On the coat-tails of the SWP

Submitted by AWL on 6 April, 2003 - 7:12

By Martyn Hudson

After all those years and books arguing the need for a "Socialist Alliance party", and that the SA as the only show in town, the Communist Party of Great Britain have effectively abandoned it.

Blaming others for the "liquidation of the SA" - absence as an independent force in firefighters' dispute and the anti-war movement - they have removed reference to the SA from the masthead of the paper, got shot of any mention of it from their "What we fight for column" and refused to endorse some suggestions from the RDG and the
Alliance for Workers' Liberty to re-energise the Alliance at a meeting in Luton last weekend.
Ironically, it is the CPGB's tailing of the SWP in the SA that has led to the SA's effective liquidation.

A rearguard action fought by some CPGB comrades to salvage the group's involvement in the SA project and terminate the misleadership of the SA by the SWP was in vain. Not only did the departure of these comrades from the CPGB go unmentioned in the Weekly Worker - that supposed organ of open debate-but the changes in the "What we fight for" column were made by
the Provisional Central Committee without any kind of democratic mandate from the organisation. The party membership was not even informed by the PCC of its changes: the Manchester comrades only noticed the changes by accident when selling the paper at a
demonstration. This is after a vociferous debate at a recent aggregate where the PCC fought tooth and nail to keep its wording in the column on a united Ireland.

The idea of the PCC of keeping the column "under constant review" means that anything can change by PCC diktat. One comrade deleted a reference in his email signature to the SA website and replaced it with the Stop the War website overnight. Only sharp-eyed CPGB-spotters clocked the change.

If this happened in any other SA-supporting organisation the CPGB would have called them cowards, defeatists and liquidationists. But
now the CPGB can do this with impunity. Those comrades who have criticised the new understanding of the SA and the less than honest
reporting have been accused of paranoia.

All of this points to an overexcited bunch willing to jump on any bandwagon to recruit to its own organisation. The softness on the Muslim Association of Britain and the tailing of the usual SWP shenanigans there have deeply affected the group's credibility on the thinking left.

The idea that the people's assemblies are proto-soviets, alternative forms of political organisations to that of Westminster or organs capable of generalising a class struggle conception of politics are clearly misplaced. Jack Conrad complains of totally unrepresentative
parliaments, a quasi-democratic Westminster and structures which do not express but frustrate the struggle from below (Weekly Worker 20 March) - but what were the assemblies supposed to be but representatives of "church and mosque"? In the event the assembly was devoid of any real class content. Its almost as if the assemblies are there waiting for the entrance of the working class stage left when in fact the working class is in the unions, workplaces and of course, sometimes manifesting its power on the great anti-war demonstrations.

Just as worrying are the recent headlines in the Weekly Worker, from the deeply uninspiring "Whatever action may be required" (13 March), which is a combination of the political sense of Mr Chips and Dennis the Menace, and the disturbing "Rather defeat for US-UK forces than their victory" (20 March) which, as one of our comrades pointed out, is basically "Victory to Saddam Hussein" for the gutless. It is completely opposed to their previous rejection of vulgar "revolutionary defeatism" back in September. By trying to latch on to the pro-Saddam left bandwagon whilst trying to retain intact some political sense they end up with a headline that is supposedly
explained in one line on page three of the paper - the main enemy is at home, so victory for Saddam is preferable even though we don't
really want to help him to victory.

This capitulation in practice to a "defend Iraq" stance is again linked to the popular-frontist policy of lining up with fundamentalists. Ian Donovan in the Weekly Worker points out that the CPGB's line on co-sponsorship still holds - particularly as Hizb ut-Tahrir have put the boot into Weekly Worker writers such as Ian,
Marcus Strom and myself as godless communists whom Muslims should shun. He argues that the MAB have brought secularist and socialist
ideas into contact with thousands of Muslim workers. This is just falsehood - it is the CPGB and the SWP, completely abdicating basic
principles of solidarity to our comrades in Iran, Pakistan and elsewhere who have criminally helped to bring thousands of Muslim workers into contact with the MAB, which was previously a tiny group of Muslim Brotherhood activists with no organic links to British Islam.

From damning the AWL for their supposed inability to understand the SA partyist project to the effective self-liquidation of SA partyism,
this displays the untrustworthiness of the politics of the CPGB leadership and its lack of commitment to open debate in front of the
class and the building of a united party. The SWP will undoubtedly emerge from the anti-war movement opportunistically strengthened and
this will make any building of a healthy united party all the more difficult. The new show in town looks like a mixture of comedy, tragedy and farce.

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