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Submitted by AWL on Mon, 21/07/2008 - 17:55

There appears to be a basic misunderstanding of what Marx (and we) mean by 'Sectarianism'. Both Bill and Duncan attack the AWL for being unapologetic critics of what we see as inconsistency, opportunism and reaction on the part of other socialists by .... unapologetically attacking the AWL for all sorts of 'deviations' (all of them unfounded or cooked up/distorted ie. "the AWL is Zionist therefore they are pro-war, pro-immigration controls, racist" etc... see the latest Solidarity for a reply to some of these accusations). It really is laughable - there seems to be no horse high enough for the hypocrites Bill and Duncan.
Some people seem to think that being aggressively critical of other socialist groups/ideas that pose as socialist is the mark of a sectarian. If this is the case then Marx would stand out as the most forthright sectarian of all time. He regularly suspended work on small matters like the completion of Capital to engage in vicious polemic with idiots and posers like Vogt, for instance. His personal correspondence and public statements never - not for one moment - hold back in criticism of those he disdained for their muddle-headed attempts to distort and lead astray the labour movement, the working class, from working class politics.
Being sectarian is to cut yourself off from the labour movement by elevating personal/group priorities above concern for the future of the working class. I would suggest that the AWL does not fit into this category.
We ARE in favour of 'left unity' - it really is idiotic that socialists throw their arms up in horror at the slightest bit of criticism, close the shutters rather than expose themselves (or their 'Party'/organisation/group) to debate ... or think we can achieve left unity without such debates. If it's impossible for people on the left to be robustly honest with each other then we have no hope of facing down our critics on the right.

TomU

PS. Bill: when you accuse the AWL of shutting out the "mass movement" because of our alleged "Zionism" you really outdo yourself. You're either very confused or delusional. Firstly, when you accuse us of "Zionism" do you really mean our refusal to call for the destruction of Israel. Secondly, could you point to any "mass movement" (other than the Iranian state, clerical fascist organisations and some very small 'Trotskyist' groups almost exclusively British) that agitates for this?
PPS. If by "mass movement" you mean the 'Stop the War Coalition' I should point out that it is no longer very big [the reason for this is worth discussing] nor was it ever a movement in more than a general sense of the word.

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