HypocrisyLast week, the Weekly Worker reported on the provocations staged by the Socialist Workers Partys International Socialist Tendency on the May 6 march in Athens organised by the European Social Forum. Some 100 ISTers attempted to plant themselves at the head of this demo, against the decision of the events organisers, the Greek Social Forum.
I witnessed a long and frequently violent confrontation between the IST contingent and the posse of march stewards penning them in. For some reason, the Greek SF decided not to take issue with the IST about this. So, in order to counter some of the blatant lies being peddled by the SWP and its cohorts about the unfortunate incident, Tina Becker posted her article on the ESFs discussion e-list.
Within an hour, Guy Taylor, SWP stalwart and nightwatchman for his organisations now more or less derelict front, Globalise Resistance, had responded: I find it disturbing but unsurprising that Tina finds no way of condemning the comrade(s) who decided to send an exclusively male group to police the demo. Arguments on demos? Something for the men obviously. Were there any female stewards on the march? I didnt see any, not one. Perhaps we should all just make the women tail behind and keep nice and safe.
As for when the demo started, there was never any attempt to change the order, and the macho stewards continued in their heroic role, ignoring the front where any attempt by outside forces would have concentrated. Thats maybe why there is usually a large number of stewards at the front of any demo. To try to accuse the IST of collaborating with the anarchists is just bizarre.
The dog-whistle phrases here are obviously exclusively male and macho stewards. Readers are meant to conclude that Guys comrades were attacked by a thuggish bunch of sexist, testosterone-fuelled blokes, who waded into the demo, indiscriminately lashing about at the innocent, sexually integrated ranks of the IST. The truth - as so often with SWP accounts - is somewhat different.
CPGBers observed almost the entire stand-off between the two groups and noticed two things. First, that there were in fact women - not many, it is true - interspersed with their male comrades in the lines of the stewards confronting the ISTers. Second, that when the battle lines fell apart after the initial argy-bargy, the IST organised a row of exclusively female comrades in the front ranks, comrades who were repeatedly propelled into the lines of mainly male stewards facing them (each new engagement would be followed by screamed insults against the fascist and/or Stalinist stewards and their treatment of women).
So the SWPs protestations hide a foul method of provocation - actually a form of reverse chauvinism against women. Of course, communists have no problem with female comrades taking an active part in physical defence formations of various kinds. After all, in our Draft programme we call for sexually integrated defence corps, facilitated by social measures to allow womens full participation in social life outside the home: that is, trade unions, political organisations, workers militia, cultural activities, etc.
Of course, we recognise that there are physical differences between the sexes that must be taken into account when organising this sort of work, but we totally reject notions of women as naturally soft, pacifistic types with no stomach for confrontation. But the SWP/IST has a vile approach that puts women in the front line of confrontations - not to counter these patronising notions, but to play to them. The female comrades are put into a position where they will be hit or jostled by men, and then the SWP/IST can pompously decry the macho or thuggish culture of the male comrades whom they are confronting. Despicable hypocrisy.
Lastly, it is worthwhile asking why the SWP/IST are occasionally keen to have their people act like anarchists and ultra-lefts. Those who were privileged to see it still speak in hushed tones of the day when Chris Spiderman Bambery attempted to scale the steel barriers that ringed the zona rossa in Genoa in 2001. (Luckily for the leaders of world imperialism on the other side, he didnt make it. The course of world history could have been so different if he had been wearing different shoes that day. See Weekly Worker July 26 2001.)
Clearly, this sort of clowning acts as a form of psychological consolation for an ostensibly revolutionary trend whose practical, day-to-day politics are consistently rightist. While in Athens IST comrades bounced on the balls of their feet chanting, One solution, revolution!, their comrades were pounding the streets of east London and council wards in England pushing the decidedly non-revolutionary (and non-socialist) Respect as the solution.
This Marxist sect is so consistently rightwing in its engagement with wider society that it needs to engage in some form of revolutionary practice on occasion, just to buff up its self-image as a dangerous bunch of rebels.
Pathetic, but true.
I attended the European Social Forum in Athens and witnessed the attempt of the IST to take over the front of the demonstration. It was very clear that the stewards knew exactly what was going on and tried to stop them.
The ISTs subsequent behaviour at the Assembly of Social Movements was despicable - they stood at the back of the room waving flags, chanting and cheering for their leaders, and defending their sectarian and disastrous actions of the previous day.
A lot of people, both at the demo and at the ASM, however, had no idea of what was happening. This is a symptom of the total lack of democracy at the ESF. The actions of the IST should have been accountable to the whole room but were instead discussed behind closed doors by the unelected leadership of the ESF.
Your insinuation that the anarchists used the crowd as a shield against the police at the ESF demonstration in Athens is untrue (Attempt to hijack Euro demo, May 11).
You make reference to the 679 local election votes won by Jerry Hicks, Respect candidate in Bristol Lockleaze (SWP failure within Respect success, May 11).
The vote Jerry got was partly due to his high profile as a trade unionist in Bristol (yes, a Respect trade unionist!) and also because, in a typical sectarian move, Respect jumped in before the Socialist Party, who have had a presence in the area for years. It is likely that Jerry benefited from the work the SP has done.
Graham Bash makes a good critique of New Labour but, as usual, does not present much hope of an alternative (Into the dustbin of history, May 11).
In the meantime, the unspeakable Hazel Blears, Tony Blairs newly installed party chair has her orders to dissolve what is left of local Labour democracy and replace it with loyalists. This will complete Blairs project of turning Labour into a version of the US Democratic Party.
When Gordon Brown takes over, Grahams nightmare will continue - after all, Brown has been driving the privatisation/deregulation agenda for New Labour for the past 10 years. Grahams fears of a Tory victory in 2009 are realistic, but it is also possible there will be a hung parliament and Labour will stay in power in return for Liberal Democrat support - which will bring much needed democracy to Westminster and open up the prospects for a new socialist party to the left of Labour. Then Graham and his Labour Left Briefing comrades may have a home to go to, but I expect they will be the last to leave.
We in Scotland are hoping that Blair stays on at least until after next Mays Scottish parliament elections. Labours private polling tells it that it is being hit hard by sleaze and the Blair effect, and is likely to lose 12-18 seats and the government in Scotland.
There is thus a real chance that we will elect a majority of members committed to an independent Scotland. These will include Scottish Socialist Party members who, after a difficult couple of years, are experiencing a resurgence in activity and recruitment.
I first came into contact with the Weekly Worker in 2002, when I put the words Communist Party into the Google search engine. Now, as a regular reader and supporter, I would like to make a few comments.
First, the recent increase in online readers is to be welcomed. But it would be interesting to read details of the proportion of readers from different countries around the world.
On the papers content, I have found the recent articles by Mike Macnair on Marxist theory most interesting and Jack Conrads articles about the CPGB and the 1926 General Strike very relevant to current developments. And I am glad that US communist Martin Schreader and Graham Bash of Labour Left Briefing have again written articles for the Weekly Worker.
Finally, I am sure that reports of the debates of CPGB members are followed very closely by both supporters and opponents. However, it is some months since I have read details of members aggregates. Has the CPGB stopped having these monthly meetings? I would also like to see the return of the Party notes column.
Peugeots plans to shut its plant at Ryton in Coventry were opposed by a loud street demonstration outside a Peugeot car showroom in Birmingham on May 13.
The first mass meeting of workers since the announcement of the planned closure will take place on May 18. Since the notice of closure, French Peugeot workers, along with those in Madrid and at plants in Holland and Belgium, have pledged full support for actions taken by the Coventry workers.
Offers of support from Europe seem to be concretising into calls for some form of Europe-wide strike action against Peugeot. This might be a two- or four-hour protest strike, but that must be built upon by the forming of Europe-wide strike committees that are made up of and accountable to the workers (there are calls to build a Coventry-wide support group or strike committee, which should be a venture between the joint unions at Peugeot and the trades council).
Workers committees coming out of this struggle must formulate plans for continued production at Ryton with no job losses but a cut in the working week. Conversion of production to socially useful items (rather than more cars in a world of overproduction of relatively useless and environmentally destructive commodities), linking up with Peugeot and other car workers throughout Europe, should be the way forward.
Tom Cholmondeley, a white racist and serial killer active in Kenya, shot dead Robert Njoya, a 33-year-old Kenyan citizen, for allegedly killing an antelope at his Soysambu ranch in the Gilgil division of Nakuru district on May 10.
The bloodthirsty white supremacist Cholmondeley also gunned down Samson ole Sisina, a Kenya ranger who was on duty and wearing the full uniform of Kenya Wild Life Services in April 2005. When the case came to court, Sisinas family never saw justice after Cholmondeley was acquitted by the court system due to a lack of evidence. This was despite the availability of eyewitness accounts of the execution and other hard evidence that could have facilitated a conviction. Millions of Kenyans were outraged.
The Kenya Scandinavia Democratic Movement (Kesdemo) takes this opportunity to thank the thousands of Kenyans who came out to block the Nairobi-Nakuru highway in protest at the latest execution of an innocent Kenyan who was trying to survive under great pressure of hunger and starvation that is affecting more than three million Kenyans across the country.
Why should cold-blooded murderers such as Cholmondeley continue to receive state protection? Why has the government allowed such people to continue committing crimes on stolen land without being brought to face the law? From our point of view, these people should not just be hanged for murder, but the land they continue to occupy more than four decades after independence should have been confiscated by the state without compensation.
We will not be surprised if Cholmondeley fails to face the noose. This is because the government will receive orders and threats from British and US imperialism on how to handle the case. Our prediction is that he will either bribe his way through a fine or walk away with a light sentence.
I am not sure where comrade Peter Waterman is coming from (Letters, May 4). If he means that communists must not criticise their comrades in other countries, but must always stay silent or uncritically support their actions, then he is ignoring a communist tradition going back to Marx and Engels of offering fraternal advice.
The Nepalis are under no obligation to follow our advice. We have no state power - unlike the Stalinist Cominform, which bizarrely expelled Tito for being a fascist. There is sincere communist comment and there is anti-democratic, bureaucratic bullshit. All comrades, Prachanda included, are welcome - indeed obliged - to give advice and assistance to other communist parties: we are, after all, an international fraternity striving to rid the world of capitalist exploitation together.
So if comrade Waterman is better informed than Eddie Ford on Nepal, please let us hear his wisdom. He is wrong in implying that communists know sod all about things beyond their own borders and are incompetent to say anything about world developments. Communist theory, Im sure he would agree, is a global theory.