This is a guest post by Howard Fuller
The crisis inside the Socialist Workers Party seems to be getting a little “Miss Marple” at the moment with accusations about who’s trying to murder the party flying all over the place. As regular readers of Harry’s Place will be well aware the comrades have fallen out big time over the way the SWP leadership has handled a case of alleged rape. Most normal people would expect such a matter to be dealt with by the appropriate authorities such as the police and the courts, but that’s not for our revolutionary friends since they reject “bourgeois law”.
The latest development is that because of the “pressure from below” the Central Committee under Professor Callinicos has decided to call a special conference of the SWP on March 10th. The remit for comrades to discuss and decide is laid out in the following terms:
The conference will be to reaffirm the decisions of January’s conference and the NC, resolve recent debates, clarify some elements of the constitution and move the party forwards.
We believe all the decisions of the last conference and this special conference are binding, unlike those of our critics who believe they are binding unless they disagree with them.
In other words they are telling the “opposition” that they can discuss whatever they want because the decision is not going to be changed. If this is the case publishing a “Internal Bulletin” and having “aggregates” of members seems a waste of time. The Central Committee are also insisting:
Delegates will be elected on the same basis as the last party conference.
This effectively means the SWP leadership will simply get its way again. True Marxist-Leninist democracy in action. Stalin would be proud.
Most of the statement is full of platitudes about the “crisis”, the need for the party to unite and move forward. All the usual stuff. However despite all the evidence that the leadership has used the term “feminist” as an accusatory term they assure us that:
It is a baseless slur that the CC sees feminists as enemies. We are always on the side of feminists against oppression.
Women comrades can rest assured that the Disciplinary Committee was able to fairly use all its forensic and investigatory resources to ensure that “Comrade Delta” was indeed innocent of all charges. The fact most of the DC were his mates has no bearing on the outcome. The real criminals are the disgusting individuals who recorded the session of conference and allowed it to be published on the Internet leading to the attacks of the women comrades of the DC in the Daily Mail. All convinced now? No of course not.
If anything the SWP have proved not just to their internal critics and other sections of left but to the wider world that they are an inward looking cult. The comrades of the Central Committee have a “Papal infallibility”. Their special conference will inevitably lead to expulsions and a split no matter what they might promise in their statement. The one thing that is difficult for an outsider to comprehend is why they risk the destruction of their party just to protect one individual. In a month all this business is going to be repeated all over again. Already groups of academics, trade unionists and student activists are refusing to co-operate with the SWP. The night of the long knives is simply delayed by the CC’s decision.
So who done it Miss Marple? Was the slow death of the SWP murder or suicide?
Will anyone care?