How the “revolutionary Left” Has Systematicaly Failed to Prevent Sexual Abuse

The shock revelation that the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) has not only investigated one rape, but also nine others in the past via its internal Disputes Committee, changes the terms of the debate. It reveals beyond refutation that the handling of the Comrade Delta case was not an isolated aberration of misjudgement, but only one incident among a series of incidents reflecting institutionaized sexism. Indeed, while Delta himself is entitled to a presumption of innocence, the SWP as a organization is clearly guilty.

The record of “revolutionary socialist” groups over the years has been terrible. The following account is not given to seek to smear the SWP by association, but to see if we can deduce reasons for the pattern.

Most famously, Gerry Healy, the leader of the former Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) raped dozens of women before he was exposed in 1985. As Simon Paredi wrote:

“[An] investigation by the WRP control commission, having taken written and verbal statements, showed that Healy had systematically taken advantage of his position of authority in the party to sexually abuse female comrades against their will.” A redacted version of the control commission’s report appears in the memoirs of my friend and comrade Norman Harding (who was a member of the commission); these are published on line. None of Healy’s victims complained to the police, and the old bastard died in 1989, without his crimes having been properly measured against legal criteria.

Reading Harding’s report about Healy’s behaviour is not for the faint hearted. For example:

“That night he called me into his flat again. He was undressed wearing just a dressing gown, which was open. He told me to sit on the bed again which I did. He then started to tell me that I was an opportunist because I expected to be trained without going through the training.

“He said that I showed real idealism and backwardness and wasn’t sure if he could continue training me. He said that I only thought of superficial considerations, young boyfriends and not the politics of the man. He said that I was an individualist and told me that to be trained I had to subordinate myself to the leadership of the party and he was the party. He kept stressing this point of subordination. [ … ]

“He then became very angry and said if I told anyone about this he would denounce me as a police provocateur and have me thrown out of the party. He said that if I refused to subordinate myself I would be expelled for backwardness. He said: ‘Do not try to raise this on the Political Committee, because I am the Political Committee and they won’t believe you.’

“By this time I was in a complete state. I did not want to go through with it, but I knew that he was capable of having me thrown out and that would not only have meant breaking with the party, but with [friends] as well. I knew that if I left the Centre he would say that I was backward and in political retreat. [ … ] ‘I was still crying when he told me to take off my clothes. I eventually did this.’

In some ways even more shocking was the reaction of some of Healy’s supporters. Pirani again:

One of my abiding memories of 1985 is of a members’ meeting in Scotland, where I lived, held in the week when Healy’s supporters comprised a faction, i.e. after the charges had been tabled but before they had been heard. The meeting was addressed by the late Corin Redgrave (brother of Vanessa), for the CC minority, and myself for the CC majority. Redgrave opposed charging Healy, on the grounds that it would damage the revolutionary leadership. In discussion, a veteran member of the Scottish organisation asked Redgrave whether he could “look me in the eye and tell me, honestly, that these charges are to your knowledge utterly without foundation”, i.e. should not be brought because they were false. Redgrave replied by citing the WRP’s achievements (publication of a daily Trotskyist newspaper, building of a big youth movement, influence in trade unions, etc) and concluded: “If this is the work of a rapist, let’s recruit more rapists.”

Harding confirms that this was Redgrave’s position at the time:

Corin Redgrave said that what Healy did in his spare time was his affair and was to be separated from his politics. Corin went on to say that he was “neither for nor against rape” but “for the social revolution” . He went on to say that Aileen’s letter [exposing the rapes] was a provocation orchestrated by the state machine in order to smash up and destroy the WRP.

The conceit of a state conspiracy is a common theme among so called “revolutionary socialist” groups. The American SWP (a group with no organisational, and minimal political affinity with the British SWP) organised an enormous and aggressive hoax solidarity campaign in support of a member of theirs, a white 29 year old Mark Curtis, who raped a 15 year old African American girl in 1988 in her own home while her 11 year old brother witnessed it. Curtis was convicted, and the evidence of his guilt was overwhelming.

As the feminist writer Fred Pelka writes

Mark Curtis was literally caught with his pants down, minutes after a 911 call, in the home of a half-nude and bleeding adolescent who insisted that he had just raped her. There was an eyewitness to the assault, and other corraborating evidence: His keychain and wallet, his car parked out front, … ,” together with his proven duplicity under oath.

Despite this the Trotskyist group sprung into action and even went so far as to harrass the victim:

The attacks on rape victims by the Curtis Defense Committee have been specific as well as general. According to [the victim] Demetria’s father, these have included the leafletting of Demetria’s high school with flyers denouncing her as a liar (Demetria was personally handed a leaflet as she stepped off her bus the morning before the trial); the posting of handbills up and down their street; and the use of money collected through the Curtis Defense Fund to hire a private detective to have the chidren and their family investigated.
Terry Schock, Demetria’s rape crisis counselor, recalls how the SWP packed the courtroom while Demetria was on the stand, moving people in and out during the most difficult part of her testimony, telling jokes and carrying on conversations. Schock saw this as “an attempt to intimidate” Demetria. The commotion became so distracting that Judge Perkins stopped the proceedings to ask the bailiff to restore some order.

The SWP simply refused to accept his guilt, and claimed completely implausibly that he had been framed, despite being convicted by a jury on overwhelming evidence (including testimony from the victim which the SWP claimed was too good to be “from a black girl”, and must have been coached).

When he was released from prison, in 1996, their paper, “The Militant” proclaimed him as a great revolutionary inspiration, and repeated his innocence.

Curtis was joined at the celebration by several other speakers. “Tonight, we celebrate Mark’s release because now he can join in the struggle along with a new generation of dangerous young men and women,” said Tom Alter, a leader of the Young Socialists in Chicago and member of the YS national steering committee. “Most of the young fighters in our organization never met Mark, but learned more about the class struggle by learning about his case.”

Alter pointed to how a previous defense case helped forge an earlier generation of young revolutionists. In 1963, three members of the Young Socialist Alliance in Bloomington, Indiana, were charged with sedition under the state laws for attending a speech on the fight for Black rights by Leroy McRae, the YSA national organizational secretary. The previous fall, the young socialists had also been active in defense of the Cuban revolution during the Cuban Missile Crisis. “Cases like these help us learn that the state takes us more seriously than we sometimes take ourselves,” Alter said. “It’s a lesson that you are dangerous to this system if you stand up in defense of the Cuban revolution, for Black rights, for immigrant rights.”

In fact, Curtis was an entirely marginal figure in his home town of Des Moines, Iowa; and there was no reason that he would be framed.

Of course, at various points in history far left groups may be of interest to the police or secret services due to influence in the unions, in anti-war campaigns, of where the activity of the far left brings them into contact with other groups that the state does have an interest in, or where the activities of a particular left group involves activities involving criminality; but this is a far leap from the idea that the state feels the compulsion to frame individuals, or systematically infiltrate and disrupt what are effectively small propaganda  groups

Only this week, the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) the American co-thinkers of the British SWP (though they are currently organizationally divorced) explicitly counseled women rape victims in left organizations against going to the police.

We know that women who go to the justice system with complaints about sexual assault are very often disbelieved and humiliated by police and prosecutors. That is why only a minority of such incidents is ever formally reported. Moreover, the police investigating such allegations within a revolutionary organization would care not a bit about justice for the woman making the charges. Instead, they would seize the opportunity to harass and persecute the left … [A] revolutionary socialist organization should have the capacity–and indeed the responsibility–to establish the means to handle such allegations … … in a way that is impartial and respects the rights of any person raising such charges. We believe that a socialist organization built around principles of democracy must be capable of this… to uphold the principles of revolutionary socialism.

However, the prospect of political groups even positing the idea of running their own rape inquiries has a number of obvious problems. Firstly, the idea that members should not go to the police is predicated upon a Messianic view of the group’s social importance which actually accentuates the charismatic authority of the leadership figures, and therefore potentially makes the abuse of unequal power relation more possible; secondly the identification of group membership as an in-group under external threat could potentially render victims voiceless, as if they complain of abuse they can be regarded by other group insiders as personifying the external threat. Thirdly of course, these groups have no competance to investigate, nor any capacity to adequately judge or punish a rapist. They are failing in their wider social duty to assist the police and criminal justice system in protecting the public from potential rapists.

In the Curtis case, the defence of a brutal child rapist who had been convicted on overwhelming evidene required group insiders to accept what was actually a preposterous alternative theory of how Curtis happened to be at the crime scene, and also reinforce this with an absurd conspiracy theory which not only relied upon a paranoid view of the Ohio Police Department, but also exaggerated Curtis’s importance by inventing false anecdotes of his prominence in the local labour movement . It also required SWP members to mimimise and reject the voices of black, Latino and womens’ advocacy groups in Des Moines that offered alternative testimony.

There is no contradiction between observing that a state may occasionally and in exceptional circumstances be prepared to frame individuals for political reasons while also recognising that most prosecutions are not frame ups; and that most groups of idealists who believe themselves to be “revolutionaries” neither pose any real threat to the state or public order, nor outside their own self-referential group does anyone think that they do.

The delusion that the American SWP had of their own importance, combined with categorising the police and criminal justice system as inherently hostile and posing an existential threat, meant that they were prepared to invest considerable emotional and political capital in the absurd confection that Curtis was innocent and being framed.

But more than this, the very closeness of bonds within a self-referential sub-culture means that members might be very reluctant to believe that their friend and colleague could be guilty. Luis A. Cordón’s “Popular Psychology: an Encyclopedia”, [Greenwood Press, 2005, pp 46 – 47] argues that one of the characteristics of “coercive persuasion” in a cult is unconditional acceptance within the group, provided any transgressions do not cross the boundary of group loyalty.

Group loyalty, and a real or perceived impression that the group is disapproved of by outsiders can lead to errors of judgement, or lack or precaution.

Let us take an example; ten years ago, in the lead up to the war on Iraq, our local anti-war group was invigorated by scores of new activists; many of them young, in the age range 14 to 17. One member of a socialist organization, himself in his late twenties spent all his time talking to these youngsters; to the point where their parents approached me, as secretary of the group, to express their concerns. The local Stop the War Coalition (StWC) group therefore decided that we should encourage the young people to meet on their own and autonomously make their own decisions without adults present. The parents were horrified when the 28 year old continued to attend the group for under 18s, and the young people defended his presence because “he is young like us”. As a result the parents didn’t allow the young people to continue attending, or ensured they were chaperoned.

I have no reason to believe that anything else was going on except over-enthusiastic proselytizing of the Marxist creed to the “youth”. But out of prudence, and because of our duty of care, the StWC had to intervene. But what was remarkable to me is that when I broached the issue with the local branch of his organisation, they castigated me with being sectarian for stopping the young people meetings; and when I communicated concerns to a full timer, the response I had was simply “Well that is a bizarre thing to say”.

It was as if the fact the individual was a “revolutionary socialist”, and therefore presuamably ideologically opposed to oppression and abuse, then they couldn’t be susceptible to doing anything wrong. Linda Rogers demolishes this line of reasoning in the context of the Comrade Delta case:

The leadership has also claimed that for the [SWP’s Disputes Committee (DC) ] to investigating Delta was not a problem despite the fact that they knew him well and some were friends of his. The crux of this argument seems to be they were all long standing and well respected party members and because the party is against women’s oppression the DC would somehow automatically investigate the allegations fairly and objectively.

This is a circular argument. Both W and Delta are also SWP members. By this logic Delta could not possibly commit rape (presumably if by virtue of being in the party we are immune to sexist ideas we must also by extension be incapable of sexist acts); but then would it not also mean by extension that W would be incapable of experiencing rape at the hands of a party member? How can that recursive logic resolve itself? Do all of our relationships with other party members exist without the trappings of historic oppression?

One of the remarkable things about the current crisis in the British SWP, is that it has been rumbling on so long, and so many people have known without speaking out. Keeping quiet “for the sake of the party”. But it is also remarkable how many people still defend the idea that a small left wing propaganda group have the capability and authority to investigate and decide upon rape allegations.

What I have tried to show here is that there is a pattern, across several “revolutionary socialist” organizations, which suggests that despite their protestations of opposing womens’ oppressions; the structures of unequal power and charismatic authority, the loyalty to the group, and the perception of the police as an hostile force representing an existential threat to their organization, are all factors which can combine to create a culture where women are raped or assaulted, and the abusers are protected by silence and the victims rendered voiceless.

212 comments on “How the “revolutionary Left” Has Systematicaly Failed to Prevent Sexual Abuse

  1. Jellytot on said:

    The behaviour of those (US) SWP members in the courtroom was stomach-churning to read.

    Some follow-up on the Curtis case here:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/swp_usa/message/2729?var=1

    I believe he was quietly expelled from the (US)SWP after it became known that he had a habit for soliciting street sex workers and was arrested for doing it.

    One thing that did depress me about the Healy affair was how some leading Left figures at the time defended him.
    IIRC the internal SWP (UK) line over the collapse of the WRP was best summed up in the word “schadenfreude”. Publically, SWP were not to discuss it and when asked was to just say that the allegations against Healy amounted to gossip and it was a matter for them internally.

  2. Plus, you can’t expect the revolutionary left to prevent sexual abuse. No one can do that.

  3. Linda Kronstadt on said:

    It’s about seeing the membership as disposable — sexual abuse is one way this outlook manifests, a logical conclusion of refusing to see someone’s humanity because that’s somehow “bourgeois”. Here’s a cri de coeur, this time from a woman member of Respect seeking a fair hearing concerning the way she has been treated by the SWP. Note how the democratic oppositionists respond to this woman — a proper whistle-blower rather than a Johnny-cum-lately — in the comment thread.
    http://www.socialistunity.com/carole-swords-writes-to-the-swp/#.UQ1IBKUmXqs

    Thankfully, as bad as the proceedings were for her, W didn’t have Lenin sitting in judgement on the disciplinary committee in his powdered wig and black cap.

    Like London’s world-famous taxi cabs, Seymour is able to turn on a sixpence. As someone writes in the comments, ‘Don’t forget that Richard Seymour urged people to sign the SWP’s “loyalty pledge” on his blog.’ Clever boy.

  4. Dan,

    The vast majority of victims don’t go to the police. Exacerbated by the attitudes highlighted in the above, which may be more or less of a factor.

  5. Linda Kronstadt,

    Yes that is a very interesting thread of comments Linda, where the craven support for sharp practice by the SWP leadership was exemplified by Richard Seymour, posting as “Lenin”

    I would say “how things change”, but of course Richard has only started to oppose the SWP leadership after a cover up of an allleged rape, that he personally admits having known about for some months, entered the mainstream media.

    His career sudeenly demanded that he develop a back-bone and a conscience, and stop being silent about cover ups of a possible rape that he already knew about

  6. @5

    “The vast majority of victims don’t go to the police. Exacerbated by the attitudes highlighted in the above, which may be more or less of a factor.”

    Or maybe there wasn’t enough evidence for a formal charge let alone a conviction? As the DC mentioned in their summing up, their interpretation of what constitutes rape was broader than the legal definition (This as far as I remember was stated in the initial thread on this issue some weeks back), the accuser may have thought that this was the most appropriate way to deal with her complaint. Apart from the obvious fact that the police aren’t there to exactly serve our interests and they should only be involved in the most extreme circumstances where there is no other option. Far too many of you seem to have some illusion that the police and courts will deliver some kind of justice when the opposite is generally true.

  7. red snapper: Far too many of you seem to have some illusion that the police and courts will deliver some kind of justice when the opposite is generally true.

    Ahh the reassuring whining noise of “revolutionary socialists” posing in a Guevara beret in front of the mirror, while they imagine they are keeping it real with the kids, with their bad boy ACAB attitude.

  8. Very much doubt that working class kids who suffer daily harassment and brutality from the cops have too much time for them either. Please remind me why the riots kicked off in 2011? BTW. I don’t have a beret. They don’t suit me. ;-)

  9. red snapper: Very much doubt that working class kids who suffer daily harassment and brutality from the cops have too much time for them either.

    Yes, but the substance of my article is how this sort of “revolutionary” posturing helps to create a context where the victims of rape and sexual assualt can be made voiceless, and abuse go unchallenged.

    Since no Trotskist group has ever posed a threat to the state or carried out a revolution, but I cite several above who have a terrible record of rape; then i think my argument takes precendence over yours,

    Would you care to explain why you think left groups have failed so badly over rape. Or shoudl the sisters just put up with it and think about the glorious day?

  10. Ross Bradshaw on said:

    Look, I know this is puerile, but it is almost eight pm and nobody has posted anything about today’s SWP national committee meeting, not even a verbatim transcript. Poor show. Dark side of the internet… Get on with it.

  11. An Duine Gruamach on said:

    Does anyone seriously believe that a political party has the expertise (to say nothing of the equipment) needed to carry out a rape investigation?

    I don’t think it’s a naive view of police and state interests to point out that they have both of those.

  12. Andy Newman: Ahh the reassuring whining noise of “revolutionary socialists” posing in a Guevara beret in front of the mirror, while they imagine they are keeping it real with the kids, with their bad boy ACAB attitude.

    Brilliant!!

  13. The reason for the pattern is quite simply the same as the reason why the same thing has happened in the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts. Unquestionable authority + a culture where the organisation is worshipped and outsiders are feared and distrusted + “Scientology ethics” (the successful can get away with murder while the unsuccessful can’t sneeze without written permission) = abuse, quite often sexual. The issue is not the politics but the organisational form, which is justified by the politics but actually has nothing to do with socialism.

  14. Blaker on said:

    Where does this article put Socialist Unity on Sheridan and the Wikileaks founder. The official line was to deny therir sexist behaviour and use of their position of power to coerce women into sexual relations. Definitely a case of calling the kettle black.

  15. Blaker: Where does this article put Socialist Unity on Sheridan and the Wikileaks founder.

    With regard to Sheridan, I have always argued that he made a serious error of judgement in suing the NOTW. However, the sexual shennanigens that Sheridan was allleged to have participated in were all consensual, and so the issues are entirely different.

    It is also absolutely clear that opposing factional interests in the SSP sought to exploit the situation and do over Sheridan.

    With reagrd to Assange, i have little time for the man. However, he is someone who the American state genuinely would have an interest in destroying.

    He has been accused of rape, but not I believe charged. As such he remains entitled to a presumption of innocence.

    I am highly sceptical of the behaviour of the Swedish state, and why they are pushing for his extradition at this stage, rather than interviewing him in London. I also cannot understand why the Swedish state could not give assurances that he will not be extradited on to the USA.

    The best outcome for the Assnage case would be for the Swedish authorities to interview him in England, and if there are charges to be brought, then an arrangemtn for a trial could be accomodated where there was no prospect of extradition to the USA on other charges. Remember how the Lokerbie bomber was tried in Holland under Scottish law?

  16. Andy Newman,

    I was on the other side of the Respect debacle and Richard was very harsh on me. In private conversation recently he’s regretted his behaviour and his inculcation into the CC’s bunker mentality. I accept that apology because I myself was a leader in an organisation, which – while not an abusive cult – was based on a model of leadership which led to me defending arrant stupidities in public and sapped me of my own political integrity and confidence. So I understand how these things happen.

    But this is a major issue that we have to deal with – what happens when previous supporters of an abusive regime break with it. I’ve seen this happen with Scientology – ex-Scio leaders who now want to bring the cult down are often ostracised and opposed by long-term oppositionists because “they were part of the problem”. They seem to think that opposition to the cult must be kept clean of “former regime elements” – even though those people have access to those still on the inside which could break the whole thing wide open.

    Also, a moralistic attitude which requires that former regime loyalists have to perform a public mea culpa before they are considered “clean” to join the opposition is counterproductive and reverse-cultist in its own way. It completely neglects the issue that the big thing about cults is that they get good people to do bad things via the “boiling frog” method. A cult is not one layer of evil monsters and one layer of helpless victims. Power dynamics lead to people who believe in the mission of the organisation compromising their own integrity gradually over years. With all respect to comrade W, I have no idea whether she herself wasn’t a “regime loyalist” before she got entangled with Delta – and it’s totally irrelevant.

    In this case, I think that some people’s antipathy to IS/SWP/Cliffite politics (or Leninism in general) is obscuring the fact that bringing down the actually existing leadership cult and culture within the SWP is the best thing that could happen to the radical left. The SWP is one of the most influential Leninist groups in the English-speaking world. I still think that revolutionary socialism has something to offer the world, and if the SWP can reform itself then I will be proven right. So despite the fact that many of those now associated with the Opposition were part of the problem in the old days, I give them all the support I can now.

  17. Doloras LaPicho (@chaosmarxism): In this case, I think that some people’s antipathy to IS/SWP/Cliffite politics (or Leninism in general) is obscuring the fact that bringing down the actually existing leadership cult and culture within the SWP is the best thing that could happen to the radical left. The SWP is one of the most influential Leninist groups in the English-speaking world. I still think that revolutionary socialism has something to offer the world, and if the SWP can reform itself then I will be proven right. So despite the fact that many of those now associated with the Opposition were part of the problem in the old days, I give them all the support I can now.

    Brilliantly put. Your reply to Andy presents a very clear summary of what I’ve been (more or less) thinking for a few weeks now, but haven’t even come close to expressing so cogently.

  18. Of course any allegations of bad behaviour has to be investigated and there should be robust procedures in place to deal with this and its pretty obvious that the SWP failed in this regard. The behaviour of the DC has been clumsy in the least and its hardly surprising that many members didn’t have any confidence in it nor its conclusions in comrade Delta’s case. At the very least any DC should be entirely composed of lay members and not CC members nor full timers as its pretty obvious that a conflict of interest may arise. I mentioned possible reasons why cde Delta’s accuser may not have wanted to go to the cops. Personally I believe serious crimes such as rape in one of those “last resort” cases where going to the police may well be best course of action but the complainant decided otherwise as is he right and surely we should respect this? As far as the issue of police and working class youth do you think there is no justification for these hostile feelings or are they too “revolutionary socialists” posing in a Guevara beret in front of the mirror, while they imagine they are keeping it real with the kids, with their bad boy ACAB attitude.”
    Its Saturday night and am getting out of here. Got better things to do. Enjoy. :-)

  19. Blaker: The official line was to deny therir sexist behaviour and use of their position of power to coerce women into sexual relations.

    Mmm. this need a a little more unpacking I think.

    In the case of both Tommy Sheridan and Juilan Assange, there does see to have been a situation where their fame and resulting charisma has led to various consensual sexual encounters.

    the specific accusation against Assange is that he committed non-consensual sexual assaults or rapes after previous consensual sex; so the issue of his fame and charisma may still have been involved in that first consensual sex. I make no judgement whether there was later non-consensual sex.

    Now where a man has sex with a consenting women, even though she may have been influened to consent becuase she is attracted by his power or prestige, that is not coercion. It is not rape.

    In some circumstances sexual relationships based upon unequal prestige or power may be unethical or inapropriate; and organisations may need to have policies to inhibit and prevent them.

    Unequal power realtionships may lead to coercion or rape; they may be predicated upon sexual harrasssment. But we cannot conclude from that that every such relationship must be harrassment or every sexual act must be rape. What we can say, is that toleration of unequal sexual relationships creates a context where rape and harrassment are more likely.

    Blaker: Definitely a case of calling the kettle black.

    that makes no sense at all, unless you are accusing me personally of something improper. In this discussion i am neither the pot not the kettle; I am the steam blowing through the kettle’s whistle.

  20. brianthedog on said:

    #24 “In this discussion i am neither the pot not the kettle; I am the steam blowing through the kettle’s whistle.”

    LOL … Got to be the line of 2013, so far.

  21. Doloras LaPicho (@chaosmarxism): Also, a moralistic attitude which requires that former regime loyalists have to perform a public mea culpa before they are considered “clean” to join the opposition is counterproductive and reverse-cultist in its own way. It completely neglects the issue that the big thing about cults is that they get good people to do bad things via the “boiling frog” method. A cult is not one layer of evil monsters and one layer of helpless victims.

    This is a very good point. However, equally there is no reason to give them an easy time either.

    In their paper on dealing with people leaving cults, Ungerleider and Wellisch argue that the key is to restore people’s individual evaluative capacity.

    It would certainly be wrong to argue that those now in opposition are irredembale, it would certainly be wrong to argue that those in opposition are still as much part of the problem as those who support the leadership.

    But as recently as two or three weeks ago, opposition leaders were still keeping silent about the issue, then deploring the publication of the transcript, and even tweeting and blogging seeking to delegitimise me as an alleged “racist”.

    Pulling them up on this is not seeking to cast them forever into the darkness, but to continue to pressure them to reevaluate their past and very recent attitudes and behaviours.

  22. When I was in the old CP, a reasonably prominent member who was associated with the same trend or faction as me was accused of having sexually abused children. Out of respect to the family, who were also CP, I won’t provide any more specific details.

    The abuser was reported to the police, arrested, charged, tried and jailed. Absolutely everyone in the party who knew about it thought that was the right and proper outcome. There was no discussion or debate, it was just the obvious and morally right thing. The idea that it would be covered up because he was a comrade never occurred to me, nor I think to anyone else.

    I think a couple of comrades may have visited him in jail, but they did so as personal fiends who nonetheless believed he fully deserved to be there. It was not broadcast as gossip because it was a criminal matter, not a party matter, and justice was done for the victims and the wider public.

  23. I can attest to the truth of the matter as stated by Calvin above. I was quite close to all of those involved, and very close to some of them. It was utterly shocking when the facts came out.

    The idea of dealing with it as an internal party matter never arose. To have done so would not have been imaginable.

  24. Doloras LaPicho (@chaosmarxism):
    The reason for the pattern is quite simply the same as the reason why the same thing has happened in the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts. Unquestionable authority + a culture where the organisation is worshipped and outsiders are feared and distrusted + “Scientology ethics” (the successful can get away with murder while the unsuccessful can’t sneeze without written permission) = abuse, quite often sexual. The issue is not the politics but the organisational form, which is justified by the politics but actually has nothing to do with socialism.

    Strongly agree with this. There’s nothing inherent in socialist or communist politics that should lead either to this sort of abuse, or consistent failures to adequately deal with it.

    As the debates over ‘Leninism’ or ‘Zinovievism’ show (thenorthstar.info has been particularly good at highlighting this) there are as many historical practices on the Left as stars in the sky. That the SWP Central Committee draws on a certain interpretation (a generalising of the detached/’interventionist’ monolithic party) does not mean we should accept their interpretation is valid and debate it seriously.

    At #10, Andy asks why ‘left groups have failed so badly over rape’.

    I would say because of their extreme isolation. All the ‘normal’ members, with lives and interests broader than Party Notes, have by dint of these groups’ organisational set-up been unable to actually impact the culture and practice of the group. Instead, this is determined by those for whom membership (and the leadership) of ‘the party’ constitutes an unhealthily large part of their lives.

    People have (I think rightly) questioned the motivations of the people who came out into open opposition only after the controversy was attracting unwelcome attention. Why should not the same healthy suspicion towards their sincerity be extended to the SWP leadership? I imagine Callinicos was howling with laughter writing that shit for Socialist Review. I refuse to debate this on his terms. That way madness lies.

  25. Sorry, Andy, I didn’t see where Richard S or his supporters accused you of being a racist. I saw one comment where one supporter said you were no more a leftist than the Harry’s Place crowd, which is surely unfair but not necessarily the same thing.

  26. Lewisham Left Lawyer on said:

    red snapper: Far too many of you seem to have some illusion that the police and courts will deliver some kind of justice when the opposite is generally true.

    This approach, even if mildly qualified by the “last resort” argument at #23 is an infantile nonsense. No defence of what has happened in the SWP can be mounted on this basis.

    I have represented a client charged with rape and (more than one) client who alleged rape or abusive behaviour by their partner. In the former, dealt with in the criminal court, my client was acquitted. In the latter cases, which were in the family court, the abusive behaviour hasn’t always been the key issue in the case but has been so sometimes (the need to house the children of the family was usually the key issue in the others). Generally, the court has dealt with the issues well, not least putting the interests of children first.

    Should I say that, as a socialist, these people shouldn’t use what I consider to be bourgeois law? Should I say they should seek redress in the court of “working class (or revolutionary party) opinion” or wait for redress until the worker’s militia and workers courts exist? No.

    The courts play a dual role: enforcers for the ruling class – as in so many cases when trade unionists have been done in – and in the main run of cases, where the interests of the ruling class are not at stake, providing a tribunal that interprets and applies the law to regulate relations between individuals within society. The law has two natures (remember dialectics?).

    Even sometimes when the result isn’t favourable to the interests of the ruling class an advantage for our side can be obtained by the court. The suit that forced the then right wing PCS executive to recognise the election of Mark Serwotka is an example. Why does this happen? Because the courts are given, in a democratic regime, a fair degree of independence. It’s not in the interests of the bosses to have a direct line between Conservative Central Office or the CBI telling the High Court what to do. Otherwise, Trade Unionists would take cases to Employment Tribunal or Courts.

    A simplistic “don’t use the courts” line is not credible. It won’t wash with the vast majority of working class people, including BME workers and youth, not least because it doesn’t make sense. It will not do, save to expose socialists to justified ridicule.

    You might say I’d be bound to take this view given what I do for a living, and yes, I probably wouldn’t do what I do for a living if it wasn’t my view. There is a big issue about workers’ access to law given the legal aid cuts of Tory and Labour governments, but that is an issue SU might want to take up another day.

  27. Lewisham Left Lawyer on said:

    Dan: Plus, you can’t expect the revolutionary left to prevent sexual abuse. No one can do that.

    That may or may not be true, but it matters how the left (revolutionary or otherwise) responds to allegations of sexual abuse.

  28. Lewisham Left Lawyer on said:

    Lewisham Left Lawyer: Otherwise, Trade Unionists would take cases to Employment Tribunal or Courts.

    Sorry, that should be “Otherwise, Trade Unionists would never take cases to Employment Tribunal or Courts.”

  29. Jellytot on said:

    Interesting “Noah” and “Calvin” at #27 and #28.

    Your contributions reflect very well on the attitudes and structures of the old CP.

    Its correct actions in this instance probably were a consequence of their non-cultish internal culture, strong socialist principles and their deep roots inside the Labour movement and wider working class.

  30. Jellytot on said:

    @31I didn’t see where Richard S or his supporters accused you of being a racist.

    It’s here in regard to an Indy article that Andy was interviewed for:

    One last thing. There is an article in The Independent about this case. It uses the phrase “socialist sharia court”. It is miles away, in tone and spirit, from Laurie Penny’s piece. I would urge people to think carefully about who wants to use the sort of language deployed in the Independent article. I think the answer is, “racists”. I would also point out that, as far as I know, the Independent did not speak to any party members. My advice is to disregard that piece.

    http://www.leninology.com/2013/01/crisis-in-swp.html

    IMHO anybody with an ability to process the English language would read that and come away with the impression that Richard Seymour viewed both Andy and the journalist as “racists”.

  31. Tomb Secrets on said:

    IMHO anybody with an ability to process the English language would read that and come away with the impression that Richard Seymour viewed both Andy and the journalist as “racists”.

    That’s the thing about Richard. He has a tendency to smear his opponents with dishonest cheap shots, and he cuts people off who disagree with him. Not unlike the person he has written a book about.

  32. Nick Fredman on said:

    From the article >>but this is a far leap from the idea that the state feels the compulsion to frame individuals, or systematically infiltrate and disrupt what are effectively small propaganda groups<<

    Well, some capitalist states do sometimes. While I'm sure you're correct about the Curtis case and for all the US SWP's degenerated nature by the 80s and perhaps earlier the SWP proved in a long but successful court case conducted in the 70s and 80s that the FBI and antecedents in fact did systematically infiltrate and disrupt it, continuously from the 30s (and continuing they found out even as the trial dragged on), as detailed e.g. in Barry Sheppard's memoir.

    While it's no excuse for the behaviour described, paranoia, and more broadly sectarian isolation and attendant pressures to in-group oppressive relations, can be exacerbated by real (if in this case c.f. say the Black Panthers relatively mild) persecution by the state.

    Those who stand by the need for socialist organisation today need to soberly take on board the appallingly misogynist behaviours described here. and do everything possible to minimise the future potential of these occurring: by education in and campaigning around women's liberation, recognising Marxism needs to be a strand of feminism, forming alliances with and criticising where necessary other strands, by democratic and open functioning, and by a sense of proportion. And realise all this is a constant struggle. Or as the late Australian DSP founder Jim Percy used to say by way of analogy, every time we see a sectarian we need to cross ourselves and intone, "there but for the grace of God go I".

    While I've wished the UK SWP dissidents well I agree they're limited by generally "defend[ing] the idea that a small left wing propaganda group have the capability and authority to investigate and decide upon rape allegations". This shows both a lack of a sense of proportion and an ultra-left, class-reductionist refusal to recognise there's been real reform to the way the cops and the courts deal with sexual violence, and better support services, won by feminist campaigning. Of course like every issue of oppression we need to recognise the need for further campaigning, the ongoing limitations within the capitalist state and a constant dynamic to unwind any progressive change.

  33. Tomb Secrets: Not unlike the person he has written a book about.

    David Cameron?!?

    I would agree that “socialist sharia court” has unfortunate racist/Islamophobic undertones, no matter how much Andy might not have intended them. The likes of Nick Cohen dancing on the SWP’s grave should please no-one.

  34. Nick Fredman on said:

    It’s disappointing that the US ISO follow the absurd revolutionary tribunal idea of handling allegations of sexual violence within socialist organisations, as a leading member Sharon Smith recently recently gave a pretty talk on women’s liberation in part criticising the “IS tradition” on this, as “class reductionist”: for the audio and a related article on see http://links.org.au/node/3134

  35. prianikoff on said:

    If Healy said “I am the party”, “I am the Political Committee”, he’d already placed himself outside the political traditions of his own movement.
    The fact that the WRP finally ditched him shows that not all the people surrounding him were complete sycophants

    re. the SWP(USA) and Mark Curtis affair.
    This statement by Newman is totally ignorant rubbish:-

    “The delusion that the American SWP had of their own importance, combined with categorising the police and criminal justice system as inherently hostile and posing an existential threat”

    The FBI WERE engaged in a massive, prolonged COINTELPRO campaign against the US SWP, which the organisation challenged in the courts using the US Freedom of Information Act.

    “the government’s own record of FBI activity against the SWP ‘enumerates 20,000 wiretaps and 12,000 days of listening ‘bugs’ between 1943 and 1963.
    It documents 208 FBI burglaries of offices and homes of the SWP and its members, resulting in the theft or photographing of 9,864 private documents’.
    Tactics included sending forged letters to activists and their supporters, families, employers, landlords, college administrators etc., creating leaflets published in the name of radical groups and individuals in order to ridicule and antagonise, planting undercover ‘agents provocateurs’ to spy and encourage violence, disunity or totalitarian tendencies (for instance) within that group in order to discredit the organisation in the eyes of the public, create articles which the ‘cooperative media’ ran as their own etc.”

    See this article for details:-
    http://www.isg-fi.org.uk/spip.php?article626

    The Curtis case occurred when the SWP was on the crest of a wave and moving into industries in the mid-West.
    So there was certainly a reason for the FBI to create a high profile scandal against them.
    There’s nothing conclusive in any of the hearsay about this case, including Tami’s account of working with him.
    Being pushy about paper sales isn’t evidence of being a rapist.
    Even if it’s true he’d used his car to solicit prostitutes, neither is that.
    Espcially as this was shortly after he’d spent 8 years in jail

  36. Doloras LaPicho (@chaosmarxism): I would agree that “socialist sharia court” has unfortunate racist/Islamophobic undertones, no matter how much Andy might not have intended them.

    This is disingenuous to the point of absurdity.

    Firstly, I have covered how the Sharia law quote was a misrepresentation before

    Richard would know that SU, and myself personally, have as much as anyone stood against the tide of Islamophobia, and in particular I have personally defended sharia law. So he knew it was a cheap shot.

    Richard did not say it was “undertones of racism”, he said we were racists. Which is part of the Leninist tradition sadly, of slotting inconvenient political opponents into symbolic categories (kulaks, stalinists, trotskyists) in order to delegitimise (and indeed dehumanise) them.

    Richard has a habit of this snide and haughty put down.

    The thread that Linda Krondstadt pointed out was interesting because Richard poured his whole scorn on a working class woman who had written a letter pointing out that the SWP has ripped her off financially. He mocked her writing style despite her having none of his intelectual and educational advantages (though she is a better writter than him, as I understood what she had written)

    Being in a cult may lead you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do, but how you do them still reflects what sort of
    The thread which Linda Krondstadt linked to is interesting because Richard turned his full sc

  37. I find the whole sexism issue totally one sided. I really do not think that in Britain in the 21st century we can simply talk of women being oppressed without mentioning male oppression. For example, compare the number of men languishing in jails compared with women. Compare the sentences handed out to men when compared to women. Here we have institutionalized discrimination against….MEN!!

    On the issue of sex and sects, well I don’t know why anyone is surprised that it all ends up this way. Cults breed this type of thing. I guess this Gerry Healy character became feted by his followers, both men and women, who put him on a pedestal so he could shag anything he wanted.

    Where I work one of the top managers has just been forced to resign because of his sexual behaviour around the organisation. Funnily enough you never get the tea boy doing this sort of thing, why is that I wonder?

    If you put people in power on a pedestal, fawn over them like fucking slaves to the master, then you deserve everything coming to you. You are the problem, not the abuser!

  38. This article is a complete load of nonsense from beginning to end, and grossly hypocritical coming from a defender of Stalin and Mao Zedong who as everyone knows, with the benefit of state power, themselves exercised feudal-like power over numerous concubines.

    The truth is that the reason that these abuses happen, insofar as they are proven to have happened, is that these so-called far left groups function as mini labour-bureaucracies, and simply reproduce wider social relations.

    The existence of these mini-bureaucracies is a result of failure to politically analyse the post-WWII world correctly, a derived cynicism about the revolutionary potential of the working class, and a resulting adaptation of these flawed leftist strands to sections of the new middle class, to academia, and not least to elements of the labour bureaucracy (where Healy in particular had co-thinkers including the likes of Ted Knight and Ken Livingstone, who defended him until the last – in Livingstone’s case he still does!)

    Newman, with his Stalinist/Labourite politics and aspiring career in the more mainstream labour bureaucracy, is no different, because the labour bureaucracy itself is no different. Only probably more backward and narrow-minded, to the extent that these kinds of abuses would be more difficult to bring to light in the first place.

    The Mark Curtis stuff is another example of an Andy Newman brainstorm where he goes flying over the class line and ends up in the camp of extreme reaction, as he did over the Gary McKinnon case. Curtis was not some leading figure in the SWP, but a fairly junior local militant involved in trade union organising. Of course, you can never be 100% dead certain sure of anything in a defence case, but this has as many of the hallmarks of a frameup – likely for squalid local reasons involving cops, local employers and corruption – as you would find anywhere.

    The ‘evidence’ that Newman is citing to imply that Curtis ‘ultimately’ was supposedly proven guilty of rape does nothing of the kind. Even if it were true – and by the way the cops do conduct vendettas against frame-up victims that last for a lifetime so don’t count on it – witness Rubin Carter – it would not at all indicate that he was a rapist. There is no logic to that assertion.

    Maybe Newman wants to have a go at Hugh Grant in the same way as a potential ‘rapist’, he can shill for Rupert Murdoch and David Cameron over this just the way he is shilling for the US state over the Curtis rubbish, or the way he shilled for the same US state over McKinnon, in that case ultimately putting him to the right of Theresa May.

    Indicative also to see him backing away from the defence of Assange, who is quite obviously the victim of a CIA honeytrap. Maybe Newman thinks that is as far fetched as the idea that the US SWP might be targeted by the US state? Nothing like a bit of opportunist and hypocritical pandering to the sentiments of those who want to lynch Assange, when the opportunity arises because of the SWP’s own disgusting hypocrisy over this!

    There have been idiotic things done by the far left in the field of sexual acts, such as the defence by some on the left along with many liberals of Roman Polanski, who really does appear guilty of a pretty nasty rape and does not seriously deny the accounts of this, but Polankski is a darling of liberals and not any kind of communist.

    This is objectively just an anti-communist rant against the far left, and against marxism itself, from a hostile reformist and in practice supporter of capitalism. And there is no contradiction between Newman’s semi-Stalinism and his anti-communism, after all when properly understood, Stalin was arguably the biggest butcher of communists in history, having killed according to perfectly reasonable calculations more communists than Hitler, Mussolini and Chiang Kai-shek put together.

  39. The crisis is the inevitable result of the undemocratic regime
    inside the SWP. The sordid details which are now admitted by former SWP
    loyalists are not particularly surprising to those of us who have had cross swords with the SWP in the past.

    This crisis is an absolute gift to our class enemies. The Daily Mail does not normally cover the the SWP or the Left in general. Their article on the current SWP crisis was published in order to discredit the Left in general. The attempt to smear the entire labour movement using guilt by association is what one would expect from the Daily Mail. But Andy’s article above tries to use the vile acts of the SWP to smear and discredit all the parties of the revolutionary left.

  40. Marko: I find the whole sexism issue totally one sided. I really do not think that in Britain in the 21st century we can simply talk of women being oppressed without mentioning male oppression. For example, compare the number of men languishing in jails compared with women. Compare the sentences handed out to men when compared to women. Here we have institutionalized discrimination against….MEN!!

    There are more men in jail, and for longer periods, than women, quite simply because men commit more crimes, and more serious (and violent!) crimes. Regardless of background. End of story.

    Next you’ll be arguing that women-only car insurance is further proof of ‘institutionalised discrimination’ or that family courts are engaged in a conspiracy against men.

    ‘The whole sexism issue’ (as an aside: I initially thought your comment was meant to be ironic, so explicit is your dismissive attitude towards the seriousness of women’s liberation!) focuses on the position of women because their oppression is structural, systematic and generalised.

  41. @32 Lewisham Left Lawyer

    Absolutely spot-on… some of the best comments I have read on this.

    “Should I say that, as a socialist, these people shouldn’t use what I consider to be bourgeois law? Should I say they should seek redress in the court of “working class (or revolutionary party) opinion” or wait for redress until the worker’s militia and workers courts exist? No.”

    Lol! But that’s the logic of their argument… Also in light of their arguments re “bourgeois” courts would they support the campaigns against the attacks on legal aid?

    “A simplistic “don’t use the courts” line is not credible. It won’t wash with the vast majority of working class people, including BME workers and youth, not least because it doesn’t make sense. It will not do, save to expose socialists to justified ridicule.”

    Hit nail on the head. And indeed the attacks on legal aid are shocking beyond belief.

  42. Karl Stewart on said:

    It’s true to say that not every feminist, anti-racist or anti-homophobe is necessarily also a communist or socialist, or even necessarily left-wing.

    But every single communist and socialist MUST also NECESSARILY be pro-feminist, anti-racist and anti-homophobic, otherwise they are not a communist or a socialist.

  43. prianikoff on said:

    re.redscribe@44

    “the labour bureaucracy itself is no different. Only probably more backward and narrow-minded, to the extent that these kinds of abuses would be more difficult to bring to light in the first place.”

    The people with real money and power operate more discretely.
    They can pay for mistresses to live in second homes, appoint them as private secretaries, or afford to pay for £1,000 an hour prostitutes.
    Right wing politicians caught in the act risk being discredited personally, particularly if they have political enemies interested in doing so.
    But the press doesn’t usually use such incidents to discredit their whole party.
    That was clearly the intention of the Murdoch press in the Sheridan case, where the courts manipulated both sides of the party into a situation where they had to testify against each other.

    re. Labour.
    As I’ve remarked before, there’s always been a bit of a mystery about Ellen Wilkinson’s death.
    She was depressed by the failure of the post-war Labour government to carry out its full social reform programme. But there were also rumours that her secretive relationship with Herbert Morrison was a major factor.

    ‘”…why is Ellen Wilkinson so little remembered today? I believe that the answer lies in the circumstances of her death.
    For several years, she had conducted a secretive relationship with Herbert Morrison, the brilliant political tactician and founder of the London Labour Party.
    In January 1947, worn down by ill-health, I believe that the end of that affair broke her. Ellen’s death was sudden, shocking. It prompted a public inquest.
    The possibility of suicide was whispered in the corridors of Westminster (and in the private diaries of colleagues).
    Many Labour figures kept their distance from the funeral service, fearing scandal.
    The official cause of death was recorded as an accidental overdose.
    But rumours persisted. As the Labour hierarchy sought to distance itself from gossip-by-association, Ellen’s contribution to the Labour movement dropped from public view.
    Her life and work have remained resolutely in the shadows.
    Her image lives on in grainy show-reels at the Museum of London but knowledge of her work has largely faded away.”

    http://labourlist.org/2010/11/ellen-wilkinson-forging-a-new-path/

  44. “There are more men in jail, and for longer periods, than women, quite simply because men commit more crimes, and more serious (and violent!) crimes. Regardless of background. End of story.”

    Would you say this about blacks then? More in jail so they are more predisposed to crime? No you would say, they are disadvantaged in society compared to Whites. More black people in jail shows how they are discriminated against! Well so are black women and if you look at the stats the majority of men in jail are from poorer backgrounds.

    Men are in jail not because they are from Mars and women are from Venus but because society assigns a role to them and society discriminates.

    Incidentally the stat is 95% men in jail, 5% women. How more structural, systematic and generalised do you want to get? But no, you conveniently put this down to nature! Now the left like to use stats to prove points when it comes to discrimination but this stark fact raises no questions other than a dismissive ‘it’s nature’. Funny that.

    It should also be noted that men have far higher suicide rates than women. Are we putting this down to nature also?

    If we are, let us put everything down to nature and give up this whole, make the world a better place nonsense.

  45. Heather Downs: Blaker,
    *applauds Blaker*

    I am sorry this is bizarre.

    Blaker explicitly referred to women who entered into willing consensual sex as having been “coerced”

    There cannot be any sesnible discussion about rape if people are assuming that fully consensual sex can be rape.
    Why do you think that should be applauded?

  46. redscribe: The ‘evidence’ that Newman is citing to imply that Curtis ‘ultimately’ was supposedly proven guilty of rape does nothing of the kind.

    He was found guilty by a jury. he is a rapist.

    This was the evidence:

    The case against Mark Curtis rests on the accounts of two key witnesses, 15year-old Demetria Harris and her 11year-old brother Jason. Accordingto their testimony, they were home alone on the evening of March 4, 1988, watching TV, when there was a knock at their door. When Demetria asked who it was, a man answered “Mark.” Thinking it might be their bigbrother Mark, Demetria opened the door to see a “tall and skinny” white man standing on the steps outside their enclosed front porch, asking if “Bonita or Keith” were there, if this was 1545 lXth Street. The Harris home is at 1529 lXth Street —just a few houses down. When Demetria told him he had the wrong address, the man asked if her parents were home. Jason, getting bored, went back into the house to watch TV. That’s when “Mark” pushed his way onto the porch.

    “He closed the door behind him,” Demetria told the jury, “and he told me — threatened, he said, ‘I have a knife. I’ll hurt your brother and you if you don’t cooperate.'”

    Demetria struggled, until “Mark” began punching her in the face and head. Jason, hearing the struggle, came to investigate. Opening the door a moment he saw “Mark” on top of Demetria. Jason went back into the house, armed himself with a kitchen knife, took the phone as far from the porch as he could, and dialed 911.

    “This man is raping my sister,” he told police dispatcher Kim Manning. Manning logged the call into her computer at 8:51 PM. She then radioed officers Joseph Gonzales and Richard Glade, parked nearby. The officers arrived two minutes later, pulled up silently. They walked to the front door and knocked.

    “Mark” put his hands around Demetria’s throat, “and started choking me, and told me not to say anything.” Gonzales and Glade pushed through the door, and “Mark,” his pants down around his legs, took off into the back of the house. Demetria, nude from the waist down and bleeding from the face, told Gonzales, “He just raped me.”

    The assailant was cornered in a back bedroom, where, his pants still down around his legs, Mark Stanton Curtis was handcuffed and read his rights.

    Demetria positively identified Curtis at her deposition as the man who assaulted her. She and Jason both repeatedly identified him at the trial. Officers Gonzales and Glade identified him as the man they arrested at the Harris house on March 4. Kim Manning testified as to the time the 911 call came in from Jason. The tape of Jason’s whispered message was played to the jury. Dr. Jodie Helmick from the Broadlawns Hospital emergency room testified that Demetria had been beaten, while nurse Jane Brackney described Demetria that night as “crying, pretty upset.” And though no semen was found on Demetria (the entire encounter on the porch lasted less than 10 minutes. It took two minutes from the time Jason called the police to when they arrived; Curtis was interrupted before ejaculation occurred), forensic expert Paul Bush testified that dirt and creases on Demetria’s clothes corroborated her account of the struggle. Curtis’ wallet and keychain were found on the Harris front porch, his car was found parked out front.

    Demetria’s hour-long account of the attack was detailed and explicit. “I started getting sick,” she told the jury at one point. “I wanted to throw up but I couldn’t do it.” Pointing to Curtis, she said, “He’s exactly who did those things to me.”

    redscribe: Curtis was not some leading figure in the SWP, but a fairly junior local militant involved in trade union organising. Of course, you can never be 100% dead certain sure of anything in a defence case, but this has as many of the hallmarks of a frameup – likely for squalid local reasons involving cops, local employers and corruption – as you would find anywhere.

    Curtis himself was a liar:

    Curtis’ account at the trial differed from the story he had told in the initial months after his arrest. In the original version, it was Demetria Harris herself who flagged Curtis down near the TNT Bar, and lured him to her home. One month before the trial, however, Curtis changed this story to that of a mystery woman — an unidentified Black teenager who was, according to Curtis, another cog in the police conspiracy against him.

    Curtis was no threat to anyone. The SWP’s accounts of his activity were fantasy

    “There aren’t many people in the peace and justice community in Des Moines who have bought his story,” says Bill Douglas, chair of the Iowa Socialist Party. Rudy Simms, civil rights activist and regional director for the National Conference of Christian and Jews, says Curtis “has no support that I’m aware of in the Black community here. Personally, I can’t fathom any civil rights organization or any minority organization supporting Mark Curtis.”

    A call to Curtis’ own union, local 431 of the United Food and Commercial Workers in Davenport, revealed that, other than sending a letter protesting his treat- I ment in custody, it has done nothing on behalf of Curtis. When a petition for Curtis was circulated at the Swift plant, none of the workers on his shift signed. Perry J. Chapin, president of the South Central Iowa AFL-CIO, has stated that he would “personally denounce any organization or individual who says we should support Mark Curtis.”

    Calls to the Iowa Federation of Labor, the Des Moines chapter of the NAACP, the American Friends Service Committee, the Catholic Peace Ministry, Des Moines and Iowa NOW, and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) come up with the same answer.

    “The reason they’re organizing around the country,” said Marti Anderson, director of Polk Country Victim Services at the time of the trial, “is because they can’t organize in Des Moines. He’s not that important a person. He claimed to have been active in the feminist community, but those of us in the feminist community never heard of him. He claimed to be an activist in the union movement, and the unions in Des Moines aren’t supporting him.”

    “I think there’s a lot of resentment here,” says Douglas, “over what people see as misrepresentations by the SWP of Curtis’ activism.”

    Two examples of this “activism” are listed by the SWP as the primary reasons for the alleged frame-up. The first is Curtis’ participation in a march against police racism in nearby Clive, IA, two weeks before his arrest. Larry W. Carter, president of Des Moines NAACP, was one of the organizers of that demonstration. He says that “Curtis had absolutely nothing to do with organizing that. Maybe he was there, but so were hundreds of other people.” Carter himself “believed from day one that [Curtis] was guilty as sin,” and “was gratified when his appeal was rejected.” Far from seeing Curtis’ arrest as a “racist conspiracy,” as the SWP has described it, the Des Moines NAACP “told the County Attorney’s office from the start that we wanted this man prosecuted just as strenuously as we imagine they would prosecute a Black man charged with raping a white teenager.”

    The second reason for framing Curtis is supposed to be the speech he gave at the United Mexican-American Community Center on behalf of the “Swift 17″ — the 17 Latino meatpackers picked up earlier that week by the INS. At his trial Curtis testified that he’d spoken in Spanish at the March 4 meeting, just hours before his arrest, about “the need to get the union very involved in defending these workers.” He described it as a large meeting. “There were many of us from my department at work, and family members of the arrested workers. The media was there, and so on.”

    “I don’t know that he said anything,” says Ila Plasencia, who organized and was present at the meeting. Plasencia, past national vice-president for the midwest section of LULAC, was a leader in the campaign to free the Swift 17. (Sixteen of the 17 were eventually freed; one was deported to Mexico). “It wasn’t a big meeting. There was no press there.” No one else who was there remembers Curtis at all. “If he says he’s an activist in the Hispanic community,” says Plasencia, “I would say no.”

    Plasencia openly resents the fact that she is quoted and LULAC is mentioned in Curtis literature. When asked what she thinks of the theory that Curtis was framed for his advocacy of Latino workers, she pauses a moment, and laughs. According to Charles Adams, author of Labor Defense and the Mark Curtis Case, Curtis, far from being a threat to the Swift management, was described by his shop steward as “a quiet kind of guy who kept to himself.” And when Latino workers walked off the Swift production line to protest the arrest of the Swift 17, Mark Curtis, self-described “militant unionist,” “antiracist fighter,” and proponent of Latino-Anglo worker solidarity, refused to join them.

    “It’s all a hoax,” says Carter. “There isn’t a shred of truth to any of it.”

  47. Heather Downs on said:

    Most of the left want to shift this on to more comfortable territory about organisational structure, so look at other organisations known to foster sexual abuse, eg the Catholic church. But most sexual abuse doesn’t happen in institutions, it happens among friends, families, boy/girlfriends, acquaintances and, sadly, comrades. So obviously, the reason most of the 85-90% of rapes aren’t reported isn’t down to pressure from badly constituted organisations. So let’s look what else these cases might have in common … if it’s not the Murdoch press; not CIA ‘honey trap’ (love that turn of phrase, not at all sexist) then what?
    At the risk of stating the blindingly bleeding obvious – it’s rape culture. Permeating every section of this society is the notion that men are weak and feeble creatures at the mercy of their genitals. I find that offensive, and I’m not a bloke.

    We have been through why women don’t report rape to the police, but in case you missed it – the compainant is first a crime scene on which forensic evidence must be preserved. So, no washing/destroying clothes, no showering, cleaning teeth. Intimate physical examinations must take place. Assuming the CPS think there’s a good chance of conviction, the complainant will appear in court as a witness. The job of the defence is to show witnesses are unreliable. Intimate questions will be asked in front of the defendant’s supporters, strangers and press. In order to preserve the defendant’s innocence until proven guilty, the complainant must be viewed as untrustworthy.

    Assuming that Delta is guilty, so the public must be protected from him, means the woman he raped must endure all this in order to satisfy the demands of a legal system the left does not support in most other circmstances. But there is an outpouring of support for the system in this rape case. Extraordinary

    It would be enormously helpful if people could read something about the politics surrounding rape before forming an opinion. It’s very tempting to think the reluctance to read the material on this is because most of it is written by feminists. Not that I believe anyone on here would be that narrow minded.

  48. Marko:
    “There are more men in jail, and for longer periods, than women, quite simply because men commit more crimes, and more serious (and violent!) crimes. Regardless of background. End of story.”

    Would you say this about blacks then? More in jail so they are more predisposed to crime? No you would say, they are disadvantaged in society compared to Whites. More black people in jail shows how they are discriminated against! Well so are black women and if you look at the stats the majority of men in jail are from poorer backgrounds.

    Men are in jail not because they are from Mars and women are from Venus but because society assigns a role to them and society discriminates.

    Incidentally the stat is 95% men in jail, 5% women. How more structural, systematic and generalised do you want to get? But no, you conveniently put this down to nature! Now the left like to use stats to prove points when it comes to discrimination but this stark fact raises no questions other than a dismissive ‘it’s nature’. Funny that.

    It should also be noted that men have far higher suicide rates than women. Are we putting this down to nature also?

    If we are, let us put everything down to nature and give up this whole, make the world a better place nonsense.

    This is why I specifically said ‘regardless of background’.

    That a disproportionately large number of men in jail are from poor backgrounds is proof of the class division of society, not that poor men are somehow oppressed by women. The same is true of the ethnic make-up of the prison population. The oppressed position of specific substrata can be directly related to wider power relations in society. Whereas this is not true of ‘men’ as a conceptual category.

    If you believe men are systematically oppressed as a gender, you have to explain how this works and what can be done about it i.e. what value there is in your theory.

    Observing that most prisoners are male, then saying they are in jail because of their gender, without establishing a causative relationship, is a particularly egregious example of post hoc ergo propter hoc.

    “Men are in jail […] because society assigns a role to them and society discriminates.” Quite so. But it is not women who are the cause of this discrimination, nor the beneficiary of it. Therefore your rhetoric about “male oppression” provides neither an analysis nor a solution.

    What do you aim to get out of denouncing the focus on women’s oppression? (Which objectively does exist on a gendered as well as a class or ethnic basis.) Do you want more women to be jailed? Women’s sentences to be disproportionately heavy despite their offences being generally less serious? Or do you simply want fewer violent male offenders to be jailed?

    Criminal justice cannot be excised from wider questions of social inequality. Attempts to remedy ‘male’ crime or suicide, without attacking the structural (and non-gendered) sources, focusing instead on the present situation as though it is the cause rather than reflection of injustice, is a dead end.

  49. Manzil: If you believe men are systematically oppressed as a gender, you have to explain how this works and what can be done about it i.e. what value there is in your theory.

    Most working class men are oppressed to some degree or other by their mothers – women. It is the mother who doles out the batterings and corporal punishment that most or many working class children receive growing up, which leads to a psychological condition whereby many working class boys, or any boy who’s suffered physical abuse from his mother, reach adulthood possessing an underlying mistrust of women in general.

    The concept is based on the fact that if the most important woman in a male child’s life, his mother, the woman he looks to for love, protection and nurturing when he is most vulnerable, can turn on him with violence, then any woman can and will turn on him and let him down in some way.

    Of course the fact that the mother may be dealing with issues surrounding the father and the constant pressures of poverty and how this distort and impair what it is to be human, are major factors in this process.

    But it is a process commonly experienced among working class males.

    We are often times victims of our mothers, and shaped in our formative years by the abuse, or not, that we endure from them.

  50. Heather Downs: Most of the left want to shift this on to more comfortable territory about organisational structure,

    A somewhat strange statement, as the analysis I have put forwards of how cults can be immanent in sects, and Messianic group objectives and charismatic authority can engender a culture of sexual abuse is not something I have ever read from anyone else applied to the left.

    Furthermmore, the fact that I am so much abused for putting it forwards hardly suggests it is “comfortable”

    Heather Downs: It would be enormously helpful if people could read something about the politics surrounding rape before forming an opinion.

    what do you recommend? It is not as if most of us haven’t read and discussed about rape over the years? But I am open to learning what you think.

  51. John: Of course the fact that the mother may be dealing with issues surrounding the father and the constant pressures of poverty and how this distort and impair what it is to be human, are major factors in this process.
    But it is a process commonly experienced among working class males.
    We are often times victims of our mothers, and shaped in our formative years by the abuse, or not, that we endure from them.

    While this may be true, it is still located in a wider contaxt of a society where men have power more than women.

  52. Andy Newman: While this may be true, it is still located in a wider contaxt of a society where men have power more than women.

    This is why I talked about the external pressures a mother may be dealing with regarding a male partner, who in turn is dealing with issues to do with grappling with the issues surrounding the expectations placed on men to be successful, attain some sort of status, be the breadwinner, and so forth.

    It is a circular relationship. Female and male oppression go hand in hand. They do not exist in isolation.

  53. Manzil on said:

    John: Most working class men are oppressed to some degree or other by their mothers – women. It is the mother who doles out the batterings and most or many working class children receive growing up, which leads to a psychological condition whereby many when they reach adulthood arrive with an underlying mistrust of women in general.

    The concept surrounds the fact that if the most important woman in a male child’s life, his mother, the woman he looks to for love, protection and nurturing, can turn on him with violence, then any woman can and will.

    Of course the fact that the mother may be dealing with issues surrounding the father and the constant pressures of poverty and how this distort and impair what it is to be human, are major factors in this process.

    But it is a process commonly experienced among working class people.

    We are often times victims of our mothers, and shaped in our formative years by the abuse, or not, that we endure from them.

    What proof is there ‘most’ men suffer this? And that they’e mainly working class? Genuinely interested.

    I come from normal working-class background. I cannot think of a single example of anyone I know being ‘battered’, by parents of either gender. I do remember the son of a very respectable couple, a GP and a lecturer, being reported to children’s services at middle school because of extensive bruising.

    In any case, let’s accept your proposition. What value is there in it?

    What do you propose to do about it, that isn’t fundamentally about wider structural problems (the poverty, stress and lack of time that mothers suffer; the disproportionate role of women in unpaid domestic labour; the privatisation of childrearing and total dependence of children’s rights on the sufferance of their parents etc.) but is instead about ‘male liberation’?

  54. Manzil: What proof is there ‘most’ men suffer this? And that they’e mainly working class? Genuinely interested.

    I got battered regularly growing up, as did most of my peers on the housing scheme I grew up in.

    It was considered normal back in the 70s and 80s, I’d venture to suggest, though perhaps not now thankfully.

    It’s not exclusively a working class, or low income working class phenomenon, but you can’t escape the connection between poverty, alienation, anger, and a concomitant propensity for violence.

  55. Manzil: In any case, let’s accept your proposition. What value is there in it?

    This is a stupid thing to say.

    First you suggest accepting my proposition, then you follow that by asking what value there is in it?

    It like asking what value is there in acknowledging that fire burns?

    The value in knowing where the roots of the problem or issue lie is that from this we can set about resolving the problem.

    No?

  56. Manzil: There are more men in jail, and for longer periods, than women, quite simply because men commit more crimes, and more serious (and violent!) crimes.

    Aren’t though a significant of women in jail for minor ‘crimes’ (I think of fare dodging, not having a TV licence, shoplifting), for which men do not generally have to serve a prison term? If that is the case, then there is little connection between the ‘seriousness’ or ‘violence’ of crime leading to a prison sentence.

  57. Manzil on said:

    John: This is a stupid thing to say.

    First you suggest accepting my proposition, then you follow that by asking what value there is in it?

    It like asking what value is there in acknowledging that fire burns?

    The value in knowing where the roots of the problem or issue lie is thatfrom this we can set about resolving the problem.

    No?

    I was for the sake of argument accepting your proposition that ‘most’ men, and disproportionately ‘most’ working-class men, suffer violence from their mothers. (Incidentally this is something which I don’t believe is the case, after all your own anecdotal evidence in the ’70s directly contradict mine in the ’90s. Thus why I asked what proof there was beyond our own personal experiences.)

    I then asked you, as I asked Marko, how you related this alleged problem (widespread female violence in the home and its effect on young men) to a theory of ‘male liberation’, and specifically what value there was in abstracting it from wider social issues which are fundamentally based on a bourgeois and patriarchal distribution of power, i.e. I was accepting the problem, but specifically challenging what you feel is the ‘root’ of the problem, and thus what to do about it.

    I don’t think that was particularly ‘stupid’, I think it points to the heart of our dispute.

    For instance, I imagine one could take a survey of abused children and the majority of abusers would be right-handed. Does it make sense to say that there is any use in a theory which centres on whether a perpetrator is right- or left-handed? There is a difference between observation and explanation.

  58. prianikoff: The Curtis case occurred when the SWP was on the crest of a wave and moving into industries in the mid-West.
    So there was certainly a reason for the FBI to create a high profile scandal against them.
    There’s nothing conclusive in any of the hearsay about this case

    The fact that there was a criminal trial in which a jury found Mark Curtis guilty of brutally raping a 15 year old girl in her own home is not “hearsay”

    It is a fact that mark Curtis is a convicted rapist.

  59. prianikoff on said:

    #67 Libby Brooks on Rape Culture.
    “In the landmark text Against Our Will, Susan Brownmiller described a “rape-supportive culture”

    Have you ever read any critiques of Browmiller’s book from a left-wing Marxist perspective?

  60. prianikoff on said:

    “It is a fact that mark Curtis is a convicted rapist.”

    So what?
    It’s also a fact that the Tolpuddle martyrs were convicted of swearing illegal oaths and deported to Australia.
    It’s also a fact that the killers of Emmett Till were acquitted.

    I prefer to look at the possibility of miscarriages of justice in such cases.

  61. redscribe: The ‘evidence’ that Newman is citing to imply that Curtis ‘ultimately’ was supposedly proven guilty of rape does nothing of the kind.

    This is what we have to buy, to assume that Curtis was framed:

    Curtis’ version of events, as recounted at the trial. According to this, Curtis started the evening at a meeting called by Latino activists to protest the arrest of 17 undocumented workers at a Swift plant earlier that week. After the meeting, Curtis went to a local bar, leaving at 8:30 to go home. At 8:45 he left his house to go shopping. Curtis says that on his way to the store, while stopped at a red light, a I teenaged girl demanded that Curtis give her a ride. She told Curtis that someone , from the nearby TNT Bar was after her. Curtis let her into his car. She gave him directions to the Harris house. When they arrived she asked him to get out of the car and walk her into the house. She let him in with a key, and then disappeared into the house, never to be seen or heard from again.

    “Well, I heard a noise behind me, a ‘bam’ as the door flew open.” It was officer Gonzales. “He handcuffed me, my wrists behind my back, turned me around, sat me down on this bed that was there, he pushed me back onto the bed and he unbuckled my pants and pulled them down…I was — I was — I was flabbergasted. I was — this was crazy. This was wild.”

    Curtis’ account at the trial differed from the story he had told in the initial months after his arrest. In the original version, it was Demetria Harris herself who flagged Curtis down near the TNT Bar, and lured him to her home. One month before the trial, however, Curtis changed this story to that of a mystery woman — an unidentified Black teenager who was, according to Curtis, another cog in the police conspiracy against him.

    But Curtis was unable to produce a single witness to corroborate the existence of this Black teenager. Neither did Curtis deny during the trial that Demetria was assaulted, (though he has since referred to her as “the alleged victim”), nor did he challenge the authenticity of Jason’s 911 call, or accuse Kim Manning of lying when she said the call came in at 8:51 (a crucial point, since the SWP claims Curtis’ presence at a bar until 8:30 constitutes “an unchallenged alibi”). When asked why Demetria and Jason would falsely identify him, Curtis said nothing about a police frame-up. Instead, he replied, “I don’t know.”

    Prosecutor Catherine Thune made short work of the conspiracy theory. How could the police know, she asked in her summation, when and where Curtis would go shopping, or what route he would take? How could they know that the traffic light where the mystery woman was stationed would turn red just as Curtis reached it? How could they know that Curtis would give this stranger a ride to the Harris house, then leave his car, enter the house, and wait to be arrested? How could they know the Harris children would cooperate in framing a total stranger? And why use children in a frame-up, why use a charge of sexual assault, when such cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute?

    Thune has her own theory as to how Curtis wound up at the Harris home that night. Curtis’ former neighbor, named Keith Harrison, had moved the day before to 1545 lXth Street. Curtis had asked for Keith and his housemate Bonita by name and address when he first spoke with Demetria on March 4. Curtis, according to Thune, was looking for Keith Harrison at 1545 lxth St., and instead wound up on the doorstep of Keith Harris, at 1529.

    While on the stand, Curtis denied ever speaking toeither Keith or Bonita.Bonita, called by Thune immediately after Curtis, testified that she and Keith had spoken to Curtis on several occasions. Curtis was thus caught in a direct lie under oath.

  62. Heather Downs on said:

    prianikoff,

    Why, yes I have, Prianikoff, because I do not believe men are biologically determined to be violent sexual predators. That’s the good news. The bad news is I believe some men choose to be violent sexual predators and most other men defend the culture that allows them to do it because that culture confers enormous advantages and benefits to men.

  63. redscribe: The truth is that the reason that these abuses happen, insofar as they are proven to have happened, is that these so-called far left groups function as mini labour-bureaucracies, and simply reproduce wider social relations.
    … …
    Newman, with his Stalinist/Labourite politics and aspiring career in the more mainstream labour bureaucracy, is no different, because the labour bureaucracy itself is no different. Only probably more backward and narrow-minded, to the extent that these kinds of abuses would be more difficult to bring to light in the first place.

    Well I am different from people who have raped women, and I am different from people who have been silent or covered up rape.

    What is more, I have come up with a series of examples where “revolutionary socialist” groups have created situations where women are raped, and victims silenced.

    To argue that the same thing goes on in the labour party or trade unions is a lie.

  64. Heather Downs on said:

    andy newman,

    OK Andy. Let us know what you think. (I don’t necessarily endorse every word in every article, but the general direction of travel is useful)

  65. Heather Downs: The bad news is I believe some men choose to be violent sexual predators and most other men defend the culture that allows them to do it because that culture confers enormous advantages and benefits to men.

    mmm.

    BUt many women also defend that culture, and most people who do so are not consciouly motivated by defence of male privilage.

  66. Karl Stewart,

    “But every single communist and socialist MUST also NECESSARILY be pro-feminist, anti-racist and anti-homophobic, otherwise they are not a communist or a socialist.”

    That’s not quite right. If you rewrote it to read:

    “But every single communist and socialist MUST also NECESSARILY be anti-male chauvinist, anti-racist and anti-homophobic, otherwise they are not a communist or a socialist.”

    It would be correct.

    Converesely, if you wrote it to read:

    “But every single communist and socialist MUST also NECESSARILY be pro-feminist, pro-black-nationalist and pro-gay-seperatist, otherwise they are not a communist or a socialist.”

    Then it would be consistently wrong in a way that is obvious.

    Feminism is not synonymous with the fight against male chauvinism (which is a better term than ‘sexism’, which the way it is often used these days implies that the user is hostile to sex itself), but a bourgeois ideology in its own right that says that men oppress women and therefore are the enemy.

    For them it is not the class line that is fundamental, but the division between the sexes. This is an ideology that is in its logic utterly hostile to Marxism. Those who attempt to mix the two, as in ‘socialist-feminism’ or the like, will either have to break completely with this logic, or embrace it completely and cease to be socialists.

    There is actually no necessary contradiction between feminism and reactionary politics that even have the effect of promoting male chauvinism and the oppression of women.

    Feminists abounded in the last New Labour government, but that did not stop rather a large rise in the prison population, by more than 50%, including a large surge in women being imprisoned for petty offences often connected with poverty – disproportionately affecting working class women. In that respect, the very feminist New Labour in power were actually worse than the Tory government that preceded them.

    Then of course there is the bourgeois suffragettes’ use of the white feather to hound men who were not in the army fighting for imperialism. Some feminists, along with social democrats themselves, were into eugenics and had contempt for the poor working class women they were supposed to be helping.

    Acts like fighting for greater access to birth control, or votes for women, were obviously supportable and progressive, but that does not mean that the overall ideology of these people was progressive and should be endorsed. On the contrary, in slightly different circumstances they could easily play a reactionary role.

    As many feminists are doing over the Assange case, by basically acting as unpaid propagandists for the CIA.

  67. Manzil on said:

    Andy Newman: To argue that the same thing goes on in the labour party or trade unions is a lie.

    Yet many people very active in the trade unions consist of ‘revolutionary socialists’. So it’s not their politics, it’s the nature of people’s contacts and relationships within a specific setting.

    If someone said, “don’t go the police, the trade union movement has no faith in the bosses’ courts” or “don’t go to the police, it would damage the labour movement” they’d be laughed out of the room, even if the people having that conversation were socialists or communists.

    It’s the self-perception of unaccountable charismatic leadership from above that creates the conditions for silencing, not their belief in the need for a classless society.

  68. Karl Stewart on said:

    Redscribe, in mainstream political discourse, the term “feminist” means the same as “anti-male chauvinist” nut more importantly, those who compalain against “feminisim” and who use the term negatively are, in the main, the same people who go on about “political correctness gone mad” – i.e. reactionaries.
    So I’d say that, even if it may not be absolutely scientifically and pedantically accurate, it’s extremely important that we use the term “feminist” in a positive way and say we are “pro-feminist.”

    As to the Assange case, yes this has split feminist opinion – as I said, while no-one who is anti-feminist can possibly be described as left-wing, it is true that not all feminists are necessarily on the left – and right-wing, reactionary pro-CIA feminists are siding with the CIA, while left-wing, progressive and anti-CIA feminists are siding with the women involved in the case and condemning the CIA’s exploitation of them.

  69. prianikoff on said:

    HeatherDowns@75

    The problem is you don’t seem to have noticed Brownmiller’s abstract anthropology and history led to dangerous politics, particularly in relation to the race question in the USA. In fact some of her material is blatantly racist, imperialist and ends up arguing for the feminisation of the state – more women the police and fighting America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    i.e. her kind of feminism doesn’t lead to socialism at all.

    re Male Violence

    Males are more likely to be violent for a number of reasons, both biological and social.
    But I certainly agree that that violent early socialisation is more likely to produce violent adults.
    This was an issue explored by the pychiatric pioneer Sabina Spielrein, an early patient of Carl Jung.
    She later went to Soviet Russia to set up a nursery, but it was later closed by the government.
    (the recent film “A Dangerous Method” portrayed aspects of her life)

    However, women can sometimes be very violent too for almost inexplicable reasons.
    Recently I noticed that Juliet Hulme – the girl Kate Winslett portrayed in the film “Beautiful Creatures” – became a very succesful crime author after being released from prison.
    In New Zealand, at the age of 15, Hulme and her best friend Pauline Parker murdered Parker’s mother, while out on a walk.
    It was a very brutal killing and both were detained “at her Majesty’s Pleasure”
    I can imagine that a boy who’d carried out the same crime might have been treated very differently in the prison system.
    After being released, she moved to Scotland and became a successful authoress under the name Anne Perry

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Perry#Later_life

  70. Andy Newman,

    “Well I am different from people who have raped women, and I am different from people who have been silent or covered up rape.

    What is more, I have come up with a series of examples where “revolutionary socialist” groups have created situations where women are raped, and victims silenced.

    To argue that the same thing goes on in the labour party or trade unions is a lie.”

    Not the ‘trade unions’ per se, but the bureaucracies in which, shall we say, there either are or have been some pretty large deficits of democracy and accountability. Brazen violence and thuggery is not unknown in such circles, and where that occurs, you can bet your bottom dollar other things go on as well.

    This is bound to be true whenever there is a self-sustaining bureaucratic layer that has seperate interests from the working class itself.

    It not a personal attack, its a political criticism. And to say that the trade union bureaucracy and the Labour Party bureaucracy are immune from sexual shennagigans and worse – any more than any other bureaucratic setup – even a petty one like the SWP – is touchingly naive. It reflects your faith in reformist politics just as much as the SWP true-believers in their purity reflects their illusions.

  71. Manzil on said:

    Karl Stewart: those who compalain against “feminisim” and who use the term negatively are, in the main, the same people who go on about “political correctness gone mad” – i.e. reactionaries.

    You misspelled ‘arseholes’, Karl.

    Very true on the issue of ‘all leftists are feminists but not all feminists are leftists’. Much like anti-racism. The fact many people aren’t actually for substantive equality or for the strategy to achieve it, doesn’t mean we should abandon the term. In popular consciousness, feminism is a fundamentally progressive thing. The people who oppose it aren’t doing so because they think it’s too conservative in its ambitions!

  72. prianikoff,

    Actually, even Newman’s assertion that ‘Mark Curtis is a convicted rapist’ is untrue. He was not convicted of, or even charged with rape. He was convicted of ‘third degree sexual assault’ and ‘burglary’. As a result of this he was jailed for 25 years, though he did not evidently serve that time. Even the size of that sentence suggests something about the underlying motive of the whole process in the opinion of many, including people in the US who backed the case and are no strangers to things like 100 year sentences and the like.

    The allegations against the US SWP, and the equation with the British SWP, are bizarre. Even if you accept that Martin Smith is 100% guilty of rape (which neither I nor Andy Newman have the basis for assuming), the circumstances are completely different. Curtis was not a leading figure in the SWP US, but just one of their local activists. They were thus hardly involved in a corrupt bureaucratic process to “protect their own”. They had no bureaucratic incentive to protect him, any more than the SWP here would if some individual local activist were accused of raping some woman unknown to them in an ordinary context. Why would they do that?

    There is a world of difference between a cover-up behind closed doors, which is certainly what the SWP (UK)’s behaviour looks like, and the public defence campaign waged by the US SWP for Mark Curtis, which was not in any sense a cover up but a highly political campaign with lots of sincere supporters. I also eye with suspicion some of the denunciations of him by people with a variety of views cited by Andy Newman from some feminist publication; are these inherently any more reliable than some of the unsavory stuff we see about Assange? Particularly given the role of the Healy-supporting group in the US at the time in mobilising all kinds of pseudo left nonsense against the SWP over the Curtis case, which was part of their bizarre ‘Security and the Fourth International’ smear campaign.

    With Any Newman’s views on Trotskyism, I’m hardly surprised to see him implicitly making use of this. Pity it is also the brainchild of the same Thomas Gerard Healy who he almost certainly correctly accuses of serial sexual abuses in the article above!

    It is not possible to deal with this nearly 30-year old case today in detail and reach a definitive conclusion. This is before the days of the internet and much of the material is not available on line. But it is a case that appears like a frame up to me. Witness statements do not necessarily a correct conviction make; the number of superficially believable but ultimately dodgy witness statements that abound in other miscarriages of justice in the US, where often brutal and brazenly corrupt state police forces have great degrees of latitude to coerce witnesses, and do all kinds of terrible things to get what they want, in cases from that of Rubin Carter to Mumia Abu-Jamal, does not mean this is cut-and-dried at all.

  73. redscribe: But it is a case that appears like a frame up to me.

    He was arrested at the scene, and the still bleeding victim identified him.

    I explain above in the substantive article how these isues are connected.

  74. redscribe: Not the ‘trade unions’ per se, but the bureaucracies in which, shall we say, there either are or have been some pretty large deficits of democracy and accountability. Brazen violence and thuggery is not unknown in such circles, and where that occurs, you can bet your bottom dollar other things go on as well.

    If you think that any trade union or mainstream social-democratic political party would behave like this you are delusional.

    Give examples

  75. What contemptible comments from redscribe re the Mark Curtis case, no concern for the victim whatsoever. The victim gave evidence against Curtis as did her brother who was an eye-witness.

  76. Manzil: It’s the self-perception of unaccountable charismatic leadership from above that creates the conditions for silencing, not their belief in the need for a classless society.

    Yes but the Messianic self-belief in the role of their party is what invests them with “the self-perception of unaccountable charismatic leadership from above ”

    Added to which all sorts of other group think dynamics which apply to all self-selecting organisations from budgarigar fanciers t the Tory Party.

  77. Graham Day on said:

    Andy Newman: all self-selecting organisations from budgarigar fanciers t the Tory Party.

    Though I seriously doubt if either of those groups would take it upon themselves to rule on an allegation of rape, or any other serious criminal offence…

  78. Andy Newman,

    “If you think that any trade union or mainstream social-democratic political party would behave like this you are delusional.

    Give examples”

    Examples of violence against critics from bureaucratic elements in the labour movement are sporadic, but do sometimes surface. Life in the SLP was not a bed of roses to my understanding. Was this a reflection of how things worked in the NUM at times? I don’t know, but it suggests it could have been. The right-wing in the old electrical and engineering unions were not averse to a bit of a punch up. During the witchhunts against the Militant in Labour in the 1980s, intimidation of critics was not unknown. Come to think of it, neither side in that dispute were exactly pure in that regard either, but Militant reserved their intimidation for smaller competitors on the left. Bleasdale’s GBH was a travesty of the truth, it was the other way round generally from that particular portrayal.

  79. Matty,

    The problem is with that logic is that it is circular. The ‘victim’ cannot be doubted. As in the Assange case. If someone says they are a victim, then they must be. Therefore the accused is automatically guilty.

    Why bother with even having a trial in that case? All you need is a sworn statement from a victim, real or otherwise, and you can have a verdict – guilty!.

    In a case where a miscarriage of justice is alleged, by definition, witness statements are questioned.

  80. Andy Newman,

    Yes, but my argument is that such things have a logic, that bureaucratic suppression has knock on effects, or is likely to, not that I have knowledge of (alleged) sexual abuse. Until recently, the suspicion of this was unknown about the SWP, but the bureaucratism was certainly not unknown.

  81. Manzil on said:

    Andy Newman: Yes but the Messianic self-belief in the role of their party is what invests them with “the self-perception of unaccountable charismatic leadership from above ”

    Added to which all sorts of other group think dynamics which apply to all self-selecting organisations from budgarigar fanciers t the Tory Party.

    Which has sod all to do with socialism per se, but a very peculiar application thereof, which just happens to have gained a disproportionate role within the British Left. And which, as you say, is exacerbated by group dynamics completely unrelated to the actual content of the groups concerned.

  82. redscribe: Bleasdale’s GBH was a travesty of the truth, it was the other way round generally from that particular portrayal.

    Interesting you say that. A pal of mine back then was a favoured child of the Milies and we discussed GBH he said initially he had been offended but then had thought he could name a dozen Milies who were perfectly capable of that sort of behaviour. He subsequently left the Milies for another Trotskist grouping.

    I always found the Milies to be thuggish when they thought they could get away with it. Not many hardmen in the real sense though, so yes they would get chinned by by the real deal.

    Unsuprising really, if you do physical work all week you are not frightened of a fight with a Dole clerk.

  83. Manzil: Which has sod all to do with socialism per se, but a very peculiar application thereof, which just happens to have gained a disproportionate role within the British Left

    Well quite so, when I refer to “revolutionary socialism” perjoratively, I am not criticising the idea of radical transfromative change per se; just the conception of it from our toy-town Lenins.

  84. Graham Day on said:

    redscribe, the victim (no apostrophes) was cross-examined in open court, where she was allegedly harassed by US SWP members. But what’s the word of a teenage girl worth compared to a great “revolutionary” like Curtis, who couldn’t even stick to one far fetched story, and presumably later admitted to his guilt to qualify for parole.

    Miscarriages of justice and police fit-ups do happen. It’s just that the Curtis case isn’t one of them.

  85. Manzil on said:

    Andy Newman: Well quite so, when I refer to “revolutionary socialism” perjoratively, I am not criticising the idea of radical transfromative change per se; just the conception of it from our toy-town Lenins.

    Fair enough.

  86. SA,

    “Interesting you say that. A pal of mine back then was a favoured child of the Milies and we discussed GBH he said initially he had been offended but then had thought he could name a dozen Milies who were perfectly capable of that sort of behaviour. He subsequently left the Milies for another Trotskist grouping.”

    Sounds about right to me. Except that GBH portrayed them as directing that aggression against the right wing, mainly (in my recollection – its a long time since I saw it). If only they had shown that level of ruthlessness against the right wing and the government, they might not have been so easily undermined by Kinnock and defeated by Thatcher.

    But this is a different topic.

  87. redscribe: The problem is with that logic is that it is circular. The ‘victim’ cannot be doubted.

    Let us be clear. A 15 year old girl was brutally raped, in her own home, in front of her 11 year old brother.

    IMO putting scare quotes around the word victim when discussing the Curtis case puts you on the same moral level as holocast deniers

  88. Manzil: Which has sod all to do with socialism per se, but a very peculiar application thereof, which just happens to have gained a disproportionate role within the British Left. And which, as you say, is exacerbated by group dynamics completely unrelated to the actual content of the groups concerned.

    I think I agree with you Manzil!

  89. Morning Star reader on said:

    Redscribe is further trying to throw sand in our eyes by citing the nature of the charges as evidence of a frame-up in the Curtis case. What he doesn’t explain is that the first and third degree clauses added to the two substantive charges relate specifically to sexual assault. Composing the charges in this way is absolutely routine, reflecting the evidence and the allegations.
    The victim (no despicable quotation marks needed) testified that no penetration by the penis occurred, which I understand is why the charges did not include rape as such. However, she graphically described other acts of physical and sexual violence perpetrated by Curtis.
    When I first heard the Communist League’s account of the case during the defence campaign, and saw their video, the circumstances by which Curtis ended up at the victim’s house were palpably ridiculous as evidence of a frame-up. I had gone to that CL meeting on good terms with some of the organisers, fully intending to hear more about a frame-up and sign their petition. I left the meeting with grave doubts. It has since become even clearer that their conspiracy theory was ridiculous, and their account of what had happened was fundamentally untrue and dishonest.
    None of this is to doubt for a second the extent of the Cointelpro operation against the US SWP, for which there is abundant documented evidence.

  90. Jellytot on said:

    prianikoff the SWP(USA) and Mark Curtis affair. This statement by Newman is totally ignorant rubbish

    C’mon prianikoff…..you’re talking to adults here……The State would not use 15 year old WC African-American girl and her 11 year old brother as the centre-piece of a fantabulous, complex and multi-layered frame-up conspiracy. Too many things could go wrong.

    The defence campaign of Curtis proves that the American SWP were a full-blown cult by that stage.

  91. Manzil on said:

    Jellytot: The defence campaign of Curtis proves that the American SWP were a full-blown cult by that stage.

    Does the American SWP still properly exist (as in, not all fit into a Mini Cooper)?

    Aren’t they the ones behind the ridiculously expensive Pathfinder Press?

  92. prianikoff on said:

    101 “putting scare quotes around the word victim when discussing the Curtis case puts (redscribe) on the same moral level as holocast deniers”

    Does it?
    This is a bit like saying that the socialists who defended Joe Hill were defending the act of murder.
    So maybe they were also defending mass-murder and therefore, maybe the Holocaust.
    Rubbish!
    They were defending one individual against what may have been a miscarriage of justice, carried out for political reasons; the employers wanted to smash the IWW.

    In the Curtis case, there were plausible grounds for believing in a frame-up.
    The FBI had a proven record of illegal phonetaps, break-ins, burglaries and black-ops against the US SWP.
    This is not mere rumour, it was established in court under Freedom of Information legislation.

  93. Jellytot on said:

    prianikoff

    Is the “Proletarian hero” that is Mark Curtis still a member of the American SWP ?

    If not, why not?

    @103the circumstances by which Curtis ended up at the victim’s house were palpably ridiculous as evidence of a frame-up.

    Most conspiracy theories fall apart once you ascribe some logic to them….the course of events which would have to occur to make them work would land up resembling a Jenga Puzzle…..the nonsense over 9/11 being an inside job being a case in point.

    If you apply occam’s razor to the Curtis case you can only away with the conclusion that he was almost certainly guilty.

  94. Andy Newman,

    “IMO putting scare quotes around the word victim when discussing the Curtis case puts you on the same moral level as holocast deniers”

    Do you apply that to the Assange case as well, when you say the same thing? Putting quotes around the word victim is no different to using the term ‘alleged victim’. It is citing someone else’s usage of the word without endorsing it oneself. Its only a particular interpretive style that deems it pejorative. It can equally be neutral.

    Another irrational outburst. I’m getting used to it now though.

    If this testimony cannot even be questioned, then anyone on the left who even doubts Curtis’ guilt (who must at least be open to the idea that this testimony may not be what it seems), can be denounced in the same way. All it shows is that you share the same method as the shriekers and screamers who are currently raving in the UK SWP, the only difference being the current application. You are part of the same culture.

    There are many possible ways in which that testimony could be flawed or inaccurate. Not that I have an definitive opinion on this, since this is an old case I have not been involved in campaigning about.

    But there are aspects of it that point to the likelihood of a frame up. And there are a lot of people on the left on both sides of the Atlantic who still think this is likely true despite the passage of time. There is no consensus on the left about the guilt or innocence of Mark Curtis. If you want to try to enforce your views on others by your habitual means of smear and sporadic crazed allegation, then go ahead. You only damage yourself.

  95. Morning Star reader on said:

    I should also add that the Mark Curtis defence campaign made no efforts to provide substantiating evidence for their story about Curtis helping a woman flee from a man she knew in a bar – no appeal for her to come forward, no artist’s sketch or leaflet, no enquiries in the bar in question – by taking her to the victim’s house. No enquiries to the victim’s family or neighbours about the mystery woman’s possible identity, either.
    And how on earth did the 15 year-old victim know the names of two of Curtis’s SWP comrades and friends in the same street, which she recounted straight after the attack, if not from him? Was she part of the conspiracy – having already allowed herself to be physically beaten and violated – as well, along with the 911 telephonist, two medical specialists, her black trade unionist father (with no connections to the police) as well as two police officers.
    The Curtis defence lawyer notably failed to put this conspiracy case to the prosecution witnesses. He knew it wouldn’t help his client, because it sounded so absurd. Perhaps he was in on the conspiracy, too.
    Actually, Curtis did not admit any guilt in order to obtain parole. Indeed, it is possible that the girl victim and her brother were mistaken in their identification of the defendant – but only if someone with similar facial features to Curtis was already inside the house assaulting her as Curtis arrived with the mystery woman, only of the two children said nothing to the woman as she entered the house and disappeared before the police arrived to find only Curtis there, and only if the two then covered up the woman’s visit for no apparent reason.
    Again, none of this was put by the defence to the two children in court.
    I can’t help wondering whether any of the Curtis defenders on this thread would have been quite so convinced of his fantastic story had he been a member of the CP USA.

  96. prianikoff on said:

    #104 “Is the “Proletarian hero” that is Mark Curtis still a member of the American SWP ? If not, why not?”

    I’m not claiming that he was a “Proletarian hero”, just suggesting that he may have been framed.
    I think he left (or was expelled) after the incident over his car being impounded for being in a red-light zone.

    But as I’ve said, after spending 8 years in prison and being a high profile target for harrassment, his subsequent behaviour proves nothing about the original case. From what I’ve read very recently, the US SWP still maintains he was innocent, so I guess they have good reasons.

    Putting the argument another way.
    Is Alan Murray still a lecturer in Accounting and Corporate Responsibility at Sheffield University.
    Was he Officer E?
    Did he kill Blair Peach?
    If not, who did?

    Will there ever be any prosecutions?
    Oh, I forgot, the Cass report said that cops can kill people in riots.
    Evidently, there doesn’t even need to be a riot going on!

    MSR@110
    “I can’t help wondering whether any of the Curtis defenders on this thread would have been quite so convinced of his fantastic story had he been a member of the CP USA.”

    The thing is, I don’t decide these issues based on factional allegiances, but there are plenty of reasons for a frame-up.

  97. redscribe: Do you apply that to the Assange case as well, when you say the same thing? Putting quotes around the word victim is no different to using the term ‘alleged victim’. It is citing someone else’s usage of the word without endorsing it oneself. Its only a particular interpretive style that deems it pejorative. It can equally be neutral.

    No, because in the Assange case it has not yet been established that there is a victim. The facts are disputed.

    In the Curtis case a 15 year old girl was raped. It is obscene to cast doubt whether she is a victim.

  98. Morning Star reader on said:

    Perhaps I should explain further: the victim said that Curtis had come to her house asking if he was at the right address for two named people (both of them friends and/or SWP associates of his). On being told that he was mistaken, the girl claimed that Curtis then asked whether her parents were home to help him find the right house, which was in the same road. On being told that they weren’t, he subsequently attacked her.
    Giving her those names was not very bright on his part, but perfectly consistent with what may have started as innocent search for a house and turned into an opportunist attack on a girl in vulnerable circumstances. He may well have taken action to ensure her silence, whether by threats or worse, had the police not arrived as the assault was taking place.
    The alternative explanations as to how Curtis got there are too ridiculous to take seriously, and neither Curtis nor the SWP have ever attempted to explain the many contradictions and absurdities of their own suggested scenario.

  99. Andy Newman,

    “it is obscene to cast doubt on whether she is a victim”

    Which means it is ‘obscene’ to cast doubt on Curtis’ guilt.

    “The facts are disputed”.

    Well there does not seem to have been unanimity about this case for the past three decades. And you cannot decree that there should be.

  100. Morning Star reader on said:

    Prianikoff is right to point out that what Mark Curtis did after spending 8 years of his 25-year sentence in prison is not evidence of guilt in the sexual assault case.
    But it is a little twee to say that, some time after his release from prison, “he left (or was expelled) after the incident over his car being impounded for being in a red-light zone”.
    He was caught by police soliciting for a prostitute – which he admitted to his US SWP comrades, after initially spinning a far-fetched tale about his car going missing, who consequently expelled him from the party.
    The whole sexual assault case was deeply distressing – for the left (yes, all of us), for Curtis’s ex-wife and family, but most of all for the victim, her brother and their family. However, the role of the US SWP (whose paper I used to read regularly and enjoyed) and its CL confederates in Britain in the Curtis defnce campaign, lying to the rest of us, was shocking. To try to use this case to buttress a particular standpoint on the British SWP – or to divert attention from the serious issues under consideration – is a sign of desperation.

  101. Morning Star reader on said:

    I tried too late to edit my final sentence in 115 to read: “To try to use the FRAME-UP CLAIM to buttress a particular standpoint on the British SWP – or to divert attention from the serious issues under consideration – is a sign of desperation”.
    Using the case itself to highlight certain questions eg. that revolutionaries are not immune from sexist behaviour even of the most serious kind, or that the left has a capacity for self-delusion or downright lying on these matters, may well be legitimate.

  102. prianikoff on said:

    “To try to use this case to buttress a particular standpoint on the British SWP – or to divert attention from the serious issues under consideration – is a sign of desperation.”

    Read the article above and you’ll see that Curtis case was used as evidence of “a common theme among so called “revolutionary socialist” groups” that there are state conspiracies against them.

    My initial point was that there are.
    I’ve provided the incontrovertibe evidence for that above.
    Are you trying to deny that?

    Other than that, all I’ve said is that being convicted in court doesn’t automatically establish someone’s guilt.
    If that were true, the Birmingham 6 would still be inside and there would be no Justice for the Shrewsbury Pickets campaign still running after all these years.

    btw, there’s an article defending the Campaign in his defence from August 2012 here:-

    http://www.themilitant.com/2012/7629/762958.html

  103. Morning Star reader,

    “To try to use this case to buttress a particular standpoint on the British SWP – or to divert attention from the serious issues under consideration – is a sign of desperation.”

    Seems to me that the only person doing this is Andy Newman, in his generalised attack on “revolutionary socialist” groups at the top of this thread.

    As far as I am concerned there is very little in common between the two issues, it has just been dragged in by the hair in an attack on the very concept of ‘revolutionary socialism’ by Andy Newman. The implication being that anyone who does not endorse his ‘radical transformative’ kind of politics (i.e reformism, in plain English) is a candidate for cultism, if not some sort of sex-related criminality or other.

    Its groan inducing in its non-logic, SWP-hack type ‘reasoning’ turned to justifying politics further to the right. Which is where cynical hack-logic always leads, though sometimes by a more circuitous route.

  104. Morning Star reader on said:

    Thanks Prianikoff, you posted before my amendment could appear. Ever keen to read all sides, and having stopped seeing The (US) Militant a few years ago, I will read your link asap.
    Through no fault of his own, redscribe is also responding to my pre-amendment post.

  105. redscribe: “it is obscene to cast doubt on whether she is a victim”
    Which means it is ‘obscene’ to cast doubt on Curtis’ guilt.

    Unbeleivable. The girl was raped. That is a fact that is not actually in dispute.

    Even if you dispute Curtis’s guilt you have to acknowledge her victimhood.

  106. redscribe: “To try to use this case to buttress a particular standpoint on the British SWP – or to divert attention from the serious issues under consideration – is a sign of desperation.”
    Seems to me that the only person doing this is Andy Newman, in his generalised attack on “revolutionary socialist” groups at the top of this thread.

    No I make a carefully calibrated claim that exaggerated perception of the state as an external and existential threat, combined with a Messianic sense of the importance of a poltical group is a petri dish for culturing charismatic authority, where unequal power, sexual harrasment can thrive, and victims be silenced

  107. redscribe: The implication being that anyone who does not endorse his ‘radical transformative’ kind of politics (i.e reformism, in plain English) is a candidate for cultism,

    Clearly not – the problem is “Leninism” as perceived by the Trotskyite left

  108. Feodor on said:

    prianikoff:
    The thing is, I don’t decide these issues based on factional allegiances, but there are plenty of reasons for a frame-up.

    I challenge you to name one, and then explain how this perspective on SWP(US) activities in a general, national sense, explains the specifics of the Mark Curtis case.

    In particular, explain why the state would choose Curtis as the person to frame; why they would choose two children as the main prosecution witnesses; why we should believe the hole-ridden account of his actions Curtis provided; and lastly, explain how it is possible to operate such a conspiracy among so many different layers of actors – the victim and her family, the local police, the court system, federal government, security services, etc.*

    Until you do this, your smears and inane ramblings will be rightly discounted by anyone with even a modicum of common sense.

    *It’s worth noting, just because it had been brought up and used as a means of supporting the frame-up thesis, that the COINTELPRO stuff was not a vast conspiracy; rather, it was conducted by one branch of the security services, possibly with the knowledge of the highest levels of the executive. Such meddling by a section of a relatively autonomous part of the governmental apparatus is completely different from an organised conspiracy that operates on numerous levels. It’s a shame so many people on the left are unable to see such distinctions.

  109. Andy Newman,

    “The girl was raped. That is a fact that is not actually in dispute.”

    Curtis was not charged or convicted for rape. The bulk of his sentence (15 years) was for burglary. 10 years was for sexual assault, not rape.

    So actually when you say he was convicted for rape, that is inaccurate in legal terms. If he did sexually assault her or attempt to rape her, he deserved punishment, but even this kind of imprecision about what was alleged does not help your case.

    There are some things about this case that do not add up. I don’t know the answers to them, and nor do other observers I would wager. But that is the norm for contested cases where there are grounds for suspicion of some kind of frame up. It is precisely those things that make this case problematic.

    I don’t see why the US SWP would defend a marginal figure – not a central leader – if he were accused of such a thing if they did not believe in his innocence. The SWP (UK)’s conduct about Martin Smith makes sense according to a certain bureaucratic logic. And even that does not necessarily imply Smith’s guilt.

    But in terms of bureaucratic logic, for the SWP US to defend a minor figure of little importance in an ‘external’ case involving non-members unknown to them, while believing him guilty, makes no sense at all. The rational, bureaucratic thing to do would be to tell him to go to hell. And the US SWP are quite capable of doing that to people.

    Why would they defend him if they believed him guilty? It would be politically suicidal. If they believed him innocent, however, it does make sense, and is admirable.

    That does not of course, necessarily means he actually was innocent. But it does imply that this is a reasonable, honestly held view, and to abuse those who hold that view is not only unjust, it does not help your side of the argument either.

    I don’t know about her victimhood. That does not imply anything derogatory, just that there seem to be aspects of this case that do not make sense.

  110. Jara Handala on said:

    Manzil,

    Hi.

    SWP (USA) is down to perhaps 150-200 members. At its most influential in the early 1970s it was of the order of 2000-2300.

    It is insistently sectarian, & notorious for controlling where its members live & the work they do, usually low-pay manual work irrespective of what they did in their previous life. The sacrifices the willing make for the socialist revolution.

    Yes, they own Pathfinder & so hold the copyright for most of Trotsky’s writings in exile. In their list is the 14 vol. edition of Trotsky’s work 1929-40, & this has caused a stink coz the SWP has refused to let marxists.org put it on the net. With the tax from the drones bringing in so little the Great Leader, Jack Barnes, prefers to make profit from Trotsky’s dead labour rather than spread his word. I know progress comes at a price but this is no joke.

    Memoirs and analyses of the demise of the SWP have been written by Les Evans, Paul LeBlanc, & an exhaustive 2 vol. account by Barry Sheppard.

    Barry Sheppard & Gus Horowitz have run http://www.swphistory.wordpress.com since April last year, where many analyses & discussions have addressed what went on & what can be learnt.

    On the topic of organisational form for self-described revolutionaries, the essays there by Peter Camejo (also at http://www.marxists.org) are a breath of fresh air – which is why Barnes forced him out.

    There are also many discussions as to the whether talk of a Barnes cult helps describe & explain the political degeneration of the SWP.

  111. Morning Star reader on said:

    Well, I’ve read the link provided by Prianokoff (117) and all it does it rubbish the Socialist Equality Party (formerly the Workers League) in the US, not least because a leading WL member wrote a book challenging the frame-up theory of the Mark Curtis defence campaign.
    But the report in the (US) Militant does not even attempt to rebut or disprove any of the book’s contents, merely restating the claim that Curtis was the innocent victim of a state conspiracy.
    I don’t have a dog in this fight between these two sects, although I have read the book which, in my view, thoroughly demolishes the US SWP claims of a frame-up, mainly by quoting from the trial transcript, pointing out what the defence failed to raise and engaging in evidence-based rational argument.
    How the US SWP had become a bizarre cult by that time is evidenced in numerous testaments from former members, some of them in a Google discussion group about the party.
    There is one reference in the Militant report which shows how much care should be taken before believing anything said by the US SWP about the Curtis case. It quotes last year’s SWP Congress candidate David Rosenfeld about the situation in the late 1980s:
    “As struggles of meat workers, including immigrants fighting deportation raids, spread in the Midwest, Curtis was one of the young workers who got involved in the resistance. At Swift, the packinghouse where he worked, workers walked off the line to attend a meeting called to protest an immigration raid and the arrest of 17 coworkers,” said Rosenfeld.
    The Militant article continues: ‘A few hours later, after he attended the meeting, the cops arrested Curtis on false charges of rape and burglary, beat him severely in the city jail, and the Des Moines prosecutors built a frame-up case against him’.
    Reading this, one might reasonably gather that Curtis joined those workers who walked off the job – but he didn’t. They left for a meeting scheduled to take place during their (and his) worktime. He continued working and went to a later meeting, after work, where neither the organisers nor anyone else could remember seeing him there or hearing him speak. Nobody at Swift’s, other than an SWP colleague, has ever come forward to back up the notion that Curtis played a prominent role in the immigration struggle and so became the target of a frame-up.
    Having said that, Curtis did support the migrant workers and was a union activist. He may well have been at the post-work meeting. But this sleight of hand in The Militant gives just a taste of the campaign of lies and misinformation spread by the Curtis defence campaign, then as now.

    http://www.themilitant.com/2012/7629/762958.html

  112. Feodor on said:

    redscribe:
    There are some things about this case that do not add up… But that is the norm for contested cases where there are grounds for suspicion of some kind of frame up.

    Certain things not ‘adding up’ is probably far more of a widespread norm than you think: any case in which there is no admission of guilt involves a defence predicated on the belief that all or part of the prosecution’s case doesn’t ‘add up’.

    In effect, your line of argument is little more than a clever sidestep: instead of tackling the known facts, which overwhelmingly seem to be in support of Curtis’ guilt, you prefer to talk vaguely about irregularities, about the known unknowns and unknown unknowns, to paraphrase a class enemy of ours.

    It’s a fundamentally dishonest approach.

    redscribe:
    Why would they defend him if they believed him guilty? It would be politically suicidal. If they believed him innocent, however, it does make sense, and is admirable.

    It’s hard to draw any conclusions about the SWP’s motivations because – and unlike in the Curtis case itself, it should be added – there is no documentary record that we can consult.

    What we can say, however, is that even if they thought Curtis innocent and admirably chose to defend him, the way in which they went about this was far from admirable. And moreover, your silence in regard to this is deafening.

  113. In effect, your line of argument is little more than a clever sidestep: instead of tackling the known facts, which overwhelmingly seem to be in support of Curtis’ guilt. you prefer to talk vaguely about irregularities, about the known unknowns and unknown unknowns, to paraphrase a class enemy of ours.

    If the supposedly ‘known facts’ don’t make coherent sense then Rumsfeld’s theorem makes sense. I note that at least I got the fact that Curtis was not convicted of rape correct.

    In the end, talking of class enemies, you leave the realm of Rumsfield’s speculative logical thought and embrace Bush’s more straightforward logic: “if you are not for us, you are against us”.

    Which is a whole lot less smart.

    Maybe their motivations were pretty simple and there is not really much to ‘consult’. Unless there was some major bust-up about this then there would not be.

    Why should I believe the SWP US would risk hara-kiri in this way? It does not make sense. And why should I attack people whose motivation in this matter at least I believe to be honest over matters of how they conducted this defence decades earlier, based on the dubious say-so of people who are not disinterested observers but have a transparent, and dishonest, political motive?

    It is that particular demand that shows that it is not just the SWP that is out of touch with reality. We are talking about something decades ago. What I might or might not say about it makes no difference since I don’t own a Tardis. Surreal!

  114. Feodor on said:

    redscribe:
    If the supposedly ‘known facts’ don’t make coherent sense…

    What facts related to the Curtis case ‘don’t make coherent sense’?

    As far as I can see, the only argument being offered in favour of Curtis’ innocence is that, because the state previously meddled in SWP affairs, it must/might have in this case too.

    That’s a wholly speculative train of thought, which doesn’t deal with the specifics, but instead evades them.

    Am I missing something? Where are the holes in the case against Curtis?

    redscribe:
    In the end, talking of class enemies, you leave the realm of Rumsfield’s speculative logical thought and embrace Bush’s more straightforward logic: “if you are not for us, you are against us”.

    If that’s how you interpreted my post, then you have some real problems with regard to reading comprehension.

    redscribe:
    And why should I attack people whose motivation in this matter at least I believe to be honest over matters of how they conducted this defence decades earlier, based on the dubious say-so of people who are not disinterested observers but have a transparent, and dishonest, political motive?

    So the SWP is sincere whereas everyone else has transparent and dishonest political motives? Talk about political bias!

    Again, this is simply a way to avoid talking about the substantive issues.

    Play the ball, not the man.

  115. 10#
    Since no Trotskist group has ever posed a threat to the state or carried out a revolution, but I cite several above who have a terrible record of rape; then i think my argument takes precendence over yours…

    Which state would that be?
    As far as I know hundreds of trotskyists have been killed over the decades, but if your saying they were killed as they posed no threat to any state, then those that killed them, must have had no relationship with any state…

  116. “What facts related to the Curtis case ‘don’t make coherent sense’?”

    The prosecution account of his turning up at a house, asking for named people, asking about the parents being in, then trying to rape the girl in front of a witness who called the cops, and then suddenly the cops turning up so quickly that the rape was not able to actually happen and hence no forensic evidence, sounds pretty unlikely to me. And no doubt to the many others who supported his defence also. It still sounds unlikely. Even if an alleged culprit were a sexual predator, this is conduct designed to get that person caught in short order.

    It is the very unlikeliness of that scenario that gained the case support, not per se the political affiliation of the accused.

    “So the SWP is sincere whereas everyone else has transparent and dishonest political motives? Talk about political bias!”

    Actually, as someone who does not support the US SWP and has never supported it or any of its political allies, your counter-allegation of political bias against me is just silly. They are a quirky, Stalinoid sect themselves, and very distant from my views.

    If I thought the SWP US had were knowingly supporting a guilty person and had betrayed the left in this way, I have no reason not to say so. Why should I defend people I fundamentally disagree with over some wrongdoing that would, and justifiably so, probably destroy them?

    The political bias I am talking about is the bias of those using this issue to attack the whole idea of “revolutionary socialism” and don’t really care very much whether the charges are based on reality. Its actually a form of opportunist McCarthyism.

    Even if the attack is not even accurate (the US SWP has little to do with revolutionary socialism), that is the intended target of this attack. Newman’s article is pretty transparent about that.

  117. Capitalism exists even in self-professed revolutionary organisations and its decaying features: corruption, bribery, sexual promotion or demotion, rape, abuse, even murder. Calling in the police to deal with any or all of the above isn’t the role of revolutionary organisations never has been never will be and to ask for that is akin to asking other organisations to accept certain practices they were set up against eg. the Church to accept that there is no God.

  118. redscribe:
    The prosecution account of his turning up at a house, asking for named people, asking about the parents being in, then trying to rape the girl in front of a witness who called the cops, and then suddenly the cops turning up so quickly that the rape was not able to actually happen and hence no forensic evidence, sounds pretty unlikely to me. And no doubt to the many others who supported his defence also. It still sounds unlikely. Even if an alleged culprit were a sexual predator, this is conduct designed to get that person caught in short order.

    1) If you were looking for someone, didn’t know exactly where they lived but did know the street, knocking on a door to inquire if a neighbour knew is hardly outlandish – I’ve done it, so I presume have many people. Nor is it outlandish, upon the door being answered by a child, to ask if their parents were in.

    2) You make out like the brother called the cops in front of Curtis. Asfaik, his testimony was that he ran into another room, calling the cops from there. Again, hardly incoherent.

    3) There was a cop car nearby, as confirmed by both the dispatcher and the policemen. They arrived quickly, but enough time had passed for some of the girls clothes to have been torn off and for her to have been bloodied and beaten. I believe that’s what’s called being caught in the act.

    I find it strange that you would consider those three things more ‘unlikely’ than a storey about a man being lured by a random women to a house, where she then disappeared only for the cops to instantly turn up and arrest and beat the man. Then, they put him on trial, using two African-American children as key witnesses; children whose father had been involved in the civil rights movement – screams government stooge that!

    So there are at least two identifiable groups of conspirators here: the police and the victim and her family. Was the DA also in on it? The SWP suggests the frame-up was because of Curtis’ union activities, so had employers gone to the police? What reason would the police have for framing such an unimportant man otherwise? If it was political, does this then mean central or local government ministers were involved? Or was it an FBI project? And if it was a conspiracy, why have two children as the key witnesses? And why hasn’t anyone ever blown the whistle? After all, this involves numerous different people, all acting in concert and never breaking rank.

    Now all that seems unlikely to me, whereas Curtis’ behaviour smacks of someone involved in what is called a crime of opportunity, which typically involves opportunistic behaviour that to someone without that mindset can seem reckless.

  119. I don’t see that the string of coincidences you have just put forwards as ‘fact’ is any more fantastic than the scenario you attack. There is something missing from this account – either something about the alleged assailant which would explain such crazed, reckless and sexually violent behaviour against a stranger at the drop of a hat while giving information that could identify him, or some other explanation.

    I don’t accept accounts of such behaviour without an explanation, even if it is in the realm of psychopathology. There must be other evidence of a tendency to such extreme, recklessly violent, sexual behaviour. In the absence of that, I can only turn back again to Rummy’s theorem. There is something important missing from this account. And given the political background, it was likely something political.

    Interesting article on police provocation against radical groups in Britain in todays Guardian/Observer.

    How low will the state stoop against its perceived enemies? Using children?

    Who knows.

  120. Morning Star reader on said:

    Feodor, I’m afraid (and you probably know) that the frame-up scenario was even more ridiculous than your summary indicates.
    The police not only (1) prepared for Curtis to leave home to go shopping at a late night store a mile or two away, they also then arranged either (2) for the mystery woman to be at one of six sets of traffic lights so that she could approach Curtis for help when his car stopped at red, or (3) positioned up to six women at different sets of lights. They also (4) banked on him stopping at those lights and (5) picking up said mystery woman and (6) agree to take her to the victim’s home. There, they either arranged (7) for the adolescent girl to be attacked, or (8) set up everything within minutes of a real attack having already taken place there by fortuitous coincidence, or (9) had previously arranged for two children to be waiting to play a pre-arranged role, with one of them being violently and sexually assaulted by arrangement within half an hour after the arrival of Curtis and mystery woman. And all or any of this while relying on no witnesses coming forward to confirm (10) that a woman had previously fled from a named bar after being assaulted earlier, or (11) that a woman in a distressed state was waiting and/or accosting cars and/or pedestrians for help on the way to or at a particular set of traffic lights, or (12) that a woman got out of Curtis’s car, went with Curtis to the front entrance of the victim’s home, unlocked the door and gained entry.
    And rational, intelligent people are expected to believe this scenario – and much else besides – rather than the coherent, consistent (in all major respects) and substantiated account put forward by the victim, her brother, a phone operator and two medical specialists (let’s not rely on police testimony – although it fits in with everything else).
    So which account does redscribe regard as highly suspicious? The rape victim’s! Incredible.

  121. (I tried commenting earlier, but don’t know if I got lost in the spam filter or somehow managed to close the tab before sending. So if it does appear and the following is a duplicate, apologies.)

    Jara Handala,

    Cheers for that. I know virtually nothing about American Trotskyism and the non-Communist Left (which wouldn’t be a peculiar sentence outside of the internet, I suppose!). Even as someone with a bit of a penchant for sectariana, the US far left baffles and frightens me. :D

    That’s crazy about the SWP saying where to live/work. As close to a cult as makes no difference.

    I was once told by someone behind Bookmarks’ stall at Tolpuddle (if I recall correctly) that Pathfinder insists on the steep prices for Trotsky’s works, John Riddell’s series on the Comintern etc. Even when being sold at cost by other lefty bookshops. For socialists they know how to turn a profit!

  122. Morning Star reader on said:

    I referred to the “rape victim” at the end of my previous post, when – to observe the technicalities that some only want to observe when it suits them – I should have said the “victim of sexual abuse”. Which makes no difference to anyone who isn’t an apologist for violent sexual assault short of rape.

  123. redscribe:
    I don’t see that the string of coincidences you have just put forwards as ‘fact’ is any more fantastic than the scenario you attack.

    Really?

    Above, Morning Star reader did an even better job than I in outlining how absurd the frame-up thesis is. I’m truly baffled that you think this equivalent to the quite logical sequence I posited.

    redscribe:
    I don’t accept accounts of such behaviour without an explanation, even if it is in the realm of psychopathology. There must be other evidence of a tendency to such extreme, recklessly violent, sexual behaviour.

    Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. Maybe the case was considered so water-tight by the prosecution that they didn’t bother to interview Curtis’ past girlfriends, e.g. Or maybe the girlfriends refused to talk. Etc. etc.

    Alternately, have you ever heard of a first offence? The signs of such future behaviour can be so minuscule as to be almost imperceptible.

    In any case, you’re again viewing the few pieces missing from the puzzle as more indicative than the almost completely formed picture they are part of.

    redscribe:
    And given the political background, it was likely something political.

    Which is only evidence of your own totalising, reductionist mindset, where you project your own political engagement onto others disengagement.

    Morning Star reader:
    Feodor, I’m afraid (and you probably know)…

    Commenting from memory, I’d forgot some of the things you mentioned – thanks for expanding, you really show what an absurd sequence of events we are expected to believe.

    No wonder they didn’t argue this in court!

  124. Morning Star reader,

    “The police not only (1) prepared for Curtis to leave home to go shopping at a late night store a mile or two away, they also then arranged either (2) for the mystery woman to be at one of six sets of traffic lights so that she could approach Curtis for help when his car stopped at red, or (3) positioned up to six women at different sets of lights. They also (4) banked on him stopping at those lights and (5) picking up said mystery woman and (6) agree to take her to the victim’s home.”

    To do all this, you would need only to be able to change the traffic lights. Either by a manual switch, radio control, or these days infrared as cops do basically whenever they like. Cops have had that ability for decades. The rest of the above up to (6) is a cinch, if your target is known to be the kind of person who would help someone who claimed to be in trouble.

    That alone cuts down the probability ratio of your demagogy by half, from 12 points to only 6. I doubt it is beyond the ingenuity of the police to do things that could fill in more of these gaps. There is something missing from this, as I said.

  125. Jellytot: nteresting “Noah” and “Calvin” at #27 and #28.

    Your contributions reflect very well on the attitudes and structures of the old CP.

    Its correct actions in this instance probably were a consequence of their non-cultish internal culture, strong socialist principles and their deep roots inside the Labour movement and wider working class.

    The internal culture was not exactly pleasant towards the dying days of the party, but yes, the central point is that the culture (and I would include all the main trends or factions), didn’t exhibit cultish symptoms. This was due I agree to the party’s “deep roots inside the Labour movement and wider working class”. Consequently, the divisions in the CP had much wider political resonance in the labour movement and the real world, and one of the trends became the intellectual precursor or even author of what became known as Blairism (although to be fair some members of that trend had wished for a different political outcome).

    Just to recap, my post was about how a child abuser who happened to be a fairly prominent CP member was reported to the police and ultimately jailed, and how every party member (incl his closest friends and comrades) who was aware of this completely supported it, as it was unimaginable to do anything else.

    Yours is the only post commenting on this, apart from one confirming the facts. I think that’s because there isn’t really anything much to say about a non-scandal, other than the obvious empathy one feels with the victims. The CP was unscathed, and rightly so. Everyone involved did the right thing completely instinctively and without debate, and the abuse clearly wasn’t indicative of a wider problem in the party.

    Can the SWP really say the same?

  126. jim mclean on said:

    Mark Curtis was unknown among Labour activists in the area. He was raping a child while the child’s young brother was on the phone dialing 911. He was caught in the house. There were witnesses. There was forensic evidence. The SWP and the Defence Committee hounded the 15 year old girl. Once again the brain dead are willing to accept the word of a white man over a black child. Notone of Curtis’s work mates signed the petition of support for him.
    http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/1991spring/pelka_spring1991.php

  127. Eddie Truman on said:

    “Most working class men are oppressed to some degree or other by their mothers – women. It is the mother who doles out the batterings and corporal punishment that most or many working class children receive growing up, which leads to a psychological condition whereby many working class boys, or any boy who’s suffered physical abuse from his mother, reach adulthood possessing an underlying mistrust of women in general.”

    John Wight, you are a misogynist.

  128. David Beckham's Mum on said:

    “John Wight, you are a misogynist”
    He’s not a misogynist, he’s a very naughty boy.

  129. Jellytot on said:

    @136Even as someone with a bit of a penchant for sectariana, the US far left baffles and frightens me.

    Both their far left and far right are as loopy as a box of frogs…..everything in that country tends to be turned up to eleven.

    @139To do all this, you would need only to be able to change the traffic lights. Either by a manual switch, radio control, or these days infrared as cops do basically whenever they like. Cops have had that ability for decades.

    ….and robots flew those planes into the Twin Towers.

    Time for bed.

  130. Carl Simmons on said:

    Andy Newman “What is more, I have come up with a series of examples where “revolutionary socialist” groups have created situations where women are raped, and victims silenced.

    To argue that the same thing goes on in the labour party or trade unions is a lie.”

    Well the victims weren’t women in this case, and the circumstances were slightly different but the victims were silenced, ignored and the case covered up. From the Wikipedia article on Hackney Council.
    “There was a period of changing coalitions during the 1990s due to a political cover up involving the government and councilors of Hackney regarding a serial pedophile. The council split following the upheaval after the Mark Trotter affair, Tottergate[15][16] involving allegations of a cover up over a child abuse scandal[17] when the Labour Party split between Councillors following the former mayor Nick Tallentire (which called themselves “The Hackney New Labour Group”[18]) and councillors following the former council leader John McCafferty, who eventually got the backing of the national Labour party.[19] Mark Trotter was a children’s social service employee of the Hackney and Liverpool Councils who had been reported four times for child abuse,[20] multiple times for suspicion of abuse and was reported for beating his boyfriend then illegally evicting him from their shared Council provided house.[21]
    After an independent inquiry was carried out by John Barrat, he stated the reason why Mark Totter was not properly investigated by the council or terminated was “the fact that he [Mark Trotter] had quite an influential position in the trade union in a council where trade unions have a lot of power,” Mr Barratt said.[22] Mark Trotter died of an AIDS-related illness in 1995, shortly before the police informed the Hackney council they were about to prosecute him for sexually abusing five boys in 1980-81 when he lived in Merseyside, UK. None of the victims, 12 in all contracted HIV/AIDS related to the abuse.”

    I remember the guy when I was a Labour Party member in Hackney. He was at first sight likeable and had plenty of friends in the party who didn’t want to believe the worst about him. Possibly like the SWP disputes committee. Of course the right wing blogs had a field day and used the affair to hammer the Labour Party and council unions. In much the same way as you are attempting to use it against Trotskyists and the revolutionary left. Of course there is no evidence that rape and sexual abuse is more common in Labour councils with strong unions than anywhere else. I won’t go into Strauss-Kahn or all of the scandals involving human trafficking and rape in your beloved “socialist” China, which tend to get exposed when they fall out of factional favour. Suffice to say that anywhere in which individuals exercise power over others, and they think they can get away with it you’ll find sexual abuse. None of which excuses the SWP’s internal regime or the way they have handled the Delta case.

  131. Morning Star reader on said:

    So, redscribe (139) thinks it credible that the police were waiting for Curtis to leave his house after getting back from work, a union meeting and a drinking session. Then they flicked a switch in the hope that he would stop at a set of traffic lights where they had positioned a woman, in the hope that he would stop, pick her up, agree to drive her to the victim’s home, then get out and accompany her to the entrance. They also took a chance that nobody would see the mystery woman at any stage, and that those drinking in the TNT Club where she told Curtis she had been threatened would not deny that such a confrontation had indeed occurred. (Nobody was ever produced by the Curtis defence campaign to corroborate this or any other part of his frame-up scenario). Then, everything had be staged at the victim’s home, with two compliant children (one of whom had to be beaten and sexually assaulted for the benefit of medical specialists) and a 911 telephone operator, as well as two police officers. And all timed almost to the minute to fit in with Curtis’s own spontaneous plan to go shopping some distance from his home.
    Redscribe thinks it “demagogy” to raise logical and evidence-based objections to a scenario so fantastic that it was not even put forward in court – and for which there has never been the slightest evidence.
    Does redscribe think we are all fools?

  132. Morning Star reader: They also took a chance that nobody would see the mystery woman at any stage,

    Are you forgetting the US military’s experiments with invisibility and stealth technology in WWII?

  133. Carl Simmons: “There was a period of changing coalitions during the 1990s due to a political cover up involving the government and councilors of Hackney regarding a serial pedophile. The council split following the upheaval after the Mark Trotter affair, Tottergate[15][16] involving allegations of a cover up over a child abuse scandal[17] when the Labour Party split between Councillors following the former mayor Nick Tallentire (which called themselves “The Hackney New Labour Group”[18]) and councillors following the former council leader John McCafferty, who eventually got the backing of the national Labour party.[19] Mark Trotter was a children’s social service employee of the Hackney and Liverpool Councils who had been reported four times for child abuse,[20] multiple times for suspicion of abuse and was reported for beating his boyfriend then illegally evicting him from their shared Council provided house.[21]

    Distressing though this case is; the dynamics about how this abusive man seemed to be proteot cted seem to be of a different category; and not strictly relevant to the discussion.

    Carl Simmons: I won’t go into Strauss-Kahn or all of the scandals involving human trafficking and rape in your beloved “socialist” China, which tend to get exposed when they fall out of factional favour.

    So in a country on 1.3 bn people, with a too weak respect for the rule of law, and a heritage of centuries od oppression of women; and far too high a social acceptance of domestic violence, there is also crime. Who knew.

  134. FYI, something you may have missed (from a link on Jim Jepps site) –

    http://www.jimjepps.net/?p=273

    It is an article written by a former member of the Germen IST (SWP international) re a similar crisis in that organisation in 2001 –

    “In mid-2001 Linksruck entered a deep crisis that resulted in a split in the organisation. An accusation was raised within the organisation that the CC had covered up a case of sexual assault involving a member of the organisation’s inner circle and even protected the accused. Following this, multiple cases of sexual harassment and assault by another member of the CC came to light. The CC had been aware of these allegations for some time but had not reacted to them. This accorded to their logic that leadership was the critical element in building the organisation, and thus must be protected at nearly all costs. After this we learned of another CC member’s embezzlement of party funds to pay for calls to phone sex hot-lines. The outrage amongst the membership was, as you can imagine, immense. The new comrades from the social movements viewed the behaviour of the leadership as sexist; many of the comrades who had been members for years were also no longer prepared to follow the leadership of the CC.”

    http://wildetexte.blogsport.de/2013/01/31/open-letter-from-germany-to-the-opposition-in-the-british-socialist-workers-party/

  135. prianikoff on said:

    @123 Feodor on reasons for a frame-up of Curtis:-

    “I challenge you to name one”
    To discredit the SWP amongst Afro-Americans?

    “and then explain how this perspective on SWP(US) activities in a general, national sense, explains the specifics of the Mark Curtis case.”

    The problem is you’re an academic and therefore you think that every political question has to be settled using academic criteria.
    For instance, in the debate I had with you on Germany in the 1930’s, you said that a United Front between the Reichsbanner and Red Front would have been impossible after 1929, because the Red Front had been banned!
    This is not the methodology of a political leader, but a historian with the benefit of hindsight.
    No one serious about stopping Hitler would have allowed a state ban to stop them arguing for a United Front against the SA.
    Indeed, whole sections of the Red Front went underground and retained their weaponry.

    The same kind of methodology applies to your question above.
    Obviously I couldn’t know such an explanation without being party to information that neither you or I have.
    All you can say is that there are precedents for such things in the publicly available material.
    e.g. The case of Arizona State University Philosophy Professor and SWP member Morris Starsky.
    Why in his case, did the FBI fabricate unsubstantiated claims that he’d physically attacked a suicidal colleague, which cost Starsky his job?
    http://www.isg-fi.org.uk/spip.php?article626

    I don’t accept your argument that these were autonomous operations by a sub-branch of the state, any more than the police using the id’s of 80 dead children is likely to have happened without the knowledge of the Home Secretary.
    If he didn’t know, that has serious implications for British democracy.
    It seems to me that whenever these sort of issues are raised, your knee-jerk reaction is to defend the state.

    “your smears”
    Not sure what those are supposed to be.

  136. Feodor on said:

    prianikoff:
    To discredit the SWP amongst Afro-Americans?

    A small, predominantly white and middle-class Trotskyist party was considered that important in African-American communities by the state that it engaged in an elaborate conspiracy to undermine them – seems a tad far-fetched to me.

    If this was the CP in the 30s, this might be a more credible argument. But even if we accept there might be a reasonable rationale, this fails to explain why the conspiracy took a form so outlandish that even a writer of bad crime novels would avoid such an improbable plot.

    prianikoff:
    The problem is you’re an academic and therefore you think that every political question has to be settled using academic criteria.

    I’m a student, actually – which would make me an ‘academic’ in Germany but not in Britain. But I’ll take this as a compliment, even though it’s not intended as such, because what you’re basically saying is that I derive my opinions from evidence, whereas you derive yours from ideology – an open mind versus a prejudiced mind.

    I believe Kautsky once observed that if the left really thought history was on its side, it should have nothing to fear from historical truth, because even if this truth was at first difficult to deal with, in the long-run it would be beneficial to know.

    Conversely, the modern left, which is more influenced by post-modernism than it realises, tends to subordinate historical truth to ideological need. Understanding reality is less important than an analysis ticking the right ideological boxes. Hence your umbrage over ‘using academic criteria’.

    (Out of interest, what is the difference between ‘academic’ and ‘non-academic’ criteria with regard to determining positions?)

    prianikoff:
    For instance, in the debate I had with you on Germany in the 1930′s, you said that a United Front between the Reichsbanner and Red Front would have been impossible after 1929, because the Red Front had been banned!

    I was pointing out that you made a series of basic factual errors, one of which was you saying ‘the Reichsbanner and Red Front [should have] organise[d] mass street demonstrations to stop the Nazis taking power’, when in reality the RFB had been banned, and not only that, but it had been banned by the SPD!

    Moreover, the general thrust of my argument throughout that discussion was that there were a number of historical and sociological reasons why left unity didn’t happen. Even if you disagree with my argument, it is fundamentally dishonest of you to try and present it in this way, especially when there’s an easily accessible record of the conversation.

    Thread in question: http://socialistunity.com/no-platform-policy-is-outdated/

    As now seems even more clear based on your comments here, your position is not based on actual reality, but what you wish that reality was.

    Facts be damned, prianikoff has a narrative to construct!

    prianikoff:
    All you can say is that there are precedents for such things in the publicly available material.

    Yet you consider these limited instances far more credible as precedents than the numerous cases where grown men, from all kinds of backgrounds, have sexually assaulted children? Why?

    prianikoff:
    It seems to me that whenever these sort of issues are raised, your knee-jerk reaction is to defend the state.

    Or in other words: I don’t think the state a omnipotent and omnipresent monolithic actor. That’s not something I feel the need to correct, even if a more subtle understanding of the state leads to lesser minds chucking mud. :)

  137. prianikoff on said:

    #151 “I derive my opinions from evidence, whereas you derive yours from ideology – an open mind versus a prejudiced mind.”

    It’s political methodology not “ideology” that’s the issue here.
    It’s important to look at evidence when taking political decisions. This evidence will inevitably be incomplete compared to what’s available to academic historians.

    But political decisions have to be taken quickly and if you have the wrong methodology when it comes to the state, you’re bound to get it wrong.
    Like the SPD and KPD, you’ll fail to see 1933 coming.
    You’ll be unable to resist state-orchestrated attacks on your organisation.

    “I was pointing out that you made a series of basic factual errors, one of which was you saying ‘the Reichsbanner and Red Front [should have] organise[d] mass street demonstrations to stop the Nazis taking power’, when in reality the RFB had been banned, and not only that, but it had been banned by the SPD!”

    Actually, I didn’t make a factual error.
    The comments I made about the United Front concerned the whole period prior to 1933.
    But even after the RF was banned in 1929 the organisation continued as the KgF (Kampfbund gegen Faschismus)

    Nor is the fact that the RF was banned by the SPD an argument against calling for a United Front against fascism.
    As the quote from Trotsky which I supplied makes clear, as soon as he left prison in August 1917, he went straight to the Menshevik leadership with a proposal for a United Front against Kornilov. DESPITE the fact that these Mensheviks were allies of Kerensky, who had put him in jail. One of them was your role model, Fyodor Dan.

    “…you consider these limited instances far more credible as precedents than the numerous cases where grown men, from all kinds of backgrounds, have sexually assaulted children?
    Why?”

    This sounds like a poisonous insinuation wrapped in chop logic pastry to me.
    Joe Hill might have been innocent or guilty.
    The fact that many leading Labour movement figures defended him doesn’t mean they were defending Murder.
    I could equally ask you why do you downplay the FBI campaign waged against the US SWP?

    ” a more subtle understanding of the state leads to lesser minds chucking mud.”

    A comment which shows that you’re another elitist poseur passing through the left.

  138. prianikoff: I could equally ask you why do you downplay the FBI campaign waged against the US SWP?

    Now correct me if I am wrong here, but was not the bulk of the FBI’s destablisation of the SWP during the Cold war, as collateral to the FBI’s more significant efforts against the CPUSA, and probably the greatest interest the SWP gave them was their support for Cuba?

    It is utterely bizarre to conclude that because at one point the FBI was engaged in covert action against the SWP, then the SWP are entitled to conclude that Mark Curtis attempting to rape a 15 year old girl was a FBI conspiracy.

    redscribe: Why should I believe the SWP US would risk hara-kiri in this way? It does not make sense. And why should I attack people whose motivation in this matter at least I believe to be honest over matters of how they conducted this defence decades earlier, based on the dubious say-so of people who are not disinterested observers but have a transparent, and dishonest, political motive?

    Well, if we did accept that the FBI were intent on destroying the SWP, it would be easier for them to do so by having an agent in the leadership who took the opportunity to steer them towards a massive hoax solidarity campaign for a paedophile rapist, than to concoct such a far fetched fit up as you suggest.

    Actually the psychology is quite simple, and the phenomoneon here is the basis of both the classic Spanish Prisoner confidence trick, and how sexual predators on the Internet can move from an assumed identity to their real identity during grooming.

    People invest considerable effort in being consistent with their earlier decisions, excluding clear contrary evidence, and from the persepective of outsiders behaving irrationaly. Given the close cult like nature of the SWP, they would already have invested trust in Curtis; when he denied the charge they would be inclined to beleive him. then having publiclly launched a defence campaign they would be inclined to block out or disregard clear eveidence of his guilt.

  139. prianikoff on said:

    …I’d certainly be worried about joining a United Front with the Daily Mail, the Times, Nick Cohen, Harry’s Place and the Swindon Advertiser!

  140. Feodor on said:

    There doesn’t seem to be much in your comment dealing with the Mark Curtis case. Indeed, I’m a little annoyed with myself for returning to the subject of our prior debate, because you’ve just used it as a smokescreen to avoiding discussing the issues at hand.

    What else you write is mainly meaningless platitudes and political smears. The only relevant point I can detect is:

    prianikoff:
    I could equally ask you why do you downplay the FBI campaign waged against the US SWP?

    I don’t downplay it, I just don’t see it to be at all relevant.

    When there is neither solid evidence or sound logic in favour of something being pertinent, I see no reason to think it is.

  141. prianikoff: …I’d certainly be worried about joining a United Front with the Daily Mail, the Times, Nick Cohen, Harry’s Place and the Swindon Advertiser!

    You don’t get it. The SWP have damaged themselves, and indeed the fall out could damage the whole left unless we are prepared to cut off the gangerous limb to save the healthy body

  142. prianikoff on said:

    #158 I’m highly suspicous of your motives and sources of information.

    #159 So sayeth the vacuous poseur Feodor.

  143. prianikoff on said:

    #161 You’re an utter disgrace.
    Bested in a political argument, you went off in a sulk.
    Then you came back and did no better, so you resort to pathetic insinuations.
    You haven’t answered a single political point.

  144. Manzil on said:

    prianikoff:
    …I’d certainly be worried about joining a United Front with the Daily Mail, the Times, Nick Cohen, Harry’s Place and the Swindon Advertiser!

    Okay, I’ll preface this by saying I think you’re talking absolute bollocks.

    But that really made me laugh.

    I may have to leave the reading room.

  145. Jara Handala on said:

    Andy Newman,

    #158, 9:23am

    What does your analogy mean? Are you prescribing that all SWP members should be removed from any elected or unelected TU positions they hold?

    That is what you seem to imply. Is that your view?

  146. prianikoff on said:

    #163 Did I accuse you of being a “cranky conspiracy theorist” when, just the other week, you were pushing Jeremy Keenan’s view that the Mali Islamists were an Algerian False flag operation.
    (He even suggested that the Algerian hostage crisis might have been initiated by the Algerian state and then got out of control)
    No. I looked at alternative explanations, since it was quite possible that the accusations against Algeria could be used by Western governments hostile to the government there.
    Governments who are known to harbour former FIS leaders. Qatar and Britain to name two of them.

    FBI disruption of the US SWP, it’s not a conspiracy theory, but an undisputed fact.

    The Mark Curtis case may, or may not have been part of this. Given your factionalism and obvious Stalinist prejudices , I wouldn’t rely on your judgements on this matter.

    The WRP was a caricature of a Leninist organisation, but The Healy affair was more about individual psychology and the perils of drink than anything else.

    I’ve no idea what happened in the “Delta” case.
    I don’t think you do either.
    You’ve descended to muckracking and Feodor’s pathetic insinuations are a direct consequence of your method.
    Swindon’s answer to Vyshinksy.

  147. According to this Mark Curtis was framed for supporting immigrant workers in the non-union outfits of the meat packing industry…

    http://www.themilitant.com/1995/5937/5937_2.html
    There was a campaign by union bureacrats, NGO’s for women for his release.

    The issue concerned may not be to do with what was at stake but something else, the rights for bosses to employ all and sundry at knock down wages…

  148. prianikoff: Swindon’s answer to Vyshinksy.

    LOL! I couldn’t stop laughing with an image of Andy Newman wandering the catacombs under Swindon as his new GMB funded Gulag nears readiness to recieve it’s first prisoners from the SWP! Mind you he would look cute in an NKVD Leather Jacket!
    Andy Newman once accused me of being the “Prachanda of Bromsgrove” but your accusation of “Swindon’s answer to Vyshinksy’ is much funnier!

  149. The Northites, American Healyites on the Mark Curtis Affair
    http://tinyurl.com/bxkjhdr
    in full defence of bourgeois justice ie capitalist courts, the same people who had no problem handing over pictures of oppositionists in Iran or collecting money from Oil-igarchs….

  150. Morning Star reader on said:

    Fred Feldman is entitled to his opinion, even if it is founded on a fantastic scenario, but he adds nothing to the public stock of knowledge about the Mark Curtis case.
    In the RevLeft thread which VN Gelis wants us to read, the lie is repeated that there was no ‘physical evidence’ to link Curtis with the crime. What, apart from him being arrested at the scene while the assault was taking place, and apart from the eye-witness identification by the victim and her brother, there and then, that he was the assailant? Since when has the evidence of a sexual assault victim, whose injuries were confirmed a short while later by two medical experts at the local hospital, been treated with such contempt?
    Obviously, I’m placing no reliance on police testimony.
    There was no forensic evidence against Curtis, other than that confirming his presence at the crime scene (which he has never disputed), because no penile penetration or ejaculation had taken place. The assault had been interrupted by police responding to the victim’s brother’s 911 call before either could happen. Medical experts at the trial testified that the absence of forensic evidence in these circumstances was not at all unusual.
    There was forensic evidence, however, that the girl had been beaten, stripped and forced onto the floor in the ways she had described.
    The claim that the victim later recanted does not appear to be substantiated anywhere, even when those who make it are challenged for their sources. Clearly, it would be sensational if she were to claim later that she had been coerced into falsely identifying Curtis – so why isn’t it being splashed all over The Militant, SWP (USA) websites, etc? Where’s the evidence that a recantation has taken place? Put up or shut up.
    Certainly, in 1991, three years after the assault, the parents of the victim launched a successful action for damages against Curtis and were awarded $80,000. Two years after that, they won another action to receive the $11,000 that Curtis had won in a case against the Des Moines Police for beating him up in the police station after his arrest (not a very clever move if part of an elaborate conspiracy – but not unknown in cases of child abuse). Details can be found at http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F2/995/125/66518/#fn2
    Contrary to some internet claims, the officers who arrested Curtis at the scene of the assault were not the ones who attacked him in the police station later.
    Those who promote the utterly fantastic frame-up scenario put forward – with variations – by Curtis and the US SWP have never provided the slightest substantiating evidence in 25 years. Have they ever tried to track down the “mystery woman” who supposedly met Curtis at a set of traffic lights and took him to the scene of a sexual assault, before disappearing without anybody seeing her? Let’s see the leaflets, public appeals etc. that they should have published with the help of massive Defence Fund.
    Did they ever go to the (named by Curtis) club where the mystery woman had been threatened/assaulted, and from whom she was supposedly fleeing? If so, what responses did they receive?
    Why were none of the “conspirators” – the victim, her brother, the medical specialists, the 911 operator, the arresting officers – challenged about this “frame-up” and “conspiracy” when they gave evidence in court?
    The RevLeft thread also refers dismissively to the “rumour” that Curtis was thrown out of the US SWP in Chicago after his release for soliciting for a prostitute. It is claimed that this “rumour” was posted anonymously on a Usenet group page. Again, we are being taken for fools. The source of the information is former Chicago SWP member Tami Peterson, who tells the full story at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/swp_usa/message/2729?var=1.
    I write as someone with a long record of campaigning against police and state frame-ups, the role of the intelligence services etc. I am under no illusions about the state and what it’s capable of.
    But the Curtis case is threadbare and is based on the baseless dismissal of witnesses who – in any case where the suspect was not a revolutionary socialist – would never be so contemptibly disregarded by socialists and communists.

  151. Morning Star reader,

    On reading the documentation as I was not familiar with the case something did happen. What that was precisely is difficult to ascertain without court transcripts as well.

    But the issue remains who was Mark Curtis and what was his real role?
    The SWP recently won a lawsuit against the FBI and not soon thereafter this occurred.

    Why the leaderships of the SWP adopted Mark Curtis as a cause celebre and enlisted union tops in this case is part and parcel of their degeneration which led them to selling headquarters off, making millions out of it and selling Trotskys books at ridiculous prices…

  152. Morning Star reader on said:

    The book by Martin McLoughlin, The Mark Curtis Hoax: How the Socialist Workers Party Tried to Due the Labor Movement (1990), contains extensive reproductions from the court transcript.
    Of course, I would treat this source, from a rival Trotskyist sect to the US SWP, with considerable caution. I don’t share the political outlook of any of the groups involved (and which in this case seem to have all the characteristics of cults).
    But as far as I’m aware, these extracts from the court record have not been challenged for inaccuracy. Selectivity, no doubt, but they look pretty conclusive to me.
    VN Gelis hints at another possible scenario for the Curtis case. Of course, nothing credible should be ruled out without any consideration. But I would be very dubious about any scenario that cannot sensibly explain the role of the children, the 911 operator and the medical specialists involved. The “mystery woman at the traffic lights” scenario does not even try.
    As I said earlier in this thread, I went to a Mark Curtis Defence Campaign public meeting in 1987-88, fully prepared to support it. I left utterly unconvinced by the (as it now turns out) highly selective information, and equally unbelievable scenario, that was presented to us by the Communist League (Britain) organisers.
    The demonstrably untrue statements being put out about by the campaign’s surviving supporters today has only confirmed my view. In fact, aspects of the lying, denial and cover-up disgust me, when we (men) are today supposed to understand more about the trauma of sexual assault and rape. That’s before we get on to the distribution of leaflets and posters by Curtis supporters around the victim’s home and school at the time …

  153. Morning Star reader on said:

    Are the CL still going, and do they still sell the US Militant? I knew a couple of them and they were very pleasant and reliable comrades. But most of them lived in the same house and then, suddenly, they moved to another part of the country – abandoning jobs, financial commitments, college courses, union positions etc. Those who didn’t go were the obviously less cultish ones. That went down badly among those who had trusted them with any responsibilities, friendships etc. Still, the local labour movement survived …

  154. The reason I tend to focus a bit on male oppression is to restore some balance in the way sexual politics is discussed. Someone on this site said a communist had to be pro feminist. But what does that mean, anti men? Heather Downs response to my facts about discrimination against men was a suggestion that I “read something, anything” (Except facts about male discrimination I guess!) She wants to sweep discrimination against men under the carpet and restrict sexual issues to just women. I can’t sign up to that shit.

    Manzil asked why focus on discrimination against men, saying it is not women who are the cause of this discrimination, nor the beneficiary of it. Well you focus on the discrimination because it exists! You don’t sweep it under the carpet because you haven’t established the exact causal relations, if that were the case nothing would ever be investigated.

    To be honest another sign of discrimination against men is how the left refuse to deal with it!

    I read something else that researched how society dealt with health spending, I was not surprised to find that men were heavily discriminated against in this area. Spending for women’s health issues was not only far higher than men’s but also given an higher priority. men are supposed to man up about these issues. Men’s treatment is stuck in the dark ages compared to women.

    The reason I take this approach is because I see the root of the evil in the capitalist system itself. Just focusing solely on womens issues misses the systematic nature of the issue and how we are all assigned our role and our place. I also think half a theory is no theory at all.

  155. Manzil on said:

    Marko:
    Someone on this site said a communist had to be pro feminist. But what does that mean, anti men?

    Why on earth would you use to put that sort of spin on it?

    Incidentally, I did not say ‘why focus on discrimination against men’. I was questioning the relevance of a theory which conceptualises social problems affecting men via the language of “male oppression”and “institutionalized discrimination against… MEN”. My comment at #69 may be worth repeating:

    Manzil: I then asked you, as I asked Marko, how you related this alleged problem (widespread female violence in the home and its effect on young men) to a theory of ‘male liberation’, and specifically what value there was in abstracting it from wider social issues which are fundamentally based on a bourgeois and patriarchal distribution of power, i.e. I was accepting the problem, but specifically challenging what you feel is the ‘root’ of the problem, and thus what to do about it.

    Whereas it is not the case that you are acknowledging a problem but leaving the ‘causal reasons’ up in the air. Rather, you seem to be arguing that men as an undifferentiated mass are somehow discriminated against – who else, but by women. I cannot see how that could possibly be substantiated, and I feel that to humour you on this to concede legitimacy to the “men’s rights” lunatic fringe.

  156. Feodor on said:

    prianikoff:
    Swindon’s answer to Vyshinksy.

    Given the general tone and content of your posts, it’s somewhat ironic that you make this comparison, because the logic that underpins your arguments with regard the Curtis case is not all that different from that which underpinned the arguments about the Trotsky-Zinoviev Center…

    No doubt the irony will be lost on you, but you really do seem like someone who has inculcated the ‘Stalinist’ approach into their political method.

    This comment has been approved by Comrade Newman, great leader of the Socialist Unity peoples.

  157. prianikoff on said:

    The Spartacist League investigated all 400 pages of the court transcript and concluded that Curtis was innocent.
    They’re no friends of the US SWP, so they had no ulterior motives.

    They suggested that the prosecution’s case was lifted almost verbatim from the Healyite press.
    Anyone who was around on the left in the late 70’s remembers their slanderous “Security and the 4th International Campaign”
    The US Healyites also had some history of trying to infiltrate the US SWP (the Gelphand case)

    It’s a long time ago and life’s too short, but I accept their conclusions which are:-

    Curtis was charged with sexual assault and burglary, not rape.
    There was no evidence of rape, nothing was stolen, there was no weapon.
    The judge at the trial refused to consider testimony concerning the FBI’s “dirty tricks” campaign against the US SWP.

    Curtis was sentenced to 25 years and told he wouldn’t be paroled unless he confessed his “guilt”.
    He never did, but continued to defend his politics for 8 years while in jail.

    He said:-
    “I am not a rapist, but a fighter for women’s rights.
    I am not guilty of the crimes I have been charged and convicted of”

    When he was released, he returned to political activity.
    This would explain why he was still being harrassed by the police.

    People who discount the possibility of state intervention in such cases are simply being naive

  158. prianikoff: Curtis was charged with sexual assault and burglary, not rape.

    ohh. That is alright then.

    prianikoff: The Spartacist League investigated all 400 pages of the court transcript and concluded that Curtis was innocent.

    I am surely not the only one who finds an investigation by the Spartacist League not the most persuasive source of evidence

  159. prianikoff: This would explain why he was still being harrassed by the police.

    The police also continue to pay a close interest to people convicted of burglary and sexual assault on a minor.

    The idea that the police kept tabs on a convicted sexual offender is hardly convincing evidence of a conspiracy!

  160. prianikoff: They’re no friends of the US SWP

    While of course their relations with the Healyites were always most cordial?

    prianikoff: The US Healyites also had some history of trying to infiltrate the US SWP

    While of course the Sparts would never do anything like that.

    Andy Newman: I am surely not the only one who finds an investigation by the Spartacist League not the most persuasive source of evidence

    No, I very much doubt that you are. But in fairness they are the first people I (and I suspect a lot of other people in Britain) learned about Mumia from. Then again, I had was in a common organisation with the US SWP supporters at that time and they didn’t have anyting to say about that case (particularly when compared with Mark Curtis).

    I also remember that the US SWP people in Britain were uninterested in the Poll Tax campaign to the extent of one of their leaders showing zero interest when I pointed out to him that one of my comrades was doing time over the Trafalgar Square demo, after he gave me a very long run-down on the latest on Mark Curtis in a chat in the pub after a left trade union event, none of which I felt qualified to challenge.

    I’m ashamed to say that I did very little research on the subject of Curtis and took it at face value that because the group I was in and the USFI to which it was affiliated were supporting him and I just couldn’t believe that the SWP would go out of its way to defend someone guilty of such a crime, that he was innocent.

    I do recall that a less active member of my organisation who was a trained barrister was actually convinced by the material producued by the Northites and concluded Curtis was guilty. Even then I didn’t look into the matter furhter, but took the view that it was best not to say anything about it one way or the other.

  161. Morning Star reader on said:

    Prianikoff informs us that those doughty seekers after truth and light, the Spartacist League, “suggested that the prosecution’s case was lifted almost verbatim from the Healyite press”.
    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at such idiocy. The prosecution case was based mainly on the testimony of the sexual assault victim and her brother, including their identification of Curtis at the scene a few minutes after the attack had taken place, together with the testimony from two police officers, a 911 operator and two medical specialists. None of that was lifted from the Healyite press.
    What happened at the trial was that the prosecuting counsel raised a series of questions about Curtis’s account of how he came to be at the scene of the crime – questions about the shopping trip, traffic lights, the mystery woman etc. They were questions that anyone with half a brain would have asked. The fact that some rival US Trotskyist cult (along with others) had already asked similar questions is hardly surprising. To suggest that the trial prosecutor was therefore reliant or in cahoots with the Healyite cult in order to formulate such a series of obvious questions is barmy. Was the similarity “almost verbatim”? It depends how desperate you are. I asked pretty similar ones earlier in the thread, but didn’t take them from the Healyite press or the trial transcript.
    In any case, these questions did not form part of the substantive case against Curtis.
    Yet this is the only “evidence” cited by the Spartacists of “collusion” between the US state and some rival Trotskyist cult. Pitiful – and Prianikoff spews it out like the other rubbish I have already demolished earlier (like the “it wasn’t rape” deception, and the “she recanted later” lie, and the “anonymous” soliciting for a prostitute “rumour” that was a fact from a named and credible source).
    Anyway, here’s another question for the Curtis apologists: how do you explain that for months Curtis claimed that the “18-19 year old” woman who took him to the crime scene was the victim of the assault (15 year old Demetria Morris) – and then changed his story to say that it was some other, unknown, young black woman? Perhaps he realised how easily the first version could be shot down in flames, being even more ludicrous than the second.
    None of my other questions have been answered, or my factual arguments even been seriously challenged, so I won’t hold my breath waiting for a sensible response.
    I hope that Prianikoff and other Curtis apologists on this thread realise how deeply they are discrediting themselves. All their false claims and insinuations have been exposed as nonsense – so they either come forward with a new one or offer up a re-tread.

  162. Morning Star reader on said:

    Having checked some records, I find I have made a mistake earlier in the thread about a matter of greater significance than I realised.
    When Curtis called at the home of Keith and Denise Morris and family, I asked how could it be that their daughter who answered the door to Curtis would later be able to name two local SWP members whom Curtis had asked for.
    They weren’t SWP members (I should have checked rather than getting them confused with some SWP members Curtis had phoned earlier that evening). According to Demetria Morris, Curtis had asked for “Keith” and “Bonita”, giving their house number (1545) on the same road (Seventeenth Street).
    It turned out, as Curtis revealed under questioning during the trial, that former neighbours of his – Keith Morrison and partner Bonita – had just moved into 1545 Seventeenth Street.
    Keith Morrison was, according to Curtis’s evidence, known as a drug dealer – although Curtis denied ever having met the man who once lived opposite him, and strongly denied taking drugs himself.
    I’ll leave it to the Inspector Clouseaus amongst you to work out any plausible reason as to why, after drinking and on his way to buy food, Curtis might have called after dark at the home of a Keith Morris at 1529 Seventeenth Street, when drug-dealing former neighbour Keith Morrison had just moved into nearby 1545 Seventeenth Street.
    Now I really must get on with the rest of my life.

  163. Morning Star reader,

    So he knocked on their door late at night? When he was looking for someone else?
    Where were the parents?
    Even if he got the house wrong it is impossible for it to be a frame up as this would have to be organised to be a frame up.

    Unless they followed him knew of his habit of picking up women and stung him by luring him to a pre-arranged place.

    Unless his brief told him not to mention that he picked up women late at night thus weakening his defence?

    What I find strange is that he doesn’t refute that he wasn’t there or that he wasn’t at all involved in any type of activity that could be construed as sexual, hence based on the evidence of those participating on this thread and what they have recounted he appears guilty, which then leads on to another question why did the SWP support him?

    To maintain unity in the ranks? To have an issue to rally around?

  164. Morning Star reader on said:

    Oh dear, my powers of argument must be weaker than I thought!
    VN Gelis, I have been arguing against the frame-up nonsense all along. It wasn’t that late when Curtis called at 1529 Seventeenth Street, thinking it might be number 1545. Between 8.30 pm and 8.51pm (when young Jason’s call to 911 was logged, recorded – as his sister was being attacked – and played back later in court). The parents had gone out for a while earlier in the evening.
    After being told that he had called at the wrong address, Curtis asked Demetria whether her parents were at home and could direct him to the “Keith” and “Bonita” house at 1545. She told him they were not in – which may have been her biggest mistake.
    The idea that Demetria and Jason invented all this, or recited it at the command of their parents or the police, is too grotesque for words. It was not disputed in court that Demetria had been attacked.
    The Curtis Defence Campaign claimed that it was not questioning the integrity of the Morris family. Yet their whole campaign was based on just such an insinuation. How could a frame-up have taken place without the complicity of this black working-class family?
    The only other possibility is that, yes, Demetria was indeed attacked at some point, Curtis allowed himself to be whisked to the scene – so that Demetria and Jason could obligingly, falsely or mistakenly identify him as the assailant, thereby allowing the real assailant to go free, having disappeared as if by magic (just like the mystery woman who Curtis claimed brought him to the Morris home).
    By the way, there were independent witnesses to Demetria and Jason’s movements that evening, including a store-owner and some visiting friends, which may be why Curtis changed his story that Demetria had herself approached him at the traffic lights and asked him for a lift.
    So, yes, the frame-up fable is too ludicrous for words. Why did the US SWP go along with it? I have no particular insight or evidence to offer, beyond some rather obvious possibilities.
    But I was a regular reader of their paper at the time, admired their work on racism and with prisoners, and supported their solidarity work with Cuba. I had no axe to grind, and would have been inclined to support the Curtis Defence Campaign – until I started thinking more deeply about it.
    Now I find it loathsome that some on the left today still want to perpetuate the lies, deceptions and slanders on which that campaign was based.
    My heart goes out to the Morris family – decent working class people, union members and supporters, who had taken a stand against racism at work, and whose courageous children bravely withstood a horrible ordeal.
    Yet how easily some ignorant, half-witted know-alls continue the vile campaign against them.

  165. prianikoff on said:

    Actually MSR, you don’t even report the material that’s available to you accurately. For instance, at #173 you allege that “Curtis was thrown out of the US SWP in Chicago after his release for soliciting for a prostitute”, based on Tami P’s online report.
    But that conclusion is not even supported by the material you are quoting. This indicates that Curtis was caught out in a lie to his party about where he was when his car was impounded.
    Given his past history and the trust they placed in him, I’d imagine he’d have been put in a very difficult situation by this. But the fact that his car was impounded doesn’t prove that the accusation was true and as you’ve already admitted, it doesn’t prove anything about the original case.
    In other words, you’ve put a spin on the facts.

    There are lots of other points in the evidence that could be taken up, but under the circumstances I think the SWP were right to defend Curtis.

    If I were to adopt your methodology in relation to the Jacob Zuma trial, I could put together the following story:-

    The medical evidence showed that the alleged rape victim had a vaginal tear.

    Zuma believed she was consensting due to the fact she came to the door in a nightdress to say good night to him.

    During the trial Zuma supporters demonstrated against the witness calling her a “bitch” and asking her how much she was paid to testify.

    The case was brought by an ANC state prosecutor, against an ANC member.

    Zuma is a polygamist who has had 6 wives and at least 20 children.

    Therefore it was a rape, covered up by the ANC-controlled judicial system for political reasons.

    I’m not actually making that case, but that’s how easy it is to weave a story together. What we know about you is that you’re a Stalinist sectarian who thinks I’m an obssesive anti-Communist.

    What we know about the Stalinists is that they killed their political opponents like Andreu Nin and Trotsky and lied about if for years.

    So I’ll treat your insinuations about as seriously as I do that Hairdressing student Feodor’s

  166. Logically based on your report it dont make sense.
    Why would anyone agree in open court to be framed if they believed they were innocent?

    As a crime of sexual assault carries a far higher penalty than burglary I presume unless there is something I dont know about the legal system in the USA and taking into account on the sentence meted out it was of a higher order.

    So on this basis the frame up agenda sounds absolutely implausible, maybe it was a way of the SWP giving something back to the state after prosecuting it?

    Barnes et al just wanted a cushy number and threw in the towel, going round campaigning for a dodgy character whom they booted out a bit later anyway…

  167. prianikoff,

    Although you dont come up with a plausible story in defence of Curtis.
    Why was he at the house and if no assault occurred that would imply the Morris family were part of the frame up (ie paid to do it).

    But how did he come to go that particular house as he was looking for another one and how did the authorities who were ‘framing him’ know he would go to that …particular house?

    The story dont fit and you argue in the manner to prove precisely that, it dont fit and blind trust should be placed on who is saying the story, not the actual story itself.

    Did Barnes do a clear out of all the old leaders preceding this? If so it fits logically in, why not support anything to show that we have made our peace with the system. Healy did that after his training school was raided by the police way back in 1974. He started cutting all manner of deals with all and sundry to keep the show on the road and as a good salesman he made it, kept a bureaucracy afloat for another decade…

  168. prianikoff on said:

    More evidence of undercover police operations – although Keith Vaz and the Guardian seem to be more exercised about the parents of the dead children than the living people they duped.
    One officer adopted the fake persona of Pete Black while undercover in anti-racist groups
    Did the Home Secretary know?

    “Police chiefs have admitted that a second undercover unit stole the identities of dead children until the 1990s or even more recently in a series of operations to infiltrate political activists.
    Growing evidence of the scale of the unauthorised technique – nicknamed the “jackal run” after its fictional depiction in Frederick Forsyth’s novel The Day of the Jackal – now means the number of families affected could total more than 100.
    The Metropolitan police’s deputy assistant commissioner Patricia Gallan told a parliamentary inquiry that both secret police units broke internal guidelines when they employed the technique, which MPs criticised as “gruesome” and “very distressing”.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/feb/05/two-police-units-dead-children-ids

  169. prianikoff:
    …that Hairdressing student Feodor

    First I was an academic, now I am a hairdressing student, whereas you will always be a deluded fantasist. :)

  170. prianikoff: If I were to adopt your methodology in relation to the Jacob Zuma trial, I could put together the following story:-

    One of most unconvincing examples ever of the “don’t look over here, look over there” ploy.

  171. Manzil on said:

    Feodor: First I was an academic, now I am a hairdressing student, whereas you will always be a deluded fantasist.

    I’m sure you do a very nice buzz cut.

  172. stephen marks on said:

    It is indeed the case, as Prianikoff keeps reminding us, that the state has a long and continuing record of using all manner of dirty tricks to frame left activists. It is also therefore right to argue that we should not immediately dismiss out of hand the possibility that a current scandal involving a high-profile leftist or radical activist is in fact a frame-up.

    But it is a long leap from that caveat to Prianikoff’s apparent modus operandi of continuing with the frame-up hypothesis in every case, even where the assumptions needed to back it up are, as has been exhaustively shown in this case, to be far more improbable than the official version.

    Which leads to the following dilemma. Presumably Prianikoff is not going to argue that by definition and as a matter of principle no leftist activist can ever commit rape or sexual assault. Then where does that leave the left in those cases where a member of a socialist organisation or other radical activist has in fact committed a rape or assault? In the position surely of deserving the opprobrium of defending rapists regardless of the facts in order to protect its ‘reputation’.

    This unprincipled position has been shown over and again, whether with the SWP [both of them] or the Catholic Church, to be indefensible even in its own terms, as the institution responsible inevitable ends up with a worse reputation than if it had admitted the facts and dealt properly with the offending member in the first place.

  173. prianikoff on said:

    @199 “one of most unconvincing examples ever of the “don’t look over here, look over there” ploy.”

    In principle, the Zuma case is no different to all the other cases. Unless you base your judgements on factional considerations.

    Stephen Marks@201
    “It is indeed the case, as Prianikoff keeps reminding us, that the state has a long and continuing record of using all manner of dirty tricks to frame left activists…..”

    It is indeed. We ought to hear more about this on this blog too.

    “But it is a long leap from that caveat to Prianikoff’s apparent modus operandi of continuing with the frame-up hypothesis in every case,
    “Which leads to the following dilemma. Presumably Prianikoff is not going to argue that by definition and as a matter of principle no leftist activist can ever commit rape or sexual assault. Then where does that leave the left in those cases where a member of a socialist organisation or other radical activist has in fact committed a rape or assault?

    Except that I haven’t resorted to the frame-up hypothesis “in every case”, just those of Julian Assange and Mark Curtis – and there are are certainly good grounds for treating this as a serious possibility in these cases:-

    * Assange was a major embarassment for Imperialism and someone that various US politicians would have happily seen bumped off.

    * The US SWP had been subjected to massive FBI disruption and just won its Freedom of Information case.

    On the other hand, Gerry Healy’s thuggish behaviour was well known on the left for years.
    At least since 1964, when he beat up a woman he was involved with after she wanted to abort his child.
    He also propositioned the teenage daughter of a leading FI member around this time and was brought before an internal disciplinary body.
    By the time he reached his 70’s, he was delusional and a serious liability to his own organisation, who had to be removed.

    That doesn’t mean however that there was no Mi5 activity directed against the WRP. As the Tudors realised in the case of Richard III, it’s far more effective to exaggerate existing traits, than to invent outright lies.

    There was, for instance, a raid on the “Red House”, their party training school, which was widely reported in the press. So Ken Livingstone is probably correct to believe that they were involved in the WRP split.

    In the Curtis case, it’s quite possible that there was no pre-planned sequence of events.
    Maybe the police or FBI were regularly tailing him, knew his habits and just took things from there.
    I can imagine endless possible scenarios for a frame-up. Further speculation is pointless though.
    I don’t have perfect knowlege about this and neither does anyone else.

    However simply re-hashing material from the Healyite “Mark Curtis Hoax” book, to demolish his defence case is simply not acceptable. As everyone knows, the Healyites were telling lies for factional reasons throughout the 70’s.

    Regarding the Delta Case, I’ve never made any assertion that the accusers were part of a state conspiracy. I would however regard attempts to ban the SWP (or Respect, or the CP-B etc.) from unions, as originating from the right and definitely something to be firmly opposed by union members.

    I think it’s more likely that the “Delta Affair” is a question of a retrospective re-definition of a sexual relationship.
    One influenced by the SWP’s own somewhat opportunist position on the Assange case.
    Possibly one that wouldn’t meet the evidential criteria required for a court case.

    However if after examining the evidence in an internal enquiry, a socialist organisation decided that it would, I don’t see how they could object to the victim going to court. In which case they wouldn’t be obligated to defend the person accused.

    At no point have I ever said anything different to that.

  174. prianikoff,

    The Northites had by the time of the Curtis affair broken with Healy well and truly.

    They would of course (or some of them in any case) have had knowledge of what Healy was like, but so would others who had been key members of Healy’s organisation who were far more level headed, less thuggish than them and more respectable as far as the wider left are concerned(clue, River Thames, town and gown) and who may or may not have kept it to themselves and would very likely regret having done so now.

    But Prianikof, the sillines that you are decending into here is emphasisisd that you are backing up your arguments by quoting the Sparts of all people.

    Then again, although I don’t know you I can see you now on a demo chanting, “Two four six eight, does Grogan still think God is great?”

  175. Andy Newman: With reagrd to Assange, i have little time for the man. However, he is someone who the American state genuinely would have an interest in destroying.

    He has been accused of rape, but not I believe charged. As such he remains entitled to a presumption of innocence.

    I am highly sceptical of the behaviour of the Swedish state, and why they are pushing for his extradition at this stage, rather than interviewing him in London. I also cannot understand why the Swedish state could not give assurances that he will not be extradited on to the USA.

    Assange has not been charged because, under Swedish law, he must first be apprehended and in their custody. The next step in their judicial process is for him to turn himself over to the Swedish authorities. Only then can he clear up the charges.

    The Swedish state cannot grant someone blanket immunity from extradition, nor should they. Assange is not entitled to special treatment. In my view, Assange has exploited his celeb status on the left to play martyr to beat valid and legal arrest warrants.

    The suspicious behavior of the Swedish state stems from the change in prosecutors in the case; the first prosecutor (a man) decided not to go forward with the charges, the second (a woman) decided to go forward. Sweden has a strong radical feminist movement, so yes, I believe this to be a factor.

    What I don’t buy is conspiracy theories about Sweden colluding with the U.S. to get Assange into an American jail cell. If that is what they wanted, why wouldn’t the Swedish government lie, give its solemn promise not to extradite him, and then hand him over to the CIA once he surrendered to their custody? Furthermore, the U.S. made no move to get him extradited when he was in British custody, and the British government works much more in line with Washington than the Swedish.

  176. Binh: why wouldn’t the Swedish government lie, give its solemn promise not to extradite him, and then hand him over to the CIA once he surrendered to their custody?

    Maybe because (a) Sweden is a member of the European Union and (b) such a promise would need to be made to the British government, who are not pals with the USA at the moment on the subject of extradition and would feel agrieved (no matter how they feel about Assange specifically) at being dissed so blatantly.

    Binh: he British government works much more in line with Washington than the Swedish.

    Can you substantiate that? I was under that impression myself until recently. Can’t recall what I read that made me think again.

  177. Binh: Furthermore, the U.S. made no move to get him extradited when he was in British custody, and the British government works much more in line with Washington than the Swedish.

    Actually no. Extradition from the Uk would have been hard. There is considerable populist opposition to the current exradition treaty, and cause celebre cases are likely to be able to exploit that to avoid being sent there

  178. #179 & 180

    At the UAF-sponsored counter demo in Stoke against the EDL in early 2010, I was struck dumb to find right in the middle of the throngs of anti-fascists a gaggle of CL’ers flogging months-old copies of The Militant.

  179. The conclusion from the debate is that the facts are left in the realms of mysticism with the type of approach of ‘my party right or wrong’…
    Curtis and Assange are raised to the level of celebrity status and agnosticism, yet the events dont fit the bill. So we avoid a discussion of the events and skirt over them (Prianikoff)

    Assange becomes a self fulfilling prophesy as left celebrities and daughters of billionaires turn up to raise his profile much in the same manner as union chiefs (who spend most of their day to day activity selling out strikes and doing workers over on behalf of the capitalist state) raised Curtis’ profile.

    Now how does one print and circulate discussions of the US military and US intelligence services without having a connection with them is again one of those modern mysteries, Assange is hunted by US imperialism as the corporate media say so and the celebrities and their hangers on say so, so it mush be… true.

    With these types of politics I predict the far left will be 100 sects soon, from the 30 odd that they are now… an allegation, any allegation will lead to a bust up only because it cant be discussed openly (that would imply internally in any organisation)…

  180. prianikoff on said:

    Vanya:-
    “The Northites had by the time of the Curtis affair broken with Healy well and truly”.

    It’s pretty clear why Northites devoted so much time and effort into proving Mark Curtis ‘guilty'; they are bitter political rivals of the SWP and wanted them out of the way.

    North still defends and promotes “Security and the 4th International”. His organisation still allege that Joe Hansen was a “US government agent”. They still promote Alan Gelfand’s “exposure” of the SWP.

    “…you are backing up your arguments by quoting the Sparts of all people.”

    Sometimes sectarians get it right.
    I’m not sympathetic to the Sparts ultraleftism, or the way they bait opponents. But they wrote some perceptive material on this case.
    The Sparts are also political opponents of their “mothership”, the US SWP. But unlike the Northites, they still have some basic political principles.

    Binh:-
    “What I don’t buy is conspiracy theories about Sweden colluding with the U.S. to get Assange into an American jail cell.”

    A rape conviction in Sweden would isolate Assange from his supporters fare more effectively than a US espionage prosecution would. By the time he got out, it would also be easier to extradite him.

    (I’ve got other things to do, so I don’t intend to go over this anymore, check the archives)

  181. Pingback: AND THERE ARE MORE SWP SEXUAL ABUSE SCANDALS TO COME | Socialist Unity

  182. Blaker – are you the same “Blaker” who posted on here recently that Andy Newman is a state plant?

    I’m only asking out of politeness, given that I know it’s you.