SWP leadership calls special conference

Dear Comrade,

Here is a statement from the Central Committee outlining why we are calling a special conference. The call for a faction which is referred to in the statement is attached.

A full timetable for the special conference will be circulated in Party Notes on Monday.

Solidarity,

Charlie Kimber, SWP national conference

Statement from the CC

1. The SWP has seen an unprecedented amount of debate and discussion over the last four months. This includes pre-conference aggregates, three internal bulletins, the conference in January (with over 550 delegates, two factions, and faction meetings), post-conference report backs, a National Committee of delegates elected from conference and post-NC report backs. Throughout this process the majority of the party has backed the Central Committee and rejected the attacks on the party’s record and its leadership. But a minority has refused to accept a closure of the matters discussed. Instead of the party uniting over urgent issues of the class struggle, a minority seeks to drag us into continual internal debate. The latest example is the declaration of a faction, outside the pre-conference period.

2. The faction document not only contests issues discussed at the recent national conference. It also specifically repudiates the National Committee held on 3 February which rejected the central elements of the faction document by 39 votes to eight.

That NC also supported the Central Committee’s motion by 39 votes to eight. It seemed that the basis existed for the party to move forward united and to throw itself into the class struggle. The report backs from the NC showed an increasing spirit of wanting to move forward. The faction, headed by the minority at the NC, seeks to set that back.

3. The faction document is extraordinarily unpolitical. It seeks to plunge the party into months of internal debate over issues that in truth were thoroughly discussed at the last conference and should have been settled there. It has nothing to say about the economic crisis and the fightback, the battle against racism and fascism, the union bureaucracy and the rank and file, Unite the Resistance, anti-imperialism, building the SWP – or much else. Presumably the faction supporters think the party is getting all of that right.

4. The CC does not accept the right to form factions outside the three month pre-conference discussion period. Such factions open the door to permanent factions and permanent oppositions, making it impossible to unite and intervene effectively. This time comrades want to launch a faction five weeks after the end of conference. Next time it may be five days afterwards. The SWP has never seen factions outside the pre-conference period – as certainly a large number of the comrades who have signed the faction statement know. The CC is criticised for acting bureaucratically. In truth it is the faction which bureaucratically seeks to use the lack of precision in the constitution to raise debates it has lost in other forums.

5. The CC rejects the specific demands of the faction document. We do not believe the DC process was fundamentally flawed or dealt with the complaint in a manner that besmirched our record of fighting for women’s liberation. The complaint was a very serious matter which was treated with great care.

We reject the implication that the SWP’s present CC, or the CC in place in the run up to conference, would allow any comrade who brings a complaint forward to be vilified. We have said repeatedly that every comrade has the right to take issues to the disputes committee without the worry that they will face pressure for doing so.

We do not agree with driving X from political life “for the forseeable future” when the DC decided no complaints were proven against him and no disciplinary action should be taken against him. All of those involved in the DC case have the right to be treated as members in good standing. We do not operate a regime of innuendo and slurs.

6. The CC has not sought to stifle arguments. That accusation is laughable after the last four months. Nor has the CC tried to operate by unpolitical or administrative means. There have been no expulsions since conference despite behaviour which is unaccountable, undemocratic and against the principles of democratic centralism.

Some of this behaviour has been particularly disgusting – such as recording the DC session at conference that then led to the Daily Mail article attacking the women members of the DC.

But despite this the CC did not have, nor does it have, plans for “mass expulsions”. We seek to win comrades politically while (as the NC agreed) we reserve the right to use disciplinary action against those who wilfully and repeatedly flout party discipline.

7. It is not controversial that feminism can be part of a process that leads people into struggle and towards a Marxist understanding of the world. It is a baseless slur that the CC sees feminists as enemies. We are always on the side of feminists against oppression. But we are also for winning women, and men, to a revolutionary socialist view, not adapting to a different view. We believe Marxism explains women’s oppression and points the way to emancipation – this is not the same as slurring feminism.

8. It is clear that serious divisions have been created in our party. Sometimes genuine concerns have been preyed upon by a small minority of comrades who want a wholly different sort of party. A debilitating process of relentless internally-focused debate has gone on for weeks. The NC last weekend made clear that this must come to an end. Those who refuse to stop factionalising seek to continue the branch motions, the blogs, the Facebook battles and the inward focus for another 11 months. There must be a resolution – and soon.

9. The fight against brutal austerity and against racism, and the need for a socialist alternative cannot be sidelined while we look inwards. The party is not shunned or isolated. The danger is it isolates itself by not pushing out. There are signs of new struggles – and great movements across the world. Are we going to intervene energetically with all our force as socialists or spend a year debating the internal structures of our party?

10. The CC has opposed the demand for a special conference, and those that agitated for one failed to win enough branches to call one. But we cannot go on as we are. Therefore, to establish absolute clarity and to draw a line that nobody serious can claim to ignore, the CC calls a one-day special conference for Sunday 10 March.

We understand that many comrades who have voted in line with the majority decisions at our recent conference and have rejected the call for a recall conference in their branches, or who are simply weary of constant internal debate at a time of new possibilities in the class struggle, will not want another aggregate and a special conference focused on these issues. However we cannot allow factional debate to dominate party discussions for the next 11 months.

The conference will be to reaffirm the decisions of January’s conference and the NC, resolve recent debates, clarify some elements of the constitution and move the party forwards. There will be aggregates over the next three weeks and an internal bulletin. Pre-conference discussion takes place in these aggregates, not branch meetings. Delegates will be elected on the same basis as the last party conference. Factions can be formed in the normal manner.

11. We believe all the decisions of the last conference and this special conference are binding, unlike those of our critics who believe they are binding unless they disagree with them. The special conference must be the final word. We demand factions accept that – in practice, not words.

ends

221 comments on “SWP leadership calls special conference

  1. You’ve got to love the logic: The consitution doesn’t say you can organise a faction outside the conference period, so those who are seeking to organise one are acting bureacratically, using a “lack of precision” about the constitution.

    And this is the revolutionary leadership. These are the people who have the gall to call the faction “unpolitical”.

  2. are minority factions afforded a certain number of delegates?

    if not, how many delegates can the two factions win in local aggregates?

  3. That’s the rub, jay. The Central Committee will seek to gerrymander the election of delegates and the aggregate agendas as much as possible to ensure its support. The Conference Arrangements Committee will set an agenda that suits the CC unless the factions get their act together and demand as much representation on the CAC as the CC has.

    Five years on, the mechanisms used to split Respect will be renewed for an internal faction fight.

  4. Calvin on said:

    This is cunning. Give the malcontents their conference, let them factionalise away for a couple of weeks, defeat ‘em a second tme whilst buying off a few with minor concessions, then tell the rest a final time to accept the deicision or leave. All fun and games, but it only underlines the unglamorous truth that there is no future in the real world for ultra-leftist groups, especially those with abusive and cult-like, or perhaps more precisely cult-lite, internal regimes. Amongst other factors, the internet has seen to that.

  5. I think it’s also an attempt to split the opposition between those grouped around Seymour, Mieville etc. on the one hand, and the normally loyal party cadres who broke ranks yesterday on the other.

    OTOH the CC doc is so rude about the opposition as a whole – which of course now includes quite a few prominent longstanding party figures – that it may have damaged its chances of doing that.

    Interesting too that leaking info to the “dark side” of the internet is becoming more widespread. As soon as I uploaded my short piece on the latest developments someone made sure I also had access to the CC document reproduced above (albeit without Charlie Kimber’s preamble). So there seems to be more than one party member ensuring that the outside world sees what’s going on! Things are hotting up…

  6. Seymour & co are demanding a full three months of pre-conference free discussion, as provided for in that very constitution. On paper it’s a smart move, but a lot depends on whether the resisters of the eleventh hour go for it – they could still leave the Renewalists hanging.

  7. There are of course some fairly canny signatories on yesterday’s statement, and they may well calculate that if they allow the opposition to be divided then while Seymour & Co. will be the first ones to be purged they will be next in line. The CC are certainly unlikely to ‘forgive and forget’ the role played by people like Pat Stack, Ian Birchall etc. once the dust settles.

  8. I posted this at the International Socialism blog a few hours ago:

    In view of the above (note about the CC granting a special conference), comrades might do well to re-read the following sections of Cliff’s Biography of Trotsky:

    However, things went from bad to worse:

    “[T]he regime which had essentially taken shape even before the Twelfth Congress and which, after it, was fully consolidated and given finished form, is much further removed from workers’ democracy than was the regime during the fiercest period of war communism. The bureaucratisation of the party apparatus has reached unheard-of proportions through the application of the methods of secretarial selection. Even in the cruellest hours of the civil war we argued in the party organisations and in the press as well…while now there is not a trace of such an open exchange of opinions on questions that are really troubling the party….” [Trotsky’s letter to the CC — RL]

    As a result,

    “Within the basic stratum of the party there is an extraordinary degree of discontent…. This discontent is not being alleviated through an open exchange of opinions in party meetings or by mass influence on the party organisations (in the election of party committees, secretaries, etc.), but rather it continues to build up in secret, and, in time, leads to internal abscesses.”

    Trotsky also renewed his attack on the Troika’s [of Stalin, Zinoviev and Kamenev] economic policy. The ferment within the party was intensified, he argued, by the industrial unrest. And this was brought about by a lack of economic planning. He found out that the concession the Troika had made to him at the Twelfth Congress was spurious. The congress had adopted his resolution on industrial policy, but this had remained a dead letter.

    Trotsky ends his letter with a statement that although hitherto he had declined to make his views public, now he would have to spread his ideas — not to the public as a whole, not even to all party members, but to those ‘mature’ enough.

    “I have deliberately avoided submitting the struggle within the Central Committee to the judgment of even a very narrow circle of comrades: specifically to those who, given any party course that was at all reasonable, would surely occupy a prominent place in the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission. I am compelled to state that my efforts over the past year and a half have yielded no result.

    “I think it is not only my right but my duty to make the true state of affairs known to every party member whom I consider to be sufficiently prepared, mature, self-restrained, and consequently capable of helping the party find a way out of this impasse without factional convulsions and upheavals.”

    Trotsky’s letter was kept secret from the party rank and file.

    On 15 October another letter was written, this time by a group of forty-six prominent party members. They issued a statement directed against the official leadership, criticising it in terms practically identical to those Trotsky had used. They declared that the country was threatened with economic ruin, because the “majority of the Politburo” did not see the need for planning in industry. The Forty Six also protested against the rule of the hierarchy of secretaries and the stifling of discussion:

    “Members of the party who are dissatisfied with this or that decision of the central committee or even of a provincial committee, who have this or that doubt on their minds, who privately note this or that error, irregularity or disorder, are afraid to speak about it at party meetings, and are even afraid to talk about it in conversation…. Nowadays it is not the party, not its broad masses, who promote and choose members of the provincial committees and of the central committee of the RKP. On the contrary the secretarial hierarchy of the party to an ever greater extent recruits the membership of conferences and congresses which are becoming to an ever greater extent the executive assemblies of this hierarchy…. The position which has been created is explained by the fact that the regime is the dictatorship of a fraction within the party….

    “The fractional regime must be abolished, and this must be done in the first instance by those who have created it; it must be replaced by a regime of comradely unity and internal party democracy.”

    The Forty Six went beyond Trotsky’s letter of 8 October. They demanded that the ban on inner party groupings should be abolished. They finally asked the Central Committee to call an emergency conference to review the situation.

    Among the Forty Six were Trotsky’s closest political friends: Evgenii Preobrazhensky, the brilliant economist; Iuri Piatakov, the most able of the industrial administrators; Lev Sosnovsky, Pravda’s gifted contributor; Ivan Smirnov, the victor over Kolchak; Antonov-Ovseenko, hero of the October insurrection, now chief political commissar of the Red Army; N. Muralov, commander of the Moscow garrison. Radek expressed solidarity with the Forty Six in a separate declaration. They formed the core of the so-called 1923 Opposition, and represented the Trotskyist element in it.

    Besides them there were former adherents of the Workers’ Opposition and Decemists (Democratic Centralists), like V. Smirnov, T. Sapronov, V. Kossior, A. Bubnov and V. Ossinsky, whose views differed from that of the Trotskyists. Many of the signatories appended strong reservations on special points to the common statement or expressed plain dissent. The Forty Six did not represent a solid faction, but a loose coalition of groups and individuals united only in a general protest against the lack of democracy in the party.

    The Central Committee and the Central Control Commission, together with delegates of ten leading party organisations, met for a plenary session from 25 to 27 October. The Troika used this session for counter measures against Trotsky and the Forty Six.

    At the party conference, which followed this plenum on 16-18 January 1924, Preobrazhensky was the main Opposition spokesman, and he continued to carry this major task throughout the ensuing few months of what has become known as the New Course controversy. He offered to the Central Committee and the Plenum of the Central Control Commission a resolution embodying the principle of workers’ democracy, including free expression and discussion, real control and election by the membership and an end to the dominance of the secretariat.

    Preobrazhensky’s proposal was rejected out of hand by the Troika. Instead they counter-attacked, accusing Trotsky and the Forty Six of factionalism.

    The Troika justified the Central Committee’s decision not to distribute the Declaration of the Forty Six on the grounds that it would violate the banning of factional activities pronounced by the Tenth Party Congress. At the same time, the Central Committee declared its acceptance of the principle of workers’ democracy.

    The resolution embodying both these elements was carried overwhelmingly at the party conference: by 102 votes to 2, with 10 abstentions. This was the springboard for the campaign against the Opposition which was shortly to begin. [Volume 3, pp.27-31]

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/cliff/works/1991/trotsky3/01-newcourse.html

    Sound familar?

    We should get Stuart to read it…

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_02.htm

  9. Mike C on said:

    The CC has had their hand forced here for sure.

    Still complete rubbish though – no lessons learned from the mishandling of the Disputes Committee, the summary expulsions, the refusal to circualte legitimate factional documents, the harassment of individual oppositionists and the use of the full time apparat to close down debate in branches, the refusal to allow certain opposition motions at this much heralded ‘democratic’ National Committee meeting, the ‘turn outwards, quick, look over there!’ rhetoric, the arbitrary exclusion of the proper 3 month pre-conference period to try and chop the legs off the revolt in double time, the deep rooted bureaucratic centralism, the list is almost endless!

    And they have the gall to dribble on about how undemocratic… the struggle for democracy against a mad and failed CC is. Ha!

    I’m not sure that even the softer opposition elements could swallow all this. Viva la revolution!

  10. Manzil on said:

    What I honestly can’t get my head around, is how thoroughly, explicitly partisan the leadership has been throughout this, even when acting in what should obviously be a neutral, facilitative context.

    Every opposition faction ‘statement’ circular has been prefaced with a refutation on behalf of the Central Committee. Kimber happily conflates his position as national secretary and his role as a leading combatant within the struggle. Each new development shared with the members, is openly done so from the perspective of the Callinicos faction. Even this special conference is specifically denounced as an illegitimate proposal. (If so, why even concede it!)

    Consolidation of administrative control and political leadership into one centre has some dark precedents in our movement, and is never to the benefit of anyone but those who constitute that centre.

    I hope the oppositionists can cause enough of a stink that the CC has to tread carefully in ensuring its own in-built majority, but even under the most favourable circumstances, with three months and relatively open aggregates, given the atmosphere the SWP leadership has built up, is it really possible for this to end in any way but victory for the CC (albeit a victory that will probably wreck the party)?

    But whatever happens, good on the various opposition groups – even the “the resisters of the eleventh hour” (I like that), for at least trying to unseat these bloody egotists.

  11. ‘The conference will be to reaffirm the decisions of January’s conference and the NC, resolve recent debates, clarify some elements of the constitution and move the party forwards.’ This is point 10 of the statement.

    So the conference outcome is predetermined by the Central Committee statement, reinforcing the view that it will be a stitch-up. Democracy is such a bourgeois concept, no?

  12. @6 – Jay

    I agree when you say it’s tactically astute move by the CC. If I was part of that leadership that’s what I would be doing, neutralising the opposition and damage limitation. Fob off the opposition with some concessions or politically isolate them through expulsions or hoping they leave. The opposition needs to seriously think how they will organise to make an intervention in this “special” conference. Though in saying that the SWP leadership has made the brand very toxic, how will they control SWSS for example? If the leadership succeeds then the SWP will be in severe decline.

  13. jay blackwood: The CC are certainly unlikely to ‘forgive and forget’ the role played by people like Pat Stack, Ian Birchall etc. once the dust settles.

    That’s assuming that some of the signatories haven’t been acting as a moderate quite negotiating team with the CC. It’s esay to get conspiratorial, but there’s always a chance that. knowing which way the wind was blowing, Callinicos and others may have had fruitful discussions with some of the faction members.

  14. Nick Bird on said:

    I’m a little surprised that the CC haven’t changed their tone at all, given that the opposition now clearly extends into the heart of the party. Given some of the names lined up against it, the CC looks increasingly insubstantial and it would only take a few more cracks for a viable alternative leadership to emerge around the recent ex-CC members.

  15. red snapper on said:

    Both involving TU general secretaries. The source who sent me these links also said that the ET referred to in the Torygraph (Its also in The Mail) article has yet to rule on the case. Does anyone know more? Or it a case of double standards demonising and effectively convicting Cde Delta and the SWP while no comment on these serious allegations?

  16. Manzil on said:

    red snapper: Or it a case of double standards demonising and effectively convicting Cde Delta and the SWP while no comment on these serious allegations?

    That’s unfair. No one has commented as to the guilt of Delta. That is besides the point, compared to the issue of how the SWP acted in response to the allegation. If anything, it is the SWP’s willingness to engage in an inherently flawed quasi-judicial proceeding which has made his name mud.

    Are you just throwing around allegations because you feel Delta has been ‘demonised’?

  17. John R on said:

    A curious coincidence as to how a similar crisis in Linksruck (SWP German sister org) in 2001 led to the formation of three factions –

    “Many members were furious. A phase of intense internal conflict began. The persistent accusations of sexual assault simultaneously threatened to isolate the group on the radical left. Three different factions emerged from this situation:

    – Arbeiterpolitik: the “conservative” faction of the CC and older comrades. They essentially argued to “stay the course”, coupled with a limited retreat from the social movements and a stronger orientation towards the labour movement. They accused the two other factions of adopting feminist and autonomist positions.

    – Diametrically opposed was the faction Seattle-Bolschewiki. They gave the ultimatum that all members of the current CC resign immediately, demanded an increased orientation towards the movements and strived toward a fusion of Leninist and autonomist politics. However, they drew moral strength and most of their arguments from sharply formulated criticisms of the sexist relations in the organisation and especially its leadership.

    – In between them, even temporarily representing the majority, was the very heterogeneous faction Demokratischer Zentralismus (DemZ) to which I belonged. The thread that held them together was the demand for a comprehensive democratic reform of the organisation as the prerequisite step for a possible strategic reorientation, combined with consequences addressing the accusations of sexual assault; but without demanding the resignation of the entire CC. Instead the faction called for an expansion and renewal of the leadership as part of a democratic renewal of the entire organisation.”

    After the emergency conference –

    “Many leading cadre left DemZ and (depending on one’s perspective) were either convinced by or capitulated to the CC/Arbeiterpolitik faction. Their original goal to fundamentally reform and renew the organisation and thereby offer disappointed and demoralised members a new perspective was not achieved. Instead several members of DemZ were integrated into the new leadership.”

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

  18. red snapper on said:

    @Manzil. Think some here (not you personally) have demonised Delta and the SWP. Just look at the disproportionate number of threads and comments on the subject over the past few weeks. I agree that the SWP dealt with this in a clumsy and inappropriate manner. No dispute there, but these allegations against a TU GS are serious but unless I’ve missed something, silence here. If the person in question had been an SWP member or member of another left organisation I very much doubt the usual suspects would have remained so quiet. thats all I’m going to say on this matter. :-)

  19. Jellytot on said:

    Charles Kimber, January 2013: “The matter is now closed”

    Charles Kimber, February 2013: “The CC calls a one-day special conference for Sunday 10 March.”

    :-)

    @8There are of course some fairly canny signatories on yesterday’s statement, and they may well calculate that if they allow the opposition to be divided then while Seymour & Co. will be the first ones to be purged they will be next in line. The CC are certainly unlikely to ‘forgive and forget’ the role played by people like Pat Stack, Ian Birchall etc. once the dust settles.

    This is probably what’s going to happen but the last sentence may be a bit wide of the mark.

    There will be minor concessions to the oppo’s (with the possibly ‘Delta’ being suspended for 6 or so months), Seymour and “Seymourism” expelled and expunged and Pat Stack, Ian Birchall and others rolling over and accepting these decisions. The latter act being used by ‘Lord Acton’ and Charles Kimber to show how wise and magnanimous they are.

  20. Yep, lots of possibilities of this going a number of different ways. Who knows exactly what negotiations are going on behind the scenes, and what kind of manoeuvering? I suppose I remain encouraged by the fact that things have got to this stage at all. What once seemed monolithic and unreformable now appears rather less so. Which naturally doesn’t guarantee a good outcome…

  21. Manzil on said:

    red snapper,

    Fair enough. (Meaning, well, you exempted me, so who cares. :P) It’s just, if there are no names involved, and little hard info to go on, it’s difficult to talk about it one way or the other. Whereas despite acceding to his ‘official pseudonym’, everyone commenting knows who Delta is and have come across him; and there was solid information about the SWP’s response which was viewed controversial all on its own.

  22. Punching below its weight in the anti-austerity struggle. Delta and the failed CC.

    (This is in response to this debate – will also post an edited and more comprehensive version on my own blog soon).

    The SWP Central Committee tries to portray this as a battle between a heroic outward looking leadership who are leading the class struggle, and some inward looking narcissist bloggers and troublemakers.

    “Instead of the party uniting over urgent issues of the class struggle, a minority seeks to drag us into continual internal debate”.
    blah blah, unite the resistance, blah blah uniting over urgent issues of the class struggle…
    “Presumably the faction supporters think the party is getting all of that right”.

    OK comrades – here is the rub. The really noticeable feature of the anti-austerity resistance since Oct 2010 has been the way the SWP has actually ‘PUNCHED WELL BELOW ITS WEIGHT’.

    This is exemplified in the way it fumbled around with the ‘Right To Work’ campaign when clearly that was the wrong tool for the job, and then without real discussion the CC put RTW on the backburner while it runs a series of ‘unite the resistance conferences’. However, the reasons for shift have not really been discussed.

    THE MISSING UNITED FRONT

    ‘Right To Work’ clearly was not able to lead and develop the growing anti-cuts movement that exploded across the country after Osbourne’s first austerity budget statement in Oct 2010. ‘Right to Work’ expressed one aspect of this struggle – that we are fighting job losses. But this alone was obviously too narrow a framing of the movement. It neglected the crucial political dimensions that could unite the working class as a class – that this was a battle of ‘public’ against ‘private’, of a service ethos against a profit motive, and would involve millions of people mobilised as communities defending services as well as in the terms of workers defending our jobs.

    In almost every town and citiy in the UK dozens or even hundreds of left activists were coalescing around campaigns usually framed as ‘Anti-Cuts’ groups. What an organisation like the SWP, through its combination of centralisation and broad alliances could and should have done is help bring all these together as a National Anti-Cuts Movement. And the best way to have done that would have been on the streets of London, with a national anti-cuts demo in Oct /Nov 2010. If the tiny ‘counterfire’ group could get something like the first 1000 strong ‘Coalition of Resistance’ conference in Nov 2010, the the SWPand its allies could have launched a united front capable of getting between 50,000 to 100,000 on the streets of London that month. And that could have created a movement that could have helped push the official trades union movement much further and faster. Instead we had to wait SIX MONTHS for the TUC to take the initiative with the first national anti-austerity demonstration in March 2011. And while the SWP, along with other lefts played key role in winning the smaller unions like NUT, UCU and PCS to the J30 strike in 2010, we all failed to build a movement that could outflank the TU leaderships when they led the retreat after the otherwise highly promising N30 strikes and protests later that year.
    I think in general the SWP CC are failing in this period to fully develop a theory and practice around the relationship between the recomposition of working class organisition in the workplaces and the wider community, the wider class. Thus the failure of the RtW initiative to provide the necessary lead to the wider movement meant that the SWP surrendered the initiative and were outflanked by the TUC on one side and ‘Occupy’ and UKuncut on the other – the twin forces of reformism and autonomism. Compared to the period of mass anti-war action, with the Stop the War Coalition, the unfortunate truth is that SWP has punched well below its weight in this otherwise promising period. It is also shocking how for a political organisation based upon class struggle, the SWP has failed to significantly grow or develop in this period. It has neither been able to significantly build the movement or itself.

    The roots the parties current strategic errors lay in the positions taken after the SWPs previous crisis and split in 2010 and 2011, when the ‘Counterfire’ and ISG comrades, including Bambery, Rees and German left the party. Then, the argument was conducted around whether a united front against austerity was possible. The victorious leadership around ‘Comrade Delta’ had argued against such a united front in their faction fight against Rees, and German. When the anti-cuts movement erupted in Oct 2010, the CC, with Comrade Delta as the new National Organiser found itself unable to adopt the ‘united front’ arguments of the recently ejected leadership (not this was a feat beyond previous leaderships, historically!)

    So when Chris Bambery finally left the CC and the SWP, in April 2011 he was damming about the parties underperformance here, and ‘Comrade Delta’s’ misleadership:

    “Its been clear for some time that the question of austerity would dominate the political scene, yet we’ve failed to position ourselves at the heart of the anti-cuts movement and our influence is not what it could have been”.

    And:

    “In recent weeks there has been no lead or drive from the CC in turning the party towards building the growing anti-cuts movement. The current article in Socialist Review and the post 26th party notes on the way forward after 26 March both have virtually nothing to say on anti cuts campaigns”.
    Chris Bambery, April 2011.
    http://luna17activist.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/swp-chris-bambery-resignation-letter.html

    With reference to RTW and the dominant forces on the CC around the new National Organiser he adds that:

    “Martin Smith has attempted to blame me personally for the weaknesses of Right to Work despite the internal arguments which have held it back from its inception and which have brought it near to derailment”.

    Later he alludes to some of the problems involved in RtW:

    “This is not the place to go into detail about the party’s recent history, but Right To Work was initiated in bizarre circumstances (I learned the news from Party Notes) and the CC as a whole has never applied systematic pressure to push the formal position through the party”.
    Bambery, April 2011.

    The SWP CC has failed to grasp the relationship between working class action in communities or other locations of resistance and the workplace. This is reflected in its inability to conceive and develop a united front that can really unite all the different strands of resistance in coordinated mass action. In the anti-poll tax uprising it was possible to correct our CC – and also act independently of them – when it came to correcting their mistaken conception that the poll tax would be resisted in the workplaces rather than by community mass non-payment. This time around, workplace action seems more possible, as N30 showed. But even then, the battle with the ‘TU bureaucracy’ was also a political one, about the content of N30. We fought to make the slogans of the day reach beyond defence of public sector pensions, and to articulate the demands and interests of the whole working class against austerity. The rallies were a combination of community and workplace resistance, attracting forces from far beyond just public sector workers, That’s what gave them their promise and potential.

    Despite claiming that it is ‘democratic centralist’ the SWP has refused to use its relative advantages of centralisation to take the initiative. Instead it tails the movement and makes abstract propaganda for building the party. It did have a success – and a high profile -, with some RtW actions against workfare – but autonomist movements like UKuncut etc more successfully occupied this terrain. Rather than bringing the fragmented anti-cuts movement together in a series of national actions, whether by London demos or nationwide days of action, the SWP focuses of building a succession of conferences.

    Again, Chris Bambery condemns the Delta leadership as failing to build a united front and instead focusing on a retreat into party building, (albeit with a fragmented series of united fronts) and therefore of rejecting the traditions of both Lenin and Tony Cliff:
    “I believe the CC’s current approach goes against everything he [Cliff] stood for. His analysis of Lenin’s ideas laid great emphasis on taking a firm grip on the ‘key link in the chain’. Its been clear for some time that the question of austerity would dominate the political scene, yet we’ve failed to position ourselves at the heart of the anti-cuts movement and our influence is not what it could of been.”
    Bambery. Resignation Letter to Charlie Kimber, April 2011.

    Of course, at the time of Bambery’s resignation, Delta had already stepped down as National Organiser (at Jan 2011 conference), because of the allegations of sexual oppression (these were not at the at time allegations f rape). However, despite these allegations, astoundingly, Delta remained both on the CC and as a leading force on this CC capable of finally forcing Bambery out (see Bambery’s resignation letter).

    YES, A NEW FORM OF SOCIALIST ORGANISATION! Fit To Lead The Revolt Today!

    We must reinvent revolutionary organisation. The SWP was a seed, a life support pod for the living Leninist / international socialist tradition invented by Cliff in the 1970s. A device to survive the downturn. Cliff was very canny. He sensed that the ruling class were gathering around a new strategy after the crisis between the late 60s and the early seventies. He somehow knew that the upsurge of rank and file action was peaking. We can see, in retrospect, that the working class needed to reach a higher level of organisation and consciousness through the struggles of the 1970s, so that it could develop a new hegemonic bloc to lead society in a new direction out of the crisis of social democratic state organised capitalism. But Cliff must have sensed that this was not going to happen. Thus there would be a ‘downturn’. The IS/SWP was too small to alter the course of the class struggle as it intensified under Callaghan and Thatcher, – despite its grand relaunch as THE PARTY in 1977. And it was not in his politics – Cliff was not writing books on Gramsci , Britain and the battle for the 1970s but a four volume work Lenin and Russia 1917.

    From leadership to interventionism – and back again.

    Beginning with the expulsion of the powerful west midlands industrial cadre in the mid 1970s, and culminating in the final closure of the rank and file movements, women’s voice, the black organisations and the ANL in the early 1980s, the SWP transformed itself into a large fighting propaganda group, that would restrict itself to key ‘interventions’ in the class struggle, rather than attempting to develop an enduring and organic leadership layer within the class. This is how it survived the 1980s and 1990s. Of course, we made some heroic interventions – at Orgreave, Wapping, Student Loans, in the Poll Tax, Timex, the ANL and so much more. And we recruited a new layer of thousands, keeping a Marxist tradition alive on the activist scenes, the trades unions, the campuses, the town centres.

    But now it is time for the seed to sprout, to break the shell that helped it to survive the long bleak inter-crisis years between 1970s and now, the long unpromising period of high neoliberalism.
    The SWP was always going to enter a crisis when a new period of struggle began, as it has in the post 2008 age of austerity. Crisis marks a moment in the development of any organism or social formation when it must either die or grow and reinvent itself. It is important that the crisis broke out around sexual politics and the unfinished business of the 1970s. But this is the crisis whereby the SWP must remake itself or stagnate and wither.

  23. I can see a few typos etc, and a few paces where paragraph breaks should be added. And of course, there is more to say – but that can be saved for discussion in the comments box. And of course, as long as you also provide a link to my blog :)

  24. red snapper: Think some here (not you personally) have demonised Delta and the SWP.

    That’s deeply unpolitical – coming from someone who said that anyone who flies an England flag is a “neanderthal”, I don’t think you’re a good judge of who is demonising who.

    Aside from that, the idea that the party has been “demonised” means you haven’t paid any attention at all to the thousands of comments that people have made. People have been seriously political in their criticisms – but in the same way that you dismiss anyone flying the England flag as automatically less than you, you also dismiss a large number of people who have serious political problems with the SWP and with Martin Smith.

  25. Barry – I’ll post it in the morning, and I’ll happily take it as is, but in the meantime if you want to beef it up in any way, please email me at tony@evilplan.org.uk and I’ll incorporate it – and absolutely, there will be a prominent link to your blog :)

  26. “The conference will be to reaffirm the decisions of January’s conference and the NC, resolve recent debates, clarify some elements of the constitution and move the party forwards.”

    I think this is a key section of Kimber’s rant. Although the CC have been backed into a corner, they don’t see this as a conference in any genuine democratic sense, but as an opportunity to ‘reaffirm’, i.e. rubber-stamp the CC’s behaviour.

    The tone of this piece is instructive. It is that of a group of people who are simply unused to being challenged, and take it as an affront. However, Kimber is right about one thing – the statement from the main opposition faction was fairly unpolitical. For all the arrogant posturing about getting stuck into the class struggle, the CC’s strategy has in reality been characterised by short-term sectarianism and has been leading it nowhere. That is, in turn, obviously linked to the increasingly top-down, heavy-handed internal structure. At least Seymour’s group seem to understand this.

  27. Nick Fredman on said:

    Manzil: What I honestly can’t get my head around, is how thoroughly, explicitly partisan the leadership has been throughout this, even when acting in what should obviously be a neutral, facilitative context.

    Every opposition faction ‘statement’ circular has been prefaced with a refutation on behalf of the Central Committee. Kimber happily conflates his position as national secretary and his role as a leading combatant within the struggle. Each new development shared with the members, is openly done so from the perspective of the Callinicos faction. Even this special conference is specifically denounced as an illegitimate proposal. (If so, why even concede it!)

    Exactly. Appalling abuse of what the role of an organisational secretary should be. Not to mention flagrant abuse of the organisation’s constitutional requirement of the 3 month discussion before conferences.

  28. Stuart Graham on said:

    ‘The CC does not accept the right to form factions outside the three month pre-conference discussion period. Such factions open the door to permanent factions and permanent oppositions, making it impossible to unite and intervene effectively’ The Bolsheviks were a faction from 1903 – 1914. Funny how Lenin was able to advance the class struggle whilst never denying factions. In fact the Bolsheviks insisted that the Mensheviks were a faction, not another party until Aug 1914.
    But then as the SWP never bother with Lenin, they probably ignore this aspect of history – they’d do well to learn, even at the eleventh hour.

  29. You cant realistically have a campaign for the ‘right to work’ when you support the ever expanding EU.
    When British workers moved on their own and demanded the right to work where was the SWP?
    There is more than one billion unemployed globally and the ‘right to work everywhere and anywhere’ which is what the SWP has campaigned for the last decade since the direct onset of globalisation has meant when the crash came they would be shortfooted, for what would be required now would be demands regarding ‘less work but work for all with no loss of pay’, but if you are also proposing to offer work to all and sundry as this is enshrined in EU law or the UN, then the game is lost irreversibly, hence the collapse of their campaigns. They aint interested in the oversupply of labour as they consider it suspended from the laws of capitalist dynamics.

  30. Stuart Graham: But then as the SWP never bother with Lenin, they probably ignore this aspect of history – they’d do well to learn, even at the eleventh hour.

    Recommended reading in the SWP around the question of democratic centralism is extremely selective, and tends to be based around SWP writers – Cliff particularly (the three volumes on Lenin), also Harman and (with reservations for his supposed Luxemburgist tendencies) Molyneux. Most party members – current and ex – who I’ve discussed this with tend NOT to read much on the issue outside that perspective and tend NOT to go back to original sources. When rank and file SWP’ers defend their version of democratic centralism – which of course is actually the ‘emergency’ bureaucratic centralism of the 10th congress onwards – they are generally sincere. The dodgy nature of what I was being taught only dawned on me when I started reading Liebman, Deutscher, Lewin etc. and on the basis of that went back to what Lenin, Trotsky and Luxemburg actually wrote about party organisation – rather than the way the mid/late period Cliff (who of course initially embraced Luxemburgism himself) distorted it.

  31. Memory of the party on said:

    jay blackwood: Recommended reading in the SWP around the question of democratic centralism is extremely selective, and tends to be based around SWP writers – Cliff particularly (the three volumes on Lenin), also Harman and (with reservations for his supposed Luxemburgist tendencies) Molyneux. Most party members – current and ex – who I’ve discussed this with tend NOT to read much on the issue outside that perspective and tend NOT to go back to original sources. When rank and file SWP’ers defend their version of democratic centralism – which of course is actually the ‘emergency’ bureaucratic centralism of the 10th congress onwards – they are generally sincere. The dodgy nature of what I was being taught only dawned on me when I started reading Liebman, Deutscher, Lewin etc. and on the basis of that went back to what Lenin, Trotsky and Luxemburg actually wrote about party organisation – rather than the way the mid/late period Cliff (who of course initially embraced Luxemburgism himself) distorted it.

    Agree completely. When I was in the SWP a good number of us did read Marcel Liebman which was a bit of a revelation. Still an important book.

  32. Stuart:

    “The problems you highlight are addressed in the last couple of paragraphs here…”

    Thanks for that Stuart, but I have read it and can’t quite see how it helps.

    In fact, Harman adds this final thought:

    “The need is still to build an organisation of revolutionary Marxists that will subject their situation and that of the class as a whole to scientific scrutiny, will ruthlessly criticise their own mistakes…”

    Haven’t seen much of that from you of late.

  33. Jara Handala on said:

    jay blackwood,

    #40, 12:30pm

    If you & others are fed up with reading, & fancy a break, there are lots of Lars Lih vids (in HD), some on Kautsky, most on Lenin. Questions of party organisation are discussed, including the mass social democratic party, democratic centralism & bureaucratic centralism. Of the 7 topics, ‘Lenin & Kautsky’ is spread across 2 vids.

    Also: 2 Paul LeBlanc vids (on Lenin; & facing reality in the US);
    Macnair, Machover, & Ticktin on bureaucratic centralism & the confessional sect.

    Almost all have discussion sections (which SWP[UK] rarely have – for some reason).

    All at http://www.cpgb.org/home/videos

    The vid section isn’t too friendly but the above 11 vids are on pages 1,5,6,9 & 10.

    An easy site to use is http://www.wearemany.org, the ISO, which has 3 LeBlanc vids (organisation Q; democracy; Luxemburg).

  34. Jim Monaghan on said:

    From Sebastian, and its quite good on how it was handled in Trotskys time

    Sebastian Budgen
    Saturday at 10:05pm · ..

    ‎”During the 1939-40 faction fight in the US SWP (which, needless to say, was not pretty), the majority led by James P. Cannon supported the following democratic rights for the minority faction:

    — publication of a special symposium of the main documents, with the right of the minority to jointly edit the publication;
    — continuation of the discussion after the convention in the party’s organs, including publication of theoretical pieces in the New International, as well as publication of internal discussions in the party’s IB under the joint editorship of the majority and minority;
    — no disciplinary measures based on positions expressed;
    — representation of the minority in the leading party committees

    See “Supplementary Resolution on the Organization Question” in Cannon, The Struggle for a Proletarian Party (p. 240 in the Pathfinder edition).

    Now, there is lots that was awful about the politics of this debate and Cannon could be a nasty street-fighter (and both Cliff and Hallas criticized his construction of all inner-party struggles as class struggles), but he and the majority were still prepared to grant an enormous freedom of expression and organization to a faction, as well as their representation in the party press and its leading bodies. All of this, of course, was happening with Trotsky’s direct input.”

  35. Rosa Lichtenstein,

    You were referring to a post-1918 situation, hence not a like for like comparison. See footnote 56..

    ‘Some confusion creeps into the argument because of the experience of Russia after 1918. The Important point, however, is that it is not the form of the party that produces party as opposed to Soviet rule, but the decimation of the working class’

  36. Thanks for that Stuart, but it still remains far from clear how it helps.

    Still waiting for a response to this, though:

    In fact, Harman adds this final thought:

    “The need is still to build an organisation of revolutionary Marxists that will subject their situation and that of the class as a whole to scientific scrutiny, will ruthlessly criticise their own mistakes…”

    Haven’t seen much of that from you of late.

    Or does that depend on the ‘decimation of the working class’, too?

  37. Jara Handala on said:

    Rosa Lichtenstein,

    Where on earth are you getting this idea of the ruthless criticism of all that exists? Have you forgotten prescriptive rule #1, only go as far as it is safe to do given your subordinate position in the organisation?

    You know where it will lead. You performing your last service to the Party. It’ll start with the bright lights, then the hot stones. The finale will be choreographed by Cde. Stew, gourmet chef to the best farmers from Zimbabwe, stirring the pot as he turns up the heat.

    In power the SWP would spawn more organisations than you can find acronymically in a bumper family tin of alphabet soup. The current SWP, CAC, AC, SC, PC, CC, NC (twice) & DC is just the beginning. After all, there have to be so many jobs for the likes of Cde. Chef Stew for the day after.

  38. Stuart:

    “Name them.”

    Er…, will “Susan” do?

    Now, let’s see some ‘ruthless criticism’.

    But, what about this?

    Me: “Thanks for that Stuart, but it still remains far from clear how it helps.”

    That was in relation to this comment of yours:

    You were referring to a post-1918 situation, hence not a like for like comparison. See footnote 56..

    ‘Some confusion creeps into the argument because of the experience of Russia after 1918. The Important point, however, is that it is not the form of the party that produces party as opposed to Soviet rule, but the decimation of the working class’

    Or, was that a mistake on your part — in need of ruthlessly being ignored?

  39. Jara the Hut:

    Where on earth are you getting this idea of the ruthless criticism of all that exists? Have you forgotten prescriptive rule #1, only go as far as it is safe to do given your subordinate position in the organisation?

    You know where it will lead. You performing your last service to the Party. It’ll start with the bright lights, then the hot stones. The finale will be choreographed by Cde. Stew, gourmet chef to the best farmers from Zimbabwe, stirring the pot as he turns up the heat.

    In power the SWP would spawn more organisations than you can find acronymically in a bumper family tin of alphabet soup. The current SWP, CAC, AC, SC, PC, CC, NC (twice) & DC is just the beginning. After all, there have to be so many jobs for the likes of Cde. Chef Stew for the day after.

    I am in fact highly sympathetic to the SWP — the oppositional faction that is.

    I am just bemused at Stuart’s hamfisted attempt to discredit Leninism.

  40. Jara Handala on said:

    Rosa Lichtenstein,

    Hi, first time talking with you.

    Stew has a personality defect. It causes behavioural difficulties, esp. for him. Patience is needed.

    The main thing is to keep him here. He’s our link to the Citadel. With the extra expense of another plebiscite they can’t afford qualified Dilberts. So Cde. Chaplin, Nat. Sec., sent us Stewie. Here’s his bio:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/stewie_griffin

    Get him focused on the future. For Stewie, hope is the only therapy. He’s in a bit of denial, understandably so. ‘Party Notes’, after all, didn’t come out for 2 weeks. In the Citadel the effects are pervasive, systemic. Stewie is not independent of his physical setting.

    You mentioned your time with him & Vladimir. Same thing for me last week. Finland Station. The breaking of ranks. Speaking publicly without permission. Deciding for himself what to say. Courage oozing from knowing he had to act on his judgment, the duty he had to advance the interests of those he served. Total crazy guy. Really disturbed Stewie. He couldn’t help but think of what was around him: the Democratic Renewal Platform, luminaries Me Ol’ China & Angry Raging Richard, the pretty young things orbiting.

    Stewie found himself running away, racing ahead in time, focusing on the palatable fact that Vlad eventually won round the faction. But that was different, here Stewie wasn’t with the rebels, he was against them. And the oppositionists weren’t melting away, they kept producing statements, they withstood the pressure. How long would the hiatus last? Then on Friday the big guns came to the rescue, Cde. Postman & some of the Old Guard, even Alan Bennett’s good mate. A solid representation of the middle cadre. Hard nuts. Not moths. It was getting more real.

    Next day, the counter-attack, the CC statement announcing a Special Conference.

    – The CC asserted that factions can only exist in the 3 month discussion period (which we’ll see it isn’t allowing!), speaking of “the lack of precision in the constitution” (point 4 of the CC statement). But this isn’t true: the wording is simply permissive as to when a faction can arise, it is the prerogative of the members. All it takes is 30 cdes. disagreeing with either a policy or a decision of a leading body of the party (article 10 of the Constitution).

    – We move onto a damning point: the CC is effectively saying that the In Defence of Our Party faction is illegal yet it REFUSES to act. It has chosen to CAPITULATE after raging at the beast. This means only one thing: the CC is acting INCOHERENTLY. It knows itself to be paralysed.

    – And the statement gets worse. As mentioned, the date chosen by the CC for the Special Conference was way too soon, violating the Constitution: “Three months before each Conference the Central Committee opens a special pre-conference discussion in the organisation” (article 4). The CC even agreed it’s 3 months in its earlier discussion of when factions can form (point 4). It rendered what it said ILLOGICAL.

    – The statement ends with these 2 sentences: “The special conference must be the final word. We demand factions accept that – in practise, not words”.

    So it’s crunch time. The CC statement is disparaging, in the most serious of matters it is incoherent & illogical. In the Citadel it is tense. Great uncertainty reigns. Skirmishes have begun. The battle is on.

  41. Rosa Lichtenstein,

    In post 57 you describe yourself as ‘highly sympathetic to the SWP- the oppositional faction that is’. Fair enough but I’ve yet to see any constructive arguments offered by yourself on their behalf in the course of our exchange.

    In post 59 you go on to say that you ‘can hardly be impartial’ because of a friendship with a member of an oppositional faction. Why not? I will be impartial regardless of friendship ties.

  42. Stuart:

    In post 57 you describe yourself as ‘highly sympathetic to the SWP- the oppositional faction that is’. Fair enough but I’ve yet to see any constructive arguments offered by yourself on their behalf in the course of our exchange.

    In post 59 you go on to say that you ‘can hardly be impartial’ because of a friendship with a member of an oppositional faction. Why not? I will be impartial regardless of friendship ties.

    Yes, I seem to have caught that bad habit from you.

    Sorry. :(

    So, in the interests of putting that behind us, perhaps you can respond to the question I asked first:

    But, what about this?

    Me: “Thanks for that Stuart, but it still remains far from clear how it helps.”

    That was in relation to this comment of yours:

    “You were referring to a post-1918 situation, hence not a like for like comparison. See footnote 56..

    ‘Some confusion creeps into the argument because of the experience of Russia after 1918. The Important point, however, is that it is not the form of the party that produces party as opposed to Soviet rule, but the decimation of the working class’”

    Or, was that a mistake on your part — in need of ruthlessly being ignored?

  43. Rosa Lichtenstein,

    You seem remarkably vague towards what otherwise could be a useful conversation. Just to recap, you offered some criticisms which I felt were invalid as they referred to the post-1918 period. You talked about the need to ruthlessly criticise mistakes so I sought to clarify what mistakes you might be referring to. As yet, you have not identified any. As you regard yourself as very close to the opposition what you say could prove useful to someone like myself.

  44. stuart,

    Fair enough. Just curious how you viewed the whole situ. Do you think, whatever the result (although I imagine the endorsement of the last conference is pretty much assured?), SWP members on both sides of the dispute are prepared to go on in a more united way, as the central committee statement expects? I just wondered what your feel has been, at branch meetings or whatever.

  45. Stuart:

    You seem remarkably vague towards what otherwise could be a useful conversation. Just to recap, you offered some criticisms which I felt were invalid as they referred to the post-1918 period. You talked about the need to ruthlessly criticise mistakes so I sought to clarify what mistakes you might be referring to. As yet, you have not identified any. As you regard yourself as very close to the opposition what you say could prove useful to someone like myself.

    I’m sorry, I don’t intend to be vague, but you seem reluctant to answer my questions.

    Why is that?

    Or will that be ‘ruthlessly ignored’, too?

  46. Squandered inheritance on said:

    Stuart – just wondering if any of your mates or perhaps your branch delegate would be up for a spot of recording.

  47. Manzil,

    #65,

    I wrote this on a another thread earlier today (in response to ‘Jara Handala’)..

    ‘The dilemmas you appear to raise are not exactly new to the SWP. There has always been a necessary tension inherent to democratic centralism. When particular movements bring new people into political activity the party is faced with having to be non-defensive towards any suspicions such people may understandably hold towards parties whilst at the same time guarding against a dilution of their overall politics. Similarly there will be on the one hand a need for the party leadership to avoid an unecessary authoritarianism whilst the membership should be able to exercise appropriate an self-discipline that entails accepting majority decisions and not creating ineffectiveness through endless debating. As a member that is how I see the situation now and how I’ve always seen it.’

    I’m aware that in my branch there exists members of the ‘In Defence’ faction and the ‘Renewal’ faction. I regard them all as excellent comrades. It’s a depressing time as we’ve lost a lot of good comrades and it seems likely more will follow. It comes down to how far people want to push principles against how far they wish to compromise. It’s sad but I think reflective of some difficult times for the party and for the left, well expresed IMO in the Alex Callinicos Review article.

  48. Stuart

    Can I ask a general question, do you think the SWP Leadership could or should have handled the situation and its aftermath at all differently on reflection?

  49. Squandered inheritance: Stuart – just wondering if any of your mates or perhaps your branch delegate would be up for a spot of recording.

    In all seriousness I believe the recording and leaking was a dreadful act from the point of view of what might be termed socialist ethics. The arguments raised around the need to get important information across to a wider audience is IMO nonsense. Witness how the bourgeois press have used the recording to attack socialists. Andy has made no secret of his desire to ‘fuck the SWP over’. This is not in any way a constructive approach to building socialism- those who have applauded this episode should hang their heads in shame.

  50. Graham: Stuart Can I ask a general question, do you think the SWP Leadership could or should have handled the situation and its aftermath at all differently on reflection?

    I have yet to make any criticisms of the leadership. I will listen to the views of other party members and would, quite rightly, not insist on maintaining a fixed position. But I will need some real persuading.

  51. Graham: Stuart – you really don’t think the SWP itself has any blame for this situation?

    Not unless I am persuaded otherwise by fellow party members.

  52. stuart,

    You presumably haven’t been convinced by the party members who have hencefar written on the situation on the IS blog?

  53. Graham: >You presumably haven’t been convinced by the party members who have hencefar written on the situation on the IS blog?

    There appears to be a lot of merit in what people say, however as I said in my post 71, this needs to be balanced against the other side, the need for self-discipline lest we become an ineffective debating society.

  54. stuart,

    Do you think only the dissidents should compromise? If you and others are concerned about the loss of good SWP members, perhaps a re-evaluation of the extent to which you’re emphasising ‘centralism’ would be in order. I mean, the last conference evidently wasn’t considered in any sense a satisfactory resolution of the problem, at least by the opposition supporters.

    Given the next conference is likely to end in the same way as the last, presumably the IDOOP and Renewal groups will continue to reject the legitimacy of the central committee position. ‘Democratic centralism’ is only sustainable if the minority accepts it, and they’ve shown no sign they will. So the alternatives are their expulsion or a relaxation of the demand for strict obedience?

  55. Rosa Lichtenstein,

    Perhaps a more straight forward approach may be helpful. What questions am I not answering? I don’t believe I’m being reluctant to answer questions, I just don’t know what they are.

  56. Manzil: Given the next conference is likely to end in the same way as the last, presumably the IDOOP and Renewal groups will continue to reject the legitimacy of the central committee position.

    I think you’re jumping the gun a bit here. We need to give those taking different positions the opportunity to make their case.

  57. Forever Delayed on said:

    Stuart,

    Burying your head in the sand is not a constructive approach to building socialism either. That goes for the CC as well. You talk about becoming “an ineffective debating society” but the reality is that it is precisely the existing leadership and internal structures that are wrecking the party and undermining its ability to act effectively or have any significant and positive impact.

  58. Forever Delayed,

    If you are right about this then one would hope that those arguing your position are able to persuade enough members. But at what point do those in a minority have to accept the majority position? Maybe there is a need for some kind of corrective, I’m not yet convinced but I’m open to argument. But I will say that if I gain the impression that the ‘opposition’ are striking up any kind of alliance with those hostile to the party- and I’m not accusing anyone of this- then I will come down on the side of party’s right to resort to disciplinary measures.

  59. What do you mean by alliance Stuart, its pretty clear that there are people outside the SWP who share criticisms of the SWPs leadership with the opposition – would this be sufficient evidence of an alliance?

  60. Graham:
    What do you mean by alliance Stuart, its pretty clear that there are people outside the SWP who share criticisms of the SWPs leadership with the opposition – would this be sufficient evidence of an alliance?

    If that’s what Stuart means then he is basically accepting that it is impossible for SWP members effectively to live in the real world outside the SWP which must forever be a purified bubble.

  61. stuart: I think you’re jumping the gun a bit here. We need to give those taking different positions the opportunity to make their case.

    The CC statement declares the purpose of the special conference is to reaffirm the decisions of the last one. Surely this doesn’t inspire confidence the opposition will be allowed to make their case?

  62. Squandered inheritance on said:

    Stuart – thanks for your reply. OK I was being a wee bit facetious, but in all seriousness a different type of SWP with proper DEMOCRATIC centralism, genuine accountability, open debate etc might well attract to its ranks some of the unnecessarily departed/exited and also convince newbies that being a member might be a decent move, or at least worth considering. An open account of the Recall Conference which takes a step towards these outcomes could demonstrate that the party is trying to be something other than the toxic caricature it has now become. That’s all.

  63. Stuart:

    Perhaps a more straight forward approach may be helpful. What questions am I not answering? I don’t believe I’m being reluctant to answer questions, I just don’t know what they are.

    Forgive me, but I have posted one question several times; here it is again:

    But, what about this?

    Me: “Thanks for that Stuart, but it still remains far from clear how it helps.”

    That was in relation to this comment of yours:

    “You were referring to a post-1918 situation, hence not a like for like comparison. See footnote 56..

    ‘Some confusion creeps into the argument because of the experience of Russia after 1918. The Important point, however, is that it is not the form of the party that produces party as opposed to Soviet rule, but the decimation of the working class’”

    Or, was that a mistake on your part — in need of ruthlessly being ignored?

    Sorry, two questions, put in bold so you stand a better chance of seeing them.

    Is that ‘straight forward’ enough?

    Oops, there goes another question!

  64. Forever Delayed on said:

    Stuart,

    “If you are right about this then one would hope that those arguing your position are able to persuade enough members. But at what point do those in a minority have to accept the majority position?”

    Are you implying that the SWP has a properly functioning internal democracy? It really doesn’t.

    The combination of a ‘slate system’ of elections with a ban on open long-term factions effectively makes the CC self-selecting and self-perpetuating. THEY are the permanent faction within the party, a bureaucracy with its own interests. The way they’ve handled both the allegations against ‘Delta’ and the resulting crisis prove that the current CC (collectively) is unfit to lead.

    “the side of party’s right to resort to disciplinary measures.”

    What proportion of the membership do you think the party has already lost over the last few months? What proportion do you think are still members, but only provisionally? How receptive do you think people are going to be to joining the party in its current state? So what are the CC/DC gonna do? Expel people? There’ll be no one left to expel. They are running the party in to the ground.

  65. Manzil: The CC statement declares the purpose of the special conference is to reaffirm the decisions of the last one. Surely this doesn’t inspire confidence the opposition will be allowed to make their case?

    That could just be seen as leaders being leaders.

  66. Graham:
    What do you mean by alliance Stuart, its pretty clear that there are people outside the SWP who share criticisms of the SWPs leadership with the opposition – would this be sufficient evidence of an alliance?

    For me the bottom line is Democratic Centralism and this is where I think Callinicos scores well. Whatever good points those on the IS blog might make, they are not acting within the spirit of DC. Effectively they create an alliance, even if not formally, with those forces some of whom may be on the broader left (such as Owen Jones) who are uttely hostile to DC and ‘Leninism’ and in fact want to see it smashed. The SWP is a Leninist, Democratic Centralist party. This element of the dispute does not favour the opposition IMO.

  67. Squandered inheritance:
    Stuart – thanks for your reply. OK I was being a wee bit facetious, but in all seriousness a different type of SWP with proper DEMOCRATIC centralism, genuine accountability, open debate etc might well attract to its ranks some of the unnecessarily departed/exited and also convince newbies that being a member might be a decent move, or at least worth considering. An open account of the Recall Conference which takes a step towards these outcomes could demonstrate that the party is trying to be something other than the toxic caricature it has now become. That’s all.

    Sounds good but one problem stands out. Democratic means going along with majority decisions. Continuing to argue for a minority position is the opposite, it is undemocratic.

  68. stuart: That could just be seen as leaders being leaders.

    Absolutely – I suppose it depends on how the conference actually unfolds.

    However, given the SWP leaders were insisting the matter was closed, that there would be no further discussion, that people had to suspend factional activity etc. that it’s not outrageous to question whether, having been pressured into conceding the special conference, all might not proceed smoothly.

    Do you think they will be allowed to put forward their proposals? From your experiences of party activity at a local level, do you think it will matter – you said there are oppositionists in your branch, but are they sizeable in numbers or is the only reason the do-over conference is happening because Seymour and co. are ‘notables’ and despite being a small minority get what they want?

    andy Newman:
    Rosa Lichtenstein,

    I totally dont understand what you are asking Stuart. This is beginning to look like pointless trolling

    It’s English, Jim, but not as we know it.

    I’m sure there’s a dialectical explanation for it, though.

  69. Forever Delayed,

    I do not see the CC as merely a bureaucratic clique bent only on furthering its own interests though that opinion seems common place on here. The CC can be challenged by conference, at party councils and by the NC. That’s not to say that an on going debate is not necessary to consider improving accountability but I don’t think such an accusation helps in this regard.

  70. As far as I’m concerned, the SWP can adopt whatever method of internal organization it feels appropriate.

    I admit to a certain curiosity but I absolutely cannot understand why people outside the organization feel so strongly about it or feel they have such a vested interest.

    I don’t support the political positions of the SWP on many questions but I do recognize the positive contribution it has made on many occasions in campaigns and struggles. The Left as a whole will be a lot weaker if it tears itself to pieces over this.

    Much of the discussion on this blog is myopically one-sided.

  71. Manzil,

    I’ve no idea how representative my branch is but for the record the most active, most vocal and most experienced members are from what I can tell, oppositionists.

  72. Andy:

    “I totally dont understand what you are asking Stuart. This is beginning to look like pointless trolling”

    I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear, Andy, but Stuart referred me to a passage in an article written by Chris Harman, and I said it wasn’t clear how this helped me understand his (i.e., Stuart’s)point.

    Since then Stuart has been ‘ruthlessly ignoring’ that query of mine. I felt it only right then that I try to make an honest Bolshevik of him, and press the question home.

    Now, as you probably know, I am in general sympatheitc to Stuart’s attempt to defend the SWP (but not over the handling of the alleged rape, etc.), but in this case it seems to me he is making a bad situation worse here — a bit like, say, the captain of the Titanic looking for more icebergs to smash into.

    Now, if you still think this amounts to ‘trolling’, I will.
    , naturally, desist.

    Over to you…

  73. stuart,

    Ta.

    Also, g’wan, admit it. Off this site you’re a bloody oppositionist. :P

    And Jara’s actually Charlie Kimber. (That’s right, shit just got serious.)

  74. Rosa Lichtenstein,

    But from what I could tell, you were trying to draw comparisons with the Bolshevik party around 1923/24 in which Trotsky was emerging as an oppositionist, with the situation today. I felt this was an unfair comparison and cited what I believed to be relevant SWP literature to back up my case.

  75. Oh dear Rosa has come in the debate.

    I dont post often but as soon as you put the word ‘dialectics’ into a sentence we have the pleasure of her opinion!!

    No offence Rosa but life is too short.

  76. #101. Well Rosa’s so dead-set against the idea, there must be something to it…

    stuart:

    Who the hell is Jara? Quiet today from what I can see

    An undiscovered rhetorical genius, that’s what.

    I’m sticking with Kimber. ‘Jara’ must be busy today organising the conference. ;)

  77. stuart,

    Sorry Stuart but I don’t understand what is undemocratic about continuing to argue your position, if you believe that the majority has is wrong whilst carrying out the decision of the conference surely it would be right to try and change that decision and show in practice its wrong?

  78. stuart,

    This depends entirely on your concept of democratic centralism, I think several people here (and elsewhere) have pointed out that the SWP has more incommon with Bureacratic Centralism than anything else.

  79. Graham,

    #106,

    That’s not how the SWP operates. We believe that to be effective interventionists there needs to be a voluntarily imposed self-discipline on members which in practice means respecting majority decisions. The decisions need to be tested out in practice not endlessly debated whilst they are being carried out.

  80. Graham,

    #107,

    I think a highly subjective viewpoint, borne out of a pre-existing hostility and a commitment to , in practice, an ineffective ‘pluralist’ approach in which everyone does their own thing and pulls in different directions.

  81. Yes but Stuart there should be no contradiction between carrying out a conference decision (abiding by party discipline if you like) and attempting to demonstrate why the policy is wrong internally. That seems to me the very essence of a loyal member surely?

  82. Stuart:

    But from what I could tell, you were trying to draw comparisons with the Bolshevik party around 1923/24 in which Trotsky was emerging as an oppositionist, with the situation today. I felt this was an unfair comparison and cited what I believed to be relevant SWP literature to back up my case.

    Yes, I got that. I am not being obtuse, but what I didn’t get was why you thought that that passage was relevant.

  83. Ian:

    Oh dear Rosa has come in the debate.

    I dont post often but as soon as you put the word ‘dialectics’ into a sentence we have the pleasure of her opinion!!

    No offence Rosa but life is too short.

    In fact, I was already here, and my presence prompted Manzil into mentioning the forbidden word. He probably thinks he was being funny.

  84. Howard Kirk on said:

    stuart,

    Instead of ‘endless debating’ the membership are not consulted when decisions are being formulated or when they have succeeded or not. For the membership, there is no debate period. The party structures are basically a rubber stamp committee except recently things have got so bad some of the membership are no longer willing to put ink onto the stamp. For the average member, there is only instruction which, to be fair, the SWP tacitly allows members to ignore if they are not convinced.

    And when you talk about majority decisions, in the recent past, in reality, this means what is decided by the CC.

    The SWP is not a democratic centralist party – it is a bureaucratic centralist party. It does not resemble very much what the Bolsheviks had in conditions of illegality in Russia such as permanent factions & open discussion in the party’s paper etc. And then there is the Lenin atFinland Station question.

  85. Howard Kirk on said:

    Hot off the keyboard from the International Socialist website:

    http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/when-is-conference-not-conference.html

    When Is a Conference Not a Conference?

    Whatever else one does at it, at a conference, one confers. That’s definitional. The clue is in the name. One compares views, one consults, discusses.

    What kind of animal, then, is the meeting that the CC have called for 10 March? A sermon? A fingerwag? It pleases them to call it a ‘one-day special conference’, but whatever they intend it to be, a conference is not it.

    One might expect a CC that have presided over and by their own actions, errors and intransigence precipitated the worst crisis ever to face the SWP, an unprecedented uprising of anger among previously loyal members, to display a modicum of humility or concern. A sense that there are lessons to be learned. A willingness to listen. But in a favoured formulation of the CC’s most withering polemicist, not a bit of it.

    We know this is not intended to be a ‘conference’ in any meaningful sense because they have told us. They’ve been perfectly explicit. The meeting’s purpose is not to discuss or confer, but to ‘draw a line’, ‘to reaffirm the decisions of January’s conference and the NC’. As far as they are concerned, the outcome of this ‘conference’ is a given: the role, therefore, of attendees is to swallow what they are given to eat. The alternative is that the CC, with pontifical infallibility, already know exactly how the discussion will end. From that point of view, who needs a full preconference discussion? They will be happy to know that a vacancy has just opened up in Rome for people with such gifts. But not everyone is as smart as the CC – give the rest of us a chance.

    Even from an entirely cynical point of view, one might expect the CC, given the catastrophic situation they have wrought, to express a willingness at least to listen, even if they had no intention of actually doing so. But no. Whatever else they can be accused of, no one can say, on this issue at least, that they dissemble. They are explicitly clear that they do not intend to engage with any arguments.

    This overweening self-righteous arrogance still staggers. SWP members deserve leaders who listen to them, as ours have made clear they will not.

    The CC assert that they have “not sought to stifle arguments. That accusation is laughable after the last four months.” By implication, they claim credit for the fact that there has been and continues to be a growing chorus of disapproval of their actions and methods. In a sense, they are correct. By expelling four comrades before conference and suppressing a legitimate faction, they provoked the most raucous debate in the party’s history. True also, by effectively issuing gagging orders in conference report-backs and in Party Notes, then leaving members hanging out to dry when the controversy went public, they incited the vocal dissidence of hundreds of members now organised in a faction. If they want to claim credit for the last four months, they are welcome to it.

    The CC may attempt to split the opposition. There are, of course, differences among us: some comrades may disagree with some of the Democracy Renewal Platform’s opinions and approach. We are eager to discuss such issues in comradely fashion. But in case the CC attempt to instrumentalise any such legitimate debates and try to turn some against others, we urge comrades to consider the light in which the CC holds *all* of us.

    The In Defence Of Our Party Faction is several hundred members strong. It includes countless well-known and leading members of, in many cases, decades’-long standing. As well as hundreds of ‘lay’ members, it comprises members of the NC, ex-members of the CC, collaborators with Cliff, writers for party publications, activists who have been our public face for years. This is an unprecedented grouping of loyal and well-respected militants.

    How does the CC respond?

    In defending ‘those involved in the DC case’, they say: ‘We do not operate a regime of innuendo and slurs’. They go on to demonstrate this by claiming that several hundred party members are ‘unpolitical’, our faction irresponsible. They claim that we wish to ‘plunge the party’ into internal debate. That we manoeuvre ‘bureaucratically’. That our document has – and by implication we have – ‘nothing to say about the economic crisis and the fightback’, and other important political issues. The CC does not operate a regime of innuendo and slurs, but would like it to be known that their opponents are unprincipled opportunists.

    We will deal with the canard that the opposition is ‘unpolitical’ elsewhere. The CC enjoys pretending that a lack of explicit reference to David Cameron or the BNP, say, in a document means that it is unconcerned with ‘the real world’. This is trivially obviously untrue, just as it is true, of course, that the opposition to the formal processes here raises crucial political issues of women’s liberation, democracy, cadreisation, and more.

    Here, however, we focus on the attitude of the CC to members. Which is an insult.

    It is perhaps not wholly surprising – though it is disgraceful – that disobedient student members might be so attacked. It is astonishing and disgusting that the CC think they can get away with traducing *anyone* in the party who disagrees with them, including so many important and respected figures, in this manner.

    This goes beyond disrespect. It is contempt. For many years, a cliche of CC exhortations has been that ‘every member is gold dust’. More dust, this document would suggest, than gold.

    The leadership’s position has demonstrably and repeatedly failed the test of reality, but they still expect a cowed membership to rubber-stamp it. Let us make no mistake about that position. The points the CC demands we sign off on include the following:

    – That there is no failure of our sexual politics in a process that includes asking woman comrades alleging sexual misconduct by a leading male comrade about past relationships, and whether it’s true that one ‘likes a drink’.

    – That the outrage greeting an investigation of rape allegations by a committee of friends, acquaintances and colleagues of the accused is entirely inappropriate.

    – That the CC was and remains correct in their assessment and insistence that the matter was ‘closed’ while it was not only a cause of immense anxiety among members, but was being openly discussed in both the left and mainstream press.

    – That there is nothing untoward about the expelling of four comrades discussing the case online on the Kafkaesque grounds that their explicit disinclination to factionalise constituted secret factionalising.

    – That the gross misrepresentation of the views of critical party members in the official Party Notes is unproblematic.

    – That to question the views and actions of this CC at this time constitutes a breach with Leninism itself.

    – That despite the mass rage of our student cadre and the loss of more and more members in demoralised despair, there is no crisis facing the SWP.

    – That ‘the party is not shunned or isolated’, despite growing numbers of external comrades, left intellectuals and trade unionists explicitly refusing to work with us and/or expressing their grave concerns.

    – That, despite all the above, the leadership have made not a single error during this debacle.

    These bizarre and insulting contentions are what the CC peremptorily demands members agree to at the ‘special conference’. Anyone minded to vote with them should be clear that that is what they are getting behind.

    The only way the CC can possibly expect to carry the party to such absurdities is not by rational comradely argument – they have, recall, already stated that they have no intention to engage in any – but by relying on uncritical, default, knee-jerk loyalty of sufficient numbers.

    We have a higher opinion of the party membership than the CC does. We do not believe they will nod any such rubbish through.

    We demand a conference worthy of the name, with a proper pre-conference discussion period – indeed with discussion at all – at which both the immediate issues and the wider problems of democracy, accountability, party structures and regime which have given rise to this catastrophe are fully aired. We must break the hold of this increasingly delusional and sclerotic leadership, so the SWP might renew its culture and represent the best of the IS tradition.

    Alex, Oxford
    Andy, Hackney East
    China, Brent and Harrow
    Gareth, Camden
    Jake, Euston
    Jamie, Tottenham
    Jules, Liverpool.
    Marcos, Euston
    Penny, Oxford
    Richard, Hornsey and Wood Green
    Rowan, Brixton
    Sam, Islington
    Steffan, Swansea
    Steven, Liverpool
    Will, Canterbury

  86. David;

    “Rosa is SWP, one of their intellectuals, and has, effectively, come out for the opposition. Salut!”

    Er, I’m not actually in the SWP, so I can’t be one of their ‘intellectuals’.

    But, if I were in the party, I’d definitely be an ‘oppositionist’.

  87. Graham: Yes but Stuart there should be no contradiction between carrying out a conference decision (abiding by party discipline if you like) and attempting to demonstrate why the policy is wrong internally. That seems to me the very essence of a loyal member surely?

    But unfortunately some members are not acting ‘internally’, they are agitating against party decisions very openly.

  88. Rosa Lichtenstein: Stuart:Yes, I got that. I am not being obtuse, but what I didn’t get was why you thought that that passage was relevant.

    Because at post 9 in this thread you copied part of Cliff’s account of Trotsky’s predicament in Russia in 1923/24. You even named myself as if to invite a response. Why do you think Trotsky’s situation at that particular time has any relevance in Britain today? Harman offers an insight into how the Bolshevik Party was shaped by the material circumstances, see part 5 ‘The Party, the State and the working class 1921-1928′..

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/harman/1967/xx/revlost.htm

    The reason I offer these links is that I don’t believe you are making useful like for like comparisons.

  89. Howard Kirk,

    The lack of what you wish for in your final paragraph is presumably in your view responsible for the poor sitauation you believe exists as stated in your opening paragraph. How do you think your formula would have helped the party say over the past decade or so? What do you think might have been done more successfully?

  90. Jara Handala on said:

    A becalming is bathing the celestial body orbiting Pluto. Despite the chill, the coterie relax on their deck-chairs after a collective reading of February’s book of the month from Bookmarks, ‘Report of Court Proceedings in the Case of the Anti-Soviet “Bloc of Rights & Trotskyites”‘. They chuckle as they remember it was Me Ol’ China, China Miéville, expert on the Soviet jurist Pashukanis, who suggested it months ago in a corporate meeting in the Citadel, when the dire financial statements of the bookshop were being discussed. At that point, somewhat absent-mindedly, Stallinicos drifted in. Silence. “I approve”. No need for a vote. Consensus achieved. That typical flash of light from the Dueller of the Dark Side, that enlightening, could now be used by the coterie to educate the whole membership in what it is to be a proud & loyal party member, even offering a final service to the cause.

    The rule-breakers, perhaps aspiring bone-breakers (if only in a metaphoric flourish by an increasingly excitable Philosopher King), chat as they slumber, laughing at the passivity of the membership having told them on Saturday that the Constitution is irrelevant when the Permanent Callinicos Faction (Undeclared), the PCF(D), says it is irrelevant. “We even mentioned 3 months then named 10 March as the date!”, piped up Cde. Gamma. How they laughed!

    An underling from the Intelligence Department comes to them & reports that the filth seem to have gone quiet the last few days. Professor Dark Side muses. His megalomania expanding unabated, he conjectures he may even be intimidating the filthiest of the filth. He smiles. In an instance a smile ripples, engulfing the coterie in a display of collective action, finding themselves lost in a collective smile. But there is a sincere seriousness just below the surface. This coterie, these office-holders, know they are in a fight for their lives, & taking to heart (or at least where humans have their heart) Trotsky’s imperative from ‘Terrorism & Communism’, they are showing that the ends really do justify the means. If it takes slandering, intimidating, bullying, even violence, then so be it.

    But perhaps this is the calm before the storm; solar dust, the remnants of past transformations of gold into mere detritus, ground down by abuse & hyperactivism into elementary particles, a solar wind coming to wreak the disgusting & disgusted Revenge of the Revolting. Particles so fine they will pass thru the coterie & their supporters, near invisible but more than a match for manoeuvring & all those tricks the administrators have learnt from the Jobcentre & corporate HR departments about bending the stick to bend the rules to bending the members to keep the rulers ruling.

    The news reader is ready. The day today. The bouquet of barbed wire is ready to be presented on this special day. The day of love, in praise of the decency humans are capable of. The coterie are self-satisfied, convinced that the steamroller will flatten the Constitution as the Permanent Callinicos Faction (Undeclared) use their control of the apparatus to proudly show the world their rule remains unbreakable. Some things may be broken. Their rule not. As they stretch their legs, getting burnt by the sun, Cde. Eppy cracks the cliché, omelette & eggs. How they laughed!

    In their hubris they remained oblivious to the rushing solar wind approaching. But respecting the Constitution & Procrustes are complements. Office-holders who abuse their office deserve to be cut down to size. Even thrown out for egregious behaviour, thrown out of the van, as the members step up to become their own guards, their own guardians of the Constitution, their own protectors of all that is decent in the party.

    The behavioural standard we hold our rulers to is the one we use in our own organisations. Our own party rulers must always be accountable. When they abuse the office we have elected them into they must be called to account. They cannot be allowed to operate with impunity, continuing to act without compunction. Occupancy of an office is a privilege, not a right, a privilege granted to a member thru the vote of the membership as a whole. An office-holder has the duty not to exceed their powers, such as trying to get the organisation to do something that is unconstitutional. This is a rule-bounded organisation, not a dictatorship, a fiefdom, the lords lording it over the serfs.

    Their motivation may explain what they do, but it is secondary to what has happened. Being an undeclared faction, & so illegal (article 10), & calling a quick (& so unconstitutional) Special Conference to further its own perceived interest & stay in power, is secondary.

    What is relevant here is their action, not their motivation. They have demonstrated they do not accept the Constitution, one of the 3 conditions of membership (article 2). By their actions they have invalidated their membership, placing themselves outside the party. They cannot be allowed to substitute themselves for the membership & usurp the organisation, for that is not their personal property but the property of the membership. They cannot be allowed to privatise the collective, the communal property of the organisation, to steal it. It is not theirs to own.

    One member can change things. One member, not even a supporter of a faction but a supporter of the SWP being a rational organisation bounded by its constitution, can send to the Disputes Cttee. a complaint, complaining that on Saturday 9 February the CC members exceeded the powers given by the Constitution to any CC when they decided to announce a Special Conference for 10 March rather than one in 3 months’ time. No CC is empowered to do such a thing: there has to be a 3 month discussion period (article 4). The CC statement of 9 February even acknowledges this (its point 4). In making this decision the CC members have abused their office. It means their decision is invalid: it is voided as it violates the SWP Constitution (article 4). Rather than carrying out their duty as CC members to comply with the Constitution, & to protect it on behalf of the membership, they have acted egregiously, arrogantly, with contempt for the people who pay their wages & expenses.

    Support the DRP10, not the DC7.

    ‘Stop the Bullying!’, 12 Feb, an appeal & analysis from the DRP10, is at http://www.internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk

  91. Mm…. much preferred the King Canuteicos n entourage leaving for Brighton beach last Friday.

    But Stallinicos, that’s quite nice. How about the impending (Special) Battle of Stallinigrad?

  92. Jara Handala on said:

    Sam64,

    Nice. Maybe the Special Battle of Stallinicosograd?

    Well, after the disaster at Gravesend, when the Philosopher King showed he was not omnipotent, the coterie trooped back to the Citadel, red & white deck-chair held aloft, assembling in the War Room.

    The latest dossier was produced by an underling from the Intelligence Department, scurrying along the corridor, passing all those rooms with rows of screens monitoring what the filth were up to, ‘Socialist Unity’ closest to the War Room, along with the FB analysts/hackers & those pouring over internationalsocialismuk.

    Another file came in from the Protector of the Faith Directorate, delivered by the Director in person (their gender a Party secret – as if).

    The Director of Internal Publications reported, saying the sole Pre-Conference Bulletin was almost full, what with all those CC statements the scribes have been penning, so PCB(S) could be sent out before the weekend. Little soul of socialism here, then. (Must check that the bookshop – whoops, online too, even SWP members are internet shoppers these days – has cleared all that Draper nonsense from the shelves. And we need to make a point of resurrecting Zhdanov. All that free spirit starts with art, love & a flowing imagination fuelled by science fiction.)

    The CC has decreed all members of the Party will receive along with PCB(S) a copy of Elias Canetti’s ‘Auto-da-fé’ to help focus the minds of the waverers. (Why do the members have so many minds? That’s at the root of the problem.) To take a turn of phrase repeatedly used by the DC7 during the Conference session, the Party has always taken seriously the duty of every member, if called upon, to provide their last service to the Party – or at least since the IS/SWP tradition was re-invented (yet again) with that internal agitational pamphlet, that snappy number, admittedly not one of Professor Dark Side’s finest, ‘Learning from Stalin & the Other Epigones’.

    Coincidently, Historical Materialism, in a recent joint conference with Spiritual Materialism, as part of the current united front of yet-another-special-type, had discussed the matter of inquisition, with special reference to the role of the auto-da-fé in the internal life of today’s Marxist & religious organisations. It included a close reading of the auto-da-fé provided by Cde. José Saramago in ‘Baltasar & Blimunda’. But the Professor, drawing on his daily close ties with the rank & file knew this was way too complex for the members, they had better things to get on with, so Canetti it had to be.

    (Could it be that this joint work with Spiritual Materialism was a prescient attempt by the International Director of the IS Tendency – yes, you’re getting the picture, with free international travel, the occupant of the plane seat is Stallinicos – to repair the IST by opening a Vatican section?)

    Meanwhile, back in CCworld, not to be confused with the shop, the coterie studied the documents. What they needed now were the district reports, latest news of the aggregate meetings. And news of progress on the national tour by the Membership Records Department & the Finance Department to make sure the ‘right’ branches had a culling. ‘Av it! Get in there, my son!

    The War Room was festooned with motivational slogans, chief of which, learning from James Carville, was ‘IT’S THE CLASS STRUGGLE, STUPID!’ The need, it seems, to hammer this into the heads of the drones was the whole point of this diversion from the class struggle, the need to have this Special Conference to RE-AFFIRM what the CC already knows. What is wrong with them? Don’t they know who we are? The CC doesn’t need re-affirming: they ARE the CC, they already know they’re right, they don’t have to be told again, reminded of their infallible judgment. When will the drones stop being insubordinate? When will the revolting revolting stop revolting? Maybe the membership needs – and deserves – another re-education campaign.

    Stallinicos was alone. He was deep in thought. How could the members treat him this way? After all he had done? Having gone thru all those dark days, the long downturn, engineering all those nuanced adjustments? Why are the members so ungrateful? What had he done to offend them? Closing his eyes, he bowed his head, not before the membership but before his favourite poster, occupying a wall all to itself, facing the sun, facing the class. He returned into SWPworld. He looked straight ahead, defiantly. This was what he had lovingly crafted in a moment of inspiration, an improvement on Brecht:

    ‘The Central Committee always has the power to dissolve the membership and pick another’

    Well, only if the membership lets it.

    Will it?

  93. Jara Handala on said:

    Just seen on the Dark Side a detailed summary report (with all names) of the explosive meeting of ‘International Socialism’ journal, the quarterly flagship of the SWP, edited by yours truly, Professor Dark Side. This is the meeting when the Philosopher King promised lynch mobs if the natives remain restless after the 10 March Conference. It is posted by the CPGB.

    I believe the most telling phrase is by Cde. Alex Callinicos, but not his threat of there being lynch mobs. What struck me to the core was that he justified there not being a 3 months discussion period coz “it would ‘destroy’ us”:
    “There’s no way a 3 month discussion period before the special conference will be allowed. It would ‘destroy’ us”

    In fact, he’s not referring to the SWP, he’s referring to the current CC members, no-one else: if the membership had the 3 months discussion that they’re entitled to (coz it’s what the Constitution insists on) then the current CC would be blown away, not the Party. That’s what would be destroyed, not the Party.

    And that, of course, is his fear; & that explains the CC’s refusal to accept the Constitution.

    It all makes sense, doesn’t it?

    P.S. Yet again Cde. Callinicos seems to be in a muddle about what’s in front of his face: the faction he calls permanent had never existed before so it couldn’t be permanent! And of course, every member, especially an experienced cde., has the DUTY to report (i.e., issue one of those famous complaints) what they think is a permanent faction to the proper authority, here the CC, which would then instruct the Disputes Cttee. (yes, the famous DC) to investigate said complaint. So even here Cde. Callinicos has not performed his duty as a Party member – and this dereliction is compounded coz he’s an experienced cde..

    The more we know about the Permanent Callinicos Faction (Undeclared) the worse it is.

    The record of the meeting is at http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/online-only/callinicos-threatens-lynch-mobs

  94. This is the hilarious bit:

    Sheila Macgregor, for example. Paul Blackledge later on.

    But they were not angry either that the SWP has dealt with something as important as sexual harassment with appalling ineptness (not to say a cover up) or with the way the CC attempted to shut down the resulting debate. Rather, they were furious at those of us who’ve been “making a fuss” about such matters.

    Sheila is “very angry”. We should not hold a special conference! We just had a conference, at which the issues were “all” fully aired! The present turmoil was started by party members. The SWP’s reputation is not in fact suffering damage in the ‘outside world.’

  95. Andy Newman: The SWP’s reputation is not in fact suffering damage in the ‘outside world.’

    Oh god, I’ve read this story before.

    In the end, we all end up winning the victory over ourselves: we learn to love Martin Smith.

    Alternatively…

  96. prianikoff on said:

    #125

    It might be easier to take the “CPGB” seriously if they weren’t such parasitical shit-stirrers.
    Hypocritical too: allegedly, LW, a member of Manchester CPGB once resigned over sexual innuendoes concerning his then partner.
    These were made in his presence by a leading member of the “Provisional Central Committee”, following a meeting in London.
    The participants retired to the pub, where leading member JB wagered that he’d “have fucked her by Xmas”.

    John Pearson alleges a year long campaign of dirty tricks against its political opponents by the leadership of the CPGB
    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/john.pearson1917/

  97. Squandered inheritance on said:

    Andy Newman,

    The horrific image of a ‘very angry’ Sheila McGregor has just returned to my consciousness. One Marxism I remember her literally chasing a couple of errant young female comrades down a corridor at the University of London Students Union. Their ‘crime’ was not to have accepted the line following a ‘debate’ on ‘Do Men Benefit from Women’s Oppression?’. I wonder if her ‘convinced’ them or did they just go through the revolving door. It’s a hard one to call.

    She could get ‘very angry’ quite often, without recourse to anything more than the crudest of reasoning.

  98. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Indeed, their leadership are clearly deluded,

    What puzzles me though is why the oppositionists have not demanded a formal internal enquiry into Calinicos’s threats?

    Surely it cannot be within rule for someone to openly threaten physical violence against those who disagree?

    Let’s remember this organisation seeks the revolutionary overthrow of the state and seeks to rule the country.

    They expel people for having unauthorised conversations (the “Facebook Four”) but take no action against leaders who behave inappropriately and no action against leaders who openly threaten physical violence against members who disagree.

    In light of the above, in addition to unanswered allegations of summary sackings of employees and refusal to answer questions about employee rights to trade union representation and collective bargaining, it’s fair to ask why on earth does the trade union movement continue to tolerate this sick organisation?

  99. Karl Stewart: What puzzles me though is why the oppositionists have not demanded a formal internal enquiry into Calinicos’s threats?

    Because they don’t have the resolve to prosecute the faction fight through to victory; the IDOOP opposition are calling for the current leadership to see sense; not aspiring to replace them.

  100. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Yes I think there’s something in that analysis Andy.

    Calinicos’s stupid and clumsy threat has provided the opposition with a metaphorical “open goal.”

    But from the latest opposition statement “Stop the bullying”, it appears, for whatever reason, they’re hesitant to fully capitalise on it politically.

    (To continue the footballing analogy, they’re “doing an Arsenal” – instead of going for goal, they just keep passing!)

  101. Squandered inheritance on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    Yes indeed Karl. I am not sure that the opposition always realise how high the stakes are. There is no ‘reformist’ solution here. If the opposition want to reclaim the party, open it up, democratise it etc. then from amongst it ranks there will have to emerge a nucleus who will be prepared to lead that renewed party. They will not be able to persuade the Callinicos faction to mend their ways. They will have to defeat them and that means acting with firmness and without hesitation and with the absolute conviction of their position. If not Dr Death will win and the party will wither.

  102. Morning Star reader on said:

    Prianikoff (132) prompts me to recall the response of the Weekly Worker/pretend-CPGB to the manifesto of Unity For Peace and Socialism/CPB in the 2008 London Assembly elections.
    The WW described the following section of the UFPS manifesto as a “reactionary sub-plot” because it implied that “the police force (an institution of the rule of capital, for those who have forgotten) is basically sound – it is just the methods of policing that need to change”. (WW April 17, 2008)
    Here is the offending (and presumably pro-capitalist police) section, in full:
    UFPS: “The police must treat cases of rape and domestic violence seriously, rather than dismissing allegations or victimising the victim. There must be an end to Search Under Suspicion, the retention of fingerprint and DNA data of children and all innocent individuals and other aggressive, collective punishment and privacy-invading forms of policing. There must be a turn to policing of communities by consent by officers from London’s communities. More officers on the beat, with less reliance on CCTV, daredevil driving, guns, CS gas and side-handled batons. We do not want US-style policing. The current over-use of control orders – which are really house arrest – should be opposed and the underlying problems which lead to anti-social behaviour tackled”.
    In Weekly Worker La-La Land, therefore, calling for victims of rape and domestic violence to be taken seriously by the police, and for the repeal of repressive policing policies, is hopelessly reactionary.
    Women, don’t worry your pretty little heads about rape and domestic violence, concentrate on fighting for the revolution instead!
    Or – as in the case of the pretend-CPGB – do everything you can to split and divide the left, discuss lowering the age of consent and call for the right of everyone to carry guns.
    The WW may be providing some useful information about internal machinations in the SWP, but that should not be confused with the pretend-CPGB having any sincere and practical concern for women or for the left.

  103. Karl Stewart on said:

    Squandered inheritance,

    Good points SI,
    Latest rumour is the SWP national seceretary is claiming 500 SWP members have indicated support for the ruling Calinicos faction, while the IDOOP faction is claiming 400 signatories.
    So if thIs is true, it’s looking pretty close (and it also, if this is true, it looks like the SWP has around 900 members – not the 7,000 it has claimed).

  104. Karl Stewart on said:

    Morning Star reader,

    I’ve got mixed feelings on this subject MSR.

    Of course those political positions you reference there are downright mistaken – no argument there.
    And of course the place for serious communists should be within the mainstream Communist Party and not a splinter group – so no argument there either.

    But just a word about this tendency from my personal experience – I was a supporter of this tendency for a short while quite a long time ago (around 93/94) and some aspects of it are in my opinion positive.

    I was always encouraged to develop my ideas and arguments when I disagreed with those in the leadership. I was never shouted down or ignored and my disagreements were always responded to patiently and courteously.

    (So very much a communist internal political culture rather than a trotskyist internal political culture in my experience)

    On a personal level, I found people friendly and affable and also particularly kind to me during a very difficult personal/family situation that happened totally unrelated.

    So while I’d say yes I agree with some of those political criticisms, these are a bunch of people I quite like in other respects.

  105. Karl Stewart: So if thIs is true, it’s looking pretty close (and it also, if this is true, it looks like the SWP has around 900 members – not the 7,000 it has claimed).

    Membership numbers have always been highly questionable, but I think that 900 is way too low. There seems to be a general concensus that the core membership is around 2,000 to 2,500, plus a larger periphery of similar size who are lapsed/casual/nominal members.

  106. Morning Star reader on said:

    Thanks Karl, and I can only accept the truth of the points you make about your own personal experience.
    I’m not in a position to know whether their (leading) members – who are mostly the same people as 25 years ago – act with such kindness and tolerance today.
    I can only judge the pretend-CPGB by their political approach – which has involved substantial amounts of malicious (and untrue) rumour-mongering and downright fabrication as far as the CPB and the Morning Star are concerned. I think you can find chapter and verse on the Formercommunists site.
    Comrades in other political organisations will know whether this has also been their experience.
    Certainly, the fake-CPGB infiltration and entryist tactics in the old CPGB, SLP, SSP, Labour Party (“Labour Party Marxists”!) and – unless I’m mistaken – Respect all confirm the disruptive and dishonest approach of these charlatans.
    Karl, I think you did well to leave them when you did. Are they still predicting the imminent split and collapse of the CPB – you know, the one they have been regularly predicting for at least the past 13 years or so?

  107. swp member on said:

    On the numbers, for what its worth, in my area I’ve seen both lists (opposition and loyalist) and compared that with a list of active members who i’ve seen in recent times out and about somewhere or at mtgs where i live. The list of all the members that i could think of quickly was slightly over double the size of the list that have signed up to one side or the other in the faction fight. So a core of about 2000 is prob not far off the mark

  108. Karl did you encounter them a few years later in the SLP? Imo their behaviour was particularly destructive to the project.

  109. Morning Star reader: discuss lowering the age of consent

    It’s actually to abolish age of consent laws outright, I believe.

    So I was once told by one of their members flogging ‘Communist Student’, anyway.

    Seemed an odd thing to lead off with in a 30-second chat, to be honest.

    Vanya:
    Karl did you encounter them a few years later in the SLP? Imo their behaviour was particularly destructive to the project.

    How so? (Is anyone ever not destructive to these projects?!)

    What Karl says for the WW I’d say of my experience with the left in general. I never found people in the LRC or socialist groups be anything other than friendly and welcoming. It’s just that doesn’t necessarily stop people from also being bastards politically, I guess. Christ, I know really lovely Blairites.

  110. Karl Stewart,

    I found them to be a very strange outfit. A couple youngish members (most of whom have since left/been expelled) were very keen on recruiting me. Bought me loads of pints and even lunch several times!

    Nice enough people for cultish types. I stopped getting my free lunches as their incessant requests for me to sign up and their bizarre politics got on my tits. That and them pretending to be the real Communist Party was just pathetic.

    I was made to feel very sorry for not joining the cult as I suffered the inhumanity of several disgruntled articles in the weedy wanker labelling me as a ‘Wikipedia hacker’, a ‘macho sexist’ and worst of all a ‘supposed communist’!

    What got me was they spent all their time ‘revealing crimes’ and justifying why all the left groups were bad, why they shouldn’t be voted for or worked with. What was the worst thing about, for instance, an Israeli attack on Palestine, for them, was the fact that the AWL failed to condemn it! Bunch of jokers.

    There’s only about 12 of them in the whole country so they are best ignored.

    Certainly now the CPB is getting along with the rebuilding nicely their doomed mission to become THE communist party seems to be well and truly buried.

  111. George W: Wikipedia hacker

    Was that to do with the Communist Students wikipedia page? :P

    I notice there’s a disambiguation page for that now. Wikipedia: inadvertently causing, and then helping to rectify, bust-ups on the Anglophone left since 2001.

  112. Manzil: Seemed an odd thing to lead off with in a 30-second chat, to be honest.

    Depending on who the chat is with it could be considerably worse than odd.

    Manzil: How so?

    The SLP was founded on the premise that it would aspire to be a mass and broad socialist party. Specifically it was not to have a federal structure.

    The WW insisted on joining in spite of the fact that they had no intention of respecting the latter and on selling a paper which specifically stated that their aim was to re-forge the Communist Party. Ie they were trying to join something they clearly didn’t agree with.

    At least the Militant, who agreed with them on the federal structure and with whom they later formed the Socialist Alliance , had sufficient respect (for others and themselves) to not gatecrash the party.

    The WW was always full of personal attacks on individuals in the SLP they disagreed with at the time and the sort of gossip anyone who reads their stuff would be familiar with.

    I saw their behaviour as essentially hostile, while playing at being all in favour of unity. That’s why I don’t trust them or their methods.

    And a fair few of them did seem to be perfectly nice people.

  113. Morning Star reader on said:

    George W, so the pretend-CPGB bought you loads of pints and a few free lunches. I take it all back – I wanna join!
    I’ll even read every tedious piece of rubbish by John Chamberlain/ “Jack Conrad”/ “John Bridge” on Jesus Christ. I’ll take on another two names and help treble party membership. (Will I get three times as many free pints and lunches?).
    Can I, like Mark Lewis/ “Fischer”, use the name of a dead South African Communist? That would be heroic, pretending to be a real, dedicated, clandestine revolutionary who is hunted by the class enemy.

  114. Manzil,

    Yeah it was! We had the audacity to reclaim our ‘communists students’ name from their little takeover project. We sent delegates to NUS conference, had a stall there and actually started to re-establish more Communist students societies (which then stood at only 3 in the whole country but now is a slightly healthier 11.)

    It was the one aspect of their campaign to replace us as THE communist party that was anywhere near becoming a reality. Thankfully after we pulled the finger out a few years ago they seem to have given up on that little project.

    They we fucking pissed off about it at the time though! They really thought they had us on the back foot for a moment.

  115. jay blackwood,

    Morning Star reader,

    Ha ha.I didn’t mention that the free beer and lunches came at the price of enduring lectures on reasons not to vote RESPECT, reasons why not to work with the stop the war coalition, reasons why socialist cult A has a worse line than the Stalinist sell out socialist group B, th ‘philosophy of Max Shachtman’ and, strangely enough in lit of recent events, the horrors of the institution of marriage and the benefits of ‘free love’!

  116. @Manzil

    “I never found people in the LRC or socialist groups be anything other than friendly and welcoming.”

    Yes, we in the LRC are very friendly and welcoming. We have comradely debates and discussions, indeed we are lovely to know.

  117. Morning Star reader on said:

    HarpyMarx, that’s all very well, being lovely people an’ all.
    But how many free pints are we talking about here? How many free lunches? And will I be subjected to long lectures about RH Tawney?

  118. @Morning Star reader

    As much as you can drink and stuff ya face. Huh? Long lectures about RH Tawney? Awww c’mon the LRC is hip, cool and erm, very trendy. So no RH Tawney lectures. Again, the LRC is dead cool an’ all.

  119. Vanya: Depending on who the chat is with it could be considerably worse than odd.

    I presume, because it was in the context of a student event, that they felt their extreme libertarianism on sex and drugs laws would appeal. They didn’t realise I’m actually really boring.

    Cheers re: SLP explanation.

    George W – I always wondered about that! Also, the ‘CPGB-PCC-ABC-123-LMAO-XXX’ are being spoken well of by people here, but in my own experience Ben Lewis (who Google tells me is the one who had a pop at you), at the very least in an insufferable gobshite.

    HarpyMarx – Haha. Well if you’re that nice, how could I refuse. You wouldn’t make me sell unreadable newspapers though, would you? That and not crossing picket lines: those are my red lines. :P

  120. @Manzil

    ” Haha. Well if you’re that nice, how could I refuse. You wouldn’t make me sell unreadable newspapers though, would you? That and not crossing picket lines: those are my red lines.”

    Yes and no…. Against crossing picket lines (being a TU activist and an organiser of a picket line or two) but the LRC has the excellent magazine Labour Briefing. Unreadable? Perish the thought! There have been articles in there written by me and some excellent photos in there too by *cough* me…

    But no… we won’t expect you to get up at some gawd forsaken time and make you sell Briefing outside Sainsburys on a cold and wet Saturday.

    We are quite laid back…Did I say cool and trendy?

  121. Karl Stewart on said:

    swp member,

    If the true membership is a bit over 2,000, and if there are 500 signatories to the CC statement, then this means that, in spite of being in control of the whole SWP machine – the publications, all the committees and party bodies, all the districts and branches, all the employees, all the membership records and details – they’ve only managed to win the support of less than a quarter of the membership.

  122. HarpyMarx: We are quite laid back…Did I say cool and trendy?

    In that case I’ll have to pass. I am neither. :P

    To be fair, when I was in the Labour Party I always read Briefing. Although Christine Shawcroft writing the exact same thing each month did make me feel like I was slowly going mad. (Although presumably the advantages of the bust-up over the LRC/Briefing merger is there’s no more of that!)

    See? The LRC is too nice for me. I’ve already slagged someone off.

  123. @Manzil

    Don’t let the cool and trendy put you off… there are some who definitely aren’t cool and trendy. We cater for everyone ;)

    Bust up? Bust up? What bust up…? It was a comradely split…

    Oh, that’s OK, comrade, we will allow you one or maybe two slaggings off…. Like I said, we are open when it comes erm… critique.

  124. @Manzil

    Yes, positively mild. Unlike your average night out at the cyber pub known as the Socialist Unity where supping your cyber drink of choice a ruck or 10 will break out. Oh I miss those days… in the real world ;)

  125. Manzil,

    Oh yeah he is a complete bellend. Although it is pretty entertaining to see someone so irrelevant and so utterly insignificant stride around like Lenin. Especially when he’s had a few jars and comes out with his ‘I was almost elected leader of die linke’ story.

    I would be careful though. We are going the right way for a denouncing article in the weedy wanker next week. I can see the headlines ‘Stalinist bastards at socialist unity dare to plot against fuhrer’,

    Subheading ‘and still the AWL refuse to abandon social imperialism’

  126. jrcn84@aol.com on said:

    “And of course the place for serious communists should be within the mainstream Communist Party”

    Who would that be? To be considered “the mainstream” CP it would, at the very least, have to be significantly bigger than the other Communist/’Trotskyist’ parties, and be generally known to the working class. Such a party is desperately needed, but does not currently exist in this country.

  127. Karl Stewart on said:

    jrcn84@aol.com,

    The Communist Party of Britain.

    It’s at least 10 tiimes larger in terms of membership than any other communist organisation in the UK (and about 50 times larger than the WW tendency.)

    It’s registered as the Communist Party with the UK electoral commissiuon. And is the only organisation that stands for elections as “the Communist Party.”

    Its programme is the BRS – the pogramme.of the CP in the UK since the early 1950s.

    Yes of course it needs more members. Yes of course it needs to be bigger and more effective.

    But no-one can seriously now doubt that it clearly is the mainstream party of communists in the UK today.

  128. jrcn84@aol.com,

    I agree such a party does not exist and such a party is certainly desperately needed. Yet the closest possible party to this requirement is the CPB.

    Okay not a huge membership, last congress I think it was something like 1200ish More importantly there are functioning regions and nations covering the length of the country. There are also functioning branches in at least every city.

    We are in a global movement including Communist parties that are mass parties. Indeed we conduct electoral, trade union and student work in Britain with domiciled members of such parties, and those over here for work or study-the number of whom are I suspect at least double if not more than our membership. Particularly uselful are our comrades in organisations such as the Indian workers association and the association of Indian women-who have buildings in several cities and have links and respect in the British-Indian community.

    Okay not known to the general working class, but our presence in the organised working class far exheeds our numbers, with the influence of our Unity paper at TUC, regional TUC, trades council and individual union conferences. I doubt there are many unions we do not have at least one member in, not to mention our members who are officials, on executives, regional organisers, trades council officers,, reps and rank and file members.

    If it is a larger, more influential, explicitly communist party you wish to see in this country, the only game in town is the Communist Party of Britain.

  129. George W,

    If that coverage extends to cities on the south coast like Portsmouth and Southampton, I’ll be seriously impressed. :P Although given half the flags at Tolpuddle are Communist Party banners from all over southern England (good ol’ Red Cornwall?!), I suppose it’s not that much of a stretch!

  130. Manzil,

    Hampshire is one of our weaker areas admittedly!

    We are better in the good old red Westcountry and have activity in Kent but we ain’t particularly good from east of Bournemouth and west of Brighton.

    Although to give a taste of the uneven geographical distribution we have three branches in Devon and three in Glasgow but only one apiece for Liverpool and Manchester.

    Although to be fair our presence at Tolpuddle ain’t the best barometer to go by because we always seem to have a massive turn out there, probably because its such a fantastic event.

  131. Squandered inheritance on said:

    Karl Stewart: Squandered inheritance, Good points SI,Latest rumour is the SWP national seceretary is claiming 500 SWP members have indicated support for the ruling Calinicos faction, while the IDOOP faction is claiming 400 signatories.So if thIs is true, it’s looking pretty close (and it also, if this is true, it looks like the SWP has around 900 members – not the 7,000 it has claimed).

    Thanks Karl. That’s how the forces line up in terms of explicit commitment at the moment. I suspect 2k is closer to the mark rather than 900. There will be the uncommited and there will be the ones hiding from the knock on the door by the full-timer or more likely the phone call. Make no mistake the apparatus at local level will be fully mobilised to get the signatures. The full-timers and the ‘cadre’ (usually the unthinking loyalists rather than the talented revolutionaries) will have drawn up the ‘with us’ or ‘with them’ lists. They will pick on the waverers and try to marginalise the malcontents. The opposition needs to be just as calculating.

    En passant – isn’t it absolutely extraorodinary that the leasdership has gone down the road of having to gather signatures for their position? Why do they need to do this when the special conference – according to Dr Death – will be about affirming the NC and Conference decision? To do what they have done is a sign of weakness on the CC’s part – unbelievable really when you consider the arrogance, complacency and the assertion of authority, the noblesse oblige, the right to rule mentality. Callinicos hasd proved mimself to be a bully. Apart from the racist connotations of lynching,disgraceful enough, it betrays decades of a ‘born to rule’ power inheritance. This should be challenged voiferously and widely and wholly unaccepatble language.

    On reflection, his 1985 post-miners strike article in the ISJ on the rank and file signifies an abandonment of the best IS/SWP traditions. Many were uncomfortable with it at the time but went along with it. It paved the way for much of the elitist substitutionist What Is To Be Done mechanical leninism that fiollowed.

    But I digress. Comrades of the opposition. Paraphrasing Tawney and the onion metaphor, you will not be able to deal with these charlatans layer by layer. The tiger has to be slain. Do not underestimate your opponents – they will behave in the most vile, underhand and factional manner. I am not asking you to do likewise but, from the outside it seems clear to me that you need to be much harder, more definite, more ruthless than you are. If you (we) lose then the SWP for all its faults is utterly, utterly fucked. Now this might please some on here, but I have always thought that the IS/SWP had some of the best people on the left – not the only ones for goodness sake and tiny in terms of what it should have been its real and empathic ambitions – and some of worst (I won’t name names – oh OK Bambery and German and Dr Death – a very close triumverate at one time)

    For those many decent comrades involved in the faction fight you need to be much, much more resilient and much less trusting of the CC. You need to win. Focus all your energies on this outcome. There is no acceptable compromise, other than defaeting them. You can win and build something new and open and inclusive. I would be with you but I was ‘excluded’ some time ago. If you don’t then a significant tradition on the left – for all its faults – is FKed.

  132. George W,

    Haha. Well keep at it! Even the blue sea of the south coast has its red rocks. ;)

    If only everyone in the areas around Soton and Pompey would just sort of, well, bugger off…

    Also, what the hell’s going on down in People’s Devon?!

  133. George W,

    LOL.

    Fanbloodytastic. I’d have put money on that being a dead link.

    Take to the hills, comrades! For people’s war in Exmoor!

  134. Todor Zhivkov on said:

    Manzil,

    Hants and Dorset District of the old CPGB was never going to set pulses races like London, Yorkshire, West Mids etc. However they a local bookshop next to the Southampton red light area! and going back a bit further, some influence around the docks and power workers around Fawley.

    By the mid 80s Militant were the main game in town, forging a strong local organization including full timers. They often had >80 at public meetings.

    Southampton CPB has, apparently, recently re-activated. Maybe a CPB member will confirm. Portsmouth is the home of Pompey..and birthplace of Christopher Hitchens..:(

  135. Todor Zhivkov,

    That’s interesting. I was told Militant was fairly substantial in Southampton, came close to getting people selected as candidates etc. I suppose that explains why it’s still pretty SPish. Apparently the two Labour councillors expelled recently are ex-Militants (although they went along with Socialist Appeal).

    That the CPGB would have had some influence in the docks and Fawley makes sense. That’s why I always thought it odd there’s little mention of the party in the city. Labour councillors today remember speaking to hundreds of dockers. A receptive audience for Socialist politics etc. I’m told the old dockers’ housing now makes up the bulk of rented HMO and student accommodation that I lived in…

    I can’t imagine why anyone would want to visit the old red light area, let alone set up shop in it, though. If you walk back from Ocean Village in the wrong hours you can still get approached!

    jay blackwood,

    Ctrl-F’d Southampton and Portsmouth. Not a bit surprised with those names, unfortunately.

    Still disappointing though, seeing as one of them’s president of the trades council and could actually be of some use to the labour movement if she pulled her head out of the sand.

    You say some of the signatories should know better, but the ones I know are all very much “don’t rock the boat” people: long-standing members for whom the SWP is as much part of their social life as it is about actually achieving anything, so it’s not a shock for them to rally to the Martin Smith Liberation Front.

    I am surprised at some of the names that haven’t come up in either the central committee or opposition statements, though. If you don’t speak up now, why even be in the SWP?

  136. jay blackwood: Phil BC:
    For those interested in this sort of thing …

    Support for the SWP Central Committee Statement

    This is bonkers. Following on from their revolutionary innovation in raising the level of class struggle by getting the passing public to sign their petitions (and thus unwittingly signing up to an indeterminate period of persecution) the SWP now seems to have instituted internal petitions.
    Does this signify an acceptance of the impeccably Stalinist idea that inner party struggle is class struggle at the highest level?

  137. Marxist Lenonnist on said:

    Nick Wright,

    “Does this signify an acceptance of the impeccably Stalinist idea that inner party struggle is class struggle at the highest level?”

    Seems they think the inner party struggles of the leadership are just that, while the struggles of the opposition seem to be theorised in similar vintage to be the work of spies and wreckers, agents of the enemy….

  138. Karl Stewart on said:

    Phil BC,

    Thanks for posting that list of shame up Phil.

    Remember, every single person on that list agrees with summary expulsions of people who have “unauthorised” conversations.

    Every siingle person on that list agrees that it’s OK to threaten to set “lynch mobs” on people who disagree with them.

    Every single person on that list thinks a boss should be allowed to behave inappropriately towards young female employees with no sanction whatsoever.

    Every single person on that list thinks that the young female employee should be fired if she complains about the inappropriate behaviour.

    Every single person on that list thinks the SWP should employ workers at below the Living Wage, with no right to trade union representation and no right to collective bargaining.

    Some people on that list have added their trade union after their name.

    Why is that?

    Does their trade union also support these positions?

    Do you belong to any of the trade unions listed?

    Do you support these positions?

    Do you want people who support these positions to represent you?

  139. Morning Star reader on said:

    Manzil asks why pretend-CPGB members use several names – it’s about being a REAL revolutionary. You have your birth name, and then when you become a dangerous revolutionary you take on a Party name. And if you’re the guru, it seems you can have a third name as well.
    This is necessary if you are engaged in a life and death struggle with the state, as the pretend-CPGB pretends to be.
    Keep the state guessing about who is really who. That was the idea in real revolutionary circles, originally, and has been taken on by the pretend revolutionaries in the “I can’t believe it’s not the CPGB” pretend-CPGB.
    Mind you, I think the state knows exactly who they really are.

  140. Jara Handala on said:

    Andy Newman: The SWP have apparently produced a leaflet for today’s unison womens conference with the heading. “Challenge those who trivialise rape”

    Revolutionaries speaking from the heart.

    No irony or sarcasm intended here from the SWP.

    To hammer home the point it would be an exercise in revolutionary consistency to appoint Cde. Smith (not Wolfie) as co-national organiser of the Women’s Liberation work of the SWP.

    And the appointment could be announced at a nationally mobilised meeting, ‘The SWP, Sexual Assault, & the Future for the Women of Britain’, held, of course, in Tooting Town Hall.

    Andy Newman:
    The SWP have apparently produced a leaflet for today’s unison womens conference with the heading. “Challenge those who trivialise rape”

  141. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    Morning Star reader,

    Morning Star reader: Manzil asks why pretend-CPGB members use several names – it’s about being a REAL revolutionary. You have your birth name, and then when you become a dangerous revolutionary you take on a Party name. And if you’re the guru, it seems you can have a third name as well.This is necessary if you are engaged in a life and death struggle with the state, as the pretend-CPGB pretends to be.Keep the state guessing about who is really who. That was the idea in real revolutionary circles, originally, and has been taken on by the pretend revolutionaries in the “I can’t believe it’s not the CPGB” pretend-CPGB.Mind you, I think the state knows exactly who they really are.

    Bearing in mind that they are actually Kautskyans pretending to be Leninists, the disguises seem even less necessary.

  142. #186. So basically, they’re just idiots…?

    Mark Victorystooge:
    Bearing in mind that they are actually Kautskyans pretending to be Leninists, the disguises seem even less necessary.

    What’s wrong with Kautsky?

    (You can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this is shit-stirring.)

  143. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    Morning Star reader: George W, so the pretend-CPGB bought you loads of pints and a few free lunches. I take it all back – I wanna join!I’ll even read every tedious piece of rubbish by John Chamberlain/ “Jack Conrad”/ “John Bridge” on Jesus Christ. I’ll take on another two names and help treble party membership. (Will I get three times as many free pints and lunches?).Can I, like Mark Lewis/ “Fischer”, use the name of a dead South African Communist? That would be heroic, pretending to be a real, dedicated, clandestine revolutionary who is hunted by the class enemy.

    I always assumed “Fischer” was a tribute to a well-known chess champion.

  144. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    Manzil: #186. So basically, they’re just idiots…?What’s wrong with Kautsky?(You can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this is shit-stirring.)

    An anti-Bolshevik renegade.
    I have been reading the winter 2012/13 edition of Spartacist, which I purchased from a rather intense young man in Berlin, and it actually does a good job deconstructing why there is an increasing vogue for Kautsky on what passes for the left.

  145. Andy Newman: The SWP have apparently produced a leaflet for today’s unison womens conference with the heading. “Challenge those who trivialise rape”

    It would be interesting to know what reaction that gets…

  146. Mark Victorystooge: An anti-Bolshevik renegade.
    I have been reading the winter 2012/13 edition of Spartacist, which I purchased from a rather intense young man in Berlin, and it actually does a good job deconstructing why there is an increasing vogue for Kautsky on what passes for the left.

    Is there an advert for an Kautskyite truth kit?

    One of the reasons of course that some people may now have a bit of time for Kautsky is that if the German left had spent a little more time listening to him and less time listening (selectively ) to Lenin and to Radek the history of the 20th century may have been just that lttle bit happier.

  147. @187

    Andy, based on a motion at Unison Women’s Conference – “Support Rape Victims Not Rape Deniers”.. The debate is happening now at conference.

  148. I think the SWP opposes this motion because of this:

    “2) Encourage UNISON spokespeople to refuse to share a platform with George Galloway, or any other speakers who contribute to rape culture by blaming and undermining rape victims.”

    I would be very uneasy with the above. Certainly, due to 2. I would oppose it or get it amended as it’s not amended I would, if I was there, vote against. Also, it will be used by the bureaucracy to attack the Left. I can understand the sentiment but it won’t work and it will backfire. You don’t fight ideologies by banning them (exception of fascists) it is through education and winning people over.

  149. 197#

    hopefully no socialist would support such a ridiculous motion. It is a witch hunting motion that would be used against the left

    sandy

  150. It has been passed apparently. Not just 2. but 3. of this motion is seriously worrying. I get the sentiment but politically it’s wrong.

    2) Encourage UNISON spokespeople to refuse to share a platform with George Galloway, or any other speakers who contribute to rape culture by blaming and undermining rape victims.

    3) To liaise with the NEC, Labour Link, and other UNISON bodies to try and ensure that UNISON never offers a platform to any speakers who are rape deniers, and who blame and undermine rape victims, and that it never officially supports any event that does.

  151. Jara Handala on said:

    Phil BC: For those interested in this sort of thing …
    Support for the SWP Central Committee Statement

    Thanks for that, Phil.

    I see Cde. John Molyneux’s not there. (As the Camden UNISON member denoted ‘John M’ is happy to be anti-constitutionalist & declare his support for the CC statement, Cde. Chaplin has made sure the membership (& the world) isn’t presented with an ambiguity.) Perhaps Cde. Wolves has had 2nd thoughts since his statement in support the Permanent Callinicos Faction (Undeclared) made just before the 3 Feb National Cttee. meeting.

    Let me just say, the PASSIVITY of the membership in the face of 2 egregious acts by the SWP leadership is FRIGHTENING. Not just ‘the class’ but all in contact with the SWP are being shown what kind of world they are struggling to create: a world of arbitrary rule, where the rulers can act without being bound by the rules the collective has agreed upon, to be dispensed with when the rulers choose to, coz, after all, they must know best. The idea of socialism is harmed considerably when professed socialists have such a view, a stance demonstrated by either what they say or do, here in an act of commission by the CC of the SWP & in thousands of acts of omission by the SWP members.

    This is not a trivial matter: it demonstrates how degenerate the SWP has become, & I take no pleasure in saying this, in recognising that this is the reality that the SWP is today. However, it is within the power of the members to change this, to renew the SWP, but they will have to recognise how seriously damaged the organisation is, how unhealthy it is. Their leadership is not infallible, & the members are not incorrigible: a correction can be made, but it would have to be radical, thoroughgoing, pervasive.

    The 2 egregious acts are these: the threat of violence by a CC member, Professor Dark Side (link is in this thread, comment 125, 10:55pm, 14 Feb); & the 9 Feb CC statement calling a Special Conference without the mandatory 3 months discussion period (see the SWP Constitution, in Pre-Conf. Bulletin #1).

    The Constitution is the expression of the membership, it holds all members to both what they can do & should do. CC members, outside the time of Conference, have the duty to protect the Constitution, they are its principal defenders. Their behaviour is bounded by rules that the membership has agreed on; it means their rule cannot be arbitrary. To exceed their powers & ignore a requirement of the Constitution, on such a fundamental matter, is egregious. In any rational organisation such behaviour is recognised as unacceptable, & the violators are made accountable. Here it would result in a member (or members), not even a faction member, making a complaint (the SWP jargon) to the National Secretary, C Chaplin, who would pass it to the chair of the Disputes Cttee., Slack Stack, who would open a hearing, with at least him & the two CC members standing down.

    The reluctance – the refusal – of ANY member to make a complaint concerning these 2 acts tells the world that the pervasive attitude within the SWP is NOT to accept RULE-BOUNDED behaviour. Instead it prefers ARBITRARY rule, which is often a feature of a dictatorship.

    It seems that the norm in the SWP is acceptance of the exceptional state, here the exceptional condition, of the sovereign having the power to declare the exception. We have learnt much about this from historical analyses & the work of Carl Schmitt, Ernst Fraenkel, & Giorgio Agamben. And have we learnt nothing from Stalinism, learnt nothing from the pleas & arguments of those like Roy Medvedev? Constitutionality is not a luxury if one wants to live decently; it must be accepted & vigorously upheld by anyone aspiring to socialism, communism, let alone capitalist liberal democracy. That is what the democratic struggle is about, for a narrow or an extensive & intensive democracy.

    I don’t like saying it, but it is a conclusion flowing from what I have said, it seems despite both common decency & all their academic degrees, the SWP members have no respect for themselves. This is part of the problem we call the SWP. As matters stand, the masthead of the paper should be, ‘Socialist Worker’, should be honest: ‘Neither capitalism, nor socialism, but arbitrary rule by the SWP!’.

    But the SWP can change, it doesn’t have to be this. Some members are showing they have their self-respect, & they are arguing & organising to make the SWP a socialist organisation worthy of being respected. There is a long way to go but they can succeed.

  152. I see Cde. John Molyneux’s not there.

    He won’t be, he’s in Ireland now. His intervention into the National Committee debate was as an “international comrade”.

  153. #201 Of course part of the problem is how you define a rape-denier, or more to the point, who is given the job of making that definition.

    Will the various women who define themselves as feminists and anti-rape campaigners and who have defended Assange be included?

  154. @204

    It is open to interpretation in many different ways and that’s very worrying. I can see the right-wing bureaucracy using this to attack the Left.

  155. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    HarpyMarx: @204It is open to interpretation in many different ways and that’s very worrying. I can see the right-wing bureaucracy using this to attack the Left.

    Perhaps all these are deep-laid plans coming to fruition – Galloway, Assange, SWP disputes committee and the legendary recording device. To paraphrase The Importance of Being Earnest, once is a misfortune, twice is carelessness, three times is the state at work (?)

  156. the list of CC supporters (those 500 who signed the statement anyway) breaks down geographically like so:

    London 183
    Manchester 33
    Sheffield 30
    Leeds 21
    Glasgow 19
    Birmingham 18
    Chesterfield 17
    Edinburgh 13
    Leicester 12
    Cardiff 10
    Bristol 9
    Lancaster 9
    Leytonstone 8
    South Wales 8
    Coventry 7
    Swansea 7
    Nottingham 6
    Dundee 5
    Northampton 5
    Portsmouth 5
    Rotherham 5
    Doncaster 4
    Essex 4
    Liverpool 4
    Luton 4
    Barnsley 3
    Brighton 3
    Fife 3
    Huddersfield 3
    Newcastle/Tyneside 3
    Plymouth 3
    Aberdeen 2
    Bradford 2
    Home Counties 2
    Ipswich 2
    Oxford 2
    Southampton 2
    Walsall 2
    Ashfield and Mansfield 1
    Blackburn 1
    Cambridge 1
    Crewe 1
    Derby 1
    Devon 1
    Dorset 1
    Dudley 1
    Exeter 1
    Halifax 1
    Merseyside 1
    Newport 1
    No location given 1
    Norwich 1
    Preston 1
    Scunthorpe 1
    Stoke-on-Trent 1
    Swansea 1
    Telford 1
    Waltham Forest 1
    Wigan 1
    Wolverhampton 1
    Total 500

  157. #209 I think the approving reference to a Spart publication on this or another thread may have given the game away.

    Quoting Wilde actually endears him to me a little.

  158. Increasingly Horrified on said:

    May I remind the SWP of Marx’s defence of press freedom against censorship?

    Indeed may I quote your own magazine in the hope that some of the list of shame are reading this thread and come to your senses?

    To be blunt: if you are this control freakish as a tiny party of the British left, then people are probably right to be terrified of a situation that you ever exercise any actual real power.

    God forbid actually run a state. Apparently the injustices and bodies would pile up whilst social workers and teachers look on and applaud.

    Here’s Marx:

    ” [press censorship] exercises tutelage over the highest interest of the citizens, their minds … You marvel at the delightful diversity, the inexhaustible riches of nature. You do not ask the rose to smell like a violet; but the richest of all, the mind, is supposed to exist in only a single manner?”

    Your magazine continues …

    ‘Authoritarian states invariably insist that the people are “not ready” for political freedoms, including a free press. Marx points to the contradiction this leads to; “to fight freedom of the press, one must maintain the thesis of the permanent immaturity of the human race … If the immaturity of the human race is the mystical ground for opposing freedom of the press, then certainly censorship is a most reasonable means of hindering the human race from coming of age.”

    ‘For advocates of censorship, “true education consists in keeping a person swaddled in a cradle all his life, for as soon as he learns to walk he also learns to fall, and it is only through falling that he learns to walk. But if we all remain children in swaddling-clothes, who is to swaddle us? If we all lie in a cradle, who is to cradle us? If we are all in jail, who is to be the jail warden?”.

    YOU, list of shame, are the jail wardens. I am horrified at some of the names on the list. I had no idea that you are now on the dark side.

  159. Stephen on said:

    HarpyMarx: 2) Encourage UNISON spokespeople to refuse to share a platform with George Galloway, or any other speakers who contribute to rape culture by blaming and undermining rape victims.
    3) To liaise with the NEC, Labour Link, and other UNISON bodies to try and ensure that UNISON never offers a platform to any speakers who are rape deniers, and who blame and undermine rape victims, and that it never officially supports any event that does.

    To be frank the question i’m puzzling over here is an organisational one

    It isn’t a great intellectual leap to imagine that say – having an alleged rapists pals question a woman who says she was raped with questions about her lifestyle before deciding everything is fine…..Might be construed as ‘undermining rape victims’. As indeed would supporting the idea said conduct constituted proper handling of a rape allegation.

    A camp that Karen R from manchester, who chaired the infamous SWP conference disputes cttee session,and turns up as a signatory supporting the SWP Central Cttee Statement, certainly belongs to.

    Surely under the terms of this motion such a person should be ‘no platformed’ by UNISON? This might prove a bit eh challenging as she is (at the moment anyway) a member of the UNISON NEC.

    Am I wrong in imagining that there is an issue here?

  160. Jara Handala on said:

    no.: the list of CC supporters (those 500 who signed the statement anyway) breaks down geographically like so

    #208, 2:11pm

    Thanks for the branch/city analysis.

    If I remember correctly, the DRP site says there are 93 branches.

    This 500 shows how weak the Permanent Callinicos Faction (Undeclared) actually is.

    The coming weeks will show how comprehensively weak it is.

    Tony: thanks for the Molyneux info, you’re obviously right.

  161. Vanya: Is there an advert for an Kautskyite truth kit?

    One of the reasons of course that some people may now have a bit of time for Kautsky is that if the German left had spent a little more time listening to him and less time listening (selectively ) to Lenin and to Radek the history of the 20th century may have been just that lttle bit happier.

    Not to mention it’s a bit rich to call Kautsky an “anti-Bolshevik renegade”. When did he ever actually claim any loyalty to Bolshevism? As though Leninism was synonymous with Socialism (or even with Bolshevism!). Christ, sod Kautsky’s (lack of sufficient) influence on the German Left; if the Russian Left had listened to Kamenev on an all-Socialist coalition, history may have been a lot happier…

    I remember reading first reading Kautsky years ago (introduced to me as The Renegade in that unsettling verbal tick that so many Socialists can’t seem to help), it was his 1918 The Dictatorship of the Proletariat. I couldn’t help thinking how similar its attitude was to Rosa Luxemburg’s The Russian Revolution, rather than the vacillating and reactionary spiel I’d been led to expect.

    Sympathy with the Bolshevik ‘gamble’ and the ideals which led them to take it, but a recognition that the normalisation of dictatorship, the turning of an exceptional state into a principle, was a deeply worrying phenomenon that struck at the heart of symbiotic relationship between socialism and democracy, that the masses cannot exercise dictatorship over society and against themselves simultaneously.

    It also includes the best, most simple rebuttal of the later generalising of the Russian experience of proletarian dictatorship, into a universal strategy, that you are likely to get: “A class can rule, but not govern, for a class is a formless mass, while only an organisation can govern.”

  162. #218 Interesting. I did in fact post here for a while as the Renegade Kautsky until Tony told everyone off for having more than one identity.

    I think the main thing that Kautsky can be legitimately criticised for is his initial position on the First World War, and I thionk that’s what he was seen as a remegade initially for- a renegade against internationalism.

    The problem was that the Bolsheviks continued to present a with us or against us approach to everyone in and out of Russia. To an extent that is understandable in a war situation, but also has its costs.

    I like to imagine that if I was around at the time I would have agreed with the Bolshevik internal leadership and opposed the idea of a seizure of power by the Bolshevik party (imo for Lenin the Soviets were always a convenient fig-leaf) and wanted to pursue the goal of unity with the other socialist parties. But that I would have unconditionally sided with the Bolsheviks in the Civil War.

    As far as Germany is concerned the inability of those who occupied the ground between the ultra-leftism that infected the KPD from the outset and the right wing SPD leaders to hold together was a tragedy and much of the blame for that can be laid at the feet of the Comintern and the author of that pamphlet.

    I have an affection for my own copy of that pamphlet (a Beijing version) however as it was given to me by a friend at Uni, Victor Chiome, who was given it when he served with the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army against the Smith regime, and who I later discovered had passed away from that terrible disease that still kills thousands of people in Africa.

    Here’s to you Victor.

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