Lenin have anything to say about such things, and not just because they antedated them? Indeed why would contemporary Marxists have anything unique or interesting to say on quantum mechanics, string theory or whatever? (The same can be said about applying Marxist or Leninist theory, as opposed to trudging through their texts for apposite quotes, when it comes to Islam or quantum theory – why is it taken as a given that their theories are applicable to everything under the sun?)
With the sacred texts and the religious personas, you must also have dogma and dogmatism. And Lenin was most certainly a dogmatist. So too are most Communists and Trots. The Communist
‘is a man who entertains a number of elaborate and dogmatic beliefs – such as philosophical materialism, for example – which may be true, but are not, to a scientific temper, capable of being known to be true with any certainty.’
Thus, despite Marxism’s supposedly scientific credentials, it is, in fact, non-scientific and even anti-scientific. It is much more like a religion than a science. Despite appearances and Marxist self-rhetoric, Marxism goes back to the Middle Ages, to
‘the habit of militant certainty about objectively doubtful matters, [a habit] from which, since the Renaissance, the world has been gradually emerging, into that temper of constructive and fruitful scepticism which constitutes the scientific outlook.’ 
But any SWP member would tell you that his dogmatism (though he would not use that word) is vital because the 'enemies' and the System itself are so all-encompassing and evil (though he would not use that word either). Thus the ends justify the means. And part of the means will be centralism, party hierarchy and indeed political dogmatism. Dogmatism is a vital Trotskyist means because
‘it cannot be denied that, over any short period of time, dogmatic belief is a help in fighting. If all Communists become religious fanatics, while supporters of capitalism retain a sceptical temper, it may be assumed that the Communists will win…’ 
That is why SWP members foam at the mouth and shout a lot. Though most of the time this is not a conscious strategy and seen as simply a means, it often genuinely expresses the foaming minds of Trotskyists and Communists. The problem is that we all know what SWP foamers are and what they are like. Psychologically speaking, it is often the case, as with religious zealots, that ‘fanaticism is a camouflage for cruelty’ and that ‘fanatics are seldom genuinely humane’ . Again, just look into the face of someone like Martin Smith (the sex-abuser and violent criminal), the former National Secretary of the SWP and spokesman for Unite Against Fascism, and ask yourself this:
Is his heart bleeding for the poor and oppressed, or is he simply foaming at the mouth about his enemies and because he desirous of their annihilation?
Think of the eroticised nature of so much ‘anti-Zionist’ action and rhetoric along with anti-Israel monomania. Thus hate (for Zionists, neo-liberals, etc. ad infinitum) and not love (for the Oppressed, the Palestinians, etc.) is the prime emotion of the zealous Trotskyist. He finds the hatred ‘of enemies easier and more intense than love of friends'. Therein lies a profound warning to us all. We can now say that
‘from men who are more anxious to injure opponents than to benefit the world at large no great good is to be expected.’

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