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The SWP on anarchism, John Molyneux speaking at Marxism 2012

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Angelus Novus
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Sep 20 2012 16:07
Entdinglichung wrote:
Cliff = Mandel

What? No way!

In all seriousness, FWIW, I slowly drifted out of FI politics years ago for ideological reasons, and don't have any horror stories whatsoever about cultish behavior or authoritarianism. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I say that pretty much all Mandelites (including the tiny current of American ones) I've known have been really lovely people, and extremely critical Marxists.* Then again, maybe continental Trotskyism is just fundamentally less moonbatty than its North American counterparts.

* French USFIers in particular seem to be really heavy into Critical Theory, and love engaging stuff outside the sanctioned Marxist canon.

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Entdinglichung
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Sep 20 2012 16:16
Angelus Novus wrote:
Entdinglichung wrote:
Cliff = Mandel

What? No way!

In all seriousness, FWIW, I slowly drifted out of FI politics years ago for ideological reasons, and don't have any horror stories whatsoever about cultish behavior or authoritarianism. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I say that pretty much all Mandelites (including the tiny current of American ones) I've known have been really lovely people, and extremely critical Marxists.* Then again, maybe continental Trotskyism is just fundamentally less moonbatty than its North American counterparts.

* French USFIers in particular seem to be really heavy into Critical Theory, and love engaging stuff outside the sanctioned Marxist canon.

I know ... this isn't my position ... Mandel > Cliff wink

Angelus Novus
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Sep 20 2012 16:30

I think Daniel Bensaid was one of the major Marxist thinkers of the past half-century or so. Not ja mere "party intellectual", but a major thinker in his own right.

English-language FI groups (do any even still exist? LOL) should make it a priority to translate as much of his stuff as possible into English. It's a shame I have to read most of what I can get my hands on in German or Spanish translations. Oh well, at least "Marx for Our Times" is available. Or I should just learn French. cry

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georgestapleton
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Sep 20 2012 16:46

Yeah, but there are basically no USFI-ers in the UK or Ireland. The UK section is 'Socialist Resistance', I honestly have never com across them apart from at demos like the big TUC demo on March 26. The Irish section is/was Socialist Democracy, who are the remnants of People's democracy from the 60s and number around 5-6 people. They are all likable cranks.

The most likable Trotskyite tendencies in the UK and Ireland are CWI (who have reasonable politics but are unbelievably dogmatic about it, and do the shit things all Leninists do), the AWL (who like too see themselves as critical trotskyists in the line of Schactman) and the CPGB (who are no longer really Trotskyist but are into the whole Lars Lih/Kautsky thing). I also like the very tiny Workers Fight (Lutte Ouvriere in the UK) but thats probably because I'm a more than a bit workerist. There are probably other reasonable tiny Trot groups I amn't familiar with in the North of England, Scotland etc.

(I should probably also mention Counterfire who are SWP expellees but are really more radical social democrats/Bennite type socialists than they are Trotskyists. I don't know about their sister organisation (fellow expellees) in scotland: the ISG.)

But I agree the USFI that I've come across have all been reasonably sound. Although, the USFI seems a bit fucked now that the LCR folded into the NPA and the NPA has been such a disaster.

Also Andy, I'd ignore Peter. A lot of UK anarchists have a really pathetic fear of Trotskyists.

Angelus Novus
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Sep 20 2012 16:44
georgestapleton wrote:
Yeah, but there are basically no USFI-ers in the UK or Ireland.

IIRC the IMG split like into three directions in the 80s, with a huge chunk of one of those splits, Socialist Action, becoming advisers to Ken Livingstone.

Oh no, this thread is turning into "leftist_trainspotters". Time to stop.

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georgestapleton
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Sep 20 2012 16:46

Yeah. I am fortunately not on that list.

Angelus Novus
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Sep 20 2012 16:46
georgestapleton wrote:
CPGB (who are no longer really Trotskyist but are into the whole Lars Lih/Kautsky thing).

Alerting Noa! Alerting Noa! Comrade Rodman, we've found you a group! wink

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Entdinglichung
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Sep 20 2012 16:46
Angelus Novus wrote:
I think Daniel Bensaid was one of the major Marxist thinkers of the past half-century or so. Not ja mere "party intellectual", but a major thinker in his own right.

English-language FI groups (do any even still exist? LOL) should make it a priority to translate as much of his stuff as possible into English. It's a shame I have to read most of what I can get my hands on in German or Spanish translations. Oh well, at least "Marx for Our Times" is available. Or I should just learn French. cry

learning French properly is possibly the best option ... someone said, that translating Bensaid accurately isn't the easiest task ... does Humanities Press still exist, they've published some stuff from France around 15-20 years ago?

p.s.: I still have to read Résistances: Essai de taupologie générale but my knowledge of French isn't sufficient for it

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Sep 20 2012 16:52
Angelus Novus wrote:
georgestapleton wrote:
CPGB (who are no longer really Trotskyist but are into the whole Lars Lih/Kautsky thing).

Alerting Noa! Alerting Noa! Comrade Rodman, we've found you a group! ;)

I don't know if you know the group. Their paper 'Weekly Worker' is like the gossip paper of the far left, or leftist trainspotters in paper format. Unfortunately nothing that scandalous in the current issue, which does have the wonderful front page headline: "Engels was right: early kinship was matrilineal - four-page supplement"

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Entdinglichung
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Sep 20 2012 16:55
georgestapleton wrote:
Yeah, but there are basically no USFI-ers in the UK or Ireland. The UK section is 'Socialist Resistance', I honestly have never com across them apart from at demos like the big TUC demo on March 26. The Irish section is/was Socialist Democracy, who are the remnants of People's democracy from the 60s and number around 5-6 people. They are all likable cranks.

The most likable Trotskyite tendencies in the UK and Ireland are CWI (who have reasonable politics but are unbelievably dogmatic about it, and do the shit things all Leninists do), the AWL (who like too see themselves as critical trotskyists in the line of Schactman) and the CPGB (who are no longer really Trotskyist but are into the whole Lars Lih/Kautsky thing). I also like the very tiny Workers Fight (Lutte Ouvriere in the UK) but thats probably because I'm a more than a bit workerist. There are probably other reasonable tiny Trot groups I amn't familiar with in the North of England, Scotland etc.

(I should probably also mention Counterfire who are SWP expellees but are really more radical social democrats/Bennite type socialists than they are Trotskyists. I don't know about their sister organisation (fellow expellees) in scotland: the ISG.)

But I agree the USFI that I've come across have all been reasonably sound. Although, the USFI seems a bit fucked now that the LCR folded into the NPA and the NPA has been such a disaster.

Also Andy, I'd ignore Peter. A lot of UK anarchists have a really pathetic fear of Trotskyists.

the people in Socialist Resistance were/are buried much too long in Labour/Socialist Alliance/Respect/etc., their core originates in fact from a group of shop floor militants (mainly from the Oxford area) who were expelled from the old CPGB in 1956/57, than joined Healy's SLL who kicked them out (literally) somewhere around 1974, they did not experience the "cultural revolution" of the USFI around and after 1968

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Entdinglichung
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Sep 20 2012 17:01
georgestapleton wrote:
Angelus Novus wrote:
georgestapleton wrote:
CPGB (who are no longer really Trotskyist but are into the whole Lars Lih/Kautsky thing).

Alerting Noa! Alerting Noa! Comrade Rodman, we've found you a group! ;)

I don't know if you know the group. Their paper 'Weekly Worker' is like the gossip paper of the far left, or leftist trainspotters in paper format. Unfortunately nothing that scandalous in the current issue, which does have the wonderful front page headline: "Engels was right: early kinship was matrilineal - four-page supplement"

occasionally, they have more unconventional title pages: http://www.cpgb.org.uk/assets/files/wwpdf/ww869.pdf

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Devrim
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Sep 20 2012 17:13
georgestapleton wrote:
the CPGB (who are no longer really Trotskyist but are into the whole Lars Lih/Kautsky thing).

They never were Trotskyists. They come from a split in the Turkish CP.

Devrim

Angelus Novus
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Sep 20 2012 17:27
georgestapleton wrote:
Their paper 'Weekly Worker' is like the gossip paper of the far left, or leftist trainspotters in paper format. Unfortunately nothing that scandalous in the current issue, which does have the wonderful front page headline: "Engels was right: early kinship was matrilineal - four-page supplement"

Move over, Wildcat and analyse & kritik, you guys are now only my 3rd and 2nd favorite left publications.

I have a new favorite. I red star Weekly Worker.

Angelus Novus
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Sep 20 2012 17:31
Entdinglichung wrote:

occasionally, they have more unconventional title pages: http://www.cpgb.org.uk/assets/files/wwpdf/ww869.pdf

Why am I in the upper left corner?!

Edit: oh god, it's an article by Chris Cutrone. I take it back. Weekly Worker, you suck!

cry

andy g
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Sep 20 2012 17:52

see that prompted some *ahem* reaction. thank you all for your kind words and appreciation. I can't thank you all individually but....

1) I think some of what has been said about the representation of anarchism within the SWP is correct. There is too much emphasis on the CNT and too little on contemporary anarchism. I think this is starting to change - I thought the exchange over Black Flame recently was reasonably measured and non-sectarian

2) I think it sightly rich to criticize the SWP for sectarianism whilst it is apparent significant numbers of anarchists are somewhat prone to it themselves

3) I am genuinely interested in what posters here have to say. You lot know your stuff (not you, mciver...) and I've found the threads here very interesting and instructive. I've never been of the belief that the SWP is the font of all knowledge and, believe it or not, neither have the other party members I've come across, the odd knob aside, of course

4) FWIW I do regard revolutionary anarchists as "comrades". I've known a few, especially in anti-fascist circles, and got on well with some of them. We've watched each others backs on occasion and I would like to think we could work together in future

5) one...two...three... GROUP HUG!!!!! (not you Peter) grin

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Sep 20 2012 21:01
andy g wrote:
2) I think it sightly rich to criticize the SWP for sectarianism whilst it is apparent significant numbers of anarchists are somewhat prone to it themselves

I don't know about that. One of the things I like about members of anarchist organisations is they tend not to promote their 'sect' over and against other similar ones, or try to manipulate campaigns and groups in order to promote the power and influence of their own organisation. That to me is what sectarianism means, not being critical/rude/dismissive (rightly or wrongly) about organisations you don't like. It's a disease related to substitutionalism and vanguardism which happily anarchists, for all their other ailments, tend not to suffer too much from.

andy g
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Sep 20 2012 22:19

hmmm...unconvinced, RedEd. The deliberate denigration of other political opinions irrespective of if they are right or wrong seems to me to fit the bill as far as sectarianism goes. agreed that may not necessarily be associated with the active promotion of a particular group though...

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Sep 20 2012 22:20

Still not having the Muslim Brotherhood as the Labour Party of Egypt. Much as I loathe the Labour Party...

tigersiskillers
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Sep 20 2012 22:26

Are Socialist Resistance still calling themselves ecosocialists? They had a bit of a realignment about four or so years ago, allying themselves with people like Joel Kovel and Ian Angus and trying to make links with left wing/marxist Green Party members. I went to a meeting they put on back when I was in Social Ecology London, couldn't work out if there was any real change or if they were now just trots who payed lip service to the environment.

andy g
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Sep 20 2012 22:51

in all honesty, ocelot, the RESPECT period kinda passed me by : marriage, kids, depressive illness amongst other things. I think lessons were learnt by many during the period - the whole Counterfire and ISG thing bearing some testimony to that. Your pursuit of the "SWP line" on Egypt in the context of this discussion seems somewhat cheap TBH. I have never tried to offer myself up as SWP spokesperson and will never do so - in a forum like this I think that kind of partisanship is self-defeating, don't you?

I can't recall the SWuP line ever being that the Muslim Brotherhood was a social democratic organisation, though I could well be wrong. Is it a make or break issue though, really?

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Sep 20 2012 23:12
andy g wrote:
hmmm...unconvinced, RedEd. The deliberate denigration of other political opinions irrespective of if they are right or wrong seems to me to fit the bill as far as sectarianism goes. agreed that may not necessarily be associated with the active promotion of a particular group though...

This is all a bit semantic, so sorry about that, but I think that what your saying isn't quite right. For example, if I were to deliberately denigrate the National Front or the Tories or whoever, even by taking ridiculous cheap shots at them, neither you or anyone else here would call me sectarian for it. So I think the word Sectarian has to mean more than denigrating other political opinions to be useful to us. I think the word is often used as an appeal to false unity, which, ironically enough, can sometimes be a sectarian move, IMO.

bastarx
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Sep 21 2012 04:45
georgestapleton wrote:
Also Andy, I'd ignore Peter. A lot of UK anarchists have a really pathetic fear of Trotskyists.

I'm neither an anarchist nor a Briton nor do I have a really pathetic fear of Trotskyists but apart from that you are totally correct in that sentence.

Recruit away "comrades".

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jonthom
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Sep 21 2012 05:24

Sectarian (adjective, noun). Of leftists, an epithet used to describe other leftists who don't like you.

andy g
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Sep 21 2012 05:48

that probably sums it up, jonthom!

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JoeMaguire
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Sep 21 2012 07:07

Anarchists and trots are in a different movement, hence the term sectarianism is not applicable.

And for what its worth, I am an ex-USFI member. I joined them shortly after my disastrous encounter with the SWP, having found them to be sincere to democratic internal life, but I split with them pre-Respect, because they seemed to have no qualms about making back room deals with Imams over political platforms or providing the SWP with political cover.

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Sep 21 2012 08:25
jonthom wrote:
Sectarian (adjective, noun). Of leftists, an epithet used to describe other leftists who don't like you.

Actually I'd see it more as a strategic orientation. I.e. that in any given context the practice of social insertion always prioritises the reproductive needs of the sect, and its acquisition of additional resources and fragments of institutional power (potere), over and above the building of working class autonomy/counterpower (potenza).

Although it generally comes pre-installed by default with Leninist groups, its certainly not an orientation that anarchist or other nominally libertarian left groups are immune from.

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Sep 21 2012 08:48
andy g wrote:
in all honesty, ocelot, the RESPECT period kinda passed me by : marriage, kids, depressive illness amongst other things. I think lessons were learnt by many during the period - the whole Counterfire and ISG thing bearing some testimony to that. Your pursuit of the "SWP line" on Egypt in the context of this discussion seems somewhat cheap TBH. I have never tried to offer myself up as SWP spokesperson and will never do so - in a forum like this I think that kind of partisanship is self-defeating, don't you?

I can't recall the SWuP line ever being that the Muslim Brotherhood was a social democratic organisation, though I could well be wrong. Is it a make or break issue though, really?

It relates to John Molyneux pamphlet "Anarchism: A Marxist [sic] Critique" in which he says, straight away in the introduction:

Quote:
Second, the revolution in Egypt. At first glance this revolution might seem to confirmanarchism’s wildest dreams:
[...]
The revolt that started on 25 January 2011 did not come out of the blue. It was sparked by thesuccess of the Tunisian Revolution on 14 January but it was prepared over a number of years by a combination of democratic, anti- imperialist and workers struggles. In these strugglesanarchist ideas had little influence, but political parties , including the Muslim Brotherhood,the Nasserite Karama Party and the Revolutionary Socialists, played a substantial role.Moreover the strike wave of 2008 saw the emergence of Independent Trade Unions [the previous unions were controlled by the Mubarak regime] which have developed further in thecourse of the revolution. In the Revolution itself these parties continued to be activelyengaged and others have been created

Particularly interesting is the part played by the Muslim Brotherhood, which was by far the largest opposition party in Egypt. Under the dictatorship the Muslim Brotherhood was a cautious moderate reformist party, Islamic but not extreme fundamentalist or terrorist. In some ways it more closely resembled the British Labour Party than it did Al Qaeda, but it was illegal and frequently subject to persecution. It opposed the initial demonstration on 25 January but as the revolution gathered mass support it yielded to pressure and allowed itsyounger members to participate. All accounts suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood youth then played a heroic role in fighting the police and in defending Tahrir Square against the pro-Mubarak thugs in the life and death struggle that was the Battle of the Camel on 2 February.When Mubarak fell and was replaced by the military junta the Brotherhood switched to supporting the government and opposing further protests, but this has led to many of its youth splitting away. Moreover, as I write these lines (on Friday 8 July) there is a mass occupationof Tahrir Square, involving something like twenty political parties, calling for the pace of the revolution to be speeded up to be speeded up and the Brotherhood have said they support it!

So, given that this is the second (and last) example in the introduction that Molyneux gives of what's wrong with anarchists - i.e. our lack of interest in "critical engagement" with the Muslim Brotherhood, I think it is a fair question to raise it, given that you have said that you support "many" of the criticisms of anarchism raised by him in this pamphlet, without specifying which ones, its a fair question. So, stop wriggling, get off the fence and tell us whether you support Molyneux's attachment to the Ikhwan or not.

Angelus Novus
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Sep 21 2012 09:19
JoeMaguire wrote:
Anarchists and trots are in a different movement

I suppose that's true, to the extent that there no longer exists the historical workers movement that gave birth to both tendencies. In that sense, most organized left groups, whether anarchist, trot, or left-communist are -- even the very good ones -- sort of historical preservation societies. People sometimes poke fun at the IWW for supposedly playing at being a real union like it once was, but I don't think they're fundamentally different from any other organization trying to preserve an organizational lineage to the debates of the First, Second, Third (and Fourth) Internationals of a classical labor movement which is long dead.

Of course this doesn't mean succumbing to the goofy Principia Dialectica perspective of denying the reality and relevance of class to contemporary capitalist societies, but I think it does mean trying to conceptualize class composition in the here and now, and asking the tough questions about, just to take one example, whether the workplace will ever play a central role for 21st Century class struggles the way it did in the 19th/20th centuries, or whether the (de)composition of the class means struggles assume a more geographical/urban character. Also whether there will ever again be anything like a "working class identity" as there was in classical workers movements, etc. I think End Notes are on the right track with this, but they also tend to attach these issues to a questionable, teleological crisis theory.

andy g
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Sep 21 2012 10:17

ocelot - I stand corrected, sir! just goes to show how poor I am at keeping up with party publications embarrassed

on cursory reading does sound like bollocks - and contrary to the analysis of Islamism that has been offered in the past.

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Sep 21 2012 10:35

Ok, fair enough.

To be fair, as I can't be watching an hour long youtube at work (or any youtube actually - fuck all this multimedia shite, text rules...), all I have to go on is Molyneux's pamphlet, rather than the address at Marxism 2012 linked in the OP. I'm just presuming that his presentation basically followed the pamphlet. So whether he mentioned the MB specifically in the presentation I can't say.