Editorial: John Woodcock’s ‘Extremism’ Investigation Concerns Police Anticapitalism

The appointment of John Woodcock, the Labor renegade, to investigate “extremism” does not bode well.

Woodcock – now Lord Walney, having been knighted by Boris Johnson for his contribution to the defeat of his own party last year – is careful to define his task in terms that maximize his appeal to part of the left.

He evokes the need to fight extremism after the invasion of Capitol Hill in the United States by supporters of former President Donald Trump, and stresses that there is “no equivalent threat between the extreme left and the extreme right “.

The threat of far-right terrorism is growing, with Interior Ministry figures showing that right-wing extremists represent a growing proportion of imprisoned terrorists.

Internationally, white supremacists have been responsible for massacres from Norway to New Zealand over the past decade, and Trump’s endorsement of groups like the Proud Boys or killers like Kyle Rittenhouse has raised their profile.

A government investigation into far-right extremism is justifiable based on the evidence. But here it’s a coat for a very different project.

We know this because of his determination to extend his attention to “progressive extremism” even when Woodcock’s own words show how lame the arguments for equivalence are: “There have been a number of of… -social behavior. “

The government’s use of anti-terrorism legislation to persecute peaceful direct actions such as that of XR militants is scandalous here, and the suggestion that they should be lumped alongside the rioters on Capitol Hill smacks of dangerous authoritarianism.

But this is not surprising from Woodcock, a “UK special envoy to counter violent extremism” who pokes fun at the Saudi despotic regime and parrots Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s propaganda. whose government deploys jihadists to fight its battles in Syria, Libya and the Caucasus. .

Woodcock left Labor, saying its then leader Jeremy Corbyn posed a “clear risk” to national security.

This backdrop is important, as the drive to equate the radical left with the far right can only be understood in the context of the grave fear that Corbynism has aroused among British leaders.

This follows years in which the liberal “center” denounced the rise of “populism,” a catch-all term for political movements that reject the status quo.

Joe Biden’s new US presidency, who defeated the left in the form of Bernie Sanders’ candidacy for the Democratic nomination and the right in the form of Trump, is seen as an opportunity to reaffirm the primacy of liberalism – wars and all.

This can only be achieved by authoritarian means – because “populism” retains its appeal as long as the social and economic system is unable to meet popular needs. The coronavirus crisis has demonstrated even more than before how incapable it is.

Woodcock’s inquiry is one with government advice to schools not to use anti-capitalist material, with Labor calls for more censorship of social media and broadcast.

The left must be clear on two points.

First, there is no equivalence between right-wing “populism”, let alone extreme right-wing extremism, and radical socialism.

While the right denounces the elites, their prescriptions do not imply any challenge to the economic masters of the universe, instead inciting the oppressed to overthrow the marginalized and the powerless, dividing the working class rather than uniting them.

Second, precisely because of this, the establishment will always be on the side of the right-wing populists against the socialist left: the state and the monopoly media supported Johnson against Corbyn as they supported Jair Bolsonaro against Lula in Brazil, as they would have. supported Trump against Sanders.

Whatever its makeup, the aim of Woodcock’s investigation is not to give advice on countering extremism, but to draw a line in the sand beyond which challenges to the capitalist system will be. not tolerated. The far right is the excuse; the radical left is the target.

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Estelle D. Eden

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