Socialist Workers Party (swp): What Happens Next?

Somewhat buried by the crisis around their failure to properly deal with a rape allegation, another piece of bad news for the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) may have gone unremarked. The SWP has been expelled from the broad “United Left” faction in the UNITE union.

The United Left issued a statement last week in which they say:

Following the SWP’s decision this weekend to back Jerry Hicks for UNITE General Secretary, the UNITED LEFT must regrettably carry out the decision previously made to exclude SWP members from all our activities.

There is no doubt that the UNITED LEFT has tried very hard to keep the SWP within the fold in order to maintain the unity of the Left. Once before during the 2010 General Secretary election, the SWP also backed Jerry Hicks in spite of a clear and overwhelming decision at a properly constituted hustings meeting to back Len McCluskey. UNITED LEFT decided on that occasion to suspend SWP members for the duration of the election campaign but they were readmitted into the fold on the clear condition that there was no repeat of this lack of basic discipline.

The SWP’s decision to back Jerry Hicks a second time comes after an even more decisive resolve of UNITED LEFT to reconfirm its support for Len McCluskey. Unlike before, this decision comes after experience of Len’s exemplary role for 2 years in office as UNITE General Secretary.

They conclude:

Finally we wish to pay a special tribute to Frank Wood, UNITE Executive Council member for Health, who has immediately renounced his membership of the SWP following this weekend’s decision and will be backing Len. Thank you Frank for your courage and your conviction. You are welcome back into the fold and may others like you follow swiftly as well.

It is of course ridiculous that the SWP’s conference, and Central Committee, should decide for SWP’s UNITE members who they should back in an internal union election; as only those in the union are able to weigh up the value of the long term relationships and networks of solidarity, and the nuanced way the individual candidates relate to politics within the union.

Certainly their expulsion from UNITE’s United Left leaves the SWP more isolated in the union movement.

But the “Comrade Delta” affair is also already starting to affect them. The SWP’s celebrity blogger, Richard Seymour, reports the experience of students at Queen Mary College (QMC), University of London.

There, socialist students have been faced with a potential boycott by other groups they usually work with. A QMC student explains, “Networks we’ve fought hard to build with groups, such as The Palestinian Solidarity Society and elected positions on campus, have distanced themselves from us and are finding it difficult to work with us.”

The SWP’s political practice revolves around various front organizations, like Unite the Resistance, or Unite Against Fascism (UAF), where on the ground the SWP are in practice in charge, and able to use it as a recruitment pool. However, they have been adept at attracting Labour MPs and sympathetic union leaders to speak at conferences, and to nominally be members of committees that they don’t in practice attend. (Of course, this is a simplification, and it has been clear that at the national steering committee level, the SWP have not always held sway in the UAF.)

As the SWP’s brand turns increasingly toxic, then union leaders may prove less willing to work with them.

This is especially the case as the SWP seems determined to spread the damage to the wider movement. Not only did Candy Unwin make the appalling indiscretion of dragging the name of a prominent trade union General Secretary into the SWP’s conference debate, implying that he had known the SWP were carrying out an internal investigation into rape as far back as October 2012; but the SWP are pushing their national official at the heart of the rape allegations, comrade Delta, to be on the UAF delegation to Athens for an anti-fascist demonstration this weekend.

Of course, comrade Delta, is entitled to the presumption of innocence, but political reality demands better judgment than that; and what the SWP are effectively trying to do is use the UAF delegation to Athens to gain tacit endorsement of comrade Delta by the other members of the UAF delegation. This is potentially compromising or undermining the anti-fascist struggle in pursuit of the short term factional interests of the SWP’s leadership.

For the SWP leadership there are two interrelated aspect to the crisis in the short term; i) will external bad publicity and scrutiny continue; and ii) can they sufficiently contain or co-opt the internal opposition that the crisis has created.

However, in the longer term the resignation letter from a leading member which recently appeared on Counterfire, does suggest a trajectory of inevitable decline. I reproduce here an abridged version, but I recommend you read the whole thing.

The Socialist Workers Party is dying. For all the good it has done over many years, it has imploded over allegations of sexual assault and its inability to deal sensibly with them.
It will continue to limp on for at least a few more years but the descent into cultishness will now be rapid.

Clearly, as much as people can be intellectually aware of the arguments for women’s liberation they can still act in the ways socially ingrained in them by a patriarchal capitalist system. In this particular case there is also the question of power. But the question of power again raises deeper ideological questions: how could many thousands of good comrades, who are usually so suspicious of power and the powerful be so in awe of power on this occasion as to let this happen?

I want to argue that the SWP, for all its many good points and many good members, has suffered for many years from a structure and an ideology that is, in the final analysis, unable to cope with the myriad ways the world has changed over the past thirty or so years. Despite some major successes, most notably the role played in the anti-war movement, the SWP has suffered a slow build up of problems resulting from this, one which has accelerated in recent years and culminated in the recent implosion.

The question I want to answer boils down to this: how did it come to be that to accuse “comrade delta” of sexual assault was seen, in the eyes of so many, as code for an abandoning of the idea that the working class could transform the world, as an existential attack on the SWP?

Why was the leadership willing to jeopardise the entire organisation, jettison a whole layer of youth, over the supposed infallibility of just one comrade?

Here I think we have to look at the long-term trajectory of the SWP and also the decline of pretty much all the other groups that follow the Trotskyist model of Leninism.

Radical left ideas have flourished since the crisis. But the truth is almost none of the best thinkers on the radical left are from a Trotskyist background. Many are not Lenininst. Some (the horror) are not even Marxist. But the traditional left ignores them at its peril. It is the job of revolutionaries, as Marx did in his time, to synthesise the insights of the best anti-capitalist thinkers with the fundamental principle that it must, and can only be, ordinary people who bring about a society free from the horrors of capitalism. The SWP though ignores and dismisses thinkers just because they are from ‘outside the tradition’.

That is why even the SWP’s flagship Marxism festival has been played down. In an Internal Bulletin article that massively over inflated the membership figures (the reality is around 2,500, they claimed 7,500) the central committee actually lied about Marxism the other way – they made it 1000 smaller than it really was. They spent one sentence on Marxism but a whole page on SWP ‘educationals’. Why? One brings in outsiders, critics, heretics, new ideas; the other is totally safe repetition of things that were written in the ’80s.

Listing the successes of the previous year, the central committee listed Walthamstow’s anti-fascist demo (it was good, but a big demo against a spent force in multicultural left labour area which we spent six months building) and the Unite the Resistance conference (smaller than Right to Work, which was smaller than Organising for Fighting Unions) but clearly do not see relating to a new wave of ideological radicalization as a success (in fact Marxism disturbed them, they didn’t feel at home there).

Once any criticism of the religion – I say religion because that is what it is when an ideology becomes organisationally frozen in the past – once any criticism is labelled heresy – it is only a short step to what we have now. To the Sopranos’ model of leadership that the party suffers from. The mafia approach to criticism.

Because anything from beyond the brains of the central committee must have originated in the scary outside world. It must therefore be a Trojan horse for autonomism or reformism or Chris Bambery or whoever the main enemy is today.

It is perhaps worth repeating my argument about how the SWP can seem to act as a cult, even though it has many members rooted in the real world.

A mainstream religion or political movement to an extent posseses the virtue of verdicality (truth correspondence) between the belief groups ethos (their habitual character and behaviour), and their social cosmos ( the society they live in).

A sect may be regarded as a variant of the mainstream politics or religion; and sect members may live in both the mainstream cosmos, and participate in the ethos of their group, depsite the fact that there is tension; and lack of verdicality. For example, someone who beleived themselves to be a Bolshevik revolutionary in twenty-first century Britain, could function effectively in most situations, but their political practice is orthogonal to the social and political institutions of our society, which will limit their political effectiveness outside of short term radical campaigns; and there will be a tension between their big ambitions and the group’s limited achievements.

A cult seeks to resolve this lack of verdicality by limiting their interaction with mainstream society. This can be dramatic, such as the migration of the Pilgrim fathers to the Americas. Or it can be undramatic, where cult members simply immerse themselves more and more in the routine and ritual of their religious or political observance.

There are a number of very well grounded SWP members, who combine the basic politics of the organisation with a fairly active engagement in mainstream trade union and outwards looking campaigning activity. There is also, however, a bureaucratic core to the SWP, of the CC and full time organisers, and there is also a large layer of lay members of the SWP whose politics activity is all “party building” – paper sales, meetings, the contrived hot-house debates about theory, packing meetings of front organisations, etc.

There is quite a complex social interaction of an immanent cult within a sect; and it is the tendency towards cultishness from the bureaucracy that creates the bullying culture, and the haughty arrogance of those whose authority is entirely self-referential from within the SWP. Richard Seymour, confirms this insulation from outside society: “[the CC] can offer no lead to members beyond thrusting them out into that ‘real world’ they are all completely insulated from” (emphasis in the original)

The question of whether there is an internal culture of cultism is very pertinent, because at the heart of the issue relating to the internal inquiry into alleged rape, is the question of unequal power relations, and the tendency of a self-referential group to reinforce such unequal power relations, and exclude and marginalise those who protest, especially those with a history of mental distress, women and black people (I remember SWP leader Moira N referring to BME members in my hearing  as “the darkies”).

The bullying and marginalisation relies upon two things: i) the sense of entitlement of those who hold charismatic authority within the group; and ii) the silence and effective collusion of those who keep quiet about it “for the sake of the party”.

An important question is therefore who knew what and when?

Much is being made of the alleged unwillingness of W the woman alleging rape, to go to the police.

Although the SWP has always been institutionally hostile to the police, nevertheless most socialists outside the SWP were shocked to read in Socialist Worker in August 2011 the position put as starkly as this:

We don’t want more police on the streets. More “effective” policing means more deaths, more harassment, and more anger. The last thing we need is a state with more ways of attacking ordinary people. The police are the enemy of everyone who want to see a more just, fair society. It is the actions of the police that marginalise and criminalise so many. We should drive the police out of our estates and off our streets.

Socialist Worker is read by all SWP members, and provides a common framework of understanding. The editor is Comrade Delta’s partner. This article would surely have contributed to peer group consensus against reporting a crime to the police, especially one that might damage the reputation of the SWP.

The article was published AFTER the alleged rape of W by Comrade Delta, and AFTER W had complained to the SWP about sexual harassment. Did the editor of Socialist Worker know in August 2011 that there was an as yet unreported allegation of rape by her partner?

Another thing that is likely to go wrong for the SWP is that they will lose their celebrity defenders.

The protection of reputation of the SWP has also been shored up by its “celebrity” members (and some non-member supporters), who are effectively allowed much more leeway than any ordinary grunt member, and they allow the SWP to project an air of liberalism, and reach parts of polite society they would otherwise be excluded from. They provide a defensive wall so that if any less powerful member of the SWP who has been bullied or abused complains, then their complaint sounds inconsistent with the picture painted by the SWP’s celebrity cheer leaders and apologists.

In particular, a smokescreen has been put around allegations of sexism, and abuse of unequal power relationships; seeking to delegitimize it as “gossip” or “tittle tattle”. This is very reminiscent of the way the Catholic Church was protected, over child abuse allegations. Back in 2011, for example, a celebrity SWP supporter but non-member, wrote a “satirical” comment on this blog, ridiculing me for raising questions about Comrade Delta:

I don’t want to discuss this in public, but I’ve heard that [Comrade Delta] was having an affair with Bruce Forsyth. Don’t tell anyone, keep it under wraps but if people would like to discuss it, I won’t stand in their way. I think it could turn out to be of great significance to the…er…movement…

Elsewhere, Richard Seymour is now in open outraged revolt. But he seemingly by his own admission knew many of the details long before I did. Why did he not blow the whistle himself rather than waiting until AFTER it was already in the national press? Indeed, would Richard Seymour have raised his opposition if it had not become public? The transcript was published on Monday 7th January, Seymour did not make any comment until Friday 11th, when the story was run in the New Statesman.

Seymour himself seems to be using this incident as a job application for leaving the SWP and joining the liberal establishment, which explains his cack handed approach of opening up Lenin Tomb for releatively light weight articles by disgruntled SWP members, while himself courting expulsion.

Laurie Penny writes of the Socialist Worker journalist who resigned as being “brave and principled”? Really? He resigned AFTER knowing about it for months; and he condemned the fact the news had leaked out! So he must effectively support the kangaroo court process, but he just disagreed with the outcome.

Clearly for individuals like  Richard Seymour and author China Mieville, up until now their SWP membership has given them an aura of radical chic, as they seek to make a career by their literary endeavours. The association is now toxic.

Laurie Penny writes:

Mieville explained that in his party, as in so many other organisations, the power hierarchies which have facilitated problems such as this have been controversial for a long time.

Penny also quotes Mieville as saying

“Many of us have for years been openly fighting for a change in the culture and structures of the organisation to address exactly this kind of democratic deficit, the disproportionate power of the Central Committee and their loyalists, their heavy-handed policing of so-called ‘dissent’, and their refusal to admit mistakes ,” he told me. “Like the current situation, a disaster catastrophically mishandled by the leadership. All of us in the party should have the humility to admit such issues. It was up to members of the SWP to fight for the best of our tradition, not put up with the worst, and to make our organisation what it could be, and unfortunately is not yet.”

Admittedly perhaps China Mieville may be semi-detached from the day to day running of the SWP and didn’t previously know about the specific details of the rape allegtion before it became public knowledge ; but it was a brilliant bit of damage limitation for Laurie Penny’s article to quote him as if he were a long term dissident, thus insulating his reputation; as far as I know China has not been  “been openly fighting for a change” against the abuse of unequal power relationships within the SWP; or at least any such open opposition has been so quiet as to be inaudible.

So the SWP are likely to experience continued further external pressure, as they become more isolated, and have less defenders. What is more, external actors may yet take the initiative out of their hands altogether. Therefore the leadership will  find it harder and harder to maintain the illusion that the SWP is being successful and influential; necessary conceits for sustaining the morale of the membership.

Let us return to the analysis of small group dynamics to see how this is likely to play out.

The central core weakness of Tourish and Wohlforth’s book which describes left groups as cults is that it is based upon the flawed Cold War era research of Lifton (1961), and which ascribes a dynamic of the older more experienced members converting and inducting the newer members.However, Richardson (1989) writing for the American Psychiatric Association’s committee of Psychiatry and Religion, turns this on its head.

(Let us not get hung up about the fact psychiatrists are being quoted in this debate, as there is no implication of illness. in fact people like Richardson and Galanter are involved to de-medicalise the debate about cults, and refute the idea that membership of groups outwith mainstream ideology have any greater affinity with mental distress than the general population. In fact the work by Pattison and Ness stresses non-conformity of groups from the mainstream, as a social good )

Richardson talks of non-conformist groups attracting “active seekers”, who then rapidly conform to role expectations to gain acceptance in the group; but despite their seeming strong identification, can just as rapidly leave. It is this constant churn of new recruits which, according to Richardson, reinforces the reification of the group’s collective purpose for the older experienced members, and reinforces the charismatic authority of the leadership group, as delivering on the group’s purpose. Turning Lifton on its head – it is the new recruits who seek out membership because they actively want to identify with the group; and it is their ready adoption of the group ethos which reinforces the group-think of the established elders.

How does this play in the SWP? Seemingly most of the young rebels are people whose political activity revolves around the axis of the SWP’s own routine, and “party building”. They cannot take control of the SWP, both because there is no institutional and constitutional way that can be achieved, but more because the SWP “belongs” to those who are the trustees of the physical and financial assets. Some branches are voting for a recall conference, which requires 20% of branches; but only the bureaucracy knows even how many branches there are, and which have passed such a motion. Anyone else within the SWP organizing a rebellion can be expelled for factionalising – indeed, all the leadership needs to do is hold its nerve. They may even hold a recall conference, but can retain the initiative over timing and delegates, thus simply encouraging frustrated rebels to leave.

So the young rebels will be expelled or resign; but without the infrastructure that the SWP provides, their political activity will require a complete paradigm reevaluation; and do they have the experience or leadership to do that? They could of course join Counterfire, but that organisation seems to be “the SWP with a cafe”, and they may find they have jumped from the frying pan into the firebox.

The loss of the newer members will demoralize the older members outside the bureaucratic core, and they will probably drift away. For those involved in trade union and community campaigning, after a brief trauma they will realise they are better off.

But the older code of the bureaucracy, who will still have the money, and the SWP’s name; they will just continue, as a much smaller, more cultish rump.

This is a whole sorry affair, and it needs to open a period of reflection and reappraisal of the type of socialist movement we need.

371 comments on “Socialist Workers Party (swp): What Happens Next?

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

    Even setting aside the issue of timing, that recommendation really is bizarrely ultra-left – I can’t imagine even the squaddists of Red Action putting it quite that starkly. Perhaps the difference is that if RA had printed that, there was a real chance that some of their members and supporters would have actually had a go.

  2. to be fair, the SWP is being expelled for supporting Gerry Hicks, who is a much better candidate for a socialist to support than is Len McCluskey.

    Thats not to say Len hasn’t done a good job, its just Mr. Hicks represents a better approach of building rank and file militancy. The SWP supported him last time, and he came second, the issues are just as important today, and it is correct to back him… so hardly a “crisis” to be expelled from UL.

  3. Marxist Lenonist on said:

    As a big admirer of Jerry and also to some extent Len, I hope the SWP’s support doesn’t affect the outcome of this race too much, as in the current climate it would be the kiss of death for the Hicks campaign. To his credit Jerry Hicks himself walked out, and would otherwise have been thrown out, of the SWP over the RESPWCT split. Galloway and his ex-SWP supporters in 2007 are looking ever more prescient in light of the SWP’s trajectory ever since I must say…

  4. ‘It is of course ridiculous that the SWP’s conference, and Central Committee, should decide for SWP’s UNITE members who they should back in an internal union election; as only those in the union are able to weigh up the value of the long term relationships and networks of solidarity, and the nuanced way the individual candidates relate to politics within the union.’

    On a point of information, the SWP UNITE fraction itself chose to refer the decision to conference, after their internal meeting in which the vote was so evenly split.

  5. James: On a point of information, the SWP UNITE fraction itself chose to refer the decision to conference, after their internal meeting in which the vote was so evenly split.

    sounds like a bureaucratic manoeuvre to me.

  6. Linda Kronstadt on said:

    “Back in 2011, for example, a celebrity SWP supporter but non-member, wrote a “satirical” comment on this blog, ridiculing me for raising questions about Comrade Delta:”

    He’s always been a ferrety facilitator for whoever’s running the SWP. When he wrote his comment, did he know it concerned a rape allegation? Creepy.

  7. Linda Kronstadt: When he wrote his comment, did he know it concerned a rape allegation?

    I suspect not. He was just doing his usual thing of trying to rubbish dissident voices.

    It is impossible though for anyone in his position not to have been aware of the culture of bullying, and unequal power relationships within the SWP.

    When there are kneejerk reactions dismissing anyone who claims of abuse, then that will always provide a climate where abusers feel protected.

    It is similar to the culture of protection that surrounded Jimmy Saville.

  8. Can I just say that “Linda Kronstadt” is the best screen name ever. You, madam (or sir), win the Internet.

  9. Why do you all care about this stuff so much? The SWP are irrelevant, they’ve never achieved anything and the average worker doesn’t even know who they are. Why bother about what happens within a tinpot trot sect?

  10. I note that Richard Seymour has now deleted the article about the QMC student work that earlier appeared on his blog above, and which I quote. Luckily I kept a copy

    Thursday, January 17, 2013
    http://www.leninology.com/2013/01/why-it-is-necessary-to-fight.html

    Why it is necessary to fight posted by lenin

    A telling example of the way this crisis is working out in ‘the real world’ is the experience of students at Queen Mary College (QMC), University of London. There, socialist students have been faced with a potential boycott by other groups they usually work with. A QMC student explains, “Networks we’ve fought hard to build with groups, such as The Palestinian Solidarity Society and elected positions on campus, have distanced themselves from us and are finding it difficult to work with us.”

    This is significant because students have been one of the first groups to be targeted by the coalition, and one of the first to fight back. Campuses have been a base for radicalisation, and organisation. The SWSS student explains, “We built very well in the student movement over the past few years and have had an active role building links with various societies to ensure maximum wider political impact whilst building for demos for Gaza and the NHS. This included a large protest on campus against Andrew Lansley last year alongside wider anti-cuts groups, trade unionists and NHS activists. In response to Fascist posters on our campus we managed to win affiliation with UAF – this is now threatened.”

    This is a microcosm of the difficulties imposed on activists and militants trying to achieve lasting cooperation with others on the left, and in the movements. It illustrates the case made by the opposition in the SWP, that the problem cannot be put back in the box and neatly contained, that it can’t be dealt with by getting one’s head down and trying to get on with the hard work of campaigning. That campaigning work is itself seriously affected by this.

    The QMC student argues, “It is clear that this crisis needs to be dealt with firmly and quickly before the situation escalates. I want to move on as a unified party, with confidence in our political tradition, where we can be proud of our great work on Women’s liberation. We need to urge our leadership to respond effectively to this crisis. There seems to be various initial responses by members to help this, and some are already being passed in branches around the country. I support the call for a recall conference, to decide, as a party the way forward and for a commission into the procedures of the Disputes Committee, while acknowledging that it would not be appropriate to reopen the cases discussed at conference. And we need to consider whether it is appropriate for ‘Comrade Delta’ to represent the party at this time.”

    These sentiments reflect the statement put out by Leeds SWSS, and the emphasis of motions being passed and statements circulated in campuses across the country. It is essential that party members take heed of the severity of the situation. Passing recall motions in branches, is the first essential step toward allowing members to collectively deal with it. Only then can the essential work that members do begin to be repaired.

  11. Bu the SWP has been bureaucratic for decades. Why has it taken this incident for people to sign up to a broader critique of the SWP-model? The evidence has been there for a long time, including when the editor of this blog was a member.

  12. Linda Kronstadt on said:

    Andy Newman: It is impossible though for anyone in his position not to have been aware of the culture of bullying, and unequal power relationships within the SWP.

    They do like their perks, them celebs.

  13. Martin Wicks on said:

    “A mainstream religion or political movement to an extent posseses the virtue of verdicality (truth correspondence) between the belief groups ethos (their habitual character and behaviour), and their social cosmos ( the society they live in).”

    I’d like to recommend this as an entry to Pseud’s corner in Private Eye, if they still have it.

  14. Uncle Albert on said:

    Good decision from United Left re excluding SWP.

    The (at best) paranoid detachment demonstrated by the “drive the police out of our estates and off our streets” nonsense, of itself, placed the SWP beyond the pale. The SWP have long been an embarrassment.

    Here’s hoping for a Len victory – he gets my vote.

  15. SWP (ex) Loyalist on said:

    “Why was the leadership willing to jeopardise the entire organisation, jettison a whole layer of youth, over the supposed infallibility of just one comrade?”, asks disillusioned SWP member, ‘Donny Mayo’

    Andy supplies the true answer: “..the SWP “belongs” to those who are the trustees of the physical and financial assets”

    All analysis of the SWP crisis is otiose unless one is clear that there exists at the top of the Party a kind of freemasonry; a tightly-knit group of old timers who are entirely or partially dependent on the assets and income of the SWP. It is their living and their retirement plan. If they walk away or allow themselves to be voted off the CC, they are fucked.

    That is why Seymour and his student irregulars will never win. Even if they had the numbers, they would be outmanouevered bureaucratically by those who would rather control 100% of a small sect than 49% of a large and dynamic left-of-Labour group.

    Ironically, Seymour’s best chance is to make Kimber and co a financial offer. Like a stagnant family firm under attack from a takeover bid by a large multinational, the way to succeed is to bribe the ageing family members who are exhausted and second rate but fear the loss of their nest egg.

  16. stockwellpete on said:

    Chris:
    Why do you all care about this stuff so much? The SWP are irrelevant, they’ve never achieved anything and the average worker doesn’t even know who they are. Why bother about what happens within a tinpot trot sect?

    That’s not true at all. In terms of the number of working class activists in the UK they constitute a significant part of the whole and, in certain circumstances, they are most organised and coherent group in our movement. One of the good things to come out of this fiasco will hopefully be that their political weight will be much diminished in the future.

  17. Manzil on said:

    stockwellpete: That’s not true at all. In terms of the number of working class activists in the UK they constitute a significant part of the whole and, in certain circumstances, they are most organised and coherent group in our movement. One of the good things to come out of this fiasco will hopefully be that their political weight will be much diminished in the future.

    They are often the most organised, certainly, but I don’t think even their strongest fellow travellers would consider the SWP an example of political coherence.

    There are undoubtedly good activists and militants in the SWP proper, but amongst its high-turnover peripheries, especially its “freshers’ fair recruits”, you can see the most anarchic, ultra-left views, unconsciously middle-class preoccupations with liberal ‘lifestyle’ politics, and essentialised ‘Leninist’ stereotypes, all coexisting in an uneasy but unexamined partnership. It is an amorphous mass defined more by its radical rhetoric than the maturity of its political education or organising.

    Not fatal in and of itself – except that the stultifying internal culture of the party ensures that people aren’t exposed to other ideas or encouraged to examine their own prejudices and assumptions.

    Which is unsurprising, as a radically democratic internal culture would quickly come around to the view that Emperor Callinicos and co have no clothes and should be sent packing sharpish. Look at how the present drama has unfolded: the SWP is a broad but brittle organisation.

  18. Darren redstar: Of course, having a helicopter drop upon your headquarters doesn’t help.

    The SWP are based in the same building as MI6? That says it all. Both shut out from the outside world in that Faraday’s Cage.

  19. I’m glad you linked this debacle to the ultra-left hostility to the police. Here in the States, organized socialists provided zero leadership within Occupy on the question of what to do about and how to handle the rapes and sexual assaults in the encampments because calling the cops was ruled out from the get-go. They simply pretended these assaults didn’t happen (or worse, that they didn’t matter) because acknowledging them and how they were mishandled (i.e. “internally) would have fatally undermined their nonsensical gibberish that rank-and-file cops are “not part of the 99%” (for more on that, see: http://links.org.au/node/2657).

  20. Ross Ashley on said:

    “Another thing that is likely to go wrong for the SWP is that they will lose their celebrity defenders.”
    Maybe, and maybe not … anybody else still remember the Redgraves defending Gerry Healy?

  21. Howark Kirk on said:

    Andy’s view of Counterfire being the ‘SWP with a cafe’ is spot on. lol

    I really can’t seen that being any better, and probably worse with the leading members’ track record in the SWP.

  22. David Ruaune on said:

    On John Molyneux’s website, in the comments to an article on “The Theory of the Revolutionary Party” (of all things!) someone said –

    Its make or break time in the SWP, and the catastrophe is rooted in problems that you have previously pointed to. Its time for reform or collapse.

    And its time for comrades to make a stand. Please do.

    Captain Crunch.

    I have added (twice, by accident) –

    I agree with Captain Crunch – you MUST make a stand, or lose all credibility; if you say nothing now (i.e. within the next two days), it is more disgraceful than if you explicitly defend the C.C. Which is saying something.

    I suggest others keep the pressure on.

  23. David Ruaune on said:

    Hey, look chaps, a new “Party Notes” has come out – featuring –

    Reponding (sic) to attacks on the party

    A series of attacks on the party have appeared over the last few days [weeks, months]– many [1 in The Independent,1 in New Statesman, 1 in the Daily Mail] in newspapers which are the sworn enemies of women’s liberation and workers’ rights [but most of the attacks have appeared on socialist websites]. The Central Committee has produced a statement. This has been sent to all members and is attached to Party Notes. [But not these Party Notes – these are not the real Party Notes] It can be viewed at http://www.swp.org.uk [Try to do that] If you do not have access to the email or the internet, please write to the National Office for a written copy. [That includes anyone, not just party members]

  24. Uncle Albert on said:

    Re 27 – Kimber: “As far we are concerned, this case is closed.”

    As has been suggested above – now it’s all about the money/assets. Kimber and co will leave no stone unturned in the bureaucratic fight to maintain their control of Party assets/income/personal pension plans.

  25. stuart on said:

    Message to admin.

    Thank you for not blocking my post 29. I will take that as permission to re-enter discussions.

  26. John Grimshaw on said:

    #30 If resigning makes you feel better then good I wouldn’t want you to endanger your health. However, if others are reading this, I advise you to stay a member of the SWP, but a thinking one and oppose the SWP’s ruling clique in whichever way you can. You may very well get kicked out but you’ll feel better. We have nothing to lose but our chains..? :)

  27. Excellent!! The SWP is genuinely f*cked. Not before time.

    Not helpful, and not necessary. Anonymous posters who say shit like this don’t do the left any good. In fact, you might as well be a BNP member and say this – how the hell are we supposed to know whether your delight is a nice left-wing delight or a sinister right-wing one?

    So, any more of this nonsense and I’ll delete it. I’m genuinely happy that we’ve reached a point where even the people who tried to destroy Respect and ruin the political activity of people like me are now agreeing with the stuff I said almost from the day I joined the SWP. But if the SWP is destroyed, it’s only any good if its ashes feed the growth of something better. That’s something I will be part of, and so I don’t just “want” the SWP to be finished. I want bureaucratic centralism to be finished, I want lying about opponents to be finished; I want attempts to control everything to be finished, and I want the treatment of allies as enemies to be a thing of the past.

    “Grant”, if you want to expand on why you’re so happy about the SWP being fucked, go for it. People will listen, if you’ve got something good to say.

  28. SWP (ex) Loyalist on said:

    Uncle Albert:
    Re 27 – Kimber: “As far we are concerned, this case is closed.”

    As has been suggested above – now it’s all about the money/assets. Kimber and co will leave no stone unturned in the bureaucratic fight to maintain their control of Party assets/income/personal pension plans.

    Uncle Albert: now it’s all about the money/assets. Kimber and co will leave no stone unturned in the bureaucratic fight to maintain their control of Party assets/income/personal pension plans.

    100% correct. The SWP CC freemasonry will protect its vital interests – by any means necessary. Comrade Delta is one of the select, which is why he had to be protected. The funny thing is that some of these characters don’t even like each other. It’s quite well known that Callinicos has contempt for Martin Smith, for example. But none of that matters because they realise that they sink or swim together.

    Oh irony, the party that we joined to fight capitalism and transcend selfishness looks like it might end in a squalid squabble over bank accounts, limited liability companies and a property empire.

  29. Martin Wicks: I’d like to recommend this as an entry to Pseud’s corner in Private Eye, if they still have it.

    That is a very philistine and anti-intellectual Martin.

    I carefully introduced vocabulary that I was later going to be using in the article, which is the opposite of pseudishness – I am not hiding behind obscure language, but sharing the specialist vocabulary so that people understand what I mean.

    The definition of the aims of religion being to create verdicality between ethos and cosmos is not mine, it comes from G Lamert “Toward a definition of religion”, Religious Studies Review 12: 273-281, 1978.

    In discussing how an organisation which shares a common belief system can face tension if the beleif system does not readily correspond to the social environment they find themselves in, then we have the conceptual tools to distinguish between the social dynamics of manstream belief systems, cults and sects; and to understand, how groups can change.

    To avoid clumsiness, I have introdcued some specialist vocabulary to make my argument clearer.

    This is especially necessary as the vocabulary of “sects” and “cults” is often used simply as insults, and among the socialist left “sect” is often given a rather useless definition, assuming that a passing dictum from marx was the last word on the matter; and thus disregarding modern research.

    To say that the use of such words is “pseud’s corner” suggests a deepply anti-intelectual bias from you.

  30. SWP (ex) Loyalist: It’s quite well known that Callinicos has contempt for Martin Smith, for example.

    The good professor presumably has to subscribe to some code of profession standards and ethics for his university tenure. Also some SWP members who knew of the internal inquiry are solicitors or barristers?

    It will be interesting to see whether people feel under any professional pressure

  31. SWP (ex) Loyalist – naah, that’s just bourgeois legality. Any possible dispute over the ‘property’ which the party ‘owns’ will be resolved through socialist means, possibly involving the formation of a workers’ council (i.e. a full-timers’ council), which will expropriate the expropriators and establish a base for the generalisation of… oh, I don’t know. Tired now.

    Come to think of it, aren’t the people we’re talking about getting tired of all this by now? The Professor’s 62 – he must be tempted to say “stuff this for a game of soldiers” and concentrate on the day job. He could probably get early retirement, even. Let’s face it, by the time he was that age Trotsky had been dead for a year.

  32. Daydreaming over a glass of red wine on new year’s eve I wondered where the arab spring would pop up next. Never thought it would be in the swp of all places.
    Tony Collins, your post at #35 was spot on. We need a better left.

  33. Howard Kirk on said:

    A very interesting post from China Mieville on LT:

    http://www.leninology.com/

    The Stakes
    Guest post by China Mieville:

    The Stakes. Members of the SWP must understand what is at stake in the crisis rocking our organization. Not only is there already a steady outflow of members resigning in disgust at this farrago and its handling by the leadership, but now other organizations of the left are becoming hesitant about working with us, and in some cases are openly boycotting and censuring us.

    This is a call to members to stay and fight. It is also to urge that we do so without illusions about the nature of the fight that we face.

    Many of us have argued strongly that catastrophic errors of principle and process on the part of the leadership have taken us to this. But even those who – I firmly believe wrongly – disagree about this must recognise the situation we are in. This has rapidly also become a catastrophe for us strategically. Our name is becoming toxic. Our credibility as a collective and as individual activists is being grossly compromised, and is on the verge of being permanently tainted. We all know the allegations that any future potential recruit who takes two minutes to research us online will read. The hoary accusations of the loyalists that those of us expressing concerns are looking ‘inward’ to ‘blogland’ and are not in the ‘real world’ have never looked so pitiful as they do now. This is a real world, acute crisis, of the leadership’s making.

    As we ‘dissidents’ have repeatedly stressed, the fact that we are on the verge of permanently losing our credibility is irrespective of the truth or otherwise of the allegations of rape and sexual harassment. (These, of course, deserve sensitive and appropriate examination in their own right.) This fact inheres in the grotesque and sexist nature of the questions posed to the accusers; in the ‘wagon-circling’ attitude of the leadership and its loyalists; in the failures and evasions of accountability that meant the processes involved could ever have been thought appropriate; and now in the belief-beggaringly inadequate and arrogant response of the CC to the greatest crisis we have ever faced. These are all political failings of astonishing proportions.

    We must not only deal with this but be seen publicly to be dealing with it. A ‘quiet revolution’ will be no revolution at all. There is one chance to save the SWP, and to do so means reclaiming it. We must be the party whose membership saw that there was a catastrophe unfolding, refused to heed our own failed leadership’s injunctions to fall into line, and reclaimed the party and the best elements of our IS tradition. If we fail in this, the SWP is finished as a serious force.

    We must understand that these are extraordinary times and require extraordinary measures. Members’ usual – and usually understandable and honourable – instincts to show discretion and to trust their leadership are not only inadequate, they are counterproductive. This leadership does not deserve our trust, and our discretion now only serves them.

    We must consolidate our efforts. We need to communicate with each other. It is invaluable to pass motions in branches censuring our CC and above all – this is critical – calling for an extraordinary conference. However, these motions must be publicized to the wider membership. This is not the time for private letters to the CC, for appeals to their wisdom, for concerned words to our district organizers. Such methods are part of the system that got us here. Comrades must go public, and link up with others attempting to salvage the honour of the tradition in which we fight.

    Of course taking matters to the branches and discussing them there is vital. However, the allegation often made by loyalists that to also discuss them with the wider membership is somehow inappropriate or disloyal is wrong at any time, and utterly absurd now. The CC itself, in its shameful document ‘For an Interventionist Party’, defending the recent expulsion of four comrades for ‘secret factionalism’, claims that ‘[m]embers of the SWP are of course free to discuss face-to-face or online’. (This, incidentally, is a lie: as recently as the 2009 conference, those arguing for democratic renewal were denounced from the podium by a CC member for discussing our concerns on email.) Even according to the CC’s own ad-hoc positions, in other words, members are free to discuss with all others, including by email, Facebook or whatever, the nature of the crisis facing us, and how we fix it. And discuss we must.

    By far the lion’s share of blame for our parlous situation lies squarely with the CC and its loyalists. However, none of us can avoid hard questions. What got us here was not merely the failures of this particular CC, but of our structures. These structures concealed from the members perfectly legitimate debate within the party; pathologised dissent on the CC and among the membership; and at worst legitimated whispering campaigns and bullying against members considered ‘troublemakers’. We could have stopped this train wreck at an earlier stage if the membership had been able and ready to call bullshit on the CC’s bullshit.

    To overthrow these problems requires, among other things, a huge shift in internal culture. This, of course, is not possible in isolation from the structures that we have worked under. These have enabled the CC’s top-down and dissent/discussion-phobic style and mistrust of the membership; and among the membership itself have encouraged a damaging culture of deferral to the leadership.

    This vicious cycle must be broken. To renew our party, in other words, must mean to trust in the membership, to encourage independent thought and comradely discussion. This in turn will enable the members not only to select the leadership we deserve, but to hold them to account in a way both we and they deserve.

    Accordingly, not only is this fight one for the SWP’s survival as an interventionist force, but it is one that can only be won by a root-and-branch rethinking of how we operate. The scale of this catastrophe of their own making is slowly dawning on the leadership. It is inevitable that they will start to offer some kind of carrot-and-stick response, likely designed to minimize changes to the structures to which they have shown themselves wedded. We must be clear on the scale of what is needed. The removal of one or two people from positions of prominence would clearly be inadequate.

    Our starting point must be public and immediate calls for an emergency conference. We must urgently mobilize our branches to pass motions making this call. To emerge from this catastrophe with credibility, at this conference we must demand:

    • The immediate reinstatement of the four recently expelled comrades.

    • The removal of this CC and Disputes Committee. By their stunning miscalculations, they have shown themselves to be inadequate to their tasks. They must go.

    • A thoroughgoing reexamination of the structures of party democracy and accountability, to ensure that the culture of mistrust of the membership and closed ranks on the CC that created this situation in the first place cannot happen again.* This must include an expanded CC and one which airs its internal disagreements openly.

    • Formal mechanisms for encouraging internal communications among all members, allowing them to air dissent, concern, uncertainty, as well as information, analysis and support.**

    Such renovations will address the terrible situation in which we find ourselves. They should also encourage a spirit of comradely discussion and theoretical open-mindedness, allowing us to act as a pole of attraction for all those fighting for emancipation. This does not mean diluting our Marxism: it should mean invigorating it.*** The fight for the soul of the SWP is on now. The only hope of reclaiming a party on the brink of political annihilation is political audacity.

    ——————
    *I have made no secret of my own proposals for this, including, e.g., an at-least temporary end to the slate system. This is argued not on principle, but because that system has in our party become a shibboleth for forces of conservatism and top-down leadership.
    **Many comrades see the end on the ban on permanent factions as indispensable for this. Another invaluable way forward, in my opinion, would be a regular internal bulletin.
    ***As for example when we began to address the lacunae in our approach to homosexuality by learning from the best wings of the gay liberation movement. Currently, we must end a situation where, for example, ‘feminism’ is used by some loyalists as a diss.

  34. John Grimshaw on said:

    #42 I have read Mievilles (alleged) comments. Is that it? Is that the best the SWP rebels can do? Trite middle-class bullshit> If only I were so erudite.

  35. Stephen on said:

    Howard Kirk: The immediate reinstatement of the four recently expelled comrades.
    • The removal of this CC and Disputes Committee. By their stunning miscalculations, they have shown themselves to be inadequate to their tasks. They must go

    I see a slight gap in Cde Mievilles demands here. What about the stunning miscalculation of the membership in voting to endorse the expulsions and then supporting the ‘miscalculations’ of said DC and CC?

    Logically they need to bin the majority of their conference too…

    Does seem to prove that the capacity of the SWP to blame failures on ‘the leadership’ isn’t simply confined to TU’s, councils, labour party etc.. but is actually limitless. When they can turn round and blame ‘the leadership’ for actions which have the approval of the party rank and file it truly is a universal excuse

    Still, nice to see ‘shibboleth’ getting an airing in SWP rhetoric again.

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

  37. Linda Kronstadt on said:

    Howard Kirk: … bullying against members considered ‘troublemakers’ … We could have stopped this train wreck at an earlier stage if the membership had been able and ready to call bullshit on the CC’s bullshit.

    Comrade Mieville wrote that? Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

    “This is a call to members to stay and fight. It is also to urge that we do so without illusions about the nature of the fight that we face. … There is one chance to save the SWP, and to do so means reclaiming it. … The fight for the soul of the SWP is on now. The only hope of reclaiming a party on the brink of political annihilation is political audacity.” Forward unto the breach dear fantasy friends …

  38. Howard Kirk on said:

    Stephen said:
    Logically they need to bin the majority of their conference too…
    ———————————————————-

    Yes, I thought the same.

    Year after year, most of them swallow the same old crap and support the CC – maybe China can guess what planet they come from. lol

  39. It didn’t take long to realise that Martin Smith was not being pursued because he is a ‘sex offender’ – he surely isn’t – no, our so-called ‘progressive’ tribals chase Smith because he is a Jazz lover… – Atzmon

    The exact same Judeocentric tribal coalition [Laurie Penny, Richard Seymour] that, a year and a half ago, was formed to wreck my career (and failed) is now pursuing Martin Smith AKA Comrade Delta, former secretary of the UK SWP (Socialist Workers Party) who, they insist, is a ‘sex offender’.

    Between 2005-10 I worked closely with Martin and the SWP. At the time I was the SWP’s official Kletzmer. I toured with Martin, performed and spoke in quite a few of those Red gatherings. I met some very nice people in the SWP, but I also came across their many Jewish gate-keepers and tribal operators. – Atzmon again

    http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/sax-offender-vs-progressive-rapists.html

  40. daggi: Martin Smith AKA Comrade Delta, former secretary of the UK SWP (Socialist Workers Party) who, they insist, is a ‘sex offender’.

    Can I dissociate myself from any claim that Comrade Delta is a sex offnder. Although he has been accused, he is still entitled to a presumption of innocence.

    daggi: exact same Judeocentric tribal coalition [Laurie Penny, Richard Seymour] that, a year and a half ago, was formed to wreck my career

    Oh Gilad, have you forgotten my role in that so soon.

  41. It can be convincingly argued that the SWP got itself into its present state by imagining itself to be the critical centre of events and their own narrow interests as paramount.
    Indeed, its present travails are precisely the expression of the contradiction between its partial engagement with the real world and the imaginary world where the analytical tools made available by its peculiar theoretical tradition are judged adequate for all purposes.
    Where this leads can be seen in the current issue of the Socialist Worker where an interview with the heroic dockers’ leader Vic Turner, who died recently, is taken as an opportunity to imply that even as far back as 1974 its predecessor, the International Socialists, was at the directing centre of the working class movement.
    The fact that two of the Pentonville Five dockers imprisoned in that year, Vic Turner himself and Bernie Steer, were leading members of the Communist Party is left unsaid.
    The fact that Bernie Steer was also secretary of the unofficial national ports shop stewards committee – critical in organizing the mass industrial action that freed the Five is again left unsaid.
    The fact that unofficial industrial action was made possible by the intimate links between rank and file organisations in print, construction, docks, transport, mining and public services and other sectors in which the communists played the leading role is again unremarked.
    SW quotes docker Bob Light: “Bob remembers the role of Socialist Worker in the dispute. “There were a lot of militants around the Communist Party who didn’t want to break with the left wing of the union bureaucracy,” he said.
    “If we’d done it at their pace the five would still be in prison. But in the dispute a new generation of militants, particularly Socialist Worker readers, took the lead.”
    This is self-deluding nonsense. The fact is that the organising centre of this mass action was the Communist Party’s industrial department. The dynamic and decisive core of the process that brought hundreds of thousands of workers into action was the strategy – honed by Bert Ramelson, the party’s industrial organiser – that saw the development of mass unofficial action led by workplace organisations as the key to changing the role of the official movement, putting pressure on the TUC to sanction a general strike and raising the level of struggle.
    It takes only a cursory examination of the Morning Star’s daily coverage of these events – actually its role as an organising force – to show how false the SW presentation is
    At the theoretical level the IS got only one side of this equation and elevated it to fetish. At the practical level its relatively small cadre of industrial militants, including some dockers, played a useful part in the action. That is about it.
    Strategically the SWP was a marginal force, on the fringe of national developments, and soon to lose much of its industrial cadre in one of its typically sectarian turns from the real world.
    Only by a one sided and distorted account of these events can the Socialist Worker fit reality into its schema. Dangerous for them, A spectacle for the rest of us.
    http://21centurymanifesto.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/how-the-pentonville-five-changed-history/

  42. Jellytot on said:

    @52our so-called ‘progressive’ tribals chase Smith because he is a Jazz lover

    As a devoted fan of Albert Ayler I take exception to that.

    @53Oh Gilad, have you forgotten my role in that so soon.

    Hey…can I too be part of Gilad’s ‘Judeocentric tribal coalition’?

    I’d regard it as a badge of honour.

  43. Ian Birchall on said:

    Nick Wright: The fact is that the organising centre of this mass action was the Communist Party’s industrial department.

    So why did the London docks branch of the CP collapse shortly after the dispute??
    See J McIlroy, “Notes on the Communist Party and Industrial Politics”, in J McIlroy, N Fishman & A Campbell, British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics: Volume II , Aldershot, 1999, pp. 241-45.

  44. Ian Birchall: So why did the London docks branch of the CP collapse shortly after the dispute??

    The disintegration of the Communist Party’s industrial apparatus, with its national network of factory, pit,dock and depot based branches took place over two decades, arose from profound changes in the class and industrial structure of Britain and is an aspect of the very significant strategic setback for the entire working class movement.
    It was one dimension of a drama affecting an entire epoch and several generations.
    The degeneration of the SWP is not and its current reversion to its sectarian essence is not.

  45. The SWP (USA) are completely useless in the unions. During the Eastern Airlines strike, I was a member in the Machinist’s union in Pittsburgh. We refused to do work for Eastern Airlines. The union bureaucracy came in and made a deal with our company, allowing scabs to come in and do the Eastern work. The SWP hailed this betrayal as a victory. Their reasoning? Because union workers would not be required to do the struck work. Insane.

    A big part of what happened to the SWP is that they, in the name of anti-sectarianism, thoroughly abandoned Trotskyism as the alternative to Stalinism. They are a group willing to swallow betrayal to rub shoulders with people they think more important than themselves. Rather than lead based on the collective experience of the working class written into Marxism, they prefer to be cheerleaders and groupies for revolution, a mere opportunist tail-end with nothing meaningful to offer.

  46. Morning Star reader on said:

    Ian Birchall (56) doesn’t actually dispute any of Nick Wright’s account of the central role of the CP in the dockers’ strike movement of the early 1970s. Yet it is diametrically opposed to the dishonest SWP-IS fairy-tale that Nick has just demolished. The SWP has initiatives and achievements to its credit, but leading or playing a decisive role in the Pentonville struggle is not one of them. Perhaps Socialist Worker is counting on the fact that many of its readers have no knowledge of the period and will swallow what they are fed.

  47. I worked closely with Bernie Steer at the Camden Unemployed Workers Centre in the 1980s. Bernie’s account of the Pentonville events chimes with Nick’s recollections

  48. Morning Star reader,

    “counting on the fact that many of its readers have no knowledge of the period and will swallow what they are fed”

    Try no knowledge of industrial relations at all. Got to love the passion of students going on about rank-and-file militancy, but its just a bit silly isn’t it? I think the current direction of the SWP seems intent on alienating the limited support it has in the labour movement.

    In Manchester, when I first moved here, the SWP used to run the trades council and hold every elected position at Man uni. They simply seem to have disappeared. Apart from the likely suspects you never see them, and then this disaster. Perhaps the severity of the economic situation is concentrating minds, although I fear apathy might also be playing a role.

  49. George W,

    Ian Birchill is clearly wrong about the scope of the IS’s rolein Pentonville, however I don’t think it is fair to describe him as having no knowledge of industrial relations.

    For the sake of completeness it is worth saying that while the CP were clearly hegemonic among the shop stewards movement, the SLL and IS were not negligible. Certainly here in Swindon for example the SLL had influential roles in Pressed Steel and the rail works

  50. Insider on said:

    George W: Morning Star reader, “counting on the fact that many of its readers have no knowledge of the period and will swallow what they are fed” Try no knowledge of industrial relations at all. Got to love the passion of students going on about rank-and-file militancy, but its just a bit silly isn’t it? I think the current direction of the SWP seems intent on alienating the limited support it has in the labour movement. In Manchester, when I first moved here, the SWP used to run the trades council and hold every elected position at Man uni. They simply seem to have disappeared. Apart from the likely suspects you never see them, and then this disaster. Perhaps the severity of the economic situation is concentrating minds, although I fear apathy might also be playing a role.

    What period are you talking about re Manchester?

  51. Steven Argue: A big part of what happened to the SWP

    The SWP-UK or the SWP-USA? You know both groups have extremely little, if anything, to do with each other?

  52. Ian Birchall on said:

    Andy Newman: Ian Birchill is clearly wrong about the scope of the IS’s rolein Pentonville

    I am, sadly, old enough to have been politically active in 1972. I was involved in campaigning for the release of the five dockers, first in London, and then in Hull (where, as I recall, there was little or no CP presence). I remember being in a pub when the news of the release of the dockers’ release came through on the television. It was the one time in my life when I had the sense that our side had, quite unequivocally, won a victory on a national scale. That is something we should all remember and celebrate, regardless of our political differences.

    However, for the historical record may I note a few points.

    1) Of course Nick Wright is quite right to cite the long-term political factors that led to the CP’s decline in industry; IS/SWP was not immune to those factors either. But I pointed to the specific fact of the collapse of the London docks branch of the CP at a time when the victory should, one might have thought, have strengthened it.

    2) In support of this I quoted an academic article by Professor John McIlroy. McIlroy is no friend of the SWP, of which he has been highly critical.

    3) In particular some militant dockers left the CP and joined IS, notably the late Michael Fenn and Eddie Prevost, who remains an SWP member. About four years ago I did an interview with Eddie Prevost about his time in the CP and his move to IS. I shall eventually make this and other recordings available to researchers.

    4) The crucial turning-point in the campaign to free the five dockers was when a group of dockers went round Fleet Street and persuaded printers to stop work. The absence of papers ensured that everybody throughout the country knew about the dispute and prepared the way for the spreading of strike action. IS members, notably Bob Light, played an important role in initiating and carrying out this action.

    5) Neither I nor anybody else in the SWP would deny that many CP members played an extremely positive role in the events around the Pentonville Five. In return perhaps other comrades could stop asserting that the IS role was negligible. It was not.

  53. Ian Birchall: Neither I nor anybody else in the SWP would deny that many CP members played an extremely positive role in the events around the Pentonville Five

    By Socialist Worker is suggesting precisely that. And not for the first time.
    My point was not to suggest that the IS/SWP have played no role in the working class movement. It can lay claim to some very real achievements and not a few of its activists have, at times, made a serious contribution. Bob Light being a particularly striking example. In fact, reviewing this discussion it appears that I am among those most charitably disposed towards the SWP.
    But its central conceit, that it is ‘the revolutionary party’ defined as such by its strategic conceptions and special role in contemporary politics, is risible.
    All political traditions that have the goal of working class power need to measure themselves against the yardstick of actual achievement. The fact of the matter is that no organisation laying claim to the Trotskyite tradition, or its many offshoots, can point to an actual shift of power from one class to another that occurred as a result of their distinctive contribution.
    The SWP – uniquely – dispose of this inconvenient fact by claiming that the end product of all hitherto existing revolutions was (is) merely a different kind of capitalism and all revolutionary processes have been defeated or betrayed.
    None of this matters very much. Except that the political practice of the SWP circles around this false construct and from it flows a very erratic course.
    At a certain point organisations or individuals that substitute an imaginary world for reality experience a traumatic encounter with that reality. We can see this playing out now. However, if SWPers act in the expectation that the rest of us share in their delusions they will simply depart even further from reality.
    .

  54. Andy Newman,

    Didn’t mean him, I was referring to the average SWP member, I said ‘student’. I also said I admire their passion, I certainly didn’t have much of a clue about industrial relations when at uni.

    It was in relation to;

    Morning Star reader,

    The part about most readers of socialist worker not having a clue about the period.

    Insider,

    Well about 6 years ago-ish. When I started at Man uni they controlled UMSU and were everywhere, when I left they were wiped off the board. Same with Manchester trades council. It used to be controlled by them until a coup last year by people sick of constant motions to give funds to socialist worker.

  55. Nick, are you saying that in 1917 the working class in Russia had power? or to put it another way, that the working class owned the means of production? If so, when did they stop owning it?

  56. Why is it that an article and a plethora of comments attacking the SWP seems to produce no innovative alternative/solution to the problems facing the left in its current state? This is exactly why the far-left is as pathetically weak as it is.
    I’m a young Labour member who’s completely lost faith in the party and the system in general and have been looking to join the far-left for a few months now; but every one of the hundreds of organisations I come across is obsessed with theory rather than action, spending way too much of its energy on attacking its factional rivals and is so tiny that its entirely insignificant.
    Why can’t we just agree to stand in elections under a single party banner, even if we maintain our own little ideological sects in internal factions? I’d like to think that we could come to some consensus on the policies of this one party, seeing as we share the same goal.
    Die Linke seem to have managed it in Germany, where you have Marxist-Leninists working side by side with Social Democrats, all of whom recognize that they share the same long-term goal and should therefore work together to achieve that.
    Why is that such a difficult thing for the British left to even contemplate?
    If nothing productive comes out of the SWP’s crisis then I know that the only choice I’ll have is to remain in the Labour party as a Marxist swimming against a tide of neo-liberal bullshit or to just drop out of party politics in general and spend the rest of my life shouting at the six o’clock news.
    We can talk about how capitalism and parliamentary politics has caused apathy amongst the youth (and the working class) as much as we like, but by failing to provide a large radical alternative the left is just as guilty.
    Sorry about the rant, but to summarise: sort your shit out comrades, please.

  57. Michael Rosen: Nick, are you saying that in 1917 the working class in Russia had power? or to put it another way, that the working class owned the means of production? If so, when did they stop owning it?

    Michael, I don’t think the entire revolutionary process, the transition to political power and the construction of a socialist economy was a process that was carried through in 1917. However, by the turn of the century it was definitely transferred back.
    Here is an interesting analysis of this latter process
    http://mltoday.com/subject-areas/political-economy/new-evidence-on-the-second-economy-395.html

  58. daniel young on said:

    Cultism is surly the result of adherence to the cults philosophy,and as in the past,and present, the S.W.P. does not favor comment from its members who speak outside party creed.

    Possibly,their may be a party of the left, out their, that does not rely on top table governance and vindictive retribution.

  59. Karl Stewart on said:

    The fable of the “Emporer’s New Clothes” came to my mind when I read this gem of common sense amongst all of the rather depressing discussions lately.

    Morgan:
    Why can’t we just agree to stand in elections under a single party banner, even if we maintain our own little ideological sects in internal factions?

    Indeed Morgan, why not? A suggestion so simple and straightforward – can anyone explain to him why not?

    Do we really prefer the current situation?

    Sadly, I actually do think that the various leaders of the various left-of-Labour groups actually do prefer the present situation.

    I really think, by their actions, that they would rather “lead” their competing and identical tiny groups – than actually construct a serious political organisation that can make a real difference.

    Can we change? Or do we want to continue living under capitalism?

    Well said Morgan – an excellent question.

  60. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Post 70 says “Michael, I don’t think the entire revolutionary process, the transition to political power and the construction of a socialist economy was a process that was carried through in 1917. However, by the turn of the century it was definitely transferred back.”

    Actually for all the statements Nick Wright has made I agree with this one. I believe that many people believe that revolution is one act rather than seeing it as a process that may be quite lengthy in human terms before it has become settled one way or another. However, I leave a link from an interesting pamphlet which was written in 1987 by George Collins, then a member of the South African section of the Committee for a Workers’ International, which was called the Marxist Workers’ Tendency of the African National Congress. Its main publication was called ‘Inqaba ya Basebenzi’, or “workers’ fortress”, on the process of the revolution from 1917 onwards. I would be grateful to the SU Editors to allow this educational piece political commentary to be allowed to be seen by the readers of SU.

    http://www.marxist.net/stalinism/how/

  61. Karl Stewart: Sadly, I actually do think that the various leaders of the various left-of-Labour groups actually do prefer the present situation.

    This seems to be the truth of the matter.

    That said, although there are many references on this site to the SWP’s presumptive definition of itself as ‘the revolutionary party’, or to the SP referring to itself as ‘the Marxists’ and everyone else as ‘the sects’, or the CP seeing ‘Trots’ as the problem, I don’t think this attitude is very widespread amongst most members of socialist groups – if for no other reason that we’re all obviously on the back foot.

    Not to idealise ‘the rank and file’ – as the SWP crisis (and the endorsement of the CC’s behaviour at its conference) demonstrates, members are hugely influenced by the culture and practice of their group, and in such undemocratic conditions this means the culture and practice of their leadership. But the members have no interest in perpetuating the status quo, despite the obvious damage it causes, as the leaders do.

    Morgan, it is a ridiculous situation. That said, we should acknowledge that, where unity projects have emerged, political (and unfortunately, non-political) disagreements have continued to be be a problem.

    If anything we need a shift in the left’s attitudes, before we are able to contemplate a ‘left party’ (or whatever you want to call it), rather than hoping that creating such a body by top-down fiat would automatically sort out the other problems. Carts before horses etc.

    Given the inopportune electoral conditions that are likely to persist at least until well after 2015, I don’t think they should be our focus either – but organisational coherence would help us to propagate ideas, work out strategies and to coordinate non-electoral activities in a dozen different ways. Whereas serially losing our deposits and blaming it on each other would be just as depressing as the present situ.

  62. George W: Well about 6 years ago-ish. When I started at Man uni they controlled UMSU and were everywhere, when I left they were wiped off the board. Same with Manchester trades council. It used to be controlled by them until a coup last year by people sick of constant motions to give funds to socialist worker.

    @George #67: not true actually.
    Last year the one SWP member who held an officer position on Manchester TUC stepped down and his replacement was elected unopposed. There remain a number of SWP members on the trades council Executive (including the officer who stepped down). Some coup…

    I’m curious what involvement you have in the movement in Manchester if you think the SWP has “disappeared”. That certainly isn’t the view of the Manchester trades council officers.

  63. Morgan- the reason such a formation doesn’t exist in this country is the fact that there has been no organised and significant break from the Labour Party.

    Where there has been limited potential that element in em bryo has been the starting point- Scargill failed to save Clause 4 and set up the SLP, Militant were expelled from the LP and were originally the main force behind the Socialist Alliance when they and others lost the argument that the SLP should be a federation of factions, and the catalyst for the eventual establishment of Respect was George Galloway’s expulsion from the Labour Party.

    Yes. I know there were all kinds of other factors, groups and individuals involved, but I don’t think any of that detracts from my central argument.

  64. In the case of Die Linke or the Front de gauche, breaks from the SPD and PS were important, but we shouldn’t discount the existence of well-organised parties to their left which these splinters could unite with. Drawing off ‘left social democratic’ people from the Labour Party would undoubtedly be crucial, but you can’t consider that in isolation from the visibility and organisation of the ‘left of Labour’.

    Did Scargill or Galloway actually take a significant body of people with them out of Labour’s activist base? The impression I have is more that they gave existing ‘left of Labour’ forces the potential ability to pose as an attractive and credible alternative for until-then unorganised, unrepresented layers.

  65. Karl Stewart on said:

    Lelsey2525: Is it now time to finally admit the Mensheviks were right all along?

    Interesting question Lesley. Are you referring to the organisation question which split the RSDLP into two?

    If so, I think the “bolshveiks” were probably right at the timw – i.e. that a fairly strict organisational method was appropriate in conditions of illegality – but in today’s conditions, the “menshveik” approach is more suitable.

  66. Observing on said:

    A Counterfire statement is also now up. Lengthy, some analysis. From the conclusion:

    “The road ahead is clear. First, in conditions of Britain today, work in united fronts is of the primary strategic importance. Openness, internal democracy, a willingness to act constructively as a minority in bigger organisations, and an ability to maintain long-term relationships with others not sharing our politics are critical. Second, understanding the transformations that neoliberalism has wrought on the British working class means understanding how political radicalisation can coexist with a still quiescent industrial struggle, and responding to it. It means understanding how changes in the workplace, and the role of the internet, have changed how it is possible for us to organise. Third, it means a reassertion of the central importance of strategy within the movement: that the key tasks for socialists in Britain today, a declining imperial power, are in opposing the British state’s drive to war and in building an effective anti-austerity movement – joined, in Scotland, by the fight for a radical independence. Campaign-hopping cannot substitute for serious work in the movements.”

    http://www.counterfire.org/index.php/articles/analysis/16241-the-crisis-in-the-socialist-workers-party-and-the-future-of-the-left

  67. The question is MOrgan, what are you seeking to acheive?

    The Labour Party has a number of virtues. Firstly it is as close to a mass organisation as we have in Britain; secondly it has mass electoral support and therefore its aspirations to form a government are realistic; and thirdly, it still provides mechanisms for organised labour to exert influence.

    Labou’s electoral base is still a considerable asset, and not one to walk away from lightly, and any left alternative that does not have credible aspirations to form a government will not get the engagement of the big unions.

    The task is therefore not – in my view – to form a new left organisation, but it is to argue for a credible centre-left electoral coalition, around credible radical policies that will shift the political spectrum to the left.

  68. E,

    Sorry to offend, but its the truth. The SWP would look a whole lot less silly if they just accepted the fact that they have messed up big time and have suffered a lot for it. Thank god manchester trades council is now controlled by people interested in mobilising the local labour movement, rather than funding the SWP. What involvement do I have in the labour movement in Manchester? I’m an RMT activist, young members rep for Manchester South branch.

    Used to control UMSU and Manchester trades council, now control neither. I admire your passion and dedication in pretending nothing has changed, but you’ve got to face facts.

  69. Stephen on said:

    Observing: joined, in Scotland, by the fight for a radical independence.”

    yeah ..eh good luck with that one

    “We are pledging a light-touch regulation suitable to a Scottish financial sector with its outstanding reputation for probity, as opposed to one like that in the UK, which absorbs huge amounts of management time in ‘gold-plated’ regulation.” Alex Salmond, April 7 2007

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/independent-scotland-could-have-avoided-financial-crisis-says-blair-jenkins.1358582496

    “Scotland could have avoided the financial crisis if it had been an independent country, according to the leader of the Yes Scotland campaign.”

  70. mark wright on said:

    how about TUSC as a vehicle for a broad coalition of the left ? parties can stand under teh TUSC banner and have their own campaigns but we all unite under the same banner. To me it sounds like perfect sense. A federal coalition of the left with key agreed starting policies which i think TUSC has. why not take a look the disgruntled labour member http://www.tusc.org.uk

  71. @George W #83:

    This is what’s so wrong with this web site. I posted some facts, which I note you don’t dispute George. All I get in return is poorly aimed and unsubstantiated vitriol.

    I do hope you can get delegated from your branch George and help build up what is one of the better trades councils in the country. That requires people with different opinions and political affiliations to work together.

  72. E,

    It is fact hardly ‘unsubstantiated vitriol’. I admire and work with many SWP members and ex-members. In fact it was the number of the latter category involved in wrestling control of the trades council off the SWP that proves my point. The SWP face oblivion if they continue in thier current trajectory. The members I know who are involved in labour movement activity are mostly questioning their membership, two have already resigned.

    There is always going to be some form of SWP but I suspect there will never again be one that will ever have the numbers to control trades councils, even student unions like they used to.

    I hope to be delegated one day, got a lot on my plate at the moment but look forward to working with you in the future. Indeed the new administration there makes me want to get involved.

  73. Can I make an observation? Comments about ‘what the SWP should/should not do’ are slightly off mark in this particular case. Clearly, there are at least two strongly opposed views emerging in the SWP right now (see Leninology). So the phrase ‘what the SWP should do’ right now means at least two very different things a) what the leadership should do and b) what the membership should do. That said, as we all know, re a) (leadership), very few leaderships of any organisation of anything in the world, will voluntarily dissolve itself unless ‘the membership’ asks or forces it to.

    I’m saying all this without prejudice to anyone. I’m merely observing that the time has passed when the phrase ‘what the SWP should or should not do’ means anything.

  74. Morgan on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Andy, what I’m seeking to achieve is simple: Socialism. Or at very least a situation where socialism is made possible through bringing the alternative to capitalism to the attention of the masses and making it achievable through a party which seeks to implement socialistic policies.
    If you truly believe that the Labour Party is the party to do this then you must have spent the last decade in a cave, with no offence intended.
    Illegal and immoral wars, spending billions on nuclear weapons and now a refusal to do anything to reverse tory cuts when they slink back into power in 2016 on a wave of working-class discontent (which could be channelled against the system in general, if we had a truly left-wing party). Is this what the road to socialism is meant to look like?
    Granted there may be a large section of Labour’s membership & electoral base which is progressive and opposed to the things I’ve mentioned above, but at its core Labour is run by a wealthy, bureaucratic elite, virtually indistinguishable from the Tories – with the same lack-of-vision and contempt for the non-voting majority.
    In terms of realistically being able to form a government, I’ll admit that the task is a difficult one, but that was my earlier point: if the left remains in the ridiculous state that it is, then how will we ever know what kind of electoral impact we could make if we put our heads, our resources and our energy together? And besides, judging from some of the things Bob Crow, Mark Serwotka etc. have said in the past I’m sure that large swathes of the unions would throw their weight behind a large ‘left party’.
    I fully understand the arguments for remaining in Labour, but whilst it continues to be run by a wealthy elite (pretty much as democratic as the SWP’s CC) whose only goal is to win elections and prefers to spend money on cold-war-era nuclear weapons than on public services, then I just can’t keep telling people on the doorstep to vote for us.
    TUSC sounds interesting – though it clearly needs a lot of work to grow into a credible alternative, I’ll certainly consider joining.

  75. Rider to my last post. It was intended to be an observation for those of us outside the SWP. What members themselves say about their own organisation is another matter.

  76. This is what’s so wrong with this web site

    E, how is that “what’s wrong with this web site”? I don’t follow how your conversation with George is “what’s wrong with this web site”. If you mean, “loads of different left wing people gather here and talk”, then you’ll need to explain what’s wrong about that. I would suggest that you’re guilty of generalisation there.

  77. David Ruaune on said:

    Michael Rosen,

    I agree – even more specifically, what should SWP oppositionists do? – leave, or stay in and fight? Nobody on the outside can really say so much; it’s a matter of conscience. I think firstly that SWP oppositionists should stay in close contact with those who leave or who get expelled. Conversely, the more political of those who leave should still fight the C.C. Really, I think SWP oppositionists should stay and fight – for an emergency conference, overhaul of democracy, kicking out of the present C.C.; but I’m not in that situation myself, and I couldn’t blame anyone for leaving.

  78. jim mclean on said:

    TUSC are not interesting, they are the front for another Cult. In Scotland their last major TU supporter made a donation to the Greens on the simple basis that in Scotland the Greens were the only electable radical voice opposing cuts. I am of the growing opinion that the romance with the Parliamentary Electoral process is a major barrier to the progress of advancing the cause of the working class. Unity is a weakness in the present day as it suppresses alternative approaches. So lets bless the differences and work on various “projects” without imposing dogma on a working class that have a freedom of thought unparalleled with any other generation. The Anarchists are doing quite well with their Solidarity Networks, something along that line perhaps. Maybe if the RMT ditched the electoral process and returned to their syndicalists roots we might see the emergence of a liberated Trade Union movement free from the shackles of a meaningless electoral process. If you have to vote, Greens or Respect where they can win, Labour as a last resort.

  79. TUSC are interesting in that at a recent public meeting their speaker, supported by their members from the floor stated that they would call for people not to vote Labour in any circumstances – even where TUSC were not standing. They spend most of the meeting attacking the Labour Party speaker, a decent local trade unionist who has supported and been part of local struggles be they strike action/picket lines, anti-fascist activity, anti-privatisation stuff etc.

    He has a very good chance of winning a seat and it would be a big step forward for the local labour movement.

    Thankfully TUSC are an irrelevance.

  80. Manzil on said:

    Steve: they would call for people not to vote Labour in any circumstances – even where TUSC were not standing

    Another example of that sort of behaviour is the predilection for putting up as many candidates as possible, even ‘paper’ candidates who don’t actually do anything beyond appearing on the ballot paper.

    As though by giving people the option to ‘vote TUSC’, they will automatically become more politically active, rather than seeing the derisory vote and thinking, sod that, should have voted Labour.

    Whatever its problems, Respect’s focused and practical attitude towards elections was in comparison very refreshing. The left’s amateurish playing with democracy – the ‘oh it doesn’t really matter who wins; but also we absolutely have to focus entirely on elections’ – should really be put to an end.

  81. Manzil: The left’s amateurish playing with democracy – the ‘oh it doesn’t really matter who wins; but also we absolutely have to focus entirely on elections’

    Precisely – it really was staggering to hear that they thought that there was no difference between Labour and the Tories. In fact, by taking a position of don’t ever vote Labour they were in fact calling for the only possible alternative to a Labour government i.e. a Tory government. Failure to distinguish between the two and the very real damage being inflicted by the current coalition is utterly delusional and irresponsible.

    Like I said, thankfully they remain an irrelevance.

  82. Uncle Albert on said:

    Manzil: The left’s amateurish playing with democracy

    Isn’t it matter of not wanting to register with the Electoral Commission and so avoid the need to submit yearly accounts? This facilitates keeping members in the dark as to where the money is going.

  83. Karl Stewart on said:

    Morgan, your initial comment appeared to make a refreshing point, but your second comment appeared to me a little contrived.

    I’m sorry, call me a cynic, but don’t find your “Thanks for telling me about TUSC…etc..” Comment convincing I’m afraid.

    Anyway, having said that, TUSC has been raised, it is currently the only existing organisation of its type and it merits a reply.

    My view is that I don’t see the perspectives of TUSC as the answer to the infantile sectarianism that’s plagued the left.

    I just don’t agree that setting up in complete opposition to Labour with the intention of creating a Labour Party Mark II is either a realistic prospect or the right way forward.

    TUSC is, at present, the electoral arm of the SP, and it currently expresses the SP’s strategic perspectives, that of replacing the Labour Party, and I feel this strategic purpose seems to have primacy over essential political principles.

    TUSC appears to exist for the purpose of standing candidates in elections rather than for a more profound political purpose.
    However, I don’t wholly agreee with AndyN’s analysis that efforts to construct an alternative left political agenda should be foccused wholly on the Labour Party either.

    I do think that the idea of an umbrella organisation of the non-Labour left is something that we should be striving for – but one that has as its essential aim the unification of the forces for socialism and therefore that deploys a flexible tactical approach to both the Labour Party and towards electoral activity.

  84. Uncle Albert: Isn’t it matter of not wanting to register with the Electoral Commission and so avoid the need to submit yearly accounts? This facilitates keeping members in the dark as to where the money is going.

    Never thought about that before! But it probably has a ring of truth to it.

    Steve,

    It is indefensible. I don’t think it’s ‘official’ – I mean it doesn’t really matter either way, as you say it’s not like TUSC is going anywhere – but purely concerning ourselves with the state of the left.

    The SWP have an (admittedly only periodically discussed) electoral policy of supporting Labour where there’s no viable left candidate. And for all the SP leadership’s narrative about the fundamental qualitative shift in the party’s nature, in reality it’s a lot more nuanced than a first impression would imply.

    In a sense I think it derives from the left’s lack of democracy: While it’s obviously a useful, quick means of getting a hearing to say ‘New Labour are basically Tories’ (it gets over, in a simple way, a rather complex idea about Labour’s role in the system), that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise a more refined analysis within the internal life of the group when circumstances obviously call for it.

    It’s patronising to assume people will only accept a black-and-white, agitational line: either ‘Labour is a bourgeois party and no different to the rest’ or ‘Labour is a (potentially) socialist party’.

    It reminds me of once seeing two lefties with placards declaring ‘China is Communist’ and ‘China is not Communist’. (There must surely have been some coordination, sign-wise?)

  85. Andy, I’m not sure that socialism is ever ‘on the agenda’. No one other than socialists puts it there. So, if we say, it’s not ‘on the agenda’, that is another way of saying that ‘we won’t put it on the agenda’. It’s a statement about what we will or won’t do – emphasis on ‘do’. Underlying all these discussions, assuming that the people taking part are doing so in good faith and have broadly the same idea about what capitalism gets wrong and what socialism involves, is ‘how do we get from here to there.’ You seem to be saying something different in this post ie something like: for the time being we shouldn’t try to get from here to there. Tell me if I’ve misrepresented you.

  86. Karl Stewart: TUSC appears to exist for the purpose of standing candidates in elections rather than for a more profound political purpose.

    That is one thing that often isn’t acknowledged.

    Despite the odd ‘public meeting’ (wherein a few poor naive souls don’t realise they’re sitting in a room with a bunch of SWP and SP members!) there is no such thing as TUSC.

    When it comes to regular political activity, its ‘member’ groups operate entirely separately and under their own names. TUSC is just a hat they wear at elections to maintain the pretence of a broad campaign – a hat that is probably more confusing to people than helpful.

  87. Karl Stewart on said:

    Yes that’s true Andy, but a serious “left-of”Labour” umbrella organisation, deploying sensible tactics and strategy could coalesce the forces for socialism and maximise our effectiveness.

    And could, if succesful, also exert a leftwards pressure on Labour similarly to the rightwards pressure that UKIP is exerting on the Conservatives.

    (Of course, my suggestion presupposes the outrageous notion that the non-Labour left could begin to behave realistically and maturely!)

  88. For those of us who are keen to see a left of Labour alternative it seems obvious that all or most of the forces in TUSC will need to be part of it. What is not so obvious is why it is so difficult for people who want some sort of positive engagement with TUSC to be allowed to do this.

    Socialist Resistance has applied to affiliate on a number of occasions since 2010. The situation currently is that we are free to give time, money and leg work but are not allowed any voice in its decision making processes. The reason for this is that we lack the same social weight as the RMT. Now that is undeniable but it’s a bit of a stretch of the imagination to argue that the SWP, Independent Socialist Network and the Socialist Party have the same social weight as the RMT but all these groups have the right of veto at national committee meetings.

    By way of contrast we had four or five places on Respect’s national council and were allowed to vote. In a certain sense it’s absolutely irrelevant whether or not a small far left group is allowed to a place and a vote on TUSC’s leadership. What is important is how the organisation projects itself outwards to other strands of opinion and its failure to do so is starting to cause some concern to the RMT as you can read in this conference report.

    There is the beginning of a realignment on the left happening at the moment and it would be good if TUSC and its components could relate to it.

    http://socialistresistance.org/3957/tusc-conference-report

  89. Karl Stewart on said:

    Quite a few years ago, I was talking to a family friend who’d been in and around IS/SWP during the 1970s.

    He told me that when they were discussing the change from IS, there’d been a proposal to call the new organisation “the Communist Party” or at least to have the word “communist” as the prominent part of the official name.

    According to him, this was advocated on the basis of “we’re the real communists” but that it was rejected for the word’s association with “stalinism”.

    My friend – who told me that he’d agreed with the “we’re the real communists” argument – told me that they should have adopted a “communist” name on the basis of communism’s ideas and on, as he put it, “opposing stalinism as communists.”

    He then said: “But instead we chose a name that makes everyone think we’re a group of social workers!”

    I’d be interested to know if anyone here was involved in the IS/SWP name-change debate and whether a “communist” party name was seriously considered at that time?

    And also, is there a feeling of “we’re the real communists” among SWP or for that matter among Mil/SP people?

  90. Karl Stewart: or for that matter among Mil/SP people?

    I don’t think I (or the SP) represent ‘the real communists’.

    I regard myself as a communist. (Although, in a sense, what’s a communist without a party…) Objectively I think the SP should/would end up in a proper ‘communist party’, a realignment of the left. But it would be fairly presumptive (and depressing) to regard yourself as the only true example.

    In my own experience it’s more common for SP members to see themselves as ‘real Labour’. Which is problematic (not to mention, incorrect) on an entirely different level.

  91. Liam: The situation currently is that we are free to give time, money and leg work but are not allowed any voice in its decision making processes.

    Well at least you’re in good company – neither are the ordinary members of the SP/SWP!

  92. Karl – behind closed doors and among friends, I’ve certainly heard people I’d consider Trots refer to themselves as Communists. I can understand the logic, but I think it’s probably best kept in private. I always thought the anarcho types who insisted on calling themselves libertarian communists (with a small C) were on a hiding to nothing, too.

    I do think that the idea of an umbrella organisation of the non-Labour left is something that we should be striving for – but one that has as its essential aim the unification of the forces for socialism and therefore that deploys a flexible tactical approach to both the Labour Party and towards electoral activity.

    I did some time as an activist in one of these – I was in the Socialist Society, which was just such a group in a small & rather elitist form, and we were heavily involved in the Socialist Conference/Movement. The SM’s USP was precisely that we didn’t contest elections, and consequently didn’t care whether anyone was in the LP or not. The SWP “intervened” at the first conference with some organised heckling, and were never seen again. The Mils were still in deep cover at the time, so we didn’t see much of them. We did see quite a bit of Outlook and Organiser, as they then were – Organiser were bigger then & a bit less crazy.

    It all looked hopeful for a time, in a post-Miners’ Strike where-now kind of way, but the prize was always to get the non-aligned activists on board (and build the base of non-aligned activists), and after a while it became obvious that it wasn’t happening. The Scottish wing of the Socialist Movement did OK, particularly after they’d merged with the local Mils. South of the border, though, after a while all we had left was the Soc Soc itself (the definition of all chiefs and no Indians), some old stagers and young hopefuls in ones and twos, plus Organiser being loud and crazy and packing meetings, and Outlook being calm and sensible and packing meetings. In the end we kicked out Organiser, Outlook left, and we relaunched the Movement in a new and exciting form, which lasted about a year.

    And that, children, is where Red Pepper came from… But I digress.

    Basically I think you can do one of two things – get the existing parties/groups/sects on board and build outward, or catch the wave of a mobilisation from below and build outward from that. The Socialist Movement couldn’t work without getting more of the sectarian party-building blighters inside the tent; it only really stayed alive as long as it did thanks to lingering memories of the Miners’ Strike, plus the incredible amount of work some people put in (many of them ISG, to give them due credit). Respect mk 1 had the mobilisation to build on, and criminally failed to build outward from it – whatever anyone says now about (say) Charlie Kimber, I still blame Rees & German for the failure of what could have been a really important project. Right here and right now, of course, we’ve got a ready-made umbrella organisation including the two most substantial parties – but, as Liam says, they’re basically refusing to build outward from it, or prioritise it much at all.

    The British Left, you’ve got to love it.

  93. Anyone interested in thinking through the bracing freedom promised for socialists now that the death of the SWP reaches its endpoint, would do well to read this article:

    What is to be Done? Leninism, anti-Leninist Marxism and the Question of Revolution today

    Werner Bonefeld and Sergio Tischler

  94. Karl the first relatively unified trotskyist organisation in Britain was called the revolutionary communist party, the forrunner of the AWL was called the international communist league, in France the c in both lcr and pci was communist etc

  95. Karl Stewart on said:

    My point is that if the IS/SWs and the SP/Mils and of course the CPers all consider themselves to be “true communists” then why not organise into a single organisation?

    Perhaps this “umbrella” organisation of “true communists” could call itself…erm…what could it call itself?….it’s a tricky one…oh here’s an idea, how about “the Communist Party”?

    And as for internal “platforms”, why the hell not? Differences of view exist within every oerganisation.

    And it’s not unheard of for communist organisations – didn’t someone on this thread say recently that the French CP has internal “platforms”?

    Is that true? Is it a fairly big party?

    And “democratic-centralism,” has it served us well over the years?
    No, it’s been the main reason for the disastrous history of splits, splits and more splits.
    Should we perhaps look at adopting a more rational system of democratic accountability and collective responsibility that might actually aid our aims rather than thwarts us continually?

    Maybe this could also attract people who agree with communist ideas, but who will simply not tolerate the bullying and ordering around that strict adherence to “democratic-centralism” entails.

    Or, alternatively, we could just carry on as we are? Is the current situation OK?

  96. Liam,

    Liam I don’t get why you bother. Not that it’s my place to say, but if I were you I’d have a bit more collective self respect.

    I have to say I find it a bit ironic that you walked out of Respect because of your support for the SSP, and now you’re bgging to be allowed to afifiliate to a group dominated by people whose Scottish comrades supported Sheridan.

  97. Anon Activist on said:

    I’m shocked to find out that Martin Smith spoke on behalf of UAF in Greece at the anti-fascist demonstration yesterday.

    it really shows the arrognce of the SWP. It isn’t like Smith is world famous and that UAF desperatley needs him. They coud’ve sent different people. By sending him, they are really telling the rebels and the movement to fuck off.

    I will raise this in my union

  98. David Hillman on said:

    I am not an SWP member (and in fact in as much as I’ve got my own ideas sorted out I disagree with a couple of their leading dogmas and do not believe they understand what is going on in Syria) but I know it would be a great setback to our movement if local SWP groups were in any way ostracised or isolated. Here they have played an exemplary and none-sectarian role in all organising against the Con-Dem cuts, alongside all other genuine organisers, including many women who happen to be amonst the best organisers here in Oxford.

  99. The fact this discussion is going on suggests that the SWP are now irrelevant – to the wider audience of the country they are certainly that – they are often called ‘rent a mob’ – which is a shame as some of the stuff they are involved with is important but too often it just becomes sectarian. The right have got the whip hand and use it – and set left against left. Until that changes it will remain the status quo

  100. Ian Birchall on said:

    Karl Stewart: I’d be interested to know if anyone here was involved in the IS/SWP name-change debate and whether a “communist” party name was seriously considered at that time?

    Various names may have been floated, but the two main contenders were “SWP” and “Socialist Party”. Cliff and the majority of the CC backed “Socialist Party” but were outvoted. This is discussed on page 412 of my biography of Tony Cliff.

  101. #94 What you say here is correct. Where you get it wrong is revealed in the contradictin between s aying t ie electoral process and on the other talking about voting for Labour as a last resort.

  102. stuart on said:

    [mod note: Stuart, you have been told again and again that you are welcome to post here, as long as you behave yourself; but you have posted about 6 times now, simply saying “please can you take me out of the moderation queue so my posts are seen immediately” – but you haven’t actually posted anything else at all, so this is puzzling really. If you post, and it doesn’t contain the obsessive attacks on Andy that you were posting a week ago, your posts will be allowed through with the minimum delay. But all of us here are puzzled as to why someone would fail to contribute anything for days, except for posts that say “please don’t delay my posts”. Stuart, you’re not important enough for us to give you special treatment. It’s just odd, how many times you’ve asked for your comments to be allowed but without you posting any actual comments. I’ve already told you – three times now, I believe – that if you behave yourself, you’ll be taken out of moderation. But you might want to consider just how obsessive you are looking these days – perhaps the situation inside the SWP has upset you, but there’s no point in taking it out on me or Andy.]

  103. May have already been posted but here is a new Socialist Worker blog as mentioned on Lenins Tomb.
    How long before the CC instruct taht this blo must be closed down?

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

    If the crisis in SWP is the complete end to the misuse and abuse of democratic centralism and “vangard” parties then some good may come out of it yet.

  104. stuart on said:

    Can someone explain why Socialist Unity’s Facebook site carries a prominent picture of Harold Wilson? He was, after all, the PM who famously red-baited strikers in order to encourage defeat at the hands of employers before going on to attack living standards, an action that could only encourage a rise in racism, support the US in Vietnam and attempt to push through anti-trade union legislation.

  105. stuart on said:

    Tony Collins:
    Stuart, really? You have to stop being so obsessed.

    Wilson is no friend of the left. Would you care to offer a political explanation to my question.

  106. Wilson is no friend of the left. Would you care to offer a political explanation to my question.

    My political answer to your question is that we both know that you do not give a damn what picture SU chooses for its facebook page, and this is just part of your continual obsessive efforts to talk about anything else other than what’s really bothering people on the left about your organisation right now.

    You’re sounding more and more obsessed – and people who haven’t seen your repeated attempts to attack Andy over the last few weeks will just have to take my word for it.

    Stuart, I do sympathise with you over what’s happening in your organisation, but this projection doesn’t do any good for you or anyone else.

  107. Uncle Albert on said:

    stuart: offer a political explanation to my question.

    Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. I worked in construction before and after this Act was passed, the changes have been considerable – thousands of lives have been saved.

  108. #119 Sorry- experimenting with an android that doesn’t like me very much. That should have said irrelevant electoral process.

  109. stuart: Stuart, you’re not important enough for us to give you special treatment.

    Political differences aside, Tony, that is an extremely unkind thing to post on a public forum.You should take it down.

  110. But it’s true. Stuart expects us to give him special treatment, and we’re not going to do it. It’s a measure of people’s sense of self-importance that they make these demands on the internet. So perhaps my words should’ve been “your sense of self-importance is not matched by reality, so we will not give you special treatment”.

    But why should I mince my words? It’s the truth: No one on here is important enough to get that kind of special treatment. Stuart has been making things awkward for us on here for a week or so now, so I’m not inclined to be charitable. And for fucks sake, it’s a fucking blog/

  111. Your Facebook picture is a photo of Harold Wilson? Bloody hell, you really are moving right! Make sure you don’t end up like Nick Cohen.

  112. No Omar, because in one instance someone was telling a person they didn’t care if he never posted here again, and in the other someone was demanding special treatment, on a blog.

    Well below your normal logical argument, Omar. And a warning to you not to raise issues from private emails in public.

  113. Karl Stewart on said:

    Stuart, I’m surprised that you claim to be shocked that a Labour Party member apparently admires someone who was a Labour Prime Minister in the 1960s and early 70s.

    Of course Wilson is not above criticism, but while he was Prime Minister, progressive laws came in against racism, for sex equality, legalisation of homosexuality, abortion rights, health and safety at work, to name just a few.

    Again, this person is not above criticism, but how can you be surprised that Andy – a Labour member who has regularly expressed support, but not uncritically, for Ed Miliband – should also express admiration, but not uncritically, for Wilson?

    Your party, the SWP, also has a lot to its credit – consistently fighting racism, playing a hugely positive role campaigning against the Iraq war for example.

    But similarly, your party is not above criticism either. Although you refuse to recognise this. You refuse to criticise when they are wrong.

    In 2011, your party openly celebrated the televised public lynching of an African leader by a CIA-sponsored lynch mob. You haven’t voiced any criticism of this.

    Last summer, your party supported the CIA’s smear campaign against Julian Assange – and you supported this position.

    More recently, your party expelled four of its members for having a political discussion on Facebook. And you expressed no criticism of this.

    Your party has consistently put out “anti-stalinist” rehetoric, but has equally consistently adopted “stalinist” internal organisational methods.

    And you have made no criticism of this.

    Your rank-and-file membership is currently in open revolt against your party’s dictatorial leadership and its bullying internal regime and what do you have to say about this?

    Absolutely nothing – nothing at all about the most significant rank-and-file rebellion your party has experienced to date.

    For you, the most important issue appears to be the “shocking revelation” that a Labour Party member admires a former Labour Prime Minister who, despite his flaws, enacted numerous progressive laws.
    We think this is odd Stuart.

  114. John Grimshaw on said:

    #139 I agree with most of what you say there Karl. The problem is that Stuart and other “loyalists” in the SWP are in denial. The longer they refuse to accept the real situation the more they provide cover for the reactionaries on the CC allowing them to re-group (or maybe this is what Stuart wants?) and try to carry on in pretty much the same way. Of course their organisation will probably have significantly decreaSED in size a nd certainly influence with the effect of decreasing the ability of the whole left to oprate. This is precisely why those of us who are not SWP members are entitled to comment. If it ever was this whole matter is not an internal issue. I personally take no great pleasure in the decline of the SWP although I can see that there are many who will do for various reasons.

  115. Tony Collins: Well below your normal logical argument, Omar.

    Well, I’ve never been too sure about the logic of my arguments, but I DO know how it would feel to read a remark like “You’re not important enough…” directed at myself on a blog. Hardly fits with the whole civility thing you were making alot of noise about when you first took over. Anyway I’ll leave it there since I don’t think we’re going to agree.

  116. Karl Stewart/John Grimshaw,

    I will not go into the specific examples raised by Karl as these have been discussed at length and I’ve stated my position previously.

    As far as the SWP is concerned I would accept that the current situation has brought the debates around politics and organisation into sharper focus although in that respect we are not in a unique situation. Particularly when the class struggle is low, lower than many of us feel it ought to be, these kinds of political and organisational arguments can arise.

    Be that as it may, I would urge that those who may consider themselves as being on the left defend the SWP- regardless of any specific criticisms- from attacks by the right ( by those who may feel comfortable with Harold Wilson for example).

  117. Omar, it was just a matter of poor wording. As I went on to explain in my reply to you – basically, to get the kind of special treatment he was asking for, he would have to be more important than everyone else. So, sure, in that context it looked like a mean thing to say, which is why I went on to give a better way of wording it. Sometimes I’m not civil, I never said I was perfect, and sometimes I forget that this is text and not conversation. What was intended as mild sarcasm was wilfully insulting to you; we saw those words differently. I actually don’t have a problem with Stuart, given how dogged he is in returning to the debate again and again. But having repeatedly attacked Andy and having been told that his posts would be held in moderation, he then repeatedly posted saying he wanted his posts to be allowed through quicker than other people who are in moderation. In that context and that context alone, he is not important enough to warrant me giving up that amount of time. No one is that important – hence, “it’s just a blog”.

    I thought I’d explained that, but you haven’t responded to my explanation. I’m not sorry for what I said, I’m sorry for using words that were able to seem nasty – cos actually it was just an observation, as I clarified in my original response to you: It is his belief in his own importance that doesn’t fit with mine, and in the context of a blog, no one is that important. Normally you would be willing to accept that I wasn’t actually being nasty, but simply wasn’t careful in my choice of words. In this instance, you feel aggrieved enough to start mentioning the topic of a private email exchange between me and you Omar.

    In the scheme of things Omar, bringing up the subject of a private email exchange between me and you is very, very poor form. That certainly crosses a line in “civility” terms. I have many conversations with contributors privately, and I do not expect them to start wink-winking about such things in public – it feels like a threat, and I would hope that you’ll reflect on how that can be interpreted and feel way more insulting that a poor way of saying “I’ve not got time to treat you special, Stuart”.

    I’m not gonna discuss this any further, cos it’s so boring, and it’s not important enough. I’m feeling far less civil than normal at the moment cos of some very, very serious issues going on with my health, and no one is important enough for me to get stressed over. But in future, if I ever do have a private email conversation with you again, I expect for it to never even be mentioned on here unless we both agree :)

  118. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    I was originally going to let the Counterfire Statement posted on 81 go by because I thought it is as superficial critique of the present leadership of the SWP from an ex-leadership of the SWP who had the same political and theoretical agenda as the former. That was until I read an article in the Scottish Left Review by one of the, what loosely could be called, ‘theoreticians’ of the Scottish counterfire breakaway from the SWP, the International Socialist Group, (Scotland), ISG.

    Part of the Counterfire statement quoted in post 81 says “that the key tasks for socialists in Britain today, a declining imperial power, are in opposing the British state’s drive to war and in building an effective anti-austerity movement – joined, in Scotland, by the fight for a radical independence”. I would respectfully suggest that this is balderdash. The Radical Independence Campaign, RIC, in which the ISG is a moving force, certainly does not want the debate within the Independence Yes vote to be radical or even Left-wing. There is much hyperbolic rhetoric that comes from the ISG that one has to delve below the froth to see what they are saying and when one does examine the rhetorical flourishes one find that the froth disappears like the soap suds in the wind and what is left is the reality of their substance. And that substance is the ISG supports an Independent Capitalist Scotland. So the ISG is not in fact a radical component to, and of, the YES vote, but is in reality a counter-radical element and no different to the SNP, an open capitalist party, ideologue.

    Let us see part what this ISG ‘theoretician’ said in the Scottish Left Review that has me so politically exasperated: “The left’s role until October 2014 should be to invoke a sense of hope; the last thing the consciousness of Scottish people needs is a thorough-going critique of the limits of independence and the enduring power of capitalist ideology and the capitalist state. There will be plenty of time for sobriety post-independence. For now, that will motivate no one. It won’t change the meaning of 2014 one iota.” So what the ISG are saying is trade unionists, community activists, the unemployed, the disabled, the families devastated by the benefit cuts cannot fight the SNP Government, and the Scottish Councils, who are implementing the austerity cuts on behalf of the Condem Government. They have to like it and lump it.

    Let’s haul the white flag up now and surrender to the capitalist juggernaut against working people is what they are saying. Instead of campaigning to expose the utterly false outlook of the SNP leadership who believe an independent capitalist Scotland would represent a significant step away from austerity and brutal cuts, which is a ruled out unless decisive measures were to be taken against capitalism. The ISG want to say to working people and the poor in Scotland let us park the idea of fighting for a socialist society until after the referendum and we have a capitalist Scotland. This Menshevik ‘two stage’ theory approach will lead to confusion in the more politically aware organised working class on the one hand and the general Scottish population on the other. The reality is there is no possibility that an independent capitalist Scotland who failed to act against capitalism being a stable, equal or fair society. Against the backdrop of a structural long term crisis of world and British capitalism an independent capitalist Scotland would face the same difficulties in attaining growth and profitability as today. Under the conditions of economic decay the impoverishment of the working, and middle, class would continue.

    Contrast that to the political party I am involved in, the Socialist Party Scotland, where our central demand, which we will champion in the referendum, is the need to fight for an independent socialist Scotland. This would form part of a voluntary socialist confederation with England, Wales and Ireland as a step to a socialist Europe. The slogan of a socialist confederation is a crucial one as it sums up the idea of working class unity and cooperation, an essential counterweight to the bourgeois nationalism of the SNP that seeks to divide the working class. Unlike the majority of the left in Scotland the Socialist Party is not prepared to dip its socialist banner. Today, and for many years more to come, savage austerity, the picking apart of the gains made by workers in the past is all this system has to offer. The only alternative for the working class, young people and the poor is to build a mass movement against austerity in the form of a 24-hour general strike as a first step and for a complete break with capitalism in the form of decisive socialist measures; which also included the bringing into public ownership of the major levers of the economy under democratic working class control. This also obliges the building of a new mass working class party that fights for a socialist majority in the Scottish Parliament; this Party would be prepared to use the powers of independence in the interest of the working class.

    So what I would respectfully suggest to the members of the ISG is to reject the declared ceasefire with the pro-cuts SNP and join us in building that new alternative to capitalism.

    Here is the article from the http://www.scottishleftreview.org/article/after-ric/
    Ps, it is the last one of a group of thoughts on the RIC.

  119. #143 Stuart, what do you mean by defending the SWP against attacks from the right?

    If someone says to me that they don’t think a private organisation should conduct an investigation into an alleged rape or they suggest that a serious complaint within an organisation should not be heard by people who are pals of the accused, particularly if the complainant is in a subordinate position, am I supposed to say I disagree with them if I don’t like their politics, even though I do agree?

    Do you believe that people on the left should be immune from criticism just because the right are also attacking them?

    I don’t think you do, do you Stuart?

  120. stuart on said:

    Vanya,

    No, of course I’m not saying that you should withold criticisms if you have any, but what I’m inviting you to consider is the wider political picture.

    Maybe a historical example can suffice. I might have disagreed with the decision of Liverpool City Council to issue redundancy notices in 1985 but I would not have joined in a generalised attack from the right by people who would be attacking a far left group (in this case Militant) on whatever pretext.

  121. Manzil on said:

    Jimmy Haddow: our central demand, which we will champion in the referendum, is the need to fight for an independent socialist Scotland. This would form part of a voluntary socialist confederation with England, Wales and Ireland as a step to a socialist Europe.

    As someone who’s undecided but not especially sympathetic to calls for Scottish independence, one thing I don’t understand is: why does the supportable but currently unobtainable argument for a socialist Scotland (‘independent’ or otherwise), translate into supporting a referendum when it is unarguably a question of an ‘independent capitalist Scotland’ or continued membership of a ‘capitalist United Kingdom’, neither of which seem to demonstrate a particular advantage or disadvantage to Scottish workers.

    A Scottish state, on account of being smaller, closer to the people, and freed from the baggage of conservatism and post-imperial hubris of the British state, might be more responsive to working-class pressure. But equally it would likely have fewer resources and less authority with which to confront the capitalist class and its political servants. And let’s suppose the option was a Scottish socialist state, do you think it would be viable except as part of a ‘socialist confederation’ with Europe or at the very least the rump UK? So does it matter if a socialist Scotland would be ‘independent’ or not?

  122. Is the crisis due to the rape allegations or the actual rape if it did occur or are there deeper seated reasons for the implosion?

    The break up of the WRP under Gerry Healy was centred on allegations around his Jimmy Saville moments, but that had been going on for years so that was nothing new. Its impossible to take a position on the SWP issue without being privy to some facts (what, when, how) and due to the nature of the allegations one cannot know until more information comes to light, about what is actually going on.

    Healy had 90 odd fulltimers was running a daily paper that was sold just to members and the organisation (under capitalism) was financially bankrupt, but it could not be allowed to go bankrupt as Healy would blow his top, get the heavies round and do what he did best, crush opponents.

    As the crisis developed and various factions manoeuvred around the parts of the organisation that could be saved or hived off (a form of personal salvation!) more things came to light (shady deals with Arab oil-igarchs, handing over pictures of dissidents to Saddam for money etc.)
    What are the SWP’s finances like? Who knows?

    [INAPPROPRIATE AND SEXIST SPECULATION DELETED] when it reported in the press that the police have undercover operatives since 1968 in most organisations? How do we know there isn’t collective coverup by the Disputes Committee? Without being privy to some facts we can not know anything other than what C Kimber said ‘the case is closed’. It is indeed, but that does not imply the organisation aint going to blow up as after all other organisations exist with the same politics and better career prospects such as the LD or the Labour Party….

  123. Jellytot on said:

    @140 I personally take no great pleasure in the decline of the SWP although I can see that there are many who will do for various reasons.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of taking pleasure, it’s more about regarding the decline as inevitable and a natural process given the way the Party is structured, it’s core belief system and the incongruity of it with wider British society and social trends.

    None of should be surprised that this is going on.

    @147No, of course I’m not saying that you should withold criticisms if you have any, but what I’m inviting you to consider is the wider political picture.

    What wider picture?

    There is a case for the idea that the Left will be healthier, more dynamic and better able to respond to events with the SWP being much smaller and less influential in future.

  124. Manzil on said:

    Jellytot: it’s core belief system and the incongruity of it with wider British society and social trends.

    Are you saying that’s just the SWP, or all socialist groups? Given that I think there is considerable agreement across the radical left about the fundamental problems of society as presently constituted, and what is required to fix it. Would the decline of the entire anti-capitalist left be a good thing, in creating a left ‘healthier, more dynamic and better able to respond to events’? At what point does the decline of bureaucratic groups cease to be a potential improvement, because it has not been replaced by a more dynamic, democratic left, but instead by a left whose ‘think big’ ambition is Prime Minister Miliband.

  125. John Grimshaw on said:

    Tony Collins: cos of some very, very serious issues going on with my health, and no one is important enough for me to get stressed over.

    Please look after yourself. :)

  126. 145# Jimmy- the whole independence project led by the SNP is anti working class from the get go. So it should come as no surprise that those “leftists” like the ISG who want to back the independence project see “building hope” in Scottish independence as the crucial matter. They are attempting to put lip stick on a pig. Essentially the ISG are promoting the attempted con job on the working class by the SNP and that sector of the Scottish establishment who backing independence. However your alternative project of an independent socialist Scotland is totally unrealistic and leads you back to giving grudging acceptance to an independent capitalist Scotland. What we need is a united fightback by the working class in Britain against austerity and not support for nationalist projects that attempt to divide workers for the benefit of big business.

    I hope the democratic opposition within the SWP are not attracted to the hopeless politics of the ISG. Clearly a big move to the right

    sandy

  127. stuart on said:

    Jellytot: There is a case for the idea that the Left will be healthier, more dynamic and better able to respond to events with the SWP being much smaller and less influential in future.

    Not a case that can be argued in a very logical manner. If people said that about Militant then they were wrong and could well have been motivated by sectarianism. It does not help the cause of the left if organisations that oppose attacks on living standards, oppose racism and fascism, oppose imperialism etc etc are made weaker.

  128. “Seymour himself seems to be using this incident as a job application for leaving the SWP and joining the liberal establishment, which explains his cack handed approach of opening up Lenin Tomb for releatively light weight articles by disgruntled SWP members, while himself courting expulsion.”

    All of this shows just how little you understand what is going on here or what those opposing the CC (including Seymour) are trying to do. But that has never stopped you from commenting on anything in the past, even if it means smearing people and reaching entirely incorrect conclusions, so do carry on.

  129. JB: All of this shows just how little you understand what is going on here or what those opposing the CC (including Seymour) are trying to do.

    No, I think Andy has a far greater grasp of what’s going on here than you.

    Richard Seymour has a new book to sell. The last thing he needs is to be associated with the scandal that is currently engulfing the party of which he is a prominent member. As Andy enumerates, he knew of this scandal before Andy broke the story publicly. It was only then he came out and distanced himself from the SWP CC and its handling of the rape allegations.

    The word is opportunism.

  130. Manzil,

    You hit the nail one the head completely here. Arguably an independent Scotland would have less powers under ‘independence’ as it would be in a weaker position to resist EU diktats.

    Ironically those on the left who tend to support ‘independence’ tend also to be the ones who ignore, or conjure up the false possibility of reform (in a socialist direction) of, the fact that the EU is, and always has been, an undemocratic mechanism of big business. It’s main aims appear to be the liberalisation of public services, limiting social spending, imposing austerity, driving down wages, tearing up terms &conditions and destroying trade union rights.

    Alongside this you get a sinister celebration of the the banning of communist parties/symbols and prosecution of partisans for ‘war crimes’, at the same time a blind eye is turned to increasing racist attacks and growth of fascist movements and the emergence of parades celebrating SS volunteers.

    ‘Independence’ is a sham. The provison of left cover for the SNP (and Donald Trump and news international) to create a low regulation/ low wage Scotland is disgraceful, the idea that this will led to a socialist Scotland is insane.

    If the Scottish people do decide to go for ‘independence’, then good luck to them, although polls demonstrate this is unlikely at the moment. A more sensible position for the left would be too support more powers for the Scottish parliament, and the creation of a proper Welsh one at that. Such an approach would undoubtedly foster a more social democratic governance than riding the SNP train to Neo-liberal town.

    By splitting up Britain, and it’s labour movement, in order to let the SNP give Scotland a more ‘attractive’ level of corporation tax and an economy based on a pre-crash Iceland, keeping the pound, the queen and membership of the EU and NATO while you are at it seems shortsighted at best.

    Would such a set up mean the Scottish would finally be free from English tyranny to run and dance free amongst the thistles like William Wallace and Bonnie Prince Charlie intended? Or would the land border with a massive economy mean that England would exert a much bigger economic tyranny on Scotland, the shipyards would close…etc resulting in a exodus south among the young unemployed?

  131. John Grimshaw on said:

    stuart: No, of course I’m not saying that you should withold criticisms if you have any, but what I’m inviting you to consider is the wider political picture.

    Stuart I don’t know who you are and I don’t know where you stand in the current crisis, but you seem to be a “Loyalist”. And you seem to be going to great lengths to defend the way the organisation has been run in the past. Given this if you say the above surely you can see that its difficult for others to take you seriously. You agree that Vanya is right to say that he should not hold back criticisms (well and good) but by the same token you support an organisation of the left, or its leadership at least, who have made a career out of silencing criticism (?). Equally you mention the “wider situation” and I think I have made it clear earlier that I think this is important, but what does it seem like if someone who says it is this “loyalist”. To me it sounds like a smokescreen? Or maybe its a cry for help in a difficult situation? I suspect that only a significant break with the past and some honesty from the SWP, is going to elicit such a response. And I do think Stuart there are still opportunities in this whole mess. :)

  132. #147 But Stuart, people on the left are either going to be principled about this or they aren’t. I will take the same position I always take on the question of attacks on the left- defend what I consider to be defensible. What else can anyone expect? But please don’t (not saying you are, but don’t) try to use an ‘under attack from the right’ cover to guilt-trip people into keeping schtum on this.

    #145 Surprised to find myself defending CF here :).

    Surely what they’re saying is that the task in Scotland IS to fight austerity (which is being imposed by Westminster and implemented by local authorirties and Holyrood AND campaign for a yes vote, because independence is a pogressive goal in itself.

    Then, if you win the vote, continue to attack austerity as well as fighting for other socialism within an independent Scotland.

    Because (a) You will not have a box marked ‘Indpendent Socialist Republic’ to put a cross in and (b) if you make too much of a big deal of the limits of independence from a left point of view, many working class people will take the. (Correct in my view) position that there is no point voting for it).

    As usual, you are making a point of honour out of a position that is purely idealist and with no basis in current reality except as propaganda.

    Where CF get it wrong is that they actually should take notice of all those people who think Scottish independence is a diversion.

    You’re ‘fighting’ for something that isn’t going to happen while they’re arguing for something that might, but which is a waste of time and energy.

    What a choice!

  133. John Grimshaw on said:

    stuart: I might have disagreed with the decision of Liverpool City Council to issue redundancy notices in 1985 but I would not have joined in a generalised attack from the right by people who would be attacking a far left group (in this case Militant) on whatever pretext.

    Isn’t it more complicated than that? I would certainly not have joined any right wing attack but are you saying its not possible to criticise from the left in such a situation? That a dignified silence should be maintained whatever’s going on?

  134. stuart on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    I cannot accept the simplistic way you refer to silencing criticism. A Democratic Centralist party is not, and can not be, an ‘anything goes’ party. It has to strike a balance between allowing, indeed encouraging, channels of debate, and acting as a cohesive party that can intervene effectively.

  135. John Grimshaw on said:

    Manzil: At what point does the decline of bureaucratic groups cease to be a potential improvement, because it has not been replaced by a more dynamic, democratic left, but instead by a left whose ‘think big’ ambition is Prime Minister Miliband.

    So Manzil it would be okay to support the “degenerated workers state/bureacractic workers state” (blah, blah, whatever) of the ex-SU, but, as you seem to point out(?), on the other hand totally acceptable to villify, and publicly, our tiny “bureacratic socilaists groups” when we can stick the knife in. I not saying your saying that. ? I assume your raising a contradiction?

  136. John Grimshaw on said:

    #160 Stuart how am I being simplistic about the way “criticism” is/was silenced in the SWP? Either it was or it wasn’t and we both know it was. Habitually. And its not just me. Lots of people on the left, particularly of the ex-party party would agree. My conception of democratic centralism is not yours. The SWP’s conception is of a top down bureacraticly led organisation where the ordinary members work hard but have little say in the direction things go in. Not only is this not deomcratic, it creates massive stresses which eventually can break the organisation. And it depends what you mean by “anything goes”. It seems to me that maybe some members of the CC had been indulging in a bit of “anything goes” because they could? Becuase who was there to say no? Because certain egos were allowed to rise to inflated proportions?

  137. Manzil on said:

    John Grimshaw: I not saying your saying that. ? I assume your raising a contradiction?

    Yes.

    I am, after all, a member of one of these ‘bureaucratic socialist groups’.

    I was attempting to point out (not very well, apparently!) the danger that otherwise legitimate criticisms of the organised left, if they do not result in a higher standard of theory and practice, may in fact result in a different – but, crucially, equally inadequate – situation. I do not believe a repudiation of the existing SWP ‘model’ should extend to a questioning of the entire panoply of socialist politics.

  138. Manzil on said:

    stuart: A Democratic Centralist party is not, and can not be, an ‘anything goes’ party. It has to strike a balance between allowing, indeed encouraging, channels of debate, and acting as a cohesive party that can intervene effectively.

    Do you feel that anything, which the opposition groups within the SWP has done during the present situation, represents such an ‘anything goes’ attitude, and is contrary to how members of socialist organisations should ordinarily act? If so, what specifically?

  139. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Manzil the concrete reality is that in October 2014 there is going to be a referendum on Scottish Independence which is going to take place against the backdrop of an unprecedented economic crisis. So socialists and Marxists have to analyse the current and future, as well as the past, economic and social circumstances to come up with a political prognosis and strategy for the benefit of the working class.

    The approach of the Socialist Party Scotland, SPS, flows from the Marxist programme on the National Question. While standing for the maximum unity of the working class of all nationalities, we also support the right of nations, and national minorities to self-determination. That means up to and including the right to form an independent state. However, we don’t always and in all circumstances support separation. A critical factor in weighing up what our demands should be is the existing consciousness, in particular the outlook of the working class and young people. In other words who is supporting independence and why?

    Some on the left, including the official Labour left in Scotland in 1979 dismissed the very existence of a Scottish national consciousness. People like Robin Cook, who at that time stood on the left of the Labour Party campaigned against devolution. Others equated support for national independence as a reactionary idea. This has led them to oppose calls for devolution or national independence as a diversion from the struggle for socialism. So in 1979, for example, during the referendum on the setting up of a Scottish Assembly the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) slogan was “We don’t need devolution – What we need is revolution”. Such infantile sloganising was based on their analysis that there was no national question in Scotland because Scotland had not been a colonial exploited nation. I believe that is not their position now, but their theoretical rudder is never been a strong point to the SWP.

    In the late 1970’s Militant – the forerunner of the Socialist Party – did not advocate independence for Scotland, which was supported by only around 6% of the population. During the 1979 referendum for a Scottish assembly we called for a Yes vote for devolution expressed in the slogan “ a Socialist Britain with autonomy for Scotland.” Today that slogan would not take account of the changed consciousness of broad layers of the working class in Scotland. The democratic aspirations and outlook of the Scottish people have changed significantly since then.

    Support for a Scottish parliament and also independence increased dramatically during the 80’s and 90’s. The consequence of the anti-working class Thatcher government, the hated poll tax and the mass deindustrialisation of Scotland. The Tories were wiped out in the 1997 general election in Scotland. In the referendum of the same year on whether Scotland should have a devolved parliament, 70% voted yes with 60% backing the parliament having tax raising powers. But the failures of the Scottish parliament to deliver for the majority of the Scottish people and the coming to power of another viscous anti-working class Tory government in Westminster without legitimacy in Scotland, has added further fire under the cauldron of the national question. The SNP’s victory in 2007, and in particular their crushing victory in 2011 has left the British ruling class with no choice but to agree to a referendum on Scottish independence.

    Scotland was not as clear cut an imperial colony as Ireland which was an agricultural reserve, a “bread basket”, for British imperialism. However, sections of the Scottish people suffered horrendous crimes at the hands of British capitalism. These included the Highland clearances and the brutal human cost of the forced destruction of the old feudal society. These crimes were indelibly ingrained into the consciousness of the Scottish people. It bolstered the feeling of anger and bitterness towards the “English” and is still a factor in the consciousness of today. However it would be a serious mistake simply to judge the criteria of a nation as one that has been a colony of imperialism. That would be to ignore the fact that Scotland has a clearly defined territory, a long history of a separate religious, legal and education system, and above all a strong national identity amongst its people. It is true that national identity in Scotland has waxed and waned depending on circumstances. During the height of the powers of British imperialism a majority of the middle and upper classes and sections of the working class would have described themselves as primarily British and in some cases Scottish as well. That reflected the degree to which Scotland had been absorbed into the political and economic life of the British state. However a Scottish identity has always existed and in the past couple of decades has strengthened considerably.

    Socialists and Marxists have a responsibility to have an extremely sensitive approach towards workers and young people who support or are likely to support independence. There is a chasm of a difference between the outlook of a young person who will vote Yes to independence in 2014 hoping that it would offer a way out of mass unemployment and poverty and that of Scottish multi-millionaires like Tom Hunter and Brian Souter who also back independence, along with their ideologues in the SNP. On the one side is the nationalism of the aspiring ruling elite – big business and the SNP leadership. They seek to establish an independent Scotland so that they can continue and deepen the exploitation of the working class as in other capitalist nations. On the other side is the nationalism of the working class who want to break free from plummeting living standards, poverty and brutal social cuts. The SPS programme for the referendum therefore has a two-fold character. Firstly, to defend and articulate the democratic demands of currently around 1 million people, overwhelmingly working class, in Scotland who support independence. Secondly to build a campaign that raises the need to break with capitalism. This means exposing remorselessly the nationalism of the SNP leadership who see capitalist independence as a way of maintaining the grip of the capitalist elite on the throats of the majority.

    All the opinion polls that provide a breakdown show that support for independence is highest amongst the low paid, the young and the working class in general. The most recent polls on independence show 28% vote Yes, 48% No and 24% undecided, but amongst the working class support for a Yes vote it is higher at around 40%. In other words independence is a class issue. The reality is that socialists have two audiences that we want to have a dialogue with in the referendum process; those workers and young people, remember 16 and 17 years in 2014 will have a vote in the Independence referendum, who support or are moving towards supporting a Yes vote, and those who have legitimate doubts and are sceptical about independence. It is important for socialists to recognise that there are sincere fears amongst some workers and young people about whether a small country would be worse off under independence, especially under the economic outlook for British and World capitalism. Paradoxically this will be exploited by the NO vote, which includes the majority of the Labour Party in Scotland and nationally, who support the austerity programme and the economic and social system of capitalism. The instinct for working class unity and fears of division amongst workers in Britain as a whole is also an important factor in the consciousness of many workers and trade unionists, and is in fact a progressive stance.

    That is where only a socialist programme can engage with this paradoxical consciousness in Scotland and not alienate working class people who have fears about capitalist independence. On the one hand we agree that under capitalism workers in an independent Scotland would continue to face unending cuts and austerity just like down south. On the other hand we support unconditionally the maximum unity of the working class and oppose all forms of division. This is summed up in our demand for a socialist confederation of Scotland, England , Wales and Ireland as a step to a socialist Europe etc. By putting forward our programme on the national question in this way we can engage with a radicalised section who will vote for independence looking for a way out of the death spiral of the system. We will also avoid cutting ourselves off from those layers who oppose independence for understandable class reasons. The Scottish Independence referendum and its debate is not a black and white issue that is static, over this coming two years and beyond working class consciousness is going to change dramatically and linked to the debate is the crucial question of the lack of mass political representation for the working class; and in many ways this is the most crucial issue facing the working class movement. But that is another contribution for another time.

  140. #158 Sorry meant to say ISG not CF. Not Great Brit chauvinism, genuinely get confused – the fact that the USFI in Britain was the ISG when I was involved doesn’t help.

    #161 Not sure what your argument is about here but I will say that it is entirely possible to hold the view (a) that a country has a socialist element to it (including the orthodox trot/ degenerated or deformed workers’ state viewpoint) AND also take the position that the state in question is extremely vile. No fundamental contradiction there. After all, the state that existed in Russia in the early 20s was hardly a barrel of laughs, but I would still have defended it against imperialism, even though I would also have been opposed to the 0ctober 1917 seizure of power. Of course I would also have continued to take the same position in the 30s, 4Os, 50s and 60s and DID take that position in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

    And I like to think that I would have been just as concerned about mass shootings without trial, repression of strikes, famine etc in the 20s had I known about them as I was about any abuses of human rights thereafter.

    You can’t always get what you want.

  141. stuart on said:

    Vanya (159), John Grimshaw (160),

    A similar analogy could be the Tommy Sheridan case. Just say for example, and this is purely hypothetical, I thought Sheridan was wrong to fight the NOTW. Should I have criticised him through the whole process or should I have supported his right to do so? Of course I should support him and urge others on the left to support him against the capitalist press and I should denounce any ‘socialists’ who aid the capitalist press.

    Similarly, you may believe the SWP handled something badly. But surely when parts of the capitalist press are taking the opportinity to bash the the SWP and by extension the left, surely the the response of socialists should be to support the right of the SWP to handle its own investigations (even if you think it was handled badly in this specific case). And then if the right-wing bureaucrats throughout the movement take further advantage and attack the SWP, surely the left should rally around the party even if they have disagreements.

  142. jim mclean on said:

    I have no country, why should I support the SNP, don’t care about the UK either come to think about it. The reading of the working class support is questionable as it is strongest among the young male NEET’s, thus the massive influx of Holyrood money towards that group to the expense of working class women in Scotland. Economic oppression based of gender is as obscene as any other form of sexism. Oh well this is the 20th anniversary of TIMEX.
    http://news.stv.tv/tayside/210226-timex-industrial-dispute-in-dundee-is-remembered-20-years-on/

  143. Jimmy Haddow,

    “There is a chasm of a difference between the outlook of a young person who will vote Yes to independence in 2014 hoping that it would offer a way out of mass unemployment and poverty and that of Scottish multi-millionaires like Tom Hunter and Brian Souter who also back independence, along with their ideologues in the SNP. On the one side is the nationalism of the aspiring ruling elite – big business and the SNP leadership.”

    Do you think that for a young person to vote yes as a way of stopping poverty and unemployment means that this will magically occur? Clearly it will not. Socialists have a duty to present a honest argument, encouraging some poor soul that unemployment and poverty will be abolished by a yes vote is, at the very best, dishonest and opportunist.

    “All the opinion polls that provide a breakdown show that support for independence is highest amongst the low paid, the young and the working class in general. The most recent polls on independence show 28% vote Yes, 48% No and 24% undecided, but amongst the working class support for a Yes vote it is higher at around 40%. In other words independence is a class issue.”

    That doesn’t mean anything. The same logic makes support for capital punishment, an immediate end to all immigration, even the installation of Jeremy Clarkson as Prime Minister a ‘class issue’. Desperate stuff here.

    “our demand for a socialist confederation of Scotland, England , Wales and Ireland”

    You see supporting Scottish independence as a way of furthering your aims of a confederation of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland? That’s like saying ‘I want an end to capitalism, I just voted conservative.’

    All over the place bud.

  144. Jellytot on said:

    @151Are you saying that’s just the SWP, or all socialist groups?

    Mainly the SWP but I honestly cannot see much of a case for the 57 varieties of far Left groups existing. Many of these were born from The Club of the early 1950’s and the theories and modus operandi that underpin them seem utterly divorced from the social and political mores of modern Britain.

    It’s telling that when these groups do their best work it’s in the manner of fairly orthodox reformists devoid of revolutionary and vanguardist pretensions; pretensions that produced a skewed outlook and way of operating, both internally and in relation to the wider movement.

    @154Not a case that can be argued in a very logical manner. If people said that about Militant then they were wrong and could well have been motivated by sectarianism. It does not help the cause of the left if organisations that oppose attacks on living standards, oppose racism and fascism, oppose imperialism etc etc are made weaker.

    In recent years your party hasn’t been doing much all that effectively. Ten years ago you did some good work in StWC and RESPECT but recently you’ve gone off the rails, most obviously in relation to Libya and Syria.

    If you sort out the utter dysfunctionality of your internal regime you could (maybe) become more effective but that would take a sea-change and decisive break and I don’t think you’re up to it. Cracks can only be wallpapered over for so long. Sooner or later those cracks become yawning chasms and that’s seems to be what’s happening.

  145. stuart on said:

    Manzil,

    SWP members are entitled to express their opinions through the appropriate channels. My hunch is that the debate will necessarily encompass, not for the first time, wider political questions and further examination of the relationship between elected leadership and rank and file members.

  146. stuart on said:

    Jellytot,

    I think events in West Africa has demonstrated that the SWP was right to oppose western intervention and also to point out that such intervention can have unintended consequences as the west is not as in control as it would clearly like to be of events.

    Further, the futilty of relying on China to veto French intervention at the UN. I guess China’s ‘interests’ in Africa are part of the overall problem.

  147. George W: That doesn’t mean anything.

    It does, it means that if you look at polls over the last couple of years its clear that Yes is highest among the young and the working class. No is highest among the over 55 and the wealthier. That’s what the polls can tell you and of course it means something.

    George W: “our demand for a socialist confederation of Scotland, England , Wales and Ireland”

    Now that really doesn’t mean anything there is no likelyhood of it happening and Jimmy’s crew are in no position to demand it of anyone.

  148. Karl Stewart on said:

    stuart: John Grimshaw, I cannot accept the simplistic way you refer to silencing criticism. A Democratic Centralist party is not, and can not be, an ‘anything goes’ party. It has to strike a balance between allowing, indeed encouraging, channels of debate, and acting as a cohesive party that can intervene effectively.

    Stuart, as an outsider, the pre-conference expulsion of the “facebook four” appears exceptionally harsh.

    My understanding was that, in the three months before your annual conference, factional activity is permitted under SWP rule. So I can’t see what these four have done wrong even under the SWP rulebook.

    But your rulebook doesn’t permit factional activity after conference (I’m not saying this is either fair or healthy, but it is what I understand to be your internal rules.)

    So how on earth can you justify – by any logic at all – keeping those four expelled now?

    Don’t you think it would be a welcome gesture of conciliation to readmit the four?

    The thing is, if one wonders how a future SWP government might behave, all we’ve got to go on is how it behaves where it has power already.

    The only arena in which the SWP exercises any power at all at this time is within its own ranks.

    If you appear to treat people unjustly internally, then it’s not unfair for we outsiders to judge that you would also treat the rest of us unjustly were you ever to achieve your aims of state power.

    Re-admitting the “facebook four” (who, let’s face it, don’t actually seem to have broken any of even your own party rules) would be a step in the right direction of reassuring we outsiders as well as showing good faith to your rank-and-file membership.

  149. Andy Newman: How could they? France has acted unilaterally and outside the terms of any UN mandate.

    Is this accurate? I’m totally opposed to the French actions but my understanding is that it is sanctioned by the UNSC, which (if true) , not for the first time, raises questions about that body.

  150. stuart: It has to strike a balance between allowing, indeed encouraging, channels of debate, and acting as a cohesive party that can intervene effectively.

    And there I think you have nailed it, by counter poising clear communication and dialogue with effectiveness.

    By concentrating on the latter and not the former the inner party culture of the SWP have in effect created this very public shit storm. How? Because there is no effective way for SWP members to communicate either vertically or horizontally within the Party they now have no other way but to use communication outside the party- on Facebook, blogs and e-mails.

    Take the call for a recalled Conference, I hear that the Conference Arrangements Committee have set an arbitrary deadline of the 1st Feb for all branch motions. That’s not in the rule book and is what- two weeks away. As nobody outside of Party centre knows how many branches the SWP have got, indeed very little idea of what the real active membership is, how will we know if the necessary 20% have passed recall motions? Who actually counts there motions- well I guess Charlie Kimber, now he’s not exactly impartial, how does the membership know if any accidentally not knocked off his desk and slipped between the floor boards?

    But as more and more motions, resignations and debate get posted on the internet the old techniques of saying its just a local problem and the rest of the party is behind the leadership is more difficult to maintain.

    The SWP should/could use this as a moment to take a serious look at themselves, the type of inner party culture they have created, instead of pretending its all dandy this could be the moment to embrace change- because I have a feeling its make or break, and as the last effective left of Labour Party it would leave the landscape pretty barren.

  151. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    It is quite clear from the comments left here that the rest of the Left are all over the place over the question of the concrete situation of the process of Scottish Referendum in October 2014. And as I have indicated earlier that also included the ISG (Scotland), which is the younger sibling of Counterfire, who have explicitly campaigned within the Radical Independence Campaign for “a Nordic-style universal welfare state with a mixed economy model”, in other words a capitalist society.

    So while the Socialist Party Scotland is involved in the YES campaign and the RIC events and other pro-independence events with our socialist programme we are initiating with others the idea of a Trade Unionist and Socialist Campaign for the Independence Referendum. The campaign is based on promoting a distinct independent working class voice amongst the trade union and within the communities. The aim is to do something that no other Left organisations prepared to do during the IR campaign and that is to mobilise those who are open to a socialist and class ideas and to ensure that these concepts are heard in the Referendum debate.

    Again I will say that unlike the majority of the Left in Scotland the Socialist Party Scotland is not prepared to dip its socialist banner. The only alternative for the working class, young people and the poor is to build a mass movement against austerity in the form of a 24-hour general strike as a first step. Along with a complete break with capitalism in the form of decisive socialist measures; and these measures include the nationalisation under democratic workers control the oil and gas industry and the renewable energy sector. This would release billions to invest in a massive programme of job creation and apprenticeships, to rebuild our public services and invest in a major housing programme. The bringing of the banks and finance sector into public ownership under democratic working class control and the renationalisation of gas, electricity, transport and the privatised sectors of the economy. Tax the rich and big business and no to cuts in corporation tax. Along with the increase the minimum wage and end the attacks on welfare benefits, and abolish all anti-union laws. No to NATO and Trident and all weapons of mass destruction out of Scotland and use the money to invest in socially useful jobs so that jobs are not lost. Reverse the cuts and for a Scottish government representing working people, the unemployed and the poor that defends jobs, wages, public services and pensions and refuses to make cuts to pay for the crisis. All to be backed up by a socialist plan of production in an independent socialist Scotland as part of a voluntary confederation with England, Wales and Ireland as a step to a socialist Europe.

  152. Jellytot on said:

    @180the Chinese Stalinist police state

    The nonsense of your third sentence in #180 rather detracts from the wisdom of your first and second. Shame.

  153. Karl Stewart on said:

    I’d like to hope the SWP members can win some positive internal reforms and I certainly wish them well, but it’s very hard to tell from outside as to whether they’ll succeed or not, or indeed which way the momentum is moving.

    The ex-members and recently resigned tend to be more pessimistic – “it’s all doomed!! etc” – while those directly involved in the rebellion are more upbeat, but I guess some of that is down to each respectively justifying their own position.

    Still wondering if Stuart has a view on re-admitting the pre-conference expellees?

  154. Omar,

    My understanding is that there is a UN mandate for a joint intervention of local and international forces, but France is returning to its old policy of dealing with its ex -colonies, basically go it alone and bully/bribe it’s African friends to move alongside it.

    Over here we are 80% nuclear powered, and guess the region the uranium comes from? Me, I’m off grid so feel very ambivalent about this whole military adventure.

  155. Karl Stewart on said:

    John: Why Karl?

    Because I know some pretty decent SWP people and I think it would be a good thing if they can win justice for people who seem to have been very unfairly treated.

  156. Strongly agree with George W @ 157 and 171.

    I understand SA’s point, to an extent. The class composition of the pro-independence camp shouldn’t be dismissed. But the crucial question is, what does it tell us?

    It likely shows the acute alienation of working-class and young Scots from the British state as presently constituted. But the left shouldn’t simply tail whatever the prevailing opinion tends to be.

    We should explain that there is no substantive difference between the ‘independent’ Scotland offered by the referendum, and the continuation of the Union. Nor is there anything in the present political balance of forces to say that it would even benefit the working class on a short-term, tactical basis.

    Jimmy Haddow’s position, of not being prepared to ‘dip its socialist banner’, is perfectly acceptable. I just don’t see how that equates to supporting independence on a capitalist, national basis.

    stuart: SWP members are entitled to express their opinions through the appropriate channels. My hunch is that the debate will necessarily encompass, not for the first time, wider political questions and further examination of the relationship between elected leadership and rank and file members.

    Don’t you think that’s a bit of a cop-out though?

    You don’t explicitly state what, if anything, the opposition has done that you disagree with. But we can infer from the above that you do not believe the means they have actually taken constitute ‘appropriate channels’, and thus that they should not have taken this course of action.

    The problem is this ‘debate’ would not be happening, had this not been taken outside of the SWP.

    Thus your argument is for this debate not to have happened, for the leadership to continue to manage the party bureaucratically, and for the outlook of the SWP to remain unchallenged.

    Additionally, the impression you give of the internal culture and practice of the SWP would seem to be the exact inverse of reality. What hope a solution, unless you acknowledge the problem?

  157. What do people think about this?
    Germany’s “Die Linke” has just announced its candidate for the chancellorship of Germany, oh, because the party is low in the polls and also very split, there are 8 joint candidates.

    This is how the centre-left “Tagesspiegel” from Berlin reports on it:

    The Left Party couldn’t agree to Gregor Gysi as its only top candidate for the general election. So now it’s got a team of eight top candidates.

    There’s even a Trotskyist amongst them. Nicole Gohlke – ever even heard of her? The MP from Munich, activist from “Marx 21″ is now leading candidate for the Left Party in the general election. To be exact: she is one of eight, as the party could neither unite behind their leader Gregor Gysi as solo candidate nor on a joint slate of Gysi and the deputy parliamentary leader Sahra Wagenknecht.”…

    I know the names of a load of Marx 21 people because they used to crop up in various fronts, or also fronting Attac Germany when that was what the German SWP were building (only to drop it quickly afterwards once it got too successful to easily recruit from/to big to control), or when they had their own fortnightly paper. Of course in recent years they have vanished and are instead either MPs or working in parliamentary offices behind the scenes – and not doing much in the way of “on the streets active politics”.

    But I’ve never heard of Nicole Gohlke. I wonder how many other ‘secret’ SWPers are in the Left Party parliamentary group.

    And if they think that the problems of “Marx 21’s” mother party won’t rub off somehow on their election campaign. I wouldn’t say it would be impossible – not only because there are enough backstabbers inside the leadership of the Left Party who would do anything to try and get the “left in the Left” out of the way – even if it means sabotaging the party’s own chances in an election…

    http://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/linker-bundestagswahlkampf-die-rueckkehr-des-kollektivs/7667250.html

  158. Manzil: It likely shows the acute alienation of working-class and young Scots from the British state as presently constituted.

    Possibly, but that would not be enough in my view, more likely they have weighed up the UK direction of travel and thought we can do better than that. The working class is pragmatic and a significant section of it in Scotland have decided they might be better off in an independent Scotland. Its no use saying hang on we are about to have a socialist revolution they know its not true.

    Of course it may be that the Yes campaign has the better narrative and better advocates but I think its more than that. The shift from Labour to the SNP last time out was significant among catholic/working class voters. I don’t see that being reversed by Lamont and co.

    Anyhow this is all probably for another thread.

  159. SA: The working class is pragmatic and a significant section of it in Scotland have decided they might be better off in an independent Scotland.

    This is a spurious assertion to say the least. What is your evidence for this?

  160. Omar: France has acted unilaterally and outside the terms of any UN mandate.
    Is this accurate? I’m totally opposed to the French actions but my understanding is that it is sanctioned by the UNSC, which (if true) , not for the first time, raises questions about that body.

    According to Jean-Luc Mélenchon

    the international legitimacy of the intervention is also far from proven. The UN Resolution, which is held to justify it, contains clauses that would cast doubt on this. In paragraphs 10 and 11 (Resolution 2085) demanded the participation of a number of partners, neighbouring countries and other African allies, as well as international bodies, and for their plans to be resubmitted to the UN before any action was taken.

    This had not taken place before the French armed units arrived. The French UN ambassador to the UN, Gérard Arnaud, in effect conceding the point, had admitted that this was an « opération française d’urgence » and not the implementation of Resolution 2085.

    France has seen, he notes, patriotic and human rights media spin designed to obscure this central issue.

    To hide the issue of legitimacy some have evoked the right to “défense légitime en cas d’attaque armée d’un pays membre” (legitimate defence in the event of an armed attack). But the present Mali government rests on shaky legal foundations itself. It is the result of the March 2012 putsch led by captain Sanogo. who has imposed his will on the provisional President Dioncounda Traoré. No date has been fixed for elections. It would seem therefore that there are doubts about the legitimacy of the political entity calling for its own ‘defence’.

  161. daggi: There are clearly journalists who will go for the “sect taking over Left Party” angle

    This does sound like an interesting meeting

    Ursprünglich hätte Gysi am Samstag unter dem Titel „Wo bitte geht’s zum Sozialismus“ mit dem britischen radikalen Sozialisten und Antiimperialisten Tariq Ali diskutieren sollen

    Gysi strikes me as an impressive politician

  162. John: This is a spurious assertion to say the least. What is your evidence for this?

    Polls John that I have drawn attention to often here when this issue arises. I’ll happily set it out in detail next time we have a thread on it. I’m respecting that this thread is about the SWP.

  163. stuart on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    I believe the facebook four were deemed to have broken rules. But in any case I have to say I’m puzzled that as someone who is so critical of so much about the SWP- your regular contributions bear that out- you are so bothered about people were until very recently SWP members.

  164. stuart on said:

    Carol Sesame: Unfortunately the SWP just looked like they supported mass murder and managed to come across as anti Arab Spring rather than anti-imperialist.

    How?

  165. Pingback: WE NEED A SOCIALIST CAMPAIGN FOR A LABOUR VICTORY | Socialist Unity

  166. stuart on said:

    Pete Shield: because I have a feeling its make or break, and as the last effective left of Labour Party it would leave the landscape pretty barren.

    Surely a contradiction here. If the SWP are as corrupt as you appear to claim why would you mourn their decline?

  167. Huerta Lazenby on said:

    stuart: The SWP exists to fight bourgeois society, not perpetuate it.

    Oh my aching sides

    The SWP are thus demonstrated to be a failure as bourgeois society is now muuch stronger than when it was founded

  168. Manzil,

    I utterly disagree that a debate would not have occurred had it not been ‘taken outside the party’. The conference revealed a split. It is clear that many party members are unhappy. For my own part I have supported the handling of what was always going to be a difficult case as I’ve explained on this site. But I also have to be sensitive to some very strong feelings expressed by my fellow members. Yet at the same time this is a party matter and it’s important that party members deal with it. That does not mean taking ‘advice’ from non-members who are no friends of the party and in many cases wish to destroy it.

    Whilst I believe that many of those unhappy with how the DC handled things are wholly genuine and do want the best for the party, they can quite easily be joined by ‘false friends’. People who want to take advantage of the situation in order to build forces to the right of the SWP (such as the capitalist Labour Party).

  169. Andy Newman,

    Thanks for that Melenchon piece,Andy. I think that was where I originally heard the UN mentioned. France has made a big mistake, I think.

  170. Huerta Lazenby: The SWP are thus demonstrated to be a failure as bourgeois society is now muuch stronger than when it was founded

    This is nuts. Bourgeois society is not overtrown because subjectively revolutionaries are on the ball. It is overthrown when its contradictions overwhemn it and the subjective and objective factors coincide.
    Given that no revolution has taken place with the decisive participation of any of the groups categorised here as ‘Leninist sects’ then it follows that if Leninism, or Leninist organisational formulae, are the decisive factors in winning working class power then a discussion about the problems of the SWP, whilst morbidly fascinating, does not tell us much about the organisational theory of a revolutionary party.
    Or to put it another way, we are not discussing the failure of the theory and practice of democratic centralism but the failure to apply it correctly.

  171. Manzil on said:

    stuart,

    I cannot emphasise enough how strongly I disagree with you in terms of your assessment and especially your attitude towards critics of the current situation – I think it is your approach, your outlook, which actually demonstrates the greatest danger to the survival of the SWP and its traditions as a healthy part of the socialist movement. Think again!

  172. Andy Newman: Gysi strikes me as an impressive politician

    The meeting may well have been interesting (even though it was at the German SWP’s summer school, so I doubt it would have been very good, actually), but Gysi bottled out when he discovered who “Marx 21″ are. A bit concerning that he seemingly didn’t know before agreeing to turn up, especially as they founded and run the Left Party’s student section (after trying and failing to take over the Youth section, which is very anti-SWP).

    But as they are very “undercover”/deep entryist I suppose if he only takes a glancing notice at what is going on in his own party he might not have been clear about who they are.

    Gysi is past his prime, he is aging rapidly – already had a heart attack I think, he walked out in a strop from a leading role – finance minister I think – in the Berlin state government about a decade ago – no wonder he went for a lash-up with Oskar Lafontaine (who did exactly the same thing when he was finance minister in the German government under Schröder), not that they really talk to each other any more.

    He is good on the television, amusing, but politically he’s a not very left wing social democrat these days (and often tries to “stand above politics”).

    No wonder you like him :)

    (And have you contacted the Tagesspiegel to tell them about the SWPs latest problems?)

  173. stuart: they can quite easily be joined by ‘false friends’. People who want to take advantage of the situation in order to build forces to the right of the SWP (such as the capitalist Labour Party).

    Joined in what way?

    This of course is why you need a strictly disciplined organisation with complete loyalty to the leadership. Otherwise those stupid rank and file members will be open to infection by too much contact with the outside world, start asking awkward questions and be fooled by false friends.

    Our computer has parental control on it to stop my wife’s grandchildren looking at unsuitable stuff on the internet if they call round. Maybe the SWP should have developed something like that.

  174. David Ruaune on said:

    Correct me if I’m wrong (really; I don’t follow the “bourgeois press” or indeed any press as closely as I ought) but I only know of three instances of the crisis in the SWP going mainstream over the last few weeks – The Independent, Daily Mail (and even there I only know of it online) and the New Statesman. Yet from the cries of the CC and Stuart, you’d think they were being butchered to death by the tabloids! A bit like the split in Respect; I actually fell for it that time and thought the SWP were being witch-hunted. But so far, it’s only the rest of the left who are very concerned. In The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the third time it’s genuine, but no-one pays any attention.

  175. David Ruaune on said:

    Tony / Andy – I think Comment 13 on the swp conference transcript wants deleting. If it’s there for some reason I’ll trust your judgement, but I think it sneaked in.
    You can delete this comment too, after considering my request.

  176. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman: How could they? France has acted unilaterally and outside the terms of any UN mandate.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-21021132

    ‘On Monday, the Security Council convened in New York for an emergency meeting at France’s request. After the meeting, France’s UN ambassador Gerard Araud said his country had the “understanding and support” of the 14 other Security Council members. But he added that France also wanted the deployment of a West African force to happen “as quickly as possible”.

  177. stuart on said:

    Manzil: which actually demonstrates the greatest danger to the survival of the SWP and its traditions as a healthy part of the socialist movement. Think again!

    My impression is that some at least are using this case as a means of attacking the SWP tradition on questions such as a Marxist analysis of women’s liberation and the centrality of class versus ‘movementism’.

  178. stuart on said:

    David Ruaune,

    There was something in the Sunday Times. And as we’ve seen Owen Jones in the Independent is using the complaint and the publicity generated to push his favoured reformist project, explicitly opposing ‘Leninism’.

  179. David Ruaune on said:

    stuart,

    I can understand your not wanting to link, (after all, The Independent is an avowed enemy of women’s liberation) (but please do if you will) but how many articles in the mainstream press – I mean, put into real newsprint – is that?
    Thanks Stuart – it was as I say a genuine question.

  180. #216 So a socialist putting forward a different model of how the left should organise is comparable with a right wing witchhunt?

  181. stuart on said:

    Vanya,

    The SWP is a party that follows the democratic principle whereby we vote on things and then unite around the agreed decision. This enables a more effective means of intervening as and when things arise. We do not favour a permanently divided party in which an ‘opposition’ is constantly positioning itself in a bid for leadership. We believe that we need a centralised approach for the simple reason that our class enemy is centralised. It’s not about control-freakery, I would take offence at such a slur. It’s about acting in a cohesive fashion as a united organisation.

    This recent case has moved from being a complaint to a ‘kangaroo’ or even ‘sharia’ court through a load of inaccurate smears on blogs such as the Islamophobic Harry’s Place and even the bourgeois press. Forces to the right of us are seeking to take advantage and looking to build their hopelessly ineffective, supposedly ‘progressive’, ‘anything goes’, ‘do your own thing’ nonsense. Owen Jones thinks he can declare the death of Leninsm.

  182. David Ruaune on said:

    stuart: Owen Jones thinks he can declare the death of Leninsm.

    Shock and Horror, Stuart! Someone having the affront to take the crisis in the SWP as a reason to declare the death of Leninism! I would never have believed anyone could be so underhand.

    Leninism has been criticized and/or declared dead since it became an -ism; Rosa Luxemburg, an avowed enemy of women’s liberation, wasn’t too keen. The fall of the Berlin Wall put declarations of the death of Leninism well in vogue. It’s by now kinda passe.

    Stuart – are you sure you have the support of your party to speak here? I think it might be an idea to consult trusted comrades before posting. But then, at least you’re saying something, so of the lot of you, you deserve a medal; The Order of Charlie Kimber.

  183. The Unconquerable Inscription
    by Brecht

    During the war
In a cell of the Italian prison in San Carlo

    Full of imprisoned soldiers, drunks and thieves

    A socialist soldier, with an indelible pencil, scratched on the wall:

    Long live Lenin!

    High above, in the semi-dark cell, hardly visible, but

    Written in large letters.

    As the warders saw it, they sent for a painter with a bucket of lime.
    
And with a long stemmed brush he whitewashed the threatening inscription. 

    Since, however, with his lime, he painted over the letters only

    Stood above in the cell, now in chalk:

    Long live Lenin!

    Next another painter daubed over the whole stretch with a broad brush

    So that for hours it disappeared, but towards morning
As the lime dried, the inscription underneath was again conspicuous:

    Long live Lenin!

    Then dispatched the warder a bricklayer with a chisel against the inscription

    And he scratched out letter by letter, one hour long

    And as he was done, now colourless, but up above in the wall
But deeply carved, stood the unconquerable inscription:

    Long live Lenin!

    Now, said the soldier, get rid of the wall!
    (1934)

  184. David Ruaune on said:

    Nick Wright,

    Hahaha – The mention of Brecht invites a paraphrase – “Since the C.C. no longer has confidence in the membership, they have decided to vote them out and get a new one.”

  185. Manzil on said:

    stuart: My impression is that some at least are using this case as a means of attacking the SWP tradition on questions such as a Marxist analysis of women’s liberation and the centrality of class versus ‘movementism’.

    Undoubtedly. Not everyone, though. Obviously you’ve no reason to believe me, but I really do want the SWP to come through these latest problems, and I think the response of the SWP leadership and their defenders is the absolute wrong way to go about achieving that. Withdrawing onto the ground that it’s no one’s business who isn’t a party member is especially problematic.

    I like and respect our local SWPers (on a purely personal level, there’s no legit reason the SP and SWP here shouldn’t organise joint meetings and activities). Please don’t confuse the carping from people who’ve abandoned any pretence of radical politics from the criticisms of fellow socialists.

  186. David Ruaune on said:

    Manzil,

    Manzil, If I’ve got my fact right, I think you’ve done something quite noble across these pages:

    1) Be quite understanding to the SWP, and

    2) Indicate that similar problems, though perhaps not as severe, may afflict the SP, (and others), and this without a comparable crisis to force you to say as such.

    If you are SP, you are a credit to your organization.

  187. stuart: ‘On Monday, the Security Council convened in New York for an emergency meeting at France’s request. After the meeting, France’s UN ambassador Gerard Araud said his country had the “understanding and support” of the 14 other Security Council members. But he added that France also wanted the deployment of a West African force to happen “as quickly as possible”.

    God you have straw for brains.

    France have explictly not acted in accordance of the UNSC resolution.

  188. Andy

    is it really necessary to be so personally insulting to others?

    how does it help clarify matters under discussion?

    sandy

  189. Karl Stewart on said:

    stuart: Karl Stewart, I believe the facebook four were deemed to have broken rules. But in any case I have to say I’m puzzled that as someone who is so critical of so much about the SWP- your regular contributions bear that out- you are so bothered about people were until very recently SWP members.

    I don’t know any of this particular group Stuart, but I do have longstanding friends and aquaintances who either are or who have been in SWP. And as an outsider, my impression is of split opinion over the current situation.
    And while it’s certainly true that I’ve been critical of SWP positions – particularly over the past couple of years – I don’t think my attitude is one of general hostility, do you?

    Nick Wright: a discussion about the problems of the SWP, whilst morbidly fascinating, does not tell us much about the organisational theory of a revolutionary party.Or to put it another way, we are not discussing the failure of the theory and practice of democratic centralism but the failure to apply it correctly.

    If I can respond to this from Nick. I would first say that there is a massive difference between the internal regime of the CP and that of the various “trotskyist” organisations.

    I was in the CP when they debated participation in Respect and this was openly discussed, with published articles from leading CP members on opposite sides of the argument published in the Morning Star and then a full whole day’s debate at a special congress and a vote of around 60-40 against participation (and against the position of the CP GS and the Morning Star editor).
    But there was no subsequent “purge” or split and the GS remained the GS and took it on the chin.

    So Nick, that’s not really the same as the bullying and ordering around that former and present SWP members have been complaining about.

    In those type of parties, the “leader” never loses a vote (or if they ever do, then they leave or get booted out.

    And they would never openly publish differing viewpoints in their pre-congress debates.

    So with respect Nick, you’re not really comparing like with like here.

  190. and there's more on said:

    I’m not feeling too understanding about the SWP – I’ve seen this kind of shit covered up before and anyone who asked awkward questions was silenced pronto. Does anyone want to know about J*** S**** ex Sheffield organiser, and National Marxism office worker ? He attacked 3 women and was suspended for 2 years – no disputes committee involvement, so he just disappeared and Sheffield loyalists “forgot” all about it. The women bloody didn’t. That’s the organisation Seymour and Meiville are fighting to reconstruct. Give it up guys, you can’t reform a malignancy.

  191. David Ruaune on said:

    stuart: That does not mean taking ‘advice’ from non-members who are no friends of the party and in many cases wish to destroy it.

    Slightly ambiguous – will you take advice from non-members if they are friendly? Or are all non-members enemies?

    One of the arguments for Democratic Centralism is that it enables the Central Committee to reach over the membership of the Party, take note of the position within the Class, and adjust accordingly. So it seems that the C.C. are allowed to be guided by the Class, but the ordinary membership of the SWP shouldn’t take advice from outside forces.

  192. Manzil on said:

    and there's more,

    Unless there’s a one in a million chance this is a case of mistaken identity, I know the individual (JS) you’re talking about. Before he was reassigned in 2010ish to Sheffield, he was briefly a full-time organiser on the south coast, and I was friends with this then-partner. Truly shocked to hear that if it’s true. He’s supposed to have attacked three women? Were the police involved?

  193. David Ruaune on said:

    John Molyneux has STILL not responded to the comments by Anonymous/Captain Crunch and my good self here – http://johnmolyneux.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/the-theory-of-revolutionary-party.html
    and Ian Birchall has responded with irrelevant twaddle.
    John Molyneux was, until recently, a fighter for more democracy in the SWP, and a man who has made a career out of being a marxist intellectual. I think someone described him as a “loyal oppositionist”, and his silence indicates more loyal than oppositionist, or democratic, or having any guts.

  194. and there's more on said:

    No they weren’t, the women were terrified of him, and the “party” said they would take care of it. Again, more revolutionary “justice”. Last I saw of him, there were screenshots of his genitalia on FB. Google him, search a bit, and the pictures are still there. (not encouraging anyone to look at the scumbag’s dick, just to show proof that he wasn’t the sweet smiling trot boy he pretended to be).

  195. David Ruaune on said:

    and there's more,

    But it has been taken care of, “and there’s more” – we compared photographs of your dick to photographs of the dicks (penises) of the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers Party and found that, though all a bit on the tidgy side, yours was the tidgyist.

    This matter is now closed.

  196. Morning Star reader on said:

    Just for the record, Karl (229), the vote at the CP special congress against participation in an electoral alliance (the name Respect was not invented until later) was much closer, about 51% to 49%. You are right, the whole process was thoroughly democratic and the whole party carried out the majority decision. After a review of electoral policy and electoral alliances, the CP later took part in No2EU, again in a united way despite internal differences of view.
    Both episodes showed how democracy, self-discipline and centralism can be combined and applied. And all without factions, purges, expulsions or splits.
    Incidentally, my source tells me that the CP General Secretary offered to resign at the Executive Committee meeting after the Special Congress, but it was unanimously rejected.

  197. and there's more on said:

    It’s not closed though – whatever Charlie Kimber might say. They have controlled the membership for too long. Anyone reading this from Sheffield in or around the SWP, ask the awkward question about why your ex organiser was really got rid of.

  198. Karl Stewart on said:

    Fair enough MSR, I’m sure you know the exact voting figures better than I do.
    I was there as a helper on the day and not a delegate (I watched a lot of the debate in between helping out with the teas and sandwiches!)

    But what a debate it was – strong, sincere, intelligently argued and forceful speeches in favour from the GS, the MS editor, and others, and equally strongly argued against from senior CP figures taking the “anti” position.

    And all day long, a serious political struggle fought out openly and honestly with no bullshit from anyone – a real credit to the CP.

  199. David Ruaune on said:

    and there's more,

    Say why their ex-organizer was got rid of, here; don’t ask other people to ask questions – say what you are saying; When I was dishing the dirt against Chris Harman (R.I.P.) I made it quite clear what I was saying, one millimetre short of libel. So do the same or shut up.

  200. David Ruaune on said:

    and there's more: Anyone reading this from Sheffield in or around the SWP, ask the awkward question about why your ex organiser was really got rid of.

    Why was he got rid of?

  201. and there's more on said:

    Thought I made it crystal clear above – he attacked 3 women in the district and the Sheffield honchos got rid of him quietly. No reporting it to the police, not even a crap disputes committee, they wanted it hushed up. He got “banished” from the SWP for 2 years, and he’s due back in the summer.

  202. Really trying not to violate anyone’s privacy, but it’s driving me mad thinking this could be my friend and I didn’t know: One of the women – her name wasn’t (if you know/can work it out) H***** B******?

  203. and there's more on said:

    Sorry Manzil, I want to expose that bastard to stop him attacking other women, but I can’t identify any of the victims, it’s not fair on them. I knew him but didn’t know about what he’d done at the time. Wish to God I had, when he was moralising with me about Marxism numbers, and mouthing off about how great the national office was.

  204. stuart on said:

    Manzil:

    I like and respect our local SWPers (on a purely personal level, there’s no legit reason the SP and SWP here shouldn’t organise joint meetings and activities). Please don’t confuse the carping from people who’ve abandoned any pretence of radical politics from the criticisms of fellow socialists.

    Can you point to any supportive posts (towards the SWP) made by yourself on this site prior to this complaint?

  205. stuart on said:

    Karl Stewart:
    And while it’s certainly true that I’ve been critical of SWP positions – particularly over the past couple of years – I don’t think my attitude is one of general hostility, do you?

    If I recall you have continually claimed the SWP to be weak on anti-imperialism.

  206. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman: God you have straw for brains.

    France have explictly not acted in accordance of the UNSC resolution.

    So you are saying that France is wrong to claim the support of the UN Security Council members? What opposition to French policy has been offered by China? What resolutions have they opposed in relation to this question?

  207. stuart on said:

    David Ruaune: but the ordinary membership of the SWP shouldn’t take advice from outside forces.

    You mean from people like yourself? Someone who spends their time encouraging internet gossip?

  208. Halshall on said:

    Stuart

    I must say that I’m drawn to your (almost) single-handed defence of the SWP, especially on what has become the favoured blog of the trolls and sectarians who clearly would rather the SWP disappears into the sunset, and who arguably have reinforced the anguish of what is largely an SWP internal matter.

    The clumsy handling of this sorry affair by the SWP CC hasn’t helped either. Expelling four members without due process isn’t any way to instill confidence.

  209. #242 Of course, I shouldn’t have asked.

    stuart: Can you point to any supportive posts (towards the SWP) made by yourself on this site prior to this complaint?

    From my little black book where I index all my comments on the internet? Er, no. I doubt I’ve spent my time singing the praises of the SWP. But then nor have I routinely slagged it off. It hasn’t particularly come up. The reason it’s appropriate to discuss it now is precisely because of these events.

    Stuart, you’re being extremely silly.

    If you don’t want to discuss the SWP, then why bother posting at all? If your strategy is to keep denouncing people as enemies and telling everyone ‘it’s none of your business’, I can tell you, you’re doing more harm than good, because not only is your route going to lead the SWP to irrelevance, you’re going to alienate people who are as concerned by that prospect as you.

  210. Karl Stewart,

    It is interesting that you quote this episode Karl as it was the very reason why I joined the communist party. It was either the CP or Labour, the wars and tuition fees prevented me from going for the latter.

    I joined up, not so much because of the decision not to enter Respect (although I did agree with it, being too young to have been involved with the anti-war movement I didn’t get swept in the moment, although can understand it. I also couldn’t stand some local members of the SWP..etc) but because of the manner in which it was debated, and afterwards the CP did not split or disintegrate, they just got on with it. It says a lot I think.

  211. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    Halshall:
    Stuart

    I must say that I’m drawn to your (almost) single-handed defence of the SWP, especially on what has become the favoured blog of the trolls and sectarians who clearly would rather the SWP disappears into the sunset, and who arguably have reinforced the anguish of what is largely an SWP internal matter.

    The clumsy handling of this sorry affair by the SWP CC hasn’t helped either. Expelling four members without due process isn’t any way to instill confidence.

    I wonder if the SWP has managed to identify the dubious individual(s) who recorded and transcribed the hearing, then sent the transcription to this blog? Might be a needle in a haystack in a room that reportedly held about 400 people at the time of the hearing, but here’s hoping.

  212. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    stuart: If I recall you have continually claimed the SWP to be weak on anti-imperialism.

    Not addressed to me, but you can hardly be strong on anti-imperialism while backing the same “revolutions” that imperialists and their clients favour.

  213. #243 I can recollect a fair few comments (given his politics they were noteworthy) by Karl saying positive things about the SWP. His criticisms about Libya, Syria and Assange I thought came across as expressing disappointment- not the attitude of someone hostile to you.

    #235 I remember the debate because I was disappointed by the vote.

    It delayed my own decision to join Respect, as I felt that the CPB tradition would provide a healthy counterweight to the SWP, as well as weight in itself in terms of the labour and peace movements.

    That’s why I was certain that the name was used at that time. My recollection is that it WAS an electoral coalition and not described as a ‘party’ (something else that put me off joining), but that it was definitely called Respect.

    Are you sure it wasn’t?

  214. stuart: So you are saying that France is wrong to claim the support of the UN Security Council members?

    Not just me, but Jean-Luc Mélenchon on his blog article ‘Thinking During the War” (January the 19th).

    the international legitimacy of the intervention is also far from proven. The UN Resolution, which is held to justify it, contains clauses that would cast doubt on this. In paragraphs 10 and 11 (Resolution 2085) demanded the participation of a number of partners, neighbouring countries and other African allies, as well as international bodies, and for their plans to be resubmitted to the UN before any action was taken.

    This had not taken place before the French armed units arrived. The French UN ambassador to the UN, Gérard Arnaud, in effect conceding the point, had admitted that this was an « opération française d’urgence » and not the implementation of Resolution 2085.

    France has seen, he notes, patriotic and human rights media spin designed to obscure this central issue.

    To hide the issue of legitimacy some have evoked the right to “défense légitime en cas d’attaque armée d’un pays membre” (legitimate defence in the event of an armed attack). But the present Mali government rests on shaky legal foundations itself. It is the result of the March 2012 putsch led by captain Sanogo. who has imposed his will on the provisional President Dioncounda Traoré. No date has been fixed for elections. It would seem therefore that there are doubts about the legitimacy of the political entity calling for its own ‘defence’.

    and when you ask

    stuart: What opposition to French policy has been offered by China? What resolutions have they opposed in relation to this question?

    ???? what is the relevence ????

  215. redcogs on said:

    Molyneux’s restatement of the necessity for the building of revolutionary parties (on his blog) is fascinating reading in the light of the present turbulence within the SWP.

    However, he remains disappointingly silent on the crucial issue of whether it is possible for the SWP to restructure and rejuvinate its undemocratic internal culture sufficiently for it to be able to remain as a viable political force which still has future prospects.

    Of course its highly likely that he does believe that his organisation can be reformed, and presumably this explains the refusal to comment publicly – he does not wish to be expelled.

    But it does make you reflect upon the nature of leadership in a crisis situation – if those (such as Molyneux and others) with a history of arguing for reforms are become too timid to speak out as the situation demands, then they appear to be playing on the side of the entrenched corruption of the ‘old guard’.

    i don’t believe that anyone on the Left has an interest in seeing the SWP fold into oblivion or become so crippled by reputational damage that it cannot function. So why are so few of the prominent players visible only by their absence when what is required is healthy (and in this case, potentially cleansing) debate?

  216. stuart on said:

    Manzil: From my little black book where I index all my comments on the internet? Er, no. I doubt I’ve spent my time singing the praises of the SWP. But then nor have I routinely slagged it off.

    I’m not going to search the archives over this either but my sense is that you were never kind to us in the first place, at least not in terms of contributions to this site. The temptation for many posters will be to claim, unconvincingly, ‘I liked you up till now’ but ‘now you’ve blown it’.

  217. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman: ???? what is the relevence ????

    The relevence is that we are supposed to be opposing French imperialism. Given that France favours its own military intervention followed by the involvement of regional forces I’m wondering what China might be doing at a diplomatic level to oppose this. I’m mindful that the SWP are often described as weak on imperialism by people rather sympathetic to Beijing.

  218. stuart on said:

    Mark Victorystooge: Not addressed to me, but you can hardly be strong on anti-imperialism while backing the same “revolutions” that imperialists and their clients favour.

    A ridiculously one-dimensional accusation.

  219. stuart on said:

    Halshall: especially on what has become the favoured blog of the trolls and sectarians who clearly would rather the SWP disappears into the sunset, and who arguably have reinforced the anguish of what is largely an SWP internal matter.

    Fair point.

  220. stuart on said:

    Vanya: #243 I can recollect a fair few comments (given his politics they were noteworthy) by Karl saying positive things about the SWP. His criticisms about Libya, Syria and Assange I thought came across as expressing disappointment- not the attitude of someone hostile to you.

    Well perhaps when Karl is in a position to, he can explain why he is leaping to the defence of the ‘facebook four’ when, and I would be pretty confident about this, he was not aware of the actual details-and I mean all the details- behind the case.

  221. Stuart, I’ve got the entire documentation that was used to expel the “facebook four”. Everything. It’s a bad joke. You’ve got people arguing not to form a faction, but being expelled for factionalising.

    Also, perhaps what some of us get upset about is that you went on and on about our processes for dealing with Galloway, but how did you deal with those four? You expelled them by email, with no hearing and no chance to mount a defence.

    We get upset when you show such hypocrisy, cos you make demands of the rest of us that you just won’t submit to yourselves.

    It’s not the first time – Kevin, Rob and Nick had a 5 minute meeting with 2 CC members at which they were told “if you don’t quit your jobs within 48 hours, you will be deemed to have expelled yourself”. No hearing, no dispute, no defence. When Kevin, before his expulsion, tried to refer Martin Smith to the DC over his behaviour (bordering on thuggish, but incredibly deceitful and unbecoming a leader), he didn’t even get a reply.

    So, perhaps what people get most upset about – surely the DC scandal should’ve taught you this – is the serious abuses of process that the SWP leadership goes through whenever it wants to get rid of people.

  222. Stuart – I’m removing the moderation from your posts, cos the one thing it’s not fair to do is, have people shooting messages at you and them waiting until I’ve finished eating pies before releasing your replies.

    But I’ll be watching. While eating pies.

  223. Halshall: Stuart

    I must say that I’m drawn to your (almost) single-handed defence of the SWP, especially on what has become the favoured blog of the trolls and sectarians who clearly would rather the SWP disappears into the sunset, and who arguably have reinforced the anguish of what is largely an SWP internal matter.

    I am seriously disappointed to hear that. I think the discussions on this blog take place at a commendably high level and comprise by far the sharpest and most cogent political analyses from a nucleus of highly intelligent contributors.

    I would challenge anyone who reads this blog regularly to be able to honestly claim that they aren’t educated, enlightened, and inspired by much of its content.

    I think SU has succeeded in bringing together some of the sharpest thinkers on the left in the country and even beyond.

    And to think it’s all free :)

  224. Manzil on said:

    stuart: I’m not going to search the archives over this either but my sense is that you were never kind to us in the first place, at least not in terms of contributions to this site. The temptation for many posters will be to claim, unconvincingly,‘I liked you up till now’ but ‘now you’ve blown it’.

    As a student, I was a member for about a year. I left amicably. No particular horror stories. Nothing I couldn’t equal from experiences in the Labour Party previously or the SP now. I have many friends in the SWP. I have no axe to grind. Believe it or don’t. It doesn’t matter: you seem intent on going down fighting rather than recovering your footing.

    ‘My sense’ of you – you personally, let’s be clear, as I don’t want you to take this as an example of the insincere ‘you’ve blown it’ attitude which you’re decrying, and SWP friends and comrades locally have been far less prone to the defensive, siege-mentality attitude that you’ve demonstrated in these discussions – is that you are seeing enemies everywhere and have lost the plot. ‘Kind to us’, I mean honestly. Grow up.

  225. I am seriously disappointed to hear that.

    I think there’s a certain blindness about the contributors to this website. Sure, some of us have a go, and occasionally people get nasty. But actually the debates over the last few weeks have been the most decent and detailed of anywhere on the left. Other blogs have their Denhams and Ellises to disrupt things, but you really can’t look at the 2,000-3,000 comments on this site in recent weeks and say it’s the home of sectarianism.

    For me, Party Notes currently holds that title.

    But also, I think that there are certain unifying ideas when parts of the left are in trouble. So, during the John & Lindsey crisis, the entire party still said “it was right to get out of Respect”. Despite it being astoundingly wrong.

    And now, all sides are saying “we disagree with those disgusting sectarians on SU, but now that those disgusting sectarians on SU have done their disgustingly sectarian thing, it’s clear that the real left – the rest of us – have issues to discuss”.

    This site is pure “rough with the smooth”. Many of my comments will be viewed as sectarian, but that’s to misunderstand what sectarian actually is: I’m putting the class before the party, while the entire thrust of the attacks on me, Andy and others over the years have been the exact opposite, the very definition of sectarianism.

    This is not a sectarian website. This is the difference between, say, a party meeting and a union meeting: There will be whole swathes of opinion in a union meeting, but party members had better learn to talk to those people.

    In fact, I still stand by pretty much everything I said on here in 2007/8, such is my conviction that it wasn’t sectarian and still isn’t. I think there’s an idea that if you criticise from the outside, you are only doing it with base motives.

    Halshall, you’re wrong in your comments. And you’ve turned a blind eye to Stuart’s consistent dishonesty about the SWP’s role in Respect. The problem is, when I see posts from SWP members, I remember all the things they’ve done and said. If you come to this anew, you’ll see Stuart, doggedly trying to argue his corner. But I’ll remember back to last year, with all his false claims about Respect and the SWP.

    It’s not sectarian to expect posters to have integrity. It’s not sectarian to demand consistency from a group that maintains it has the best perspectives on the world. And it’s not sectarian to expect anonymous posters to behave themselves.

  226. I think Socialist Unity should have a sponsored pie eating standoff at Tolpuddle with teams entered from each tendency, party, faction, grouplet, union etc.
    Then we will see who are the real revolutionaries.

  227. Tony Collins: Stuart, I’ve got the entire documentation that was used to expel the “facebook four”. Everything. It’s a bad joke. You’ve got people arguing not to form a faction, but being expelled for factionalising.

    If you have this, why don’t you post it? Even most SWP members haven’t seen it.

  228. Manzil on said:

    Nick Wright:
    I think Socialist Unity should have a sponsored pie eating standoff at Tolpuddle with teams entered from each tendency, party, faction, grouplet, union etc.
    Then we will see who are the real revolutionaries.

    When it comes to the ‘hog roasts’ they always do, I’m tentatively claiming I could bring honour (shame?) to Team SP…

    Is that it – did I win socialism?

  229. Tony Collins: attack of the Ellis

    He can’t cope with the abuse he’s managed to get from *everyone* else over at David Osler’s place. You’re welcome to him, no?

  230. Manzil: ‘hog roasts’

    I believe the term used is ‘spit roast’ which gets us back to the ‘fuck circuit’, unfortunately.

    But please not at Tolpuddle.

  231. If you have this, why don’t you post it? Even most SWP members haven’t seen it.

    I think the transcript had an essential “public interest” element in it. I was asked not to publish the stuff I was sent – I was sent it to alert me to what was coming. The difference between this and the transcript is, if we simply told people what was in the transcript a large number of SWP members would simply call us liars, tbh. But with this, the expelled members have pretty much nailed it in their explanations. So, apart from breaking confidences, there’s the issue of “what’s the point”?

    I hope that makes sense. I genuinely don’t think it would’ve added anything.

  232. Manzil on said:

    George, the people’s cheeks are deepest red, from too much cider…

    daggi,

    I think you’ve managed to put me off pork for good.

    Tony, do you happen to know how it came to the attention of the SWP leaders anyway? Was there some sad-act policing people’s FB comments or what?

  233. The temptation for many posters will be to claim, unconvincingly, ‘I liked you up till now’ but ‘now you’ve blown it’.

    I’ll tell you what, stuart, I’m an awful lot more sympathetic towards the SWP now – and an awful lot more hopeful for the role it may be able to play in the future – than I think I’ve ever been before. When Rees & German forced the shutdown of the SA to found a dodgy popular front of a special type, the SWP collectively was right behind them, and I hated the SWP – apart from one or two individuals who seemed to talk sense. When Galloway made a few cautious and sensible suggestions on how to get Respect out of the rut Rees’s control-freakery had led it into, the SWP collectively went nuclear, and I hated the SWP – apart from, etc. When the leadership made unpersons of Rees and German and expelled them (along with most of the individual members who seemed to talk sense), despite having not only followed but enforced their line until five minutes previously, most of what was left of the SWP backed them, and I hated what was left of the SWP.

    Now, though, it looks a bit different. If I want to see what “the SWP” are thinking I don’t look at the paper or Party Notes, I go to the Tomb or the International Socialism blog, and you know what? The comrades posting there are talking an awful lot of sense.

    As somebody said recently on IS, the stakes are high. If the leadership win this one, your party is going down the tubes, via a few years in WRP limbo. I used to think that wouldn’t be much of a loss, the party was so thoroughly dominated by people who had their last original thought when Callaghan was in power. Now I realise it doesn’t have to be that way – and I really want the opposition to win. I’m never going to join a revolutionary party – I’ve already got a life – but the SWP that could come out of this crisis is a party I’d look on very sympathetically. And I think, in the as-yet disorganised ranks of the opposition, that party already exists (inspirational Durruti quote goes here).

    I’m afraid your party is screwed, though – the party of the permanent leadership, the permanent organisers and the permanent layer of aspiring hacks. Even if they win this one. So let’s hope they lose and make it quick.

  234. stuart,

    We have a relevant and concurrent thread on Mali, the fact you post the question here shows you obsessed wit the swp.

    China is acting consistently with their normal foreign policy approach and consistent with their own One China policy of discouraging outside interference in a state’s affairs.

    The mali govt asked France for military aid within mali’s own borders. China has no interest in opposing that.

  235. I really miss your comments here, Phil. You were one of those people who spoke so much sense during the Respect split. It was vital for people like me, who sometimes really did wonder if we were going mad. The hideous treatment we received was never acknowledged inside the party, and we shouted about it a lot on here, and it was “outsiders” like you, who didn’t really have an axe to grind, that were able to ground people like me. Not sure if I’ve ever said that before.

    You’d better not say it’s got so much worse over the years. Ever since I banned The Undertaker, I’d say this place is full of wit and charm.

    We all wish Splintered Sunrise would start blogging again, that’s for sure.

  236. Tony, do you happen to know how it came to the attention of the SWP leaders anyway? Was there some sad-act policing people’s FB comments or what?

    It was quite a large group of people using that awful combined FB chat/email thing, where you can sometimes forget that you’re actually talking to real people. I can’t remember exactly how many people were in it, could’ve been 10 or 20 or 40, but it wasn’t 6 or 4 etc.

    So one of those just sat back quietly and passed the whole lot on to the CC.

    Similar things happened before – and again, it has never been acknowledged by the SWP: Someone had a password for Clare Solomon’s email account, and went in and copied over all her emails.

    I mean, you expect it now. One of my “Lenin’s Tomb” allies took a private email that I sent, and instead of replying to me, simply forwarded it to the centre.

    The good thing about all my real-life workplace training, and seeing how many people fall foul of workplace “social media” policies is, I assume that everything I write could be read by the people I’m talking about anyway. And while I do get pretty annoyed by people revealing private matters, I reckon you’re just best off imagining that you’re already writing to the people you’re discussing. (It’s the main reason I started posting again and decided to use my real name – I was forever being accused of being whichever poster wrote long paragraphs and had a go at the SWP, so I figured I may as well just say my shit anyway)

  237. Karl Stewart on said:

    stuart: Well perhaps when Karl is in a position to, he can explain why he is leaping to the defence of the ‘facebook four’ when, and I would be pretty confident about this, he was not aware of the actual details-and I mean all the details- behind the case.

    That’s a fair point Stuart, I don’t know all the details of the expulsion of these four.
    I said that from my perspective as an outsider the expulsions look exceptionally harsh.
    The only aspects of this that I know are that they were acting factionally and within your own highly restrictive rules.
    So no I don’t know all the facts, but it seems harsh and unfair.

    On the SWP in general, I’ve disagreed with those who’ve argued that this sensitive personal case should have been handed over to the police against the wishes of the complainant.
    I’ve argued against those who’ve accused the SWP of being institutionally sexist.
    I’ve agreed with the SWP’s characterisation of the 2011 urban uprising.
    I’ve always admired the SWP’s consistent and active commitment to anti-racism, to gay rights and sex equality.

    But the SWP has also got some things badly wrong and it’s right to criticise in those instances.

  238. Heather Downs on said:

    There still seems to be significant confusion as to why women disclosing sexual assault do not involve the police. It has been suggested that SWP women have been dissuaded from doing so to protect the SWP or members of it. While this may be true, it should be remembered that only 10-15% of sexual assaults are ever reported. Many women have no faith in the criminal justice system. We are aware of the rape myths that discredit victims and contribute to the abysmal conviction rate of around 0.5%. So if she’s wearing or drinking something deemed ‘inappropriate’ for a perfect victim, she’s not confident of being believed. We know that a woman reporting rape is not treated by the CJ system as a victim needing care and support, but as a crime scene – the requirements of forensic science take precedence over the need of the woman to have a drink, shower, wash her hair, wash or dispose of her clothes, bed linen etc – no matter how sensitively and sympathetically individual police officers might treat her.
    If evidence is collected properly the CPS might consider there is a good chance of conviction. Once in court the accused rapist is presumed innocent, while the victim is a witness. She will have to give evidence of a very intimate and humiliating kind. The job of a defence lawyer is to show the witness is unreliable – she must be shown to allow the possibility of reasonable doubt. All this happens in the presence of the rapist, his supporters and other strangers.
    Most rape victims know their rapist, therefore most rape cases turn on the issue of consent. The defence has to show the defendant had a reasonable belief the woman consented and often relies on the years of rape myths the jury has seen and heard – she was wearing a short skirt, she went to a hotel with him, she kissed him, she was not physically restrained or injured, etc. Many victims say the experience of the court case is like being raped all over again.
    Most women, particularly politically aware women, know all this way before it becomes horribly relevant in their own lives. All our general distrust and political antipathy of the police and courts is magnified in cases of sexual violence. It is wholly unreasonable to expect women to endure more trauma purely to satisfy the requirements of a system that does little to defend them.

  239. These concerns are valid, but I think we can lose sight of the progress that has been made in recent years. For example, you say “the defence has to show the defendant had a reasonable belief the woman consented”. That word ‘reasonable’ is very important – the prosecution can (and should) ask him why he thought the victim consented and what steps he took to make sure that she had genuinely consented, and if his answers are unsatisfactory (which, if he did it, they almost certainly will be) the jury should conclude that he’s guilty. The word ‘reasonable’ in this context only dates from 2003 – prior to that the defendant only had to show that he had a ‘genuine’ belief, which was obviously much less demanding.

    Rape myths persist, sadly, and I’m sure there are rape cases being lost because the jury still think in terms of good girls and bad girls. But the courts and the police are a lot better than they used to be. I really think they would have done a better job in this case than the DC did.

    Tony – cheers. Not sure why I haven’t been on SU much lately – I think I just like the bust-ups.

  240. Sorry but this blithe dissmissive “courts and the police are a lot better than they used to be” shows a real, fundamental lack of awareness of why women don’t report rape and sexual assaults.

    It’s irrelevant that courts and the police are a lot better than they used to be, when they’re starting from such a low level – thirty years ago, my 14 year old friend was told to go away and stop her attention-seeking wasting police time after she’d been raped, so any improvement on that is not that much to shout about to be honest.

    What hasn’t changed in those 30 years is the fundamental assumption by the whole of society, that the onus on stopping rape, is on the victim and not the potential rapist. The legal notion of “consent” rests on the perception of heterosexual sex as being something men do to women, not with women and that men have the right to penetrate a woman’s body if she doesn’t actually stop him from doing so after a certain point in their social interaction. A man asks if he can have sex, a woman consents or not. Anyone who has ever had sex knows, that that is not how sex happens – sex is something two people do together and a normal man doesn’t want a woman to merely consent to sex, he wants her to enthusiastically participate in sex.

    The fact that the bar for sex to be considered consensual is so low, is part of the reason women don’t report. They know that they will be treated with kindness and sympathy by the police; but they also know that it doesn’t matter how kind the police officer is, the CPS is more than likely not to recommend that their case gets sent to trial because juries still assume that men have the right to have sex with women unless a woman has specifically, clearly and stridently told him not to put his penis in her body.

    Most women’s lack of consent is not expressed in the way the public demands, it is expressed in a way that any normal man recognises as being lack of consent but can claim was a “grey area” afterwards. She might wriggle a bit, not return his kisses, start talking about how late it is and how she ought to be getting home, not arch towards him and participate in the event – all those things that normal, non-rapist men know means she’s not really that into it, so they stop. Rapey men on the other hand, do not stop at that point, they carry on going because the onus is on HER to stop him, not on him to ensure that his penis is welcome in her body.

    As long as that remains the default assumption about sex – that women don’t really need to want it or be participating in it in order for it not to be rape – that gives carte blanche to rapists to rape and get away with it. And non-rapists support that because they don’t actually think women are that important – so what if we get the occasional cock in us we don’t want? As long as we’re not beaten up at the same time, it’s not that big a deal is it?

    And that’s why many women don’t report. They know there’s no point. They didn’t do enough to stop the rape and the responsibility for doing so, was their’s not his. They know that all their friends will side with their rapist and cast her as one of those hysterical women who “cry rape” because she’s just had sex she regrets (only about 4-6% of rape reports are false, but the discourse around it disproportionately focuses on that tiny minority of false reports).

    The police and courts are not the main problem when it comes to women reporting. The wider society’s attitude to sex is.

  241. stuart on said:

    Andy Newman:

    We have a relevant and concurrent thread on Mali,the fact you post the question here shows you obsessed wit the swp.

    It was ‘Jellytot’, a supporter of the Chinese regime, who brought imperialism into the discussion at post 172, attacking the SWP in the process.

  242. stuart on said:

    Tony Collins:
    Stuart, I’ve got the entire documentation that was used to expel the “facebook four”.

    If you are boasting about gaining access to this documentation, how does that help their case?

    Also, are ‘Harry’s Place’ able to link directly to this site? I didn’t think that was possible.

  243. Hypatia Vasilios: The police and courts are not the main problem when it comes to women reporting. The wider society’s attitude to sex is.

    A lot of interesting points there, but I also think that discussion is at a tangent to the issue here.

    Surely we can agree on two things, both that social attitudes need to change so as not to collude with or excuse rape; and also that a higher rate of conviction would be a good thing.

    So a woman should not be criticised is she feels unwilling to go the police, but equally as a social policy objective, it would be better if more women did go to to the police.

    With regard to the immediate issue, the treatement of woman W by the SWP was worse than would be expected by the modern British criminal justice system, and the assumption that rape is an internal disciplinary matter between two members of an organisation trivialises rape, and contributes to the social attitude that rape is not that serious.

    Furthermore, there seems persuasive anecdotal evidence that W was councelled against going to the police. So W is not at fault, but the SWP are.

    While I agree with much of the rest of your argument, the Canadian law reform inspired by similar arguments about changing the social acceptance of rape, and improving male misconceptions about consent, has actually led to a transactional view of sex where it is indeed assumed that sex is somthing men “do” to womwn, and legal assumptions that men ” get consent” to reduce their own legal risk.

    I have discussed this here

    http://www.socialistunity.com/slut-walk-and-the-risk-of-rape/

    Interestingly, the judgement in R v Ewanchuk does not argue that a man should respect a woman’s wishes due to regard for her sexual autonomy or to avoid being exploitative; but only so as to avoid his own risk of criminality.

    In general the social assumptions behind the Canadian law seem to be founded upon the idea of all men being predatory, and that there is a presumption that women are constantly at risk of rape within their sexual relationships. The good sexual citizen is constantly aware of risk, and is active in avoiding it. Women avoid the risk of rape by always being unambiguous about the parameters of their consent. Men avoid risk of criminality by always seeking unambiguous, advance approval for any sexual contact. As the judge opined in R v Ewanchuk it would be a rash man in Canada who put his hand on a woman’s thigh during courtship without asking for permission first.

    This transactional approach to sex has shifted the culturally validated “ideal victim” stereotype (whose complaints of rape will be considered credible). Whereas traditionally chastity and modest clothing were the hall-marks of a “good victim”; the model now is a woman who is consistent, articulate, rational, and risk-averse.

    Paradoxically therefore, although feminist inspired, the revised Canadian Sexual Assault law has preserved the idea of some women being to blame for assaults and rapes, but redefined this so that instead of being to blame because they are promiscuous; it is now because they are insufficiently risk-averse, and do not behave like rational sexual actors negotiating a contract; this in particular means that working class, poorly educated, or socially marginal women have become less credible complainants.

    For example, a homeless, drug addict woman, the victim in R v Ashlee, was being fondled by two men while unconscious in the street; at the original trial the judge ruled that as she had placed herself into such a high-risk lifestyle, the jurors could not assume that her consent followed the same standard as more conventional women. That is, standards of affirmative consent only apply to women who conform to a risk averse behaviour; this is particularly true where women exhibit signs of sexual unpredictability.

  244. prianikoff on said:

    #284, 288

    In 95% of sexual encounters, even between long-term couples, the interaction is entirely non-verbal.
    So the most sensible policy for a man is to put his dick in the woman’s hands and let her put it in herself.

    Obviously this doesn’t stop the possibility of malicious allegations, which has to be taken very seriously in politics.

  245. prianikoff: So the most sensible policy for a man is to put his dick in the woman’s hands and let her put it in herself.

    Not in Canada, where unless the man had explicit prior approval, that would be a sexual assault.

    The interesting thing about Canada’s feminist inspired laws (not having a pop at feminism, it is a case of beware of what you wish for) is that most consensual sexual activity is potentially criminalised.

  246. SWP (ex) Loyalist on said:

    “So the most sensible policy for a man is to put his dick in the woman’s hands and let her put it in herself”, says Prianikoff, whose moniker is possibly rhyming slang.

  247. prianikoff on said:

    #290 I haven’t studied it closely, but I’d have thought that such a law is designed to reinforce marriage more than anything else. State over-reach into sexual relationships can be have deeply reactionary unintended consequences.

  248. Some interesting comments at Louis Proyect

    http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/leninism-meets-the-21st-century/#comment-70556

    5.“Richard Seymour’s decision to break party discipline and speak truth to power about the rape allegation scandal consuming the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) proves that there are honest and upstanding elements in the organization ”

    Interesting that he only decided to do so after the sordid affair was publicised on Newman’s Socialist Unity website and then was taken up by several large UK newspapers.

    Comment by Harsanyi_Janos — January 15, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

    7.He was not willing to lower the boom against the creeps on the CC before Newman published his expose:

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

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

    Comment by Harsanyi_Janos — January 16, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

    Harsanyi_JanoSs is actually too generous to Seymour, both comments were after I published the transcript. The tipping point for Seymour was when the mainstream media got involved, just as Seymour was on the cusp of a booklaunch

  249. prianikoff: State over-reach into sexual relationships can be have deeply reactionary unintended consequences.

    Yes, and the unintended but perhaps predictable consequence is that the judiciary has iterpreted sexual consent using the concept of a contractual transaction between risk-averse consumers

  250. prianikoff on said:

    ex_SWP@291
    ‘Are you trying to suggest that I’m into casual sex’?
    I could sue you for libel for that.
    [CONTENT DELETED]

  251. prianikoff on said:

    Another kind of sexual politics

    Amy Elizabeth Thorpe
    – codename “Cynthia” started off helping smuggle Francoist rebels into Spain during the Civil War.

    She was then recruited by the British intelligence and given an “entertainment allowance of 20 pounds” to cultivate high-placed Polish sources.

    She soon had attracted an informant:
    ” I let him make love to me as often as he wanted, since this guaranteed the smooth flow of political information I needed.’

    The information she gained helped the British decrypt the “Enigma” system.

    Moving to Washington, she seduced an Italian Naval attaché who passed information to her .
    This contributed to British victories in the Mediterranean
    ( contested in court by the attachés relatives)

    Posing as an American journalist, “Cynthia” phoned the French Embassy in May 1941 and introduced herself to Charles Brousse, the press attaché there.
    Brousse–was soon besotted with her.
    By July, Cynthia felt confident enough to make a false flag recruitment, telling Brousse she worked for the Americans.
    The French official soon was offering his mistress embassy cables, letters, files and accounts of embassy activities and personalities.”

    “Cynthia” worked for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services as well as for the British.
    She considered herself a patriot.
    ‘Ashamed? Not in the least,’ she once said.
    ‘My superiors told me that the results of my work saved thousands of British and American lives….It involved me in situations from which ‘respectable’ women draw back–but mine was total commitment. Wars are not won by respectable methods.’

    see:-
    http://www.historynet.com/amy-elizabeth-thorpe-wwiis-mata-hari.htm/1

  252. prianikoff on said:

    @294 “a contractual transaction between risk-averse consumers”

    Yuck. That’s the post-Hiv-Aids world for you.

  253. If you are boasting about gaining access to this documentation, how does that help their case?

    Also, are ‘Harry’s Place’ able to link directly to this site? I didn’t think that was possible.

    Interesting how you completely ignore everything that is relevant to why people are pissed off. Why don’t you deal with how they were expelled – without a hearing or process? Why did you snip that out? Why is your interest limited only to what other people’s motivations are?

    Also interesting is that you consider that I was “boasting”. In reality, I was telling you that I wasn’t gonna accept the kind of bullshit that you come out with to defend the party’s actions, cos I had the documents.

    And wow, for someone who will not countenance outsiders discussing things in your group that might affect the outside world, you do seem incredibly obsessed with things we do here. You now want to know why a hostile right-wing website can link here? I mean, these are purely technological issues related to header re-writing in HTTP, and bugs in the WordPress codebase, but you are suddenly interested? You also suddenly needed to know why we chose a particular photo?

    You’re showing more and more obsessive behaviour, stuart. You have a reputation for doggedly taking part in debates, but I’ve always called you out as being fundamentally dishonest in your approach. I think your “look over there” attitude of the last few weeks is adding weight to my opinion that you don’t engage in honest debate.

  254. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    stuart: A ridiculously one-dimensional accusation.

    No, it’s a comment on how you can’t eat your cake and have it at the same time.

    Last summer, I was particularly intrigued by Seymour’s enthusiasm on his blog for the bomb explosion that killed several members of the Syrian government, and his assumption that Assad was an imminent goner. Now, months later, Assad’s position actually seems stronger, although anything could still happen, and the “revolutionaries” in Syria are increasingly showing their reactionary and religious sectarian essence, and this is even starting to make it into the mainstream media.

    I do not rule out by any means the possibility that the British state is messing with the SWP right now and this is at least a factor in what is going on. However, if the police/MI5 have got their recording devices switched on, it is not likely to be the SWP’s foreign policy views that interest them – they may even find them useful to the game of Empire.

  255. Morning Star reader on said:

    Vanya (252), my apologies for not replying earlier because of travel commitments.
    I’m pretty sure Respect had not been formed by the time of the CPB special congress. There had been discussions between Galloway and the CPB, and between the SWP and the CPB, about a left-wing, anti-war electoral alliance.
    Technically speaking, I think the CPB congress (at which I was a delegate) was debating a resolution about continuing the talks with a view to forming an electoral alliance etc. George Galloway wanted CPB involvement for the same reasons as you!
    Galloway may already have floated Respect as a name – but I doubt if that would have appealed to anyone in the CPB at the time! It certainly wasn’t mentioned in the special congress debate. The launch of Respect definitely came later.
    I have no axe to grind about any of this, and my memory may be at fault. But, on this occasion, I don’t think it is.

  256. #302 thanks, me neither. Will let you know if I come accross anything that answers the question.

  257. I just want to say “awwww” in light of the tantrum thrown by “skidmarx” on this thread earlier. Skidmarx, you did nothing but post nasty, dishonest stuff on here under fake names for years, and we don’t stand for it anymore. And now on Facebook you still post dishonest stuff under a fake name. Anonymity as a way of trying to harm people, a really scummy way to act online.

    The nonsense you posted – along with the email address (everyone, I kid you not – he gave the email address “fuckofftonycollins@yahoo.com”) shows, if anything, how right we were to stop you using this website as your personal dumping ground.

    You won’t be welcome back.

  258. RedRuffLemur on said:

    Morning Star reader,
    George Galloway first announced the name of and aims of “Respect – the Unity Coalition” at a Stop the War Meeting in at the Halkevi Centre in Hackney in late 2003 shortly after he was expelled from the Labour Party.
    The special CPB special congress took place on 17th January 2004
    The Respect founding conference was held on Sunday 25 January 2004 at Friends House in London on the Euston Road

  259. prianikoff on said:

    MVS#301 re. Seymour’s assumption (last summer) that Assad was an imminent goner.

    Yes, Seymour was claiming that attack on Aleppo was a “turning point” in the Syrian rebellion.
    Whereas I argued at the time that it was an ” adventurist stunt”.
    I was right.

    From what I can see, the al-Nusra Brigades are about as divisive as AQIM and their true provenance is just as dubious.

    “I do not rule out by any means the possibility that the British state is messing with the SWP right now”
    Quite likely.
    But the British State is not the only one which might be interested in them.

  260. David Ruaune on said:

    stuart: You mean from people like yourself? Someone who spends their time encouraging internet gossip?

    Gossip which is true, and indicates the degeneration of the SWP? I spend little of my time on the corruption of the SWP – my main interests are not really in gossip, innuendo, or, indeed, politics. But when something I once believed in becomes bent, then I attack back, and I am quite willing to dish dirt because we should be better. The Personal Is Political.

    I honestly think the SWP is dirty.

  261. and there's more on said:

    I honestly think the SWP is dirty.

    You are spot on David. Part of the reason I am so angry is that I spent a lot of time working to build the SWP, swallowing their lies, (stupid I know), but I gave them the benefit of the doubt too many times. The J*** S**** case was the last straw for me and then I hear that it wasn’t a one off, that the National Secretary [deleted]

    And still the brain dead loyalists keep defending their “Party”. Stuart you are [deleted]. You know that most of your membership reads SU (even though they’re warned not to) and you are terrified that a few more independent souls might find out what your rotten little group is really like.

    [deleted]. I know where a lot of the skeletons are buried and I am dying to spill the beans.

  262. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    prianikoff:
    MVS#301 re. Seymour’s assumption (last summer) that Assad was an imminent goner.

    Yes, Seymour was claiming that attack on Aleppo was a “turning point” in the Syrian rebellion.
    Whereas I argued at the time that it was an ” adventurist stunt”.
    I was right.

    From what I can see, the al-Nusra Brigades are about as divisive as AQIM and their true provenance is just as dubious.

    “I do not rule out by any means the possibility that the British state is messing with the SWP right now”
    Quite likely.
    But the British State is not the only one which might be interested in them.

    I think we’re on the same page re the SWP. But which other state or states do you think would be interested in them, besides the British one?

    Re Syria, this article published in December is looking increasingly accurate, and perhaps prophetic:

    http://www.voltairenet.org/article177011.html

  263. Hypatia Vasilios on said:

    “Obviously this doesn’t stop the possibility of malicious allegations, which has to be taken very seriously in politics.”

    No chance of it not being take seriously in politics. It is taken more seriously than rape.

    Fewer than 10% of allegations of rape are false. Estimates range between 2% and 8% (but 8% is considered by most experts to be probably too high).

    1 in 4 women get raped or sexually assaulted and 85-90% of women don’t report rape.

    Yet the focus of most rape discussion is on what she was wearing, whether she was drunk and what about false allegations.

    False allegations are an anthill compared to the Mount Everest of actual rapes. The disproportionate focusing on false allegations, mean that there is never any danger of them not being “taken seriously”. It’s rape itself that isn’t taken seriously, let’s be very clear about that.

  264. David Hillman on said:

    Actually I am sure that the number of women that get sexually assulted is much higher than 1 in 4. I know from the stories of my sister, daughters, partners, any women that I’ve got close to, that hardly anyone has not had some bad, and disturbibg, experience.And I too have been subjected to heavy seduction/rape. The more open and knowledgible we are about this the less likely we are to behave badly, allow bad behaviour, or carelessly talk crap.

  265. prianikoff on said:

    #310 “It’s rape itself that isn’t taken seriously, let’s be very clear about that.”

    That depends…..

    Recently neo-feminists, have picked up on the term “rape-culture”. But it’s worth recalling the origins of this term. It was introduced in 1975 by Susan Brownmiller in her book “Against our Will”.
    Brownmiller argued that rape is a means of perpetuating male dominance that all men benefit from.

    Quote:-
    “From prehistoric times to the present…rape has played a critical function. It is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which ALL MEN keep ALL WOMEN in a state of fear. (p. 15)

    The political conclusions flowing from this argument were quite clear. After her initial participation in the Civil Rights movement, Brownmiller had a parting of ways with the left.

    She wrote:-

    “… a higher political understanding is gained by recognizing that sexual intimidation knows no racial distinctions, and that sexual oppression of white women and black women is commonly shared, (p. 131)

    Brownmiller used this argument to undermine the importance of several historic campaigns fought by the left. In particular, the Defence of the Scottsboro boys, 9 black teenagers accused of rape in Alabama in 1931.

    The case centred around a fight between a group of black and white unemployed youths, who’d hopped a freight train. The white boys were thrown off the train, leaving two white girls on board.

    In the South during the 1930’s any hint of inter-racial sex was likely to lead to arrest, imprisonment or lynching.
    After the youths were detained, the girls alleged they’d been raped.

    The US Communist Party organised a campaign in defence of the 9, offering them legal support.
    As a result, one of the girls, Ruby Blake recanted, saying that her friend made the allegation up, to avoid being jailed for vagrancy or prostitution.
    Blake also wrote to her boyfriend saying that the blacks hadn’t “jazzed” her, the white boys had.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottsboro_boys

    Brownmiller argued that the white girls were “equal victims” at the trial, even though the boys faced the death sentence from an All-White jury.
    This sentence was initially imposed, only to be reprieved after an intensive defence campaign, followed by years in prison.

    The Scottsboro boys were no angels and were further brutalised by their time in the joint.
    But the significance of the case was, for the first time in the history of Alabama, black men had avoided the death penalty for the rape of a white woman.

    Brownmiller makes similar arguments about the case of Emmet Till, a black youth, who was lynched for wolf-whistling at a white woman.
    According to Brownmiller, this signified that
    “Emmett Till was going to show his black buddies that he, and by inference, they, could get a white woman. …
    The accessibility of all white women was on review
    (p. 247)

    Inevitably, Brownmiller’s political conclusions are aimed at what might be called “the feminisation of the capitalist state”. i.e.
    more women on juries, more women in the police force and army, tougher sentencing, longer prison sentences etc..

    “I am convinced that the battle to achieve parity with men in the critical area of law enforcement will be the ultimate testing ground on which full equality for women will be won or lost.”

    As one critic of Brownmiller wrote:-

    “it is a dangerous book. It is a law-and-order book that is picking up liberal support …
    Like all cries for law and order these days, it is a book with strong racist overtones. It is a book which, unless repudiated, will serve to fan the fires of racism.”

    Susan Brownmiller AGAINST OUR WILL: MEN, WOMEN, AND RAPE, 1975.

    Critque of Brownmiller by Alison Edwards, 1976
    http://www.sojournertruth.net/rrwwm.html

  266. prianikoff on said:

    …As the recent case in Dehli shows, the reaction to rape cases always occurs in a political context.

    Another example from the USA shows how the US Communist Party’s arguments had degenerated by the wartime Popular Front period.

    In 1942 a black oil-mill worker called Cleo Wright was arrested in Silkeston Missouri for attempted rape.
    He’d broken into a house in which there were two women, whose husbands were serving in the army.
    He may well have been guilty, but it’s also been suggested he was having an illicit affair with one of the women. The two women survived and the police were called.

    After a violent struggle, during which Wright was seriously injured, he was arrested by the police .
    But a lynch mob of 500 descended on the jailhouse and broke in. Wright, barely alive, was dragged behind a car through the town. It drove to a black church, where a Sunday Service was in progress.
    The mob poured petrol over Wright and set him on fire.
    The congregation were alerted to the lynching by the smell of burning flesh as they sung hymns.

    A number of Sikeston’s most prominent citizens participated in the lynching. Subseqently, a grand jury ruled that “no crime had been committed”.

    This was no isolated incident either.
    Between 1889 and 1941, 3,842 deaths by lynching were recorded nationwide in the US.
    In some cases, a black man knocking on the door of a white house was sufficient reason.

    The Wright case was covered in the national and international press and used as propaganda against the US by the Japanese.
    The US Communist Party’s press argued along the lines that the actions of the mob ” were a crime against the wartime alliance”.

    “Labor Action” Feb 9th 1941 argued that Blacks had to continue to fight for their Civil Rights, even in wartime.

  267. Morning Star reader on said:

    Prianikoff’s latest drip of anti-communist poison is very poor, even by his own standards.
    The record of the US Communist Party in opposing racism, lynchings etc. in the US is not without blemishes, but by and large it was courageous and outstanding.
    So what does Prianikoff (314) do? He seeks to summarise everything said and done by the US CP around one particular case (the Wright one) in a way designed to try to discredit the Popular Front – although anyone who was in favour of the US fighting fascism at that time might well have said the same thing (as well as making other points, as the CP did).
    But then, perhaps Prianikoff is one of those ultra-leftists who doesn’t think the wartime “Popular Front” alliance to defeat Nazi Germany was a good idea, and that it should have been done by imaginary workers’ militias.

  268. David Hillman on said:

    Mysogony is at present an integral part of an antiworking class packidge. The fight against has nothing to do with middleclass snobbish feminism, but is a defence of basic decency. See for example how the classicist Mary Beard (look at her blog) was horribly treated when she corrected a distorted narrative about immigration. Comedy and culture of our main media denigrates women, the handicapped, the poor, people who live on council estates, the working class, and, for some reason, the Welsh, as all part of the same deal.

  269. David Ruaune on said:

    Though I’ve been dishing the dirt against the SWP, and quite rightly, I’ve not felt like calling them sexist, misogynist, oppressors of women, and haven’t; the axe I am grinding would be the same if everyone in the SWP (or, indeed, the whole world) was of one sex. It is the way that unaccountable power leads to harassment, fucking about, etc. – it is dreadful that it takes an accusation of rape before such matters get addressed.

  270. prianikoff on said:

    #315 Bloody hell, you’re so paranoid!

    Try reading 313, where I *completely uncritically* summarised the very good campaign run by the CPUSA to defend the Scottsboro Boys.
    Follow my whole argument against Brownmiller’s theory of “rape culture”, adopted by many neo-feminists.
    It’s worth pointing out that Angela Davis, a member of the CPUSA, was a critic of Brownmiller in the 1970’s.

    I mentioned the Cleo Wright affair because the archive of “Labour Action” was put online recently and I happened to read about it on there.
    It’s not as if I’m uncritical of “Labour Action” either, as it was the paper of the Schachtmanite Workers Party.
    But in that particular case, their criticisms of the CP appear to be valid.

  271. Morning Star reader on said:

    Not paranoid, Prianikoff, just aware (and sometimes a little weary) of your anti-CP obsession on any issue, in any country, at any point in history. But I’m always open to criticism of my own political tradition. It’s just that it carries more credibility if it’s not obviously loaded, selective and obsessive.

  272. prianikoff on said:

    #319 “your anti-CP obsession on any issue, in any country, at any point in history.”

    That’s demonstrable nonsense. I was influenced by a founder member of the CPGB, Harry Wicks, who attended the International Lenin School in Moscow. Being opposed to Stalinism doesn’t mean being anti-Communist.

    Correction to #313.
    The girl who retracted her evidence in the Scottsboro case was called Ruby BATES.
    Later, she worked with the Communist Party’s International Labour Defence, to help get them freed.

    bio here:-
    http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/scottsboro/SB_BBates.html

  273. Morning Star reader on said:

    Prianikoff (320): “I was influenced by a founder member of the CPGB, Harry Wicks, who attended the International Lenin School in Moscow. Being opposed to Stalinism doesn’t mean being anti-Communist”.
    Indeed, which in your case, as I’ve pointed out, translates into you taking almost every opportunity to make an anti-CP point on any issue, in any country, at any point in time up to the present.
    Using the Wright case as though it helps discredit the wartime people’s front against fascism was particularly desperate. I suspect that many people who proclaim their “anti-Stalinism” would agree with me that supporting the Second World War alliance which defeated Nazi Germany is not evidence of “Stalinist” perfidy.

  274. prianikoff: Being opposed to Stalinism doesn’t mean being anti-Communist.

    It is a tribute to the power of the bourgeois media and the dominance of ruling class ideas (the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie) that most people in the developed capitalist world will conflate ‘stalinism’ with the the first stage of communism (or as we should more properly call it the dictatorship of the proletariat).
    And conversely, among those many millions of people whose conception of socialism, including it seems those who actually lived under it, is more positive also seem to attribute to the personality of Stalin quite positive values.
    The unfortunate effect of this phenomena, for that subterranean trend in the working class movement that has constucted a cult of the personality around Trotsky – and made a point of counterpossing their ideas and practice to those of communists – is that they appear to be anti-communist.
    Get used to it.

  275. prianikoff: That’s demonstrable nonsense. I was influenced by a founder member of the CPGB, Harry Wicks, who attended the International Lenin School in Moscow. Being opposed to Stalinism doesn’t mean being anti-Communist.

    Well that clears up in my mind who Prianikoff is

  276. prianikoff on said:

    #321 “….taking almost every opportunity to make an anti-CP point on any issue, in any country, at any point in time up to the present”

    As I said, demonstrable nonsense.

    MSR, you ought to liberate yourself from the Stalinist ideological straight-jacket you’re stuck in. It’s stopped you from reading back JUST ONE POST, to #313, where I decribed the CP’s defence of the Scottsboro boys.

    In the thread on is “Is No Platform Out of date”, I referred to the Bolshevik Party’s adoption of the United Front during the Kornilov Putsch, which was an essential tactic during the Russian Revolution.

    I’ve also referred to the Comintern’s 4th Congress and to its discussion of the United Front tactic.

    The problem is you’ve never understood the difference between the United Front policy and the class collaborationist “Peoples Front” line.

    #322 “attribute to the personality of Stalin quite positive values”

    When he operated as part of a disciplined collective, Stalin had “quite positive values”. But as Lenin said, as General Secretary, he “concentrated too much power in his hands”- a consequence of his personifying a privileged bureaucracy that usurped power in the party.

    After that, during the 1930’s, Stalin mostly acted as a criminal and a sabatoeur of Socialist revolutions.
    The war nearly led to the complete destruction of the USSR, but the Soviet population sacrificed everything to prevent that.

    Obviously the problem with the CP-B is that it’s never fully understood what was wrong with Stalinism.

    #323 See you in Sainsburys then!

  277. #324
    Prinaikoff, you just don’t get it.
    If you call everyone in a multi million strong global communist movement – from raging revisionist to red in tooth and claw tankie – as ‘stalinist’ the term loses any descriptive power.
    Mind you, it had already lost its roots in rational discourse when disaffected trotskyites from the SWP described their leadership as ‘stalinist’ for behaving in a way exemplified by Lenin’s description of Trotsky as excessively adminstrative.

  278. Morning Star reader on said:

    Prianikoff (318): “It’s not as if I’m uncritical of “Labour Action” either, as it was the paper of the Schachtmanite Workers Party”.
    I think this indicates that you are (1) catholic in your use of sources for anything that can be used against a Communist Party on any issue, anywhere in the world and at any time from 1924 to the present (PS yes, well done for not attacking the US CP for its massive campaign in the Scottsboro case – but I’m sure you could find something if you tried hard enough); and (2) right on target, having identified the need on a thread about the SWP/ sexual abuse/ democratic centralism etc. to try to rubbish the USA CP because, in opposing a racist campaign in very difficult circumstances, it … wait for it … expressed its concern about the impact of the campaign on a united war against fascism.
    Fancy being concerned about the need to defeat fascism in World War Two! Popular Frontists! Class collaborationists! Victory to revolutionary defeatism! On to the formation of workers’ militias to fight the Nazis (if they don’t mind waiting until we’re ready)!
    Jesus wept, it would be funny if millions of lives had not hung in the balance. Still, Prianikoff, it’s good to know that you have your criticisms of the Shachtmanites as well. Those should help keep our feet on the ground. But spell his name right first, eh?
    My apologies to others for having contributed to the derailing of this thread.

  279. Karl Stewart on said:

    prianikoff: The problem is you’ve never understood the difference between the United Front policy and the class collaborationist “Peoples Front” line.

    Classic abstract rubbish. The united front against fascism policy was the policy that was actually adopted by the communist movement from 1935 to 1945 and which actually, in the real world, smashed fascism.

    Variations on essentially the same strategy have been re-adopted on numerous occaisions ever since, whenever fascism has reared its ugly head – right up to recent struggles against the BNP and the EDL.

    The only difference is no-one uses the terms “popular front” or “peoples front” nowadays and haven’t used them for the last couple of decades because they became comedy phrases mainly through the “Citizen Smith” TV Show and the “Life of Brian” film.

  280. A couple of weeks ago I speculated, half humorously half seriously, that Alex Callinicos was at that moment writing a turgid piece on the lines of ‘Leninism in the 21st Century’ for ISJ, with a show piece speech at Marxism to follow in the summer. Well, I was wrong. It’s just come out in the February Socialist Review.

    http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12210

    The tragic thing is that after all the careful criticism (a good deal of from people sympathetic to the IS/SWP tradition on the Left, some from inside the party some outside) of the internal culture of the SWP, the chronic lack of democracy, women’s liberation, not to mention the handling of the rape allegation itself, Callinicos thinks that such a shrill and evasive riposte is enough to draw the ideological line. The article doesn’t really say a great deal more than beyond irresponsible mendacity on net, the whole furore is really about the misguided polemics of reformists on the make like Owen Bennet Jones. From his lofty perch, he evidently thinks the CC can carry on regardless. And with a diminished band of followers, it probably can.

  281. Sam64: Well, I was wrong. It’s just come out in the February Socialist Review.
    http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12210

    Some inteesting points from Callinicos:

    Unlike celebrities, small revolutionary organisations don’t have these resources, and their principles stop them from trying to settle political arguments in the bourgeois courts.

    Untrue, since 2006 the SWP have threatened me with libel action three times – in every case after I had published something both true and in the public interest.

    Through a series of leaks and briefings some ensured that a highly distorted account of the disciplinary case was circulated on the web and taken up by some of the mainstream media.

    Dishonest and evasive. This is the first suggestion that the verbatim transcript of their own conference discusion is somehow “distorted” or inaccurate

  282. stephen marks on said:

    The image that comes to mind is Ceaucescu’s last speech from the podium in Bucarest, not realising that he has lost the audience, and indeed the plot.

  283. John Grimshaw on said:

    #331 “..taken up by some of the mainstream media..” See the Times on Saturday. Large article but largely repeating the same stuff, but remarkably well informed. It does say “..several senior figures in the party have either been expelled or resigned.” which I assume is a reference to Rees/German/Bambery? and is not about this situation but they are wilfully tying it all up together. Unless there are others? In their brief summary of “Who’s left on the left?” it says of the CPGB “Founded in 1920 but wound up 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now exists only as splinter groups.”

  284. prianikoff on said:

    #327,8
    If you bother to track back through this thread, you’ll notice that what I wrote above was a response to the idea that rape is “never taken seriously”.
    It’s also a critique of the in-vogue term “rape culture”, or at least the version of it that derives from Susan Brownmiller.
    My critique is largely based, on material by the CP-member Angela Davis and other black women activists.
    Since the dispute between them centred around issues like the Scottsboro trials, it was inevitable that the work of the CPUSA would come up.
    I then pointed out how they dealt with a similar issue in wartime i.e. I was balanced.
    The criticisms of the CP’s wartime policy that angers you so much is by CLR James.
    He wrote most of the articles on the Black Question that appeared in “Labour Action”.

    CLR James argued that Civil Rights shouldn’t be put on the back boiler during the course of the war.
    Rape was a crime against its victims, but lynchings were a sign that ‘Jim Crow’ was still alive.
    This was evident when black soldiers returned from the War and it continued well into the 60’s.
    As I showed earlier, in the “Django” thread, in Cairo Illinois:-
    “Race relations deteriorated into near warfare in 1967, when a 19 year old black soldier on leave died in police custody”
    If you check the pictures here
    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=36105
    you’ll see that by then, the swastika banner had made its re-appearance in the US mid-West.

    Not sure what the CPUSA was up to at the time, but a Cairo “United Front” had been formed against the US Nazis and racists.
    The only left-wing political banner I can see is carried by Detroit Youth against War and Fascism.
    Which was an organisation formed by the Marcyites (ex US-SWP)

    Karl Stewart, cherry picking the 1935-45 period, continually fails to understand the difference between a United Front and Popular Front.
    It was the Stalinists’ failure to adopt the United Front in Germany that allowed fascism to gain a stranglehold on Europe in the first place.
    The Wartime Alliance between the USA, Britain and USSR was hardly a “United Front” by any criteria.
    It was a measure of expediency, adopted when the earlier policies failed.
    I’m not disputing forming military alliances against fascism, nor did Trotsky.
    Try to do a bit of serious reading on what his actual positions were, as you and Karl are pretty ignorant about them.

  285. prianikoff on said:

    CLR James 1939 article
    “The Communist Party’s Zigzags on Negro Policy”

    “The CP passed through three stages in its Negro work:
    (a) up to 1928 when the Negro work was neglected,
    (b) 1929–35 when it made a drive, the period of which coincided with the period of [denouncing all other left currents as] social-fascism, and
    (c) 1935-39, the open abandonment of the revolutionary line by the CP and the catastrophic loss of nearly all its Negro membership.

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/james-clr/works/1939/08/cpzigzags.html

  286. John Grimshaw on said:

    prianikoff: The Wartime Alliance between the USA, Britain and USSR was hardly a “United Front” by any criteria.

    Indeed, an alliance of convenience between otherwise competing governments in the face of a common enemy (?) surely.

  287. John Grimshaw on said:

    According to the thesis of the 1922 4th World Congress of the Comintern: “The united front tactic is simply an initiative whereby the Communists propose to join with all workers belonging to other parties and groups and all unaligned workers in a common struggle to defend the immediate, basic interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie.”

  288. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    I could well be wrong, but my best guess (and it is only a guess – I don’t even live in the UK) is that the SWP will survive this, though diminished. Whether you consider its organisational practices as Leninism or not, there is a certain cohesion to it which is lacking in the case of Occupy, Respect or various competitors. There is a “here today, gone tomorrow” quality to Occupy and suchlike movements elsewhere in the world, while Respect is, it seems to me, an unstable political mixture headed up by an individual who would like to get back into the Labour Party if he could (so then, what price left-of- Labour realignment?). That individual is eloquent but also apt to put his foot in it, and I do not rule out him falling victim to some scandal or other, with or without state help.
    As to the Labour Party, it is led by an utter wet blanket and is putting up no resistance to austerity at all. It may be the only game in town, as some claim. That may explain why the Con-Dems seem to think they can get away with putting what is left of the welfare state to the sword.

  289. #340 I agree it’s an interesting piece. A pity LP is generally so ob noxious when he comes on here.

    ,
    What I would say, again, is that IS believe it a mistake to think in terms of building something like Syriza in Britain (or the US for that matter without looking at the specific circumstances which brought it into being.

  290. In or out of Syriza they all have the same politics anyway.those on the fake Left. Antarsya’s electoral candidate was the present sellout leader of the Athens Metro, Stamatopoulos. Just as another five groups of workers were joining the strike and we would have had a real General Strike and the defeat of the Troika union leaders do what they do best in the current era, sell out strikes.
    The British SWP cannot support Syriza openly only because half their previous Greek organisation went in there in 2004 to get a cut of the electoral subsidy that Syriza wanted otherwise it would have been wiped out. They cant therefore play second fiddle to their ex-supporters so do what they think is best, weaken the chances of Syriza in gaining power, by standing independently and indirectly propping up the Troika…

  291. #341 There are always national specifics, but why do you warn against an attempt to build such a type of organisation (Syriza) in Britain?

  292. Morning Star reader on said:

    Prianikoff (334), I didn’t characterise the wartime anti-fascist alliance as a United Front (I believe Karl did, implicitly), but as one of those “Popular Fronts” that you oppose (as did most of the bourgeoisie throughout Europe until it was almost too late).
    I am well aware of the CP USA’s record on fighting racism, zig-zags and all, and of the writings of Angela Davis, CLR James etc. as well as Trotsky. But I don’t plunder them obsessively in order to prolifically rubbish the mainstream communist movement in every country, at every point on history (from 1924) on every issue.
    Just to get things clear, then, do you think that revolutionaries should have supported the alliance of the Soviet Union, Britain, USA etc. during the war to defeat Nazi Germany? I take it you’re glad we won – but would you have willed the means as well as the ends?

  293. prianikoff on said:

    #344 “…do you think that revolutionaries should have supported the alliance of the Soviet Union, Britain, USA etc. during the war to defeat Nazi Germany?”

    Yes. What else was the Proletarian Military Policy?
    Supporting the alliance however, didn’t mean abandoning the class-struggle for the duration.

    re #338
    htttp://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/leninism-is-finished-a-reply-to-alex-callinicos/

    Proyect:
    “SYRIZA has much more in common with traditional Marxist concepts of a “revolutionary program” than many on the left realize.”

    In the current economic situation, implementing SYRIZA’s programme would be an enormous step forward, creating a host of new possibilities.
    But, strictly speaking, it is a left-social-democratic programme, that assumes that all this will be allowed by the ruling class.
    As we know, these things often end in tears. So it’s also necessary to build the left wing of Syriza.

    Lenin was quite explicit in “Left Wing Communism”(1920),:-
    “History.. has now confirmed on a large, world-wide historic scale the opinion we have always advocated, namely, that revolutionary German Social-Democracy
    …came closest to being the party which the revolutionary proletariat required in order to attain victory.”

    The thing is though, it didn’t…
    As Lenin pointed out in the very same passage, the SPD had both a right-wing and a left-wing
    and
    “the Left, proletarian wing ..is waging an incessant struggle against the opportunism and spinelessness of the Kautskys, Hilferdings, Ledebours and Crispiens.”
    From that struggle arose the Independent Socialist Party, which by a process of fusion, formed the KPD.
    The appeal of the Russian Revolution was an important factor in this, one of Zinoviev’s finest achievements.

    The RSDLP certainly had its factional groups too.
    These published pamphlets, organised conferences and openly debated their positions.
    e.g. the Bogdanovites, Zinoviev and Kamenev in 1917, the supporters of a Revolutionary War in 1918, such as Bukharin, Kollontai and the Workers Opposition in the early 20’s.
    In the end, most of these groups were convinced by the Majority and re-coalesced.
    There was really only one permanent faction, prior to 1917, the Minority, which split.

    The Civil War created an extra-ordinary situation where factional activity was banned.
    This should have been relaxed by 1923, but subsequently, when oppositional groups began to re-emerge, they were harried and suppressed.
    Many of the most flagrant abuses of democratic-centralism arise from applying party models derived from this period.

  294. Sam64:
    #341 There are always national specifics, but why do you warn against an attempt to build such a type of organisation (Syriza) in Britain?

    I don’t as such. In fact it would be a joy were it to happen.

    But those specifics and the contrast with Britain are key.

    Just look at the history of the development of Syriza and of Greece going back to the split in the KKE in the late 60s.

  295. Morning Star reader on said:

    Thanks Prianikoff (346). For some of us, defeating fascist capitalism was the highest priority in the class struggle at that time, not something separate or removed from it. Utilising contradictions between the imperialist powers was not an abandonment of class struggle, but doing what was necessary in the face of an immediate life-and-death manifestation of it.
    Of course, there were contradictions within that situation for our side too, presenting serious revolutionaries with real problems at times (and which did not neatly sort them into “class collaborators” or traitors on the one side, and “principled revolutionaries” on the other).
    The errors of the KPD have been gone over on this site before, so I won’t respond to your earlier point on the rise of fascism in Germany – suffice it to say, the German bourgeoisie and the Social Democrats also bear heavy responsibilities for enabling the Nazis to take office.

  296. #348 Whether the Popular Front policy represented abandonment of class struggle (and many other principles) or not, it certainly involved much temporary suspension, justified or not. I speak as someone who believes not only that the popular front policy was correct but that its suspension post August 1939 should have been limited and not imposed on the CPs of countries under nazi occupation or threatened with such.

    Btw, do you know whether it is the case as I have seen alleged that the CPUSA supported the mass internment of Japanese Ameriacans and suspended all Japanese Americans from party membership during the Second World War?

  297. #343 Another point is that I am generally cautious about attempts to replicate successful models of orgainisation in other countries.

    I blame much of what happened in the inter-war period in Germany and Italy on the way the Comintern imposed just such a method (the 21 points) (and which was of course welcomed by many precisely because of the ‘success’ of the Bolsheviks).

  298. Manzil on said:

    Vanya: Btw, do you know whether it is the case as I have seen alleged that the CPUSA supported the mass internment of Japanese Ameriacans and suspended all Japanese Americans from party membership during the Second World War?

    James Smethurst’s history of black literary culture from 1930 through the Second World War mentions the CPUSA’s support for internment – despite it affecting some American Communists!

    The CPUSA’s disapproval of the ‘Double V’ slogan (giving equal prominence to fighting Nazism and Jim Crow), and its position on Japanese-American internment, didn’t however stop the party press from routinely highlighting the absurdity of fighting a war against an explicitly racist dictatorship with a racially segregated army (and society). The effect that the national leadership’s political compromises had on the actual routine work of the party can be easily over-stated. In terms of disaffection with the CP among prominent black Americans, Smethurst argued it had more to do with the reduced emphasis on revolutionary nationalism by US (and international) Communism than specific mistakes relating to the war effort.

  299. prianikoff: CLR James 1939 article
    “The Communist Party’s Zigzags on Negro Policy”

    340.Back to the ‘The SWP what happens next’…. very interesting piece by Louis Proyect in reply to Callinicos http://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/leninism-is-finished-a-reply-to-alex-callinicos

    CLR James just like Peter Camejo was someone who was prepared to stand up to ‘party’ and so called ‘democratic centralism’ and speak about things as they saw them … they enriched our understanding… they increased our knowledge… they helped to chart a path towards the rendevous of victory… All who genuinely what to meet at the rendevous have got to swallow any pride or false allegiance they may have and look anew at the concrete circumstances we face… just remember the night is often darkest just before Dawn… and hopefully the Sunrise that will come will not be splintered?

  300. Morning Star reader on said:

    Sorry Vanya, I don’t have much material on the US CP easy to hand at the moment, and I’m hard pushed for time. Perhaps I’ll get into the attic sometime and dig a few things out.
    But it’s true that the US CP supported the internment of Japanese Americans from early 1942. Most of the militant sections of the labour movement and the left wholeheartedly supported the war – most of the far left and some leading social democrats prioritised domestic struggles instead.
    Of course the mass internment of Japanese Americans was stupid, especially in hindsight. It did not discriminate between those those with pro-Tokyo regime sympathies and the many without.
    The debate about how oppressive the internment conditions were continues to the present day. Some Japanese resisted, but most accepted their lot with a certain resignation. The idea promoted in some far left (and far right) papers at the time that they lived predominantly in brutal concentration camps surrounded by barbed wire does not reflect much of the oral testimony published since.
    There was a big scare – hysteria even – about “fifth columnists” in the US at the time, made more credible by the quite widespread activities of extreme right-wing and anti-fascist groups, some of them organised in the large German emigre community, others aligned with extreme anti-communist Roman Catholicism.
    The CPUSA contributed to this anti-Fifth Column atmosphere (and went way over the top in denouncing poor Norman Thomas and the like as “agents of Hitler”), although some elements of the party and their Popular Front allies spoke out against the Japanese internment (notably those closest to it, on the West Coast). The CP leader, Earl Browder, was gaoled in early 1942 on passport fraud, although he didn’t serve the larger part of his four-year sentence. Supporting wartime production, the opening of a Second Front, freedom for Browder and the unbanning of the Canadian CP were all high on the CPUSA agenda in 1942 – the plight of the Japanese Americans came nowhere.

  301. Re the CPUSA, I’m currently working my way through Oliver Stone’s and Peter Kuznick’s superb narrative history of the US – ‘The Untold History of the United States’.

    I never knew that Robert Oppenheimer, who headed up the Manhattan Project to develop the atom bomb, was a Communist. I was also interested to read that Roosevelt’s vice president, Henry Wallace, was a committed anti imperialist who called for the self determination of all the former western colonies after the war. He was considered enough of a threat for British intelligence to have Roald Dahl spy on him in Washington, where Dahl was posted as assistant air attache.

  302. John: interested to read that Roosevelt’s vice president, Henry Wallace, was a committed anti imperialist

    He was also in favour of peaceful co-existance with the USSR. Worth reading Hugh Wilford’s “The CIA, the British Left and the Cold War” [2003] which details how the infleuential New York intellectual magazine, the New Leader, (which specialised in hard-line anti-Communism combined with warmed over liberal reformism) was so alarmed by Wallace, that they tirelessly libelled him.

    Wilford’s research confirms that James Burnham, the Trotskyist leader, was a “knowing” CIA asset, acting as a consultant on emigre politics. Burnham’s reports for the CIA detail the unseemly way that different leftist anti-Communist groups were involved in a sordid competition for CIA funds, that crated an intellectual climate that squeezed out reasonable pro-peaceful coexistance voices like Wallace

  303. Manzil on said:

    John: He was considered enough of a threat for British intelligence to have Roald Dahl spy on him in Washington, where Dahl was posted as assistant air attache.

    Well that’s my childhood ruined. THANKS.

  304. Morning Star reader on said:

    “Anti-fascist groups” in 353 above should, of course, read “pro-fascist groups”.

  305. prianikoff on said:

    #354 I suspect that Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming made it in the literary world for reasons other than their talents as writers.

    “Restless” by William Boyd, shown just after Christmas, was loosley based on the spy organisation that Dahl worked for in the US – British Security Coordination.

    It was part of MI6 – a substantial operation with a large budget, run by the Canadian businessman William Stephenson. Its aim was to combat the “America First Movement” and to persuade Roosevelt to join the war on Britain’s side.
    Another prominent BSC operative was Ian Fleming, as was the female agent “Cynthia” (Amy Elizabeth Thorpe)

    Boyd’s drama started quite well, but ended ludicrously.
    There’s a bizarre denouement in which Eva Delectorskaya’s controller, Lucas Romer, turns out to be a Soviet agent.
    The idea being that the Soviets wanted to *prevent* the USA joining the war (the attempt to set her up occuring prior to 1941)
    But she escapes in a bombing raid and kills most of the evidence.

    The story ends many years later, with the older version of Eva confronting Sir Lucas, who bumps himself off to save face.
    She’s finally seen in her cottage garden with a shotgun, scanning the horizon for potential Soviet Assassins.
    Complete bullshit!

  306. prianikoff on said:

    MVS@309
    “…which other state or states do you think would be interested in them, besides the British one?”

    Any state which they’re hostile to, so there could be quite a long list.
    When ‘Bookmarks’ used to be in Finsbury Park, I was always slightly suspicious of the fact that there was a Bagel Bakery directly opposite, staffed entirely by Israelis.
    It might have been a total coincidence of course.

    There are two equally unhealthy reactions to state infiltration of the left:-

    1- Is to engage in paranoid witch-hunts, a mind-set which the WRP degenerated into.
    This does more harm than good.

    2- To completely deny that it ever happens, or is relevant.
    This is dangerously complacent.

    As the Mark Kennedy case shows, it happens on quite a big scale.

  307. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    prianikoff: MVS@309“…which other state or states do you think would be interested in them, besides the British one?”Any state which they’re hostile to, so there could be quite a long list.When ‘Bookmarks’ used to be in Finsbury Park, I was always slightly suspicious of the fact that there was a Bagel Bakery directly opposite, staffed entirely by Israelis.It might have been a total coincidence of course.There are two equally unhealthy reactions to state infiltration of the left:-1- Is to engage in paranoid witch-hunts, a mind-set which the WRP degenerated into.This does more harm than good.2- To completely deny that it ever happens, or is relevant.This is dangerously complacent.As the Mark Kennedy case shows, it happens on quite a big scale.

    The ISG/Socialist Outlook office was, at least in the early 1990s, only a few doors along, so it might not have been just the SWP they were watching. In fact, if the state set up in that part of London at the time, it could keep a good deal of the British radical left under observation, it seems to me.

    I certainly think the assumption the state no longer bothers with the left is dangerously complacent. After all, the UK has the densest CCTV coverage in the world, if Wikipedia is to be believed, and this argues a state desire to put everybody under some degree of surveillance. For them to do that and then not bother with the few thousand people who actually want a revolution, at least in theory, seems to me not very likely. I doubt whether democratic centralism can keep out the Mark Kennedys, but the more amorphous forms of organisation or even non-organisation favoured by the likes of Occupy might be even more vulnerable to infiltrators of that type.

    From the start of this business, I have found the hidden recording device aspect a bit fishy. And people belabouring SWP loyalists like stuart over the need to catch up with the Internet and so on seem to forget that the state probably makes good use of the Internet, too.

  308. The most intriguing issue raised by the SWP crisis is why so many decent revolutionaries end up in cults that reproduce all the worst aspects of capitalist society. There are no easy answers to this question but the following writings help make some sense of the situation:

    Janja Lalich, ‘Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults’ – http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=D1Ayf63SfnwC&printsec=frontcover&source=#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Martha Grace Duncan, ‘Only the Marlboro Man: A Psychological Study of a Political Agitator’, Political Psychology, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1987) – http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3791298?uid=3737968&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21101623096391

    Daniel Shaw, ‘Traumatic Abuse in Cults: A Psychoanalytic Perspective’ – http://www.danielshawlcsw.com/traumabusecults.pdf
    Simon Pirani, ‘The break-up of the WRP – from the horse’s mouth’ – http://piraniarchive.wordpress.com/home/investigations-campaigns-and-other-stuff/the-break-up-of-the-wrp-from-the-horses-mouth/

    Maurice Brinton, ‘Suicide for socialism?’ – http://libcom.org/library/suicide-for-socialism-jonestown-brinton

    Andy Wilson, ‘Imputed consciousness and left organisations’ – http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/884/imputed-consciousness-and-left-organisations

    Dennis Tourish, Tim Wohlforth, ‘On the Edge: Political Cults Right and Left’ – http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=xXcsNRUuHEUC&printsec=frontcover&source=#v=onepage&q&f=false

    John Sullivan, ‘As Soon As This Pub Closes’ – http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/critiques/sullivan/pub-index.html

  309. Mark Victorystooge on said:

    #361 – Joining a socialist group doesn’t immunise you from what the surrounding world does to you, any more than a Roman Catholic priest taking a vow of celibacy has his sexual urges removed by taking the vow.

    My own experience of the left is that the surrounding world leaves an unmistakeable imprint, all the more because it is often not even realised by the left. For example, the SWP current (both in the UK and in other countries) often seemed to be channelling good old-fashioned Western Cold War thought, picked up from its political surroundings, with the “socialism” grafted on as an afterthought. To me this was a secret of its growth – you could have “socialism” and your Two Minutes’ NATO-Directed Hate towards the Soviet bloc, at the same time.

  310. prianikoff: When ‘Bookmarks’ used to be in Finsbury Park, I was always slightly suspicious of the fact that there was a Bagel Bakery directly opposite, staffed entirely by Israelis.
    It might have been a total coincidence of course.

    A bakery that is indeed still there – I think this level of paranoia is a little unhealthy to be honest. Sorry, but if you start thinking someone selling bagels might be a sign of an Israeli spying operation…

  311. jim jepps,

    I’m intrigued as to how he knew the bakery was staffed “entirely” by “Israelis”. Did he mean to write “Zionists”, as obviously he can’t have meant “Jews”?

  312. prianikoff: “Restless” by William Boyd […] Complete bullshit!

    Indeed- I also had the misfortune to watch it. It was peppered with other blatant and annoying absurdities and plot contradictions. Having read a novel by him a couple of decades ago, I suspect that this is typical of Boyd as a writer.

  313. Prianikoff: “When ‘Bookmarks’ used to be in Finsbury Park, I was always slightly suspicious of the fact that there was a Bagel Bakery directly opposite, staffed entirely by Israelis.
    It might have been a total coincidence of course.”

    Huh? There were a couple of bagel bakeries around Finsbury Park. Does that mean Mossad had the Left surrounded? Weapon of choice being smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels, perchance….

    BTW: who had their headquarters above the Bagel Bakery opposite Bookmarks….?

    …those pabloite revisionists… aka Socialist Outlook.

    Dunno what you’re smoking Prianikoff but you really should stop….!

  314. Mark Victorystooge: And people belabouring SWP loyalists like stuart over the need to catch up with the Internet and so on seem to forget that the state probably makes good use of the Internet, too.

    Oh I shouldn’t think they do. I reckon you’re wrong there mate.

  315. jim jepps: A bakery that is indeed still there – I think this level of paranoia is a little unhealthy to be honest. Sorry, but if you start thinking someone selling bagels might be a sign of an Israeli spying operation…

    Better to err on the side of caution though. When I walk past the falafel stand opposite Bristol harbourside I always don my tin-foil hat – just in case.

  316. Yeah, to be fair I’ve always assumed the Cowley Road kebab houses were all part of an intricate plot by the Turkish generals to crush the Oxford branch of the PKK (which must surely exist).

    Who wants to join my Popular Front for the Liberation of our Minds from Reality?

    Eyes open, comrades.

  317. jim mclean on said:

    Mock if you wish, but the Scottish Chip shop is all part of the plan to eliminate a large section of the labour voting working class. The diet of deep fried battered pizza,a desert of deep fried battered Mars bar washed down by irn bru will alter the demographics of the nation in favour of the bourgeois nationalists.