This is a guest post by Howard Fuller
Hell hath no fury like a comrade scorned it would seem as members of the Socialist Workers Party line up for their latest punch-up, which may actually turn out to be “literal” if some of the stories and leaks currently circulating indicate. Allegations of an “oppositionist” being assaulted (twice) by the same organiser, the heckling of opponents getting vicious to the extreme and a prophecy of “Lynch Mobs” being made by Professor Callincos the end of days may be upon them.
There have been two leaks of significance regarding the internal travails of the SWP. The first being a leaked report of the International Socialist Journal (ISJ) meeting which appeared in the latest edition of the Weekly Worker. At this meeting the Prof leads off with an attack on the revolutionary credentials of the opposition:
There are two types of group that are trying to change the party by fait accompli. The first group seeks to create external pressures. China, and I suspect Richard, encouraged Laurie Penny to write in the Independent. The letter from Peter Thomas and co, and interventions from ISO members, fit in here. PT and co are in part motivated by legitimate concerns about the case, but also it reflects the political ambitions of the Historical Materialism editorial board: it’s a repeat of ‘NLR syndrome’—Perry Anderson sought to profile himself as self-appointed generalissimo of the class struggle; these HM editors see themselves in a similar light. The ISO’s behaviour is particularly shocking: relations with them had been improving, but now their behaviour is threatening to “destroy” this.
The second group that are trying to change the party by fait accompliis the faction that declared this week.. I’m shocked by this. They have breached the long-standing principle that we do not have permanent factions.
Except of course that in practise the Central Committee (which nominates its own on a take it or leave it basis at their conferences each year) is itself a permanent faction to all intents & purposes, something the Prof seems to forget. But still there are of course dire warnings for his opponents as the forthcoming party bash is not to discuss, but confirm what has already happened.
The one-day special conference on 10th March will provide a full opportunity for discussion. It will be an opportunity to reaffirm the decisions taken at the January conference. Whatever comes out of it will have to be accepted by everyone. Anyone who doesn’t accept “will attract the righteous anger of the bulk of party members.”
That last quote sounds a wee bit like the rantings of a manic preacher, but then the Prof does act in a papal manner it would seem. Comrade Jane Hardy lectured those present that the damage to the party has been done by bloggers. Perhaps, but neglects to mention the reason it all kicked off in the first place, a very serious allegation of rape against one of their leading members tried and cleared by his peers (read mates). The SWP leaders continue to be in complete denial of this and are not it would appear to be for turning.
As the prof seems to conclude:
If party members refuse to accept the legitimacy of the decisions taken at the special conference, “lynch mobs” (his words) will be formed. [He didn’t say whether or not he’d give a green light to such organisations.]
In the meantime the comrades are lining up their forces for the final battle. Charlie Kimber (SWP National Secretary) has issued the following letter:
From: Charlie Kimber
To: Charlie Kimber ext email
Sent: Friday, 15 February 2013, 11:01
Subject: Deadlines, support for CC statement, and faction meetings
Deadlines for motions and IB, support for CC statement, and faction meetings.
Here is some information in the run-up to the SWP special conference on 10 March.
Internal bulletin and motions
May I remind you that the deadline for the internal bulletin is 10am, Friday 1 March. This is also the deadline for motions. Motions must be passed by a properly-organised branch, aggregate, fraction, NC or CC meeting and be in by the deadline for the IB. Motions that are to be discussed must be notified to members in good time so that there is proper opportunity for democratic discussion.
Signatures in support of the CC statement
The first 500 names of comrades supporting the CC statement that was sent out last weekend are pasted below. Comrades wishing to add their name should email [email protected]
(Names were redacted from this copy)
It has always been the party’s practice that faction meetings should be open to all SWP members (and only to SWP members). It is, however, reasonable that part of a faction meeting can be closed to comrades who are not members of the faction in order to have a caucus.
We are one party, not two. It is unacceptable to have wholly closed meetings, and factions should feel able to argue their political perspective with other party members.
The In Defence Of Our Party faction is holding a meeting in Leeds: [date and venue removed]
The faction may be contacted at [email protected]
Charlie Kimber, SWP national secretary
The Prof has accumulated 500 supporters and the opposition around Richard Seymour has attracted 400. Speculation can now be made about the true size of the SWP. They claim around 7,000 but include people they haven’t heard from for years or only contacted them once. Only 32% of “members” pay subs. Most estimates give them between 2,000 to 2,500, so where are the rest one might ask.
The dwindling numbers of the faithful point to an extinction level event in March. The end of this hateful cult is hopefully in sight. So fellow bloggers lets give the Prof the grief he and his priests deserve.