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Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The demise of the SWP is a classic case of why you shouldn't fudge issues

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/05/comrades-war-decline-and-fall-socialist-workers-party

Do read this fascinating history of the SWP by Edward Platt from beginning to end.  It is interesting from a gender relations standpoint as well as a party governance standpoint.

If I were leader of such party, I would have put to to Comrade W to either call the cops about her allegation that she had been raped by Comrade D or shut up, forget about it and never say a word again.  If she ever whinged about rape again she would have been ruthlessly expelled. Simples.

How the fuck can you take a woman who behaves like this seriously?

She left the SWP in the autumn of 2010 because she felt she could not remain a member while Delta was on the central committee, but she rejoined a year later and in September 2012 she accused him of rape.

http://marchessini.co.uk/2014/04/16/stay/

"If you are too embarrassed to go to the police, then you must shut up and forget about it."

The argument was partly about the nature of the SWP’s internal processes. It operates what it calls “democratic centralism”, which means that policies are debated during the three months running up to conference, and voted on at conference. Once ratified, all members are required to support them. In effect, argument is silenced for nine months of the year, and even the conference debates are severely curtailed. According to Rosie Warren, a member of the central committee would introduce each session with an overarching description of the year’s events, after which lowlier members would report successes in individual workplaces or campaigns. At the next session, delegates would be handed a summary of the discussion and invited to agree with it by vote. “It always struck me as really bizarre because there was nothing to vote on,” she says. “It was just a description of the session.” It is hardly surprising that many members saw the Comrade Delta case as not only disturbing in itself, but illustrative of a “deep democratic deficit” within the party.

Its broader culture was also called into question. “When you treat human beings as disposable objects in the name of la causa, when appropriation of activists’ labour and good will is the norm, when exploitation of your own side goes unchallenged, sexual abuse is one probable outcome,” wrote Anna Chen, who worked unpaid on various SWP press campaigns, including Stop the War. She believed the SWP’s habit of “ripping off their activists for wages, thieving their intellectual efforts and claiming credit for their successes” had initiated a pattern of “diminishing regard for their members”, which had led to the point “where even someone’s body is no longer their own”.'

'The party’s hierarchical structure and its culture of “loyalty beyond logic” concentrated power in the hands of the central committee at the Vauxhall headquarters. Yet the leadership had no intention of “opening up the party’s structures”, as its first response to the debate made plain. Towards the end of January, Alex Callinicos published a long article in Socialist Review, the party’s monthly magazine, which examined the necessity of “deepening and updating Marx’s critique of political economy” and referred to the Delta affair, in passing, as a “difficult disciplinary case”, significant in so far as it prompted “a minority” to dismiss “democratically reached conference decisions” and, hence, undermine democratic centralism.

What the dissenters were arguing for, he wrote, was “a different model involving a much looser and weaker leadership, internal debate that continually reopens decisions already made, and permanent factions”. Such changes would make the SWP “smaller and less effective”. Defending the handling of the Delta case was synonymous with defending the party’s revolutionary purpose.'

Balancing party governance with party democracy is the eternal problem of political parties of all hues.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I have a cunning plan though.  

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