Well, speaking as the person who has the all-time swearing record at LYPS conferences... I still don’t feel like being brow-beaten by the cynical or dull-witted; the tiresome, stick-up-the-arse sanctimosity of Militant full-timers doesn’t improve with time.
Let’s assume we were rude, and they were pure as the driven snow. In which case we were rude, and they were wrong. There’s not a single issue from Afghanistan to peaceful transformation, to gay or women’s rights, to the witchhunt in the Labour Party, to Transitional demands or Liverpool where we have anything to amend. They were wrong.
One of our people was rude when the Militant failed to oppose the raid on the gay bookshop, Lavender Menace? Good for them.
I was rude about Derek Hatton? Yes I was. But he was a disgrace, was he not? (And who is still about? The working class bloke who features in Christmas Pantomimes, or the kid from Harrogate?)
Anyway, the stuff about the Militant w/class base is being used demagogically. Yes, they recruited working class youth because they recruited from the LP – but we had a lot of young working class members too in the 80s, recruited from the same place. And ours could string an argument together.
A random example. I remember going to an LPYS Regional Ctte in 1984. I was the only non-Militant person on one of those things. They proposed a motion saying there was a pre-revolutionary situation in Chile. I started laughing. The regional LP official started sniggering into his hand, too. I didn’t know much about Chile, but at least I knew it was in South America, and I was pretty sure they were talking crap (after all, I read the press). The point is: the look of panic among their (dozen) people. One of them had to reply to me! Horror! That hadn't entered their calculations.
Anyway, part of the point about this discussion, above, is not only their w/class base but their fetish of it – the anti-political, sociological cult of the worker. And of course a lot of their leaders weren’t working class at all. More, not a few of their members weren’t workers either, just pretending to be: sporting the jeans-anorak-Tesco bag look and accompanying it with a strange accent which was half-South African (after Ted Grant) and half Liverpudlian. (After the 1989 Poll Tax moment it changed to Glaswegian for a while; and people who used to call themselves Richard became Richie).
So they took in working class youth and taught them to recite wooden-headed nonsense about the nationalisation of the top 200 monopolies. Always accompanied by a strange chopping action with the right hand.
The cleverer kids mostly left, quickly – they didn’t like the regime and the lack of any sort of thinking space.
And now they’ve built an organisation several hundred bigger than us. Nice.
Oh, I’ve spotted the problem: they’ve built it without much attention to the idea that the entire project – starting with the words ‘Socialist’ and ‘Party’ – is now problematic. So you can be in the SP and think Che was brilliant (or not) or that North Korea is a workers’ state (or not), or that workers’ reps should be on a workers wage (or not if you’re in the PCS). As long as you are for 'socialism' in general, and follow the latest tactical twist or turn with the National Shop Stewards operation or TUSC, that’s OK. You’re in.
And such an organisation is supposed to be what the workers’ need? Don’t make me laugh again. It is a soggy degeneration from the Militant of the 70s and 80s: the absurd peaceful transformation (plus degenerated workers states for most of the rest of the world) has been replaced by advocacy of a general ‘socialism’ (+ a continuing sectarian disdain). Camp, lowest common denominator, orthodox Trotskyist, 'socialism'.