Bans likely to backfire

Submitted by Matthew on 4 June, 2013 - 8:47

In my previous comment about the Stalinists on London May Day marches (Solidarity 286), I wrote that we should look to “do with the Stalinists what some AWL comrades did in 2009 with a contingent of the Sinhalese-chauvinist JVP on the London May Day march: challenge them, heckle them, demand answers. (The JVP quit the march)”.

My difference with Eric Lee (Solidarity 287) is not that I “refuse to confront” the Stalinists on the streets.

I disagreed with Eric’s proposal that we should lobby the London May Day organisers to make some rule or decree banning the Stalinists. Better to lobby them to call the demonstration for a time when it can get sizeable numbers from the labour movement.

Bans, other than on fascists, are a tricky business. We don’t want everyone with a Che Guevara T-shirt or a Castro badge banned from the march. Where’s the line?

Eric objects to me saying that the Stalinists are “left-wingers, of a sort”, in the sense that they generally side with workers’ struggles against bosses in Britain (and in Turkey, the homeland for many of the Stalinists prominent on the London May Day), even though they support the exploiters against the workers in North Korea and (retrospectively) in the Stalinist USSR. I wrote nothing to suggest they are left-wing in “direct, real-world struggles”, and right-wing only on “irrelevant theoretical issues”.

I argue only that the range of Stalinist groups — from the CPGB M-L (whom, as it happens, I last came across in the fight against hospital cuts in my area) through to the CPB, the RCG, etc. — represent an infection going deep into the labour movement, including its militant sections, and attempts to deal with them by bans from above are likely to backfire.

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