Hypocrisy - the proof

London Socialist Alliance

Comrades from the Socialist Democracy Group, Socialist Outlook, and the Socialist Party had been adamant in the run-up to Sunday’s meeting that they had no policy of excluding ‘undesirable’ elements - namely, the CPGB - from the right to representation on the LSA’s steering committee. These denials were completely exposed when CPGB comrades distributed two documents during the course of the debate (reproduced below).

‘Work in the Socialist Alliances’ is an internal SDG document authored by Duncan Chapple. After spelling out “the irreplaceable roles of trust and mutual respect in the future alliances” and extolling the virtues of “an atmosphere of trust and transparency”, comrade Chapple eventually makes it clear that these desirable features are not to be extended to all alliance participants.

In his opinion one “contributor” to the LSA “subscribes to the absolutist view” and does not fit in with his schema. He outlines three alternative ways of sidelining the CPGB: “do nothing”; remain in an alliance with this contributor while excluding them from the real work”; or “find ourselves in the position where we and this other contributor are in different alliances”.

Despite our insistence that we are for inclusive democracy within the socialist alliances, and despite our clear and repeatedly proven commitment to openness, he believes that his “pluralistic party movement” conflicts with our “absolutist view”. Presumably he means by this our determination to reforge a Leninist-type party based on democratic centralism. Or that in his opinion we believe that our organisation is “the already created template for the new movement”.

In reality comrade Chapple’s “pluralistic” alliance is to be an exclusivist one, established on the basis of his own narrowly defined subjective criteria.

‘Open and closed’ is a hand-written note he angrily passed to a CPGB comrade during the meeting. Comrade Chapple expresses outrage that we dared to inform the meeting of the plan to exclude us from the LSA. This document was “a private note”, “a stolen letter”, he whinges. In fact from comrade Chapple this this is nothing but moralistic liberalism (it is also untrue to say it was “stolen”). Apparently by disclosing the contents of an internal document we - the intended victims of his anti-communist witch hunt, were infringing comrade Chapple’s “right to have really ‘open’ thought and experimentation in the development of … ideas”.

‘Exclusivist bloc’ is a letter from comrade Nick Long of Lewisham Socialist Alliance and the SDG in reply to Hackney Socialist Alliance. He lets it be known that at least some comrades intended to stand a bloc of candidates for the LSA steering committee which would include representatives from almost every imaginable organisation - apart from the CPGB.

Before the contents of this letter were read out at the meeting, comrade Long claimed that there was no “hidden agenda” nor any plot to remove the CPGB’s right to representation on the steering committee. Amazingly he accused us of “paranoia”.

Alan Fox


Work in the Socialist Alliances

Internal Socialist Democracy Group document signed by Duncan Chapple

The key development for the next few years will be the development of new forms of organisation on the left which work in a range of ways to help produce the new party and the new political culture needed. Drawing together these alliances involves old forces and new. In this private letter, I spell out the irreplaceable roles of trust and mutual respect in the future alliances.

1. Assimilation or alliance?

In the process towards a new party movement, three waves will come forward. The forces which share our notion of a new party will come first, the organised forces which have other ideas currently may follow, and the best of the new generation will be attracted by the centre of gravity we build.

The whole culture of the old movement is factional, dishonest and lacks real strategic thinking. In particular the basic idea that each organisation is the embryo of the future movement is destructive. It suggests that each organisation is the already created template for the new movement: that the work of setting the general foundation has already been done and that other notions are opposed to it and, ultimately, must be defeated by it. This view is, at bottom, absolutist. This notion, that there is one already existing correct method, means that those who hold this view aim to assimilate those who hold other views. Given the difficult experience of the movement in the past, it cannot be excluded that forces will be drawn towards the new movement in order to bury it, not to praise it.

In contrast, the new party movement we seek to build should be consciously and alliance [sic]: tolerant and pluralistic. There has to be a foundation of agreement about the role and task of the new party movement. In particular, each current, group and individual has unique experiences and strengths. These qualities allow the new party movement to contain the broad range of skills and aptitudes that no one current can or does have. Such a matrix-type organisation can be strengthened by admitting wisdom and deeper knowledge of other organisations and seeking to learn from that the wisdom. In this way, a real organisation can be built on the background of mutual trust and respect, without anyone prematurely giving up their best developed qualities.

2. An atmosphere of trust and transparency

Having asserted the nature of this matrix-type organisation, what mechanisms can develop and help consolidate such a culture? I suggest:

3. The over-arching problem of our current alliance

We have, in a way, been drafted into the most obvious alliance in front of us. In our contributory elements we have started to clarify the goal or strategy. In the whole alliance, this is not true. In particular, one contributor subscribes to the absolutist view. This gives three main choices:

    1. Do nothing.
    2. Remain in an alliance with this contributor while excluding them from the real work, which would increasingly strain the atmosphere of trust and transparency.
    3. Find ourselves in the position where we and this other contributor are in different alliances, which would allow us separately to develop the atmosphere of trust and transparency we wish for on the basis of the necessary requirements.

I favour the third option most and the second option least.

Open and closed

Note passed to a CPGB comrade during the LSA meeting by Duncan Chapple. It was written in response to the disclosure of the witch hunting contents of his circular, ‘Work in the Socialist Alliances’

I’m disappointed with the way you’ve used this letter. It’s a private note - and clearly labelled as such - and you are quite odd to talk of comradely relations in one breath, and use a stolen letter in the next. It denied people the right to have really ‘open’ thought and experimentation in the development of their ideas.

Obviously, from the idiom, the writer anticipated that the CPGB would have the opportunity to steal it. I’m sorry that you have.

I hope you won’t compound your breach of trust and comradely respect by publishing this letter further.

Exclusivist bloc

Excerpt from letter to Hackney Socialist Alliance from Nick Long of Lewisham Socialist Alliance and SDG

Thanks … for your information confirming Mark Fischer as your secretary and the model CPGB resolution your meeting adopted on June 6. Danny Hammill circulated the resolution at our last meeting and we resolved to discuss our position at our next meeting on July 1 1998.

Likewise I hope to circulate statements shortly from those candidates that the SP, Socialist Outlook, SDG, MfS [Movement for Socialism, ie the rump WRP] Green Socialist Network and ILN [Independent Labour Network with ex-Labour MEPs Ken Coates and Hugh Kerr at its head] will be supporting at the general meeting on July 5 1998.

In comradeship.