Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 14, 2013

“Leninism” Meets the 21st Century

Filed under: democratic centralism,revolutionary organizing,sectarianism — louisproyect @ 4:41 pm

by Pham Binh on January 14, 2013

in analysis

Richard Seymour’s decision to break party discipline and speak truth to power about the rape allegation scandal consuming the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) proves that there are honest and upstanding elements in the organization who are doing their best to rectify the litany of outrages committed by its newly re-elected central committee (CC). These elements remain under the illusion that the organization is salvageable, that there is a way out of this self-imposed impasse, that internal reform and open dialogue are possible.

They are in for a rude awakening. Call it the SWP Spring.

Tom Walker, who wrote a powerful and searching resignation letter, is much more advanced in his thinking than the SWP’s critical stalwarts. He notes that the SWP’s indefensible deeds in this scandal are but a Google search away for the prospective recruit and that recreating the SWP in any form will not do. As he put it, “the real problem is that the case ever happened in the first place.”

So how did this case happen in the first place?

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16 Comments »

  1. In almost any group or movement of peoples, you will find corruption or bad apples if you will. I applaud any individual who is willing to stick their neck out to expose it. Keep them honest!

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — January 14, 2013 @ 5:08 pm

  2. Deborah is right and I agree with her, but this was not a handful of bad apples. This was the leadership of the SWP-UK and this case has been going on for two years.

    There is something wrong with an organization who will expel its members for speaking publicly about problems in his organization. Lenin did it, and was not expelled.

    We need to do away with these bureaucratic centralist sects and have new forms of socialist organization. There are many of us socialists who are and will remain unaffiliated (except for coalitions and multi-tendency work) because of today’s gross misuse of democratic centralism.

    Comment by Brandy Baker — January 14, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

  3. Brandy you are right. The same thing happened during Watergate with the biggest bad apple out of all of them was President Nixon himself. He was so corrupt he tried to shut down The Washington Post and blackball reporters Bernstein and Woodward. It was ultimately whistleblower Mark Felt from the FBI along with the reporters who brought down the corrupt enterprise called The Nixon Administration. No person, no matter how powerful, is above the law. The whistleblowers in this case just shows me there are some honest people left in this world.

    Comment by Deborah Jeffries — January 14, 2013 @ 11:42 pm

  4. Now that we have the internet, hopefully these “leninst” groups will die off because every time they expel, cover up, etc, it has a better chance of being exposed.

    Comment by Brandy Baker — January 15, 2013 @ 12:23 am

  5. “Richard Seymour’s decision to break party discipline and speak truth to power about the rape allegation scandal consuming the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) proves that there are honest and upstanding elements in the organization ”

    Interesting that he only decided to do so after the sordid affair was publicised on Newman’s Socialist Unity website and then was taken up by several large UK newspapers.

    Comment by Harsanyi_Janos — January 15, 2013 @ 7:25 pm

  6. Oh please. Richard wrote a critique of the SWP position on SYRIZA on his blog without any prompting from Andy Newman’s septic tank.

    Comment by louisproyect — January 15, 2013 @ 7:31 pm

  7. He was not willing to lower the boom against the creeps on the CC before Newman published his expose:

    Before Newman’s expose:
    “I should say upfront that I cannot and will not broach the details of the case you are referring to. It is natural that people will want to discuss what is already in the public sphere, but I am not able to add anything – even if it was appropriate for me to do so.All that I can say is that which is already known – there was a debate about the handling of a case involving an extremely serious matter at this year’s conference of the SWP; there were factions formed which seriously criticised the handling of that case and rejected the resultant report, and I was a member of one of those factions; the report was narrowly endorsed at conference. Those arguing the same position as me did not win the vote. Obviously, I am disappointed by this. I can’t go any further than that.”

    After Newman’s expose:
    “There isn’t enough bile to conjure up the shame and disgrace of all of this, nor the palpable physical revulsion, nor the visceral contempt building, nor the sense of betrayal and rage, nor the literal physical and emotional shattering of people exposed to the growing madness day in and day out.”

    Comment by Harsanyi_Janos — January 16, 2013 @ 6:05 pm

  8. Harsanyi, i would guess that Richards and other comrades still in the SWP decided to break party discipline (as defined by the CC) after discussions amongst themselves and perhaps people on the left they felt closest to. Andy Newman is of course as much on the left as the “decents” or ex-left witch-hunters.
    For those of you not acquainted with Newman he has frequently exposed the real names of other left wingers who have posted comments on his blog, little worrying if they were witch hunted out of a job. He has done this for years not just around the current crisis.
    His own line on this is that woman making the most serious accusation should have been forced to go to the police, rather than decided for herself how she wanted to deal with the situation.
    He supports the ending of “no platform”, the traditional far left position of not debating with Nazis.
    Oh and just to show his law and order credentials he supported the US government’s right to extradite and jail the British computer hacker Gary McKinnon; a man suffering from all sorts of mental health problems. This position was so extreme that even the British Tories couldn’t play Obama’s poodle for once, Newman could.
    So Harsanyi you pick your friends, but don’t be supprised if people judge your comments by them.

    Harry

    Comment by Harry Monro — January 17, 2013 @ 9:25 pm

  9. Sorry to say, but I suspect Seymour will use his break–regardless of merits of the case–as a stepping stone, a la Hitchens, to better paid gigs and publicity deals. If 10 years from now he’s not a mainstream pundit churning out standard fare with a twist, I’ll send a $50 check to whoever can remember this episode.

    Comment by chrisb — January 18, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

  10. That may be true chrisb, I doubt even Richard can predict his trajectory and many who leave revolutionary groups do end up drifting. However it should be remembered that Hitchens was treated by many in the organization at the time of his membership as a dilettante with little real politics. After he left he still was given party platforms,like talks at the bookshop , but this was opposed by some comrades over issues like the Falklands, Bosnia etc. But anyway focus instead on nearly 50% of the party conference delegates who revolted over the issue causing the ructions, and think they probably represent many hundreds of party members. So this is not just revolt of the “stars”.

    Comment by Harry Monro — January 18, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

  11. “So Harsanyi you pick your friends, but don’t be supprised if people judge your comments by them”

    I am no friend of Newman’s.

    Comment by Harsanyi_Janos — January 18, 2013 @ 6:10 pm

  12. My point was not that Newman is a good man — he is not: an authoritarian and a nostalgic for the worst aspects of the Soviet Bloc countries — but rather that it was not until his expose that Seymour turned against the CC. It is no good pretending otherwise.

    Comment by Harsanyi_Janos — January 18, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

  13. Harsanyi my apologies for thinking you liked the people associated with the Socialist Informer website, still other readers of this thread may not have known some the site’s past history so no harm done if I mentioned it.
    As for “pretending”: not me, I don’t know Richard, so maybe he does sit by the keyboard waiting for Newman et al or Harry’s Place to say something mean about revolutionaries. You have your theory I have mine; either could be right and the other wrong, both could be wrong, that’s the nature of speculation.

    Comment by Harry Monro — January 19, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

  14. “Harsanyi my apologies for thinking you liked the people associated with the Socialist Informer website, still other readers of this thread may not have known some the site’s past history so no harm done if I mentioned it.”

    Indeed; it would not take a reader too long to notice the extreme toxicity of Newman’s politics; but your comment could save someone that unpleasantness.

    Comment by Harsanyi_Janos — January 20, 2013 @ 12:45 am

  15. Since the C.C. no longer has confidence in the membership, they have decided to vote them out and get a new one.

    Comment by Pete Shield — January 26, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

  16. [...]  Before the issue reached the mainstream media, Richard wrote: [...]

    Pingback by SEXISM, FEMINISM AND THE SOCIALIST WORKERS PARTY (SWP) | Socialist Unity — January 29, 2013 @ 11:26 am


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