Trots at war (with themselves as usual)

This is a cross post from Howie’s Corner

Irish comrades to “flush out” rivals

Some news in from Ireland where the colonial outposts of the Socialist Workers Party and the Socialist Party are soon to be at loggerheads in the constituency of a sitting Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy. Kevin Higgins writes that:

Kieran Allen, supreme head kicker of the Irish branch of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), has had an idea. Or rather, Alex Callinicos had one and then, as is his way, Kieran Allen immediately had it too. It goes like this: stand a People Before Profit (aka SWP) candidate in the Dublin constituency in the 2014 European Elections. Such a candidate would have no prospect whatsoever of being elected. But that, comrades, is not the point. To understand this, one needs to think dialectically, as Kieran Allen does, especially when he’s flushing the toilet.

The point of this particular flush is not to elect a socialist to the European Parliament but to split the vote and so cost Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy his seat in the process.

Kieran Allen and the man whose hand makes his mouth move, Alex Callinicos, would prefer a Fianna Fáiler, or some Labour or Fine Gael gobshite, to be elected in Dublin next June. If you don’t understand this, that’s because you’re not thinking about it dialectically.

The loss of Paul Murphy’s seat in the European Parliament would cost Kieran Allen’s deadly rivals, The Socialist Party, somewhere in the region of one million Euro. It would mean many redundancies among the Party’s full time workers. It’s a win win situation for the man who has been described, mostly by himself, as the Irish Lenin.

Ooh er missus. Master Taffe will not be happy as he still has his hands full with combating old Brucie over the niceties of the Marxist theory of the falling rate of profit or some such nonsense. Go to Marx Returns from the Grave for more of that ad-nauseam.

Meanwhile back in old blighty….

The Professor and his batman Charlie Kimber have published a lengthy rant justification of their actions over the “Delta affair in the (less than weighty) theoretical journal International Socialism. They begin with an understatement :

For almost a year the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) has been seized by deep division.

and continue…

none of that is to underestimate the shock we have suffered or the damage inflicted, as hundreds of members resigned from the SWP. The specific issues that sparked this process are very important. But we need to understand that this is also a debate about the relevance of revolutionary politics in the modern world and the form of organisation needed. Some of the critics of the SWP leadership have challenged our analysis of the trade union bureaucracy and our understanding of democratic centralism and of the role of the party in the class. Others haven’t gone as far, but use their criticisms of the leadership to justify an increasing detachment from the common work of the party

Several pages later they return to the core of their crisis:

The controversies surrounding the DC case have deeply alienated several hundred SWP members-including some of very long standing. Their perception of the handling of the case (whether or not justified by the facts) has prompted them to question, not just the party’s approach to women’s oppression, but in some cases our particular take on the Marxist tradition. The review of our disciplinary procedures and the debate to which it gives rise offer the party the opportunity to demonstrate its capacity for renewal and its commitment to women’s liberation and thereby to reunite.

The Prof then alludes to the danger of another split:

Papering over political differences in order to hold the faction together only heightens the likelihood of a split. Since there are many valuable comrades who support the faction, this would be a tragedy both for them and for the SWP.

This has prompted an equally lengthy response from the opposition:

I wonder which CC members it was who had planned who would speak after Alex Callinicos, and who within our leadership approved the idea of Smith going first? We are a very centralist organisation; our party conference and our summer event Marxism are controlled through “speakers’ slips” requiring anyone wishing to speak from the floor to indicate first, after which their proposed speech can be approved before they are allowed to the microphone. Decisions as to who to speak in a debate of this importance are not made without planning in advance.

Our leadership behaved as if they wanted the session to follow a particular script: that is, for Smith’s behaviour to be minimised and for him to be “vindicated”.

Between them, Smith and Alex Callinicos set the tone for the session. Smith told the delegates that sectarians had considered publishing the story of the accusations against him online, but had not. The reason they didn’t publish the story, he said was that there was simply nothing to it. If people knew the very worst he was accused of, they would gasp at how empty the story was.

After Smith, a number of long-standing comrades rose and spoke in his support. A leading woman comrade told conference that everyone had skeletons in their closets.

Julie Waterson also defended Smith. When one comrade later asked Julie why she had spoken up for someone accused of a serious sexual crime, she said, “I wanted to know whether it was true or not, so I asked Smith. I said, the thing you are accused of how bad is it from 1 to 10? And Smith told me, ‘it’s not even 1’.”

In response to every signal from the people who had planned the session that the misconduct was of the mildest character possible, the delegates chanted “the workers united will never be defeated” and gave Smith a standing ovation.

The first people to leave the SWP over the complaint resigned then – in response to an episode which subjects to the harshest test Alex Callinicos and Charlie Kimber’s claim that “we [the Socialist Workers Party] are a revolutionary socialist organisation that has prided itself in its principled opposition to all the different forms of oppression that capitalist society maintains”. In reality, we are a party which has to be judged, like any other, not on what we say but on what we do.

Horrific as the scene appears in retrospect (a socialist party, applauding out of the room a man accused of rape?), I do not blame the delegates who clapped and chanted in his support. Several of them have spoken out since against the leadership cover-up. The fault lies with our Central Committee.

Smith was our party’s National Secretary, our leader. Just a few months before he had gone on trial for assaulting a police officer, a prosecution which was presented inside the SWP as a challenge to the entire left. He was only under attack, he had said at his trial, because of his politics. The memory of his trial hung over conference.

Alex Callinicos and our whole CC gave delegates the false impression that the complaint against Smith was minimal. On the information that Alex Callinicos had allowed the delegates to hear; who could blame them for clapping?

So here we are back to where we started. The buck we are told, stops with the Prof:

The strategy behind Callinicos and Kimber’s piece is to blame everyone but themselves for the crisis in the SWP: Michael Rosen, Lindsey German, John Rees, George Galloway, John McDonell, Jeremy Corbyn and many others get criticised by name for their failures of revolutionary nerve. But you cannot blame anyone outside the party for the way we handled the rape investigation.

Who was it who introduced the special session at the 2011 conference?

Who devised the strategy of labelling the party opposition as feminist or autonomist in order to distract from the leadership’s handling of the rape complaint?

And which CC member had the job of “co-ordinating” the relationship between the DC and CC during the rape investigation?

The answer to all these questions is Alex Callinicos

Nuff said? Nah, these are trots we are talking about. They never stop……