[Marxism] SWP faction declared

Ratbag Media ratbagradio at gmail.com
Sun Feb 10 02:26:38 MST 2013

Ken Hiebert WROTE" "If tendencies and factions are not "...a preferred
modus operandi for dissent...," then what is? Should dissent be
allowed only for individuals who are not allowed to band together to
promote their views? "

I didn't write that. My suggestion was that forcing different views
into factional format as a matter of course wasn't so preferable
either. I wasn't advocating banning factions ... or tendencies . I
wanted to underscore the far left's preference for organised factional

In the context of open public discourse,allowable 12 months of a year,
  factionalising  becomes less of an issue as does any move away from
dogma or programatic absolutism. You'll always get factions in the
context of political struggle but 'our' collective problem is that
they so easily lead to splits.

That needs to be deflected and moderated  some how rather than simply
proscribed or encouraged.

The PROBLEM isn't  differences. The PROBLEM is that so little room is
allowed for political differences to develop in a milieu in which they
can be talked out, debated upon and  resolved, outside the confining
attitudes of a bunker mentality.

According to Jim Cannon, the history of the US SWP is the history of
faction fights -- of preserving 'revolutionary continuity' and the
correct line. That's purported to be progress, because what's at stake
is protecting the party's line  from outside influences or muddle
headed politics. It's party 'preservation' -- rather than party
building --  by splits.

[Or 'preserving the traditions' according to current UK SWP-speak.]

At some point 'party building' has to be about stepping out of this
containment approach and moving our parties outward and towards a more
open -- indeed, a more courageous -- engagement with the real world
around us while embracing the confidence that what ever may arise --
WHAT EVER may arise in way of challenging debate --  should be
something we can talk  out by dint of the  seemingly banal approach of
winning  and losing arguments.

One of the ironies of the Marxist left is  that it is frightened of discourse.

Here in Australia, for instance, various tendencies may coexist on the
left for decades without ever engaging in open discussion about what
to do next. I mean discussing with, not editorialising at, or
ignoring,  one another. There is a huge difference between pissing
competitions and comrades trying to solve collective challenges.

Every one of these grouplets  seem ordained to arrive at its POV
without reference to any other. We may get a sort of patenting (indeed
ritualistic) debate about offshore issues (such as Cuba) -- but day to
day, there is no shared what-is-to-be-done chit chat.

 I think factions tend to function in  a similar way as they  foster
the  preservation and copyrighting of differences rather than seeking
ways in which we can agree to work together.

At some point you may indeed reach disputation cut off --  but then I
suspect it becomes a question of what you seek to be loyal to.

Do you seek to be loyal to   boutique versions  of presumed
correctness (often as not untested in practice) , rather than seek to
consolidate a collective line of march within the same formation?

I'm not trying to be mawkish or moralistic  as 'loyalty', afterall,
is essentially a tactical question.

It is isn't it?

Whatever we may say about factions, the underlying question is what is
gonna be our primary loyalty?

I KNOW that loyalty is often manipulated by the leaderships of Marxist
parties.But compared to how loyalty is employed by  the social
democratic parties  or the US Democrats or whoever ...we are rank

We may be abused for our penchant for enclosure,  but your everyday
bourgeois party has the business of loyalty generation sown up. That's
their main modus operandi.An art form. Their trump card.

At some point we have to  recognize that what we need to foster is an
ANTI CAPITALIST LEFT  rather than so many boutique socialisms.

That has to be our primarily loyalty.   A line of march issue . The
party question -- the party form -- is secondary.Our primary ask is
that whatever we create has to be consistently anti-capitalist, pro
socialist and engineered to returning to the attack over and over

Inasmuch as we have learnt anything thus far,these last 10 years,  the
Socialist Alliance "regulates" dissent so:

"10.2 Any individual member or affiliate organisation shall have the
right to form a caucus for the purpose of influencing Alliance policy
and activity. As far as possible caucus meetings shall be open and
transparent. However, once Alliance policy and campaigning priorities
are decided, caucuses are expected to abide by them and not organise
public campaigns in opposition to Alliance policy.
10.3 Caucuses, groups or affiliates within the Alliance have the right
to produce and circulate literature publicly"


Should we be more or less proscriptive? More descriptive or regulatory?

But then we don't know that...yet.

dave riley

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