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Thread: Crisis in the UK-SWP

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Crisis in the UK-SWP

    You may or may not have heard of the deep crisis that has been developng in the UK-SWP over the last week or so (in fact it goes back much further). I have refrained from posting anything on this since I was not in possession of the facts. However, an authoritaive voice from within the SWP has now broken ranks and spoken up about it:

    http://www.leninology.com/2013/01/crisis-in-swp.html

    It is to be hoped that other comrades in the SWP can join forces and save that party from disintegration.

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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    I cut ties with the SWP years ago, but this still saddens me as I hate to see left wing parties tear themselves apart. However while I don't know the facts of the case beyond what I have read, am I to understand they tried to keep a rape allegation "in house"? That is an extremely serious thing if it is true.

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    Anarcho-Syndicalist ShotgunOpera's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    Do explain, for those of us not versed in UK politics.
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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    Well, the link I added explains much of the detail.

    The woman in question asked not to go to the police, and party rules then determined that their internal procedures kicked in. The problem is that those on the panel were friends of the 'accused'. I know one or two of them, and though they are comrades of exemplary integrity, they can't fail to have been biased.

    You can read more here:

    http://www.socialistunity.com/on-the-crisis-in-the-swp/

    http://www.socialistunity.com/swp-co...mittee-report/

    The latter contains a pirated transcript of the proceedings.

    Many of the comments, if you are prepared to read the hundreds there are, are full of innuendo, gossipmespeculation, and in some cases thinly disguised malice.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 01-12-2013 at 4:50 PM.

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    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    You know, that isn't that surprising to me. A similar thing (though on a much less severe level than rape) happened in the organization I used to be a member of, and it was brushed off as insignificant there as well. I don't think it only has to do with sexism though. It also has to do with the fact that when a high level member of your party does something, and you've worked with that person for years and have gotten to know them well and like them personally and they are of 'importance' to your organization in some way, you are likely to defend them. Now, the level to which they can fuck up differs per organization, and it's quite odd that the SWP let it go to rape, but is that level even on average far beyond what is socially acceptable in any other circumstance (including in your workplace, at school, or in your home life)? Definitely.

    Remember that stuff like that has been going on in sects for decades. It's a structural thing that can only be tackled by structural transformations of some kind (bonus points for who guesses the title of which book I'm referring to).

    EDIT: Oh, and LOL at the SWP's 'dispute committee' presiding over this case. They really think they have a parallel state going on there don't they? The notion of dual power must have gone to their heads.
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    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    I'm in the process of reading some of those pieces you linked to and it appears that others have drawn similar conclusions to mine, as Walker says:

    ". . . there is clearly a question mark over the sexual politics of many men in powerful positions on the left. I believe the root of this is that, whether through reputation, lack of internal democracy or both, these are often positions that are effectively unchallengeable. Not for nothing have recent sex abuse allegations in the wider world focused on the idea of a ‘culture of impunity’. Socialist Worker has pointed to the way that institutions close up to protect powerful people within them. What is not acknowledged is that the SWP is itself an institution in this sense, with its instinct for self-protection to survive. As previously mentioned, its belief in its own world-historic importance gives a motive for an attempted cover-up, making abusers feel protected."
    http://www.newstatesman.com/laurie-p...-us-about-left

    EDIT: Blahah, this just keeps getting better (in a disgusting sense): 'We then discussed the situation that we all knew Delta. We knew his important role in the party and on the central committee, and none of us knew W or knew her well. We agreed that we would have to be especially careful to take that into account in the way that we dealt with this.'

    Delta was the accused CC member. Now, imagine if a judge in 'the real world' (apparently some SWP members were angry that some members were making such a fuss about this instead of dealing with 'the real world', which means selling papers) has to preside over a case involving a person they know very well personally. Could that conceivably happen in 'advanced capitalist societies' like the ones we live in without it being a major scandal? But no, revolutionaries are free from that petty-bourgeois notion of conflict of interest. Taking that into account is a typically bourgeois thing to do.

    EDIT 2: This really is truly amazing. They really expect other members to simply accept what they say based on nothing else but their common loyalty to the party. Again, imagine if a real judge said something like this in response to obvious conflict of interest, evidence not being made public, etc.:

    'To conclude, we are obviously - the seven of us - the only people who have heard all the evidence that was brought before us. Because we can't go into the details, that means that you will have to take our report and the conclusions that we came to really on trust, that we did this correctly. All I can say, all I can emphasise really, is how seriously we took this process. We met over a period of four long days. We were as thorough and meticulous as we could be. And I would like to stress that if we had believed that Delta was guilty of any misconduct, we would have recommended disciplinary sanctions. And as I've said, we discussed things really from every angle, politically, grounded in our belief in the politics of our organisation. We are unanimous that we came to this with no preconceived agenda, that we used the best methods of the revolutionary tradition. We discussed, debated, considered, changed our minds, listened to each other, and then we came to the best conclusions that we could, to the best of our abilities, and it's on that basis that I put this report to you and to the conference.'

    It's absolute insanity that no sane person would accept. I'm rather shocked that the victim (or should I say alleged?) was willing to go to those ridiculous lengths of appearing before that meaningless 'disputes committee' rather than going straight to the police. I don't know the specifics of the situation, but if it is indeed the case that she did not go the cops but instead approached that committee to resolve the case, there is something of a Stockholm Syndrome going on here, with the role of the kidnapper being played by the SWP. It's very easy to be brainwashed by sect ideology into believing that going to the cops is tantamount to treason because that's the big bad bourgeois state, while we're comrades inside this party who have the means to deal with these kinds of issues fairly and without bourgeois morality and justice.

    Walker has some interesting things to say about this as well:

    Quote Originally Posted by Walker
    It is stated that the accuser did not want to go to the police, as is her absolute right if that was truly her decision. However, knowing the culture of the SWP, I doubt that was a decision she made entirely free from pressure. Do not underestimate the pressure the SWP can bring to bear on members by telling them to do or not do things for the ultimate cause of the socialist society the party’s members are all fighting for. Against the prospect of the liberation of the whole of humanity, they will attempt to make even the most serious issue seem less important than the party’s survival. I do not think the CC are cynical cultists, by the way - I think they believe this themselves.
    Oh, yes, and there's the additional irony, correct me if I'm wrong here, that when there was an uproar over the Assange rape allegations the official position of the SWP was that he should be forced to go to Sweden to answer the charges; but when the accused is an SWP CC member, the idea of going to the police in the UK, where there is no risk at all of being extradited to a foreign country who has the desire to persecute you for espionage, doesn't even enter their brainwashed, delusional, perverted minds. Even Assange was willing to be questioned by real authorities in the real world as long as it was done in the UK, or Sweden guaranteed that he would not be extradited. Imagine if Assange requested to be tried by some disputes committee of some organization. Haha, imagine if Assange was tried by an internal Wikileaks disputes committee. The SWP's collective head would explode. But when it's them, we're dealing with class-conscious proletarians, so we must take them at their word. Naturally.

    Heh, Walker mentions that Wikileaks thing as well:

    Quote Originally Posted by Walker
    As those who raised criticisms pointed out, the disputes committee included five current or former CC members, and all have known comrade Smith for many years. Though I believe they took the case deeply seriously, this was not a jury of his peers, but a jury of his mates. If we were talking about any other organisation we would all consider it obvious that allowing it to investigate itself is unlikely to produce damning conclusions. It seems unlikely that a Wikileaks disputes committee, if it existed, would find Assange guilty.
    Apparently that Tom Walker realized the hypocrisy regarding this (he was one of the people demanding that Assange go to Sweden), and that was part of the reason he resigned (though of course he has to sugarcoat his wording with sectist phraseology to ensure his audience that he's still on their side):

    Quote Originally Posted by Walker
    Of course, I am dead set against the capitalist police and courts, and the way they treat people. That doesn’t mean we can go off and set up our own. The SWP itself called for Julian Assange to face rape charges in Sweden, in a Socialist Worker article I am proud to have written. I do not see why what is good enough for Assange is not good enough for the party’s leaders.'
    EDIT 3: Watch out for the paper-sellers! This really is quite vile: 'Is it right that a young woman has to plan her route to work avoiding paper-sellers, or that she comes away from a meeting crying because people refuse to speak to her? Is it right that her witnesses are questioned about their commitment to the party because they missed a branch meeting?' The woman being referred to here is the victim.

    I'll stop posting edit notes and just add flashes of brilliance from that report: 'I have to say, the real concrete proof after we'd listened for four days to all the evidence and everything - the concrete proof that we didn't think he'd done this was that no disciplinary action was taken at all.' The logical fallacy of mistaking effect for cause, or 'after this, therefore because of this'. What's the evidence that he's innocent? Because if he wasn't, we'd have done something about it!

    This says it all regarding bourgeois justice versus SWP dispute committees: '
    Comrades, we have to welcome the fact that we have a disputes committee. We have no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice. (inaudible) The contribution I'm about to make is in no way to undermine the fact that we have a disputes committee - that is the right way to go.'
    Last edited by Amoeba; 01-12-2013 at 11:12 AM.
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    Anarcho-Syndicalist ShotgunOpera's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    This seems to be a recurring problem with parties like the Socialist and Communist parties world-wide, it's not out of the park to suggest that it happens in ALL parties, where the party gets hung up on itself and its own internal mechanics.

    The CPUSA (which I dealt with very briefly) seems to not really care anymore. I'm sure there are dedicated individuals in it but the party overall has an air of someone who is tired of getting their asses kicked and has just given up. They'll pat you on the head if you've got some zeal but you cant really harness that to anything. The SPUSA (which I have more experience with) seems locked into its own view of how it will achieve success and I've spoken about it here before at length, namely that acting like the ruling party will get you treated with some degree of seriousness. Any suggestion to the opposite is essentially ignored and frozen out of view.

    I've been finding MUCH more energy in the anarchist movement in the last few years than in the "redder" parties.
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    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    Is it sick that the Socialist Worker has a 'weekend focus' segment on its website on sexual assault?
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    This is very sad indeed. I think both supporters and opponents of the SWP tend to overstate that party's importance. Nevertheless, it is the largest, most prominent and most visible radical left party in the country. Some of its international sister organisations are also the largest such organisations in their countries (including here in the Netherlands). Neither the SWP nor any of these sister organisations have a snowball's chance of becoming the "vanguard" in any possible way except through self-appointment, but the fact that they are the most prominent radical left faction makes this situation impossible to ignore. In the UK, moreso than in other countries, there are plenty of prominent members of left-wing political and intellectual life who are open members of the SWP, or who work together with them in many different struggles.

    With that in mind, there are three different aspects that I would like to make some notes on: the "scandal" itself, the international response, and the apparent role of dissenters like Seymour.

    The "scandal" itself

    • It is amazing how many people in the leaked minutes say that they "do not trust the bourgeois courts" to judge rape. Yet in "the bourgeois courts", if you accuse someone of rape, you can at least be assured that the judge, jury and defence are not 100% composed of the closest friends of the accused, of their closest, most trusted political associates, people who sit in the salaried full-time executive staff with the accused, people who, in short, have every interest to "exonerate" him. Not only would "the bourgeois courts" have been more impartial, there are probably a few pre-capitalist legal systems to think of that would have done a better job. It's an achievement in itself when a socialist organisation has a disciplinary system that would not have looked out of place in some witch-burning re-enactment.
    • Who are these people anyway, that they can so confidently state that it did not happen? What, they know all about forensics, do they? Oh wait, no they don't, they just sat together and they all repeatedly said: "Although we all know the accused and count him as a good friend whose activities are crucial to our party, and although we are his professional colleagues, we are not biased at all, nope. Just as long as we chant this often enough: we. are. not. biased. Repeat after me. We. believe. in. women's. liberation. After all, as true materialists, we know that consciousness determines being: if we say that we are impartial often enough, then that must be true. Besides, we are all steeled bolshevik cadre, and we are fully able to grasp the political realities, and we don't have to worry about giving people an equal opportunity to be heard or all that other bourgeois justice stuff." They just sat down and decided they are fit to judge this matter because they are fit to judge this matter, after all, they were elected to do so at some point. Why use reasonability and accountability to deal with the obviously changed situation since then, when you can just as easily rely on formalism and bureaucratism to get your way?
    • The complainant herself did not go to the police with this. From what I've read, this does not cast doubt upon the accusation, nor does it necessarily imply intimidation from above; but rather, she apparently sincerely beliefs/believed that the party would have been able to judge this case in a fairer manner than "the bourgeois courts". Or in any case, she would not have wanted to damage the party by going to the police. What we are looking at is a salaried upper layer of an otherwise voluntarist organisation that is more than eager to abuse the naïvety and idealism of young members to protect themselves and theirs. It's truly a "kick-the-dog" moment for any organisation with the principles that the SWP claims. For the powerful, entrenched, salaried bureaucracy that the accused is part of, to take these principles to run roughshod over the weak, powerless, voluntary individual victim. She must have had a pretty rough awakening when the members of this impartial committee, full of beautifully dedicated revolutionaries who sincerely believe in women's liberation, started asking her: "Is it fair to say that you enjoy a drink from time to time?" Or when another witness was told to stay away from party activities.
    • At this point, the self-proclaimed "revolutionary party" openly becomes nothing more or less than a criminal enterprise, or a thoroughly rotten, inherently abusive system at the very least. Anyone who supports the idea of creating a revolutionary "alternative culture" within leftist grouplets should take note. The true problem is that whether Smith did it or not, the committee would likely have reached the same conclusion, because the fundamental, underlying idea is that the salaried CC of the party is so important that its members should be allowed to get away with the worst crimes imaginable. It is a system of organisation where the individual volunteer has no rights at all.


    International aspects

    (This relates mostly to the departure of the Serbian section: http://www.socialistunity.com/swps-s...lits-from-ist/)

    • Note that the Serbs openly admit what everyone already knows, but what IST adherents in other countries vehemently deny: that the IST is "London-based", that the SWP is the centre or "the leading political force". That is, the other organisations within it may have their own ideas and activities, but they are ultimately oriented on what the SWP says and does. This model of international organisation is not sustainable in this day and age. At least the CPSU in the past actually held power in a large country and had the opportunity to facilitate a worldwide organisation. The SWP is just a bit bigger than the others, and they were there first, so they are the centre, just like many other Trotskyist organisations are UK-oriented for no clear reason.
    • The orientation towards the UK is so troublesome for the IST that the mistakes of the SWP alone are apparently sufficient reason for the Serbs to reconsider their position within it. Says it all, really.
    • I'm not a SYRIZA supporter either, but it is remarkable that SYRIZA (and other such "left fronts") is exactly the kind of organisation that the IST should theoretically support. It is quite embarrassing that IST member organisations across the world refer to SYRIZA as inspirational, and yet their own Greek section doesn't engage with it. This obviously cannot go on in this kind of "international tendency" where a certain homogeinity is expected.
    • The Serbs state the affair around Martin Smith as a compounding reason for their departure. Maybe the above political differences have been around for a while, but the allegations against Smith provide for a good "excuse" to leave. Was it impossible to discuss political disagreements with the London "centre" in the UK, or were the Serbs themselves not interested in this? In any case, I'm fairly certain that the Serbs must have learned about the affair not from their UK comrades, but from leaked minutes, blogs and bourgeois media just like the rest of us, and the whole affair must have surprised or embarrassed them.


    The principled opposition

    • Guys like Richard Seymour are truly wonderfully principled people who genuinely believe that their party can and should be reformed from the inside. How else can you explain their vocal denunciation of people like Newman and the Weekly Worker folks who published the exact details of the cover-up. Do these people genuinely believe that Newman is a "racist" because of some off-the-cuff remark about Sharia courts to the Independent? Do they really believe that Independent journalists are secretly acting in the interest of the marginal English Defence League to set up anti-fascist activists to get targeted by the EDL? Maybe it doesn't really matter if they believe it individually. Quite simply, the party line has always been that there are Nazis hiding behind every tree (as opposed to the regular Labour and Tory governments that have happily targeted immigrants for years), and so anyone who mentions Sharia courts in the slightest critical way must be "objectively" working for the EDL.
    • These people are truly principled when they submit to the discipline of the organisation, criticising only the content of the affair, and not the discipline that made it possible in the first place. It's touching how they keep going on about the things they are obligated to stay silent about. If this affair ends up reducing the SWP, as more and more people run off to greener pastures, and when every tawdry detail has been plastered over the pages of the tabloids for weeks, these people will probably still be going on about "Comrade Delta", because that's just what party discipline demands.
    • Loyalty is a virtue, there is no doubt about that, and guys like Seymour cannot be blamed for that. But another principle which I think most of us were raised with is that it is morally wrong to stay loyal to an organisation that has become a criminal enterprise, that it is wrong to submit yourself to the discipline of a system that is inherently wrong itself. One only has to read the minutes, along with the hectoring statements towards dissenters, to reach this conclusion about the SWP.
    • Loyal oppositionists might still be kicked out anyway for openly forming a faction. But if I were the CC, I would leave them alone for sure. What harm can they do? They're obviously still loyal and they believe in your discipline, they just don't agree with its application in this instance. They will never say anything in public about any other possible skeletons in your closet, because they sincerely believe that only the "political" content matters (as if the means of running your organisation are not political subjects). If you expel them, they might just get pissed off and do it anyway (but then again they might stay loyal even then).

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    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    Quote Originally Posted by Dick Dastardly View Post
    The principled opposition

    • Guys like Richard Seymour are truly wonderfully principled people who genuinely believe that their party can and should be reformed from the inside. How else can you explain their vocal denunciation of people like Newman and the Weekly Worker folks who published the exact details of the cover-up. Do these people genuinely believe that Newman is a "racist" because of some off-the-cuff remark about Sharia courts to the Independent? Do they really believe that Independent journalists are secretly acting in the interest of the marginal English Defence League to set up anti-fascist activists to get targeted by the EDL? Maybe it doesn't really matter if they believe it individually. Quite simply, the party line has always been that there are Nazis hiding behind every tree (as opposed to the regular Labour and Tory governments that have happily targeted immigrants for years), and so anyone who mentions Sharia courts in the slightest critical way must be "objectively" working for the EDL.
    Just a short comment which you may already know; Newman has replied to the charge on the Sharia issue by stating the following:

    Quote Originally Posted by Newman
    I had a reasonably long chat with Jerome Taylor, the Independent journalist, and he had a firm grasp of the issues involved, but inevitably in the course of writing a relatively short article for his paper, the complexity cannot be reflected. The quote about Sharia law was to a certain extent “put into my mouth” and I think reflects Jerome Taylor’s own views rather more than mine. Jerome struck me as a good journalist, and I don’t think he did anything wrong, it is just that he probably interpreted our conversation based upon different political assumptions from mine. I have written on several occasions arguing against Islamophobic assumptions about Sharia Law, for example in defence of Dr Rowan Williams’ controversial speech that suggested a place for Sharia courts with civil jurisdiction in the UK.

    I also supported the arguments by Lord Philips, the Lord Chief Justice, which gave welcome clarification to Dr Williams’ argument that “it might be possible to contemplate, … , a scheme in which individuals retain the liberty to choose the jurisdiction under which they will seek to resolve certain carefully specified matters”. He suggested by way of example “aspects of marital law, the regulation of financial transactions and authorised structures of mediation and conflict resolution”. So I have no problem with either Sharia law, nor its exercise by Sharia courts, relating to certain prescribed matters.

    The criminal law is however not an area where private jurisdictions should be able to exclude the remit of the state. At the heart of the crisis in the SWP is the question of why they felt themselves competent to undertake quasi-judicial functions in a serious criminal matter.
    http://www.socialistunity.com/what-i...nd-sharia-law/

    I recognize that there is clearly an Islamophobic aspect to the hysteria that surrounded this issue, but I think the whole concept is rather ridiculous and Newman goes too far, though by Seymour's standards — the guy who has no qualms over appearing on the Iranian state-run propaganda channel Press TV to promote his books — I'm probably a self-hating Iranian. But he didn't say what Seymour thought he did.
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    Yeah, seen it. Of course the tabloid hysteria surrounding "Sharia courts in the UK!!!11" has islamophobic undertones, but I don't think Newman was trying to tap into that sentiment. It seems the journalist brought up the comparison, and Newman only answered his question.

    What bothers me about the whole thing is that Seymour does try to discredit Newman as some kind of racist, and is essentially telling everyone two things: 1) Don't read Socialist Unity, you don't want to associate with racists and 2) The Independent is conspiring in the interests of the EDL, and Newman is allowing himself to be used for this purpose. Both of these conveniently sidestep the fundamental criticism of the SWP that Newman and others have made, and which is certainly valid in my book. Seymour would rather not deal with the fundamentals, but just reform and democratise the structure, which is of course his right. What he doesn't seem to realise is that affairs like this don't just "happen" everywhere and can be dealt with through some internal opposition. They are instead systematic problems. The fact is that now the vote has gone against him, and every member of the SWP will be compelled to believe (or say they believe) that nobody was raped and that the expulsions were just. For the moment, Seymour is denying both of these decisions, while at the same time defending the system that may expel him for this at any point. He wants to have his cake and eat it to. To focus on Newman is just a distraction aimed at delaying fundamental discussions.

    A different, but similar story is the article written by Laurie Penny, which Seymour links to as a favourable, politically correct alternative to the horrible racist Newman. Penny also doesn't want to discuss the SWP fundamentally. Instead, she claims that the whole scandal was caused by the rejection of "identity politics", and she insists that the left needs to accept the theory of "rape culture" and all that comes with it. And of course at the beginning she states the vital importance of the SWP for privately-educated career revolutionaries like her. If the self-perpetuating latte-sipping circuit of "radical" politics loses political influence due to the antics of one party, that means less well-paid speaking engagements for her.

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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    Another point about this is what would have happened even if they did believe he was guilty of rape. Presumably expulsion from the party and social ostracisation, but is that really enough for rape? Even in their grandest delusions they have no power to apply criminal sanction or take action to supervise him so how on earth can they think themselves competent to deal with a case like this?

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    If you read the attempts that have been made so far by comrades (here and elsewhere) to account for this and other crises, you will struggle long and hard and to no avail to find a materialist, class-based analysis why this sort of thing keeps happening. Comrades blame such things on this or that foible or personality defect of that or this comrade, or on this or that party structure. If we only had a different CC, or a new constitution, everything would be hunky dory. If only the climate in the party were more open and democratic....

    Do we argue this with respect to anything else? If only we had a different President, different Senators or MPs! Or, maybe a new constitution with proportional representation allowing us to elect members to Congress, yada yada.

    But this is an endemic feature right across our movement, and has been for generations, just as it afflicts most sections of bourgeois society. In which case, we need a new, class-based, materialist explanation as to why it keeps happening, or it will keep on happening.

    I think I have found part of the reason:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_02.htm

    That essay is rather long. I have summarised some of its key points here:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary...ne-Part-02.htm
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 01-14-2013 at 6:30 AM.

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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    I think it might be a mistake to look too deeply into left wing beliefs as to why this happens because I think it is an inherent problem to all small and fairly insular groups. Libertarians also have these problems for instance as do a lot of alternative religions. Indeed if you look at smaller groups throughout the years, this seems to be a constant regardless of the ideology behind the groups. Prohibitionists, Social Creditors, animal rights extremists, you name it really.

    I can't offer any solution to that I'm afraid, but I would venture that interacting (on a political level) with people outside of the movement as much as possible might be helpful because it might help keep things in perspective.

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP


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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    In fact this happens in all groups, right across every known society. The fact that it happens in Marxist parties is no big surprise. What is surprising is that all we can come up with are idealist non-explanations: er..., it just happens..., er, ya know, huh...

    And sure, it is independent of ideology, but that does not mean we can't develop a class analysis. After kll, we try to do so in connection with racism. We certainly do not just say; "It's endemic...", and then sit on our hands.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 01-14-2013 at 6:16 AM.

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    Here's the SWP National Secretary's response, coped from Lenin's Tomb:

    Dear comrade

    There has been a series of attacks on the Socialist Workers Party in the media and by assorted bloggers. They concern the party’s handling of serious allegations against a leading member and the arguments (partly arising from the case) leading up to and during our recent conference.

    This was an internal matter and we had promised full confidentiality to all involved. So we strongly condemn the publication of a transcript of a closed session of the conference discussing this case. The transcript was publicised against the wishes of the complainant herself.

    The attacks are a travesty of the truth. We live in what remains a profoundly sexist society, as is shown by the sex abuse scandals and cover-ups in mainstream institutions such as the BBC and the police.

    However, the SWP is not an institution of capitalist society but fights for the overthrow of the system. Our party has a proud tradition of fighting for women’s liberation, as is shown, for example, by our consistent campaigning over the decades to defend abortion, and by our criticism of George Galloway for his remarks about the Julian Assange rape accusations.

    Reflecting this tradition, our internal structures seek to promote women to leading roles and deal rigorously with any action by any member that is harmful or disrespectful of women.

    It is in the context of this commitment that we took allegations against a leading member of the party very seriously.

    Unlike the BBC or any other establishment body faced with such an allegation an investigation into this complaint immediately was set in place.

    The complainant made the choice not to go to the police, who are notorious for their systemic failure to defend women. Instead she asked for her complaint to be heard by the body within the SWP charged with dealing with disciplinary cases, the Disputes Committee. We respected that choice.

    The Disputes Committee is a body of experienced members who had been unanimously elected by the previous conference. The attacks on it as a ‘sharia court’ are little short of racism.

    After a lengthy and thorough hearing, the Disputes Committee did not uphold the accusations and decided to take no disciplinary action.

    Five of the seven members hearing the case were women, and one has experience as a rape counsellor. These included two members of the Central Committee, the elected leadership body of the SWP. Its members (who are always a minority on the DC) work with the DC to ensure the political integrity of the party, and to ensure the concerns and decisions of the DC are fed into the CC’s work.

    At all times great efforts were taken to support the complainant.

    Had the Disputes Committee believed that the accused person was guilty, it would have expelled him from the SWP immediately.

    The case was discussed at length at a session of our conference, which voted to accept the report and overwhelmingly re-elected the Disputes Committee. Far from being a cover up this sort of open discussion shows that our procedures and elected bodies are accountable to our membership.

    If this case had been raised within a trade union or any other organisation there would be no question that the matter should be treated with complete confidentiality. This basic principle should also apply in this case.

    As far we are concerned, this case is closed. This is a ‘cover up’. It is a determination to reflect the decision of our conference. We believe that both parties to the case should have their right to confidentiality and their right as members in good standing respected.

    Charlie Kimber
    SWP National Secretary
    I'll post Richard Seymour's reply next....

  18. #18
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    Here it is:

    Just as a rule of thumb: if you are a political leadership and have to say "this is not a 'cover up'", I would venture that you are in a crisis.

    Yet it has taken a week of growing crisis in the SWP, which culminated in several unflattering news articles about the party, to have any kind of statement from the Central Committee. Members have been asked about this furore with increasing frequency, and given no lead other than to defend 'the line'. Those who try are making themselves look both idiotic and sinister, destroying their credibility as activists and party militants. They are undermining their own good work. Those maintaining a tactful silence, out of a sense of revolutionary propriety, are effectively locking themselves into a cell with the headbangers. Serious members, hard as nails people, long-standing cadres, are being pushed to the point of resigning. I urge people to stay, and to fight. But one hardly blames those who have had enough of the Kafkaesque nightmare, enough of listening to people spout demented gibberish in meetings and aggregates, enough of hearing the same lies repeated, enough of wildly tenuous historical analogies, enough of cheap realpolitik passed off as wisdom. How many times can you hear, "well I was at a paper sale this morning, and no one mentioned it" before you start thinking of having people sectioned?

    A statement is an acknowledgment, to some degree, of a real problem. As such, it is welcome. But it is also a serious disappointment. Far from indicating a course of action, far from giving people a lead they could plausibly follow, it consists solely of a repetition of the main points of a totally discredited line. It is not leadership, but head-in-the-sand denial.

    Discussing the various news articles and blog posts about this, it says "the attacks are a travesty of the truth". So what is the truth? "Our party has a proud tradition of fighting for women's liberation". This is a truth. It is not the relevant truth, not the one that stands out in this case. It is, at any rate, a proud tradition that the CC has spent much of the last few years satirising. Proceeding, it says, "we took allegations against a leading member of the party very seriously." That is what has been contested. While their gravity may have been recognised, the procedures that followed do not seem to have treated the allegations seriously enough by a long measure. Having a case investigated by people who knew the accused very well, allowing them to ask sexist and hostile questions of those making the allegations, and then suppressing the real issues involved, is not what most people would consider taking the allegations seriously. It is not what most people would consider the greatest effort to support the complainant.

    The most cynical claim in the CC's statement is this:


    "The case was discussed at length at a session of our conference, which voted to accept the report and overwhelmingly re-elected the Disputes Committee. Far from being a cover up this sort of open discussion shows that our procedures and elected bodies are accountable to our membership."

    The author of this statement knows full well the crude deceit being perpetrated here. The first time members of the party heard anything about any allegations was in a conference two years ago. At this conference, members were given to believe that what was involved was a case of sexual harassment. A serious enough allegation in itself, but far from the truth. Members were told that the accused was exonerated, that the verdict had been accepted by the complainant, and that he had been at most a bit foolish. Some members heard that there had been a witch hunt against the poor fellow. And all were reminded of his great achievements as an organiser, which - irrespective of how true or false the allegations are - are considerable. The accused, it has to be said, played up to this. An ovation was orchestrated, with some stamping their feet. I know some of the people who were there, who applauded. They feel sick. They feel furious. As who wouldn't? That was the first part of the cover-up.

    The issue returned with force in late 2012, so far as I know. This was the first time that I and many others began to hear what the nature of the allegations really were, and that something had gone very wrong with the disputes committee investigation. But most comrades still had no idea what was happening. It was not permitted to be raised in meetings and aggregates. Full-timers were certainly not allowed to discuss it. CC members who knew the truth were not allowed to discuss it. An attempt, by a group of members directly involved, to set the record straight about a number of false claims being circulated by CC loyalists, was thwarted. The group tried to form a legitimate faction in the preconference period, in order to reach members with this information, and were prevented from doing so by reason of no valid constitutional provision. Most of those who participated in the session at the 2013 party conference dealing with this issue had never heard a word of it until then. And the comrade who made the first allegations was prevented from speaking in the session.

    Subsequent to the vote, those reporting back to local branch meetings were instructed not to discuss the goings on in the session. Party Notes said that the matter had been drawn to a close by the vote, and that there was to be no further discussion of the matter. The party's newspaper didn't mention it, and whitewashed the issue of the expulsions. This has been a cover-up from start to finish. This has been, more generally, an attempt to treat members like morons from start to finish. And now, this utterly exploded pack of lies is being wheeled out in a bid to persuade members to willingly look like idiots in front of everyone they're trying to work with.

    Let us conclude by noting the disingenuous nature of the appeal to 'confidentiality' in the CC's statement. There have always been issues involved in this case that are absolutely not for widespread discussion. Those criticising the CC within the party have taken the greatest care to avoid breaching any aspect of that confidentiality. This was the case when official factions were formed, and it has been the case since then. What people have discussed, and what the CC does not want discussed - because it has no argument that would not wilt if tested in daylight - is the very real deformities of the process, from start to finish, and the glaring absence of accountability exposed by this case. This is why they are determined to say, "as far as we are concerned, the case is closed." Because they have nothing to say. Because they can offer no lead to members beyond thrusting them out into that 'real world' they are all completely insulated from, and telling them to make bullshitters out of themselves.

    This statement, which every informed member knows does not even reflect the views of everyone on the CC, is supposed to be a measure of our decisive, interventionist leadership? This is supposed to put the matter to rest, at last, case closed? This will allow every militant, every student activist, ever long-standing cadre, to look everyone else square in the eye and answer a straight question without embarrassment? No. This isn't leadership. The SWP's leadership, at this point, is not located in the Central Committee. It is located in the sane members trying to fight this disgrace.
    And yet, still no class analysis...

  19. #19
    Paperback Writer RevForum Administrator Amoeba's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    Nevermind, I'll post this again later when I have more time to debate.
    To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Crisis in the UK-SWP

    I prefer this translation (the usual disclaimers about satire apply):

    •Charlie got in touch and told me there were a few omissions in his original email. He asked me to put out this correction -

    Dear comrade (mug)

    There has been a series of attacks on the Socialist Workers Party in the media and by assorted bloggers (which have shown us up for the control freaks we are). They concern the party’s handling of serious allegations against a leading member (sex fiend) and the arguments (partly arising from the case) leading up to and during our recent conference.

    This was an internal matter (as all our rape cases are) and we had promised full confidentiality to all involved (to cover it up). So we strongly condemn the publication of a transcript of a closed session of the conference discussing this case (next time, we’ll search you all). The transcript was publicised against the wishes of the complainant herself (Alex, please remind her about this).

    The attacks are a travesty (or summing-up, Alex check which word is correct) of the truth. We live in what remains a profoundly sexist society (which does have its good points), as is shown by the sex abuse scandals and cover-ups in mainstream institutions such as the BBC and the police (and we can teach them a few more lessons).

    However, the SWP is not an institution of capitalist society but fights for the overthrow of the system (so me and my mates will be in charge). Our party has a proud tradition of fighting for women’s liberation (the CC makes damn sure they’re liberated) especially, as is shown, for example, by our consistent campaigning over the decades to defend abortion (Christ, just as well, we’ve only got so much dosh), and by our criticism of George Galloway for his remarks about the Julian Assange rape accusations(Got you back, George!).

    Reflecting this tradition, our internal structures seek to promote women to leading roles (upon payment in kind) and deal rigorously with any action by any member (oh, er missus) that is harmful or disrespectful of women(HA HA HA).

    It is in the context of this commitment that we took allegations against a leading member of the party very seriously (HA HA HA HA. Christ Alex, that was the hardest part to write with a straight face).

    Unlike the BBC or any other establishment body faced with such an allegation an investigation into this complaint immediately was set in place (yeh, cos Delta and us all were in the pub at the time).

    The complainant made the choice not to go to the police (she would not have dared), who are notorious for their systemic failure to defend women (but not as bad as us). Instead she asked (was told) for her complaint to be heard by the body within the SWP charged with dealing with disciplinary cases, the Disputes Committee. We respected that choice (order).

    The Disputes Committee is a body of experienced members who had been unanimously elected by the previous conference (no choice, Comrades). The attacks on it as a ‘sharia court’ are little short of racism (thank fuck, a smokescreen).

    After a lengthy and thorough hearing, the Disputes Committee did not uphold the accusations and decided to take no disciplinary action (shock, horror!).

    Five of the seven members hearing the case were women, and one has experience as a rape counsellor (thank fuck again, a fig leaf). These included two members of the Central Committee, the elected leadership body of the SWP (like North Korea). Its members (who are always a minority on the DC) work with the DC to ensure the political integrity of the party, and to ensure the concerns and decisions of the DC are fed into the CC’s work (of WATCHING AND CONTROLLING WHAT YOU THINK).

    At all times great efforts were taken to support (shaft and undermine) the complainant.

    Had the Disputes Committee believed that the accused person was guilty (as if), it would have expelled him from the SWP immediately (HA HA HA).

    The case was discussed at length at a session of our conference (time for a snooze), which voted to accept the report and overwhelmingly re-elected the Disputes Committee (no choice again as I said) . Far from being a cover up this sort of open discussion shows that our procedures and elected bodies are accountable to our membership (oh dear,dear,dear. At this point I’ll have to stop for a moment or I’ll wet myself).

    If this case had been raised within a trade union or any other organisation there would be no question that the matter should be treated with complete confidentiality (after going to the proper authorities). This basic principle should also apply in this case (shut up, you bastards, he’s a mate, he didn’t mean no harm, she’s a slapper).

    As far we are concerned, this case is closed (Oi! Once more! Shut up you bastards! Alex tell them to shut up). This is a ‘cover up’(you bet it is). It is a determination to reflect the decision of our(me and my mates’) conference. We believe that both parties to the case should have their right to confidentiality and their right as members in good standing respected (except that lying slapper).

    Charlie Kimber
    SWP National Secretary

    Glad to be of assistance, Charlie.
    o
    o 1
    http://www.socialistunity.com/swp-cr...comment-631602

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