Man kan som vänster göra minst två misstag när det gäller inställningen till islamister eller islamsk fundamentalism. Eller för den delen i förhållande till religion, såväl islam, kristendom som judendom. Men här ska vi upprätthålla oss vid islam. Det ena misstaget kan exemplifieras av vänstern i Frankrike, detta ska jag återkomma till. Det andra misstaget kan exemplifieras av den engelska vänstern kring SWP och om det handlar detta inlägg.
Men först till Gilbert Achcars ord om hur man bör förhålla sig till fundamentalister:
Islamic fundamentalists can be objective and contingent allies in a fight waged by Marxists. However it is an unnatural alliance, forced by circumstances. The rules that apply to much more natural alliances such as those practised in the struggle against Tsarism in Russia, are here to be respected a fortiori, and even more strictly.
These rules were clearly defined by the Russian Marxists at the beginning of the 20th Century. In his preface of January 1905 to Trotsky’s pamphlet Before the Ninth of January, Parvus summarised them thus:
”To simplify, in the case of a common struggle with casual allies, the following points can be applied:
- 1) Do not merge organisations. March separately but strike together.
- 2) Do not abandon our own political demands.
- 3) Do not conceal divergences of interest.
- 4) Pay attention to our ally as we would pay attention to an enemy.
- 5) Concern ourselves more with using the situation created by the struggle than with keeping an ally.”
”Parvus is profoundly right” wrote Lenin in an article in April 1905, published in the newspaper Vperiod, underlining the definite understanding, however (very appropriately brought to mind), that the organisations are not to be merged, that we march separately but strike together, that we do not conceal the diversity of interests, that we watch our ally as we would our enemy, etc.
The Bolshevik leader would enumerate many times these conditions over the years.
Trotsky tirelessly defended the same principles. In The Third International After Lenin (1928), in his polemic about alliances with the Chinese Kuomintang, he wrote the following lines particularly apt for the subject under discussion here:
”As was said long ago, purely practical agreements, such as do not bind us in the least and do not oblige us to anything politically,can be concluded with the devil himself, if that is advantageous at a given moment. But it would be absurd in such a case to demand that the devil should generally become converted to Christianity, and that he use his horns…. for pious deeds. In presenting such conditions, we act in reality as the devil’s advocates, and beg him to let us become his godfathers.”
Felet den engelska vänstern (SWP) gör enligt Gilbert Achcar är följande:
A number of Trotskyists do exactly the opposite of what Trotsky advocated, in their relationship with Islamic fundamentalist organisations. Not in France, where Trotskyists, in their majority, rather bend the stick the other way, as has already been explained, but on the other side of the Channel, in Britain.
The British far-left has the merit of having displayed a greater openness to the Muslim populations than the French far-left. It has organised impressive mobilisations with the massive participation of people originating from Muslim immigration against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, in which the government of its country participated. In the anti-war movement, it even went as far as allying itself with a Muslim organisation of fundamentalist inspiration, the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), the British arm of the main ‘moderate’ Islamic fundamentalist movement in the Middle East, the Muslim Brotherhood (represented in the parliaments of some countries).
There is nothing reprehensible in principle in such an alliance for well-defined objectives so long as the rules laid out above are strictly respected. The problem begins however with treating this particular organisation, which is far from representative of the great mass of Muslims in Britain, as a privileged ally. More generally, British Trotskyists have tended, during their alliance with the MAB in the anti-war movement, to do the opposite of what was stated above, i.e. 1) mixing banners and placards, in the literal as well as figurative sense; 2) minimising the importance of the elements of their political identity likely to embarrass their fundamentalist allies of the day; and finally 3) treating these temporary allies as if they were strategic allies, in renaming ‘anti-imperialists’ those whose vision of the world corresponds much more to the clash of civilisations than to the class struggle.
9. This tendency was made worse by the passage from an alliance in the context of an anti-war mobilisation to an alliance in the electoral field. The MAB as such did not, to be sure, join the electoral coalition Respect, led by the British Trotskyists, its fundamentalist principles preventing it from subscribing to a left programme. However, the alliance between the MAB and Respect translated for example into the candidacy on the Respect slate of a very prominent leader of the MAB, the ex-president and spokesperson of the Association.
In doing this the alliance passed de facto to a qualitatively superior level, unacceptable from a Marxist point of view: While it can be legitimate indeed to enter into ‘purely practical agreements’ that ‘do not oblige us to anything politically’ other than the action for common objectives – as it happens, to express opposition to the war conducted by the British government together with the United States and to denounce the fate inflicted on the Palestinian people – with groups and/or individuals who adhere otherwise to a fundamentally reactionary conception of society, it is utterly unacceptable for Marxists to conclude an electoral alliance – a type of alliance which presupposes a common conception of political and social change – with these sorts of partners.
Alex Cowper berör samma problem i sin artikel om att försvara sekularismen:
Den brittiska vänstern har, om något, styrt åt andra hållet. SWP, som är den ledande gruppen i den breda rörelsen Respect, har å ena sidan med rätta försökt skapa allianser med de muslimer som radikaliserats till följd av Irak-kriget. Å andra sidan har de haft en tendens att fokusera på andra politiska frågor.
Vid Respects kongress 2005 motsatte sig SWP en motion som ville göra organisationen till en uttryckligen sekulär rörelse. Problemet var att de använde argument som ifrågasatte nödvändigheten av sekularism i allmänhet. För marxister borde sekularism vara en grundläggande princip även om vi nödvändigtvis inte prioriterar frågan av taktiska skäl.
Han understryker också i samma artikel en del av det jag berörde i mitt förra inlägg om vänstern och muslimsk fundamentalism.
Det är inte problemfritt att samarbeta med fundamentalister och man måste vara klar på att de inte har smam politiska visoner och mål som vi. Detta får inte döljas av att man gör tillfälliga allianser i taktiskt syfte.
Gilbert Achcar, Marxists and Religion – yesterday and today
Alex Cowper, Why we should defend Secularism
Jane Kelly and Karen O’Toole, Alliances and Coalitions in Britain: ‘Stop the War’ and ‘Respect’
Michael Löwy, Opium för folket – marxism och religion (RR 3 / 2005)
Yaqoob, Islam and the left (IVP 371, oct 2005)
Islam and the Left – a reply to Salma Yaqoob
Tariq Ali, The Anti-Imperialist Left Confronted with Islam (IVP 376, march 2006)
Samt Farooq Sulehria om den islamska fundamentalismens framväxt, Politiska islams uppkomst. som reder ut vad muslimsk (islamsk) fundamentalism är och var den kommer ifrån.