After sidling into mealy-mouthed defence of Al Qaeda and its allies in Mali (9 February), Socialist Worker of 23 February attempts a sort-of-defence of the North Korean regime.
1. Underlying the SWP crisis is the erosion of the political authority within the SWP of the Central Committee. The crisis, in turn, accelerates that erosion.
Since the crisis hit in 2008 I have been involved with various anti-cuts initiatives and trade union campaigns, from the National Shop Stewards Network, to the Coalition of the Resistance, to local in
Socialist Worker has avoided explicit support for the Islamist militias which ruled northern Mali from April 2012 until recently.
Oppositionist writers in the SWP, in their polemics against the SWP’s current regime, are sometimes harking back to the ideas of the SWP (then called IS) before 1968, as summarised by two texts by Tony Cliff: Trotsky on substitutionism (1960) and Rosa Luxemburg (actually also 1960, but usually attributed to 1959).
The explosion of political discussion in IS, ignited by the sudden change of line by Cliff in favour of building the embryo of a "revolutionary party" seemed six months ago to be the most hopeful thing on the British left. Many, seeing also the new-type IS positions on Vietnam and the Middle East — a radical break with the abstentionist attitude of the group to this kind of struggle in the first 15 years of its existence — wondered whether the leadership might not even disavow other aspects of its past.
The SWP Central Committee has not expelled the opposition, but instead called a conference for 10 March.
Under the headline “No easy solution in or out”, Socialist Worker (2 Feb) describes the divisions which exist in the ruling class and the Tory party over Europe.
ULU, Malet St, London WC1E 7HY
A roundtable discussion with Joan Smith and Cathy Nugent.
The Socialist Workers’ Party is in crisis.
An internal fight over democracy and women’s rights has seen many activists expelled, and a broad debate has sprung up over what a revolutionary organisation is for and how it should be organised.
The fact that the fight pitted the Central Committee against what they called “creeping feminism” has also raised the question of what the attitude of Marxists to women’s liberation should be, and where the SWP leadership’s mistrust of “feminism” comes from.
Joan Smith, former editor of the SWP women’s magazine Women’s Voice, will speak alongside Cathy Nugent from Workers’ Liberty.
What lessons can socialists draw from the SWP’s current crisis - not just about the SWP but about other organisations (including their own) and the wider movement? How should revolutionary socialists inside and outside the SWP pick up the pieces from the current crisis and continue the fight?
All are welcome to this public debate on the state of the socialist left, hosted by Workers’ Liberty.