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Workers of the World Unite!

Except in Pakistan, or indeed anywhere else.

by Ted Crawford


 

I have become very interested in the Pakistani earthquake and the response to it since my eldest daughter is working as a volunteer with Oxfam in Kashmir dealing with the horrors. To my amazement I have found that there are no less than four quite distinct efforts to help the refugees by four different Trotskyist groups. There appear to be at least another two (see Weekly Worker website) but the situation at the moment as regards these four, representing the affiliates of three British and one French groups is as follows. What any Stalinist groups or other left-wingers are doing I know not, let alone the NGOs.

First, the Pakistani Struggle Group affiliated to the CMI, or the tiny Grant-Woods tendency - Socialist Appeal - in the UK. This is the Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign, or PTUDC, whose details appear on  http://www.marxist.com/pakistan-earthquake-appeal101005.htm and to which you can send money by Paypal. This seems the most important of the purely Trotskyist efforts. They appear to have got about 15+ lorries with relief supplies to the affected areas.

Second the CWI, or affiliate of the Socialist Party or Taafe tendency which calls itself the Trade Union Rights Campaign Pakistan or TURCP. You can send money to them at PO Box 52135, London E9 5WR, Britain. They claim to have got about 7-8 lorries with relief supplies to the affected areas but have much less information about Pakistan on their website than the Socialist Appeal Group.

Thirdly there is the Lambertist organisation which is very small in Pakistan but has a presence in the Trade Unions. Their address for money and goods is the Working Women's Organization (APTUF) at the following address: Working Women's Organization, E5, 48/A, Rehmania Street, Zaman Colony, Cavalry Ground Extension Lahore, Pakistan. I heard about this from a Californian Lambertist.   Finally the Socialist Worker’s Party is collecting money for Islamic Relief which, judging by the information in the article in the current Weekly Worker 597, is a charity best avoided by anyone with a tincture of leftism or indeed anyone who wants their money to get to the wretched people for whom it is supposedly destined.

To use religious language what would LDT say to this were he to descend from heavenly bliss (presumably the SWP thinks he would have to be torn from the arms of his 76 virgins) apart that is from horrid expletives? I shudder to think. One would imagine that the divisions among these groups which owe more to differences in Europe than in Pakistan (that they have tactical differences in Pakistan I know but these, I judge, to be the effect rather that the cause of the separation) have very little to do with the appalling catastrophe affecting the people in the mountains. Indeed in so far as different groups have a line on the effects of the earthquake it appears to this untutored eye to be exactly the same for all of them.

Let us return to first principles. How can we best help the class and the poor victims? First there is clearly a need for unity and joint work here. Because the PTUDC is obviously the biggest and appears to be the most effective perhaps the others should have thrown themselves into that. However I greatly doubt if the PTUDC ever asked them to do so, even if they should not have needed to be asked. And I suspect that the Struggle group made no efforts to involve the other leftists/Trotskyists in joint activity - in fact I doubt it even crossed their mind. Alas, I would guess all these groups have been too much infected from Europe by the syphilis/Aids of sectarianism. Certain minimum demands should be made, they would hardly need to be agreed they are so obvious, such as open the borders, denounce corruption and government inaction etc etc, and thereafter people should have got down to it. Even from the crudest sectarian accounting point of view there would be lots of contacts made with active decent young people in the course of doing relief work, apart that is from actually helping the sufferers. And differences of approach between the groups could be argued about (if the volunteers had any energy left) in the evening. Such is often the best form of political education.

Yes members of the British SWP, you are the biggest group in the UK but the Struggle tendency with the PTUDC is the biggest in Pakistan. True their Socialist Appeal affiliate here is a tiny group of old buffers - often as old as me.

Now I cannot say I have investigated the efforts of all these tendencies as fully as I would like since it is difficult at this distance to know exactly what is going on. At any rate I have given my money to the PTUDC which seems to be both the largest and to have a good political line as regards opening the frontier with India to relief efforts. It also appears to have some sort of united front with some Indian left wing MPs on this issue, including the CPI (M). That seems excellent to me as does the guarding of its lorries from the lumpen thieves by squads of Young Socialists. I have my criticisms, in particular the fact that Alan Woods is being built up as a great guru with a somewhat pompous and overlong address to the people of Pakistan which is at a prominent point on their website. What is more it is stated that this was read out to the comrades at all 20 odd encampments where they were and greeted with loud applause. (I did pass this view of mine on to him and I have to admit I got a courteous note from Alan thanking for my money even if he said nothing of my criticism.)

Finally it will be said, who the hell is this Ted Crawford? What does HE represent? I represent the common-sense tendency comrade. There are not many of us it is true. And you can see how Musharref and the CIA are trembling in their shoes because of the activities of the Trotskyists. No wonder they do not bother.

 

November 2005

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