Barnesites, SWP, Bonapartism

Philip L Ferguson PLF13 at
Thu Sep 2 17:04:38 MDT 1999

In relation to Michael's question, I don't know whetrher the Barnesites
have to reconcile the contradiction.

It strikes me that Barnes is politically quite erratic.  'Bonapartism'
seems to be something that is the flavour at present.  It has been applied
in a fairly willy-nilly way to a number of politicians.  And no doubt
Barnesite branches are having forums and educational classes on
'Bonapartism' and trying to figure out which politicians in the world today
are and aren't Bonapartists.  I think it has little, indeed nothing, to do
with any serious analysis at all and a great deal to do with how
politically out of control Barnes is.  The same thing happened in Britain
with Gerry Healy.  Healy came up with with all kinds of really quite mad
'analyses' and no-one in the Healy outfit, which included some very
talented and clever people, would disagree and say it was really quite mad.

Not only does Barnes run his tiny cult the same way Healy did, but even his
obsessions are often the same.  By the time Healy lost the plot altogether
he was predicting imminent fascism (usually a sign of madness on the left).
Well, for the last 15 years Barnes has been doing likewise - the refrain
"imperialism's drive to fascism and war" is littered throughout Barnesite
documents, speeches and articles.  Fifteen years on there's no sign at all
that the imperialists are in the slightest bit interested in imposing
fascist rule in the metropolitan capitlaist countries.  Moreover the
imperialists are dismantling old dictatorships in the Third World as part
of the way in which the west is organising economic restructuring there:
Philippines, Indonesia, Congo etc.  Similarly in the Balkans, the
imperialists would prefer a 'democratic' regime in Serbia to Milosevic,
because this would facilitate their interests and speed up the imposition
of the market.  The flag waved by imperialism internationally these days is
not the swastika but the flag of (bourgeois) 'democracy'.

Barnes' preoccupations with imminent fascism and with Bonaprtism just
indicate that, like Healy, he has a very tenuous connection with reality.

In two years' time, Barnes could just as easily ditch all reference to
Bonapartism and some new idiocy will be put forward as the big idea or big

One of the problems with some ex-SWPers on this list, like Jose and
Jonathan F, is that they are actually unwilling to face up to the fact that
the Barnesite operation is a cult - well, a cult and a business venture -
and that Barnes is no different to Healy, just a lot less successful.   So
instead of seeing the irrational nature of the current Barnesite
preoccupation with Bonapartism, they start from the unwarranted supposition
that it is a serious political position and that the Barnesites are just
being 'ultraleft'.

Philip Ferguson

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