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What Happened to the Spartacist League ?

with 8 comments

Sectarian hilarity for the left-wing trainspotter! The UK Spartacist  League's papers from 1978-2011 now digitised and online – New Historical  Express

Gone but not Forgotten.

Is this true? Cdes will know of Ian Donovan, his bust up with Gerry Downing ( a decent geezer even if we have serious political disagreements ) when his anti-Semitism became too much to bear, and his threats of violence against people (e.g. me) and real violence.

“Ian Donovan, once of the BT, was a member around the the same time. He got involved in a “fight” between the female leader of the comp crew who wanted to step down from her position due to illness and the SLB leadership. McDonald and Len Meyers accused the woman of using illness as an excuse to abandon her revolutionary duties. To his credit Donovan tried to protect her. Consequently he was subjected to an intense and sustained barrage of abuse and ridicule which resulted in him suffering a severe nervous breakdown. Donovan lost his job and his home, and became incapable of looking after himself. Only his parents saved him from a life on the streets.

There is plenty more bizarre, and I mean bizarre, stuff here: and though it was posted earlier this year the stuff has only just got off the ground.

Whatever Happened to the Spartacist League ?

January 26, 2021 at 4:46 pm Years ago when I was a member of the Toronto branch of the Bolshevik Tendency, the assignment I hated most was having to go to Trotskyist League forums. We were banned from meetings of the Internationalist Socialists and whatever the Mandelites were calling themselves, but we were allowed into TL meetings. Unfortunately…

Some of the comments,

The Spartacist League was, at bottom, a personality cult of its founder-leader Jim Robertson.” In all sections all of the time? In the 80ies and 90ies in the German section for instance Robertson of course played a role. But not only he and not as a classical cult leader. To me therefore it came as a surprise that the ICL with all its sections collapsed all at once after prolonged troubles for years as could be seen. Now there seems to be no life in its membership anymore. At least one cannot see something like that from the outside

Steele raised the issue of the treatment of women within the SL, citing an episode he witnessed in London. While the ET/BT generally focussed on the provable, overtly programmatic departures of the Robertson leadership, we did touch on some of the seamier elements of life in the degenerating SL. In the ICL’s extended 2007 polemic against us, reprinted and rebutted in TB 5 referred to above, the SL complained:

“In May 1985, the BT published a highly inventive piece of reptile journalism worthy of the anti-communist ravings of Ayn Rand or Reader’s Digest, titled ‘The Road to Jimstown,’ smearing our party as an ‘obedience cult’ and spinning lurid, slanderous tales of political intimidation, ‘sexual groupies’ and internal corruption.”#

David ended up paying for his sins several years later when he became an example of what Steele reports as Robertson’s observation that the SL/B was “a place where the men cried and the women screamed.” In the first issue of 1917 we published an article entitled “The Robertson School of Party Building” (https://bolsheviktendency.org/2020/06/12/the-robertson-school-of-party-building/) which included the following eyewitness account of David’s humiliation at an SL/B London branch meeting in Autumn 1982. Perhaps Carl was in the audience at the time:

‘‘the SL/B, according to the international leadership, ‘was in pretty good shape.’ This characterisation held good right up to the August 1982 national educational. Then a few weeks later all hell let loose. The SL/B leadership it turned out was guilty of racism. From a healthy section to racism in a few weeks—this should make even the most dull-witted observer a little suspicious!

Written by Andrew Coates

August 17, 2021 at 4:51 pm

Posted in Sectarianism, Trotskyism

Tagged with , ,

Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW) to Participate in ‘Unite the Left” Initiative, “not without its problems”.

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The Resist! Event

The Rialto Theatre is a brand new theatre in the heart of Brighton. Set in a gloriously gothic grade II listed building; we’ll be showcasing the best of local talent in the form of cutting-edge new plays, music and comedy.

Dear *****

The steering committee of Labour Against the Witchhunt proposes to hold the next all-members’ meeting on Saturday August 28 at 6pm (for a maximum of 2 hours). We want to collectively discuss a number of important issues and our campaigning strategy for the next few months, including: 

1) Bans and proscriptions and how to fight them
Including an update from ‘Defend the Left’ campaign

2) ‘Unite the Left’ initiative
We have been invited to participate in this initiative. The steering committee has decided to participate, pending the final decision by this members’ meeting. We will hear an update about this initiative, which is not without its problems

3) Our plans at Labour Party conference 2021
We are encouraging as many comrades as possible to come to Brighton in order to participate in the ‘Resist at the Rialto’ events (please register at https://www.theresistevent.com)

Reading matter for Cdes attending these meetings,

The narcissism of small differences (Germander Narzissmus der kleinen Differenzen) is the thesis that communities with adjoining territories and close relationships are especially likely to engage in feuds and mutual ridicule because of hypersensitivity to details of differentiation.

The term was coined by Sigmund Freud in 1917, based on the earlier work of British anthropologist Ernest Crawley. In language differing only slightly from current psychoanalytic terminology, Crawley declared that each individual is separated from others by a taboo of personal isolation, a narcissism of minor differences

Many of us of course welcome the differences between, roughly, the CPGB (PCC), the Monster Raving Greenstein Party, Walker and Tina Werkmann.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 9, 2021 at 3:37 pm

News from the ‘Chatham House Left’: Will they invite LAW and LIEN to their ‘Unite the Left’ Conference?

with 3 comments


From this letter,


The Morning Star editorial description of Labour’s reintroduction of a proscribed list of left organisations as using a sledgehammer to crush “a small bag of nuts” was quite right.

The membership of the four groups picked on by the party’s rightwing NEC majority – Labour Against the Witchhunt, Labour in Exile Network, Socialist Appeal and Chris Williamson’s Resist – can probably be numbered in the hundreds, while what the right is concerned about is the hundreds of thousands who flooded into the party full of hope in Corbyn……


Who are these 25 (!) underground organisations? Some have previously said that some are believed to be linked to sections of the left involved in UNITE the union. If this report is true, such manouvres, do not inspire confidence about the democratic intentions of such a ‘Unite the Left’ conference. Socialist Appeal are a messianic sect as can be seen here: Marxism on the march worldwide: IMT Congress 2021 “The International Marxist Tendency is advancing, confident of the future and firmly dedicated to the struggle for socialist revolution”. And anybody who imagines that Walker, Greenstein in LAW, or Tina Werkmann in LIEN, are part of the future of the left should be treated with compassion if not pity.

Even this sad case, Skwawkbox, does not report on these doings. No mention of the Unite the Left event here: TWT fringe says it will act as ‘rallying point for a new left in Labour’ ‘Festival of ideas’ has support from ‘major institutions of the UK left’.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 6, 2021 at 12:30 pm