Tendance Coatesy

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Fourth International and Fifth International Merger: 4 1/2 International?

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http://www.thegreenhead.com/imgs/hanging-swamp-man-1.jpg

 

It’s a Swampy Thing: the Weekly Worker wouldn’t understand.

In the interest of international left unity we publish this news.

The first discussion bulletin Inside Left Unity  is now available (via the Weekly Worker site).

The International Socialist Network, the Anticapitalist Initiative, RS21, Workers Power (Fifth International) and Socialist Resistance (4th International) are discussing merging, and will hold a Conference on this in the near future.

The comrades from the Weekly Worker publish the first discussion bulletin involving these organisations.

We note with sorrow that the CPGB has been excluded from these discussions, despite several direct approaches to two of the participating organisations, the International Socialist Network and RS 21, for exploratory talks (see here and a comment on RS21 in this article for the apolitical rebuffs we received).

The CPGB (Provisional CC) has been “feebly bad-mouthed by most participants. ” Any suggestion that the CPGB might be included in the unity discussions would prompt an instant and a non-negotiable veto from Socialist Resistance. (SR has also been distinctly sniffy about the participation of Workers Power, of course).”

What the Weekly Worker justly calls the “Gang of Five” is, they report, on the way to creating a “sect”.

They they saintly remark that  their ‘hearts will mend”  but that, “Sadly the comrades seem on an inevitable descent into the swamp of liquidationism, and not upwards to principled Marxist unity.”

The CPGB (provisional CC) has ” written to the organisers of the April 26 ‘unity’ conference requesting observer status and – whatever the outcome of that – we will keep up our campaign that seems to cause these political trends such pain: For Marxists to unite and fight for Marxism.”

In the discussion document Socialist Resistance makes a contribution on the People’s Assembly which is worth reading,

Why PA is important for revolutionaries and Left Unity.

The PA is mobilising a similar target audience that Left Unity is building from. Activists involved in the People’s Assembly are nearly all both against government austerity and New Labour’s austeritylite ‘alternative’.  We have to be working alongside these activists not preaching from the sidelines that Unite has ‘sold out’ on Grangemouth or not yet organised a general strike or that the People’s Charter is not a revolutionary programme. We need to be there when these activists ask themselves whether consistent anti-austerity activity can co-exist with a belief that Labour can be reclaimed from the left.It was noticeable that there is a very limited number of Labour MPs or councillors signed up to the People’s Assembly and  even  fewer Labour Party branches affiliated.

We need to also collaborate with Counterfire – they may be part of a future left recomposition. Sooner or later they have to ask themselves whether the only perspective is building such united fronts and recruiting to Counterfire, turning it into a better SWP, or whether energies also need to be put into developing a broad political alternative to Labour like Left Unity. Both the CPB and Counterfire counterpose the PA to projects like Left Unity – misunderstanding the difference between a political party and a united front campaign. The CPB even talks of the PA as the most important political movement around. The PA will be around after the next elections, the debate on the left may have significantly changed. We need to be in the same room as the activists who identify it as a political movement.

It will indeed be interesting to see how Counterfire develops.

On Europe though Socialist Resistance are far from clear, or illuminating,

One area where differences were apparent was on Europe. Socialist Resistance has a long-standing opposition to European integration EU style which we believe is an important mechanism through which the European bourgeoisie attacks the gains of the working class.

That doesn’t mean that we do not prioritise building solidarity on a continental wide basis or that we would support an organisation such as No to EU – which as we have argued consistently ends up capitulating to racism by defending a British jobs for British workers line.

We don’t think in the current political situation that we should campaign for British withdrawal from the EU as a priority but we don’t agree with Simon Hardy when he argued that we should support European integration or with the Lambeth resolution when it argues that we should no more take a position on capitalist European integration than we would on the mergers of companies (actually in some situations we think it’s appropriate to take a position on the latter – it’s a question of concretely analysing a specific situation and assessing what is more or less likely to strengthen workplace and company-wide workers organisation).

So if it is not a “priority” they do they still agree to withdrawing from the EU?

We should be told.

On Ukraine there are the divisions that one imagine, SR backing the Maidan protesters, Workers Power rejecting them, and the ISN taking a balanced, “don’t take sides” position.

The bulletin is well worth reading.

Though you need a stern will to get through to the end of Workers Power’s wordy contributions, which can be summed up, everyone else is wrong but us – the pure vein of working class “rank and file” revolution.

There is one major gap.

One would have preferred some deeper analysis not of “broad” left-wing parties but of the specifics of European politics. Above all, what do Socialist Resistance think of the French Front de Gauche, whose own unitary formation  split their French counterpart organisation, the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (NPA).

The failure of the NPA to capture the ground to the left of the French Parti Socialiste (at present in government) is perhaps one of the most important issues any attempt at left ‘regroupment’ should discuss.

It is noteworthy that Socialist Resistance fails to address the existence of the Front de Gauche nor do the contribution in the texts assembled in their key statements,  Building New Parties of the Left even seriously broach  the thorny topic.

Instead we get this, on the British left Unity  (Terry Conway)

…our view is that we need to maintain the ability of this new political party to attract those just breaking with social democracy as well as those new to political activity and more seasoned activists joining a political party for the first time from the unions and single issue campaigns.

In practice we think that with the best of these militants these difficulties will be broken down in so far as Left Unity begins to build itself in a consistent way in the localities, campaigning on the key issues that are mobilising people. As people build up a loyalty and sense of identification with Left Unity as an organisation through collective activity, these more ideological debates will become less dominant.

So, their strategy is build a broad party until the time is ripe for some ‘Ideological debate’ – sectarian in-fighting.

To return to the title of this post: if SR and Workers Power are in the same organisation will this mean that the Fourth and the Fifth Internationals will merge?

In the Four and a Half International?

SWP Stall “turned over” by Autonomist Police.

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Autonomist Police Scatters SWP.

Yesterday,

The SWP found out today that their rape-apologist bullshit has got no place in Liverpool. Their stall outside the NUS conference in Liverpool (it was outside because they’d already been refused entry to the conference) was turned over and their literature scattered to the wind. Let this be a lesson to them – we won’t accept their rape apologism here.

They spouted the usual crap: “sectarian”, “political nobodies”. So fucking what? More tellingly though, they made accusations of “sending men to intimidate women”. 50% of the people involved in tossing their shit papers on the floor and ripping down their shit posters were women.

This histrionic post ends with this gibberish,

The SWP covered up rape, threw survivors under the bus and intimidate anyone who tries to confront them about it (anyone remember the Glasgow anti-bedroom tax rally?). UAF grasses militant antifascists to the police. We won’t tolerate an organization that is so misogynistic in nature and so repugnant in its political opportunism anymore. We’re drawing a line now. Try not to cross it.

From Liverpool Class Action an “Autonomous anarchist group currently active in Merseyside.”

This follows the censorship of the SWP Marxism Festival by ULU.

Despite affiliated universities (notably the School of Oriental and African Studies;) letting rooms to real reactionaries, Islamists, who openly preach misogyny advocate female circumcision and hatred of gays – against which ULU has done precisely nothing, student union officers issued a statement that ended with this,

To the SWP, we say that you are beyond help and progressive debate. You are disgrace to the left and we have no wish to help support any growth in your oppressive organisation. The bottom line is that you do not have any right to use this space, you are not welcome here or anywhere near our union and we will not be harassed by your organisation. As students and activists, we stand united against sexism.

A little further back there was this, (December 2013),

Sussex: Autonomists in ‘feelgood’ attack on SWP

Tom Munday on the turning over of an SWP stall and the burning of their papers at Sussex university.

The actions of these groups, and those on the ‘left’ who sympathise with them, are straight-forward authoritarian policing. They suppress political debate. They revile and scream rather than talk. They are the self-appointed political police of the left.

They are also hypocrites: no autonomist or ‘anti-sexist’ group  dares carry out of the same actions against the Islamists, guilty of not just of a bureaucratic and incompetent sexism, but open misogyny.

We do not advocate censoring their views either: debate, and free speech are a condition of secularism.

The Sussex self-appointed police  of the ASN (Autonomous Students Network) continue their actions,

Despite being repeatedly told by survivors that their presence on campus is triggering, the SWP loyalists continue to cover campus in their propaganda, hold meetings and are even running a candidate for the student union elections. As long as they act like that, we will continue to act like this.

Solidarity as ever with all survivors, we will not back down.

Burn the SWP.

‘Tom Munday’ in the Weekly Worker was right in analysing this as follows,

The reaction of the ASN represents only the most recent incarnation of a morality culture fostered by groups like the SWP. What we effectively see here is the most facile aspects of Blairism regurgitated as ‘socialist’ doctrine. The very notion that all the injustice and violence of the world can be willed away with good intentions and a true heart is fanciful to say the least, but lapses into outright narcissism when it expects the terrible realities that infest society at large to not find themselves duplicated within the left itself. Add into this mix an SWP-esque brand of directionless actionism and you end up with Frankenstein politics: at best leading us towards disingenuous ‘safe spaces’ policies.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Street Clashes in Nantes over New Aéroport.

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La police et les gendarmes mobiles ont fait usage de grenades lacrymogènes et de canons à eau contre les militants.

Street Battles in Nantes.

Violence erupted when about 20,000 people demonstrated against an airport project near the city of Nantes on Saturday, leaving six riot police officers injured.

Environmental activists have been protesting for more than a year against the government’s plan to build a new airport for the west of the country, with some activists occupying the area by living rough in makeshift wooden cabins.

Police have tried several times in vain to evict the squatters and have had to contain many demonstrations.  Reuters.

Agence France Presse also reports,

Riot police moved into the western French city of Nantes on Saturday, clashing with hundreds of anarchists who broke shop windows, destroyed bus stops and pillaged the city centre.

At least eight police officers were hospitalized after violent confrontations with up to 1,000 “radicals,” the prefecture of the Loire-Atlantique region said. Fourteen people were detained.

The rioters had joined an estimated 20,000 people protesting against plans to build a regional airport. Officials did not say whether protesters were injured.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the delinquents were from the “radicalized ultra-left” and were waging an “urban guerrilla” campaign.

The protests turned very violent as “autonomous” groups broke away.

The evidence remains today,

On the route taken by the demonstrations  the day before, this morning we could still see marks of the events. Municipal workers  were busy erasing tags and paintings on the walls, including those of the mayor. The façade of a Vinci Immobilier (Estate agents),  ransacked on Saturday, has been replaced by wooden boards. Vinci is linked to the airport project. On sites a little further away, lay the blackened carcasses of a giant drill and a bulldozer. The façade of the administrative court, is still painted with large amounts of red paint, and on the ground floor several windows were broken, making it  unrecognisable. A huge“Zad Everywhere” was tagged on the main entrance door. Zad means “deferred development zone” of the airport. This acronym has become a symbol of the opposition.

On Kervegan, one of the oldest districts of Nantes island, the cobblestone streets were scarred by large holes. They have been  replaced by the earth where the pavement had been torn up. Barricades were erected and then set on fire. At the transport hub of the city, the Place du Commerce, all the ticket booths and the offices of the  Society Nantes transport were burnt out. The paving stones for several tram lines  were torn out.

Libération.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 23, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Leninism on Way Out as ISO Crisis Deepens.

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fillesb

Still Flogging a Dead Horse.

”  To defend press freedom the 19th century French liberal Benjamin Constant used analogy. * He imagined a society before the invention of language. Suddenly people could speak. When it undermined order figures in authority began to regret this state of affairs. Gradually the innovation was accepted. Nobody any longer had the idea of forbidding talking on the grounds that it could be used to spread rumours, lies or fantasies.

Perhaps the Socialist Workers Party will consider Constant’s argument when they next stick on their internal documents, “Under No Circumstances Should This Text be Posted on the Internet, For SWP members Only.”

* Cited Page 227. Les Gauches Françaises. Jacques Julliard. 2012.

Tendance Coatesy, The Crisis of the SWP,  Leninism and the Left. February 2013.

Louis Proyect writes today (extracts),

One wonders if the ISO leaders might have anticipated the “security breach” that allowed the documents to become public. After all, in the electronic age, what’s to prevent a Marxist version of Edward Snowden from cropping up? This is especially true given the leaks that took place in the British SWP, the group that spawned the ISO. Those leaks were focused primarily on the British SWP’s refusal to punish a top leader who had allegedly raped a young female member. As is the case with bureaucratic institutions in general such as the Catholic Church and the military, there is a tendency to defend those in power, no matter what they do. If you’ve reached the point where you’ve become tired of bureaucratic abuse from the ISO leadership, why not let the rest of the left know what’s going on behind closed doors?

Proyect’s  objects are many but this sticks out,

I want to address the question of the “right” of a Leninist organization to keep its discussions shielded from public view at the end of this article, but will start with an evaluation of the ISO’s current woes, which according to both sides in the dispute is very real.

He concludes,

The real issue is not security, but the right of a sect to keep its deliberations a secret. When you stop and think about it, all of these “Leninist” groups operate on a mercantile basis that is concerned with maximizing market share. Their internal bulletins are analogous to reports discussed by the board of directors leading up to a sales campaign. What business is it of Pepsi to know what Coca-Cola is up to? How can we let Socialist Alternative know what we have planned for 2014? Hush now, comrades. Mum’s the word.

While I will not be around fifty years from now, I am convinced that “Leninism” will be long dead. If we are fortunate enough to be capable of rallying the forces needed to transform American society, it will be on a basis that has little to do with the imagery associated with the Smolny Institute and the Winter Palace. We will write our own future based on the living struggle that we surely have in front of us. Every effort has to be bent toward uniting the greatest number of people on a principled class basis. In a way it is too bad that ISO cannot understand the role it can play in helping to catalyze such a movement. One hopes that they can figure out a way to emerge out of the existing stagnation and rise to the occasion.

The background to this crisis is given on the External Bulletin site,

The organizational crisis and its political roots

The International Socialist Organization (ISO) has been in a general crisis since 2009. This has not been experienced or understood as a general crisis, but rather a series of disconnected and personalistic branch crises. But if we merely list the crises that we know about, the general nature of the problem becomes clear: (see links for more)

Perhaps the conclusion is not as radical – certainly not about the Leninist roots of their problems – as it could be,

To sum up, the political roots of the ISO’s organizational crisis lie in the group’s failure to adequately theorize the neoliberal phase of capitalism. Its past practices are increasingly ineffective in a new conjuncture, but it lacks the “theoretical capital” to invest in the ideation of strategy. Itself impoverished in ideas, the leadership has adopted a defensive posture, concerned–in many ways legitimately–that a politically weak organization cannot handle the internal struggles that will be required to generate and test new ideas. But there is no alternative to this internal struggle if the organization is to progress.

Update: Opposition expelled from ISO, here.

More details and comments on this split on Howie’s Corner.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 18, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Back George Galloway’s Bid to be First PM of Scotland!

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Galloway for PM: Somewhere.

George Galloway wants to be the first prime minister of an independent Scotland, should the Outspoken Respect MP fail in his campaign to have Scots vote against the referendum on September 18. The 59-year-old, who represents Bradford West in the Commons, said he would prefer “a real Labour prime minister of the whole of Britain” but would settle for the role of Scottish PM should the vote go against his position.

Reports the Huffington Post.

He also said the saner following,

“I would fancy being prime minister of Scotland but I would rather we had a real Labour prime minister of the whole of Britain.

“I want to avoid the break-up of the country which I think will beggar people on both sides of the border, will lead to permanent Tory rule in Westminster and thus the Bank of England which will control the Scottish economy.

“Unleashed will be a race to the bottom with England cutting taxes, regulation, public spending, and Scotland having to follow it. So everyone on both sides of the border will be worse off.”

Mr Galloway took to the stage to the strains of Stealers Wheel’s Stuck In The Middle With You, saying he chose the song for its chorus “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right”. “Flag wavers don’t like me very much, whether they’re Saltire flag wavers or Union Jack flag wavers,” he said.

“That’s fine. There are a small number of Union Jack wavers who are opposed to my stand on war and occupation abroad, and my identification with religious minorities that they hate. “If they weren’t protesting against me then I think I would be doing something wrong.”

Mr Galloway said he believes in “united countries” including a united Ireland, saying he would support Northern Ireland’s exit from the UK, in contrast to his bid to prevent Scotland from leaving.

“I don’t believe in breaking countries up as I think we have too many countries in the world, not too few,” he said.

“The Irish people were denied their right to unity and independence. The Scottish people never have been, and could have voted for independence at any time that they liked in the whole era of universal suffrage of nearly 100 years.

“People say that they want Scotland to have self-determination but they have self-determination, and always have, and will exercise that self-determination again in September.

“If it chooses to become independent then it will become independent, but I think it would rue the day.”

He said he would contemplate becoming an MP of an independent Scottish Parliament in the “hypothetical” event of Yes vote.

He added: “I am confident that the vote will be No, and I just want to make sure that it’s a decisive result because otherwise the kind of hatred and division that this campaign is at risk of sowing will be a permanent feature of Scottish politics and public life.”

Pat Smith, secretary of the Edinburgh Radical Independence Campaign, said: “Tonight’s protest is about showing that another Scotland is possible, one where racist, Islamophobic views like those perpetuated by the SDL have no place and where George Galloway’s cavalier attitude to politics is a thing of the past.

“Galloway’s celebrity status may bring attention to his bizarre and often sectarian brand of unionism, but we know that people in Scotland will see straight through this attempt to feign interest in the referendum as simply another bout of self promotion.

“The Radical Independence Campaign offers a real alternative to the corruption and self-interest of Westminster politics which Galloway seems so comfortable with. We want to see a Scotland run for and by the people – a people’s democracy, a society of equality, a great welfare state, a good neighbour, and pioneer of a just economy.”

We prefer the Galloway for Prime Minister of Scotland and the United Kingdom talk.

Indeed why not – unlike the nationalists who call themselves ‘radical’ – we don’t want mild social democracy and pro-business government in one state, but socialism in Europe.

So why not Galloway for European President? 

Make a start: Stand for Respect in Hampstead and Kilburn.

Respect will take the Hampstead and Kilburn fight right to rancid Maajid Nawaz and the New Labour apologist for Awami League…

” Applications are invited to be Respect candidate at the General Election in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency.”If you are interested, please email contact@respectparty.org

 

We have already applied…

Written by Andrew Coates

February 5, 2014 at 12:41 pm