By David Broder
The minority group of opinion in the AWL which thinks we should call for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq has been courted in recent months by the Communist Party of Great Britain, who, while displaying no interest in building working-class politics in the Middle East, have noticed a superficial similarity between their own slogans and those of our minority.
The CPGB, whose Weekly Worker organ finds nothing more riveting than gossip about other far left organisations (in contrast, for instance, to its complete indifference towards the postal strike, which it has not mentioned in its hallowed pages), is keen to aggravate the supposed tensions within the AWL on the Iraq question, and are plainly angling for a split. But, despite conference debates, arguments on the Workers’ Liberty website and a flurry of articles, documents and letters in Solidarity, CPGB lothario Mark Fischer has become impatient at the minority’s “flaccid” resistance to the majority line. The Weekly Worker has run numerous long articles making a fuss about this.
Furthermore, attacking the “so-called AWL ‘opposition’”, (because clearly that’s what we refer to ourselves as!) in an email to myself, Fischer suggested that the tactic of a “real” opposition would be to “raise the demand to clear out the leadership committees of all those with the scab pro-imperialist line”. I do not at all accept the terms of this argument — the majority is not pro-imperialist or pro-occupation, and does not have a “scab line”, but makes a purely tactical error. We do not have to be for “troops out now” out of some abstract God-given (Lenin-given?) principle of shrill anti-imperialism; but I think that the Iraqi labour movement must fight for national liberation as a key democratic demand which will help it cohere Iraqis around itself across sectarian divides.
However, I am not of the opinion that “troops out now” and self-determination are the same thing. The point is that self-determination could become realisable if the working class fought for it across sectarian divides, not that Islamist militias defeating the US-UK would give Iraqis self-determination.
In that my main perspective is that of how the working class movement can become a strong and independent social force, I have much in common with the majority position, more so than with the CPGB’s classless anti-imperialist sloganeering. Of course, I cannot speak for anyone other than myself on that score — I am not a “leader” of the minority, which itself is heterogenous and has only some common slogans and ideas, but happen to have written a fair bit about what I think.
In any case, to suggest that the National Committee democratically elected at conference should be overturned because of differences in the Iraq debate — on which we can have free and frank discussion within the AWL — could be nothing but a prelude to leaving, or some sort of attempt to break up the organisation. Of course, if we succeeded in making the NC “minority only”, I might be spending some rather dull meetings with only a couple of people for company...