Francis Wheen’s Marxist criticism of the anti-war movement


Francis Wheen

Francis Wheen , another signatory of the Euston Manifesto , claims in his book ‘How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World’ that the anti-war left are opposing ‘bourgeois’ capitalists like the Bush administration who, whatever their faults, are more progressive than the religious extremists like Al Qa’ida who they are fighting against – Al Qa’ida and the Taliban wanting to return to a medieval caliphate. He also comments that Marx would bang modern Marxists heads together for taking such a position.

This argument first of all can only apply to Marxists – many of the anti-war movement (like myself) are not Marxists. Even those who are Marxists don’t necessarily agree with everything Marx wrote – or Wheen’s interpretation of it.

Wheen’s criticism is irrelevant to anyone who, unlike Marx, does not believe in the scenario in which we allow capitalism to throw off all regulations and limits with the result being a revolution resulting in a socialist paradise. (Marx’s vision also sounds like faith in an Armageddon which will lead to Salvation which has more in common with religious fanaticism than any reasoned argument.) Personally I believe that most revolutions have resulted in dictatorships or extremely authoritarian regimes and have no belief in any necessary progression from capitalism to socialism. I believe in free will and I believe reform is more progressive than revolution. I believe allowing total deregulation to pure capitalism would be a disaster and would destroy our economy and society. So do most people who oppose the Iraq war.

It is highly unlikely that there are many Marxists left who believe in Marx’s utopian vision , after having seenthe realities of what followed the Chinese and Russian revolutions.It would be forgivable to be sceptical whether Marx, had he lived to see them, wouldn’t have changed his mind as well. If he didn’t he would look pretty foolish.