[Marxism] On Tony Cliff and British SWP

MM marxmail00 at gmail.com
Thu Dec 27 16:07:44 MST 2018

> On Dec 27, 2018, at 5:24 PM, Philip Ferguson via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:
> James Heartfield reviews Ian Birchall's biography of Cliff:
> https://rdln.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/4864/ <https://rdln.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/4864/>

David Renton wrote a damning response to this review by Heartfield, which itself is nevertheless quite critical of the UK SWP (including in particular the appalling “comrade Delta” affair). Here’s the opening paragraph:

"JAMES HEARTFIELD’S REVIEW of Ian Birchall’s biography of Tony Cliff, founder of the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and therefore of the International Socialist Tendency, is a curious affair.1 Heartfield fails his readers by declining to situate himself in the story, as a champion of the changing perspectives of the late British Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), unique among British left groups in having evolved from Trotskyism first to a neither-left-nor-right iconoclasm and then to a pro-market libertarianism. So when for example the SWP and Cliff are criticized for having failed to guide the striking miners of 1984–5 in the direction of a ballot, American readers should be aware that a ballot was the demand of the Conservative Party, the Times and Telegraph newspapers, and of everyone opposed to the strike. No one dared go among the miners arguing that they were wrong, and should only strike at all after having paused, given up the initiative, and taken a postal vote, save for a few dozen brave souls from the Fulham and Chelsea branches of Heartfield’s own RCP. While it is possible to judge the worth of a 50 year political project to which thousands of people dedicated the best years of their lives solely through the eyes of a different, long-dead party which was always hostile to it, this is the method of the political necrophiliac. Heartfield’s judgment says little about what Cliff’s SWP did, or did not, achieve.”

Full: https://platypus1917.org/2014/04/01/cliffism-worth-reply-james-heartfield/

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