Thursday, 17 January 2013

At the other extreme - "comrades" at war

The continuing crisis inside the Socialist Workers Party continues to dominate most of the blogs that cover the affairs of the left. Some of it is out of sheer sectarian glee but there are some very serious issues that will impact the far left and their periphery for some time to come. For those of us who are active in the unions the SWP has always had an "undue influence" in our affairs, the PCS in particular.

Candy Unwin who presented the "findings" of the SWP "Disciplinary Conference that was eventually leaked to Socialist Unity by a very disgruntled member (who had gone to the trouble of recording then transcribing the whole sorry affair) is (I believe still) an active member of PCS. It was ridiculous to say the least that in her presentation she decided to tell SWP members that  (amongst others) Mark Serwotka (General Secretary of the PCS) allegedly "knew" of the affair "within a week".

Unfortunately information about this complaint wasn’t kept confidential in the way that we had asked. In fact, people outside the party, such as Chris Bambery, members of Counterfire, members in Unite Against Fascism, who then told Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of PCS – all these people knew about the case within a week of the hearing, before we’d even finished our final report.

Whilst Mark Serwotka may be "close" to the SWP politically, he is not a member and frankly this distasteful affair is nothing what so ever to do with either him or our union the PCS. 

In a letter to Andy Newman, the National Secretary of the SWP Charlie Kimber attacked the publication of the document and referenced the way trade unions deal with such matters as a reason as to why this issue should not be in the public domain. This has now solicited a response from Linda Rodgers, SWP member and Shop Steward in Scottish Women's Aid to write to the  SWP Central Committee thus:

As anyone who works in an organisation or operates in a trades union knows full well this matter would NOT

have been dealt with through internal mechanisms. The procedures for investigating disciplinary matters or 

disputes between colleagues are not used by organisations or trades unions to investigate serious crimes. How 

could you not know that? Or are you just assuming that a sheepish membership will accept this untruth?

The appalling way in which this whole issue has been handled is causing huge ructions inside the SWP which will according to most observers lead to a split. Further than that (and frankly a more healthy reaction) the whole episode is causing some comrades to question the foundations of the whole philosophy of the authoritarian Leninist tradition. The anonymous author of an article on the Counterfire website suggests:

Leaving to form a new version of the SWP is not an option: it is an historically outdated model and the last thing the British left needs is another small Trot organisation.
My hope is that something will rise in the SWP's ashes. That enough people will leave, soon enough, and together enough (i.e. not just drifting off) so as to allow for some sort of regroupment of the radical left; a coming together of those who understand some of the problems described here (and many others who never felt any of the existing organisations were what they were looking for) into something much more plural.

Why it has taken these people so long to realise that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way these "sects" all organise is surprising. The evidence has been there since the beginning of the of the Bolshevik coup in 1917.

Lets be clear comrades you need to read your own history. "Democratic centralism" (which lies at the very core of your problems) was not introduced until after Lenin and his cronies took power and was used by all of them (Trotsky too!) to retain their grip over power.

Marxism - Leninism has been flawed from the start. It doesn't work and that's why regimes based on the ideas of Lenin and his subsequent heirs have been brutal to the extreme. The rebels in the SWP should be thankful that the "Disciplinary Committee didn't have the use of firing squads because as Lenin always put it "Revolution comes at the point of a gun.

Time to move on and leave the works of these dictators to gather dust on the bookshelf. 

There is political life beyond this flawed ideology. One that's based on freedom and human rights. It's called democracy. 

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