Sunday, 10 January 2010

My expulsion from the SWP has been ratified by conference.

I'm taking a few days to let it sink in, to collect my thoughts etc and will write something here soon.

Thx for all your support. I'm out but not down.

From Clare (the autonomist, renegade, guevarist, dilletante, spawn of the devil)
But I forgot thes best one:SCAB! Alex has added a few more below...

169 comments:

Derek Wall said...

Just keep up your good work, you seem a living example of how a bit of plural but focussed left politics can work,

It does make any party look bad when it kicks people out other than for very sound reasons.

luna17 said...

You forgot 'voluntarist', 'soft on the fascists', 'movementist', 'anti-party element' and 'renegade' in the list of insults they've thrown at you.

The pathetic name-calling and infantile personalisation are of course part of the party's degeneration. So, sadly, is SWP conference's decision today. It's obvious to anyone and everyone outside the SWP that it's got itself in a mess and the disciplinary attacks are an important symptom of that (and utterly unacceptable).

Members are having to rationalise things to themselves in ways that require serious mental contortions. At some point they need to wake up to what's happening and take some responsibility for their own party. Unfortunately I can't see that happening.

florence durrant said...

Aah am ever so sorry Clare. However your expulsion from the SWP does not stop you from being a socialist and a politician. You are still a good comrade to me and I hope to meet up for a drink one of these fine good days! My belief in life is that things always happen for a reason - go for it.

Jim Jepps said...

Florence is right. Being expelled from the SWP doesn't stop you being a socialist or an activist - and sometimes it can even help you become more effective.

ryutin said...

I'm sorry to hear this such things hurt a lot I know but don't let it turn u bitter against soialist politics. I always held out some hope for the swp after my own exit but with harman gone and hacks smith and callinicos in the driving seat (not tht i had any sympathy for the german / rees faction) i think the party will continue its descent into a ossified sect, the broad party is the way forward!

foroanticapitalista.blogspot.com said...

It is a mistake. I link your post at my blog. Ánimo.

Mark P said...

GRP. Guevarist Renegades Party. Sounds like fun, can anybody join?

But seriously, apart from providing the best right-wing event of the year in 2009 Philosophy Football looks forward to working with all committed to challenging the pre-existing culture of the left in 2010.

Dilettantes of the world unite! You have nothing to lose except the chains commitment!

Mark P

splinteredsunrise said...

Sorry to hear that Clare. From one renegade to another, keep your head up - it's not pleasant but it's not the end of the world either.

You keep hoping the party will become more sensible, and it does have the resources to renew itself. But that's not going to happen unless they break from this attitude that the slightest difference of opinion is an act of lundyism that has to be smashed.

polizeros said...

Because of course, the most important thing after waiting decades for that crisis of capitalism to appear is to ignore it completely and instead focus on insane and pointless purges.

Would someone please explain to me why the far left / socialist left has been nearly completely asleep during the current financial crisis? I really want to know.

As one who was purged from a US Marxist Party not so long ago, it'll maybe be a bit bumpy at first, then you'll be glad to be rid of them.

Kevin said...

I'm sure every renegade, dilettante and anarchist wishes you well today. Purges are horrible (friends have been through something similar in the past) but, I fear, a recurring & stupid feature of the SWP and other far left groups and I'm pretty sure you (and Alex) won't be the last.

Hopefully now you'll have more time now to spend on activism and campaigning!

Anonymous said...

There were I believe 37 votes against your expulsion Claire (including me); 22 abstained. I know it won't help, but there was a very serious, careful and long discussion.

Conference spent over an hour on the control comission report (almost all of that time on you and Alex), and a lot of people spoke. The session was chaired in a scrupulously fair fashion; an equal numebr of speeches for and speeches against.

Unfortunately, the key things which counted against you were Alex's email and the event - most comrades agreed with the criticism that Alex's email was factional and accepted the description of Mutiny as an anti-party event.

I remember when I was subject to a disciplinary process within the party; and I remember who instigated it. (I'll never forget that). But after I was pushed out I never criticised the party; and later I rejoined because the SWP (lapses like this aside) is the best thing on the left by miles.

Keep involved in the movement; the best answer to sectarianism is to refuse to be sectarian yourself.

Harrrods

Anonymous said...

Harrods, why wasn't Clare allowed to present her case at conference? Aren't we always told that they have the right of appeal to the membership?

When Kevin Ovenden and Rob Hovemen were expelled, the fact that they didn't go to conference to appeal was listed by Pat Stack as proof of the wisdom of the expulsion.

So why wasn't Clare allowed to go?

Anonymous said...

^ Anon, non-members cannot attend SWP conference.

luna17 said...

Saying 'non-members cannot attend conference' isn't an adequate response. Every member I know has always naturally assumed that the phrase 'appealing at conference' means you can go along and present your case in person. It will be a revelation that it means nothing of the sort! In any case, why not? What are they so scared of? The proposal was merely that Clare attended the relevant 1-hour session, not the whole conference.

Internal democracy is in a sorry state - and that's a profoundly political matter. How can people outside an organisation trust and respsect it if this is how it behaves? Internal democracy should be taken as a litmus test for a whole load of other things.

lenin said...

Clare - sorry to hear that. While I don't have any sympathy for the 'Left Platform' position that was defeated at conference, and offer no judgment as to the basis for conference's decision on this issue (I wasn't there), I do regret that you've been lost to the party.

polizeros - don't be so absurd. The SWP is not ignoring the crisis of capitalism, and talk of 'purges' is a massive overstatement.

01rorlin said...

At the end of the day the Left Platform lost fair end square.

Alex, you're the lowest of the low. You were factionalising, got caught doing it and now you're gone. You were cynical and failed completely to grasp the democratic procedures and idea of accountability to the party (membership and leadership) - the aim of democratic centralism. I, for one, am glad to see you gone.

Clare, my feelings are more mixed towards you. I don't think you're as cynical as Alex and hope that maybe one day you'll rejoin the party.

Charlie Pottins said...

Haven't experienced SWP from the inside, though it begins to sound like the Healy WRP (and we know where that went).
I like the accusation of being "soft" on the fash (are they going to throw hard-boiled eggs in future?) But I remember how two Manchester students took the SWP for a ride, even getting promoted to positions in preference to longer-standing members, only to announce at BNP summer camp that they had infiltrated it. Leading SWP members seemed unwilling to discuss this, even though the pair had been promoted in broader organisations like STWC, as though this was not a matter of responsibility to the wider movement.
I don't know what constitutes an "anti-party event or whether you were really "guilty" of factional activity. In the old SLL they at least made a show of facilitating factions, circulating documents and arranging meetings for comrades to debate the issues. When Brian Behan came to speak in the North west we had a whip round for his fare, I was quite impressed (though I overheard Healy afterwards saying "We'll wait till after the conference, and then we'll expel him".)
But later they contrived to expel Alan Thornett and his supporters so they could not attend the conference which was to decide on it.
When I was chucked out of the Labour Party in 1964 I was not allowed to attend the GMC on which I was a delegate, where it was decided. They also expelled two others and suspended half a dozen people who might vote against expulsion. (Mind you the charges were a bit more specific, centring on banned publications etc. -yours sound like they make up rules as they go along). Still the delegates from my ward and the one I'd been in previously voted against.
In other cases when a constituency Labour Party did not agree to expel somebody the entire party were suspended and "re-organised", usually in the run-up to an election. So self-styled "marxists" don't have a monopoly on such methods even if they do wrap it up more pretentiously.

barrykade said...

I'm sorry to hear this news.

Its the SWP's loss. And not just of a good activist, but of their own reputation, which now sinks lower, unfortunately.

None of the young activists I know will touch the SWP with a barge-pole. It will get worse as these sort of stories circulate. We used to have a large branch here in my city, now they are all gone. Once it mattered if you were expelled from the party - once upon a time when it was a significant force.

so - welcome to the XSWP - a truly mass phenomenon! Unfortunately, the decay of my old party weakens the left, until we build something better.

We still, of course, need a mass socialist organisation in this country - just a differently and better organised one! i.e. without the dead-hand of the conservative apparat, the legacy of the downturn that appears to have irretrievably damaged the old party beyond repair.

Derek Wall said...

plenty of different ways of pushing left politics in the UK, coincidentally I spent a couple of hours running a Green Party stall with an ex-SWP full timer on saturday.

in my opinion you can never go wrong with people like Climate Camp and the Latin American Workers Association and
with the net new ways of doing effective left politics proliferate.

I also think there are a fair few 'Lenninist' trying to do things in a more user friendly way like Socialist Resistance or even International Socialist Organisation in the US

Anonymous said...

The state of the SWP and indeed, the left in Britain, is extremely depressing. We could learn a lot. It is worrying that if we face the fight of our lives, the Party is entrenched, suspicious and isolated and its apparatus seemingly unable to evolve. And the Left Platform provided a basis for improvement.

I'm disappointed but unsurprised by the ratification of Clare's expulsion. There was apparently a "very serious, careful and long discussion". From where I was sitting, it felt like a whipped up hostile opposition. With some exceptions, most comrades were unwilling to question the line... presumably the cries of "factionalism" made up for the flimsiness of the charges, the lack of evidence (and its questionable source).

Ben Courtice said...

Sorry to hear of your expulsion, I hope you figure out a positive way forward.

I think the (Leninist, Anglo, first world etc) left has too much of a top-down regime in discussion and decision making. Despite the formalities of democracy, like the right to appeal, democratic votes etc. the reality is that leadership bodies have the detailed discussion in advance, work out their line, and then argue as a bloc to the general membership. It seems fine when everyone agrees but as soon as you get disagreements it all turns nasty. I'm expanding on this critique in my own local context at my blog. See http://bccwords.blogspot.com/2010/01/discussionocracy.html

Anonymous said...

I am sorry for you because I know from what you have written that you placed a lot of faith in the democratic procedures within the SWP. (I very nearly wrote SIC after that sentence.)

Those of us who have already been chewed up and spat out of the organised left knew that once you had been suspended there was really no chance of it being overturned. As soon as your suspension was announed you would have been badmouthed in every branch - the party machine would have focused on making you an outsider.

Good luck for the future.

bill j said...

" The session was chaired in a scrupulously fair fashion; an equal numebr of speeches for and speeches against"

Of course it was! After they prevented the appellant from attending their own appeal and stitched up the delegations, and probably done a dirty deal with German, Rees and co as well, the result was never in doubt.
Formalities must be observed. The pretence of democracy maintained. And the "scrupulous fairness" of the process be seen by all.
Sorry to hear about this unpleasant process Clare. I've been expelled from one of these bureaucratic groups too (not your one but same difference) and the gossip and slander is not pleasant.
You wonder to yourself how these people can really call themselves socialists, given how at home the feel among the mire, dirt and oppression of the present system.
Good luck for the future.

lenin said...

Something that's annoying about this discussion: those of you prattling on about the decay and degeneration of the SWP are seriously lacking in perspective. (I exclude luna17 from that judgment, who is lacking more than perspective - probably about three gallons of saliva at this point). There has been, as is obvious in various online discussions, a debate in the SWP between two groups, the [overwhelming] majority and the Left Platform. That debate has been pretty vigorous. As a result of these divisions, we've lost a few members - not hundreds, not dozens, not even *a* dozen, just a few. The *overwhelming majority* of the party is agreed on a particular perspective, just as it was last year. This position was arrived at through months of argument in internal bulletins, in branches, in district aggregates, and finally at conference. At every step, if I may say so, the Left Platform faction has been overrepresented in internal discussions, compared to its weight in the party. And the result is conclusive, and leaves no margin for ambiguity. No one can argue that the SWP is substantially divided over strategic issues today. Moreover, we've had far worse divisions in the past, far more acrimonious debates, with far greater casualties. Those who lost the debate should accept it and get over it, and dispense with the histrionics and doom-saying.

In addition, most of those commenting on the topic here and elsewhere are probably not in a position to understand the issues involved in the SWP's internal debate, much less the basis for the small number of expulsions that have taken place. Even a regular perusal of the Weekly Worker, or Derek Wall's blog, is unlikely to give you the real skinny. The majority of those taking a view appear to be doing so on the basis of little more than reflexive sympathy with anyone that falls out with the majority of the party, and a knee-jerk hostility to either Leninism or the SWP as such. Assuming you must have an opinion on the current state of the SWP, this isn't a particularly satisfactory basis for it.

bill j said...

So you're annoyed.
What's lacking in your comment is any perspective about the democratic practice of the SWP.
Clare was expelled, after months of slander, gossip, back stabbing and so on - its standard procedure when you're wanting to rid yourself of someone in these groups - for organising a cultural evening of music and canapes.
Of course there was an overwhelming "majority" at the conference. Anyone who disagrees knows what to expect, slander, gossip, back stabbing and so on.
And its not like keeping their trap shut necessarily saves them, when they can be got rid of for organising an cultural evening of music and canapes.
Of course if none of that works, there's always the more straight forward fall back - rig the conference delegations.
So a "majority" was obtained. And the party "united". Hurrah for the unity of the monolithic party voice!

lenin said...

bill j - I feel your pain, but the trouble is that you don't know what you're talking about. The basis for expulsion was a charge of factionalism that was upheld by the disputes committee and then by conference. I offer no judgment on Clare's specific case, but I am convinced that factionalising was taking place in a way that clearly breached the party's constitution, and clearly contravened decisions taken by conference. We're not the Labour Party, where democratic decisions can be ignored at will by a minority. In this light, the party's members view factionalising as a disgracefully anti-democratic form of behaviour. Now, you can have an opinion on the matters pertaining to these expulsions, if you must, but I'm telling you that you aren't in a position to have an *informed* opinion.

The lathering about 'anyone who disagrees knows what to expect' is shrill, hysterical nonsense. If a majority disagreed with the Left Platform perspective, or with any of the discplinary decisions made in the last six months, there is absolutely nothing that could have prevented them from voting to express that view, and the vote of conference is binding. That is, by the way, as it should be. Moreover, the charge that there was any 'rigging' in delegate selection procedures is utter balls. The attempts at substantiating these claims that I have seen published are pathetic. Those in the party who are spreading such drivel should be ashamed of themselves for behaving in such an unprincipled way, and for giving buck-eejits like you one further excuse to gyrate in this fashion.

bill j said...

Ouch! Told me huh?
Look bureaucratic organisations like the SWP are run for the benefit of their apparatus.
It would be a bizarre turn of events if a load of full time apparatchiks were incapable of guaranteeing themselves a "majority" indeed an "overwhelming majority" at a conference over which they have total control.
Especially when anyone who disagrees knows the price of disagreement - slander, gossip and lies - and after they've been expelled - smug commiseration from the likes of you.
Which is worse? Hard to say.
And what you totally fail to get to grips with - you're too busy feeling informed no doubt - is that there is nothing wrong with "factionalising".
The Bolsheviks were after all a faction, pretty well throughout their history. Trotsky loved it too. Who hated it? Stalin after the Bolsheviks, foolishly granted him a monopoly of power through the banning of factions in 1921.
OK so history holds no lessons for you. What's new?

Taghioff said...

The kind of centralised thinking that Lenin is espousing is deadly and stupid, and what turns people away from the old left and towards the New Left.

It is the politics of the printing press, and has fuck all to do with democracy. Democracy tolerates differences, unless those differences seriously threaten to unhinge the democratic process.

Are you trying to say the Clare staying in the party would have been the death of the SWP's Democratic (sic) process. Get a grip.

lenin said...

"Look bureaucratic organisations like the SWP are run for the benefit of their apparatus."

You been reading Niskanen, then? Bureaucracies are power-maximising entities, etc.? What 'benefit' do you suppoe the 'apparatus' gets out of the SWP? Most of the 'apparatchiks' could be enjoying positions of relative power and wealth in other institutions, and could have a lot more free time and leisure, were they not spending most of their waking hours on the problems and perspectives of political organisation for peanuts in the way of remuneration.

"The kind of centralised thinking that Lenin is espousing is deadly and stupid"

What 'centralised thinking'? What does this even mean? The idea that people should abide by the decisions of conference is just democracy.

"Democracy tolerates differences, unless those differences seriously threaten to unhinge the democratic process."

Quite.

"Are you trying to say the Clare staying in the party would have been the death of the SWP's Democratic (sic) process. Get a grip."

Not only did I not say anything so absurd, I specifically cautioned that I wasn't making a judgment about Clare's expulsion. This isn't just me being diplomatic. I simply don't wish to conflate that issue with the broader point about the politics of the Left Platform and the behaviour of some of its supporters.

bill j said...

What benefit do the bureaucratic apparatus get? Really how complicated is it. They get honour, love and respect from people like you. They are elevated into positions of authority overnight, that are normally the results of years of work and struggle. They control an organisations of thousands (or at least a few hundred).
They're not particularly well paid, but as long as they're obedient, don't question the party line and do as they're told, their jobs are safe.
Lenin's thinking on centralism did change. After the experience of Brest Litovsk Lenin developed the apparatus which later strangled the party. He woke up to the fact in 1922, his Testament was the beginning of the recognition of his mistake. But by then it was too late.
It is odd that a nominally revolutionary organisation, like the SWP, can carry on the bureaucratic organisational practices of the Stalinists.
But that's what you get, when your internal regime crushes dissent and bans factions.

B.E.Klein (CPGB) said...

Sorry to hear about this comrade - again an utter insult to democratic centralism and Bolshevik norms. A disgrace. Do not let it get you down.

Unfortunately, as we all know, the SWP has a rather sordid history of all this.

I have just re-read 'More Years for the Locust' by the extremely funny Jim Higgins. It is probably worth a read (if you have not got hold of it already) as it provides some insight into Cliff and his manoeuvres in a sharp, yet funny manner. A few parallels with today, and it might just cheer you up a bit....

More years for the locust

See you around

Ben

Cliffite said...

Clare,

I'm sorry to say it but you have been lead on a merry dance by people who should have known better. That said I find it hard to believe that you didn't know what you were doing and where it would lead.

Even some members of your own faction broke away when it became clear what you, Alex and others had got up to.

Put simply you were expelled for refusing to follow the agreed perspectives of the party in a more and more hostile way. Even if you disagree with the line Democratic Centralism means you have to carry it out with the rest of the party.

bill j said...

"Even if you disagree with the line Democratic Centralism means you have to carry it out with the rest of the party."

This is the democratic centralism of the Stalinists. It is this intolerant police regime which is destroying the left, discrediting socialism and the very idea of a revolutionary party today.
It was created, we must acknowledge, at the behest of Lenin himself in the period between 1918-1921. After the near defeat of Brest-Litovsk and during the civil war, Lenin demanded a military discipline, which fatally wounded soviet democracy. It has had a poisonous effect on the left ever since and lead to the discrediting of revolutionary socialism as an emancipatory project.
Lenin in the period up to the revolution, never obeyed such an injunction, arguing against the party line twice during the revolution itself, in April in his famous theses, and again in October when he demanded the Bolsheviks lead an insurrection.
It is the interests of the working class which are the highest principle, not subordination to the apparatus.
Clare's expulsion based on trumped up charges and illegitimate accusations of factionalism, won't be the last. But it is perhaps, the clearest expression in this whole process of the rotten organisational norms typical of the entire left.

Cliffite said...

Bill I know you were badly burnt by your own explusion/split from the microsect WorkersPower but genealising from your own experience in another organisation won't help you.

Democratic processes don't work if a group decide they can ignore the votes they don't like and organise along the lines of a perspective they would have rather were passed. When this comes to a head comrades either have to accept party discipline or leave. The option of just ignoring party decessions and refusing to cooperate with party structures and the elected leadership doesn't exist. If you pledge you are going to take this third option you will be expelled.

It has nothing to do with being critical and outspoken. If it was I would have been expelled at various points. The basic question is do you want to remain in the party and abide by conference policy. There is nothing Stalinist about it. Similar behaviour would get you expelled from almost any organisation - political or otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what aspects of the party's decisions have not been carried out by Clare or Alex? They have both been involved in all the mobilisations that the party have been involved with. Maybe organising occupations and protests and attempting to win people to socialist ideas is contrary to perspectives of the SWP adopted at last year's conference? This is nonsense. They have indeed argued in party forums that they believed that certain aspects of the SWP's approach are mistaken. This is their right. Stating and arguing through disagreements in party bodies is not a breach of party discipline but an essential duty of every member and a key aspect of democratic centralism. Discussing your concerns with other comrades in private contexts (ie not publicly) is not factionalism. It is dissent without organisation. To say it is factionalism is to accept the notion of "thought crime". On the one hand it is stated that the Left Platform (a faction that existed within the terms permitted by the SWP constitution ) is a tiny minority of members. This would appear to be true. Its then argued that this tiny minority of members has the capacity to cause division and paralysis within the organisation simply by existing. What sort of organisation is capable of being paralysed in such a manner by so small a number? Either it means that the SWP is not as united as the leadership wants us to accept. Or it means that the Party leadership's response to this tiny dissident minority is authoritarian, excessive and undemocratic. In fact I'd suggest its both.

comradematt said...

Was sad when conference made this decision and I voted to reinstate. It seemed to me that before the pre-conference period, the big worry was that the mutiny lot were trying to engineer a split. My thinking is that as this was shown to be pretty hysterical, comrades should have allowed this particular charge of 'factionalising' (hardly a brutal anti-party affair) to of been chalked up to precedent. However the manner in which the debate was conducted was very well done, with all comrades even those who opposed the reinstatement speaking very highly of you. The only thing annoying me being occasional anecdotal references which were completely irrelevant to the 'charges' as such.

I didn't hear any of the insults listed, above used and anyone who called you a scab would deserve a smack in the chops. One thing thats worth noting though is that whilst many comrades spoke highly of Clare and James M, conference's attitude to alex S' expulsion was more or less 'good fucking riddance'. Didnt encounter a single comrade who had anything good to say about him and the text of the aforementioned e-mails made him sound like a spiteful, petulent wanker.

Anonymous said...

Even some members of your own faction broke away when it became clear what you, Alex and others had got up to.

'Cliffite' is adopting his usual shit-stirring style: a little slander here, a whispered rumour there. No-one in the Left Platform 'broke away' when it became 'clear' what Clare and others had done.

The reason no-one 'broke away' is because the evidence against them was rubbish. Mutiny was not a factional event, Clare was not 'factionalising' by sending a personal email - an email obtained by hacking into her account.

The end result is that the SWP has lost perhaps its best single student activist.




A Real Cliffite

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to say it but you have been lead on a merry dance by people who should have known better.

poor naive woman led astray by nasty evil men. yeah good one.

Anonymous said...

'poor naive woman led astray by nasty evil men'

yeah, nasty evil men like Lindsey German. Moron. Never let reality stand in the way of a little slander.

Considering Chris Nineham's defense of Clare was that she is "wacky", and Lindsey spent most of her contribution trying to save her own skin before a brief mention of Clare at the end, it's little wonder that the vote in support of Clare was even lower than many of us expected.

luna17 said...

As the anon comment above points out, there's a sexist and patronising undertone to much of the vitriolic comment. I'm apparently evil and despicable (as are the ex-Central Committee members) whereas Clare was merely naive, misguided and easily-led, presumably due to a combination of being a woman and having been a member for 'only' a few years. This is all nonsense: we have the same perspectives as each other, and the same as other Left Platform supporters.

I'll let people decide for themselves what to make of somebody who describes a fellow socialist as a 'petulant wanker'. Not much, I suspect. This kind of petty abuse has been par for the course, while those of us supporting the faction were (and continue to be) studiously polite and respectful. We've conducted debate in a principled and political way - while some supporters of the CC have also done this, many sadly haven't.

A quick factual point: someone above claims that some people abandoned support for us when they 'realised what you were up to'. I'm not aware of a single example of anyone doing this. The faction was remarkably cohesive and committed, mainly due to having a clear and highly politcal perspective which was discussed carefully and agreed democratically.

comradematt said...

"I'll let people decide for themselves what to make of somebody who describes a fellow socialist as a 'petulant wanker'."

Are you saying that everyone who's ever waved a red flag has been a paragon of integrity? I've never met this fella, for all I know he could be a lovely guy, what I actually said was that the e-mails 'made him sound like' a spiteful, petulent wanker.

Anonymous said...

'yeah, nasty evil men like Lindsey German. Moron. Never let reality stand in the way of a little slander.'

so clare was led astray, then? what patronising shite.

(of course i remember when lindsey was just standing by her man last year and this was all just 'personal'. oh dear.)

redbedhead said...

"there's a sexist and patronising undertone to much of the vitriolic comment"

You might strongly disagree with what people are saying but that certainly isn't the case with arguments here. As with the claim you made above that people threw slanderous abuse at Clare - disputed by even Clare's supporters from conference - distorting the actual character of the argument won't win you any points, except amongst the pathological anti-swp sectarians who swirl around this type of controversy in the hopes that it will prove whatever their particular monomaniacal obsession happens to be. The point that Cliffite made was obviously that it was felt, even by those who voted in favour of her expulsion, that she was genuine and not engaging in subterfuge per se. The same opinion - whether you agree or not - was not held with regards you. Your relative genders (given that Lindsey is a high profile woman in the faction) is obviously irrelevant to the point that was made.

bill j said...

Where do bureaucratic, hierarchical groups - with proto-Stalinist norms of discipline develop their organisational practice? It does not drop from thin air. Rather they inherited it from Trotsky who in turn took it from the degenerate methods of the Bolsheviks from very early on after the revolution. It was developed while Lenin was still in power but perfected by Zinoviev and Stalin.
Consider how they deal with oppositions - even ones as feeble as the Left faction - the systematically bad mouth them across the organisation. Their members are now "disloyal" and therefore unfit.
All of their virtues - which previously saw them lauded to the skies - are now held against them.
The political issues, inasmuch as there are any, and in the case of this factional dispute, they are very thin on the ground, are forgotten.
The real test is - will you follow the instructions of the leadership?
Who are the leadership? Apparatus officials like Cliffite, the CC, and their fellows.
The organisation is run from the top down in the interests of its bureaucracy. Obviously it needs formal democratic structures and procedures, this is how it legitimates its rule, but does anyone on here think that there would have been a conference if the leadership thought for a moment they would lose?
Of course there wouldn't. Not that that eventuality could ever occur. In a top down hierarchical organisation like the SWP/WP, the votes are counted before they are cast.

Anonymous said...

The suggestion that there was any sexist undertone is yet another part of Alex Snowdon's attempt to traduce the SWP through the most despicable means. Throughout their defense of Clare, LP supporters themselves were the ones pushing the line that she was naive, unknowing comrade. In response, supporters of the majority attacked this patronising line, with one womaan comrade pointing out that Clare is a 37 year old woman, a comrade for five years, and that this line of defense was purely opportunistic.

In the course of the discussion, it was revealed that Alex threatened to go to the police during his disciplinary session. What a piece of work.

bill j said...

Odd then that Alex should have been a member of the SWP for 20 years and that no one noticed his alleged terrible qualities until now?
Bad mouthing is very effective because it allows the apparatus to stop talking about the political issues.
You've bought it whole. Stop being so naive. Do you think for a moment that if they needed to rid themselves of you they wouldn't dredge up something you'd done once?

redbedhead said...

speaking of monomaniacal obsessions... enter billj.

Hey billj, what is most impressive about your narrative of the eeeevil swp is how it is unreliant on reality, context, truth. It's almost a work of art. Or a hollywood movie with good guys and bad guys in white and black hats.

Anonymous said...

"that Clare is a 37 year old woman"

clare is not 37 years old. but dont let that stop you.

someone attacking left platform *on this thread* has been pushing the line that clare was "led astray" by other comrades. so its a bit odd to say left platform people were pushing it.

but if she was naive at all it was in thinking that the swp cc would actually appreciate good events like mutiny.

redbedhead said...

billj - since you're so obsessed with the swp's internal regime - no doubt since your group of 5 people doesn't have enough members to even use the word regime without a chuckle - I would have thought that you'd have read all 100 or so pages of the last internal bulletin and noticed that very few of those pages were spent on Alex's case and most on the issues in dispute.

bill j said...

Ooh biting.
Actually I'm not obssessed about the SWPs internal regime, you may not have noticed, but this thread is actually about the SWPs internal regime.
Of course most of the pages of the internal bulletins were not devoted to bad mouthing and what not.
Didn't you know? This stuff isn't written down. Maybe even you can learn something? Never too late?

Anonymous said...

"Considering Chris Nineham's defense of Clare was that she is "wacky", and Lindsey spent most of her contribution trying to save her own skin before a brief mention of Clare at the end, it's little wonder that the vote in support of Clare was even lower than many of us expected."

I thought the same about Lindsey's "defence" of Clare. Given her sometimes erratic contributions over the course of the weekend, I think she was the wrong person to "sell" Clare's reinstatement to conference.

Anonymous said...

Hi Clare,

Sorry to hear this, but not surprised.

I imagine - and some of the comments here confirm it - that in the period ahead there'll be lots of people using this fiasco to bad-mouth the very idea of revolutionary organisation, the very project of building a revolutionary party. I'm pleased to say I can't imagine you'll have much time for such sentiments.

Yours for a united, principled left and for socialism,

Sacha Ismail
Workers' Liberty

luna17 said...

Anonymous: 'In the course of the discussion, it was revealed that Alex threatened to go to the police during his disciplinary session. What a piece of work.'

This is not true. During my disciplinary hearing I made a point of explicitly saying I WASN'T referring the illegal accessing of emails to the police - and that I had no intention doing so. How on earth has this been twisted into the account you give above? Who made this claim during the discussion? What was their evidence to support the claim?

A serious point here is this: why do you, and many others, believe this nonsense? It would help if delegates exerted their critical faculties, instead of accepting everything they are told. I suggest you retract the above comment (although by remaining anon you aren't making yourself accountable for your words to begin with).

When these kinds of lies do the rounds (and there are many, many more like that!) it's not surprising that comrades become prejudiced agianst someone they've never actually met, is it?

redbedhead said...

"Actually I'm not obssessed about the SWPs internal regime, you may not have noticed, but this thread is actually about the SWPs internal regime."

That's funny because you're always banging on about it, comparing it to Lenin's supposed organizational turn in 1918.

As for what is and isn't written down, he-said-she-said doesn't particularly interest me but since they had an hour long discussion at conference, with equal numbers of speakers from both sides of the debate, and with almost 60 delegates not supporting the report of the appeals committee, your narrative of monolithism, brainwashing, blah-blah-blah looks a bit unconvincing.

bill j said...

You were the one who raised what was written down. Its obviously escaped your notice but when people are making up stories, then writing them down isn't the best thing to do. Not that you'd believe me now would you? Being such a critical opponent of monolithism and what not.

redbedhead said...

"When these kinds of lies do the rounds (and there are many, many more like that!) it's not surprising that comrades become prejudiced agianst someone they've never actually met, is it?"

And yet, you throw around the claim that people said things about Clare that are disputed by people who were actually at the conference - and who voted against confirming Clare's expulsion. So, you see, the claims and whip-ups made in the course of a heated dispute are not worthy of consideration. But there were a series of emails that clearly advocated factional maneuverings. That is indisputable. And people had to make their decisions based upon hearing the arguments - in writing and at conference - of both sides of the dispute. That both sides will have distorted aspects of the other's position is a given but comrades have the critical faculties to see patterns in the inevitably partial accounts that they will hear. And they made a choice. That it wasn't the position you support is too bad for you - that's how the ball bounces. But it's disingenuous to accuse the majority of being toadies, or bureaucrats or deluded and then to feign outrage when it is suggested (apparently including by some of LP's supporters) that Clare didn't get the full implication of her actions in the given context.

redbedhead said...

"Its obviously escaped your notice but when people are making up stories, then writing them down isn't the best thing to do. Not that you'd believe me now would you?"

What are you talking about? Was there or was there not a full debate at conference where people could raise the supposed slanders or challenge the supposed slanders, etc. etc. As for believing you, why should I? Your narrative about the character of the SWP and the IST is more like an episode of The Office than bearing any relation to reality. And your reference to 1918 to prove your point is bizarre.

Anonymous said...

Alex, I think maybe the reason comrades believe the case against you is that to do otherwise is to accept that there is a conspiracy of lies that encompasses the CC, most of the comrades in Newcastle, Pat, Rosie et al on the DC etc. On the other hand, there is their testimony, the experience of myself and many other comrades of your conduct and your sneering tone in the leaked emails.

Don't worry tho, your attacks on the SWP have drawn the fullsom praise of the microsects and the AWL zionists. You have a shining future on the left.

Anonymous said...

"It would help if delegates exerted their critical faculties, instead of accepting everything they are told."

If a single sentence could sum up what is wrong with the party that would be it. Unfortunately the atmosphere of the SWP does not encourage comrades to think critically and it never will.

bill j said...

Funnily enough - saying them out loud in front of the assembled throng probably isn't so smart either - its the nature of gossip.
Surely you've heard of it? Its basically small talk that people make between people, they don't write it down and they don't shout it to the multitude.
Of course you're not going to believe me, I'm not trying to convince you and haven't even entertained the idea that you would for a moment.
The irony of your criticism of monolithism seems to have escaped you.
I won't labour the point.

redbedhead said...

ah, so billj - apparently the partisans of the LP are so sheepish that they couldn't raise the claims that are made here by Alex regarding slander? Please. Your narrative of a membership that simply nods their heads is why nobody in the swp will ever listen to you.

As for the "irony of my criticisms" what you're talking about isn't clear? Because I don't agree with your psychopathological sectarian obsessions I'm a supporter of Stalinist organizational methods? You're a laugh, buddy. I also don't believe that Cheez Whiz involves any dairy products or that America exports democracy. It's called common sense.

redbedhead said...

"If a single sentence could sum up what is wrong with the party that would be it."

And if a single sentence could sum up why you will never have a hearing, even by swp members who disagree with elements of the party's direction, this would be it: your utter contempt for them.

bill j said...

What are you on about?

Anonymous said...

In fairness to Alex, it wasn't suggested that he threatened to go to the police: Pat said the possibility was raised, and it was the fact that it was even mentioned that had surprised him as it was something that he had never heard raised in all his years on the DC.

htowers24 said...

"lowest of the low", "good fucking riddance", "petulant wanker"


"lowest of the low" is a particularly nasty comment which I personally would only aim at the truely lowest of the low...fascists.

this level of personal name-calling from a couple of socialists aimed at another is absolutely disgusting in a public forum, alex was expelled for "factionalising". he wasn't expelled for some abhorrant reason like racism, joining the police force etc etc.. then maybe i could understand the level of sniping....but for fucks sake grow up and make this what it is :a political debate!


"Clare, I'm sorry to say it but you have been lead on a merry dance by people who should have known better" - what patronising bullshit!



whether you agree with the left platform or not, sinking to this level can only be damaging to our common goal as revolutionary socialists

Anonymous said...

During my disciplinary hearing I made a point of explicitly saying I WASN'T referring the illegal accessing of emails to the police - and that I had no intention doing so Oh really, how considerate, when do you normally go then?

Anonymous said...

Cliffite you seem to confuse what a faction is. Just because you factionalise doesn't mean you can't accept implementing the majority decisions. However you should be able to continue to argue against them both in and outside an organisation. As people have pointed out this was common place in the Bolsheviks. By your logic Lenin would have been expelled and cast to the winds long before the revolution. Is this not true? Surely what he did ran counter to the SWPs constitution? Which is even more ridiculous given the fact that the SWP operates in a liberal democracy rather than a czarist dictatorship.

What's even more depressing is that the actual "factionalism" was so apolitical, again a far cry from the differences in the Bolsheviks.

By the way, in what way was Clare actually ignoring the "party line" in a practical sense? Is organising a cultural evening and writing a couple of emails all it takes?

Any normal person seeing this from the outside would just see the far left as the nutjob world that it is. But those in the far left can't see it because they live in a bubble where they think they are actually of some importance rather than acknowledging that they are a total irrelevance.

This is especially the case for full timers, who won't argue against the party line because they know it will cost them their job. And the usual line is cast out about them not being privaliged because they could get a better job else where. But lets face it a lot of them are, to put it bluntly, a bunch of sad sacks. Being an SWP full timer provides them with a social life, sometimes partners, an ego trip, all of which they probably wouldn't get in the real world. The more they stay on as a full timer the more they have to lose on this level. Their whole life is entwined with "the party". If they left their social life would crumble and they would probably have difficulty ever pulling again.

The SWP, as with pretty much all of the far left in the UK have degenerated into stalinism. The SWP now looks like a laughing stock, and more like the WRP by the day.

So well done the majority, you won, yippee, you won. Now you can carry on with failed perspectives, failed politics and being a total irrelevance to the working class. Celebrations indeed.

Anonymous said...

The amateur sociologist above is quite right, we SWP full timers are real dorks. We only do the job to get shoulder rubs from Martin Smith and to be allocated a partner from Chris Bambery's secret harem. Given that we're all so irrelevant to the working class then none of this should really be of any concern, so maybe Clare should start a new thread. I suggest one on Robert Michels' "The Iron Law of Internet Pricks Whinging About the Oh-So Irrelevent SWP because Their Mother Never Loved Them."

Derek Wall said...

I think the pressure for full timers to conform is worth making but the personal comments made above are just abusive and inappropriate.

I know a few ex-full timers, some I agree with politically, others less so but none of my small sample seem less or more 'sad' than the rest of us involved in politics on the left.

We need to seperate political difference from abuse of those we disagree with.

Anonymous said...

"...maybe the reason comrades believe the case against you is that to do otherwise is to accept that there is a conspiracy of lies that encompasses the CC, most of the comrades in Newcastle, Pat, Rosie et al on the DC etc..."

Er... precisely. Comrades wouldn't want to believe that would they?



"...On the other hand, there is their testimony, the experience of myself and many other comrades of your conduct..."

Which was...? Doubt there'll be an answer to this one!



"...and your sneering tone in the leaked emails..."

Oh dear, perhaps he's been picking up the habits of the so-called 'leading comrades'!

Anonymous said...

"Which was...? Doubt there'll be an answer to this one"

Well, there was the ... hang on a second! You cheeky sod, you almost got me there, I thought this was a district report back for a second! Then I realised this is the comments section of a blog! Clever, maybe next time!

barrykade said...

When I was in the SWP I defended party decisions like some people here. I argued with great passion. I swore on my heart to every critical contact and potential recruit that democratic centralism as practiced by the party worked well and was indeed democratic and effective. The SWP was the best possible organization given the circumstances, so we should build it. I even believed this, marshaling all the good points about the SWP to maintain this belief, and glossing over or excusing the many examples of bad practice.

But when things like Clare's obviously unjust expulsion happened (or the equivalent back then) of course I knew it was wrong. I knew it would weaken the party and drive away decent contacts and recruits.

I remember the agony of hard won recruits drifting away after this or that high handed and stupid act by the full time apparatus or crudely implemented turn and latest brainstorm of the national organiser.

But I stayed with the SWP out of desperation. Because there was nothing better around, and we need to be organised as socialists to fight.

But then something broke, and I left. We all know what is wrong with the party, but there is still nothing better to replace the SWP with (in terms of socialist, activist, Marxist organization in Britain).

Sometimes I think about rejoining. But then I look at events like this and feel sick. No, I couldn't build that. I couldn't recruit any more fresh students and look them in the eye.

I despair. Especially hearing the shrill and unconvinced defenders of these events here.

Its not about the left platform versus the majority. Its about how the SWP has been shaped by two or three decades of working class defeat and retreat in Britain. Its about the consequent substitution of a full timer apparatus in place of a rank and file lead party. This can't be changed without working class victories in the class struggle, and the creation of a confident rank and file, in possession of new militant and democratic working class political cultures and traditions. This must upset all hierarchies, in both the workplace, wider society - and the party. The dominance of the full timer apparatus inside the party is a reflection of the historic defeats of the working class.
The SWP as we know it is is a product of defeat. We will need a new organisation in a period of victory. Will the SWP remake itself, or will it remain a prisoner of its history, locked into the pathologies acquired over these decades of defeat? I am currently pessimistic.

florence durrant said...

What good is all this trivia and title tattle about the SWP doing to Clare? I also suspect that all those who see this as an opportunity to dig their knives into the SWP have little knowledge of what really happened. Although there has been some comrades who shared a little insight as to what really happened, that still does not give a full story. Maybe some people see such situations as an opportunity to further their own political agendas or as therapy for their own inability to deal with being expelled from the SWP. But Clare is upset at the moment, just as anyone would be in such circumstances. Crocodile tears from some on this thread smacks of hypocricy rather than sympathy.

However, Clare has said herself that although she is out of the SWP, she is not down and I am pleased for her. There is so much going out there politically that those who don't agree with the SWP can get stuck into and make a great difference to our politics in general. For those whose thread here is only to criticise the SWP, if it is so bad to be a member of the SWP, why do people get upset when they are expelled? When ever I have left an organisation I don't agree with, I feel a great relief to be free of it. Is it not time therefore for us all to mature and focus on a bigger picture rather than jumping on any bandwagon where the SWP is the subject? The political climate of today can do with all those who regard themselves as politicians to dig in and do their bit. It surely is better that wasting time criticising the SWP.

Andy Wilson said...

Part One: I think that Snowdon (especially) and Solomon (ultimately) got what was coming to them. If I have any sympathy it is only to the extent that they have been expelled while the architects of their factionalism - John Rees and Lindsey German - have been spared the bullet. That strikes me as unfair. If there were any truth in the idea that a 'purge' had been instituted then the leadership of the Left Platform would also be long gone. It was not a purge, but rather a simple matter of disciplining a few individuals who planned to undermine the SWP in pursuit of their faction leadership's agenda. I might have some sympathy if that factionalism had been aimed at democratising or improving the SWP in any way - but of course it is precisely Snowdon, Solomon and other members of the Left Platform who were most strident in opposing, eg., the democracy commission a year ago - their leadership understood perfectly well that an increase in party democracy would not bode well for their control over the party. Consequently AS, CS and others put themselves in the wrong not only formally (the emails are quite clear about this) but also politically. Then they lost the political argument by an overwhelming majority despite being given more freedom to put their case than any other opposition in the last 30 years of history of the SWP. What the hell is there to cry about in this picture?

If anything, the Left Platform were given a disproportionate (to their numbers) amount of time, at both aggregates and conference itself, to put their case to the party. Anyone who knows anything at all about the SWP is aware that such largess would never have been extended to any oppositional voices while John Rees and Lindsey German were running the show. And there you have the delicious irony of recent events: the two most bureaucratic and machine-minded apparatchiks in the last thirty years of the the SWP (Rees and German) get bumped off from the CC and receive, for the first time in living memory, full faction rights, are allowed to represent themselves widely to the party and put their arguments... and then, when they loose, their acolytes whine like children about how undemocratic it all is. Excuse me while I am sick all over my desk.

Andy Wilson said...

Part Two: If anyone had mounted such a thoroughgoing criticism of the SWP majority while German and Rees were running the show they would have been given no latitude at all to defend themselves but really would have been systematically excluded. I was expelled many years ago at German and Rees's insistence. My crime was to try to launch an independent cultural magazine, with members outside of the SWP. As Lindsey explained to me at the time, such independence is not allowed, and all such activity has to have the explicit support of the CC. Does anyone see the inconsistency here? It was a summary expulsion, and Lindsey, having initiated it, then chaired the Control Commisiion that confirmed it. And naturally I was not given the opportunity to defend myself at conference. Given this I haven't the faintest idea why these people think the rules should suddenly be changed once it is their turn to be in the firing line.

Someone earlier suggested to Clare that she read Jim Higgin's book 'More Years For the Locust'. Since I published the book I feel qualified to comment that there is not one iota in it that might console Clare. Jim argued for a democratic party, yes, but not in the abstract, woolly way some of the commentators here would like. The real target of his criticism were those who saw it as their right to lord it over their own party, ruling by bureaucratic fiat. In other words, his target was precisely the kind of people who set up the Left Platform as their own little vanity project, distressed as they were that, after all this time, the rank and file of the SWP had finally come to see through them.

There is much that could be improved about the SWP, but that task has become so much easier now that the clique that most embodied high-handed bureaucratic rule by fiat and backdoor skullduggery have finally been flushed out and politically defeated. Anyone who genuinely cares for the future of the IS/State Cap tradition should not be complaining, but celebrating.

IStrad said...

Andy Wilson is absolutely right. Reading some of the comments in support of Clare Solomon and Alex Snowdon has been truly bizzare . In an earlier post Lenin noted that people were commenting without having the 'skinny', as he put it, on the internal struggle of the SWP. In fact much of that comment has been downright clunky. The comrade who recommended Clare read Jim Higgin's 'More Years of The Locust' was from the CPGB / Weekly Worker and while they have many admirable things to say about what authentic Leninism / democratic centralism should look like (contra bureaucratic centralism), they - like others - have been plain wrong in urging support or sympathy for the Left Platform against the party majority. Having actually attended the conference, taken part in the arguments in the pre-conference period I can only say the Left Platform were given unprecedented latitude in putting their - incredibly thin - arguments which boiled down in essence to more of the same ''decisive leadership'' with elan, flair (and no bloody accountability) that led to the Respect debacle in the first place. Of course that sort of daring do voluntarism appeals to many socialists but it is not serious working class politics and is inimical to proletarian democracy. Does that mean there are no problems in the SWP or that the current leadership are entirely blameless? Of course not but the leadership of the Left Platform are in no way part of the solution to the problems of the SWP.

Anonymous said...

ahhh andy wilson. still bitter about a petty dispute with lindsey german 15 years ago, now - predictably - siding with the hard right molyneux faction, of which john g is also a member. (sorry about the personal abuse, andy, but you have been dishing it out).. they were restrained at conference, having got most of what they wanted, and are making the running inside the party, given the flabbiness of the leadership. a sad day for the left.

Anonymous said...

"siding with the hard right molyneux faction, of which john g is also a member. (sorry about the personal abuse, andy, but you have been dishing it out)."

Ahh, the behind the scenes theorising of the Great Leader raises it's ugly head: John Molyneux is on the "hard right" of the party, the leadership are wavering centrists and John and Lindsey are leading the left against grim reaction. My favourite exposition of this was the argument that "rich, fat academics" are paying big subs in order to support a party infrastructure that maintains their dominance.

The fall of Rees is a sharp turn to the right, represented by the new Zinoviev and Kamenev, Molyneux and Davidson, the uncritical, unthinking swamp that makes up the membership of the organisation are allowing it to happen, Martin Stalin is rising, the SWP is finished, blahblahblahblah....

Andy Wilson said...

Anon - believe me, I had to think long and hard about taking the position I have - the fact that it was personally gratifying made me suspect that, according to the usual rules of leftist political engagement, it's probably also politically mistaken. I mean, there's rarely much fun in factional politics. But - what do you know? - it turns out that sometimes you really can have it both ways, however undignified it is to admit it.

But I don't get your 'predictably' jibe (quite apart from the inanity of describing the majority position as 'hard right').... in the circumstances the usual thing to do is to damn both sides to hell for being as bad as each other, and 'fuck the lot of you'. As I say, I don't think we've reached end-game and everything is now rosy in the garden, but for the first time in a long time it seems to me that the right road has been taken, and for the right reasons.

And I don't mind a bit of personal abuse, btw - anyone who's ever been expelled will have had to develop a thick skin in that regard, as Alex and Clare are no doubt discovering.

Having said that, even if I were bitter about, etc.. ('if' ??), it wouldn't alter the fact that the Left Platform blatantly apply different standards of inner party democracy as it suits them. I, on the other hand, have not supported the kind of summary execution that our heroes handed out to others, but welcome the fact that they have been given a fair run at putting their case. That's why it isn't a case of 'tit for tat', but a political matter.

c0mmunard said...

Hi Clare,

Solidarity - this is a disgrace. I guess one thing you have to think about now is how far the roots of your expulsion run. How political are they? Why were the conference delegates not sufficiently confident to assert themselves against the leadership bluster? From where this assumption that building autonomous organisations is a bad thing, even if it were the case (which I'm sure it's not) that you were? From where the idea that organisational and political debates can't be had in the open, with full disagreement in public?

We've had sharp tactical disagreements, and I expect would have sharp political ones too. But revolutionaries should never treat each other like this.

SWP members who voted for the expulsion ought to be ashamed - frankly, so should any members who fail to stand up, be counted, and oppose it now. All the more so for anyone who wants to say they are either friends and comrades of Clare.

http://www.thecommune.co.uk

HarpyMarx said...

Like to reiterate what has been said.....There's political life beyond the SWP (and democratic centralism) and am sorry that this has happened to you Clare, it is an awful experience, as from what I have seen of you you are a brilliant example of an activist with political insight and passion.

Especially as you are an 'autonomist', 'renegade', 'guevarist', 'dilletante', 'spawn of the devil'.... and all good things ;)

Don't give up.... we need political activists. It's the SWP's loss...not yours....

Andy Wilson said...

ps. John Molyneux supported my expulsion, Alex Callinicos co-chaired the Control Commission that confirmed it, and all of the rest of the CC supported it along the way, with Cliff, Chris Harman and Pat Stack all going out of their way to support it. So I have no reason to side with the majority against Lindsey and John other than the fact that I thought all along that they were at the centre of an undeclared bureaucratic faction that had the potential to ruin the SWP. It just turns out that, this far down the line, that has become the majority position.

IStrad said...

Again the posts of c0mmunard and HarpyMarx are typical examples of the clunky misreadings of what has been taken place internally in the SWP in the last two years or so and what happened at conference over the weekend in particular. There was a sharp argument / debate concerning the issues that separated the Left Platform and the majority. The conference delegates WERE ''sufficiently confident to assert themselves'' in this matter and voted to cut loose those who care not one whit for inner party democracy. c0mmunard asks ''where the idea that organisational and political debates can't be had in the open.'' The comrade should address that question to Lindsey German and John Rees, who were and are, essentially the advocates of unaccountable leadership and who were - until the Respect debacle - very much running the show. Anyone seriously interested in the wellbeing of the libertarian mainspring of the IS tradition, authentic proletarian democracy and genuine democratic centralism can only welcome the defeat of the misnamed Left Platform.

skidmarx said...

Andy Wilson - Other than your particularly low opinion of John Rees?

johng said...

I very much enjoyed being accused of being in a 'faction' with John Molyneaux (presumably because I liked his article on democracy and the party, an absolute affront to some people). I also enjoyed the idea that the mere toleration of those such as myself reflected 'flabbiness'. Look I really AM trying to lose weight. Just thought I should make that clear.

andy newman said...

I didn't know there WAS a "hard right" in the SWP, sounds like a promising development to me if true.

Andy Wilson is of course correct on all this.

The politics of the Left Platform that are being rejected are the very same elitist, undemocratic and machiavellian methods that have given the SWP a bad name in many quarters.

Sometimes politics is tough, the expulsions of Alex and Clare seem to me not an example of the machine purging dissidents, but on the conrary the cadre membership sending a clear signal rejecting both the politics of the Rees/German clique, and also making it clear that they are not going to permit a long term scorched earth policy by Rees and German playing at factions.

This is a question quite seperate from the formal position on factions that the likes of Bill Jj are obsessed with. In the case of this faction, right here and now, then the SWP are right to expel people who were factionalising in pursuit of a discredited and defeated understanding of political leadership which will prevent the SWP from recovering from it difficulties over the last couple of years.

florence durrant said...

johng you are not in any faction and I hope you lose the weight - its good for your health. As far as I know, the left faction has dissolved now and both John Rees and Lindsey still remain Party members. This just reflects that there was no need for the faction on the first place.

luna17 said...

The SWP Central Committee has the political support of Andy Newman. I rest my case.

battersea said...

Rees and German have the support of the Commissar for Enlightenment. I rest mine.

redbedhead said...

And the Left Platform has the support of the Weekly Worker, which, last I checked, was running a defense campaign of sorts.
The only point being: be careful of the stones you throw.

johng said...

Well sometimes even Andy Newman can be right about something. I've been known to be right about some things too. Usually though only when its just bleeding obvious.

redbedhead said...

I think you're wrong about that, johng

Anonymous said...

but johng you are a member of an faction. if clare's email was 'factional', you are in a faction.

the majority position is not that of molyneuxs but the majority have nowhere else to go.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone seriously interested in the wellbeing of the libertarian mainspring of the IS tradition, authentic proletarian democracy and genuine democratic centralism can only welcome the defeat of the misnamed Left Platform."

you say this *after* clare's expulsion. wow.

Anonymoussoicanabuseyou said...

The fact that nearly all of the people attacking Clare and basic bolshevik democratic centralism are posting anonymously is a great indicator of the commitment the SWP has to open and honest debate...

johng said...

How do you work that one out then anon? I was accused of being engaged in an 'enourmous factional conspiracy' by a member of Left Platform. This essentially seemed to boil down to not agreeing with their critique of the SWP. It might have had something to do with me enjoying a John Molyneux article as well. But I leave such decisions to razer sharp unflabby dynamic and decisive types. Mine is not to reason why obviously.

battersea said...

...it does make any party look bad when it kicks people out other than for very sound reasons...

LOL!

All I'd say, to anyone on the outside looking in, is that you hardly need a CSI-Hackney to work up both the perp. and victim profiles.

There is unity across the left blogs (a quite remarkable feat) in pointing up the fact that the "Left Platform's" output amounted to no more than calls for the reinstatement of John Rees and Lindsey German to the Central Ctte., with slabs of "verve, dash, panache," etc. to spice the pot.

An index of how substantial the criticisms of the SWP were will be found in how the "Platform's" ex-members are treated by their ex-leaders over the coming months. Don't be at all surprised if LP members begin to experience chilly winds approximating the heat-death of the universe.

I've never seen the SWP treat internal opposition with such kid gloves*. Oddly, I'm of the opinion that they were too soft. I can't see how Rees, German, Nineham (is Bambery still part of the cohort?) etc. are going to sit idle, but then, so what?

It's the end of one of the most dreadful eras in the SWP's history. Hats off to the cdes. (tho' you didn't go far enough) and good luck with the RTW conference.

*Aside from the case of comrade Wilson: He was allowed to publish pamphlet length articles in multiple internal bulletins, to tour the nation's branches and put his case, he was invited to all District Aggregates prior to the main conference and then permitted to present several motions to the conference floor where his, erstwhile, supporters were allowed to squeak out their plaintive burps.

PS. I am a hard-"rightist" awaiting permission to rejoin the tendency (but only with Andy Newman's approval)...

Andy Wilson said...

"The SWP Central Committee has the political support of Andy Newman. I rest my case"

A culture that is terrified of agreeing with the 'wrong' people is a culture that needs to be swept away. It's cliquish bullshit.

And now can we hear a word from the chorus - you know, all those chumps who imagine that people like luna17/Alex Snowdon represent a breath of fresh air, openness, an end to pointless sectarianism, etc.

Alex, you really are a very silly young man indeed.

Anonymous said...

"Alex, you really are a very silly young man indeed."

what did lindsey say to you, all those years ago. it mustve been very hurtful.

Andy Wilson said...

"what did lindsey say to you, all those years ago"

Since you ask, my favorite bit was where she talked about how the Central Committee were all much clever than me and "could easily get jobs as lecturers if they left the CC".

I think the long-term mirth this inspired served as an essential balm in the long process of overcoming my grief and pain - although, as you have been so sage as to notice, I never managed to finally overcome the ensuing torment in my soul. Jesus, it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it :-(

battersea said...

"...could easily get jobs as lecturers if they left the CC"

What, like real academics?

With their own books and pens and suchlike?

Anonymous said...

Well John is now doing a PhD at Goldsmiths. Got a studentship too.

Andy Wilson said...

Indeed, battersea.

Alex Callinicos must be sweating it - his stock will drop through the floor if JR ever decides to write a follow-up to his book on dialectics. Mind you, if that book ever appears, we'll all be sorry, I guess.

neprimerimye said...

I'm in agreement with the Andys both on this sympathy for Clare aside. But some of the comments from SWP members in this thread cause me to believe that there is still a long way to go for the SWP in terms of developing aq democratic culture.

battersea said...

Well John is now doing a PhD at Goldsmiths. Got a studentship too.

Holy Christ! What in?

Don't tell me:

"Verve, Dash, Panache! - Cromwell's Leap over History. Decisive Leadership, Roundheaded Thinking and Putney's Consequences Through a Lukasian Prism"

Derek Wall said...

It's on the Levellers, not sure what this has got to do with anything, may be Goldsmiths is seen as a hot bed of Guevarists.

Doloras LaPicho said...

lenin: "What 'benefit' do you suppoe the 'apparatus' gets out of the SWP? Most of the 'apparatchiks' could be enjoying positions of relative power and wealth in other institutions, and could have a lot more free time and leisure, were they not spending most of their waking hours on the problems and perspectives of political organisation for peanuts in the way of remuneration."

Being the leader of a religious or political sect, even an extremely small one, offers psychological benefits - which is fundamentally the basis of bureacratisation in socialist groups isolated from the class struggle. Tim Wohlforth (google him) always used to say that the opportunity to be a full-time political activist was more alluring to people like him than all the hard capitalist currency in the world.

Andy Wilson said...

"What 'benefit' do you suppoe the 'apparatus' gets out of the SWP?"

" From the imperious declamations of Cyprian, we should naturally conclude that the doctrines of excommunication and penance formed the most essential part of religion; and that it was much less dangerous for the disciples of Christ to neglect the observance of the moral duties than to despise the censures and authority of their bishops. Sometimes we might imagine that we were listening to the voice of Moses, when he commanded the earth to open, and to swallow up, in consuming flames, the rebellious race which refused obedience to the priesthood of Aaron; and we should sometimes suppose that we hear a Roman consul asserting the majesty of the republic, and declaring his inflexible resolution to enforce the rigor of the laws."

"If such irregularities are suffered with impunity," (it is thus that the bishop of Carthage chides the lenity of his colleague,) "if such irregularities are suffered, there is an end of Episcopal Vigor; an end of the sublime and divine power of governing the Church, an end of Christianity itself."

Cyprian had renounced those temporal honors, which it is probable he would never have obtained; but the acquisition of such absolute command over the consciences and understanding of a congregation, however obscure or despised by the world, is more truly grateful to the pride of the human heart, than the possession of the most despotic power, imposed by arms and conquest on a reluctant people."


Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

that kind of thing?

Anonymous said...

I attended conference
very good debate throughout on all issues. I was absolutely convinced that the expulsions were the only course of action open to the SWP given Claire and Alex's behaviour and clear evidence of trying to undermine the local party branches.

Mary O' said...

I think the worst aspect of this whole affair has been the way Smith "celebrated" and told his little band that there is more to come.

The quality of the leadership speaks volumes of the sad demise of the SWP. Gloating is dusgusting.

IStrad said...

I am amused that one poster argues that Clare has been attacked by anonymous posters and this reflects a lack of commitment to open debate and fa. The defeat of the Left Platform looks very decisive and though NOT everything is possible in politics, most things are. Clare is gone but Lindsey German and John Rees we did get rid and as unlikely as it seems now, it cannot be entirely excluded that they could not return to the leadership in the future - and that would be bad for anyone who cares about democracy, open debate and accountability.

Doloras LaPichio you are not entirely wrong in arguing that even the smallest political organisations can offer ''psychological benefits'' to its full-timers / cadre but your argument is a little undercooked and misses the specific import of the Left Platform's defeat. When Rees and German had the run of the manor, their leadership was hardly disinterested and selfless as I am sure you must be aware. I can only repeat that as a party member and a conference delegate, the Left Platform supporters were allowed very generous amount of time to put their arguments / disagreements before the membership. The membership simply did not want more of the same ''decisive'' and unaccountable leadership that led us to the Respect debacle. There was also a real sense that the train had moved on with the party determined to build the RTW / the networks of militants the working class will need if it is to mount effective resistance to the ramped up neo-liberal offensive that looms after the election. In no sense is this a conservative retreat to 'merely' building the branches, circling the wagons etc as the Left Platform were wont to portray the perspective but marked a recognition that the success of one was related to the success of the other and visa versa. The comrades are fed up with stunts and get rich quick schemes so they delivered the Left Platform a decisive defeat. Revitalising the branches and shaping the resistance are the serious work we now face.

Anonymous said...

it is amusing that when the SWP has a delgate based conference in which serious discussion, disagreement is had they then say its all anti democratic. Of course when there was little internal debate these same people said it showed the SWP was anti democratic. Come on just say you hate the SWP and be done with it. Excellant conference. Rees and German alongside others put forward there arguements on many occassions with extended time alloted. They failed to gain the votes needed because there positions were very weak and simply did not cut it with the membership.

bardena said...

Clare,

I'm sorry to hear this. I've always admired your drive, your energy, your creativity, your dedication, and your commitment to broad-based organising. I'm not terribly surprised that these qualities have gotten you in trouble within the SWP, but given that it was your chosen outlet for political activity, I'm sad that they have made the mistake of losing you. That said, I find it encouraging that you say you're "out but not down", and I very much hope - both for your sake and for the sake of the left - that you find something good to move on to, and I look forward to continuing to see you active.

As for the rest of you - it's rather unfortunate that the SWP seems to have developed this marmite-like quality of dividing the left between passionate supporters who think it can do no wrong, and ardent opponents who refuse to see anything good in it. I'm no fan of the SWP myself - not because I belong to a rival-but-equally-dysfunctional group, but because I'm a bit of an autonomist/guevarist/renegade/etc myself... but I find the fact that 99% of the comments on this thread aren't about Clare at all (at a time when we should be offering her support) profoundly depressing. I know it's naive to think that any discussion on the SWP could be based around a relatively balanced assessment of its strengths and its faults, but surely there are other fora where we can express our undying support for the correctness of the leadership or expound on the undemocratic nature of the SWP?

Anonymous said...

All well and good about "decisive defeats" and "ding dong the witch is dead" (I paraphrase)... but Lindsey German has just been elected to the National Committee. 120+ votes.

Perhaps mood of conference not quite as clear as has been made out?



A real Cliffite

PS: IStrad - it was, you will recall, those who became Left Platform supporters who originally had to argue for the RTWC against the leadership last year.

IStrad said...

@Anonymous. Lindsey German has been elected to the NC does not surprise me (she retained her Socialist Review column and stayed on the editorial board of the ISJ throughout the current spat). As I said we did NOT get rid. But at least German is not a CC member - though that can hardly be ruled out in the future (and would be retrograde in my opinion).

The substantative issue about the RTW is the gulf in the Left Platform's conception of the RTW and that of the majority. For Rees it would simply amount to another get rich quick scheme - no thanks comrade, that is not serious revolutionary politics.

florence durrant said...

Mary O' said...
"I think the worst aspect of this whole affair has been the way Smith "celebrated" and told his little band that there is more to come."

I fail even by a micron to relate to your politics Mary O. I call it mumbo jumbo politics of fools for that simple reason because it is based on gossip. So Martin celebrated and bragged of 'more to come' to his little band - what does that tell us? Nothing - for your assertion to make sense to some of us, you should always qualify what you accuse others of having done or said by quoting the source, explaining the cirmstances under which the stament was said and add to it the names of those in this little band; and if you are the source, i.e. were part of that little band and disagreed with what Martin said, what did you say in response and what did you do about it apart from posting it on a blog and expecting people to believe you? There are some of us who prefer to check the authenticity of any accusation or statement said about another person in their absence. It is called reference and you don't need a diploma to understand the relevance of one refusing to take one's word as gospel and jumping into the bandwagon like lemmings do.

In such disagreements, I always believe that people should not fight their corner using a double edged sword because they may cause themselves self-inflicted wounds. So your argument here is that the decision at the conference to reject the Left Faction was undemocratic with 17 votes for the LF and 9 abstentions? I somehow can relate to the narrow politics of John and Lindsey, but that was before I joined the SWP. As a nurse, I wanted to build a little hospital for my little village in Africa after witnessing the tragic deaths of my friends and relatives due to treatable illnesses. But I did not go preaching about it, instead I was saving money towards it, paying for some of my relations from my village to do care assistant courses, networking with friends and colleagues - hence when I joined the SWP, I thought it was an NGO. Mine is called village politics, but I soon washed that mentality once I became politiced after joining the SWP. Once I understood capitalism and class devide and its emperial history, I let go of my village politics for its narrowness. But John and Lindsey have been revolutionaries for many years - and if anything I learnt a lot from them. Words like democratic centralism are new to me and I learnt them from socialist literature and lectures run by the SWP. John and Lindsey as members of the CC were advocates of democracy and I understand it. So, why does it all of a sudden turn out to be the opposite just because John was rightfully expelled from the CC? It has turned from democratic centralism to personal democracy for these two.

florence durrant said...

Cont'd
Did John not vote against the Democracy Commission? Did Lindsey not resign from the CC because John was expelled from the CC? Is that the democracy that these two were preaching to comrades?
I have comrades that I will never work with in the SWP, but it does not mean I want them expelled. I will not work with them for the same same reason that I am critical of you; i.e. they don't know the difference between the voices in their heads and the truth about what someone said or did. So, if they cannot get what they want from a person/s, they listen to the voices in their heads and then claim to be the voices of the person/s who is refusing to play their game. Hence they never say what they say a about that/those person/s in public. It has to be these behind closed door meetings - why? Of course you cannot say where you heard about what Martin said to his little band for that particular reason - you either made it up or you know that your source is unreliable, but you had to say it anyway to make your claim sound plausible. That is the mentality that goes with John and Lindsey - HEAR SAY because it gives you a job description. To ratify the accusation by asking the accused takes away your purpose in life, that purpose is - to gossip. Enough of that.

There is no reason why John should not have been expelled from the CC, there is no reason why Lindsely resigned from the CC and there is no reason why they formed the Left Platform. It just goes to show the shallowness of their politics and anyone who does not see this misses out on the fundamental meaning of democracy. But these two are still members of the SWP, and that is good enough for the Party! What saddens me is that we had the Left Platform on the first place just to fight against the obvious and in so doing lost some of our dynamic comrades. Hope they rejoin in future.

sararara said...

responding to the idea that the swp isn't terribly democratic by pointing out that rees & german are even less democratic than the lot that's in charge now doesn't convince anyone that the swp is democratic. it just highlights the fact that the lack of democracy isn't just a question of a few undemocratic individuals - it's systemic, both within the swp, and within most of the other left groups in britain.

we seem to be much better at the part of democratic centralism where we commit to going along with decisions which have been made than with the part where we make those decisions not only with formally democratic structures, but with genuine rank and file participation. the swp is hardly alone in this. most of us have leaderships which have been in power forever (and are, for the most part, white men "of a certain age"), and very few of us (if any) consistently do a good job of encouraging the ideas of younger, newer members and seeing our internal disagreements as fodder for productive interesting debates rather than for expulsions and splits.

how can we do better? we have the formal democracy. what we're lacking is an organisational culture where it's ok to be on the losing side of a disagreement, where we see being wrong as an opportunity to learn, and where the initiatives of people like clare are seen as a strength of the organisation rather than a threat to the established leaders.

florence durrant said...

sararara said... "how can we do better? we have the formal democracy. what we're lacking is an organisational culture where it's ok to be on the losing side of a disagreement...,"

I think quite a few people have covered that above sararara. You can be on the losing side and be wrong for that matter and still remain in the Party, that is why John and Lindsey and others on the Left Platform are still in the SWP. So it is ok for members to challenge what they believe to be wrong. This means therefore that, Clare's expulsion was not because she participated in the Left Faction.

Tsararara said...
"responding to the idea that the swp isn't terribly democratic by pointing out that rees & german are even less democratic than the lot that's in charge now doesn't convince anyone that the swp is democratic."

This is not just about vilifying Lindsey and John; what a lot of people are saying is that Lindsey and John would not have tolerated the formation of the Left Faction if it was not them on the receiving end. Here I agree with them.

Anonymous said...

>Derek Wall: "It's on the Levellers, not sure what this has got to do with anything, may be Goldsmiths is seen as a hot bed of Guevarists."

shite band, and surely autonomists not Guevarists last time we looked. how's he gonna get a doctorate out of that? oh, wait.

Anonymous said...

anon said: "All well and good about "decisive defeats" and "ding dong the witch is dead" (I paraphrase)... but Lindsey German has just been elected to the National Committee. 120+ votes.
Perhaps mood of conference not quite as clear as has been made out?"

From leading the biggest mass movement in recent UK history and being a leading CC member for 30 years, to coming 49th in NC elections, behind people who've been in the party a year! A devastating fall in stock however you look at it. And another sign of the health of the SWP...

sararara said...

"You can be on the losing side and be wrong for that matter and still remain in the Party, that is why John and Lindsey and others on the Left Platform are still in the SWP."

you can be on the losing side and not be expelled? formal democracy.

but how many of us approach a disagreement as an opportunity to learn (including the possibility of discovering that we were wrong) rather than needing to prove that we're right? this goes doubly for people in positions of power.

i'm not saying this as an attack on the swp, and it's not about the left faction. to be honest, i know next to nothing about this specific situation. i'm just asking myself why things like this happen so often, and doing a bit of soul-searching as to what we do well and what we can do better. of course i include myself in this, and the rest of us would do well to recognise that we and our organisations all have things we can improve on. democracy that moves beyond formalities is a big one for all of us. if we fail to recognise those opportunities to strengthen our movement, we will waste them.

Joseph Kisolo said...

As someone who left the SWP over the Respect stuff I have mixed feelings over the 'left platform' etc.

Unfortunately I think that Andy Newman is right with his comments on SU that Ress and German represented highly problematic methods of bureaucratic control inside the party. They also seem to have failed to articulate any real point to the left platform other then to save themselves. They also seem to have mounted very poor defences of you and Alex.

However I do think that they represented a commitment to the need for ongoing participation in a general political left-wing organisation.

The new leadership seem just as keen on broad united fronts such as Stop the War, defend council housing etc. but they down play the need for a broad left organisation. This seems to me to be one of the reasons they are able to play the ‘more internally democratic’ card. Because they don’t want to dabble in the water of broad left party they have less fear that comrades will lose their ‘revolutionary’ identity.

The only way I can see to square the circle, that is to have a position that is neither “internal (a little bit more) democratic but Revo’ party as only socialist voice” nor “Internally more centralist but more engaged with general socialist project” is to give up the idea that ‘Revoultionary’ identity is the primary important thing. I.E. in real terms have the Revo’ party become a ‘current’ within a wider left party and no longer try to keep out flanking that party (e.g. primarily carry the wide parties placards etc.)

luna17 said...

Joseph, you might be interested in my post on 'the future of the revolutionary party' that I recently published on my blog. See what you think.

friendlylefty said...

Cliffite -

Coming a little bit late to the party I know but you said:

'Bill I know you were badly burnt by your own explusion/split from the microsect WorkersPower but genealising from your own experience in another organisation won't help you.'

Totally agreed on the bonkers Workers' Power but isn't that comment a little rich for a onetime member of the AWL?

Anonymous said...

The new leadership seem just as keen on broad united fronts such as Stop the War, defend council housing etc. but they down play the need for a broad left organisation. This seems to me to be one of the reasons they are able to play the ‘more internally democratic’ card. Because they don’t want to dabble in the water of broad left party they have less fear that comrades will lose their ‘revolutionary’ identity.

Joseph, I'm afraid this is yet another strawman that has found it's way into the debate. The majority of the party are still committed to left-realignment. That is why, in the short term, the SWP is involved in Bob Crow's STUC initiative. With the election just months away, I think that being part of the coalition whilst arguing for votes for left candidates (Respect, left Greens etc) and, where there is no option, a vote for Labour, is the correct position for an organisation trying to re-establish itself as one serious about relating to electoral politics.

I think the notion that the Left Platform want to be involved in a "broad party" is simply putting more stock in IB rhetoric than a realistic appraisal of the historic intentions of the leadership of that grouping.

Anonymous said...

'The majority of the party are still committed to left-realignment.'

what sort of left realignment?

Anonymous said...

"I think that being part of the coalition whilst arguing for votes for left candidates (Respect, left Greens etc) and, where there is no option, a vote for Labour, is the correct position for an organisation trying to re-establish itself as one serious about relating to electoral politics."

not the position taken by conference tho. conference didnt take a formal position on the election. where was the vote? oops.

florence durrant said...

Anonymous said...

"I think the notion that the Left Platform want to be involved in a "broad party" is simply putting more stock in IB rhetoric than a realistic appraisal of the historic intentions of the leadership of that grouping."

Very true Anonymous - and what also strikes me as a bit weird is this claim where people give all credit for either stop the war or RESPECT to individuals. Surely there must have been debates within the Party for such action to be taken and in such debates different people come up with different ideas. It is not as if one day one or two people woke up with this idea that they were going to form stop the war and got on with it without any input from other comrades. These are collective achievements and a lot of people worked their socks off to build both stop the war and RESPECT. To be elected as Convenor of a movement does not make you solely responsible for its success and its failure.

Anonymous said...

I think the notion that the Left Platform want to be involved in a "broad party" is simply putting more stock in IB rhetoric than a realistic appraisal of the historic intentions of the leadership of that grouping.

Except this flies in the face of their prior practice, which actually having been very actively involved in building such a broad organisation, in the form of Respect.

(The rewriting of history taking place around all this is enough to take your breath away.)



A real Cliffite

Andy Wilson said...

A Real Lunacharsky (?) says: "Except this flies in the face of their prior practice, which actually having been very actively involved in building such a broad organisation, in the form of Respect"

That's odd - because it looked to me very much as though the leadership of the Left Platform were happy to allow the relationship with Respect collapse in order to protect their personal prestige. That doesn't sound like much of a commitment to 'broad party' work to me: it sounds perfectly sect-like and cultish, and precisely the sort of behaviour that would make consistent and effective 'broad party' work impossible. The Left Platform were humiliated at conference because most people understand this perfectly well.

Anonymous said...

That's odd - because it looked to me very much as though the leadership of the Left Platform were happy to allow the relationship with Respect collapse in order to protect their personal prestige.

That's odd, because it looked to the rest of the world that they'd played an absolutely key role in building Respect in the first place, and in winning many active SWP members to the project.

When it came to a serious crisis in Respect, they acted to preserve the independence and coherence of the SWP that they are now accused by some of doing so little to protect. You can debate the wisdom of that course. Nonetheless, it was the course they took.



A real Cliffite

Anonymous said...

The rewriting of history which is taking place is that of this "real Cliffite" whose position seems to be that LP members were serious about Respect because two of them were the CC members DELEGATED to have responsibility for it, whereas other CC members weren't. By this idiotic measure, all Harman was interested in was books, Bambery in journalism and Michael Bradley was a syndicalist who wouldn't shut up about unions. Of course, these were simply their areas of responsibility within the organisation. The rest of the CC were as committed to the Respect organisation as anyone in the LP.

battersea said...

When it came to a serious crisis in Respect, they acted to preserve the independence and coherence of the SWP

How'd that work out for them?

...

A rum lot those SWP members; you bend over backwards for 'em, step in to keep the communalist witch-hunters at bay, raise a few bucks this way and that, up all night press releasing and how do they repay you?

A real scandal.

Anonymous said...

...whose position seems to be that LP members were serious about Respect because two of them were the CC members DELEGATED to have responsibility for it, whereas other CC members weren't.

Where did I say other CC members didn't take Respect seriously?

(..."seems to be": a useful phrase when rigging up an obvious strawman. Deniability is everything, comrade.)




A real Cliffite

Anonymous said...

Actually, you're quite right. My contention was not that LP members are not interested in being involved in wider realignments, rather that the "strawman" was the contention that they are committed to it whereas the rest of the party and the CC are not. Apologies for the shadowboxing.

However, I think that this old chestnut (along with the nonsense about a "return to party building" in the introspective sense, "ditching the united front" etc.) flow largely from the caricature of the majority position within the organisation put across by LP.

IStrad said...

Quite so. Just pause to consider the Left Platform caricature of the majority position on the need to rebuild / revitalise the branches that have withered on the vine in the last few years. it has been painted as a conservative turn inwards, a circling of the wagons etc. Again and again at conference it was emphasised by the CC and the majority that building the branches and the networks of resistance in a broader political context determined by the crisis, would naturally go hand in hand. We need strong branches because new recruits - if they are not to be short changed or treated as 'activist' fodder with the shelf life of a mayfly - need somewhere to learn the tradition / politics of the IS / SWP. Parenthetically it is interesting that the Left Platform's suggestions for shaking up the branches meant foregrounding activism and diluting the ''boring'' politics that - presumably - 'turns' the raw recruit off the party.

Andy Wilson said...

"That's odd, because it looked to the rest of the world that they'd played an absolutely key role in building Respect in the first place, and in winning many active SWP members to the project"

I'm prepared to accept that, but it is compatible with seeing the same people as also being responsible for the dismal failure of the strategy, which was admirable enough in its ambitions. What is the point of having a commitment to 'broad party' politics if you see the whole process as being essentially the work of fearless, (over-)imaginative leaders who treat the rest of the party and those they want to relate to like pieces on a chess board? It was bound to end in tears. What happened was that the bureaucratic approach favoured by the Left Platform leadership for a long time before Respect was finally tested by the turn outwards and found not to work, and everything came crashing down. You can't manipulate people in your periphery they way that you can the party rank and file, who have their own reasons for being loyal to the party that are not shared by others. Others have to be won over politically - they can't simply be wooed or bullied into doing what you want. Winning them over requires a very different mindset.

You don't get any points for being abstractly in favour of turning outwards if your approach means that your attempts to do so are going to crash and burn. In politics, nothing succeeds like success. And unless you want to continue the charade of claiming that the SWP were simply driven out of Respect by rightward-moving communalist witch-hunters, you would have to conclude that the genuine political differences developing within Respect were handled appallingly by the SWP on Rees's watch - catastrophically so. That is the problem, and you can't wriggle out of it by claiming that, in your heart, you are more committed to 'broad politics' than anyone else... because your implicit politics, whatever your ambitions, make it impossible in practice to achieve that end. And while that is true, the chest-beating about turning outward is just lip-flapping waffle.

I remember the last SWP aggregate I went to, back in the early 90s, where Chris Harman spoke about the looming crisis and the potential for a rise of the far-right across Europe. His conclusion was that it was going to be down to the SWP to show the whole of the European left how they could break out of their ghetto and achieve a mass influence that could turn the tide.

Well, as you say, when it came to the point at which that perspective had to be delivered John Rees was at the centre of the turn outward, but his bureaucratic, top-down political approach - which he announced clearly enough in advance, if you listened carefully to his meetings on Lukacs, and which he could get away with in the closed world of the SWP of the 90s - was bound to shatter on contact with a larger reality implied by a genuine turn toward the wider world. And that's exactly how it panned out, like a car crash in slow motion.

From the point of view of Harman's picture of the tasks, Rees failed spectacularly and set everything back - possibly by years. He did so because of his politics, and the Left Platform, as his and Lindsey's creature, embody those politics. That is why I am delighted that they were so roundly defeated at conference.

Anonymous said...

Amusingly, IStrad describes LP as caricaturing the inward-lookng majority position - before immediately caricaturing the LP position on the branches as "diluting" politics.

Nothing could be further from the truth: the curren branch format is too often not fit for the purpose of building an active party organisation with politically-schooled cadre. The "discussion first, then planning activity" format was designed for a period of retreat, during the 1980s. What LP has called for is a turn to a branch meeting format the places party strategy and activity in the outside world at its heart. (The party has used something like this format before, in the 1970s - another period in which revolutionaries were confronted by multiple possibilities for intervention.)

By addressing itself to political questions in this way, setting priorities locally, addressing questions of strategy and tactics, more will be learnt of our tradition and politics than in any number of 80s-style branch meetings, especially if this is reinforced with reading groups, regular educationals, and so on.

This should be ABC for any Marxist: that disciplined engagement with social life, as part of an organized party of revolutionaries, is the best available teacher of revolutionary politics. The near-hysteria with which some have greeted even questioning the current branch format is a worrying sign.



A real Cliffite

IStrad said...

I say the LP and its confrere's have caricatured the positions of the the majority because it is true. The industrial perspective has been variously described as economism, ''ambulance chasing'' or syndicalism, the CC have been dismissed as Kautskyian centrists and so on. OK let us leave that aside.

On the question of the branch meetings as you rightly point out, the ''discussion first, then planning activity'' was a feature of defeat and retreat in the 1980s. However there is nothing inherently wrong with this format per se. The wider context holds the key. Truth be told, '80s style branch meetings could be very dull especially in the grim period after the defeat of the 1984-85 Miners Strike when the party had little choice but to 'bunker down'. It would be wrong to make a fetish of a particular format of branch meeting - the broader political context in which the revolutionary party operates is important and there is no disagreement there.

But there does need to be some critical reflection about our ability - or otherwise to retain those recruited to the party. We cannot treat the raw recruit as mere activist fodder with, inevitably the shelf life of the mayfly.

Overall the branches are essential for new comrades to learn the tradition. Something else that is essential is ''thorough going controversy'' (Lenin describing the internal life of the Bolshevik party). This is linked to the existence of a genuine democratic culture in the party that would be allow the cultivation of critical thinking revolutionaries, partisans of the working class able to think on their feet. Trotsky made the point - appropos the French revolutionary syndicalists he was trying to woo to the newly formed French Communist party - that at least they wished to really tear the heads off the bourgeoisie. A conformist internal culture where habits of debate are not encouraged will not equip comrades with the ability to engage with ''social life'' (as you describe it) or keep their leadership honest. Isaac Deutscher noted the inability of the KPD's cadre to effectively engage the members of the SPD in the early 1930s because they were too concerned not to stray from their own 'orthodoxy'.

A final question to Anonymous concerning politics, tradition and revolutionary pedagogy. Should the comrades in the same revolutionary organisation be allowed to debate, say, Marxism and philosophy from opposing viewpoints? Are open disagreements on such questions allowed to cohabit in the party?

c0mmunard said...

IStrad: "c0mmunard asks ''where the idea that organisational and political debates can't be had in the open.'' The comrade should address that question to Lindsey German and John Rees, who were and are, essentially the advocates of unaccountable leadership and who were - until the Respect debacle - very much running the show. Anyone seriously interested in the wellbeing of the libertarian mainspring of the IS tradition, authentic proletarian democracy and genuine democratic centralism can only welcome the defeat of the misnamed Left Platform."

The LP and CC have equally little to offer politically - oeganisational practice included. Neither Smith nor Rees, but open, diverse, democratic debate, and no to expulsions.

It's been clear for a long time that most SWP cadre hold the CC in explicable political awe.

Oh, and there is no "libertarian mainspring". Cliff got rid of that long ago.

namie said...

培養健全孩子最好的方法是父母先成為健全的人。.........................

IStrad said...

c0mmunard: ''its been clear for long time that most SWP cadre hold the CC in explicable awe.''

Whether it is ''most'' or some, not all do.

The ''libertarian mainspring'' or political import derives from the theory of state capitalism, the early years of the Socialist Review Group, the IS and the attempt to creatively and honestly apply revolutionary Marxism to understanding the post-war world and escape the ghetto of 'orthodox Trotskyism.'

Believing this does not mean there were not weaknesses in the tradition or that the IS tradition alone tried to keep alive the authentic revolutionary socialist tradition. To give just one example, the critical rethinking of Leninism and its disentanglement from Stalinism never went far enough. In that sense Cliff's 'Lenin: Building The Party' was retrograde though I am in no doubt that 'Real Cliffite' and his or her friends is a big fan.

Andy Wilson said...

ISTrad: "I am in no doubt that 'Real Cliffite' and his or her friends is a big fan"

Oh, they most certainly do. Luna17, who appears to be the foremost intellectual giant of the Left Platform, after his master (stop laughing at the back!) has confirmed this repeatedly.

Eg. "For an in-depth elaboration of the dialectic - including chapters on Lenin and Lukacs - I strongly recommend The Algebra of Revolution: the dialectic and the classic marxist tradition by John Rees. Volume 1 - Building the Party - of Tony Cliff's Lenin biography is a superb exploration of Lenin's own practice as a revolutionary"

There you go - Rees's Dialectics + Cliff's Lenin. At least that implies some sort of consistency I guess.

To be fair to the young Luna, judging from his various posts on the topic it's not impossible that his enthusiasm for Rees's book is because he has read or considered little or nothing else on the matter. I especially enjoyed his observation in his latest post that "the old myth about Hegel being impenetrable is in my view way off the mark". Naturally, he himself has penetrated the mysteries of Hegel's system to its very core. He's a smart lad, albeit a bit of a drama queen.

Anonymous said...

"You been reading Niskanen, then? Bureaucracies are power-maximising entities, etc.? What 'benefit' do you suppoe the 'apparatus' gets out of the SWP? Most of the 'apparatchiks' could be enjoying positions of relative power and wealth in other institutions, and could have a lot more free time and leisure, were they not spending most of their waking hours on the problems and perspectives of political organisation for peanuts in the way of remuneration."

From what Ive seen of the leadership of the SWP I doubt that very much. Not one of them could hold down a proper job.

florence durrant said...

"It's been clear for a long time that most SWP cadre hold the CC in explicable political awe."

From my personal experience, I cannot argue with that. This surely has been an experience of a lifetime for me in terms of what Lindsey and John were capable of whilst they were calling the shots in running the SWP; and how little anyone did to challenge them. At least this time it looks like they have scored their own goal, and am sure there will be better people for it. Coming from a nursing background, where accountability is the foremost in all I do,I never understood how anyone can have the freedom to do what Lindsey and John did in an organisation like the SWP, and not be held accountable. I also know I was lined up for their chop at one stage because John and his brood followed and interrogated everyone I befriended; and don't ask me why? I am equally in the dark. All I can say is that it pays to play sly and cunning when dealing with people who crown themselves king and queen over an organisation. Because genuine people in position of power are either elected or nominated. So yes, some comrades held the CC in explicable political awe.
But I believe we must now move own from that era and focus on what we believe is the way foward.

Some people might have their own experiences, but I have no problems with Martin Smith and a few other older CC members that I have interacted with in the past 7 years, except to say that they took their time in sussing out that some of their friends and comrades had personal hidden agendas. For that reason many people got hurt badly; and am sure that there might be some comrades who left or were expelled from the Party who had the Party's interest at heart. Hence I agree with you again that, for the sake of the CC and the Party not going to sleep again we need open, diverse, democratic debate, where all comrades new and old are listened to and taken seriously. I am not so sure about expulsion but I can honesly say I part agree with you that there must be no expulsions based on witch hunts. We cannot avoid expulsions where democratically, members believe it is the best for the Party and other comrades. I have dealt with patronising wanker in my life and sometimes such people do more damage to the Party than their membership is worth. I believe there is more to be gained by an organistation like the SWP from open and honest debates among comrades and in the wider realm.

Just a footnote: I cannot over emphasise the importance of older comrades assessing the political needs of new cadres. Just talking to new members one can find out a lot about them and their background in a very short space of time. Nothing is belittling to a new member who has a wealth of political knowledge than being assigned to a comrade who has no idea in mentoring someone like that. In August 2003 I asked a comrade this question; 'What is the SWP and what does SWP stand for?' Her response was 'We are the Bolsheviks and Trotskyist.' Something like that. No mention of what the SWP stands for and this mug here had never heard of Bolshevik or Trot, but had extensively read some liberal political trash that were part of my reading textbook for my degree!
A well informed new cadre who has confidence in her comrades, either at branch level or district does become a true revolutionary - otherwise we end up with comrades who have 'a shelf life of the mayfly'. I must admit, I nearly became one of them!

skidmarx said...

Andy Wilson - you said:
And unless you want to continue the charade of claiming that the SWP were simply driven out of Respect by rightward-moving communalist witch-hunters, you would have to conclude that the genuine political differences developing within Respect were handled appallingly by the SWP on Rees's watch - catastrophically so.
Isn't this a slightly false polarisation? If the SWP was driven out in a more complex manner, or some parts of rightward-moving communalist witch-hunters is an accurate description but not others, there is a middle ground between Rees was always right and everything that went wrong was his fault.

johng said...

"What 'benefit' do you suppoe the 'apparatus' gets out of the SWP? Most of the 'apparatchiks' could be enjoying positions of relative power and wealth in other institutions, and could have a lot more free time and leisure, were they not spending most of their waking hours on the problems and perspectives of political organisation for peanuts in the way of remuneration."

As someone who has been a sometimes very active, sometimes rather inactive member of the SWP for longer then I care to remember, I have to say that the appearence of arguments like this were novel and deeply disturbing. My respect for members of the CC was always based on the fact that a layer of working class militants had come to respect their leadership. Militants who not only held full-time jobs but at the same time operated full-time, in the real sense, as Communist militants with real threats of victimisation and loss of livelihood. ie people who could not run off and get a posh job if things went wrong.

This glorification of the 'hard work' of full timers togeather with its implicit contempt for the cadre and the militants they relate to I always found extremely shocking in the SWP. It has nothing to do with Communism. I don't like to think that anyone finds it a terrible sacrifice working for the SWP. If its a problem they can find something else to do.

Sorry but these sentiments should be offensive to any Communist. They are the sentiments of a trade union bureacrat or professional NGO worker. They have nothing in common with Communism.

Jim Padmore said...

Is the Jim Higgins book still in print?

john said...

Higgen's book is available on-line. I don't share his perspective but its certainly a historical document.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/higgins/1997/locust/index.htm

Anonymous said...

@ Jim Padmore.

Sadly no it is very good and very, very funny. There is a possibility it might get a reprint. But you can read it online at www.marxist.org. Or just google 'More Years of the Locust.'

LittleStevieWonders said...

Post-conference Party Notes reports that The Left Platform … was overwhelmingly defeated…

The question is… why did it need to be ‘defeated’ since conference seems to have adopted positions argued by Left Platform, such as:

Conference: … reaffirmed that the key question we face is the economic crisis and working class resistance to its effects.

Left Platform … argued that fighting the effects of the recession was the first priority for the party…

Conference: The central task for comrades in the present period is to build the Right to Work conference and create local RTW groups and build the political, ideological and economic resistance to the crisis.

Left Platform: What is needed is a broad based campaign, dynamic and imaginative enough to draw in young radicalised activists, newly militant workers and others sick of the degradations and deprivations of neo-liberal Britain. The Right to Work Conference could be an opportunity … if it is built much more systematically and politically … inviting a wide range of movement figures to address the conference and involving wider forces in the project nationally and locally … all comrades need to start building the event as a priority. The prize must be to bring together the political and the economic discontent.

Conference: … reaffirmed the position outlined by the CC that central to our perspectives for the next year is building and strengthening our united front work and building and strengthening the SWP at the same time.

Left Platform: We need to work on the branches at the same time as placing ourselves at the heart of the movement and the resistance.

Conference: It’s clear the economic crisis will lead to ever greater global instability and the prospect of more conflicts. Conference agreed that this means the Stop the War Coalition remains an important united front and the SWP remains committed to building and organising StW groups around the country.

Left Platform: What we would expect … is not an emphasis on the decline in the movement but a call to all comrades to do everything they can to build, refresh and expand the anti war movement in every area in order to relate to and shape the increased tide of anger. Such a call would make a significant difference to the impact of the Stop the War Coalition at a time of acute government crisis over the war…

Conference: Our task is to mobilise this anti-Nazi majority and deliver a crushing blow to the BNP at the next election. All London districts should mobilise for this Day of Action.

Left Platform: We take it for granted … the work of Unite Against Fascism (is) vital for all on the left. The impressive anti Nazi mobilisations need to continue and all means must be used to try to marginalise the Nazis.

ryutin said...

its online at http://www.marxists.org/archive/higgins/1997/locust/index.htm

florence durrant said...

johng said... "As someone who has been a sometimes very active, sometimes rather inactive member of the SWP for longer then I care to remember, I have to say that the appearence of arguments like this were novel and deeply disturbing."

Least someone thinks I am courting favours from you johng, but I certainly wish I had joined your branch/district. Not only did it take me over a year to understand what the CC was all about, but I was not even allowed the luxury of knowing what a new comrade had to do to meet or speak to those held in high esteem. It was so diabolic that when I expressed an intention to meet Alex Callinicos, the organiser in Kent told me that I had to go through her. I was only interested in Alex because I had read his book on Southern Africa. To add to that, not only was I excluded from decision making in Kent, but I was excluded from attending National conferences where delegation was elected - democracy my arse!

As if the Kent confusion was not enough, I also asked one comrade working in the office whether I could attend one of their meetings; his response was polite but he made it clear that such meetings were only for those working in the National office. I would love to name names at such times, but hey, I cannot be bothered because I have proved my point. My point is simply what johng has just said above. Some of us hold a full time job and still make time for the Party. It is not voluntarism, it is because we are militants who believe in what the Party stands for!

florence durrant said...

LittleStevieWonders said...
"Post-conference Party Notes reports that The Left Platform … was overwhelmingly defeated…"

That is just the whole point; the defeat was overwhelming because there was no need to form the Left Faction. It is also worth noting that until John and Lindsey left the CC, the CC used to debate and agree on these issues. Adding a bit of flair here and voomvoom there does not change the point made. One lecturer criticised one of my 3000 word essay with this comment; "Florence, you did not have to make up for words with the same point, 2,500 words would have been ok." Except that one got 10 marks deducted for not writing 3,000 words.

What has since transpired to some of us is that some comrades who supported the Left Faction had their own political disagreements with the CC. I for one happen to support some of these comrades; I just don't support the way they went about to bring their argument to the Party and the CC. I know it is not easy to take the bull by the horn, but I also had my own political disagreements with the CC and the Party as a whole I am sure you have a clear picture now, but it never crossed my mind to discuss these with a few select behind closed doors so as to recruit any disgruntled comrade and form a left faction. This kind of action is no different from those with a gang mentality.

It has not been easy as we now know for ordinary members to challenge the CC or longstanding members valued by the CC. Even Lindsey herself in her IBS argument was scathing against Joseph Chenoora who had signed a letter to the CC asking for Chris B to be replaced as SW editor. She also objected to Joseph being selected for the CC. The problem here is that she based her argument not on the fact that Chris B was a good editor, but that he was a longstanding member of the CC. Classic example of how she viewed those who were longstanding members as compared to new members. Hence it took some of us who came from a background where organisational skills are foremost in one's day to day routine and could easily see the flaws of this kind of leadership from day one, a long time to convience others. I did my best; where ever an opportunity arose for me and when ever I felt comfortable with my stand, I sent emails to the National Office starting as far back as when I was only a few months in the Party. That confirms my assertion that the CC and the Party were asleep, because it took them nearly 7 years to realise that I was right all along; i.e. some districts and some of their friends and comrades were serving their own interests because they had their own personal and political agendas completely different from 'What the SWP stands for.' Call that sort of mentality as one driven by careerism, rather than fighting for political change/socialism.

So, yes it was an overwhelming defeat for the LP to get 17 votes and 9 abstains out of 500 plus delegates.

LittleStevieWonders said...

"...the defeat was overwhelming because there was no need to form the Left Faction..."

One wonders, then why the hysterical reaction & expulsions...?

And there's little prospect of the party doing anything other than ignoring these 'united front' perspectives as it did last year, continuing on its 'back to the party' mentality.

Considering the faction was only 'allowed' 8 delegates, 17 votes and 9 abstentions wasn't bad really...

And if there are only 26 comrades with a 'challenging' perspective to the leadership it doesn't augur well for party democracy when there's clearly a huge debate on-going in the real world, which should be reflected in the party “Because the working class is far from being monolithic, and because the path to socialism is uncharted, wide differences of strategy and tactics can and should exist in the revolutionary party.”

florence durrant said...

LittleStevieWonders said...
" One wonders, then why the hysterical reaction & expulsions...?"

Be specific, because I don't recall anyone from the Party going hysterical; what I know is what I read in the Bulletins which was a response to the Left Faction. Comrades in my district were not hysterical and neither was I. As far as I know, not all members of the Left Faction were expelled from the Party, maybe you can enlighten me as why some were expelled and other not!

As for the rest of your argument, it matters not how the Left Platform faired in this case. Even if it got a 100 votes it still would be an overwelming defeat because its founders lacked proper politics. Politics should not be played by children who throw tantrums when they don't get their way. Neither is the direction of the Party depended on prophets of doom, so let us leave that bit to Murdoch and his cheap SUN. Some of us have started 2010 with real political enthusiasm as it feels like a new beginning for some of us and cheap talk aint gonna make any difference to our optimism. Why not do the same and see which is best between putting theory into practice collectively with other activists whether SWP or not or standing by the roadside prophesying on the downfall of the Party that you are so critical of!

LittleStevieWonders said...

Florence, never mind 2010, some of us started 2009 with real political enthusiasm which had not been punctured by the collapse of Respect, so we don't need a 'new beginning' like those who have spent the last year going 'back to the party'.

Nowhere have I prophesised "the downfall of the party" and I'm certainly not standing by the roadside...

florence durrant said...

LittleStevieWonders said...
"..... so we don't need a 'new beginning' like those who have spent the last year going 'back to the party'."

Does this mean that you left the SWP? If so take a leaf from me - make a clean break from the SWP, it helps you have a clear vision of what you want in your life without stale waters muddling your vision. That is what I do whenever I believe that a particular situation is no longer meeting my needs. Proof of it is in my 7 years in the SWP. Call it re inventing yourself and letting go of all that is pulling back.

1. When my liberal friends/relations turned against me and made up stories about me purely because Florence had joined the SWP, I made a clean break from them as I agreed with the SWP politics more than I agreed with my friends’ liberal politics. Up to date, none of them is allowed in my life. But I will talk to them if we meet just like I do with anyone I know.
2. I don't spend a sweet second of my life thinking about what my liberal ex husband is up to despite the fact that for economical reasons we still live in the same house, cook in the same kitchen etc.
3. To crown that, I have spent these last 7 years fighting for my life and my livelihood, thanks to the closet racists who masqueraded as socialists and saw my participation in socialist politics as an infringement to their white superiority. They still held the apartheid mentality of silencing opposition by adopting that attitude of believing that the only way to understand a black person who is challenging your superiority is to witch hunt and destroy her rather than hold a dialogue with her. Hence they saw their role as talking at me, stalking me and telling me what to do without realising that to have my political knowledge, expertise and experience they need to live another 50 years just learning the ropes. Despite all this, I am still very active in the SWP because I believe in what the SWP stands for.

Just to add, my enthusiasm on 2010is not the same as what you say in "some of us started 2009 with real political enthusiasm." I didn't start in 2009; I started real politics by fighting against the myth of white superiority, and I asked the nuns my first question on this subject at the age of 12. No one gave me a proper answer. I never stopped fighting for an answer and I just cracked it in the last 7 years; i.e. to demystify the colour white as a colour that describes one race against the other and exposed the lie behind the white superiority farce.
It is also in the last 7 years that some of us have been able to expose the history of ignorance, greed and barbarity that slaughtered our people for what it was - a history where looting, murder, theft and lies has been depicted in the western world as a history with a hallmark of civilisation. We are now in a world where there is no white superior or black inferior. Hence I say 2010 is the beginning for some of us. So, my political enthusiasm is not just beginning, but has varying degrees and now it is at it pinnacle.

However, if you are still in the SWP, let me just say, the conference has been and gone. The Left Faction has disbanded. So let us all move on and face the challenges of the real world.

mark victorystooge said...

People do get expelled from left groups. It happens, it even happened to me, once. It's part of the not exactly tolerant territory. Of course, when supporters of "Militant" were complaining of being witch-hunted, the left's own track record of booting people out for political differences was quoted against them at times.

Anonymous said...

Guevararist? - what a compliment! You must have been doing something right although if you were I doubt Rees and German would have approved.

floerence durrant said...

Anonymous said...
"Guevararist? - what a compliment! You must have been doing something right although if you were I doubt Rees and German would have approved"

Anonymous, your irony stinks, but you are true to your word; Clare is a typical Guevarist. I know because I am one. The reason it took me 7 years to get even in the SWP is because Lindsey and Rees are anti Che. Trotskyism for them cannot be tarnished with Guevarists! Tough is all I can say. Trot and Che would have made the best of mates had they met in person. I am a Guevarist in word and deed and a Trotkyst in life. Some people cannot differentiate between personal affiliation and political affilliation. Like me, Clare is a Guevarist come Trotkyst. It is only the myopic sectarians who are used to ticking boxes and hence find it difficult when it comes to whether one is a Guevarist or a Trotskyist. I am both as I see both these human beings as my idols who fought against the enemy that I am fighting against using whatever means was necessary in their lifetime.

That is why I ask Clare to chill out babe and get your buttons together because some of us need you in the SWP. either you or me. John and Lindsey wanted me out of the SWP from day one. They took over Gavin Capps a guy I met a week after joining the SWP. From their point of view, Gavin was too pure for a black woman - he has a Phd and could not be paired with a black woman who was just a nurse. What ever friend I made, John and Lindsey interfered and took over. Tom Woodcock in Cambridge is another example. Other poor souls like Alex Callinicos joined the bandwagon. But that is not our politics. Hence I am right to call these people racist bastards.

Rosa said...

Claire, I have never liked the SWP and what happened to you is a perfect example of why this is. I have, and always will be, a socialist but the manner in which the SWP operates just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Please don't let their ridiculousness get to you.

florence durrant said...

Correction on this sentence above: I meant to say; "That is why I ask Clare to chill out babe and get your buttons together because some of us need you in the SWP, because it was either you or me."

I am also writing my thoughts in my blog if anyone is interested in the real world where ordinary people are putting up with shit from others.

johng said...

Just a quick note on 'Gueverist' being used as a prejorative. It stems from the period of the student movement in western Europe in the 60s and 70s when groups of students took Che's dictum about it being 'the duty of revolutionaries to make the revolution' to argue that social change came from the will of revolutionaries rather then the class struggle.

Any analyses of objective conditions or the class struggle was treated as a retreat from revolutionary politics and groups of students, socialist activists, or various movements were seen as substitutes for the class struggle.

Those who disagreed with this view referred to this as 'gueverist'.

I think the big debate about this happened in France (I think the recently deceased Daniel Bensaid talks about these debates in his great book on Marx). It was essentially a critique of the idea of small groups of activists engaging in substituting themselves for the class, something that grew as the big movements of the 60s and 70s died down, yielding different forms of identity politics on the one hand and on the other growing numbers going back into the mass reformist organisations.

I think its a great shame that rather then engage politically with criticism and educating activists about the history of our movement some who ought to know better chose to treat all criticism as abuse. I think that whilst the period is very different today there is a similar danger and pressure towards "Gueverism" in that sense (epitomised for me by elements of the left platform position) and its significant that there was very little in the way of a coherent political responses to those criticisms, especially from those who would have understood full well their significance.

florence durrant said...

johng thanks for that enlightment, I thought'gueverist' meant those who support Che, hence I took offense when a senior comrade called me a gueverist when I was debating with him about the Zepatistas. He said "The SWP does not allow gueverists'. I huffed and puffed for days as I felt that he was insulting Che. But we know that Che's revolutionary method of trying to emulate Jesus and his disciples as the revolutionary was wrong and it cost him his life, but he had his mind in the right place. That is not the gueverist method that I support hence I am an active revolutionary, not the one of the 60s or 70s. Why do people get so fettish about lables I wonder? But it is not fair to regard everyone who calls herself a supporter of Che a guevarist and less of a revolutionary! The man even tried to build an international revolution - more than some leading revolutionaries of his time had ever dreamt of. His method was wrong but his intention was right. I'd hate to see people use his name as you describe johng, because I adore the man for what he did.

johng said...

I guess I'd say its wrong to be obsessed with labels but not with political arguments. As you say there was a problem with Che's strategy (and perhaps most importantly what happened when others attempted to emulate him in different social contexts). That does'nt mean you can't respect the revolutionary. But you can disagree with the strategy. But I was a bit depressed to see the discussion about the dangers of 'Gueverism' reduced to arguments about 'abuse'. Its a real shame. Because these are real problems we face. And having proper discussion about these things allows socialists to work through these problems. Cutting off discussion by suggesting that any criticism is abuse prevents that.

florence durrant said...

I agree there johng, isn't this the complexity of a human mind? We all get carried with trivia sometimes and I own up to being the worst in that. But I believe that as revolutionaries we should really respect other revolutionaries whose successes and mistakes we are learning from. What I also find frustrating sometimes since I became political is when two comrades disagree because they mistakenly misunderstand each other either by use of jargon or where labels or abreviations are used. Had I understood the meaning of the word guevarist as I you have explained, I would not have fallen foul with this comrade, because it was from that conversation that he made it clear to me that being a guevarist can get me expelled from the Party; and I found it very distressing.

John Mullen said...

Certainly faction fights do not bring out the best in people, and I have no doubt that slanders were not infrequent.
Nevertheless, it seemed to me that the Left Platform was not a coherent and believable strategy for the party. And that the present party perspectiv eis good and will win people, which is the more important point.