The Socialist Party: a ‘teenage rampage’

This is a cross-post from Howie’s Corner

One of the main features of the Socialist Party (of England and Wales, SPEW for short) is that it has nearly always managed to keep its’ internal travails private. Not so anymore it would seem. Just like their counterparts in the thoroughly discredited SWP, the age of the Internet has started to change all that.

The establishment of an open “opposition” blog in the form of Marx Returns from the Grave has now prompted the Socialist Party leadership to issue a formal, some ten thousand word reply to the criticisms of not just the author Bruce Wallace, but also other members of their organisation.

Peter Taffe and Lynn Walsh write:

A discussion on Marx‘s economic ideas and their relevance today, particularly of the Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall (LTRPF), has been initiated by some comrades in Scotland and England and Wales……

Because these comrades – Bruce Wallace in particular, who attacks almost daily the Socialist Party, its leadership and the CWI, not through the structures of the CWI but in the public arena – echo the central ideas of Kliman, of necessity therefore a large part of this document will take up Kliman’s ideas as well as those of Wallace and others, who have hailed him as an ‘unsung hero’.

This is a clear indication that the ideas of their intrepid oppositionist has begun to have an impact inside SPEW. To outsiders much of the debate will seem like (to put it politely as I can) “navel gazing”, but to Marxists the “word” is all-important and the leadership do not like having their Pope like infallibility challenged.

Brucie responds thus:

…. never before in history I think has such a humble rank and file party member like me received such an intended drubbing when the reply isn’t even addressed to them! I really don’t understand the vitriol of this document considering the ideas it is directed against are so obviously outlandish?

Comrades Taffe & Walsh accuse both the economist Andrew Killman and Bruce Wallace of (gasp) following the ideas of (wait for it) the Socialist Workers Party. The evidence being:

Before dealing with Kliman’s economic ideas, it is necessary to draw out the political implications of what he writes.

He unapologetically shares a ‘state capitalist’ analysis with the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in Britain, although he is not a member of their ‘international’, the International Socialist Tendency (IST).

In fact, he dedicates his book to one of the SWP’s theoreticians, the late Chris Harman, who shared his approach to the rate of profit issue.

Bruce Wallace may try to pretend that this has no bearing on his economic analysis. But it is the experience of ourselves and many workers in Britain with the SWP and others who adhere to a state capitalist analysis of the former Soviet Union – it was a state capitalist regime not a degenerated workers’ state, they argue – that it leads them to a mistaken approach on virtually all political questions both of an historical and contemporary character. (See our book ‘Socialism and Left Unity’.) In his book, Kliman, when it comes to politics – as well as his economic analysis that we will deal with later – commits one blunder after another, particularly in the concluding chapters.

There is a very simple aphorism in judging individuals and political groupings: “Show me who your friends are and I’ll show you who you are.”

The fact that Bruce Wallace can swallow so easily the ideas of Kliman, somebody who rejects Trotskyist methods and programme, speaks volumes about his present position.

Aah, that old cookie, oppose the leadership and you have abandoned your faith. Such heresy!

The fact remains though that the Internet is changing the way activists are now viewing politics. Gone are the days of old when internal debate was limited to scruffy duplicated documents passed around smoke filled rooms and not seen by anyone outside the organisation that produced them.

In the case of groups like SPEW and the SWP one of the tenants of their practise a little thing called “democratic centralism” is now looking to be a thing of the past, an outdated, misued and erroneous way of conducting politics that is more appropriate to the ways of Stalinism, as are their elitist so-called “vanguardist” politics. With luck, except for the hardcore fundamentalists this nonsense will die the death it really deserves.

The teenage rampage of trotskyism belongs to the past.

As does this song.