SWP poorly treat 2 young women member victims of sexist behaviour/rape by CC member. Lessons for ultra/anarchist groups?

191 posts / 0 new
Last post
Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 24 2013 20:54

additional stuff I posted as comments on http://www.2ndcouncilhouse.co.uk/blog/2013/01/06/misogynists-and-the-lef... on similar stuff which happened in the SWP's German clone on the question by someone else "Didn’t Linsruck, the SWP’s sister section in Germany, collapse a few years ago due to a rape coverup scandal?"

Quote:
internal sexism, including rape committed by at least two high-ranking members and some other members played an important role (together with the lack of internal democracy and differences in the approach towards the anti-globalization movement) in the demise of Linksruck from a highly visible org with 1200-1400 members two a group with 200-300 members, today called Marx21, an internal current in Die Linke with two MPs and a some influence in the party … when several of the rape cases became public around 2001, it became known that e.g. the Linksruck leadership (the primary link between Linksruck and the SWP leadership in London was at that period a guy, who had dumped his partner after she became pregnant by him leaving her with the baby and who a few years later was responsible for substantial financial losses for Linksruck after using the organization’s telephone for phone sex) a few years earlier simply sent one full time party employee and leadership member who had committed rape to another city where he continued to be a party employee for at least four years, younger women in that city were told not to visit him in his flat on their own, an attempted rape by another member was covered up because he was considered “too valuable for the organization” being one of their few skilled union activists (as far as I know, he is still a member), …

and

Quote:
the development, even the successes of Linksruck were never a topic which was communicated to the wider IST membership, e.g. even in 1997, three years after the former section, the SAG evolved into Linksruck, publications of the SWP and it’s other clones still listed the SAG as sister org, in my opinion simply due to the fact that it would have caused controversies in the wider SWP/IST if it had been public knowledge, that the German section was doing entryist work inside the the SPD’s youth org … the only text on sexism in Linksruck from inside the IST I know, is a text by the Austrian section which heavily criticises Linksruck from 2001: http://de.indymedia.org/2001/12/12841.shtml (in German), don’t think that this text became known in the SWP … and the SWP successfully “edited” Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Linksruck&diff=252184715&oldid...

Battlescarred
Offline
Joined: 27-02-06
Jan 24 2013 21:43

Oh FFS! the collapse of the SWP is not in the least negative, it's something I've been wishing for for many years.

jonthom's picture
jonthom
Offline
Joined: 25-11-10
Jan 25 2013 08:34
Battlescarred wrote:
Oh FFS! the collapse of the SWP is not in the least negative, it's something I've been wishing for for many years.

But without the SWP who will anarchists be able to whine about when things don't go their way?

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 25 2013 10:04

the issue is far more complex, when an org (if we like or do not like it) collapses, the most common reaction of members who leave it is not to join "the real revolutionaries" but to drop out of organized politics often combined with signs of deep resignation

Konsequent's picture
Konsequent
Offline
Joined: 1-11-11
Jan 25 2013 15:52

The way the press has responded to this implies that the SWP was taking the responsibilty to deal with this out of the hands of the judicial system. This article

no1 wrote:
it's being reported in the mainstream press now:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ranks-of-the-socialist-wor...

starts with this nonsense

Quote:
The Socialist Workers Party was engulfed in crisis tonight over allegations that it set up a “socialist sharia court” to investigate rape allegations against a senior member instead of reporting them to the police.

Apart from the ridiculous "sharia court" thing, this implies that the SWPs process was an alternative to going to the police, as if that is what happens when a rape occurs. It's not. Most rapes don't get reported to the police. Most people, when raped, either don't tell anyone or just tell people they're close to. Few people who experience something that traumatic are likely to be able to face sharing all the details with a stranger let alone a police officer. It's not just the left who don't trust the police. Even people who think the police are "a good thing" don't perceive them as the most sensitive and sympathetic people.

So this doesn't make much sense to me

Mr. Jolly wrote:
Quote:
And that dealing with the former is not something they should do - 'report to police and move on'.

Of course there is a diabolical conviction rate for rape and sexual assault, but having a culture of not reporting to the cops is something that potentially plays into the hands of the rapists. The cult like behaviour of trot and anarchist groups in this respect ensures that such behaviour is never met with anything but some crappy process, with loyalty to 'party' and 'comrades' being an inevitable part of the mix when considering what should be done.

We currently have a wider culture where a rape survivor isn't taken seriously unless they report it to the cops, and where most rape survivors don't report it to the cops. This plays into the hands of rapists. The least we could do is encourage a culture which takes survivors of rape seriously, whether or not they've reported it.

Also you imply that some crappy process will automatically be worse than the judicial system. Tbh, the example of the SWP is one of the few I've seen where the process was even crappier than the one the state has to offer, which is saying something. I don't mean that comrades should be denounced when going to the police, as I've heard some anarchists do. If someone wants to go to the police after a rape they shouldn't be judged for it, and they should be able to rely on us to support them through that because it's most likely going to be really hard (the "report to the police and move on" idea is just laughable). But most people, whether anarchists or not, won't want to. And I wouldn't dream of encouraging them to as it's likely to be a horrific and pointless experience, with the most likely outcome being nothing at all, and with the best and least likely outcome being that the rapist will be locked up for a period of time, then let out again. If all the survivor really wanted was for their attacker to understand what they had done wrong and/or to never have to run into them again then it's the kind of thing we should try to be able to arrange. Either way, whether they report it to the police or not, we should have processes to deal with these incidents which might also involve helping the survivor deal with the police but should at least involve kicking the rapist out of our organisations.

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Jan 25 2013 16:42

Agree. That was the one aspect of the Tom Walker resignation statement I thought was most problematic. In the process of criticising the Disciplinary Committee's actions, it seemed like he was suggesting that the idea that any organisational process should have any role at all was "the arrogance of setting yourself up as a kangaroo court".

It doesn't matter whether the organisation is a political organisation, a social centre, a housing coop, or the chess club. When a serious allegation of sexual assault (or other violence) is made against a member of that body, there is no choice other than to face the decision of whether or not the accused should be excluded (regardless whether the victim decides to go to the police or not).

You just can't implement, say a safer spaces policy in a social centre, without having to face up to those decisions when they arise. Of course that doesn't mean deluding yourselves that you have the power to remedy the situation, restore justice or what have you. But the only decision that is really in your power to make - whether or not to exclude - still matters vitally to every member of that body (and, usually a good number outsde of it as well) and must be made in as best/least-worst way as possible.

Obviously, as the SWP disciplinary body did, interrogating the victim in such as way as to put them "on trial" and question their morals, like the mainstream courts do, is horrific, despicable and a prime example of the worst possible way of dealing with the issue. But not dealing with it, is not an acceptable option either - for any group.

S. Artesian
Offline
Joined: 5-02-09
Jan 25 2013 17:05
Quote:
Tbh, the example of the SWP is one of the few I've seen where the process was even crappier than the one the state has to offer, which is saying something. I don't mean that comrades should be denounced when going to the police, as I've heard some anarchists do. If someone wants to go to the police after a rape they shouldn't be judged for it, and they should be able to rely on us to support them through that because it's most likely going to be really hard (the "report to the police and move on" idea is just laughable). But most people, whether anarchists or not, won't want to. And I wouldn't dream of encouraging them to as it's likely to be a horrific and pointless experience, with the most likely outcome being nothing at all, and with the best and least likely outcome being that the rapist will be locked up for a period of time, then let out again. If all the survivor really wanted was for their attacker to understand what they had done wrong and/or to never have to run into them again then it's the kind of thing we should try to be able to arrange. Either way, whether they report it to the police or not, we should have processes to deal with these incidents which might also involve helping the survivor deal with the police but should at least involve kicking the rapist out of our organisations.

Indeed, much "crappier." Keep in mind that once the SWP starts its "investigation" the state can step in, demand the transcripts and notes, and then decide to indict the accused, regardless of the wishes of the victim.

In major felonies, the state is the complainant and the victim is a witness. The victim can be compelled to testify against his/her will.

So....anyone accused of an action like rape hasto be pretty stupid to say anything to a "disputes committee" other than, "I did no such thing. Address any further questions to my lawyer."

All the SWP disputes committee should do, and really can do, is recommend the immediate suspension of the accused, and make the parties aware of the legal implications.

raw
Offline
Joined: 8-10-03
Jan 28 2013 20:52

deleted

no1
Offline
Joined: 3-12-07
Jan 30 2013 20:32

Vdeo resignation.... words fail me....

If you don't have time for the whole video but still want to appreciate what an agony the existence of a SWP student has become, the climax is from 8.15 or so.

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Jan 30 2013 23:13
no1 wrote:
Vdeo resignation.... words fail me....

If you don't have time for the whole video but still want to appreciate what an agony the existence of a SWP student has become, the climax is from 8.15 or so.

Jesus Christ

S. Artesian
Offline
Joined: 5-02-09
Jan 30 2013 23:54

West End, Broadway? Ladies and Gentlemen, the next Hugh Jackman

NannerNannerNan...
Offline
Joined: 18-12-11
Jan 31 2013 00:52

oh god its like shame, lack of self-awareness, smug arrogance and idiocy all converging in a videographic form to create the funniest thing I've seen.

"how can I ever go on paper sales?"

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Jan 31 2013 09:24

http://piraniarchive.wordpress.com/home/investigations-campaigns-and-oth...

a former CC member of the WRP looks back and compares "his party's" downfall with the SWP's case

http://piraniarchive.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/1986-healy-leaflet.pdf

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Offline
Joined: 6-11-03
Jan 31 2013 07:51

Wow. Just wow.

sawa
Offline
Joined: 18-02-09
Jan 31 2013 09:20

Is this really a thread where its in good taste to make fun of (ex)swappies?

wojtek
Offline
Joined: 8-01-11
Jan 31 2013 10:27

One famous anarchist blamed it on democratic centralism and then went into SWP-style recruitment overdrive, it was gross.

no1
Offline
Joined: 3-12-07
Jan 31 2013 10:45
sawa wrote:
Is this really a thread where its in good taste to make fun of (ex)swappies?

I hope that me posting that video doesn't come across as being oblivious to the gravity of the rape case, apologies if it does. I think of this thread as being about the disintegration of the SWP as it is unfolding before our eyes. This musical resignation is part of that, and actually expresses various aspects of it in an absurdly exaggerated way. Due to democratic centralism, the party's decision that the rape accusation against one of their leaders is baseless must be upheld by every SWP member - which makes every loyal SWP member an accomplice in covering up likely sexual assault. There's actually a recent account on the first stage of making ordinary members accomplices, when the CC got Smith a standing ovation two years ago at their 2011 conference (*) :

Quote:
Because of the strictures of ‘confidentiality’, the name, age and branch of the young female comrade who subsequently became known as comrade W was not revealed at conference. But neither was the nature of the allegations, as we will see. A great deal of information was not shared with assembled delegates. When some delegates rose to give comrade Delta a standing ovation they and the rest of us were still largely in the dark.

During the ‘special session’ only six comrades were actually called to speak. Comrade Delta was the penultimate speaker and in the current argot of ‘Party Notes’ you might say his extemporized speech was “warmly received.” What was the gist of Delta’s address? He argued he was “no angel” and he had never pretended to be one. There was a lachrymose element to what he said also when he talked of his “real friends”; the ones who knew who he really was as a person, comrades from his days in Westminster branch in the late 1980s. There was also a passage many would have regarded as heartfelt where Delta spoke of the stress involved in his role as the very public face of the UAF that made him, his partner and his home a target for the fascists.

As a result of the informal complaint against him, Delta stepped down from, or was removed from, his post as National Secretary. But he remained on the CC. Delta informed us all that he was “happy as a pig in shit” to be returning to the Industrial department where he had always been happiest. Had the class struggle been the tempest we had all hoped it would be when the Con-Dem government was elected in 2010 with their vicious plans for austerity, it might have provided Delta with a suitable distraction. This performance was followed the rapturous applause and chanting of some of the assembled delegates that left other delegates bewildered in their seats.

Yet Delta’s speech has obscured two other significant contributions that day. Setting aside crass contributions from Sheila McGregor and others, Delta was followed by a brave young Asian female comrade (I cannot recall her name) who invited the delegates to consider if their applause and chanting was really appropriate given the context.

The other significant contribution – the significant contribution in hindsight, was that of Alex Callinicos, who kicked off the ‘special session’. It was a euphemistic triumph. At no point did Callinicos talk of sexual harassment or sexual assault. Instead Callinicos began by saying that he had something a bit unpleasant to relay but it would only take a moment of time before we returned to the main business of conference. There was a young female comrade who was upset at Delta and his behavior. Without divulging any real detail, Callinicos explained that Delta denied having done anything wrong but acknowledged that the female comrade was upset with him and he was sorry for that. Delta would no longer place himself in the presence of the female comrade. It was all so vague and Callinicos implied that the female comrade no longer wished to give the impression that she reciprocated Delta’s interest. Delta was sorry for any distress caused but he denied he had actually done anything wrong. It was a bit of a misunderstanding and both Delta and the female comrade wished to put it all behind them.

http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/reflections-on-20...

Reminiscent of the film Festen (aka The Celebration). Getting people to applaud a likely rapist in this way goes a long way towards explaining the revulsion and anger among usually loyal members.

(*) as far as I understand it, there are two parts to the story. The rape accusation was only made a few months ago after the SWP position in the Assange case gave the complainant the confidence that her accusation would be taken seriously. However the story first emerged at the time of the Counterfire split, when Smith was on the side of the current CC, and accusations against him would have weakened them significantly. As I understand it, three members of the CC including Callinicos met up with 'comrade W' and it seems that no official complaint was made.

Arbeiten's picture
Arbeiten
Offline
Joined: 28-01-11
Jan 31 2013 11:18

er. I'm quite sure that video is a spoof. He buries his head in snow FFS.

Mr. Jolly's picture
Mr. Jolly
Offline
Joined: 28-04-11
Jan 31 2013 15:25
Konsequent wrote:
I don't mean that comrades should be denounced when going to the police, as I've heard some anarchists do. If someone wants to go to the police after a rape they shouldn't be judged for it, and they should be able to rely on us to support

For fucks sake as if that EVEN needs saying, what planet are people on?

Mr. Jolly's picture
Mr. Jolly
Offline
Joined: 28-04-11
Jan 31 2013 16:28

Sorry if that sounded harsh but that whole statement creeped me out a bit. That when someone is raped then there is this set of moral edicts within 'the anarchist subculture' where all the options that victims may have or want to pursue are curtailed because they are deemed pointless or antithetical to the sensibilities of such subcultures. As I said before its all very culty. Im rather glad that I no longer really have much to do with 'the scene'.

RedEd's picture
RedEd
Offline
Joined: 27-11-10
Jan 31 2013 17:56

The other side of it is that we should be aware that people who do go to the police after being sexually assaulted are fairly likely to be badly treated and have traumatic experiences during that process due to the systemic failings and sexist, victim blaming culture it exists in and perpetuates. A decent anarchist analysis (rather than a doctrinaire, knee jerk one) can help us support people through that side of things too.

wojtek
Offline
Joined: 8-01-11
Feb 1 2013 23:48

Dealing with the dirty laundry

batswill
Offline
Joined: 8-07-11
Feb 2 2013 01:57

I have had personal experience dealing with aggressive potential rapists, luckily I was in the vicinity and it required an equal and opposite force of severe stomping to help them get the message. I consider this the A/C method of delivering community justice, I do not believe in prisons, and I thought that this is the L/C way also, how else does one deal with sexists and nazis? The only language they understand is a reciprocity of violence. I'm a gentle person, but I will not tolerate bullies.

History is Made...
Offline
Joined: 13-08-07
Feb 2 2013 21:36

While lots of people are understandably rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of the SWP imploding, it is true as others have said there that dealing with (and in many cases mishandling) accusations of rape, sexual assault and domestic abuse is hardly an issue just for trotskyists. Clearly the power dynamic of authoritarian structures potentially provide additional cover for abusers, but so too (if perhaps less so) does status/reputation of being a good activist/good bloke/good singer.

Haven't got any great conclusions but was thinking about some other incidents from earlier periods:

- Molesworth Peace Camp mid 1980s - I believe two women were raped there and had to wage a campaign about apparent indifference of other activists and the wider peace movement.

- similar period - weren't some Hackney anarchos arrested for allegedly driving some guy out to the countryside and tying him to a tree on Salisbury Plain or somewhere - charges later dropped

- Anarchy in the UK festival 1994 - I recall a punch up at 121 Centre in Brixton as a result of an argument about whether to name and shame a member of an anarcho-punk band accused of rape.

Matt
Offline
Joined: 1-04-08
Feb 3 2013 01:57

Apologies if this isn't completely on topic.

I'm someone who just getting to grips with anarchism/libertarian communism, but I'm still in the learning process. Being a fan of China Mieville and knowing he's an SWP member, I did a search and found this article:

http://www.leninology.com/2013/01/the-stakes.html

While I find it interesting, I can't help but feel that the way the SWP, and authoritarian Marxist/Trotskyist/Leninism organizations are structured makes situations like this likely to happen. It seems that Mieville's demands touch on concepts ideas that are at the very heart of the ideology. Does his call for the removal of the CC and DC mean to just replace it with another one? Surely then it's just same system and power structure, different faces. If he's calling for huge changes to their ways of organizing, isn't that the same as challenging the fundamental beliefs of the Party? It seems, to me, that the top down nature of the SWP is just a smaller version of how they would look if they achieved the 'dictatorship of the proletariat', you'd have the same unaccountability, hierarchy and top down control, but on a much larger scale. These features seem fundamental to the philosophy of the party. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, by criticizing the way the SWP is structured (and rightly so), are you not also criticizing authoritarian Marxism/Trotskyism/Leninism as a whole?

I hope I'm being clear, and making a valid point to the topic. If not, I'll happily move to another thread. I'm just getting to grips with these concepts of class, hierarchy etc. after a long while of ignoring them and not having a very clear idea.

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Mar 12 2013 12:18
History is Made at Night wrote:

- Anarchy in the UK festival 1994 - I recall a punch up at 121 Centre in Brixton as a result of an argument about whether to name and shame a member of an anarcho-punk band accused of rape.

was it about a punk/HC band which was especially liked in the Animal Lib scene and whose name starts with a C? ... some of their concerts were picketed around that period for the same reason in Germany

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Feb 3 2013 09:22
Matt wrote:
Apologies if this isn't completely on topic.

I'm someone who just getting to grips with anarchism/libertarian communism, but I'm still in the learning process. Being a fan of China Mieville and knowing he's an SWP member, I did a search and found this article:

http://www.leninology.com/2013/01/the-stakes.html

While I find it interesting, I can't help but feel that the way the SWP, and authoritarian Marxist/Trotskyist/Leninism organizations are structured makes situations like this likely to happen. It seems that Mieville's demands touch on concepts ideas that are at the very heart of the ideology. Does his call for the removal of the CC and DC mean to just replace it with another one? Surely then it's just same system and power structure, different faces. If he's calling for huge changes to their ways of organizing, isn't that the same as challenging the fundamental beliefs of the Party? It seems, to me, that the top down nature of the SWP is just a smaller version of how they would look if they achieved the 'dictatorship of the proletariat', you'd have the same unaccountability, hierarchy and top down control, but on a much larger scale. These features seem fundamental to the philosophy of the party. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, by criticizing the way the SWP is structured (and rightly so), are you not also criticizing authoritarian Marxism/Trotskyism/Leninism as a whole?

I hope I'm being clear, and making a valid point to the topic. If not, I'll happily move to another thread. I'm just getting to grips with these concepts of class, hierarchy etc. after a long while of ignoring them and not having a very clear idea.

wouldn't say so, ... it's about patriarchy and how an org or scene deals with it, as I've said in earlier posting, there are ML ot trotskyist orgs who try to do their best in supporting the survivor when a rape or domestic violence occurs in the org and those who don't

Matt
Offline
Joined: 1-04-08
Feb 3 2013 12:10

Sure, I completely agree that the issue is patriarchy. It was just some late night theorizing on my part. I'm just wondering that if some of the calls for changing the way the SWP is organized don't actually call into question some of the main concepts behind authoritarian Marxism etc. Again, don't mean to derail the thread too much. I'll quote some of the Mieville artcle:

Quote:
Our starting point must be public and immediate calls for an emergency conference. We must urgently mobilize our branches to pass motions making this call. To emerge from this catastrophe with credibility, at this conference we must demand:

• The immediate reinstatement of the four recently expelled comrades.

• The removal of this CC and Disputes Committee. By their stunning miscalculations, they have shown themselves to be inadequate to their tasks. They must go.

• A thoroughgoing reexamination of the structures of party democracy and accountability, to ensure that the culture of mistrust of the membership and closed ranks on the CC that created this situation in the first place cannot happen again.* This must include an expanded CC and one which airs its internal disagreements openly.

• Formal mechanisms for encouraging internal communications among all members, allowing them to air dissent, concern, uncertainty, as well as information, analysis and support.**

Steven.'s picture
Steven.
Offline
Joined: 27-06-06
Feb 3 2013 12:55

Matt, on a level you are right, yes. That quote shows he's not critiquing the concept of the hierarchical party form, he's just saying that there is a problem with the current leadership: "The removal of this CC and DC".

TBH I think this would be expected in general because this is in line with their politics. Similarly, for example, rather than have a critique of the trade union form as such trots campaign for a different leadership to the unions (i.e. themselves), ignoring the fact that they would act in the same way were they in the positions of power.

I don't think your post was it all off topic, it is very much on topic.

Entdinglichung is right to point out that in some state socialist groups this kind of abuse has been dealt with effectively. However, I agree with you in suggesting that the Leninist party form is a contributing factor.

Many/most trots really believe that their party is the authentic leadership of the working class and is the key to accomplishing the great historical mission of the working class (TM). And so the ends justify the means. That article by Simon Pirani linked to above illustrates this very well I think:

Quote:
Redgrave replied by citing the WRP’s achievements (publication of a daily Trotskyist newspaper, building of a big youth movement, influence in trade unions, etc) and concluded: “If this is the work of a rapist, let’s recruit more rapists.”

Now, in anarchist organisations this whole concept doesn't exist. It is true that some anarchists see anarchism (TM) as a brand which must be defended at all costs but there is not the same ideological imperative to defend an organisation above things like this. As at least part of anarchism is the idea that means and ends at the same (not that all anarchists practice what they preach of course, but their/our ideology does not give us a get out of jail free card like Trotskyism).

jef costello's picture
jef costello
Offline
Joined: 9-02-06
Feb 3 2013 23:31
Arbeiten wrote:
er. I'm quite sure that video is a spoof. He buries his head in snow FFS.

IT was so painful that for his sake I can only hope that it was a spoof but I don't think so.