Pseudoleftism and the Self-Destruction of George Galloway

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George Galloway is not someone to be allied with. Every political cause he champions becomes damaged; everything he gets involved in becomes a scandal. Members of the British parliament are expected to be hypocritical, ego-driven, and self-serving at times – they are politicians, after all – but Galloway exhibits all three traits constantly and with a uniquely manic ferocity.

Despite his politically destructive and wholly opportunistic behavior, he is undoubtedly popular among British Muslims; their support remains important to keeping him in the House of Commons. This enduring support will not be easily undone even though it has outlived its legitimacy.

The onset of the “global war on terror” after Al-Qaeda’s destruction of the World Trade Center saw Muslim communities in the West come under sustained attack by the state, the media, the political parties, by institutional and individual bigots. Very few social forces and very few persons swam against this tide of Islamophobia; Galloway was one of them. Many Muslims will be forever grateful that this white Catholic Labour Party man stuck up for them when he had everything to lose and nothing to gain from doing so and are willing to overlook his crass defense of Muslim-murdering tyrants.

We are running ahead of the story.

As the war in Afghanistan wound down and the war in Iraq wound up, Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party for bucking Prime Minister Tony Blair’s pro-war pro-Bush line. He encouraged British troops to disobey their orders to prosecute a patently illegal war and hailed Iraqi resistance to the American-led occupation:

“These poor Iraqis – ragged people, with their sandals, with their Kalashnikovs, with the lightest and most basic of weapons – are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars, with 145 military operations every day, which has made the country ungovernable by the people who occupy it. … Most of the children, most of the schools, most of the buses, were bombed by the United States. Let’s keep this clearly in perspective: Most of the children who died in Iraq were killed by George Bush, not by Zarqawi. Most of the schools that were wrecked, buses that were bombed, hospitals that were destroyed, lives that were taken, were taken by George Bush, not by Zarqawi. … Most of the operations which they carry out are against the occupying forces and their collaborators, and this is normal in every liberation struggle.”

For this, Galloway became a hero not only to Muslims but to the millions around the globe who marched to stop the invasion before it began and to end the occupation once the invasion was a done deal. Both groups were either unaware of or downplayed Galloway’s predilection for befriending tyrants since beggars can’t be choosers. Besides, pro-war neoconservative rightists like Christopher Hitchens tarred every opponent of the 2003 Iraq war as being ‘pro Saddam,’ robbing the charge of any sting even when it was true as in Galloway’s case. He damaged the campaign to end murderous U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War of 1991 as a worthy pro-people humanitarian project by spending Christmas with Saddam Hussein’s deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, and personally telling the Butcher of Baghdad, “I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability.” 

Galloway has always acted as the tribune of the hangman in the name of his victims.

The invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was an unmitigated disaster that propelled Galloway to the peak of his power, influence, and moral stature in British politics. The bloody madness that tore occupied Iraq apart seemed to vindicate his reactionary brand of anti-imperialism that insists Western governments are always and everywhere more reactionary than any other social force, that they are always and everywhere the main enemy of progress and civilization, and that they can do no right and no good abroad regardless of context. This brand of anti-imperialism is unfortunately not unique to Galloway but is the common property of the British liberal and far left generally and the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) specifically. In 2003-2005, these elements tried to capitalize on the political wind in their sails by creating a party to the left of Labour called Respect. Its main constituencies? The millions of people fed up with Labour’s slavish devotion to Bush’s wars and the Muslim community, the main victims of the Tory-Labour post-September 11 Big Brother state.

Galloway’s expulsion from Labour and affiliation to the newly formed Respect party freed him from any serious institutional checks and balances to say and act however he pleased. This obnoxious loud-mouthed minnow swimming in Labour’s vast ocean became a big fish in a very small pond overnight.

The first sign that Galloway’s ego unchained would be a problem for the fledgling Respect project came in 2006 when he unilaterally decided to appear on the reality-TV show Celebrity Big Brother alongside weighty intellects such as Dennis Rodman and Jodie Marsh after being elected as Bethnal Green and Bow’s MP on the Respect ticket. The Socialist Workers Party (SWP), the single largest organized and active organization operating within Respect, did nothing to bring Galloway to heel over this decision. For many voters, Galloway behaving boorishly in trite personality conflicts while wearing red pajamas would be their first encounter with Respect and Respect activists were forced to endure the embarrassment engendered by the party’s most powerful member as he played house with celebrities for pay.

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The SWP preferred working with (and manipulating) star individuals on platforms over building up Respect from the grassroots level upwards into real fighting, mobilizing party complete with the necessary transparency, inner-party democracy, accountability, and formal structures that alone could keep the new party reasonably healthy. Galloway, as the other main force in Respect, had the same preference.

Later, Galloway partially reversed himself and warned that Respect needed a more professional apparatus and serious fund-raising to avoid collapsing. The SWP reacted in horror at the prospect of creating a real alternative to itself and responded with a reversal of its own, not only ending its collaboration with Galloway to keep Respect from developing organizationally but splitting Respect in two in an attempt to maintain bureaucratic dominance. The SWP succeeded in holding onto a shell of the Respect project while Galloway took its meager living innards, almost all the non-SWP elements, with him under the name of Respect Renewal. Only after their ugly divorce did the SWP raise a hue and cry over Galloway’s appearance on Celebrity Big Brother.

Although Galloway was blameless for the SWP’s unprincipled secession, he bears responsibility for collaborating with them beforehand to keep the party underdeveloped, its rank and file powerless, disenfranchised, and disorganized, which made the subsequent infighting all the more destructive, bureaucratic, and vicious.

With the SWP gone, Galloway was free to rule the roost in Respect and it was not long before he led it to defeat, infamy, and utter ruin.

In 2010, he decided not to run for re-election for the Bethnal Green and Bow House of Commons seat but instead for the newly created Poplar and Limehouse seat; Respect’s candidate for his seat would be Abjol Miah. Galloway’s decision to lead Respect into a two-front war was disastrous; Respect lost both races, leaving the party without a seat in parliament. In 2012, he won a by-election in Bradford prompted by the Labour MP’s resignation, but this success was short-lived. Later that year, Birmingham councilor, spokeswoman for the city’s central mosque, and StWC leader Salma Yaqoob resigned from Respect after distancing herself from Galloway’s defense of Julian Assange, the arrest-dodging Wikileaks founder with an active warrant on his head for a Swedish rape charge. Galloway said (among other vile things) that, even if the accounts of Assange’s accusers were completely accurate, that “not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion.” Yaqoob’s resignation over this was soon followed by activist Kate Hudson’s on the same grounds. Less than a year later, Respect lost its entire local council presence in Bradford when five people resigned following a dispute with Galloway over whether he should run for mayor of London.

George Galloway whittled Respect down to his ego and his dwindling band of sycophants and managed to get banned by the National Union of Students from any of their events over those rape remarks along the way.

Amazingly, Galloway’s voracious appetite for destroying his own credibility and damaging his favored causes was not sated by these dubious achievements. He revealed his true value for the lives and well-being of Muslims by relentlessly defaming the people’s uprising against his new favorite tyrant, Bashar al-Assad, and he got paid £50,000 a year by the Iranian government to do it. Their pied piper was promoted to paid piper.

So whenever Galloway speaks about Syria, just remember: money talks.

After al-Assad gassed over 1,400 Muslim men, women, and children in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21, 2013, Galloway blamed the Israelis and the anti-Assad rebels for the attack even though all of the evidence pointed to the regime’s guilt. His Holocaust-denialism is symptomatic of the fog of lies ‘anti-imperialists’ and the far left resorted to to smother any attempt by progressives to analyze (much less side with) the popular uprising in Syria. He has been at the forefront of this buffoonery and cornered the market in the newest cottage industry on the left: fascist apologism. His politics and worldview are best described as “social fascism” – socialism in words, fascism in deeds.

Galloway’s blind support for the murderous regime in Damascus completely blindsided him when it murdered British doctor and humanitarian hero Dr. Abbas Khan. Dr. Khan travelled to Syria to treat victims of the regime’s war on the Syrian people people and their health care system; he was captured and tortured. Assad’s Foreign Ministry made contact with Galloway and arranged to hand Dr. Khan over to Galloway’s custody as a “gift” to the British people but killed him only a few days before he was scheduled to be freed.

Galloway maintains that ‘rogue elements’ within the regime killed the doctor to humiliate the man he calls “his Excellency” – Bashar al-Assad – because he is simply incapable of comprehending that this is a rogue regime, a type of regime not seen since the days of Adolf Hitler, one entirely without scruples, honor, decency or even a shred of normalcy. Khan’s mother declared simply, “They killed my baby. They killed him, it’s a murder. George Galloway didn’t help.” As she travelled to the Geneva peace talks to confront her son’s killers, Galloway sat in a studio taping his Russia Today show, Sputnik: Orbiting the World with George Galloway, where he dutifully promotes conspiracy theories about the Syrian revolution in true space cadet fashion.

Khan’s family continues the quest for justice began by Abbas in the small but growing pro-revolution solidarity movement while Galloway stands with Abbas’ killers, with the regime that has used the very same weaponry of cluster bombs and collective punishment tactics against the Syrian people he denounced the imperialists for using against the Iraqi and Afghan peoples. Today, he denounces Muslims who travel to Syria to fight a pro-imperialist fascist in terms lifted from the script George W. Bush used during the Iraq war. He has ‘forgotten’ the praise he lavished on freedom fighters battling fighter jets and tanks with nothing more than Kalashnikovs and homemade bombs and ‘forgotten’ the critical distinction he drew then between the minority of Al-Qaeda extremists and the heroism of the broad majority, of tens of thousands of protesters forced to take up arms and become rebel fighters to save their lives and the lives of their families.

Nowadays Galloway lies, Muslims die.

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