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

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wojtek
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Feb 15 2013 01:09

Betrayal - a critical analysis of rape culture in anarchist subcultures

wojtek
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Feb 28 2013 16:56

Sexual violence: it still matters, even when there isn’t a political agenda.

44
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Mar 10 2013 20:26

Another accusation by a different woman against a different leading member?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/09/socialist-workers-party-ra...

Fleur
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Mar 10 2013 21:38

I assumed it was the same woman when I read it, being another example of the Guardian finally picking up a story weeks after it's broken elsewhere, like they did with the John Lewis cleaners' strike, but it might be someone else, it's not as if the SWP haven't got form for this, going back a long time.

44
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Mar 10 2013 21:45

On Richard Seymour's page on Facebook they're saying it's a different woman bringing accusations against a different leading member.

proletarian.
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Mar 11 2013 00:39

Apparently the "Disputes Committee" have ruled on no less than 9 cases of allegations of rape. Sadly there are probably many more victims of this organisation who have been forced for several reasons to keep their silence.

lurdan
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Mar 11 2013 04:40

Very thoughtful post-match summary by 'Soviet Goon Boy' (aka 'Splintered Sunrise'). Order prevails in Vauxhall

It includes this :

Quote:
And that’s before taking into account this weekend’s revelations about a further case involving a woman comrade who was beaten and raped by her district organiser. If anything, the news report understates how bad that case was. What is true is that the organiser, having been found guilty by the DC, was expelled for two years. Two years. That’s the same penalty that was handed out to the Facebook Four for an online discussion about how inadequately the party was handling the Delta case; a discussion where they decided not to form a faction and, in a Kafkaesque twist, were expelled for “factionalism”. Hell, Andy Wilson was expelled for life for proposing to set up a cultural magazine. What sort of organisation has such skewed priorities?

The obvious answer is, an organisation which feels that the ends justify the means absolutely; that in the cause of the socialist revolution (or at least maintaining the current leadership in their positions of power; the CC doesn’t distinguish the two) the only thing that matters is the preservation of authority. If Delta is a good organiser who is crucial to the perspective, he must be protected – nay, even restored to the CC as soon as they can get away with it. Most of the doubts about his behaviour – say, whether it is appropriate for the leader of the party to use his position to try it on with teenage girls – are ruled out of court as “bourgeois morality”. And the victims in all this are simply collateral damage.

Earlier pieces on this blog are also worth reading. One of my personal favourites is the very acute analysis of the composition of the SWP 'loyalists' who signed the Central Committee statement which called the special conference :

Quote:
There is, again, a very definite profile there, at least when you strip out the fulltime party workers. Certain districts are more loyal than others of course, but it’s the age and occupational profile that’s most striking. The List of Shame reveals a very strong bias towards members of the NUT, UCU and PCS; and, from my own knowledge of the people involved, they’re very much the Downturn generation, people who joined in the 1980s predominantly. Actually, rather few of the teachers did join through NUT militancy – they generally joined as students and stuck with the party as they went into the teaching profession.

Anyone familiar with the internal workings of the SWP will be aware that this layer of membership has traditionally been the most fanatically loyal to whatever wheeze is emanating from the CC at any given point in time. There’s also scope for an anthropological study of SWP teachers, who both form a relatively privileged freemasonry in the party and simultaneously have a masochistic tendency to defer to the most boorish and overbearing elements of the apparat. On a rhetorical level, this manifests itself in a buttock-clenchingly stentorian “Leninism” that’s slightly over the top even by SWP standards. One recalls the late James D Young who talked about a type of party discipline that wasn’t innate but cultivated, and really was little more than an attempt to dignify middle-class elitism.

From Another brick in the wall

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jonthom
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Mar 11 2013 18:00

Fuck me that Atzmon article (referenced earlier in this thread) is beyond vile. Link broken for obvious reasons: http://www[dot]gilad[dot]co[dot]uk/writings/sax-offender-vs-progressive-rapists.html

An excerpt:

Quote:
However, it didn’t take long to realise that Martin Smith was not being pursued because he is a ‘sex offender’ – he surely isn’t – no, our so-called ‘progressive’ tribals chase Smith because he is a Jazz lover and an enthusiastic fan of my music. They harass him because he gave me a platform in spite of the Jewish demand to ban me. They want to bring Martin Smith down simply because he didn’t obey his tribal masters. So If anything, it is Martin who is the rape victim in this saga – he is punished because he refused to bow down to the tribal junta.

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Ramona
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Mar 11 2013 18:52

Holy fucking shit. I've seen people talking about this Atzmon guy being a prick but hadn't actually read anything he's been saying until now. So many layers of fuckwittedness where would you even begin?

trillin
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Mar 11 2013 20:30

Not as reactionary as Atzmon, but still a good contender for the 'Most Misguided Response to the SWP Crisis' prize, is the following Huffington Post article.

It's by ex RCP/Living Marxism, now Spiked/Telegraph journalist, Brendan O'Neill:

Who Needs the State to Smash the Radical Left When Feminists Are Doing Such a Fine Job of It?

Fortunately, there have been a number of far more interesting responses such as:

Understanding women’s oppression (SWP take note!) by Harpymarx

and

Feminism is a Dirty Word. What Would Marx and Engels Think Today? by Camilla Power, available here: http://libcom.org/history/‘feminism-dirty-word’-what-would-marx-engels-think-today-camilla-power-radical-anthropol

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Arbeiten
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Mar 11 2013 21:57
Ramona wrote:
Holy fucking shit. I've seen people talking about this Atzmon guy being a prick but hadn't actually read anything he's been saying until now.

Same, never read him before. I just, I just.... eek

Rachel
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Mar 11 2013 22:54

The resignations begin

http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/fao-central-commi...

wojtek
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Mar 11 2013 23:45

More SWP rape accusations: "a dangerous environment to be in"

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Entdinglichung
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Mar 12 2013 00:21

and continue: http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.com/2013/03/resignation-sussex-...

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Mar 12 2013 00:59
Matt wrote:
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:

Between the pre-conference bulletin and the various factional blogs, the rape and abuse aside, there is a lot of politics that is/was interesting to wade through. If you look at the bulletin which is a good source of the arguments, the pro-cc faction were basically asserting that the opposition don't understand Leninism and lack party discipline. In one sense their correct. The SWPs internal culture curtails factionalism outside of the run up to conference (recent conference was a special emergency conference since there was a dispute over the previous conference only a month before) and breaking ranks with social media/bringing the party in disrepute.

The IDOOP opposition, I have to disagree with you, seem to have been all over the place. I genuinely got the feeling some of them we're eager on abandoning party building, or the SWP as a project. What's merged in addition to the critique of the awful abuse though, is disputes over internal democracy, the nature of the CC slate, the nature of the DC, approach to student work, women's lib etc. I think the sex abuse has been the trigger for a wider split/break away, because of an underlying fault in the organisation and it's harmony. We're in the middle of a crisis and this is reflected in the SWP quite dramatically.

As much as I despise the SWP, I am not convinced the outcome from the wreckage for the libcom milieu is necessarily a good one. Very little of the forces here will darken our door. Any fragmentation will likely lead to further attempts at left unity, which seemed to have a a number of potential avenues at the moment and the SWP splits have nearly always been hostile to anarchism.

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Theft
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Mar 12 2013 07:28

Resignation: Sussex & Brighton SWSS
http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/a-new-network.htm...

A new trot group in formation?
http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/a-new-network.htm...

Resigning from the Socialist Workers Party
http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/fao-central-commi...

It will be interesting to know what the make up is of those that are resigning are, how many cadre members leave compared to students, also how many simply drop out and if any can take a leap from the present reformist politics to more revolutionary political positions.

andy g
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Mar 12 2013 08:20

Deep breath . . .

My name is Andy and I'm an ex SWuPpie . . .

Resigned today as cannot contemplate accepting the authority of the 'leadership' . Left lots of very good comrades behind and would still place myself in IS tradition . Will see what comes of ISN - I think we are making it up as we go along for now , while we work out what next.

Mark's the end of a twenty plus year association with SWP and still a bit raw so go easy on the wise cracks

Rachel
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Mar 12 2013 09:06

Well done. You have my respect.

Mark E
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Mar 12 2013 09:48

Hi, Yes, well done Andy.
As far as i can tell, the people who have been forced out of the SWP are their best and brightest, and quite a few are open to doing something more interesting than just forming another party.
I was talkin to an IS person tonight here (other side of the world from you, but still...) who reckons quite a few of the people who have just resigned may drop out of radical politics altogether cos of the stress and exhaustion of what they have just been through, but those who keep at it may well come up with something new and exciting. The best activists in Britain's largest leninist party have been purged and will now be looking for a new way forward. Libertarian communists should be talking to them and if they (as I hope) end up rejecting the traditional Leninist party building methods then we should be supporting and encouraging them.
M

PS there is a good list of links to all the stuff written on this here
http://www.jimjepps.net/?p=273

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Rob Ray
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Mar 12 2013 10:06

Mm tbh most of the libcoms I know who have seen this going through have been saddened by the fallout rather than entertained. Much as we tend to dislike the CC and the headbangers there's always been solid people in the SWP. As Mark says, a lot of them will probably drop out of politics now and who can blame them - all because a bunch of hacks would rather cling like limpets to their positions rather than do the right thing sad.

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Steven.
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Mar 12 2013 10:06

Looking through the list of those resigning, China Mielville is the most famous name which jumps out at me. Also I noticed that Pat Stack has not resigned…

Anyway, well done to those of you who have resigned, from another former SWP member!

Edited to add: Richard Seymour is gone as well!

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Entdinglichung
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Mar 12 2013 10:43

http://www.leninology.com/2013/03/on-resigning-from-swp.html

Quote:
First, I think the party is over. However, many members will stay on in the organisation and attempt to fight, even within the constraints of post-conference 'discipline', for a change in the party. These are among the most talented, committed and active people in the group. Some people weirdly think the current Central Committee is somehow irreplaceable. I think you could put together any random collection of people from the faction, in any number or combination, and they'd make a better leadership. (This isn't to damn them with faint praise.) Their decision to stay on and continue to fight, though I believe it to be mistaken, is very brave given the climate in some parts of the party now. Some members have already put up with months of abuse and stupidity: just off the top of my head, I can think of the insanely arrogant, self-serving statement by Sheffield apparatchiks that was included with the internal bulletin, slagging off the student members for their feminist deviations. Those same wised up hacks are already cracking knuckles and laying down arbitrary rules. People who are ready to stick it out in this context have my complete respect, even if not my full agreement. I stress this because some people outside the organisation, who don't understand what's happening, will rush to assume that every member who doesn't leave is tainted, agrees with everything that has happened, and so on. Don't make that assumption.

Second, in stark contrast, one is dispirited by the complete moral and intellectual degeneration in some quarters that has been occasioned by this crisis. The hacks, of course, surprise no one, because they have no moral or intellectual standards. Master dialecticians, they can defend any barbarity to their own satisfaction. They're still telling themselves, no doubt, that all this stuff about rape and sexual harassment is a pack of lies dreamed up to hurt the party: by MI5 agents, Bamberyites, Poulantzians, whoever. They're telling themselves right now that we can always grow more students, and that this whole thing has been caused by a hard minority of malcontents, the Sino-Seymourite conspiracy. But some seemingly normal party members, where they haven't simply started to sound like Scientologists, have begun to make arguments that should shame any socialist. And then there are those party sages who had a reputation for probity. John Molyneux! What happened to this man? His letter to SWP members about this crisis, eventually used as the basis for a motion to be submitted to the National Council, was stunning for its capitulation to bureaucratic irrationality.

Thirdly, one is simply astounded by how inadequate, corrupt, stupid, narrow-mindedly bureaucratic and delusional the leadership of the SWP has proven to be. It is not just that having covered up serious sexual allegations, and so disastrously failed at least two female comrades, they can admit no fault. It is not just the absurd, scholastic, apolitical explanations they give for doing so, or the tragic retreat into bunkered dogma that has accompanied this. It is not just that they lie with impunity. It is not just that they ducked a real debate, with their absurd rules limiting faction speakers at aggregates, and their gerrymandering of conference. It is not just that even now many of them are desperate to get the accused back into the leadership as soon as can conveniently be arranged. It is not just that their response to the most recent allegations by a female ex-member was to effectively dismiss her as a liar, without investigating further. It is that, having done a Jonestown, they think they've just triumphed.

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Mar 12 2013 11:07
Rob Ray wrote:
Mm tbh most of the libcoms I know who have seen this going through have been saddened by the fallout rather than entertained. Much as we tend to dislike the CC and the headbangers there's always been solid people in the SWP. As Mark says, a lot of them will probably drop out of politics now and who can blame them - all because a bunch of hacks would rather cling like limpets to their positions rather than do the right thing sad.

that's what happened to the German Communist Party (DKP) after Chernobyl and the downfall of GDR and USSR: of the ~ 50.000 members of the party around 1985, there are around 3.500 left today, of around 25.000 members of its youth org SDAJ 600 ... the majority dropped out of organized politics (a non-neglible number found religion and/or alcohol) or went to the right (SPD, Gruene, Die Linke/PDS, trade union and NGO bureaucrats), very few adopted a revolutionary rejection of the DKP's politics ... I hated the control the DKP and its fronts together with left SPDers exercised e.g. in the peace movement, in the city-wide school students council (especially there wink), in tenants associations, etc. ~ 25 years ago in my home city but their decline together with the disintegration of the left ("Fundi") wing of the Greens and the crisis of the Autonomen seriously weakened movements, the void they left was either filled by more rightwing or non-political forces or not filled at all

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rat
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Mar 12 2013 11:16
Rob Ray wrote:
there's always been solid people in the SWP.

Solid people and members of a reactionary organisation.

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Entdinglichung
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Mar 12 2013 14:22

http://www.jimjepps.net/?p=273 ... a regularly updated link list on the "SWP crisis"

rooieravotr
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Mar 12 2013 14:32

To Andy g : Big hug 2 U. And I wish you strength. I went through a small-scale similar thing in 2008 when I left the IS group in the Netherlands (sister group of the SWP) after the reaction of the CC, supported by a vast majority, to criticism I formulated almost suffocated me. Again, I 'm with you in feeling here, or try to be.

NannerNannerNan...
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Mar 12 2013 16:37

You know, I was going to make an andy g wisecrack but instead I'm calling it before anyone else: I think the SWP collapsing is a good thing.

My suspicions have been confirmed and it has been revealed that the SWP is a den of violent misogynists, rapists and rapist-enablers. Anyone with anything resembling a moral backbone have jumped ship or are already planning to and, pretty soon, all that's going to be left of this goddam travesty of a trot front is going to a bunch of damn splits. This myopic, inward looking cult that turns all its membership into a damn fief for the upper echelons to exploit for money has finally fallen apart thanks to all the power-hungry reprobates in the CC.

Yeah, they'll be a lot of solid and good people dropping out of radical politics in general but I certainly wouldn't see working a second job as a firm foundation for radical politics anyway. I guarantee that anyone who's broken a sweat for those eternally ungrateful elitists were going to be let down eventually. Anyone who were loyal to the SWP and leaves because of this are probably to worn out to do anything else, regardless of ideological conviction.

Man, I thought the SWP was a big cult before all the stooges decided to do the defend-rape shuffle. I felt it was a useless organization that turned a bunch of middle class college kids into paper selling machines with no individual initiative beyond the downright stupid decrees of an pretentious and pigheaded elite.

Only now do I realize that the SWP is just like a capitalist business and is just as bad as the old WRP. The big drives for membership might as well have been capital accumulation, and all that damn paper selling might as well have been a nice easy way to make some profits for the upper echelons.

The SWP has been revealed to be the most misogynistic group on the whole left which has fostered an environment where rapists can act out on their base instincts with full immunity, they instead put the women on trial and ask them about their "drinking habits". It's an organization where "feminist" is a fucking slur.

Like the state, reform is impossible in the so-called "Socialist" "Workers" Party. Elites are so-completely entrenched in the party-state that they make it a point to squash anyone inventive or unique or innovative. They expelled someone for proposing a cultural section - I'd like to see what would happen if these leninists, reprobates and misogynists were in farting distance of genuine political power.

I used to be shocked at the situation and was scandalized by it. When I first found out about it, I immediately contrasted it to the case of an idiotic anarchist "joking" about raping women fascists on his organization's facebook. I thought that Martin Smith/Comrade Delta would be immediately expelled and the CC would be going on the defensive trying to save face - that's what happened when something like this happened to us, and we didn't even fucking cover up an actual rape!

Only now have I stopped looking at this scandal with a gossipy voyeurism and now feel completely outraged. This was not an isolated incident, and the pigheaded idiots haven't learned shit. The whole organization deserves to burn down to the ground and the earth on which it stood deserves to thoroughly salted. I'll be clapping for every exodus and hollering when it's a big Fone. I hope to god this incident doesn' t just blow over and all the SWP falls the fuck apart. I wish the absolute worst for the SWP.

Fuck em

NannerNannerNan...
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Mar 12 2013 16:38

Also Steven was SWP and andy g was there for twenty years?

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Steven.
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Mar 12 2013 18:01

(For the record, I was only a member for about 9-12 months, and not a particularly active one at that. I only did one paper sale, under duress)

Fleur
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Mar 12 2013 18:11

To Andy G - wishing you all the best. To end a 20 year commitment couldn't have been an easy thing to do and you have my support and respect.

I was never tempted to join, but I had friends who did and they were good people, however odious I think the SWP is as an organisation is, there's a lot of people who have had their political foundations rocked and I'm inclined to deal with this with kindness, rather than gloating.

I am getting really fed up though about in some places this is being referred to as a sex scandal. A sex scandal is when some celebrity's illicit affair is splattered over the tabloids, this is about rape and abuse of power. Some of the language used (not on this site) totally belittles what has happened. Also not a criticism of this site, but since this story started to break, some people have been rubbing their hands with glee about it all. Personally I'd love to see the SWP disappear into a hole and never come back out again, but there are real live, feeling women at the heart of this story and I can't imagine what they are going through.

None of that was directed at anyone posting here, just got a bit of the irritation at some of the chatter that's been going around off my chest. Too much twitter, I suspect.