SWP

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Matt
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Apr 1 2008 21:38
SWP

Being a reader of the socialist worker/review etc. for several years I've recently been looking elsewhere and at anarchism, and how socialism and anarchism differ (not easy as there's so much cross over it seems). I'd be interested to hear criticisms of the SWP as I've heard there's a fair few, so if you guys could enlighten me that'd be great.

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Tacks
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Apr 1 2008 23:20

where do you buy SW and SR from? I never seen them on sale outside of the SWP itself.

Feighnt
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Apr 2 2008 00:14

maybe just a nit-picky thing, matt, but most Anarchists consider themselves to be "socialists" too... erm, and i'm kinda afraid to get into that a bit more, except i'm not sure how much you know about all this and i dont want to annoy you with a dorky little talk about something you might already know all about embarrassed

erm... and as for the SWP and criticisms, i'm sure that, in a short time, probably many posters here will be happy to help laugh out loud (i, myself, have no personal experience with them)

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Joseph Kay
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Apr 2 2008 08:00

hi matt. my main criticisms of the SWP aren't so much on 'anarchist vs socialist' lines, as on 'communist vs leftist' ones. what i mean by this is that they opportunistically support 'progressive' or 'anti-imperialist' factions of the bourgeoisie, which is anti-working class (e.g. 'calling on the unions to...' rather than encouraging workers' self-organisation, supporting third-world nationalists like Al-Sadr, supporting the Iranian regime that's busy repressing rising working class struggles there, wooing the muslim petit-bourgeoisie in electoral adventures etc etc). (for what it's worth i consider myself both an anarchist and a communist, in fact i think the two imply each other, libertarian communist).

winjer
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Apr 2 2008 09:29
Tacks wrote:
where do you buy SW and SR from? I never seen them on sale outside of the SWP itself.

Borders stocks all sorts of tat.

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JoeMaguire
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Apr 2 2008 10:32

Matt, I think you should explain where your criticism are at in terms of the SWP and then maybe we can help further your understanding.

Carousel
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Apr 2 2008 11:16
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I'd be interested to hear criticisms of the SWP

For all I know, the SWP as an organisation may "want" what they've achieved, in which case there’s no criticism to be made other than what they want being rubbish. If, on the other hand, they’ve fallen short of their objectives, well, their track record is a perfectly adequate critique in itself. I mean this business with RESPECT and so on, is really beneath criticism all together. After all, what are they for? It’s a bit like criticising chalk for being chalky.

David UK
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Apr 2 2008 11:29

Criticisms of the SWP...

Firstly, they seem to be particularly confused. They need to decide if they are infact a revolutionary organisation that wants to build working class power, or if they intend to adopt the electoral route, and stand in elelctions. They have literally hundreds of 'paper' members because being a member means very little more than havign to sell papers and get people onto coaches. They don't actually challenge capitalism IN ANY way.

This links to strategy. What is it? I mean, their emphasis (and they tell regional organisers this) is trying to get as many members as possible.. then what? When you've got 51% of people on board you'll have a meeting and start the revolution? it's just not doable.

As an Anarchist I believe we have to build confidence, ecourage self-organisation and raise conciousness and support for our politics. (yes I do believe we should act as a vanguard) This is done through constructive organisation in workplaces and communities.

Secondly, the centralisation of their organisation. People that disagree with the CC get a hard time from what I've been told, branches have no autonomy and cannot respond to local issues and thus build grassroots support for socialist politics. The structure is far too rigid, and will never function as a mass movement.

They want state power, we want the working class councils to have power.

There are more, but these are the first ones I thought of. Hope this helps. I will also add that I do know a couple of members of teh SWP quite well and have a lot of respect for them. But I have no time for the party itself or it's leadership.

Matt
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Apr 2 2008 11:55

I've got a subscription, I also get the International Socialist journal out of that as well.

David UK
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Apr 2 2008 11:59

Cool, if you like reading things like that, you should subscribe to the Anarchist paper' Freedom, it's bi-monthly and very good quality. PM me if you want info on how or just a single copy!

Matt
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Apr 2 2008 12:03
Feighnt wrote:
maybe just a nit-picky thing, matt, but most Anarchists consider themselves to be "socialists" too... erm, and i'm kinda afraid to get into that a bit more, except i'm not sure how much you know about all this and i dont want to annoy you with a dorky little talk about something you might already know all about embarrassed

How much do I know? Hmm, I'd say I never know enough so please, rant away grin

Matt
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Apr 2 2008 12:07
Joseph K. wrote:
hi matt. my main criticisms of the SWP aren't so much on 'anarchist vs socialist' lines, as on 'communist vs leftist' ones. what i mean by this is that they opportunistically support 'progressive' or 'anti-imperialist' factions of the bourgeoisie, which is anti-working class (e.g. 'calling on the unions to...' rather than encouraging workers' self-organisation, supporting third-world nationalists like Al-Sadr, supporting the Iranian regime that's busy repressing rising working class struggles there, wooing the muslim petit-bourgeoisie in electoral adventures etc etc). (for what it's worth i consider myself both an anarchist and a communist, in fact i think the two imply each other, libertarian communist).

Now, up until finding this website I was familiar with the term libertarian socialist, does that differ from libertarian communism? (Wonders whether to post this as he might be asking a dumb question that EVERYONE knows the answer to but him).

Carousel
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Apr 2 2008 13:45
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They need to decide…

In what way do they need it?

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The structure is far too rigid, and will never function as a mass movement.

Again, the assumption is they want to. Common sense may suggest they “should want” to function as a mass movement, but in reality the SWP is just a social hobby like the national hang gliding club.

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They want state power, we want the working class councils to have power

The working class councils are a state. last time I checked every sect including the ICC see their party as the rightful dominant ideological group in a revolutionary councilist government.

David UK
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Apr 2 2008 13:55
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The working class councils are a state

Hmm, I recomend the updtated colins English dictionary.

In that case anarchism has historically demanded a state. The difference is that the SWP (bolshevik-leninist-commies) want ultimate decision making power to rest with a small body of people (state), and not local councils (not a state)

Even if they say otherwise that's the reality of their programe.

Carousel
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Apr 2 2008 14:04
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The difference is that the SWP (bolshevik-leninist-commies) want ultimate decision making power to rest with a small body of people (state), and not local councils (not a state)

Oh come on. By that definition, Switzerland isn't a state. But your point about the SWP’s programme is well made. The “real” reason for their failure, and the same can be said of the anarchists, is that no one (aside from the disabled and some ex-boy scouts) is convinced when they set out what the problem with society actually is.

David UK
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Apr 2 2008 14:13

Do all economic and social decisions and policies (including laws) get decided upon by mass-workers assemblies on the local level through a national federation? With no authority from above?

Thought not. I bet they have paid ministers, a president, a cabinet etc.

Carousel
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Apr 2 2008 14:20

Comrade, Switzerland operates a direct democracy based on citizen's initiative. Ultimate decision making power rests with the whole population, as it does here. Whatever the problem with the prevailing order, it’s not that the democracy isn’t representative enough. You could institute the most perfect mass-assembly based bottom-up democracy you can imagine tomorrow, and they’d still formulate (approximately) the same social policy as we have now.

Mike Harman
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Apr 2 2008 14:27
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Now, up until finding this website I was familiar with the term libertarian socialist, does that differ from libertarian communism?

Well there aren't really clear definitions for either term in general usage.

Probably the broadest definition of libertarian communism would be a rejection Leninism and Social Democracy, along with a rejection of the non-communist trends in anarchism. Having said that, most people on this site do that to one extent or another and still manage to have fundamental disagreements about stuff which is IMO more important (like Joseph K. said, between 'communist' and 'leftist' approaches).

IMO it's more useful to understand this stuff in the context of actual events - which means identifying movements of the working class in real life (some of which have had strong Marxist or anarchist influence, some not), and identifying the common aspects of them as well as what made them unique (and their failures of course). When you look at the past 150 years of history you can see how various groups of both anarchists and Marxists have acted to support/lead those movements or betray them (or be spectacularly ineffective at either). In other words, the differences within anarchism and Marxism are a lot more than the differences between them (at least the spectrum of views represented on this site) - and they both have very strong positive and negative aspects which are nearly always ignored in 'anarchism' vs. 'marxism' discussions.

David UK
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Apr 2 2008 14:37
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Switzerland operates a direct democracy

So they have complete control of the economy? It's completely nationalised? And the workplaces must aslo be run wtih these councils, so class is abolsihed?

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Tacks
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Apr 2 2008 15:09
guydebordisdead wrote:
There are numerous threads about the SWP on here. Do a search mate. Tacks, stfu, you can buy those rags on any demo.

YES INDEEDY WHICH WOULDN'T BE OUTSIDE OF THE SWP WOULD IT THEN YOU PRAT

cheers mate smile

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Tacks
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Apr 2 2008 15:10

oh, nice try carousel.

wtf man grin

Carousel
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Apr 2 2008 15:12
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It's completely nationalised?

Jesus alive. All a direct democracy requires is to be regarded as such, which Switzerland’s is. Are you seriously implying that nationalisation is a hallmark of a “better” democratic form? And as for suggesting that workers' councils abolish class, well, you may as well argue that class is something to do with the relationship towards the means of production or some other magical notion.

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Tacks
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Apr 2 2008 15:16

my personal criticisms of the SWP (before and after the far more valid political ones already being made) ios based on a first impression that has never really changed: they struck me as about as revolutionary and up for it as Conservative Futures.

Yes i just said 'up for it' lol grin

David UK
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Apr 2 2008 17:03
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All a direct democracy requires is to be regarded as such

So because a few people consider N.Korea a direct democracy, it is?

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Are you seriously implying that nationalisation is a hallmark of a “better” democratic form?

All I am saying is that for a society to be democratic, the people must have complete control of the economy, and the means of production (including production of services) otherwise, you have a class system, and people with decision making power OVER the democratic councils, meaning the power of these councils to make decisions is fantasy.

David UK
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Apr 2 2008 17:03
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All a direct democracy requires is to be regarded as such

So because a few people consider N.Korea a direct democracy, it is?

Quote:
Are you seriously implying that nationalisation is a hallmark of a “better” democratic form?

All I am saying is that for a society to be democratic, the people must have complete control of the economy, and the means of production (including production of services) otherwise, you have a class system, and people with decision making power OVER the democratic councils, meaning the power of these councils to make decisions is fantasy.

posi
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Apr 2 2008 17:26
Quote:
When you look at the past 150 years of history you can see how various groups of both anarchists and Marxists have acted to support/lead those movements or betray them (or be spectacularly ineffective at either). In other words, the differences within anarchism and Marxism are a lot more than the differences between them (at least the spectrum of views represented on this site) - and they both have very strong positive and negative aspects which are nearly always ignored in 'anarchism' vs. 'marxism' discussions.

word. which is why it makes no sense to unite people on the basis of being 'anarchist' or 'marxist'. They're just not helpful categories for doing anything useful, and set up unnecessary divisions.

Carousel
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Apr 2 2008 17:30
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So because a few people consider N.Korea a direct democracy, it is?

I suppose. What of it?

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All I am saying is that for a society to be democratic, the people must have complete control of the economy

"The People" already have complete control of the economy, they just do a different thing with it than you fancied. Anyway, explain why you brought nationalisation up, I’m genuinely interested in hearing more on this decidedly leftist perspective.

David UK
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Apr 2 2008 17:44
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"The People" already have complete control of the economy, they just do a different thing with it than you fancied.

I want you to qualify that statement. If a company exists in Switzerland, then there is private ownership on the means of production in some way shape or form. Consiquently there is a power relationship. Democracy is horezontal, and is incompatable with private ownership. I somehow doubt that the people in switzerland decided to have capitalism and can get rid of it by popular reffurendum.

http://switzerland.isyours.com/e/immigration/programs/business/why.switzerland.html

If the entire country is Directly democratic (which it isn't because it has a federal government) then the economy would have to be nationalised, as in, under the control of the nation as opposed to Capitalists. If there's no state then nationalisation is placing the means of production in the hands of the people (an impossible scenario as there isa state)

Carousel
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Apr 2 2008 17:59
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I somehow doubt that the people in switzerland decided to have capitalism and can get rid of it by popular reffurendum.

I also doubt they decided to have capitalism, because it doesn't exist. They could however have any system they fancied by popular referendum, yes indeed. As could we.

Quote:
If a company exists in Switzerland, then there is private ownership on the means of production in some way shape or form. Consiquently there is a power relationship. Democracy is horezontal, and is incompatable with private ownership.

Nah. For a start ownership is a mere matter of law and is changed with the stroke of a pen. Further, there’s nothing to stop a federation of workers assemblies voting all authority over to the Queen. In fact, the more I think about it, the more likely it seems. Tell us more about this nationalisation biz, presumably you'll be needing a state for that. I mean, the idea of nationalisation without a state is off-the-wall even in my book.

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Refused
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Apr 2 2008 18:10
Carousel wrote:
Quote:
So because a few people consider N.Korea a direct democracy, it is?

I suppose. What of it?

Then your definition of it is meaningless, like almost everything else you post. grin

Carousel
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Apr 2 2008 19:05
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your definition of it is meaningless, like almost everything else you post.

Shut up. The quest for meaning again. Oh clarity, oh definition. As if any of it is any more than indignation over “power relations”. Ah diddums, where’s my violin. The meaning of this-or-that can't be supplied by religion or ideology, only by the actual experience of living. Any road up, believe you me, the Swiss system is conventionally considered to be a direct democracy and “nationalisation” requires at least a nation and a state by implication. Take it or leave it, it makes no odds to me.