Wednesday 31 July 2013

Is the Socialist Party heading for a split?


The Weekly Worker ran one its' more self indulgent reports last week with an article about the Socialist Party in Ireland having a meeting to discuss the resignation of four of its members. I suppose if you belong to such a tiny organisation the loss of four comrades must be a blow, but then the real issue was the fact that the leadership seemed unduly concerned that the departees views in the form of their letters might end up in the public domain.

Actually that's fairly symptomatic of the Socialist Party and its sections in the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) for short. The Grandees of the SP really do not like differences becoming public knowledge. When they do there is nothing worse than a comrade scorned as in the case of Jane Aitchison when she fell out with them in the PCS union. She was driven out of her decade long position of President of the DWP group and her hubby was removed from the National Executive.

Back in Ireland their "General Secretary" (bit of a grand title for a group so small) seems to have learnt lessons from the SWP Professor by not tackling the issues that the departing four had raised but adopted all this nonsense about the growing crisis, the revolutions etc. You know the drill by now. It seems they had concerns about err... a slate system leading to conformity on their NC. Sounds very SWPish that does.

The reason for referring to this is that also present at the meeting was one Tony Saunous, a member of the gloriously named CWI secretariat. The CWI have recently held a summer school in Belgium. This has led to a little bit of fractious activity inside the British Socialist Party. There is an argument going on about the party line on the current crisis which appears to revolve around the theory of value or some such Marxist nonsense.

Its not the argument itself that is of interest (lost the will to live reading some of it) but the way the discussion is being suppressed true Leninist style. One member (we'll call him Bruce because that's his name), following his ban from attending the CWI bash in Poirot country writes:

Having banned me from the CWI school in Belgium the next twist in the campaign to suppress principled Marxist criticism in the CWI is a ban on posting material on the Socialist Party (England and Wales) Facebook page.
Ostensibly this is due to the following from an administrator:
‘’Hi Bruce, Just to let you know that most of the facebook admins, myself included, are presently in Belgium at the CWI school. That means that we are going to find it very difficult to moderate discussion in the group. All the material that has so far been posted in the FB group has remained up. However, I’d ask that you do not put any more material related to the debate in the facebook group whilst we are still away. For all of these reasons, you can’t continue to post material in the FB group whilst we’re away. I’ve sent a similar note to Steve FYI.’’
So apparently it’s quite alright in the CWI for the leader to get up and denounce comrades who have a principled Marxist disagreement as ‘’our dogmatists’’ but not ok to counter this with critical material on a closed FB page?! I rejected this ban but a campaign of censorship is now been run from of all places Belgium! One of the full timers attending the school is leaving sessions to trawl through the Socialist Party page and delete comments posted by comrades critical of the leadership. Not only that, this includes deleting, not just comments but educational videos on such things as THE LAW OF VALUE!
This is not all, in a further post "Bruce" continues:
Things move fast and I have now been excluded from the Socialist Party Facebook page for no reason. I got this from the moderator Ben Robinson of the SP NC who is in Belgium attending the CWI European school. I bet he was ”only obeying orders”.
”Bruce, I’ve removed you temporarily from the SP facebook group. We’ll review it on Monday when we’re back in London and able to sort the questions of access to the groups properly. Ben”
Other messages are clearly warning of mentioning the ”debate” while the leadership is to set a ”time table” for it Laughing. The debate has started already and their are a number of comrades already in outright disagreement with the leadership. Robinson obviously has little experience of the revolutionary movement or on how disagreements are dealt with
Whether there is any truth in the ”temporary” character of this further ban from a party forum has yet to be seen as Ben is methodically removing comrades who are critical of the party position and BANNING any discussion of Marxist theory on the question of the economy on Facebook.

The ominous conclusion of cde Bruce is this:

However the methods are similar if petty. Under the pretext of agreeing to a comradely debate the critical material of oppositionists is being censored and repressed while public attacks on us are made by the leadership. The idea is to soften up the membership for a quick victory over the opposition. Meanwhile lower rung members of the apparatus are carrying out petty bureaucratic policing actions on Facebook with the most spurious justification. The big difference is the modern historical context. The capitalist crisis is leading to a rising class tide and we are not in a period of reaction and therefore it will be ridiculous to expect such methods to succeed.
The debate has hardly started and the leadership thinks they can suppress ideas and contain the disagreement by keeping party members in the darkness of ignorance. It will fail utterly.
What happens next? Sounds like the SWP minus "delta". Another split in the vanguardist currents? One can only hope.

Leninism belongs in the dustbin of history.


  1. Agree with all this - except the last line. In thinking you can navigate all this stuff by being "for" or "against" an ism is incredibly stupid. Who are you going to swap Lenin for - Kroptkin? Churchill? You've got to learn via Raya Dunayevskaya that political currents can turn into their own opposites: Stalin the "super-Leninist" was counter-revolutionary, but there are things in Lenin - eg his reading of Hegel in 1914 when the Social Democracy failed to oppose world war - we can all learn from. We mustn't let Lenin be defined by the Stalinists. And, certainly, we shouldn't stop with Lenin. I find Dunayevskaya's call to "go beyond" Lenin highly stimulating and relevant to now ...

  2. The CWI/Socialist Party hates open debate so much it has set up a website detailing it's political debates

    Do keep up Howard.

    1. Err, where's the actual debate on that website?

      More to the point Bruce is complaining he has been permenantley banned from your closed Face Book:

      It appears that my ban from the Socialist Party Facebook page has been made permanent on particularly spurious grounds including that this blog, and my contributions on the page, have not kept ‘’within limits’’ of comradely discussion. Just exactly what is meant by the term ‘’within limits’’ is not defined at all. Basically this is an excuse for outright censorship because chief censor Ben Robinson doesn’t like my blog or the fact that I have publically criticised him directly. He certainly doesn’t like the fact that discussions on the page are actually winning people over to a Marxist position and Ben and other full timers haven’t got the ability to meet the arguments politically so are resorting to bureaucratic measures to keep the ideas of Marxism from interested subscribers to the page. This will fail politically of course and just increase interest in my blog. I will be continuing a campaign for reinstatement. So I welcome messages in support of my reinstatement being sent to Ben Robinson

      Do try to be a bit more honest Neil!

    2. Haha, you didn't read it AT ALL did you? I'll bet you just looked at the front page and went, 'huh, where's the comments section?'

      There's the entire debate from the split over whether to leave the Labour Party and over the question of the SSP, both of whom tore the party apart, to name but two. Both sides are presented, in full, despite the obvious fact we vehemently disagreed with them.

      Tell me Howard, are you in the habit of publishing long, detailed articles from the people you misrepresent, sorry, disagree with, on your blog?

  3. The lack of a comments section on your (Socialist Party) website is actually the problem. Besides if you truly are open to debate why has Bruce been banned from your (closed, members only website).

    When you open up to public debate and scrutiny, then maybe I'll take you a wee bit more seriously.

  4. omg.. CWI/Socialist Alternative in the usa.. is the only voie for freedom n socailism u noe stalin does not point hte way forwd dump the two parties of the rulin class i dont kno why stalinists here want to attack Socialist party/cwi when it is the most respected organization in the world and makes the ruling class tremble just u know we make $15/hr a central piece of our campaign in the usa and we want $15/hr we are the $15/hr party. in boston we have the largest group of white men ever from the south shore also u have to be the girlfriend of a party member to really get in :):):) long live seamus whelhan