Socialist View, No. 13, Winter 2004

I'm Not The Only One bv George Galloway,

Reviewed by Cillian Gillespie

IN THE PAST few years, particularly since US imperialism launched its so-called ''war on terror'' against Afghanistan and Iraq, George Galloway has come to prominence as an outspoken figure against these wars and the Blair government. A government, that has slavishly followed the diktats of the Bush administration.

In his new book I'm Not Only One Galloway puts forward his own political outlook and evolution. In it he gives a devastating critique of Tony Blair's domestic and foreign policy as well as graphically illustrating the crimes carried out by imperialism particularly against the people of the Middle East over the past 50 years.

Galloway correctly links the causes of war to the capitalist system. However when it comes to offering a socialist alternative to both he is found wanting. For example he poses the idea of a ''democratic United Nations'' (page 20) with greater powers being given to the General Assembly as well abolishing a veto for any country on the Security Council as way of restraining US imperialism. He also argues that the European Union could act as a progressive counterweight to the US (page 23). The idea that either of these capitalist institutions can play a positive role in curbing the power of the US is completely false. It is farcical to believe th0ialism will allow itself to be controlled by countries against which it is waging war and exploiting. As regards the EU, it is reactionary to argue it can play the role of a more progressive imperialism different to that of the US.

Recently Galloway said that he was ''not as left wing as you think''. This is seen in the book when in many parts he tries to distance himself from his ''hard left'' image, as shown by his description of his experiences of the Labour Party. While he supported Tony Benn for the deputy leadership of the party, he attacks the Militant (the forerunners of the Socialist Party) as ''working parasitically'' in the Labour Party (page 137). Such terminology echoes that of the right wing leadership at the time who were attempting to expel the Militant for consistently arguing for the need to adopt a socialist programme and because of its growing influence.

He also attacks the policies of the Militant led Labour Liverpool City Council as ''ultra-left''. Again this is an argument that mirrors that of the right reformists of Labour who were opposed to the Council's strategy of mobilising the working class of Liverpool against the Thatcher government.

Finally Galloway talks of the RESPECT initiative that both he and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) have launched. The programme of RESPECT, which is put forward in the book, can be described at best as right reformist. In many ways Galloway seems intent on doing nothing more than rebuilding the old social democracy. Despite the fact that both Galloway and the SWP are avowed socialists, there is no mention of socialism in RESPECT's programme.

In the past few years, a new generation of young people and workers have become radicalised particularly by the war on Iraq and its consequences. Many reading this book will agree with the conclusions that Galloway puts forward about the profit system under which we live, but Galloway fails to put forward an argument for how things can be changed. This is a major shortcoming of this book.

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This article is from the Winter 2004 edition of Socialist View (it was printed in late October '04).

The contents list for this issue is here, as are the back issues.