Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Messengers of Qaddafi 2 (1977)

Workers Vanguard No. 174 (23 September 1977)

More from Healy, Messenger of Qaddafi

The Healyite Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) of Britain has intensified its year-long pandering to the despotic regime of Colonel Muamar Qaddafi's underpopulated but oil-rich Libya to new heights of shameless glorification following last month's brief military conflict between Egypt and Libya. The border clashes between Egypt and Libya represented nothing more than a power struggle for influence in the Arab East between two comparable bourgeois-nationalist regimes, which have consistently answered the democratic aspirations of both Libyans and Egyptians with savage repression. Neither side is deserving of support by socialists.

The WRP, now under the leadership of general secretary Michael Banda, seized on the conflict, however, to provide additional services to what it is pleased to revere as the “Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” the new Qaddafi-inspired name for Libya. Workers Vanguard first exposed the WRP's weirdly grovelling lauding of the Libyan dictator several months ago (see “Healyites, Messengers of Qaddafi,WV No. 158, 20 May 1977). Since then the WRP's grotesque and fulsome support to Qaddafi has provoked widespread comment in the British left press, as well as in the London Manchester Guardian (16 August).

The WRP (formerly the Socialist Labour League) has a long history of political banditry and Stalin-style organizational methods. Following their hatchet job expulsion of the Spartacist tendency from the 1966 London International Committee (IC) conference, consolidating a rotten bloc of political convenience, the Healyites' cynical organizational methods found political expression a year later in cheerleading a classless “Arab Revolution,” and chronic tailing of Stalinist forces such as Ho chi Minh and the Chinese Maoist Red Guards.

The Healyite operation during the last decade has been built on the principles of a con game, with a central focus on milking high-income “angels” through gimmicky pretensions to mass influence. Combining internal intimidation of members with violence and slander against left opponents, including dragging them into the capitalist courts when convenient, the shrill tone of the Healyite fake “mass press” (Workers Press, News Line) recently reached a new height of witchhunting frenzy in filthy attempts to smear Joseph Hansen, spokesman for the reformist Socialist Workers Party, as an “accomplice of the GPU” in Trotsky's assassination. But the corrupt Healyite “method” of political banditry has reached a revolting nadir in the WRP/ IC's current fealty to the dictator Qaddafi.

Following the Egypt-Libya clash, the WRP Central Committee issued a statement giving full support to the “Libyan Revolution,” stating that “the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi would be a major setback for Palestine and for Africa.” “Unlike Sadat, the Colonel enjoys universal support amongst the Libyan workers and peasants,” the WRP Central Committee asserted (News Line, 25 July)-and perhaps there is a grain of truth here, since any Libyan who dared oppose the dictator would be swiftly thrown in jail, or worse!

The WRP organized a picket outside the Egyptian embassy in London on July 25, during which Banda and film actress Vanessa Redgrave personally delivered a letter of protest against Sadat to the ambassador. At a special meeting organized by the WRP in “support of the Palestinian and Libyan revolutions,” Banda made a lengthy speech repeating almost word for word the line of the Libyan government. The crowning glory of the WRP's efforts was a “joint communique” put out by the WRP Central Committee and an official delegation from the “General People's Congress of the Libyan Jamahiriya” – i.e., that fake body (which meets once a year) created by Qaddafi as a facade for his dictatorship. The communique (published in News Line, 10 August) hails former Egyptian leader Nasser and his “1952 revolution” which Qaddafi is asserted to be continuing, and praises Qaddafi and his “people's democracy” to the skies – that “people's democracy” whose slogan is “parties arc treason” and is pledged to “purge all the sick people who talk of Communism, atheism...” (New York Times, 22 May 1973)

This unsavory alliance is being trumpeted by the WRP press. Under the grandiose headline, “Unity of the British and Arab Revolution,” the Young Socialist (20 August), organ of the WRP's youth affiliate, introduces the, communique:
An anti-imperialist alliance has been established between the Workers Revolutionary Party and the Socialist People's Libyan Jamahiriya which marks a milestone in the development of the world socialist revolution.”
It is indeed a milestone of sorts – but rather of the sordid and corrupt nature of the WRP, whose only hint of distance from strongman, Qaddafi, is a brief statement in their Central Committee statement of July 25 that,

Colonel Gaddafi is not a communist and certainly not a 'puppet of the Soviet bureaucracy' as Sadat alleges, but hebelieves passionately in the struggle to liberate Arab and colonial people from imperialism. The Workers Revolutionary Party, despite ideological and political differences with Colonel Gaddafi [these are never specified [WV], unconditionally endorses his anti-imperialist views and pledges to defend his leadership against imperialism andits agents.”

Do these “differences” include the recent statement of the Libyan ambassador to Britain that, “If anyone can help find a solution to the Middle East problems, it is Britain” (Arab Dawn, March 1977)? Or include a “difference” over the imprisonment of suspected Trotskyists in Libya? We doubt that the readers of News Line will ever know. The WRP is quite explicit in its allegiance. Its bookshop pushes copies of the Libyan embassy's propaganda brochure on Egypt entitled “The Truth,” which praises Libya's “self restraint and concern for Arab blood in the war.” The printer of this little brochure, interestingly, is the same obscure printer in Runcorn (rather far from London) used by many Healyite publications, including News Line.

While the WRP is wholeheartedly committed to Qaddafi, it is unlikely that the Libyan government's tolerance for even that most loathsome caricature of Trotskyism will be very long-lasting. There may be a certain limited welcome for such prominent personalities as Vanessa Redgrave in the mod, if slightly seedy, Libyan embassy today, which prominently displays a poster advertising Redgrave speaking on Qaddafism in its press suite foyer. But the heat of the “anti-imperialist” colonel's current desires are revealed in the March issue of the Libyan embassy magazing, Arab Dawn, which calls on the cover for “Rapprochement with Britain.” In the interests of this “rapprochement,” Qaddafi has alread ditched the Irish Republican Army. Arab Dawn (October 1976) published an interview with Qaddafi by Arnaud de Borchegrave of Newsweek, who asked, “What about your material support to the Irish Republcan Army?” To this Qaddafi replied: “Our relations with London and Dublin are improving rapidly, and we will soon be exchanging ambassadors with Ireland. The IRA chapter is behind us.”

When the WRP relationship becomes embarrassing to him, Qaddafi will inevitably also put the “WRP chapter” behind him as well. But the WRP will not be able to put behind it this record of crass corruption of revolutionary morality, its utterly revolting glorification of one of the more eccentric, megalomaniacal dictators of the 20th century. The real betrayal, if we can use a word implying a residue of integrity, is that of the Libyan foreign ministry, because the Tripoli government undoubetdly believes it has an important British daily presenting its views, just as in the period before World War II every second-rate power had their press organ in Paris. The venal Banda-led WRP has gotten itself a “good deal” - but not for long.

The WRP's fundamental character as political bandits and con men is well known. However, the WRP's unadorned press pimping for Qaddafi falls well outside the bounds of the working class movement. It is a shameless and shameful act, a truly terrible betrayal of the most elementary class principles. If the WRP can swallow Qaddafi, what other anti-working class forces within Britain itself might they not find it to their advantage to do a deal with?