[Marxism] WHY I DECIDED TO MAINTAIN MY PARTICIPATION IN THE SWP’S MARXISM 2013

james pitman marinercarpentry at gmail.com
Wed May 8 09:53:38 MDT 2013


It doesn't help that Gilbert and Callinicos are best of friends either.

On 8 May 2013 14:55, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:
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> On 5/8/13 2:42 AM, Gilbert Achcar wrote:
>>
>> WHY I DECIDED TO MAINTAIN MY PARTICIPATION IN THE SWP’S *MARXISM 2013*
>>
>> Gilbert Achcar
>>
>> The campaign against the SWP is taking a regrettable turn. It now includes
>> attempts at intimidating those participating in Marxism 2013, including
>> myself, into withdrawing from the conference. The SWP is being described
>> as
>> a “socialist rapist party” and taking part in the conference as an
>> “apology
>> of rapism”.
>
>
> You can call the SWP whatever you want but the fact is that a key leader of
> the party was protected from the consequences of the most brutal act of
> violence against women.
>
>
>> Whatever one thinks of the crisis in the SWP and the behaviour of its
>> leadership, such terms applied to a whole party ­– the largest on the
>> British radical left – and to the open forum that the party organizes each
>> year are outrageous. They reveal the regrettable persistence of a certain
>> mindset on the left, a mindset the origin of which is known all too well
>> and for which anathemas and excommunication are substitutes for political
>> fight.
>
>
> Nobody advocates "anathema and excommunication", as if that term applied.
> Instead, it is a reaction by some leading figures on the left to refrain
> from accepting invitations to speak at their Summer Carnival of Marxism
> because of the failure of the SWP leadership to clean up its act. "Anathema
> and excommunication" would instead describe what happened to the Trotskyist
> movement for most of the 30s through the 50s when it was routinely blocked
> from joining social movements, trade unions, etc. by a hegemonic Communist
> Party.
>
>
>> I do not recall any such attitude towards innumerable left parties the
>> leaderships of which are guilty of much worse than what the SWP is accused
>> of. To give but one example, I have accepted in the past invitations by
>> the
>> French Communist Party to their annual Fête de l’Humanité, as do regularly
>> countless intellectual and activists who are deeply critical of that
>> party.
>> Had I regarded participating in such open forums as an endorsement of the
>> party’s political, organisational or ethical record, which I deem to be
>> incomparably worse than that of the SWP in all respects, I would have
>> never
>> accepted. Instead, I regarded my participation as an opportunity to engage
>> with the public who attend such events, be they party members or
>> non-members, and defend my own views, which differ from those of the
>> party.
>> No one ever blamed me for that.
>
>
> This is a bogus analogy. The CP in France was not responsible for repression
> in the USSR. By the 1960s the CP's in capitalist countries had evolved into
> social democratic type formations whose connection to the Moscow Trials,
> etc. mostly consisted of a refusal to disavow their own history. If the
> French CP, on the other hand, was as tiny as the SWP and had a record of 9
> rape investigations on its record, that might be another story.
>
>
>>
>> I do firmly believe that the crisis in the SWP is a worrying symptom of a
>> deeply-rooted problem pertaining to a vitiated conception and form of
>> organisation. Regrettably, a few of the SWP’s opponents worldwide are
>> taking this same vitiated tradition to extremes in the way they practice
>> SWP-bashing. It is high time for the radical left to get rid entirely of
>> that tradition if it is ever to regenerate.
>>
>> 8 May 2013
>
>
>
> Sorry, Gilbert, the "tradition" we need to get rid of is thuggery on the
> left. When a minority faction in the SWP was formed to clean house, its
> members were shouted down and threatened with violence. Meanwhile, Alex
> Callinicos--author of 27 books, speculated that "lynch mobs" might arise if
> the minority refused to abide by the rules shoved down its throat by an
> anti-democratic majority. If that is the kind of gathering you want to
> attend, be my guest.
>
>>
>> APPENDIX
>>
>> For the record, I am publishing the comment I made in private on a
>> statement that was sent to me on 26 January by the friends (no SWP
>> members)
>> who authored it, with a request to sign it. The statement is below,
>> followed with my own comment.
>>
>> *The ongoing crisis in the Socialist Workers’ Party – precipitated by the
>> handling of rape allegations against a senior party member – has raised
>> fundamental questions about democracy, power and sexism in the
>> organisations and culture of the left. We believe that the way in which
>> the
>> central committee of the SWP has handled the situation, and its lack of a
>> reasonable response to the legitimate protests voiced by many of its own
>> members, as well as others on the left, point to issues that cannot simply
>> be swept under the rug.*
>>
>> *We have all previously participated in events and initiatives promoted by
>> the SWP, including the annual Marxism festival, or written for its
>> publications. We continue to value the commitment and work of many SWP
>> members as trades unionists, activists and comrades. Nonetheless, we can
>> no
>> longer in good conscience participate in SWP publications and platforms
>> until the party recognises and seriously addresses the legitimate
>> criticisms of its handling of this case and the ensuing crisis.*
>>
>> *My comment on 26 January*
>>
>> *There are two reasons why I can’t sign. Both are in the second
>> paragraph.*
>>
>> *I have no problem with the first. With the second, my key reservation is
>> that I don’t think one should mix Marxism, which is an open forum, with
>> the
>> SWP line. If one had told me that participating in Marxism meant an
>> endorsement of the SWP’s line and practices, I would have never taken part
>> in it. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense in my view to say that because one
>> disapproves of the way the SWP handled this whole affair, one won’t attend
>> Marxism any longer. Moreover, one should not appear as taking sides
>> directly in the crisis itself. What we should be interested in is not
>> substituting ourselves to a commission of inquiry or a tribunal of the
>> left, but drawing the general lessons of the crisis. To give an ultimatum
>> of this kind won’t help in the least; it will only increase the tension. I
>> don’t think that a break-up of the SWP would be in the interest of the
>> left
>> in the UK and beyond.*
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