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article imageOp-Ed: A pogrom is not a revolution

By Alexander Baron     Aug 10, 2011 in Politics
The Socialist Workers Party is apparently unable to distinguish between a population that rises up against a brutal dictatorship and a gang of thugs that robs innocent shopkeepers before burning their businesses to the ground.
The headline of the latest Socialist Worker reads 'There’s uprisings everywhere - the whole world. Everyone’s fed up’. The article is more of the same; it also contains a number of quotes which may or may not be genuine. Not.
The shooting of Mark Duggan by armed police is described as the spark that ignited the flames. Certainly it was the pretext for the conflagration, looting and mindless violence that was to follow, but that is the extent of the connection.
If in retaliation for this shooting, a group of youths (or whoever) had stormed the local police station and burned it to the ground, or attacked the police who had shot him, deplorable though that would have been, there would have been some logic to it, some rationale. How does torching a local carpet showroom and jeopardising the lives of all the people living above it avenge this killing?
How does looting electrical stores and stealing plasma television sets relate to that police action, be it an over-reaction to a presumed threat from an armed man or a cold-blooded execution?
Picture this scenario, a Legal Aid solicitor arrives at a police station where he is introduced to his client, a frail young woman who has been charged with stabbing to death her next door neighbour. After the introductions have been made, they sit in the consulting room in sight of but out of hearing of a detective, and he asks her what happened. "He raped me", she says. Ah, he thinks, self-defence, at the worst, provocation; with a sympathetic magistrate I may even be able to get her bail. "When did your neighbour rape you?" he inquires. "He didn’t", she replies. "But I thought you said he did", he says, slightly confused. "No, it was my boss who raped me, at the office party last week."
If you were defending this woman, how would you argue that case before a judge and jury?
A defendant in a criminal trial who put forward such an absurd defence would be regarded with suspicion, derision or contempt. If she, or he, was obviously sincere, the court might seriously entertain an insanity plea. It is difficult to believe that all the members of the Socialist Workers Party and similar organisations are insane, but clearly they are suffering from some terrible folie à deux.
Are the Reeves family responsible for the shooting of Mark Duggan? How would you like to explain to them that their business that was founded in 1867 was destroyed because of police racism in Tottenham?
Was the Malaysian student who was knocked off his bicycle, hit in the face so hard that his jaw was broken and then robbed by a feral mob a deserving victim of the class struggle?
Did the three men murdered in Birmingham, mowed down wilfully by a hit and run driver, deserve it, and were the police to blame?
This is the sort of twisted logic the Socialist Workers Party is using.
The people who have been targeted by looters, robbers, common thugs, arsonists and now murderers, are not agents of state repression. This is not the British equivalent of the Arab Spring with entire populations rising up against their oppressors; this is a pogrom against innocent property owners including small business people; it is a pogrom for profit as much as for political motives, if not more so. The first people convicted of looting include an 11 year old boy, a student, and a primary school worker. How even the most demented advocates of the class struggle can condone this sort of madness is beyond either reason or rational debate.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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