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L&S disbands

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JoeMaguire's picture
JoeMaguire
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Oct 4 2012 19:02

When I got the chance I was going to comeback on my 'nutbar Anarchist understanding of Trotskyism'. But Martinh has partially covered this. Just to add further to the mix, as someone who was a Trotskyist, I had quite close proximity to this practice within the Socialist Alliance. Particularly, the SWP liked to organise a stampede in local branches when elections came around. This practice also seemed to follow them across to Respect usually when they were in conflict with 'community leaders' over control of branches and who study in elections.

Also, the NSSN, while the SP always had a presence, they seem to have mobilised a larger layer of activists when basically they wanted to use the structure for their own purposes.

IrrationallyAngry
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Oct 5 2012 16:31
martinh wrote:
Hmmm, while I appreciate that your outfit has changed its modus operandi over the last decade or so, I think the practice of entryism that was your predecessor's basic way of operating is a large chunk of what people in this country associate with Trotskyism. It certainly wasn't rare for Militant to take over a pre-existing organisation (LPYS, Labour party branches, anti poll tax groups etc). Just because you don't do it anymore does it mean it wasn't properly Trotskyist?

You've actually hit here on another common Anarchist misunderstanding of Trotskyism. You'll often hear "entryism" described as a Trotskyist drive to take over this, that or the other campaign. Entryism is actually a much narrower issue than that. It's a tactic used inside mass workers parties and has no wider aspect than that. This is one of the things I suspect that L&S had confused, and why I was saying earlier that they modeled themselves more on the imaginary Trotskyists in their own heads than on actually Trotskyist approaches.

As an aside, no Trotskyist ever thought that they were going to take over the Labour Party. That wasn't the plan at all. The plan was to build a Marxist current, which could exercise political leadership over the left side of a future left/right split in Labour. Sometimes that perspective did necessitate ward by ward squabbling with the right over control of various local structures.

martinh wrote:
I agree with this; for me the disappointment with the WSM's engagement here was that the group was obviously so flawed and so divergent from the WSM's politics. For the record I regard the WSM as comrades, and think its more important to be constructively critical with them. As GS notes above, most WSM members were/are closer to SF or AF's politics than those of L&S.

Perhaps, but it certainly wasn't clear to me (as an outsider with a passing interest in the politics of Anarchist groups) that the initial set of L&S politics was wildly out of line with the politics of the WSM. Apart from engaging in a lot of "out of the activist swamp" rhetoric which the WSM would never engage in, but which quite a lot of AFed and SolFed members here were also prone to at the time.

Now the WSM obviously had more invested in the idea of a British platformist group than I do (as in, I don't really go further than idle curiousity), so it probably should have been clear to them at an early stage that things were going a bit awry.

Oh yeah, why are people saying that Tacks was "compromised"? This I don't get.

IrrationallyAngry
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Oct 5 2012 16:45
JoeMaguire wrote:
But Martinh has partially covered this. Just to add further to the mix, as someone who was a Trotskyist, I had quite close proximity to this practice within the Socialist Alliance.

It's important to note that I didn't say that Trotskyist groups would never try to take over an already established campaign or group. Just that Anarchists have a wildly exaggerated impression of the degree to which they are actually interested in doing that, and that L&S seem to have been inspired by that Trotskyist bogeyman more than by actual Trotskyists.

The SWP in the Socialist Alliance was an example I mentioned of a Trotskyist group doing exactly the kind of organisational manipulation we were talking about. It's just that nine times out of ten, taking over established groups just isn't a good use of resources.

JoeMaguire wrote:
Also, the NSSN, while the SP always had a presence, they seem to have mobilised a larger layer of activists when basically they wanted to use the structure for their own purposes.

I also sometimes think that British Anarchists don't quite appreciate the consequences of the SWP and the Socialist Party having an order of magnitude more members than other left groups in Britain, or the consequences of their much greater level of organisation than British Anarchist groups possess. The disparity of scale is all the more obvious when it comes to something like the NSSN, where membership is confined to shop stewards and other lay union officers.

The controversial vote at that NSSN conference was 305 to 89. It was in no way close. The Socialist Party would have had to "reverse-pack" the meeting, ordering its members en masse not to go in order to lose that vote. This was true of every issue in the NSSN right from the start. If there was a vote, the SP would win unless it consciously decided not to win. That was a function of the balance of forces involved. The only "change" that vote represented was that the SP decided that the issue was sufficiently important to actually use its inbuilt majority rather than negotiating with other groups as if it couldn't simply win any vote.

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Entdinglichung
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Oct 8 2012 16:01
IrrationallyAngry wrote:
Entryism is actually a much narrower issue than that. It's a tactic used inside mass workers parties and has no wider aspect than that.

entryist tactics do predate Trotskyism, both the former Essen current of the KAPD which became the Rote Kaempfer and the neokantian ISK did entryist work inside larger orgs of the workers movement already in the mid-1920ies effectively also taking over branches and structures of larger orgs

vanilla.ice.baby
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Oct 8 2012 20:15
Battlescarred wrote:

"I also find it's laughable that some on here are boasting that their 20 odd year old organisations have grown to 160 members compared to the 30 odd members of L&S at it's peak - as if that is something to be proud of! (not as laughable as D_U's predictions for the IWW of course, but still)"
Where can we read this on this thread.? Actually nowhere.No one is boasting about anything.

Yes you did.

Jason Cortez
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Oct 8 2012 22:19

Vanilla it would customary at this point "yes you did" to use the quote function to evidence your statement. Otherwise we really are into the pantomime world of 'oh no I didn't' etc.

Battlescarred
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Oct 9 2012 07:46

Yes, this is laughable. I said that a member of L&S boasted that they would be twice the size of the AF within six months, which turned out to be a totally false prediction, with the AF actually growing quite rapidly in that period. That was hardly a boast but a reporting of actual facts and nowhere was any figure ( 160 or whatever) plucked out of the air.

vanilla.ice.baby
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Oct 9 2012 16:55

No I plucked the figure admittedly as I was paraphrasing - the point remains the doubling in size of any tiny organisation including L&S is not really here or there is it?

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Steven.
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Oct 9 2012 17:20
vanilla.ice.baby wrote:
No I plucked the figure admittedly as I was paraphrasing - the point remains the doubling in size of any tiny organisation including L&S is not really here or there is it?

not really, no - but it was an L&S person boasting in the first place, and Battlescarred who criticised this. Anyway, let's move on…

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cantdocartwheels
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Oct 20 2012 06:51
Battlescarred wrote:
Come on, Martin, the SP DID carry on this behaviour as witness their control of the National Shop Stewards Network, where ironically, L&s were forced , or chose to quit, along with other syndicalists and anarchists

yes they cotrolled it though perhaps in fairness its worth saying that the SP were always abit of a majority in said organisation (they did set it up) ot to excuse their behaviour of course

not that anarchists we know who were in it were particularly helped by Tacks ''intervention'' as far as i can recall...