BOURGEOIS DEMOCRACY - WHAT'S THAT?
A TRIAL TO RIVAL MR STALIN'S?
Eight months after the invasion of Iraq the bitterness of the
debate in Australia shows no signs of abating. From one time Maoist,
Barry York, (Age - letters to the editor - Tuesday 16 December)
to Gerard Henderson (Opinion Page) the demonising of opponents
of the war goes on ad nauseam. Although I read Mao and Marx at
the same University as York in the 1970s I couldn't bring myself
to join the Maoist ranks. Having endured the Catholic Catechism
at school my aversion to the doctrinal obsession of the earnest
Maoists on campus was a fait accompli.
Thirty years on York has lost none of his moral and doctrinal
rigidity. A self-proclaimed member of the 'real left', York childishly
labels as 'pseudo left' those who won't subscribe to his form
of logic. Unfortunately, this sinner can find no convenient slogan
from Mao's Little Red Book by which to support George W Bush.
Rather than appreciate Marxism for its polemical and dialectical
strengths, so many so-called Maoists were addicted to ideology,
rigidity of thought and sloganeering. How instructive that York
now lampoons those who refuse to support the very 'running dogs
of US imperialism' he condemned in the radical days. Yes, we know
the logic of Maoist support for the US invasion. From Albert Langer
to York the cry of 'the enemy of our enemy is our friend' has
guided the 'real left', while the phoney left has sipped coffee
in its 'comfort zone'.
Does York or Langer seriously think that those people who opposed
the invasion haven't considered that possibility? Do they seriously
think that the so-called 'pseudo-left' have turned a blind eye
to Saddam Hussein? In line with the position of conservative commentator
Gerard Henderson, York refuses to express a semlance of doubt about
what has happened in Iraq. Similarly, neither will entertain the
possibility that this war was not and will not emerge as a war
How easy is it for leftists such as York to celebrate when thousands
of innocent Iraqis are grieving at the loss of their loved ones?
To argue that this suffering and loss is the necessary prelude
to 'bourgeois democracy' shows how easily real life can be lost
amidst the whirl of dogma. The mechanical application of rules
only turns the discussion of the tragedy of Iraq into an academic
What the point of 'democray' when it allows the undemocratic election of George W Bush and the
violation of bourgeois law in Guantanamo Bay. What's
the value of bourgeois democracy when it acts with duplicity and
hypocrisy, singling out with blinding contradiction whoever it
wants as the enemy and violating international law whenever it
feels so inclined? Drawing on the war against Nazi Germany and
one reading of the slogans of Chairman Mao to defend the invasion
of Iraq is so self serving as to be laughable.
I'll be surprised if any member of the so called 'pseudo left'
expresses moral outrage in the event of Saddam Hussein being sentenced
to death. What really matters is whether Hussein receives a fair
trial and that the real story of how various bourgeois democracies
previously turned a blind eye to his alleged war crimes, is told. Equally
what matters is how aspiring political leaders such as Mark Latham
and political commentators interpret the trial of Saddam Hussein.
It's churlish for Gerard Henderson to criticise Greens leader
Bob Brown for arguing that Hussein should face trial in The Hague.
Does Henderson seriously think that Hussein will receive a fair
trial in Iraq? And what is Henderson's justification for this
position? That a group of hand picked journalists cheered and
revelled when US spokesman Paul Bremer told them they'd 'got him'?
There's no point arguing for the rule of law and the triumph
of civilisation over barbarism if you then assume the identity of the
barbarian. The parading of a bedraggled and humiliated Saddam
Hussein before the world was what every bully does to his quarry.
Almost simultaneous with the parading of Hussein a documentary
on Nelson Mandela was screening on ABC TV. After twenty seven years
in a South African gaol, and after all that had been done
to his people, Mandela remains wedded to reconciliation. It's
hard to believe that the former South African president, even
if he'd supported the war, would have allowed Hussein to be publicly
If the US had entered Iraq without a history that including waging
an unjust war in Vietnam, being implicated in the terror squads
in Chile and supporting dictators in the Middle East, and had
acted like Mandela when it offered the image of Hussein to the
world, how different it might be. But nothing about the US government's
actions there or in Guantanamo Bay convince me that this is a
war of liberation. Mao or no Mao I'm still with Mandela.