Many Leftists have gone way beyond merely defending Muslims (against what they claim to be racism, etc.) to defending and even championing Islam itself.
I first noted this when I was debating (if that's the correct word) with a supporter/member of the communist-run group Hope Not Hate. This Facebook activist began by saying all the usual stuff (e.g., all the critics of Islam are really “racists” and/or “fascists” in disguise). However, she soon began posting stuff about Islam itself. More correctly, she began cutting-and-pasting large chunks of material from various Islamic websites and even from the Koran. (To read an account of this, see my 'Hope Not Hate Defends Shia Blood Rituals'.)
It's no surprise that such people have the hots for Islam as it's as collectivist and indeed totalitarian in nature as Marxism/Leftism itself is.
Like Marxism, Islam offers “totalist” (to use a word from post-structuralism) solutions to.... well, all problems. And Leftists, like most Muslims, like that. Many Leftists also deem Islam to be intrinsically anti-capitalist; as well as being (conveniently for them) anti-Western.
So it's not a surprise either that John Tummon (of Left Unity) has also gone way beyond defending Muslims to now embracing all sorts of Islamic ideas and causes; including the Caliphate, the Islamic State (IS), the Ottoman Empire, the Ummah, sharia law, Islamic legal traditions and so on. Unlike my Hope Not Hate friend, however, he stops short of actually quoting from the Koran or hadith.
John Tummon made his outrageous claims at a Left Unity Conference which ran between the 15th and the 16th of November (2014). More specifically, his words formed part of an 'Amendment' to a 'Session' entitled 'A socialist Response to the actions of the Islamic State'.
The Progressive Islamic State (IS)
John Tummon is a revolutionary Marxist. Thus he sees literally all things in terms of the Manichean battle between capitalist evil and non-capitalist good. It really is that simple to him (despite his academic jargon and regular use of the word “analytical”); as it is to all Marxists.
On the other hand, anything negative that's said or written not just about Muslims - but also about IS - is almost automatically deemed (by John Tummon) to be a “piece of western propaganda” (August 22, 2014).
John Tummon puts his most basic (Marxist) point in a brutally simple way.
That point is that most – or even all – Islamic terrorism and violence (including that of the Islamic State) is simply “Muslim resistance to imperialism” (August 15th).
Moreover, John Tummon's sees the Islamic State (IS) and everything that's currently happening in Iraq and Syria
"as the latest tragic chapter in the complex and divided resistance of the peoples of the Middle East against the imperialist intervention of the western capitalist powers”.
As for what John Tummon says about the Ottoman Caliphate, it exactly replicates the position of the Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir. And since Tummon himself mentions Hizb ut-Tahrir, one must conclude that he has read its publications. Either that or a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir has actually helped John Tummon write the Left Unity 'amendment'.
According to Tummon, not only do conservatives or right-wingers suffer from Eurocentrism and Western propaganda when they criticise the beheadings, sex-slavery and other oppressions carry out by IS: so too do fellow Leftists. Or as John Tummon rather patronisingly puts it (August 18th, 2014):
“Without meaning to insult you, your criteria are extremely Eurocentric and irrelevant to the options available for the region.”
In other words, whereas John Tummon thinks that it's wrong to “accept [ ] western secularism’s assumptions about what is and is not progressive”; it's nonetheless right (in his eyes) to project Marxist, white and middle-class European anti-imperialism into the minds of the Sunni jihadists who are killing and beheading in Iraq and Syria.
All along John Tummon paints the jihadists of Islamic State (IS) as victims.
Quite simply, to John Tummon, “Sunni Jihad [is] against imperialism”. In other words, Sunni jihadists are just like John Tummon; though with brown skin and an a-causal (epiphenomenonal) glow of religion (i.e., Islam) around them.
This effectively means that Tummon himself is as “Eurocentric” (his word) and even as racist as he accuses his critics of being. That is so because he's projecting his Marxist Western values into the heads of Arab Sunni jihadists.
Muslims are always victims to white, Western, middle-class Leftists like John Tummon. They are victims essentially because they are deemed - by such Leftists - to be children. They have no free will or conscience. They are but cogs in Marx's capitalist/imperialist socioeconomic machine (unlike the Marxists who completely transcend it). Thus they can never be held accountable for their thoughts; let alone for their actions.
So Tummon thinks he's being proudly anti-Eurocentric, anti-racist and anti-imperialist when he says the “atrocities” of IS “are not on a different moral plane to other atrocities committed over recent years in the region”. In fact “they emerge out of it and the brutalised context resulting from imperialism and the struggle against it”.
What John Tummon is conveniently forgetting here is that many (perhaps most) IS jihadists aren't even Iraqis. Thus their violence simply couldn't have emerged “out of” the “brutalised context resulting from imperialism and the struggle against it”. In other words, many IS fighters – as everyone except Tummon knows – went to Iraq (as well as Syria) specifically for the violence (as well as the sex slavery, etc.). Their violence didn't grow out of the conflict or even out of Marx's terrible socioeconomic conditions.
John Tummon also argues for the “progressive potential” of IS and its Caliphate. (Clearly is pathological hatred of capitalism has turned his brain to mush.) He says:
"Unlike a continuation of the framework of western-imposed nation states, it therefore, theoretically, has progressive potential....”
John Tummon advances his progressive-IS thesis by saying that that there's more hope for “progress” with IS than with any other group. In his words:
“My question back to you, therefore, is do you think more space for progress exists within the status quo or within a proto-Caliphate which breaks with the imperialist settlement?”
John Tummon even defends IS by defending Stalin (or vice versa) in this way:
“If the Left feels there was nothing wrong with Stalin providing an overarching stability to eastern Europe in these circumstances.... why should we by shy of supporting ISIS’s attempt to provide a new, overarching settlement in the northern Middle East?” (August 13th, 2014)
John Tummon's Hizb ut-Tahrir Version of the Caliphate
Perhaps the worst part of John Tummon's screed is his defence of a Caliphate that just before it destruction (in 1918-24) had slaughtered over two million Armenians and Chaldeans (i.e. in the Armenian Genocide) and the Assyrian Genocide) and which had sided with the Central Powers (including Germany) in World War One. (Ironically, many of the Armenians were slaughtered in Syria and 25,000 Armenians also fled to Iraq.)
As I said at the beginning, John Tummon's whole position on the Islamic Caliphate - and indeed on IS's attitude towards it - is straight out of Hizb ut-Tahrir's book. (Though Hizb ut-Tahrir is not entirely happy with the idea that the Islamic State has taken ownership - as it were - of the Caliphate from itself.)
John Tummon also reprimands us for not knowing about – or accepting – Hizb ut-Tahrir's stance on the Caliphate. He says that
“[c]riticisms of the call for the Caliphate must be countered by knowledge and understanding. Painting it as inseparable from violence or empire building is a false association that lacks historical, political and intellectual credibility”.
And then Tummon tell us the truth – the Hizb ut-Tahrir truth – about the Caliphate:
“The Caliphate represents an alternative political vision that is gathering support amongst Muslims across the Muslim world because, for its adherents, like Hizb ut-Tahrir, it stands for replacing the brutal regimes in which they live with a political system based on Islam that sets up an accountable executive, an organised judiciary, representative consultation, the rule of law and citizenship.”
(See the close similarity between John Tummon's vision of the Caliphate and Hizb ut-Tahrir's in this Hizb article entitled 'Muslims Will Not Compromise on the Khilafah!')
As we have seen, some (many?) Leftists have swiftly and easily moved from defending Muslims to defending and even championing Islam itself.
So what could possibly happen next?
Yes, that's right: the obvious next step will be for some (many?) Leftists to actually become Muslims. In fact this has already happened on a fair few occasions.
The International Socialist “reverts” to Islam are doing exactly what many National Socialist (Nazi) war criminals did immediately after World War Two: embrace an equally-totalitarian and collectivist ideology by the name of Islam.
Note: Most of the quotes from John Tummon are from the Left Unity conference mentioned in the introduction. The other quotes (with dates) are from a Left Unity article entitled 'Arabia – the demise of the old colonial order'. John Tummon didn't actually write this piece, his words can be found in the 'Responses' section after the article.
1) There's not much information on John Tummon. According to his own Facebook page, he was educated at Brewood Grammar School and then went on to Birkbeck, University of London. He teaches IB History at a college. (In other words, he's yet another middle-class Marxist academic.) He lives in Manchester.
2) The Left Unity 'amendment' (by John Tummon) itself is astonishing in its historical, political and theological ignorance. However, that ignorance may be willed in that this subject (like so many others) is simply a tool to advance the socialist revolution both (believe it or not) in the Middle East and here in the UK. Thus anything that advances that cause goes: including defending Islamic caliphates, IS and blaming everything (bad) that happens in the Muslim World on “Western imperialism”.
3) One point John Tummon often makes is that IS “has managed to attract substantial support from among Sunni Muslims”. Yes, that's true. And? For a Trotskyist it's strange that he places so much credence on the IS reception amongst fellow Sunnis. (The Nazis gained a lot of support in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.)
More specifically, Tummon claims that his own group, Left Unity “does not accept the claim that all or most of these people only tolerate IS rule because of extreme coercion”.
4) Since all Westerners are evil (or at least the ones attached - in any way - to “capitalist states” or capitalism generally), then it follows, according to Marxist Manicheanism, that “[h]manitarian war is imperialist war by another name”.
5) John Tummon even accuses the Church of England of indulging in a crusade against IS, despite the C of E's almost complete silence - until relatively recently - on the widespread and massive killing and oppression of Christians in the Muslim world. As Tummon puts it:
“Since the Church of England made the crusading call on Friday, quite deliberately demanding that Christian victims of military attacks by ISIS should be privileged over Muslim ones & asking Christians to ‘prey for the government’...” (August 17)
6) If John Tummon had read more “Western propaganda” (as he calls it) and less Marxist/Trotskyist theory, he would have known that from 2003 onwards it was outside jihadists who were doing there best to create and cause the violence in Iraq. Their violence didn't “emerge” out of anything. They required violence and chaos in order to further their jihadist dream of a Caliphate and full sharia law. It can be argued that if it weren't for outside jihadists (along with Iranian interference), things simply wouldn't have got as bad as they did in Iraq after 2003. Though since Tummon is a (positive/inverse) racist towards all Muslims and a Manichean anti-capitalist, there is no way he could recognise that. It simply must be the case (according to white, middle-class Marxist logic,) that all Muslims are always victims and the evil capitalist West is always and solely responsible for all the wrongs in Iraq (as well as everywhere else for that matter).
7) In an incredible example of Marxist psychological projection, John Tummon even believes that IS
“represents an attempt to break fundamentally with the structure of religiously and ethnically divided nation states imposed on the region by Britain and France at the end of the First World War”.
The willed ignorance here is staggering.
For a start, IS has been one of the keenest supporters of religious division known in recent times. IS has slaughtered Christians, Shia Muslims, Kurds and any other group that deviates in any way from its own Salafist (Sunni) Islam. (There is the problem here in that Tummon believes all negative information about IS is a result of “Western propaganda”.)
The Caliphate IS wants to resurrect - as was the last one - will effectively be a imperialist empire much like the ones that John Tummon is arguing against. It may not be an capitalist imperialist empire; though does that really matter that much in these cases? Will somehow less people be “oppressed”, killed and subdued simply because it's an Islamic imperialist empire rather than a Western capitalist imperialist empire? Is it imperialist empires that socialists like Tummon are against or only Western capitalist imperialist empires? (Millions of communists and progressives supported the Soviet Union's imperialist empire from the early 1920s until, in many cases, after Stalin's death.)
8) John Tummon doesn't believe in what he calls the “atrocity count” approach to what IS is doing. John Tummon puts this point when he says:
“... do you really think we should try to build policy on the basis of the atrocity count? That is the Amnesty International approach, which results in no attempt to analyse cause and effect!... (August 17, 2014)
In other words, it's not important how many people IS kills or subdues, what is important is why the Islamic State is doing this. And, of course, every single violent act by IS - as well as by Muslims across the word - is basically a response to “Western imperialism” or capitalism.
In any case, even the atrocities John Tummon admits to are nonetheless all the fault of Western imperialism and the break up the Caliphate. Thus Tummon fully understands the Islamic State's actions (just as his fellow Leftists justified, rationalised and were even jubilant about the 9/11 attack).
You see, mass murder and mass oppression are okay as long as they aren't capitalist/imperialist mass murder and imperialist/capitalist mass oppression. For dunderheads like John Tummon, it really is that simple.
Remember here that to these Manichean Leftists, capitalism/imperialism is so evil that any action whatsoever taken against it is either legitimate or at the very least understandable.
Of course John Tummon sometimes does have the decency to acknowledge the many “atrocities [IS] has carried out and its attack on the Kurds”. Nevertheless, elsewhere he more or less contradicts this statement. For example, he then talks about the “slimly-substantiated atrocity reports” (August 15th, 2014) against IS.
9) John Tummon's following words - give or take a few - could quite easily have been cut-and-pasted from Hizb ut-Tahrir's website:
“Its call for a Caliphate holds out to Middle Eastern Muslims the promise of a return to something more like the Ottoman Caliphate that preceded western domination and held sway over a vast, complex and diverse empire, home to many ethnicities and faiths.”