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Charlie Kimber, SWP and Bears – a Cautionary Tale.

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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.

 

Moral

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.

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 12, 2014 at 11:08 am

Jean-Claude Juncker and Trotskyism.

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Juncker: Flirted with Trotskyism.

The pasts of European Commissioner José Manuel Durão Barroso and the new President of the European Commission,  Jean-Claude Juncker have been brought up by the French Communist daily L’Humanite.

The former is well known for his youthful involvement in  the extreme anti-Communist (and violent) MRPP (Movimento Reorganizativo do Partido do Proletariado).(1) Indeed he was one its leaders.  This ‘Maoist’ group, which was also supported by French ‘philosopher’ Alain Badiou and his group, the Union des communistes de France marxiste-léniniste (UCFml).

In the aftermath of the ‘Carnation Revolution’ (1974 -5) the MRPP was known for its physical attacks on Communists, trade unions, democrats and the far-left.

Barroso has more recently alleged that his support for these thugs was because he saw them as the best anti-Communists around.

L’Humanité alleges they were closely bound to the CIA.  For the paper, the  “Top level agent of the CIA, Carlucci handled and financed the MRPP .”

Which perhaps also sheds a light on Alain Badiou’s curious reticence about his own past in backing the group.

Juncker has a youthful background marked by much less explicit political engagement on the far-left.

Rue 89 in Dix choses que vous ignorez sûrement sur Jean-Claude Juncker states,

“In an interview published in 2009 on the site of the Government of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker wanted us to believe he was a rebel before he became the aged grey man mocked by his enemies:

“At 17, as a rebel, I flirted with the IV th International. I explained to my father and my mother that their bourgeois life, meant nothing at all to me.”

The former Prime Minister of Luxembourg refers to the broad Trotskyist movement in the late 60s, of which the Nouveau parti anti-capitaliste (NPA) of  Olivier Besancenot is the heir.

Juncker was not a very much of an activist: he did not leave many traces of this leftist past.”

He says that he soon grasped that this stand was misguided , although he lays claim to some enduring sympathy for the workers that he learnt from his youth  amongst a steel-worker family and neighbours.

l”Humanité alleges both figures have links with the CIA.

Juncker in particular,

was forced to resign his mandate after  a colourful case of espionage. Witnesses  suddenly became mute,although leaks suggest that the special services of the United States, including the famous NSA, have maintained discreet links with Jean-Claude Juncker…..

They conclude,

There are revealing comparisons. Barroso and Juncker were both members of so-called “far left” with direct or indirect relationship with the CIA and special service organisations in the United States.

(1) Tony Cliff. Portugal at the crossroads (1975).

MRPP

The biggest “revolutionary” organisation in the University, it seems to recruit sons of upper class CDS supporters. Its membership is characterised by a religious fervour. It was quite heroic under fascism, but even then spent much of its time denouncing the rest of the revolutionary left. Typically, today it runs slogans like “Long live the glorious MRPP – Arnaldo Matos (Secretary of MRPP), glorious leader of the proletariat”, etc.

It gained some influence in a few firms when the Communist Party was involved in strike-breaking – e.g. it has some influence in TAP and the TLP (telephone workers).

But its influence is restricted in Lisbon to at most five workers’ committees.

It is extremely unpopular with COPCON rank and file because of its references to them as the “new PIDE”.

Its position used to be distinct from that of the PCP ML/AOC, in that it did not openly back the Socialist Party. But the Socialist Party saw an advantage in claiming to defend the MRPP against the Communist Party. And recently the MRPP has provided a convenient weapon for the Socialist Party to use to break the hold of the Communist Party on certain unions in Lisbon (journalists, bank workers, clerks).

The MRPP sees the events in the North as a “peasant uprising against social fascism”. When the Communist Party defended its headquarters in Leiria, the MRPP spoke of it “shooting down peasants”.

There seems to be some sort of convergence here between the sons of the bourgeoisie and their parents.

 

Tony Greenstein Resigns from Left Unity: World’s Progressives Shaken.

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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),


Daniel Randall and Sacha Ismail 
Lies, Damn Lies and Tony Greenstein (What Next?)

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.

Respect!

Socialists in Local Elections: TUSC Goes Ever Downwards

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Does Less Well than ‘Lambertist’ rivals.

There is a strange group in France, commonly known as the Lambertists, the  Parti ouvrier indépendant, POI,  who have been  standing in elections  for a very, very,  long time.

They get derisory votes.

But they do have a few councillors (basically the equivalent of Parish members).

In fact they got over 40 in the last municipal elections (always bearing in mind that these ‘councillors’ represent in many cases communes with three inhabitants and a cat).

TUSC (who are part of rival Trotsykist  tradition) sees to have joined this doomed path.

Great TUSC victory in Southampton

Keith Morrell has re-won his council seat Coxford, standing as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). Keith was previously kicked out of the Labour Party for fighting against cuts.

He has been decisively re-elected with 1,654 votes, 43%. This is a great result and vindication for his stand, alongside fellow rebel councillor Don Thomas, in opposing all cuts.

Ukip came second with 796 votes, Labour third with 724 votes, the Tories fourth with 500 votes, and Lib Dems last with 168.

The result has lit up the idea that fighting councillors can help build support for a real alternative to austerity. It is in sharp contrast to the close shave for Labour council leader Simon Letts who nearly lost his seat to Ukip after two years of implementing Tory cuts.

The devil is in the detail as they admit from the figures for 100 candidates they got a round total of ….

 50,000 votes.

Do the maths baby.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 25, 2014 at 10:39 am

Is this the Maddest Left Group Around? – CPB (M-L).

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“There is a budding morrow in midnight.”

Thus endeth the 16th Congress of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), London, November 2012 (Hat-Tip Abu).

It begins with the words,

“A crisis of thought, and of deed. Describing the parlous state of our bleeding country is insufficient alone.”

Indeed.

But,

“Great courage resides within our class, ingenious cowardice also…”

We could not agree more.

“Science must be at the centre of planning a new future for Britain in which all our resources, human and material, will be used for the needs of our people and not used to make profit for capital. In turn this means we must invest in science, teach it more thoroughly in schools and extend those world-beating University departments the government is so keen to undervalue.”

We are informed  that the leading cadres of the CPB (M-L) are science teachers in Free Schools.

Say no more.

The Party is firmly against the European  Union and says this in no uncertain terms,

“The EU is aided and abetted by quislings in our class who would rather supplicate in Brussels than struggle in Britain.”

Yet,

“We did not as a people heed the call we as a Party made in 1996 to use the breathing space we could see ahead with a change of capitalist government.”

We did not heed, indeed we did not.

There are some grounds for optimism,

“We should be especially proud of the assertion of Britain and industry represented by the Games’ opening ceremony, and in particular of its subtle defiance. It should be required viewing, and will reveal layers of ingenuity that moaning Thatcherite MPs have missed. The best use of £27 million for a long time.”

““There is a budding morrow in midnight.”

How true, how very true.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 13, 2014 at 9:55 am

Left Unity and its Future.

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http://www.leftfutures.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Left-Unity-e1361963011532.jpg

Left Unity: Advancing to What?

“If the Labour Party cannot be turned into a socialist party, then the question which confronts us all is, how can we form a socialist party? If we are not ready to answer this question, then we are not ready to dismiss the party that exists.”

Socialists and the Labour Party. Ken Coates. 1973.

“There are many formidable obstacles, which stand in the way of political renewal on the left. Yet such a renewal is necessary if an effective challenge is to be posed to the domination which the Labour Party exercises over the labour movement: nothing much by way of socialist advance will be possible until such a challenge can be effectively posed. This requires the formation of a socialist party free from the manifold shortcomings of existing organisations and able to draw together people from such organisations as well as people who are now politically homeless. By no means the least of its purposes would be to provide a credible and effective rallying point to help in the struggle against the marked and accelerating drift to the right in Britain.”

Moving On. Ralph Miliband. 1976.

“There is a saying on the British left that the only thing more futile than trying to transform the Labour Party into an instrument for radical change is trying to set up a viable party to the left of it”.

Left Unity or Class Unity? Andrew Murray. 2014 (1)

Polls indicate the xenophobic and anti-EU UKIP may get over 30% of the vote in May’s European election. Nigel Farage is not isolated. Marine Le Pen (also leading voting intentions) in France, the Austrian FPÖ, Wilders and the PVV in Holland, and others, many others on the populist extremes, have come to prominence across the continent. They appear on the crest of wave, with a projected electoral score of up to 25% gathered inside the EU. If there is radical shift in the political agenda it looks as if it’s being pushed from the fringes of the right. (2)

Faced with this prospect it may seem of little consequence that in November last year a small section (over 1,200 sub-paying members) of the British left formed a new party, Left Unity (LU). Left Unity’s creation began in March 2013 when Ken Loach, Kate Hudson and Gilbert Achcar, railed against the absence of a left agenda in national politics, “…Labour embraces cuts and privatisation and is dismantling its own great work. Labour has failed us.” (Guardian. 25.3.13) The wanted something paralleling other European radical left-wing parties “to fill the left space, offering an alternative political, social and economic vision..“The anomaly which leaves Britain without a left political alternative – one defending the welfare state, investing for jobs, homes and education, transforming our economy – has to end.” The call received thousands of on-line and other endorsements, 10,000 according to supporters

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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?