SWP poorly treat 2 young women member victims of sexist behaviour/rape by CC member. Lessons for ultra/anarchist groups?

Submitted by sihhi on January 7, 2013

TRIGGER WARNING - discussion of rape and sexual assault

It can't be discussed on the site that has this report:

http://www.socialistunity.com/swp-conference-transcript-disputes-committee-report/

What do LibComists think about this?
How can this kind of stuff be avoided?
If the rape/alleged rape happens within a group or 'network', are groups ready to deal with it sensibly and quickly?
I don't know what to think I'm a bit in shock at the allegations.

jonthom

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://www.2ndcouncilhouse.co.uk/blog/2013/01/06/misogynists-and-the-left/

The question must be asked.
Why do misogynists rise to such positions of prominence on the left?

Firstly, there is simply the issue that lots of men are misogynist cunts. Its really not that uncommon. Consequently it is unsurprising that a number of them find their way to left-wing organisations. We should not be taken aback that at least some of them emerge within left wing organisations, we should expect it. From rape culture to raunch culture, misogyny is everywhere. One in twenty men have raped at least one person, each one committing an average of six rapes. And consequently we should look at ways that we can limit the opportunities for misogyny, and in particular sexual violence, to manifest within our organisations.

Ramona

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Oh god, that's a lot to take in. Obviously a huge amount of weird shit, but to pick just one - why do they all keep on talking about people being "labelled" or "accused" of being feminists, like that's something you'd need to defend yourself against in a supposedly radical anti-capitalist organisation? And even the people challenging the DC and the process are so keen to say that it's absolutely not an issue about feminism, that's it's nothing to do with feminism? What the actual fuck, I can't think of a subject that's more entwined with feminism ffs.

Dannny

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That was a very distressing read.
It's hard to know where to begin really - even allowing for blind party loyalty this is shocking.

Steven.

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ramona

Oh god, that's a lot to take in. Obviously a huge amount of weird shit, but to pick just one - why do they all keep on talking about people being "labelled" or "accused" of being feminists, like that's something you'd need to defend yourself against in a supposedly radical anti-capitalist organisation? And even the people challenging the DC and the process are so keen to say that it's absolutely not an issue about feminism, that's it's nothing to do with feminism? What the actual fuck, I can't think of a subject that's more entwined with feminism ffs.

yes, that is very bizarre. Also, having the investigation committee all be long-term friends with the accused, and not knowing the accuser at all is a ridiculous situation. They slag off bourgeois justice - which is of course highly problematic, not least in sexual assault cases - but at least in a capitalist court judge and jury wouldn't all be mates with the accused!

no1

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Sympathies and loyalties of the Disputes Committee become completely obvious once you notice that the leading member accused and found not guilty of rape is referred to throughout as "comrade delta" whereas the accuser is just "W". One wonders if "W" stands for "woman".

EDIT: it turns out that this was introduced when Andy Newman redacted the transcript - http://www.socialistunity.com/statement-of-the-swps-democratic-opposition/#comment-630700

They are pretty open about what their role is:

SWP Disputes Committee

We’re not a law court. We are here to protect the interests of the party, and to make sure that any inappropriate behaviour of any kind by comrades is dealt with

... presumably dealt with in accordance with the interests of the party.

Ramona

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also horrendous is them vicitmising one of their own paid staff after she made a complaint about the same guy, making her stay away from work then moving her elsewhere because she would be "disruptive"... That's the kind of shit a normal employer could get burned for, and absolutely shocking behaviour for an employer who is supposed to be a "worker's party". I'm not surprised of course that the SWP as an employer would exempt itself from the critiques it may have of other employers, because it's all for the good of the party and all, but fuck that.

[edit-triple posted cos my cat has decided to help with typing]

Dannny

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

no1

Sympathies and loyalties of the Disputes Committee become completely obvious once you notice that the leading member accused and found not guilty of rape is referred to throughout as "comrade delta" whereas the accuser is just "W". One wonders if "W" stands for "woman".

That is an error of the transcription apparently.

The process once entered into has obviously been horrendous. I would have thought that the SWP would have other mechanisms for dealing with something so serious than to set up their own investigation into the matter, however. Where do they get off thinking that they can guarantee proletarian justice to their members (regardless of the fact that this case shows that they can't)? I know the politics of the party are awful but I didn't realise they were this detached from reality.

Joseph Kay

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

With tragic predictability, the central committee is apparently purging 'feminists' who just won't shut up about how rape is wrong...

Party workers are being spoken to individually, and if they refuse to give a guarantee that they will never so much as mention the case again, they are being told they must leave their party jobs. Some have already gone, others may be going as I write.

Mind you, anarchists can't really get on a high horse here as it's often not dealt with any better (with some laudable exceptions).

Ramona

9 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This is fucking awful :(

jura

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Do people think they're going to split and disintegrate over this? (That's a real question, I haven't been following this & am not in the UK.)

Fall Back

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Best I can tell it's not quite the disintegration of the WRP, but a lot bigger than the Counterfire split. Looks like it'll be the end of the SWP as the biggest Trot group.

A lot of the response to the situation has been fucking horrible, from the barely concealed glee from across lots of the non-SWP left to the CC loyalists "its not true, he's not like that".

the button

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jura

Do people think they're going to split and disintegrate over this? (That's a real question, I haven't been following this & am not in the UK.)

They might split, but the toxic organisational form will live on.

Android

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fall Back

it'll be the end of the SWP as the biggest Trot group.

I think that has happened already. I would imagine SPEW is bigger, no?
Fall Back

A lot of the response to the situation has been fucking horrible, from the barely concealed glee from across lots of the non-SWP left to the CC loyalists "its not true, he's not like that".

Absolutely. One of the shittier responses I have seen is by a leading member of CPGB arguing that the 'real' issue in this crisis for SWP is not rape/sexual harassment but rather a crisis of SWP perspectives. And that dealing with the former is not something they should do - 'report to police and move on'.
jura

Do people think they're going to split and disintegrate over this? (That's a real question, I haven't been following this & am not in the UK.)

Disintegration a la WRP I can't really see happening, though it is possible I suppose. SWP have already expelled four members of one of the two factions, afaik they are committed to staying in (in the case of the expelled ones, getting back in) SWP no matter what it seems. The other faction is a faction composed of full-timers, middle cadre types. I am quite cynical about aims of this grouping.

If the SWP CC continue with the current behaviour, forcing people out, then maybe there will be splits. I think its more likely that individuals will be forced out and others leave on their own accord, then organised splits occurring.

martinh

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

As the guy who has resigned from the paper and the party has made clear, how can they recruit people if all this is just a google away? And how are they going to relate to people not in the SWP when it is the first thing they will be asked about?

Whatever the outcome for the SWP, they will spend a lot of time fielding this for the foreseeable future.

Ramona

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

A really good, short piece about the issue here: http://imagesfromthefuture.tumblr.com/post/40199221384/for-friends-sexism-in-the-swp

Steven.

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tommy Ascaso

Socialist Worker writer resigns - http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/944/swp-why-i-am-resigning

TBH I think that would be worth having in the library. What do people reckon?

redsdisease

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

So that this thread is not just lefty gossip, I'm really interested in this question from the op: sihhi

How can this kind of stuff be avoided?
If the rape/alleged rape happens within a group or 'network', are groups ready to deal with it sensibly and quickly?]

Obviously there are no easy solutions to dealing with sexual assault even just within radical groups, but I think it's really important for groups to have thought out and developed ways to respond to this before it happens. I'd be interested in hearing from people from various groups about what, if any, measures they've taken or discussed do deal with inter-group sexual assault.

Mr. Jolly

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Whatever the changes in organisation, cultural and pre-emtive etc., rape and sexual assault will continue to be a problem. Responses where the solution is to set up some alternative judicial process where an organisation investigates itself whether it be trot, anarchist, broadcaster or church, of 'keeping it in the family', however it is justified, is something that is a tad obscene.

Mr. Jolly

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And that dealing with the former is not something they should do - 'report to police and move on'.

Of course there is a diabolical conviction rate for rape and sexual assault, but having a culture of not reporting to the cops is something that potentially plays into the hands of the rapists. The cult like behaviour of trot and anarchist groups in this respect ensures that such behaviour is never met with anything but some crappy process, with loyalty to 'party' and 'comrades' being an inevitable part of the mix when considering what should be done.

no1

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

it's being reported in the mainstream press now:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ranks-of-the-socialist-workers-party-are-split-over-handling-of-rape-allegation-8448429.html
http://www.newstatesman.com/laurie-penny/2013/01/what-does-swps-way-dealing-sex-assault-allegations-tell-us-about-left

Mark.

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Lenin's Tomb on the crisis in the SWP:
http://www.leninology.com/2013/01/crisis-in-swp.html

martinh

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Just read the Lenin's Tomb piece, and I think its quite clear that a big chunk of the SWP finds itself against its own Central Committee, and are not minded to do what they are told. I've no idea of how the dynamics are playing out within the SWP but the reaction to the stitch-up does the ordinary members credit. I can hardly ever remember many SWPers arguing against the Party line, so for people to do it publicly is a new departure.

Of course, aside from the cover-up attempt, there are other political questions relating to the Central Committee that ought to be considered, such as "why have people in this role who are not accountable to you?"

teh

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mr. Jolly

And that dealing with the former is not something they should do - 'report to police and move on'.

Of course there is a diabolical conviction rate for rape and sexual assault, but having a culture of not reporting to the cops is something that potentially plays into the hands of the rapists. The cult like behaviour of trot and anarchist groups in this respect ensures that such behaviour is never met with anything but some crappy process, with loyalty to 'party' and 'comrades' being an inevitable part of the mix when considering what should be done.

The thing is that the accuser didn't want to go to the police but to make sure this person was no longer in a position/associated with the party. Given the trauma and humiliation that goes with dealing with the police its a perfectly reasonable position. Even if the Committee ignored her request and reported to the police anyway how with that solve the problem of what to do while the case is being investigated- suspend the guy until the police drop the matter and then move on? But I agree 'alternative justice' is cult behavior and the fact that apparently some of the Committee members were involved in activist work with related issues shows that having the 'right ideology' doesn't preclude abuse of authority.

Mr. Jolly

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

deleted, drunken nonsense

Ernestine

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yes

S. Artesian

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Comment from cynical, jaded New Yorker:

Wish I could say I was shocked, but I'm not.

Ramona

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That Leeds SWSS statement is really good, reaffirms my faith in humanity a little

S. Artesian

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't know, not being a Leninist and all that, but it seems to me any party committed to being a party and to the tasks of the party would have immediately and permanently (as permanently as these things go), removed the accused from all official leadership positions. Nobody's that important on a central committee that he or she can't be replaced. hell, a central committee isn't that important that it can't be replaced.

And then? Then if the accuser wants to pursue the matter, he or she can take it up with the bourgeoisie. Really, what's the big deal that requires rallying around a member of the central committee? The "title" "position" is a form, a character, that can be filled by anyone.

Right, you're accused of rape? OK, adios, turn in your platinum status access card to the CC business class lounge. You're done.

And if it means severing all ties with the accuse individual, so be it. I mean if I were a Leninist, convinced that the party was needed to lead the class, and all other that other stuff, the individual is gone in a heartbeat.

Makes me think the problem isn't just with the individual, but the very notion of having, requiring, a central committee.

bastarx

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

S. Artesian

I don't know, not being a Leninist and all that, but it seems to me any party committed to being a party and to the tasks of the party would have immediately and permanently (as permanently as these things go), removed the accused from all official leadership positions. Nobody's that important on a central committee that he or she can't be replaced. hell, a central committee isn't that important that it can't be replaced.

And then? Then if the accuser wants to pursue the matter, he or she can take it up with the bourgeoisie. Really, what's the big deal that requires rallying around a member of the central committee? The "title" "position" is a form, a character, that can be filled by anyone.

Right, you're accused of rape? OK, adios, turn in your platinum status access card to the CC business class lounge. You're done.

And if it means severing all ties with the accuse individual, so be it. I mean if I were a Leninist, convinced that the party was needed to lead the class, and all other that other stuff, the individual is gone in a heartbeat.

Makes me think the problem isn't just with the individual, but the very notion of having, requiring, a central committee.

My feeling is that the head honchos of the larger and hence more opportunistic Trotskyist groups have all long ago stopped believing that a Bolshevik-style revolution led by them is even remotely possible. Instead they embrace the perks their career in the party brings them which includes access to young women and happily go about their business of trying to steer any social movements that do emerge onto the safe terrain of unions and/or elections.

cantdocartwheels

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

At the end of the day when you strip away all the lefty language it was just mates closing ranks around mates. This happens everywhere and the anarchist movement definitely cant get on its high horse over it.

xslavearcx

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

yeah i definately dont think by attaching a prefix to oneself or to a group like anarchist, marxist, or christian acts as a guaranteur against heinious acts and practices.

Steven.

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

cantdocartwheels

At the end of the day when you strip away all the lefty language it was just mates closing ranks around mates. This happens everywhere and the anarchist movement definitely cant get on its high horse over it.

in general there is some truth to this. However even though I'm not particularly actively involved in anarchist organisation as such (apart from libcom, which doesn't really count) I'm aware of a couple of cases where things like this occurred (like this), but in these cases the group convened to deal with it did not solely consist of the mates of the accused.

That said, outside of the formal organisations in the broader anarchist milieu there are some pretty vile men about. But then in an informal milieu/scene dealing with stuff like that is not so simple, even from the point of view of who should even attempt to deal with it

wojtek

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven wrote:
However even though I'm not particularly actively involved in anarchist organisation as such (apart from libcom, which doesn't really count)

You are aware of libcom's shit reputation right?

Ramona

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Shit reputation with regard to anarchist organising, or gender issues, or attitudes to sexual violence, or just general shit reputation?

Steven.

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

wojtek

Steven wrote:
However even though I'm not particularly actively involved in anarchist organisation as such (apart from libcom, which doesn't really count)

You are aware of libcom's shit reputation right?

not sure what that's got to do with how the SWP handled a rape accusation :confused:

wojtek

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Gender issues, but the two are related surely. On the first thread about the Afed discussion on privilege theory women were dismissed as liberals, shouted down and then asked to prove they felt belittled, culminating in someone being blamed for being felt up.

S. Artesian

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

^^That happened here?

Ramona

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

wojtek

Gender issues, but the two are related surely. On the first thread about the Afed discussion on privilege theory women were dismissed as liberals, shouted down and then asked to prove they felt belittled, culminating in someone being blamed for being felt up.

TBH, I fully admit to not reading that thread after it got past a few pages cos I found it really depressing and I was sick and stressed anyway.

I'm acutely aware of libcom's collective shit reputation on gender issues and I think it's not undeserved, and I guess perhaps not wanting to read that thread cos I couldn't face the train wreck is symptomatic of that - I'm not a new poster, I've been an admin since we started, I can fully appreciate that elements of the site are massively off-putting for female posters and that makes me incredibly unhappy. We are working to change things, but yeah, we've a long way to go.

I am proud that the admin team both collectively and individuals have been quick to get involved in conversations and processes in our organisations and in the wider anarchist movement with regards to dealing with sexual violence within the anarchist movement - none of these processes have been perfect, but I can assure you trying to support friends and comrades in Edinburgh and London around these issues hasn't been a walk in the park, and I've personally come up against plenty of people who would be quick to fight against any kind of process or even discussion about dealing with cases of sexual assault. My blog about safer spaces and what we do when they're violated didn't go down well with everyone, much as the comments on this site were, on the whole, supportive.

So yeah I perhaps get a little over defensive and very discouraged to see the "manarchists on libcom" still being the thing we're known for, but it's not like we can quite say that's behind us.

Steven.

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also I think it's worth pointing out that the person who was a dick about someone being groped was banned. And of course there are over 5000 people who post here, and we cannot control what they say, so we are not entirely responsible for everything everyone says here. We can't pre-emptively ban everyone, we can only do so after they have said something out of order.

Still, this ground has been covered in lots of other discussions. I still don't see the relevance in terms of my point saying that where comparable situations have arisen in UK anarchist organisations that I'm aware of it was dealt with differently. This does not equate to me saying that all of libcom's posters have impeccable gender politics. Indeed many of them have entirely shit politics all round.

Though frankly I have no fucking idea why any sex pest dickhead would even bother pretending having anything to do with radical politics. And I wish they would all just fuck off. Unfortunately that is not likely to happen…

wojtek

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven, how about reflecting on your own fuckiness in that thread - asking people for evidence that they had been belittled/shouted down, I mean come on. What happens when admins are being sexist? Will other admins make them accountable? Why did it take until page 9 and victim baiting for an admin to intervene?

The relevence? It's called getting our own house in order.

Mr. Jolly

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

Though frankly I have no fucking idea why any sex pest dickhead would even bother pretending having anything to do with radical politics. And I wish they would all just fuck off. Unfortunately that is not likely to happen…

Because in a lot of anarchist/activist/alternative scenes there has been historically a laissez-faire attitude to such behaviour, and abusive behaviour in general, these people can slither around squats, camps, protests etc. without much hassle, and to an extent the subcultural dynamics facilitate such behaviour.

Caiman del Barrio

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

Though frankly I have no fucking idea why any sex pest dickhead would even bother pretending having anything to do with radical politics. And I wish they would all just fuck off. Unfortunately that is not likely to happen…

This is a bit of an odd thing to say IMO. Do you think that all sex pests are career sex pests, all devious, conspiratorial manipulators looking for the best subculture/community to infiltrate in order to commit sexual abuse? I'd say the vast majority are just chancers - often under the influence, often motivated by deep-seated (ie unconcious) hatred & resentment for women - rather than Hannibal Lector types. And I'm sure that most of them would believe that they're bona fide anarchists/radicals regardless of their behaviour towards women. Tacks certainly refuses to fuck off, for example, and there's a second example of a student radical in the UK who's been openly challenged and apparently ostracised only to insist on showing up to various events.

I'd say rather than telling individual would-be sex abusers to fuck off (although obviously anyone who does commit sexual assault should be ostracised, at least until there's sufficient contrition & rehabilitation), we should be challenging the behaviour within them/ourselves.

Refused

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Yeah, excellent post by Caiman del Barrio. This isn't just about individual relationships but recognising how far rape culture pervades into our lives as a form of patriarchical violence. Simply stating that our groups/our politics are against sexist behaviour isn't enough; challenging sexism requires us to analyse and recognise how our interactions both as individuals and groups are influenced and dominated by structures of patriarchical oppression and how we come to replicate those structures.

ocelot

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

cantdocartwheels

At the end of the day when you strip away all the lefty language it was just mates closing ranks around mates. This happens everywhere and the anarchist movement definitely cant get on its high horse over it.

I think that's over-simplistic to the point of actually liquidating libertarian critiques of hierarchical and authoritarian power structures.

I take the point that libertarian or anarchist groups are also going to encounter issues around sexual abuse and even the most rigourously horizontal organisational structures and practices are not capable of fully guarding against the informal hierarchies of status, affinity and influence that accompany group dynamics in current society. But the statement above bends the stick too far in the authoritarian direction (i.e. the one that maintains that any supposed difference between authoritarian and libertarian relations are nonexistent and/or pure bourgeois ideology). Also it's less perceptive than the dissident SWP reflections already published on this issue, which do make the connection between the abuse and an internal political and structural top-down, anti-democratic/bureaucratic culture.

Yes the rape culture and that of sexual abuse is omnipresent throughout society, but even though abuse may occur within the body of Alcoholics Anonymous or the Catholic church, it does not mean that the two organisations (or, to take a specifically Irish example, the GAA) are equivalent. The church has been exposed as a virtual machine for enabling and perpetrating abuse in a way that AA or the GAA never will. And that is inextricably connected to the authoritarian and hierarchical and psychologically abusive and domination-oriented nature of the church. Not "just a bunch of mates closing ranks around mates" - that would be an utterly woeful assessment of the role of the church in perpetrating sexual abuse in Irish (and other) society. Similarly the abuses of a Gerry Healy are inconceivable without the hierarchical and authoritarian structures of the WRP and the culture of self-abnegation it promoted (in the name of the revolution) amongst its members. The critique of the structures and coercive psychology of the power to abuse apply equally to BBC pop radio DJs, residential social care managers, psychiatric hospitals, etc - any social institution that grants people unlimited, unmonitored and unchallengeable power over other people, particularly the most socially powerless, is a structural enabler of the abuse that inevitably follows.

Joseph Kay

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I think making the link to unaccountable/hierarchical structures - as some of the SWP dissidents have done to an extent - is important. But at the other extreme - the 'structureless' informal hierarchies of the activist/anarchist/squat/punk scenes - there's also plenty of horror stories (though also a lot of the literature on accountability processes comes more from this quarter).

And like I say, formal anarchist orgs can't really get on a high horse. The AF dealt with the one case we know about well. SF's dealt with a few things ok. But generally that's meant expulsion/naming, which could just mean someone moving on to another scene/city/subculture and repeating the pattern. Naming/outing might help there, but it's kinda the nuclear option, not to be used lightly. I know there's been some attempts at formal, survivor-led accountability processes where the perpetrator commits to change their behaviour and is supported in doing so. There's been mixed success afaik, though a lot of the info is rightly need-to-know, and I don't need to know much.

But doing the above needs a supportive culture where survivors feel able to speak up and know they'll be supported - even if they're naming someone on the central committee or informal hierarchy equivalent. I know in the AF, the existence of the women's' caucus was crucial. SF recently created a Women's' Officer post to serve a similar role. But there is opposition to these kind of things from some quarters.

And libcom, including the admins, including me, has been and remains to an extent pretty implicated in that shitty dismissive culture, which has real effects in silencing survivors and therefore letting people get away with this stuff. We've taken some steps to improve things*, but when even the admins don't want to venture into some threads, or are sometimes part of the problem ourselves, I don't think we can pretend it's all in the past.

* following feedback from users, as well as several offline incidents which have brought the stakes of that kind of 'banter' into harsh perspective.

Entdinglichung

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

cantdocartwheels

At the end of the day when you strip away all the lefty language it was just mates closing ranks around mates. This happens everywhere and the anarchist movement definitely cant get on its high horse over it.

true ... in 1988 or 89, the anarchist scene in Frankfurt was ripped apart after an anarchist who was an editiorial collective member of the journal AKTION (probably then one of the most popular A-journals in Germany, not to be confused with today's Die Aktion) and an FAU activist drugged his partner trying to rape her, the AKTION editorial group did split more or less on gender lines with a male majority excusing the perpetrator's attempted rape while the local FAU branch saw its priority in siding with the woman, don't remember if they formally expelled the perpetrator or if the latter left the FAU voluntarily ... AKTION split into two journals which disappeared after one or two issues

generally speaking, there are Maoists, Trotskyists, Anarchists, Autonome, hierarchical, non-hierarchical, etc. who expel rapists & etc. relatively fast (which unfortunately does not mean in many cases that the victim/survivor will ever feel comfortable in the org again, many leave despite the rapist being expelled) and there are those who don't ... as far as I know, the historical FSLN, the FMLN and many maoist guerilla groups in India and Nepal generally execute(d) members who were convicted of rape while "in action" (which I do not advocate at all!!!)

p.s.: having been involved myself in orgs/projects who had to deal with cases of rape and domestic violence and and where at least on an informal level a kind of general consensus existed, that these things are unacceptable and that that there is no place for a rapist/etc. in an emancipatory project, it is my experience that it is very unpredictable - despite the best intentions - what will happened, after these things become known, sadly, it is not really possible to have an action plan after the catastrophe had occured

cantdocartwheels

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Good points raised there by Entdinglichung. Even if the SWP's closed central commitee obviously exacerbated things the problem they had is something that occurs everywhere.

IMO I think the point is its not just about dealing with the ''other'' of 'evil sex pests'' as some have said here but about recognising that such actions the tip of a pattern of behaviour endemic in todays society. One in 5 women are sexually assaulted at some point and tbh almost all women get comments/harrassment from time to time.. My sister works in a pub, she gets comments most nights, You cant however just say ''i hope all those evil sex pests don't become interested in anarchism'' because the pub in question is just full of ordinary people like us. You have to find ways to collectively deal with this stuff, which is definitely not easy.

Entdinglichung

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Joseph Kay

I think making the link to unaccountable/hierarchical structures - as some of the SWP dissidents have done to an extent - is important. But at the other extreme - the 'structureless' informal hierarchies of the activist/anarchist/squat/punk scenes - there's also plenty of horror stories (though also a lot of the literature on accountability processes comes more from this quarter).

as far as I know, Lutte Ouvriere which is pretty hierarchically structured deals with cases of sexist or other types of violence in the organization very fast and strict (as with internal opponents of the general party line and other stuff, they define as "deviant") ... and in the mentioned scenes, you occasionally have also few cases of quick reaction ... not always in an anti-authoritarian way but more like "rough justice", after an rape in the largest squat in Hamburg in the the mid-80ies, the (male) perpetrator and his (female) partner who did at least nothing to stop her partner from raping and torturing another women were severely beaten, shaved and dumped without clothes and money at night somewhere in the countryside (also the only case of rape in the radical left of which I know which later also led to a prosecution by a court)

Joseph Kay

And like I say, formal anarchist orgs can't really get on a high horse. The AF dealt with the one case we know about well. SF's dealt with a few things ok. But generally that's meant expulsion/naming, which could just mean someone moving on to another scene/city/subculture and repeating the pattern. Naming/outing might help there, but it's kinda the nuclear option, not to be used lightly. I know there's been some attempts at formal, survivor-led accountability processes where the perpetrator commits to change their behaviour and is supported in doing so. There's been mixed success afaik, though a lot of the info is rightly need-to-know, and I don't need to know much.

to their credit, it was my perception from the outside that the FAU is really dedicated to develop a good practice for cases like this

Joseph Kay

But doing the above needs a supportive culture where survivors feel able to speak up and know they'll be supported - even if they're naming someone on the central committee or informal hierarchy equivalent. I know in the AF, the existence of the women's' caucus was crucial. SF recently created a Women's' Officer post to serve a similar role. But there is opposition to these kind of things from some quarters.

even if you have these kind of structures, it is my experience that a rape survivor who is generally deeply traumatized (mostly for her (or his, I know at least one case of a man raped by another man in the radical left) whole life)) is far more likely to speak first not to any kind of supporting structure but to persons (inside or outside the org), she feels she can really trust and who will believe her ... some opposition against specific structures (by people who do not have anything against immediately expelling rapists) comes from the fear, that this will create a "two-tier system" of appeal rights for members in an org ... in reality, to handle a rape case in a normal (democratic) framework of something like a Disciplinary Commission would be similar to a rape trial at a normal law court with all its implications, it is my experience that especially a good organisational constitution which defends individual and factional membership rights against administrative expulsions will completely backfire in cases of rapists who insist on their "rights" as an org member

Joseph Kay

And libcom, including the admins, including me, has been and remains to an extent pretty implicated in that shitty dismissive culture, which has real effects in silencing survivors and therefore letting people get away with this stuff. We've taken some steps to improve things*, but when even the admins don't want to venture into some threads, or are sometimes part of the problem ourselves, I don't think we can pretend it's all in the past.

* following feedback from users, as well as several offline incidents which have brought the stakes of that kind of 'banter' into harsh perspective.

one last remark, one of the most problematic aspects of public discussions about concrete rape cases on the radical left are those orgs and individuals who try to make political gains out of the fact that something has happened in another org/scene, they do not like

Entdinglichung

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Joseph Kay

which could just mean someone moving on to another scene/city/subculture and repeating the pattern.

or simply to another political group which will be glad to have recruited a "good activist" what the MLPD did after another group (where friends of mine were involved) and a union had expelled a man after a case of domestic violence

Entdinglichung

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

from http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article27616 by "Socialist Resistance" ... you don't have to have that optimistic view of the SWP to draw the conclusion, that the SWP's crisis will also affect "us"

The SWP is now going through arguably the most turbulent period in its history. This will have an impact on the entire radical left in Britain and will also affect left currents internationally. If the SWP disintegrates this will be a profoundly negative outcome, as it will mean the demoralisation and fragmentation of thousands of activists who relate to the party, and a weakening of the class struggle left in unions and campaigns. It will also shape the views of tens of thousands of activists whose understanding of revolutionary Marxism is strongly influenced by their contacts with the SWP. In particular, the radical left is looking to see how the party deals with issues of internal democracy, women’s rights and its understanding of feminism. The right wing in the union movement is also following it closely and we can expect that they will use it in dishonest polemics against the entire left.

Entdinglichung

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2013/01/19/anti-semitic-slur-swp-critics-martin-smith

A new dimension has been added to the crisis in the SWP by Gilad Atzmon declaring that charges of sexual harassment and rape against leading SWP organiser Martin Smith are a "tribal" (read: Jewish) conspiracy.

Atzmon is sure that the charges are only invention, and the real issue is "tribal" (Jewish) harassment of Smith because he has been the chief mover in the SWP sponsoring gigs by Atzmon.

Entdinglichung

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

this sick piece is not taken from East German television news from summer 1989 but from the current issue of the SWP's Party Notes

Socialist Worker editor Judith Orr spoke at a very successful Feminist Society meeting at the University of East Anglia last week and her talk on Marxism and Feminism was warmly received.

a reply at http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/reply-to-party-notes.html

Each week, Party Notes apprises SWP members of news about the party's work, and the perspectives arising from it. It is intended to help members orient themselves in the frontlines they fight on. This is the theory. In practice, it has become a propaganda sheet for the Central Committee in its internal battles, so manifestly fraudulent in its claims that it ceases to be useful to members.

jef costello

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I don't think that we can take any pleasure in this, although it is hardly surprising and the CC has reacted to this as they have to any other 'threat' to the party (read themselves).

Of more interest is when this happens in our own organisations and how we deal with it. And sadly the figure of 1 in 5 sexually assaulted is probably a top low. I think virtually every woman I know has been groped and others have survived worse. We must support survivors and we can't assume that just because we believe in equality that we automatically practise it. We need to work on all of our prejudices. Not in the navel-gazing self-flagellating pointless way that the left is mocked for but in a real way when faced with real situations. Obviously an anarchist organisation which isn't trying to defend its formal hierarchy would struggle but it also requires people to take ownership of the issue and fight for it which survivors are not always willing or able to do. In the same way as everyone at a meeting should feel that they can address it everyone should be able to make a complaint and be listened to.

To be honest the saddest thing about this is that a so many of the decent sounding voices in this are still defending the party line and describing this as out of character or not what the party is really like. I hope that they will start thinking more critically about it a recognise that it is a corrupt institution that allows abuse of power to take place and sex is just one way of doing that. And sadly imperfect anarchist organisations will have these problems and hopefully they will deal with them well. I remember the AF actions as being done well.

Although the discussion about the safer spaces was something I found a little painful I think ultimately it did end up in a good place. I personally felt I had a better understanding of the issues and I think quite a few posters and hopefully readers did too. I know it does take its toll on people who do speak out which is why we have to share what we've learnt. If a comrade takes the time to explain a theory to me I would try to pass it on, and it should eb the same about this even though it seems a bit more 'personal' we are trying to re-organise ourselves as well as society.

In terms of morality one of the SWP people said it well (although in a bad context) ad I took it to mean just because we reject bourgeois morality does not mean we do not have ethics. So while we may reject bourgeois notions of monogamy we would still consider it wrong to deceive a partner and have an affair. We might consider property as theft but we don't steal from our own class.

Entdinglichung

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

additional stuff I posted as comments on http://www.2ndcouncilhouse.co.uk/blog/2013/01/06/misogynists-and-the-left/ on similar stuff which happened in the SWP's German clone on the question by someone else "Didn’t Linsruck, the SWP’s sister section in Germany, collapse a few years ago due to a rape coverup scandal?"

internal sexism, including rape committed by at least two high-ranking members and some other members played an important role (together with the lack of internal democracy and differences in the approach towards the anti-globalization movement) in the demise of Linksruck from a highly visible org with 1200-1400 members two a group with 200-300 members, today called Marx21, an internal current in Die Linke with two MPs and a some influence in the party … when several of the rape cases became public around 2001, it became known that e.g. the Linksruck leadership (the primary link between Linksruck and the SWP leadership in London was at that period a guy, who had dumped his partner after she became pregnant by him leaving her with the baby and who a few years later was responsible for substantial financial losses for Linksruck after using the organization’s telephone for phone sex) a few years earlier simply sent one full time party employee and leadership member who had committed rape to another city where he continued to be a party employee for at least four years, younger women in that city were told not to visit him in his flat on their own, an attempted rape by another member was covered up because he was considered “too valuable for the organization” being one of their few skilled union activists (as far as I know, he is still a member), …

and

the development, even the successes of Linksruck were never a topic which was communicated to the wider IST membership, e.g. even in 1997, three years after the former section, the SAG evolved into Linksruck, publications of the SWP and it’s other clones still listed the SAG as sister org, in my opinion simply due to the fact that it would have caused controversies in the wider SWP/IST if it had been public knowledge, that the German section was doing entryist work inside the the SPD’s youth org … the only text on sexism in Linksruck from inside the IST I know, is a text by the Austrian section which heavily criticises Linksruck from 2001: http://de.indymedia.org/2001/12/12841.shtml (in German), don’t think that this text became known in the SWP … and the SWP successfully “edited” Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Linksruck&diff=252184715&oldid=251908107

Battlescarred

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Oh FFS! the collapse of the SWP is not in the least negative, it's something I've been wishing for for many years.

jonthom

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Battlescarred

Oh FFS! the collapse of the SWP is not in the least negative, it's something I've been wishing for for many years.

But without the SWP who will anarchists be able to whine about when things don't go their way?

Entdinglichung

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

the issue is far more complex, when an org (if we like or do not like it) collapses, the most common reaction of members who leave it is not to join "the real revolutionaries" but to drop out of organized politics often combined with signs of deep resignation

Konsequent

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The way the press has responded to this implies that the SWP was taking the responsibilty to deal with this out of the hands of the judicial system. This article

no1

it's being reported in the mainstream press now:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ranks-of-the-socialist-workers-party-are-split-over-handling-of-rape-allegation-8448429.html

starts with this nonsense

The Socialist Workers Party was engulfed in crisis tonight over allegations that it set up a “socialist sharia court” to investigate rape allegations against a senior member instead of reporting them to the police.

Apart from the ridiculous "sharia court" thing, this implies that the SWPs process was an alternative to going to the police, as if that is what happens when a rape occurs. It's not. Most rapes don't get reported to the police. Most people, when raped, either don't tell anyone or just tell people they're close to. Few people who experience something that traumatic are likely to be able to face sharing all the details with a stranger let alone a police officer. It's not just the left who don't trust the police. Even people who think the police are "a good thing" don't perceive them as the most sensitive and sympathetic people.

So this doesn't make much sense to me

Mr. Jolly

And that dealing with the former is not something they should do - 'report to police and move on'.

Of course there is a diabolical conviction rate for rape and sexual assault, but having a culture of not reporting to the cops is something that potentially plays into the hands of the rapists. The cult like behaviour of trot and anarchist groups in this respect ensures that such behaviour is never met with anything but some crappy process, with loyalty to 'party' and 'comrades' being an inevitable part of the mix when considering what should be done.

We currently have a wider culture where a rape survivor isn't taken seriously unless they report it to the cops, and where most rape survivors don't report it to the cops. This plays into the hands of rapists. The least we could do is encourage a culture which takes survivors of rape seriously, whether or not they've reported it.

Also you imply that some crappy process will automatically be worse than the judicial system. Tbh, the example of the SWP is one of the few I've seen where the process was even crappier than the one the state has to offer, which is saying something. I don't mean that comrades should be denounced when going to the police, as I've heard some anarchists do. If someone wants to go to the police after a rape they shouldn't be judged for it, and they should be able to rely on us to support them through that because it's most likely going to be really hard (the "report to the police and move on" idea is just laughable). But most people, whether anarchists or not, won't want to. And I wouldn't dream of encouraging them to as it's likely to be a horrific and pointless experience, with the most likely outcome being nothing at all, and with the best and least likely outcome being that the rapist will be locked up for a period of time, then let out again. If all the survivor really wanted was for their attacker to understand what they had done wrong and/or to never have to run into them again then it's the kind of thing we should try to be able to arrange. Either way, whether they report it to the police or not, we should have processes to deal with these incidents which might also involve helping the survivor deal with the police but should at least involve kicking the rapist out of our organisations.

ocelot

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Agree. That was the one aspect of the Tom Walker resignation statement I thought was most problematic. In the process of criticising the Disciplinary Committee's actions, it seemed like he was suggesting that the idea that any organisational process should have any role at all was "the arrogance of setting yourself up as a kangaroo court".

It doesn't matter whether the organisation is a political organisation, a social centre, a housing coop, or the chess club. When a serious allegation of sexual assault (or other violence) is made against a member of that body, there is no choice other than to face the decision of whether or not the accused should be excluded (regardless whether the victim decides to go to the police or not).

You just can't implement, say a safer spaces policy in a social centre, without having to face up to those decisions when they arise. Of course that doesn't mean deluding yourselves that you have the power to remedy the situation, restore justice or what have you. But the only decision that is really in your power to make - whether or not to exclude - still matters vitally to every member of that body (and, usually a good number outsde of it as well) and must be made in as best/least-worst way as possible.

Obviously, as the SWP disciplinary body did, interrogating the victim in such as way as to put them "on trial" and question their morals, like the mainstream courts do, is horrific, despicable and a prime example of the worst possible way of dealing with the issue. But not dealing with it, is not an acceptable option either - for any group.

S. Artesian

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Tbh, the example of the SWP is one of the few I've seen where the process was even crappier than the one the state has to offer, which is saying something. I don't mean that comrades should be denounced when going to the police, as I've heard some anarchists do. If someone wants to go to the police after a rape they shouldn't be judged for it, and they should be able to rely on us to support them through that because it's most likely going to be really hard (the "report to the police and move on" idea is just laughable). But most people, whether anarchists or not, won't want to. And I wouldn't dream of encouraging them to as it's likely to be a horrific and pointless experience, with the most likely outcome being nothing at all, and with the best and least likely outcome being that the rapist will be locked up for a period of time, then let out again. If all the survivor really wanted was for their attacker to understand what they had done wrong and/or to never have to run into them again then it's the kind of thing we should try to be able to arrange. Either way, whether they report it to the police or not, we should have processes to deal with these incidents which might also involve helping the survivor deal with the police but should at least involve kicking the rapist out of our organisations.

Indeed, much "crappier." Keep in mind that once the SWP starts its "investigation" the state can step in, demand the transcripts and notes, and then decide to indict the accused, regardless of the wishes of the victim.

In major felonies, the state is the complainant and the victim is a witness. The victim can be compelled to testify against his/her will.

So....anyone accused of an action like rape hasto be pretty stupid to say anything to a "disputes committee" other than, "I did no such thing. Address any further questions to my lawyer."

All the SWP disputes committee should do, and really can do, is recommend the immediate suspension of the accused, and make the parties aware of the legal implications.

raw

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

deleted

no1

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Vdeo resignation.... words fail me....
[youtube]C_8ROiFPzms[/youtube]
If you don't have time for the whole video but still want to appreciate what an agony the existence of a SWP student has become, the climax is from 8.15 or so.

Steven.

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

no1

Vdeo resignation.... words fail me....
[youtube]C_8ROiFPzms[/youtube]
If you don't have time for the whole video but still want to appreciate what an agony the existence of a SWP student has become, the climax is from 8.15 or so.

Jesus Christ

S. Artesian

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

West End, Broadway? Ladies and Gentlemen, the next Hugh Jackman

NannerNannerNa…

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

oh god its like shame, lack of self-awareness, smug arrogance and idiocy all converging in a videographic form to create the funniest thing I've seen.

"how can I ever go on paper sales?"

Entdinglichung

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://piraniarchive.wordpress.com/home/investigations-campaigns-and-other-stuff/the-break-up-of-the-wrp-from-the-horses-mouth/

a former CC member of the WRP looks back and compares "his party's" downfall with the SWP's case

http://piraniarchive.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/1986-healy-leaflet.pdf

Rob Ray

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Wow. Just wow.

sawa

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Is this really a thread where its in good taste to make fun of (ex)swappies?

wojtek

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

One famous anarchist blamed it on democratic centralism and then went into SWP-style recruitment overdrive, it was gross.

no1

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

sawa

Is this really a thread where its in good taste to make fun of (ex)swappies?

I hope that me posting that video doesn't come across as being oblivious to the gravity of the rape case, apologies if it does. I think of this thread as being about the disintegration of the SWP as it is unfolding before our eyes. This musical resignation is part of that, and actually expresses various aspects of it in an absurdly exaggerated way. Due to democratic centralism, the party's decision that the rape accusation against one of their leaders is baseless must be upheld by every SWP member - which makes every loyal SWP member an accomplice in covering up likely sexual assault. There's actually a recent account on the first stage of making ordinary members accomplices, when the CC got Smith a standing ovation two years ago at their 2011 conference (*) :

Because of the strictures of ‘confidentiality’, the name, age and branch of the young female comrade who subsequently became known as comrade W was not revealed at conference. But neither was the nature of the allegations, as we will see. A great deal of information was not shared with assembled delegates. When some delegates rose to give comrade Delta a standing ovation they and the rest of us were still largely in the dark.

During the ‘special session’ only six comrades were actually called to speak. Comrade Delta was the penultimate speaker and in the current argot of ‘Party Notes’ you might say his extemporized speech was “warmly received.” What was the gist of Delta’s address? He argued he was “no angel” and he had never pretended to be one. There was a lachrymose element to what he said also when he talked of his “real friends”; the ones who knew who he really was as a person, comrades from his days in Westminster branch in the late 1980s. There was also a passage many would have regarded as heartfelt where Delta spoke of the stress involved in his role as the very public face of the UAF that made him, his partner and his home a target for the fascists.

As a result of the informal complaint against him, Delta stepped down from, or was removed from, his post as National Secretary. But he remained on the CC. Delta informed us all that he was “happy as a pig in shit” to be returning to the Industrial department where he had always been happiest. Had the class struggle been the tempest we had all hoped it would be when the Con-Dem government was elected in 2010 with their vicious plans for austerity, it might have provided Delta with a suitable distraction. This performance was followed the rapturous applause and chanting of some of the assembled delegates that left other delegates bewildered in their seats.

Yet Delta’s speech has obscured two other significant contributions that day. Setting aside crass contributions from Sheila McGregor and others, Delta was followed by a brave young Asian female comrade (I cannot recall her name) who invited the delegates to consider if their applause and chanting was really appropriate given the context.

The other significant contribution – the significant contribution in hindsight, was that of Alex Callinicos, who kicked off the ‘special session’. It was a euphemistic triumph. At no point did Callinicos talk of sexual harassment or sexual assault. Instead Callinicos began by saying that he had something a bit unpleasant to relay but it would only take a moment of time before we returned to the main business of conference. There was a young female comrade who was upset at Delta and his behavior. Without divulging any real detail, Callinicos explained that Delta denied having done anything wrong but acknowledged that the female comrade was upset with him and he was sorry for that. Delta would no longer place himself in the presence of the female comrade. It was all so vague and Callinicos implied that the female comrade no longer wished to give the impression that she reciprocated Delta’s interest. Delta was sorry for any distress caused but he denied he had actually done anything wrong. It was a bit of a misunderstanding and both Delta and the female comrade wished to put it all behind them.

http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/reflections-on-2011-swp-conference-by.html

Reminiscent of the film Festen (aka The Celebration). Getting people to applaud a likely rapist in this way goes a long way towards explaining the revulsion and anger among usually loyal members.

(*) as far as I understand it, there are two parts to the story. The rape accusation was only made a few months ago after the SWP position in the Assange case gave the complainant the confidence that her accusation would be taken seriously. However the story first emerged at the time of the Counterfire split, when Smith was on the side of the current CC, and accusations against him would have weakened them significantly. As I understand it, three members of the CC including Callinicos met up with 'comrade W' and it seems that no official complaint was made.

Arbeiten

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

er. I'm quite sure that video is a spoof. He buries his head in snow FFS.

Mr. Jolly

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Konsequent

I don't mean that comrades should be denounced when going to the police, as I've heard some anarchists do. If someone wants to go to the police after a rape they shouldn't be judged for it, and they should be able to rely on us to support

For fucks sake as if that EVEN needs saying, what planet are people on?

Mr. Jolly

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Sorry if that sounded harsh but that whole statement creeped me out a bit. That when someone is raped then there is this set of moral edicts within 'the anarchist subculture' where all the options that victims may have or want to pursue are curtailed because they are deemed pointless or antithetical to the sensibilities of such subcultures. As I said before its all very culty. Im rather glad that I no longer really have much to do with 'the scene'.

RedEd

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The other side of it is that we should be aware that people who do go to the police after being sexually assaulted are fairly likely to be badly treated and have traumatic experiences during that process due to the systemic failings and sexist, victim blaming culture it exists in and perpetuates. A decent anarchist analysis (rather than a doctrinaire, knee jerk one) can help us support people through that side of things too.

batswill

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I have had personal experience dealing with aggressive potential rapists, luckily I was in the vicinity and it required an equal and opposite force of severe stomping to help them get the message. I consider this the A/C method of delivering community justice, I do not believe in prisons, and I thought that this is the L/C way also, how else does one deal with sexists and nazis? The only language they understand is a reciprocity of violence. I'm a gentle person, but I will not tolerate bullies.

History is Mad…

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

While lots of people are understandably rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of the SWP imploding, it is true as others have said there that dealing with (and in many cases mishandling) accusations of rape, sexual assault and domestic abuse is hardly an issue just for trotskyists. Clearly the power dynamic of authoritarian structures potentially provide additional cover for abusers, but so too (if perhaps less so) does status/reputation of being a good activist/good bloke/good singer.

Haven't got any great conclusions but was thinking about some other incidents from earlier periods:

- Molesworth Peace Camp mid 1980s - I believe two women were raped there and had to wage a campaign about apparent indifference of other activists and the wider peace movement.

- similar period - weren't some Hackney anarchos arrested for allegedly driving some guy out to the countryside and tying him to a tree on Salisbury Plain or somewhere - charges later dropped

- Anarchy in the UK festival 1994 - I recall a punch up at 121 Centre in Brixton as a result of an argument about whether to name and shame a member of an anarcho-punk band accused of rape.

Matt

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Apologies if this isn't completely on topic.

I'm someone who just getting to grips with anarchism/libertarian communism, but I'm still in the learning process. Being a fan of China Mieville and knowing he's an SWP member, I did a search and found this article:

http://www.leninology.com/2013/01/the-stakes.html

While I find it interesting, I can't help but feel that the way the SWP, and authoritarian Marxist/Trotskyist/Leninism organizations are structured makes situations like this likely to happen. It seems that Mieville's demands touch on concepts ideas that are at the very heart of the ideology. Does his call for the removal of the CC and DC mean to just replace it with another one? Surely then it's just same system and power structure, different faces. If he's calling for huge changes to their ways of organizing, isn't that the same as challenging the fundamental beliefs of the Party? It seems, to me, that the top down nature of the SWP is just a smaller version of how they would look if they achieved the 'dictatorship of the proletariat', you'd have the same unaccountability, hierarchy and top down control, but on a much larger scale. These features seem fundamental to the philosophy of the party. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, by criticizing the way the SWP is structured (and rightly so), are you not also criticizing authoritarian Marxism/Trotskyism/Leninism as a whole?

I hope I'm being clear, and making a valid point to the topic. If not, I'll happily move to another thread. I'm just getting to grips with these concepts of class, hierarchy etc. after a long while of ignoring them and not having a very clear idea.

Entdinglichung

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

History is Made at Night

- Anarchy in the UK festival 1994 - I recall a punch up at 121 Centre in Brixton as a result of an argument about whether to name and shame a member of an anarcho-punk band accused of rape.

was it about a punk/HC band which was especially liked in the Animal Lib scene and whose name starts with a C? ... some of their concerts were picketed around that period for the same reason in Germany

Entdinglichung

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Matt

Apologies if this isn't completely on topic.

I'm someone who just getting to grips with anarchism/libertarian communism, but I'm still in the learning process. Being a fan of China Mieville and knowing he's an SWP member, I did a search and found this article:

http://www.leninology.com/2013/01/the-stakes.html

While I find it interesting, I can't help but feel that the way the SWP, and authoritarian Marxist/Trotskyist/Leninism organizations are structured makes situations like this likely to happen. It seems that Mieville's demands touch on concepts ideas that are at the very heart of the ideology. Does his call for the removal of the CC and DC mean to just replace it with another one? Surely then it's just same system and power structure, different faces. If he's calling for huge changes to their ways of organizing, isn't that the same as challenging the fundamental beliefs of the Party? It seems, to me, that the top down nature of the SWP is just a smaller version of how they would look if they achieved the 'dictatorship of the proletariat', you'd have the same unaccountability, hierarchy and top down control, but on a much larger scale. These features seem fundamental to the philosophy of the party. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, by criticizing the way the SWP is structured (and rightly so), are you not also criticizing authoritarian Marxism/Trotskyism/Leninism as a whole?

I hope I'm being clear, and making a valid point to the topic. If not, I'll happily move to another thread. I'm just getting to grips with these concepts of class, hierarchy etc. after a long while of ignoring them and not having a very clear idea.

wouldn't say so, ... it's about patriarchy and how an org or scene deals with it, as I've said in earlier posting, there are ML ot trotskyist orgs who try to do their best in supporting the survivor when a rape or domestic violence occurs in the org and those who don't

Matt

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Sure, I completely agree that the issue is patriarchy. It was just some late night theorizing on my part. I'm just wondering that if some of the calls for changing the way the SWP is organized don't actually call into question some of the main concepts behind authoritarian Marxism etc. Again, don't mean to derail the thread too much. I'll quote some of the Mieville artcle:

Our starting point must be public and immediate calls for an emergency conference. We must urgently mobilize our branches to pass motions making this call. To emerge from this catastrophe with credibility, at this conference we must demand:

• The immediate reinstatement of the four recently expelled comrades.

• The removal of this CC and Disputes Committee. By their stunning miscalculations, they have shown themselves to be inadequate to their tasks. They must go.

• A thoroughgoing reexamination of the structures of party democracy and accountability, to ensure that the culture of mistrust of the membership and closed ranks on the CC that created this situation in the first place cannot happen again.* This must include an expanded CC and one which airs its internal disagreements openly.

• Formal mechanisms for encouraging internal communications among all members, allowing them to air dissent, concern, uncertainty, as well as information, analysis and support.**

Steven.

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Matt, on a level you are right, yes. That quote shows he's not critiquing the concept of the hierarchical party form, he's just saying that there is a problem with the current leadership: "The removal of this CC and DC".

TBH I think this would be expected in general because this is in line with their politics. Similarly, for example, rather than have a critique of the trade union form as such trots campaign for a different leadership to the unions (i.e. themselves), ignoring the fact that they would act in the same way were they in the positions of power.

I don't think your post was it all off topic, it is very much on topic.

Entdinglichung is right to point out that in some state socialist groups this kind of abuse has been dealt with effectively. However, I agree with you in suggesting that the Leninist party form is a contributing factor.

Many/most trots really believe that their party is the authentic leadership of the working class and is the key to accomplishing the great historical mission of the working class (TM). And so the ends justify the means. That article by Simon Pirani linked to above illustrates this very well I think:

Redgrave replied by citing the WRP’s achievements (publication of a daily Trotskyist newspaper, building of a big youth movement, influence in trade unions, etc) and concluded: “If this is the work of a rapist, let’s recruit more rapists.”

Now, in anarchist organisations this whole concept doesn't exist. It is true that some anarchists see anarchism (TM) as a brand which must be defended at all costs but there is not the same ideological imperative to defend an organisation above things like this. As at least part of anarchism is the idea that means and ends at the same (not that all anarchists practice what they preach of course, but their/our ideology does not give us a get out of jail free card like Trotskyism).

jef costello

9 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Arbeiten

er. I'm quite sure that video is a spoof. He buries his head in snow FFS.

IT was so painful that for his sake I can only hope that it was a spoof but I don't think so.

44

9 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Another accusation by a different woman against a different leading member?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/09/socialist-workers-party-rape-kangaroo-court

Fleur

9 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I assumed it was the same woman when I read it, being another example of the Guardian finally picking up a story weeks after it's broken elsewhere, like they did with the John Lewis cleaners' strike, but it might be someone else, it's not as if the SWP haven't got form for this, going back a long time.

44

9 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

On Richard Seymour's page on Facebook they're saying it's a different woman bringing accusations against a different leading member.

proletarian.

9 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Apparently the "Disputes Committee" have ruled on no less than 9 cases of allegations of rape. Sadly there are probably many more victims of this organisation who have been forced for several reasons to keep their silence.

lurdan

9 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Very thoughtful post-match summary by 'Soviet Goon Boy' (aka 'Splintered Sunrise'). Order prevails in Vauxhall

It includes this :

And that’s before taking into account this weekend’s revelations about a further case involving a woman comrade who was beaten and raped by her district organiser. If anything, the news report understates how bad that case was. What is true is that the organiser, having been found guilty by the DC, was expelled for two years. Two years. That’s the same penalty that was handed out to the Facebook Four for an online discussion about how inadequately the party was handling the Delta case; a discussion where they decided not to form a faction and, in a Kafkaesque twist, were expelled for “factionalism”. Hell, Andy Wilson was expelled for life for proposing to set up a cultural magazine. What sort of organisation has such skewed priorities?

The obvious answer is, an organisation which feels that the ends justify the means absolutely; that in the cause of the socialist revolution (or at least maintaining the current leadership in their positions of power; the CC doesn’t distinguish the two) the only thing that matters is the preservation of authority. If Delta is a good organiser who is crucial to the perspective, he must be protected – nay, even restored to the CC as soon as they can get away with it. Most of the doubts about his behaviour – say, whether it is appropriate for the leader of the party to use his position to try it on with teenage girls – are ruled out of court as “bourgeois morality”. And the victims in all this are simply collateral damage.

Earlier pieces on this blog are also worth reading. One of my personal favourites is the very acute analysis of the composition of the SWP 'loyalists' who signed the Central Committee statement which called the special conference :

There is, again, a very definite profile there, at least when you strip out the fulltime party workers. Certain districts are more loyal than others of course, but it’s the age and occupational profile that’s most striking. The List of Shame reveals a very strong bias towards members of the NUT, UCU and PCS; and, from my own knowledge of the people involved, they’re very much the Downturn generation, people who joined in the 1980s predominantly. Actually, rather few of the teachers did join through NUT militancy – they generally joined as students and stuck with the party as they went into the teaching profession.

Anyone familiar with the internal workings of the SWP will be aware that this layer of membership has traditionally been the most fanatically loyal to whatever wheeze is emanating from the CC at any given point in time. There’s also scope for an anthropological study of SWP teachers, who both form a relatively privileged freemasonry in the party and simultaneously have a masochistic tendency to defer to the most boorish and overbearing elements of the apparat. On a rhetorical level, this manifests itself in a buttock-clenchingly stentorian “Leninism” that’s slightly over the top even by SWP standards. One recalls the late James D Young who talked about a type of party discipline that wasn’t innate but cultivated, and really was little more than an attempt to dignify middle-class elitism.

From Another brick in the wall

jonthom

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fuck me that Atzmon article (referenced earlier in this thread) is beyond vile. Link broken for obvious reasons: http://www[dot]gilad[dot]co[dot]uk/writings/sax-offender-vs-progressive-rapists.html

An excerpt:

However, it didn’t take long to realise that Martin Smith was not being pursued because he is a ‘sex offender’ – he surely isn’t – no, our so-called ‘progressive’ tribals chase Smith because he is a Jazz lover and an enthusiastic fan of my music. They harass him because he gave me a platform in spite of the Jewish demand to ban me. They want to bring Martin Smith down simply because he didn’t obey his tribal masters. So If anything, it is Martin who is the rape victim in this saga – he is punished because he refused to bow down to the tribal junta.

Ramona

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Holy fucking shit. I've seen people talking about this Atzmon guy being a prick but hadn't actually read anything he's been saying until now. So many layers of fuckwittedness where would you even begin?

trillin

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not as reactionary as Atzmon, but still a good contender for the 'Most Misguided Response to the SWP Crisis' prize, is the following Huffington Post article.

It's by ex RCP/Living Marxism, now Spiked/Telegraph journalist, Brendan O'Neill:

Who Needs the State to Smash the Radical Left When Feminists Are Doing Such a Fine Job of It?

Fortunately, there have been a number of far more interesting responses such as:

Understanding women’s oppression (SWP take note!) by Harpymarx

and

Feminism is a Dirty Word. What Would Marx and Engels Think Today? by Camilla Power, available here: http://libcom.org/history/‘feminism-dirty-word’-what-would-marx-engels-think-today-camilla-power-radical-anthropol

Arbeiten

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ramona

Holy fucking shit. I've seen people talking about this Atzmon guy being a prick but hadn't actually read anything he's been saying until now.

Same, never read him before. I just, I just.... :eek:

Rachel

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The resignations begin

http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/fao-central-committee-of-socialist.html

Entdinglichung

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rachel

The resignations begin

http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/fao-central-committee-of-socialist.html

and continue: http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.com/2013/03/resignation-sussex-brighton-swss.html

JoeMaguire

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Matt

Sure, I completely agree that the issue is patriarchy. It was just some late night theorizing on my part. I'm just wondering that if some of the calls for changing the way the SWP is organized don't actually call into question some of the main concepts behind authoritarian Marxism etc. Again, don't mean to derail the thread too much. I'll quote some of the Mieville artcle:

Between the pre-conference bulletin and the various factional blogs, the rape and abuse aside, there is a lot of politics that is/was interesting to wade through. If you look at the bulletin which is a good source of the arguments, the pro-cc faction were basically asserting that the opposition don't understand Leninism and lack party discipline. In one sense their correct. The SWPs internal culture curtails factionalism outside of the run up to conference (recent conference was a special emergency conference since there was a dispute over the previous conference only a month before) and breaking ranks with social media/bringing the party in disrepute.

The IDOOP opposition, I have to disagree with you, seem to have been all over the place. I genuinely got the feeling some of them we're eager on abandoning party building, or the SWP as a project. What's merged in addition to the critique of the awful abuse though, is disputes over internal democracy, the nature of the CC slate, the nature of the DC, approach to student work, women's lib etc. I think the sex abuse has been the trigger for a wider split/break away, because of an underlying fault in the organisation and it's harmony. We're in the middle of a crisis and this is reflected in the SWP quite dramatically.

As much as I despise the SWP, I am not convinced the outcome from the wreckage for the libcom milieu is necessarily a good one. Very little of the forces here will darken our door. Any fragmentation will likely lead to further attempts at left unity, which seemed to have a a number of potential avenues at the moment and the SWP splits have nearly always been hostile to anarchism.

Theft

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Resignation: Sussex & Brighton SWSS
http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/a-new-network.html

A new trot group in formation?
http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/a-new-network.html

Resigning from the Socialist Workers Party
http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/fao-central-committee-of-socialist.html

It will be interesting to know what the make up is of those that are resigning are, how many cadre members leave compared to students, also how many simply drop out and if any can take a leap from the present reformist politics to more revolutionary political positions.

andy g

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Deep breath . . .

My name is Andy and I'm an ex SWuPpie . . .

Resigned today as cannot contemplate accepting the authority of the 'leadership' . Left lots of very good comrades behind and would still place myself in IS tradition . Will see what comes of ISN - I think we are making it up as we go along for now , while we work out what next.

Mark's the end of a twenty plus year association with SWP and still a bit raw so go easy on the wise cracks

Rachel

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Well done. You have my respect.

Mark E

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Hi, Yes, well done Andy.
As far as i can tell, the people who have been forced out of the SWP are their best and brightest, and quite a few are open to doing something more interesting than just forming another party.
I was talkin to an IS person tonight here (other side of the world from you, but still...) who reckons quite a few of the people who have just resigned may drop out of radical politics altogether cos of the stress and exhaustion of what they have just been through, but those who keep at it may well come up with something new and exciting. The best activists in Britain's largest leninist party have been purged and will now be looking for a new way forward. Libertarian communists should be talking to them and if they (as I hope) end up rejecting the traditional Leninist party building methods then we should be supporting and encouraging them.
M

PS there is a good list of links to all the stuff written on this here
http://www.jimjepps.net/?p=273

Rob Ray

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Mm tbh most of the libcoms I know who have seen this going through have been saddened by the fallout rather than entertained. Much as we tend to dislike the CC and the headbangers there's always been solid people in the SWP. As Mark says, a lot of them will probably drop out of politics now and who can blame them - all because a bunch of hacks would rather cling like limpets to their positions rather than do the right thing :(.

Steven.

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Looking through the list of those resigning, China Mielville is the most famous name which jumps out at me. Also I noticed that Pat Stack has not resigned…

Anyway, well done to those of you who have resigned, from another former SWP member!

Edited to add: Richard Seymour is gone as well!

Entdinglichung

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://www.leninology.com/2013/03/on-resigning-from-swp.html

First, I think the party is over. However, many members will stay on in the organisation and attempt to fight, even within the constraints of post-conference 'discipline', for a change in the party. These are among the most talented, committed and active people in the group. Some people weirdly think the current Central Committee is somehow irreplaceable. I think you could put together any random collection of people from the faction, in any number or combination, and they'd make a better leadership. (This isn't to damn them with faint praise.) Their decision to stay on and continue to fight, though I believe it to be mistaken, is very brave given the climate in some parts of the party now. Some members have already put up with months of abuse and stupidity: just off the top of my head, I can think of the insanely arrogant, self-serving statement by Sheffield apparatchiks that was included with the internal bulletin, slagging off the student members for their feminist deviations. Those same wised up hacks are already cracking knuckles and laying down arbitrary rules. People who are ready to stick it out in this context have my complete respect, even if not my full agreement. I stress this because some people outside the organisation, who don't understand what's happening, will rush to assume that every member who doesn't leave is tainted, agrees with everything that has happened, and so on. Don't make that assumption.

Second, in stark contrast, one is dispirited by the complete moral and intellectual degeneration in some quarters that has been occasioned by this crisis. The hacks, of course, surprise no one, because they have no moral or intellectual standards. Master dialecticians, they can defend any barbarity to their own satisfaction. They're still telling themselves, no doubt, that all this stuff about rape and sexual harassment is a pack of lies dreamed up to hurt the party: by MI5 agents, Bamberyites, Poulantzians, whoever. They're telling themselves right now that we can always grow more students, and that this whole thing has been caused by a hard minority of malcontents, the Sino-Seymourite conspiracy. But some seemingly normal party members, where they haven't simply started to sound like Scientologists, have begun to make arguments that should shame any socialist. And then there are those party sages who had a reputation for probity. John Molyneux! What happened to this man? His letter to SWP members about this crisis, eventually used as the basis for a motion to be submitted to the National Council, was stunning for its capitulation to bureaucratic irrationality.

Thirdly, one is simply astounded by how inadequate, corrupt, stupid, narrow-mindedly bureaucratic and delusional the leadership of the SWP has proven to be. It is not just that having covered up serious sexual allegations, and so disastrously failed at least two female comrades, they can admit no fault. It is not just the absurd, scholastic, apolitical explanations they give for doing so, or the tragic retreat into bunkered dogma that has accompanied this. It is not just that they lie with impunity. It is not just that they ducked a real debate, with their absurd rules limiting faction speakers at aggregates, and their gerrymandering of conference. It is not just that even now many of them are desperate to get the accused back into the leadership as soon as can conveniently be arranged. It is not just that their response to the most recent allegations by a female ex-member was to effectively dismiss her as a liar, without investigating further. It is that, having done a Jonestown, they think they've just triumphed.

Entdinglichung

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rob Ray

Mm tbh most of the libcoms I know who have seen this going through have been saddened by the fallout rather than entertained. Much as we tend to dislike the CC and the headbangers there's always been solid people in the SWP. As Mark says, a lot of them will probably drop out of politics now and who can blame them - all because a bunch of hacks would rather cling like limpets to their positions rather than do the right thing :(.

that's what happened to the German Communist Party (DKP) after Chernobyl and the downfall of GDR and USSR: of the ~ 50.000 members of the party around 1985, there are around 3.500 left today, of around 25.000 members of its youth org SDAJ 600 ... the majority dropped out of organized politics (a non-neglible number found religion and/or alcohol) or went to the right (SPD, Gruene, Die Linke/PDS, trade union and NGO bureaucrats), very few adopted a revolutionary rejection of the DKP's politics ... I hated the control the DKP and its fronts together with left SPDers exercised e.g. in the peace movement, in the city-wide school students council (especially there ;-)), in tenants associations, etc. ~ 25 years ago in my home city but their decline together with the disintegration of the left ("Fundi") wing of the Greens and the crisis of the Autonomen seriously weakened movements, the void they left was either filled by more rightwing or non-political forces or not filled at all

rat

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Rob Ray

there's always been solid people in the SWP.

Solid people and members of a reactionary organisation.

Entdinglichung

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://www.jimjepps.net/?p=273 ... a regularly updated link list on the "SWP crisis"

rooieravotr

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

To Andy g : Big hug 2 U. And I wish you strength. I went through a small-scale similar thing in 2008 when I left the IS group in the Netherlands (sister group of the SWP) after the reaction of the CC, supported by a vast majority, to criticism I formulated almost suffocated me. Again, I 'm with you in feeling here, or try to be.

NannerNannerNa…

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

You know, I was going to make an andy g wisecrack but instead I'm calling it before anyone else: I think the SWP collapsing is a good thing.

My suspicions have been confirmed and it has been revealed that the SWP is a den of violent misogynists, rapists and rapist-enablers. Anyone with anything resembling a moral backbone have jumped ship or are already planning to and, pretty soon, all that's going to be left of this goddam travesty of a trot front is going to a bunch of damn splits. This myopic, inward looking cult that turns all its membership into a damn fief for the upper echelons to exploit for money has finally fallen apart thanks to all the power-hungry reprobates in the CC.

Yeah, they'll be a lot of solid and good people dropping out of radical politics in general but I certainly wouldn't see working a second job as a firm foundation for radical politics anyway. I guarantee that anyone who's broken a sweat for those eternally ungrateful elitists were going to be let down eventually. Anyone who were loyal to the SWP and leaves because of this are probably to worn out to do anything else, regardless of ideological conviction.

Man, I thought the SWP was a big cult before all the stooges decided to do the defend-rape shuffle. I felt it was a useless organization that turned a bunch of middle class college kids into paper selling machines with no individual initiative beyond the downright stupid decrees of an pretentious and pigheaded elite.

Only now do I realize that the SWP is just like a capitalist business and is just as bad as the old WRP. The big drives for membership might as well have been capital accumulation, and all that damn paper selling might as well have been a nice easy way to make some profits for the upper echelons.

The SWP has been revealed to be the most misogynistic group on the whole left which has fostered an environment where rapists can act out on their base instincts with full immunity, they instead put the women on trial and ask them about their "drinking habits". It's an organization where "feminist" is a fucking slur.

Like the state, reform is impossible in the so-called "Socialist" "Workers" Party. Elites are so-completely entrenched in the party-state that they make it a point to squash anyone inventive or unique or innovative. They expelled someone for proposing a cultural section - I'd like to see what would happen if these leninists, reprobates and misogynists were in farting distance of genuine political power.

I used to be shocked at the situation and was scandalized by it. When I first found out about it, I immediately contrasted it to the case of an idiotic anarchist "joking" about raping women fascists on his organization's facebook. I thought that Martin Smith/Comrade Delta would be immediately expelled and the CC would be going on the defensive trying to save face - that's what happened when something like this happened to us, and we didn't even fucking cover up an actual rape!

Only now have I stopped looking at this scandal with a gossipy voyeurism and now feel completely outraged. This was not an isolated incident, and the pigheaded idiots haven't learned shit. The whole organization deserves to burn down to the ground and the earth on which it stood deserves to thoroughly salted. I'll be clapping for every exodus and hollering when it's a big Fone. I hope to god this incident doesn' t just blow over and all the SWP falls the fuck apart. I wish the absolute worst for the SWP.

Fuck em

NannerNannerNa…

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Also Steven was SWP and andy g was there for twenty years?

Steven.

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

(For the record, I was only a member for about 9-12 months, and not a particularly active one at that. I only did one paper sale, under duress)

Fleur

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

To Andy G - wishing you all the best. To end a 20 year commitment couldn't have been an easy thing to do and you have my support and respect.

I was never tempted to join, but I had friends who did and they were good people, however odious I think the SWP is as an organisation is, there's a lot of people who have had their political foundations rocked and I'm inclined to deal with this with kindness, rather than gloating.

I am getting really fed up though about in some places this is being referred to as a sex scandal. A sex scandal is when some celebrity's illicit affair is splattered over the tabloids, this is about rape and abuse of power. Some of the language used (not on this site) totally belittles what has happened. Also not a criticism of this site, but since this story started to break, some people have been rubbing their hands with glee about it all. Personally I'd love to see the SWP disappear into a hole and never come back out again, but there are real live, feeling women at the heart of this story and I can't imagine what they are going through.

None of that was directed at anyone posting here, just got a bit of the irritation at some of the chatter that's been going around off my chest. Too much twitter, I suspect.

Steven.

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Exactly fleur: I don't think there should be any type of celebration about this, because it is rooted in events which must have been horrible for the individuals concerned - and it would have been better if these events never occurred at all.

Ramona

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

fleurnoire-et-rouge

Also not a criticism of this site, but since this story started to break, some people have been rubbing their hands with glee about it all. Personally I'd love to see the SWP disappear into a hole and never come back out again, but there are real live, feeling women at the heart of this story and I can't imagine what they are going through.

Totally agree. And recently seeing quite a lot of patronising, preachy crap advising newly resigned SWP members to go and read some books about Marxism has been quite cringe worthy indeed, as one woman put it on facebook:

Considering that the reason the SWP is falling apart is because of its appalling treatment of women, it's depressing that it gets used as another opportunity for men to go on about what books they've read.

Also, it's been discussed on the site but the arrogance of people assuming that totally inadequate handling of sexual assault is something Trot-specific, when there's been plenty enough badly-dealt with sexual assaults in the anarchist and radical left (or autonomist or whatever the fuck, non-trot) scene recently. Yeah there's been some examples of really good practice too but it's not like we've got our house in order just yet.

fleurnoire-et-rouge

None of that was directed at anyone posting here, just got a bit of the irritation at some of the chatter that's been going around off my chest. Too much twitter, I suspect.

Ditto!

Khawaga

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ramona

Yeah there's been some examples of really good practice too but it's not like we've got our house in order just yet.

Is there something written up on this? I've searched in vain for good accountability processes; they all seem to end really horribly and never with a productive outcome, so I'd be really interested in reading examples of good practice. Needless to say, the reason I am inquiring is because of some very problematic behaviour in anarchist/activisty circles that we're trying to combat as best as we can.

xslavearcx

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Not to derail but i was kinda taken aback that so many of the 500 signatories supporting the CCs procedures were teachers. Not that i think teachers are immune from any of the shit that circulates in society; but more down to the fact that being involved in a profession like that, one gets a lot of training on "good practice", "child protection", and "working with vulnerable people. The whole process, as depicted by the SWPs documents go against practically all the stuff one learns within a profession like that.

I mean obviously people will behave in ways that contravene those kinda principles, but to put ones name behind a process that would be considered 'bad practice' at every level is a bit astounding.

Whilst i don't think anybody should be rooting for people to lose their jobs, it does seem somewhat problematic that one of the justifications behind the DCs procedure was on the basis of one of the members of that committees having expertise in these matters by virtue of working in rape crisis situations. Not really sure if that person should be in that line of work if they are happy to go along with such a shoddy procedure...

Ramona

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Khawaga

Is there something written up on this? I've searched in vain for good accountability processes; they all seem to end really horribly and never with a productive outcome, so I'd be really interested in reading examples of good practice. Needless to say, the reason I am inquiring is because of some very problematic behaviour in anarchist/activisty circles that we're trying to combat as best as we can.

I'm not sure of anything written up on best practice, but I'd point you towards Support New York who have a lot of experience in facilitating accountability processes. A lot of this stuff comes from the fluffier, less class-struggle side of the anarcho scene which can be off-putting at times but I still think there's a lot we can gain from it.

Khawaga

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thanks Ramona!

Steven.

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Khawaga

Ramona

Yeah there's been some examples of really good practice too but it's not like we've got our house in order just yet.

Is there something written up on this? I've searched in vain for good accountability processes; they all seem to end really horribly and never with a productive outcome, so I'd be really interested in reading examples of good practice. Needless to say, the reason I am inquiring is because of some very problematic behaviour in anarchist/activisty circles that we're trying to combat as best as we can.

TBH I think if something did have a productive outcome them probably no one would hear about it, as probably neither party would want it to be advertised.

I, for example, am aware of just one case where there was such a process which as far as I know both sides ended up happy with, and part of the resolution was that neither wanted it to be public knowledge...

One example I guess is Sam from Anarchist Federation who was booted out in a survivor-led process, whose case has been linked to earlier in the thread.

On the SWP teachers, not defending the ones who are sticking with the CC, but the one SWP teacher I know through work resigned a few weeks ago. (Although the other SWP types in my union branch are sticking with the CC, but none of them work in safeguarding roles)

wojtek

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Laurie Penny and Stavvers on the latest (earlier this evening) Circled A show discussing sexual violence and hierarchy:

https://soundcloud.com/resonance-fm/21-00-00-the-circled-a-6

It could do with being a hour long - only begin to talk practical solutions in the last few minutes.

andy g

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I joined in 1991 at the tender age of 17 so (allowing for periods of inactivity) had been in and around the SWP for 22 years. Fuck I feel old...

I am not going to engage in any recantations or damn the SWP to high heaven or suchlike. As I said, there are plenty of good comrades who remain members in the hope of engineering change or whatever. Even more will continue as good activists and militants. Good luck to them. As I said in my resignation letter to the National Secretary, I can no longer accept the political authority of a leadership that has debased itself so abjectly.

I guess all of us who have resigned need to go through a settling of accounts and I intend to scrutinise my core beliefs and ask myself what is of value in the "IS tradition" and what is now a matter of historical curiosity. The resistance to dogmatic orthodoxy and openess of the SRG/IS would certainly be one for me. That is what I am looking for from the International Socialist Network. Where it will lead us is an open question....

Steven.

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Good piece by comedian and former SWP member Mark steel:
http://marksteelinfo.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/oh-good-lord-what-has-the-swp-gone-and-done-now/

Arbeiten

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

:eek: Spiked mag top it for the most insane comment on this whole thing. I'm not even going to link it.

Tom de Cleyre

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I know it's a sordid detail in an even more sordid affair, but I was wondering (independently of the issue of rape) about the brushing away of criticism of the intergenerational affair as "bourgeois morality". Surely even for people who believe in the democracy of the party and that CC members are not in a position of authority over new recruits, they are still in a teacher-student kind of relationship? Isn't that problematic in itself? Or am I thinking with my bourgeois morality again?

rooieravotr

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I was wondering (independently of the issue of rape) about the brushing away of criticism of the intergenerational affair as "bourgeois morality". Surely even for people who believe in the democracy of the party and that CC members are not in a position of authority over new recruits, they are still in a teacher-student kind of relationship? Isn't that problematic in itself?

Soviet goon boy - by far the best of the blogs on this issue - has this on that aspect: http://sovietgoonboy.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/the-age-gap-and-why-it-matters/

jef costello

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thanks for the links to Soviet Goon boy, very interesting. A lot of very good posts here.
Every time I think that this cannot get worse the CC or its defenders manage to make it so.

Entdinglichung

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

reading this hypocritical stuff in the new SW makes me sick: http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=30860

Theft

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

SWP crisis, you wouldn't think so to look at all the paper sellers today at Bedroom Tax protest here in Sheffield, though the lack of any anarchist or pro-revolutionary presence was more telling,

Mr. Jolly

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

jonthom

Fuck me that Atzmon article (referenced earlier in this thread) is beyond vile. Link broken for obvious reasons: http://www[dot]gilad[dot]co[dot]uk/writings/sax-offender-vs-progressive-rapists.html

An excerpt:

However, it didn’t take long to realise that Martin Smith was not being pursued because he is a ‘sex offender’ – he surely isn’t – no, our so-called ‘progressive’ tribals chase Smith because he is a Jazz lover and an enthusiastic fan of my music. They harass him because he gave me a platform in spite of the Jewish demand to ban me. They want to bring Martin Smith down simply because he didn’t obey his tribal masters. So If anything, it is Martin who is the rape victim in this saga – he is punished because he refused to bow down to the tribal junta.

He was booked to play at our local (Newcastle) volunteer run cinema/gig space, a few weeks back, where he was also to play a film and push his anti-semitic and vile misogyny to the usual apolitical liberal twits, in the programmers defence they knew little of his politics other than Jazz Northeast saying you may have some problems with 'Zionists', it was a tough one, with me and one other guy going mental at the beginning, but thanks to facebook kickoff and after 4 hours of meetings, he had his gig cancelled costing the cinema some 800 quid. But fucking sound that they were willing to take such a hit when they are financially on the edge. Well done the Star and Shadow.

Mr. Jolly

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Gilad Atzmon on twitter: @Schmazz @xxxxx I had a dinner in town tonight and was approached by a few people who told me what they think of this SS collective...

@Schmazz @xxxxxx I believe that this all even will backfire big time. . I must have hit a raw nerve, namely the truth..

@schmazz @starandshadow I left the matter with my lawyer ..this ss collective made a mistake.. I feel sorry for them

Really Gilad?

Rachel

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Apparenty Sheffield is a bastion of SWP reactionaries

jolasmo

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I understand basically the entire Leeds student section has now disaffiliated. This seems like a significant blow; Leeds is one of the bigger universities, the SWP rely heavily on recruitment through students, and SP & Revo will be snapping up any leftovers on campus.

~J.

andy g

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Sheffield does seem to have a lot of rabid pro - CCers. Was a strong branch through the eighties and nineties - given that that "generation" of members have been disproportionately loyalist may have something to do with it.

The standard retort to talk of a crisis in the party is "well no-one mentioned it to me on paper sale / in my local / in the chippie / when I was communing with the devil (repeat ever more ridiculous iterations until boredom takes you)".

Leeds SWSS have disaffiliated and constituted themselves as Leeds Revolutionary Socialists. They are very active on campus and include one of the "Facebook Four".

wojtek

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

New edition of The Fucking Left Rag: ALEX CALLINOCOS RETREATS INTO FANTASY WORLD, SWP IN CRISIS, SCUM oh god, why did it ever have to happen.

FLR12

Fleur

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I fucking love the Fucking Left Rag! (Sitting back and wondering which one of you lot is behind it.)

S. Artesian

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Pure fucking genius.

Entdinglichung

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://socialistunity.com/swp-you-couldnt-make-it-up/#.UVGyWjd-FnU

Caiman del Barrio

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWhcYU7kc_A&feature=youtu.be

SWP stewards attack a (apparently majority female) group chanting RAPE APOLOGISTS at SWP speaker at anti-bedroom tax demo in...Glasgow?

wojtek

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Caiman del Barrio

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWhcYU7kc_A&feature=youtu.be

SWP stewards attack a (apparently majority female) group chanting RAPE APOLOGISTS at SWP speaker at anti-bedroom tax demo in...Glasgow?

More about the above here:

"This is a tax demo, why don't you go back to your rape demo"

jonthom

9 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://forgetoday.com/news/nus-conference-2013/mass-walk-out-at-nus-conference-following-denial-of-rape-apology/

Over 100 NUS delegates stormed out of the 2013 conference during a speech given by Tomas Evans, candidate for vice president for higher education.

Evans is a member of the Socialist Workers Party, which has come under attack following allegations of rape apology and covering up sexual abuse.

Members of the SWP were accused of covering up serious allegations of sexual assault when an alleged incident was dealt with as an ‘internal affair’ rather than in a courtroom.

Evans described the allegations, first mentioned by rival candidate Naomi Beecroft, as “unfounded”. As he continued with his speech over a third of the conference floor walked out.

Beecroft said: “It’s amazing to see that reaction. It shows how angry people are that organisation that support rape apology are being given a platform at this event because sexism is a huge problem among students and in wider society. It really gives me faith in the student movement and the people involved.

“The fact that people walked out de-legitimised the NUS further, if that’s even possible. It was brilliant.”

Entdinglichung

9 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://solidarity-us.org/site/statement_on_sexual_violence

A Solidarity Statement on Sexual Violence and the Left
from the Solidarity Committee on Interpersonal and Sexual Violence
April 16, 2013

The organized left, both socialist and anarchist, has been faced with the problems of rape and other forms of interpersonal violence in our movements in a particularly intense way in the past few months. Over 120 members have publicly resigned from the British Socialist Workers Party following repeated actions taken by the Central Committee to demean and silence survivors and their allies while failing to hold aggressors accountable. In the aftermath of Occupy, traumatic events that occurred within encampments and in related social and political scenes are now being widely discussed and debated. The topic of rape has momentarily broken out of the wall of silence in broader society as well, with widespread public discussion around cases such as the gang rape of a woman on a bus in Delhi in December and the Steubenville, Ohio “rape crew.”

This heightened discussion of and attention to the topic of rape is a good thing for the left if we take this opportunity not only to call out the problem of gendered violence in the world, but to get our own houses in order. A case which came to our attention in December, involving an anarchist activist who was raped by a longtime friend and fellow organizer who was a member of the Progressive Labor Party, exposes a disturbing level of resistance to acknowledging and confronting issues of sexual violence. We highlight this case here in response to a call for support from the survivor and her close allies; we think it is important for the socialist left to take a stand.

With the support of allies, the survivor brought this case to the PLP and demanded that the aggressor be held accountable. After an initial meeting with the survivor and her allies, the PLP stalled on follow-up with the survivor and her allies for months, never providing support for the survivor, clarity as to whether they were taking her report seriously, transparency around their process, or agreeing to meaningful, concrete accountability for the aggressor, at times demanding “conclusive proof” of rape from the survivor, at times admitting the aggressor’s culpability.

The survivor and her allies, frustrated by the stonewalling, eventually released a public statement about this matter. The PLP responded by accusing the survivor and her allies of behaving as “informant-provocateurs” while claiming to fight “sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny in every aspect.” This letter did not include any reflection on what had gone so wrong with their own process that a survivor would feel the need to take the difficult step of releasing a public statement.

We do not criticize the PLP’s process here from a position of superiority, but from the standpoint that the question of sexual violence needs to be addressed by the left urgently and seriously. When we engage in victim-blaming, silence survivors, and ignore or dismiss charges of sexual violence, we are feeding the rape culture within our organizations and movements. When we shield an aggressor from accountability processes that might be uncomfortable or disruptive and instead facilitate an aggressor's return to a “normal life” as quickly as possible, we send the message that the comfort of aggressors is more important than the safety and healing of survivors. These tendencies, far too common on the left, create an oppressive environment for survivors and for groups of people who are regularly exposed to sexual violence, including women and LGBTQ people.

Our commitments to fighting sexism and patriarchy demand that we dedicate time and resources to combating rape culture, supporting and listening to survivors, finding ways to hold aggressors accountable for the trauma they have inflicted upon others, and educating each other on consensual sexual relations, not only in the world but in our own intimate relationships and movement spaces. We do not see any possibility of building genuinely socialist, radical, or revolutionary movements if these movements refuse to address fully and respond to accusations of sexual violence, do not actively oppose gender and sexual oppression, or push to the margins women, LGBTQ people, and survivors of sexual violence.

Reflecting on the PLP case, the SWP case, and others has led us to begin a process of reflecting on our own organizational practices for dealing with rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and other forms of interpersonal violence. These instances occupy our attention for good reason – if poorly handled or ignored, they bring out all of the worst features of an organization’s functioning, and groups can easily degenerate under the weight of our own failure to confront matters in a forthright, healthy manner. At the same time, rape culture and gendered violence constitute a pervasive, all too “normal” everyday cultural and organizational backdrop that we need to undo if we are to create organizationally healthy, feminist spaces that reflect the kind of liberation and justice we want to see in the world. We hope others on the left will take up these questions as well.

Background on this case:

"Progressive Labor Party Defends Rapists"
"How PLP Unwittingly Confesses to Misogyny and What We Can Do About It"
"Revolutionary Heartbreak: Why Every Single Rapist Has to Go"
"a short piece on sexual assault and activism in Southern California"
"Macktivists, Brocialists, and Manarchists are We All: Exorcizing the Demons in Our Movement and Ourselves"
Statement from reform caucus of UAW 2865, UC Student Workers' Union

hubbahubba

9 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steven.

One example I guess is Sam from Anarchist Federation who was booted out in a survivor-led process, whose case has been linked to earlier in the thread.

I couldn't find that link but would be interested to read about it.

no1

9 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

here's the link: http://www.afed.org.uk/blog/society/194-af-statement-on-the-disassociation-of-sam-sheffield-group.html

Entdinglichung

9 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://www.internationalsocialistnetwork.org/index.php/ideas-and-arguments/organisation/swp-crisis/swss-groups/98-manchester-swss-disaffiliation-and-resignation-letter

Entdinglichung

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/swp-hits-new-low-in-trawl-for-unity/

a new recruit for UAF Ipswich

Reddebrek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/swp-hits-new-low-in-trawl-for-unity/

a new recruit for UAF Ipswich

Page is dead could you give us a summary?

Entdinglichung

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Reddebrek

http://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2013/06/25/swp-hits-new-low-in-trawl-for-unity/

a new recruit for UAF Ipswich

Page is dead could you give us a summary?

a former Tory councillor who had been persecuted for acts of indecency against minors

Reddebrek

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Fucking hell, I hope the post is dead because the SWP didn't know and canned them when it came out. To think the original posts in this thread weren't the bottom of the barrel is just shocking.

Steven.

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Interesting new statement from over 200 dissidents within the party following the suspension of four more members over this. The statement also says that 400 members have left so far over the scandal, including nearly all the students, that 15 party workers have either quit or been sacked, and that attendance at Marxism may drop by 50% this year as people boycott the event:
http://revolutionarysocialism.tumblr.com/post/54901525674/statement-on-the-swp-crisis

Entdinglichung

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

and some scheduled speakers who are still SWP members have withdrawn from participating at Marxism 2013

Entdinglichung

9 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://revolutionarysocialism.tumblr.com/post/54997628147/bank-accounts

The existence of bank accounts has been used to single out individuals for suspension. This is a distraction from the fact that the SWP faces its greatest ever crisis. There are two accounts set up by oppositional members of the SWP. One has been used to cover the tremendous expenses incurred during the pre-conference period when members of the IDOOP faction had to self fund travel to aggregates around the country and rack up large telephone bills, as well as supplementing childcare for individuals travelling to meetings.

Jason Cortez

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

They are even expelling people ho are advertised to speak at Marxism, it looks to be a pitifully poor parody of its past performances.

no1

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

The 4 have now been re-instated:

As you may know, the National Committee on Sunday suspended four comrades from membership pending an investigation. There was evidence that these four had initiated or signed up to a bank account which was designed to finance a split from the SWP and to make a different group financially viable. We have received assurances after the NC that "the bank account has been closed" and that there will not be any similar account created. We have also been told that comrades are "not agitating for a split". The Central Committee is pleased that these undertakings have now been given. We call on all comrades to end factional activity and to take part in discussion inside the party structures, publications and at Marxism 2013. On that basis we are lifting the suspensions on the four comrades that were passed at the National Committee on Sunday. Solidarity, Charlie Kimber, SWP national secretary

Defiant response from the 4 who have been re-instated:
http://revolutionarysocialism.tumblr.com/post/55039976342/a-statement-from-the-four-unsuspended-comrades

Tbh, if the SWP CC can't even arbitrarily expell/suspend members anymore then they're just about to disintegrate.

ocelot

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

no1

The 4 have now been re-instated:
[...]
Tbh, if the SWP CC can't even arbitrarily expell/suspend members anymore then they're just about to disintegrate.

Yes, but.. Read the subtext of this http://revolutionarysocialism.tumblr.com/post/55121115026/marxism-2013-festival

In response to Sunday’s suspension of four opposition supporters, the opposition asked many party members who were listed as speakers at Marxism to withdraw from their meetings, as a solidarity gesture that would help get the suspensions lifted. The suspensions have now been lifted. We thank everyone who offered to withdraw in solidarity, and are happy that they can all now speak as was originally planned.
[...]

So they are saying it was the potential embarrassment of the speakers at Marxism pulling out that forced the rowback. I wouldn't give many odds to them still being there once Marxism is safely out of the way. Also, from that same post:

[...]
We want Marxism to be the place for open, honest and comprehensive debate. We ask all members to play their part in making this a reality. Achieving a united party is going to require debate and time. However sharp the arguments involved over the coming days, weeks and months, they need to be conducted in a tone that respects the fact that there is more that unites us than divides us.

which begs the question of how "safely out of the way" Marxism ends up being. Could be a very ghoulish spectacle.

Entdinglichung

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://www.ulu.co.uk/news/index.php?page=article&news_id=376413

ULU Statement on 'Marxism 2013'
9th July 2013 12:06 pm
Author: ULU

'Marxism’ is the annual summer school event of the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP). This year, part of the event is scheduled to take place inside the ULU building on Malet Street.

The SWP booked its rooms at full commercial rate (around £17,000) through the ULU conferencing department, over which we have no direct oversight. We are now putting in place measures to ensure that democratically elected officers have powers over ULU conference bookings in future.

Given the actions of the SWP in the past year, we feel that it is necessary to make our position clear that as elected officers – like many others in the student movement – see the SWP’s handling of recent rape allegations against a senior member as a despicable act of denial, nepotism and sexism.

The handling of the dispute around these allegations has exposed something much deeper that needs to be challenged. During the recent dispute, the SWP leadership has responded to criticism on an issue of women's rights by calling its critics “feminists”, as if that was something bad. Criticism of the SWP leadership has been silenced and suppressed at every turn.

We recognise that not everyone in the SWP agrees with the behaviour of its leadership. However, given that the SWP is an organisation in which there is little scope for organised internal dissent, allowing the event to continue with no public intervention would be tantamount to complicity in the situation.

It would be wrong for the SWP to use its muscle to shut down debate and escape accountability for its actions. We think that student activists should actively confront the SWP over these issues at Marxism 2013.

There can be no business as usual in these circumstances.

• ULU Officers and other student activists will be attending the event in order to challenge the conduct of the SWP on the issues outlined above.

• We will be holding meetings in parallel with the summer school inside the ULU Building, which will be open to all attendees and students. The content of these meetings will be determined by the ULU Women's Officer and feminist activists across London.

_______________________________________________________

ULU is currently putting together a series of workshops running in parallel during the weekend. Our main meeting in parallel with ‘Marxism 2013’ will take place on Sunday at 1pm in room 2A. It will be a space for discussion among student and leftwing activists. All are welcome.

The student movement, the left and women’s liberation. How can we fight sexism in our movement?

The shameful events inside the SWP, along with other recent incidents in the left and the labour movement, pose the questions of fighting sexism and women’s oppression not only in society but in our own organisations. What do these events mean? How can we make sure that the student movement and the broader left is not only a safe space but also a credible and effective force for in the fight for women’s liberation?

Speakers will include feminists from the student and labour movements.

Choccy

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

more saying so http://averypublicsociologist.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/martin-smith-resigns-from-swp.html

rooieravotr

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Steve:

now I wonder if the SWP leadership are really wondering if defending him was worth it?

Good question. I don't believe for one minute that Delta's 'resignation' was voluntary. In other words, the CC finally got rid of him. I have no proof of that, but do we really believe this Delta guy saw sense without a bit of prodding? I don t believe it will save the leadership people will see this as admission of guilt, and - because of the long thelay - a very unwilling admission as well. Worst of both world.

On the effects: I think it will give new strength to those SWP oppositionists who see it as proof that the party still can be saved, can be "reclaimed" for "the real IS tradition". The whole melodrama will drag on and on.

Steven.

9 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Michael Rosen wrote a good open letter to the SWP about this on his blog. And SWP loyalist wrote this response, which is pretty eye opening about how fucked up and insane they are:
http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/trenchant-reply-from-swp-loyalist.html

Entdinglichung

8 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

http://fightingdemocraticunison.wordpress.com/2013/10/18/for-a-fighting-democratic-unison-for-all-members/

We are UNISON activists who are committed to organising a democratic rank and file organisation within our Union, not least because we believe that such an organisation could maximise the effectiveness of the Union’s opposition to all forms of oppression. We have involved ourselves with UNISON United Left because we have believed that it has had the potential to become such an organisation. We have decided that at this point it is necessary for us to resign from UNISON United Left. This is not a step we have taken lightly – we have been committed to the project of building a vibrant left movement within UNISON for many years and we believe this is needed more than ever at the moment, given the scale of the attacks on UNISON members across all sectors and the failure of the UNISON leadership to mount a sufficient challenge to this government.

However, we feel that within any left movement certain basic principles must always be upheld, one of which is a commitment to fighting for women’s liberation and against sexism, and it is clear that in the United Left we are working with some people who have betrayed this principle in a very serious way. We are speaking of supporters of the leadership of the Socialist Workers’ Party, who have stood by the leadership of their organisation over the past year as details have emerged of the rape and sexual harassment of female members of the party, and the utter failure of the organisation to support these women and to take appropriate action against the perpetrators. We do not propose here to go into detail about the specifics of these cases – details are available in many places for people to find, and we are happy to speak individually to anyone who wants more background and evidence for our claims.

We feel that remaining in an organisation with and supporting (ie in internal unison elections) those who support the leadership of the SWP In their denial and cover up of rape allegations would betray the principles of a safe space for women which should be at the centre of our rank and file organisation of UNISON. The cover up and trivialisation of rape is not compatible with a commitment to left wing politics, and it is not possible to see those who do this as part of the left. We are committed to encouraging more women to be part of the labour movement, and we think women should be able to expect rank and file trade union organisation to be a safe space. The SWP is clearly not an organisation that is safe for women to be part of, and will not be until it takes serious steps to become one. The attitude the party has taken to the rape cases endangers female members of that party, and women in general.

We will continue to work alongside all members of the left within UNISON who do not take the position of the leadership of the SWP, in order to further our common aims, and we will look to create organisational spaces for this kind of work to happen. It is vital that the rank and file UNISON members organise within UNISON for the reasons outlined above and we will seek to create an organisation that organises electorally, works with the wider left in the union, supports disputes and campaigns throughout the union, an organisation that is a space for women. We will seek to endorse candidates in elections who stand up for the socialist, feminist, anti-racist principles that should be common sense on the left.

We believe that rank and file UNISON members have an opportunity to organise to realise the potential of our trade union to defend our interests, including by resisting all forms of oppression. Developments in the SWP have highlighted that UUL, as an organisation in which avowed supporters of the leadership of that Party are prominent, cannot realise this potential. We call upon all UNISON activists who are committed to building an inclusive, democratic rank and file organisation to sign this statement, resign from the United Left and to join us in building such an organisation.

aargh

8 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Delta was not kicked out as that would mean admitting they were wrong. He left to avoid the repercussions of a second woman's case against him being fully heard, i.e that he would be shown to be what he really was. If he ever decides to come back to the party it's been decided he has a 'case to answer' for the sexual harrassment of a work colleague. By resigning, he avoided this.

In fact, comrades have set him up in a PhD to do further 'work' with young and vulnerable women! http://libcom.org/blog/martin-smith-given-phd-place-liverpool-hope-university-21102013 After his first move out of the central committee, he abused again, this time a young work comrade, no-brainer what might happen now they've moved him again :(

backspace

8 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Unrelated to the above post, I heard the ISN was recently / is now having an internal debate about whether to employ a full timer or not, with a substantial faction against, surprising for ex SWP members.

Entdinglichung

8 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

a document by Solidarity about dealing with sexism and sexual violence in their org: http://www.solidarity-us.org/site/sexualviolenceprocess

TC1932

8 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Here's three useful recent articles about the SWP from well-informed ex-members. The first is from Sovietgoonboy:

'This is the way the party ends: not with a bang, but with a whimper'
(the comments section is also definitely worth a read)

The second article is by Sam Farber which (perhaps unintentionally) helps dismantle the myth that things were much better in the days of the International Socialists.

In his article, Farber points out that 'at the beginning of the missile crisis in October 1962, [Tony Cliff] predicted in all seriousness that there would be no war — because the rate of profit was too high ... [And in 1968 he thought that] the new outbreaks of racism ... [meant] that Fascism was a real and immediate threat.'

The important point being not that Cliff got it so wrong (getting it wrong is one of the left's favourite habits) but that so many smart people were impressed by Cliff's obvious shallowness:

Sam Farber: 'Tony Cliff as a Socialist Leader'

This piece from a more recent SWP leader is also worth a look and shows the severity of the present SWP collapse:

SWP: Resignation of recent CC member

Reddebrek

8 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Thanks that makes for some interesting reading, I think that resignation letter might be useful in the Library as it shows how abusive and false "Democratic" Centralism is and how such parties operate.

In addition to exposing how flawed such groups commitment to women's liberation is in theory and practice.

Battlescarred

8 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Interesting but really to read Lyndsey German deny her own overbearing and bullying behaviour whilst in SWP is totally laughable. As regards the denial of the tactic of ostracism NOT being used inside the SWP until recently go tell it to the marines. My long term companera was in the SWP in the 1970s and was being groomed for high leadership role. When there was a theoretical disagreement over a point of economics she and others were ostracised by the leadership and she avows that this was a regular tactic employed by them.
Interesting to hear mention of the sleazy Nagliatti, one time Industrial Organiser. He returned to Italy and became chief industrial adviser for FIat, instructing them on how to fight militancy in their car factories.

backspace

8 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Ex-swp people doing interesting and worthwhile stuff:

http://revolutionarysocialism.tumblr.com/post/73992888820/the-case-for-a-higher-education-workers-inquiry

Entdinglichung

6 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

and in Sheridan's Solidarity: http://www.thenational.scot/news/solidarity-in-turmoil-tommy-sheridan-accused-of-ignoring-sexual-harassment-of-female-party-members.15773

TOMMY Sheridan has been accused of ignoring the sexual harassment of female party members in Solidarity. Sheridan, as co-convenor, was alerted to allegations around one of his key allies, John Park, last November, but did not formally investigate the complaint.

It was only in February when the party introduced new procedures and structures, and the complaint was re-submitted to a new body that did not involve Sheridan, that Park’s behaviour was first probed.

Members of Solidarity’s Executive Committee upheld complaints that Park had made “unwelcome sexual advances” to party members and that in addition he had acted aggressively and had spread damaging rumours about women who spurned his advances.

In a series of leaked documents seen by The National, Sheridan has been accused of resisting attempts to have Park face disciplinary action.

The row has resulted in candidates and officials walking away from the party.

In her resignation letter, Joyce Drummond, a candidate in Glasgow and an activist who followed Sheridan from the SSP, and who testified for him during his perjury trial, says she “can no longer be part of a party, which includes John Park”.

Drummond says Park is an untrustworthy liar who has attempted to bully her: “Since the nasty days of the SSP, through the formation of Solidarity, until now, I have remained loyal to Tommy and Solidarity. Despite this, in this instance, I cannot continue. In the spirit of friendship, I ask that you all be very careful in your dealings with John Park.”

She continued: “Tommy, you, in particular, cause me great concern. You are blind to what is going on around you. When will you ever learn to trust the people who have proved their loyalty? I truly hope that you, or others I love and care about, are not dragged down by John Park.”

In one upheld complaint against Park, he is said to have approached a party official and invited her to “have an affair with him”.

Park is also a candidate on the Central Scotland list and an organiser of Hope Over Fear, who next week host the “Declaration of Glasgow – Rock for Indyref 2” event at the Glasgow Barrowlands where revellers are being asked to pay £13.20 for a ticket.

He is also a founder of the Communities United, Promoting Inclusion (CUPI) who took in donations gathered at the last Hope Over Fear rally in George Square. Submissions to charity regulator OSCR show CUPI made £337,246 in the last financial year. It is understood he is also the campaign manager for Gail Sheridan’s bid to become an MSP on the West of Scotland list.

In a message seen by The National, Sheridan tells a party colleague he believes Solidarity is facing “a co- ordinated and concerted attack from within”.

“So-called friends are trying to destroy us,” he says before asking “Who is behind it comrade. Who is the rat or rats?”

Solidarity declined to comment.

http://www.thenational.scot/news/tommy-sheridans-solidarity-party-is-set-for-collapse-after-a-mass-exodus-of-senior-figures.15555

Entdinglichung

4 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

and in the AWL: https://awlstatement.blogspot.co.uk/

Mike Harman

4 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

And the RCG (this is their statements where they suspended then reinstated someone three months later, not sure if there's a site collecting testimonials though) http://www.revolutionarycommunist.org/9-uncategorised/5056-our-311217

Entdinglichung

4 years 8 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Entdinglichung

and in the AWL: https://awlstatement.blogspot.co.uk/

and the reply by the AWL: http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2018-01-11/response-statement

Entdinglichung

4 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

another AWL statement: http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2018-02-14/note-readers

Entdinglichung

3 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

https://www.viewpointmag.com/2018/08/30/the-necessity-of-organization-the-league-of-revolutionary-struggle-and-the-watsonville-canning-strike/

Rios’s political career ended abruptly in 2018. Inspired by #MeToo, Shiree Teng and another woman who had worked closely with the League broke years of silence and revealed that Rios had sexually abused them at the time of the strike. Rios issued a brief written mea culpa and resigned from the City Council. He had functioned as the League’s most visible representative in Watsonville during the strike, and was generally acknowledged even by those who did not share his politics to be a superb organizer. The revelation of his misconduct – details of which were truly disturbing – prompted intense soul-searching on the part of League veterans, who struggled to understand how such behavior could have passed under the radar in an organization which prided itself on its predominantly female leadership and its readiness to struggle against any manifestation of sexism within its ranks. One can only hope that this is a question which future generations of revolutionaries will not have to ask themselves.

Entdinglichung

3 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

https://socialistworker.org/2019/03/15/letter-to-the-iso-membership

Entdinglichung

3 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

https://telegra.ph/Why-Not-To-Join-The-Socialist-Party-CWI-in-Ireland-07-01

A Safe Place for Women?

The Socialist Party is currently affiliated to the Committee for a Workers International (CWI). As we explained at the start the CWI is in the middle of a bit of a crisis and is gradually splitting in two, with different national sections picking sides. However, on thing that is clear is that the Irish Socialist Party and the Australian Socialist Party are both on the same side of this split. Which is quite natural, considering the Socialist Party's de-facto leader, Kevin McLoughlin, and Australia's Anthony Main, have been good friends and allies for a long time. And here in lies the problem. The Irish Socialist Party's close relationship with it's Australian sister party.

One of the current, and, we hear, leading members of the Australian Socialist Party's members is a confessed rapist. He raped a member of his own party. This is not disputed, and is not an accusation. It is a fact. He confessed. He was suspended (we think for about a year) because he raped a member of his own paper. He was then, unforgivably, re-admitted to the party and allowed to take on a leadership role.

Before he was re-admitted, his victim was taken aside by the leadership of the party and asked if she would be okay with his being re-admitted. She said yes. And some time later, resigned from the party altogether. We ask you, in what world is it okay to ask a victim of rape is it okay to put her back in the vicinity of her rapist? Rape victims can suffer severe mental trauma, and the last thing that should ever happen is for them to be asked to work in close proximity with their attacker. But this is what happened in Australia, in a party with whom the Socialist Party in Ireland continues to share close ties.

But it doesn't end there. A few years back, the current leader of the Australian Socialist Party, Anthony Main, was accused of being mentally and physically abusive to his then partner, also a party member. The CWI sent people to Australia to investigate this. They found that nothing could be done, recommended that everyone just move on. This incident split the Australian party in two. We have since learned, that some members of the party came forward at the time of the investigation and offered to bear witness against Anthony Main. Those witnesses were never interviewed by the investigators, and the entire incident was swept under the carpet in an attempt to protect Anthony Main. As usual, protecting the party leadership came before all else. And the Irish Socialist Party continues its close relationship with the Australian section, in particular Kevin.