During the midst of the controversy over the invitation to arch-Baathist Tim Anderson to a conference on refugees in Lesbos, Michael Karadjis alluded to simmering differences within this camp over how to view the refugee crisis—specifically a quarrel that had broken out between Sukant Chandan and Jay Tharappel. I paid it little attention at the time but now I realize its significance as a sign of fissures in the ranks of the Baathist amen corner over the racist ramifications of Brexit.
Both are originally from India, share Maoist politics, a passionate devotion to the Baathist state and frequent appearances on Russian and Iranian television shows so when Chandan opened up an attack against Tharappel on FB, it was a sign that the issues posed by Brexit would lead to fissures:
Jay Tharappel was my comrade and younger brother for a number of years. A very bright wonderful comrade, from Indian Keralan heritage, has an excellent grasp of Indian politics, is broadly pro CPM (half of my family are CPM, and I respect the CPM with all my criticisms), and has some understanding of anti-imperialist politics generally. However, like many, he has found himself surrounding by fascists and those who are internalising fascist politics in the process of advocating for the defence of Syria from imperialism.
What is this fascism that is being promoted, proliferated, protected and promoted by Jay and others? It is:
1 – That there are deserving and non-deserving refugees, that Syrians are the only kind of real refugees (even then), and all other Asian and Africans are ‘fake’ refugees.
2 – That there is a ‘globalist’/’jewish’ plot to destabilise europe with refugees.
3 – That the west is ‘pure’ and ‘white’ culturally, and this should be maintained and not ‘impurified’ by non-whites.
4 – That Syrians are actually not ‘backward Arabs, but ‘white’ like white europeans.
5 – That the western far right (like trump, farage, le pen, alt for germany, and other far right forces) are the ‘natural’ allies for Syrians and also Iranians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Russians etc, and they are actively working to ally with such far right forces.
6 – Is hostile especially to South Asian and African, especially darker skinned Asian and African people. These fascists just hate them, dehumanise them, elevate themselves over and above them, and eschew any solidarity and unity building with them.
7 – Using Syria (or Palestine / Iran / Iraq / Russia / Ukraine etc) to impose upon refugees that ‘a lot ‘ or ‘most’ of them are ‘terrorists’, and that they all must come back to Syria, and they really should not have left Syria in the first place.
I will always oppose imperialist war and coloniality, as I have been for the past nearly 25 years. But I will not ever accept that imperialist oppression is a situation through which to protect and promote fascism.
This fascist protection and promotion is being done in a context of the alarming and fast rising racism and fascism from state and non-state levels across the West. There is a liberal fascism developing, which talks liberal and left by supports Nato wars an strategies, and there is a right wing fascism emerging which sometimes puts out rhetoric that it is against wars but supports all the concepts of colonialism and imperialism.
Our struggle is not a joke. I am not in the business of congratulating lefties and commies for being anti-racist. I am not in the business for allowing this fascist collaboration and organising to pass, rather our decolonial, anti-imperialist and socialist legacies, histories, ideologies and struggles informs us that we go out and conceptually and actually fascists to smash them, and neutralise all forces that are protecting them.
I except people to militantly oppose, expose and defeat this fascist infiltration and protection. ie., if you see people promoting or protecting any of the 6 points: I would strongly advise to enact anti-fascism and anti-imperialism. Our people are being targeted increasingly, the western narrative is becoming even more heightened in its racism and fascism. I am not some liberal middle class western-based type who postures and plays with our politics. I tried to engage Jay on these things for years. He is not interested. He is for a number of reasons loyal to the fascists over the anti-fascist cause. That’s his choice. He like many others has sold out. I am not about to be loyal with such over and above our peoples anti-imperialist and anti-fascist cause. I suggest and request that we MUST maintain clarity of strategy and analysis over and above petty personal loyalties that push us into fascism.
We either step up to the growing challenges, or we should step down or be made to step down.
When you read this, it is a little difficult to figure out specifically what the problem is since Chandan, never scrupulous about evidence to begin with, does not name names except for Tharappel. In Maoist circles, it is obviously very easy to denounce someone as a fascist. I say that as someone who has been the target of such abuse at least 10,000 times since I broke ranks with people like Chandan long ago.
Tharappel’s response to Chandan was similarly obscure:
As you probably already know…
Sukant Chandan has accused me of promoting fascism and racism for reasons that he knows to be completely false like the shameless liar that he is, indeed his lies about me are so outlandish that they’re being rejected in the comments section of his own post.
Specifically, he accuses me promoting the view that there are deserving and undeserving refugees, that “Syrians are the only kind of real refugees”, that “Asian and Africans are ‘fake’ refugees”, and that “there is a ‘globalist’/’jewish’ plot to destabilise europe with refugees”.
This is a lie. I have always maintained that the refugee crisis is a consequence of imperialist exploitation and war, that we in the imperialist countries should welcome those seeking asylum, but most importantly that we should oppose the wars that create refugees in the first place – in February I even wrote a post condemning the idea that there’s some globalist agenda to destabilise Europe which SC commented on (see screenshot).
He accuses me of promoting the notion that “the west is ‘pure’ and ‘white’ culturally, and this should be maintained and not ‘impurified’ by non-whites”, and accuses me of being “hostile especially to South Asian and African, especially darker skinned Asian and African people”, which needless to say is an obvious LIE, as anyone who spends a minute or so examining my openly communist and post-colonial leanings would know.
He then accuses me of promoting the view that “Syrians are actually not ‘backward Arabs, but ‘white’ like white Europeans”, which is another lie as I have never endorsed this view ever.
In truth what angers SC is that I refuse to replicate word-for-word his personal crusade against those of Syrian heritage who consider themselves ‘white’, for the simple reason that it’s mostly irrelevant to me how they identify themselves, but on planet Sukant, by not vociferously denouncing these views, I’m promoting them.
His next accusation is that I’m promoting “the western far right” including the likes of “trump, farage, le pen, [and] alt for Germany” as “natural allies for Syrians and also Iranians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Russians” which is another lie, in fact, aside from Trump, I don’t think I’ve EVER publicly mentioned any of those far-right personalities and parties.
I once innocently pointed out that Trump’s stated foreign policy agenda is strictly less threatening to Syria and Russia (which is objectively correct) compared to that of Hillary Clinton, which Sukant then creatively reinterpreted to mean that I was endorsing Donald Trump in some way.
You can see that discussion here: http://bit.ly/1VEWuck
His final allegation and lie is that I am “using Syria (or Palestine / Iran / Iraq / Russia / Ukraine etc) to impose upon refugees that ‘a lot ‘ or ‘most’ of them are ‘terrorists’, and that they all must come back to Syria, and they really should not have left Syria in the first place”, which is another cheap and baseless lie.
Are former anti-government fighters leaving Syria for Europe? Yes. Have I ever demonised ALL asylum seekers based on this fact? No.
What I have said is this, even if a portion of those asylum seekers were once fighting the governments of Syria and Iraq, we should welcome the news that by abandoning the battlefield and leaving for Europe they’re no longer destabilising the middle east which is the real target of destabilisation, NOT Europe.
As for the other civilian migrants who were simply caught in the middle of this war, contrary to Sukant’s claims, I have never said that they should be sent back, nor have I ever encouraged them to go back, because as someone who doesn’t face their consequences I am in no position to judge them for leaving Syria.
What Sukant is perhaps unable to comprehend is that unlike him I view the exodus of civilian refugees primarily from the perspective of the countries that have been destabilised, for whom the exodus of their best and brightest citizens undermines their ability to resist – the cruel logic of imperialism has always been that it encourages racism towards the very people it benefits from exploiting, that too after financing the destruction of their countries.
In the real world we have to pick our battles, and in the case of Syria many of us on the Left find ourselves in an alliance with a national liberation struggle against imperialism, which draws the support of many who are not Leftists and therefore do not share our opinions on every issue, and while I’m more than happy to state my disagreements with them, I’m not going to waste my time denouncing them relentlessly, I’d rather focus on opposing and exposing imperialism.
Tharappel referred his readers to a discussion that took place on May 17th as seen above. I reproduce the most salient part here:
This gets to the heart of the contradictions within the Baathist camp. As it happens, the Kremlin and its allies internationally are hostile to the EU, open borders, and everything else that smacks of “globalism”. So naturally you see an affinity between Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Vladimir Putin. Trying to reconcile solidarity with the butcher of Damascus and Nigel Farage is no easy task, especially when you retain some belief in the words “Workers of the World Unite”.
To his credit, Chandan has been hammering away at the racism unleashed by Brexit on his “Sons of Malcolm” blog. Three days ago, he wrote a post titled “CORBYN INCHES TOWARDS THE RIGHT, SUPPORTS BREXIT, WOBBLES ON IMMIGRATION” that attacks what he views as adaptation to nativism in Britain similar to that I critiqued in my article on Diana Johnstone yesterday:
Corbyn and his team are choosing to ignore the two thirds of Labour voters who are hostile to Brexit, Corbyn is choosing to align himself with UK nationalist ‘left’ forces who are developing racism further by positioning a showdown with the EU in the context of growing racism and fascism. Part of this is Corbyn’s total contradictory position on immigration, while he said a FANTASTIC thing on immigration in this interview by stating there must be no upper limit to it, he also stated that the central colonial feelings that inform racism by people is not racism.
Andrew Marr: But there are lots and lots and lots of people around this country who do feel that immigration is for them a problem, they see their communities changing very, very quickly and they feel their identity is challenged and they feel their kids are not getting school places and so forth. They are not racists. They’re not far right people. They’re just people really worried about immigration and they feel that people like you are not really listening to them.
Jeremy Corbyn: I’m not calling them racists. What I’m saying is it’s a failure of our government to properly fund local authorities. …
Will any of this make any difference when it comes to supporting Assad’s murderous war that is responsible for the bulk of Syrian refugees? Probably not. These people are hopeless on this matter, I am afraid. But perhaps the growing affinity between openly fascist movements in Europe and the Kremlin will finally give them reason to pause and think things over. The Red-Brown alliance that has emerged out of the geopolitical chess game is one of the most shameful episodes of the left in decades and it is high time that it gets addressed. I don’t have much use for most of Chandan’s problematic ideology but give him credit for calling a spade a spade.