From a working class point of view denouncing the terrorist attacks on people in Mumbai and the repression of the Indian state is the absolute ABC of class politics. Our comrades in India (Communist Internationalist, statement here in ICC Online ) have not only done that but also insisted that the working class can not "take sides in intensifying conflict between the Indian and Pakistani bourgeoisie". To oppose the division of the working class and reject support for any imperialism is a fundamental responsibility for revolutionaries.
In contrast to this internationalist approach the Socialist Workers Party has made it very clear which side of the Indo-Pakistan conflict it supports.
In a "Statement on Mumbai attacks" (27/11/8, online only) it says its "appalled" by the attacks and "offers its condolences to the families of all those who have been killed or injured". But it doesn't have a word to say against the killers or whoever might be behind them. It focuses exclusively on "the actions of the Indian state", in particular "its vicious repression in Kashmir" ("Indian armed forces have been pounding the disputed territory of Kashmir with mortars, shells and missiles for decades") and "its support for the US-led ‘war on terror'".
The fact that one imperialist nuclear power, India, confronts another, Pakistan, is ignored. So although "India and Pakistan have been to war four times since 1947" ("War threats will only fuel terror" (2/12/8)) the SWP can't bring itself to mention the extent of Pakistani military activity, its victims and its imperialist allies (which include the US in some contexts). In a country where divisions of caste, class, religion and ethnicity are among the most complex in the world, it chooses "the widespread discrimination against Muslims in India" as key to the situation. It uses this to justify ‘Islamic' terrorism even though of the "factors [that] could have motivated the terror attacks in Mumbai" the most likely is "the longstanding conflict between India and Pakistan over the state of Kashmir."
While it takes sides in imperialist and religious conflicts it has the cheek to say: "Mumbai has seen terrible carnage over decades as politicians manipulate religious and ethnic divisions for their own ends. The hope must be that the city's working class will be strong enough to resist any attempt to repeat the cycle of violence."
Politicians do manipulate religious and ethnic divisions. The example of the SWP comes to mind. It says the "escalation of war in the region will increase the grievances that led to the carnage in Mumbai and make further terror attacks more likely." So, when there's an "escalation of war", presumably, in the SWP's view, caused by Indian imperialism, then it's to be expected that Pakistani imperialism (in whatever form, official or illegal, nuclear or terrorist) will have "grievances".
Hopefully the working class will be strong enough to resist leftists who try to sell them ideas of a ‘lesser evil.' According to the SWP ("What's behind the Mumbai attacks?" (2/12/8)) the "story of the workers' movement in India is full of examples of Hindus and Muslims uniting against their bosses, the government and Hindu chauvinist gangs." Why only "Hindu chauvinist gangs"? Is this the only other force that workers will come up against apart from the bosses and the government? Muslim workers, for example, face constant propaganda that they should not see themselves as workers but as Muslims, with a loyalty to Muslim states and those military forces who say they are fighting a holy war in defence of Islam. It's unlikely that Muslim workers will have illusions in the "Hindu chauvinist gangs" that savagely attack them. However, illusions in sacrificing yourself for an Islamic jihad are all too common among such workers.
The SWP is one of the main elements in the Stop The War Campaign. Yet far from wanting to stop wars it finds a side to support in every conflict. In the 1960s and 70s it supported North Vietnam, as backed by Russian imperialism, against South Vietnam backed by the US. In the Iran-Iraq War during the 1980s it supported Iran. During Israel's battles with Hezbollah in the Lebanon in 2006 it handed out placards proclaiming ‘we are all Hezbollah'. Today it is preparing to justify critical support for Pakistan or its ‘Mujahidin' in any future imperialist conflict with India.
The SWP has been working hard to recruit among disaffected Muslim youth through front groups like Respect and Stop the War. In reality, it is only providing a ‘left' cover for a much bigger recruitment drive - the one waged by capitalist states in their incessant imperialist rivalries.