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

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Devrim's picture
Devrim
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May 22 2007 14:41
Dundee_United wrote:
I undestand the term 'the left of capital' but it's about as nuanced as a wet neep.

'Nuanced' is not a word. 'Nuance' is a noun. It means having a slightly different meaning, apperance, or form. It seems to be that somebody uses a word when attacking the communist left, and then certain people have to use it regularly with complete disregard for what it actually means.

I suspect that 'neep' isn't a word either, but acknowledge that it may be a dialect term. Even if it is, this sentence is still completely meaningless.

Devrim

Dundee_United
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May 22 2007 14:59

"Nuanced"

Quote:
nu'anced adj.
Synonyms: nuance, gradation, shade
These nouns denote a slight variation or differentiation between nearly identical entities: sensitive to delicate nuances of style; gradations of feeling from infatuation to deep affection; subtle shades of meaning.

It is a commonly used word. Whether it's listed in the OED it's as common as neeps in everyday parlance.

An English to Turkish dictionary even has it: http://www.seslisozluk.com/?word=nuanced so there ;-p

A neep is the Scots word for a 'swede' - a type of root vegetable commonly eaten in northern Europe; from Old English 'naep' [ae ligature there].

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May 22 2007 15:58

There were outside considerations such as the lack of class militancy to consider but thats no reason to assume that the various local groupings that made up the anti-war movement couldn't have done better and co-ordinated some sort of opposition to the STWC a bit better. I doubt the war could have been stopped but perhaps a less activisty approach, more ambition and more willingness to engage on a community level might have helped. I mean say there was a war in 2-3 months time that you had a months build up to, what would you do about it?

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cantdocartwheels
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May 22 2007 16:06

double post.....ish

Devrim's picture
Devrim
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May 22 2007 16:30
Dundee_United wrote:
"Nuanced"
Quote:
nu'anced adj.
Synonyms: nuance, gradation, shade
These nouns denote a slight variation or differentiation between nearly identical entities: sensitive to delicate nuances of style; gradations of feeling from infatuation to deep affection; subtle shades of meaning.

It is a commonly used word. Whether it's listed in the OED it's as common as neeps in everyday parlance.

An English to Turkish dictionary even has it: http://www.seslisozluk.com/?word=nuanced so there ;-p

A neep is the Scots word for a 'swede' - a type of root vegetable commonly eaten in northern Europe; from Old English 'naep' [ae ligature there].

My mistake, would you mind explaining what the sentence means?

Devrim

pj
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May 22 2007 16:33

Having been involved with protests against the first Gulf war and the second I thought there was significant differences.

In the first Gulf War the campaign against it in Glasgow entirely consisted in monthly A-B marches with the same hacks making the same speeches. Groups trying to organise sit-down protests or blockades were completly side-lined. I have a vivd memory of stewards urging people to walk past or even over groups blocking road junctions.

In 2003 there was a lot more emphasis on civil disobedience and direct action
- On the evening war broke out Scotland's busiest motorway junction at Charing Cross in Glasgow was closed for over six hours due to protests that grew out of ths school students strike (organised through the SSP) and protests organised by the Scottish Coalition for Justice Not War (co-ordinated by Scottish CND)
- The following Saturday there were well publicised plans for mass civil disobedience to shut-down Glasgow City Centre organised through the Pledge campaign. A break away from this of over 500 (maybe 1000?) people led again to the closure of the Charing Cross motorway junction in Glasgow and was one of the largest and angriest protests that has occurred in Glasgow for many years.

Over 8,000 people signed the plege to take part or support civil disobedience in a six-month campaign organised by the Scottish Coalition for Justice Not War despite the best efforts of the CPB and the SWP to sabotage it. Out of the speakers on Feb 15th Tommy Sheridan and one other speaker (also in the SSP incidentally) explicityly and repeatedly urged people to sign the pledge to take civil disobedience and on the day over 5,000 pledge cards were distributed. (I think Dundee is right that there was a failing of the leadership to push for civil disobedience but whether because he wanted to maintain his radical credentials or whatever it was Sheridan who was one of the few who did promote this on the 15th Feb - most of the other speakers didn't.)

Politically things north of the border were different than south of the border.
In Scotland the old Militant wing of the SSP linked up with left Labour Party members and Communist Party Britain members to stop domination by the SWP of the Scottish Coalition for Justice Not War. This coalition had been set up as an initiative by Scottish CND rather than the SWP who launched the STW south of the border. In England, CND stood aside from the STW coalition.

After a bit of in-fighting the CPB south of the border formed an alliance with the SWP to control the STW 'coaltion'. North of the border they worked with the non-SWP part of the SSP and with the small Campaign for Socialism group from teh Labour Party.

The Chair of Scottish CND was CPB, as was the Secretary, and they managed to stich things up nicely. However in terms of the make up of the Scottish CND Executive they were actually out numbered by people who supported the Big Blockades at Faslane that had been running upto and after the start of the war and so were not able to openly oppose plans for civil disobedience however on a day to day basis they were able to limit the publicity of the Pledge campaign and what resources were spent on it.

Protests on the day war broke out could have been a lot stronger and a lot more disruptive. It is important not to under-estimate the influence of a few key people on the events of the day, one of whom was Aamer Anwar who appointed himself as chief negotiator on behalf of the 200 or so people who had managed to close the motorway having pushed their way through three lines of police with horses.

He effectively 'sabotaged' the protest by agreeing that everyone would be alllowed to march back to George Square with police escort rather than stay on the junction causing more disruption. Because of the support for him amongst certain factions on the junction this 'agreement' was forced on the rest of us without any discussion at a time when the police certainly did not have the resources present to remove the 200 or so people blocking the road if they had refused to move.

The police had expected major arrests that day and had commandeered the City Halls to use as a process centre and jail for the hundreds they expected. Thanks to Aamer only five people were arrested and the whole thing was defused.

After the Feb 15th demo there was really nothing else to do (how to you beat 2 million people?) other than civil disobedience or direct action. Instead the STW tried to push what they called 'People's Assemblies' - more talking shops. In Scotland an assembly was proposed by the Coalition for Justice Not War but dropped rapidly because the Pledge campaign depsite the best efforts of the CPB and the SWP had gained so much support.

I was pretty involved in things north of the border but don't know anything about what it was like south of the border.

One interesting thing that did happen which has lessons for most of us is to do with the first massive STW demo in London in 2001 or 2002 - I think. It was the first anniversary of the Intifada, I think.

Earlier that year there had been two Palestinian Solidarity marches in Scotland. Palestinian Solidarity had split. In Glasgow there was a group led by a Palestinian business man with strong links with the Mosques whilst in Edinburgh the group was mainly white and dominated by the SWP. Both had demonstrations on the same day. The demonstration in Edinburgh was the one that received most publicity through the usual political circles and attracted predominantly non-muslim, white supporters. In Glasgow there were about 1,000 people of which very few were white and non muslim. In February or March I was at a conference organised by the Glasgow Palestinian Solidarity group. Again I was one of only about 6 white people present. The 150 or so other people were Asian predominantly. There were some Chechens and some Kosovan Albanians.

At that conference someone from the Muslim Association of Britain spoke and showed a video. The video was very powerful and used images of the intifada along with images of Martin Luther King, Ghandi, etc. The message was clearly that there should be an Asian / Muslim civil rights movement in the UK making the links between what was happeing in Palestine, with what was happening in Bradford, etc along with the rise of the BNP, etc. The MAB speaker concluded by calling for a Million Muslims March in London (reminiscent of the Million Men March in Washington called by King) The date was 27th September (or something) the anniversary of the intifada.

One of the other white people at the conference was a well-known SWP hag (co-ordinator of the Anti-Nazi League) who came out of the conference spitting 'We don't want a separatist organisation it has to be Black and White Unite'. My personal feeling was that an asian / muslim civil rights movement was exactly what should be happening - something that would really challenge the racism of events post 9-11.

Anyway about a month and a half later a call went out for a Stop the War demo on guess what day - the same date. Initial leaflets for both events had one starting in Hyde Park at one time and one starting at the Embankment an hour later - they were seperate events at that point (as if the organisers were completly unaware of each others events.)
Then presumabley MAB got a phone call from a nice person at Stop the War who suggested they should have a joint event rather than compete - after all they were both protesting about the same things weren't they, sort of...

Then on 27 Sept you got 500,000 people marching in London. Interestingly of the 16 buses that went from Glasgow. 10 were provided for free by the Central Mosque and were filled entirely by muslims whilst the remaining six were only half-filled by white non muslims. The largest mobilisation was by muslims and muslim organisations yet none of us call it the MAB protest in London do we? We all think that STW organised it. Clever eh?

So in one fell swoop the SWP managed to stop the development of a massive militant muslim civil rights movement in the UK, as well as position themselves as the people who organised one of the biggest protests in the UK's history even though I don't think they were really responsible for so many people...

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May 22 2007 18:32

Thanks PJ that was quite illuminating Im a little perplexed that this thread is being disrupted regarding views on leftism of the SSP, possibly you guys need another thread?

In terms of my own experience I was the secretary of the Preston Socialist Alliance and the stewardship of the STWC was basically Michael Lavallete, who launched the group then brought on a sympathetic Imam into the steering committe. During this time the SWP disrupted everything the Socialist Alliance tried to do, outside of elections they only ever attended token meetings. Despite intially being a vibrant group full of energy STWC seemed to lurch towards capturing the favour of the Imam and his followers. Fair dos these were, at least some of them, were good politically but I was pretty shocked that meetings started happening almost with concentration outside of town in an exclusively muslim area. This meant that alot of students and non-politicos basically flaked off and towards the end with the excpetion of the SWP and their fellow travellers any subsequent protest by STWC was an almost completely muslim affair and not one with much political conviction other than the nudge of the local Imam.

One particularly STWC meeting is fresh in my mind as it showed the depths by which all other oppurtunists are measured by.

Michael Lavalette announced before a 200+ STWC meeting that he was standing in the local election as 'Socialist Alliance against the War' after a local by-election had been called. No Socialist Alliance meeting had voted him (as was the norm), no discussion had been had regarding any of this, infact it was never raised accept other than with the said Imam though he expected the Soc. All. group to fully endorse him. After months and months of doing nothing the SWP were acting yet again exculsively in an election. What made it worse was that none of our existing policies or literature were going to be used. Instead the politics of the group had been tailored to favour the current climate and the respective audience.
At the same meeting the Imam talked about the bloodshed of muslims and that redemption would come if they voted Michael roll eyes and this was followed by Yvonne Ridley calling for Jihad against western imperialism and not a single one of the swappies had a come back on any of this, that meeting and the bullshit of the SWP have to be one of the most frustrating Ive ever had to put up with, everything was being junked for a money rich solution.

Sorry for the rant but Im stating the above because it was a precursor to the political trajectory of the SWP and to some extent the STWC. Had Michael not been voted in, the SWP wouldnt have subsequently gone down the Respect route, what Michael had done was shown a model that consisted of,
left populism around the war + pandering to muslims = political result
And this was core to what the SWP worked around with the STWC.

For me the million dollar question is

Quote:
I mean say there was a war in 2-3 months time that you had a months build up to, what would you do about it?
Dundee_United
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May 23 2007 16:35
Quote:
My mistake, would you mind explaining what the sentence means?

I mean it's a bit deus ex machina. It doesn't seem realistic, and even then it's a bit of a blunt instrument (or root vegetable). I don't think you can describe all of the communist left (my sense, not yours) which takes a different view on strategic questions as being 'the left of capital'. Different if your talking about the Labour Party, but it's really unanalytical to just have a catchall term for people whose views you don't like. It belies the fact that we are talking about a massive range of opinions and organisations who are active in many different ways.

If I begin by denying that your organisation believes in communism you're not going to listen to another word I say on anything. Similarly there are a large number of people in the SSP and other similar organisations who are receptive to other points of view; whether you're interested in speaking to them is a strategic question, but certainly just having some category like 'left of capital' seems more aimed at members of your own organisation than in fact it is descriptive.

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May 24 2007 09:59
Dundee_United wrote:
I don't think you can describe all of the communist left (my sense, not yours) which takes a different view on strategic questions as being 'the left of capital'. Different if your talking about the Labour Party, but it's really unanalytical to just have a catchall term for people whose views you don't like

So you agree that there is a 'left of capital' even if it is only the Labour party. What about the 'Militant' (it is difficult for me to talk knowledgebly about things in England today)? They were a part of the labour Party, and ran various municipalities. I believe that the SP in Scotland is descended from them. I don't think that it is wrong to charecterise them as the 'left of capital'.

Quote:
If I begin by denying that your organisation believes in communism you're not going to listen to another word I say on anything. Similarly there are a large number of people in the SSP and other similar organisations who are receptive to other points of view; whether you're interested in speaking to them is a strategic question, but certainly just having some category like 'left of capital' seems more aimed at members of your own organisation than in fact it is descriptive.

It is not our opening line when discussing with people. I don't think that EKS uses it to charecterise all 'leftist' groups. We would call an organisation like the ÖDP 'radical social democrats'. In the end it refers to the same thing though.

Devrim

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Mar 8 2012 14:17

http://cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004744