From Bob's archive: George Galloway, racial nationalist
HP posted a link to a recent interview with George Galloway in the Morrocco Times.
“I am for Morocco's position (on the Sahara issue), and I always have been”, he said, stressing he is against “the balkanisation of the Arab region”.This is a great example of Galloway's volkish ideology: he dreams of a world neatly partitioned between a few great nations (the Arab nation, the Slav nation, the British nation*, etc) led by their respective fuhrers (Saddam, Milosovic, Galloway, etc), who intuitively embody the volks' racial essence, so effectively that democracy is not needed. (In this world, of course, there would be no space for rootless cosmopolitans like Jews or Bosnians.)
“We should not balkanise the Arab region … I am against the partition of Morocco,” added the British deputy, affirming that “there is no room for small entities”.
Reading it reminded me that last summer, when I got his book out of Deptford Library, I wrote the below, which I never got around to posting.
As you know, I have been having the delight of reading George Galloway’s memoir, I’m not the only one.
One thing that strikes strongly me in the book is Galloway’s tendency to see the world in terms of primordial racial categories. If humankind were a village, he says, it would look like this: 57 Asians and 21 Europeans, 30 white and 70 non-white, and so on. And this is really how Galloway views the world: neatly divided into essential, distinct racial categories.
For example, he expects Russia to stand by Serbia – as fellow Slavs. John Negroponte becomes a “brute Roman”, “in loud Godfather garb”. A “People’s Europe” must stand up to the Martian Americans (or is that Venutian?). Britain must recapture its essential spirit of democracy: “Forward – to the British Democratic Revolution!” (He continues: “Only then will Britain be able to hold up its head in the world. We can be a force for good.”)
In these passages, he falls into a line of reactionary thinkers, from Hegel and Thomas Carlyle, to TE Lawrence and the Arab-loving antisemitic architects of the Balfour declaration, to Samuel Huntington, who see the world in terms of racial destiny – or kismet as Galloway likes to call it.
Not surprisingly, then, Galloway actually advocates anti-Americanism.
“Anti-Americanism – by which I mean the rejection not of the American people themselves but the role of its government and its military around the world – is sweeping the young generation and will be the prevailing mind-set, the most powerful ideology, of the first half of this century.”Of course, anti-Americanism is actually precisely the hatred of the American people themselves, even when it is motivated by (a blinkered perception of) the role of its government and its military.
Anti-Americanism – like Pan-Arabism, Pan-Slavism and the other nineteenth century causes Galloway espouses – is a racial nationalist ideology. Like Huntington's clash of civilizations thesis and Bernard Lewis’ orientalism, it replaces political analysis with racial teleology. By focusing on race, nation and civilization, the myriad differences and tensions that mess up these abstractions are obscured.
Similarly, Galloway’s obsession with the Arab world (or “Oriental” world as he calls it) is a Western fantasy of an exotic other. Indeed, he un-self-consciously uses the word “exotic” several times when talking about his love of Palestine. He proudly quotes a description of him as “the left’s Lawrence of Arabia” and imagines himself on p.37 as a foreign legionnaire fighting in the Palestinian struggle.
This kind of racial nationalism and Orientalist exoticism has become an all too common replacement for genuine internationalism in today's "anti-imperialist" left. Solidarity with the oppressed requires a form of political imagination that goes beyond these kind of Boy's Own mythologies.
*In my original version, I wrote "the Scottish nation", but Will pointed out Galloway's opposition to Scottish nationalism, another instance of his antipathy to small-nation "Balkanisation".