Ideas for Freedom: a weekend of socialist discussion and debate - London - 29 June-1 July 2007

47 posts / 0 new
Last post
Sacha
Offline
Joined: 28-04-06
May 18 2007 14:18
Ideas for Freedom: a weekend of socialist discussion and debate - London - 29 June-1 July 2007

Ideas for Freedom is a weekend of socialist debate and discussion hosted by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty: from the evening of Friday 29 June through to Sunday 1 July. Resource Centre, 356 Holloway Road, London N7.

Our major theme this year is what it actually means to be on the left, and to be a socialist. As much of the left, from the SWP and Respect to the Labour Party, continues to move ever further away from socialist politics and decay politically, we want to reassert the themes of human freedom, consistent democracy and working-class struggle as the basics of any socialism worthy of the name.

We will also be running a number of sessions "Introducing Marxism". Ideas for Freedom is a space in which young activists can come and learn about Marxist ideas in a friendly atmosphere where questioning and debate are encouraged.

Sessions will include:

- "Introducing Marxism", including:
Are revolutionaries violent?
Why do we need political parties?
'Working class', 'multitude' or 'people of good will'?
What does it mean to be left-wing?
- After Gordon Brown's coronation: how can workers win a voice in politics? A panel on working-class political representation including John McDonnell MP, left challenger for leader of the Labour Party
- Workers' Liberty debates Nick Cohen, Observer journalist and author of What's left? on "Does socialism have a future?"
- A debate on anarchism and Marxism in the Spanish revolution 1936-7
- Newsnight journalist Paul Mason reads from and leads a discussion on his new book on workers' struggles across the world, Live Working or Die Fighting
- How can we get the trade unions to fight? A debate with trade union speakers and Sheila Cohen, author of Ramparts of Resistance
- Debate with the Aegis Trust on Darfur and the left's attitude to humanitarian intervention
- Robin Blackburn, author of The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, on the real history of the abolition of slavery
- Priya Gopal, author of Literary Radicalism in India: Gender, Nation and the Transition to Independence, and Camila Bassi of Workers' Liberty take part in a panel on anti-racism and multiculturalism
- Sessions on queer politics and LGBT liberation
- Understanding Marx's Grundrisse
- Do Labour councils have to make cuts? Janine Booth of Workers' Liberty speaks about the lessons of the 1921 Poplar Council struggle, and an activist talks about the current anti-cuts campaigns in Lambeth
- A film showing and speakers on women and workers' struggles in Iran

Friday 29 June: film night and social, Bread and Roses, 68 Clapham Manor Street, London SW4, from 7.30pm-late. (Clapham Common tube or Clapham High Street rail)
Saturday 30 June and Sunday 1 July: at the Resource Centre, 356 Holloway Road, London N7. (Holloway Road tube)
Saturday evening social with live music

Creche provided, free accommodation in London arranged. We may also be able to help you with transport, depending on where you are coming from.
Tickets are £25 (waged), £18 (students and low waged) and £13 (unwaged). However, they are £3 cheaper if bought in advance. One day tickets are also available.

More details about the event: email awl@workersliberty.org or phone 020 7207 3997.

Or you can register online at http://www.workersliberty.org/ideas

the button's picture
the button
Offline
Joined: 7-07-04
May 18 2007 14:20

Will there be a session on whether & how a Socialist Organiser* member grassed on members of the Dispatch Industry Workers Union?

Quote:
For most people this was undoubtedly their first experience of industrial action and acting collectively in the individualistic world of despatch riding. At the time West One had about seven bike channels and we managed to block six of them. We heard later, from another source, that the management went absolutely apeshit. After fifteen minutes people started drifting away, as had been agreed. A few of us went to a nearby cafe, and by chance saw a very serious looking Ritterband arriving at Red Lion Square with a car full of the ‘heavy mob’. One of our comrades went to watch what they got up to and saw Ritterband talking intimately with two riders who had remained in the square. We suspected these two were grasses. One of those riders/grasses, David Leadbetter, was involved in the Socialist Organiser group. Socialist Organiser was involved in entryist politics, trying to recruit couriers to the TGWU. To put it another way the TGWU was, unfortunately, a rival to the DIWU as mentioned previously. We now suspect that the Socialist Organiser/TGWU gave information against the DIWU in an attempt to bring about our downfall. We considered tracking down David Leadbetter with these accusations, but nothing’s come of it, yet.

Link

* Younger readers may wish to know that Socialist Organiser is what the AWL used to be called.

Sacha
Offline
Joined: 28-04-06
May 18 2007 14:44

Dear comrade,

This is the first time I've heard this accusation, so you'll understand if my reply is rather limited. I wasn't around at the time (when was it exactly?) All I know from a comment someone made in passing is that our comrades who were dispatch riders were certainly members of and in favour of trying to recruit other riders to the T&G. (I'm not sure why you call that "entryist".)

I've just asked someone who was working in our office at the time and he says we never had a comrade called David Leadbetter. Are you sure you've got the name right? However, I will continue to ask around.

I have been a member of the AWL for just under eight years and a member of its national committee for three, and in all that time I have never seen anything but a constructive attitude to others on the left, both socialist and anarchist. We never hide our disagreements, but anyone who has had any contact with us will know that the accusation of collaborating with the bosses against another workers' organisation just doesn't stick. We would never do anything like that (the accusation is so strange that even the defence sounds unconvincing!)

If you can let me know when the alleged event was, what that long quote is taken from and any other details you have I'll investigate further.

Thanks - in solidarity,

Sacha

the button's picture
the button
Offline
Joined: 7-07-04
May 18 2007 14:48

It's from a Kate Sharpley Library pamphlet, The couriers are revolting, which is also available on libcom.

Full text here.

Dates/background etc are included in the text.

Sacha
Offline
Joined: 28-04-06
May 18 2007 14:48

PS Read, for instance, our Tubeworker bulletin. Our comrades on London Underground are members of the RMT, and we urge all tubeworkers to join the RMT as it is an all-grades union and more militant. But equally we are unconditional and scrupulous in our support for workers in the other two unions, ASLEF and TSSA, against the bosses. Read through some copies of Tubeworker and you'll see why the accusation of scabbing against the DIWU and the anarchist comrades who worked as dispatch riders is so implausible.

http://www.workersliberty.org/twblog

Sacha
Offline
Joined: 28-04-06
May 18 2007 14:56

"The situation was further complicated because a tiny Trotskyist group called ‘Socialist Organiser’ were trying to encourage a TGWU couriers branch, presumably so they could then infiltrate and destroy what they had just created! The Socialist Organiser armchair revolutionaries sent in an obnoxious ex-public schoolboy called Simon Wynne-Hughes to lead the way, but he was soon badly injured by a car, so that was the end of his flirtation with the working class."

I don't have time to post any more until later - next week, I promise, and I will investigate further - but this strikes me as further evidence of the pamphlet's rather dubious approach to both evidence and political polemic. (Obviously, I can't form a final judgement until I've read the whole thing.) For instance

a) We're tiny, are we? Yes, that's true, yet we're bigger than any anarchist group in Britain. This is just vitriol.
b) "Presumably so they could then infiltrate and destroy what they had just created!" Huh? Again, no substantiation of this outrageous accusation.
c) "Armchair revolutionaries". Again, no justification. Why are we armchair revolutionaries? Because we support joining the TGWU rather than a red union? It's interesting how instead of arguing about this legitimate disagreement between working-class activists, you just throw around insults.
d) I've no idea who Simon Wynn-Hughes was/is. Being an ex-public schoolboy disqualifies you from doing anything on the left? Presumably this is mentioned in order to imply that Socialist Organiser was made up primarily of ex-public schoolboys?
e) "The end of his flirtation with the working class". Again, the accusation seems to be, without actually saying it in a way that can be replied to, that SO had/AWL has no relationship to the working class.

All this is irrelevant since its just sectarian bitterness. The accusation against David Leadbetter (?) on the other hand, is serious. I'll look into it.

Sacha
Offline
Joined: 28-04-06
May 18 2007 15:49

One more thing. It would be helpful/basic justice if you could state what the evidence against the Socialist Organiser comrade was. You just say "We now suspect..." without explaining why. Btw, I still can't find anyone who remembers David Leadbetter - it's our internal conference this weekend, so I'm going to ask around!

Sacha
Offline
Joined: 28-04-06
May 18 2007 16:10

Sorry, one more.

"We now suspect that the Socialist Organiser/TGWU gave information against the DIWU in an attempt to bring about our downfall."

As well as providing evidence, could you explain what information our comrade is supposed to have given?

Also I notice you equate SO and TGWU as if we were the same thing!!

Still can't find anyone who says we had a comrade called David Leadbetter! People remember Simon Wynne-Hughes, but say there was no David Leadbetter.

Peter Good
Offline
Joined: 18-04-05
May 20 2007 16:11

No Anarchist speakers on the platform then?
Peter Good(TCA)

Sacha
Offline
Joined: 28-04-06
May 21 2007 17:41

Hi Peter,

What's the TCA?

My understanding is that the Spanish revolution session is, indeed, a debate between one of us and an anarchist comrade. The latter has not been 100% confirmed yet, however, which is why there's no name up there.

On the off chance he falls through, would you be interested in taking part in the debate?

Sacha

PS I'm saddened to see that there's been no reply on the dispatch courier stuff.

Ed's picture
Ed
Offline
Joined: 1-10-03
May 22 2007 02:51

Alright Sacha mate, how's tricks?

I think the reason for the lack of response is because the accusations are from a (top draw) pamphlet written by someone who doesn't post on libcom. He was also an ex-member of the Direct Action Movement (what later became the Solidarity Federation and at the time almost definitely would've had more members than SO; not that it matters, I'm just point scoring. Your mum's easy.. wink ). He's a sound bloke though and a friend of one of the libcom group so I'll ask him.

By the way, tell Randall that I'm on that 70 quid I owe you lot from the France trip. On it like a motherfucker.

PS I don't post here to often, but from what I have read, Peter Good is a fruitloop, TCA = The Cunningham Amendment = him, his wife and his bow-tie. Apologies to Peter if this is not true but everyone was saying it and I didn't want to be left out so I joined in.

Peter Good
Offline
Joined: 18-04-05
May 22 2007 09:36

Sacha,
That's an uncommonly generous offer - I still carry the bruises from "entering into dialogue" with marxist groups in the 70's!

I manage to speak on Anarchism about twice a year but only oop here in the North. Nonetheless, if you are running a seminar on Freedom it should be pretty easy to invite a London comrade onto the platform.

Ed,
Only the bow-tie bit is true. I decline to wear the Anarchist uniform. Mixing, as I do, with comrades who take their liquor like gentlemen it seems to me the ideal apparel.

Regards
Peter Good(TCA)

Tacks's picture
Tacks
Offline
Joined: 8-11-05
May 22 2007 10:44

fuck the courier thing just have a look at this:

Quote:
- Workers' Liberty debates Nick Cohen, Observer journalist and author of What's left? on "Does socialism have a future?"

What, cohen came battering down your door demanding a debate? No, yet again you have invited this right wing cunt to talk for you, liking his appraisal of you lot a the last sane trots on the left because you haven't jumped into bed with the Muslims. But Cohens politics hardly end there, emphasising the separation between socialism and atheism do they? I'd highly recommend you read:
http://libcom.org/library/review-what-s-left-how-liberals-lost-their-way-nick-cohen

And i'd like to ask, when it so fucking obvious what Cohens politics are, do you invite him to speak for you again and again?

Previous conferences speakers have been Kat 'Kitten' Pinder, the Emma Goldman on Big Brother 04.
Hard act to follow i'm sure.

Tacks's picture
Tacks
Offline
Joined: 8-11-05
May 22 2007 10:51

Friday 29 June: film night and social, Bread and Roses, 68 Clapham Manor Street, London SW4, from 7.30pm-late. (Clapham Common tube or Clapham High Street rail)

no comment neccessary.

Tacks's picture
Tacks
Offline
Joined: 8-11-05
May 22 2007 10:57
Sacha wrote:
My understanding is that the Spanish revolution session is, indeed, a debate between one of us and an anarchist comrade. The latter has not been 100% confirmed yet, however, which is why there's no name up there.

I'm sure Gentle Revolutionary will make it.

PS -don't forget to bring your

Tacks's picture
Tacks
Offline
Joined: 8-11-05
May 22 2007 11:22

and you are spamming:
http://libcom.org/forums/events-and-announcements/socialist-party-vs-anarchists?page=2

Sacha
Offline
Joined: 28-04-06
May 23 2007 14:14

>>Friday 29 June: film night and social, Bread and Roses, 68 Clapham Manor Street, London SW4, from 7.30pm-late. (Clapham Common tube or Clapham High Street rail)
> no comment neccessary.

Why? It's a pub owned by the local trades council with a nice meeting room? What's wrong with using that? Would it be better to hire a less nice and more expensive meeting room in a more proletarian part of town?

I'm sad to see there's no answer on my queries about the dispatch couriers issue. Just more unsubstantiated insults and sectarian vitriol.

Sacha
Offline
Joined: 28-04-06
May 23 2007 14:17

On Nick Cohen, we're DEBATING him. Do you understand that concept? If you think we, as revolutionary socialists, agree with Cohen, who is not a socialist of any sort, you're deluded.

See, for instance, http://www.workersliberty.org/node/7698

Jesus, this is worse than arguing with the SWP...

Tacks's picture
Tacks
Offline
Joined: 8-11-05
May 23 2007 18:18
Sacha wrote:
On Nick Cohen, we're DEBATING him. Do you understand that concept? If you think we, as revolutionary socialists, agree with Cohen, who is not a socialist of any sort, you're deluded.

See, for instance, http://www.gay.hr/slike/attachmenti/Nato_Flag.jpg

No your organisation clearly has some close relationship with the man as you repeatedly give him the stand at your do's. And you were very close after Respect started up, him chumming you, you chumming him.

I will admit though, he is hardly a patch on yur star turn of 2004 Kat 'Kitten' Pinder. Kat 'Kitten i'm an anarchist actually in a trot group actually a lesbian ex prostitute when not at boarding maybe perhaps' Pinder, to give her proper title grin

Quote:
If you think we, as revolutionary socialists, agree with Cohen, who is not a socialist of any sort

So why, dearest Sacha, is he being given the stand? Is this a right of reply for all, in that case? I do hope you are debating scientologists, fascists and post modernists too.

Quote:
Jesus, this is worse than arguing with the SWP...

well duh grin

JoeMaguire's picture
JoeMaguire
Offline
Joined: 26-09-03
May 23 2007 18:27

Why are we carrying adverts for trots? If they want to treat us as equals then fair do's but they are always happy to mill around us believing their own propaganda about anarchists being de-politicised militants, when most of us wouldnt waste a breath in the circles they travel in.
And what makes it worse is the fact the AWL arent the sanest of the bunch.

Tacks's picture
Tacks
Offline
Joined: 8-11-05
May 23 2007 18:38
october_lost wrote:
Why are we carrying adverts for trots?

Cos its funny.

Tho i do think the title should be called 'AWL ANC' not 'ideas for freedom' ffs. They all have such hilarious names, 'communist university' being a fave of mine.

Every group has one of these things, but i think only the SWP have a tradition of other people attending with 'Marxism'. Certainly never heard of any unitiated attending these gatherings otherwise.

streathamite
Offline
Joined: 8-05-07
May 24 2007 09:45

erm, no the SP always have similar debates with ideological non-playmates

Tacks's picture
Tacks
Offline
Joined: 8-11-05
May 24 2007 11:38

fair enough but what i meant about the SWP is that Marxism is attended by the entire loony left.
Is that the same as the SP event? Definitely got a lower profile, don't even know its name.

Jacques Roux's picture
Jacques Roux
Offline
Joined: 17-07-06
May 24 2007 12:00
Sacha wrote:
I'm sad to see there's no answer on my queries about the dispatch couriers issue. Just more unsubstantiated insults and sectarian vitriol.

Ed replied to you above.

And stop victimising yourself roll eyes

Sacha
Offline
Joined: 28-04-06
May 24 2007 12:46

Tacks on Nick Cohen: "No your organisation clearly has some close relationship with the man as you repeatedly give him the stand at your do's. And you were very close after Respect started up, him chumming you, you chumming him."

Our entire relationship with Nick Cohen is that, at the time of the Iraq war, we debated him at one of our public meetings - with him arguing for and us arguing against. Do you see what we did there? Then he cited something anyone can read on our website in one of his articles. Now we're going to debate him again? Shocker! Does that amount to "giving him the stand"?

And, yes, we have debated religous types and postmodernists on many occasions!

"Ed", thanks, I'll tell Martin. RKN, no, no one has replied the accusations are still not only unsubstantiated but unspecified, and as far as I can see we never had a comrade of that name. So it's not so much libel as mudslinging.

Sacha
Offline
Joined: 28-04-06
May 24 2007 12:48

"And you were very close after Respect started up, him chumming you, you chumming him."

Just read that sentence again. It's not just untrue as just totally meaningless!

We were close how? We "chummed" him how?

Let me state this authoritatively, as a member of the AWL's national committee: as revolutionary anti-imperialists and socialists, we bitterly disagree with Nick Cohen, who is a pro-war liberal. We think some of his criticisms of certain sections of the far left are valid, but that's it. Is that good enough for you?

Sacha
Offline
Joined: 28-04-06
May 24 2007 12:50

PS I'm not point scoring either, but purely as a matter of interest how many members does the SolFed have? And how many did it have in the early 1990s?

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
May 24 2007 14:54

Yeah sacha we'll get in touch with the author and get back to you. It may take a while though.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
May 24 2007 14:56

PS you lent money to Ed?

Whata mistaka to maka!

Tacks's picture
Tacks
Offline
Joined: 8-11-05
May 24 2007 17:08
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
Tacks, you know that 'Kitten' is not the only Big Brother contestant to have a connection to the AWL. wink

(misread this first time round)

...who!

Devrim's picture
Devrim
Offline
Joined: 15-07-06
May 24 2007 17:13
Tommy Ascaso wrote:
It was known as the Direct Action Movement (DAM) until 1994, which I think might have been bigger than SolFed is now, but I don't know much about it.

I think that it had about 160 members in the mid eighties.

Devrim