Proposed SPGB statement on SWP 2013
June 2023 › Forums › General discussion › Proposed SPGB statement on SWP 2013
- This topic has 59 replies, 12 voices, and was last updated 10 years, 2 months ago by ALB.
January 31, 2013 at 12:37 pm #91814
Quite.here's another CPGB podcast half about the fallout being made worse by the structure, half about the fallout over feminismhttp://cpgb.org.uk/home/podcasts/podcast-swp-rebellion-and-feminismFebruary 1, 2013 at 5:27 am #91815alanjjohnstoneKeymaster
When I read Pirani's piece I was minded of a friend at work, an ex-SLL/WRP member. He had his first misgivings about Healy when at a event at the "White House", WRP'S rural retreat, and in walked a very attractive petite young lady. He asked who she was. "That's Gerry's driver" came the reply. As my friend said he would have expected Healy to have some big burly body-guard for a driver, not some slip of a girl.February 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm #91816
some more on the allegationshttp://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/can-swp-deal-with-rape-allegations.htmland a reply and comment on the above with which I completely agree about making concerns public only after the allegations have been made public.http://hurryupharry.org/2013/01/31/nine-rapes-investigated-by-the-swp/"I have also faced the argument that the DC has investigated 9 rapes in the past (I’m not clear on how recently these ‘investigations’ were conducted). I believe this argument is put forward to reassure comrades of the competency of the DC. I don’t find it reassuring in the slightest; in fact I find it terrifying.At the moment, Seymour and his mates have it in mind that they’re going to wrestle the Socialist Workers Party away from the “old guard” who have run it for years. Then, with him and his Richard Fairbrass lookalike mate, China Miéville will turn it around and get back to the serious business of overthrowing liberal democracy.Here’s the problem.Seymour and Miéville and all the supposed “dissenters” sat on their hands for years and years, as a culture of sexual harassment and rape was promoted and protected in their cultish party. They did nothing. They said nothing. They are every much part of the problem as the old guard that they hope to replace.So, congratulations lads, for finally having the guts to speak out against your “comrades”. Too little. Too late."February 4, 2013 at 10:06 pm #91817
Another new podcast from the CPGBhttp://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/podcasts/podcast-swp-leadership-prepares-purgeFebruary 8, 2013 at 9:04 am #91818alanjjohnstoneKeymaster
The current melt-down of the SWP has over-shadowed the collapse of the United Left Alliance in the Irish Republic. The Workers and Unemployed Action Group withdrew from the alliance on 2 October 2012 following disagreements with the other parties. The Socialist Party have now left the alliance on January 2013.The United Left Alliance in Ireland was launched in January 2010 by the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party/People Before Profit (SWP/PBP), the Workers Unemployed Action Group (WUAG) and some independents. It was formed supposedly to offer a united opposition to the government’s austerity programme and to lay the foundation for a new left-of-centre party as an alternative to the official Labour Party. It had 5 TDs in the Dail.Whatever socialist language used, it is clear that the ULA advocate reformist measures ideas to the working class based on state regulation of capitalism with some re-distribution.Clare Daly TD resigned from the SP because of her connection with her defence of property developer, building contractor and Independent TD Mick Wallace, who was a member of the ULA. He had allegedly evaded payment of €1.4million in VAT. Daly refused to distance herself from Wallace and resigned from the SP.SP/ULA TD Joe Higgins refused to call for Wallace to resign, despite calls from Seamus Healy (UWAG) and others for him to do so. Higgins first insisted that the ULA was being targeted by the “right-wing media”. Wallace was “different to the political establishment having opposed the invasion of Iraq in 1993 and opposed the austerity measures against working class people. Richard Boyd Barrett, the leading light in the SWP and of People Before Profit, stated evasively that it was “up to the people of Wexford” whether Wallace should resign his seat in the Dail.The concept of false unity of united fronts and broad alliances has often been covered by ourselves but the connection with the SWP issue is the more fundamental one of the practice of democratic centralism. This article in the Irish Left review provides some insights. " democratic centralism as the key notion that a group or party will have a discussion on an issue and eventually make a decision whether by a vote, a delegate assembly or by the election of representatives. If the vote is contentious the losers should agree to commit to the majority line externally while being free to push for their own line internally. Moreover every effort should be made to hold such debates publically in front of both the party membership and class, this may not be possible in all situations, but it is in most. This conception of democratic centralism is sensible notion of how to organise any serious collective group who are bound to have disagreements." It then qualifies it with a caveat " The discussion needs to happen before [his emphasis] the decision is made and members should have the option to express their view democratically whether through direct voting, delegation or representation. This does not happen, what tends to happen is a leadership executive body makes a decision and then passes that decision onto the membership. Democratic centralism then resembles the Stalinist notion of just doing what you are told. In some organisations you are perfectly free to discuss the issue and it will be ‘patiently explained’ to you by an executive member. But the key fact is the decision is made and the only option for the member who disagrees is to withdraw their labour, whether in a conscious mode or by dropping out."The article concludes:"The heretofore dominant existing structural and leadership models of the Irish (mainly Trotskyist) left are in my opinion not fit for purpose. I am convinced political and trade union activists will not join any party they have no say in, whether led by distant TDs or a secretive executive body. The time to have an open an honest discussion on the structures and method of the Irish left is long overdue."The full article is well worth a read. http://www.irishleftreview.org/2013/01/09/structure-democracy-irish-left-call-discussion/ I found this exchange in the comments of interest."people couldn't care less if the Dail and the other hollowed-out institutions of representative democracy are done away with.""how would you ascertain that the country’s democratic structures are widely seen as illegitimate?The 2011 election had 70.0% turnout of the electorate, 2007 had 67.0%. I think the argument is overstated. This is not a dictatorship where institutional change is impossible.The development of non-party organisational forms as vehicles for expressing dissent probably indicates the weakness, narrowness and unparticipatory nature of left political formations, not the illegitimacy of the system as a whole. ""This notion that ”the working class arnt concerned with democracy” or are beyond a response to the crisis is grade a bullshit. Its a gross misunderstanding at best, a blatant excuse for the continuation of sectarian restrictions imposed on the rest of us by the wannabe vanguard at worst.""I don’t agree with Mick saying that ‘people couldn’t care less if the Dail and the other hollowed-out institutions of representative democracy are done away with’. However I think there is widespread acceptance that representative democracy is the alpha and omega of politics, politics is something done by politicians, and your participation in politics is simply the casting of a vote every now and again and getting ‘represented’. That conception of political activity is a barrier to the kind of mass movement that most people here want to see, and if what takes hold is an assumption that representative democracy really can deliver results, that all you have to do is select the right candidates to take power on your behalf -without any kind of systemic critique undertaken in public, without any kind of rupture with the existing representative order, without any kind of experimentation in democratic forms- then we are on a hiding to nothing.""It is impossible to now at this point to what extent the structures of representative democracy are legtimate vis-av-vis the working class or with the public in general. This would be the kind of thing that social movements imo should be researching. But I do think it is significant that if we look at the organisational forms that the most politically active sections of the working class are generating themselves, they tend not to be political party type structures organised around representative politics and oriented towards state power."" on Identifying legitimacy I think you really need to posit some methodology for checking this. We can’t base our strategy on an assumption that can’t be checked. Participation in elections is one metric, but others are needed. How many people write letters to TDs? How often do protests call for the Government to take or reverse certain actions? On replicating old forms of organisation Sure, it would be silly to say “let’s just do what X group did Y years ago.” But it would be much sillier to say “let’s ignore the past and start over every time”. Just because something is new does not mean it will work. On Power No-one has ‘the truth’, but I’d distrust any socialist who doesn’t have a working hypothesis."February 10, 2013 at 7:34 pm #91819ALBKeymasteralanjjohnstone wrote:The current melt-down of the SWP has over-shadowed the collapse of the United Left Alliance in the Irish Republic.
This should probably be a separate thread, but here's more on this history repeating itself for the umpteenth time as a farce as rival Trotskyist vanguards vie for the control of a "united front" body:http://links.org.au/node/3203Can anyone believe that these organisations are ever sincere?February 11, 2013 at 12:30 am #91820steve colbornParticipant
I can well believe it Adam! SteveFebruary 19, 2013 at 2:49 pm #91821Socialist Party Head OfficeParticipant
Here is the final version of the statement which the EC adopted as an EC Resolution at its meeting of 2 February:Quote:a. This EC notes reports of SWP (Britain):i. Arbitrary expulsion prior to conference of four members resulting from their expression of political disagreement. ii. Subsequent resignations after the allegations have been made public outside the party. iii. Further allegations of procedural impropriety arising from central committee privilege.b. The Socialist Party asserts the norms of the labour movement for over a century. These are:i. Members can speak freely and action alleged to be detrimental to the interests of the organisation decided as democratically as possible by the membership as a whole. ii. Democracy means all members should participate in determining policy and be in full possession of the facts. All positions of responsibility should be chosen through competitive election. iii. Activity should be democratic and decided by the majority. Anarchist criticism of tyranny of the majority is wrong and leads to tyranny of structurelessness. Activity or inactivity should be voluntary.c. The Socialist Party concludes — our unique contributions:i. The SWP tradition (its policies determined by the Central Committee) is distinguished by organisational norms contrary to the labour movement and its best interests. ii. Secrecy under the guise of security is characteristic of a sect not a party. iii. Likewise, the party has a responsibility to hear and listen to political complaints openly from within and from workers outside the party without prejudice. This is especially the case for complaints against those in positions of responsibility.
A separate leaflet for general distribution and communication to the media is being prepared.February 19, 2013 at 3:42 pm #91822
The controversy in the SWP, as anyone who reads a tabloid newspaper will know, is about an allegation of rape, which the SWP leadership decided to investigate for itself, by a committee made up of the alleged rapist's mates. By issuing a statement about it that drivels on about democratic procedures, you've made yourselves look about as out of touch and loopy (and potentially dangerous) as the SWP. Quite some going.February 19, 2013 at 4:37 pm #91823Ken Red LParticipantstuartw2112 wrote:The controversy in the SWP, as anyone who reads a tabloid newspaper will know, is about an allegation of rape, which the SWP leadership decided to investigate for itself, by a committee made up of the alleged rapist's mates. By issuing a statement about it that drivels on about democratic procedures, you've made yourselves look about as out of touch and loopy (and potentially dangerous) as the SWP. Quite some going.
The controversy within the SWP may well have been sparked by the treatment of a rape allegation but it has snowballed to include the internal structures which have for years acted as a means by which a cult (the central comittee) within a sect exert control. I think the SPGB statement has quite wisely avoided a matter which should be decided on the basis of evidence in a properly constituted hearing rather than a court of mates or hearsay. Democratic procedures are hardly loopy or out of touch when the lack of them has led to the sickness that many SWP members are finally waking up to.February 19, 2013 at 4:47 pm #91824
A rape allegation has "snowballed" (ie, presumably, become much worse) now that the SWP CC stands revealed as somewhat lacking in democracy? And leaving aside the allegations of sexual abuse, SWP members are finally waking up to the real sickness, ie, their inadequate democratic procedures? Shudder.February 19, 2013 at 5:16 pm #91825Ken Red LParticipant
I didn't say the rape allegation had snowballed. That would be absurd. I said the controversy had snowballed. I also didn't use the phrase "real sickness" when referring to a lack of democratic procedures, just the phrase "sickness". "Real sickness" would suggest that allegations of rape (and there are now a few coming out) were less serious than a lack of democratic procedures. This would be, as you suggest, absurd.However, as I have already suggested in this thread, an abusive democratic centralist model is a perfect setting for all kinds of abuse of "ordinary" members.February 20, 2013 at 11:42 am #91826
What's disturbing is that the statement, and no one on this thread as far as I can see, has mentioned the main horror: that the SWP, when faced with an allegation of rape against one of its leading members, investigated the matter itself. Presumably the silence on this reflects a basic agreement that this was the right thing to do, if bodged, if not as democratic as might be liked.February 20, 2013 at 11:51 am #91827ALBKeymaster
Stuart, there is another thread on this SWP business and it was discussed there:http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/forum/events-and-announcements/swp-pre-conference-bulletins-2012February 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm #91828
Oh, I see. And point made. Fair enough, I stand reassured! Thanks
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