The Woolwich Attack

KateHudsonCND General Secretary, Kate Hudson, wrote the following post after hearing of the attack in Woolwich.

We deplore the brutal murder of an unarmed British solider in Woolwich yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Acts of violent retribution against individuals can never be justified as a response to the crimes of states and governments.

As we have repeatedly stated since 9/11 and the engagement of our troops in the wars and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, the best way to ensure the safety of our troops is not only to bring them home, but also to end their involvement in immoral and illegal wars against other people’s countries. This remains true today. In 2002, when Tony Blair committed Britain to war on Iraq, he also said we had to pay the ‘blood price’. Many have paid the ‘blood price’ for that war since then: hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of western troops. It is largely the innocent that pay this highest of prices and rarely the politicians who make the grandiloquent statements.

When London suffered appalling terrorist attacks in July 2005, the respected independent think tank on foreign affairs, Chatham House, stated that Britain’s involvement in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan contributed to those attacks; that its key problem in preventing terrorism was that the country was ‘riding as a pillion passenger with the United States in the war against terror’. That lesson, which politicians have failed to learn, still applies today. We are still intervening in other people’s countries, still killing innocent civilians – our new drone technology makes it easier, and safer for us, to kill by remote control.

But these actions have consequences. We cannot base our foreign policy on killing and brutalising other peoples and imagine that no one will object, that no one will attempt to respond in a brutal fashion.

Killing is never the answer. That was true in September 2001; it was true in July 2005. If we want a peaceful world it will have to be built on principles of peace and justice, respected by and implemented by our government. That means bringing all our troops home and ending our interventions in other people’s countries, governments and economies. Only that route will bring the peace that we all so strongly desire.

This was first published on the CND website


35 responses to “The Woolwich Attack”

  1. Bazza says:

    Such events put the humanity of the left on the spot. Although I am not religious I do love the quote from the Koran, ‘If you kill one human being, you kill humanity.’ This act by some Far Right ‘Muslims’ gives ammunition to the ‘Other’ Far Right but fortunately diverse communities seem to be standing together. We need to be wary of those who profess to care for one ethnic group at the expense of others and dehumanise themselves in the process. Socialists should love humanity in all its diversity (I almost hate having to despise the rich and powerful but do becuase of what they do) and I felt sadness at the news as I do when I hear of families killed by drones and when we hear of Alawites, Sunnis and Christians slaughtering each other in Syria. As Kate implies whether it is individuals or Govts, ‘violence is the last resort of an exhausted mind,’.
    We need political solutions to deal with the causes. When acts aim to divide, socialists should as always should aim to unite.
    X & Peace.

  2. Ben McCall says:

    Bazza, in my humble opinion, you are becoming the star of this website. Your heartfelt posts embody the spirit that a truly human and therefore effective Left Unity can develop and work WITH people here and internationally, to prevent acts like this and those you describe from happening again.
    Love and peace to you and everyone X

  3. Karen Springer says:

    I’ve been watching the exponentially increasing number of ‘likes’ on the EDLs Fb page over the past hour.

    • Ally MacGregor says:

      I’m too am glad, that Left Unity has posted something about Woolwich, I’d be even happier (if that’s the correct turn of phrase) if more people would come in and post their real thoughts on the event.
      I agree mostly with what Tom says on most of the topics upon which, he posts. On this occasion though, whilst I agree with the sentiments of his post, I disagree that we have to have an ‘authoritative’ statement from the LU co-ordinating committee. I have read statements from Tom, where he favours a horizontal structure, thereby giving individuals the right to actually think for themselves and not await ‘authoritative’ statements from anyone. I completely agree with the criticism of the old adage ‘our prayer are with…. whoever!!
      I actually thought we were attempting to build something different, something refreshing, bold, confident. If so, why are our agents mimicking the mainstream…?
      Now, I am an ex soldier and like anyone else, I am appalled at the events in Woolwich but no more so than I was appalled night after night as the bombs rained down upon civilians in Baghdad during the Iraq war, no more appalled than hearing, seeing, reading about the dramatic amount of explosive ordnance that has been employed in Afghanistan, killing and maiming thousands of civilians. We (in the UK and USA seem to be unconcerned that drones are buzzing around and delivering their payloads of ordnance at random from safe houses somewhere in Nevada and now in Lincolnshire and yet, they wonder why!!? When someone objects and lobs a bomb back or attacks a soldier in civvies…
      I agree with Kate though, that peace can never be achieved whilst we are brutalising and killing people in their own countries or indeed, anywhere. It is surprising to me, how many people think that we (the coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere) can operate the way that they have and are doing, and believe that no-one is going to object or that there will be no repercussions. I don’t support ‘tit for tat’ actions but I do understand why they occur, I recall my Father telling me, that ‘had the Nazis taken the UK they would have had a massive terrorist war to deal with…” Well here we are, now embroiled in something that is coming home as a direct result of political decisions that have been made and are being made currently. Of course, Britain will not waiver’, or words to that effect, from our illustrious Gov’t but largely as with any other crisis, it will be the working classes of the world that will take the brunt of any actions, defensive or offensive that may be employed by any or all, of the participating parties…
      Having seen the replies to this thread so far and now having seen the reports of the incident, I am minded of my upbringing and my life with all of it’s twists and turns. The richness of the adventure that I’ve passed through, the ups and the downs, the elation and the deflation.
      Amongst the many things I’ve learned, is that forgiveness is certainly the most powerful ability possessed within humanity. I learned this through the early religious scripture classes as a young impressionable child at school. It stayed with me into adulthood, even as I slowly crept towards Darwinism and atheism. My heart has danced in many different steps and my mind has often been at odds with those steps. My soul has often rescued my mind from the desire to take deadly revenge and forced me to recreate the memories of sweet innocent childhood. A time when I trusted just about anyone and believed that all was well with the world. I would marvel in ignorant bliss at people, and achievements, not really understanding the secret agendas.
      Now I’m older, and very much more knowing and understanding, having experienced just about every emotion from just about every perspective, I’ve been smashed emotionally, been hooked upon substances, been hooked upon the sheer beauty of life both from the positive and negative aspects, I’ve been sad, happy, I have fought with my fellow man with a view to kill him, I have watched people die, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly; always in my view, with pain. I’ve suffered loss and I’ve suffered gain, It’s been a roller-coaster, still rolling still trundling still twisting and still turning; sometime with my blessing and no resistance from me and at other times, very much against my will.
      I can’t find the words fit to describe the turmoil that rages within me at these moments, or to elicit the episodes that have conspired to lead me to here. I burn with anger and the fire is stoked within my heart, I feel like taking up the weapons of evil and fighting evil, I want to march upon the evil carrying evil with me, leaving behind all that is good within me, to wreak bloody revenge and assault their evil with a greater evil…..
      Then however, my soul rescues me, yet again; compelling me to think with a clear head and to repress the evil about me and hold firm in my passionate beliefs: in forgiveness and passive nature, reminding me that my strength lies rooted in my ability to forgive. So I forgive the evil that is tossed against me, mine and mankind, I may bend but I will not break in the face of any evil, I will remain strong, I will retain hope, I will keep faith in humanity and I will, offer charity to my enemies. They will not beat me, they will not make me like them, I will oppose them at every juncture for as long as my heart pounds and I have the ability to breathe.
      I hope in the end, that I can be forgiven for all of my transgressions in the past, and for those that I will surely make in the future, for as it is, I recognise that I myself, am no closer to perfection than anyone else, I am fraught with fault and as such, will always find forgiveness. Therein lies my strength to do battle with my own fault and the fault of others, no matter how grave that they may be….
      We must continue the process that we have started, we must tread the passive way upon which we are now embarked. We must proceed to overthrow the Capitalist forces that compel us to continually grieve for our young. We must shine the light of real emancipation upon our youth, we must lay the foundations for a future that our young can maintain for their young and we must, as a priority, seek to lay down and forever to banish the weaponry of warfare… Only then, can we begin to eradicate the evil that preempts all of the actions of war.


      • micheline mason says:

        Thanks so much for this beutiful piece of writing and the sentiments within.
        Wow. What a collection of people is gathering…

  4. Mark Johnson says:

    On Wednesday a horrible horrible crime was committed on the streets of Woolwich. A young man, a soldier committed to defending our country was brutally hacked to death. Lee Rigby was 22 years old and much loved by his family and friends. The response by our government, the police, journalists and others has been swift and decisive. The attack was immediately described as “a terrorist attack”. The news was broadcast far, wide and frequently. The PM held a meeting of his security committee, COBRA, and the nation has been put on alert for the possibility of more such attacks; ones that we can’t see coming. Much of the reaction, some of it from people I know and respect, was knee-jerk and not properly thought out. It is saddening to see intelligent people falling into the trap of scapegoating a whole identifiable group of people. However, everyone, the nation, has expressed horror at those events.

    On Monday 29th April, a 75 year old grandfather of 22, a baker by trade was walking home in the evening. He never made it. On the way home he was stabbed in the back 3 times. He was stabbed so hard that the wounds went all the way through to his chest. He wasn’t robbed. Police believe that it could have been a racist attack. The man’s name was Mohammed Saleem and he had lived in the same house for 40 years and brought up 7 children. There was no government reaction, no meeting of COBRA, no description of the attack as, “terrorist”. Mr. Saleem was not a soldier but he was stabbed to death on our streets. Since the stabbing the local Moslem spokesmen have been urging calm amongst the community. They recognise the potential for anger and hatred to destroy the social cohesion of our nation. Urging calm and quiet reflection is what is needed in both of these situations.

    I have made a comparison because people need to understand what is happening and how our thoughts can be misdirected by the powerful and influential. Most importantly I am reminded of the words of John Donne, No Man is an Island.

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself.
    Each is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thine own
    Or of thine friend’s were.
    Each man’s death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.

  5. Dave K says:

    The statements by Kate Hudson (Lindsay German at Stop the War are very good and were got out quickly which is very important.

    While obviously British imperialism’s bloody wars provides the context and bears some responsibility there is also the responsibility of the political dead end of Islamist jihadism. We must also analyse and oppose the political line of the jihadists – their backward, anti-democratic, anti-woman ideology of fighting for a return of a worldwide caliphate. In practice it sometimes means older preachers ‘inspiring’ and sending out mostly young men on suicide missions. Just as there is a terrible waste of human life with the death of the young soldier in Woolwich there is also the awful stupid waste of the lives of the two attackers.

    Such a political line also has bears some responsibility for the political consequences of such events as we are already seeing. This political/religious line makes it more difficult to build opposition to imperialist wars and to islamophobia. Just because the imperialist wars breed the anger and despair does not mean that we ignore the political responsibilities of the jihadist leadership. Tariq
    Ali’s wonderful letter to a potential suicide bomber could be usefully reproduced as well as classic writings on the disaster of individual terrorism (Trotsky, Lenin etc). Just because there is a far right offensive using the Woolwich murder as a godsend for their faltering movement (they could not have asked for a more useful image to use than the bloodied hands rant) and a mainstream political/media narrative that ignores the imperialist war factor, that does not mean we should remain silent on this aspect.

    Finally such fundamentalist ideas are also much more easily able to find an audience if both the moderate and radical left are unable to reach out and win support among those in the communities that are attracted by such positions. Before the Iranian revolution, the fall of the Berlin wall, 9/11 and the Iraq/Afghan wars young radically minded men in those communities were generally involved in either secular national community organisations (IWA), anti-racist campaigns, community defence (Newham Monitoring group) or in the Marxist radical left. So the weakening of the left over the past decades has also, albeit in a minor way, allowed the jihadists a less contested field of operation.

    • Ally MacGregor says:

      I see that Kate has changed her picture to a more sombre looking one… Is this anything to do with the comments from Tom’s post, that was here but is now gone?? Is this the start of censorship of free thinking contributors or perhaps a mistake, that will be rectified soon…?


      • Alan Story says:


        Making comments about a person changing his/her photo is simply silly. End of.

    • Ray G says:

      It’s not only INDIVIDUAL terrorism that needs to be oppposed.

      • Ally MacGregor says:

        Alan, my comments were aimed more at what I perceive as censorship on the site. What Kate! or anyone for that matter puts up as a picture has very little effect upon me. However, removing posts for no other reason than, what I saw as a reasonable critique of a leading light within this project, is to my mind, a dangerous precedent and smacks of censorship and stifling of free debate. That isn’t silly, it is dangerous in my opinion….
        You on the other hand may wish to participate in such stilted environment, I do not….


  6. Dave K says:

    Yes it is not just individual terrorism but terrorist tactics and strategy in general which often involves the ridiculous idea that such spectacular actions can precipitate a bigger crisis and through this the masses will see the light and rise up. I suppose I used the word individual to distinguish this operation from more organised al quaida actions like 9/11. Of course in conditions of dictatorship violent actions carried out by individuals or small groups against the regime can have a morale boosting effect (eg during the antiapartheid struggle or against Franco in Spain). However it is mass action is key to successful change.

    • Ray G says:

      And we also need to oppose terror inflicted by armies or by the state – Iraq, Palestine, DRC Congo, Sudan, Syria, Sri Lanka, and so on, and so on. You can still be a terrorist even with an army uniform on.

      • Ray G says:

        I meant to add, that I agree – mass action is the real key, although if people feel they need to fight back against oppression, they deserve some solidarity.

  7. Today many activists took to the street in doncaster to support the firefighters campaign to save the service from decimation. Many many people signed our petitions against cuts, however has suspected many were openly blaming foreigners, much more than any other time i’ve been on the streets campaigning.
    Many of the campaigners were committed anti racists and anti war activists. No of us ducked the argument even though we were there primarily to support the firefighters, and we said the real problem was white men, who duck out of paying their taxes, like google and amazon.. We also said the real “foreigners” in our society were those that are ruling us and making all the life threatening cuts.
    WE pointed out the desperation felt by people who have to watch their family members bombed. Even and ex soldier said that blair and bush were to blame for what happened in Woolwich . Many people who signed our petition today are feeling that very same desperation. We suffered no hostility opposing racism, in fact anti cuts work on the streets of our towns is an uplifting way to combat racism in our society.

  8. Ben McCall says:

    It is right that we are active on a range of issues, using a variety of ways of involving people, including linking them in the way you describe Louise. But many people have already observed on this site, what Richard Seymour describes well in his piece

    “we have found ourselves torn between inertia and hyper-activism, the latter often covering up for the former, while basically getting nowhere. This is not to say that none of what we have done is worthwhile – it is to say that we have been impeded by old catechisms and fetishes that prevent us from seeing what is new.”

    I would add: habits and methods. Mark Perryman sparked a good discussion in his piece: which dealt with the same dilemma.

    My youngest daughter was yesterday trying to oppose the EDL march in Newcastle, with her friends; despite the coppers, who were so determined to be able to say “the event passed without much incident” to the press (and probably as quite a few of them sympathise with EDL) that –in their traditional style – they suppressed many of the opponents, apparently helped by the ‘dominant left sect’ in the ironically named Unite Newcastle!

    I have just spent the last two months campaigning against racist and fascist candidates in the election, with some of the hardest working, most engaging comrades in our fair town. But, in common with many left activists in many causes of late, I had to question – not whether this was the right thing to do, but – whether what we were doing was (i) the biggest priority (ii) the best method for achieving our objective and (iii) how many people were ‘listening’. This was not just the usual activist fatalism, brought on by fatigue, but a more profound questioning of all the above and a hope that we can soon, collectively, review all of this with the aim of getting much, much better.

  9. drydamol says:

    Cameron has no shame with his Bandwagon Politics .The Media hype only fuels fear among the Public about which scare agenda the Government want to follow on any given incident that grabs the Public’s attention .Although the killing of a British Soldier was abhorrent and should not be tolerated it was an act carried out against the Government’s Foreign Policy and not the British Public Successive Government’s have had a hand in more innocent Deaths in this Country than Terrorists have.Smith,Grayling and Nicholson have death on their hands through agencies they are connected with .Centred around cost cutting the NHS and ATOS have contributed to the early deaths of thousands ,but who is accountable ?

  10. Steve says:

    I am fully behind the denunciation of this disgusting hate crime perpetrated (we can justifiably assume) by deranged religionists motivated by a misguided sense of victimisation and a fascistic bigotry and hatred that warps their minds in a manner hard for most sane and rational people to understand.

    Having said that, there are some critical points to make.

    Firstly, Kate Hudson’s statement was significantly undermined by her idiotic use of the completely degraded and debased phrase “our thoughts and prayers are with…” This vile and moronic americanism has become a mark of utter insincerity and the fact that experienced leftist political activists allow it to slip into what should be well crafted and sincere sounding statements is deplorable.

    Secondly, although it is difficult to understand the thinking of someone who takes a meat cleaver and hacks an unarmed man to death in the street in an attempt to spread fear and terror and provoke a backlash and religious and cultural conflict, it is still necessary to try. These people (violent Islamist fanatics) are a real and present feature of modern political life and we must have an analysis in order to propose an adequate response.

    Thirdly, the fact that so many on the left (this is not sectarian point scoring but we all know who this refers to) have been willing to cosy up to, and collaborate with, Islamists, who are by definition Clerical Fascists, has helped to fuel and justify the misguided grievance of some Muslims. We know that Iraq and Afghanistan were not invaded because of hostility towards Muslims, and that the Palestinians are not occupied by Israel and ignored by the US and UK simply because most of them are Muslim. However, some on the left fail to make this point forcefully (or at all) when this dangerous lie is repeated by Muslim organisations or individuals in the UK. The willingness of some supposed leftists to pander to reactionary and essentially feudalist attitudes and sentiments just because they are expressed by people who have some sway in Asian communities has been a disgrace. Failure to condemn the constant use of the term ‘Islamophobia’ to denounce and de-legitimise verbal or written criticism or attacks on Islamism as an ideology and a set of (reactionary) political principles is also shameful.

    Fourthly and finally, the UK government (and the Labour opposition) has done its best to play up this violent but isolated and (in the UK) completely unprecedented crime and turn it into a national emergency, with leading politicians cutting short foreign visits and dashing to emergency meetings of COBRA as if this single incident represented a threat of imminent invasion. This ludicrous charade has not only played into the hands of the murderers of this unfortunate squaddie, it is also paving the way for more assaults on our rights and liberties in the name of “National Security”. A thoughtful and intelligent response is required, and naturally this is the last thing we will get from the Labour Party (those who still see LU as a means to push Labour to the left please note). The Home Secretary is orchestrating a campaign to revive the Snooper’s Charter (aided by the BBC who have mis-reported this as “Home Secretary Theresa May is coming under increasing pressure…”) and if the left is to oppose this then we need to specify what steps WE would advocate to tackle such violent and deranged ideologies, individuals and organisations. Simple oppositionism is not sufficient.

    • Ray G says:


      Hmm, Yes and no. Sorry everyone, but I think I need to reply at length.

      1 – This was an appalling attack by someone who is clearly damaged mentally and easily manipulated. It should be condemned. However, as a ‘sane and rational person’ I find it equally hard to understand why anyone would starve and reduce to misery the population of Iraq for years during the sanctions period, torture people in Abu Ghraib, drop unprecedented numbers of bombs and shells on Baghdad, including ones using depleted Uranium, knowing that thousands of innocent people will be killed either instantly or slowly by cancer, all in the name of a pursuit of WMD which did not exist, but really in order to open up Iraq to imperialist, neo-liberal super-exploitation. Let’s be even handed in our rhetoric of disgust.

      2 – The ‘thoughts and prayers’ cliche was a bit clumsy, even if Kate has genuine faith – inexcusable if she does not.

      3 – It is obviously mistaken that US imperialism and their allies have a specifically anti-Muslim agenda (although elements of racism are evident, especially in their pro-Israel agenda). When they were murdering and torturing all over Latin America they were not anti-Catholic, and when they were supporting Muslim Kosovo against Milosovic they were not anti-Eastern Orthodox. They are simply pro-profit for themselves. Their ideology always serves that purpose.

      However, Dave K is correct when he hints that the success of the new Jihadi ideologies is a reflection of the failure of the left, both here and in the Middle East and the wider Muslim world. Islam has been allowed to dominate the anti-imperialist debate, as well as the debate about fairness and justice in these countries because the left is absent. We need to engage with these elements and win them over to a genuine anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist position. It is not necessary for them to completely abandon their religion in order for this to happen, any more than the Sandinistas in Nicaragua needed to abandon Catholicism.

      4 – We DO need to be careful of intemperate language and an exaggerated demonising of Islam, as if it is a uniquely appalling religion. There are vicious, murderous and stupid things in the Koran but also in the Bible (yes – read it!). The extreme Al-Qaeda types are generally not Koranic scholars and simply use some stupid quote out of all context and this provides perfect material for the equally brain-dead EDL. The Ku Klux Klan were Christians, remember, as were the racist Afrikaaners and the British and American slave-owners. It is ridiculous to draw no distinctions between the Taliban in Afghanistan with the regime in Iran (for example). Look at the massive difference in the position of women in each country for a start. Equally the dark reactionaries of Al-Qaeda are NOT the same as the resistance fighters of Hamas or Hisbollah. I do not accept the politics, or religion, of any of the above but let’e be intelligent in our analysis. To say ‘Islamists, who are by definition Clerical Fascists,’ is just light-minded sloganising and empty rhetoric.

      When the EDL and the gutter press, and some on the left who should know better, think about Muslims they think about a red-eyed, frothing monster. I think of my neighbours in my street, my barber, my dentist, my optician, some of colleagues at work, my students from Iran, Libya, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Palestine and Syria, some of my friends in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, men and women, devout or more relaxed.

      5 – Yes, we do need to stop this dreadful incident from being used by the government and the knee-jerk illiberal Labourites, to take away our remaining civil liberties. They will start with the Jihadists but one day it may be our turn!

      PS – I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of SWP or Respect!

      • Steve says:

        Ray G makes several points – some good and some not so good – but at least they are an intelligent engagement so I will answer them.

        * Point 1. It is not hard (for me at least) to understand those who perpetrated or facilitated the murderous crimes committed by the Yanks (aided and abetted by New Labour and the British government of the time) in Iraq. This was neo-colonialism/imperialism in action and it was motivated by greed, hubris and a total disregard for the lethal consequences of the intervention on the ordinary people of the country and the region. As Ray says, opening up Irag to imperialism and gaining control of (and privatising) its oil reserves was the driving motive and any anti Muslim aspects were only incidental- useful in mobilising support in some quarters but not the meat of the issue.

        I think I understand imperialism and I oppose it where I can, but I see no justification in balancing the crimes of the imperialists against those of the Islamists. Certainly imperialism/neo-colonialism has more blood on its hands than Islamism over the past century and a half (and the rise of Islamism in the last fifty years has been partly fuelled by the outrageous ‘Western’ arming, financing and sponsoring of the racist Zionist settler state of Israel), but why is this relevant? Is it being argued that one helps to justify the other? If so then I disagree.

        * Point 2. Whether Ms Hudson has genuine faith or not, the cliche was inappropriate and idiotic. She was clearly associating the LU, of which she is a (effectively self appointed) co-leader, with her statement and therefore speaking for others. She did not say that SHE was praying and thinking – she said “OUR…”

        * Point 3. I don’t really disagree with this but I am cautious about the term “engage with”. One reason why the left is absent from much of the so-called Islamic World is because it has been driven out, or physically exterminated, by Islamists and/or those using religious rhetoric to mobilise support for reactionary causes. Often these forces have been used and sponsored by Imperialism. The CIA’s provision of death lists for the Indonesian (Muslim) Generals and militias in 1965 when the Indonesian Communist Party was annihilated along with the activists of virtually all other progressive movements and campaigns is one example. The US arming, and financing of the Mujahideen (via the Pakistani ISI) in Afghanistan, thereby creating the terroristic forces we see at work in both countries today, is another.

        The Iranian Tudeh (Communist) Party leadership unwisely tried to “engage” with Khomeini’s Islamists and ended up being tortured into making public confessions on state TV before dangling on the end of a rope.

        I agree it is vital that we seek to mobilise alongside and give support to progressive movements in the developing world but I draw the line some way before the point of allying with reactionary feudalists or fascists of any kind.

        * Point 4. I do not know (and frankly don’t see it as being that important) whether the Al-Qaeda types are “Koranic” Scholars” (I dispute the validity of this term – but that’s another argument) or not. I have no wish to engage in a theological debate with them or with anyone else. I do see some distinctions between the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and the Iranian theocratic dictatorship but they are both equally vile in my view.

        Islamism – by which I mean a movement seeking to impose and enforce the teachings of the Koran and the Hadiths (as variously interpreted by competing theocrats) as a political ideology to govern human society – IS Clerical Fascism. This is not a “light-minded” slogan but a statement of political reality. The fact that this fascistic ideology is often anti-imperialist (at least in its rhetoric – though some supposed Islamists seem to live quite happily with imperialism; the Saudi leadership for example) is no reason for us on the left to seek to minimise their crimes.

        * Point 5. Yes. I agree.

        I try not to use intemperate language where this might be mis-interpreted or counter productive, but I have had enough experience of working in the Anti-Racist Movement and working with black and Asian community organisations to know that pussy-footing around issues and holding ones tongue, thus allowing outrageous and reactionary statements to go unchallenged, is pointless (except perhaps for career preservation in some cases).

      • Steve says:

        Ray G – sorry. A point I missed in my first reply, but need to refer to.

        You spoke of the “resistance fighters of Hamas or Hisbollah” with apparent approval. Presumably this is on the basis that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. I understand this thinking but it is short-sighted and dangerous.

        I would classify both Hamas and Hisbollah as Clerical Fascists, and in the case of the latter organisation it is a deliberate creation of the Israeli state and effectively serves their purposes far more effectively than it serves the purpose of justice for the Palestinian people.

      • Ben McCall says:

        Apology accepted! Ray – a thoughtful and good response as usual, but I’d pick you up on one bit: “3 – It is obviously mistaken that US imperialism and their allies have a specifically anti-Muslim agenda … They are simply pro-profit for themselves.” Surely it is much more complicated?

        There are detailed analyses of the Catholic and evangelical – usually opposed, but now in wierd alliance, including key figures in the political, military and corporate complex (eg. rise of Blackwater et al) who do consider themselves to have a ‘mission’ to conquer Muslims, in a neo-crusading sense – and when you put the strange alliances (including Muslim) ‘supporting’ Israel into this equation it is mind-boggling; except it can’t be, as we have to understand the intricacies, if we are to effectively oppose it.

        Then you have the ‘end of history’ role that the political-military-corporate-intellectual complex (and its allies, including New Labour) briefly wrote for itself, but clings to stubbornly-morbidly-psychologically (“sole super-power” etc.) which as much explains Bosnia, Kosovo, even Somalia, etc. than the ruthless domination of raw materials or spheres of influence.

        It is too simple to say that profit is the only motive. As we know capitalism is a noxious cocktail of conscious/ sub/unconscious psychological-sexual-social-economic (ie. cultural) as well as the hard political-economic – which is why it is so successful and adaptable, even shortly after enormous crises, like now. Unless you are a straight structural-reductionist – which I find it hard to believe having followed your contributions on LU site closely as a fan – to over-simplify in this way is maybe a ‘blast from the past’?

      • Steve says:

        Ray – Oh dear. It’s late and I’m tired and not proof reading my posts properly before I send them so another correction is necessary to my last, short, comment. It is Hamas, and not Hisbollah, which was deliberately created by the Israelis (and then promoted into the dominant force in Gaza by an Israeli provoked Palestinian Civil War). Hisbollah is not a manipulated pawn of Israel (but it is still fascist).

  11. drydamol says:

    Does Cameron and his cronies think that the Public are Naive ,they have been pushing the threat of Real Terrorism down our throats over the last couple of years so why now the Snoopers Charter .The Woolwich Killing has reignited Public Safety so do the Government think the Public are now in the mood to be more accepting of another move against our privacy .Under the Terrorism Act you can be kept in Custody for 28 days ,have a Closed Session in Court all on Snooping Evidence be locked away and the Public would’nt have a clue .Apparently the accused was Tortured while in Kenya with the Governments knowledge and they said nothing.The only Opposition Party in this Country at Present is part of the Coalition the Libdems they oppose the Tories more than Labour.

    • Ray G says:

      John Pilger – what a hero. I’ve loved him since I was a child in the
      early 70’s!

      • Ben McCall says:

        Just read Pilger: yes, Blair – I cringe when I remember arguing with my mum, who was appalled at him being Labour leader, that “OK, I know what you mean, but we need someone like him now to make sure we beat the Tories” – is a good example of the weird complexity of C21st capitalism.

        Although I have agreed above about the necessity of our condemnation, I disagree with JP: “These crimes, their iniquity on a par with Woolwich” – nothing two people in the UK could ever do to someone they saw as a fellow combatant (to use the US prefered term) could ever be “on par” with the war crimes committed by the ‘coalition of the willing’, what we know they are doing and will do in the future, by their action and inaction (eg. Stiglitz & Bilmes’ Three Trillion Dollar War: the True Cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan Conflicts [now revised upto $4-6 trillion]. It is not the cost to ‘us’ but what it could have bought instead – a better life for all of humanity, something the 1% never prioritise and say we cannot afford or it is wrong as it will make us all lazy, blah blah … the trouble is they have managed to persuade a large part of the 99% that this is correct. Winning that battle of ideas is our future challenge].

      • Alan Story says:

        This is actually a reply to Ben McCall ( but no ‘Reply’ box on my screen to reply to his post.) I agree with your criticism of that one sentence in is article. Woolwich does NOT = Iraq + Afghanistan. But then no hero ( and as an ex-journo, he was/is also one of mine) is always right.

  12. Ray G says:


    I am also writing late at night (after a day at work and an anti-bedroom tax meeting), so I know what you mean. Apologies for typos, especially from an English teacher.


    1 – I am, of course, glad that you share my view of the ‘crimes of imperialsm’. I assumed you would. My point is just to emphasise how easy it it to get swept up in the moment into apoplexy, and rhetorical expressions of disgust when talking about ‘terrorist’ acts, while the vicious rulers of the world hide behind uniforms and ‘defensive actions’ and ‘collateral damage’ and ‘surgical strikes’ and all the other cant.

    2 – Fine

    3 – I am not for one moment suggesting that we ‘engage with’ the ruling party of Iran, or the Taliban, or even the leaders of Hamas or Hisbollah. We need to engage with the people who follow these movements in the absence of any left force. To do so we need a sophisticated approach, treating each trend within the incredibly diverse world of so-called ‘Islamism’ separately and proving why each one is misguided or reactionary or, indeed fascist in some cases. Al-Qaeda are out-and-out fascists, who represent no-one, as are many of the Jihadist preachers who are around them. The left need to exterminate their ideas wherever they pop up. Whatever you think of Hamas, they are the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people in Gaza, and as such have rights. Our response to them has to be different if we stand any chance of winning over Palestinians to the side of socialism.

    4 – My point here is that there is a widespread belief in liberal and progressive circles ( which has influenced the left as well) that Islam AS SUCH is a uniquely barbaric religion, and they often use ignorant quotes from Al Qaeda as if they represent the mainstream tradition. The truth is that there are as many versions of Islam as there are Muslims. There is no central Pope-like authority. It is more complex than just the simple Sunni/Shi’ia split. I see no more difficulty in principle in working with a Muslim in a campaign than with a Catholic or a born-again evangelical. This uniquely negative view of Islam, bordering on Islamophobia, is a divisive force, splits working people, gives support to the EDL etc and is damaging for our movement. We need to stand up against it.

    I guess you would prefer that no-one had a religion. That is a valid view, but most of the world’s poor and downtrodden DO, and we need to have a balanced and nuanced view in order to win them over to the ideas of equality and justice – socialism if you will. It is no good labelling the entire religion of Islam, shared by 1 billion pople worldwide, or any politician who is in any way inspired by it, as fascist. I do not support the government in Turkey, but they are clearly not fascists, nor is the regime in Tunisia. I am sure YOU know the difference between Iran and the Taliban but many people in this country believe they are all identical. They are both appalling regimes in their own way but they are on totally different scales of barbarity, and any Islamic person would expect us to know the difference. Talk to any Iranian on this subject and you will find out. The tragedy of the whole region is that, for all the distortions and the supreme constitutional power of the Iranian clerics, Iran was probably the most democratic country in the Middle East before the recent Arab Spring (leaving aside the complex question of the Israeli state). Saudi Arabia is a good deal closer to the Taliban model than Iran is. This highlights the hypocrisy of the Western ‘democrats’.

    5 – I am glad you agree.

    Good night (and God Bless ;))

  13. Ray G says:


    Of course the motives of all the politicians and theorists involved in the Western assault on the Middle East are very complex, bound up with an orientalist racism, Christan Zionism, Jewish Zionism and all sorts of other rubbish. However the hard-headed, and hard-hearted money men behind them are not ultimately doninated by such stuff. The bottom line, quite literally, is the neo-liberal necessity of maximising profit and opening new markets in parts of the world where, for one reason or another, they have been limited, regulated or excluded. I recommend, if you have not yet read it, ‘The Shock Doctrine’ by Naomi Klein. Careful – it can change your life!

    • Ben McCall says:

      OK, a blast from the present, but where does that actually get us. We need to be very careful – Klein is not the font-of-all-wisdom on this matter – otherwise we may narrow the sites of our struggle and continue to fail, as we currently are doing spectacularly, as I know you agree.

      I think over-simplifying the brilliantly adaptive qualities of the system of the super-rich means that we will never out-position or manouvre them; and I guess that is what we all want to do.

      Similarly, ‘solidarity’ with doomed parties in the Middle East won’t get us or them anywhere, neither will it help the people who are closer to us than them, politically, in places like Palestine or Lebanon.

      Interestingly, the centre-right are sometimes ‘better’ than the centre-left across Europe, on war, neo-colonialism/imperialism and a range of other issues; which goes to show that there is not a monolithic “hard-headed, and hard-hearted money men behind them” but a confused mess (unfortunately much better tactically than us, so far) of thought and action, on what to do about an inherently unstable and unsustainable social and economic system.

      Our failure to convince more young people that we are right and not to follow religious and other movements into a self-destructive and murderous cul-de-sac, is partly responsible for the issue at hand.

  14. Maciej says:

    Kate Hudson is a nice person, but much as Left Unity wishes to present itself as all shiny and new, there is little new under the sun. Pacifism, as espoused in this statement (“killing is never the answer”), has always been the hallmark of those who were prepared to let the strong walk all over the weak, and who looked on passively when the masters of this world stamped out all social progress.

    For historic examples, the centrist tendency of the Second International springs to mind – the one associated with the USPD, left Austromarxists, and Mensheviks. Many of these people were well-meaning socialists, but despite their verbal commitment to a better society, they proved to be appeasers, conciliators, and worse than useless when it came to the crunch.

    For a contemporary example, look no further than so-called peace activists in Israel. These nice folks campaign for ‘peace’, as if it weren’t already the case that everybody – including the Zionist establishment – wants ‘peace’. The trouble is it wants ‘peace’ on Israel’s terms – terms which are determined by its ongoing and expanding colonial project. If that project can be advanced without armed conflict, that’s all the better for the colonial overlords.

    Would Kate have argued for ‘peace’ in 1950s Algeria or 1980s South Africa? Would she have told WW2 partisans to ‘peace out’? Would she have told anti-fascists in the Spanish civil war that ‘killing is never the answer’? Would she condemn International Brigades for “intervening in other people’s countries”?

    Kate was a member of the old CPGB, and one would hope she was told somewhere along the way why it is that Marxists reject blanket moral condemnations of violence.

    Kate objects to the war on the grounds that it was “illegal”? She hopes that “principles of peace and justice” will be implemented by “our government”? Oh puh-lease, Kate. You can do better than that.

  15. Ray G says:


    Yes – I forgot to say I accept that Hamas was supported by Israel as a way of undermining Arafat and splitting the movement but my point still stands. We don’t need to support their policies, or suspend criticism but as the main resistance force to Israel and the elected Palestinain representatives we need to offer solidarity. Hisbollah is a similar case in Lebanon.

    I also accept that the left was crushed by the Iranian regimne and some other Islam-based forces in the Middle East, though it is a bit of a stretch to call Suharto in Indonesia in the 60’s an ‘Islamist’.

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