How Socialist Worker loyalists should fight the witch hunt

Witch hunter General

Pat Stack. Witch hunter General

  1. Call a spade a spade. What we are witnessing is a witch hunt. Posing it in any other terms is a recipe for disaster.
  2. Recognize that there are many ways loyalists can fight this witch hunt that will be counterproductive: the cure would be worse than the disease.
  3. Recognize that this witch hunt is likely to have been the result of a trap that the SWP fell into, possibly a series of traps. Realize that there is no easy way to extricate the party from such a trap, and that this is going to take a lot of time and effort.
  4. Be upfront that the party leadership has made mistakes and has no interest in closing down debate with its critics internally or externally about the way forward for the party and the workers movement in general, and the battle against all forms of oppression, obviously including the struggle for women’s liberation. Constructive criticism is always welcome. But the keyword here is ‘constructive’. Make no concessions to those who pretend those who have left the party (in two distinct waves now) have betrayed the fact that they were never interested in constructive criticism; on the contrary, were all along intent on damaging the party as much as they could, a project that remains uppermost in their minds. Having said this, do not rule out the possibility (inevitability might be a better word) that amongst those who have torn up their party cards there will be those who were lead astray, who exaggerated the relative merits of both groups, and do please concede that not every criticism leveled by the critics of the central committee was wrong at every stage: that is definitely not my position. Such people who have accidentally fallen out of the party can be convinced at a later date that they did in fact make a mistake. It is in the interests of their class that such comrades rejoin. Before doing so they will obviously need to demonstrate their good faith by making amends for having helped witch hunters; that is the only way to ensure that the party is not re-infiltrated by yet more of Chris Bambery and John Chamberlain’s entryists. Such attempts at ‘conciliation’ will put a strain on comrades who will not want to pull punches. But the best way to deal with sectarianism will often, in the short term, be by walking away from deliberate provocations. While it is natural to fight back, this will play into the hands of our class enemies. Enemies of socialism need the left to fight like ferrets in a sack. They need to give our class no hope in working class unity. Within all sections of the organized left we can expect the state to intervene with agent provocateurs to foment the kind of sectarianism that is death to working class unity: do not play their game, no matter how fantastic a witty comeback you can think of. Walk away. Do not feed the trolls in cyberspace or while they are attempting to disrupt meetings, pickets. To the extent they descend into acts of unprovoked violence, as we have already seen, appeal to the good sense of our class to have them step in to offer us protection from these violent and pig-ignorant vigilantes.
  5. The SWP central committee needs to fess up to the fact that it has indeed made mistakes. Without that, there is no hope. Without that, a repetition of this disaster is inevitable. The state will be making preparations to start all over again and if they don’t already have someone waiting in the wings to accuse someone they will be searching for one as I tap these keys. What exactly are the mistakes the central committee has made? In the first place, there was never any credible way for the party to determine guilt or innocence in the cases in question. Having pointed this out, this is no less a criticism of Pat Stack, Richard Seymour and co. What distinguishes both groups of comrades who have no idea who is telling the truth, which is everyone apart from the two people in question? One of these groups decided to accept majority votes within a Leninist organization wheras the other pretends Leninists don’t care, and never have cared, about majority votes. These people have nothing to teach the SWP about women’s liberation, natural justice, building a Marxist party or anything else. It could not be more crucial to make it clear that the party was never ever competent to form any judgement in such cases. This is a just criticism. Having said that, the party has moved on in the only way it can. If the accuser is determined to pursue her claim through the courts that is a matter for her. For her and for the individual who she has accused. If the accused is the one who has been telling the truth all along (and I have no way of knowing either way, which puts me in exactly the same position as everyone else), then he will have a claim for massive financial compensation from Andy Newman, Phil Burton Cartledge, Tony Collins, Owen Jones, Richard Seymour, Chris Bambery, Mike Gonzalez, Peter Manson, etc, etc, etc. Indeed, if it turns out that he has been the victim of a state-orchestrated smear campaign involving a honey trap, I dare say Home Secretary Theresa May herself and all those who pulled the strings at MI5/Special Branch will have to dip their hands in their pockets, or, to be more precise, will raid public funds to get them out of a mess caused by their own criminal activity. As things stand today, we simply do not know who is telling the truth. I for one am not going to debate this case based on an insufficiency of facts. That is a matter for a jury, if the accuser wants to take this to court. While the SWP central committee may have made a very serious tactical mistake (I am in no doubt that they did), they did what they did in good faith, as far as I can tell. That is a hell of a lot more than can be said for what Pat Stack has done for the last few years, to say nothing of Richard Seymour. Richard Seymour’s pathetic ragbag of idiots at the International Socialist Network have from day one been up to its armpits in the dregs of those posing – utterly illegitimately – as part of the left. I am referring to the cyber cesspit that is Andy Newman’s blog and Phil Burton Cartledge’s blog. Richard Seymour also has the dubious honour of drip feeding poisonous tittle-tattle to the website of a man who has on an organized basis infiltrated the SWP and Socialist Party. Richard Seymour used those who work today for ultra-Blairite friends of Peter Mandelson. Richard Seymour is a hypocrite. He has verifiable links to a man who worked hand-in-glove with a very dodgy individual who defends convicted pedophiles like Jonathon King. Who cares what these lying idiots think about anything? To get back to the real issues, since no political party – left, right or center – would ever be in any position to determine guilt or innocence in such matters, the central committee and disputes committee should have said from the very start that this matter had to be sorted by the state. This was clearly always the only outcome that would be acceptable if the accuser was clear she was telling the truth. That is why her behavior was a part of a trap even if her original allegation was true and the accused guilty, in need of being identified and punished. Severely punished. It is clear from what Comrade X is now doing and the company she is keeping that unless the party verified her allegation one way or the other, she would drag the party’s name through the mud. In other words, Comrade X was part of a trap, even if she was not conscious of this at any point in time. She may or may not have been conscious of her role in a trap, but it is now clear that she intended this crisis to drag out and destroy the SWP unless the party gave her what she wanted: accept her side of the story despite no evidence being forthcoming that made such a verdict unavoidable. I should not need to spell this out yet again, but I am going to do so due to the fact that the witch hunters are deliberate liars: for all I know, Comrade X has never lied about anything vis-a-vis the allegations of criminality. I have never suggested otherwise, and if she is telling the truth, punishment is legitimate. But punishing the innocent is never right. The accused has rights too, just in case he is the one telling the truth, especially since the role of the state in honey traps may be what this is all about. This is crucially important because if an objective jury does find the accused guilty, then the guilt rests exclusively on the head of a single individual; the party would, in such circumstances, have clean hands. On the other hand, the accused would have his day in court. He would have his legitimate right to cross examine his accuser, to let the jury examine the possibility (maybe even evidence) that there may be reasons why his accuser may have made up this entire story. The accused could face his accusers to clear his name, before a jury of his peers, before the world press, before the entire working class movement. This is a matter about which the witch hunters do not give a fuck. They are utterly wretched in their insistence that allegation is all it is ever going to take to justify a potentially innocent man being framed, to be tossed in jail to be gang raped on a daily basis by violent criminals, possibly fascist thugs. Pat Stack and Ian Birchall have pitched their tent alongside masses of Rebekah Brooks type lynch mobs. Their pals are threatening to beat the accused up in public, beating up everyone who refuses to deny him a fair trial. They are calling on employers to sack all those who defend the right to a fair trial, naming them all in cyberspace, effectively drawing up a black list for ultra-right-wing Tory bosses, while openly demanding the trade union leaders do not lift one finger when union busting asset strippers victimize these socialists. Richard Seymour’s followers are not socialists. They are not democrats. Pat Stack’s gang have taken leave their senses, if they ever had any. Pat and Richard are now joined to the hip like a lynch mob of clowns in a two legged race. At least one of Seymour’s allies is a lying degenerate who is/was paid out of our taxes to work for a Blairite close friend of Peter Mandelson: https://derekthomas2010.wordpress.com/2013/03/19/phil-burton-cartledge-and-the-witch-hunt-against-the-swp/! Another of these scum told me to kill myself for daring to question the possibility that some women might actually tell lies from time to time, even insisting that Maggie Thatcher never lied. These individuals are literally beyond satire.
  6. Pat Stack, Ian Birchall et al are advocates for this deranged lynch mob. Their support for Richard Seymour is beneath contempt. They have zero understanding of the politics of the party they joined. They have dragged out a significant number of members. All that proves to me is that there were a hell of a lot of members who never understood the ABC of Marxist politics. Losing the middle class students who were the cornerstone of Richard Seymour’s ISN dust serves to demonstrate that the party had not been recruiting those fit for building the kind of Marxist party that Chris Harman wanted to build and/or has been insufficiently diligent in bringing them up to speed having recruited them. What we have been witnessing is how deep the rot had set in. But this is an opportunity to rearm the party with the politics that built the SWP in the first place. Members have to be immunized against the anti-Marxist politics of those who have just walked away. I know of no better way of doing that than by pointing everyone in the direction of Chris Harman’s writings: The Lost Revolution and The Fire Last Time most of all. Harman’s writings are soaked in the Marxist method. Every single page. In this respect they remind me of those writings of all the great revolutionary Marxists: Marx, Engels, Luxemburg, Lenin, Trotsky, Gramsci.
  7. The objective role of those who have split from the SWP is to foment divisions within our class. Their role is to raise false allegations, introducing venom to keep us divided. Overcoming this role is not going to be easy. The lies have to be challenged. But they have to be challenged in a political climate where most people are not even allowed to hear the facts. The broadcast and print media is owned lock, stock and barrel by those who want to divert any alienation from the Tory government into safe or even more reactionary channels: UKIP, Tommy Robinson’s latest MI5 front, Quilliam Foundation, a host of divide and rule scapegoat operations: Islamophobia, xenophobia, anti-traveler propaganda, the undeserving poor, trade unionists who don’t want to just pay the salaries of bureacrats, but who actually want to withdraw their labour to prove they are more than slaves for the idle rich, who actually want to take industrial action in solidarity with those with less industrial muscle, who want strikes to be first and foremost effective, regardless of whether Ed Miliband does or does not think they are legal or moral.
  8. Ed Miliband? Yes, let’s talk about him. Owen Jones has plunged the depths by becoming an enthusiastic champion of the anti-SWP witch hunt. How do Socialist Worker loyalists respond to this? This is a tricky one. To the extent Owen continues to walk down the path he has set out for himself and others, he opens himself up to exposure. This is not a battle of our making, and it is one best avoided if possible. Owen seems to want to declare war on the SWP, pitching his tent in what is self evidentally a state-orchestrated witch hunt. Why is he doing this? That remains an open question. What is not in doubt is that his behavior has had a significant effect, and will continue to do so. The SWP needs to respond thoughtfully to what he has done in a way that does not alienate all those who have fallen for Owen Jones’s smear campaign. The worst thing that can be done is to dismiss him in a manner that would allow him to turn all those who listen to what he says against the SWP. This is yet another trap. It is very tempting to respond to sectarianism with more of the same. This temptation has to be resisted. The tone in dealing with Owen Jones for the time being has to be one of ‘more than in sorrow than in anger.’ Even those who don’t see any way back for Owen Jones have to give him the benefit of the doubt. This is for tactical reasons if for no other. The door has to be kept open for rational debate. This has less to do with recruiting him or even turning him into some kind of fraternal ‘fellow traveler’ who may at least climb on board TUSC, at some future date. It has everything to do with appealing over the head of Owen Jones himself to the many hundreds of thousands of young radical workers who pay attention to what he says, for the most part for good reasons, good being a relative term, wonderful reasons when contrasted with 99% of what is vomited into our living rooms courtesy of Rupert Murdoch and Chris Patten.
  9. Why has Owen Jones leapt on board a state orchestrated witch hunt? Questions like this cannot be answered simply. There is zero evidence he is part of any state-orchestrated witch hunt, nor do I expect for one moment that any will ever turn up. That is true for virtually everyone involved. Which members of the state will be exposed in time remains a matter of conjecture. I have my own ideas that I won’t explore in this blog post, but which I have dealt with in detail before, and will do so again: all in good time. So why is Owen Jones on board the witch hunt? It is possible that he has been persuaded by rational argument, as rational as he can muster at this point in time. Frankly, I don’t buy that.  He is far too intelligent for that. If we can’t excuse his behavior by reference to naivety, can we come up with an alternative explanation that makes him look less bad? I have an explanation or two, but they do not show him in a particularly good light. I am not going to argue that he is doing what he is doing for fully conscious reasons. I am quite sure he is not. I expect he lacks the self awareness to look himself in the mirror and fess up to why he is parroting ideas he must know to be nonsense. I think he is being utterly opportunist. I think Owen Jones  lacks the spine to fight the witch hunt given all the levers of power in the hands of the witch hunters.Maybe he will find that strength soon. If and when he does he should be welcomed back with open arms. The prodigal son. The same attitude has to prevail with most (but not all) of those who have played a part in the witch hunt. The SWP is in no position to turn away those who wake up and smell the witch hunt. ‘Better late than never’ has to be the motto.
  10. Owen Jones is no doubt parroting the witch hunters’ lies because if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. It is also in the interests of his political future to help destroy competitors on the left. That might be his line of reasoning, if the sub consciousness can be said to have a line of reasoning. Well, this puts the SWP in a relatively strong position. This is a trump card the Socialist Worker loyalists can play to good advantage to reverse the witch hunt. Owen Jones is trying to divert the extra-parliamentary resistance into the arms of Ed Miliband? Now, that is hardly going to strengthen his hand. This is an Achilles heel of almost all those who like to think of themselves as a part of the left but who embrace this witch hunt as a gift from god. Such witch hunters are also to be found inside Left Unity. However, this is an organization that is going nowhere fast, one I predict is going to shatter into many pieces before they stand their first candidate. Left Unity’s abdication vis-a-vis the European elections (whose proportional representation mechanism gives socialists a real chance), their ludicrous refusal to smash the crap politics that Owen Jones wants workers to bolster in the elections: the politics of Ed Miliband. Nigel Farage’s UKIP will mop up the protest votes of the justifiably alienated, thanks to the Tory establishment’s stranglehold of the BBC, SKY News, Channel Four News. That in turn will drag the political center of gravity still further to the right. And all because Owen Jones and the pathetic Richard Seymour  riff raff who have left the SWP want to do zilch about Ed Miliband’s betrayal of all the exploited and oppressed. Owen Jones knows what he can do with comrade Miliband’s xenophobia and One Nation pro-capitalist bullshit.
  11. Workers of the world unite.
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4 Responses to How Socialist Worker loyalists should fight the witch hunt

  1. Dan says:

    The splitters must be paid state agents, surely?

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    • TomDelargy says:

      Obviously that is not what I am arguing for. Who do you mean by ‘splitters’? Everyone who has left the SWP? Even amongst Richard Seymour’s rabble the proportion of state agents will be microscopic. But these are so off-the-wall there was never any prospect of reaching an accomodation with any of these ignorant anarchists. As far as Pat Stack’s group is concerned, I have made it abundantly clear that everything should have been done to persuade them at every stage not to split. Now that they have ignored the basics of the democracy of a Leninist organization, and the norms of natural justice, it is necessary to treat each ‘splitter’ on personal basis. Lenin not only recruited Trotsky to the Bolsheviks in 1917, he hoped the leader of the original split with him in 1902 would join as well: Martov. I don’t know if Pat Stack will rejoin at some point in the future, but many of his group are likely to, unless the SWP fuses with other elements on the Marxist left at some point, such as the Socialist Party, making the SWP no longer an entirely separate organization, which would be fine by me. In the meantime,I have made it clear that the SWP has to bend over backwards to extend olive branches with those who have split, to the extent individuals want a working relationship with the SWP, rather than tries to gag them all, and tries to destroy their property, tries to have them sacked and kicked out of the trade unions, tries to start riots and violently assault SWP members, which is what some of these deranged individuals are calling for. Those anti-sectarians who want to put the interests of our class, and all the oppressed, against their idiotic sectarianism should be treated as comrades, alongside every other member of the working class who is not a member of the SWP. Dismissing all those who have split as conscious, paid, agents of the state is nonsensical. It would also play into the hands of the very same state by paralyzing the organization. There is no room for conspiracy theory paranoia on the left. That is too obvious for words.

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  2. Dan says:

    If you knew the history of the left, you wouldn’t think it was paranoia.

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    • TomDelargy says:

      I do know the history of the left in a lot of detail, including many examples of infiltration of the left by agents of the state. Not sure what point you are trying to make. Your original comment was clearly an attempt to imply, mischievously I assumed, that I thought all Pat Stack’s supporters were paid agents of the state. Now that you know I accept that is a ridiculous idea you seem to be implying that you think all Pat Stack’s supporters are paid agents of the state. Is that what you are saying or not? No one serious could believe that. Could you explain in detail what you are trying to say?

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