Archive for the ‘Sectarianism’ Category
Happier Days for ‘Red’ Charlie Kimber.
How a respectable public schoolboy fell amongst reds and came to a horrible end.
“Young Charlie Kimber was a real hard red,
He even read Das Kapital in bed,
At Eton, where he studied hard,
The scholars thought him quite a card.
When Kimber, he was twenty-three,
His daddy bought him S.W.P.
His comrade, the honorable Alex,
Was both his helpmate and his bollix.
Charlie stopped the port and vintage wine,
and going out to restaurants to dine.
Just mushy-peas and Mars-bars fried,
no more tomatoes ripe sun-dried.
He dropped his ‘aitches one by one,
And shouted when the Gunners won.
He drank white cider by the bucket,
And stacked his tinnies on the buffet.
One day their paper made a joke,
A first – against a younger Eton bloke.
A Bear and death, were cause for fun,
And a very laboured pun.
Dukes and Lords, they cut him out
The papers loathed the filthy lout,
Kimber, he was full of glee,
He kept right on his prolo spree.
One day he journeyed to the Zoo,
It was a conservationist do.
He drank Jack Frost till he was tight,
And then he sailed off to the night.
Pausing by a large black cage,
A Polar bear in hopeless rage.
A paw reached out, and struck him dead.
That was the end of Charlie Red.
It is the duty of the wealthy man,
Not to ape the artisan.
Polar Bear in London Zoo: not unlike the one that thumped Charlie Kimber.
Below: Socialist Worker. See The Independent.
Martin Smith (Comrade Delta) is back!
Hat-Tip Howie’s Corner.
Apparently with the support from some people based in France.
By an obvious oversight, and no doubt mindful of some ‘other’ controversies involving members of political parties, Smith does not mention his most celebrated achievement.
But this is what he and his new mate say,
“Over the past 30 years both of us have been involved in one way or another with the struggle against racism and fascism.
On this blog we will carry news, discussion and debate on the rise of the far right and fascism — and the movements that are developing to challenge this threat both in Britain and Europe.
But our interests are many and varied. We will also write about other political and cultural matters.
If you don’t like football, you should look away from posts about West Ham or Spurs!
Please feel free to join the debate by posting comments.
We welcome serious comments and discussion — whether you agree or disagree.
We hope you enjoy the site.
Martin Smith and Tash Shifrin”
The site posts this poem.
A Dream Deferred
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore — And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over — like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
No sores on Delta then!
Our old comrade Tony Greenstein offered in 2013 the best summary of (what most people thought) lay behind Smith’s career-ending débâcle ,
SWP Crisis Over Cover-up of Rape & Sexual Harassment Allegations against former National Secretary Martin Smith
The catalyst for the crisis in the SWP were the allegations of rape by one member of the SWP and the sexual harassment of another member by Martin Smith, former SWP National Secretary. It is of course impossible to know whether there is any foundation to the rumours, although it is unlikely that there is no smoke without fire, but how they were dealt with by the SWP leadership speaks volumes about the mentality of the leadership clique led by Alex Callinicos and Charlie Kimber and their attitude to ordinary members. It also speaks volumes about their commitment to socialism since it is difficult to imagine a more serious and vile act than rape by a senior member of the leadership of a political group against a young comrade.
Martin Smith is, regardless of the truth of these allegations, a particularly unpleasant individual, both politically and personally. Weekly Worker of 12 July 2007 Stop thuggery in workers` movement described how Simon Wells, who was expelled from the SWP, was attacked without provocation by Smith, at Marxism 2007, when he refused to hand over the ticket he had paid for when queuing to go into a session: “The SWP`s national organiser angrily demanded comrade Simon`s ticket to the Marxism event and, when he refused, Smith instantly attacked him. Wrestled to the floor, comrade Simon sustained bruising, abrasions and back strain.”
It was also Smith who was primarily responsible for the SWP hosting and politically defending Gilad Atzmon against accusations of anti-Semitism. From 2005 to 2009 the SWP was content to make use of Atzmon’s status as a leading jazz musician, regardless of his racist views. Martin Smith, a devotee of John Coltrane and jazz, was content to ignore Atzmon’s views as taking secondary priority to his musical affections.
We believe Smith is no longer a member of the SWP.
But we were wrong about the end of his ambitions.
There are many articles about this whole affair.
This is one particularly worth looking at: Martin Smith: a retrospective.
In his capacity as head of LMHR Smith also embarrassed the party by forging a relationship between our organisation and the jazz musician Gilad Atzmon. Smith invited him to speak at Marxism in 2004, when Atzmon began spouting some of the anti-Semitic rubbish he now specialises in. Despite SWP members challenging Atzmon from the floor, Smith continued inviting him to SWP events, and to perform with him at concerts as late as 2007.
Update: Two British leftists (originally linked to the SWP), France based, SWP influenced, and members of Ensemble, Colin Falconer (Gauche anticapitaliste, one of the components of Ensemble), see: Le Nouveau Poireau Rouge) and John Mullen (also in Ensemble, see :John Mullen à Montreuil -Blog anticapitaliste) participate in Martin Smith’s enterprise (as can be seen, publicly named by a Mullen article, Guest post from France: the need for a united fight against the fascists on it).
Anybody reading their attacks on the French secular left should remember who this pair are prepared to work with.
One wonders if other members of Ensemble are aware of their comrades’ British connections.
Podemos Tries to Build New Organisational Model.
Podemos, the Spanish radical left alliance, has created a lot of interest in Europe and further afield.
In the May European elections they got 7.97% of the vote and 5 seats.
The Izquierda Plural,(Plural Left) IP, an older left alliance, got 10.03% of the vote and 6 seats.
Podemos however presented itself in the ballot box for the first time this year, while the Izquierda Plural, notably its main component, the Izquierda Unida, has been around in various forms since the mid-1980s.
It appears that Podemos, like Syriza, is itself being taken as a possible political model for leftist groups in the rest of Europe.
Adria Porta Caballe writes on RS21 (one of the groups that left the British SWP), shortly after the above results, offering an explanation for their success
Podemos has achieved this with a different method that rejects the traditional conception of party militancy and an unconditional commitment to popular self-organisation. In particular, the last 5 months offer three examples of Podemos’ participatory nature. First, when Pablo Iglesias made the first step, he also made clear from the very beginning that he would not go further unless he was backed by at least 50,000 people. He easily achieved that number in a day, establishing a precedent of direct democracy from start.
The second and most important example of how Podemos achieved popular empowerment was the creation of so-called “Circles”, local spaces of debate and action where everybody can attend no matter his or her political affiliations. Today there are around 400 Circles spread over the Spanish State and anywhere else where its citizens have had to exile since the crisis started for economic reasons (London, Berlin, Brussels, etc). The motto “all power to the circles” represents a dose of democracy to the regime and an unprecedented tool of popular empowerment.
Finally it is also worth mentioning that Podemos is the only party in the country which used open primary elections to choose its candidates. A quick glance to the more than 50 candidates who run in the open primaries is enough evidence of what distinguishes Podemos from the rest: workers, unemployed, precarious, students, teachers… but no professional politician. No wonder that with this different method, Podemos could not reach an agreement with the traditional euro-communist party Izquierda Unida to run together in the elections. Apparently the latter was only worried about exchanging some seats in a common candidature, while Podemos was obviously demanding a much more fundamental change in the way the left approaches internal democracy.
This model has not been settled.
Nor is at all clear that they have “achieved popular empowerment”.
The French site Ensemble noted that following the elections there was a “lively” internal debate inside Podemos, opposing
some of the party’s base, who advocate greater power for the ‘circles’ in the process of decision making, and the self-styled Podemos “promoter group”, which defends a model with less power for circles and which is all open to all citizens and voters. The fundamental question, ultimately, is to define the organisational form to be taken by Podemos and the role of the circles, and that of those not enrolled in them, in the decision-making party people.
(El País - reporting this) has so far identified in this debate two sides supposedly in confrontation. On the one hand, there is the Izquierda Anticapitalista (IA, anti-capitalist Left), a political party built around the initiative since its inception and, secondly, the promoter Podemos group, headed by Iñigo Errejón, and Juan Pablo Iglesias and Carlos Monedero.
In the El País article on the 9th of June supporters of the “promoter group” are cited accusing the “base” (Iquierda Anticapitalista, IA) of wanting Podemos to be the “izquierda de Izquierda Unida” – the left of Izquierda Unida”. Pablo Iglesias’s right-hand man, Juan Carlos Monedero went so far as the accuse the IA of attempting a “coup d’état” ( “golpe de Estado”) inside the organisation – as a party within a party.
One of its supporters, Teresa Rodríguez, is said to be the “Number 2″ of Podemos.
Not surprisingly the Fourth International has published an article by that refers to this dispute suggesting that the El País report may not be entirely trustworthy (given the daily’s own political allegiance, which was, in the past, with the Spanish Socialist Party, the PSOE).
Dick Nicols in Links on the 1st of July (Spanish state: Eruption of Podemos sparks turmoil left and right) does not downplay the dispute as revealed by El País and has its own analysis of the problems facing Podemos,
According to a report in the June 9 El País, close Iglesias collaborator, fellow university lecturer and La Tuerka co-presenter Juan Carlos Monedero at one point explained the need for a closed list in these words: “The idea of the [closed] lists doesn’t seem very sensible to us, but there are people conspiring to lay hold of Podemos and we don’t feel like copping that. People with responsibilities in other parties have sent emails to sympathisers giving instructions as to what to do on June 14 [date of a national meeting of Podemos sympathisers].”
This was a reference to the Anti-capitalist Left (IA), co-founder of Podemos along with Iglesias and his supporters. In response to Monedero’s comments, which included the observation that some Podemos sympathisers wanted to convert the organisation into “the left of IU”, a June 9 statement of IA said: “Whoever sees conspiracies and coups where there is only democracy has very little faith in the intelligence of Podemos people…Only those who are afraid of democracy fear debates.”
Earlier Monedero had said: “Maybe this has to break up, maybe there are two incompatible models inside Podemos, some want to turn it into a party of delegates and into an old party…If we carry on with this line of talk, what happened with 15M could happen again—we were radically democratic and radically ineffective.”
One concern was the role in Podemos given to the maverick politician and political consultant Jorge Verstrynge, ex-leader of the post-francoist Popular Alliance and variously PSOE member, adviser to the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) and the Venezuelan military, and exponent of a massive program of deportation of migrants from Spain.
Another was the decision, taken by election campaign team to incorporate a portrait sketch of Pablo Iglesias into the official Podemos ballot paper logo, on the grounds that Iglesias had much greater visibility than the name Podemos.
A third was the removal from the final Podemos election program of any specific support for the November 9 consultation in Catalonia, even though Iglesias continued to speak out for the Catalan right to decide.
The incessantly churning Spanish social networks have not been slow to comment on such choices, with Iglesias being tagged as “the little Napoleon”, and much worse. More soberly, many have pointed out that internet-driven decision-making in “new” party-movements can cohabit with “all power to the charismatic leader”, as in Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement. There the leadership (basically Grillo?) decides what the options for voting by internet are, after which “the membership decides democratically”. For the recent decision as to which European parliamentary group the Five Star movement’s MEPs should join, Grillo offered his members the “choice” of Europe of Freedom and Democracy (chairman Nigel Farange of the xenophobic United Kingdom Independence Party), the European Conservatives and Reformists group(dominated by the British Tories) or No Grouping.
Many, on the basis of what we so far can tell, will agree with Dick Nichols’ conclusion,
Podemos will face critical questions that can’t be solved from a “people v. politicians” formula. Critical will be the concrete basis for unity with IU and left-nationalist, left-regionalist and green forces. This is particularly pressing in the Spanish state because of the disproportionality in the rigged national Spanish electoral system, which only starts to disappear after a party wins 20% of the vote. (That score wins 18% of seats, while 15% wins 10.3% of seats and 10% of the vote just 5.1% of seats.)
The consolidation of Podemos as a revolutionary-democratic movement against austerity with rigorously democratic functioning and the convergence of its advance with that of a reformed IU will surely determine the fate of the anti-capitalist struggle in the Spanish state.
But it is by no means certain that the complicated ‘on-line’ democracy and the ‘circles’ at the base of Podemos, – the one drawing to leadership power, the other away from it, will help in this.
Tony Greenstein in a temperate mood.
Comrade Tony Greenstein’s resignation from Left Unity sent shock waves last month throughout the world progressive, labour, and socialist movement.
The news was published in the august pages of the Weekly Worker on the 5th of June.
Now on his Blog he explains his standpoint.
I resigned from Left Unity nearly a month ago. Set up in a blaze of publicity, it has fallen victim to identity politics and navel gazing. It reports that it has 2,000 members. If so they make next to no impact. There is no internal life in the organisation, no paper or journal, and criticism of policies such as ‘safe spaces’ for women are frowned upon or, as is the case in Manchester subject to censorship and suspension
Using dialectical tools honed in years of struggle Brighton’s Best continues.
It would be a pleasure to reproduce the text in full but for reasons of space and attention-span we confine ourselves to extracts.
Cde Greenstein has no doubt where some of the blame for the rise of UKIP lies,
….most mailings from the Centre have concerned elections for the multiplicity of posts in LU. Barely a word has been issued concerning prioritising campaigns such as the destruction of the NHS or the welfare state. Bogus issues of interest to just a handful of careerists, such as intersectionality, have been deemed of more importance instead.
It is little wonder that LU didn’t see fit to stand candidates in the European elections when it has such pressing internal issues to deal with. The result is that UKIP and its anti-immigration policies have been given a free ride and LU has abandoned what could have been an effective platform for introspective navel gazing.
This post continues in this vein and reaches this conclusion,
LU’s leadership could do worse than to look at the success of Syriza in Greece and try and learn some lessons. However I fear that they are too fixed in their views and politics to learn lessons from anyone. They insist on following the same strategies that embraced Respect and destroyed the Socialist Alliance. Politically LU has demonstrated complete impotence on questions like Ireland. My conclusion is that the time for success has now passed and what is left is a terrible missed politically opportunity.
I have therefore decided that no purpose is served by my continuing to remain a member and I have decided to resign from Left Unity.
In case anybody has sympathy with some of these views – which include criticisms of ‘intersectionality’ (poor old Richard Seymour’s latest hobby horse) and ‘safe spaces’, not to mention Greenstein’s comments on the LU failure to campaign on welfare – this has been brought to the Tendance’s attention (ME),
TO THOSE on the left who derive sado-masochistic entertainment from the more bilious of its internal debates, Tony Greenstein will need no introduction. But for anyone who doesn’t think that spending endless hours on email discussion lists and internet message boards is an appropriate and productive use of their time, it is necessary to provide a little background.
Tony Greenstein is a socialist based in Brighton who engages in a form of political masturbation that consists basically of attacking the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty in the most poisonous terms known to him at every possible opportunity. Tony attacks the AWL for its small size, but he is not on very firm ground arguing numbers with a group more than 100 times the size of his own: the Tony Greenstein sect of one.
Tony’s ferocious hatred of the AWL overrides all rational political thought; so, for example, when Tony stood as a candidate for the Socialist Green Unity Coalition (in which the AWL also participated) in the 2005 General Election, Tony felt it appropriate to write a letter to the CPGB newspaper Weekly Worker attacking the AWL in characteristic terms, even though he knew this would harm the coalition of which he himself was part. This sort of behaviour is illustrative of Tony’s general approach – not rational, worked-out criticism but frenzied slander. His diatribe in What Next? [‘The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty – Britain’s Revolutionary Imperialists’] is no different. It is embarrassing in its lack of rigour, in the way it substitutes anecdotal slander for political critique, and in its use of blatant lies, distortions and half-truths.
More on What next? site.
In a long political career on the outside of the outside left Cde Greenstein has accumulated a broader range of enemies than the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL) - they extend, let us say, from senior figures in the trade union movement to just about every party and groupuscule on the left (his latest bug-bear is Socialist Resistance).
He has even got the goat of somebody genuinely loathed by all progressives, Gilad Atzmon.