Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Socialist Action Defends Russian Army’s Rights.

with 30 comments


Back Russian Troops!

Much of the European left has either adopted a balanced position on the Ukrainian crisis (democratic, not taking the “camp” of  the ‘West’ and Russia), or has tended to be over-enthusiastic about the Ukrainian Maidan movement.

The Tendance backs the former view and rejects the latter.

There are good reasons to be sceptical about the interventions of the EU and the USA in the Ukrainian crisis, and, at the same time,  to back democratic and social demands, without either supporting the new government in Kiev, or en bloc the crowds that forced regime-change.

There are some, nevertheless, who take Putin’s side.

Shiraz Socialist points out, there are still neo-stalinists still around who justify this in the following way.

George Mellor writes,

For today’s neo-Stalinist the world is divided into Western imperialism on the one hand and China, Russia and other states (like Iran and Venezuela) that broadly identify with them against the ‘West’ on the other. Their conclusion is that socialists must stand up for China, Russia, or, indeed, any state or movement (eg the Taliban) that finds itself in conflict with ‘The West’. Seeing the world through this lens has led them to support Russian imperialism against Western imperialism, turning them into Putin’s Foreign Legion.

One of the strangest of these ‘multi-polarists’ (as they would no doubt never call themselves)  is the group known as Socialist Action.

This was originally Trotskyist and democratic Marxist  (indeed some of them were comrades of the Tendance in the International Marxist Group back in the 1970s).

Associated with Ken Livingstone it has somewhat disappeared from sight in recent years (that is, since its members lost their highly paid jobs with Ken).


“Its members have maintained leading positions in many campaigns – the National Abortion Campaign, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, National Assembly Against Racism and various coalitions against the wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, for example. As a result, Socialist Action exert an influence beyond that which might be expected from so small a grouping.

Socialist Action has also participated in Respect – The Unity Coalition since the 2007 split in that party.Several of its supporters became members of the party and one serves as its national treasurer.”

Their present line is this.

The confrontation playing out in Ukraine is however not fundamentally about the rights of the Ukrainian people but is the site of a massive attempt by the US to drive back Russia and destroy the capacity for any force to challenge it at a global level.

Russia may not be a second superpower anymore, but recent events on Syria have shown that – especially when in alliance with China – it is still powerful enough to obstruct the US’s plans.

US imperialism will not tolerate any challenge to its global hegemony, however weak and vacillating.

It demonstrated that recently in Iraq, in Libya, in getting rid of Morsi in Egypt, its sanctions on Iran and its offensive against Syria. Therefore it has decided Russia must be fatally weakened.

The US is not interested in ‘democracy’ in the Ukraine – if it was it would not team up with fascists.

The people of Ukraine are just a tool in its attacks on rivals and challengers, which in this case is Russia.

Defending the rights of the people of Ukraine means defending the rights of the east to resist the imposition of a US puppet government over it, defending the right to self-determination even to secession for all regions that want it, and defending the right of the Russian army to come to the aid of the eastern regions to prevent Kiev enforcing its control.

If you want to hear more of the same opinions you can watch Galloway below.

Unimportant downdate: Lenny au pays des Soviets (Ukraine: against infantile realpolitik).

An epideictic ethopoeia (as Seymour could call it) on Lindsey German,

“But since the theory is impossible to infer from German’s polemic, it unfortunately comes across as facile opportunism, and any theory that does now emerge to bolster it – even should it direct us to seize the ‘key link in the chain’ – will tend to look like a post hoc rationalisation.”


30 Responses

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  1. Nothing to disagree with here Andrew. The element of the left that is SA and SU is still of the Imperialist conspiracy state of mind even to the extent that, obviously, the Ukrainian people don’t know they are being manipulated by ” The Conspiracy”. It is strange to think that this group of cranks once ran London under Livingstone.


    March 6, 2014 at 1:50 pm

  2. Still your obseesion is with

    But Shiraz Socialist have been amongst the most hardcore supporters of imperialist intervention in sovereign nations, and now with a less than sleight of hand, they suddenly change the rules and decry those who support Russia! This is just apology manifesting itself yet again. As I said before, decency is and is nothing more than imperialist apology.

    The fact that your source for analysis of Russian intervention is this discredited site says everything about you, and that you will forever be and will forever remain just another pro imperialist apologist.

    You have nothing else to offer guys, so don’t think for a minute your sudden embracing of the ‘balanced’ position cuts any mustard on the genuine left.

    Socialism In One Bedroom

    March 6, 2014 at 1:57 pm

  3. I though that The National Assembly Against Racism collapsed when Livingstone got the boot and the money ran out.


    March 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm

  4. On the National Assembly I was simply citing Wikipedia.

    Now if I gave free rein to what I have heard by word of mouth about Socialist Action…….

    Andrew Coates

    March 6, 2014 at 2:04 pm

  5. I heard from someone in Hackney that they used to have a printing establishment in Shacklewell Lane Hackney and were so paranoid, or full of self importance, that they though the state was watching them closely.

    They took it in turns to clean the offices as well as sleep in them and burnt unwanted correspondence as they were convinced that their dustbins were being taken away by special branch officers disguised as Hackney Council dustmen!


    March 6, 2014 at 2:49 pm

  6. I understood one SA article (maybe it was the same one, but i’m not opening their website again or I’ll have to clean my Wifi with bleach) on Ukraine as being about the “rights of national self-determination” of the Crimeans. It was basically (at least that part of it) a fair description of old-school Leninism.

    What struck me was that SA had a very different line when it came to Yugoslavia/Serbia/Kosova(o). If they weren’t such fans of “Islamophobia Watch” one might suggest they are only in favour of national self-determination for Slavs/Serbs/Russians and not for the likes of Muslims or Albanians. Or maybe they just like strong men with tanks and guerrila-like armies (who might have once been Proper Stalinists). Has Crimea got its own Arkan yet?


    March 6, 2014 at 2:50 pm

  7. I heard from someone who knew the core group that they were convinced that a whole section of Special Branch was devoted to them. They kept a permanent guard on their offices in Shacklewell Lane Hackney and destroyed all unwanted correspondence as they were convinced that Hackney Council dustmen were really Special Branch agents.


    March 6, 2014 at 2:52 pm

  8. Yes Socialist Action are really caught in a whole whirlpool of contradictions.

    Their position supporting China is ropey as well.

    Another is their new relationship to Respect.

    It would take a while to unpick that but one crisis may be coming up in Tower Hamlets.

    I notice in yesterday’s Private Eye that the BBC ‘s Panorama are about to do a investigative programme on Tower Hamlets and Mayor Lutfur’s regime.

    This may be of interest,

    “I was at the annual Private Eye/Guardian Paul Foot Awards for investigative journalism last night and naturally the conversation with some of the most celebrated names in the profession turned to Tower Hamlets.

    They’re all aware of what a basket case it is and how badly served its residents have been over the years by far too many councillors and officers.

    What some weren’t aware of was the culture at officer level to try and close down journalistic scrutiny.

    In the same way that Labour did for so many years, Lutfur’s administration seems to have successfully muzzled the influential Bengali media (and if Alibor Choudhury is reading this, I mean the British Bangladeshi media). The grant money and other council cash he’s chucked their way has probably helped. So too has the hiring of Channel S reporter Mohammed Jubair to work as his part-time adviser on “community media” (even the job title interesting, because Jubair doesn’t have any contact at all with the East London Advertiser).

    But there’s another issue. The frequency with which Takki Sulaiaman, the council’s £100k a year head of communications, rings the Advertiser to yell at impudent journalists is legendary, staff there tell me. He’s become something of a figure of fun there….”


    Andrew Coates

    March 6, 2014 at 3:04 pm

  9. I really don’t understand the seemingly internationally found (ex)-Stalinist (and I include Socialist Action in this, whatever their older history) line when it comes to Russia and everything Russian. The line is basically “non-critical support for almost everything Putin does”. What is the justification for this? It can’t be based on ideology. They like the Russian people? Is it about plain-old antiamericanism and sticking it to The Man Obama? If Putin described himself as a communist and claimed to be the Brezhnev of today, and also used all the imagery, and didn’t just have the old Soviet (Stalinist, Russian nationalist) national anthem but also the hammer and sickle flag etc., than I might vaguely understand it on one level. Can anyone explain?


    March 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm

  10. I spoke to someone yesterday who has been interviewed for the programme. He said they cut most of what he told them as they claimed it was libelous. It’s a mistake to think that Respect still exists. In Tower Hamlets their two councillors support the IFE/business group that backs the mayor. I have tried to explain to people that in the East End and Bradford the whole thing was about groups that were excluded from power organising under the guise of a progressive front.

    Do they still have a website and are they registered as a political party? I see that Rees, Galloway and Murray are calling for support for the rally against racism or whatever it is later this month with some new grouping. I always like it when there is a photo of the speakers table and not a shot of the claimed several hundred who turned up.


    March 6, 2014 at 3:42 pm

  11. It is quite incredible that the drone supporting left and people such as themadmullahofbricklane, who I can only describe as a complete bigoted anti Muslim racist (no wonder he is such a hit with the decents!), can speak about the position of one left group while being arch apologists for imperialism and decrying Russia for following the precedent set by imperialism during their phoney war on terror (somethinbg the drone supporting left were big sheer leaders for).

    You would think the decents would be taking a sober look at the utter poverty of their own position rather than attacking others, but those that think that do not know the very essence of decency!

    Socialism In One Bedroom

    March 6, 2014 at 3:50 pm

  12. You’re the only drone here at the moment, as far as I can tell.


    March 6, 2014 at 4:07 pm

  13. “Now if I gave free rein to what I have heard by word of mouth about Socialist Action…….”

    Go on Andrew – do it! You know you want to… 😉


    March 6, 2014 at 5:09 pm

  14. Dagmar,

    no amount of deflection will take away from the fact that for years the drone supporting left have been cheerleading one invasion after another by imperialism and now they have the audacity to reproach others for following their example!

    Socialism In One Bedroom

    March 6, 2014 at 5:49 pm

  15. Yeah, go Andy, go! Socialism in One Bedroom. Would it be too much for you to translate that into English? Watch the programme and you will see that the person I refer to is a Bangladeshi Muslim. I spend a lot of time with them and have many friends in that community. For all you know I might be a Muslim myself.


    March 6, 2014 at 5:52 pm

  16. SIOB, what are these drones you refer to continually? You seem to be obsessed wit them.


    March 6, 2014 at 5:53 pm

  17. Franzis: Andrew knows he wants to get sued, does he?


    March 6, 2014 at 9:26 pm

  18. This doesn’t really belong here Andrew but I thought it would amuse your readers. You referred to Lee Jasper’s non group Barac in an earlier article and mentioned that he wasn’t well thought of although you didn’t say why.

    Have a look at http://www.obv.org.uk in the article about race on the political agenda or some such nonsense. Jasper is in the front row in the photo wearing what looks like a gay liberation tie and a bowler hat. You couldn’t make it up.

    In case you are wondering why I am up so early SIOB it is for the first prayers of the day.


    March 7, 2014 at 6:07 am

  19. Reminds me a bit of Chris Eubanks, does Jasper have a monocle? (why hasn’t he gone into finance with a name like that)


    March 7, 2014 at 12:59 pm

  20. Explanations for Socialist Action’s development,

    Bob Pitt on Ross,

    “he reason why Ross wants to skirt around the Left Opposition’s real attitude to the NEP becomes clear when we reach his recommendations for an economic programme in the ex-USSR in the 1990s. As an alternative to the destructive course that has been adopted there, he advocates the policies pursued in China and Vietnam. “De-collectivisation turned the countries’ agriculture from shortage and even famine, to surplus”, Ross writes enthusiastically. “Chinese peasants have far exceeded Japanese industry in the rate of growth of productivity in the last decade. Small rural industry was thereby similarly created. China, whatever one thinks of its politics, is the greatest economic success story of the last decade.” Ross attributes this to the adoption of an agricultural policy which “might be termed the ’original NEP’”.17

    In the former Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe, according to Ross, it is impossible to say “at what pace, in what forms, and to what degree decollectivisation must proceed. But the rural economy must develop in that direction and towards the recreation of a rural petty bourgeoisie. This means that the limits on individual private agriculture must be removed”.”


    More of the mad (here, remarkably sane) Pitt,

    “Ken Livingstone: An insight from within the bunker
    By Andrew Gilligan Politics Last updated: November 26th, 2009
    5 Comments Comment on this article
    Redmond O’Neill, one of Ken Livingstone’s most important political aides at City Hall during the last mayoralty, died last month, an event which produced many strong and heartfelt tributes from senior figures. Tim O’Toole, for instance, former managing director of the Tube, praised his “kindness, his gentle soul and his rigorous mind.”
    A rather different perspective, however, comes from several of the less elevated GLA toilers with whom O’Neill dealt. This no-holds-barred piece by Bob Pitt, another former mayoral staffer, sheds light not just on O’Neill but on one of the broader weaknesses of the Ken administration. Pitt writes:
    “I know it’s not done to speak ill of the dead, but in the case of Redmond O’Neill, who played a prominent role in the London mayor’s office during the eight years that Ken Livingstone held power, I feel an exception should be made…
    “Having had some experience of working with him in the mayor’s office during 2004-8, I saw another side to O’Neill, namely the abuse and bullying of staff for which he became notorious at City Hall. It was the kind of behaviour you would expect from the worst sort of manager in the worst private sector company. Yet it took place under an administration that was supposed to be pursuing a progressive agenda and the individual responsible for this behaviour claimed to be a socialist…
    “This was why many staff at City Hall had mixed feelings about Ken’s defeat. They were sorry for Ken that he lost the election, and understood that it was a big setback for progressive politics in London, but they really didn’t want people like O’Neill coming back for another four years…
    “There are not a few PAs, portering staff and other non-political employees who actually find it pleasanter working under Boris Johnson’s administration than under Ken’s. On a one-to-one basis they are at least treated with some basic respect and civility, which is more than they got from O’Neill and those around him.”
    Pitt’s (accurate) thesis is that this treatment inspired many GLA staff to help me and others with our journalistic investigations, sorry “witchhunt”, into the Livingstone City Hall; and he makes a broader point about the politics of those around the then Mayor.
    O’Neill and most of Ken’s other key people were members of a Trotskyist sect, Socialist Action; and though the GLA’s policies were not Trotskyist, its centralist, controlling methods certainly were. As Pitt says:
    “The problem was that O’Neill and other individuals who had spent decades running a small Trotskyist group on that basis suddenly found themselves at the head of a much bigger and broader organisation, where they antagonised and repelled people by importing the arrogant, top-down, authoritarian culture that characterises the internal life of the far-left sect.”
    Pitt, a long-time member of the Left who now works for a Labour member of the London Assembly, simply cannot be dismissed as another evil member of the Right-wing lie machine. I agree with (almost) everything he says.”


    Andrew Coates

    March 7, 2014 at 1:04 pm

  21. Wasn’t Pitt, post-WRP, in the IMG with Ross, Pennigton, O’Neill et al?


    March 7, 2014 at 1:22 pm

  22. Bob Pitt apparently fell out with even the mad Trots who surrounded Livingstone. He is, so I am told by people who have met him, obsessional and his current obsession is Islamophobia. He runs Islamophobia Watch and is border line insane seeing conspiracies and plots everywhere.

    Mainstream Islam won’t touch him and he resorts to the extremes. Gilligan’s appraisal was some years ago and of course as Pitt was endorsing the then Gilligan campaign against Livingstone he was quotable. I think he was involved in that weird unit at Exeter Uni that he and that copper who was one of the undercover policemen exposed by the Guardian as being involved in infiltrating left wing groups. I’ll do more checking.


    March 7, 2014 at 3:32 pm

  23. Yes, Bob Lambert alias Bob Robison. He and Pitt were at the Muslim Affairs Unit at Exeter Uni. Lambert later headed the Muslim Contact Unit at the Met.


    March 7, 2014 at 3:52 pm

  24. Dagmar. Lee Jasper has been in finance for some time except it was defrauding the people of London through his phony black groups. For a man who claimed to be anti racist he refused grants to Asian organisations and the cash went to his African Caribbean mates. Apparently he is known as Lee Grasper!


    March 7, 2014 at 3:55 pm

  25. The funniest moment in Pitt’s career on Islamophobia Watch was the moment when he began citing Voltaire Network (Réseau Voltaire) to back his positions.

    He apparently thought it was a secularist site (it is notorious far-right/conspiracy theory/pro-Islamist when it suits them, now pro-Syria).

    This is an accurate description of a group that out does even Socialist Action’s politics,

    “With the pretext of resisting American Imperialism, lenience toward Chinese and Russian imperialisms and closeness with Islamists is symptomatic of a latent anti-Semitic drift among the direction.”


    Pitt has probably buried all trace of this.

    Andrew Coates

    March 7, 2014 at 5:11 pm

  26. Multipolarists in action,

    “Crimea joining the Russian Federation may the inevitable outcome to this crisis. If so, it should not come as a surprise. Indeed, there is a case for arguing that what is unfolding is a continuation of the realignment in Eastern Europe that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. The key difference between then and now is that Russia has recovered and is able to push back against western expansion, whether in the Middle East vis-à-vis Syria, or up to its own borders vis-à-vis Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine at present

    The sooner that Washington and its allies get used to the fact that the age of unipolarity is over the better it will be not only for the people of Ukraine but the entire world. Fukuyama was wrong. History doesn’t end, it flows inexorably.”

    John Wight

    Socialist Unity today.

    Andrew Coates

    March 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm

  27. One is tempted to ask John Wight. “So, f@#>ing what?”

    Sue R

    March 7, 2014 at 8:09 pm

  28. I agree Sue R. They are such an insignificant bunch you wonder why they bother any more.


    March 7, 2014 at 8:26 pm


    Richard Seymour is a busy man – in the last year alone he has organised a split from the SWP and then, in time-honoured fashion, a warp-speed split from the split. The former was over rape allegations, the latter over (I may not have this completely right) the analysis of a chair, a dominatrix and people generally being rude to one another. The class nature of the GDR no longer provides enough juice for far-left divisions, it seems, but their enterprise in finding new energy sources is admirable.

    Stepping out of this Wolfie Smith-comes-over-all-intersectional world, Seymour takes issue with Lindsey German’s article on the Ukraine crisis……….

    Andrew Murray, more here:


    Andrew Coates

    March 8, 2014 at 5:38 pm

  30. “They are such an insignificant bunch you wonder why they bother any more.”

    While ever there are disgusting racist scum like themadmullahofbricklane around, and drone supporting leftists turning every situation into apologia for imperialists, then I think they serve a purpose. Even though the drone supporting leftists are even more insignificant than the anti imperialist leftists. And it should be noted that the anti imperialist left far outnumber the drone supporting leftists. Both are insignificant granted.

    But the anti imperialist left – Flawed, maybe, necessary, absolutely!

    Socialism In One Bedroom

    March 9, 2014 at 12:32 pm

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