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Denmark: The left, the racist cartoons and repression

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Most parts of the Swedish left have met the controversy around the racist caricatures of the prophet Mohammed with caution. In the Swedish CWI weekly, the Danish left is, amongst other things, accused of “acting as an advisor for the Danish government”. That is a critique one can easily agree with, and a brief look at the websites of Socialistiskt Folkeparti and Enhedslisten gives an even worse impression than the wording of that article.

Socialistisk Folkeparti (SF) could be described as a Danish version of the post-Stalinist Swedish Left Party. Villy Søvndal, the party chairman, really went out of his way to help his “own” government out of the mess it has found itself in. Among other things, he has made an appearance on Al-Jazeera. For six minutes he did his part to “calm down the conflict”. He emphasised that the Danish government “had now done everything possible to solve the crisis”.

Not a word to Arabic viewers about the occupation of Iraq, in which Danish troops play an active part! Instead SF goes for suggestions along the lines of “inviting a delegation from the Middle East”, so they can see how nice everything really is in Denmark. Søvndal originally suggested that a Danish delegation could go the other way, but, after a “no” from the government, he’s now modified the suggestion. He’s hoping for a “constructive dialogue with politicians from the Middle East”. One can only guess what kind of dictators or hirelings he’s got in mind. Maybe the Quisling regime of Iraq or the clerical dictatorship of Iran?

Søvndal is indeed a man of peace and calm, and angrily accuses Pia Kjærsgaard, leader of the racist Dansk Folkeparti, for “pouring gasoline on the fire”, which harms “Denmark”. “In this situation,” he asks rhetorically, “one could perhaps expect a bit of wise caution even from Dansk Folkeparti?”

Søvndal says that he personally thinks that the caricatures should not have been published. But he is willing to participate in the Danish truce:

“I support the statement from the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Al Arabiya that the Danish people wish to live in peace and respect with our Muslim citizens and neighbours.” For those who thought that the main problem is imperialist policy in the Middle East and the racism at home, Søvndal gives an explanation which is typical for the right wing of the labour movement:

“The enemy is injustice, discrimination and lack of respect for others.”

Different petitions have also been launched within the Danish left, among others a call for “another Denmark”. It is filled with meaningless and empty phrases: not contain a single word on the ravages of imperialism in the Middle East, and no demands for decisive action against racism.

Perhaps the most tragic thing about the Danish left is that not even Enhedslisten, which the Danish Fourth International supporters are a part of, manages to raise itself above the bourgeois perspective. One is more than surprised when reading the texts on the Enhedslisten website, bearing in mind that this is a party, which is seen as being on the far left in a country with a right wing government, in close co-operation with a racist party, and taking part in the military occupation of Iraq.

On 3rd December, the party board stated that “Enhedslisten fully recognises Jyllands-Postens right to publish these cartoons in the name of free speech.” Only when the protests started was the question of freedom of speech pushed to the back.

On 30th January, Frank Aaen, on behalf of the party’s parliamentary group, suggested to the Danish prime minister Fogh Rasmussen, a “reconciliation conference” to cure the “poor debating climate”, which is developing in Denmark. He demands the government “work against the tendencies present in Denmark that demonise parts of the population and certain religions”.

But isn’t that precisely the government, which allows Kjærsgaard’s racist party to influence its policies? Isn’t that precisely the government, whose leading politicians bawl about Muslims?

One week later Aaen has polished his suggestion for a “reconciliation conference” further: “What the government has done in the last couple of days is clearly not enough… the cartoons have become a symbol of how many Muslims feel they are being tramped upon.” But instead of calling for struggle against the bourgeois government which is in the forefront of racism and attacks on the living conditions of the working class, Aaen suggests a “reconciliation conference” which should be led by a “neutral person”, such as Desmond Tutu or Kofi Anan!

One could at least hope that Enhedslisten would demand the immediate withdrawal of all Danish troops from Iraq. But they don’t even manage to do that. Here and there the war is deemed illegal, but who cares about that? For Enhedslisten, the goal of overthrowing the bourgeoisie is non-existent. The real question is: How long will the Danish members of the Fourth International remain in this muddle of bourgeois reformism and utopian petit-bourgeois liberalism.

More repression in Denmark

Seven members of Venstresocialisterna, the Left Socialists, in Denmark, have been arrested charged with “supporting terrorist organisations”. The mentioned “terrorist organisations” are the FARC guerrilla in Colombia and the Palestinian PFLP. These organisations, with all their flaws, still carry out a necessary and progressive struggle against the Colombian military and the paramilitaries armed by it, and the Israeli occupation forces respectively. It is each and every socialist’s duty to support them in this struggle - while we still criticise them for their shortcomings.

The same Danish government which think it has the right to decide who are terrorists directly supports the bloody, imperialist occupation of Iraq, and can only rule thanks to support from the racist Dansk Folkeparti. Again it is proved that democracy is completely arbitrary for us as long as capitalism lasts and as long as the capitalist regimes have terrorist laws to support them.

Demand the immediate release of all the accused!