|Corbyn is not a pacifist.|
The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has yet again focused on the claims that SAS forces killed Afghan civilians. There are also claims that these soldiers attempted to cover-up the evidence against them. Corbyn believes that these accusations should be investigated by an independent inquiry.
Quotes have appeared – from military police and defence sources – which show that there is “strong evidence” that SAS military personnel killed captured civilians suspected of being Taliban insurgents.
These claimed emerged in Operation Northmoor, which was a Royal Military Police investigation. Despite all that, the Ministry of Defence has said that the RMP found no evidence of criminal behaviour.
There’s no doubt about it. Soldiers who abuse their position or break the rules should be disciplined. That’s certainly the case if they kill civilians. Nonetheless, it all depends on whether or not such people are indeed civilians. And even if they are civilians, it also depends on whether or not they’re collaborating with the enemy. Still, even if they are collaborating, that, in itself, doesn’t mean that it’s lawful to kill them. It all depends on very many variables.
So why is Jeremy Corbyn referring to this case? He’s doing so – obviously – for political reasons. It should also be noted here that in the past Corbyn has called for similar inquiries in the cases of Orgreave, British army actions (interestingly enough) in Northern Ireland, the Falkland Islands, etc.
|Corbyn is not a pacifist.|
Of course when it comes to what Corbyn really thinks and believes about these matters and the British army, we now face the philosophical problem of “other minds”. Nonetheless, we can take a semi- or quasi-behaviourist position on Corbyn’s mind. That is, we can judge him by his words and deeds instead. In any case, we could never prove that Corbyn “really believes” p; just as other people could never disprove that he really believes p.
However, as an international socialist, Corbyn has always been against the British army. If you trawl through his public pronouncements and writings, you’ll find much anti-British army (as well as anti-police) rhetoric. He saw the army as being “part of the capitalist state” (not his own words). Of course, as an MP, he’s had to tone his views down. When he became Labour leader, he toned them down some more. And during the election, he was even more prudent and circumspect.
Nonetheless, even when speaking in Parliament, Corbyn said that British taxpayers should be able to choose whether or not they pay taxes which fund the British army. According to the Telegraph:
“During a House of Commons debate in 1999, the Islington North MP proposed letting people opt out of giving tax revenue to the Army.
“’What policy is adopted by his Department in respect of taxpayers who do not wish to pay certain elements of taxation on grounds of conscience,’ he asked Treasury ministers on June 24.
“Mr Corby continued: ‘British taxpayers have a right of conscience not to participate in the armed forces in time of conscription and should have a similar right in time of peace to ensure that part of their tax goes to peace, not war.’..”
(I wonder if Corbyn has the same views about tax-payer choice when it comes to paying taxes which go towards universities, the NHS, public housing, the roads, railways, etc.)
Phil Shiner, the disgraced lawyer and self-described “committed socialist”, is also very good example of a socialist who attempted to take large-scale action against the British army.
In the Guardian‘s words:
“The campaigning human rights lawyer Phil Shiner has been struck off as a solicitor after he was found guilty of multiple professional misconduct charges, including dishonesty and lack of integrity…
“The tribunal found Shiner guilty of 22 misconduct charges. They were proved to the criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt…
“Shiner claimed UK soldiers had captured, tortured and murdered innocent Iraqi civilians after the Battle of Danny Boy near Amara in 2004…
“The tribunal was told the men’s purported witness accounts were fictitious and PIL stood to benefit from damages cases linked to the claim.
“Shiner had admitted eight allegations of acting without integrity, including that he made ‘unsolicited direct approaches’ to potential clients…
Finally, the Guardian quotes the Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon thus:
“‘Justice has finally been served after we took the unprecedented step of submitting evidence on his abuse of our legal system. Phil Shiner made soldiers’ lives a misery by pursuing false claims of torture and murder – now he should apologise. We will study any implications for outstanding legal claims closely.’”
Interestingly enough, previous to Phil Shiner’s disgrace, the Guardian was a staunch supporter of his work against the British army. He even wrote articles for the Guadian. (See, for example, his ‘UK links to torture go beyond complicity to active involvement’ written only a couple of years ago.)
Corbyn’s Entryism into the Labour Party
Jeremy Corbyn has taken Trotskyist and communist “entryism” into the Labour Party to the next level. Thus he has always been very careful with his words, if not equally careful with his deeds and actions. (That’s despite the image that he’s a “very principled MP”.)
Strictly speaking, however, Jeremy Corbyn can’t be an entryist because he’s always worked through official channels. For one, he was voted in as an Member of Parliament way back in 1983. And since then he’s worked within the confines of the Labour Party and the Parliamentary system. It can therefore be said that it’s revolutionary socialist ideas – rather that explicit revolutionary socialists themselves – that are now firmly entrenched in the Labour Party.
Having said that, Corbyn’s views and actions are often staunchly against what other socialists call “capitalist democracy”. Thus it’s quite clear that one can work within a system which one ultimately wants to destroy. This happened with both the National Socialists and Hamas in 1933 and 2006 respectively. The Nazis, after their election, brought about a one-party state led by a fuhrer. Hamas, similarly, staged what has widely been called “a coup” in 2007 which obliterated all opposition.
In the case of Corbyn, we’d also need to say why – or if – he wants to destroy our parliamentary system and exactly what he takes that system to be.
Corbyn as a Gramscian
|Corbyn is not a pacifist.|
Trotskyists and communists have attempted to infiltrate the Labour Party since the 1920s. In the 1980s, such “entryism” was rife. For example, there was the Labour vs. Militant war which lasted – on and off – for 17 years (between 1975 and 1992). There was also many Labour leadership battles with rogue Labour councillors and MPs.
However, these Trotskyists and communists never achieved as much political power as they’d hoped to. As Antonio Gramsci suggested, they had already taken over many “institutions”. Nonetheless, they haven’t taken over one vital institution: the House of Commons. Indeed they hadn’t even created a Labour Leader… until Jeremy Corbyn. And what better Gramscian institution is there than a political party which has millions of supporters?
Corbyn must have ideas which are very similar to those expressed by the revolutionary Leninist, Richard Seymour (who’s written for the Guardian, Al Jazeera, the New Statesman and the London Review of Books). Seymour (an admirer of Gramsci) has now given up on the Socialist Workers Party (which he left in 2013) – and revolutionary socialism generally (in the sense of believing in a violent revolution) – and opted for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party instead.
Like Corbyn, Seymour is very angry that the Left hasn’t, as yet, achieved total power. He writes:
“[W]hy, in more than five years of turmoil for the global capitalist system, has the left made such a practically negligible impact?”
“By the time oppositional forces work out an analysis of what is happening, figure out some tactics and get their people in motion, the terrain has already been occupied by those in power.”
That’s precisely why Richard Seymour now supports Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. He’s sick of what he calls Leftist “groupuscules” and more-Left-than-thou peacockery. He, like Corbyn, wants state power. That’s why Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party. And that’s also why he’s only just fought an election campaign.
The (other) Gramsci institutions are no longer enough. The Left wants total power.
|Corbyn is not a pacifist.|
Corbyn’s claims about SAS soldiers should be seen within the Marxist light underlined above. We should doubt that he cares that much about injustice or the killing of innocent civilians. Remember, this man supported the IRA and still supports Hamas and Hezbollah. He has had good words to say about Trotsky, Che Guevara, the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. All these groups, people and states were large-scale killers. They were also oppressors.
So, to repeat. Corbyn doesn’t care about the killing of innocent civilians. He cares about having a go at the British army because he still sees it (to quote other radical socialists) as “an arm of the British capitalist state”