[Marxism] Paul Le Blanc on the SWP crisis

Gary MacLennan gary.maclennan1 at gmail.com
Mon Feb 4 17:02:10 MST 2013

I remember the fusion process between the Communist League and the SWL
(DSP) very well.  It was an incredibly bitter time.  I was very new both to
Australia and to Trotskyism so I did not think it very strange that one of
the burning issues was our attitude towards the Portuguese revolution! But
an issue of substance did emerge around the Civil Liberties or Right to
March campaign in Brisbane in the late 70s. We in the CL took the most
militant line.  We were marching without a permit.  the DSPers took the
"legal peaceful line" and the insults and abuse we hurled at each other
were unbelievable.  I remember an internal document where the SWL folk
described me as "nothing more than an ultra-left madman".

So I refused to "fuse" and eventually ended up in the ISO because they were
"les plus braves".  But of course that was all to end badly in the 81
split. When Mick and John and
Tom and Rick and Sandra and Ian etc all did over the  faction that I
belonged to.

BTW young Tom O'Lincoln has written about all the Right to March
campaign from the perspective of the winning faction in the ISO and so he
has airbrushed out people like myself, Bradley Bowden and my good comrade
John Boyd.  Tom of course was one of those "Southerners" we in Brisbane
used to talk about with great arrogance and disdain as they were not in the
front line like we in Brisbane were.

But all that was along ago- just so much blood under the bridge.

I think now the anger and the abuse in the faction struggles I participated
in were frankly ridiculous and way over the top on all sides. I cringe now
when I recall that I denounced people in the SWL as cowards.  In the ISO
fight I remember clearly being denounced as someone who read "Marxist
poetry" for instance.

My attitude now to all the faction  fights I have participated in or
observed is that splitting is to be avoided at all costs.  We need to be
bigger and better and organisationally much more democratic.  I think the
split in the DSP that led to the formation of the RSP was a disaster.
Similarly the earlier decision to expel Mick and Tony and Sandra from the
IST is indefensible.  In all these fights dedicated socialists were treated
like class enemies. As for the struggle which started this thread - the
British SWP crisis-  I hope that the Callinicos -Kimber faction lose but I
also hope a split can be avoided.  I fear though that the "bend the stick"
and "from little things big things grow" narratives will be used by the
incumbent full timers to protect their jobs and power base and that Richard
Seymour and his comrades will be bullied out.



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