The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Cartoon Commissar

He can compress the most words into
the smallest ideas of any man I ever met

- Abraham Lincoln

Anthony McIntyre • April 2006

When I first learned that Andrew Johnson had penned a piece on a little known website denouncing The Blanket's decision to reprint the Danish anti-theocratic cartoons I was reticent about commenting, in print at any rate. I feared that my letter box might once again be the receptacle for the turgid paper someone called Andy Johnson used to send me. Too rough for use in the toilet each and every one of them, after the first, routinely made its way to the bin. If anybody asked what was in the post the stock reply was something along the lines of: 'just the usual nonsense about the tendency of the rate of profit to fall and the death agony of capitalism.' As if there were not more interesting things to do on a Saturday morning than peruse through rubbish about Trotsky's theory on Trotsky's theory on …

I was surprised to hear the name Andrew Johnson again. The personable one that I knew, Andy, had disappeared off the radar screen for a while. Perhaps, I thought, he had reinvented himself as Andrew. I was not alone in my confusion. In 2005 a Socialist Democracy pamphlet was published, penned by an Andrew Johnson. It prompted a contributor to the Indymedia site to ask if the author was 'the same Andy Johnson that was a member of the Irish Workers Group in the early 80's in Galway? It certainly reads like the type of stuff he used to write.' Another poster wrote 'this shite is a perfect example of why the loony left will never be taken seriously.' In a bid to understand further, this morning I opened up the Socialist Democracy website only to be assailed with 'New book on Trotsky published.' Great, what! I hastily made my escape before making any more interesting discoveries.

But apparently Andy and Andrew are separate beings. Whether that is a bad or a good thing is a moot point. That there are two of them is hardly reassuring to those not yet inoculated against Trotzema. The difference, a friend assures me, is that Andy belongs to the League for a Fifth International while Andrew belongs to the Irish Section of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International. The latter claims to be the Continuity vanguard - the true inheritors of the Real Trotsky tradition. Quite unpretentiously, it would have us believe, it claims to be world party of proletarian revolution. And it is determined to see off all pretenders to Trotsky's throne. To get a handle on any of that, or display even the vaguest interest, one would need what Johann Hari calls 'the fine eye for ideological division that comes from a life on the Trotskyite left.'

Trot jabberwocky is not for the uninitiated. How many times have activists been seen scarpering for the escape exits at meetings once the Trot talk starts? Deputy Editor of the New Humanist, Padraig Reidy may well claim that these things are 'all quite amusing, in the way that only Left-wing spats can be' but I have long since given up on their incessant squabbling. These days I avoid the 'brilliant, wonderful and historic opportunities opening up for the working class' merchants as I do the religious sandwich board men in the city centre who shove leaflets into the hands of the unsuspecting. Suffering such types gladly is not my metier. My attitude to them is as it is to circus clowns, alright to watch from a distance, but not something I would want any closer or for a prolonged period, unless it is strictly for purposes of socialising when drink has a humanising effect. Under the influence, some of them can be quite entertaining, grow forgetful of democratic centralism, and can discuss matters other then the need to combat deviationist tendencies within bolshevism. Good old booze; it dulls the eternal vigilance which spurs Trotskyites against Trotskyism to look out for apostates and heretics, and allows the stern faced sentinels to take a night off.

When the war on the cartoons - 'Kartoonacht', as one reader of the Blanket put it - first broke out and the Irrelevant Left threatened to goosestep over those who thought for themselves and wanted others to do likewise, I admit to entering a state of mind which placed me beyond caring what they reckoned. It simply did not matter. Their approval would have been inconsequential; their disapproval amounted to the same. And when Socialist Democracy and that intellectual powerhouse Andrew Johnson took up the baton, the sole thought to strike me was that I had discovered a rest home for those in the advanced stages of Marxeimers.

Commissar Johnson suffers from that old Left ailment of snobbishness. I say, Andrew old bean, not Andy, Tally Ho. Those of us not washed in the blood of the ice picked Trotsky should, in his view, concern ourselves only with reading the Beano. If that is too taxing then there is always Workers Power. The Enlightenment and other intellectual affairs should be left to the enlightened vanguard of the proletariat. We dodos are not supposed to know anything about the rupturing of historical paradigms and the emergence of new epistemes. Let us have no pretensions about ourselves. Commissar Johnson and the leadership of the organised working class know best.

No, we should submit ourselves to the majestic Nelsonian vision of the Commissar who imagined those supporting the Blanket decision to republish the cartoons to be 'sundry racists and Christian fundamentalists' whoever they may be. In a manner of speaking the SWP may be seen as racist but it opposed the cartoons, and presumably escapes the wrath of the Commissar on this point. That the Left is divided on the matter, the intelligent Left as well as the Commissar's Irrelevant Left, seems to have gone unnoticed in his reading.

If the SWP won a reprieve, it was only temporary. Heretics are never pardoned as Commissar Johnson's rapid move from discussion to deception underlined. His venture into fantasy land gave his fanciful imagination the freedom to run riot. In that place both the Blanket and the SWP have been 'in a series of secret meetings with the PUP/UVF aimed at setting up a new "left" party.' The SWP can speak for itself but it is the first I have heard of any secret meetings between it and the loyalists. The Blanket has had none. But why take my word? Let the Commissar put forth the evidence. The public has a right to know about such meetings. The Blanket will carry whatever he conjures up as evidence. But he will provide nothing because he made it all up. Strange that he should condemn the SWP on the grounds of 'why now' only complain about the Blanket not seeking to unite the Irrelevant Left or 'why now' draw attention to the supposed quality deficit of Blanket material? Tu quoque Commissar. Why now only point out the secret meetings?

Andrew Johnson may have felt he scored a telling sectarian blow on the SWP when he posed the question: do they expect anyone to believe their nonsense? For that he shall be rewarded with a standing ovation next time he attends a global gathering of his mass movement in some city centre telephone kiosk; full house, standing room only. Victory to the proletariat!
















 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent


 

 

There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
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Index: Current Articles



21 August 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Throwing the Book at Gerry
John Kennedy

The Man With the Planter Name
Liam O Comain

Diplock Delay Equals Justice Denied
Martin Galvin

Kevin Lynch, INLA Volunteer
Ray Collins

1981 Hunger Strike Commemoration in Chicago
Richard Wallace

The Question of Paisley's Legacy
Dr John Coulter

Turf War
John Kennedy

Eoin O’Duffy’s biography by Fearghal McGarry
Seaghán Ó Murchú

The Proclamation to Me
Mick Hall

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 3
Michael Gillespie

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 4
Michael Gillespie

House on Notting Hill
Dr John Coulter

Courage, Muslim Leaders
David Adams

Middle East Conflict Has Abandoned Rules of War
Anthony McIntyre

A Warning From History
John Kennedy

Cartoon Commissar
Anthony McIntyre

The Letters page has been updated.


13 August 2006

Hunger Strike Anniversary
Martin Galvin

"Let the Fight Go On"
Willie Gallagher

Apology Owed
The Family of Volunteer Patsy O'Hara, INLA

Right the Wrong
Harry Boland

It's Who You Talk To
Dr John Coulter

As They Were Made They Were Matched
Liam O Comain

Poacher Turned Gamekeeper
John Kennedy

Criminality Figures Do Not Add Up
David Adams

The Siege of Derry
Anthony McIntyre

Repeat After Me: No Gods, No Masters
Mick Hall

Dual Presidency More Realistic
Nathan Dowds

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 2
Michael Gillespie

Santa Coming Early
Dr John Coulter

Media Matters
Anthony McIntyre

Light, Freedom & Song: A Cultural History of Modern Irish Writing
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Pass the Gravy
John Kennedy

ILIR is Blowing the Green Card Game for the Irish
Patrick Hurley

From Belfast to the Middle East
Davy Carlin

Manifesto of the Third Camp
Anthony McIntyre

 

 

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