History,  Trots

From the Vaults: Spartacist League, July 8, 1980

The vaults do contain some gems. I copy below, in its entirety, a flyer, printed on both sides of a single sheet of A4 paper, by the Spartacist League in 1980. It makes compelling reading both for the violence of the SWP and for the positions on the Soviet War in Afghanistan.

Does anyone find the violence of the SWP, described in this flyer, a surprise?

A blood pact with Thatcher against the Soviet Union


On the evening of Sunday, July 6, members of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) violently assaulted members and supporters of the Spartacist League (SL) who were engaged in a peaceful protest outside an SWP-sponsored debate at North London Polytechnic. The SL picket was a protest against the SWP’s blatantly political exclusion of the SL from the public debate between SWPer John Molyneux and Communist Party member Monty Johnstone, part of the ‘Marxism into the 80s’ school. Known SL supporters were denied entrance to the meeting even though they had purchased tickets. Not only did the SWP exclude any supporter of the SL it could identify, not only did it physically and threateningly eject from the meeting an SL supporter who on a point of order attempted to protest against the exclusion, but it also threw out those, like supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Tendency, who raised a voice against this criminal attack on workers democracy. After the finish of the debate a number of SWPers approached the picket, tore placards out of the hands of SL supporters and ripped them up and began to kick and punch the SLers. One SWP member carrying a half-full pint of beer bellowed at an SL supporter, ‘Fuck off or I’ll smash this in your face.’ Even as our comrades retreated down the road to avoid further violence and the possibility of police intervention, the SWP thugs followed them and continued their vicious attacks.

The reason for this thug attack and the physical exclusion which preceded it is quite clear. The SWP right now is not prepared to tolerate even the most elementary principles of workers democracy when it comes to Trotskyists, because it is in a political bloc with the most right wing and rabidly anti-Soviet elements of Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government.

Uniquely in the British left – and internationally – the Spartacist tendency has come down foursquare and openly in defence of the Soviet state and the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan against the mullahs, the bride-price, the veil and illiteracy, against the open imperialists like Carter and Thatcher and against their social-democratic apologists like the Labour Party and the SWP. When we proudly proclaimed, ‘Hail Red Army in Afghanistan!’, the SWP joined the imperialists and snivelling social democrats to scream, ‘Soviet troops out of Afghanistan!’ Today the SWP has surpassed Thatcher herself. In his regular column in the Daily Mirror, leading SWP member Paul Foot has made it his business to condemn the Thatcher government for not being hard enough on the Soviets. Foot complains that British beef is being shipped to Russian troops in Kabul – and his line has even been taken up by Tory MPs in the House of Commons.  Foot’s advice to the British bosses is echoed in the SWP’s Women’s Voice, which denounces Thatcher for ‘signing treaties with Moscow to increase Anglo-Russian trade! Principles seem to stop short when it comes to boosting profits’ (Women’s Voice, June 1980). The SWP’s line is: Don’t let profits stand before anti-Sovietism! Starve the Russki bastards!

The hysterical quality of the SWP’s exclusionism and thuggery simply matches the hysterical quality of Carter/Thatcher’s anti-Soviet war drive, with which for all its social-pacifist pleadings against Cruise missiles, the SWP today finds itself in harmony. This is the naked logic of the SWP’s self-styled ‘third-campist’ refusal to defend the Soviet degenerated workers state and the gains of the October Revolution against the imperialist warmongers: a blood pact with the bourgeoisie. It is no accident that they have singled out the Spartacist League. Trotskyists are today – as we have always been – the only consistent and intransigent defenders of the gains of October against imperialist war threats and against domestic counterrevolution. It is only on the basis of defence of the USSR that a principled fight can be waged for workers political revolution to overthrow the treacherous, detente-loving Kremlin bureaucracy – to destroy their privileges, stolen from the results of the planned economy, and to restore the genuine Soviet democracy of Lenin’s time.

It is their hysterically anti-Soviet line which today fuels SWP members to the point of brutal assault against the Trotskyists of the SL. Such thuggery and bureaucratic exclusionism is a threat to every leftist and indeed to every worker. Honest political debate is impossible in an atmosphere of threats and intimidation. On the contrary, such practices are an open invitation to the agents provocateurs of the bourgeois state and even the fascist scum who will exploit them to further disrupt and break up left-wing meetings. And it is an open threat to any worker who wants to stand with the Soviet Union against anti-Soviet imperialist war hysteria.

Nor is it the first time the SWP have used such methods. Other political tendencies have got this kind of treatment in the past, and the SL has been excluded before from SWP’s ‘public’ meetings, and from supposedly other forums of the SWP’s ‘Real Steel News’ front during the steel strike. But today, when the march of the world political events demonstrates decisively that the SWP’s ‘third camp’ really does lead to Thatcher’s camp, anti-democratic, anti-working class methods take on a particularly sinister connotation. Social patriotism and anti-communism take many forms – but they always aim to silence the real Bolsheviks.

The entire left and workers movement must condemn, without any hesitation, the SWP’s violent exclusion and thug assault. Squashing and stifling political debate, excluding left-wing oppositionists, the use of thuggery and intimidation – these are the classical methods of the trade union bureaucrats, anxious to police the labour movement for the capitalist class. SWP members had better recognise before it’s too late that their ‘third camp’ politics are taking them at a breakneck pace down the road to becoming Jimmy Carter and Maggie Thatcher’s bootboys, the so-called ‘revolutionary’ counterparts of the treacherous union leaders the SWP professes to hate. Down with bureaucratic exclusionism and thuggery in the workers movement! Defend the Soviet Union against imperialist war threats!

(01) 278 2232

p&p Spartacist League, PO Box 185, London WC1H 8JE

8 July 1980