Tendance Coatesy

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American SWP (no relation to UK SWP) Denounce “Violent course of antifa, Black Lives Matter threat to working class.”

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Page 7: “Antifa, Black Lives Matter threat to working class.”

This Blog does not often comment on US politics. The earthquakes that have been happening recently have been covered from the left too well elsewhere.

There is excellent information available daily through Marx Mail, and Louis Proyect and people like Spencer Sunshine. Spencer is excellent on antifa and their fight against the US far-right.

It does not take long to imagine why there has been little comment here: conditions are dramatic and you need to be familiar with what is very different culture,  and political landscape, to write anything useful.

But this article in the very latest Militant (the original, not the UK version of years past), a Trotskyist publication which dates back to the 1930s, is too extraordinary to pass without comment.

Violent course of antifa, Black Lives Matter threat to working class

In recent weeks there has been an escalation in deadly street violence  led by antifa and leaders of Black Lives Matter, as well as by some rightist vigilantes – from Portland, Oregon, to Kenosha, Wisconsin. The looting, intimidation, arson, street fighting, and shootings pose a deadly threat to the working class.

All summer, groups of antifa have carried out provocative nightly actions in Portland, including attacking police, setting fires and breaking windows. These actions are dangerous for working people looking for ways to resist bosses’ efforts to push the capitalist crisis onto our shoulders. They deal blows to fights by unionists, against cop brutality and for Black rights.

This is unforgivable:

As they glorify violence, the embittered middle-class forces of antifa rail against “the elite,” elevate small group action above political struggle and remain deeply alienated from the working class. They have much in common with fascist groups they claim to oppose. Others have traveled this road previously, like Italian Socialist Party leader Benito Mussolini who went on to lead fascist forces to power in 1922.

There is more in the same vein,

The violence and thuggery practiced by antifa and Black Lives Matter is the opposite of the broad, inclusive mobilizations that were organized in late May, largely by young people in thousands of towns large and small across the country in response to police brutality.

By focusing on “Actions seeking to silence, “shame” and intimidate people are on a political course toward anti-working-class thuggery” – actions few would hesitate to condemn – as if anybody is in favour of thugs –  the SWP misses the dynamic in which this is happening.

It is not hard to agree with US comrades who immediately see this part of the sentence, that in the US the “deadly street violence (is)  led by antifa and leaders of Black Lives Matter, “

In other words, they are a major cause of “violence and thuggery”.

To boot, they are not just opposed to broad demonstrations, they  have “much in common” with  Mussolini’s  squadristi.

How has it come to this?  

The American Socialist Workers Party  (SWP) is  the oldest continuous organisation in the world which comes from the Trotskyist tradition. Formally created in 1937 its origins go back to the Communist League of America (CLA) created in 29128 by opponents of Stalin who had been expelled from the US Communist Party.

Many British people on the radical left have an affection for the early years of the party whose most famous leader was  James.P.Cannon.

When you read about Trotskyism in the 1930s and 1940s, from the strike waves during the Roosevelt years, to the New York Intellectuals,  you will find many references to the SWP. One dissident faction, the. Shachtmanites, which broke from them at the start of the 1940s, even gets a mention in the Coen Brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davis

This Blog comes from a different strand of the radical anti-Stalinist left, largely European. The tradition that supported workers’ self-management represented by Michel Pablo (Rapitis), was originally Trotskyist, and at frequent loggerheads with the US SWP. For some, our ideas are shaped by non-Trotskyist democratic Marxist traditions which have had roots  in such currents the London Bureau of left-socialist parties, later called the International Revolutionary Marxist Centre, the body that was behind the ILP and George Orwell’s support for the POUM during the Spanish Civil War or the 1960s New Left of  Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the Low Countries.

In broader terms our  activities, our socialist, social democratic, and labour parties, and radical new leftist groups which have had an electoral presence, have an imprint that makes it hard for us to relate to a political environment where ‘left’ frequently means liberal, and the Democratic Party has marginalised anything less moderate than (in European terms) social democrats like Bernie Sanders.

Some people in the UK have had more direct contract with the SWP. Within the 1970s British left, in the International Marxist Group, the supporters of the US party ‘The Tendency’ were a vocal presence during the 1970s and continued there until the mid-1980s.  They stood for very different politics to TC, above all through its hostility to the Portuguese radical left following the 1974  ‘Carnation Revolution’. For some the activities and over-vocal presence  of this group, described even then as ‘cultish’ did not create much affection for their parent body.

The tiny fragment that remains of this group, the Communist League, is pro-Brexit and has a variety of other obnoxious positions (cosying up to Castro’s successors for a start). They are part of what is the SWP’s ‘international’, the Pathfinder tendency Careful observers sometimes spot them at demos with their characteristic hand-made placards covered with felt-tip slogans, a practice mimicked by the Spartacists. They sell Pathfinder books and copies of the US Militant.

Here is a rare photo of their ‘candidate’ for the London Mayor in 2016  (he did not run in the end) Roger Silberman, who was once quite prominent in the IMG.

Galloway Faces Strong Left Challenge as Communist League Silberman Stands for London Mayor. | Tendance Coatesy

Their US parent has moved away from Trotskyism, summed up  Jack Barnes Their Trotsky and Ours (2002) and move to turn themselves into an ally of the Cuban Communist Party. After years of purges, shrunk down to a small cult, with more than enough money to keep going and attempt to run a 2020 candidate for President, Alyson Kennedy.

In case you think that description is a bit shop-worn, this is how Louis Proyect describes their present form,

In this photograph, dated March 15, 2020, you will see a group of mostly senior citizens defying the call for social distancing. Who could they be? Rightwing Christian evangelists? Libertarians standing up for liberty?

Instead, you are looking at members of the Socialist Workers Party at a memorial meeting for one of their members who died last month. The Militant newspaper reported that more than sixty people were in attendance. That’s probably about half the membership, and 1,900 less than when I was a member back in the 1970s. What happened to all these people, including me? Most either drifted away or became victims of a purge in the early 1980s when they fought to preserve the party’s Trotskyist heritage. Over the past decade, the dropout rate accelerated mostly as a result of the party adopting increasingly peculiar positions. Of the remaining 100 or so, their activism mostly consists of going door to door like Jehovah’s Witnesses peddling the books and newspapers of what most would view as a cult.

The SWP and Social Distancing: a Study in Abnormal Political Psychology

This is the SWP’s present perspective,

It is in the course of these fights and broader struggles in the years ahead working people will learn how to defend ourselves in disciplined ways from assaults by the bosses and cops who protect their rule. And we will see more clearly the middle-class character and dangerous anti-working-class course of antifa and the Black Lives Matter leadership.

As we do so we’ll gain confidence in our own forces and have the opportunity to build a movement capable of bringing an end to capitalist rule and replacing it with our own government.

Some suggest that they have just got older and more conservative with the years….


Some links: USA: On the Formation of the Jack Barnes Cult in the SWP Gus Horowitz.

USA – SWP: Long March to Oblivion David Finkel.

More than a cultist. Andrew Coates reviews Memoirs of a Critical Communist. Towards a History of the Fourth International, by Livio Maitan.


 The American Socialist Workers Party (no relation to the UK SWP), the oldest Trotskyist party in the world, and an influence on the celebrated list of 1930s New York Intellectuals, under the impact of Jack Barnes today subordinates its politics to the Cuban state. Maitan charges them with their leader’s ‘authoritarian behaviour’ and purging their group by accusations of ‘disloyalty’. He does not explore allegations of ‘cultism’ and ‘Trotskyist missionaries’ common to those who have had contact with them in Europe.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 12, 2020 at 8:30 pm

Weather Underground Call to “Attack and Dethrone God” Behind Black Lives Matter Protests – Fox News.

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Attack and Dethrone God: ‘Trending’.

This is a story,  believe it, circulating today,

‘Attack And Dethrone God’ trends amid BLM protests: Is the Weather Underground back from the dead to fight racism?

With the social unrest and Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the nation in the wake of the killing of George Floyd refusing to die down, extreme reactions have started surfacing on virtual platforms like Twitter and one of them is #AttackAndDethroneGod. It is not too difficult to understand who is the target of the Twitter trend and with it, the name of the once-famous Weather Underground Organization (WUO) is also doing the rounds. President Donald Trump has recently expressed his intention to designate the left-wing anti-fascist Antifa movement as a terror organization in the wake of the Floyd protests and with the surfacing of the WUO’s name now, it is clear that the US is now trapped between extreme conflicting ideologies.

This if the Fox News broadcast that sparked the prairie fire.

The Jerusalem Post reports this story, tongue firmly in the cheek.

Riots, like military org., ‘attack and dethrone God’ – Former FBI agent

Turchie claimed that “Praire Fire” highlighted six main points that the WUO intended on executing in order to achieve their goals, the last of which was titled “attack and dethrone God.”

Former FBI deputy counterterror director Terry Turchie told Fox News‘s Laura Ingraham on Friday when speaking on the news that the riots occurring throughout the United States in response to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police is not unlike the extreme leftist Weather Underground Organization (WUO), claiming one of its intentions was to “attack and dethrone God.”

“They had a major goal, and that goal was to form a communist revolution,” Turchie said. “They call themselves communist-minded men and women, and in 1974 they authored a document called ‘Prairie Fire,’ and they outline their strategy and they outline the way they could get to that strategy and actually bring down the US government.”

Turchie claimed that “Praire Fire” highlighted six main points that the WUO intended on executing in order to achieve their goals, the last of which was titled “attack and dethrone God.” Turchie did not clarify what he meant by this last strategy.

They continue,

Police racism then and police racism now is a phony issue,” he concluded. “It has always been a phony issue. It is the issue that communist societies use to literally tear apart Americans and to be devisive. Those categories of people you have on that screen, those are the kind of victimhood that they look for to kind of bring in the focus, large groups of people, and get them on the team here.”

The point stating “attack and dethrone God” received massive backlash online, with many Twitter users who support the Black Lives Matter movement amid the riots joking that they surely intend to do so.

This Blog recommends the following book for the history of he Weather Underground:

Jacobs, Ron (1997). The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground. London: Verso

You can download a copy for free from Libcom here.

I first became aware of Weatherman in the fall of 1970, after opening a copy of Quicksilver Times and reading about the group’s assistance in Timothy Leary’s escape from a prison inCalifornia. Although I personally preferred the antics of that other psychedelic prankster KenKesey, the fact that a political organization had aided the unreservedly apolitical Leary to escape fascinated me

This is the last paragraph.

On January 6, 1994, one of the last of those charged in the Days of Rage went to court. Twenty-five years after the first national Weather action, Jeff Powell ended his life underground to face riot charges. He was fined $500 and placed on probation. Nearly a quarter-century after Weather called on the youth of America to bring the war home, Powell, a foot soldier in the Days of Rage, finally surrendered.15

The claim about the Weather Underground are not voices crying in the wilderness.

To just how wild the US right is these days the following is a windy straw;

The Democrat Party these days has actually ended up being more extreme than the Weather Underground, raising the concern what traitorous red line should the Democrat Party cross prior to the leaders are detained for sedition, and the Party dissolved for being a company that has just one goal: The basic improvement of our Constitutional Republic, into a totalitarian socialist state.

Liberals Have Chose To Tear Apart What They Cannot Rule

Written by Andrew Coates

June 6, 2020 at 11:53 am

Lundi Matin, Heirs of the Situationist International, on the US Protests.

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Lundi matin, le foyer insurrectionnel du web

Home of ‘Insurrection”.


Lundi Matin, the “le foyer insurrectionnel du web” has, as was predictable, has published material celebrating the revolt in the USA.


Let us set the mood.

With a background in situationism, and council communism, not to mention a claim to the traditions of Socialisme ou Barbarie (2020: Retour sur le débat et la scission de Socialisme ou Barbarie en 1963,) and very very obviously the “comité invsible“, the review Lundi Matin is keen to stress the difference between long-term organised political activists (‘integrated’ into the ‘system’) and youth in revolt, ” militants minoritaires mais “responsables” à la masse jeune et énergique qui impulse la révolte.” They stress the latter’s  self-organisation. For all the novelty of latter theorising  these themes continue (2020. MANIFESTE DES NON-TRAVAILLEUR.ES.S DE L’ART) They pit absolute opposition to existing affairs against everything else. In these events, reform, a more equal society, has run up against the walls and fortifications of historical, entrenched, racism. (1)

The weekly has had a print version of some of its issues, published bi-annually, by La Découverte, indicating its wider impact, or ambitions, within the French radical left.

In words that have been taken from the pages of Internationale situationniste, (1957 – 1972) they talk of a “une forme immorale de joie” in the act of revolt,, but do not predict any outcome. That is, the offer no programme, no political strategy, no way of securing mundane change in US society, no idea of how to get rid of the gibbering President Trump.

In an interesting section Lundi Matin cites Robert Hurley, a respected American translator of Foucault, Deleuze, Bataille (hard to summarise, see link) Clastres (radical anthropologist) and Tiqqun, the journal forerunner of the Invisible Committee.

This is what philosophers call an aporia, that is to say an insoluble problem in a given framework. One of these aporias is that the “white and western” framework in which we operate has been built around a vacuum created by the exclusion of entire parts of humanity. In this specific case, it is black. So when black people “go into action”, it is this very void that is revealed. I believe that is why the situation is considered to be “revolutionary”. What is incredible in this sequence is that it is not the only void, not the only nothingness that emerges, insofar as we manage to conceive different types of void.

The current situation certainly looks a lot like the previous uprisings and waves of riots. We obviously think of the reactions that followed the beating of Rodney King. What seems to me different today, however, is that there is no longer any liberal consensus linked to the idea of ​​social progress associated with it. As I said, the participants operate in the middle of a sort of void, no one believes that repairing it is possible. This as such produces massive anger. We see hundreds of potential killers amongst  the police attacking us on the streets and so even if “justice” were obtained for George Floyd, it would only represent a brief respite that would last only a day or so a week at most. The intensity of the situation probably also owes a lot to the management of covid19 and the pathetic prospect of the next elections.

Hurley’s translation:

More in this vein:


Lundi Matin decorates their articles with tweets.

Such as these: from this group (cited above) who declare, “Violence is first of all the conditions imposed on us, the police defense of them and, unfortunately more rarely, that which we throw back in their faces.”

Our Newhounds found this other tweet from the Acid Communist League:

On setting fire to a Trade Union building in Washington:

Lundi Matin do mention the antifas, but not much.

They note that they have been singled out (that is, scapegoated) “Là-aussi les “antifas” avaient été pointés du doigt”

After these heady words, that is phrase-mongering, it is with relief that we turn to the good sense of Spencer Sunshine’s latest:

Also worth following:


(1) For Reference. The Situationist International on the Watts Riots of 1965

The Decline and Fall of the
Spectacle-Commodity Economy


The Los Angeles rebellion was a rebellion against the commodity, against the world of the commodity in which worker-consumers are hierarchically subordinated to commodity standards. Like the young delinquents of all the advanced countries, but more radically because they are part of a class without a future, a sector of the proletariat unable to believe in any significant chance of integration or promotion, the Los Angeles blacks take modern capitalist propaganda, its publicity of abundance, literally. They want to possess now all the objects shown and abstractly accessible, because they want to use them. In this way they are challenging their exchange-value, the commodity reality which molds them and marshals them to its own ends, and which has preselected everything. Through theft and gift they rediscover a use that immediately refutes the oppressive rationality of the commodity, revealing its relations and even its production to be arbitrary and unnecessary. The looting of the Watts district was the most direct realization of the distorted principle: “To each according to their false needs” — needs determined and produced by the economic system which the very act of looting rejects. But once the vaunted abundance is taken at face value and directly seized, instead of being eternally pursued in the rat-race of alienated labor and increasing unmet social needs, real desires begin to be expressed in festive celebration, in playful self-assertion, in the potlatch of destruction. People who destroy commodities show their human superiority over commodities. They stop submitting to the arbitrary forms that distortedly reflect their real needs. The flames of Watts consummated the system of consumption. The theft of large refrigerators by people with no electricity, or with their electricity cut off, is the best image of the lie of affluence transformed into a truth in play. Once it is no longer bought, the commodity lies open to criticism and alteration, whatever particular form it may take. Only when it is paid for with money is it respected as an admirable fetish, as a symbol of status within the world of survival.

Looting is a natural response to the unnatural and inhuman society of commodity abundance. It instantly undermines the commodity as such, and it also exposes what the commodity ultimately implies: the army, the police and the other specialized detachments of the state’s monopoly of armed violence. What is a policeman? He is the active servant of the commodity, the man in complete submission to the commodity, whose job is to ensure that a given product of human labor remains a commodity, with the magical property of having to be paid for, instead of becoming a mere refrigerator or rifle — a passive, inanimate object, subject to anyone who comes along to make use of it. In rejecting the humiliation of being subject to police, the blacks are at the same time rejecting the humiliation of being subject to commodities.

The Watts youth, having no future in market terms, grasped another quality of the present, and that quality was so incontestable and irresistible that it drew in the whole population — women, children, and even sociologists who happened to be on the scene. Bobbi Hollon, a young black sociologist of the neighborhood, had this to say to the Herald Tribune in October: “Before, people were ashamed to say they came from Watts. They’d mumble it. Now they say it with pride. Boys who used to go around with their shirts open to the waist, and who’d have cut you to pieces in half a second, showed up here every morning at seven o’clock to organize the distribution of food. Of course, it’s no use pretending that food wasn’t looted. . . . All that Christian blah has been used too long against blacks. These people could loot for ten years and they wouldn’t get back half the money those stores have stolen from them over all these years. . . . Me, I’m only a little black girl.” Bobbi Hollon, who has sworn never to wash off the blood that splashed on her sandals during the rioting, adds: “Now the whole world is watching Watts.”

Conclusion of The Coming Insurrection. L’insurrection qui vient. Comité invisible. 2007.

Power is no longer concentrated in one point in the world; it is the world itself, its flows and its avenues, its people and its norms, its codes and its technologies. Power is the organization of the metropolis itself. It is the impeccable totality of the world of the commodity at each of its points. Anyone who defeats it locally sends a planetary shock wave through its networks. The riots that began in Clichy-sous-Bois filled more than one American household with joy, while the insurgents of Oaxaca found accomplices right in the heart of Paris. For France, the loss of centralized power signifies the end of Paris as the center of revolutionary activity. Every new movement since the strikes of 1995 has confirmed this. It’s no longer in Paris that the most daring and consistent actions are carried out. To put it bluntly, Paris now stands out only as a target for raids, as a pure terrain to be pillaged and ravaged. Brief and brutal incursions from the outside strike at the metropolitan flows at their point of maximum density. Rage streaks across this desert of fake abundance, then vanishes. A day will come when this capital and its horrible concretion of power will lie in majestic ruins, but it will be at the end of a process that will be far more advanced everywhere else.

From To Our Friends.  À nos amis. 2014.

The uprising lasts a few days or a few months, and brings about the fall of the regime or the exposing of every illusion of social peace. It is itself anonymous: no leader, no organization, no demands, no program. The slogans, when there are any, seem to reach no farther than the negation of the existing order, and they are abrupt: “Clear out!,” “The people want the system to fall!,” “We don’t care about your shit.” “Tayyip, winter is coming.” On TV, on the airwaves, the authorities pound out their same old rhetoric: “they’re gangs of çapulcu [looters], smashers, terrorists out of nowhere, most likely in the pay of foreign interests.” Those who’ve risen up have no one to put on the throne as a replacement, perhaps just a question mark instead. It’s not the bottom dogs, or the working class, or the petty bourgeoisie, or the multitudes who are rebelling. They don’t form anything homogenous enough to have a representative. There’s no new revolutionary subject whose emergence had eluded observers. So if it’s said that the “people” are in the streets it’s not a people that existed previously, but rather the people that previously were lacking. It’s not the people that produce an uprising, it’s the uprising that produces its people, by re-engendering the shared experience and understanding, the human fabric and the real-life language that had disappeared. Revolutions of the past promised a new life. Contemporary insurrections deliver the keys to it. The shifts made by the Cairo ultras were not those of groups who were revolutionary before the “revolution.” Before, they were only gangs capable of organizing against the police. It’s from having played such an important role during the “revolution” that they were forced by the situation to raise questions usually reserved for “revolutionaries.” There is where the event resides: not in the media phenomenon fabricated to exploit the rebellion through external celebration of it, but in the encounters actually produced within it. This is something much less spectacular than “the movement” or “the revolution,” but more decisive. No one can say what an encounter is capable of generating.

This is how insurrections continue, in a molecular fashion, imperceptibly, in the life of neighborhoods, collectives, squats, “social centers,” and singular beings, in Brazil as in Spain, in Chile as in Greece. Not because they implement a political program but because they trigger revolutionary becomings. Because what was lived through shines with such a glow that those who had the experience have to be faithful to it, not separating off but constructing what was missing from their lives before. If the Spanish movement of plaza occupations, once it had disappeared from the media radar screen, had not been continued in the neighborhoods of Barcelona and elsewhere via a process of communalization and self-organization, the attempt to destroy the Can Vies squat in June of 2014 would not have been placed in check by three days of rioting by the whole Sants district and we would not have seen a whole city participating in rebuilding the site that was attacked. There would have been just a few squatters protesting against another eviction in a climate of indifference. The construction in question here is not that of a “new society” at its embryonic stage, nor an organization that will eventually overthrow an authority so as to constitute a new one, it’s the collective power which, with its consistency and its intelligence, consigns the ruling power to powerlessness, foiling each of its maneuvers in turn.