THERE’S A LOT TO LIKE about the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS). Anyone anxious to refresh their understanding of the tone and style of unreconstructed Trotskyism is only ever a mouse-click away from the revolutionary rhetoric of the Fourth International.
That sounds catty, I know, so let me hasten to add that Trotskyism stands at the terminus of the great red river that has its beginnings in the highlands of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, flows down through the productive fields of Luxemburg and Lenin, and ends with the brilliant strategic and tactical reconsiderations of that best of Bolsheviks, Leon Trotsky.
What Trotsky would have made of the post-war world, and the Soviet Union’s emergence as a global superpower, we shall never know. A Stalinist ice-pick split open his skull in Mexico City in 1940. Undaunted, Trotsky’s disciples continue to preach the one true socialist faith. Not for them the heretical meanderings of the Frankfurt School and its incomprehensible French disciples. There’s absolutely nothing “woke” about the WSWS. Zip. Zero. Zilch.
Before you get too excited, however, I feel it’s only fair to warn you that the members of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) – which runs the WSWS – are afflicted to a truly remarkable degree by the besetting sin of the Marxist Left – sectarianism. No more than the wokest of the Woke, is the SEP and its stable of WSWS writers happy to join their efforts with those of other leftists in a spirit of solidarity and comradeship. Nor are they content to let their Trotskyist interpretation of the socialist project speak for itself – winning followers by the sheer strength of its arguments and insights. Nope. Just like the Woke, they insist that their way is the only way. Dissenters aren’t just wrong, they’re bad. Exactly how bad? How much time have you got?
Based in the United States, but with correspondents all over the world, the WSWS’s ability to sniff out heresy is impressive. Their man in Wellington, Tom Peters, has certainly never shied away from putting the boot into myself, The Daily Blog, and its editor, Martyn Bradbury – we’re heretics from way back!
Returning to the question of tone and style, I have to say, Peters is a true pro. Reading his stately invective I was transported – positively transported – all the way back to the Soviet Show Trials of 1937!
Despite the militarist record of all parties in parliament, and Ardern’s statement welcoming AUKUS, Labour’s pseudo-left supporters are promoting the illusion that the government will stay out of the escalating preparations for war. Writing on the trade union-backed Daily Blog, columnist Chris Trotter said the government ‘will happily stay as far away from this lunacy [AUKUS] as possible.”
Pseudo-left? Pseudo-left! Honestly, Tom, I really don’t think the boys and girls down at Labour Party HQ in Wellington would accept the term “left” in relation to myself – not even with the “pseudo” prefix. They’d dismiss me as a treacherous, patriarchal, heteronormative, white supremacist, who knows nothing of what it means to be a leftist in the twenty-first century.
Oh, and unless I’m very much mistaken, Tom, The Daily Blog’s trade union “backers” pulled their dollars out a very long time ago. The site was just too spicy for their unadventurous political palettes! So, you know, consider yourself fact-checked.
But wait – there’s more. Pseudo-left was nothing. Tom was just getting warmed-up. Try this judgement from the Revolutionary Tribunal on for size:
Notwithstanding its anti-American demagogy, the Daily Blog has repeatedly echoed US propaganda against China—including the lie that the coronavirus pandemic originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The blog also depicts China as a threat to both New Zealand and the Pacific region.
“No one should be fooled by Bradbury’s claim that he wants a purely “defensive” military “independent” of the US alliance. The blog represents a layer of the upper middle class that has embraced New Zealand imperialism in the Pacific; and maintaining these neo-colonial interests depends on support from the United States and Australia.
Damn! I had no idea TDB was a front for United States propaganda! That sneaky Bradbury has obviously been squirreling away the CIA’s Bitcoin down the back of his computer! I guess that’s why Tom includes TDB’s Editor in the upper-middle-class. All Martyn’s talk about being a member of the propertyless generation – nothing but a cover-story! In reality, he owns a five-bedroom, two-bathroom villa in Remuera and a tidy little holiday home in Taupo. (That’s where he keeps his deep-laid plans for the expansion of New Zealand imperialism. En garde Samoa! En garde Tonga!)
You get the picture. It’s always the same with WSWS stories. Excellent analysis right up until the last few paragraphs, where the writers are presumably instructed by their editors to go and spoil it all by spewing needless (if unintentionally hilarious) invective all over their ideological foes.
To be fair, at least the WSWS writers keep their critiques political – I’m thinking of getting a T-shirt that says: “Genuine Pseudo-Leftist”. It’s definitely a step-up from the relentless Woke vituperation found on Twitter. Even so, I always come away from the WSWS wishing that the defenders of Leon Trotsky’s legacy would finally dispense with the self-destructive self-indulgence of sectarianism.
Just imagine how far the revolution could be advanced if the Marxist Left confined itself to spreading the word that there are still chains to be lost – still a world to win.
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Friday, 24 September 2021.