Archive for the ‘Nouveau Parti Anti-Capitaliste’ Category
The psychodrama of the SWP (we still do not know what the Central Committee decided on launching a purge last Sunday) continues.
It is a relief to look at the political activity of a serious left party, the French Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA).
The NPA held its 2nd National conference last weekend.
After substantial groups of NPA supporters have left the party to join the Front de gauche (FdG), they stand at 2 , 500 members (at one point a few years back, they had nearly reached 10,000). *
After the conference Alain Krivine said,
“”Il y a une volonté d’arriver à une recomposition et d’en finir avec les tendances”,
That there is a will to re-align inside the party, and to end the NPA’s divisions into tendencies.
This remains to be seen.
Party members had voted in advance for the different (4) motions that were debated at the Congress.
55% backed the motion “une orientation pour agir“ which won with 51% of the vote. Sandra Demarcq, spokesperson for the tendency said that they intended to “get the NPA moving” against the present – Socialist-led – government and its politics of austerity. To achieve that aim the NPA intended to speak to all organisations which do not support the government, including the Front de gauche, with a view to joint action. On one issue their position, however, remains unchanged. “We are not going to fuse with the FdG, because we have important differences. But the NPA on its own won’t win” (“On ne va pas proposer de fusion avec le FG car il y a des désaccords importants, mais le NPA seul n’y arrivera pas”)
The FdG had to recognise the need for a real left-wing opposition to Prime Minister Ayrault’s Cabinet.
The platform, “Quelle politique d’interpellation du FG“, from the “courant révolutionnaire” won 32% of the vote. Gaël Quirante, from the tendency asked exactly how the NPA was going to approach the FdG.
On what to do for the 2014 municipal and European elections – that is, if alliances with other left groups would be possible – this was left to an enlarged ’conseil politique national’ (national political council) to decide.
Libération has commented on the “hangover” facing the NPA , after its electoral failure, the split off by many of its tendencies, its leadership crisis and its isolation.
Le Monde cites the former NPA stalwart, and FdG supporter, Pierre-François Grond, “ ”Ce congrès, c’est la confirmation de l’échec du projet fondateur du NPA”, This conference confirms the set back faced by the founding project of the NPA.
It would seem that when the largest opposition group in the NPA, the “revolutionary” current, calls for a ‘unity’ from below (“Quelle politique d’interpellation du Front de gauche ? Par en haut ou par les luttes ?”, ignoring the FdG’s ‘leaderships’. Support for this ’united front from below indicates that the party’s difficulties are far from over.
*Note: ”A sa création en 2009, le NPA comptait 9.000 adhérents. C’était deux anaprès qu’Olivier Besancenot eut atteint 4% à l’élection présidentielle. Ilsont aujourd’hui 2.500.”
Responding to the SWP crisis Alex Callinicos has just written in Socialist Review to settle the matter once and for all.
Lenin’s Tomb responds that,
“The piece does nothing of the sort, but is rather an encapsulation of the flaws that have brought us to this pass. It is clearly intended as an opening salvo in the CC’s response to the growing opposition within the party. In particular it draws on the long tradition of dealing with dissent over particular issues by means of the absurd implication that that dissent is an attack on the heritage of the October revolution, accompanied by an airy dismissal of the actual facts.”
What does it say?
One thing the entire business has reminded us of is the dark side of the Internet. Enormously liberating though the net is, it has long been known that it allows salacious gossip to be spread and perpetuated – unless the victim has the money and the lawyers to stop it. 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.
The idea that you need money to settle an allegation of rape is an interesting, perhaps, curious one, certainly completely out-of-joint, and, indeed repellant.
But there is more.
Moreover, in this case a few individuals, some well known, others not, have used blogs and social media to launch a campaign within the SWP. Yet they themselves, for all their hotly proclaimed love of democracy, are accountable to no one for these actions. They offer an unappetising lesson in what happens when power is exercised without responsibility.
Power withoout responsibility? Callinicos may dislike us harlots, and our prerogatives, but who exactly does he think we should be responsible to?
All of this would be of interest solely to the SWP and its supporters, were it not for the political conclusions that are being drawn. Both Owen Jones and “Don Mayo”, an ex-member of the SWP leadership who recently left the party, have targeted what “Mayo” calls “the orthodox Trotskyist model of Leninism”. Like Jones, he says this is “an historically outdated model”
It’s a bit more than that and as a subscriber to this Blog Callinicos is in a position to know.
Mass democratic parties of the left, neither democratic centralist nor Occupy Wall Street ‘consensus’ politics are a serious objective. WE will discuss this in more detail in the coming days.
“Moreover, what our critics dislike most about us – how we organise ourselves – is crucial to our ability, as Jones puts it, to punch above our weight. Our version of democratic centralism comes down to two things. First, decisions must be debated fully, but once they have been taken, by majority vote, they are binding on all members. This is necessary if we are to test our ideas in action.
Secondly, to ensure that these decisions are implemented and that the SWP intervenes effectively in the struggle, a strong political leadership, directly accountable to the annual conference, campaigns within the organisation to give a clear direction to our party’s work. It is this model of democratic centralism that has allowed us to concentrate our forces on key objectives, and thereby to build so effectively the various united fronts we have supported.
The grand title, United Front, comes from a serious political critical analysis, by Trotsky, of the anti-fascist Popular Fronts of the 1930s. It meant mass workers’ parties joining together on a common objective, ‘march togteher, strike separately’.
Regardless of Trotsky’s rightness it did not mean short-term tactical alliances by small groups like the SWP designed to ‘build’ their own organisation.
Democratic Centralism in their party does not mean that issues are “debated fully”. It means that when anyone steps out of line they get sat on. Or expelled.
Callinicos evokes the Nouveau parti anticapitaliste’s recent splits.
The New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) in France imploded in 2011-12, leading to a very serious breakaway to the Front de Gauche led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon. This has weakened the far left in Europe, and indeed the rest of the world. The implosion was caused by political differences and setbacks, but it was exacerbated by an internal regime very similar to the one advocated by some SWP members. All the debates within the NPA went through the filter imposed by the struggle between four permanent factions. Members’ loyalties focused on their factional alignments rather than the party itself.
The NPA’s split was caused by two things.
Firstly, the majority’s dogmatic insistence that “between the Socialist Party and ourselves there is nothing.” That is, they claimed to be the only group to the left of the French Parti Socialiste.
This was clearly not the case.
Secondly, the refusal of the leadership to join the new alliance that was created in this “nothing”, the Front de Gauche.
The SWP would naturally be hard pressed to join the FdG, led as it is, as they would say, by the ‘Islamophobe’ Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
The NPA democratic structure allowed ideas expression, and for them to be put into practice without the hysterical attempt to shore up The Party that the SWP is now seeing.
Callinicos ends with some wishful thinking.
I am confident that the SWP is politically strong enough to overcome its internal differences. Our theoretical tradition and our democratic structures will allow us to arrive at the necessary political clarity and to learn the lessons of the disciplinary case. But if I am wrong and the SWP did collapse, this would not solve the political problem that it exists to address. The anti-capitalist struggle won’t be advanced by relying on Labourism and the trade union leaders or by uncritical worship of the movements. If the SWP didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent it.
Meanwhile the Bloggers haven’t let go.
There is a groundswell of opposition to his Central Committee.
A new controversy has opened up with the revelation of the close relation between anti-Semite Gilad Atzmon and SWP “comrade Delta”, Martin Smith, who is still formally at the top of Unite Against Fascism.
Meanwhile we are still playing on the “dark side”.
Socialist Unity reports today on widespread sexism in the SWP.
There is also is this scandal (actually one that went the rounds some time back), hat-tip Harry’s Place.
“…Counterfire, a splinter group from the SWP whose leading members have been associated in the past with the so-called “fuck circuit”, where patronage has been exercised by charismatic male leaders in favour of their sexual partners, at the expense of talented women who were known to be sexually unavailable to them… “