Socialism is . . . realpolitik for the poor, the working class and oppressed. That involves an attempt to understand, and to detect potential temporary allies and obstacles. If it rules out certain alliances, it isn't on a priori moralistic grounds (they're eeeevvvillll, they're violent, they're ruthless, they're communalist, they're against democracy!).Quite good. Machiavelli and Benjamin, Foucault and Gramsci, against liberal progressivism and Amnesty Internationalism in the North, against the India/Brazil/South Africa model (liberal democracy) in the South. Get that right, and we'll be (theoretically if not practically) ready for temporary marriage with Islam, the most important religion for the 21st century, and defense of the Bolivarian Revolution, which is likely to lose most liberal supporters it recently acquired.1
Proceeding from a political economy of Political Islam demands a much more complicated set of responses than that. It would suggest, I think, that it is right for the Left in Lebanon to work with Hezbollah for a limited series of objectives, while retaining critical independence; similarly, it is right for the Left in Pakistan to utterly reject the Jamaat e-Islami, even while defending their right not to be murdered by the Pakistani state. It is certainly right for Palestinian socialists to cooperate with Hamas, and it was a sectarian mistake for some socialist groups to refuse to work with them given the gravity of the challenges faced. ("A Rational Approach to Political Islam," Lenin's Tomb, 20 October 2007)
The next step is to divorce class analysis from the implicit imperialist economism that infects much of the Marxist and other traditions on the secular Left.
1 Cf. Yoshie Furuhashi, "Reading Arendt in Caracas," Critical Montages, 18 August 2007; Steve Ellner, "The Trial (And Errors) of Hugo Chavez," In These Times, 27 August 2007; Edgardo Lander, "Party Disciplinarians: the Threat to Dissidence and Democracy in the United Socialist Party of Venezuela," Transnational Institute, 28 September 2007; and Human Rights Watch, "Venezuela: Disturbing Plan to Suspend Due Process: Chávez Supporters Seek to Suspend Rights in Emergencies," 16 October 2007.