Youth section will win
The political battle cleaving the Socialist Party has dramatically intensified. Emil Jacobs reports
"There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen” - I am reminded of this quote by current developments inside the Socialist Party. First there came the expulsion letters sent to six comrades, myself included.1 Now there is the full frontal assault on ROOD - in English ‘red’ - the party’s youth section.
I shall begin my report with the coverage in Nieuwsuur, the late-night, hour-long national broadcast on the news of the day.2 After some papers got wind of it, the expulsions were featured on TV before an audience of hundreds of thousands. Party secretary Arnout Hoekstra stated that he defended the expulsions because the six belonged to the Communist Platform and were “attic communists”, who advocated “very dangerous and scary ideas” that would not be tolerated, such as calling for a civil war and arming the population. Furthermore we intended to “plan a coup” in the party (winning elections constitutes a coup apparently).
These ridiculous claims were countered by expelled members Gus Ootjers and Olaf Kemerink, who stressed that the aim of SP’s present (mis)leadership council is to move towards participating in a coalition government with bourgeois and petty bourgeois ‘progressive’ parties. This was the real reason for expelling the six - we count amongst the most vocal opponents of such a treacherous sell out.
The lying, the anti-Marxist bilge, was repeated the morning after on the TV programme, Goedemorgen Nederland, by SP’s House of Representatives leader Lilian Marijnissen. She established a point of no return for what passes for our leadership.3
Of course, the (mostly rightwing) press went berserk - the Telegraaf perhaps eclipsed the rest with the headline “SP expels six members with plans for armed civil war”. The Communist Platform responded to this by publishing an article, explaining its position. What I translate for Weekly Worker readers should allow you to get the gist:
In Chile in 1973 the democratically elected left government of Salvador Allende was toppled by an army coup under general Pinochet. This led to a junta that staged a garage sale of the country, and installed a brutally undemocratic, repressive and murderous regime.
In situations where democratic governments face military coups or fascists terrorist attacks, we indeed defend the view that the working class must defend itself. When such situations lead to a civil war, which has occurred at multiple points in history, we will choose the side of the working class.4
The witch-hunt was launched not least because the SP is a significant party. We have had, and still have, many MPs and MEPs … and many tens of thousands of dedicated members. Politically, therefore, the SP matters. Politically that gives the power of integration or the power of opposition. We determined to be the opposition.
Our so-called leadership cherry-picks our Draft programme for the SP which the Communist Platform has on its website. It has been online for years,5 yet has only just now been ‘discovered’ by the party’s apparatchiks - apparently.
The second event of note occurred on November 21: the party council, attended also by SP branch chairs, met. Most of the agenda was listed as if nothing was happening, and, were it not for one branch raising the matter, the expulsions of the six would not have been discussed at all.
But it was raised and so, at the very last moment, all pretence of normality vanished. Many branch chairs called for support for the decision of the leadership to get rid of these “undermining communists”. There were, however, also chairs calling for the expulsions to be revoked, citing the need for open debate in the party. The big branches in Rotterdam and Utrecht had held their own general assemblies earlier in the week, and came out firmly against the anti-Marxist witch-hunt. But overall the lines appear to have been drawn for the upcoming congress on December 12. No decision was made at this point, as the official appeal process is still going on, but this does seem a mere formality as far as the national leadership is concerned.
Cue Sunday, November 22, and the general assembly of the SP youth section, ROOD. Among other issues, it convened to elect new members to its leadership. At the last general assembly, in June, the chair did not secure a majority of votes, so it was agreed he would step down at the November meeting. He decided, for his own reasons, not to stand again. In the run-up to the elections two main slates emerged. The most impressive politically consisted of Olaf Kemerink, Arina Amma and Robin de Rooij, who called for the youth organisation to adopt a new political stance, based on openness, political education … and Marxism. Comrade Kemerink, as it happened, was amongst those who had just been expelled from the SP, but that did not prevent him standing as ROOD chair. The other slate consisted of Bastiaan Meijer, and a few others, but Bastiaan was their candidate for chair, and positioned himself as a safe pair of hands.
The online general assembly saw some important victories for the Marxist left. Three motions were carried calling for the explicit right to form factions, adopting a stance against the witch-hunt and for ROOD to be allowed to adopt its own, autonomous political positions. All three were carried by large majorities of between 69% and 74%. Bastiaan Meijer announced that this was unacceptable and withdrew his candidacy for chair, followed by all the other candidates, apart from those on the slate headed by Olaf Kemerink. Olaf therefore won by a huge margin on an explicitly Marxist programme - that despite, or because he had been expelled from the Socialist Party and branded an “attic communist” who hankers after a “civil war”. This revolution, and it was a revolution, happened despite the so-called leadership of the SP doing everything in its power to mobilise its little army of would-be careerists, paid lackeys and right-moving loyalists to attend. In fact we had the best attended ROOD assembly on record. So our comprehensive victory is all the more impressive.
But for the seekers of ministerial portfolios this was completely unacceptable. On November 24 the leadership of wreckers and careerists moved to all but disaffiliate ROOD. The wrecker ‘leadership’ insisted that ROOD members had to be SP members, as required by the ROOD constitution, and should, therefore, be required to reject the new ROOD leadership they had just overwhelmingly elected.
Defeated, humiliated, determined to pursue its grovelling search for ministerial positions, salaries, perks and pensions, the self-serving SP leadership cut off all ROOD facilities and funding.
Now besieged by protests, the Amersfoort HQ claims to be ready for talks. But it is quite clear that the so-called leadership faces another, much more determined, leadership in ROOD. It is now no longer a simple matter of reinstating the expelled six. ROOD must declare its organizational autonomy from the SP and its determination to establish its political domination of the SP.
Let the bourgeoisie and its would-be coalition partners tremble.
‘Bureaucratic control-freakery’, Weekly Worker November 12.↩︎