On 19th December, the Southall CSLP were host to the launch of a new book by SLP NEC member Harpal Brar. SLP members from across London heard discussion about the new work at their annual social, from Steve Cowan and other SLP comrades. Steve Cowan, a former ILEA councillor, stressed that the title of the book:
Bourgeois Nationalism or Proletarian Internationalism?
counterposed and contrasted two opposing approaches to the fight against racism: one, through the isolated activity and efforts of a single “national” group, the other through the united struggle of all working class people, black, white and those of “mixed” marriages. As such the book spoke to all of us about the importance of considering our own position in this fight. History had revealed the futility of the black nationalist/ separatist position. Although the GLC and ILEA had used its resources to support such initiatives, in reality the only concrete benefits that remained from such work were the heightened career prospects of the black managers and project leaders who had been involved. The book analyses the black nationalist position from the perspective of Marxism-Leninism. In addition the book provides a consistent focus on the struggle against racism over a period of 25 years. Many of the contributions in the book were written to celebrate and commemorate contemporary events which have been ignored and misinterpreted through bourgeois sources. For example, the horrendous events of 23 April 1979 when 5000 police invaded Southall to protect the “civil rights” of 50 white fascists to disseminate racist propaganda, are recorded and discussed in the book but rarely mentioned elsewhere.
Harpal Brar stressed the links between the main arguments of the book and contemporary events in Iraq. The book emphasised the need to unite the working class against the diversionary attempts of the bourgeoisie to splinter and weaken its fighting force. The urgency of this message was nowhere more apparent than in the contemporary unfolding of events in the Gulf. Imperialist greed for the global control of oil supplies had led to the US and British into bloody and aggressive action against Iraq. The discussion in the press has been diversionary and skirted around the real significance of the war against Iraq. But let no one be mistaken that the self righteous rhetoric of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, who set themselves up as the defenders of human rights, as democratic leaders fighting against a barbaric and totalitarian society, was nothing less than a shameless attempt to mask the fact that the current military assault on the people of Iraq was waged solely to protect imperialist interests. The situation showed clearly, as the book emphasised :”It doesn’t matter what colour you are, but who is lining your pockets”.
The meeting unanimously endorsed a motion of censure of the air strikes against Iraq.