Poor Richard Seymour. He’s been blogging away as the eponymous ‘Lenin’ of Lenin’s Tomb since 2003 and is one of the longest established Trotbloggers in the country. There are signs, however, that he’s come to the end of the ideological plank.
Over the last few years Lenin’s Tomb has been steadily overtaken in the battle for readers by newer far-left rivals Socialist Unity and Dave’s Part. The former site has a less sectarian take on political debate and the latter is simply better written.
But neither of these sites would have been able to whizz past the longer-established Lenin’s Tomb without a crisis of ideological certitude that seems to have slowed the blogging rate of the once hyperactive Seymour. He’s gone from Stakhanovite hero of labour to being a member of the ‘why bother?’ school of blogging recently. Some days he doesn’t even post at all, and when he does he’s just going through the motions.
This failure to meet previous production norms is almost certainly linked to the recent realisation that he’s been taken for a fool by the Socialist Workers Party. They told him Respect was going to be massive and he believed them; they told him the subsequent implosion of Respect wasn’t a problem and he believed them; and finally they told him the they took inner-party democracy seriously and Seymour – credulous neophyte that he is – gave them the benefit of the doubt.
Now that the Socialist Workers Party are showing their commitment to inner party-democracy by pinning the blame for their laughable failure to thrive (in what they have often said is the worst depression since the 1930s) on the previous SWP leadership and expelling those ordinary party members who protested against such political simplemindedness Seymour is rapidly running out of va-va-voom.
Take this recent mea culpa over Respect for example:
The coalition was still too small, unstable and ramshackle and ultimately fell apart over a mixture of substantial strategic disagreements and old-fashioned sectariana that has long dogged socialists who have for too long acted in relative isolation. We made utter prats of ourselves, and I exclude no one from that criticism.
Translation: I now realise the SWP leadership messed up big time but am not allowed to say so explicitly even though everyone else in the world knew what was going to happen.
And how about this, later on in the post, for pessimism of the will:
We now have a left that is Beyond the Fragments, a ‘plural’ left that may have more organisations than individual members, certainly not capable for the time being of recomposing itself in a new organisation to challenge the Labour Party for its base. In fact, the current state of affairs makes it very difficult for us to resist the coming Tory onslaught. Moreover, absent a movement to relate to, it is not clear that such an organisation would fare even as well as its immediate predecessors.
I almost feel sorry for Seymour. He’s admitting here that Respect was the highlight of his political existence and such ideological peaks it provided won’t be seen again in the near future.
What’s the best that can be hoped for then ‘Lenin’?
Unity on the left, if not immediately achievable in the sense described above, is surely a state to aim for in the interim.
A hope for ultra-left unity… maybe…in the middle distance of course. Let’s be reasonable Comrades.
Pathetic stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree, particularly when contrasted to the triumphalism of the younger, more naive Seymour.
Why does he bother?
Readers are invited to guess how long it is before (a) Seymour and the SWP part company and (b) Lenin’s Tomb finally shuts up shop.