Sexism, feminism & the Socialist Workers Party (SWP)

Daphne Lawless of the Workers Party in New Zealand (previously editor of the NZ Socialist Worker), has published details of private communications that she has had with a former SWP organiser, explaining that the recent controversy about rape allegations is not the first time that the SWP has been involved in an internal cover up.

Sexism on the left The SWP of course has a line on women’s issues, but of a moralistic bent. Recent campaigns against “raunch culture” – that is, commodified sexuality – centred not around defending women’s right to free expression of sexuality, but, in the words of one blogger “ridiculing working-class women for wearing push-up bras” (5). As a former SWP member told The Spark, this political attitude:

was moralistic, reactionary and oppressive. It demanded an eternal vigilance about “sexism” on the part of male comrades which actually enforced a humourless respectability and became a front for hypocrisy. (6)

On the subject of hypocrisy, it is clear that comrade Delta’s behaviour is not something new in the British SWP. The blogger mentioned above made these pointed remarks directed at that party in 2007:

 …there is a very senior cadre who is notorious for his wandering hands, at least when he’s had one too many. … [N]ot one but several young female comrades feel uncomfortable around a longstanding cadre because of his persistent habit of talking to their cleavages.

 [T]he group has a culture of institutional bullying, where women are not given more consideration, but generally speaking less… (5)

Another former SWP member told The Spark about an incident which happened in the early 1990s:

an SWP Central Committee member sexually assaulted one of my friends (this was not a matter of an ‘unproven allegation’, since the person admitted his guilt at great length to me, putting it down to his heavy drinking). … She fought back, and eventually stopped him in his tracks … The woman didn’t want to pursue the matter in any way and, not surprisingly, dropped out of the SWP shortly afterwards. As an SWP district organiser I raised this with the CC, asking that the person be disciplined even though there was no complaint as such, but it was explained to me that “this sort of thing happens under capitalism”, and nothing could be done about it.

These are only the most shocking examples. Relationships like the one between Delta (an older male leader) and W (a younger female ordinary member) have been allowed to flourish within the SWP. If Delta was W’s employer in a capitalist workplace, even a liberal feminist would be able to recognize sexual harassment, or at least a very unhealthy power dynamic.

Daphne provides the useful service of reminding people that the descriptions of sexism in the SWP have been in the public domain since 2007, not only from myself, but also from the Irish blogger Splintered Sunrise, who provided an excoriating picture of sexism in the SWP.

Imagine, if you will, a far-left organisation that sets great store by its sensitivity to matters of oppression, and is especially gung-ho about its opposition to sexism. Now imagine that this perfectly decent stance is constantly being undermined by aspects of the group’s internal culture.

Let’s say there is a very senior cadre who is notorious for his wandering hands, at least when he’s had one too many. This is an open secret, to the point where, if he visits your branch, comrades crack jokes about locking up the women. Has this ever been the subject of an internal inquiry, even by the notoriously supine control commission? Dream on.

Let’s say that you have been approached by not one but several young female comrades who feel uncomfortable around a longstanding cadre because of his persistent habit of talking to their cleavages. (This, by the way, is something I make a conscious effort to never do. I was brought up to believe that it’s only good manners to look a woman in the eye when you’re talking to her.) Since you take this kind of thing seriously, and are worried about the group’s failure to retain young female recruits, you would love to support them. So imagine how you feel when you have to tell them that nothing can be done, and they would be best advised to stay quiet and try to avoid this comrade.

It is worth looking at the comments on those  old threads  directed to both myself and Splintered Sunrise, seeking to both minimise the sexism, and to intimidate us into silence. Much is being made of the alleged principle and bravery of the current opposition in the SWP, but back in 2007, one of the leading current oppositionists, sought to pooh pooh the behaviour  described above as just  an “individual who is thought to have wandering eyes“, and to mock those who objected to sexism in the SWP:

some of us don’t really take very seriously a bunch of embittered middle aged men … going on about their inability to get their leg over as the basis for political critique.

No objection to people indulging in melencholy bitter sweet nostalgia about their faded youth, but its really a bit much when this is counterposed to actual contemporary issues. Reading the above we have references to an individual who is thought to have wandering eyes, uberfeminists holding back the tides of sexual liberation…, allegations about women of ‘hiliarious incompetance’ etc and now demands for ‘freshness’ (well two can play at the game of misattribution).

None of which is particularly WRP in any case. I for one am not getting involved in a commitee to determine who women are allowed to sleep with…

The reference to “hilarious incompetence” relates to this observation about the SWP from Splintered Sunrise

Let’s say that you are aware of a number of cases where ambitious female comrades have achieved positions in the hierarchy, due not to what talents for the job they may possess but due to who they are fucking. Meanwhile, talented women are passed over when it becomes known they are unavailable.

… In fact I think, and have thought for a very long time, that more young women in responsible leadership positions would be a very good thing. Provided that they were competent, it would bring a degree of much needed freshness. On the other hand, young women of sometimes hilarious ineptitude getting promotion on the basis of who they’ve slept with… if a capitalist employer did that sort of thing, he’d be spending years in front of industrial tribunals.

The SWP supporter (and now brave oppositionist) dismisses the  allegation of sexism of powerful men advancing their lovers, by this disingenuous sleight of hand:

incidently it is probably worth stating that being embittered about young women in prominant positions in the party and accusing them of being there simply because of who they’ve had sexual relations with, is not, generally speaking, a completely undodgy discourse.

His complacency is ill-placed, as the phenomenon was well described by the feminist website Second Council House of Virgo :

Where men hold power within an organisation, power can be conferred to women through engaging in sexual relationships with them. When a prominent activist starts a relationship with a lesser known female activist, responsibilities and political favours can flow as a consequence. This leads to a consolidation of power, whereby indirect control is exercised over areas of work through the relationship, situating her activism within his own power base. This can be used as a lever to continue a relationship that woman wishes to leave. The end of the relationship mean the end of the female activist’s prominence as their former lover seeks to marginalise them within the organisation, while resentment at the perceived or real favours which have been granted lead people to overlook their political work.

Within such an environment, the lovers of senior male members become promoted as the womens representatives of the organisation. Any suggestion of male domination is countered by pointing to such female activists. Yet the access that senior male party member have to their time through their relationship can be utilised to ensure that they do not challenge that male domination. Personal and political loyalties become entwined, and with both it is always the men who hold the upper hand.

 This completely correctly locates the current crisis in the SWP onto the issue of sexism and abuse of unequal power relationships. (Indeed another woman SWP member has now come forwards alledging that she was raped by an SWP male colleague.)

The reason that it is worth raking over  the coals of how SWP members reacted to allegations that their organisation is institutionaly sexist five years ago, is because it reveals that their current opposition takes an instrumental view of sexism. That is, they seem to see the importance of combatting sexism as subordinate to the urgency of defending the reputation of their political organisation, and its stated aims.

To take one example, in his recent resignation statement, a former leading member wrote:

Many have also focused on the question of patriarchy within the left. This is an important question. Clearly nothing like this would ever have happened with gender roles reversed. Clearly, as much as people can be intellectually aware of the arguments for women’s liberation they can still act in the ways socially ingrained in them by a patriarchal capitalist system. In this particular case there is also the question of power. But the question of power again raises deeper ideological questions: how could many thousands of good comrades, who are usually so suspicious of power and the powerful be so in awe of power on this occasion as to let this happen?

Here I want to focus on some of those deeper questions. … …

 What follows is not about “deeper questions” after all, but an exercise in regurgitating relatively comfortable leftist tropes about “democratic centralism”.

This neatly sidesteps the real issue of how sexism flourished, and was effectivelly colluded in, within the unequal power structures of the SWP. It is particularly disingenuous as this particular former SWP leader has decided to join Counterfire, a splinter group from the SWP whose leading members have been associated in the past with the so-called “fuck circuit“, where patronage has been exercised by charismatic male leaders in favour of their sexual partners, at the expense of talented women who were known to be sexually unavailable to them; closely resembling the process described by Dr Elizabeth Puttick in her chapter “Women in New Religious Movements”, in Wilson and Cresswell’s “New Religious Movements” [1999]. It is revealing that Counterfire’s own response to the SWP rape crisis fails to address at all the issue of institutional sexism. Puttick makes the important point that the abuse of women in self-referential sub-cultures does not necessarily mean that the women are unwilling to participate; but sexual relationships where there is unequal power are regarded by most organisations as problematic and inherently susceptible to abuse, and they often contravene ethical and professional codes.

The argument “ I for one am not getting involved in a commitee to determine who women are allowed to sleep with…”  seeks to shift responsibility for abuse in relationships based upon unequal power to the women themselves, instead of either the powerful man, or the organisation that provides the structures and context of unequal power.

The SWP opposition who are seeking a recall conference, also sidestep the issue of institu tional sexism, as if the mishandling of the rape allegations against Comrade Delta just fell from the sky, rather than being inherent in the nature of the type of organisation that the SWP is . Although the testimony from Jules about the 2011 conference is refreshingly direct, and is a credit to the author.

Indeed, Richard Seymour’s instrumental view to the issue can be seen from the timing of his outrage

 Before the issue reached the mainstream media, Richard wrote:

“I should say upfront that I cannot and will not broach the details of the case you are referring to. It is natural that people will want to discuss what is already in the public sphere, but I am not able to add anything – even if it was appropriate for me to do so.All that I can say is that which is already known – there was a debate about the handling of a case involving an extremely serious matter at this year’s conference of the SWP; there were factions formed which seriously criticised the handling of that case and rejected the resultant report, and I was a member of one of those factions; the report was narrowly endorsed at conference. Those arguing the same position as me did not win the vote. Obviously, I am disappointed by this. I can’t go any further than that.”

Just days later, and after it reached the mainstream media:

“There isn’t enough bile to conjure up the shame and disgrace of all of this, nor the palpable physical revulsion, nor the visceral contempt building, nor the sense of betrayal and rage, nor the literal physical and emotional shattering of people exposed to the growing madness day in and day out.”

It is hard to escape the conclusion that Richard Seymour was happy to continue with a veil of silence about sexism and abuse of power in the SWP, until I pulled the temple down on his head.

So why have people been prepared to stay silent in the face of sexism, and to denigrate those who challenge it. Even  today deliberate falsehoods have been heaped upon me for it, not least by Seymour himself, outrageously implying that I am a racist. The anathematization of political opponents is a political lesson that Richard learned well in the SWP.

Let us return to Daphne Lawless, who comments

Socialists and the police Some comment on the case has suggested that the SWP did the right thing by dealing with the case “in-house”, since socialists should never go to the police.

It’s certainly true that the police under capitalism cannot be trusted to treat accusations of sexual violence towards women sensitively or even seriously. But the report from the Disputes Committee makes it clear that, in that regard, the SWP also has a terrible record.

A bourgeois court will be a retraumatising and victim-blaming space for survivors of sexual assault. But even a bourgeois court wouldn’t dare have the case judged by colleagues of the accused. In a police investigation, we could expect that trained professionals would be available to help the complainant. The SWP does have at least one comrade trained in rape crisis – but, far from helping W, she was on the panel judging her.

It’s argued that going to the police would give the forces of the State an excuse to destroy our organisations and frame our members. But the attitude that we shouldn’t talk about our problems in front of outsiders is deeply problematic. Secrecy promotes abuse. The police protect the powerful against the powerless – but the SWP Disputes Committee seems to have done the same thing, only less professionally than the police would.

Again this correctly locates the problematic aspects of police and broader criminal justice system handling of rape within the context of patriarchal attitudes, and inequalities of power. Within the cult world of the SWP’s leadership, surrounded by a sectarian milieu and vainglorious understanding that their “party” has an historical and messianic destiny, then some men have abused the charismatic power that their position has given them; and a self-important and self-referential culture has led SWP members and supporters to fail to see what was in plain sight, to abuse those who challenged sexism, and to effectively collude in institutional sexism. That is why their internal investigation into rape was a farcical parody of a real police inquiry and criminal trial, not only reproducing but actually exaggerating the worst aspects: the SWP has actually created their own mini replica of the patriarchy and abuse of unequal power that exists in wider society.

The very othogonality of the SWP’s political practice to the mainstream means that they have not internalised advances in process and advancement of womens’ rights that are regarded as obvious by – for example – the Labour Party or the trade unions.

NOTES
source:
SWP Sexism and the Left, Daphne Lawless
5.Splintered Sunrise blog, 17 December 2007. “I am not a number!” http://splinteredsunrise.wordpress.com/2007/12/17/i-am-not-a-number/
6.Personal communcations.
7.Ditto

134 comments on “Sexism, feminism & the Socialist Workers Party (SWP)

  1. Linda Kronstadt on said:

    I am impressed with how courageous Richard Seymour and his crew are in hindsight. Will they lead the revolution similarly?

    We women of the left are most grateful to Seymour, Mieville, et al. To borrow from Johnson: Is not a hero one who looks with unconcern on a woman struggling for life in the water, and when she has reached ground, encumbers her with help?

  2. Shaun Cohen on said:

    An excellent article, as a supporter of Socialist Resistance, I believe that I am part of an organisation that is aware of these problems and prepared to do something about them. Democratic Centralism is about democracy and the right of cdes to disagree with each other in an organisation.
    As the old adahe goes there can be no socialism without women’s liberation and vice versa. The political tradition I am part of fully supports the right of those oppressd to organise and caucus etc within a revolutionary organisation in order to challenger those behaviours and ways of thinking that pperpetuate discrimination.

  3. For a party Andy Newman regularly describes as an irrelevancy (which it is), he sure does spend an enormous amount of time and words on them. And then denies it when confronted. Why such fixation? Using a business term, he’s become ‘product fixated’ which borders on a form of fetishism. Whose next Andy? Socialist Party? Respect? Sad.

  4. Hch: he sure does spend an enormous amount of time and words on them. And then denies it when confronted. Why such fixation? Using a business term, he’s become ‘product fixated’ which borders on a form of fetishism. Whose next Andy? Socialist Party? Respect? Sad.

    I suggest you would do better to look at the real issue of sexism in your organisation, and the years of denials, cover ups, and denigration of those who challenged it.

  5. What organisation is that Andy? If you’re assuming I’m an SWP member, then you’re wrong. It gets worse.

  6. Hch: If you’re assuming I’m an SWP member, then you’re wrong. It gets worse.

    Ahh now I remember, I have come accross you in the past, arguing generic shrill workerist nonsense.

    It is interesting that you read an account of scandalous institutional sexism, and then what you focus on is the motives of the person who wrote it.

    Actually my motives is that I am sickened by sexism, and wnat to oppose it. How about you?

  7. http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/

    Reflections on 2011 SWP conference by a delegate

    As the crisis engulfing the SWP continues to unfold it seems the significance of the 2011 SWP conference and the ‘special session’ (we call it that for want of a better term) devoted to an informal complaint made by a young female comrade against the leading party member later dubbed Delta, becomes increasingly apparent. Yes you read that right, this issue first arose two years ago in 2011.

    http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/reflections-on-2011-swp-conference-by.html

  8. Manzil on said:

    An interesting article Andy.

    Not having seen the articles by Splintered Sunrise, yourself and others at the time, reading them now only brings home just how FUBAR this situation is. I don’t understand how we got to this point.

    The issue of non-cooperation with ‘bourgeois courts’ just seems ridiculous (er, we send our children to ‘bourgeois schools’ don’t we?). Even if I accepted it, surely a socialist alternative shouldn’t emulate the most objectionable and reactionary practices of the capitalist judiciary!

    One thing I would say – in reply to Shaun at #4. I’m not particularly comfortable with the reiteration that substantive gender equality requires socialism. In broad structural terms, fine, I’ve no illusions as to the ability of capitalist societies to abolish gender discrimination, any more than racism.

    But it can very quickly become a go-to excuse. ‘It’s not our fault, it’s capitalism!’ Note the serial mentions by SWP comrades, in the conference transcript, material published since etc, that even(!) the revolutionary party (of a presumably virtuous, better class of persons) is subject to bourgeois social norms.

    Well no shit, Sherlock. But would not a socialist society, ‘still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society’, also suffer this in terms of personal attitudes, unintentional but unquestioned exploitation of continuing gender privilege, etc. In terms of personal relationships and personal behaviour, it’s surely more a question of applying the Golden Rule than the materialist conception of history…!

    This whole business came up after our last SP branch meeting. ‘What would we have done?’ There was considerable reticence to just say ‘it couldn’t happen here’, because obviously it could. People can be bastards, even those who ordinarily aren’t. We’re complex and flawed. Knowing someone who behaves in this way isn’t an indictment of your politics – but an incorrect response to it can be.

    And the SWP leadership’s response, and especially the absurd ‘article’ published by Alex Callinicos, merits just such an indictment. As far as contributing to socialism anything positive, his time is over.

  9. the 2011 conference:

    http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/reflections-on-2011-swp-conference-by.html

    Returning to the ‘special session’ in 2011, this took place just days after rumours had circulated in some circles of the SWP, and finally been leaked to the Socialist Unity blog. Newman (an ex-SWP member, trade unionist and Labour Party member), posted a brief teasing post suggesting that SWP delegates to the forthcoming party conference should be on their mettle. There were questions to be asked about the conduct of a leading SWP member. Newman refused to divulge his source, or offer any more specific information.

    So what happened? Well this is the recollection of a single comrade but it has been recalled with a fair degree of accuracy I think and with good reason. I and another comrade discussed the rumours as we travelled to the conference as branch delegates. We were anxious that the issue be dealt with openly, transparently and that comrade Delta be treated no more favourably than any other party member simply because he was a leading member. We were also concerned about the damage to the party’s reputation if this did not happen. We agreed that I would speak to Charlie Kimber (the National Secretary replacing Delta) about our concerns.

    I spoke to Kimber privately on the Saturday of conference shortly before the ‘special session’ took place (I did not know it was scheduled until Kimber told me so). I talked of my concern at the rumours circulating though I did not know the nature of the allegations. Kimber interrupted me and said he could not divulge their exact nature. I said I understood but that I wanted a reassurance that comrade Delta would not receive special treatment because he was a leading party member. Kimber assured me this would not happen and that a ‘special session’ would follow shortly that would address the concerns of comrades. I said OK and shook hands and stepped away. That was it, short and brisk. Five minutes later back inside the conference as delegates returned from a break to retake their seats I saw Delta and Kimber sharing a joke at the side of the conference stage. To say that I and the comrade accompanying were disturbed would be an understatement. Minutes later the ‘special session’ began. I and the comrade with me were so repelled and horrified we were unable to return for the second, final day of conference.

    Because of the strictures of ‘confidentiality’, the name, age and branch of the young female comrade who subsequently became known as comrade W was not revealed at conference. But neither was the nature of the allegations, as we will see. A great deal of information was not shared with assembled delegates. When some delegates rose to give comrade Delta a standing ovation they and the rest of us were still largely in the dark.

    During the ‘special session’ only six comrades were actually called to speak. Comrade Delta was the penultimate speaker and in the current argot of ‘Party Notes’ you might say his extemporized speech was “warmly received.” What was the gist of Delta’s address? He argued he was “no angel” and he had never pretended to be one. There was a lachrymose element to what he said also when he talked of his “real friends”; the ones who knew who he really was as a person, comrades from his days in Westminster branch in the late 1980s. There was also a passage many would have regarded as heartfelt where Delta spoke of the stress involved in his role as the very public face of the UAF that made him, his partner and his home a target for the fascists.

    As a result of the informal complaint against him, Delta stepped down from, or was removed from, his post as National Secretary. But he remained on the CC. Delta informed us all that he was “happy as a pig in shit” to be returning to the Industrial department where he had always been happiest. Had the class struggle been the tempest we had all hoped it would be when the Con-Dem government was elected in 2010 with their vicious plans for austerity, it might have provided Delta with a suitable distraction. This performance was followed the rapturous applause and chanting of some of the assembled delegates that left other delegates bewildered in their seats.

    Yet Delta’s speech has obscured two other significant contributions that day. Setting aside crass contributions from Sheila McGregor and others, Delta was followed by a brave young Asian female comrade (I cannot recall her name) who invited the delegates to consider if their applause and chanting was really appropriate given the context.

    The other significant contribution – the significant contribution in hindsight, was that of Alex Callinicos, who kicked off the ‘special session’. It was a euphemistic triumph. At no point did Callinicos talk of sexual harassment or sexual assault. Instead Callinicos began by saying that he had something a bit unpleasant to relay but it would only take a moment of time before we returned to the main business of conference. There was a young female comrade who was upset at Delta and his behavior. Without divulging any real detail, Callinicos explained that Delta denied having done anything wrong but acknowledged that the female comrade was upset with him and he was sorry for that. Delta would no longer place himself in the presence of the female comrade. It was all so vague and Callinicos implied that the female comrade no longer wished to give the impression that she reciprocated Delta’s interest. Delta was sorry for any distress caused but he denied he had actually done anything wrong. It was a bit of a misunderstanding and both Delta and the female comrade wished to put it all behind them.

  10. Manzil: The issue of non-cooperation with ‘bourgeois courts’ just seems ridiculous (er, we send our children to ‘bourgeois schools’ don’t we?). Even if I accepted it, surely a socialist alternative shouldn’t emulate the most objectionable and reactionary practices of the capitalist judiciary!

    Socialists should not take their political disputes with other socialists to the courts. Allegations of rape or sexual assault are not “political disputes” but serious crimes against the person which normally should be taken to the courts. However if the complainer genuinely does not want to go to the courts but instead takes the case to the socialist organization the matter should be investigated in an impartial way (this did not happen in the SWP for reasons already obvious) and if proved the perpetrator should be expelled. Very different from socialists taking action for defamation or unfair dismissal etc against other socialist organizations or individuals based on political disputes. In such political matters the courts should be avoided like the plague

    sandy

  11. Andy Newman: aside crass contributions from Sheila McGregor and others

    As an SWP district organiser I raised this with the CC, asking that the person be disciplined even though there was no complaint as such, but it was explained to me that “this sort of thing happens under capitalism”, and nothing could be done about it.

    Funny how the same names keep coming up of those who collude with and condone sexist abuse

  12. ‘Actually my motives is that I am sickened by sexism, and wnat to oppose it.’

    You never miss an opportunity to have a go at the SWP and I suspect your motive is more personal than political.

    I’ve no doubt that your reaction when receiving this scoop was one of elation.

  13. anon: You never miss an opportunity to have a go at the SWP and I suspect your motive is more personal than political.

    I do have a personal motive for being disgusted by cover ups of sexist abuse, as I explained 5 years ago

    In my own familly there was collusion and hyprocrisy, deceit and self deceit to cover up child sex abuse. I hate double standards, and people lying. it actually causes me a problem that I really hate lying, even the necessary white lies that are social lubrication.

    I am the last person in the world who would ever minimise sexist behaviour nor would I ever use the issue for political point scoring.

    The SWP really do have skeletons on their cupboards, and it makes me feel very powerless that without the women concerend being prepared to speak out, and even though there is a layer of senior people who know what I am talking about, that nothing will be done.

  14. Manzil on said:

    sandy: Socialists should not take their political disputes with other socialists to the courts. Allegations of rape or sexual assault are not“political disputes” but serious crimes against the person which normally should be taken to the courts. However if the complainer genuinely does not want to go to the courts but instead takes the case to the socialist organization the matter should be investigated in an impartial way (this did not happen in the SWP for reasons already obvious) and if proved the perpetrator should be expelled. Very different from socialists taking action for defamation or unfair dismissal etc against other socialist organizations or individuals based on political disputes. In such political matters the courts should be avoided like the plague

    sandy

    How are we still discussing this? A socialist organisation – a political party of any kind – is not competent to ‘investigate’ anything like this, to determine guilt one way or the other.

    That’s issue number one, which cannot be repeated enough (apparently).

    I was going to ask what, exactly, constitutes a ‘political’ disagreement – but we’ve already strayed into some dodgy ground in the examples you bring up yourself. Specifically your inclusion of ‘unfair dismissal’. So socialist groups can mistreat their employees and it’s just a case of ‘tough shit, you knew the risks when you signed up’? What dangerous, reactionary nonsense.

    If a trade union victimised or otherwise violated the rights of a member, as has happened (UNISON’s witch-hunting of socialists being one such example), absolutely people should enforce their rights through any means available to them. Why should a socialist group be different?

    These are people’s lives; it’s not a Bolshevik re-enactment society.

    And let’s not forget that it was precisely in relation to the investigation of a ‘serious crime against the person’, not a ‘political dispute’ that the following was asserted:

    Comrades, we have to welcome the fact that we have a disputes committee. We have no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice.

    Elevating a critique of the judiciary into a principle of non-cooperation is ridiculous. A hypothetical: Presumably if a prominent socialist (let’s call them Comrade A) unjustly used their influential position to attack another socialist (Comrade B), with adverse consequences for their personal and political life, and Comrade B could not find redress within the labour movement, they should just swallow it?

    Meaning that the exercise of informal authority by Comrade A is considered perfectly acceptable, but recourse to the formal authority of the courts by Comrade B is not? Is this not an exact replica of the Disputes Committee position that the legal system is institutionally sexist, but that they need not substitute themselves to the same standards (e.g. not having a fucking ‘jury’ of the accused’s friends and colleagues!), as though an awareness of discrimination precludes one from complicity in it?

  15. Manzil

    The story seems to be that the complainant herself refused to go to the police and asked the SWP to deal with the issue.

    There’s suggestions she was pressurised into this view, not least by reading the editorials in SW. Mmm.

    I’m not sure what she expected the SWP to do or what sanction to impose. The worst they could have done was expel the guy.

    Which would have left a rapist free, at liberty to strike again.

    That’s not particularly credible. Not even for a revolutionary.

  16. Manzil: So socialist groups can mistreat their employees and it’s just a case of ‘tough shit, you knew the risks when you signed up’? What dangerous, reactionary nonsense.

    No it is a question of fighting to ensure that full time members of a socialist party are not mistreated. Full internal democracy is the best way to do this- not going to the courts and asking the courts to rule on the disputes within the left.

    If the SWP democratic opposition win and remove the present SWP full timers should these ex full timers go to the courts for unfair dismissal, sex discrimination, whistle blowing,dismissal for political beliefs etc ? No they should not.

    One SSP leader took a defamation action because an ex SSP leader called her a scab. Do you think that is wise or the action of a socialist?

    sandy

  17. Manzil on said:

    sandy: No it is a question of fighting to ensure that full time members of a socialist party are not mistreated. Full internal democracy is the best way to do this- not going to the courts and asking the courts to rule on the disputes within the left.

    If the SWP democratic opposition win and remove the present SWP full timers should these ex full timers go to the courts for unfair dismissal, sex discrimination, whistle blowing,dismissal for political beliefs etc ? No they should not.

    One SSP leader took a defamation action because an ex SSP leader called her a scab. Do you think that is wise or the action of a socialist?

    sandy

    And if ‘full internal democracy’ doesn’t exist? Or if it endorses the mistreatment…?

    If full-timers WERE removed unfairly, why shouldn’t they? Especially given that UK employment law establishes that to be eligible for an unfair dismissal case you need to have spent at least a year in the job. If they weren’t, don’t you think the unfair dismissals process would establish that; or is ACAS going to conspire to sabotage the SWP democratic opposition?

    Re: your example of the SSP, Frances Curran actually sued the Daily Record, not Sheridan. It was thrown out, precisely because it was considered a ‘political’ dispute. Do I think it was wise? Evidently not. Was it her right? Absolutely. Do you not have a problem with people being subject to the disproportionate informal authority of ‘bourgeois’ media? Or is it only the courts you object to?

  18. Manzil

    ACAS dont decide on the fairness of a dismissal- the employment judge would

    from April you need 2 years service to claim unfair dismissal in most cases.

    I object to socialists taking legal cases against other socialists which are based on internal political differences within the socialist movement. I think it is ridiculous and anti socialist for Francis Curran to sue for defamation because tommy Sheridan called her a scab. We should not appeal to the bourgeoisie or its courts to sort out political differences within our movement. It is ridiculous and servile. http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/2011csih86.html

    To ask a judge to rule on this is daft and sets a very bad precedent within the socialist movement. Those with “resources” can use the law to silence the rank and file opposition.

    The idea that there would be nothing wrong in SWP full time workers, who may be sacked if the present CC is defeated, going to court to claim compensation for their removal is dangerous and anti socialist. In effect the present apparatus could use the threat of legal claims to keep control of the SWP. It would be an attempt to financially bankrupt the new leadership and the party. In effect control or destroy. Something the present leadership of the SWP know quite a lot about

    sandy

  19. Manzil on said:

    sandy,

    They can claim what they want; they won’t GET it if there aren’t grounds.

    You assume there isn’t a possibility that full-timers would be unfairly dismissed, and that it would just be part of a political struggle. But as the current crisis shows, it is far more likely this situation would result from the mundane causes of bullying, bureaucracy etc. than some pure ideological struggle.

    You make it sound like (socialist) political parties aren’t a part of their societies, that people should accept an entirely different code of conduct when dealing with them, that in fact they should accept a standard that is lower than that offered by the bourgeois liberal state.

    Once again, Frances Curran sued the Daily Record newspaper because it used its elevated position to attack her. You recognise there is a difference between Sheridan calling her a scab, and a Trinity Mirror-owned tabloid repeating that accusation in the press?

    This is all just smoke and mirrors; abstract defences of high-minded principles to mask the fact what you’re actually doing is defending people being treated like shit.

    Object all you want. Alex Callinicos objects to people using the internet. These absurd moral appeals aren’t going to stop people from hitting back when victimised. Thankfully most socialists approach their political activity as a tool for improving society, not a subculture to close themselves off from it.

  20. Manzil: Once again, Frances Curran sued the Daily Record newspaper because it used its elevated position to attack her. You recognise there is a difference between Sheridan calling her a scab, and a Trinity Mirror-owned tabloid repeating that accusation in the press?

    The daily record were only reporting what TS had said. It is obvious that the case would revolve around if TS remark was defamatory. What next- court cases because one leftist calls another a Stalinist?

    Manzil: This is all just smoke and mirrors; abstract defences of high-minded principles to mask the fact what you’re actually doing is defending people being treated like shit.

    I am saying that if people, or as i prefer to call them, comrades are treated like shit by a socialist party they must fight to win the membership to stop such treatment. If they cant they should leave and make public the bad treatment at every opportunity. If we cant create a socialist movement that treats comrades as comrades we have no chance of winning socialism. The ruling class are not going to create a socialist movement for us. We should not request that they decide for us who are scabs and who are not scabs or who are real communists and who are Stalinists etc.

    sandy

  21. and there's more on said:

    @12
    The young Asian comrade who very bravely tried to speak at the 2011 conference in defence of her friend who had made the accusations against Delta was called Sadia. Despite being terrified she asked that people not cheer and clap about a very difficult situation, I watched as Roddy Slorach the full timer from East London shouted “liar” at her from the floor and Helen Salmond the Birmingham organiser then shouted abuse at Sadia when she came off the mike. Those people are not anyone’s “comrades” – they would be bosses narks in any other organisation. This is why the SWP is falling apart – because it is run by people like that.

  22. Manzil

    times change but socialist principles should remain valid
    sandy

    Weekly Worker 552 Thursday November 11 2004

    See you in court?

    Here is something which perhaps better than anything else shows the rotten state
    of the SWP and how its leadership is abandoning working class norms and
    standards.

    Prior to the Socialist Alliance’s executive committee meeting, SWP apparatchik
    and SA national secretary, Rob Hoveman, wrote to Jim Jepps, Declan O’Neill and
    Andy Newman, leading contributors to the Socialist Unity Network website
    (www.socialistunitynetwork.co.uk).
    Hoveman objected to a Liz Davies and Mike Marqusee article, posted in September,
    outlining events that led to their joint resignation from the Socialist Alliance
    in 2002 (Liz was national chair at the time).

    Comrade Hoveman asserts that this article and the editorial comment alongside it
    by Declan O’Neill contain serious libels. The SUN comrades replied, thanking
    SWPers for reading the site and asking for clarification of the specific
    problems Rob Hoveman and the SWP had with the piece. At this stage, the SUNers
    indicated their willingness
    to look at the objections concretely and respond constructively if it was
    mutually agreed that there was indeed a problem. In fact, the written comments
    from comrade O’Neill objected to by the SWP already made clear that be had
    differences with the Davies-Marqusee piece, but that the SUN website has “a
    policy of opening its pages to the left”.

    At the end of the November 6 SA executive, Jim Jepps found himself in a huddle
    with comrade Hoveman and others to arrange a convenient date for the first
    meeting of the conference arrangements committee. Predictably, the offending web
    article came up and both Hoveman and Nick Wrack took the opportunity to
    complain. Then John Rees butted in and warned that, unless it was removed
    forthwith, he intended to
    approach the next SWP central committee with a proposal to break a longstanding
    workers’ movement tradition and begin legal action against the publishers of the
    site.

    As we go to press, the SUN comrades have heard nothing further. However, there
    are a number of points that need to be made.

    The article by comrades Davies and Marqusee does indeed contain allegations
    against certain individuals. Signatures – ie, those of Liz Davis – were forged
    on Socialist Alliance cheques . but this was done in order to cover legitimate
    office expenses. While the authors have never suggested for a moment that it is
    their intention to
    pursue any legal redress, the potential involvement of the registrar of
    political parties – the bureaucrat who overseas electoral arrangements
    (including financial probity, etc) – is possible.

    Undoubtedly, it is the SWP that carries the prime responsibility for
    this mess. First, for the arrogant and blundering way it dealt with
    comrades Davies and Marqusee in the first place. These were two
    independents who were acting as the SWP’s loyal satellites and got
    treated, perhaps, as they deserved. The SWP took them for granted and
    simply used them as satellites. However, it does not take a genius to
    work out that eventually this causes resentment and eventually even
    satellites rebel.

    Secondly, the SWP must be unequivocally condemned for not seeking to
    resolve this matter with SUN through comradely channels – but then it
    seems to no longer regard others on the left as `comrades’ at all.
    Presumably, we are all simply “islamophobes”, “sectarians”
    and “wreckers”. Thus, perhaps it will transpire that John Rees’s
    brittle sect has only the bourgeois courts as an option. Of course,
    this was the practice of another unpleasant, unprincipled sect,
    intent on pursuing a palpably false perspective and characterised by
    a visceral hatred of other socialists. But surely there are sane
    voices who will protest against being taken down the road of Gerry
    Healy and his loopy Workers Revolutionary Party?

    If the SWP insists on pursuing the matter in the courts, it will
    suffer the consequences. Aside from any legal problems it may bring
    down on its own head, it will further tarnish its already
    comprehensively soiled reputation as a socialist trend both in this
    country and internationally.

    The movement should demand that the SWP adhere to the principled
    approach articulated by the late Paul Foot in his appeal for support
    against the libel action launched against Lindsey German, Alex
    Callinicos and Bookmarks Publications by Quintin Hoare and Branca
    Magas: “It has been a long tradition in the labour movement that
    arguments between socialists should be conducted openly and should
    not, except in extreme circumstances, be tested in the courts by the
    libel laws” (Online appeal,
    http://www.bookmarks.uk.com/cgi/store/bookmark.cgi).

  23. Just came across this, in Lukacs’ “Lenin”, which seems to have some bearing on Seymour v. Callinicos –

    ‘For certain of my comments on Lenin’s behaviour contain, implicitly, some accurate criticism of Stalin’s later development, which was then still hidden except for fleeting glimpses in Zinoviev’s leadership of the Comintern. For example, the increasing sclerosis under Stalin of all organizational problems: whatever the situation at the time, whatever the demands of politics, the party organization was made into an immutable fetish – even using an appeal to Lenin’s authority. I cite here Lenin’s warning: ‘Political questions cannot be mechanically separated from organization questions’, and the following comment made in the spirit of just such a Leninist political dynamic:
    ‘Therefore, all dogmatism in theory and all sclerosis in organization are disastrous for the party.’

  24. sandy,

    JOhn Rees threatened libel on a second occassion, I cannot remember now exactly what that was about now, though possibly about the dodgy cheque for the SWP’s trade union front.

    On another occassion, a while ago Terry Fitz made a rather off colour remark about a leading black member of UAF, which I failed to notice other wise I would have deleted it immediately. The women who had been insulted rang me at work (I don’t know where she got my mobile number from) in a very aggressive and rude way; and even though i said that i sympathised with her, and would remove the comment immediately, she threatened me, and said that if I hadn;t taken it down within an hour, she would take the matter further and – in her words “complain to the authorities”. She seemed totally unable to understand that I personally wasn’t Terry Fitz, and I was not personally the author of the comment, and I have no idea who she intended to complain to. Her mum?

    The third occassion the SWP specifically threatened libel was in an email from SWP full timer Lee Billingham in August 2010
    http://www.socialistunity.com/swp-threatens-us-with-libel-proceedings/

    During the last 24 hours I have had correspondence from Lee Billingham of Love Music Hate Racism (widely considered to be a front for the Socialist Workers Party) threatening me with libel proceedings, in connection with a comment posted on this blog by a third party. I have deleted the content, but the original comment was here.

    Rather ridiculously Lee Billingham refuses to clarify what content in that comment he considers libellous. However the content was not obviously libelous to my eye, and while involving robust criticism was no more robust than some of the criticism, for example, of George Galloway posted here and elsewhere by some SWP members in the past. I have checked with one very well placed source of information who advises me that the content of the comment Lee Billingham is objecting to is substantially true.

    While sharply polemical in tone, the comment from someone calling themselves (Unison Rep) argues a number of things which are commonly held views in the Labour movement:

    i) that Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) is a distraction from serious anti-fascist work
    ii) that LMHR is a mechanism for getting fund from the trade unions
    iii) that LMHR exaggerates the reported numbers that attend their gigs
    iv) that most of the larger unions question the value of funding LMHR

    These are entirely legitimate issues for trade unions and the wider movement to debate. It is perfectly sensible for trade unions to discuss whether or not LMHR is good value for money, And whether it is cost effective way of countering the BNP; and whether LMHR delivers effectively.

    By Lee Billingham adopting the high-handed, haughty and aggressive tone he has, and refusing to clarify what specific content of the comment he considers libellous, he has forced me to delete the entire comment, thus suppressing debate.

    This is of course ridiculous. The onus is on a publisher to establish the truthfulness of what is published, but if someone claims they have been libelled and threatens legal proceedings while refusing to clarify what the nature of the alleged libel is, then this is transparently an abuse of the libel laws to close down legitimate scrutiny and accountability.

    The absurd English libel laws are far too open to abuse, and it is clear that high profile bloggers are open to vexatious threats to silence us; the scandalous recent attempt by the BNP to close down Harry’s Place is a further example of the precarious situation bloggers are in.

  25. Incidently, for those interested in an example of Richard Seymour’s past craven preparedness to crawl in the gutter on his belly to defend the SWP, he argued in support of Lee Billingham back in 2010

    http://www.socialistunity.com/swp-threatens-us-with-libel-proceedings/#comment-201747

    Another supporter of the new SWP opposition, who uses the name Roobin, also blew smoke to imply the SWP would have a libel case
    http://www.socialistunity.com/swp-threatens-us-with-libel-proceedings/#comment-203021

  26. The full correspeondence from the cult-addled SWP fuck-wit full timer Lee Billingham

    ________________________________________
    From: Love Music Hate Racism
    To: office@socialistunity.com
    Sent: Thu, 29 April, 2010 15:54:49
    Subject: Libellous thread on SU

    Your blog contains a thread relating to our national LMHR event in Barnsley this weekend >> http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=5711#comment-200732

    There is no problem of course at all with anti-racists and socialists debating the best strategy for taking on the BNP.

    However, one post, #47 by “Unison Rep” contains blatant untruths, some of which could be considered libellous. If published “offline” they would almost certainly be the subject of a legal challenge.

    We would hope of course that an issue such as this on a socialist/anti-racist blog, albeit one which can be read by the public without registration, could be dealt with more fraternally. As the comments on this thread have been closed we have no right of reply; although in any case we would probably not have wished to give credence to such lies by commenting on them.

    We would therefore ask you to remove this particular post (not the thread itself) from the site immediately. If you feel unable to do this then we would reluctantly have to take the matter further.

    Fraternally,

    Lee Billingham
    Love Music Hate Racism

    ________________________________________

    From: Andy at home [mailto:andyd1961@yahoo.co.uk]
    Sent: 29 April 2010 23:48
    To: Love Music Hate Racism
    Subject: Re: Libellous thread on SU

    I am inclined to delete those parts of the comment that you think are libellous, rather than remove it completely.

    Please advise me which bits you consider to be factually incorrect.

    Or if you think that the whole comment is libellous, please explain why.

    Andy

    ________________________________________
    From: Andy at home
    To: Love Music Hate Racism
    Sent: Thu Apr 29 23:54:18 2010
    Subject: Re: Libellous thread on SU

    I have to say Lee, that I am also much less sympathetic to your argument given that you have threatened to sue me for libel.

    Andy
    ________________________________________
    From: Love Music Hate Racism
    To: andyd1961@yahoo.co.uk
    Sent: Fri, 30 April, 2010 9:09:28
    Subject: Re: Libellous thread on SU

    Hi andy

    I don’t want to get into a long dialogue about this, I think we’ve made a very simple request.

    Its now 16 hours since I sent you our request, I would ask that the offending post is removed by close of play today.

    If that’s impossible for you to do please let me know.

    Thanks

    Lee

    ________________________________________
    From: Andy at home [mailto:andyd1961@yahoo.co.uk]

    Sent: 30 April 2010 14:12
    To: Love Music Hate Racism
    Subject: Re: Libellous thread on SU

    Lee

    You have not explained what parts of the comment you think are factually incorrect.

    Andy

    ________________________________________
    From: Love Music Hate Racism
    To: Andy at home
    Sent: Fri, 30 April, 2010 14:15:36
    Subject: RE: Libellous thread on SU

    No, and neither do I intend to.

    I think we’ve made a very simple and very clear request, and as I said I was hoping this could be resolved in a fraternal manner.

    Please let me know what you intend to do.

    Thanks,
    Lee

    ________________________________________
    From: Andy at home [mailto:andyd1961@yahoo.co.uk]
    Sent: 30 April 2010 14:43
    To: Love Music Hate Racism
    Subject: Re: Libellous thread on SU

    Lee

    I have been threatened with libel procededings in the past, it happens quite often when you run a blog like mine.

    Always, the party stating that there has been a libel has been prepared to state what content they object to, i.e what the nature of the claimed defamation is. You can do so without prejudice, and it does not imply that you agree with the rest of the content.

    You choose to approach this issue by threatening me with libel rather than approaching me and asking as a favour. So I am responding in the same way that I would any other person complaining of an alleged libel.

    You now state that you refuse to say what the nature of the libel is, which makes my position impossible.

    Andy

  27. secret factioneer on said:

    Andy Newman:
    Incidently, for those interested in an example of Richard Seymour’s past craven preparedness to crawl in the gutter on his belly to defend the SWP, he argued specifically in support of Lee Billingham’s libel threat back in 2010

    http://www.socialistunity.com/swp-threatens-us-with-libel-proceedings/#comment-201747

    As anyone who can click on your link and can read will now know, he most certainly didn’t.

    I get that you’re cross with Richard because he called you out on your rotten interview with the Independent. But really, this is starting to look a bit obsessive.

  28. Hm, very strange that a left-wing organisation should threaten individual bloggers with libel proceedings. You would think that they have qualitatively greater social weight and the means to counter questionable criticisms of themselves politically without resorting to trying to suppress the criticism.

    There is nothing wrong with individuals threatening to sue, or sueing, against defamation including among the left if the (alleged) smear is serious enough. Both Marx and Trotsky, as individuals, sued for libel in this way. Individuals can be very vulnerable to victimisation if false allegations are made, and the often viral nature of the internet today compounds that enormously. Though it is actually more difficult for most individuals to do that because of the costs involved.

    But left groups that try to emulate McDonalds in the infamous McLibel case, or threaten to do so, are actually damaging their own reputation simply by threatening to sue, if you think about it. These people are not very smart, among other things.

  29. prianikoff on said:

    Manzil “You make it sound like (socialist) political parties aren’t a part of their societies, that people should accept an entirely different code of conduct when dealing with them, that in fact they should accept a standard that is lower than that offered by the bourgeois liberal state.”

    Sandy is right on this point.
    “Full internal democracy is the best way to do this- not going to the courts and asking the courts to rule on the disputes within the left.”
    You’re completely bedazzled by the “bourgeois liberal state” and frankly, have some bizarre positions for someone who professes to be a member of the Socialist Party.

    A political full-timer who is sacked in-term should be compensated, based on their contract of employment.
    As the officials of political parties and unions have to rotate based on elections, their contractual term should be synchronised with the electoral timetable.
    That way, there is no basis for the courts to intervene.

    There are very few situations where the courts act in favour of the left.
    What generally happens is that the employers use the threat of court action to intimidate employees.

    One example;. a Free School is set up.
    Its management sack all the existing staff.
    One of these writes leaflets and sends letters to the local press.
    These point out the incompetence of the new management, the inadequacy of the building, the poor teaching.
    The school fails to recruit and its managers blame the campaign against it.
    Their solicitors send the sacked-teacher a letter threatening action for defamation.

    It would be interesting to fight this in court!
    But turn it around.
    Suppose an employee didn’t get a job because of a bad reference.
    Would they have the right to claim damages.
    Very unlikely!

  30. John Grimshaw on said:

    #39 I tend to agree with Sandy also Prianikoff. I have to say however that I do wonder whether SWP full-timers would have contracts of employment? I had always assumed that their position was dependent on their relationship to a “significant” other. Full-timers should in any case be elected as theirs is a political position which means of course as you say they should stay in post until the next election, or there should be some mechanism to trigger another election if there is some serious constitutional change. I am not aware of SWP full-timers being elected.

  31. John Grimshaw on said:

    #30 This reminds me. This is the same Rob Hoveman who failed to submit election expenses for SA candidates on time which led to both my partner and Paul Foot being investigated by CID. The same thing that the BNP keeps getting caught out by if memory serves.

  32. Pingback: SWP crisis: who is saying what « Jim Jepps

  33. secret factioneer: It isn’t unsigned.

    John Grimshaw: Yes I was puzzled by that as well.

    It certainly was originally unsigned, see Louis Project: http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2013/01/29/is-zinovievism-finished/

    (The article is unsigned but presumably from an SWP member.)

    http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/is-zinovievism-finished-reply-to-alex.html

    the question isn’t who signed it, but who wrote it. Am I alone in detecting the invisible hand of Andy Wilson?

  34. secret factioneer on said:

    You change posts after publication, AN. It’s quite normal. No it wasn’t written by Andy Wilson. It’s signed, those signing take responsibility for it. Which comrade came up with which comma is not relevant.

  35. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman: Am I alone in detecting the invisible hand of Andy Wilson?

    Out of curiosity Andy, why should I care whether Andy Wilson wrote this article? Although I have concerns about the quality of the “poetic” quote from Widgery!

  36. secret factioneer: You change posts after publication, AN. It’s quite normal.

    Nothing untowards intended, I am merely clarifying that I thought it was unsigned becasue it actually was unsigned at the point I read it.

    secret factioneer: No it wasn’t written by Andy Wilson.

    OK, I accept your clarification.

    secret factioneer: It’s signed, those signing take responsibility for it.

    agreed

    John Grimshaw: Out of curiosity Andy, why should I care whether Andy Wilson wrote this article?

    Trainspotting. And as an indictaion of what direction the SWP opposition might be taking.

  37. sandy: “It has been a long tradition in the labour movement that
    arguments between socialists should be conducted openly and should
    not, except in extreme circumstances, be tested in the courts by the
    libel laws” (

    There we go. Except in extreme circumstances. Which was precisely what I was saying in my hypothetical. All I’m doing is recognising the courts are no more or less ‘bourgeois’, no less reflective of asymmetric power balances, than a whole array of different institutions which may be used to victimise people – and that to single them out as such simply leaves people vulnerable to abuse of power by other ‘socialists’.

    prianikoff: You’re completely bedazzled by the “bourgeois liberal state” and frankly, have some bizarre positions for someone who professes to be a member of the Socialist Party.

    A political full-timer who is sacked in-term should be compensated, based on their contract of employment.
    As the officials of political parties and unions have to rotate based on elections, their contractual term should be synchronised with the electoral timetable.
    That way, there is no basis for the courts to intervene.

    To be honest, if you ever agreed with my views I’d engage in some serious rethinking pronto.

    You’re taking the exact same, idealised notion as sandy – pretending that socialist organisations are somehow exempt from the gritty reality of life and thus should be exempt from its existing means of resolving disputes. Yes, they SHOULD be adequately compensated. Yes, they SHOULD be given clear, outcome-based contracts. But what if they’re not? What if the world actually exists as it does now?

    What if it’s far more likely that someone has given up years of their life only to be booted out because they got on the wrong side of some old sect leader, and now they’re basically persona non grata?

    And in this case of Actually Existing Reality, sandy’s appeals to “full internal democracy” and your own and John Grimshaw’s views of how things “should” work are so much fluff.

    There is a difference between accepting a critical Marxist analysis of the state and translating this into abstentionism – especially when you arbitrarily single out one specific area, in this case the courts. If you can’t actually improve on the best practice of bourgeois democracy, people should absolutely rely on what they have now. I’m not going to advocate a life of austere warrior-monkdom for socialists until the glorious day. What is good enough for the trade unions (i.e. the UNISON ‘see no evil’ employment tribunal case) is, “frankly”, good enough for the SWP (or any other group).

  38. John Grimshaw on said:

    Manzil: You’re taking the exact same, idealised notion as sandy – pretending that socialist organisations are somehow exempt from the gritty reality of life and thus should be exempt from its existing means of resolving disputes.

    Who said this?

  39. Manzil on said:

    John Grimshaw: Who said this?

    Sandy is explicitly arguing that socialist organisations should be exempt from the law:

    “not going to the courts and asking the courts to rule on the disputes within the left.”

    “should these ex full timers go to the courts for unfair dismissal, sex discrimination, whistle blowing,dismissal for political beliefs etc ?”

    “We should not appeal to the bourgeoisie or its courts to sort out political differences within our movement. It is ridiculous and servile.”

    Prianikoff counterposes an idealised situation, of comprehensive safeguards, which does not exist, to condemn people using the means which are available to them in the present.

    Don’t take it outside our special little club, comrades, we’re oh so much better. If there are any problems, they’re mistakes, which we can sort out ourselves. Etc.

    Ignoring that it is precisely the role of the legal system to determine whether something constitutes a legitimate ‘political’ dispute or not (in this case, whether a full-time employee of an organisation has had their rights infringed or whether they are merely incorrectly alleging that) – thus the dismissal of the Curran case sandy invokes. The problem of the courts lies in the free market in legal services and the class bias of the people within it, not their competence.

  40. prianikoff on said:

    Manzil@51 “Prianikoff counterposes an idealised situation, of comprehensive safeguards, which does not exist, to condemn people using the means which are available to them in the present”

    Using the “means which are available to them in the present” is generally quite ineffective for people without money.
    If someone loses their job due an alleged misdemeanour, they may resort to a Tribunal instead of taking the higher-risk strategy of strike action.
    -which is technically a breach of contract and therefore “illegal”.

    Tribunals might award a small compensation package, but won’t (or can’t) order re-instatement.
    I’ve had to represent several people who in Tribunals and I’d regard the results as quite disappointing.
    So I’d always tend to go for strike action if possible.

    But when it comes to unions and socialist organisations different rules apply
    What I suggested re.contracts of employment isn’t idealised.
    The office staff in one of my unions regularly used to walk-out during conference, in protest at their poor pay.
    Luckily, the leadership of the union was sensible enough to settle and avoid the embarassment of strike action.
    But they have more resources than a small socialist organisation does.
    The best anyone working as a full-timer in a small socialist party can expect is a renewable p/t contract.
    And they definitely shouldn’t resort to the courts to resolve disputes.

  41. prianikoff: And they definitely shouldn’t resort to the courts to resolve disputes.

    What if they are raped?

    Or what about a woman employee who complains of sexual harrassment by a senior manager, she is told her complaint must be heard by friends and colleagues of that senior manager, and she is then moved out of her job?

    Your solution is a licence for abuse to flourish and abusers to be institutionally protected.

  42. Manzil: The problem of the courts lies in the free market in legal services and the class bias of the people within it, not their competence.

    Whereas the problem in the SWP was both incompetence and bias.

    A situation that Prianikoff and Sandy seem happy with.

  43. prianikoff on said:

    #53 “Your solution is a licence for abuse to flourish and abusers to be institutionally protected”

    No it isn’t at all.
    Such organisations should have procedures in place which prevent that sort of abuse of power happening.
    My point is that the court system, industrial tribunals and the police are:-
    A – Ineffective for ordinary people
    B – Dangerous to use for socialists and trade union members.

    When it comes to the issue of rape, there is enormous confusion in the public mind about what the term actually means.
    The self-report studies on which Home Office Statistics are based are compiled using opaque self-report studies.
    The methodology behind them is quite obscure.

    If, as reported, there are 85,000 cases of rape/year. This means that something like 5 million cases happen during the average lifetime. Even assuming there are repeat offenders, there must be 1-2 million rapists out there.

    i.e. the problem is so vast, that the police, the courts and the prison system are incapable of dealing with it.

    The reality is that most of these self-reported cases involve, date-rape, people who are drunk, in a relationship, married etc…

    The majority of women (at least 54%) won’t report them – not just because the police won’t take them seriously, not just because the evidence is almost impossible to judge – but because they don’t want to.

    Resort to the police and courts is entirely the wrong way to go in these cases. What’s needed for this category is some non-criminalised alternative, which involves counselling, concilliation and sex education. Otherwise the problem will never be solved.

    Only in cases where there is clear evidence that violence and coercion have been used should the courts be resorted to. If this is the case, the individual who is a victim has every right to use them and no reasonable socialist organisation would prevent them doing so.

  44. Manzil on said:

    prianikoff: Such organisations should have procedures in place which prevent that sort of abuse of power happening. (My emphasis.)

    There’s that pesky, meaningless word again. The shield for the defender of existing privilege.

    prianikoff: The reality is that most of these self-reported cases involve, date-rape, people who are drunk, in a relationship, married etc…

    The majority of women (at least 54%) won’t report them – not just because the police won’t take them seriously, not just because the evidence is almost impossible to judge – but because they don’t want to.

    Resort to the police and courts is entirely the wrong way to go in these cases. What’s needed for this category is some non-criminalised alternative, which involves counselling, concilliation and sex education. Otherwise the problem will never be solved.

    Only in cases where there is clear evidence that violence and coercion have been used should the courts be resorted to. If this is the case, the individual who is a victim has every right to use them and no reasonable socialist organisation would prevent them doing so.

    Shades of ‘legitimate rape’ here!!

    Sorry, every single case you mentioned there – “date-rape, people who are drunk, in a relationship, married etc” should, even from your own highly-questionable perspective, justify the victim seeking redress from the courts, because every single example constitutes a case where ‘coercion’ was applied. That is the VERY DEFINITION of rape, you unbelievable apologist.

    Good luck convincing women of the need for a “non-criminalised alternative, which involves counselling, conciliation and sex education” because their ordeal wasn’t ‘violent’ enough, or they’re married to their rapist, or because they were unconscious or drugged. I give up, I really do.

  45. prianikoff: A political full-timer who is sacked in-term should be compensated, based on their contract of employment.

    Who is able to enforce a contract if one side breaches and refuses to provide restitution? A contract is a legal concept. To dismiss the bourgeois legal system while talking of enforcing contracts is utterly illogical.

    John Grimshaw:
    #39 I tend to agree with Sandy also Prianikoff. I have to say however that I do wonder whether SWP full-timers would have contracts of employment?

    Anyone who is an employee in law has a contract of employment, and subject to action either in a tribunal, county court or either. A written contract is merely evidence of its existence and of its terms.

    prianikoff: If someone loses their job due an alleged misdemeanour, they may resort to a Tribunal instead of taking the higher-risk strategy of strike action.

    How can you compare the two? How ludicrous! A strike isn’t dependent on the individual choice of the agrieved party, but on the balance of forces in the workplace and the level of sympathy.

    What about someone who has been subject to sexual harassment by most of their workmates, just for example?

    prianikoff: I’ve had to represent several people who in Tribunals and I’d regard the results as quite disappointing.
    So I’d always tend to go for strike action if possible.

    I refer you to my previous point. How many people have had a grievance at work or been dismissed have pursuaded their colleagues to go on strike AND this has been followed by a successful strike?

    Clearly it would be great if this was as common as it was in the 60s and 70s but even then it was the exception rather than the rule, and I myself have helped lead industrial action for just such a purpose (not as often as I have represented people in tribunals mind), but it simply isn’t a relevant comparison with going to tribunal (or court for that matter).

  46. Vanya: To dismiss the bourgeois legal system while talking of enforcing contracts is utterly illogical.

    Unless of course you ARE able to do it through strike action or you are Don Corleone and have Luca Brazzi to back you up.

  47. Manzil on said:

    If Luca Brazzi was your branch secretary, at least picket lines would have decent turnouts.

  48. Andy Newman: Whereas the problem in the SWP was both incompetence and bias.

    A situation that Prianikoff and Sandy seem happy with.

    Andy

    You cant justify that remark.

    I have made it plain that my view is that the SWP investigation was deeply flawed and that the undemocratic nature of the SWP internal structure allows bullies to flourish. I also believe that if the woman concerned wished to go to the police she should have been fully supported in that decision. However if she refused to go to the police ( and there are lots of good reasons why she may not want to go to the police) an unbiased and fair investigation should have been conducted by the SWP into the allegation. I dont agree with just telling the victim to go to the police or forget it. The problem is that the top down undemocratic structure of the SWP ( nothing to do with its claimed Leninism but rather to do with its opposite- an accountable and self perpetuating anti working class mini bureaucracy) renders comradely relationships between equals impossible.

    As to defamation actions between those claiming to be socialists I find them ridiculous and to be condemned

    As to employment tribunal claims by full timers against their socialist organization I find that goes against socialist principles. In general the problem with socialist organizations is not that full time workers are “treated like shit” but rather that rank and file members of the organization are treated like shit by full time members of the apparatus. They are ordered about and given no control of the appointment of full time workers. In general full time workers should be elected by the members in their locality and should be subject to instant recall if the members are unhappy with their performance and it should be understood that if they are removed from their post by election they dont go employment tribunals to claim reinstatement or compensation. The fact that this is not widely understood and accepted is a sign of the decline of class consciousness on the left. To request that the ruling class adjudicates on political disputes within the socialist movement or decides how we are to organize our socialist / communist parties is a sign of servility to the ruling class and its institutions. It has nothing in common with the marxist movement or tradition

    sandy

  49. Manzil on said:

    sandy:
    should have been fully supported in that decision.

    an unbiased and fair investigation should have been conducted by the SWP into the allegation.

    full time workers should be elected by the members in their locality

    should be subject to instant recall if the members are unhappy with their performance

    should be understood that if they are removed from their post by election they dont go employment tribunals to claim reinstatement or compensation.

    I’m going to start playing ‘should’ bingo.

    What about when someone is victimised in our society (or indeed within the SWP) as it actually exists, rather than how you’d like it to? Just tell them, ‘tough shit’? Your way or the highway?

    Returning to the perennial issue of (I can’t believe I have to keep writing this) people supporting the Socialist Workers Party’s disputes committee ruling on whether one of its members had committed a rape: what would this unbiased and fair investigation look like? I mean even if it hadn’t been firmly under the control of the accused’s friends and colleagues, does the average SWP official have any actual training in this field? Wouldn’t it have still come down to their gut instinct as to whose testimony to believe?

  50. Manzil: If Luca Brazzi was your branch secretary, at least picket lines would have decent turnouts.

    Except that going by my luck it wouldn’t be long before he’d be sleeping with the fishes.

    Manzil: I’m going to start playing ‘should’ bingo.

    Please don’t. It’s one of the things that makes it difficult to believe you’re in the SP :)

    Although I understand that Ted Grant (who?) was an excellent tipster on the horses.

  51. lewishamleftlawyer on said:

    prianikoff: Suppose an employee didn’t get a job because of a bad reference.
    Would they have the right to claim damages.
    Very unlikely!

    In fact they would have every right to do so, which is why many employers no longer give references beyond confirming the basics of the individual’s employment.

  52. Manzil: What about when someone is victimised in our society (or indeed within the SWP) as it actually exists, rather than how you’d like it to? Just tell them, ‘tough shit’? Your way or the highway?

    Manzil

    You dont seem to comprehend the fundamental and essential difference between the working class movement for socialism ( a movement which waxes and wanes but exists) and existing capitalist institutions which seek to enforce and protect wage slavery and oppression- such a failure to understand would be ok if you did not also claim to be a marxist.

    Marxists fight for the political independence of the working class movement from the forces of Capital. We are for the overthrow of Capitalism by a mass movement for socialism. We dont call for capitalist state to control the internal life of the socialist movement. We want their hands off our movement. We dont want them deciding who our leaders are or how our parties should organize. The less state control of our movement the better. Any problems of racism, sexism, national chauvinism or anti gay bias etc within the socialist movement should be tackled by socialists organizing to have it rooted out and exposed. The best way to do this is by full internal democracy and open debate and not by going to the courts to ask them to rule on our political debates or political differences. To ask the courts to decide if the other side in a political dispute deserve the term “scab” ( which happened in the case i cited) is just ridiculous and makes you appear ridiculous. After all the capitalist state is there to encourage scabbing when the need arises. Remember the UDM. Similarly any fight against anti democratic, self perpetuating, mini bureaucracies within the socialist movement should be fought by organizing against them and fighting for their removal by the self activity of the members and not by appeals to the courts. In reality of course these mini bureaucracies are much more likely to go to court and vindicate their “property” than those rank and file members who lack the resources that the bureaucracy command.

    Of course I have no objection to workers and socialists using the law to tackle the forces of Capital (or sexism, racism etc within capitalist institutions) when legal action can move the struggle forward. Indeed you would be daft not too

    sandy

  53. Manzil on said:

    Manzil: What about when someone is victimised in our society (or indeed within the SWP) as it actually exists, rather than how you’d like it to? Just tell them, ‘tough shit’? Your way or the highway?

    sandy: Blah blah blah.

    So that would be a yes, then.

  54. Manzil

    You are a bit of a joker it would seem. I wont take you too seriously but if my original answer was too complex or long here is the short version

    If a person is victimized within the SWP or SP or AWL or SSP or CPB etc I suggest they dont go to their lawyer or even less go to the police ( barring a serious criminal assault) but organize with other socialists to end that victimization. Otherwise we will never create a real socialist movement

    sandy

  55. Sandy part of the problem with your argument is that if you set up a different set of principles for the use of the law for working class/ socialist organisations when the bourgeoisie holds power, why not do so when the working class holds power through such organisations?

    In other words, it is very easy to see how the rule of law could be dispensed with in such circumstances unless there is a conscious beief that this should not happen.

    After all, both Lenin and Trotsky made the very error of not holding that belief.

    Politically conscious people will ask how you can trust people with the levers of power if they can’t be trusted to apply the same standards to themselves as they do to others.

    And no ammount of sentences containing the word “should” are going to help you.

  56. Manzil on said:

    sandy:
    If a person is victimized within the SWP or SP or AWL or SSP or CPB etc I suggest they dont go to their lawyer or even less go to the police ( barring a serious criminal assault) but organize with other socialists to end that victimization. Otherwise we will never create a real socialist movement

    Just going to quote this, because it handily summarises everything wrong with that section of the far left whose thinking you epitomise, especially regarding the…

    * sense of exceptionalism and self-importance claimed on behalf of the left’s organisations.
    * invocation of the idealised (and likely never to materialise) ‘real socialist movement’ as a defence of the worst practices of the ACTUAL socialist movement.
    * skewed assumptions about what even the best left-wing group would be capable of ‘to end that victimisation’ (still no mention of what the ‘unbiased and fair investigation’ of a rape would look like).
    * hilariously arbitrary exception of ‘serious’ assaults (a la prianikoff’s classification of rapes important enough to be punished), in which case presumably ‘the forces of Capital’ lose their class character.

    And so on.

    For the ‘political independence of the working class movement from the forces of Capital’ and the self-righteous defence of reproducing privilege and victimisation within said movement! Onward!

  57. Vanya: Sandy part of the problem with your argument is that if you set up a different set of principles for the use of the law for working class/ socialist organisations when the bourgeoisie holds power, why not do so when the working class holds power through such organisations?

    Vanya I would have thought you would have seen the difference between the rule of the capitalist class and the rule of the working class i.e. the difference between the rule of the majority ( working class holds power) and the rule of the capital owning minority- the situation which we presently live under. When the working class holds power i will be glad to follow the rule of law since it will be the rule of the majority and will have as its aim the end of exploitation and oppression. Obviously this is not the present situation!

    sandy

  58. Manzil: invocation of the idealised (and likely never to materialise) ‘real socialist movement’ as a defence of the worst practices of the ACTUAL socialist movement.

    I know that are a bit of a joker Manzil but if you are seriously going to debate a topic you have to at least attempt to understand what the other person is saying. Where have i “justified the worst practices of the actual socialist movement” Give me an example of where I have done that

    sandy

  59. #69 That distinction is nowhere near as clear-cut as you suggest.

    The institutions of working class power are created in bourgeois society and, as we have seen, even it were not obvious anyway, in conditions where the power of the ruling class has been overthrown, many of the conditions that existed prior to the overthrow will continue to exist, and there will be an ongoing struggle involving all kinds of social relations and oppression.

    Moreover, you talk about respecting the rule of law when the working class hold power as if this is self-evident. It very much was not self evident to none other than Lenin and Trotsky, both of whom saw it as a bourgeois concept.

  60. Manzil on said:

    sandy: I know that are a bit of a joker Manzil but if you are seriously going to debate a topic you have to at least attempt to understand what the other person is saying. Where have i “justified the worst practices of the actual socialist movement”Give me an example of where I have done that

    You cannot be this dense. And why do you find it so difficult to actually engage with the entirety of someone’s argument, or answer the questions put to you (on the ‘unbiased and fair investigation’ of a rape; why people should accept a raw deal now because you promise them utopia tomorrow; why a ‘serious’ assault affects our attitude to the state differently than a lesser offence etc.), rather than just randomly pick a solitary sentence and try and drag the debate onto different ground?

    Read what you had to say here, reproduced below. Go on. I’ll wait.

    sandy: If a person is victimized within the SWP or SP or AWL or SSP or CPB etc I suggest they dont go to their lawyer or even less go to the police ( barring a serious criminal assault) but organize with other socialists to end that victimization. Otherwise we will never create a real socialist movement

    Now just to be clear – you see nothing wrong with that statement? You don’t accept that it demonstrates a massive, unjustifiable sense of self-importance; an over-estimation of a(ny) party’s ability to deal with this sort of issue; the use of your hoped-for ideal to defend the worst of the status quo; the random, unexplained exceptions to your own cast-iron dogmatic abstentionism?

    I’m guessing that all I’ll get back is the usual lot of claptrap about what ‘the Marxists’ believe, and maybe the odd reference to a joker. Which is ironic, because after this I consider you a complete clown.

    #69. What bit of the law against rape do you find particularly exploitative or oppressive?

  61. Manzil: hilariously arbitrary exception of ‘serious’ assaults (a la prianikoff’s classification of rapes important enough to be punished), in which case presumably ‘the forces of Capital’ lose their class character.

    So Manzil you see no difference between rape and calling someone a scab or rape and petty assault or insult. There is obviously a major difference. If someone rapes you- you have every right to go to the police even if the rapist is a member of the same socialist party as you. If someone calls you a racist or a clown or a Stalinist at a left meeting or even steals a fiver from your jacket I dont think it would be sensible to go to the police or the courts irrespectively how hurt you are by the insult or the act. Please get some perspective on the serious difference between defamation and petty insults and the heinous crime of rape. Please- playing the fool has its limits

  62. 72# Manzil

    I will be kind and say you have completely misunderstood what i have said. so i will repeat. In the case of alleged rape the victim should go to the police and should be fully supported in that decision by other socialists. If however the victim does not want to go to the police are you saying that the socialist organization should just ignore the matter! In effect tell the victim – go to the police or shut up. Is that you position? And wife beating? Go to the police or shut up- we will not investigate the matter even if you turn up at the branch meeting with a bruised face and you state another member is regularly beating you up. Go to the police or shut up! We dont have any forensic ability so we are going to ignore your complaint. Is that what you are saying?

    sandy

  63. Manzil on said:

    sandy,

    I see you continue to pick out random things to discuss. Talking to you is like island-hopping.

    The difference being, obviously – although you leave it unsaid – that even you cannot maintain this absurd moralising about the ‘forces of Capital’ when faced with a situation that has serious consequences. Meaning that your principles are so much flotsam and jetsam: they depend utterly on the fact that, most of the time, upholding them doesn’t actually affect you or anyone else.

    Petty assault not enough, eh? At what point does it become serious enough for the great Marxist to abandon his steely-eyed non-cooperation with the forces of law and order? Does it have to break the skin? Is that the line where you stop playing at rrrrrevolutionary socialism?

  64. Manzil on said:

    sandy:
    72# Manzil
    I will be kind and say you have completely misunderstood what i have said. so i will repeat. In the case of alleged rape the victim should go to the police and should be fully supported in that decision by other socialists. If however the victim does not want to go to the police are you saying that the socialist organization should just ignore the matter! In effect tell the victim – go to the police or shut up. Is that you position? And wife beating? Go to the police or shut up- we will not investigate the matter even if you turn up at the branch meeting with a bruised face and you state another member is regularly beating you up. Go to the police or shut up! We dont have any forensic ability so we are going to ignore your complaint. Is that what you are saying?

    My, look at the emotive hypotheticals he uses! The woman who turns up to the branch meeting with a bruised face. You are absolutely fucking pathetic.

    Let’s talk about what actually happened (because you like to ignore reality and talk exclusively about situations where everything is assembled just right): A woman, no bruises unfortunately (presumably in prianikoff’s opinion this should be one of those counselling jobs?), lodges a complaint, the accused denies it. How does your ‘full internal democracy’ handle this, sandy? How does Marxism tell you who to believe?

    Because even if they hadn’t gagged Comrade W at the conference, even if they hadn’t stacked the committee with Delta’s mates, even if they hadn’t maligned her character and invoked lots of platitudes about bourgeois justice, at the end of the day even your own ‘full internal democracy’ comes down to just siding with a hunch. The fact that members of the SWP feel they are in any sense able to investigate and determine culpability – not respond to it, GIVEN THAT BRUISES WOULD BE A PRETTY GOOD SIGN of that – leads me to think that Andy’s comments about cultishness weren’t far off the mark.

  65. Manzil

    It is difficult to have a serious conversation with you. You cant answer a straight question. You just emote and babble incoherently.One last try. Do you believe that a socialist party should refuse to investigate any complaint about abusive behavior made by one member against another member? Is it always a job for the police or the lawyers? If the complainer wont go to the police do we just say we cant do anything- we are going to ignore your complaint. Go to the police or shut up.

    I am trying to understand what your principles are in regards to this. Is it -if you dont report the anti social conduct to the police don’t bother coming to us for help

    sandy

  66. sandy: You cant answer a straight question.

    The fucking irony!

    What do you mean investigate? Determine their guilt? I do not believe they are CAPABLE of doing so.

    Are you going to answer any of my questions?

  67. Manzil: What do you mean investigate?

    well an independent committee who are not friends of the accuser or the accused and who have the confidence of both. Interview them both and any one else who has information re the relevant complaint. See if it is possible to reach a conclusion. If not dont. So if it is an accusation of threats to assault, or of an actual assault, if it is not admitted, decide if it took place. Depending on the nature of the offense take action to expel or censor.

    of course with something as serious as alleged rape it becomes a very very difficult situation but if the complainer insists that he/she wants to bring it to the organization and wont go to the police I think it is right to investigate the matter. However I think it has to be handled very fairly. I can understand the position of those who say we cant investigate since we dont have the resources but on balance i think the decision to investigate should lie with the complainer. If they insist the organization should investigate- to the best of their ability the organization should do so. If they believe it happened the accused should be expelled

    sandy

  68. prianikoff on said:

    #56 It was predictable that you’d resort to that sort of argument. But you still haven’t dealt with the point I made. If the Home Office definitions and statistics are accurate, the problem is much too big for the criminal justice system to deal with.

    So your approach is not only completely impractical, but also whitewashes the police and prison system.
    What I said wasn’t apologetics, it was entirely realistic.
    It’s also based on Marxist analysis, not accepting the Brownmiller position, which is anthropologically, historically and politically wrong.

    #57 “How many people have had a grievance at work or been dismissed have pursuaded their colleagues to go on strike AND this has been followed by a successful strike?”

    How many people have been reinstated by tribunals?
    None whatsoever as far as I can see.
    Changing the balance of forces is what we’re about.

    #63 ” they would have every right to do so, which is why many employers no longer give references beyond confirming the basics of the individual’s employment.”
    I should have said “win” damages.
    Employers often avoid the problem of open references by phoning through their opinions.

  69. John Grimshaw on said:

    sandy: well an independent committee who are not friends of the accuser or the accused and who have the confidence of both.

    or a committee made up of respected working class people WHO may in fact not be in the socialist organisation in question.

  70. prianikoff on said:

    re80
    Reinstatement by tribunals is not quite none.

    “If we look back in time some thirty or forty years, before a tribunal-led unfair dismissal system was in place, many workplaces had internal procedures for resolving dismissal claims, and reinstatement rates were as high as 33%. Compare this with today’s employment tribunal figures and we see less than 1% of unfair dismissal cases result in reinstatement. ”

    http://www.doihaveacase.co.uk/why-is-reinstatement-after-unfair-dismissal-so-rare

    (not necessarily advising utilising this company)

  71. John Grimshaw on said:

    Manzil
    The issue here maybe one of attitude to the police? What are the police and what are they actually for. My view is that the police exist primarily to bolster and support the State and the status quo of the rich in power. That many lower ranking coppers come from a working class or middle ranking background is academic. It is inevitable that such an organisation will encapsulate the more reactionary side of our society. This manifests itself in many ways. An unwillingness to deal with sexual assaults is but one example of this. You could include racist victimisation or social class sterotyping and then acting on the basis of said. There were over 300 people killed in custody between 1998 and 2008. The paramilitary role of the police (particularly the met) in miners strike is another example of where the police stand. You could also include Hillsborough. And the various more random murders committed by the police and then subsequently covered up i.e. Harry Stanley who was shot near to where I live. Whats interesting of course is that the police don’t seem to go round randomly shooting rich people.

    If Manzil is a member of the SP however he may have a different view of the police. If I understand correctly the SP have consistently argued that becuase a lot of police persons are recruited from lower middle class/working class backgrounds then essentially they are workers in uniforms. There may be bad apples but the police can be neutral when dispensing law enforcement. If one holds such a view then referring any and all infractions (like calling someone a scab) makes more sense. If I have misunderstood Manzil’s position I would like to be corrected.

    And please don’t misunderstand me. In the case in question (which as Sandy has patiently explained is not to do with political difference) the police should have been informed but remember we are informed that the comrade in question did not want to go to the police. Whilst I accept that the comrade in question could’ve been pressurised not to do so, I/we don’t know that. Surely the wishes of the comrade in question should be respected?

  72. #80. Please explain how ‘counselling, conciliation and sex education’ is going to ‘solve’ rape; and what degree of violence or coercion is sufficient for the courts to actually bother punishing.

    John Grimshaw,

    I think viewing the police role as ‘primarily to bolster and support the State’ is simplistic. Evidently they have a dual role in terms of public order on the one hand, which invariably reflects the interest of the powerful, and public safety on the other – which given the disproportionate effect of many types of crime on the poorest communities, it is obviously in the interest of the working class that they fulfil. Unless you think my friend who got mugged last week would be better served by a workers’ militia?

    We need to call for the police to be ‘policed’, subject to strict controls and obviously for their ‘paramilitary’ use to be condemned – although ultimately that isn’t going to happen to an adequate degree without a fundamental shift in the nature of the state – but the SWP style of call to ‘drive the police out of our estates and off our streets’ is not something I am remotely sympathetic with, no. Even in their current state, the police are often a positive, ‘public safety’ institution in the experience of most people – even if that is largely due to the absence of widespread mass struggle. Every day is not Orgreave.

    Incidentally, I don’t derive my political views entirely from my party membership. I have been in the SP for about four months now. Believe it or not, I had opinions all of my own before that.

  73. prianikoff on said:

    #84 “Please explain how ‘counselling, conciliation and sex education’ is going to ‘solve’ rape; and what degree of violence or coercion is sufficient for the courts to actually bother punishing”

    I was discussing the estimated 85,000 cases/year in the self-report studies.

    In reality, a lot of these 85,000 involve two young people who are both drunk, a marriage where the woman routinely submits to intercourse out of “duty”, intercourse that becomes painful for the woman etc.

    Cases involving violent assault, deliberate drugging of a victim, or child abuse merit custodial sentences.

    If you truly believe that all of them are equally serious, crimes, then you’d have to build new prisons on a vast scale to deal with the problem.
    Of course, using “rape is rape” as your criterion, you’ll have to do that.

  74. prianikoff: If you truly believe that all of them are equally serious, crimes, then you’d have to build new prisons on a vast scale to deal with the problem.

    This is nonsense. The crime of rape is a serious criminal offence and should be treated as such.

    prianikoff: Cases involving violent assault, deliberate drugging of a victim, or child abuse merit custodial sentences.

    This is exactly the same deeply sexist narrative of “real rape” that has come from the Tea-Party crack pots in the US.

    prianikoff: Of course, using “rape is rape” as your criterion, you’ll have to do that.

    Sentancing guidelines would of course reflect the circumstances of a crime; and in England and Wales the CPS would take into account the liklihood of gaining a conviction in front of a jury

  75. prianikoff on said:

    You’re starting to sound like a bullying demagogue.
    Simply saying “rape is a serious crime” doesn’t answer the point I was making.

    To re-iterate it:-

    There is a huge difference between the estimated cases of rape, reported rapes and convictions.

    Based on the self-report studies used in the Crime Survey of England and Wales (2009-12), the estimated number of rape victims is between 54,000-85,000.
    (I used the upper figure of 85,000, which is widely quoted, as in the most recent issue of “The Socialist”.

    The number of female rapes actually recorded by the police in 2011-12 was 14,767.

    10.4% of the reported cases were “no-crimed” because of insufficient evidence.

    In 2011 2,900 defendants were prosecuted.
    About half were found guilty and almost all of these received custodial sentences.

    Simply chanting the mantra that “rape is a serious crime” doesn’t deal with this issue.

    You have to tell us:-

    How do you explain the disparity between the self report studies and the recorded cases?

    What criteria *should* the police and the CPS be using for evaluating cases?

    What is your criteria for admissable evidence?

    If, as you argue, all self-reported, or recorded cases are equally serious, then they should ALL be prosecuted.
    So, potentially, you’re talking about up to 85,000 prosecutions/year.

    In 2011, the UK Prison population was 95,000.
    So you’re talking about doubling the prison population *at least*.

    Is that what you’re suggesting?

  76. prianikoff: If, as you argue, all self-reported, or recorded cases are equally serious, then they should ALL be prosecuted.
    So, potentially, you’re talking about up to 85,000 prosecutions/year.

    sounds like progress to me. I am suprised that any socialist is arguing that conviction rates for rape are too high.

  77. prianikoff on said:

    I’d be surprised too, but it’s not an argument I’ve used anywhere in this thread, or anywhere else come to that!
    In fact, I’ve been published elsewhere, years ago, to the effect that the police should take the issue of rape seriously and that women who fight in self defence should be defended by the labour movement.

    However, your argument throughout this debate hasn’t been along those lines at all.
    On the contrary.
    You’ve been arguing that the police are the only competent authority and you haven’t criticized their procedures at all.

    I am prepared to criticize them, but not to say that all cases are “equally serious”, nor suggest that we need to double the prison population – a right wing law and order approach which even Ken Clarke could see was totally impractical. Not, apparently, you or Manzil though!

  78. prianikoff: You’ve been arguing that the police are the only competent authority and you haven’t criticized their procedures at all.

    *sigh*

    The competance of the police is however not the issue in dispute, the issue is the non-competance and incompetance of the SWP

  79. stuart: Would you have liked to have seen the police suffer a defeat at Orgreave?

    Yes. How is that in any way relevant to this discussion?

  80. prianikoff on said:

    #91 .
    I’ve not defended the procedures of the SWP, other than to point out the inaccuracies in the “Independent” report on the Disputes Committee.
    However, I think your statement to the Swindon paper, to the effect that the SWP regarded themselves as “outside of society” was a massive concession to reformism.
    The Chartists, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, anti-Slavery Campaigners, the founders of the LRC, the Suffragettes prior to WW1 – all of them were regarded as outside mainstream society.

  81. Manzil: Yes. How is that in any way relevant to this discussion?

    Okay, would you have supported a headline such as ‘Drive the police away from Orgreave’ in 1984?

  82. prianikoff: However, I think your statement to the Swindon paper, to the effect that the SWP regarded themselves as “outside of society” was a massive concession to reformism.

    No shit Sherlock, have you paid any attention here?

  83. Phil: stuart – do you agree with Manzil that “Every day is not Orgreave”? If so, what are you going on about?

    Yes I agree that every day is not Orgreave, so a headline about driving police out of Orgreave would look silly today. Do you agree that we don’t witness inner city riots every day? Do you agree that headlines should be seen in context?

  84. #94 Either you have a position of never have anything to do with the Police, all coppers are bastards etc etc, or you have a position that is nuanced to one degree or another. You can’t have it both ways.

    The role of the state apparatus is ultimately to defend the interests of the class that holds state power. When the state acts to do this, we are in clear conflict with them. If the Police had been unable to smash the mass pickets at Orgreave, that would primarally have been a defeat for the Thatcher government and the ruling class not ‘The Police’.

    The Police officers would still have been paid, and although it might have meant more of them would have been injured, they would undoubtedly have received generous compensation and many would have been invalided out on very nice terms.

    But the role of the state (and therefore the state apparatus) is not only to act in the direct interests of the ruling class, but also to regulate conflict between individuals within society and to help enforce the rule of law. This is so that people who do bad things to other people are (hopefully) caught/ prevented from doing worse things and so that members of society do not have to resort to vigilante justice to protect or avenge themselves. This includes victims of rape.

    While the state is stable and there is no alternative state apparatus in embryo you are stuck with what you have.

    This is why most people, including most members of the working class, while not being particularly keen on or trustful of the Police, realise that they are needed. It is also irrespective of how effective the Police are, or how often they get things wrong, how corrupt or abusive/ racist so many officers are etc- those are issues to campaign around and to raise demands (nb the report today on the IPCC which is something we should discuss imo).

    Talk about defeating ‘The Police’ outside of a specific context is infantile apolitical stuff for football hooligans and anarchists, and has nothing to do with marxism.

    Btw many people who were critically but unconditionally supportive of the uprising at Stangeways work closely with the POA. I’ve never understood why the Prison Service should be viewed differently from the Police.

  85. prianikoff: The Chartists, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, anti-Slavery Campaigners, the founders of the LRC, the Suffragettes prior to WW1 – all of them were regarded as outside mainstream society.

    The Chartists were fighting for an extension of the vote to all men irrespective of means, all of which and more was eventually achieved within bourgeois society. Some of them believed it would be necesary to use revolutionary violence to do this, other opposed this view.

    The Tolpuddle Martyrs were operating in a situation where trade unions were illegal.

    The founders of the LRC included very respectable ‘labour aristocrat’ trade union leaders who had been keen supporters of the liberal party, a pillar of the bourgeois state, and marxists were in a very small minority.

    The Suffragettes- change the word men to women and it’s pretty much ditto as for the Chartists.

    Ask the question how do the SWP compare with any of that and I think many more profound questions about the role of such groups are answered.

  86. Vanya: Talk about defeating ‘The Police’ outside of a specific context.

    I’m glad you mention context. I’m afraid my last post is held in moderation, this militates against free flowing dialogue.

  87. John Grimshaw on said:

    Vanya: The Chartists were fighting for an extension of the vote to all men irrespective of means, all of which and more was eventually achieved within bourgeois society.

    Except of course for an annual parliament.

  88. People can’t separate the authority and the people who have the authority vested in them. I think you see that a lot in the demonstrations. Cause actually the people are demonstrating not against Vietnam — they’re demonstrating against the police department. Actually, against policemen
    - Lenny Bruce

  89. #100 Well done John, I was hoping someone would spot my delberate mistake :) Seriously though, you’re right but does it make a difference to my substantive point?

  90. Feodor on said:

    @#101 – great quote.

    It shows my youth, but I had to Google who Lenny Bruce was. Just listened to a couple of his skits, funny guy.

  91. Manzil on said:

    stuart: Okay, would you have supported a headline such as ‘Drive the police away from Orgreave’ in 1984?

    [...]

    Yes I agree that every day is not Orgreave, so a headline about driving police out of Orgreave would look silly today. Do you agree that we don’t witness inner city riots every day? Do you agree that headlines should be seen in context?

    Oh I see, you’re attempting to compare the 2011 riots and the miners’ strike, i.e. you’re going entirely off the rails. Let’s have a look what SW actually printed:

    Socialist Worker:

    From the Tory right to the liberals, politicians are calling for the government to arm the police further in order to crush the rioters.

    There are calls for the use of water cannon—a brutal anti-protest weapon. But calling for more police powers is not the answer.

    The police have injured many people in recent days—and on demonstrations and riots for years.

    And the recent riots were sparked by the police shooting of Mark Duggan in the first place.

    We don’t want more police on the streets. More “effective” policing means more deaths, more harassment, and more anger.

    The last thing we need is a state with more ways of attacking ordinary people. The police are the enemy of everyone who want to see a more just, fair society.

    It is the actions of the police that marginalise and criminalise so many.

    It is the endless stop and search that thousands of mostly young, mostly black people face across Britain, the wholesale harassment of communities.

    We should drive the police out of our estates and off our streets.

    There’s nothing contingent about this position. It’s as though, following Orgreave, you’d said the police should have been driven out of Yorkshire entirely. In the absence of a viable socialist alternative that can provide an adequate degree of safety, this ‘off our streets’ stuff is just ultra-left, puerile rhetoric.

  92. Manzil on said:

    Vanya: Ask the question how do the SWP compare with any of that and I think many more profound questions about the role of such groups are answered.

    Not to mention, plenty of reactionary movements have acted outside of ‘mainstream society’. There is nothing inherently worthy about thumbing your nose at social norms – the question is, to what end.

    And in this case, I think the SWP leadership’s ‘end’ has been to defend an outlook and structure that is profoundly damaging to its role within the labour movement.

  93. Karl Stewart on said:

    Manzil, the SWP were right to side with the 2011 rebellion of urban youth and if I recall correctly, I think the SP/Mils took a pretty feeble position at that time.
    I’m not saying I agree entirely with the “let’s drive the police off our streets…” – but the fact that the SWP instinctively sided with the revolt, while most of the left bottled it, was to their credit.

  94. stuart on said:

    Manzil,

    But saying we should drive police off the streets and the estates during a period of social unrest is not the same as calling for the immediate abolition of the police. This seems nothing more than yet another sectarian attack on the SWP. An attempt to pretend that calling for police to be driven away somehow ‘proves’ that the SWP must have persuaded an accuser to avoid the police.

    That is not the SWP position when it comes to rape as this theoretical piece makes clear…

    ‘This does not mean that we can simply wish in every situation that the police would just disappear. It is a harsh reality that in this society there are no other mechanisms apart from the police and the prison system for dealing, for instance, with child molesters, rapists or serial killers’

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/harman/2006/07/police.htm

    So nothing to see really.

  95. Manzil on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    Manzil, the SWP were right to side with the 2011 rebellion of urban youth and if I recall correctly, I think the SP/Mils took a pretty feeble position at that time.
    I’m not saying I agree entirely with the “let’s drive the police off our streets…” – but the fact that the SWP instinctively sided with the revolt, while most of the left bottled it, was to their credit.

    What did you feel was feeble about it? Honest question. I wasn’t a member at the time, but I don’t remember the coverage being all that different to the SWP’s. I had a glance on their website and nothing in the below articles seem particularly objectionable about the motivations of the rioters.

    As inner cities erupt
    The riots and the aftermath
    ’British Perspectives’ on the riots
    After the riots…

    That said, to equate the riots with the miners’ strike is ludicrous. Defending the rioters from the ‘machine gun the lot of them’ brigade needn’t require pretending the riots were anything other than a dead end, that didn’t in any way offer an alternative or do anything but get a lot of young kids banged up.

    And certainly to generalise from that situation to ‘We should drive the police out of our estates and off our streets’ is juvenile adventurism. I’m surprised you sympathise with it, Karl!

    Re: the left ‘bottling’ it, again I don’t particularly remember anything objectionable in any of the left papers or mags I can think of. Certainly if socialists did criticise the riots, they weren’t lining up with their broomsticks behind Boris’ Party of Order talking about cleaning up the streets…

  96. secret factioneer on said:

    Manzil – Karl has consistently joined the SWP in supporting the urban rebellions, and has always been clear on that.

  97. Manzil on said:

    secret factioneer,

    What do you mean ‘supporting’ the riots? (Sorry, urban rebellions.)

    Because I, for instance, didn’t support the rioters being frog-marched through the magistrates courts and given massive sentences for stealing from Poundland or PC World. I didn’t support demonising the rioters as feckless, feral scum who wanted to smash stuff up. I didn’t support the establishment’s united front in refusing to actually investigate rather than assume what their motives were. I didn’t support the vicarious revenge-fantasy calls for the police to be allowed to unleash their inner-stormtrooper.

    But I didn’t support the idea the riots were in the interests of those rioting, or indeed of the deprived communities they came from. I certainly don’t support the SWP’s call about ‘out of our estates and off our streets’. I don’t support stuart’s sloppy comparison with 1984/5.

    Things aren’t as simple outside of Socialist Worker editorials.

  98. secret factioneer on said:

    I don’t live in an SW editorial. Neither does Karl, I imagine, though I’m sure he can speak for himself.

    The main reason I have always been IS/SWP, whether actually a member or not at various times, is that the party is right when the rest of the left is wrong. In my opinion, like. The riots was an example of that. Korea was another.

  99. Manzil on said:

    secret factioneer,

    What did ‘the rest of the left’ say about the riots that offended you?

    Was it the Sol-Fed statement, “We cannot condone attacks on working people, on the innocent. Burning out shops with homes above them, people’s transport to work, muggings and the like are an attack on our own and should be resisted… We believe that the legitimate anger of the rioters can be far more powerful if it is directed in a collective, democratic way and seeks not to victimise other workers”?

    Or the AWL perhaps – “It is imperative that the left provides an alternative to this malicious drivel, and makes the case to working-class people that a world shorn of these miseries is possible, and that the rage of the riots can be channelled into a militant and transformative political struggle”?

    Socialist Appeal? “Of course, rioting provides no real solution. Indeed it just provides an excuse for the state to crack down harder. Many have voiced the belief that the police were actually happy to let Tottenham burn… The riots may die out in a few days (or they could continue to spiral out of control – nothing is clear yet) but the problem which caused them will not unless we do something about it.”

    Maybe the Young Communist League? “This form of protest, promoted through the organs of the class enemy, stifles political development amongst young people, at a time when the capitalist system itself is in deep crisis and its future is questioned by many.”

    As for the Korean war, I think we’ll leave that for another time…

  100. secret factioneer on said:

    All a bit decontextualised, so it’s hard to say. There was a lot of mealy-mouthed stuff, starting from the wrong place. The right place to start was support for the youth involved.

  101. Jellytot on said:

    @113The main reason I have always been IS/SWP…is that the party is right when the rest of the left is wrong. In my opinion, like. The riots was an example of that.

    I was more supportive of the Turkish and Kurdish communities in North East London who came out to defend their areas against lumpen elements who wanted to do them and their community harm.

    The SWP’s line on the riots was characteristically excited and ill-thought-out and was closer to ‘Ian Bone’ style anarchism than socialism, which has always stressed WC cohesion, self-help and solidarity…..not f*cking each other over for some consumer goods.

    Korea was another.

    Cliff was wrong over Korea in the way he, for all intents and purposes, equated the Revolutionary Chinese PLA to the USMC, but thankfully corrected his error some years later over Vietnam.

  102. #112 Spot on as usual Manzil.

    #113 Wrong on both. Neutrality between the PRC and the USA/ British imperialism was liberalism pure and simple.

    As for Karl. I know that a lot of people, including members of ethnic minority communities, were ‘bottling it’ at the thought of their small businesses and/or flats going up in smoke, or at being attacked by thugs while just trying to do their badly paid jobs, or losing their jobs because their workplace could go up in smoke.

    I object to the allegation of cowardice because I refuse to go along with petit-bourgeois/ lumpen anarchist bullshit, particularly from someone who attacks the NUM for not having a stike ballot in 1984.

  103. secret factioneer on said:

    “the Revolutionary Chinese PLA”

    With material like that you really should be on the stage.

  104. Jellytot on said:

    @119

    The Chinese intervention in Korea occured a mere year after the success of the Chinese Revolution so the Chinese Volunteer Army could be described accurately as ‘Revolutionary’.

    The force was led by Peng Dehuai who was a great socialist and revolutionary. Sadly, the IS “tradition” equates this man with a venal cold-warrior like General Macarthur.

  105. Manzil on said:

    #110. Apologies stuart, I wasn’t ignoring you – I think your comment must have been in moderation(?), as I didn’t see it until now. I personally don’t think the SW article on the riots has any pertinence to the current situ. As you bring it up though, I think the actual actions of the SWP (“We have no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice.”) is more relevant than what Harman (RIP) wrote in 2006.

    secret factioneer:
    All a bit decontextualised, so it’s hard to say. There was a lot of mealy-mouthed stuff, starting from the wrong place. The right place to start was support for the youth involved.

    It couldn’t be any more contextualised! It was a specific response to a specific situation. You’re bigging up the riots because you like to see people getting arsey with the police, and don’t care when they end up inside for 18 months or someone’s flat gets burned down. As Jellytot and Vanya say, it’s self-serving anarchist bollocks – in fact it’s worse than that: see #115, even they had a better analysis.

  106. secret factioneer on said:

    You do get angry easy. You’ve quoted short extracts from larger pieces, I assume. In the context of the larger pieces they might be ok. If they were all that was said, they aren’t. Is that clearer now?

    I’m glad you know my mind, though, cos it saves me having to bother talking to you any further.

  107. Feodor on said:

    I think the riots, like the Arab Spring, showed that the British left has real difficulty analysing events which fall outside their well-worn frames of reference, i.e. outside expected, mechanical patterns. In turn, this problem is greatly amplified when the organisations in question have no foothold in the areas where the events are happening – and in the case of much of the British left, Tottenham seems as much an alien place as Benghazi.

    I don’t think the SWP is any worse in these respects, or any better, they just seem more adept at reducing their position to a simple slogan and getting more recognition on this account, which means when they’re talking shite more people notice that they’re talking shite.

    The real problem is that despite two decades having passed since the fall of the USSR, and despite all the talk about re-evaluation of theories etc., much of the left still remains wedded to pre-91 ideas, while the remainder has just given up all hope and thrown their lot in with the ruling class – the ‘decents’, e.g.

    Not having the answers is not the worst thing in the world, but when a lack of theoretical competence is glossed over by back-slapping and telling each other that ‘like, yeah, we totally know how to do a penetrating analysis of exploitation and oppression bro’, it becomes a really debilitating problem. And part of the reason for it is that people still accept as the intellectual leaders of the left people whose theoretical proficiency basically involves being good at plagiarism: learn the holy canon, repeat the holy canon.

    And if you own a good thesaurus and use it often, you’ll be a star of the left blogsphere in no time. Never mind that you’re talking nonsense, because the quasi-academic lingo makes even the most banal statements seem profound.

  108. Manzil on said:

    #123. What’s obvious from this site is that ‘the British left’ doesn’t have a single position when it comes to the 2011 riots or the Arab spring (or at least Libya, Syria etc.), so can we really say ‘it’ is right/wrong?

    secret factioneer,

    ‘I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.’

    I don’t think even you know your mind. You’ve not actually offered any examples of why “the rest of the left is wrong”. I brought up a few groups’ positions, but I’m not going to do your legwork for you.

  109. secret factioneer on said:

    On those occasions where the SWP’s line has contained a sharp differentiation from most others on the left, I have usually agreed with the SWP’s take on the situation, from back before I’d ever joined, and also during my time out of the party.

    In terms of the riots, you’ve made the point clearly yourself. Other left groups did not take the same line as the SWP.

    I’m not asking you to do any legwork at all. Just a passing observation.

  110. secret factioneer on said:

    (all these questions have been discussed on here before, and I don’t imagine doing them again would lead to any more honest a debate, so I’m not suggesting that happen. I merely suggest that there is, at times, a sharp line of differentiation, and that I have almost always found myself on the SWP’s side of it, and that’s a big part of why I’m in the SWP. For all its faults)

  111. Feodor on said:

    Manzil:
    #123. What’s obvious from this site is that ‘the British left’ doesn’t have a single position when it comes to the 2011 riots or the Arab spring (or at least Libya, Syria etc.), so can we really say ‘it’ is right/wrong?

    Right or wrong is of course a matter of perspective: if one’s biases are such, then they’ll conclude that a poor argument which accords with their prejudices is right and a strong argument which doesn’t is wrong.

    For me, that’s not the issue.

    The bigger issue is the fundamental conceit that some pseudo-intellectual in Barking thinks he can write about feminism one week, austerity the next, then Syria the week after. And despite having no specialist knowledge or first-hand experience of such topics, that is the type of thing that can bring a fresh and original perspective to the issue, they nevertheless proclaim themselves to have a fundamentally correct analysis which proves the worth of their philosophical system as a whole.

    In reality, they do little more than offer opinion, construct and reinforce ideologies from facts already known not discovered. Yet mainstream media will always be better equipped to do this.

    What the left would be better doing is showing some humility, accepting that we aren’t know-alls and that issues are complex. The basic premise being that we should first and foremost seek the truth, messy and hard to digest as it often is, as opposed to using each and every event as an opportunity to prove ourselves right.

    Inform, educate, facilitate further discussion, yes. Offer a neatly packaged set of answers which can guide you forever more, no.

    There is a deep sense of self-denial on the left, a failure to accept we’re ever wrong and to on occasions look outside the accepted canon. I don’t think this healthy; indeed, arguably, it’s what’s undoing the SWP atm.

  112. Manzil on said:

    Feodor:
    The bigger issue is the fundamental conceit that some pseudo-intellectual in Barking thinks he can write about feminism one week, austerity the next, then Syria the week after…

    There is a deep sense of self-denial on the left, a failure to accept we’re ever wrong and to on occasions look outside the accepted canon.

    All men are potentially intellectuals in the sense of having an intellect and using it, but not all are intellectuals by social function. :D

    Anyways. I don’t think that’s entirely fair. From my experience (SP, the Labour left, SWP) I think there’s a lot of open-mindedness amongst the ‘grassroots’. If anything there’s too much bloody debate.

    What do we do on here but gnash our teeth and apologise for being shit?

    There is plenty of dogmatism, but I’ve often found it comes from people who’ve spent forty years fighting the same battles or are currently employed by X group (or OTOH seem to own the damn thing…)

    And let’s face it, you get arseholes and oddballs everywhere.

    I don’t think having a technical expertise is required to contribute something. Alex Callinicos has made a professional career out of teaching theory, and yet a political career out of applying it badly.

    Alternatively: Basically Feodor, you’re a wrecker and a saboteur. Down with you.

  113. John Grimshaw on said:

    Vanya:
    #100 Well done John, I was hoping someone would spot my delberate mistake Seriously though, you’re right but does it make a difference to my substantive point?

    Sorry for the delay Vanya. I take your point, sort of, but I do think that the annual parliament was the demand that was ultimately the most difficult to extract out of the ruling class and hence why its never happened. In fact under the Con-Dems we have an extended parliament. No doubt, all things remaining the same, we’ll end up with the rump parliament or long parliament or whatever? :) Cromwell anyone?

  114. prianikoff on said:

    Vany@100 re. Chartists, Toldpuddle, LRC, Suffragettes pre-WW1

    The issue isn’t whether the SWP are in the same league as those, or not. It’s the “outside mainstream society” argument.
    Using Newman’s formula, state repression against all of these groups was quite justifiable.

  115. stuart on said:

    Manzil:
    As you bring it up though, I think the actual actions of the SWP (“We have no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice.”) is more relevant

    But you are clearly confusing actions and beliefs, not the same in this example. The belief you quote here should be one that any self-respecting socialist would hold, not one confined to the SWP. The actions in this case are those of the complainant asking the party to investigate and electing not to go to the police and of the party honouring the request through acivating its established procedures. But the SWP has no principled oppositon towards using the police in rape allegations as I clearly demonstrated.

  116. stuart: But you are clearly confusing actions and beliefs, not the same in this example. The belief you quote here should be one that any self-respecting socialist would hold, not one confined to the SWP. The actions in this case are those of the complainant asking the party to investigate and electing not to go to the police and of the party honouring the request through acivating its established procedures. But the SWP has no principled oppositon towards using the police in rape allegations as I clearly demonstrated.

    This belief was specifically invoked in the context of the SWP running an ‘investigation’ (i.e. friends of Delta hearing two stories and deciding they believed Delta over W).

    Unless you think beliefs have absolutely no relation to actions? That talking about the ‘bourgeois court system’ having no ability to deliver justice (under any circumstances? ultra-left bollocks, if so) would have no effect on comrades’ behaviour in this specific case? In fact, at #110 you point out the exact opposite – that the context of a statement is vital to our understanding of it.

    What was the context here? The accuser of an influential member being told that this kangaroo court shit represented justice and their case had been treated fairly, so let’s all just move on. Either your beliefs stand up and are a guide to action, or they’re not. Beliefs should not exist in abstract. They have no inherent worth.

  117. stuart on said:

    Manzil,

    I’m afraid this is mainly repetition. However I will say again, any socialist should doubt the bourgeois system’s ability to deliver justice, that’s standard stuff, why be a socialist if you thought otherwise?

    But in this specific case the actions were guided wholly by the choice of the complainant to not go to the police and to request the party to investigate. Wider beliefs about bourgeois systems do not in any way serve as proof that the complainant was prevented from using the police, those that argue this are simply mischief making for their own ends.