Tuesday, 12 March 2013
The SWP split, women's rights and the Vatican
Late last night a statement appeared on the International Socialism blog announcing not only the resignation of 72 members of the Socialist Workers Party, but also the establishment of a new group on the left the International Socialist Network. Given the amount of time the "opposition" has had to organise itself, especially since the outcome of the SWP conference was openly pre-ordained this is very poor start.
Another statement has appeared from members of the Socialist Worker Student Societies at Brighton & Sussex University. They number a mere nine. We'll have to see how many more join the list of resignations over the next few days, especially those that expect to be treated seriously in the trade unions where reps across the political spectrum have been watching the antics of the "comrades" with some dark fascination and (it has to be said) contempt for the SWP for the last couple of months.
One of the main leaders of the new group is the rather verbose Richard Seymour, the blogger who calls himself "Lenin" at Lenin's Tomb. Seymour pleads for understanding in his own announcement of departure from the SWP:
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.
I'm afraid that anyone who does stay will inevitably be tainted whether Seymour likes it or not. Ever since the way the "comrade delta" went public, everyone has been appalled at the way this case has been handled by the Central Committee and their lickspittles. Its all so unacceptable.
The emergence of other, similar cases being tried internally, including two where the members were apparently. allegedly found guilty has further compounded the utter disdain that outside observers have for the SWP.
There is no way out except resignation.
The comrades who remain after all that even Seymour outlines will be shunned by anybody in the trade union and wider Labour movement in just the same way the remaining "Healyites were in the 1980s when they imploded over similar scandals.
There is no future for the SWP.
The Vatican and Women's rights
Given the huge amount of time people have been paying to the antics of a tiny (and now virtually irrelevant) trotskyist sect, it's time to have a serious look at the question of women's rights in the wider world. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has written to the Vatican to "halt its' campaign to stop the United Nations adopting stronger standards on violence against women at the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York:
“It is shocking that the Vatican is leading an unholy alliance, with Iran, to stop the UN stepping up action to protect women and girls from violence,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. “Hundreds of millions of women have experienced violence, assault and genital mutilation, and hundreds of millions more will if governments, led by the UN, fail to step up action. The idea that somehow ‘cultural or religious practices’ can be used as an excuse for violence, torture, mutilation or murder cannot be allowed to prevail in the modern era. We call on the Vatican and its government allies to drop their resistance to full protection for girls and women.”
Full letter: http://www.ituc-csi.org/letter-to-vatican-from-ituc
Trade Unions must fight for women's rights and against oppression wherever it stems from!