Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Archive for the ‘Marxism’ Category

James Robertson, Founder of the Sparticist League, and Progenitor of the Private Eye Columnist, Passes On.

with 2 comments

spart nk

Sparts’ British Supporters.

James Robertson, (born 1928) was National Chairman of the Spartacist League (US), the original national section of the International Communist League. Robertson is now, it is reported (Marxism List), a consultative member of the ICL’s international executive committee in the depths of Hades.

Contacted by this Blog the venerable scion Comrade Dave said,

Image result for dave spart

Julian Assange,  Aaron Bastani…and now Comrade Robertson, who has not been the victim of the racist declining British empire as it is smashed by the Spartacist League/Britain  which will honour his memory in our fights to build such a revolutionary workers party, one that stands as the tribune of the people in defending all the oppressed including the downtrodden. Building such parties internationally is part of reforging the Trotskyist Fourth International as the world party of socialist revolution.  As Trotskyists, we stress that just as workers in the US must defend their unions against the bosses despite the sell-out union leadership, the international working class, especially in the US, must stand for unconditional military defence of the Deformed North Korean Workers’ State against imperialism and internal counterrevolution.

Down with the Pabloite Revisionists!

Glory and Hail to the Memory of the Robertson Victorious Red Army!

Dave Spart: Chair of the Aldeburgh Climate Collective/Free Julian Assange, People’s Brexit Alliance.

Full accounts of his life and his passing, the public mourning,  and planned commemorative meetings have yet to appear.

For those who only know the Sparts from the celebrated offspring’s regular Private Eye Column the excellent Hatfull of History offers this introductory guide, which concentrates on their British activities.

Taking a break from writing book chapters and ARC proposals, I have been plunging into bizarre world of the Spartacist League (UK) through the recently digitised Spartacist Britain (1978-84) and Workers’ Hammer (1984-2011), made available online through the Riazanov Library Digitization Project and the Encyclopedia of Trotskyism Online. The Spartacist League were a breakway group from the Workers Socialist League (led by Alan Thornett) who had broken away from Gerry Healy’s Workers Revolutionary Party in the mid-1970s. The SL joined up with other Spartacist groups in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, forming the International Communist League – a version of the Fourth International that opposed the Mandelite Fourth International which the IMG belonged to. In his 1984 work, John Sullivan described the Spartacist League as ‘very unpopular’ and ‘increasingly unbalanced’ and are probably best known nowadays for their absurd defence of regimes such as North Korea (accompanied by unintelligible placards announcing their position – see here).

SECTARIAN HILARITY FOR THE LEFT-WING TRAINSPOTTER! THE UK SPARTACIST LEAGUE’S PAPERS FROM 1978-2011 NOW DIGITISED AND ONLINE

(Note if I could be arsed there is an issue which denounces ‘Bully Boy Coatesy’ to boot).

 

A guide is offered in the Bible, our look-up-to, As Soon as This Pub Closes. (1988) – one could update it at length, right to the recent expulsion of the Polish section (maximum 3 members, “ICL Expels Members of Polish Section. Statement by the International Executive Committee. 5th of April 2019).

THE Spartacist League (Sparts for short) are a colony of an American group of the same name who split from the American SWP in the early 1960s, when the parent group became Castroites, lost interest in the labour movement, and became ardent supporters of armed struggle (except in the United States, where guerrilla war is illegal). Consequently, the SWP fired Gerry Healy, who had been their British concessionaire up till then, made it up with their old enemies Pablo and Mandel, and created the United Secretariat of the Fourth International. Those, mainly in the SWP’s youth wing, who could not accept the change in policy were expelled and eventually became the Spartacist League. They tried to work with Gerry Healy, who the Sparts’ leader, James Robertson, recognised as a kindred spirit, but Healy demanded unconditional obedience and worship at his personal shrine. If the group was to escape from national isolation it needed its own International, so teams of missionaries were despatched to strike at the revisionists’ European base. Although less successful than the Mormons, they managed to recruit some natives and now have a group of about 60 people, which publishes a journal named Workers Hammer.

The Sparts’ complete parasitism on other groups makes them very unpopular on the rest of the left, so, regrettably, little attempt is made to understand the theory which explains their behaviour. The Sparts’ core belief is that, for the foreseeable future, it is impossible for revolutionaries to address themselves to significant sectors of the working class, as anyone open to revolutionary politics is already a supporter of one of the groups which falsely claim to be revolutionary. The key task of revolutionaries is, therefore, to win over supporters of these Ostensibly Revolutionary Groups (ORGs), by heckling their meetings and hoping to be thrown out. The Sparts will in this way achieve the primitive accumulation of cadres which is a necessary stage to be gone through before proceeding to a direct involvement in class struggle. The belief in the long slow haul is combined with the view that there is not much time left to build the vanguard party before the final struggle between socialism and barbarism. Such a theory may be contradictory, but it is necessary if the group is to maintain revolutionary fervour while confining its activity to a propaganda onslaught on the ORGs.

Surprise is sometimes expressed that such an introspective strategy comes from a group born in the stirring 1960s, heyday of youth revolt and the movement against the Vietnam War. Are the Sparts not too kind to the ORGs, in spite of continually bad-mouthing them? As usual, an examination of the group’s own history and political predicament will provide an explanation which eludes us if we confine our attention to the realms of grand theory where the Sparts would like to contain it. The core of the Sparts joined the SWP in the late 1950s, after splitting from Max Shachtman’s Independent Socialist League, a formerly Marxist organisation which moved rapidly to the right during the 1950s. Shachtman had split from the SWP in 1940 and ended up supporting the Vietnam War, so the young men who joined the SWP were accepting that that party embodied the revolutionary tradition. They were almost alone in joining what was already an ossified liberal sect, which is why they immediately dominated its youth movement and breathed some life into a decrepit structure.

When the Sparts found themselves outside the SWP, they had, in order to justify joining it in the first place, to construct a myth that it had degenerated recently. The contention puzzled other American leftists. Some of the old SWP members were loyal and dedicated comrades, but the party’s intellectual level was abysmal, it had hardly any industrial clout, and young people, apart from those who were to become the Sparts, saw it as an irrelevance. So did their younger sisters and brothers, when the anti-Vietnam War movement developed in the 1960s. James P. Cannon, the Healy prototype, who the Sparts continue to see as the American Lenin, retired from active leadership but retained political solidarity with the subordinates who replaced him. The SWP, after the departure of the Sparts, acted as handboys of the liberal Democrats in opposing the more radical elements in the anti-war movement. Our indigenous Sparts are carefully brought up in a myth which dates the SWP’s degeneration a decade-and-a-half later than the facts warrant. The contradictions in the Spart view of the movement’s history conditioned their inability to understand British politics, once they stepped ashore. The antics of the American SWP’s co-thinkers here were appalling, so the Sparts slated them mercilessly. On the other hand, the theory said that such groups embodied the revolutionary tradition, in however deformed a fashion, so the Sparts could not abandon them and search for a healthier corpse to feed off.

Why stick with such a contradictory theory and live in such a repulsive environment? It is a more intellectually satisfying variant of the Mandelite belief in the revolutionary potential of the flotsam of that milieu, and fulfils the same function of providing a justification for avoiding the working class. No one unfamiliar with American society can appreciate the enormous difficulty in maintaining a hold on reality in an environment where student radicals have to compete with Hari Krishna and Lyndon La Rouche, a former Spart who is now a leader of a Moral Majority sect. It is surprising, not that the Sparts are crazy, but that they are not even madder. The Sparts’ belief that the ex-Trotskyist movement was healthy until the 1950s allows them to avoid any discussion of the much more important discussions of the 1940s. They cannot help but be aware that the British section of the Fourth International, the Revolutionary Communist Party, was one of the healthiest and most working-class and that their hero Cannon helped in its destruction when he imposed his clone Healy as its leader. Consequently, their anti-British chauvinism seems like a mirror image of Militant’s patriotism. The Sparts’ fixation on their very individual view of history and their chosen field of operations limit their interests. They found it easy enough to outrage your average middle-class trendy by reiterating traditional Marxist views on such issues as Black and Female separatism. As unusually learned Marxists, they are well aware that the founding fathers’ views on Gay Liberation are even more shocking to many of those who consider themselves their followers, but they wisely decided not to press that point. [1] It is more difficult to extend this method to cover areas such as political economy where the trendies do not have a view. In any case, the Spart heart was not in this. Once the overriding aim to zap the ORGs is understood, everything else about Spart activity falls into place. For example, a revolt in South Africa is intrinsically less interesting than the wrong response of the Dutch or German Pabloites to that event. As illusions in Eurocommunism, feminism and the youth vanguard crumbled in the mid-1970s and the radical left was thrown into crisis, the Sparts hoped to benefit from the decline of their softer rivals. In practice, the collapse of that milieu had a calamitous effect on them in the early 1980s. When the dog dies, the fleas also die. Unused to developing the independent activity which was clearly necessary, now that there was not much meat on the ORGs, the Sparts lost most of their cadre in Britain.

Because many of the Sparts’ formal positions are more acceptable to labour movement activists than the lunacies peddled by their competitors, there is the danger that people outside the radical middle-class milieu will want to join them. To prevent the inevitable tensions which would result from recruiting working-class militants, reasonable positions are expressed in an intolerably harsh manner that works quite well. American ex-Sparts describe a very Healyite organisation where Robertson sits behind a steadily growing pile of empty beer cans carrying on a rambling drunken harangue interspersed with senile laughter, yet we have found Robertson charming on his visits to London. It is true that many of the leading Sparts go in for a macho-man image of guns and swords. The perfectly reasonable call for the abolition of the licensing hours is elevated to a central demand, and there are signs of a flirtation with Scots nationalism. As befits its American origin, the Sparts are individually competitive. New ideas are floated, and if successful their originators get promoted, while if the idea is found to be revisionist they are demoted. If you believe that she who lives by the sword will die by the sword, you have probably guessed the Sparts’ destiny. In the early 1980s, a group of veteran Sparts in the Bay Area of California, where they had their only toe-hold in the labour movement, defected. The renegades, who originally called themselves the External Tendency, had absorbed their Spart training well. They re-classified their parent group as an ORG and turned up to intervene at its meetings, carefully restraining themselves against attempts to goad them into violence. Innocents in Bootle or Lyon can hardly be expected to understand that the main purpose of all Spart literature is to discredit that tiny group in California.

Goaded by the External Tendency, the Sparts became increasingly unbalanced, and now agree with the despised Pabloites that a wave of sexual repression is sweeping over Britain. If the External Tendency (now known as the Bolshevik Tendency) are able to smuggle a colonist with the requisite ethnic qualifications past Thatcher’s racist immigration police, so that she or he could do to the Sparts what they do unto others, they would lose control completely and go the way of the Healyites and accuse their rivals of working for the CIA. The Bolshevik Tendency is an extremely small flea, but its bite could well prove fatal.]

See also: (1964), EXPULSION LAID TO TROTSKYITES; Socialist Workers Accused of Arbitrary Actions

 

The Socialist Workers party the American Trotskyite group, has been accused of expelling members solely “on the basis of opinions,” allegedly for the first time in its 35‐year history.

The charge is being circulated by the expelled members, led by, James Robertson and Geoffrey White. Mr. Robertson is the editor of a new 16‐page bimonthly, Spartacist, started here by the ousted group; Mr. White is the West Coast editor.

Mr. Robertson said in an interview last week that “more than a quarter of the membership,” including Mrs. Myra Tanner Weiss, former Vice Presidential candidate, and Arne Swabeck, a founding member, had opposed the expulsions last December although many disagreed with the opinions of the expelled group.

Farrell Dobbs, national secretary, has declined to comment on the charges, circulated in a Spartacist edition of 2,000 copies, according to Mr. Robertson.

Mr. Robertson asserted that past expulsions had been based on actions outside the party. He cited the ouster of Max Shachtman and James Burnham in 1940 after they began operating an independent publication.

While the Socialist Workers party does not make known its membership, Mr. Robertson estimated it was down to about 500 members nationally. A subscription drive recently brought its weekly publication, The Militant, up to perhaps 7,000 to 10,000 subscribers, he estimated.

The Trotskyites’ policy flows from the world Communist program of the late Leon Trotsky. The party is currently running a Presidential ticket headed by Clifton DeBery, who Mr. Robertson said was Mr. Dobbs’s sonin‐law. Mr. Dobbs polled 40,165 votes as party candidate for President in 1960.

Mr. Robertson said that five members of his so‐called Revolutionary Tendency group were expelled by the national committee on Dec. 28 on charges of having a “hostile attitude.” He said the five were not granted “the formality of a trial.”

Another, he said, was expelled by the New York local on Feb. 13 for having picketed Queen Frederika of Greece “without prior consultation or approval.” Five more, he went on, were expelled by the local last Thursday on charges that included their having voted against a report branding his group “a hostile faction.”

Mrs. Weiss voted against the latest expulsion on the ground that the party should allow “different democratic interpretations” even though she opposed the Robertson group politically as “sectarian and ultra‐leftist.” Those expelled are demanding readmission and could appeal to a national convention.

The Revolutionary Tendency group was formed in 1961, The Spartacist said, in response to what it called the national committee’s “surrender of all Marxist responsibility toward the Cuban Revolution through abasement as an uncritical apologist for the Castro regime.”

The group asserted this had been repeated with regard to the Ben Bella regime in Algeria. Most recently, it contended, the majority engaged “within the United States in a will‐o’‐ the‐wisp chase after Black Nationalism.”

Of those expelled, Mr. Robertson said, the oldest was Mr. White.

Mr. White, 37 years old, is a former chairman of the Communist party of Rhode Island. He resigned from that party in 1957 after Premier Khrushchev’s disclosures of Stalinist terrorism.

Mr. Robertson said that Mr. White then joined the Socialist Workers party and polled 2,000 votes as its candidate for the City Council in Berkeley, Calif., Jast year.

Mr. Robertson said he himself was 35 and had joined the Communist party in California at the age of 18 in 1946. From 1949 to 1957, he said, he belonged to Mr. Schachtman’s Workers party, called the Independent Socialist League in its later days, and then he joined the Socialist Workers party.

Advertisements

Written by Andrew Coates

April 12, 2019 at 4:24 pm

Shambling Towards Shambles: Brexit, Alex Callinicos and the Socialist Workers Party.

with 2 comments

Image result for alex callinicos

“If a breakthrough to the left occurs in a particular country, this would indeed require a left government defying the EU and introducing a programme of controls over the economy.”

Alex Callinicos.

Shambling towards the precipice Alex Callinicos.

International Socialism Issue 162. April the 8th.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 10, 2019 at 11:44 am

Counterfire, John Rees, So-called Marxists and Brexit.

with 6 comments

Image result for john rees with george galloway

“Genuine Marxists” with their one-time Best Friend.

Amongst many other things Brexit has divided the left.

The Parliamentary Labour Party, and the large number of people in Britain who have left-wing politics, from social democratic ideas, left liberalism, green politics, and all the varieties of democratic socialism have seen different views on the European Union become the burning political issue of our time.

The Marxist left has also been split.

What seemed like the majority view of both the non-Labour Leninist left and – it was assumed – the Labour left was a position extremely  hostile to the EU. Tony Benn had even described the UK as a “colony” of the EU, and this flight of fancy was not his alone.

The Referendum showed that there was a strong section of the radical left, including those who identify with the Marxist tradition, who stood for a Remain Vote. Today many are organised in the campaign, Another Europe is Possible, whose support goes from the Labour grass-roots group, Open Labour not far from the Party’s centre, the Green Party, to the Party’s Left, the democratic socialist Chartist, supporters of Momentum, to more radical groups, such as Socialist Resistance and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty. Left Unity has also given its backing to Another Europe. From Another Europe there is equally Labour for a Socialist Europe, which produces valuable material relating to Party debate. The allied initiative, Love Socialism Hate Brexit, has attracted Labour MPs, like Clive Lewis and Lloyd Russell-Moyle.

The Lexit, pro-Brexit, Left, has grouped around The Full Brexit, an alliance of Family Faith and Flag Blue Labour, sovereigntists, The Communist  Party of Britain, Spiked contributors , the odd maverick Green, and supporters of the Revolutionary Socialist Counterfire. The Full Brexit’s recent troubles over Eddie Dempsey, and, now Paul Embery, opponents of “rootless cosmopolitans” illustrate the difficulties many on the left would have in working with this body, let alone its anti-EU politics.

Now, from the above Counterfire, ignoring such mundane issues, John Rees offers the left a masterclass on Marxism.

Marxists, so-called Marxists, and parliamentary socialists

He begins by citing this,

The only sensible reaction to the accusation by the Tory right that Jeremy Corbyn is “a Marxist“ is the one that Karl Marx himself gave. In response to some of his own would-be followers in France he said: “all that I know, is that I am not a Marxist”.

Marx was referring to Jules Guesde the leader of the French ‘Marxist’ tendency which became the Parti Ouvrier, and, after another name change, eventually became, in 1905, part of the first substantial french socialist party, the : Section française de l’Internationale ouvrièreSFIO.

A little further down Rees gives another “famous quotation” from Engels, on French socialism to support his politics,

“We have never called you anything but ‘the so-called Marxists’ and I would not know how else to describe you. Should you have some other, equally succinct name, let us know and we shall duly and gladly apply it to you.”

He states of this (Engels To Paul Lafargue At Le Perreux. London, 11 May 1889)

What was it that produced such a scathing remark from Engels? It was the idea, current among Marx and Engels’ French supporters, that support for reforms was just a trick meant to lure workers into more radical politics once they had seen such demands fail.

Marx and Engels would have none of it. They took seriously the demands for reform that arose from the working-class movement and inscribed them as basic demands in their own programme. They wanted them achieved because they knew that both the struggle to attain them, and any successes that were achieved, would strengthen the working class movement in practice and ideologically.

Rees, to put it simply, is  misleading. The exchange had a meaning only within its time of writing and does not refer to “reforms” in general.

Engels’ letter was in the context of one of the divisions that marked, and still mark, French socialism, and international socialism. That is between those who stand for internationalism, what would now be called universal human rights, and those tempted by National Populism.

This arose during the “Boulangist Movement” and the letter is about the ambiguous attitude of Marx’s son-in-law, who had expressed sympathy  for this nationalist upsurge.

Mitchell Abidor offers and excellent introduction to this episode, a mass movement around Georges Boulanger, a former general in the French army, General Boulanger and the Boulangist Movement.

The movement that had grown around Boulanger’s name was perhaps the first of its kind, a combination of royalists, Bonapartists, Republicans, socialists, and Blanquists. If it resembles any movement in this strange mix of followers it is Peronism, which was also able to attract followers from all ends of the political spectrum around the figure of a general. And like Peronism, Boulangism was able to do this because it can justly be said of the man at the heart of it that, like Gertrude Stein’s Oakland, there was no there there.

It is hard not to see some modern parallels,

Populism, nationalism, defense of the rights of workers; everything was in place for the birth of the movement that would bear the general’s name.

And,

From 1888-1889 Boulanger went from victory to victory, winning elections in seven different districts. Blanquists, the most intransigent of revolutionaries (but who were not immune to the temptations of nationalism and anti-Semitism) , were to say that with Boulanger “the revolution has begun,” and that Boulangism is “a labor of clearing away, of disorganizing the bourgeois parties.” So close were the ties between the extreme left and Boulangism that the police were convinced that secret accords had been drawn up between the two forces. And though the official Blanquist bodies were split as to how far they’d go in following Boulanger, it is a fact that the Boulangist movement’s strongest electoral showing was in the Blanquist strongholds in Paris. Indeed, throughout France, it was in working class centers that Boulanger garnered his greatest successes.

The Engels text in full reads,

We have never called you anything but ‘the so-called Marxists’ and I would not know how else to describe you. Should you have some other, equally succinct name, let us know and we shall duly and gladly apply it to you. But we cannot say ‘aggregate’, which no one here would understand, or anti-Possibilists, which you would find just as objectionable and which would not be accurate, being too all-embracing.

It continues,

What we need are letters from Paris, sent direct to the Star, bearing the Paris postmark and refuting the Possibilist calumnies which appeared in Saturday’s and Tuesday’s editions, namely, that Boulé’s election campaign was run on Boulangist money, that Vaillant had acted as an ally of the Boulangists, etc. I should say that you could do this perfectly well without ruffling your newly-found dignity as the one and only Catholic Church in matters connected with French Socialism.

Apart from Engels notably not criticising Lafargue’s misguided enthusiasm for Boulanger, what else does this refer to?

It is first of all, about the Guesdist tendency’s war with the “possibilitists” of Paul Brousse leader of the  Fédération des travailleurs socialistes de France and with Édouard Vaillant a former Commmard, and ‘Blanquist’  elected a Municipal Councillor in 1884 in Paris

Engels backed the desire of his friend for an independent workers’ party – unlike the Possibilistes, and by extension municipal socialists of all stripes,   who turned from intransigent socialism and  were ready to compromise with the Parliamentary (and Municipal)  Republican left in order to achieve reforms.

But this leaves open the issue of what position should have been taken to Boulangism, a view, which Lafargue  was, unfortunately, to clarify further in a far from progressive direction.

As Abidor says,

We can multiply the number of quotations from those on the left who either supported Boulangism or refused to openly or uncompromisingly oppose it. Paul Lafargue, the great socialist leader and theoretician, who in 1887 wrote a bitingly mocking article on Boulangism, also wrote to Engels that “Boulangism is a popular movement that is in many ways justifiable.” The followers of the other great Marxist if the generation, Jules Guesde, wrote that “the Ferryist danger being as much to be feared as the Boulangist peril, revolutionaries should favor neither the one nor the other, and shouldn’t play the bourgeoisie’s game by helping it combat the man who at present is its most redoubtable adversary.”

He continues,

But not everyone on the left was willing to go along with or refuse to block the Boulangist juggernaut. Jean Jaurès wrote that Boulangism is “a great movement of socialism gone astray,” and the Communard and historian of the Commune P-O Lissagaray was a motive force behind the Société des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen, which was formed to combat Boulangism and defend democracy, uniting in the group socialists, republicans, students and Freemasons.

This episode is described in greater detail in Les Hommes Révoltés. Les Origines Intellectuelles du réformisme en France (19721 – 1917) Emmanuel Jousse. 2017. Pages 150 – 152.

The campaign against Boulanger “« empêcher la réaction césarienne. » (halt the Caesarist Reaction!) attracted the support not only Paul Brousse and Vailliant  but the radical left ‘Allemanists” of Jean Allemane a trade unionist,  and veteran of the Paris Commune exiled to hard labour in New Caledonia, and Prosper-Olivier Lissagaray, the author of the still valuable History of the Paris Commune of 1871, an event in which he participated.

In other words, the salt of the earth.

After Boulangism dispersed, left supporters of Boulangism were still churning out books justifying their alliance.

Pàtil-Emile Laviron claimed that the anti-Boulangist campaign has meant an alliance with the parliamentary establishment and neglect of the class struggle (“Oubliant leur principe de la lutte des classes, ils entrèrent dans la coalition parlementaire des radicaux et des opportunistes. Boulangisme et Parlementarisme.” 1888)

In Les antisémites en France : notice sur un fait contemporain 1892  Mermeix (Gabriel Terrail) claimed that right-wingers and anti-semites were merely ‘infiltrators” in the movement. The General had popularised the ideas of socialism, (“Le général Boulanger a donc puissamment aidé l’esprit public à évoluer vers le socialisme”).

This may not help sort out the ‘genuine’ Marxist sheep from the reformist Goats, but it does raise some contemporary issues about national populism and anti-antisemitism…

In some respects one can that an alliance against a serious hard-right nationalist project, Brexit, springs to mind….means marching with, though not supporting, a variety of groups with this goal, though not others, in common.

It is hard to tell, but one could ask if more than one section of the Full Brexit would have had some sympathy with General Boulanger. who stood for the “real” France, the “real” workers” against the cosmopolitans.

What would Galloway have done…..?

Written by Andrew Coates

April 9, 2019 at 12:51 pm

Alain Badiou criticises the “réactionnaire” Gilets Jaunes movement: “tout ce qui bouge n’est pas rouge”.

leave a comment »

Image result for badiou gilets jaunes extreme droite

Something has kept me away from the movement of the Gilets Jaunes: it is the overwhelming presence, the constant return of the  cheerless tricolore  flag,..” Alain Badiou.

A few months ago it was announced that Badiou was to have an op-ed article on the Gilets Jaunes published in Le Monde.

We were watching out for it like ‘awks.

But it appears that the French Daily would not publish it, something about Badiou being virulently rude against Alain Finkielkraut in another article («Le Monde» a-t-il «censuré» un texte d’Alain Badiou sur les gilets jaunes ?)

In the weeks that followed we lost interest, largely because something was happening in the UK that readers may have heard of.

But now Cde Google informs us that the text had found a publisher.

ALAIN BADIOU : LEÇONS DU MOUVEMENT DES « GILETS JAUNES »

Alain Badiou, March 10, 2019

“Un proverbe d’autrefois dit que « tout ce qui bouge n’est pas rouge ». Et pour le moment, du « rouge », dans le mouvement des gilets, qui certes « bouge », il n’est pas question : je ne vois, outre le jaune, que du tricolore, toujours un peu suspect à mes yeux.

An old proverb says that “everything that moves is not red” (that is, not every political groundswell is on the left…Note). And for the moment, “red”, amongst the Gilet Jaunes movement, certainly “moves”. That is certain. But I see, in addition to the yellow, only the tricolore, which is always a bit dubious in my eyes.

Badiou considers the Gilets Jaunes’ upswell as a protest against the difficult lives of those in rural or sub-urban areas, the result of the erosion of public services,  the way that real incomes have not kept up with the times,  tax systems which weigh upon these parts of the population, and the hard lives of women who also have to raise a family.

In France there is are deep rooted reasons for discontent in the working middle and lower middle class, particularly in the provinces. Deindustrialisation and real pauperisation have gone along with the present, Macron-led, ‘modernisation’

The Gilets Jaunes are thus a reaction of classes threatened by Macron’s policies and the constant wavew of austerity/modernisation. They can be viewed in Marxist terms as the cry of despair of those threatened with losing their relative status in a ‘globalised’ world. But they are not forward looking. “The individual members of this class…. constantly hurled down into the proletariat ” look to the past, to their lost security, and demand that a better past be restored.

As traditional political organisations, of the left and the right, have not been able to channel this discontent, the Gilets Jaunes’ “spontaneous” response has been hard to pin down.

This is Badiou’s sketch:

..on pourrait appeler la subjectivité de ce mouvement un individualisme populaire, rassemblant des colères personnelles liées aux formes neuves de la servitude aujourd’hui imposée à tous par la dictature du Capital.

one could call the subjectivity of this movement a popular individualism, gathering together the personal anger related by the new forms of servitude today imposed on all by the dictatorship of Capital.

This does not mean the Gilets Jaunes are’ fascists’ (though one can remark that this reaction involves supporters of the far-right, from Marine Le Pen’s party to the ‘ultras). Badiou dismisses this talk from what he calls (with all the moral authority of a former apologist of Pol Pot), “renegade” intellectuals. This is just “infiltration”. Oh, and “crypto-fascist style of “the people against the elite” and, hey, the wild rumours (notably about The Media) circulating on social networks…

Which – all reports confirm – is widely taken for “truth” against “fake news”.

Yet the legitimacy of reacting to Macron’s neo-liberal policies does not make the Gilets Jaunes left-wing.

There are two fundamental tendencies in politics, those in favour of capitalism, and those, under the names of socialism and communism, which have challenged it.

In what sense are the Gilets Jaunes, harking back to the security of the post-war settlement, aligned with socialism or communism?

Les gilets jaunes « combattent la Bourgeoisie », comme le dit Marx, c’est vrai. Mais ils le font pour restaurer un ordre ancien et périmé, et non pour inventer un nouvel ordre social et politique, dont les noms ont été, depuis le XIXe siècle, « socialisme », ou, surtout, « communisme ».

“The Gilets Jaunes fight the Bourgeoisie”, as Marx would  say. That is true. But they do it to restore an old and outdated order, and not to invent a new social and political order, whose names have been, since the nineteenth century, “socialism” or, especially, “communism”.

Some further salient extracts when Badiou gets more serious and tackles those who would see in the movement a revolutionary challenge to the system:

“Of course, the ultra gauches, the anti-fafs, those who’ve woken up after (the movement) Nuit-debout, those who are always on the lookout for a “movement” to get their teeth into, the loud-mouths of “the coming insurrection”  (l’insurrection qui vient, the name of an ultra left neo-situationist  manifesto) , celebrate the GIlets Jaunes’  democratic proclamations (in fact, individualistic and short-sighted), introduce the cult of decentralised assemblies, and imagine that they will soon redo the capture of the Bastille.

“But this attractive carnival fails to impress me: these movements have led everywhere, for ten years and more, to terrible defeats, paid very dearly by the peoples. Indeed, the “movements” of the last historical sequence, from Egypt and the “Arab Spring” to Occupy Wall Street, from the latter to Turkish Squares, from this  to the Greek riots, from  the Indignados…Nuit Debout…seem to ignore the implacable  historical laws that govern the world today….

Nothing is more important, in the present moment, than to have in mind the lessons of this sequence of “movements”, Gilets Jaunes included. They can be summed up in a single maxim: a movement whose unity is strictly negative, either will fail, often giving rise to a situation worse than the one that at its origin, or it will have to be divided in two, by the emergence of a creative surge, and within it, an affirmative political proposition which is really antagonistic to the dominant order, and supported by a disciplined organisation.

Sticking the knife in further Badiou talked of the Gilets Jaunes as a reaction of “old France” under threat in a recent book, Méfiez-vous des blancs, habitant du rivage  reviewed, here: Alain Badiou. Changer de peuple.

One can genuinely see that the State, in the service of Capital, has deserted the old provincial world, ageing, suburban and colonial. One can understand  the nation-wide, archaic, reaction of part of society whose small privileges are menaced.

His  hostility to the demonstrators brandishing of the Tricolore  is strong,

 Quelque chose m’a tenu écarté du mouvement des « gilets jaunes » : c’est la présence massive, le retour constant du triste drapeau tricolore, dont la vue, à chaque fois m’accable, et d’une marseillaise que trop de nationalismes fascisants ont entonnée pour qu’on se souvienne encore de son origine révolutionnaire.

Something has kept me away from the movement of the Gilets Jaunes: it is the massive presence, the constant return of the  cheerless tricolore  flag, whose sight, always overwhelms me, and of the Marseillaise which too many fascistic forms of nationalism have bellowed out for us to remember its revolutionary origins.

Back to the Op-ed (above) Badiou’s counter-strategy looks in the line of radical socialism.

…without massive incorporation of new proletarians, the Gilets Jaunes can not represent, as such, “the people”. This people, would be reduced to the nostalgia for its lost social status of the poorest sections of the middle class. Today, in politics, “the people”, the mobilised crowd must have a strong and central contingent amongst the nomadic proletariat of our suburbs, the proletariat from Africa, Asia, Europe of the East, Latin America; it must show clear signs of breaking with the dominant order.

Change is above needed,

First in its visible signs, like the red flag instead of the tricolore…..and in its demands,  the minimum requirements that must be claimed, for example, include  the total cessation of privatisations and the cancellation of all those sell-offs that have taken place since the mid-eighties. The main idea is to have collective control over all means of production, the entire banking system, and all public services (health, education, transport, communication)….

LEÇONS DU MOUVEMENT DES « GILETS JAUNES is beautifully free from Badiou’s ontological speculation. If you can get over the attacks on everybody – and I enjoyed those against the ‘ultra-left’ those out to fish for souls for their revolutionary projects – Badiou has retraced the path to some fairly robust ideas about reviving collectivist and universalist demands…..

There is nothing of this in the just published interview on the Verso site:  Allegiance to Macron is largely negative! Alain Badiou interviewed about the Gilets Jaunes, Macron and future of the French left.

The explanation is simple: the  original date of the article was Interview with Julien Le Gros, 17 December 2018 Translated by David Fernbach.

Less explainable is why Badiou’s numerous fans in the English speaking world have not reacted to the wise words of the ‘post-Maoist’ sage, which many will be tempted to call undeniably sane.

A clue, again, may lie in the way he lays into  Occupy! and other movements.

A pitiful reply from admirers of L’Insurrection qui vient on the site Lundi Matin, which mixed sub-Badiou ‘metapolitical’ ontology and Jacques Rancière’s devotion to the role of the “part of those of no part” in generating ‘dissensus” to accuse him of pointless irrelevance,  was published at the end of March: Jacques Fradin. QU’AURAIT PU DIRE ALAIN BADIOU DES « GILETS JAUNES » ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

April 6, 2019 at 12:54 pm

Communist Party of Britain (Morning Star) Denounces “Saboteur” Labour MPs and Calls for Hard Brexit, “on World Trade Organisation terms .”

with 8 comments

Image result for A people's brexit

Be Vigilant! Communists Warn of Labour MPs’ “sabotage” against Brexit on April the 12th on World Trade Organisation terms.

Communists condemn ‘saboteur’ MPs and demand April 12 EU exit

3rd of April.

Monday evening’s votes in the House of Commons confirm that a substantial number of MPs remain determined to bind Britain as closely as possible to the EU and its rules and institutions if they cannot stop Brexit altogether.

These MPs show utter contempt for the EU referendum result – the biggest democratic vote in our history – and make a mockery of their past pledges to ‘honour’ the decision made by a clear majority of voters.

A majority of MPs have no genuine disagreement with the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement which ties Britain to the EU Single Market in most goods, keeps us permanently aligned with the EU Customs Union through the unnecessary Irish ‘backstop’, maintains EU Court of Justice sovereignty in large areas of economic and social policy and pledges to pay the EU at least £39bn in a bogus divorce settlement.

However, a substantial number of these are also holding out in the hope of locking Britain permanently into a customs union or overthrowing Brexit altogether in a second referendum that would exclude a real exit from the ballot paper.

Tragically, many of these would-be saboteurs are Labour MPs who put their loyalty to the EU above any loyalty to democracy, popular sovereignty and the Labour Party.

Many are opposed to the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and have no concern that by painting Labour as an anti-Brexit party they are jeopardising the prospects of a left-led Labour government. Some openly support the possibility of an all-party ‘national government’.

The priority now must be to allow Britain to exit the EU on April 12 on The priority now must be to allow Britain to exit the EU on April 12 on World Trade Organisation terms and secure an early General Election and a Labour victory.and secure an early General Election and a Labour victory.

That government would then be free to carry out Labour’s left and progressive policies, which include aid for manufacturing industry and mutually beneficial trade agreements with European and developing countries.

What, some wreckers and saboteurs might dare to ask, is a Brexit on WTO terms?

Brexit: What is the ‘no deal’ WTO option?

One of the terms that keeps cropping up in the Brexit debate is “the WTO option”.

If the UK left the European Union without a deal, it would automatically fall back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

So what would that mean?

First, the basics. What is the WTO?

The WTO is the place where countries negotiate the rules of international trade – there are 164 members and, if they don’t have free trade agreements with each other, they trade under “WTO rules”.

Which are?

Every WTO member has a list of tariffs (taxes on imports of goods) and quotas (limits on the number of goods) that they apply to other countries. These are known as their WTO schedules.

The average EU tariff is pretty low (about 2.8% for non-agricultural products) – but, in some sectors, tariffs can be quite high.

Under WTO rules, after Brexit, cars would be taxed at 10% when they crossed the UK-EU border. And agricultural tariffs would be significantly higher, rising to an average of more than 35% for dairy products.

The government has set out its plans for tariffs in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Its temporary schedule would mean that 87% of imports by value will be tariff-free, compared with 80% before Brexit.

There will be some protection for companies producing cars in the UK, farmers producing meat and the UK ceramics industry. The government has attempted to balance the benefits of free trade in getting cheaper products for consumers, with protecting the livelihoods of some UK producers.

Some groups, which claim to be on the left, still cling to the idea of a “People’s Brexit”.

The Full-Brexit supporting Counterfire publishes today this;

Neoliberalism and Brexit: why Brexit is about more than just Brexit

“Brexit is about more than just Brexit” says Dragan Plavšić, “it’s about the wider crisis of neoliberalism and the long-diminishing authority and standing of the British state and ruling class.”

However, if Corbynism is indeed to be true to the discontented mood shift of which it is the most authentic expression, then it has to advocate a Brexit – a People’s Brexit – that provides a future Labour Government with the necessary freedom to undo the destructive and devastating effects of forty years of neoliberalism. A People’s Brexit is therefore the only real alternative to the neoliberals who wish to leave the EU or remain in it. A general election is feared by them all; the sooner we have one the better.

Most people will have forgotten what a ‘People’s Brexit’ was ever meant to be – and Plavšić does not enlighten us in this reheated rhetoric.

But Counterfire has published articles arguing that WTO rules are better than the EU’s,

“The WTO Red Herring

WTO anti-subsidy provisions are a completely different kettle of fish from EU state aid rules – being far narrower in their scope, far less stringent in their implementation and fundamentally different in how they operate.

The radical case against the single market is no myth February 2019. Reuben Bard-Rosenberg.

So the ‘left’ Brexit or People’s Brexit camp has adopted versions of the Tory ‘Hard Brexit’ position, with the UK negotiating free trade deals with other states through the World Trade Organisation.

There is the minor problem that not only does this prospect go against present Parliamentary votes,  Labour policy, and the views of nearly all but the fringe of the fringe of the Party, but that it runs up against this prospect:

UK cannot simply trade on WTO terms after no-deal Brexit, say experts

The UK will be unable to have frictionless, tariff-free trade under World Trade Organization rules for up to seven years in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to two leading European Union law specialists.

The ensuing chaos could double food prices and plunge Britain into a recession that could last up to 30 years, claim the lawyers who acted for Gina Miller in the historic case that forced the government to seek parliament’s approval to leave the EU.

It has been claimed that the UK could simply move to WTO terms if there is no deal with the EU. But Anneli Howard, a specialist in EU and competition law at Monckton Chambers and a member of the bar’s Brexit working group, believes this isn’t true.

Walks Outs by “ultra-left and sectarian” Spanish and Portuguese Sections in Growing Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) Split.

with 3 comments

Image result for socialist party CWI militant

Socialist Party in Split with “ultra-left and sectarian” Spanish and Portuguese Sections.

It seems as if the international far-left is undergoing some serious splits.

The American International Socialist Organization, which is known to the present site for some serious political articles over the years), has dissolved.

THE ISO’S VOTE TO DISSOLVE AND WHAT COMES NEXT

MEMBERS AND recent ex-members of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) have decided to dissolve the organization and end publication of SocialistWorker.org over the coming weeks, but also to support several working groups and initiatives going forward, and to work toward continued collaboration in rebuilding independent revolutionary socialist organization.

These decisions followed a week of online voting that ended March 29 on nearly two-dozen proposals put forward ahead of an all-member conference call on March 24. Nearly 500 members, participants in disaffiliated branches and recently resigned members took part in the vote.

The decisions came in the wake of a severe crisis in the ISO after information surfaced about a horribly mishandled sexual assault accusation in 2013. An independent disciplinary committee at the time came to the conclusion that an ISO member had clearly violated the organization’s code of conduct and should be expelled, but the 2013 Steering Committee interfered with the committee’s work, overturned its decision and effectively

Meanwhile the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), best known for its British section, the stridently pro-Brexit Socialist Party, and which has yet to produce any serious political articles, is undergoing a split of its own.

It seems that in its dispute with the Irish group SP leader Peter Taaffe has found himself in the minority.

This is latest (April the 2nd).

Statement from the ‘In Defence of a Working Class Trotskyist CWI’ Faction to all members of the CWI

Dear comrades,

At the meeting of the International Faction in London held on 27-28 March the Spanish and Portuguese delegations unfortunately walked out of the meeting. In a final declaration JIR made the completely false assertion that they were being excluded from the Faction because they had raised political differences.

At this meeting a series of important political differences arose. This followed a telephone conference which was held between the entire Spanish EC and members of the IS Majority on Friday 22 March. At the meeting comrades from Spain raised a series of differences relating to method, the decisions taken by the leadership of the England and Welsh section at the recent congress of their section and also a clear declaration of important differences relating to the analysis of the CWI regarding the lowering of socialist consciousness following the collapse of the Stalinist regimes and the consequences this had for the international workers’ movement at the time along with the extent to which these effects are still present today.

At the end of this telephone conference JIR made clear that these issues were of critical importance to the Spanish leadership. It was agreed that they would be discussed in more depth at the Faction meeting in London. This was done on the first day. In the debate important differences emerged in relation to socialist and political consciousness, the consequences of the collapse of the former Stalinist states and the analysis we have had on Venezuela and some other issues which JIR stated were fundamental questions. During his intervention JIR argued that these questions had not been sufficiently discussed during the process of unification and that the comrades had been “deceived”, something which is completely false. He declared that these issues would be reported back to a special Spanish CC meeting which would then decide on its attitude towards the Faction.

In informal discussion following the meeting between the Spanish, Portuguese comrades and Phillip Stott (Scotland) Clive Heemskerk (England and Wales) and Tony Saunois (IS Majority) JIR made clear that these differences were fundamental and implied that the comrades would recommend to the Spanish EC and CC that they leave the Faction. He also stated that this would mean it would make no sense to remain in the CWI.

It was agreed that he make a formal statement of the situation to the Faction meeting the next day. At that meeting he was asked to make such a statement and argued that firstly Peter Taaffe should reply to the discussion. This was not acceptable as the content of the reply would partly be dependent on the declaration made by JIR.

This approach by JIR was a continuation of the ultimatist approach which unfortunately has been the approach adopted by the Spanish leadership throughout the CWI factional struggle. JIR eventually made a declaration protesting against the alleged methods used in the meeting and falsely claiming that the comrades were being excluded from the meeting because they and the Portuguese delegation had raised political differences. As Tony Saunois was responding to this declaration, refuting the allegations made by JIR, stating that we were prepared to continue the discussion on these issues the Spanish and Portuguese delegations walked out of the meeting.

The members of the Faction at this meeting reject the false claims that the Spanish and Portuguese were excluded for raising political differences.

At the meeting it was clear that the Spanish and Portuguese delegations were arguing in our opinion from an ultra-left and sectarian standpoint. The International Faction is involved in a political and theoretical struggle against the opportunist capitulation represented by the Non Faction Faction. However, in conducting a principled defence of the methods and traditions of the CWI against this trend we are not prepared to paper over or mask important political differences with the sectarian approach adopted by the Spanish and supported by the Portuguese leadership for the sake of opportunistic expediency in the factional struggle within the CWI. The Faction openly discusses political issues and, unlike our opponents, we do not hide any disagreements that may arise. The Faction was formed to defend a principled Trotskyist approach in opposition to opportunism within the CWI. Now a sectarian ultra-left trend has also emerged which we will also politically oppose.

Signed:

Tony Saunois, Bob Labi, Clare Doyle, Niall Mulholland, Senan Uthaya (International Secretariat);

Peter Taaffe, Hannah Sell, Judy Beishon (International Secretariat and English and Welsh EC);

Paula Mitchell, Clive Heemskerk (English and Welsh EC);

OKSascha Stanicic, Micheal Koschitzki (IEC and German EC), Angelika Teweleit (German EC);

Christine Thomas (IEC and Italy EC);

Phillip Stott (IEC and Scottish EC).

Further material available here: More documents from the CWI faction fight

From Trainspotters – the texts are now in the public domain.

The sentence, “The International Faction is involved in a political and theoretical struggle against the opportunist capitulation represented by the Non Faction Faction.” already looks headed for the annals of classical Marxist quotations.

American Socialist Worker, “a momentous convention devoted to addressing the organization’s unaccountable leadership structures and a damaging internal culture.”

with 11 comments

Image result for international socialist organisation

 

As the British pro-Brexit Socialist Party’s ‘international’, the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) appears to be disintegrating amid a dispute with the Irish group, the US International Socialist Organisation (ISO), which produces its own Socialist Worker (often a source of real news and serious analysis) is in trouble.

There are reports of acrid exchanges on Facebook and other social media.

From above which is publicly viewable:

I’ve been a member of the International Socialist Organization for 19 years and it’s time for me to speak some truth. It has recently come to light that Joe Richard, elected to our leadership body this year, raped someone in 2013. Instead of expelling him, Sharon Smith, author of “Women and Socialism”, and Nicole Colson, a leading contributor on gender oppression to Socialist Worker, covered it up and protected him. Luckily, Sharon and Nicole were not elected to leadership this year and Joe is no longer in leadership now that this has come out. I don’t yet know who else knew about this in our leadership when this happened.

The same year, in San Diego, it came out that a comrade who I had been friends with for many years, Chuck Stemke, attempted to rape someone. Another longstanding member, Avery Wear, protected him. It took other people outside of the organization making it public for Chuck to be expelled, but Avery is still a member.

I joined the International Socialist Organization because I wanted to fight for the liberation of women, of all oppressed people, and of the working class. I have fought within this organization for justice for survivors of sexual assault. At the same time, I have accepted or gone along with many destructive practices of keeping information internal (or among a select few) and enforcing ideological purity. Those practices have been harmful, particularly to people of color in the organization, women, and trans comrades. I am going through a process of grappling with what that means for me and how to make amends and build in a better way.

Because we have elected almost all new leaders and I trust a number of them to clean house, I am remaining in the organization for now. There is a lot to answer for. Some people need to be expelled. Some people, who were in proximity to the disgusting cover-ups, need to be removed from all leadership positions. A handful of people who were in leadership then remain on leadership bodies now and I think that might need to change.

There is a possibility that I will face backlash and/or disciplinary consequences in the organization for making this information public before our leadership bodies have decided to do so. I have determined that it is far more important for everyone to know what has gone on, than it is to protect my own standing or follow bureaucratic procedure. I firmly believe that any organization existing in our deeply racist, sexist, and exploitative society will face situations like these. The test for us is how we choose to respond. Many left organizations have fallen apart because they failed to root out sexism and racism from within. I am choosing to put everything out on the table because I think it’s the only chance we have to build a left that can change our world for the better.

The ISO has not responded in the attempts at papering over the difficulties, that is, following the way its |(former) British counterpart did to the Comrade Delta crisis.

A MESSAGE TO OUR READERS

 

THE INTERNATIONAL Socialist Organization (ISO), publisher of Socialist Worker, is in a deep crisis whose immediate cause is the exposure of a 2013 sexual assault case that was horribly mishandled by our national leadership at the time. Last Friday, Socialist Worker published a public version of the letter written by our recently elected Steering Committee to ISO members regarding the revelation and initial steps that had been taken in response.

The news about the 2013 case came shortly after a momentous convention devoted to addressing the organization’s unaccountable leadership structures and a damaging internal culture that had a disproportionate impact on people of color and others with oppressed identities. The convention resulted in a thorough change in our national leadership and a commitment to chart a new direction so the ISO could be more engaged in struggle and with the new socialist movement.

In the convention’s aftermath, many ISO members felt a mixture of hope, pain and uncertainty. Those feelings have been replaced by ones of rage, despair and betrayal. Some have felt they can no longer be a part of the ISO. Those who remain recognize how difficult it will be to reckon with this crisis and all the damage it has done.

Certainly, there is a shared understanding among all that the only future for the ISO begins with a frank and searching discussion. So regardless of what the future brings, the main goal of Socialist Worker in the coming weeks is to be of service to current and former ISO members and the wider left by providing a platform for socialists to grapple with the many issues that have led us to this point.

It’s unclear at what pace these articles will appear. We plan to begin this process with contributions from current or recently resigned ISO members, and we won’t rush those into publication. So as much as we want SW become a forum for continuing discussion and reflection, we can’t yet say how regularly we will be running articles in the coming days.

More via above link.

See (from the present blog (2014): The American International Socialist Organization (ISO): Facing its own SWP Crisis?

One can only commend the ISO’s present open approach to these issues.

LETTER TO THE ISO MEMBERSHIP

The International Socialist Organization’s Steering Committee sent this letter to members about a deep crisis in the ISO. We are sharing it publicly here on SW. We have edited it slightly to be published on a public website and have added updated information.

THREE WEEKS ago, the ISO held its most important convention (translator’s note, National Conference), which was also its most painful. Much of the convention was devoted to reckoning with the damaging impacts of our past practices and internal political culture. As branches have reported back and opened up these discussions, more examples of a damaging political culture have come to light. This brief letter from the new Steering Committee (SC) was written to update comrades on those incidents and on timelines with respect to mandates voted on by Convention delegates, while offering some thoughts on how to proceed.

As this letter was being drafted, the SC (as well as several members of the National Committee (NC) and several socialist feminist allies) received a document from a former member (FM from here forward) on March 11, detailing the ways in which the 2013 SC had badly mishandled an allegation of rape in 2013. Moreover, the document explained that the respondent in the allegation had recently been elected to our SC at this year’s convention. FM was on the National Disciplinary Committee (NDC) that originally heard the case. FM’s account has been corroborated by other members of the NDC at that time who remain active members of the organization. We are grateful to FM for having taken the time to write this and reach out to us. FM also copied on the e-mail allies outside of the ISO whom we have worked in socialist-feminist and queer activism.

The SC held an emergency meeting on Tuesday night, and then a joint meeting on Thursday night with the NC and other members, including members of the National Branch Council ad hoc organizing committee, the survivors’ caucus and the #MeToo commission, to begin a discussion of the implications of this document and what next steps need to be taken. Here are some of the immediate steps we have taken:

 We immediately responded to FM and to the allies who were copied on the e-mail to thank FM for sending it, informing them that we would be sending it out and discussing as a leadership, and stating that we take this very seriously.

 On Tuesday, after SC members asked that the respondent identify himself and resign, he did, voluntarily resigned from the SC and said he would take a leave of absence. The SC voted to suspend him and stipulate that a decision would be made on his membership status later.

 On Thursday, the joint meeting of the NC, SC and other members agreed unanimously to expel the respondent according to the original decision of the NDC. In addition, the meeting voted to suspend from membership three members of the 2013 SC directly involved in the outcome of the case, while a complete investigation of what happened in 2013 takes place. The meeting also voted to suspend from a position on any leadership body any member of the 2013 SC, along with a recently elected NC member who had played a role in undermining the work of the NDC, for the duration of the investigation.

 We now need to empower a body independent of the current SC that can investigate the conduct of the 2013 SC and other participants in that 2013 process. Whether that should be the recently formed #MeToo commission, the NDC or some other body still needs to be determined, but will be soon.

 Another joint meeting of the same participants this weekend will continue the discussion and develop a process for a further public statement. It will also be discussing how to create spaces for membership-wide discussion. All members are invited to a meeting via conference call that is being set up for Monday.

 A member from Portland is organizing a support call for survivors or others triggered by this document. A survivors’ caucus is being formed and resources for survivors are being collected.

The document from FM is very clear, and rather than editorializing, we will leave comrades to assess it for themselves. We will be writing much more and providing space for analysis and discussion of what took place, lessons learned from it and what needs to change in the coming weeks. We believe it speaks both to failures of our political culture that we have identified as well as failures to adequately address the needs of survivors, a lack of understanding of the dynamics of rape and sexual assault, and the failure to create a process that could prioritize doing our best to determine the truth of what happened over bureaucratic proceduralism. This is not separate from the issues we have been reckoning with and the culture we are fighting to transform — though this experience is a particularly acute and devastating manifestation of this culture. There is no way to move forward from this without the utmost honesty and critical assessment.

The rest via link above.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 20, 2019 at 11:57 am