SPGB and participation in protest and demonstrations

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jondwhite's picture
jondwhite
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Aug 14 2018 13:20
SPGB and participation in protest and demonstrations

In 1904, the declaration of principles of the Socialist Party of Great Britain were agreed, the final clause 'calls upon the members of the working class of this country to muster under its banner'.

In April 1967, the Socialist Standard the publication of the Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB) carried on its front page an exhortation titled 'Let's Protest' with this accompanying article
http://socialiststandardmyspace.blogspot.com/2016/02/lets-protest-1967.html
When the CPGB was riding high, SPGB conference 1938 called a party poll of the entire membership that ruled that

Quote:
'Are you in favour of a unit representing the Socialist Party marching with and being part of the procession organised to celebrate May Day ?

On 20 December the results were : For: 62 Against 103.

In 2013, Autumn Delegate Meeting discussed an item, asking if this is still relevant and should it be rescinded - adding

Quote:
'It is important to note that there was an earlier Party Poll in 1938 that resulted in favour of the Party participating 'in the demonstrations of the May Day type'.'

Minutes of this meeting were never published.

I think it was at this ADM that a member suggested we walk in the opposite direction to the crowd.

At conference 2018 a motion

Quote:
'Should the Party revise its position on activism and protesting reformist decisions made by either Government or local authorities that are harmful to the working class. Do we think that protesting things that are harmful to the working class is an act of reformism in itself.”

' mentioned in supporting statement

Quote:
'We take the view that we can and should attend protests, strikes, May Day rallies and other demonstrations of activism. These demonstrations can be a great place for the SPGB to educate those who are angry at the current political climate about an alternative to capitalism. Take, for example, the recent march for the NHS. We could have attended that march with our banners, flags and leaflets representing the SPGB,

At this http://libcom.org/forums/theory/labours-anti-semitism-scandal-conclusive-proof-reformists-will-never-be-allowed-an?page=2#comment-608842 it was stated

Quote:
As an aside i note that Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger said: "Being 'present' is the same as being involved. "When I attend a memorial, my presence alone, whether I lay a wreath or not, demonstrates my association and support."

This is similar to the SPGB position on demos and protests. We attend them, standing on the sidelines selling our literature of leafleting...we do not participate by marching along with our party enemies.

Whether we 'attend' or 'participate marching along' is semantics, we don't stand on the sidelines.

ajjohnstone
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Aug 14 2018 14:53

An example of standing on the sidelines?

Quote:
Janet and Norman Buchan in the section 'The Campaign in Scotland: singing into protest' say:
From a very early stage we had won full support from the Labour Party, Trades Council and the STUC . . . And it was they who were largely responsible for securing the biggest post-war demonstration in Glasgow till then, at the start of the 1960's. Incidentally, that was the demonstration that produced the sectarian slogan to end all sectarian slogans. Just as we were turning round the corner of Sauchiehall Street two grim stalwarts of the Socialist Party of Great Britain were standing heralding the march with a huge banner and slogan which read: "This demonstration is useless—You must first destroy capitalism" (p. 53).

https://socialiststandardmyspace.blogspot.com/2014/09/piecemeal.html

But my point on re-reading is badly expressed...i was suggesting that Corbyn could be attending the wreath-laying but not participating...as the SPGB does when it goes along to demos and marches, leafletting and setting up lit stalls without endorsing the purpose of the protest or supporting those who are taking part.

Personally, i would like to see an SPGB banner and members marching behind it (even if with zimmer frames and mobility scooters) just so that our fellow-workers do have an opportunity to "muster under its banner".

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Aug 15 2018 09:32

Thanks for that. My point is that the SPGB oughtn't be standing on the sidelines or the silly suggestion of walking against the direction of the march. Nor should it be participating in the London May Day Organising Committee for example. I'm still not sure if Luciana Berger is correct that being present is the same as being involved or whether this is too broad to generalise about in respect of Corbyn or us.

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Aug 15 2018 10:05

Should we ask for a separate forum to be set up just outside the main libcom forums so the SPGB can stand slightly on the virtual sidelines of libcom without actually participating?

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Aug 15 2018 13:26
R Totale wrote:
Should we ask for a separate forum to be set up just outside the main libcom forums so the SPGB can stand slightly on the virtual sidelines of libcom without actually participating?

No thanks!

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Aug 16 2018 12:09

In 1937

E.C. 27.4.37 (May Day Demonstration)
Urgency was granted to Comrade Cash, who asked if members of the Party were permitted to identify themselves with the demonstration as Trade Unionists. The answer was in the affirmative.

The earlier party poll from 1938 was detailed as follows

E.C. 12.4.38 Groves & Wilmott “That South West London Branch be informed that in the opinion of this E.C. the participation of a Party contingent in the May Day demonstration does not conflict in any way with the Party Principles, and this E.C. sees no reason to alter the decision previously arrived at.” Cd. 9-2

Party Poll 13.9.38 “Shall the Party participate in demonstrations of the May Day type?” FOR: 95 AGST: 81

Followed in the spring

E.C. 12.4.38 Groves & Wilmott “That South West London Branch be informed that in the opinion of this E.C. the participation of a Party contingent in the May Day demonstration does not conflict in any way with the Party Principles, and this E.C. sees no reason to alter the decision previously arrived at.” Cd. 9-2

Before the December 1938 party poll rejecting it.

And I also found in 1954

E.C. 15.6.54 McClatchie & Lake “That Comrade Langston be informed that, in the opinion of the E.C., it is inadvisable for members to march in May Day Processions associated with other Political Parties, because of the confusion that is likely to be engendered by doing so, but straightforward trade union processions are a different matter.” Cd. 8-2

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Aug 16 2018 20:05
jondwhite wrote:
In 1937

Honestly, why do you think anyone gives a shit about this?

jondwhite's picture
jondwhite
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Aug 16 2018 21:30

Same reason people took issue with Chris Hedges calling Black bloc a cancer.

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R Totale
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Aug 17 2018 10:57

I'm pretty sure that no-one in the year 2090 is going to care about anything Chris Hedges ever said, though.

ajjohnstone
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Aug 17 2018 12:30

Rather than derail the anti-semitism Corbyn post, JDW, set up another topic thread to elaborate on my comment.

Up to anybody interested or not to click or not.

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Aug 17 2018 13:48

I don't know if it was because it was referencing material from 1937?

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Aug 17 2018 21:47

The SPGB view is identical with how an ICCer explained their 'position' on lefty demos - 'there, but not part of it'. But you have your own SPGB forums for this nerdy self-obsessive crap.

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Aug 18 2018 07:03

The SPGB forum has been down since July. And I'm kind of interested in what other libcommers have to say, apart from 'not interested'.

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Aug 18 2018 11:46

Well, I guess you've only had 80 years to spend pondering this important question for the whole trajectory of the working class struggle - early days...

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Aug 18 2018 16:38

Do you think it important to attend May Day demonstrations or get involved?

Battlescarred
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Aug 18 2018 16:51

Do you? because I see extremely little sign of SPGB "getting involved"

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Aug 18 2018 18:19
jondwhite wrote:
Do you think it important to attend May Day demonstrations or get involved?

TBH I think Mayday demonstrations, especially the one in London, are nowadays just a Leninist and assorted tanky freak show. Best not to have anything to do with them. Its original meaning has been lost in the mist of time. Best to avoid being associated with it, there's better ways to spend your energy. It's not 1937 any more.

I don't think "getting out there" means latching onto whatever activist campaign is the flavour of the month either. The Anarchist groups that make a thing out of this just unfortunately seem to be duplicating Trotskyist tactics to me. The SPGB is right to not do this as far as I'm concerned.

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Aug 18 2018 18:23
Quote:
Do you think it important to attend May Day demonstrations or get involved?

The issue could only assume any importance to insular sects who have an agrophobic fear of the outside world and must formulate 'policy' on whether to engage with that world - for fear of meeting a reality that might challenge their petrified 'theory'.

If you wanted to do something to actually engage with and contribute to the working class goals you abstractly theorise about you'd be better off going on an anti-workfare or refugee support picket or something (with strikes being a rarity nowadays). But then I guess you might have to spend a few decades debating that possibility.

The last time I went on a London Mayday march was early in this century. I was surprised to see a bunch of stern-looking Stalinists marching in strict formation like a mini Red Sq. parade carrying flags with giant portraits of their glorious stern-looking leader. That was Ocalan and the PKK - who have since become the heroic darlings of large numbers of pro-Rojava pseudo-anarchists (as has Corbyn).

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Aug 18 2018 18:51
Red Marriott wrote:
The issue could only assume any importance to insular sects who have an agrophobic fear of the outside world and must formulate 'policy' on whether to engage with that world - for fear of meeting a reality that might challenge their petrified 'theory'.

To be fair on the others, jondwhite isn't representative of all SPGB'rs. Some do get out there "getting involved" (but as members of the working class not as members of the SPGB) and hawking their wares without making a song and dance about it. But it's a dwindling and ageing organisation - but then lets face it - most are..