[Triggers] Socialist Justice Party sexual assault scandal

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Non Sequitur
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May 26 2014 20:20
[Triggers] Socialist Justice Party sexual assault scandal

NOTE: Heavy trigger alert for sexual violence and abuse.

Hey there Libcom. Figured I might as well post this here, despite the low traffic.

The Socialist Justice Party (RS, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna) is the largest Trotskyist grouping in Sweden, and by Swedish standards pretty successful. It holds five municipal seats, and is at the forefront in many different movements in the country, ranging from LGBTQ issues to anti-deportation activism. They are also the most controversial group in the Swedish workers' movement, often exhibiting - in my opinion - large political opportunism, and having little to no internan democracy. They are part of the Committee for a Workers' International, which has branches all over the world, among them the Socialist Party in the UK, the Socialist Party in Ireland, and Socialist Alternative in the US.

Over the past few weeks, it has emerged that a very prominent member of RS, Stefan Berg, is a serial rapist. It has also emerged that two other prominent members, Amer Mohammed Ali and Kristofer Lundberg, have been helping him cover up said rapes. This was first reported by the Facebook page "Take back the welfare!" (https://www.facebook.com/Tatillbakavalfarden). I'll let the texts speak for themselves. They have been published by TTV across the last few weeks.

Swedish original: https://www.facebook.com/Tatillbakavalfarden/posts/10152103179452076

Quote:
We first of all want to trigger warn this post. We have prior to this talked with the survivor directly, and with people close to them.

We have ensured that what we do does not go against the survivor's wishes or in any other way may lead to them being the subject of the discussion.

There is no police report, that isn't up to us or anyone else but the survivor. Neither have we done this to smear any person or people.

RS has had several chances to solve this internally, but instead they have chosen to act just like their English "comrades" and protected rapists. Therefore the outing of a sexist follows below.

A person who has been given space to speak at wide left-wing protests and has acted as the outwards face for the asylum rights movement in Gothenburg.

We want to explain why we are doing this. Sexism is not okay. Rapes are serious. Survivors are subjected to abuse, harassment and violence after the fact.

Testimony.
"In the Spring of 2013 I had sex with Stefan Berg. It started with both of us wanting to do it and he had followed me home. During the intercourse Stefan did things I didn't want him to do. I was very clear with that I wanted him to stop. I tried to physically make him stop and then he held me down while I was trying to get away. Afterwards I laid there and cried while he laid and slept in my bed.

Despite that this was a rape it has taken a good while for me to realize that it was just that. While I have been going around feeling bad about this I have heard testimonies from other women who have experienced similar things when having sex with Stefan.

The reason why I haven't gone to the police is that I know it would end with him going free anyway. It took me a year to realize that I had been subjected to a rape. I wouldn't be able to endure a process where I constantly would be mistrusted.

But I still want for this to come out. Because this is something that is recurrent for Stefan Berg and now I have finally reached a point where I am so fucking angry. This kind of men shouldn't walk around and outwardly be seen as feminists while at the same time they have repeatedly committed sexual assault towards women."

According to a person with insight into RS: "Stefan has previously been accused of rape. Several leading members of RS Gothenburg knew of the accusations."

---

Stefan Berg, member of RS Gothenburg, is hereby accused of rape. This is not the first time that he has been accused of this and rumours have been flourishing within the movement for some time.

RS' response to the accusations has been to defend the rapist and now a survivor has stepped forward to us and told us about what he has done to them. Rape.

Considering that we have had this confirmed by a reliable source and can verify the story through other people we take this as a fact. Thus we also have to take everyone else who has accused him seriously as well.

This CANNOT be wept under the rug, or be blamed elsewhere! WARNING FOR RAPIST.

Swedish original: https://www.facebook.com/Tatillbakavalfarden/posts/10152103179452076

Quote:
From a former member of RS:

"Regarding the Socialist Justice Party's handling of rape accusations against Stefan Berg. There are now several women who are former members of RS who have been called up by leading members of the party and been asked if they're the victim of the rape. You have no damn right to try and find out the identity of a person that has explicitly said that they want to be anonymous. Investigate the rapist and the fact that the party has been covering up previous rape allegations instead of going after a victim. You can't have respect for an organization that is acting this way."

Swedish original: https://www.facebook.com/Tatillbakavalfarden/posts/10152127870892076

Quote:
Regarding our outing of Stefan Berg, Socialist Justice Party (RS) Gothenburg.

Our questions are: when will Stefan Berg, Kristofer Lundberg and Amer Mohammed Ali be expelled? Are they all still welcomed to the party? Are they all being paid?

When will you (RS) write public apologies to the survivors that have been raped by Stefan Berg? The survivors that have been harassed, excluded, ostracised and threatened by Stefan, Kristofer and Amer?

Your internal email that has been sent out to all members of RS raises questions.

In the email it is confirmed that:
RS has finished the investigation of the rapes within the party

the party executive had a meeting on Sunday May 18th which decided that Stefan Berg will be suspended for the rapes that he has committed but he has therefore not been been expelled so far

the RS control commission will on request from Stefan Berg investigate if the investigation has been carried out right

the cover-up that has happened since 2010 with harassment, exclusion, ostracism and threats from Kristofer Lundberg and Amer Mohammed Ali has happened

Kristofer and Amer are acquitted entirely with the motivation that they acted wrongly but unintentionally when they covered up the rapes

Kristofer and Amer were present at the party executive meeting with the right to vote

At the end of the email RS insinuates that the information regarding the party executive's decision will be brought up at the week's party association meetings, but wishes that the discussion stays there.

Quote:
To the members of the Socialist Justice Party:

Sexual abuse

On May 9th the party executive was informed through an anonymous, open post on Facebook that there was a serious rape accusation directed towards one party executive member from Gothenburg. The party executive appointed an investigative group as soon as was possible.

On May 18th the party executive had a meeting and received information from the investigative group.

On May 17th the accused requested that the control committee carries out an investigation. The by-laws of RS say that a member who has a serious complaint has the right to this.

Decisions from the party executive meeting May 18th: That the party executive, based on the investigative group's report, suspends XX during the time that the control committee on his request carries out a new investigation. Suspension means that a person is removed from all assignments and memberships, and excluded from all parts of the party. First all of RS was accused by the Facebook page Take Back the Welfare for having covered up rape. Then two previous members in Gothenburg have come forward and said that RS Gothenborg's full-timers supposedly covered up.

The investigative group has reached the conclusion that this concerns an event from 2010. The investigative group has reached the conclusion that there has not been any intentional cover-up. All those who at the time knew of the incident believed at the time that it was the case of a false accusation.

Decision from the party executive meeting May 18th: That the party executive rejects the accusation that there has been an intentional cover-up in Gothenburg. But there is reason to criticize Gothenburg's full-timers' action and non-action in connection to receiving information of serious accusations in 2011.

3. What happens now? The control committee carries out its investigation. The party executive will convene and take a stand on that which the control committee has decided on. VU [Hrafn's note: executive committee] calls with this letter members of RS not to debate the question that regards the suspension until the party executive has taken a stand to the control committee's investigation.

It is a fact that this is now being used by forces that try to harm RS as much as possible, for example with letters to Haninge's [Hrafn's note: basically RS HQ, 2 municipal council seats] moderate [Hrafn's note: Moderate Party] municipal leadership about rapes within RS. Information about the party executive's decision will be brought up at the week's party association meetings.

We wish for the discussion to stay there.

Decision from the party executive meeting May 18th:
- The decisions of the party executive will be conveyed to the members. The executive committee is tasked with formulating a public statement. The party executive will get hold of a material for routines and instructions for how party members and elected bodies should act when suspicions of violence, threats or harassment occurs.

4. Political position
The Socialist Justice Party fights daily against sexism and sexual violence. A real socialist struggle must put feminism on the forefront. Our opposition against sexism also applies to the gender hierarchies that the party, consisting of the party's members, are not immune against. VU will within short initiative discussions about programmes against sexism and about how we act. There will be more material, here material from previous discussions is attached.

Swedish original: https://www.facebook.com/Tatillbakavalfarden/posts/10152126191702076

Quote:
Regarding our outing of Stefan Berg, Socialist Justice Party (RS) Gothenburg, we would like to here provide a summary of what that has happened as well as an explanation to why we took the decision to out him.

One of our admins gained through a mutual friend contact with a member of RS Gothenburg, who told their story to our admin. Their mutual friend could vouch for the witness who they knew very well. Through some other channels our admin could then also get parts of this story confirmed, and then also cmae into contact with some other cases of similar events.

As is often usual in the case of rape among people who know each other it took a while for the survivor to actually realize what she had been subjected to. But during the time that passed the survivor themselves got contact with other women who had also been subjected to similar events with Stefan Berg. The survivor had come to the conclusion that she now wanted to come out with her story. This for her own sake, to make it easier to deal and live with that which had happened. For also for the sake of other women who had experienced the same thing or that in the future could risk falling victim to Stefan Berg if this didn't come out. In discussions with our admin they reached the conclusion that they had to break the apparent rape culture that reigned within RS Gothenburg. Several people within RS Gothenburg knew of the charges. They had been encouraged by leading members of RS Gothenburg to not go any further or spread this.

On the 9th of May our admin brought this up in our internal discussion group. We discussed various ways to handle this, and arguments for and against outing Stefan Berg via TTV. Outings are an extremely powerful method that can cause great damage for those subjected to it and also people close to them. So it should be used sparingly and only after a thought-through balancing between the benefits there are and all the problems, as well as the possibility of using other methods. There should of course be no doubt about the guilt of the person being outed. It is also one matter to out Nazis and other right-wing extremists, but a completely other one when it concerns people within our own ranks and other leftists. Regardless of what you think about parties like RS they are after all in some regard on the same side as us.

But after we had discussed this in the group we eventually decided that it was motivated and necessary in this case. There was no doubt about the survivor's intentions. We had also had the story confirmed from reliable sources, so we took it as a fact that the story was correct. Furthermore everything indicated that there were numerous people who knew of this and that there existed a rape culture within RS Gothenburg. Therefore we reached the conclusion that this couldn't be swept under the rug, or blamed away. We therefore decided to publish the survivor's story. We saw benefits with doing this through TTV, primarily that it could be spread to a lot of people quickly without RS Gothenburg being able to affect the process.

RS has had several chances to solve this internally, but instead they have chosen to protect rapists. Because of that we thus chose to out this sexist. Sexism is not okay in any form. Rapes are extremely serious. Survivors are subjected to abuse, harassment and violence after the fact. This had to come to an end. So on Friday afternoon May 9th we made the outing and published the survivor's story. Within a few ours of this we were reached by rumours that RS had appointed an internal investigation.

According to the information we then have taken part of from within RS their investigation of these events has now been closed. The party executive had a meeting on Sunday May 18th which decided that Stefan Berg would be suspended. He has thus so far not been expelled. Instead RS' control committee, on Stefan Berg's request, inquire if the investigation has been carried out right. Kristofer Lundberg and Amer Mohammed Ali who have been accused of being the driving forces between the cover-up have been acquitted entirely, with the motivation that they acted wrongly but unintentionally (this while having the right to vote during the meeting).

What we are seeing now is a rape culture that is beginning to crack. Even if RS Gothenburg still shows no sign of truly acting in a way that you would wish several witnesses (primarily women) have now come forward about how they knew about this, and themselves were part of the cover-up surrounding the rape charges within RS Gothenburg. This is most likely a development of events that makes it hard to return to that which was.

We are fully content with having acted rightly in this difficult decision.

/The admin collective of TTV

Swedish original: https://www.facebook.com/Tatillbakavalfarden/posts/10152126027582076

Quote:
REGARDING THE SOCIALIST JUSTICE PARTY AND STEFAN BERG. Vi are publishing a follow-up with critique from people with insight into the investigation.

"Now the decision has been made on the extraordinary party executive meeting yesterday (Sun 18 May) regarding the rape charges towards Stefan Berg and the charges of covering up rape charges towards the same person by Kristofer Lundberg and Amer Mohammed Ali. This has not been made public yet but we have taken part of the decision through various channels.

The decision that was made was that both Kristofer and Amer go completely free with the motivation that they acted wrongly but intentionally, and Stefan Berg has demanded that the control commission (the party's investigative body) investigates if the investigation has been carried out right, and he has been suspended from the party. (something which should have happened from the very start for all three)

A background to the critique against the decision is that both Amer and Kristofer participated in the party executive meeting, with the right to vote. They in other words had the right to themselves affect and vote about the consequences of their actions. But even if they had participated without the right to vote this would in itself have been wrong, when they already have made their statements to the investigative group. Why should they have much more space and ability to affect the decision than the people who were subjected to their actions?

The decision regarding Amer and Kristofer shows the enormous lack of knowledge within the Socialist Justice Party regarding structural oppression. As if all those who are part of a power structure are completely aware of it. The motivation is thus "Kristofer and Amer disbelieved and attacked the survivor of a rape, but because they did it without understanding that they were part of an oppression of women it is okay."

Regarding the decision about Stefan Berg there is no reason for RS not to expel him at the party executive meeting. There is nothing in the by-laws that limits this and it sends out the completely wrong message about how rapists within the party are handled. It doesn't in any way show that there is a zero tolerance towards sexism and the oppression of women, rather the opposite, that it is believed more important that the process takes place on the rapist's terms instead of as an organisation clearly taking a stand.

It is totally sick that the process has been allowed to go on this way (except for the investigative group, which did a really good job). That the decisions are made entirely on the terms of the offenders in a terribly corrupt way, how the entire time a rapist has been cosseted with. How witnesses and survivors have been badly received and ostracised and above all, how the Socialist Justice Party doesn't see its own guilt in this. It is a matter of structural sexism and elitism within the party. The reasons for that this has happened is that there is a structure within the party that doesn't prevent these things and that doesn't handle them the right way when it happens."

Non Sequitur
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May 26 2014 20:27

Stefan Berg:

Stefan Berg is a prominent member of RS Gothenburg, the party branch in the country's second largest city and vastly important to the wider party network. He is the Chairman of RS Gothenburg, and a paid full-time cadre of the party. He has been prominent the asylum rights movement, leading to some legal difficulties for him. He is a constant present at all RS Gothenburg activities.

Amer Mohammed Ali:

Amer Mohammed Ali is a prominent member of RS Gothenburg. He holds a position on the "executive sub-committee", and the local party executive. He is also a paid full-time cadre of the part, and has likewise come into legal difficulties due to his political activism. He has been seen on national television a number of times, and everywhere else.

Kristofer Lundberg:

Kristofer Lundberg is the former Chairman of RS Gothenburg (the position now held by Stefan Berg, the rapist), and current Chairman of RS West Sweden, the overall regional branch. He is a member of the overall RS executive committee, it would seem, and otherwise holds the same positions as Amer, including being a paid full-time cadre. He has been in debates on state TV, and can be seen at the forefront in basically every RS West Sweden-involving cause. A former northerner, in 2003 he was named "Piteå Inhabitant of the Year" for his anti-Fascism. Like Amer and Stefan he has faced police persecution.

Non Sequitur
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May 26 2014 20:30

The following statement was published jointly by SUF Gothenburg and SUF Uddevalla-Lysekil, two autonomous branches of the Swedish Anarcho-Syndicalist Youth Federation. To my knowledge, these are the first political statements that have been made by Swedish organizations on the question.

Quote:
RS Gothenburg has made themselves guilty of deplorable behaviour. Here follows a joint statement from SUF Gothenburg and SUF Uddevalla-Lysekil. We begin with a statement from people with insight.

[The statement I posted a few posts up, there quoted by TTV.]

With background of this the SUF clubs Gothenburg and Uddevalla-Lysekil hold that all confidence for RS as an organization is lost, and furthermore that RS Gothenburg's direct defence of rape and the construction of a culture which facilitates for and acquits rapists make them a direct threat towards those that want to organize for socialism and feminism - especially women. Therefore we hereby condemn and establish an official policy regarding RS Gothenburg, and especially Stefan Berg, Kristofer Lundberg and Amer Mohammed Ali, about never taking part in any networks or collaborations whatsoever with them. Neither will we accept the presence of these three persons at demonstrations, lectures, manifestations, meetings and so on, and sill make sure that they are removed if they show up. We also extend hand to our comrades in other organizations to apply this policy.

Of course this ultimately is not about RS, and we don't wish to go into polemics with them - it is about sexism, power structures, oppression and rape culture, problems which are not isolated to or unique for RS. Therefore we also intend to apply this policy towards other organizations and persons that exhibit the same disgusting behaviour. RS can therefore also of course restore its confidence by getting rid off these scum, and taking hold of their internal problems. Our struggle is just as much a struggle against our class enemies as it is a struggle against patriarchal traitors within our own ranks.

french former C...
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Jun 10 2014 17:34

about the same thing happened in the french section of CWI and no one speaks about it. Their full timer acted the same way and was expelled for a year and then reintegrated in september 2013 after a witch hung against the people who tried to fight against his coming back in the party. The international leadership of CWI fully accepted that. I can give more details if someone asks for.

lib_commie_anarcho
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Jun 11 2014 01:09

Also the ISO in the States: http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=12021

lib_commie_anarcho
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Jun 11 2014 01:10

Yes, please give us details.

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Steven.
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Jun 11 2014 08:46
french former CWI member151 wrote:
about the same thing happened in the french section of CWI and no one speaks about it. Their full timer acted the same way and was expelled for a year and then reintegrated in september 2013 after a witch hung against the people who tried to fight against his coming back in the party. The international leadership of CWI fully accepted that. I can give more details if someone asks for.

hi, yes I think people would definitely be interested in that

proletarian.
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Jun 11 2014 18:13

So what's the political link with these groups and sexual abuse?

Lack of internal democracy?
Capitalist politics?
Opportunist recruitment?

Do abusive people go into these groups or does rising up the greasy ladder bring it out of people?

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Steven.
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Jun 11 2014 22:18
proletarian. wrote:
So what's the political link with these groups and sexual abuse?

Lack of internal democracy?
Capitalist politics?
Opportunist recruitment?

I think it's a combination of:
1. Patriarchy (including rape culture), which is everywhere
2. Trotskyism/organisational patriotism, which sees the revolutionary party/organisation as essential to "the revolution" and therefore prioritises defence over the organisation even over the welfare of its own (especially female) members/activists.

Quote:

Do abusive people go into these groups or does rising up the greasy ladder bring it out of people?

sadly I think that a significant proportion of all men in just about every walk of life are abusive

proletarian.
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Jun 12 2014 01:36
Quote:
I think it's a combination of:

2. Trotskyism/organisational patriotism, which sees the revolutionary party/organisation as essential to "the revolution" and therefore prioritises defence over the organisation even over the welfare of its own (especially female) members/activists.

I forgot to add the bit in bold. That's a phrase I hadn't heard before but I think it's a really good description. I don't think it's just the Trot groups who suffer from it though. It seems specifically a Marxist problem. In anarchist groups maybe there is a lot less defence of the holy working class organisation/cult and more of a defense of perceived valuable individuals/friends?

Would you see a culture or spirit of competition, one of the many capitalist ideologies as also a problem along with rape culture? That might be more of a general question about combating bourgeois ideology inside revolutionary organisations though.

That's true about abuse by men in society generally but there are all kinds of abuse, most men do not rape people. All the sexual assaults I've had the sadness to hear about from these leftwing groups/cults have been by men in positions of relative power over others much like in a capitalist business.

What I meant about opportunist recruitment which might not have been clear, was accepting any old person regardless of reactionary views and ideas they may have. And in many cases only absolute minimum agreement with the organisation they are joining. And of course there is out in the open fronts with reaction.

Ablokeimet
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Jun 12 2014 05:30
proletarian. wrote:
So what's the political link with these groups and sexual abuse?

Lack of internal democracy?
Capitalist politics?
Opportunist recruitment?

Do abusive people go into these groups or does rising up the greasy ladder bring it out of people?

These things may help, but the Anarchist movement is not immune to this problem:

http://www.anarchistaffinity.org/2014/03/silent-no-longer-confronting-sexual-violence-in-the-left/

In this case, the organisation responded appropriately, but there are other cases which have come up in Australia and haven't been acted on appropriately.

french former C...
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Jun 12 2014 17:46

I thought you would have specific question, it's difficult to give "details" in general !
The CWI is a really tiny group in france called Gauche Révolutionnaire, they were nether more than 50. I joined them in 2008 and left in 2013. I and others young people understood in 2012 that the full timer ( national secretary ) was deeply alcoholic and a few month after we realised he tried systematicaly to have sex with young scool students members ( he was 40 ). When one of them complained about him getting naked in the middle of the night, or tring to kiss a 16 y old contact of the organisation, all others said they saw similar things. And a few weeks after one of them said it was far worse for her and that he forced her to do things that are so terrible that i don't want to give details there.
At that time i thought : ok, there are crazy people in the world, why not in the party. If we expell him and develop a proper politic for this not to be possible amongst us then i would be able to continue there.
But we had to fight so hard to expell him ! I was part of the national leadership, and i was at the first rank for these horors. At the beginning the national leaders accepted this was really huge and suspended him as they were really chocked and surprised. but only two week after they wanted him back ! At that time the international leadership supported us and said we need to expell him, so the national leaders said the international leadership is rotten, and moralist as we are and petty bourgeois and so on. Then they said this was not rape but only a complicated relationship. in june 2012 helped by one of the belgium CWI leader we had him expelled at the end of the day because the leadership thought it had no other choice, but at the first vote something like 8 voted in favor and 8 against it ! at the last moment i proposed to add in the voted text that this explusion can not be reversible for a year at least. I thought this was a detail and that if he leave no one will want him back anytime. I was fully wrong ! in semptember 2012 i understood they wanted him back as soon as possible and they asked for meetings with him in order to make everything ready for his coming back in june. At that time the part of the leadership i was in, that fight against him and for a proper antisexist politic was aweaken by that battle and was not able to build the party because of that and because of the fact it was much youger than the other part of the leadership. When the international leadership of the CWI realised that they totally changed their minds ! they suddenly said he need to come back and supported the otherside ! They were incredibly opportunistic on that. The only thing that matters for them is : what side will be able to maintain a group in france for us. whatever if they defend a rapist !
I left in february 2013 when they voted 10 in favor 2 against one abstention ( i was against ) that we need to create a special status for that guy to be a priviledged partner of the organisation in order to make it possible for him to be back in june.
They nether stopped to pay him during that time.

i may not have been very clear and i'm sorry for my bad english. I would answer to question if you have some.

french former C...
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Jun 16 2014 16:58

Seems like i killed the debate here smile

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ocelot
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Jun 17 2014 15:55
proletarian. wrote:
Would you see a culture or spirit of competition, one of the many capitalist ideologies as also a problem along with rape culture? That might be more of a general question about combating bourgeois ideology inside revolutionary organisations though.

That's true about abuse by men in society generally but there are all kinds of abuse, most men do not rape people. All the sexual assaults I've had the sadness to hear about from these leftwing groups/cults have been by men in positions of relative power over others much like in a capitalist business.

I don't think it's that simple. I've definitely heard of cases in the SWP or similar, where the attacker was not in a position of power over other members - and they were just quietly expelled. The reason the cases that end up being public disputes involve men in positions of power is that being considered of more "value" to the organisation, the attempt is made to protect them.

Now it could be argued that the formal hierarchies of formal leadership and full-time paid officials in authoritarian left organisations aggravate this tendency towards double standards. But as Ablokeimet pointed out, the same dynamics can happen (and has happened) within anarchist groups, even if the status of the "valued comrade" had less formal recognition than the explicit leadership structures of the hierarchical left.