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Message to all liberals: ‘you’re in a hole—drop the shovel!’

With the local elections less than a month away, there seems to be more than a reasonable prospect that the BNP will make a breakthrough in the GLA elections in London. This should not come as too much of a surprise as immigration, often seen as a euphemism for race, has over the last decade or so, steadily climbed the rankings to near topping the table of concerns for many people.

And not only amongst working class people either, as a Dispatches programme broadcast on Monday April 7 seemed rather startled to discover. Entirely respectable middle class folk and more shockingly the working class blacks and Asians interviewed came across as equally disaffected. If the BNP do raise their game in the capital it will undoubtedly spark a fresh bout of hand-wringing amongst the liberal left (Dispatches,7 April 2008).

A less than encouraging prospect, as strategically they are already very much at sea.

Singer Billy Bragg, a long standing Labour supporter, recently issued a panicky call for anti-racists and anti-fascists to vote Tory ‘to keep the BNP out’. “I don’t like the Tories and everyone knows I don’t like the Tories, but the ideas that they have are about making a better society. The BNP aren’t like that.” Evidently Bragg is unaware that in the mayoral election in 2004, the second preference of many BNP voters went to the Conservative Party, with a reciprocal response coming the other way from Tory voters.

Overall voting trends showed that in the eyes of those voting for them the Conservatives, UKIP and BNP formed, a distinct, natural and fraternal right-wing bloc. Consequently the notion that championing one right-wing brand at the expense of another will automatically carry a positive pro-immigrant anti-racist message, and thus effect how this block of voters behaves in the polling booth is clearly absurd.

Indeed the greater likelehood is that more impotent and thus shriller the bleating, (‘Tory ideas are about making a better society’ – explain that one to the miners Billy) the greater the chance those it is aimed at will conclude that fundamentally they have been on the right lines all along. In other words serving to re-inforce their instincts rather than challenge them. .

But seemingly having bolted itself to the idea that race inequality was the last great injustice and that the white working class represented the last bastion of reaction, the liberal left demonstrates with every intervention that it is unable or unwilling to let go of this canard. This has been most recently proven by the ill-conceived ‘White Season’. Whatever the original thinking behind the BBC series, it illustrated all too clearly that the BNP are not the only ones unwilling or unable to transcend race.

Indeed to to try and trivialise or wish away working class resentments, ‘to label them mis-guided or even racist without recognising they are grounded in legitimate concerns’, as lecturer Sarah Churchwell (The Independent, 25 March 2008) put it recently, ‘actually widens the racial divide.’ And a wider divide must inevitably result in even more room for the BNP. The reality is that without social justice there can be no racial justice. So our message to all liberals is still: ‘you’re in a hole – drop the shovel!’
Below we print a speech given by IWCA Councilor, Stuart Craft to Oxford Trades Council on multiculturalism in December 2007, which neatly encapsulates the dangers and origins of multiculturalism.

Stuart Craft (Blackbird Leys IWCA Councillor) – Speech to Oxford Trades Council on multiculturalism

That we live in a multi-ethnic/multicultural society is not up for debate. The fact that this cultural mix has produced much to be proud of is something the IWCA has never taken issue with. In fact, as probably the most ethnically diverse political group in Oxford, we have benefited more from this than most.

What we take issue with is the inept political strategy of multiculturalism.

I never cease to be amazed at the way in which the IWCA’s position on multiculturalism is received by the middle class left.

Our position – which simply argues that to divide people along ethnic and religious lines through segregated housing, youth clubs and schools etc runs contrary to the interests of the working class – is one which most people, black and white, would see as pure common sense. Yet much of the ‘educated’ middle class left seem incapable of grasping this obvious and simple concept.

Multiculturalist policies are now recognised as counter-productive across the board. Everyone from the Bishop of York, John Sentamu to the Equality and Human Rights commission’s, Trevor Phillips, have made statements attacking it, and it is now commonly derided. Even a document from the Institute of Race Relations, titled, ‘In Defence of Multiculturalism’ published this year, admits that government sponsored multiculturalism is wrong-headed and counter to the interests of anti-racism!

Yet those with a political investment in it are determined not to give up their golden goose, no matter what damage is done as a result.

In Defence of Multiculturalism’s author, Jenny Bourne, argues that progress against racism in Britain has been achieved, not through government initiatives, but through community-based campaigns for equality and justice, and that the achievements of anti-racist campaigners have been undermined by multiculturalism as government policy. A paragraph from her document is worth quoting:

“In the early 1980s, the Thatcher government decided (after it had already been introduced into educational policies by Labour) to actively promote cultural policies as a means of combating disaffection within minority ethnic communities. The thinking went that the 1981 ‘riots’ came out of some sort of cultural deficit on the part of minority ethnic groups. And this could be addressed by the funding of local projects, which spoke to the needs of the different ethnic, cultural and religious groups.

In the process, multiculturalism lost its antiracist roots and remit and became institutionalised. It ceased to be an outcome of the struggle for equality emanating from below, and became, instead, policy imposed from above. And as the anti-racist component ebbed, multiculturalism degenerated into a competitive culturalism or ethnicism, which set different groups against one another as they competed for handouts and office.” (IRR Briefing,21 Februay 2007)

Though I would agree with the analysis that, if viewed as anti-racist in intent, state sponsored multiculturalism has failed miserably, Bourne’s critique differs from that of the IWCA in that it portrays divisive multiculturalism as the product of misplaced altruism rather than as deliberate strategy designed to undermine the struggle for social justice.

Though, for a registered political party, the IWCA’s position is unique in our time, the idea that the state uses multiculturalism to divide progressive working class movements is by no means a new one.

In the USA in 1969, the Africa Research Group had an article published in Ramparts magazine presenting convincing evidence that the CIA was promoting black cultural nationalism to reinforce neo-colonialism in Africa. This was, shortly afterwards, reprinted in the Black Panther newspaper to support the analysis that similar tactics were being employed closer to home.

The Panthers recognised what they called ‘Black Cultural Nationalism’ as a tool created by the establishment to undermine the organised working class. To quote the party’s co-founder, Bobby Seale: “Cultural nationalism sees the white man as the oppressor and makes no distinction between racist whites and non-racist whites, as the Panthers do. The cultural nationalists say that a black man cannot be an enemy of the black people, while the Panthers believe that black capitalists are exploiters and oppressors”.

In our time on Oxford City Council the IWCA has been alone in opposing cross party support for separatist schemes such as the Afro Caribbean Youth Project; the Asian young men only youth group; Muslim mothers swimming sessions and segregated ethnic minority housing. That the majority of Oxford’s citizens are excluded from these schemes and would view them as unfair is of no consequence to councillors desperate for their slice of the ‘ethnic vote’.

Meanwhile, the BNP watch patiently from the sidelines like vultures eyeing up their next meal.

The argument for extra resources for certain target ethnic groups is not driven by any desire to right wrongs – perceived or otherwise – it is driven by blind, intransigent, ideology.

A look at three examples of local schemes influenced by multiculturalism serves to expose this:

In 2003 a speaker at the presentation for the first Blackbird Leys Street Warden scheme trumpeted the fact that the number one priority for the new wardens would be racism. When pressed to produce figures to justify prioritising this issue he admitted there were none, explaining that “You have to understand that anti-racism is a central tenet of the Government’s street warden scheme.” When asked if this was the case even when racism is not a problem in the area, he replied, almost apologetically, “yes”.

Similarly, when I pointed out on another occasion that a requirement to encourage more black people into the Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre, to qualify for a Sport England grant, was superfluous as the number of black people using the centre is already proportionately higher than the official percentage of those living on the Leys, I was told, amidst red faces, that although I was right, we had to exaggerate race inequality or we would get no grant.

And to top it all, at a recent Health Scrutiny meeting a representative from a government funded mental health team stated, to nods of agreement from New Labour councillors, that we should strive to increase the number of ethnic minorities taking up mental health counselling (the current percentage being proportionately equal to the number within the catchment area). When I asked for an explanation, I was told that ethnic minorities are more impoverished; therefore suffer disproportionately from mental health problems.

It was only when I pointed out the nonsense of this statement and argued that to advance the notion that ethnic minorities are somehow more prone to mental health problems than everybody else is, in fact, racist, that the councillors changed tack and a decision was made to review the policy.

In the quest for the holy grail of the block vote, desperately needed to fill the vacuum created by the loss of its former working class heartlands, New Labour and its left wing satellites choose also to side with monolithic, reactionary religious groups. Gone are the days when socialists fought for secularism, where religion was viewed as ‘the opiate of the masses’ and clerics were kept at arms length – a view exemplified in the words of James Connolly from 1899:

“Socialism, as a party, bases itself upon its knowledge of facts, of economic truths, and leaves the building up of religious ideals or faiths to the outside public, or to its individual members if they so will. It is neither Freethinker nor Christian, Turk nor Jew, Buddhist nor Idolator, Mahommedan nor Parsee – it is only human.”

The old, working class orientated, left challenged the reaction of the clerics. Today’s left act as their cheerleaders. In Oxford, New Labour’s support for the Church of England backed Peers Academy – which is likely to pave the way for more faith schools – and its support for the Islamic, Iqra Girls school are cases in point.

We also have, apart from the IWCA, all party support for the call to prayer to be broadcast from the Manzil Way mosque – the very mosque whose spokesman recently declared his support for the Sudanese government in its prosecution of a British teacher for allowing her class of 7 year olds to name a teddy bear Mohammad – a decision which led to public demonstrations for the teacher’s execution.

In Britain, advocates of multiculturalism pursue parity for all cultures, whether secularist, Satanist or religious fundamentalist. This is madness. Unless we work from a standpoint of universal rights and wrongs – and multiculturalism refuses to do this – we allow ourselves to be gagged and bound while reactionary ideas and movements, which threaten to undermine the progressive achievements of past generations, grow unfettered.

In 1969, Black Panther, Linda Harrison pointed out, when attacking the black cultural nationalists, that “a culture that does not challenge wholly and resolutely the dominant and exploitative forces – political, economic and social forces – is a culture which is either pre-slavery, pre-colonialist or completely made up and in either case completely useless”.

The ruling elite embraces multiculturalism and its component parts – religion and cultural nationalism, because, they offer, to again quote Linda Harrison, “no challenge or offence against the prevailing order”.

Nearly forty years on, Harrison’s words of wisdom – stunning in their simplicity – tell us everything we need to know about the driving force behind state sponsored multiculturalism. The Panthers position is important in that it serves to illuminate the chasm between the old, class-conscious left, and its modern, race obsessed, counterpart.

To one degree or another, the political strategy of multiculturalism has been successfully applied to help crush and contain potentially progressive national liberation movements across the globe. From Ireland to Africa and across the Middle East, the old left had no problem identifying divide and rule tactics. But today, blinded by the lunacy of relativism, ‘socialists’ habitually back the wrong horse. That the latest cause célèbre amongst many on the left is Islamism – possibly the West’s most formidable Frankenstein’s monster to date, underscores this point perfectly.

Lets make no bones about it. Multiculturalism is not a supplement to social justice, but a replacement for it. You can be for one, or the other, but never both.

2 Responses to “Message to all liberals: ‘you’re in a hole—drop the shovel!’”

  1. Tensions… « Looking up from underneath… Says:

    [...] Welcome to the bitter fruits of multiculturalism where a relativist over-sensitivity to ‘respecting’ cultural mores has led to the withering of progressive, universal values and the rise of parochial, reactionary and backward sentiments. Defending progressive values means having the courage to stand up and roundly condemn reactionary social attitudes and practices. Over the last few decades, fewer and fewer people on the left have been willing to do this – instead they have been preaching the dubious value of ‘celebrating’ diversity without applying any critical thought whatsoever as to exactly what it is that is being ‘celebrated.’ The consequence of this is that we now have fundamentalist nutters saying they want sharia law to hold sway in the UK and no-one on what little remains of the left bats an eyelid. It’s only progressive pro-working class groups such as the Independent Working Class Association (IWCA) who have the courage to challenge the doctrine of multiculturalism that has led us to the edge of a potentially explosive and dangerous situation. See this piece from the IWCA – Message to all liberals: ‘you’re in a hole—drop the shovel!’ – [...]

  2. russ Says:

    i think that the liberals hold so much sway now in all tiers of national and local government including the civil service. that a lot of work is needed to awaken people and stop us sleepwalking into a kind of liberal fascism.

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