Thursday, 28 March 2013

An Easter break for SWP students (with update)

The Easter break for members of the Socialist Worker Student Societies (SWSS) has this year turned into a "holiday of a special kind". In several cases it now seems to be permanent. No less than five of the SWSS groups have left the SWP "en-mass" Leeds, Brighton & Sussex, Hull, Queen Mary's and Kent.

According to the latest report on the International Socialist Network site, the Professor's supporters have been trying to ensure that they have control of what's left of their "student" organisation. Sheffield students (more on them later) write that:

Normally, when a national student meeting is called, we aim to get as many students as possible to it, but not this time. This time we were limited to two delegates per university (presumably so we couldn’t make the CC cry - which has apparently happened at previous student meetings) which meant there were less than 30 students representing SWSS nationally. The day was broken into 3 relatively short sessions; General Perspectives, Marxism Festival and NUS Conference

The lead off covered everything from Cyprus to the bedroom tax (important issues, no doubt) but failed to even mention students until the final five minutes of a 25 minute speech, which many in the room found quite bemusing. The 5 minutes dedicated to the students actually drew out a number of laughs and sneers from the student delegates, who were justifiably confused by the lack of discussion about student strategy. The strategy was under-developed, detached and vague; carry on as before; relate to local campaigns; build SWSS groups and privatisation is bad!

Not impressed seems an understatement: seems the chair may have overestimated the reaction there would be to Charlie’s lead-off, and there was silence. Absolute silence for 5 minutes, broken only by nervous laughter and the shrugging of shoulders. The students had come to talk about how to keep SWSS together nationally, to develop a nuanced strategy in the face of fragmented and localised struggle, and to hold their leadership to account for the bizarre mixed messages SWSS had received for the previous few months. We didn’t know how to respond to this patronising, generalised, detached lead off about the crisis of capitalism and the bedroom tax campaigns. Did Charlie realise 150+ people had already left, that SWSS groups were falling apart and that we’d just come through the biggest faction fight the SWP has ever seen? It seemed not.

They conclude:

It became clear during the meeting that there was, in fact, no proper student strategy.....

From the sound of it there are not that many students left anyway which will be a real problem for the SWP leadership as their "revolving door" membership has very much relied on the recruitment of members from the universities.

There has now been a mass exodus of SWP members in Sheffield:

However indications are that not everyone who is leaving the SWP is going to the International Socialist Network. There is yet another project called Left Unity (a highly original name) which is attracting some. The reason for this is not clear but an indication of problems already arising within the ISN were highlighted by in the comments under the student report:

I fear much of the culture of the SWP that lead to this sterile meeting is being carried more or less unchanged into the International Socialist Network......

Wake up IS Network, if you want a different outcome you have to do things differently from the start and not just rely on having the right answers, because as we all know everyone thinks they have them.

Democratic accountability only happens when everyone has the information and power to contribute.

Oooh democracy and participation, there's a thought!

Sigh, for some reason these people never learn from their mistakes.

Lenin got it wrong comrades, can't you see that? The way the "delta" case was dealt with is symptomatic of the "Leninist" mode of organisation. It automatically leads to autocracy. Then when in power, mass murder.

"Simples". Really it is.

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