Stop the War Coalition - How could it have been different?

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Mike Harman
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May 20 2007 22:40

Well I don't think we'd be starting from a better position now. If anything it might be worse due to desensitisation to anti-war marches caused by the StWC. What kind of direct action?

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JoeMaguire
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May 20 2007 22:55

In terms of direct action it would be events along the lines of fairford, faslance etc, sitdowns in central london and possibly picketing central army recruitment bases.

Mike Harman
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May 20 2007 23:15

I remember the Old Street one a few people were pissed off because they were on their way home from work, worth remembering in terms of any real disruption it'd cause at 5pm. I also remember not getting up early and going to any morning ones either, so a bit lose lose there I guess.

Dundee_United
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May 21 2007 00:42
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So Dundee_United is right to say the mobilisations were sad and paper thin, but Im unsure why hes vesting so much time in the SSP.

Because they controlled the movement at this time. Sheridan spoke _4_ times to the crowd on the 15th of February. They really did have the capacity at this point to spark a wave of civil disobediance and strikes had they chosen to. Their party has never been more popular or influential than they were during this period. Perhaps this is not appreciated in England where the conditions and the organisations were rather different. Sheridan and the central committee of the SSP are very firmly to blame for a murderous possibilism during this period.

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OliverTwister
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May 21 2007 02:21

So how's the leadership of ideas coming along?

Dundee_United
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May 21 2007 02:43
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So how's the leadership of ideas coming along?

You really are a dick sometimes Oliver. I clearly don't think it was a preferable situation. it don't believe it was an empowering situation. I don't believe it was a desirable situation. I don't believe it was a revolutionary situation. In fact I don't believe it was a situation that was in any way something other than completely fucked up.

However anarchists had fuckall relevance at that time. As I pointed out we did our best to communicate our ideas on how to stop the UK entering the war but it was like trying to stop a truck by pishing into its windscreen and we might as well have sat at home crocheting for all the difference it made. The SSP on the other hand had a platform which allowed them to have enormous influence over the development of the movement at that time. Let me state again before you come at me with some dilettante riposte - I clearly was not and am not fucking pleased that they had this power, and it represents a collective failure of the movement that our guys weren't the ones speaking but this was simply not the case at the time.

As I also pointed out the fact is that the SSP saw it as in their interests to articulate a particular line. That line was in direct conflict with actually doing anything meaningful to stop the war. They probably never saw stopping the war as realistic I guess. I also of course agree with Lazy, AS I STATED, it was something of a hopeless case to make the stopping of a war the sole issue to agitate around and made the campaign, and the SSP response to it for example, structurally weak as there was only one collective demand being made and anything which was actually capable of achieving that demand was easily silenced because it was 'bringing in other issues' or 'splitting the campaign'.

It has to be said though, if there was just one socialist with any conviction or backbone who was noteworthy and had a platform it could have made all the difference. It's a damning indictment of the left in the UK that every single major left group is so despicably opportunist that they'd rather tailor their message to chauvinist, pacifist, guardian-reading greenos than actually stop the slaughter of tens of thousands of Iraqis. The left is frankly in a worse state and is more parochial and chauvinist than during the dark days of the second international. You have groups in the UK like the AWL effectively cheerleading the occupation, and others like SWiPs egging on Ba'athists and religious fanatics, while Italy's Refundazione Communista are sending more troops to Afghanistan. Could it get any more contemptible? What the fuck ever happened to internationalism?

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OliverTwister
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May 21 2007 04:19

It seems like you're surprised that 'the left' everywhere ended up supporting one or another side, or at best appealing to democratic pacifism (or pacifist democratism).

I remember a while ago (at least a year) you thought that anarchists should practise 'social insertion' on the SSP.

(as an aside, I think that as an idea 'social insertion' might be really useful, but I certainly don't think that its originators intended for it to mean infiltrating political parties).

Do you still think that, at the time, anarchists should have 'socially inserted' themselves into the SSP?

pgh2a
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May 21 2007 05:07

Well, I'm just glad the SSP got so much good publicity in the Industrial Worker. I think some of them inserted themselves into us.

wall

Dundee_United
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May 21 2007 08:22
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I remember a while ago (at least a year) you thought that anarchists should practise 'social insertion' on the SSP.

Bullshit. I've never said that.

Dundee_United
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May 21 2007 08:25
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Do you still think that, at the time, anarchists should have 'socially inserted' themselves into the SSP?

You're shit stirring. That's so unlike you...

Dundee_United
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May 21 2007 08:55
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I think some of them inserted themselves into us.

Because the IWW is an anarchist organisation and always has been... Right down to where Elizabeth Gurley-Flynn and Bill Haywood are buried,,,

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OliverTwister
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May 21 2007 08:56

I could be thinking that you're someone you aren't. Was your old username ND? (the mods have told me not to use your complete username in case you changed it for a reason).

If it was, then I do distinctly remember you saying that anarchists should get involved in the SSP. You probably didn't say 'social insertion' specifically.

Anyways you've been involved in the SSP - why would you do it if you didn't think anarchists should?

Dundee_United
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May 21 2007 09:24

It was, yes. I have however never been involved with the SSP and think it would be pointless to do so. I have never advocated anarchists getting involved in the SSP and believe them to be a social democratic outfit which although houses many dedicated individuals is largely not a positive influence on the left at large. Stop the straw man. I clearly never said anything of the sort.

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Steven.
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May 21 2007 09:29
OliverTwister wrote:
If it was, then I do distinctly remember you saying that anarchists should get involved in the SSP. You probably didn't say 'social insertion' specifically.

I do remember him saying something like that. But anyway that's not the issue here, so please cease discussion of it, that's for another thread.

That said dundee you have got quite a naive view of the SSP, and the whole "left," seeming to thing they have "betrayed" the working class in some way. Of course that's misunderstanding the entire role of state socialist organisations, which isn't to lead the working class into communism but to act as the left wing of capital. So "blaming" them for the bloodshed is quite pointless, and even counter-productive as it maintains illusions that they have anything to offer us - like trade union leaderships.

Not only that a quite misanthropist side is coming out too:

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You had hundreds of thousands of people whose opposition to the war was only paper thin, whose racism/orientalism was only tempered by an Oxfamesque pointless apologia to not be too nasty when butchering gollywog. It was really grim stuff. A mass movement composed of such fuckers was never going to stop the war.

I mean ffs, how is it useful to talk of a mass movement of millions of workers like that? Slagging them all off as "racist fuckers"?

That's activist elitest bullshit. Hardly anyone in this country has much experience of mass struggles any more, so you couldn't expect much better from anyone.

And as for this:

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What the fuck ever happened to internationalism?

That's supposed to be irony, right?

Mike Harman wrote:
Well I don't think we'd be starting from a better position now. If anything it might be worse due to desensitisation to anti-war marches caused by the StWC.

Hmmm I disagree with that. I think a war on Iran say would cause shit to really hit the fan...

Stretham:

streathamite wrote:
given that thye acid test of its' success is 'what would have stopped Bush and Blair going to war, then I can only think of one thing - getting people to write to their MP to inform them that if they failed to oppose the war, the writer would vote against them at the next election, and even then it would need to be a huge campaign, as both men were hellbent on this war

Apart from the fact that parliamentary lobbying has never been successful at stopping significant government action, like a big war, this proposal is just full of holes. At its base it is, IMHO of course, flawed because politicians know that parliamentary games do not actually offer any alternatives for people. So ok people say they won't vote for MPs who support the war - but the vast majority of MPs from all the major parties did support it! So who would they vote for instead? The Tories? They would've gone to war anyway, as would the lib dems - as shown by their fake opposition by lining up behind the war once it started. And no one's going to vote for really minor oarties like the greens/respect/bnp because of first past the post, which means it's a wasted vote which will let the tories in.

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Devrim
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May 21 2007 09:39
Dundee United wrote:
If Tommy Sheridan had wanted to he could have sparked a wave of civil disobience and industrial action.

I think that there are two problems with this approach. The first is touched on by John when he writes:

Quote:
That said dundee you have got quite a naive view of the SSP, and the whole "left," seeming to thing they have "betrayed" the working class in some way. Of course that's misunderstanding the entire role of state socialist organisations, which isn't to lead the working class into communism but to act as the left wing of capital. So "blaming" them for the bloodshed is quite pointless, and even counter-productive as it maintains illusions that they have anything to offer us - like trade union leaderships.

The second is that the statement seems completly oblivious to the balance of class forces. I don't believe that if Sheridan had called for 'a wave of civil disobience and industrial action', it would have materialised.

Devrim

Dundee_United
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May 21 2007 10:09
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I don't believe that if Sheridan had called for 'a wave of civil disobience and industrial action', it would have materialised.

It would not have been massive but I think it would have been a great deal more than what happened.

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that's misunderstanding the entire role of state socialist organisations, which isn't to lead the working class into communism but to act as the left wing of capital.

That's a highly doctrinaire interpretation of the left. Do you think left groups somehow lack agency, like they get manoevred by The Man or something from on high. It has absolutely nothing to do with capital and the state that mad sects like the RCG exist, and there is nothing inherent in anarchist organisation that makes them pure and indifferent to the forces of the state and capital. Groups can be bad, good, or just irrelevant and many different things in between, but this is almost always down to the individuals who make up those groups. There is nothing inherent in the way that the left operates which makes it the left of capital. It's just the positions that individuals take on certain questions.

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Not only that a quite misanthropist side is coming out too

Hardly. There are layers of interpretation. In Britain those who took part in the anti-war movement were well meaning people with a degree of empathy and compassion for the suffering of others. Sadly due to the general culture in the country (for the reasons you point out, as well as others) they were also mostly middle class chauvinists.

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I think that there are two problems with this approach.

As I stated to Oliver it's not like I thought the situation at the time was in any way desireable, so it can hardly be called an 'approach' as clearly if we had the power to do things differently at the time I wouldn't be wating for Tommy Suntan Sheridan to tell us the way forward; it's just at the time a realistic appraisal reveals that he was among some very few people who had any capacity to effect change. It's not that I view that as a good thing, so you're misinterpreting my statements here if you think they constitute 'an approach' - I was involved in drawing up that leaflet we gave out and in taking various stunts and direct actions and encouraging others to do the same and build for civil disobediance through the JnWC. That was my 'approach' if you like during this period.

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Devrim
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May 21 2007 10:21
Dundee_United wrote:
so you're misinterpreting my statements here if you think they constitute 'an approach'

Actually, I meant the approach you took to it in the post, more your theoretical outlook on it than your practical activity at the time of which I know nothing.

Dundee_United wrote:
]That's a highly doctrinaire interpretation of the left. Do you think left groups somehow lack agency, like they get manoevred by The Man or something from on high. It has absolutely nothing to do with capital and the state that mad sects like the RCG exist, and there is nothing inherent in anarchist organisation that makes them pure and indifferent to the forces of the state and capital. Groups can be bad, good, or just irrelevant and many different things in between, but this is almost always down to the individuals who make up those groups. There is nothing inherent in the way that the left operates which makes it the left of capital. It's just the positions that individuals take on certain questions.

I think that this is a highly idealistic interpretation of the left. Do you think that the Labour Party is how it is because of 'the positions that individuals take on certain questions', or do you think it is how it is because it is a part of the state apperatus.

Dundee_United wrote:
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I don't believe that if Sheridan had called for 'a wave of civil disobience and industrial action', it would have materialised.

It would not have been massive but I think it would have been a great deal more than what happened.

I don't think that the words of one leftist politican could have created a mass workers' movement against the war. I don't think that he would have said them anyway.

Devrim

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Lazy Riser
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May 21 2007 10:27
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he was among some very few people who had any capacity to effect change

I find this, alongside the "write to your MP" suggestions made earlier, highly revealing.

LR

Dundee_United
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May 21 2007 10:43
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Do you think that the Labour Party is how it is because of 'the positions that individuals take on certain questions', or do you think it is how it is because it is a part of the state apperatus.

Both. The positions of the founders of the labour party were to orientate it towards winning power within the state. As such it is orientated towards the state. it has always been doggedly authoritarian to counter the initial assertion that it would not concern itself with law and order. It has always been more nationalist, and more chauvinist than strictly necessary, for the same reason. This is down to the orientation of the membership. Had British workers who were members of the Labour party sought revolution they would not have built the Labour party.

Or do you think the state, by itself, acting as the sole agent in this little tableau, created the Labour Party to keep the British workers in chains? The control and registration of the labour movement from the 19th century onwards was always about a compromise between workers leaders and statecraftsmen. Leftists of all kinds are always keen to big up the evil hand of The Man from Disraeli to Thatcher in keeping the good proles down but it always comes across as mechanistic and determinist, as if the fact that British workers had shit forms of organisation, poor theories on how to change society, and a naive faith in their leaders was not in fact of greater significance in defining these milestones in history.

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I find this, alongside the "write to your MP" suggestions made earlier, highly revealing.

Hmm. The expression of opinions... Interesting... Can you actually say what you mean please.

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Lazy Riser
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May 21 2007 10:52
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Can you actually say what you mean please.

I'm wondering if there's a connection between having a position "against the war" and the belief that this-or-that individual can effect change. The thing is, you can no more stop this war than you can stop the Earth from turning. Besides, without such routine military displays to support Sterling, there’d be no way we could sustain the government spending required to defend council housing or keep the NHS public without embarking on a course of import replacement for basic goods.

streathamite
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May 21 2007 15:56

joseph K - absolutely! grin (re your reply to mine)

streathamite
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May 21 2007 16:36

To all thosewho picked up on my sggestion of pester-the-MPs .;
1) yes, i quite agree that the possibilities here are extremely limited, I hope I said so in my OP and apologise if I didn't. The fact is Bush & Blair were hellbent on this war, rendering the situation pretty much unwinnable (the only point of bombarding MPs is where their desire for survival far outweighs their desire to kiss the leaders arse).
In retrospect, STWC could have handled things a whole lot better, but it probably wouldn't have altered the wider picture

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May 21 2007 17:09
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STWC could have handled things a whole lot better

Nope. It's a bit like saying that Thatcher "mismanaged" the economy. Not to put too fine a point on it, JK's correction is as reactionary as the position he so derides.

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fact is Bush & Blair were hellbent on this war

Not too sure. If it can be reduced to personalities then Sadaam was easily as keen, but war was inevitable even if all three of them were dripping with humanitarianism, if not today then tomorrow.

streathamite
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May 21 2007 17:38

I'd say it can be 'reduced to personalities' - or rather the 'group personality' of Bush's neocon gang - as that was the main driver of events

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May 21 2007 20:11

Nah. Sadaam brought it on himself by frustrating the inspectors. As for the situation in general, well surrendering to the imperialists would be an option were it not for the continuing appeal of nationalism. And as for group psychology, well, that’s demonstrated in the left’s constant placing of abstracted victims at the centre of their ideological focus.

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May 21 2007 20:32
streathamite wrote:
I'd say it can be 'reduced to personalities' - or rather the 'group personality' of Bush's neocon gang - as that was the main driver of events

There are a number of factors which led to the war and I think personalities played only a minor role, it was the capitalist class at the end of the day which chose to support the acquisition of oil by a gung ho administration. Our problem isnt overcoming singular representatives but the system itself which throws up these representatives.

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jef costello
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May 22 2007 11:09

I spoke to an american who reckoned that the invasion of Iraq was part of a fifty year plan to pacify the region and that although the government would not admit it, that was the aim.
I'm not sure we can put this entirely down to economic factors unless we are willing to accept that the american hierarchy is full of people who are actually insane (unless we admit that the economic reasons for war were simply for the arms/reconstruction business which seems a touch insane too.)

I think we might need a new thread on this.

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Steven.
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May 22 2007 11:43
Dundee_United wrote:
That's a highly doctrinaire interpretation of the left. Do you think left groups somehow lack agency, like they get manoevred by The Man or something from on high.

By trying to patronise me and say that I believe in some kind of conspiracy theories is just showing up holes in your understanding, dundee.

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It has absolutely nothing to do with capital and the state that mad sects like the RCG exist

This has nothing to do with the British state, or "The Man," or conspiracies. It's quite simply that Leninism, Trotskyism, and leftism are capitalist ideologies. Albeit for slightly different forms of capitalism.

Dundee_United wrote:
Leftists of all kinds are always keen to big up the evil hand of The Man from Disraeli to Thatcher in keeping the good proles down but it always comes across as mechanistic and determinist, as if the fact that British workers had shit forms of organisation, poor theories on how to change society, and a naive faith in their leaders was not in fact of greater significance in defining these milestones in history.

From the person blaming Tommy Sheridan for not rousing the masses? Irony-wise you really are on top form.

Dundee_United
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May 22 2007 14:15
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It's quite simply that Leninism, Trotskyism, and leftism are capitalist ideologies. Albeit for slightly different forms of capitalism.

No, they lead to capitalism. They are not capitalist ideologies. Leninists of all descriptions don't believe that the Leninist state is their end goal. I have a problem with the term left of capital used in that sense to describe the entire left. It's too convenient and denies that actually achieving communism is not as simple as having a grand narrative. When the anarchists have had any significant power they have been pretty awful at using it to build socialism also.

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From the person blaming Tommy Sheridan for not rousing the masses? Irony-wise you really are on top form.

Quit the ad hominem. Sheridan had a lot of personal power to effect change and he didn't use it. On his own terms I think its perfectly acceptable to blame him for that.

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By trying to patronise me and say that I believe in some kind of conspiracy theories is just showing up holes in your understanding, dundee.

I'm sorry if you found the tone patronising, but you're being needlessly aggressive, I undestand the term 'the left of capital' but it's about as nuanced as a wet neep. Where does the left of capital begin and end and who are the true glorious angels of revolution? Where does De Leonism end and social democratic idealism begin? Which anarchists are on the left of capital and which ones have tred the true path? It just sounds like something the ICC come away with. It's like a refusal to engage with difference or different understandings of things because you've already got a pigeonhole marked "other".

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May 22 2007 14:25
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the fact that British workers had shit forms of organisation, poor theories on how to change society, and a naive faith in their leaders was not in fact of greater significance in defining these milestones in history.

More like their naive faith follows from their forms of organisation and poor theory.