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The Socialist Party and Socialist View Split in the PCS Union Grows.

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The PCS Internal Dispute Grows.

The world may have forgotten about the Socialist Party, although it is said that copies of Militant by Michael Crick (1984) are still selling and valued like gold dust.

This week they made a raft of demands including the following, a call for

An emergency labour movement conference, open to all genuinely anti-austerity forces to discuss the transformation of the Labour Party along democratic, socialist lines. This should include discussion on: restoring the policy-making power of Labour Party conference – including the trade unions playing a full democratic role; the introduction of a new socialist ‘clause 4’, replacing the one introduced by Tony Blair with one committing to democratic public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange; the opening up of the Labour Party to all socialist and anti-austerity forces to participate on the basis of a renewed, federal structure.

This prospect, sure to be welcome across the labour movement and in the Labour Party, for those who’re interested, part of their, “Editorial of the Socialist issue 1020. For a socialist alternative to the EU – mobilise to kick out the Tories!“.

Some may relish the prospect of solving the present politics crisis by, “mass action, including organising an emergency national demonstration to kick out the Tories.”

Alas, what most people are interested in is something that concerns people, active and solid people on the left, active in the civil service Trade Union, the PCS.

When the present row began the Socialist said,

The dispute within the left of Britain’s largest civil service union raises key issues for the whole labour movement.

After the left won control of the union, there have been important moves to democratise and transform PCS. Unfortunately, however, we now see the danger of that process being thrown into reverse, with power increasingly concentrated in the hands of unelected officials. Pressure in this direction is inevitable, given the difficult period the trade union movement is going through, but it is vital it is resisted.

PCS: the real issues at stake 20th of August.

In the course of this comradely debate the SP said,

Unfortunately, it is typical of some of Janice’s supporters’ false methods of argument to put up straw men in order to attempt to bombastically smash them down.

Despite the outrage expressed at the concerns we raised about the undermining of the democratic traditions of PCS, the SV reply repeatedly confirms this danger.

……

The SV authors accuse us of lying when we said that “arguments for affiliation [to Labour] will be put” in the new consultation on political representation that was agreed at this year’s PCS conference. We never suggested that the consultation would call for affiliation. This is clearly unlikely given the response to the last, 2016, consultation which raised affiliation as one option. Mark was sympathetic to looking seriously at that, arguing in a Policy and Resources Committee paper (published on 5 October 2015), “I’ve been approached by a number of people inside & outside PCS on the question of affiliation to LP… I do believe that we have a duty to consider this question.” However, “responses did not support” it.

In a woeful attempt to denigrate Chris’s record, the SV authors write: “Chris doesn’t take the average wage of a skilled worker”, and add that Janice has committed to do so. They and Janice turn their fire on Chris, but what demands have they made on Mark Serwotka? When Chris first stood for AGS he pledged to move to London, relocating his family at considerable expense and upheaval, in order to be based in the union HQ and be able to do his job effectively. Despite the financial demands of relocating, he pledged in his election address – with the agreement of other Socialist Party members including Janice Godrich – to repay part of his salary to union funds and make regular donations to strikes and labour movement causes in Britain and internationally. Chris has consistently met that pledge.

…..

They have not formally resigned from the Socialist Party, but the SV article, written by one Socialist Party member and one non-member, makes clear that they no longer see themselves as part of our party. It is not accidental that at one stage they refer to the Socialist Party as “their party”, meaning Chris and his supporters. They suggest that the Socialist Party’s “end objective” of “winning the leading positions in the union for their party justifies any actions, no matter how dishonest those means may be”.

PCS: the real issues at stake – a reply to Socialist View

Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary

Recently qualified Leftist Trainspotter, Howie, posts this, keeping us up to date:

Socialist Party lose first stage of PCS Assistant General Secretary Campaign.

The influence of the Socialist Party begins it’s final decline as incumbent PCS Assistant General Secretary Chris Baugh failed to win the Left Unity nomination. Janice Godrich as expected won. Only the interim result has been published though as you guessed it the Socialist Party are contesting the result.

They are indeed,

Throughout the campaign and emphasised by Chris at a number of debates, a fighting strategy and positive approach has been given that can take the union forward. Chris won a majority in three of the five election debates that he took part in, with Martin Cavanagh and John McInally deputising for Janice Godrich. This included London, which was attended by Mark Serwotka who argued against Chris.

We thank all those Left Unity members who took part in the debates, particularly those who supported our candidates.

On the AGS election, the interim report indicates 139 votes for Chris Baugh and 167 votes for Janice Godrich. However, Left Unity members are still waiting for the final results. This is because a whole number of votes have been ruled out – some postal ballots and those cast at three voting meetings, including London.

Despite this, the ‘interim’ results were published. Many Left Unity members are shocked and angry that this was done when there are issues still outstanding. Despite the claims of Janice’s supporters in Socialist View, the ruled-out votes could materially affect the results of three key positions: AGS, Left Unity chair and Left Unity editor.

The only way to clarify this is for the full report to be published, with all the results included, along with explanation for those omitted. This is not an attack on the integrity of the scrutineers, as Socialist View claims, but a call for transparency and democratic processes.

Comes the response from Socialist View,

Socialist View Statement on PCS Left Unity elections 2018

Following a long campaign to decide the nominations for the Left Unity slate for next year’s PCS national elections the LU Scrutineers Interim Report was published on Sunday 25th November.

 

The report confirms the result of the ballot for all contested elections, including the Assistant General Secretary and National President. We are pleased that the results show both Janice Godrich and Fran Heathcote have been successful in their attempt to secure the LU nomination for the posts of AGS and President respectively. Alongside Janice and Fran all other nominees, supported by the Socialist View campaign, have also been successful.

 

This clear result is testimony to the campaign which has been run by Janice and her supporters, and to the difference in strategy put forward via the Socialist View throughout this campaign.

 

The difference in policy and strategy between those of us supporting Janice, and the supporters of the incumbent Chris Baugh, have become increasingly polarised in recent weeks especially in relation to national pay campaign. The choice between building our union’s capability to improve our organisation in every workplace to win on pay, proposed by Janice and her supporters, versus the strategy, argued for by Chris and his supporters, of disaggregated group ballots linked to other employer based issues, has been a key strand to this campaign. The outcome of this election reflects the positive campaign ran by supporters of Socialist View and indicates wider support for the belief we have in our members ability to win, against the conservative approach of our opponents.

Some  have commented that only a few hundred people voted in the ballot.

It is not unusual for Leninist groupuscules to have ferocious splits.

This one, apparently, involves a far from exceptional degree of personal rancour

It is, however, out of the ordinary to see these disputes played out in public inside a trade union with around  185, 000 members, in an important sector of employment,  and inside an organisation which enjoys wide respect for its work.

The PCS Independent Left meanwhile have their own candidate:

John Moloney to stand for PCS Assistant General Secretary

At its Annual General Meeting, the PCS Independent Left nominated John Moloney as our candidate in the Assistant General Secretary elections next year.

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Written by Andrew Coates

November 30, 2018 at 1:26 pm

The Holiest Day in the Calender: Workers’ Revolutionary Party, News Line Beano.

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Post Halloween Festival. 

Torrance’s WRP is the only surviving Workers Revolutionary Party in the UK and still produces The News Line as a daily paper, and it is also included in a website. The party has been registered with the Electoral Commission since 15 May 2001, with Frank Sweeney as registered leader.[34] As of 2007, the WRP had assets of just over £4,000.[35] It remains electorally active and stood seven candidates for the 2015 UK General Election, six in London and one in Sheffield,[36] gaining a total of 488 votes.[37] It supported Brexit in the 2016 referendum.

More , a lot more, on Wikipedia.

BBC:

General election 2017: Workers Revolutionary Party policies

The British section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, founded by Leon Trotsky, is bidding for five seats at the general election.

The Workers Revolutionary Party’s Frank Sweeney spoke to Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil about what his party thought of the Labour manifesto.

He said that Trotsky was “21st century”, while he described capitalism as “19th century”, and he explained that the whole of the UK was “fertile territory for us”.

Fighting left antisemitism in the 1980s

Sean Matgamna.

Extracts: 

Supporters of Solidarity and Workers’ Liberty find themselves especially unpopular just now [2003] with certain sections of the pseudo-left, because of our attitude to George Galloway MP.

The hostility which our stand on Galloway has aroused reminds me of the heresy hunt organised against some of us, who were then publishing the weekly paper Socialist Organiser, by the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) and its friends in the labour movement.

The issues in dispute were pretty much the same as those raised now by the Galloway affair: the connection of certain ostensibly socialist “anti-Zionist” groups and individuals in the British left with anti-working class Arab governments, and how others should regard those who have such links.

The large-scale campaign launched by the WRP and its Ayatollah, the late Gerry Healy, was an incident within a broader attempt by the WRP and its friends, such as Ken Livingstone, to force our paper Socialist Organiser out of publication.

In 1981, the actress Vanessa Redgrave, on behalf of the WRP, of which she was the best-known member, had sued John Bloxam and myself for libel over things I had written about the WRP in Socialist Organiser and John had repeated in a circular letter to supporters of the Socialist Organiser Alliance.

The WRP embroiled us in expensive and potentially ruinous legal processes for four and a half years. If we hadn’t found a friendly solicitor who helped John and myself do the legal work cheaply — John did most of it — we would have been bankrupted and Socialist Organiser forced to cease publication.

Why didn’t we take the easy way out and issue a tongue-in-cheek apology? We explained why:

‘’We live in a labour movement grown spiritually cross-eyed from the long pursuit of realpolitik and the operation of double standards, a movement ideologically sick and poisoned. In terms of moral ecology, the left and the labour movement is something of a disaster area because of the long-term use of methods and arguments which have corrupted the consciousness of the working class. The most poisonous root of that corruption was the Stalinist movement”. (Quoted in Socialist Organiser 447, 10 May 1990).

For years before 1983, Socialist Organiser had been saying that an ostensibly Trotskyist organisation, the Workers Revolutionary Party, was kept afloat by Libyan and other Arab government (including Iraqi) money. You couldn’t read their press and not know that.

They fawned on Arab dictators, publishing a glossy pamphlet about Iraq and Saddam which could have been issued by the Iraqi Embassy in London and which Iraq certainly paid the WRP for publishing. Their paper, Newsline, carried reports on Libya and its ruler, Gaddafi modelled on the stuff which the Communist Party Daily Worker (now The Morning Star) once published about Stalinist Russia.

They raged against “the Zionists”. They identified and denounced “Zionists”, that is Jews in prominent positions in British business and other institutions, for example, in the BBC. They singled out for special abuse prominent Jewish Tories and Jewish Labour right wingers. These were “the Zionists”. “Zionists” were at the heart of the “imperialist” “conspiracies” all over the world. “Zionists” fomented anti-Arab feeling everywhere.

Socialist Organiser was part of a “Zionist” plot against the WRP and the British labour movement. We were, naturally, “anti-Arab racists”.

They published a raving — in fact Hitlerite — editorial in Newsline asserting that there was a Zionist conspiracy stretching through, and linking, the Tory government, the editorial board of Socialist Organiser and Ronald Reagan’s White House!

When, in April 1983 the BBC, in a low-audience early Sunday evening programme, repeated a mild version of the “Libyan gold” allegations, I wrote a short review in Socialist Organiser saying that the BBC had told some of the truth about the WRP. I protested against unsubstantiated statements in the programme that “the ethnic press” was, like the WRP, financed by Libya.

Those who were using the libel laws against a labour movement paper now launched a political campaign in the labour movement against the BBC… and Socialist Organiser! It was a typically vigorous campaign.

A sizeable number of trade union branches and trades councils were persuaded to pass resolutions condemning “the BBC and Socialist Organiser”, sometimes adding the name of the present writer to the list of those being denounced and condemned.

Frequently the resolutions demanded that Socialist Organiser or I, or both, “retract” our “slanders” and discharge our working-class duty to stand by those being attacked by the bourgeois state by way of the BBC programme.

The WRP’s daily paper, Newsline, devoted a page or most of a page every day for 50 (fifty) issues over nine weeks, to printing (solicited) letters and formal statements denouncing us from people holding office in the labour movement and well-known theatrical personages. As well as that they published feature articles, editorials and a large pamphlet to tell the labour movement what dishonest, unprincipled scoundrels, “Zionists” and agents-provocateur for the bourgeois state we were. They tried to whip up a lynch-mob atmosphere against us. They urged that we — and the writer by name and photograph — be shut up.

Meetings were held to denounce us all over the country at which local shop stewards and convenors, secretaries of trades councils, and occasionally a Labour councillor, and one Labour MP, appeared on the platform.

For example, the meeting held at the Conway Hall in London featured the leader of the then Greater London Council, Ken Livingstone, and the leader of a famously “left-wing” borough council, Ted Knight, amongst a large number of well-known platform speakers.

Meetings held in Scotland featured the Labour MP Ron Brown, a sincere political idiot later thrown out by the Blairites, who believed that Libya and Russia and possibly — I can’t remember — Iraq were socialist states.

In that affair we were spectacularly vindicated — and comparatively soon. In late 1985, the Workers Revolutionary Party imploded. They expelled the aged Gerry Healy, charging the 72-year old with the serial rape of members and other such things. The two initial factions splintered into a dozen pieces, all flying in different political directions. Its warring fractions fell over each other in the rush to spill its secrets, including the secrets of its lavish supply of funds.

One of its “historic leaders”, the academic Cliff Slaughter, denounced the WRP’s leadership, of which he himself had been a part for 25 years, as “fascists” for their amoral attitude to politics and for their deeds. We, who had regarded them as no longer part of the labour movement, had not gone that far; but you could see his point.

From Revolutionary Communist Party to Spiked: The Archives Speak!

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1980 The Next Step 8.pdf

Ever Wondered why Spiked is so Quiet on Corbyn’s Past? 

France had its former ’68’ Maoists, above all from the Gauche prolétarienne (1968 – 1974), who became right of centre, and left-of centre, anti-communist liberals.

It even had Benny Lévy (also Pierre Victor; 1945–2003) who from a hard-line Marxist-Leninist leader and ideologue of the group ended up a student of the Torah in Israel.

Whatever else you might think he was serious, as this citation indicates,

To be Jewish. To be, in an absolutely singular manner… a thought of the Return. The Return to the Sinaï… The thought of the Return (la pensée du Retour) requires a critique of the atheology of the modern Jew . Theology of the silence of God after Auschwitz, critique of theodicy, finally return to the notion of absolute Evil, these are the points through which one must pass in a critical manner. In this sense, this book addresses itself at any man, insofar as he is still sensible to the question of the origin of evil.

This biography is worth reading and thinking about: Philippe Lardinois, De Pierre Victor à Benny Lévy, de Mao à Moïse ?, Luc Pire, 2008

Britain, belatedly, had the hard-line Revolutionary Communist Party (1978 – 1997).

Odd as it seems the group behind Spiked was one of the more forceful – or barking – organisations on the British far-left, though not doubt without the kind of Oxbridge paternity that would have paralleled the GP’s best known members’ background in the École normale supérieure.

Today former members write this,

THE TERRIBLE PRICE OF A ‘PEOPLE’S VOTE’

To overthrow the Brexit vote would be to overthrow democracy itself.

The Remainer elite is feeling excited. Why? Because it thinks it might finally have beaten down the democratic desires of ordinary people, especially the poorer, less educated ones. It is hopeful that its relentless fearmongering, its highly moneyed, deeply cynical campaign to depict Brexit as the worst thing to happen to Britain since the war, might finally be paying off. This is the truth behind the Remainer elite’s wild cheering of a poll analysis that seems to reveal that more and more constituencies have shifted towards having Remain majorities: it spies in this alleged shift an important victory for its campaign of delegitimising the democratic vote for Brexit and sidelining the rough, ill-informed people responsible for that vote.

Their one time leader and ideologue, Frank Furedi, screams:

THE FLIGHT OF THE ELITES FROM THE NATION STATE

When leaders lose faith in the nation, geopolitics becomes more unstable.

And this: SELL OUT BREXIT? NO DEAL

It does not look probable that anybody is going to write a serious biography of Brendan O’Neill, or Frankie.

But there are people out there interested in their past (I admit I have a couple of copies of the Revolutionary Communist Papers mouldering away somewhere and a pamphlet….)

The Revolutionary Communist Tendency / Party…

(Splits and Fusions. An archive of British Trotskyist publications)

Love them (?)  or hate them, the Revolutionary Communist Party were a significant component of the British far left of the 1980s.

Originating as a split from the Revolutionary Communist Group (Fight Racism Fight Imperialism), itself a split from the International Socialists, the Revolutionary Communist Tendency published 8 issues of a magazine Revolutionary Communist Papers before establishing the rather stylish tabloid paper The Next Step in 1979. TNS was, at first a 24 page theoretical review before becoming a weekly paper in 1985. The issues of TNS up to that point are consecutively numbered. From 1985 they are numbered 1 – 40-odd repeating each year.

The main preoccupations of the RCP were Ireland and anti-racism as reflected in their front organisations the Irish Freedom Movement, publishing Irish Freedom magazine, and Workers Against Racism

The RCT published a series of Revolutionary Communist Pamphlets whilst the RCP followed up with a number of books and pamphlets, often under the Junius Press imprint and a theoretical journal Confrontation (we will scan some copies of this in due course)

 

World’s Oldest Trotksyist Group Denounces “Witch hunt by liberals against Trump.”

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Image result for the militant socialist weekly us trotsky

An Honourable Past.

The American Socialist Workers Party is the world’s oldest Trotskyist group.

Old enough to be mentioned by George Orwell. (1)

It was founded at the end of 1937.

Their paper, The Militant (the original one) goes back to 1928.

The writings of its leading figure at the time, James Patrick “Jim” Cannon (1890 – 1974), form the basic reading of Trotskyists to this day.

Many know the pages of the History of American Trotskyism, 1928–38, Report of a Participant and The struggle for a proletarian party  (1943) practically (or literally) by heart.

It should be made clear that this Blog comes from a very different, European, background, associated with the sterling figure of Michael Pablo, (1911 – 1996) somebody Cannon opposed root and branch in the 1953 – 4 split in the Trotskyist movement’s largest international grouping, the Fourth International (FI).

Apart from its role in the upper levels of the FI (not formally affiliated due to US law)  the US SWP was directly engaged in various parts of the world wide movement.

The US SWP had a small group, called The Tendency, inside the International Marxist Group during the 1970s.

Uncharitably called a ‘cult’ by well-wishers such as the writer of this post and his mates, they formed the basis for the present Communist League.

Their best known figure is  Jonathan Silberman who hit the headlines not long ago when he in 2015 he announced his intention of standing for the London May contest. (Communist spells out policy to compete in next year’s mayoral election).

Alas, he did not stand.

But Peter Clifford stood for them in the 2017 General Election in Manchester Gorton where he won 27 votes.

If one multiplies this by the number of constituencies in the UK this makes a more impressive sounding 17550 potential votes for the Communist League.

For those interested one may see people selling the US paper cited below on their stall at demos, next to felt-tip written placards produced by a teenage creative writing class.

Yes, everybody who comes these currents have evolved over the years.

The US SWP, according to many reports, has evolved the most.

This marks a further stage in their development:

Witch hunt by liberals against Trump a danger to workers

As President Donald Trump continues to win support for improvements on jobs and production and in foreign policy, the liberal media, Democrats and some Republicans are trying to breathe life into their waning efforts to overturn the 2016 election and drive him from office. They have seized on the conviction of his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, a plea bargain by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, and the president’s decision to revoke ex-CIA boss John Brennan’s security clearance.

After some dreary stuff we get to the meat, the real ‘low down’ as they say…

Assaults on free speech and freedom of assembly are being carried out today. They’re being organized by a layer of Trump’s liberal opponents, like Maxine Waters, who urges mob attacks on government officials to hound them from public life.

In a series of coordinated editorial columns, the liberal owners of some 350 newspapers around the country claimed the president was attacking press freedom when he tweets about fake news.

But Trump’s remarks have nothing to do with imposing constraints on the press. More and more of these papers have given up any pretense at printing “news,” instead running article after article arguing with Trump and calling him a liar.

As they trade conjectures about the effects the court rulings on Manafort and Cohen, and “treason” calls by Brennan, will have, most bourgeois commentators agree there’s little chance Trump will be indicted or successfully removed from office.

Their conclusions? All out for the Democrats in 2018! And, if they have to, against Donald Trump in 2020.

The Socialist Workers Party is fielding candidates across the country, speaking out about the capitalist rulers’ assaults on working people and the oppressed, and championing labor battles and social protests. The party explains that the road forward is for the working class to break with all the parties of the capitalist rulers and chart a course to take political power into their own hands.

**********

(1) “Although in some places, for instance in the United States, Trotskyism is able to attract a fairly large number of adherents and develop into an organized movement with a petty fuehrer of its own, its inspiration is essentially negative.” Notes on Nationalism. George Orwell. Polemic, No.1, October 1945.

For a good article on the relations between Orwell and Trotskyism see:  George Orwell: a literary Trotskyist? Anna Chen

Written by Andrew Coates

August 26, 2018 at 12:58 pm

Ernest Mandel in 1968 – Berlin and Paris Friday 18 May 2018, by STUTJE Jan Willem

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Just Short of the “Conscious Leap”: Ernest Mandel in 1968 – Berlin and Paris

STUTJE Jan Willem

Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières 

An excerpt from the book which details Mandel’s experiences during 1968 in Berlin and Paris.


On 9 October 1967, the world learned of the murder of Ernesto Che Guevara. Convinced that guerrilla warfare was the only way to victory, he had gone to join the Bolivian struggle. His body was found mutilated in a remote village. This was the death of a revolutionary, a modern-day warrior chief. The left was in mourning; poets wrote elegies, laments that ended with calls to rebellion. In an interview with Gerhard Horst (pseudonym of André Gorz), an editor of Les Temps Modernes, Mandel spoke of “a severe shock, all the more as I regarded him as a personal friend.” In La Gauche he mourned “a great friend, an exemplary comrade, a heroic militant.” On the Boulevard St-Michel in Paris and Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm, in London and Milan people shouted: “Che, Che, Gue-va-ra!” The chopped syllables formed a battle cry against the established order. Neither Moscow nor Beijing had expressed even the most grudging sympathy. In openly showing their regret the Italian and French Communist parties proved they still possessed a little autonomy.

Mandel’s sympathizers in the French Revolutionary Communist Youth (JCR), a radical group founded in 1966 in a split from the Union of Communist Students, refused to accept his death. “Che was our best antidote to the Maoist mystique,” Daniel Bensaïd recalled. In the Latin Quarter of Paris, the Mutualité, temple of the French workers’ movement, was full to overflowing. Mandel spoke alongside Maurice Nadeau, just back from Havana, and Janette “The Cuban” Habel. He portrayed Che as he had come to know him in 1964. Emotion crested as those present softly hummed “The Song of the Martyrs,” the mourning march from the 1905 Russian Revolution, before launching into, “You have fallen for all those who hunger” and belting out the chorus, “But the hour will sound, and the people conquer . . .”

In Berlin too people were deeply moved. The SDS called for intensifying actions. Che had been Rudi Dutschke’s inspiration. With Gaston Salvatore, a Chilean comrade and friend in the SDS, Dutschke had translated Che’s last public statement, with its famous appeal for “two, three, many Vietnams,” from Spanish into German. Like Che, Dutschke lived the conviction that there “is no life outside the revolution.” He named his recently born son Hosea Che. Latin America would not let Dutschke go. In 1968 he wrote a foreword to The Long March: The Course of the Revolution in Latin America, a collection of articles by such figures as Régis Debray, Castro and K.S. Karol. Meschkat was surprised to see letters from Gisela, which she had sent him from Havana in the summer of 1967, printed in the book. As far as he had known, Dutschke had asked only for permission to read them.

 Berlin 1968: with Rudi Dutschke

In the summer of 1967 Mandel and Dutschke grew closer. Dutschke noted in his diary: “Discussion with Gisela and Ernest, [Adorno’s student Hans- Jürgen] Krahl, etc. about organizational questions and preliminary theoretical discussions for a conference in Berlin.” Shortly before, Dutschke and Krahl had presented a so-called organization report to an SDS conference in the old refectory of the University of Frankfurt. Krahl was for Frankfurt what Dutschke was for Berlin — the undisputed chief ideologue. The SDS was growing dramatically, with 2,000 members and easily several times that many sympathizers, including not only university students but also high school students and young workers. They were for reform of the universities and against the Vietnam War, against the Greek dictatorship, against the emergency decrees and against the “emperor of torture,” Shah Reza Pahlevi of Iran. Participating in their actions cost Benno Ohnesorg, a twenty-six-year-old student, his life. On 2 June 1967 he was shot dead by the police in Berlin, setting off a month-long rebellion.

More on site. 

The present Blog published a review of Stutje’s book when it appeared. 

The Bright Side of Things

Ernest Mandel. A Rebel’s Dream Deferred. Jan Willem Stutje. Verso 2009.

From the latest Chartist.

In 1976 Ernest Mandel observed that Europe’s far left had been able to “accumulate sufficient forces” in this “revolutionary period” to have the “realistic possible of winning over the majority of the working class.” (New Left Review. No 100.)

As a young member of the same Fourth International as Mandel I read many of Mandel’s similar exhortations. Even to us ‘ultra-leftists’ in the International Marxist Group, only a few believed that this was true in Britain. Most were wary of what Stutje calls his “exuberant optimism”.

Yet someone with a command of serious Marxist theory, a democrat and a revolutionary socialist, opposed to the official Communist parties of the day, a tireless activist, deeply impressed us. That our International had someone with such fierce intelligence, not a bullying leader of a sect, was a source of pride. A Rebel’s Dream Deferred tries to do justice to this Mandel. Somebody with the ambition to influence and take part in not just Europe’s but the World Revolution is no easy subject.

If Stutje’s biography does not unearth a forgotten figure, Mandel’s writings remain in circulation; it confronts us with aspirations that have seemed, for a long period, from another epoch.

A “Flemish internationalist of Jewish origin” Mandel was born (1923) in Hamburg and grew up in Antwerp. His father was a leftist refugee from Hitler, who became a diamond dealer and then insurance agent; he was linked to the small Trotskyist movement opposed to Stalin.

Mandel was brought up in an atmosphere of high European culture, and classical Marxism. Soon after the founding of the Fourth International in 1938 he joined the Belgium Trotskyists. Under German occupation Mandel remained politically active. Arrested once, and released (or ransomed, Stutje recounts), he was finally tried again for giving German soldiers anti-militarist leaflets. Deported to a labour camp in Germany, he was freed in 1944 full of expectation of the coming revolution.

He had a lasting impression, “The alliance against fascism had consolidated both the democratic and Stalinist regimes, but under working class pressure.” Mandel threw himself into a lifetime of ratcheting up that pressure.

From the 1940s hope that Europe’s workers would rise in socialist revolution, to the joys of ’68, the left’s rise, and impasse, in the decades that followed, Mandel plunged into far-left politics.

Stutje recounts the saga of the Belgium left (through the microscope of Trotskyism), and Mandel involvement in the Fourth International. Or rather, the United Secretariat of the Fourth International. He is fair to Michel Raptis (‘Pablo’), for years his closest collaborator and rival, praising his “political intuition”, and his faults, “imperiousness”. They separated mid-60s, on Pablo’s unconditional support for anti-colonialist movements. Mandel too, as the sixties wore on, had been wrapped up in ‘third-worldist’ causes – Struje cites close contact with Che Guevara. But his principal faith lay in the working class in industrialised counties.

At the same time the party man was writing serious, if (critics comment), too all-embracing works, such as Marxist Economic Theory (1962), and the unfortunately titled Late Capitalism (1972) – how ‘late’? These consolidated his academic position at the Dutch language Free University of Brussels. That aside, few consider Mandel as the founder of a ‘school’ of Marxist political economy. As Stutje remarks, his study on the ‘long waves’ theory of crises (1978), lacks the institutional details of how capitalist accumulation developed post-war. But his influence was wider. Amongst prolific writings, which read as if stitched together from Europe’s press, Mandel produced real gems, his Introductions to the Penguin edition of Capital, and on Marx’s wider intellectual development. Perhaps his greatest political contribution – a break with the Leninist past as great as Eurocommunism’s – was to envisage socialist democracy. Strange to say, in retrospect, this was a major turning point for those reared in the harshest interpretations of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. It would be impossible to imagine a left capable of confronting the collapse of Official Communism without this return to democratic roots.

In the 1970s Mandel was banned from entering several countries, including Germany, France, and the US. Not only Mandel envisaged – in this case, feared – revolutionary upheavals. Even when this prospect subsided in the early 1980s the Fourth International peaked at 10,000 active members.

But it did not weather the Thatcher-Reagan years well, nor adapt easily to the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. They foresaw everything but the neo-liberalism that ran riot across the globe. Yet till his death in 1995, Mandel remained bound to the “moral imperative” to continue to fight. Mandel was too much part of the real left – perhaps obscured in Britain through his brief canonisation by the most politically sterile faction of the New Left – to retreat to the Watchtower.

A Rebel’s Dream Deferred pays tribute to the sheer ethical drive of the man. That the Fourth International’s Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, now the Nouveau Parti Anti-capitaliste has been a real player in French politics demonstrates that he was not entirely mistaken.

Andrew Coates.

Also read Phil Hearse (Fourth International) on this book here.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 31, 2018 at 1:34 pm

Leftist Trainspotting Fun from Labour Party Marxists, from “bewildered” LRC, “silent Corbyn”, to AWL Stasi “busybodies”.

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Labour Party Marxist in the Thick of the Class Struggle.

The Irish Socialist Workers Party has dissolved itself into a “network”. “The change in name to Socialist Workers Network reflects a decision to focus on building People Before Profit, and within that to win and educate as many members as possible in revolutionary socialist politics.” (SW Ireland)

Now while the SWN is honest about what it is doing, and has good reasons to do so given that People Before Profit has some, limited, political presence, we cannot say the same for Labour Party Marxists.

This is from its mission statement,

  1. The central aim of Labour Party Marxists is to transform the Labour Party into an instrument for working class advance and international socialism. Towards that end we will join with others and seek the closest unity of the left inside and outside the party.

No doubt about that  which it trumpets – if that’s the right word for declarations that practically nobody ever reads.

But  there’s nothing about LPM’s inks with the Weekly Worker and the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee CPGB-PCC).

The Weekly Worker is a paper which produces some interesting material, some indeed very useful articles, but whose owners, said CPGB-PCC, have taste for political stunts not to mention an alliance with cascadeur  in chief, Tony ‘Monster Raving’ Greenstein Party. 

Not much closest possible unity with the rest of the left from that quarter!

They have just issued a spate of articles on the site of Labour Party Marxists  which may perhaps indicate this….

Cde Stan Keable (today, 15th of February)  sums up last week’s Labour Representation Committee Meeting, 

Labour Representation Committee: Reduced to a think tank?

Around 120 Labour Representation Committee members gathered in London’s Conway Hall on February 10 for yet another angst-ridden ‘special’ general meeting (SGM), in which a bewildered leadership shared with its rank and file its own failure – like most of the left – to draw into membership or engage with the ‘radicalised’ mass intake of Corbyn supporters into the Labour Party.

Perhaps they ought to have debated this  other 15th of February recent article?

Clause 4: Why revive a stinking corpse?

Jack Conrad (Chamberlain) questions the worth of the ‘Labour4Clause4’ campaign being promoted by Socialist Appeal. Instead of fostering illusions in Fabian socialism, surely the task of Marxists is to win the Labour Party to Marxist socialism.

But the prize must go to this chef d’oeuvre by Carla Roberts, also on the 15th of February (a busy day for LPM indeed!)

Witch-hunts: When chickens come home…

Roberts begins by citing the case of  “Jeremy Newmark, until recently chair of the Jewish Labour Movement” now embroiled in a corruption case after his swindles came to light. A particular gripe is that the Jewish Chronicle reported the affair in depth, “The enthusiasm with which the pro-Zionist Jewish Chronicle has attacked Newmark is quite breathtaking”.

That over we get attacks on the real enemies.

Jeremy Corbyn, “Corbyn has silently stood by, allowing pretty much any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel to be branded as evidence of anti-Semitism.”

 Jon Lansman ” who literally owns Momentum”. Selecting candidates for the Momentum list for Labour’s NEC, “Jon Lansman did what he does best: went nuclear.”

And,

Hope Not Hate, while not playing an active part in the witch-hunt, is a rightwing version of the Socialist Workers Party’s ‘Stand Up To Racism’.

At the conclusion there is the inevitable: The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, (AWL),

the AWL lacks the numbers and finance for that type of campaign. It represents more the type of busybody who would report their neighbour to the East German Stasi for watching West German TV.

Oddly some people in the Labour Party, including the left, are not fond of Labour Party Marxists or their antics.

But their drive to make the Labour Party into a Marxist Party, guided by their own interpretation of Lenin, proceeds apace.

Labour Against the Witch Hunt: Downing Versus Greenstein Battle joined by “Pro-Imperialist” Fourth International.

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Downing: Responds to Witch-Hunting in Labour Against the Witch-Hunt. 

While Tony Greenstein eats his weight in mince pies, and sets up a cash appeal that the wits of the Web have dubbed, “the Greenstein Pie Fund”, Gerry Downing and Socialist Fight have not been idling away their days scarfing down seasonal goodies.

Nor has out tip-top team of international investigative reporters on the trail of the latest developments in Labour Against the Witch Hunt (LAW).

A 700 pages defence of Socialist Fight’s democratic rights hit the Net a couple of days ago,

Defend Marxism and Labour Movement democracy against capitulators to Zionism

Socialist Fight statement on renewed witchhunting in ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’.

Workers’ democracy is under attack in the infant Labour Party campaign group ‘Labour Against the Witchhunt’. Despite a clear rejection by a properly constituted meeting of LAW on 2 Dec, of the executive’s attempt to exclude by dictat supporters of Socialist Fight, some members of the executive are defying that decision and have launched a campaign to overturn it. A flimsy motivation for this has been penned by Tony Greenstein, with the backing of the guru of the CPGB, Jack Conrad, whose organisation printed Greenstein’s article in their paper on December 14th.

On the 19th of December the Labour Movement was roused by the latest revelations from Socialist Fight.

Defend Socialist Fight, Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan

Comrades and friends,

Please see if you can make this. We would appreciate some help and votes on 6 January.

Gerry

The LAW meeting is at 12 noon on 6 January in the Calthorpe Arms, 252 Grays Inn Road, London, WC1X 8JR.

Defend Socialist Fight, Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan against the Tony Greenstein/Weekly Worker Witchhunt in Labour Against the Witchhunt on 6 January

Dear Comrades,

 On 9 March 2016 Gerry Downing, a leading member of Socialist Fight, was expelled from the Labour party without a hearing or a right to appeal on the instigation of right wing Tory blogger, Guido Fawkes, which prompted David Cameron to ask a question in the House of Commons on his anti-imperialist positions on the Twin Towers and ISIS.

He was auto-excluded within two hours. On 2 April John Lansman followed up the witchhunt by getting a unanimous vote to expel him from the Labour Representation Committee for anti-Semitism. This had to be withdrawn because their Barrister would not say who presented the charge, what the actual charge was and refused to define anti-Semitism.
The Left Unity Disputes Committee rejected earlier charges of anti-Semitism against Ian Donovan laid by the Weekly Worker’s Communist Platform on 14 September 2014.

Finally, a broad campaign, Labour Against the Witchhunt (LAW), was launched on 21 October 2017 because professor Moshé Machover was auto-excluded, and, as the Labour Party Marxists reported he was only “one of a long line of socialists, Corbyn supporters and defenders of Palestinian rights expelled or suspended on bogus charges of anti-Semitism”. Socialist Fight participated in that launch in the persons of Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan and contributed to the discussion and to the collection, expecting to assist in its work.

 The sorry tale continues,

However soon after that launch one Lee Rock began a vitriolic witch hunt against us, claiming we were anti-Semitic and should be expelled from LAW. The three remaining LAW Steering Committee members, Tony Greenstein, Stan Keable and Jackie Walker (Peter Firmin had resigned), duly obliged by auto-excluding us without a hearing or right to appeal, the very practice the group was set up to overturn in the Labour party. We were instructed not to attend to next LAW meeting as we were no longer members and we were blocked from the LAW Facebook page.

However, we did turn up early for the meeting on 2nd December with 3 supporters and, as Tony Greenstein reported the meeting was “effectively ambushed by a small Trotskyist grouping, Socialist Fight” i.e. our band of 5 managed to persuade the meeting, some 24 at its height, to refuse to accept the undemocratic, not to say autocratic, decisions of the triumvirate. We were accepted back in and reinstated in the Facebook page by Tony Greenstein.

 

For those who retain the will to live after reading that there is this:

 

Unfortunately, that was not the end of the matter. On 14 December Tony Greenstein resumed the witch hunt in an article in the Weekly Worker, Anti-Semites not welcome, Tony Greenstein explains why Socialist Fight must be excluded from Labour Against the Witchhunt. In it he pledged to try again to expel Socialist Fight from the next LAW meeting. This is his stance:

“There is no future for Labour Against the Witchhunt if Socialist Fight and its members remain an integral part of the organisation. For that reason I believe that it is essential that the next meeting, on January 6 should overturn the previous decision. If my views do not prevail, then I will resign from the organisation – as I believe will Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth of Grassroots Black Left.”
 
This is an appalling political stance, a refusal to accept labour movement democracy unless his views prevail, and demanding others walk out with him. Neither Gerry Downing nor Ian Donovan not any member or supporter of Socialist Fight, past or present, are in any way anti-Semitic. We are members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and are well-known defenders of Palestinian rights and opponents of the state of Israel. No one can point to a single act or political stance that is in any way racist or anti-Semitic except in the minds of those who want to appease the Labour party bureaucracy of Ian McNichol by proving they are neither revolutionary socialists and agree with him that Trotskyists should not be afforded any democratic rights whatsoever, a throwback to the Great Purges in the USSR in the 1930s and 1940s.

 Finally….

 

We appeal to you comrades to:

1.     Attend the meeting on 6 January, come a half an hour early, and speak and vote in our defence. It is an open meeting.
2.     Append you name to this statement by email or on our website, see below:
I defend the right of Socialist Fight Comrades to attend ad participate in the Labour Against the Witchhunt and reject the slurs of anti-Semitism directed against Socialist Fight and its two leading comrades, Gerry Downing and Ian Donovan.

What promises to be the must-be-at event of 2018 will be even spicier than one of Greensteins’ many pastries after the latest spat.

We expect to see some interesting scenes at the entrance to the Calthorpe Arms.

Will LAW exclude Socialist Fight and its allies from attending?

Massed petitions, Greenstein throwing stale mince pies, and lots of wobblies, are not ruled out.

It is called Socialist Fight after all.

To add to fuel to the fire another controversy has just broken out.

The Fourth International in Manchester Group published today an unkind piece of cde Downing which included the following,

Downing, not to be confused with Gerry Healy (though that little Gerry was once the big man for our future star), has written reams about the break-up of the WRP, and he will surely beat Donovan for the role, but this time in a rather more downbeat version of the film, ‘Bus Driver’ perhaps. Socialist Fight, which proclaims itself to be the British Section of the ‘Liaison Committee for the Fourth International’ (with three other appendages), is the latest incarnation of Downing after his Workers International League and its paper ‘Workers Action’ hit the buffers. Donovan, meanwhile, has form in many different roles, having been through more far-left groups than you have had hot dinners, and he’ll get a bit part. Just as he does now in Downing’s Socialist Fight, which has given Donovan a home following his well-deserved expulsion from the CPGB-PCC. The film-score, by the way, will be by jazz saxophonist and antisemite Gilad Atzmon.

Phew!

And,

In the tiny narcissistic and paranoiac world of Socialist Fight, there is a ‘Jewish Bourgeoisie’ that has intimate direct ties to the State of Israel, and it is this conspiratorial vision of the world that supposedly explains why the Jews who are, we are told, ‘over-represented’ in the ruling class must be called out. Full-blown ‘anti-Zionism’ must, according to Downing and Donovan, name this Jewish bourgeoisie as an influence to be rooted out, and so (as many hard-line Zionists would predict and wish) anti-Zionism shades into antisemitism. This is no longer socialism as such. No wonder these two are admired by Gilad Atzmon who has made a disgusting speciality of celebrating self-hatred – a Jew who hates, he says, every bit of him that reminds him that he is Jewish – and no wonder that they return the favour.

the Manchester Fourth Internationalists compare Downing to Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, who “doesn’t really have a plan or know where he is going”.

Ideological debate on this is intense. Many other comrades think a character out of The League of Gentlemen is more appropriate, somebody who brings a certain joy to the lives of local people.

Image result for league of gentlemen

 

Naturally this roused the ire of cde Downing.

The Fourth International in Manchester attack Socialist Fight. From the group that is now so pro imperialist left that it gave full support to the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya on behalf of NATO via the renegade Trotskyist Gilbert Atchcar (sic) and Syria via the imperialist backed jihadists and the fascist-led Maiden coup in Ukraine.”

And now this shower of Trotskyist renegade attacks the principled anti imperialism of Socialist Fight, whose record of support for every anti imperialist struggle, beginning in Ireland and ranging from Libya to Syria to Ukraine, South Africa and North Korea and Cuba and Zimbabwe. Unconditional but critical support via the Anti Imperialis United Front as opposed to all that grovelling before the masters of life for the FIIMG.

Socialist Fight.

All is not lost.

We learn that the Downingites have also recruited a valuable ally against Greensteinism and all of its works, and no doubt the Fourth International, “My group the International Bolshevik Tendency has disagreements with Socialist Fight but Downing is quite good at sticking to issues and steering clear from ad hominem, slander and what have you. The same can’t be said for some on the left.”