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Making better use of Head Office

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ALB
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Joined: 22/06/2011
Making better use of Head Office

Alan Brady Smith, who is not on this forum, has asked for this to be posted here to start a discussion:

I would like to raise some issues and ideas for progressing the SPGB and removing obstacles standing in front of this progress.

1. From more a 100 years ago until nowadays the party has been spending all its energy on analysing what capitalism did and in the most cases after the events that took place by capitalism e.g the business between UK and Saudi Arabia on army equipment that is normal. The important thing is why is the party's position to do something about it not analysed? The party is very poor for analysing what is going to happen in the future. I mean the party does not have a vision for the future of capitalism. This is why the majority of the party members are agreed not to do anything, just keep the idea in existence. Karl Marx said that the philosophers are very good analysers of the era that they are living in but they do not have any idea for change. In that case the party will fall in the same category. It looks like the party is in a dilemma: does the party want to do something or spin in a empty circle forever?

2. A few times I heard from party members as they accuse people because they do not want socialism. This means there is something wrong here. They cannot see that the mentality of people has been controlled by the huge media owned by capitalism that can drive people to wherever capitalism likes and that is the party's job to amend that instead of accusing people .

3. As you know we are living in a very fast era, everything happening so quick, but for some reason the party's reaction is very slow and can not cope with this era except SPGB online. E.g if a member comes along with a new idea his/her idea has to go through rules and regulations and will take a year to get a decision, almost getting a negative resolution on his/her idea as by passing this time maybe her idea is no more relevant. Is that not a very classic attitude with this fast time and not making the functioning of the party very complicated?

4. Not Staying in Head Office. I am aware and understand about why this resolution won with the majority of votes but, now everything has changed, I believe the party should lift up this sanction e.g if members want to do some thing good for the party he or she should be welcomed by the party to stay at head office until completing the job. The party can always ask her/him to leave if the project he/she has not met the party's policy.

5. For some reason the party thinks that we are living in socialism and so can not have anything to do with capitalism. But meanwhile the party has the obligation to obey capitalism e.g to run head office. So why are the majority of members standing against the old new idea to use Head Office to make some business especially a business friendly with the environment or for the interest of public. Through that we can kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand the party will became more known and more integrated with the community in Clapham because many people will visit the site and on the other hand the party can get an income which we can used for developing the party's idea,etc.

6. If the party members really want a socialism why they do not think to hire or employ one or two party officers to do a proper job in head office to make the party function, like organising social events, holding public meetings etc? You may say it is hard or difficult for the party to do it but if there is a solidarity between party members it is very easy to do it e.g I am sure the majority of the party members can donate £1.50 per week so the party can employ a party officer to do the job.

7. There is something missing for discussing about the diversity or variety of cultures in party meetings. Throughout history capitalism has manipulated culture, religion in order to control people. So it is very important for the SPGB to do enough research about the diversity of cultures and find the meeting point between them for the sake of solidarity between nations. I can recommend a book for that. The name of the book is Listen, Little Man author is Wilhelm Reich.

8. The party does not make distinctions within the capitalist class in the world and doesn't recognise the difference even a temporary basis of small businesses or the middle class as they call themselves. And it does not recognise the differences within the working class especially the gap between West European countries' working class with the rest of the world's working class. You can see how people sacrifice themselves in order to reach the fake paradise in Europe. You may say the worse is still going on but can you see the other differences between the two, like freedom of sex and having a right to be a gay and freedom of speech? Why does the party not have a research about these differences?

9. Capitalism naturally produces new parties and new ideas to feed the capitalist parties through creating different crises and has been like that throughout the history, playing between those parties very cleverly and giving them a different role according to the capitalists' interest. There are hundreds of examples about that throughout the history of mankind like too many people from working class background becoming a member of parliament or prime minister or leader of a party and they make a job for capitalism very easy to control the society through those who have a working class background. The question is where is the party's role in this game which is created by capitalism and how we can capture a parliament through this dirty games called democracy. Because unfortunately people are looking for someone to help them out from the current situation e.g Labour destroyed the UK economy through those wars but has now again become a hero to take people out from this dilemma. What can the party do in a situation like so that the party should think to do something instead of analysing?

10. We can pay back a tribute for those members that bought the building at the time. Otherwise we would not see SPGB today, I mean if the building did not exist. It is a spine bone for keeping the party alive not the idea because Head Office is a meeting point for the party members but the members cannot develop this idea. If the SPGB did not have this building head office I can say the idea would have vanished now. That means the more capital you have you are more protected to continue and thrive. Another example is the Church of England gradually disappearing and they have lots of properties. From a long time ago they started to rent out some of their churches and using their fund to thrive the religion among communities. So why can not the party do similar things for thriving the party's idea?

Alan Brady Smith

alanjjohnstone
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ABS has summarised various attitudes that a number of other members have approached with proposals in the past.

No apologies in once more stating that if we do not arrange a structured conference that collates and coordinates the collective wisdom of the Party rather than all us individuals coming up with an assortment of ideas that are rarely if ever implemented we will continue our downward spiral. 

There is no disagreement that is what is required is to re-vitalise and re-juvenate Party but the issue always remains - just how that is done? 

I have heard some members take a very jaundiced view of our fellow-workers, that they are simply not interested in the idea of socialism and consequently these members face the reality that they must now fatalistically accept our inexorable decline to extinction or rely on some miracle which will raise our class's consciousness ... something that is totally non-dependent upon the Socialist Party's existence, itself. So we wouldn't be missed if we did actually disappeared. 

Some may well say I am one of the main doom and gloom merchants. But in my defence, i have frequently suggested strategies, albeit controversial and unpopular, for avoiding such a fate. The worth, or otherwise, of those can certainly be called into question for I never claimed to have all the answers or possess the gift of special insight and prophecy but again I have always deferred to the position that we as a party should come together and set our minds into one ...As Spock would say...engage in a mind-meld ...and out of this engagement and exchange, we may well come up collectively with positive approaches to try. 

I congratulate ABS in trying to identify the problems of the party and suggest that there might be a remedy for them. But his post and this thread will soon be forgotten and not acted upon. The Party's future will continue to be aimless because I think we are all frightened what a good look at ourselves will reveal and the consequences of what changes will be required for a new make-over and re-branding.  But, as I say, some will still say a new make-over is not necessary and the fault of our falling membership does not rest with ourselves but the blame is on the ignorance and apathy of our fellow-workers - which means most of all - our family, our friends, our neighbours and our workplace colleagues. If we cannot convince them, just how are we going to persuade those we do not have any interaction with whatsoever - the vast vast majority.

 

 

 

"I have no country to fight for; my country is the Earth, and I am a citizen of the World." - Eugene V. Debs

jondwhite
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I missed this first time around but here are my responses

  1. I think this jumbles a number of issues together. Most predictions about capitalism, although interesting, do not form part of the Socialist Party case. Changing the world, however, is part of the Socialist Party case. Crump’s critique whilst wrong about tendencies says ‘If the economic determinists could be criticised on the grounds that they were more interested in interpreting the world than in changing it, the utopians who now came into the SPGB were barely interested in what was happening in the real world at all. For them, capitalism was just “the passing show” (the title of a column which was featured in the Socialist Standard for many years) and if it warranted any comment whatsoever it was simply to show what a stupid and unpleasant social system it was compared with the sane and orderly society of socialism.’
  2. I’ve heard one member blame the workers. The workers are influenced by mass media, but not controlled. Blaming the workers oughtn’t be an excuse to dismiss anything said about the party.
  3. Not all decisions take a year, presumably this is a reference to conference.
  4. I agree if any members wish to stay in head office (which I found too uncomfortable to sleep at) they should be allowed to do so.
  5. Using head office main hall as a bookshop or the rear yard as a community garden would attract passersby and currently much of the footfall on the high street ignores head office. I don’t think the objections to this are couched as objections to capitalism when the party is going to be investing some of its liquid capital in other assets anyway.
  6. The objection to employing someone to run head office is not for lack of funds. However I think it is worth employing someone to run head office.
  7. The party should actively try and increase diversity of background among membership, there is a good article in this months Standard. However, Wikipedia says the book you mention is in favour of direct action so perhaps you are talking about diversity of tactics.
  8. As far as the Socialist Party case is concerned, the important difference is between the ruling-class and the rest. Just because Western Europeans enjoy certain freedoms that the rest of the world might not, does not mean the Socialist party case should not be about the class struggle.
  9. The party can capture the state through contesting elections (as was done this year) and ‘No Compromise, No Political Trading’ which is both the title of an excellent pamphlet and the inscription on an early party banner in the 1905 conference photo.
  10. The current situation is not typical of the party history. Capital assets including head office are vastly in excess of membership strength (which I think carries direr risks). We are already in the situation you are advocating unless you are suggesting investing in a second head office? May I be the first to suggest one in the North!

In general I thought this would be more about head office, which is structurally stuck in the past, for which I have suggested various renovations but so far, to no avail!

gnome
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jondwhite wrote:

In general I thought this would be more about head office, which is structurally stuck in the past, for which I have suggested various renovations but so far, to no avail!

Those of us who remember ABS from an earlier incarnation and are able to see the forest for the trees will realise that there is far more to this "discussion" than meets the eye.

As far as renovations are concerned, HO is perfectly serviceable; it's the membership which should be giving greater cause for concern.

jondwhite
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More discussion is of interest here.

jondwhite
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How does 52 Clapham High Street compare with WSPNZ HQ at Weymouth Road, Manurewa, Auckland or WSPI at 257 Baghajatin 'E' Block (East), Kolkata?

Bob Andrews
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gnome wrote:

 

 it's the membership which should be giving greater cause for concern.

The Gnomemeister in his inimitable manner has one again hit the proverbial piece of ironmongery on its uppermost protruberance. The sad fact is, most members, in terms of legacies and bequests, are more useful to the Party dead than alive.

Bijou Drains
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Bob Andrews wrote:

gnome wrote:

 

 it's the membership which should be giving greater cause for concern.

The Gnomemeister in his inimitable manner has one again hit the proverbial piece of ironmongery on its uppermost protruberance. The sad fact is, most members, in terms of legacies and bequests, are more useful to the Party dead than alive.

Have you made a will Bob?


gnome
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jondwhite wrote:

How does 52 Clapham High Street compare with WSPNZ HQ at Weymouth Road, Manurewa, Auckland or WSPI at 257 Baghajatin 'E' Block (East), Kolkata?

Judge for yourself...

51 Weymouth Road, Manurewa, Auckland. NZ
    (map and street view)

https://www.meetup.com/The-Socialist-Party-of-Great-Britain/photos/26761139/

alanjjohnstone
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WSPNZ  HO is a converted garage in a surburban estate, well suited for a party of half a dozen. 

WSP(India) is a converted part of a private dwelling, well suited for a party of half a dozen

Clapham is a 3-storey (or is it 4-storey) building on a main thoroughfare in London.

Is it appropriate and affordable for a declining membership of presently 300 is the issue?

The membership regularly addresses this question and sometimes alternatives are raised for debate but for the time being the answer seems to be yes, 52 Clapham High St fits the bill (and there are many bills to pay) for the Party's requirements.

"I have no country to fight for; my country is the Earth, and I am a citizen of the World." - Eugene V. Debs

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