Corbyn and his Sturmabteilung: is this serious political debate?
As many readers of this Blog, often the majority, are not from the UK, this is a stark reminder to them of how far things have go with us.
Left Socialist Blog
Responses to: The Battle for The Labour Party: Channel 4 Dispatches
The programme said it had uncovered fresh evidence that Corbyn-backing grassroots group Momentum is being influenced by “hard left revolutionaries”.
It said one has advocated a “flood” of leftists into Labour while others back mandatory reselection of anti-Corbyn MPs.
Jill Mountford, who sits on Momentum’s Steering Committee but has recently been expelled by Labour for links to hard-left group the Alliance for Workers Liberty (AWL), was filmed at a Party meeting holding a copy of an AWL newspaper bearing the headline: “Flood the Labour Party .”
Footage shows her saying: “In 30 odd years of being politically active, I don’t think I can remember a time, apart from the miner’s strike, a time as exciting as this.
“If you haven’t already joined the Labour party, then you should join. If you haven’t already joined Momentum then you must join. We have to fight to shape the way the Momentum develops and the way the Labour party develops”
A Momentum spokesperson said: “Momentum membership is open to members, affiliates and supporters of the Labour Party and not open to members of other parties, those hostile to Labour or those that do not share Momentum’s objectives. All members must declare that they “support the aims and values of the Labour Party and (are) not a supporter of any organisation opposed to it.”
In a statement to Dispatches, Jill Mountford said: “We are open, honest socialists looking to discuss big ideas on how to create a better, fairer world for everyone.”
Momentum founder Jon Lansman said Ms Mountford was speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of Momentum.
Zac Goldsmith says Dispatches’ ‘weak’ investigation of Momentum will only help Jeremy Corbyn.
Conservative MP calls media impartiality into question. Independent.
Apart from Momentum’s official statements we are confident that there are many others who will stand their corner. Already: Dispatches won’t stop Momentum inspiring young people – we’re here to stay. Phil’s post which makes very accurate points, Momentum is Nothing Like Militant “an organisation that is totally transparent, easy to get involved with, and mirrors the properties of the network would do. There’s a reason why dull, plodding authoritarian outfits like the Socialist Party (despite its mini-Militant rebrand) and the SWP rape cult have been left out in the cold. As it stands, Momentum is a good way of consolidating these new members and turning them to campaigning activity, both with the party and in other labour movement campaigns.”
But what of the issue of Trotskyism and the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty?
Much indeed has been made of ‘Trotskyism’ in recent weeks.
The AWL is, it says, a Trotskyist group.
What does this mean?
To begin from their practice: the AWL has played a positive role, for some years now, in defending the cause of human rights: from its backing for the ‘two states’ position on Palestine and Israel, its refusal to follow the implicitly pro-Assad stand of some in the anti-war’ movement in Syria, its opposition to those who stand with Vladimir Putin on a range of issues, including Ukraine.
In short, in the tradition of ‘Third Camp‘ Trotskyism (neither imperialism nor Stalinism but socialism) the group has stood against the ‘anti-imperialism of fools’ of those who automatically side with the opponents of the ‘West’, nationalist dictators, Islamists and authoritarian of all stripes. Their stand indicates that the debate about theory indicated in more detail above can have relevance to the world today.
This has not won them universal admiration, particularly from those determined to blame everything on ‘imperialism’ in general and the USA in particular.
The AWL has also campaigned, over a long period (going back to the 1975 Referendum), for a Workers’ Europe.
This was their call in 2015:
We advocate the left forms a united campaign with the following aims:
• To defend migrants’ rights and oppose racism
• To vote against British withdrawal from the EU
• To fight for a workers’ Europe, based on working class solidarity.
Many people, trade union, political and campaign group activists, far beyond the AWL itself, supported this call.
Just before the Referendum in June they stated,
Theory: for anybody genuinely interested in what the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty means by Trotskyism the place to start is there: The two Trotskyisms. Sean Matgamna followed by Reviews and comments on The Two Trotskyisms. These debated a range of points about ‘orthodox’ and ‘heterodox’ Trotskyism, and whether these had any meaning and relevance in left politics today.
The AWL published many of these contributions in its paper, Solidarity.
They included a long article (carried over 2 issues) critical of Trotskyism from a democratic Marxist stand, by somebody that modesty forbids us to name ( Raising Atlantis?)
It is clear that comrade Sacha is right to say, “We always argue for our ideas through open discussion and debate. People either reject what we say or are convinced by it, and that’s fine. Our members and supporters make no apologies for trying to influence policy. That is what democratic politics is about. On that last point, we are no different from members of Progress, the Fabian Society, Compass and other Labour Party groupings”.
Solidarity, is known in the movement for its serious articles on trade union issues, reliable reports on subjects such as Welfare and Women’s rights, and an approach to anti-racism that does not dismiss the problem of reactionary Islamism and the persistence of anti-Semitism.
To continue on Europe to illustrate the group’s activity: during the EU Referendum, the AWL, like Momentum, (EU referendum: Momentum movement campaigners drafted in to rally support for Remain vote) actively backed the themes of Another Europe is Possible, the left ‘Remain’ campaign.
On this key issue, which defines present British politics, the group showed its commitment to backing Labour Party policy, campaigning not in order to ‘recruit’ for its group but to further the interests of the movement as a whole.
After the vote to Leave comrade Martin Thomas wrote,
What is to be done now is to conserve and extend workers’ unity, between workers in Britain of all origins and between British and European workers; to defend migrant rights and the worker rights which have entered British law under pressure from the EU; to fight to redirect the social anger expressed in Brexit votes towards social solidarity, taxing the rich, and social ownership of the banks and industry; and to stand up for socialism. None of that can be done if the left falls for the fantasy that the Brexit vote already took things our way.
A broad swathe of democratic socialists would agree with this.
This Blog, a left European democratic socialist site, has no hesitation in defending the AWL against the accusations of undemocratic practice made by Dispatches and others.
Full text of Sacha’s video talk here: Dispatches attacks Workers’ Liberty.
Posadists Call on Allies to Help Kick out Tories.
As support for revolutionary socialism grows in Britain, the Posadists in historic breakthrough, The League for the Fifth International (formerly known as Workers’ Power) emerging from decades of underground struggle to publish Red Flag (‘The Voice of Labour’s Revolutionary Change’), Bermondsey Republican Socialists proudly fighting for Annual Parliaments and the Abolition of the Corn Laws, and the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International well on the way to the “re-creation of a World Party of Socialist Revolution“, the class struggle is heating up.
Conditions for revolution, the strategists of this movement declare, are not only ripe, i.e. not rotten, but in a historical crisis within which a vanguard leadership can resolve the problem of insurrectionary guidance… Counterfire.
In a key statement (soon to filed on the Marxist Internet Archive) David Moyles wrote for Counterfire on the “actuality of the revolution”
there are those who think that however static and stable things may seem, capitalist society is fundamentally pretty chaotic.
The leaders of the British revolution have now issued this careful assessment of the conjuncture and the possibilities it offers for the left,
Mick Wattam begins by blaming opponents of Jeremy Corbyn for the failure to seize the opportunities offered at the “very moment when the Tories were in disarray over the Brexit vote”.
So divided Theresa May was elected without a contest…
That is, after, as Nick Wrack of the Fire Brigades Union noted – against the assessment of Brexiters like Counterfire,
The Brexit vote was a defeat for the working class in Britain as well as internationally. It was a defeat for internationalism and collectivism. Brexit was a victory for populist demagogy, xenophobes and racists. Brexit has already had detrimental economic effects and worse is likely to come.
Brexit has resulted in a more right-wing government. It means an already difficult period ahead will be even harder for the trade union movement and the working-class communities we represent.
Still, Hope, Wattam writes, lies in the proles – undermining the “system”.
Although Corbynism threatens to destabilise the way the political system has worked for a long time, with its reliance on a muted opposition from Labour, we will need a much bigger and more inclusive struggle to bring about real change.
Put simply, Corbyn needs the unions…for what?
The new politics spearheaded by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are certainly worth fighting for, and call for a revolutionary change in how our society is run. But if it is limited to participating in wards and constituencies in order to win positions in the Labour machine, the energy will soon dissipate. There has to be a call for action in the trade union movement where the thousands of new people inspired by Corbyn can make a difference.
To repeat: for what?
Wattam continues, almost, rationally, that there may well be a few obstacles in the way,
If the Tories are able to stack up the victories through this new government which has not even won an election, then they and the people they represent will be jubilant. They will be invigorated by their reversal of the major achievements of our labour movement in the 20th century, which were won through the culmination of long and bitter struggles over many years.
Although the consequences of such Tory victories will inevitably lead to less opportunity and more misery for ordinary people, this may not necessarily lead to a growth of support for the left and Corbyn. It could easily lead to more support for the right within Labour under the guise of unity at all cost against Tory attacks.
He then draws out this alternative..
The only way of propelling forward the Corbyn revolution is to build the movement on the streets and support for the important strikes due to take place in the coming weeks and months. The defeat of the Tories cannot come too soon, and it can only come from our actions.
How “Our actions” “in the streets” and “strikes” (at an all time historic low) are the way forward is left hanging. In the air. Or the wind.
But who cares about boring elections!
Look at this…
The demonstration at the Tory Party conference on Sunday 2 October, called by the People’s Assembly, has to be a huge rally in support of the Junior Doctors, against the reintroduction of grammar schools, and a loud and united notice from all sections of our movement to Theresa May’s government that we are determined to kick them out of office.
How? What is this “crucial standoff” outside the Tory Conference? A situation in which one force or party neutralises or counterbalances the other and further action is prevented; a standstill: a standoff between demonstrators and the police? A tie or draw, as in a contest? That is however determined it may be, a deadlock.
If the People’s Assembly Rally (perhaps I have missed this, but it is not going to be that large at all) is unable to ‘defeat’ the Tories in Birmingham will it be the task of the “Corbyn Revolution”?
All the words about ‘fight’ and “kick them out” cannot disguise the emptiness of this sound and fury.
To cite the classics of the workers’ movement:
Alex Callinicos, of the rival Socialist Workers Party, perhaps signals the thinking behind the idea that the Conservative Party might be pushed out (Socialist Worker).
Speaking of divisions over Grammar Schools he writes,
the whole business confirms what a chaotic state the Tories are in, despite the impression of stability May created by taking over and putting the stamp of her authority on the government. But this authority will be tested very severely in the months and years ahead.
Authority…test…. chaos, chaotic states, complete disorder and confusion.
One solution: Revolution!
Corbyn and his Sturmabteilung: is this serious political debate?
As many readers of this Blog, often the majority, are not from the UK, this is a stark reminder to them of how far things have go with us.
Michael Foster, who has given party £400,000, says he did not use word ‘Nazi’ in piece referring to leader’s Sturmabteilung.
The Labour party has suspended a prominent donor for likening Jeremy Corbyn’s team to Nazi storm troopers.
Michael Foster, a former celebrity agent who has donated more than £400,000 to the party, said the Labour leader and his team had “no respect for others and worse, no respect for the rule of law”.
His comments were published in article published in the Mail on Sunday, titled: “Why I despise Jeremy Corbyn and his Nazi stormtroopers’, by Jewish Labour donor Michael Foster.”
The piece appeared on 14 August after the high court ruled against Foster’s bid to stop Corbyn from being automatically allowed to stand for re-election as leader.
The former Labour parliamentary candidate in Camborne and Redruth said: “To me, respect for the rule of law is fundamental to a democracy.
“The courts decided that the rules as they stand allowed it. This decision advantaged Corbyn and his Sturm Abteilung (stormtroopers).”
Foster has said that he did not use the word “Nazi” in his article, but it was included in the headline by the Mail on Sunday.
This is what the relevant section of the article says,
To me, respect for the rule of law is fundamental to a democracy. Once political parties believe they are above the law it ends with all opposition silenced, whether it is my grandparents in Dachau, or the Left in Erdogan’s Turkey rounded up and held uncharged in prison.
The courts decided that the rules as they stand allowed it. This decision advantaged Corbyn and his Sturm Abteilung (stormtroopers), but on Friday afternoon the Appeal Court handed down a big decision for British democracy.
It disallowed the attempt by arriviste followers of Corbyn to flood the Labour electoral college. This caused the mask of reasonableness of the Corbynista leadership to slip even further.
Suddenly the most holy of holies, the NEC, was labelled a shoddy organisation capable of using a ‘grubby little device’. Cross this lot and you are straight into the firing line.
Corbyn no longer has a clear path in his bid to destroy the Labour Party as we have known it in Government and in Opposition for the past 70 years.
The Mirror adds,
Mr Foster insists his remarks referred to Mr Corbyn’s “leadership cadre”, and could just as easily have compared them to the “Pretorian Guard or Revolutionary Guard or Red Guard – a group there to secure the leader and his political plans.”
There are already voices from the left calling, ironically or not, for support for Foster against the decision to suspend him…
This is not the only example of complete political hysteria and confusion in the Labour Party.
A few days ago there was this, from Owen Smith, candidate to lead the Labour Party, during the debate with Jeremy Corbyn on Question Time.
Mr Smith said: “Under Jeremy’s leadership, we’ve seen people coming into the Labour party from the hard-left of politics people who are bringing into our party anti-Semitic attitudes and that cannot be acceptable,
“There are people on the far left of the Labour party who are flooding in to our party and that’s their word, not mine.The Alliance of Workers Liberty only a couple of weeks ago said ‘let’s flood into the Labour party’.
“Just the other day I saw a tweet purporting to be from Jeremy’s team to members of a hard-left group saying ‘you’re welcome to come to Jeremy’s rallies, just leave the flags and banners at home’. And the reason for that is we’ve seen some of those flags and banners at some of Jeremy’s rallies and unfortunately some of those people are bringing in attitudes to our party from the hard-left that I don’t think is welcome.”
“There are people who have come from the AWL and the SWP (Socialist Workers Party) and some of the other left-wing groups which have either not been part of the Labour party or have been proscribed by the Labour party and some of those people are advocating joining the Labour party in order to support Jeremy and in order to control the Labour party. Some of the people around Jeremy are absolutely encouraging it, of that there is no doubt.”
The AWL replied (in our view, in measured terms),
On BBC Question Time (Labour leadership debate, 8 September) Owen Smith, in the stream-of-consciousness style that has come to typify Smith’s approach to political debate, links the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (as part of the “hard left in our Party” “flooding into the Party”) to those on the left who “associate anti-Zionism, anti-imperialism”, “anti-Israel” perspectives (sic). That is, he implicitly called us anti-semitic.
This incoherent tirade against the “hard left” was a disgraceful intervention into an important issue that deserves serious, well-informed debate.
Smith’s comments referred back to an earlier exchange with Jeremy Corbyn in the programme in which he accused Corbyn of not doing enough to make the Party a safe place for Jewish members; and the hard left (which would, he implied include the AWL, were causing this problem). There were other accusations streamed into Smith’s tirade, but let’s focus on the accusation of anti-semitism.
You don’t have to know very much about what the AWL stands for, agree with the AWL’s two-state position on Israel-Palestine, or even be very left-wing to be aware that any accusation of “left anti-semitism” against us, however half-stated, is ludicrous. We have spent many years exposing, analysing and fighting this phenomena and it has not won us many friends on the organised hard left!
Trotskyist Groups in the UK (to be Updated…)
Trotsky, Trotskyism and Trotskyites was on Radio Four last night.
The central committee of Tendance Coatesy gives the programme:
The claim that Trotskyist groups are peripheral to Corbyn’s success, tiny in number, and peripheral to politics, may well be true.
It might nevertheless still be a slur on comrade Gerry Downing, The Posadists, Red Flag (of the League for the Fifth International), the News Line, and indeed the Brent Soviet, that their august opinions were not solicited on this, and many other, vital points.
But more important issues, on which they have little informed comment to make, are at stake.
The Central Committee wishes to let it be known that the programme, ostensibly about Trotskyist entrists in the Labour Party, had one big gap, and that gap has a name, Socialist Action.
Socialist Action is a small Trotskyist group in the United Kingdom. The group was founded in 1982 when the International Marxist Group entered the Labour Party and changed its name to the Socialist League. It became generally known by the name of its publication, Socialist Action, which first appeared on 16 March 1983…………
From the mid-1980s Socialist Action became an entryist organisation, attempting to take over other organisations, with members using code names and not revealing their affiliation. It maintains a website but no publicly-visible formal organisation.
The organisation was linked with the 2000–2008 Greater London mayoral administrations of Ken Livingstone, although Livingstone was never a member.[Four of Livingstone’s key advisers were Socialist Action members; all made the “top 25” in the Evening Standard‘s 2007 list of the most influential people in London.
Fast forward to the present,
Following Jeremy Corbyn‘s election as Labour Party leader and Leader of the Opposition in 2015, it was claimed (by former member Atma Singh) that Socialist Action were building “a real power base” around Corbyn. Simon Fletcher – who according to Singh had been on the SA central committee – was appointed Corbyn’s Chief of Staff while John Ross has been linked to Corbyn’s inner circle. Former SA member Kate Hudson also works closely with Corbyn as president of CND, with Corbyn now vice president.
Now we happen to know that this account is not entirely accurate.
But was this elite entrist group mentioned?
No it was not.
We were mortified to learn that the only person John Callagham and the rest of the people on the programme could recall from our halcyon days in the IMG was poor old Liberal Democrat voting Tariq Ali.
Or so it was claimed.
Was Callaghan a member of IMG Tendency B? Were any others involved in the broadcast members, ‘sympathisers’ or ‘moles’?
We think we should be told.
Back to the Beginning…..
We were always too incompetent and self-obsessed to do damage. The real threat comes from the Gramscian legions of the dull
“My main aim as a university revolutionary at York was (I now confess) to do down the rival International Marxist Group…The difference was emphasised by the names of our newspapers — ours was Socialist Worker, theirs was Red Mole. Our contest once led us both to seek recruits at the Kit Kat factory, where they distributed (I am not making this up) a special publication called The Chocolate Mole. “
Hitchens sternly warns,
And so the real revolution in the Labour party, which most of Fleet Street has never understood, was inflicted not by Trotskyists, but by the legions of the dull — Eurocommunists who realised Bolshevism was obsolete, quietly captured think tanks and policy committees, and used the apolitical figure of Tony Blair as the front for a Gramscian cultural, constitutional, educational and sexual revolution, whose greatest triumph was to capture the Tory party as well as the Labour party.
Hitchens may be right. Hhis brand of illiberalism (and sovereigntism, a trait he shared with many an erstwhile leftist, here across the Continent), “embracing equality and diversity, the unmarried family, globalism and open borders,” may risk disturbing “thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, (who) chew the cud and are silent.”
.Whether there was a Gramscian struggle for hegemony that resulted in the defeat of his traditionalists remains to be seen.
One recent event may indicate that these forces have not won…er Europe…..er…Referendum.
One would have thought Hitchens would have embraced the anti-European Leave campaign, and, perhaps in an ecumenical spirit, found himself glad to be on the same side as the his former comrades in the SWP, not to mention the Militant – Socialist Party in England and Wales, rallying, like UKIP and the Tory Right to defend “our” land against the Globe. He should surely be bathing in the joys of victory.