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The SWP on anarchism, John Molyneux speaking at Marxism 2012

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georgestapleton's picture
georgestapleton
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Sep 27 2012 15:42
radicalgraffiti wrote:
I think theres a definat tendency by some posters to try any prevent discussion of actual practice, history and limit things purely to abstract ideas, and i think this tendency allows more space for authoritarian politics

This is the complete opposite of my experience. All the time you get centrists, labour party members, NGO activists, SWP members, activism-ists etc. say "yeah but what are you going to do" or "at least obama/hollande/the ula/the swp is doing something, what are the anarchists doing?" etc. etc. etc.

That's not to say that lefties who "limit things purely to abstract ideas" generally have particularly good politics, especially when this happens in academia its often ends in vague libertarian, poststructuralist sentiments that unspeakingly deny the possibility of a world after capitalism. But this couplet

  1. focus on "actual practice" -> libertarian communism
  2. abstract ideas -> authoritarianism

seems like baloney to me

IrrationallyAngry
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Sep 27 2012 15:57
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Depressing as it is to find myself agreeig with AN, given that you'll run into the SWP on a lot of demo's and strikes/pickets, if mere contact with them on a message board gets you frothing at the mouth i'd suggest you need to get out more.
[...]
And yeah obv a swappie or two posts here, i'd assume a fair few also use the library or read the boards, its not exactly a shocker....

Actually, it is something of a "shocker".

One of the most notable subcultural quirks of the SWP in Britain and in Ireland is the near complete absence of its members from left wing online discussion forums. It's probably the biggest left group in Britain and probably the second biggest in Ireland, but it's nearly invisible in places like this and always has been.

You used to get a handful on Urban75, although I think there's only one left there. There were never any regulars here. Back in the days of the unlamented UK Left Network they rarely reared their heads. They never comment on the Cedar Lounge Revolution or the other main Irish left outlets. They talk to each other on facebook and on Lenin's Tomb, and a couple of them troll Socialist Unity, but their lack of interest in engaging with others on the left is truly remarkable and very consistently maintained.

It has nothing to do with them being Trotskyists. Socialist Party members show up all over the place online, as do members of almost all of the smaller groups. But SWP members who hang around and actually engage with others are extremely rare. I sometimes wonder how this came about. My working assumption is that it stems from a combination of a prejudice against the internet (as frivolous, elitist, time consuming) and their leadership's long cultivation of ignorance about the rest of the left in the real world - after all, they hardly ever show up at meetings organised by any outside campaign or group in the real world either (with the partial exception of their occasional interventions into Irish SP meetings).

It is the most insular organisation on the left.

Spikymike
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Sep 27 2012 16:28

Angelus,

It really is a separate discussion though one well exercised previously on other threads.

Certainly it is the material conditions both objective and subjective which are the critical factors in the way class struggle developes, and has developed in the past, and which have created potential ruptures in the smooth functioning of capitalism and the opening up of (some rather few in number) possiblities for an alternative communist future so that the particular forms in which that struggle is expressed cannot be entirely predetermined (and certainly not by any tiny political vanguard). Still assembly and council forms have a consistently emmerged in all high points of the class struggle, if with some variations depending on local history and the changing composition of the working class. It is reasonable IMO to conclude that any other political formation which seeks to oppose itself to such emmerging forms or to replace them with it's own power structures must be opposed. It is of course conceivable that in some circumstances electoral parties and alliances or parties aiming to otherwise capture the existing state apparatus at one stage might in other circumstances faced with a mass based assembly movement reject that route but such examples are probably very rare.

An understanding of the role of left wing parties in supporting the continuence of capitalism in it's various stages and expressions is not primarily restricted to a question of organisational forms however but rather their political commitment to and practical maintenance of the fundamentals of capitalism - wage labour, commodity production, money and the value form etc.

In terms of the everyday defensive class struggle such parties have played varying roles which might be seen at certain low levels of struggle as positive (at least as far as the activity of some of their individual members who don't always follow a strict party line) but they have commonly performed detrimental roles at critical points in the development of struggles to a higher level. The extent of harm caused may not always be great where the influence of such groups is very small but that still does not recomend it. The SWP as one of the, at least formery, larger groups has come in for some very justified criticism in this respect as far as I am concerned quite apart from the fact that their critique of state capitalism is a thin veneer hiding their practical support for it. On a personal level I get on OK with a number of individuals from the SWP and some other left groups but find the 'party bureacrat' personality and behavior of their longer standing officials and organisers frankly scarry!

PS: Interestingly SYRIZA in Greece is the larger of two electoral alliances in which some Greek libertarian and anarchist currents have participated but these have been criticised by myself and others elswhere.

no1
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Sep 27 2012 16:37
IrrationallyAngry wrote:
I sometimes wonder how this came about. My working assumption is that it stems from a combination of a prejudice against the internet (as frivolous, elitist, time consuming) and their leadership's long cultivation of ignorance about the rest of the left in the real world - after all, they hardly ever show up at meetings organised by any outside campaign or group in the real world either (with the partial exception of their occasional interventions into Irish SP meetings).

It is the most insular organisation on the left.

Obviously this doesn't explain everything, but the SWP was deeply suspicious of the internet from the start as the idea of them not controlling the flow of information must have scared the shit out of their CC - so they banned their members from taking part in a particular email list in 1995:
http://www.angelfire.com/journal/iso/ist.html

Angelus Novus
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Sep 27 2012 17:00

(if one of the mods wants to break me and Spikymike's last two contributions and this one into a separate thread, that would probably be a good idea)

Spikymike wrote:

PS: Interestingly SYRIZA in Greece is the larger of two electoral alliances in which some Greek libertarian and anarchist currents have participated but these have been criticised by myself and others elswhere.

That's interesting. There's actually a bit of the a debate going on in the blogosphere and in analyse & kritik about some people from the (post-)autonomist milieu joining Die Linke. Raul Zelik, who was one of the founding members of FelS back in the early-90s and is something of a prominent left-wing journalist and novelist, published a statement where he explained his decision to join. Ingo Stützle published a critical response to this. AK isn't a "line" paper, but I'd say the general editorial perspective is a "critical solidarity" perspective toward the party but decidedly outside of it. However, some people around the (apparently now defunct) Gruppe Soziale Kämpfe (one of the three main products of the old Antifaschistische Aktion Berlin) have also become party members.

Edit: sorry forgot the link to the Zelik article that Stützle is responding to.

IrrationallyAngry
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Sep 27 2012 17:03
no1 wrote:
Obviously this doesn't explain everything, but the SWP was deeply suspicious of the internet from the start as the idea of them not controlling the flow of information must have scared the shit out of their CC - so they banned their members from taking part in a particular email list in 1995:
http://www.angelfire.com/journal/iso/ist.html

Yes, that's a rather infamous incident. Although the infamy generally results from a widespread misconception that the SWP's leadership banned their members from taking part in discussion lists as a whole, rather than one particular discussion list. Incidentally, that list actually was something of a scam, set up by a non member posing as an SWP member.

But that incident was 17 years ago now. And their culture hasn't really changed when it comes to the internet all that much. They have slowly modernised their official web presence. And they have Lenin's Tomb as a semi-official outlet, where their members predominate and moderate the discussion. But there are very few places where SWP members engage in discussion with other people on the left online, just as there are very few places where they do it offline. This is rather peculiar, as it doesn't stem from an edict (like the 1995 one), and like it or not, there are in relative terms quite a lot of SWP members. You'd expect to encounter them quite a lot. But you don't. Without there being a formal rule against their participation there seems to be a very deep rooted subcultural pressure against it.

My understanding is that the SWP presents itself to its members as the core of the left. Every other organised formation is dismisses as insignificant or, in the case of formations which are a bit too big for that, as sectarian, old fashioned, or otherwise not to be engaged with. Debates on the left are caricatured as the stuff of small, irrelevant, meetings in small back rooms and contrasted with engagement with the unsullied public.

This pressure means that few SWP members ever really venture onto online forums where non-SWP leftists predominate. And if they do, they tend to encounter a wall of hostility as most others on the left for good reason (and some bad reasons) tend to be rather ill disposed to the SWP, which then reinforces their subcultural expectations about the worthlessness of online discussion.

As an aside, their lack of concern with the rest of the left isn't entirely consistent, even though it has been very long lasting. But if, for whatever reason, they choose to engage with some other force on the left, it is always done on their own terms. Here in Ireland for instance, the Socialist Party and the WSM hold occasional public debates with each other. The SWP, by contrast, engages with Anarchism only through one-sided presentations at Marxism and with the Socialist Party by holding internal educational meetings based on a then internal document by the same John Molyneux. In neither case are they interested in exposing their members to a more open debate.

Facebook presents some interesting challenges to their approach, but that's a slightly different subject.

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Sep 27 2012 17:15
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Facebook presents some interesting challenges to their approach, but that's a slightly different subject.

On that there's a story as well. Seemingly Dublin SWPers have very recently been told not to engage in debates on facebook. Which results in the odd situation whereby if a SWPer posts something you can post a response underneath and they won't reply but will leave your comment.

IrrationallyAngry
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Sep 27 2012 17:28
georgestapleton wrote:
On that there's a story as well. Seemingly Dublin SWPers have very recently been told not to engage in debates on facebook. Which results in the odd situation whereby if a SWPer posts something you can post a response underneath and they won't reply but will leave your comment.

I suspect that stems from the ULA and to a lesser extent the CAHWT, which have led to a greater amount of cross-organisation facebook linkages. And therefore more opportunities for engagement. And therefore more arguments. Some of which have been a bit vitriolic.

And to be fair, Facebook is an extremely bad place to have vitriolic arguments between leftists because those arguments then appear in the time lines of hundreds of people who have not sought them out and can give a misleadingly bad impression of the left. It would be rather typical of the SWP, however, if their solution was to tell their members not to engage rather than telling them only to engage respectfully.

Where did you hear about this directive?

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Sep 27 2012 18:10

Not using real names openly on here so I've PMed you.

andy g
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Sep 27 2012 21:03
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Debates on the left are caricatured as the stuff of small, irrelevant, meetings in small back rooms and contrasted with engagement with the unsullied public.

this is an interesting one. It is worth remembering that the original IS was distinguished by precisely its non-sectarianism. The International Socialism journal was first set up with editorial representation from a number of left groups, for instance, with non IS members regular contributors.

In addition I think there is a determination to avoid the fratricidal lunacy that lots of the Trot left seems to have been so ready to descend into.

Added to which small irrelevant meetings in backrooms do loom in my memory when it comes to inter-left debates.... discussions between left groups can often tread a narrow furrow where the issues discussed mean little to anybody whose affiliations are already decided.

The SWP does not view other left groups as its primary focus - quite rightly IMHO. having said that non-SWP figures are regular fixtures at Marxism - didn't Stuart Christie speak last year? Tony Benn, Gary Younge, Harvey, Ben Fine and christ knows how many others have spoken from SWP platforms so "insularity" is a misplaced accusation, I think.

radicalgraffiti
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Sep 27 2012 21:22
georgestapleton wrote:
radicalgraffiti wrote:
I think theres a definat tendency by some posters to try any prevent discussion of actual practice, history and limit things purely to abstract ideas, and i think this tendency allows more space for authoritarian politics

This is the complete opposite of my experience. All the time you get centrists, labour party members, NGO activists, SWP members, activism-ists etc. say "yeah but what are you going to do" or "at least obama/hollande/the ula/the swp is doing something, what are the anarchists doing?" etc. etc. etc.

That's not to say that lefties who "limit things purely to abstract ideas" generally have particularly good politics, especially when this happens in academia its often ends in vague libertarian, poststructuralist sentiments that unspeakingly deny the possibility of a world after capitalism. But this couplet

  1. focus on "actual practice" -> libertarian communism
  2. abstract ideas -> authoritarianism

seems like baloney to me

that wasn't what i meant, authoritarians are not keen to examine how the ideas there heroes claim to have possessed relate to there practice, but seem to be much more comfortable debating "what lenin really meant" for the 1000th time.

the authoritarians consider doing anything better than nothing because they don't recognise a connection between ends and means. so it is ok to engage in parliamentary politics, and theres no need to think about how things where put into practice in the russian revolution.

This doesn't mean that libatrians have perfect paraxis or only things abotu action, but i think authoritarian can only engage with libertarians, and maintain the idea that they are communist, if they maintain a strange distinction between theory and action, otherwise the contradictions of there ideas and practice are plain to see

IrrationallyAngry
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Sep 28 2012 01:16
andy g wrote:
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Debates on the left are caricatured as the stuff of small, irrelevant, meetings in small back rooms and contrasted with engagement with the unsullied public.

this is an interesting one. It is worth remembering that the original IS was distinguished by precisely its non-sectarianism. The International Socialism journal was first set up with editorial representation from a number of left groups, for instance, with non IS members regular contributors.

In addition I think there is a determination to avoid the fratricidal lunacy that lots of the Trot left seems to have been so ready to descend into.

Added to which small irrelevant meetings in backrooms do loom in my memory when it comes to inter-left debates.... discussions between left groups can often tread a narrow furrow where the issues discussed mean little to anybody whose affiliations are already decided.

The SWP does not view other left groups as its primary focus - quite rightly IMHO. having said that non-SWP figures are regular fixtures at Marxism - didn't Stuart Christie speak last year? Tony Benn, Gary Younge, Harvey, Ben Fine and christ knows how many others have spoken from SWP platforms so "insularity" is a misplaced accusation, I think.

Yes, the IS was culturally quite different from the SWP in any number of ways.

However, the rest of what you are saying is deeply tendentious. Not having "a primary focus" on other left groups is perfectly rational. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say that it's something pretty much all non insane left groups have in common. But that's quite different from the SWP's nearly absolute refusal to debate seriously with others on the far left, something which extends downwards all the way to the truly remarkable absence of rank and file SWP members from just about everywhere that the rest of the left debates things online.

The two Irish groups I mentioned in my previous post, the (anarchist) WSM and the Socialist Party, don't have an orientation towards small left groups either. At all. But you'll find no absence of random members of those groups in shared left spaces online. And it's not that the SWP has nothing to say about those groups (I mentioned a recent round of internal discussions and a lengthy then internal document about the politics of the Socialist Party), but it doesn't debate those views openly with those groups.

As for Marxism, the SWP has always been willing to use public figures to their right to draw a crowd. But none of those people have organisations behind them and they are basically being used as advertising. There's nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't alter the SWP's pretty much unique lack of engagement with the rest of the far left.

I once turned up to a demonstration with a close friend of mine who had quite recently joined the SWP. An SWP full timer clocked her talking with me, approached her and guided her away, explaining to her that she shouldn't be wasting her time talking to nasty sectarians. I thought this was hilarious. She did not.

andy g
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Sep 28 2012 05:14

the absence of SWP members from on-line forums is news to me TBH. As you said earlier, this isn't a matter of "papal edict" and, if true, does warrant explanation.

Thinking about this I seem to remember that organised non-SWPers have been afforded space in part journals to debate in print. Ernie Mandel was one, Daniel Bensaid another and more recently Lucien Van Der Walt. IIRC short polemical articles from SPers have appeared addressing specific issues.

On a different note it is slightly amusing that the SWP is seen as pathologically disinclined to interact with other left groups and simultaneously castigated for opportunism for working with non-revolutionaries in open campaigns that the rest of the Far Left abstains from as opportunist.

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Sep 28 2012 09:05

my experience back from 10-20 years ago, mainly with the German sister org of the SWP (SAG, than Linksruck, where I know quite a lot of former members) was, that the majority of their members simply weren't interested in all that kind of discussions and theoretical stuff, not because they were members in SAG/Linksruck but because they also weren't interested before they joined or after they left the org, and the minority of SAG/Linksruck members who were interested in that stuff weren't hiding, that they were e.g. regularly buying papers or booklets of other orgs and as long they did not affect the org's day-to-day work, they did not had to fear repercussions (unlike e.g. in the 1980ies German CP or in the MLPD), it was more considered to be a kind of (slightly odd) hobby by the leadership

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Sep 28 2012 08:58

While GS's irish example is odd realistically the internet can often be a fairly self selecting social circle. Also i think a majority of people tend to slightly avoid places where they are going to always get into massive arguements. Twitter perhaps is a bit of a exception.

Quote:
On a different note it is slightly amusing that the SWP is seen as pathologically disinclined to interact with other left groups and simultaneously castigated for opportunism for working with non-revolutionaries in open campaigns that the rest of the Far Left abstains from as opportunist.

Assuming that your referring to UAF and formerly Respect here, then thats a somewhat different question isn't it. I mean the question of whether to, or how you engage in debate with other socialists and anarcho's is sightly different to the question of whether you engage with labour councillors and religious 'community'' leaders.
Not a debate worth haggling out the specifics of on here, you ca debateedlessly who gets a platform etc etc, but tbf conflating the two issues would be a mistake..

Spikymike
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Sep 28 2012 10:18

Just to agree with IA's comment above about the IS, I recall that the UK based libertarian socialist group 'Solidarity' (before any of my involvement with them) had a brief liaison with them that included the IS journal giving them advertising space. It didn't last long for good reason and certainly the later launch of the SW Party confirmed the switch to a more traditional Leninist type organisation and party building line.

Mark.
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Sep 28 2012 10:32
Angelus Novus wrote:
Spikymike wrote:

PS: Interestingly SYRIZA in Greece is the larger of two electoral alliances in which some Greek libertarian and anarchist currents have participated but these have been criticised by myself and others elswhere.

That's interesting. There's actually a bit of the a debate going on in the blogosphere and in analyse & kritik about some people from the (post-)autonomist milieu joining Die Linke.

If you're interested the issue of anarchist participation in Syriza and Antarsya is raised here on the Greece thread. I haven't seen anything else in English that mentions it. It's probably worth further discussion but not on this thread. [/derail]

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Sep 28 2012 12:01
andy g wrote:
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Debates on the left are caricatured as the stuff of small, irrelevant, meetings in small back rooms and contrasted with engagement with the unsullied public.

this is an interesting one. It is worth remembering that the original IS was distinguished by precisely its non-sectarianism. The International Socialism journal was first set up with editorial representation from a number of left groups, for instance, with non IS members regular contributors.

Just to echo that my perception is very much that this is true. I was a member of The Commune in the UK and quite a few of out older members were in IS in the late 60s/early 70s. Most left when Jim Higgins was kicked out. But from what I know IS seem to have been a pretty cool group.

But on the current situation, debating people like Gary Young and Tony Benn is very different to debating other revolutionary organisations.

As for the other names...."Ernie Mandel was one,"[he dies 17 years ago so that's going back a bit] "Daniel Bensaid another" [that is good, but the SWP does seem to have a decent relationship with the NPA and before it the LCR despite the fact that you are in different internationals] "and more recently Lucien Van Der Walt" [I'm pretty sure that was a reply to a pretty awful article that was largely a book review of Black Flame, it wasn't an article itself. But yeah at least that debate did happen and fair play for publishing the replies.]

andy g
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Sep 28 2012 13:25
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But on the current situation, debating people like Gary Young and Tony Benn is very different to debating other revolutionary organisations.

true and point taken, to a degree at least. Given the SWP is a very small group and most of the other Left groups are very, very small there is limited mileage in staging public debates in most cirmcumstances though, don't you think? I know nowt about the meetings between the Irish SWP and WSM - were they over "general" or more specific topics? Are either organisation of a size or influence for such meetings to act as a draw for those outside the immediate ambit of either group?

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Sep 28 2012 13:39

Well the point is that the WSM and the SWP haven't had debates. The WSM and SP have.

And I think the point is also why that hasn't happened and here I think you have given a very SWP-esque answer. The task of revolutionaries is not simply to pull in more people into the movement/party.

A big part of what we, as revolutionaries, need to do is to develop our ideas and the ideas of the movement. So for example one debate between the SP and the WSM was held at the SP's youth camp in 2005ish. It would only be heard by members of Socialist Youth. But it was still worth doing because its good if people in other revolutionary organisations hear the WSM's ideas and its good if people in the WSM get their ideas tested in debate. Further this debate was then put up online and I remember a lot of people talking about it in the social movements that both organisations move in. Likewise, in May the WSM and SP had a debate at the Dublin anarchist bookfair and again a lot of people attended who were in neither organisation, people attended from other organisations and people who are members of no organisation attended.

These kinds of debates are obviously not very attractive to people who are not part of and have no interest in the far left but, equally, they are of interest to people who are part of the far left or are interested in it.

And these kinds of debates are important for the far left.

radicalgraffiti
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Sep 28 2012 13:40
andy g wrote:
Quote:
But on the current situation, debating people like Gary Young and Tony Benn is very different to debating other revolutionary organisations.

true and point taken, to a degree at least. Given the SWP is a very small group and most of the other Left groups are very, very small there is limited mileage in staging public debates in most cirmcumstances though, don't you think? I know nowt about the meetings between the Irish SWP and WSM - were they over "general" or more specific topics? Are either organisation of a size or influence for such meetings to act as a draw for those outside the immediate ambit of either group?

well apparently the swp thinks i worth while holding meetings and producing pamphlets and videos about anarchism, just so long as no actual anarchists are involved.

rooieravotr
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Sep 28 2012 13:53

On IS groups having non-IS-speakers, some experience from memory. I was IS member in the Netherlands, 1988-2008 (IS = sister organisation of the SWP). In public meetings, non-outside speakers were sought after, the more prominent the better. reasion: they atrtract crowds which IS politics and speakers themselves do not. For instance, in 1999 I once was in a forum debate with the then-leading Socialist Party parliamentarian. That is not a sign of open debate and interest; it is a clever PR and recruitment policy, and openly defended as such within the organization. And most of the time, speakers are to the right of IS politics: trade union officials, left reformist politicians, NGO spokespeople; anarchists only were invited when they had a serious following in quantitative terms, or if they were very prominent in movements in which the IS was very active.

After I left, but still was on speaking terms with them. I - not yet an anarchist myself then as I am now - once defended an anarchist who complained about thet absence of an anarchist speaker in an IS forum against cuts or something like that. The reply from a member of the IS leadership went something like: "What anarchist should we have invited? There is none that larger groups of people are familiar with." In other words, an anarchist would have been welcome if he or she would bring a crowd along that the IS could then influence/ sell papers to/ recruit. NOT because the debate with anarchists was valued in and for itself. I think that is characteristic. Add to that the productivity norms endemic in IS and suchlike organizations ('targets' for paper sales and recruitment), and some of the reasons people - especially people who have been part of it, defended it, but became disenchanted - detest those organizations become clear.

That is no reason not to cooperate or not to talk with IS/SWP members. But the organization, and similar orginizations, have a method ot operating that uses people as instruments, as if the party is another enterprise (and in some sense, it IS). Words like 'recruitment' and 'targets' already give the game away; they belong in business or the army, not in revolutionary activity and organization.

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Sep 28 2012 14:11

I can remember that there was around 20 years ago also an unwillingness of other orgs have joint public debates with the SAG in Germany because they often simply used these occasions for promoting their state cap theory, e.g. in a joint debate of SAG, AGRS (mandelite), BWK (post-maoist) and AG/R (anarcho-marxist) about Yugoslavia where the other groups' speakers tried to analyze what was happening there

andy g
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Sep 28 2012 14:59
Quote:
Well the point is that the WSM and the SWP haven't had debates. The WSM and SP have.

sorry, my misreading.

Quote:
A big part of what we, as revolutionaries, need to do is to develop our ideas and the ideas of the movement. So for example one debate between the SP and the WSM was held at the SP's youth camp in 2005ish. It would only be heard by members of Socialist Youth. But it was still worth doing because its good if people in other revolutionary organisations hear the WSM's ideas and its good if people in the WSM get their ideas tested in debate.

this I agree with. I think it would be good if the discussion on anarchism within the SWP were conducted with anarchists on the platform. I would certainly be more likely to turn up to a meeting on the subject if this were the case.

I do think the target audience of meetings varies but I have no probs with those aimed at internal education sometimes including alternative viewpoints. I may even venture to suggest so in my neck of the woods

andy g
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Sep 28 2012 15:00

oh and I most definitely think that critiques of anarchism should include amongst the suggestions for further reading works by actual anarchists - DOH!

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Sep 28 2012 16:32

This whole fucking thread

RedHughs
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Sep 28 2012 19:04
Quote:
That is no reason not to cooperate or not to talk with IS/SWP members. But the organization, and similar orginizations, have a method ot operating that uses people as instruments, as if the party is another enterprise (and in some sense, it IS). Words like 'recruitment' and 'targets' already give the game away; they belong in business or the army, not in revolutionary activity and organization.

It would seem that the degree to which a given organization would be attracted to cooperating with an organization which openly and systematical takes this kind of an instrumentalist approach would correlate with how much the first organization also takes such an approach.

Oppositely, I think it is important for would-be revolutionaries to highlight instrumentalism in leftist organizations. This would be as a, uh, service to those who indeed might wind-up getting directly or indirectly involved with them without knowing the implications. But further, one might say IS/SWP types "belong in business or the army, not in revolutionary activity and organization" but the real take away is that capitalist society is going to be organizing its pseudo-opposition like "business or the army" for the foreseeable future - IE, these problems are not accidents or mistakes but a inherent, predictable aspect of "spectacular capitalism" (not to be conspiratorial about this - the spectacle is not a conspiracy but process which appears "naturally" within late capitalist society).

It should be noted that one quality of instrumentalist leftist organizations is that they indeed enter into coalitions with other groups when they find it convenient but will leave or even sabotage these coalitions when they happen to believe some other opportunity has appeared. There is a long history of such stuff and it is indeed virtually the fabric of how the ordinary (very dysfunctional) far left operates. EI, we see clumps of contentious coalitions each pushing their ideology more openly or more secretly while getting ready to stab the others in the back more slowly or more quickly. The one gratifying thing is that this whole milieu is significantly smaller than it was, say, thirty years ago.

One factor that I think helped Occupy Oakland gain what small success it did was the relatively small presence of the different cadre organizations (though once it had shrunk to a small enough level, they were there to devour the corpse... ).

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Feb 2 2013 11:31
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

new webpage: http://danielbensaid.org/?lang=fr

gypsy
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Joined: 20-09-09
Feb 2 2013 19:21
andy g wrote:
oh and I most definitely think that critiques of anarchism should include amongst the suggestions for further reading works by actual anarchists - DOH!

I have some good mates that are in the SWP. So I know that most rank and file members are sound. Although the CC and some of the regional organisers are absolute cunts. The idea of democratic centralism also seems to be a way of shutting off debate within the party and arguing for some daft things for the sake of 'unity'. It makes a lot of SWP members look out of touch, and mental.

I don't understand how you can tolerate personally having a party line on almost everything. Plus with the comrade delta rape scandal I would have left as soon as I read the transcript- and what the CC and the disputes committee done to the victim.

Hard to draw a line under that comrade.

andy g
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Joined: 24-02-12
Feb 6 2013 12:52

haven't been around here much for pretty obvious reasons! Can't say too much as am in the middle of a "vigorous internal debate" about many such things in the SWP. Suffice it to say that events have compelled me to take a long hard look in the mirror...

Must dash as my bus to "The Dark Side of the internet" is leaving in a mo!