Sunday, 26 August 2012

Nick Cohen Is Away

As it does not say where his Observer column would normally have been.

Has this once unmissable, but now often risible, writer finally been dismissed from that organ? Does the Sun on Sunday beckon at last as a much-delayed reward for the man who, if hardly untypically, puts the neo into neoconservatism?

The Trotskyist origins of the USS Neocon Mothership remain surprisingly little-known, but they are common knowledge compared to the roots of Blairism in the pages of Marxism Today. On this Notting Hill Carnival weekend, and that in the midst of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, such ignorance may be seen within the context of the strange silence that surrounds the historical role of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

Cohen, David Aaronovitch and other cheerleaders for Blair's Wars, and for repetitions in Syria and Iran, are never asked about their backgrounds. Or if they are, then they are asked about being Jewish, which they barely are. Did either of them have a Bar Mitzvah? Their formative experiences were altogether different from anything like that.

The International Brigades are made to appear as if they only existed in order to provide the background to a chapter in the biography of George Orwell. That in turn points to the fact that the CPGB has a positively high profile in our historical consciousness compared that of the ILP. It suits some interests down to the ground that there be as little discussion as possible of what actually went on in the Spanish Civil War, or of the historical existence of an anti-Stalinist and anti-Trotskyist Left with deep rural roots, whether in Britain or in Catalonia, among other places.

Think what you will of the "People's Jubilee" held at the Alexandra Palace in 1977 against the Silver Jubilee successfully organised by the Labour Government of the day. Regular readers can imagine my view. But if it is ever mentioned at all, and the historical record must be comprehensive in order to be accurate, then it is credited to the SWP rather than to the unmentionable Communist Party.

And so one could go on.

As to Cohen's apparent disappearance, so to speak, from The Observer, who might replace him? Neil Clark? Julian Assange?


  1. Is the ILP Contingent at least a partial exception your no dog in the fight, pity only one of them could lose view of the Spanish Civil War? And you do realise, don't you, that your view on that war is exactly the same as Oliver Kamm's?

  2. Yes, although there might also be others, of a Social Catholic persuasion, on the other side. I should be very interested to find out.

    And yes.

  3. The Right Opposition lives. But however much you might like the Partit Obrer bit, surely you would have to draw the line at the Unificació Marxista?

  4. It was the Workers' and Peasants' Bloc before it got mixed up with the Trots.

    The thing about us London Bureau types and Two-and-a-Halfers is that we take each other as we find each other in order to influence each as best we can.

    That meant the ICO in its many manifestations taking the ILP as it found it, complete with temperance Methodists, Social Catholics, Burkean lovers of the organic Constitution and of the organic countryside, the lot.

    And you could make a very good case that the ICO ended up where Fenner Brockway and the ILP were, not the other way round. The ones who didn't were in Alsace and in the Sudetenland. If you don't know, then you can guess.

  5. As of course you know, Trotsky opposed the merger with the BOC. As things turned out he was right. Trots never did get anywhere in that, in the French Workers' and Peasants' Socialist Party of Marceau Pivert, in the ILP, in any part of the family. Almost a forgotten family now. You should do something about that.

  6. And then there were, and are, the Left Christian Democrats in Italy and Germany.

    Even, at a push, the Cattocommunisti. And the CDU within the East German Bloc Party system, which was still voting against abortion in the Volkskammer as late as 1972, and which expelled its own pro-Honecker top brass as late as 1989 and 1990.

    Leading to the world of political Protestantism in East Germany, and thence into the world of political Catholicism in Poland. Is what the former Eastern Bloc has become really what all those East German pastors and Polish priests had had in mind? I think that we all know the answer to that one.

    There and here, however, such is very much the economy, society, culture and polity advanced in Marxism Today until it had penetrated even the skull of Tony Blair. It is notable that New Labour's inspiration from within the CPGB came from a former theoretical journal which had deliberately turned itself into a lifestyle magazine.

    But it is also notable that, whereas Marxism Today has not come out regularly since 1991, and not at all since a one-off in 1998, the Morning Star still comes out six days every week, and Ed Miliband recently addressed a hundred thousand people over an advertisement for it.

  7. Wasn't Glasman offered a Sun on Sunday column but turned it down?

  8. No, he prepared an article for its first edition but they didn't run it, doubtless along with numerous others. The Guardian had to apologise for suggesting so much more than that. Maurice ought to have a permanent platform somewhere, though.


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