Kevin Ovenden on Paul Mason's alleged plans to collude with the state to attack the anti-war left
There has been a good deal of discussion about the claims that Paul Mason has been working and looking to work more deeply with British intelligence and others to get academics sacked and to destroy the anti-war left.
I would make this point. To explain this it isn't necessary to look for external or psychological factors. The direction of travel has been clear for the last five years.
First, the obsession with the anti-imperialist left and the liberal theory of the two extremes.
Building upon that, interventions arguing that antifascism is successful only when working with the liberal-democratic state in what he calls a popular front. I understand his book on fascism uses Greece as an example justifying that strategy. That's the opposite of the truth. The antifascist movement intervened by slicing into the state the better to expose the critical support parts of it lent to Golden Dawn.
Of course, Mason argued, one must have democratic oversight of the state to make sure elite forces, and the hard right itself, don't use it for their purposes.
But that is provided by parliamentary democracy. For all the nods to bits of Marxism, he really did mean it when he relaunched himself as a social democrat.
It's then just a short leap to justifying to oneself that working with what used to be the unmentionables associated with the Foreign Office and Home Office - MI6, MI5 and the others - is not only justified (as part of the global struggle against the new fascism, you understand) but is without danger because you yourself will be in a position of oversight.
You are very clever. You are important. You will ensure it doesn't get out of hand. And you will be on hand to say which academics should be purged, which should be pulled into the operation, and which persuaded to be more careful in the future.
And because you have control, this will not be an anti-left operation. Rather it will be against the "Starls" and "Tankies", words that are used to describe the whole of the anti-imperialist left. You are the native informant who can advise who is the acceptable far left and who is an enemy of both you and of the state.
You can even tell yourself it is what Trotsky would have done if you still face any cognitive dissonance with your past.
(Trotsky did no such thing, which is why he was banned from the western imperialist states. Had he done, entire universities and institutes would have been named after him in the West.)
So all this is perfectly explicable on the known and publicly available interventions - including an obsession with and fixation upon the Morning Star newspaper and the Stop the War Coalition.
If you make a political choice that it is very important to destroy the anti-imperialist left, then this is the logical end point.
You could call it the anti-Stalinism of fools. But it is linked very closely to the pro-statism of social democracy.
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Kevin Ovenden is a progressive journalist who has followed politics and social movements for 25 years. He is a leading activist in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, led five successful aid convoys to break the siege on Gaza, and was aboard the Mavi Marmara aid ship when Israeli commandoes boarded it killing 10 people in May 2010. He is author of Syriza: Inside the Labyrinth.
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