Archive for the ‘Ultra Left’ Category
Hat-Tips to Vaultist Michael Ezra and to Pete Shield for reminding us all.
SWP LOVE SONG TO TED GRANT
Don’t know much about history
Marxism’s still a mystery
Don’t ’bout the line that Lenin took
‘Cause I’ve only read Tony Cliff’s book
But if you’d sign a non-aggression pact
We’d support an Enabling Act
And what a wonderful world it would be
Now I don’t claim to be a real Marxist
All I’m trying to say is maybe if the Millies
Would all join Socialist Worker
Then the Labour Party would go away.
(The Chicken Song)
We’re a small Trot sect
With a small red student base
But we dream one day
That we’ll rule the human race
People laugh at us
But we’ll show the world they’re wrong
Overthrow the State
While we sing this left wing song
Build a Workers’ Front
Sell a paper to your gran
Have a fuse then split
Be as wacky as you can
Caucus in a letter box
Change your name another time
Turn to industry
And then alter all your lines
There’s fifteen of us
We’re the vanguard of our class
With a dialectic task
Met this bloke in Greece
Now an international’s formed
Like the Bolsheviks
When the Czar’s Palace they stormed
Have a faction fight
Write polemics by the score
Purge your tendency
And reduce your ranks to four
Call for unity
Say the enemy is Benn
Liquidate in Workers Power
And then do it all again
Utilise the bourgeois courts
Launch an armed struggle
Try and build a base in Shorts
Call a general strike
Like Possadas look to the stars
For you never know
Perhaps there’s a loony Trot in Mars
The Red Mole Song of Tariq Ali.
I met Tariq Ali on an Underground Train
Like a Bloated Red-Mole in Considerable Pain.
He said he’d been there since a quarter-past nine.
Trying to find the majority Line.
IMG, IMG, fear and the dread of the whole bourgeoisie,
IMG, IMG, volumes and volumes of bankrupt theory.
As Mélenchon gathers support in the French presidential elections, Professor Alex Callinicos identifies the causes of the left-wing rivals of the Front de Gauche (the NPA crisis). Here.
“The first is a tendency to dismiss the forces occupying the political space between the LCR/NPA and the PS.
Well, as we have posted on this, at great length. Some credit to the Picquet Tendency who made this point would be due.
None is forthcoming.
Instead the Professor makes this point, “the NPA’s formation, when Christian Picquet, traditional spokesperson of the LCR right wing, led a breakaway, Gauche Unitaire, into the Front de Gauche.
Though he does say, “As it is, the NPA’s refusal to engage with the Front de Gauche, beyond a call by Besancenot for a unitary anti-capitalist presidential candidate that was not followed through by the party, has allowed Mélenchon and the PCF to set the agenda and present themselves as the champions of left unity—something that, as we may remember from Respect’s heyday in the mid-2000s, is enormously attractive.”
“The problem is that the NPA’s political life is centred on elections.”
Which is to say the least, not true.
But political life as such is centred on elections – when you actually have councillors and have had Euro deputies.
Which to my knowledge is not much of the case with the SWP.
Still he does talk about how bad institutionalised factionalism in the NPA is - otherwise known as democracy.
Something the SWP internally is not too well-known for.
He then makes this charming observation,
“ The simple truth is that a substantial section of NPA activists take up a reactionary Islamophobic position towards questions such as the veil. “
Some might say that Respect, which the SWP helped found, is a reactionary communalist organisation whose leader, Galloway, has close ties to the reactionary Iranian regime and has supported blood stained tyrants across the Middle East.
We bet Krivine really likes being given lessons by the likes of Callinicos.
Stifling 90% Consensus Rule has Religious Origins.
Below is in an important article.
It clarifies some of the issues raised in our review of Why it’s Kicking Off Everywhere. The New Global Revolutions. Paul Mason. Verso 2012.
We warn however that it is wholly American centred, of the kind that seems to believe that the Occupy movement began in the Wall Street protests, rather than the much much larger Spanish Indignados some of whose ideas are expressed in the French book (which sold hundreds of thousands in its Castilian translation) Indignez vous! (Cry out!), by Stéphane Hessel (discussed on Tendance Coatesy here)
Kauffman’s valuable article, based on activist experience, sees the consensus model’s origin in Quakerism.
We, by contrast, have traced a similar principle in European autonomist theory, notably in the manifesto, l’Insurrection qui vient. (Comité Invisible 2007 discussed by the Tendance in 2009 here).
L . A . K auffman
Occupy Wall Street from the start has embraced consensus decision-making, a process in which groups come to agreement without voting. Instead of voting a controversial plan up or down, groups that make decisions by consensus work to refine the plan until everyone finds it acceptable. A primer on the NYC General Assembly website explains, Consensus is a creative thinking process: When we vote, we decide between two alternatives. With consensus, we take an issue, hear the range of enthusiasm, ideas and concerns about it, and synthesize a proposal that best serves everybody’s vision.”
Consensus has been adopted by a wide array of social movements over the last thirty-five years, and proponents make broad claims for it. They argue that it is intrinsically more democratic than other methods, and that it fosters radical transformation, both within movements and in their relations with the wider world. As described in the action and book of an Earth Day 1990 action to shut down Wall Street, which included a blockade of the entrances to the Stock Exchange and led to some 200 arrests, “Consensus at its best offers a cooperative model of reaching group unity, an essential step in creating a culture that values cooperation over competition.” Few know the origins of the process, though, and they shed an interesting and surprising light on its workings.
Consensus decision-making first entered the world of grassroots activism in the summer of 1976, when a group of activists calling themselves the Clamshell Alliance began a direct action campaign against the planned Seabrook Nuclear Plant.
Many activists at the time were well aware of what feminist writer Jo Freeman famously called “the tyranny of structurelessness.” The tendency in some early 1970s movements to abandon all structure in the name of spontaneity and informality had proven to be not just unworkable but undemocratic. Decisions still happened, but without an agreed-upon process, there was no accountability.
The organizers of “the Clam,” as it was often called, were eager to find a process that could prevent the pitfalls of structurelessness without resorting to hierarchy.
Two staff people from the American Friends Service Committee, the longstanding and widely admired peace and justice organization affiliated with the Society of Friends, or Quakers, suggested consensus. As historian A. Paul Hare has written, “For over 300 years the members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) have been making group decisions ithout voting. Their method is to find a “sense of the meeting” which represents a consensus of those involved. Ideally this consensus is not simply ‘”unanimity” or an opinion on which all members happen to agree, but a “unity”: a higher truth which grows from the consideration of divergent opinions and unites them all.” The process, adherents believe, is in effect a manifestation of the divine. A 1943 “Guide to Quaker Practice” explained, “The principle of corporate guidance, according to which the Spirit can inspire the group as a whole, is central. Since there is but one Truth, its Spirit, if followed will produce unity.”
Quakers do not, as a rule, proselytize their faith, and the two AFSC organizers working on the Seabrook anti-nuclear campaign were no exception. They introduced the decision-making method without any theological content. As one of the activists, Sukie Rice, told me in a 2002 interview, “Friends consider [consensus] a waiting upon the Spirit, that you pray that you will do God’s will, and that wasn’t there in the Clam. The Clam used it as a decision-making process that was consistent with nonviolence.” Rice continued, “[The activists of the Clam] had no idea that Clamshell would be the prototype for all the other groups that took off from there, they had no inkling of that.” But indeed it was.
After the Clam, consensus became the accepted decision-making process among many segments of the activist left, especially those that embraced direct action as central to their strategy, up to and including today’s Occupy Movements. And though Rice and her colleague were careful to exclude any explicit theology from their trainings on consensus, something of that religious origin arguably adheres to it up to the present day. Perhaps it’s something about the reverence with which consensus is sometimes discussed in activist circles, leaving those who find it unwieldy to feel like apostates.
Perhaps it’s the assumption embedded in the process that division results from differing views (which can be reconciled) rather than competing interests (which often cannot). Perhaps it’s the way it sometimes seems to be, well,an article of faith that consensus is intrinsically more democratic and more radical than other forms of decision-making.
Consensus process has considerable virtues, but it also has flaws. It favors those with lots of time to spend in meetings; unless practiced with unusual skill, it can lavish excessive attention on the stubborn or disruptive. Occupy Wall Street has opened up for questioning so much that was previously taken as given. May it do the same with its own methods.