Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘SWP

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

In the Era of Wars and Revolutions. American socialist cartoons of the mid-twentieth century.

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http://lawcha.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/02-April-1945-Labor-Action-Carlo.jpg

 In the era of Wars and Revolutions. American Socialist Cartoons of the mid-twentieth century. Edited by Sean Matgamma. 

“Although in some places, notably in the Untied States, Trotskyism is able to attract a fairly large number of adherents, and develop into an organised movement with a petty Fuehrer of its own, its inspiration is essentially negative. The Trotskyist is against Stalin just as the Communist is for him, and, like the majority of Communists, he wants not so much to alter the external world as to feel that the battle for prestige is gaining in his own favour.”

George Orwell. Notes on Nationalism. 1945. ( Orwell and Politics. Page 355. Penguin 2001.)

In the Era of War and Revolutions publishes American left-wing cartoons for the most part long unavailable (even on the Web). They are largely from the papers of what became the Trotskyist American Socialist Workers’ Party, and their publications, such as Labor Action, the Militant, Socialist Appeal and New Militant, although there are some from the Communist Party (US), Daily Worker.

It is immediately striking that capitalists wear top-hats, and are corpulent. while workers are muscle-bound titans. No punches are pulled. Stalinism is a horror, American capitalism is embodied in Jim Crow and Lynching, As Sean Matgamma says in the Introduction, this is “clear and stark class-struggle politics, counterposed to both capitalism and Stalinism.”.

Orwell was simply wrong to say that Trotskyists were single-minded opponents of Stalin and Orthodox Communism. There  is an equal focus on capitalism, the 1930s struggles of the US labour movement, Fascism, and, as World War 2 approached, and was fought, imperialism.

It would have been useful to have outlined the political evolution of the SWP (US) and the publications in which the cartoons appeared.

Its opposition to American participation in the World War – the subject, or sub-text,  of many of the designs -  takes some explaining.

The SWP’s own supporters claim that (2008),

The Socialist Workers Party…… maintained the Marxist view that in the modern epoch there is no progressive wing of the capitalist class. The major industrialized capitalist rivals, dominated by finance capital—what Marxists term imperialism—are constantly driven to wars of conquest in which they try to redivide the world’s territories. The working-class vanguard, the party held, needs to explain the imperialist character of the war and why workers and farmers must oppose it, fighting instead for their own class interests worldwide.

Vanguard workers in the United States came under increasing attack as Washington sought to drum up a patriotic campaign in support of its war drive. The Smith “Gag” Act was passed in 1940, prohibiting the advocacy of “overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States.” Under this thought-control law, 18 leaders of the Socialist Workers Party and Teamsters Local 544 in Minneapolis were railroaded to prison for their class-struggle course in the labor movement, including opposition to the imperialist war. They spent between 12 and 16 months behind bars.

Not everybody, one suspects, will have much sympathy with that stand. Apart from the wider problems it raises it stood uncomfortably close to the US ‘isolationists’ of the period.

Yet Stalinism, for all Orwell’s cavils, is something that was rightly a major issue for the American Trotskyists. In the Era reminds us that there were people on the left prepared to speak their opposition, and dramatically illustrate it in their publications. That some of the SWP became so obsessed with the Soviet Union that they became what would be later be called ‘neoconservatives’ perhaps shows the difficulty of maintaining a Thrid Camp position.

The SWP itself still exists, a small group of property developers who continue to publish Trotksy and use their other resources to back Cuba.

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty are to be congratulated for publishing this material. It deserves a place on every socialists’ bookshelf. For this Blogger, who has only a passing familarity with the American left, it is a useful reminder of its rich past.

In an era of wars and revolutions, by Carlo and others, edited by Sean Matgamna. 312 pages, £8.99. To order by post, pay £8.99 plus £1.60 postage here.

More information from the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

********************

Note on some of the cartoonists -  Laura Gray (Slobe),

 From Labor Action.

Labor Action regularly published cartoons and caricatures penned by Jesse Cohen, who worked under the name Carlo, while the Militant ran graphics by Laura Slobe, whose party name was Laura Gray. Despite the new wave of public and scholarly interest in the history of comics and cartoons, neither Carlo nor Laura Gray has attracted much attention from historians of the graphic arts. Readers of this magazine might recognize Carlo’s work from the short profile we published in issue 37 (Summer 2004); now it’s Laura Gray’s turn.

Like Jesse Cohen, Laura Slobe attended high school in the 1920s, came of political age during the 1930s, and remained active on the far left after World War II. She was born in Pittsburgh, but grew up in Chicago, where she studied at the Art Institute of Chicago before working for the Works Progress Administration Art Project. As a young, avant-garde artist she concentrated her efforts on painting and sculpture, which remained her lifelong passions. She joined the SWP in 1942, and her first cartoon appeared in the Militant two years later. The labor journalist Art Preis later remembered that, “From the first, her work added such a fresh, bright, satirical note to the paper that it was enthusiastically hailed by our readers everywhere.” According to another SWP writer, “The cartoon’s subject matter was on the agenda of the Militant’s staff meetings. After the staff discussed and decided what the topic would be, Gray would go home and start to draw.” In addition to serving on the staff of the Militant, Gray “worked at a series of jobs to support herself, including painting store mannequins and creating window displays for some of New York’s big department stores.” She remained the SWP’s in-house artist from 1944 until her death in 1958. Tragically, she had contracted tuberculosis in her early twenties, and had a lung removed in 1947. She died after a brief bout with pneumonia.

Stalin 5

Written by Andrew Coates

April 9, 2014 at 11:35 am

SWP Facing Problems with Marxism 2014.

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Statement Regarding Marxism Festival 2014 and the Socialist Workers Party

11 March 2014 at 15:04

Trigger Warning: Discussion on rape-apologism

The Marxism Festival is the annual summer school event of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP). Our rejection of this year’s request to book rooms at the University of London Union for Marxism Festival 2014 is due to the fact that the Socialist Workers’ Party has, over the last year, proven itself to be a corrupt, rape apologist organisation which prides itself in creating an unsafe space for young women. As elected officers – like many others in the student movement – we see the SWP’s handling of rape allegations against a senior member as a despicable denial of sexism.

Here at ULU we have a clear policy which outlines a zero tolerance stance against sexual harassment and violence. We believe survivors of sexual harassment and aim to offer the best possible support we can. Last year we were angered that the SWP was able to hold Marxism 2013 here but we didn’t not have oversight on what type of organisations hired out ULU. ULU is first and foremost a space for student organisation and we aim to put the welfare of students first. We stated that we were going to bring in measures to ensure that democratically elected officers have powers over ULU conference bookings and we did.

At Marxism 2013, many students and mostly women activists, who attended in order to protest against the SWP, were submitted to verbal and physical abuse by members of the party. This only adds to our concerns for the safety of students at ULU when the SWP is present. Furthermore, criticism of the SWP leadership has been constantly silenced and suppressed at every turn and often met with violent behaviour as well as accusations that it is we who are sexist and sectarian.

The Socialist Workers’ Party has tried to silence any activist within the party who has tried to fight for justice for the women who have been victims of sexual violence at the the hands of the leadership. Instead of supporting those women, the SWP instead started a victim-blaming campaign and protected the perpetrator. To quote a member of the SWP “we aren’t rape apologists unless we believe all women tell the truth, and guess what some women and children lie”.

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.

Signed

Susuana Antubam (Women’s Officer)

Natasha Gorodnitski (Ethics & Environment Officer)

Maham Hashmi (Black Students Officer)

Thomas Ankin (Disabled Students Officer)

Andy Turton (LGBT+ Officer)

Facebook.

This is utterly, completely, wrong.

I feel strongly about this since I have been at left meetings held at ULU since the mid 1970s.

Ban one, then why not another?

This was particularly lame, they have “no wish to help support any growth in your oppressive organisation.”

Fuck me, lets look at some really oppressive organisations and practices  in some fucking oppressive countries.

Noteworthy are the signatures of the following added on the Facebook declaration:

  • Leah Edwards, Co-President Welfare & Campaigns, SOAS
  •  Fanni Rintakumpu, SOAS Feminist Soc
     
  • Resham Akhtar, Co – Women’s Officer – SOAS

So what about this?

(Feb 2014)

As members of SOAS Christian-Muslim Dialogue Society, we oppose your vilification and targeting of university Islamic societies including SOAS Islamic Society on the issue of gender segregation in their events.

We support the right of each student to act according to his or her personal religious convictions. For some, segregated seating serves these convictions and allows participation in mixed events. We support the right of SOAS Islamic Society to accommodate both segregated and mixed seating in any event.

We oppose the notion that segregated seating is somehow indicative of extremism, and believe this to be motivated by Islamophobic sentiments.

As members of a Society including Christians, Muslims, and individuals of other faiths and none, we stand with SOAS Islamic Society in this matter.

Or this?

A London university’s student union has come under criticism for allowing a pro-female genital mutilation supporter to speak at a debate on campus.

Haitham al-Haddad spoke at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on Monday, despite having previously publicly advocated his support for FGM.

In a video posted on YouTube, he lectures on the importance of knowing female circumcision in the UK is illegal and says there is a “proper” way of carrying out FGM.

“In some countries.. they do [circumcision] a way that cause harm for the female,” he says. “There are some statistics it can cause 25% death of females.. This is called the Pharaonic circumcision.. We are not talking about that. They cut extensively. That is harmful, definitely. But it is consensus of all the scholars that female circumcision is sunnah [proper].

The event was organised by the Islamic Finance and Ethics Society and although al-Haddad spoke about why lending money with interest is forbidden in Islam, several students voiced their concerns at the preacher being given a platform.

Nadje Al-Ali, professor of gender studies at SOAS, told The Huffington Post UK: “I am saddened and angered that the SOAS Islamic FInance and Ethics society had provided a platform for someone who can only be described as a preacher of hate and ignorance.

“Aside from his extremely problematic views on FGM, which would be challenged by most serious Islamic scholars, he is on record of making anti-semitic, sexist and homophobic remarks. Freedom of speech needs to be applied within the principles of not inciting hatred.

(19.2.14)

It might be interesting to see something Resham Akhtar’s Page about that!

Update: Nothing on SWP Marxism  page, literally nothing, no list of speakers to begin with, yet.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 12, 2014 at 12:33 pm

The American International Socialist Organization (ISO): Facing its own SWP Crisis?

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http://activistnation.net/index/wp-content/themes/directorypress/thumbs/ISOPic.jpg

Is the American International Socialist Organization (which was closely linked to the SWP) about to face its Comrade Delta moment?

Speculation is growing this morning.

Setting the cat amongst the pigeons the Charnel House  yesterday revealed this:

“Posted on social media by a member obviously embittered by the proceedings thus far, and by the ISO Steering Committee more generally.”

So this is how the ISO steering committee works, I guess:

If someone sends angry e-mails to an important Lenin scholar — start getting involved later that day.
If someone’s critical of the leadership and is late paying dues (or hasn’t paid “enough”) — send an e-mail saying he or she isn’t a member anymore.
If a member rapes someone — don’t do anything for over a year, hide this from most members of the branch in question, and take it to the disciplinary committee only after the rest of the branch finds out accidentally.
If someone leaks documents showing that the steering committee covered up the above-mentioned rape to “bad” socialists like Ross Wolfe — make snarky Facebook comments attacking the offending member for being disloyal.

Maybe they were just having another 3 margarita meeting!

The said Wolfie adds,

 Should be interesting seeing how they handled the SWP rape allegations coverup, also, especially in light of the way the ISO’s handled the reported rape offense within its own ranks as revealed by the 2014 documents.

You can download them below (NOTE: For members only)

Howie’s Corner helpfully posted,

Sexual conduct allegations emerge in International Socialist Organisation (USA)

The “Comrade Daniel” affair

It is in Pre-convention bulletin no 19 that we find the latest far-left scandal. This revolves around a certain “comrade daniel”.

Full story – as it stands at present -  here.

An allegation of violation was dealt with by the scandalous approach the SWP took in a similar case,

During the investigation, it was revealed that two members of the current (2013) SDBC had known a year 
prior that an accusation had been made, one of whom was also on the SDBC with “Daniel” at the time of
the incident (July 2012). As of July 2013, no one had spoken to the victim, no disciplinary action had been
taken against “Daniel,” no fewer than five San Diego comrades knew that there was an accusation,
including two members of the (2012) SDBC, and the ISOSC was also aware.* The accusation was not
investigated further in 2012, in part due to the way it was brought (also on Facebook), and the person
bringing it (also hostile to the ISO). People didn’t want to bother the alleged victim about it.

The document concludes that:

The primary failure in this situation was that no ISO member suggested or took the initiative to contact the victim directly to get her account of what had happened. This mistake was made by every member who was in some way aware that an accusation had been made, regardless of their position in leadership or their dedication to fighting sexism. We are not claiming that any ISO members acted in bad faith, but that is precisely the point: Even with the best of intentions, our established procedure produces huge failures.

As Howie comments: it is wrong that these groups still try to judge on these serious issues through internal investigations.

Shiraz Socialist comments, “Anyone with a lot of spare time there are tons of bulletins from the last four conferences of the American ISO (former comrades of the SWP)”.

For those who wish to further explore the ISO this gives an outline the spat that led to the British SWP “expelling” them from the International Socialist Tendency.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 9, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Alex Callinicos Tells off Richard Seymour.

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Gives Seymour a Ticking off.

In the latest International Socialism SWP theoretician Alex Callinicos assesses Grangemouth.

The dispute at the Grangemouth oil refining and chemicals complex in Scotland,was the union face up to one of the nastiest bosses in the UK,Jim Ratcliffe.

In a frank interview in Le Monde 16.12.13. (without parallel in the mainstream  British Press), Ratcliffe poured scorn on trade unions, British workers, high European taxes, European social welfare charges, and the fact that people resisted his closure plans.

He remarked that in America or China nobody would even think of fighting the proposal to shut down  a loss-making plant.

Defeating the company run by such an individual, backed by the Coalition, the enitre business world, and most of the media,  would take more than Grangemouth

Callinicos imposes his Party’s way of looking at this industrial dispute.

I lost interest in this account when the learned Professor began talking about UNITE as a union “which centralised power in the hands of the general secretary.”

Not that I know of: UNITE is a “member led” union.

This was pure bravado,

But, as Jerry Hicks’s impressive performance in last year’s election for the Unite general secretaryship showed, a significant minority of activists are open to taking a more militant stance. Unite the Resistance has an important role to play in gathering these activists together and enabling them to fight more effectively, sometimes in alliance with left-wing officials, sometimes independently of them.

Hicks, as vain as the leader of his Party, Respect,  is unable to  gauge political reality.

He discredited himself during the Grangemouth dispute by slagging off UNITE to the Murdoch press.

Sources indicate Unite the Resistance seems to have died a death, and the SWP is presently engaged in its latest frantic front, Stand up to UKIP.

Still there are some gems in this article – about comrade Richard Seymour.

Richard Seymour, who, since breaking with the SWP last spring, has been working overtime to widen the gap separating him from revolutionary politics.

Seymour is apparently guilty of seeing UNITE’s side of the story.

Indeed he is culpable of worse,

Seymour’s apologia for McCluskey implies a fatalistic approach to history. For all his extravagances and ambiguities, Slavoj Zizek is much closer to a genuine revolutionary Marxist approach when he says that “authentic politics” is “the art of the impossible-it changes the very parameters of what is considered ‘possible’ in the existing constellation.

Now Callinicos then mounts a defence of “impossibilism”,. That is a matter of testing the limits of the possible.

Or, we would suggest, making impossible demands in the hope that your small Party will snaffle up recruits from those who fall for them.

Callincios – probably rightly – notes of the group Seymour is now part of, Left Unity, will “struggle” to get a hearing.

But one wonder who will hear this?

It is in any case important that the SWP will survive this crisis. The Gadarene rush by much of the radical left to find excuses for McCluskey underlines the necessity of sustaining an organisation that simultaneously works in a non-sectarian way with other forces on the left and bases itself on clear revolutionary Marxist principles. Indeed there is a strong sense in which Grangemouth settles the debate between Rooksby and Blackledge over whether there is a practical difference between left reformism and revolutionary social.

Even fewer is our guess.

Though this “non-sectarian” article in the same journal (Once more on left reformism)which attacks everybody on the left, from The People’s Assembly, Counterfire, the International Socialist Group and the International Socialist Network, Left Unity, Syriza, Die Linke, the Front de Gauche, Richard Seymour (” innocent of any sense either of how social movements are terrains of struggle”), and, j’en passe, does indeed claim that, “To work with people to our right is an elementary and fundamental aspect of revolutionary politics…”

Bless. 

Appendix.

Seymour’s reply.

Now, the ‘Seymour’ who appears in the pages of the ISJ may occasionally say fragments of things that I have said, but otherwise any resemblance to a real person is almost entirely coincidental.  That ‘Seymour’, it has been suggested to me, is a manifestation of the unconscious.  Against this, corrections and clarifications are futile.  Still, just this once, for demonstrative purposes, I will state a bit of the obvious.

You know, it really doesn’t take a professor of politics at Kings to remind me that the class struggle is a war.  Nor even that Thatcher instituted neoliberalism through brutal class and social warfare.  One is not – how do you mammals say? – ‘thick’.  I even wrote something about this for a small quarterly journal once.

But Callinicos’s last sentence is puzzling, in that it suggests he isn’t at all puzzled by my last sentence.  He gets exactly what I’m talking about.  Outbursts of struggle are not in themselves sufficient to shift the balance of forces in favour of the working class or the left; you have to work on building up the infrastructure, the material conditions in which outbursts of struggle will have more chance of success.  This is actually made clear in the cited article from The Exchange, in the paragraphs immediately following those quoted, in which I say, among other things: “We need to begin a process of reconstructing class capacities, articulated with an equivalent process of rebuilding the left’s political capacities.”  

Not that opaque, surely?  And is the point in any way rebutted or qualified by stating (whether accurately or not) that the relative importance and effect of these conditions can “only be tested in struggle”?

If not, then the reason for the feint, and the non-sequitur, ought surely to be obvious.

If anybody can make much sense of the last sentence (or indeed most of this) please contact a very large dictionary. We assume it was quickly translated from the original Etruscan.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 8, 2014 at 11:51 am