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

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Steven.
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Mar 12 2013 18:26

Exactly fleur: I don't think there should be any type of celebration about this, because it is rooted in events which must have been horrible for the individuals concerned - and it would have been better if these events never occurred at all.

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Mar 12 2013 19:29
fleurnoire-et-rouge wrote:
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.

Totally agree. And recently seeing quite a lot of patronising, preachy crap advising newly resigned SWP members to go and read some books about Marxism has been quite cringe worthy indeed, as one woman put it on facebook:

Quote:
Considering that the reason the SWP is falling apart is because of its appalling treatment of women, it's depressing that it gets used as another opportunity for men to go on about what books they've read.

Also, it's been discussed on the site but the arrogance of people assuming that totally inadequate handling of sexual assault is something Trot-specific, when there's been plenty enough badly-dealt with sexual assaults in the anarchist and radical left (or autonomist or whatever the fuck, non-trot) scene recently. Yeah there's been some examples of really good practice too but it's not like we've got our house in order just yet.

fleurnoire-et-rouge wrote:
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.

Ditto!

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Mar 12 2013 20:03
Ramona wrote:
Yeah there's been some examples of really good practice too but it's not like we've got our house in order just yet.

Is there something written up on this? I've searched in vain for good accountability processes; they all seem to end really horribly and never with a productive outcome, so I'd be really interested in reading examples of good practice. Needless to say, the reason I am inquiring is because of some very problematic behaviour in anarchist/activisty circles that we're trying to combat as best as we can.

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xslavearcx
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Mar 12 2013 20:16

Not to derail but i was kinda taken aback that so many of the 500 signatories supporting the CCs procedures were teachers. Not that i think teachers are immune from any of the shit that circulates in society; but more down to the fact that being involved in a profession like that, one gets a lot of training on "good practice", "child protection", and "working with vulnerable people. The whole process, as depicted by the SWPs documents go against practically all the stuff one learns within a profession like that.

I mean obviously people will behave in ways that contravene those kinda principles, but to put ones name behind a process that would be considered 'bad practice' at every level is a bit astounding.

Whilst i don't think anybody should be rooting for people to lose their jobs, it does seem somewhat problematic that one of the justifications behind the DCs procedure was on the basis of one of the members of that committees having expertise in these matters by virtue of working in rape crisis situations. Not really sure if that person should be in that line of work if they are happy to go along with such a shoddy procedure...

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Mar 12 2013 20:28
Khawaga wrote:
Is there something written up on this? I've searched in vain for good accountability processes; they all seem to end really horribly and never with a productive outcome, so I'd be really interested in reading examples of good practice. Needless to say, the reason I am inquiring is because of some very problematic behaviour in anarchist/activisty circles that we're trying to combat as best as we can.

I'm not sure of anything written up on best practice, but I'd point you towards Support New York who have a lot of experience in facilitating accountability processes. A lot of this stuff comes from the fluffier, less class-struggle side of the anarcho scene which can be off-putting at times but I still think there's a lot we can gain from it.

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Mar 12 2013 20:48

Thanks Ramona!

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Mar 12 2013 22:11
Khawaga wrote:
Ramona wrote:
Yeah there's been some examples of really good practice too but it's not like we've got our house in order just yet.

Is there something written up on this? I've searched in vain for good accountability processes; they all seem to end really horribly and never with a productive outcome, so I'd be really interested in reading examples of good practice. Needless to say, the reason I am inquiring is because of some very problematic behaviour in anarchist/activisty circles that we're trying to combat as best as we can.

TBH I think if something did have a productive outcome them probably no one would hear about it, as probably neither party would want it to be advertised.

I, for example, am aware of just one case where there was such a process which as far as I know both sides ended up happy with, and part of the resolution was that neither wanted it to be public knowledge...

One example I guess is Sam from Anarchist Federation who was booted out in a survivor-led process, whose case has been linked to earlier in the thread.

On the SWP teachers, not defending the ones who are sticking with the CC, but the one SWP teacher I know through work resigned a few weeks ago. (Although the other SWP types in my union branch are sticking with the CC, but none of them work in safeguarding roles)

wojtek
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Mar 12 2013 23:58

Laurie Penny and Stavvers on the latest (earlier this evening) Circled A show discussing sexual violence and hierarchy:

https://soundcloud.com/resonance-fm/21-00-00-the-circled-a-6

It could do with being a hour long - only begin to talk practical solutions in the last few minutes.

andy g
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Mar 13 2013 09:05

I joined in 1991 at the tender age of 17 so (allowing for periods of inactivity) had been in and around the SWP for 22 years. Fuck I feel old...

I am not going to engage in any recantations or damn the SWP to high heaven or suchlike. As I said, there are plenty of good comrades who remain members in the hope of engineering change or whatever. Even more will continue as good activists and militants. Good luck to them. As I said in my resignation letter to the National Secretary, I can no longer accept the political authority of a leadership that has debased itself so abjectly.

I guess all of us who have resigned need to go through a settling of accounts and I intend to scrutinise my core beliefs and ask myself what is of value in the "IS tradition" and what is now a matter of historical curiosity. The resistance to dogmatic orthodoxy and openess of the SRG/IS would certainly be one for me. That is what I am looking for from the International Socialist Network. Where it will lead us is an open question....

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Mar 13 2013 13:46

Good piece by comedian and former SWP member Mark steel:
http://marksteelinfo.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/oh-good-lord-what-has-the-...

rooieravotr
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Mar 14 2013 00:54

My Libcom blog piece on the SWP crisis: http://libcom.org/blog/swp-crisis-some-analysis-some-thoughts-13032013

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Mar 14 2013 01:16

eek Spiked mag top it for the most insane comment on this whole thing. I'm not even going to link it.

Tom de Cleyre
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Mar 14 2013 02:18

I know it's a sordid detail in an even more sordid affair, but I was wondering (independently of the issue of rape) about the brushing away of criticism of the intergenerational affair as "bourgeois morality". Surely even for people who believe in the democracy of the party and that CC members are not in a position of authority over new recruits, they are still in a teacher-student kind of relationship? Isn't that problematic in itself? Or am I thinking with my bourgeois morality again?

rooieravotr
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Mar 14 2013 03:47
Quote:
I was wondering (independently of the issue of rape) about the brushing away of criticism of the intergenerational affair as "bourgeois morality". Surely even for people who believe in the democracy of the party and that CC members are not in a position of authority over new recruits, they are still in a teacher-student kind of relationship? Isn't that problematic in itself?

Soviet goon boy - by far the best of the blogs on this issue - has this on that aspect: http://sovietgoonboy.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/the-age-gap-and-why-it-matters/

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Mar 15 2013 09:19

Thanks for the links to Soviet Goon boy, very interesting. A lot of very good posts here.
Every time I think that this cannot get worse the CC or its defenders manage to make it so.

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Mar 15 2013 12:09

reading this hypocritical stuff in the new SW makes me sick: http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=30860

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Mar 16 2013 15:07

SWP crisis, you wouldn't think so to look at all the paper sellers today at Bedroom Tax protest here in Sheffield, though the lack of any anarchist or pro-revolutionary presence was more telling,

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Mar 17 2013 08:23
jonthom wrote:
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.

He was booked to play at our local (Newcastle) volunteer run cinema/gig space, a few weeks back, where he was also to play a film and push his anti-semitic and vile misogyny to the usual apolitical liberal twits, in the programmers defence they knew little of his politics other than Jazz Northeast saying you may have some problems with 'Zionists', it was a tough one, with me and one other guy going mental at the beginning, but thanks to facebook kickoff and after 4 hours of meetings, he had his gig cancelled costing the cinema some 800 quid. But fucking sound that they were willing to take such a hit when they are financially on the edge. Well done the Star and Shadow.

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Mar 17 2013 10:05

Gilad Atzmon on twitter: @Schmazz @xxxxx I had a dinner in town tonight and was approached by a few people who told me what they think of this SS collective...

@Schmazz @xxxxxx I believe that this all even will backfire big time. . I must have hit a raw nerve, namely the truth..

@schmazz @starandshadow I left the matter with my lawyer ..this ss collective made a mistake.. I feel sorry for them

Really Gilad?

Rachel
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Mar 17 2013 11:40

Apparenty Sheffield is a bastion of SWP reactionaries

jolasmo
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Mar 18 2013 00:23

I understand basically the entire Leeds student section has now disaffiliated. This seems like a significant blow; Leeds is one of the bigger universities, the SWP rely heavily on recruitment through students, and SP & Revo will be snapping up any leftovers on campus.

~J.

andy g
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Mar 19 2013 07:48

Sheffield does seem to have a lot of rabid pro - CCers. Was a strong branch through the eighties and nineties - given that that "generation" of members have been disproportionately loyalist may have something to do with it.

The standard retort to talk of a crisis in the party is "well no-one mentioned it to me on paper sale / in my local / in the chippie / when I was communing with the devil (repeat ever more ridiculous iterations until boredom takes you)".

Leeds SWSS have disaffiliated and constituted themselves as Leeds Revolutionary Socialists. They are very active on campus and include one of the "Facebook Four".

wojtek
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Mar 22 2013 22:33

New edition of The Fucking Left Rag: ALEX CALLINOCOS RETREATS INTO FANTASY WORLD, SWP IN CRISIS, SCUM oh god, why did it ever have to happen.

FLR12

Fleur
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Mar 22 2013 22:50

I fucking love the Fucking Left Rag! (Sitting back and wondering which one of you lot is behind it.)

S. Artesian
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Mar 22 2013 23:02

Pure fucking genius.

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Mar 26 2013 14:36

http://socialistunity.com/swp-you-couldnt-make-it-up/#.UVGyWjd-FnU

Caiman del Barrio
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Mar 30 2013 18:48

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWhcYU7kc_A&feature=youtu.be

SWP stewards attack a (apparently majority female) group chanting RAPE APOLOGISTS at SWP speaker at anti-bedroom tax demo in...Glasgow?

wojtek
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Mar 31 2013 21:44
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWhcYU7kc_A&feature=youtu.be

SWP stewards attack a (apparently majority female) group chanting RAPE APOLOGISTS at SWP speaker at anti-bedroom tax demo in...Glasgow?

More about the above here:

"This is a tax demo, why don't you go back to your rape demo"

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Apr 12 2013 10:50

http://forgetoday.com/news/nus-conference-2013/mass-walk-out-at-nus-conf...

Quote:
Over 100 NUS delegates stormed out of the 2013 conference during a speech given by Tomas Evans, candidate for vice president for higher education.

Evans is a member of the Socialist Workers Party, which has come under attack following allegations of rape apology and covering up sexual abuse.

Members of the SWP were accused of covering up serious allegations of sexual assault when an alleged incident was dealt with as an ‘internal affair’ rather than in a courtroom.

Evans described the allegations, first mentioned by rival candidate Naomi Beecroft, as “unfounded”. As he continued with his speech over a third of the conference floor walked out.

Beecroft said: “It’s amazing to see that reaction. It shows how angry people are that organisation that support rape apology are being given a platform at this event because sexism is a huge problem among students and in wider society. It really gives me faith in the student movement and the people involved.

“The fact that people walked out de-legitimised the NUS further, if that’s even possible. It was brilliant.”

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Apr 16 2013 15:19

http://solidarity-us.org/site/statement_on_sexual_violence

Quote:
A Solidarity Statement on Sexual Violence and the Left
from the Solidarity Committee on Interpersonal and Sexual Violence
April 16, 2013

The organized left, both socialist and anarchist, has been faced with the problems of rape and other forms of interpersonal violence in our movements in a particularly intense way in the past few months. Over 120 members have publicly resigned from the British Socialist Workers Party following repeated actions taken by the Central Committee to demean and silence survivors and their allies while failing to hold aggressors accountable. In the aftermath of Occupy, traumatic events that occurred within encampments and in related social and political scenes are now being widely discussed and debated. The topic of rape has momentarily broken out of the wall of silence in broader society as well, with widespread public discussion around cases such as the gang rape of a woman on a bus in Delhi in December and the Steubenville, Ohio “rape crew.”

This heightened discussion of and attention to the topic of rape is a good thing for the left if we take this opportunity not only to call out the problem of gendered violence in the world, but to get our own houses in order. A case which came to our attention in December, involving an anarchist activist who was raped by a longtime friend and fellow organizer who was a member of the Progressive Labor Party, exposes a disturbing level of resistance to acknowledging and confronting issues of sexual violence. We highlight this case here in response to a call for support from the survivor and her close allies; we think it is important for the socialist left to take a stand.

With the support of allies, the survivor brought this case to the PLP and demanded that the aggressor be held accountable. After an initial meeting with the survivor and her allies, the PLP stalled on follow-up with the survivor and her allies for months, never providing support for the survivor, clarity as to whether they were taking her report seriously, transparency around their process, or agreeing to meaningful, concrete accountability for the aggressor, at times demanding “conclusive proof” of rape from the survivor, at times admitting the aggressor’s culpability.

The survivor and her allies, frustrated by the stonewalling, eventually released a public statement about this matter. The PLP responded by accusing the survivor and her allies of behaving as “informant-provocateurs” while claiming to fight “sexism, patriarchy, and misogyny in every aspect.” This letter did not include any reflection on what had gone so wrong with their own process that a survivor would feel the need to take the difficult step of releasing a public statement.

We do not criticize the PLP’s process here from a position of superiority, but from the standpoint that the question of sexual violence needs to be addressed by the left urgently and seriously. When we engage in victim-blaming, silence survivors, and ignore or dismiss charges of sexual violence, we are feeding the rape culture within our organizations and movements. When we shield an aggressor from accountability processes that might be uncomfortable or disruptive and instead facilitate an aggressor's return to a “normal life” as quickly as possible, we send the message that the comfort of aggressors is more important than the safety and healing of survivors. These tendencies, far too common on the left, create an oppressive environment for survivors and for groups of people who are regularly exposed to sexual violence, including women and LGBTQ people.

Our commitments to fighting sexism and patriarchy demand that we dedicate time and resources to combating rape culture, supporting and listening to survivors, finding ways to hold aggressors accountable for the trauma they have inflicted upon others, and educating each other on consensual sexual relations, not only in the world but in our own intimate relationships and movement spaces. We do not see any possibility of building genuinely socialist, radical, or revolutionary movements if these movements refuse to address fully and respond to accusations of sexual violence, do not actively oppose gender and sexual oppression, or push to the margins women, LGBTQ people, and survivors of sexual violence.

Reflecting on the PLP case, the SWP case, and others has led us to begin a process of reflecting on our own organizational practices for dealing with rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, and other forms of interpersonal violence. These instances occupy our attention for good reason – if poorly handled or ignored, they bring out all of the worst features of an organization’s functioning, and groups can easily degenerate under the weight of our own failure to confront matters in a forthright, healthy manner. At the same time, rape culture and gendered violence constitute a pervasive, all too “normal” everyday cultural and organizational backdrop that we need to undo if we are to create organizationally healthy, feminist spaces that reflect the kind of liberation and justice we want to see in the world. We hope others on the left will take up these questions as well.

Background on this case:

"Progressive Labor Party Defends Rapists"
"How PLP Unwittingly Confesses to Misogyny and What We Can Do About It"
"Revolutionary Heartbreak: Why Every Single Rapist Has to Go"
"a short piece on sexual assault and activism in Southern California"
"Macktivists, Brocialists, and Manarchists are We All: Exorcizing the Demons in Our Movement and Ourselves"
Statement from reform caucus of UAW 2865, UC Student Workers' Union