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City of Ghosts: from Syria to Europe and the fight against the far-right.

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Image result for City of Ghosts

City of Ghosts was shown on BBC 4 last night.

This moving documentary about a group of Syrian activists, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.  (RBSS)

The hopes of an Arab Spring resounded in their home, the city of Raqqa in the north of Syria. Protests against the Assad regime were countered by violent repression. The arrival of ISIL, in April 2014, the country’s branch of  Islamic State, was followed by the rule of their version of Islamic ‘law’. There were public beheadings, firing squad executions, mock crucifixions and  Volkish placard shaming.

At great risk to themselves RBSS opposed the take-over in the only way they could. They reported and filmed undercover the regime of what became the de facto capital of Daesh.

The documentary showed images of clandestine protests against Daesh and the slaughters the jihadists committed. Perhaps the most disturbing moments were when the new rulers tried to bring the young into their fold. “Children are Isis’s firewood” they said, and we saw a band of joyful babes and youngsters following a bearded fighter chanting their hate. A near-infant was filmed being trained to stab and behead on a large teddy bear.

This backdrop confirmed the worst scenes in Peter Kosminsky’s The State.

Many RBSS activists left the city, though they kept a core group of courageous witness inside Raqqa.

They used social media and the Net to broadcast their message. ISIL devoted a great deal of time to trying to search their supporters out.

In May 2014, Al-Moutaz Bellah Ibrahim was kidnapped by ISIL and murdered. In July 2015, ISIL released a video showing two men being strung up on trees and shot. Though ISIL claimed the two murdered men had worked with RBSS, one of the founders of RBSS denied they were members. Another friend of the group was similarly executed. Hamoud al-Mousa, the father of one of the group’s founders, was killed in ISIL custody. On October 30, 2015, RBSS activist Ibrahim Abdul Qadir (age 20) and his friend Fares Hamadi were found stabbed and beheaded in Urfa Turkey. It was the first acknowledged assassination outside of ISIL controlled territory. (Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently)

The sight of Hamoud al-Mousa’s execution, followed by that of the same RBSS activist’s brother’s murder, being watched in a safehouse in Germany was harrowing.

City of Ghosts deserved the highest awards.

But above all the activists of RBSS, merit the greatest respect we can possible give to other human beings.

Avoiding fruitless debate about the essential nature of ‘Islam’ one of them says,

“It is not my Islam”.

Europe.

Towards the end of the documentary there were scenes in which the Syrians were  confronted by  the German far-right Pegida calling for the removal of refugees.

There was also  commentary on the actions of Daesh in Europe, including the Bataclan massacre.

This opens up the issue of how we should both support the fight of groups of democrats like RBSS and combat the racist far-right.

With the Tommy Robinson campaign in Britain this has become an issue of burning importance.

People have noted that the groups Stand up to Racism and Unite against Fascism are dominated by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) (“Both these groups are front organisations of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and receive their political direction from its leadership.”  Socialist Resistance)

In 2014, as Raqqa fell to the genociders Socialist Worker published this article by Hassan Mahamdallie, co-director of the Muslim Institute.

There is resistance to this frenzy of Islamophobia

The beheading of US journalist James Foley by the Islamic State, formerly known as Isis, was horrific. But is the Nigerian military slitting the throats of 16 young men and boys any less horrific?

Or last week’s Israeli air strike that blew to smithereens the wife and seven month old son of Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif? Surely that was horrific and disturbing too?

..

In the 1930s radicalised young men from the same mining communities illegally made their way into Spain to take up arms against general Franco’s fascist army.

It must have been the fault of their Welsh Methodist upbringing.

But Howells’ drivel was modest fare compared to the truly millennial frenzy that was gathering pace.

In authentic End of Days tones, US secretary of defence Chuck Hagel said Isis represents “an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else.

“They’re beyond just a terrorist group. This is beyond anything we’ve seen, so we must prepare for everything.”

I much preferred the response of the spokesperson from south east London’s Lewisham Mosque.

The press asked him to condemn a tweet from a woman “Jihadi” in Syria who might have once attended the mosque.

He retorted, “The young woman’s desire to travel to Syria has nothing to do with the Centre. Unfortunately, the Muslim community are being subjected to a burden of proof based on a ‘guilty by association’ standard”.

He rightly attacked the press’s demand, as “loaded with an Islamophobic assumption that Muslims by default condone such brutality”.

It was good to see someone refusing to bow to the frenzy, a spark of resistance in a very dark week.

There was much in a similar vein, from the SWP and groups such as Counterfire, understanding the ‘radicalisation’ of those who volunteered to be part of Einsatzgruppen and concentrating their fire on the prospect of Western intervention in the civil war.

Unlike RBSS their criticisms of the Assad regime was fairly muted.

This ambiguity continued.

When Charlie Hebdo (12 deaths) and the Porte de Vincennes Hypercacher (5 deaths)  attacks took place  in 2015, the same forces took it upon themselves to understand why this “blowback” against France in general and the ‘Islamophobic” satirical weekly took place. Charlie “had it coming to them”. Counterfire railed against ” a crude and absolutist fetish of free speech”.

These people are unable to confront violent Islamism.

With such a tainted history these groups have no moral authority whatsoever.

There are many many people on the lest who do not back groups which fail to take a resolute stand against the jihadist Islamism, and against Assad.

The fight against Robinson’s supporters, many (from the Clarion to Socialist Resistance) suggest, should come from the mass organisations of the labour movement and the Labour Party.

We cannot unite around  “defeating fascism” as Lindsey German puts it, until we have a clear view that the violent jihadists and the mouvance around them, with roots in Europe as well as the Middle East and the Maghreb,  are also enemies of the far right.

And we need to back the Syrian democrats, whose heroism is so powerfully illustrated in City of Ghosts.

 

 

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

June 12, 2018 at 10:37 am

Sovereigntists say, “Reject Reject Starmer’s Single Market u-turn” and “Fight for a Socialist Brexit.”

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Image result for socialist brexit cartoon

‘Socialist’ Brexit. 

Editorial of the Socialist (Socialist Party), issue 960

Reject Starmer’s Single Market u-turn

Where is the ‘workers’ Brexit‘ that Jeremy Corbyn spoke about during the general election campaign in this plan? Where is the promise to reject the EU rules which place barriers in the way of nationalisation *- like that of the railways and energy companies promised in Corbyn’s manifesto – or which say that companies’ right to make money trumps workers’ right to strike? As explained in an article in the last issue of the Socialist: “From its inception [the EU] has aimed to drive through neoliberal, anti-working class measures in order to maximise the profits of the capitalist elite.” This is a fact that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have long argued too.

At the behest of the capitalist class they are openly collaborating with pro-EU big business MPs in all parties, including the Tory Party. If it is not countered Starmer’s announcement will be a significant victory for these pro-capitalist, neoliberal forces.

The Socialist Party says,

Fight for a socialist Brexit. Organise a campaign with European socialists and workers’ organisations to use the Brexit talks to tear up the EU bosses’ club rules. For a new collaboration of the peoples of Europe on a socialist basis.

This was the last collaboration they went in for, a pro-Brexit  beano organised  in Paris on the 28th of May 2017  by the tiny Trotkyist Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID), and attended by people from the British Trade Unionists Against the EU. POIDS’s 64 Candidates for the French legislative elections this year on an anti-EU platform received too small a vote to resister. Their leader, Daniel Gluckstein stood in the Presidential contest in 20012 and got 0.47% of the ballot in the first round.

 

The Socialist Workers Party joins in the cry,

The left in Labour can put forward a left wing vision for Brexit.

That has to involve extending freedom of movement, ending austerity and privatisation—and opposing the single market.

Meanwhile the Workers  Revolutionary Party opines,

Smash Labour’s right wing coup attempt – Leave the EU at once!THE Labour Party leadership has moved to sell out and stab the Brexit referendum result and the working class in the back.

Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, has turned the office into its opposite. It has become the Office for Remaining in the EU at any cost, and by any method. Starmer wants to agree a transitional period that is ‘as short as possible but as long as is necessary’ in which the UK will remain in the single market, the customs union, and remain bound to pay financial levies to the EU, and also obey the jurisdiction of the European Court for that indeterminable period.

In a further move that will delight many pro-EU Labour backers, Jeremy Corbyn’s party at the end of the transitional period may decide to remain in both the single market and the customs union!

Starmer got the agreement of the Labour leadership and key members of Labour’s shadow cabinet for this coup last Thursday, according to both his and Corbyn’s office. His policy makes the sell-out of the Greek workers by Syriza seem even heroic – Labour is collapsing before the battle has even been joined!

……


Pro-EU MPs and activists within the Labour Party are now mobilising. MPs Heidi Alexander and Alison McGovern have published a motion for members to submit for debate at next month’s party conference in Brighton. This says: ‘The Labour Party is serious about protecting jobs, tackling austerity and defending the rights of workers and consumers, so staying part of the customs union and in the European Economic Area is a no-brainer.’

Starmer wrote in the Observer: ‘That is why a transitional period under Labour will be as short as possible, but as long as is necessary. It cannot become a kind of never-ending purgatory. That would simply create its own uncertainty and ambiguity… It must be based on a deal that, as Labour made clear in our manifesto, retains the benefits of the customs union and the single market. How that is ultimately achieved is secondary to the outcome.’ The outcome is remaining in the EU.

Workers in the Labour Party and in the trade unions must now act to smash these coupists and expel them from the Labour Party. CLPs must pass emergency resolutions calling for the resignation of Starmer, and the members of the shadow cabinet that support him, and the deselection of all MPs that support this Labour coup attempt.

Trade unions meeting at the TUC Congress must pass resolutions denouncing this attempted coup and call for the UK to leave the EU at once. Further the TUC must carry an emergency resolution calling for a general strike to bring down the Tory minority government from the left and bring in a workers’ government that will quit the EU and carry out a socialist revolution in the UK, expropriating the bosses and bankers and bringing in socialism.

For a truly left-wing view see, Another Europe is Possible.

With Article 50 triggered, we are entering a dangerous moment for our democracy. The government is pursuing a harmful, extreme form of Brexit for which it has no democratic mandate. Corporations will seek to influence the outcomes. But popular will and progressive politics are increasingly shut out.

In the shadow of an increasingly volatile world, we stand for co-operation between people and across borders, and we are for democracy. The British people must have the defining say over what kind of deal is reached.

Be a part of the flagship campaign to save the 6 progressive elements of EU membership.  We identify those as:

  • Rights at work
  • Environmental protections
  • Freedom to move
  • Human rights
  • Education and innovation
  • Science and research funding

We all have the right to know what is being negotiated on our behalf. The result of the referendum was not a mandate to undermine our human rights or our rights at work, to scrap environmental protections or to attack migrants. We will not allow this government to pursue a race to the bottom in which we all lose.

There is still everything to play for, and in the coming months we will unite to campaign for a deal which guarantees the rights of workers and migrants, and which maintains key environmental human rights protections. In an increasingly nasty and divided world, we will fight for a future of international cooperation and social justice.

This is our deal – bringing together people across civil society and different political parties in order to put forward a progressive vision for the outcome from the negotiations.

You can join the fight for a Progressive Deal today.

  • Write to your MP to ask them to sign up to the Progressive Deal
  • Download a leaflet for the campaign here

1. Rights at work

When Britain leaves the EU, workers could lose important legal protections. These include the 48 hour limit on weekly working hours; four weeks of holiday per year; strengthened equal pay legislation; guaranteed breaks; maternity and paternity pay rights; and protections for agency and temporary workers. If Britain and Europe attempt to compete with each other, this could lead to a race to the bottom on employment rights. We want a deal that:

  • Preserves all of these protections in British law
  • Contains an ongoing commitment that British and EU working rights will match each other, levelling up rather than levelling down

2. Environmental protections

In the EU referendum, no-one voted for environmental protections to be scrapped – but that could be the reality unless we retain those currently enshrined in European regulations. Climate change and pollution do not respect borders. We want a deal that:

  • Enshrines equivalent or better environmental protections in British law
  • Commits Britain to working hand-in-hand with European and international partners to radically reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate chaos

3. Freedom to move

The right to move across borders is a right that should be enjoyed by everyone. Without freedom of movement, it is a right enjoyed only by the rich. Free movement of people between Britain and Europe has enriched our societies, offered millions of people opportunities, and created bonds of love and friendship that cut across national frontiers. We want to see the right to choose where to live extended, not curtailed in the name of a concept of fairness that leaves everyone with the lowest common denominator of rights. However much the political establishment try to blame migrants for their own failure to provide stable employment and affordable housing, immigration makes a massive net contribution to the UK. We want a deal that:

  • Guarantees the rights of EU citizens already resident in the UK, and British expats in Europe
  • Preserves the freedom for British citizens to live and work in the EU, and for EU citizens to live and work in Britain
  • Sees the UK take play its part in building a humane and generous solution to the refugee crisis

4. Human rights

The European Convention on Human Rights, set up in the aftermath of the Second World War, enshrines the basic rights of European citizens – including the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and association, and freedom from torture and religious oppression. Britain’s membership of the Convention does not disappear on leaving the EU, but it will become much easier for the government to withdraw from it. The current government has already indicated its intention to abolish the Human Rights Act, which covers much of the same ground. We want a deal that:

  • Commits Britain to continued membership of the European Convention on Human Rights

5. Education and innovation

Tens of thousands of British students study abroad every year, using programmes like Erasmus to improve their education and expand their horizons. Free and easy access to higher education institutions in the EU is a vital part of sharing and creating research which saves lives and advances humanity’s understanding of the world. We want a deal that:

  • Preserves Britain’s membership of Erasmus and other study abroad schemes
  • Gives British and European students and researchers continued free and easy access to education institutions

6. Science and research funding

Britain’s science and academic research receives a large quantity of its funding from the EU. The UK is the second largest recipient of EU research funding through the Framework Programme (FP7) funds. Between 2007 and 2013, the UK received €8.8bn in research funding, much more than it contributed. 71% of this went to universities, which are more dependent than ever on these funds to produce vital research. We want a deal that:

  • Maintains Britain’s access and contributions to EU-wide science and research funding programmes

On nationalisation: Guardian 27th of July 2017.

France nationalises strategic shipyard to thwart Italian ownership.

President Emmanuel Macron orders ‘temporary’ state control of SFX France to save jobs and preserve only shipyard capable of building aircraft carriers.

 

 

Election, Weekly Worker: Vote for Self-Managed Reptile Control.

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Cthulhu Not Standing: Vote Reptile for Money and Power!

Hat-tip D.O.

As the General Election approaches much of the British left finds itself all over the place.

Ed Miliband is putting a brave face on the challenges he faces.

His party, Labour, stands at a mere neck-and-neck level with the Tories. His  ‘reformist’ candidates have done absolutely nothing to back the Brent and Donbass Soviets and the rights of those fighting for the Caliphate.

Many on the left will not back him –  the only chance of stopping the Tories sending the poor out to scrub the streets clean with toothbrushes – even with a worn out noose.

There are those busy bottling the bath water of Scottish Nationalist leader, Nicola Sturgeon who’s at present busy denying “preferring Cameron”. Others have found much to admire in the Green Party’s plans to ban animals from London Zoo and severely restrict horse racing. The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) involves the Socialist Workers Party. Class War controversially says, ““All Fucking Wankers”.

In these times when a united front is most pressing Steve Freeman’s Bermondsey and Old Southwark campaign for Republican Socialism, and a Merrie England, is not supported by Left Unity.

An American commentator, and ‘ackney ‘ipster, Cde David Osterland, sums our plight up, “We’ve just gotten to the point that I may as well mosey down to the quinoa burger bar and eat me a whole pile of fries.”

But all is not lost!

Advanced elements in the proletariat can look to the Guide of the Weekly Worker to plan ahead.

Why vote for the lesser evil?

Cthulhu is not available in this election but we know some Green Lizards who are.

As Cde Tony Clark writes this week in a lengthy op-ed in the masses’ favourite Hebdo,  (Weekly Worker),

“The question is: is the moon a natural body or not, or only partly? This is a valid question for anyone who has examined the evidence relating to the moon.”

Indeed it is.

He continues,

Credo Mutwa told researcher David Icke that, in Zulu legend, the moon is hollow and is a reptilian base, which was brought to earth long ago. Soviet scientists Vasin and Shcherbokov came to the conclusion that the moon was artificial. In Who built the moon?, Christopher Knight and Alan Butler came to similar conclusions. The ancient Greeks knew of a people called the Proselenes, which means ‘before the moon’.

According to some researchers, Nasa has withheld information about alien activity witnessed by their astronauts. A contact said to me he was baffled when the Apollo missions were curtailed. The logical progression should have been the establishment of a moon base. Were the Americans warned off or is there secret collaboration going on?

In a previous letter I referred to how a reptilian race has manipulated human society for thousands of years. The way they do this is mainly by using their human-reptilian hybrids, who look human, but at the genetic level have a higher infusion of reptilian DNA than the general population. These illuminati bloodlines claimed descent from the gods (ie, the reptilians) and the divine right to rule. Researchers say these hybrid bloodlines still control society and they are in turn controlled by the reptilians. The moon plays a role in this story.

Tony Clark

Vote Lizard!

Vote Illuminati on a Marxist Programme!

Apply To Become An Illuminati Member: Application.

Ian Birchall Publishes On Why the SWP Deteriorated So Quickly.

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Let Party Skullduggery Run Rampant.

Ian Birchall’s resignation from the SWP was announced in December last year.

The news was quickly broadcast on this Blog (not to say all over the left).

We posted under the heading “A greatly respected comrade”.

“Ian Birchall’s resignation is …. something of great significance  for the left. It is perhaps a sign of the respect in which Ian is held that his critics, like myself, feel that we have to make our appreciation of him clear.”

Today we learn (from Louis Proyect) of, “SO SAD (TO WATCH A GOOD PARTY GO BAD). Ian Birchall.

On 15 December 2013 I resigned from the Socialist Workers Party, after some fifty years membership. I was no longer prepared to trust the party leadership with my money, nor to accept its discipline. I said at the time that I would make no further public criticism of the SWP and I have tried to stand by this. There are many more useful and interesting things to do than engage in arguments between small far left groups. Polemics about splits in small revolutionary organisations tend to be very tedious; I have no desire to add to that literary genre.”

Now we have Ian’s further thoughts on the “the problem as to why it happened. Why did an organisation which, though I knew its imperfections, seemed to me to be by far the best thing going on the British left, and of which I was proud to be a member, deteriorate so quickly?”

People will have to read the full – heartfelt – article but these are some extracts and observation.

So Sad centres, without dissimulation, on the core of the recent SWP crisis:.

Edward Platt in the New Statesman earlier this year summarised the initial spark for the party’s deterioration (on the left we would talk of its ‘degeneration’),

The first complaint against Comrade Delta was made in 2010. A woman who was referred to as “Comrade W” accused him of sexually harassing her, and he stepped down as national secretary while remaining part of the party’s leadership: its central committee, or CC. The party was told about the allegations at its conference in 2011.

This is Ian’s account of how he reacted,

On the basis of information available to me I don’t know if Delta was guilty of rape (though the evidence is that few women make false accusations of rape). What is clear on the basis of accounts accepted on all sides is that he behaved inappropriately and irresponsibly, and abused the privileges of the party office he held. (Here I should mention the suggestions made, not by the CC but by some CC supporters, that one or both of the women complainants could have been state agents. I think this is clearly megalomania: there is no evidence that the current SWP poses the sort of threat that would lead the state to use such measures. But if there were any possibility that such means might be used, then Delta, as a senior party official, was grossly culpable in not being much more careful about the relationships he entered into.)

I do not question the sincerity of the members of the Disputes Committee. But it is clear that they failed in their task. It was essential that justice was not only done, but was seen to be done, both by the membership and by the world outside, which undoubtedly would be watching what was happening. Both in the selection of personnel and in the procedures adopted, the Disputes Committee signally failed to convince that justice had been done.  The CC must share responsibility for this situation.

This seems to me to be a better response than those who scatter round accusations of “rape apologists” or “rape deniers” (a remark which I know will not make me popular either).

Ian sums up what it the nature of the SWP’s offence, “What some comrades clearly were guilty of is what might be called “rape trivialisation”.”

This is Platt’s observation which was exactly what most of the left thought at the time.

The party’s decision to investigate the allegation internally, through its disputes committee, rather than referring it to the police, is the most remarkable aspect of the affair: it has astonished people outside the SWP, and some within it, too. “What right does the party have to organise its very own ‘kangaroo court’ investigation and judgment over such serious allegations against a leading member?” wrote the former Socialist Worker journalist Tom Walker in his resignation letter. “None whatsoever.”

There is a great deal of detail of how the internal party crisis unfolded, which I find less than interesting.

But this rings completely true.

 I won’t go into detail about the pre-conference period. Some supporters of the CC acted extremely badly – for example making fraudulent phone calls to cancel room bookings for perfectly legitimate opposition meetings. Maybe the CC did not positively encourage such actions, but it made no attempt to rein in its more enthusiastic supporters. However, it seems to be a fact of history that in faction fights everybody behaves badly, and doubtless some opposition members conducted themselves in less than an ideal fashion.

The CC won the conference, with many supporters of the majority doing their best to encourage the opposition to leave, with moronic foot-stamping – something I do not remember from party events in earlier years. Not surprisingly some hundreds of members decided to depart.

Anybody with Ian’s life-long commitment would have already  left the party.

But, he stayed for a while.

Then,

For me the final straw came in September, when the CC announced that every single member of the CC that had screwed up so badly would be standing for re-election on the CC slate. After that I went through the motions of the pre-conference period, but I was clear that there was no future for me in the party.

Throughout 2013 the style of leadership offered by the CC seemed to be summed up by a song by the late Pete Seeger, “The Big Muddy”  (originally written as a comment on the Vietnam war). A platoon of soldiers on manoeuvres are ordered to ford a river by their captain, and though it becomes clear that the river is too deep, the captain obstinately refuses to change his instructions: “We were waist deep in the Big Muddy, and the big fool said to push on”.

We note with concern that far from crawling away to a hole to lick his wounds – never to come out again – Martin Smith (Comrade Delta) – is at present running a Blog with the cooperation of at least some in the SWP orbit (based in France). 

Many of the details of how the SWP organisation has been run (or come to be run) are of wider interest,

In more recent years, when the number of a district’s conference delegates has been based on vastly inflated and totally unrealistic membership figures, districts have often been unable to find a full complement of delegates. At the North London report-back meeting in January 2013 Weyman Bennett very frankly admitted that most years he went to sleep during CC elections; obviously he found them boring and irrelevant. And yet his position in the organisation and his right to make decisions derived from such elections. That a CC member should have such contempt for the democratic process is obviously a matter of some concern. But the real problem is the fact that the membership – myself included – paid so little attention to the democratic processes within the party.

This claim could perhaps be contested,

Indeed the SWP in general has been a very tolerant organisation, much more so than most far left organisations I know of. I’ve spoken at most Marxisms and at hundreds of branch meetings,  and never been given more than the vaguest indications of what the CC wanted me to say. I’ve written repeatedly for the party press. Occasionally articles were changed or even blocked, but very rarely.  Of course I exercised a degree of self-censorship. But I generally felt trusted and able to try and exercise a degree of influence. I should add that when I submitted the first draft of my biography of Cliff, I confidently expected to be asked to withdraw a few passages which I thought would be seen as excessively critical. It is greatly to the credit of the CC and of Alex Callinicos in particular that my draft was published virtually unchanged.

Outsiders have not noticed this tolerance when they got closer to the actual party apparatus.

My own experience is that a vocal minority of the SWP are the grip of the hallucination that they are steel-hardened Bolsheviks

The following anecdote is only one of many I could cite.

Nonetheless over the years there have been worrying indications of an unhealthy style of debate. Let me give just one example which has stuck in my mind. When the decision to join Respect was made, there was an aggregate meeting in London to endorse the decision. It was an enthusiastic, optimistic meeting – we felt that the party was on the brink of a significant step forward. Almost all the contributions from the floor favoured the strategy; I certainly shared the meeting’s enthusiasm.

Then one woman who spoke raised the question of Galloway’s flattery of Saddam Hussein (“Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability”). Several people began to heckle her and one particularly thuggish young man in front of me attempted to shout her down. She was unable to finish her speech. This was of course entirely pointless; there was no danger that the massive majority in favour of Respect would be affected. It also occurred to me forcibly that this was precisely the sort of question that might be asked in the course of an election campaign, which is what we were about to enter. I suspect the hecklers would have run a mile if asked to campaign on the doorstep; heckling when the majority is on your side is an easy option. Neither the chair nor the CC member delivering the main report reprimanded the hecklers. I have always regretted that I did not speak to criticise the hecklers; so I bear as much responsibility as anyone else for what was a symptom of a declining standard of debate.

Not that the left, or indeed any political party, is immune from similar behaviour.

Comrades from the Labour Representation Committee will find these comments about “heckling” resonating all too clearly.

As I said Ian Birchall is greatly respected.

His article in New Left Review No 80 (2013) Third World and After, takes up (amongst other things) the contribution to the left by the anarchist-Marxist-libertarian Daniel  Guérin (a figure mentioned previously in Andrew Coates reviews: Revolutionary History Vol 16, No4: Ian Birchall (guest editor) European revolutionaries and Algerian independence 1954-1962).

I would like to think that Guérin‘s ‘centrist’ democratic socialist principles have something to contribute to the list Ian ends So Sad on,

The International Socialist stream will take certain ideas and attitudes into the river, in particular:

a)      The rejection of not only Stalinist state capitalism but of the very idea that state ownership is any part of the definition of socialism;

b)      The insistence that our starting-point must always be the actual struggle of workers at the point of production/exploitation rather than any abstraction such as “workers’ parties” or “workers’ states”;

c)      The stress on beginning with actual struggles, not preconceived strategies or programmes: in Rosa Luxemburg’s words “Mistakes committed by a genuine revolutionary labour movement are much more fruitful and worthwhile historically than the infallibility of the very best Central Committee.”

Here at least Ian has the last word.

For many years the SWP defended those ideas within the socialist movement, and I remain proud of what we achieved. The débâcle of 2013 was profoundly sad, but the fifty years before that were not in vain. Like Edith Piaf, I regret nothing.

 

Goldsmith College Students Vote to Ban SWP. What a Band of Tossers!

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Goldsmith College Students ‘ Union Official Grub.  

“this week students at Goldsmiths University voted to ban the creepy Socialist Workers’ Party along with its affiliate student society. They also decided to burn the cult’s literature outside the student union – in the upside down world of student politics book and newspaper burning is a hallmark of enlightenment.”

JAMES BLOODWORTH  shutting down abortion debates and banning the SWP – what a terrible week for free speech

Background here:  Don’t ban the SWP! Challenge and protest!

This is sheer, utter gobshite.

Utter utter gobshite. 

Fascist gobshite en plus.

Still the shrimpy tossers look tasty.

SWP Calls for Left to Get “Act Together” as they channel Bel Littlejohn.

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SWP’s New Intellectual Guru. 

We are pleased to announce that the SWP has called for “unity” on the left, and for us to get our “act together”.

(Hat-tip D/O)

Latest Socialist Worker. 

No to austerity, no to racism: Unite to win.

The left outside the Labour Party has to get its act together.

We’re too fragmented and inward-looking.

We need socialists in every workplace and community and standing in elections, who argue and organise to target the rich, not scapegoat immigrants, Muslims, and people on benefits.

Millions of people are alienated from mainstream politics. But they not anti-political.

When up to 15,000 people gather in George Square in Glasgow for a Scottish independence rally last weekend, when 1,300 meet at a People’s Question Time in east London, when 2,000 listen to Naomi Klein on capitalism and climate change there is no shortage of interest in politics.

We need a stronger left to focus it.

The Socialist Workers Party is fighting for more resistance, against racism and war, for a stronger and more united left, and for a revolutionary alternative at the heart of every struggle.

Join us

What could be fairer than that?

As one of the SWP’s most prominent intellectual gurus, Bel Littlejohn would say, “right on!” “Let’s get our act together!.

The Swuppies remain the  lodestar of the zeitgeist 

Meanwhile this is all they say on the struggle of the beloved people of Kobane. 

Western allies kill Kurds

BRITAIN AND the US are supposed to be backing Kurds fighting Islamic State in Kobane in northern Syria.

But Turkey, a member of Nato and ally to the West, chose last Sunday to murder Kurds.

The Turkish government broke a 20-month ceasefire with the PKK Kurdish group that is fighting Islamic State in Kobane.

It launched bombing raids with F-16 jets against Kurdish bases.

The Turkish Hurriyet newspaper said air raids near the south eastern village of Daglica on Monday caused “heavy casualties”.

The newspapers Cumhuriyet and Milliyet also reported clashes on Monday between the PKK and Turkish troops in the Tunceli area of east-central Turkey.

These outrageous bombing raids and assaults follow brutal suppression of Kurdish protests in solidarity with Kobane.

At least 19 people have been killed by the Turkish state during such protests in the past week and it has introduced curfews.

 Yes, that’s all.

Leninism on Way Out as ISO Crisis Deepens.

with 15 comments

fillesb

Still Flogging a Dead Horse.

”  To defend press freedom the 19th century French liberal Benjamin Constant used analogy. * He imagined a society before the invention of language. Suddenly people could speak. When it undermined order figures in authority began to regret this state of affairs. Gradually the innovation was accepted. Nobody any longer had the idea of forbidding talking on the grounds that it could be used to spread rumours, lies or fantasies.

Perhaps the Socialist Workers Party will consider Constant’s argument when they next stick on their internal documents, “Under No Circumstances Should This Text be Posted on the Internet, For SWP members Only.”

* Cited Page 227. Les Gauches Françaises. Jacques Julliard. 2012.

Tendance Coatesy, The Crisis of the SWP,  Leninism and the Left. February 2013.

Louis Proyect writes today (extracts),

One wonders if the ISO leaders might have anticipated the “security breach” that allowed the documents to become public. After all, in the electronic age, what’s to prevent a Marxist version of Edward Snowden from cropping up? This is especially true given the leaks that took place in the British SWP, the group that spawned the ISO. Those leaks were focused primarily on the British SWP’s refusal to punish a top leader who had allegedly raped a young female member. As is the case with bureaucratic institutions in general such as the Catholic Church and the military, there is a tendency to defend those in power, no matter what they do. If you’ve reached the point where you’ve become tired of bureaucratic abuse from the ISO leadership, why not let the rest of the left know what’s going on behind closed doors?

Proyect’s  objects are many but this sticks out,

I want to address the question of the “right” of a Leninist organization to keep its discussions shielded from public view at the end of this article, but will start with an evaluation of the ISO’s current woes, which according to both sides in the dispute is very real.

He concludes,

The real issue is not security, but the right of a sect to keep its deliberations a secret. When you stop and think about it, all of these “Leninist” groups operate on a mercantile basis that is concerned with maximizing market share. Their internal bulletins are analogous to reports discussed by the board of directors leading up to a sales campaign. What business is it of Pepsi to know what Coca-Cola is up to? How can we let Socialist Alternative know what we have planned for 2014? Hush now, comrades. Mum’s the word.

While I will not be around fifty years from now, I am convinced that “Leninism” will be long dead. If we are fortunate enough to be capable of rallying the forces needed to transform American society, it will be on a basis that has little to do with the imagery associated with the Smolny Institute and the Winter Palace. We will write our own future based on the living struggle that we surely have in front of us. Every effort has to be bent toward uniting the greatest number of people on a principled class basis. In a way it is too bad that ISO cannot understand the role it can play in helping to catalyze such a movement. One hopes that they can figure out a way to emerge out of the existing stagnation and rise to the occasion.

The background to this crisis is given on the External Bulletin site,

The organizational crisis and its political roots

The International Socialist Organization (ISO) has been in a general crisis since 2009. This has not been experienced or understood as a general crisis, but rather a series of disconnected and personalistic branch crises. But if we merely list the crises that we know about, the general nature of the problem becomes clear: (see links for more)

Perhaps the conclusion is not as radical – certainly not about the Leninist roots of their problems – as it could be,

To sum up, the political roots of the ISO’s organizational crisis lie in the group’s failure to adequately theorize the neoliberal phase of capitalism. Its past practices are increasingly ineffective in a new conjuncture, but it lacks the “theoretical capital” to invest in the ideation of strategy. Itself impoverished in ideas, the leadership has adopted a defensive posture, concerned–in many ways legitimately–that a politically weak organization cannot handle the internal struggles that will be required to generate and test new ideas. But there is no alternative to this internal struggle if the organization is to progress.

Update: Opposition expelled from ISO, here.

More details and comments on this split on Howie’s Corner.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 18, 2014 at 1:32 pm