Twenty Letters To A Friend “Dear Comrades………

768px-joseph_stalin_with_daughter_svetlana_1935

Once held securely, until the truth came out.

ONE

Dear Comrades…….Here’s my apologies and explanations.. Six months out of the SWP and I’ve turned into an anonymous blogger taking the piss out of the SWP. No doubt there will be people in the party I was once a member of who’ll feel I have no right to use the word “comrade”. (Especially when I tended to avoid using words I regarded as either cultish or likely to be interpreted by others as being something to do with the Soviet God That Failed.)  However, I continue to regard  people in the SWP as my comrades, along with most people in the  Socialist Party

Just by doing this blog I have probably burnt my bridges. I can’t see the CC asking me back. (Some members are probably pleased to see the back of me anyway.) Nevertheless, I still regard the SWP as my Party.  I would love to see the opposition beat the CC at the especially brought forward conference later this year, welcome back those of us who felt unable to stay after the March 2013 conference, and continue with the regroupment process and Left unity.

Sometimes, I wish I was still in the SWP, working with great people like Ian Birchall  or some of the brilliant people in my  old SWP branch, rying to make this happen and intervening collectively in the class war. There are still more fantastic revolutionary socialists active in the unions in the SWP than anyway else, and the ISN et al should be careful not to write them off. However, I couldn’t cope with the faction fight any more.  Now, all I can do is shoot satire into cyberspace knowing full well it will have no impact on reality.

Yours in Solidarity, dave (a.k.a. J.O.Bloggs)

Two

rees, callinicos,smith

Unite The Left!

Dear Comrades,    I am sorry if I have offended activists in the SWP & SP, Counterfire etc. I appear to have nothing worthwhile to say about politics and merely take the piss out of thousands hundreds of dedicated activists. As I stated in my last letter, I believe socialists ought to be organised together, that some kind of ideologically fluid non-centralist organisation is not enough, and that I would like to be in an organisation that unites most SWP members with most of the SP, a few other small groups, and thousands of others who currently don’t feel able to join a “Party”. Unfortunately, the frustration of being in no organisation after 30 years in an inadequate one has meant i may have been rude to good people. For this I apologise.

In the pre-conference tome Jonathan Neale wrote of the two factions in the SWP:

 If you support the opposition, realise that 600 or more comrades have thought long and hard and carefully about this, because it really matters  to them, and they do not agree with you. They are not slaves,or bullied. They really think you are wrong.
And the other way round. Why do 500 people, who have thought long and hard, back the opposition?

Whichever side you are on, if you can’t see why so many disagree with  you, you can’t understand what is happening. I don’t mean you have  to agree with them. I just mean that telling yourself they have been  tricked is a way of not having to hear what they are saying

Ileninism57f we need unity on the left, if we are fed-up with the sectarianism between left groups and their fronts, if we look to Greece and Germany and wonder what the fuck is wrong with us here in Britain, then we can only conclude that the last thing “the left” in this country needs is yet another left wing group. And the differences between the different SWP factions don’t justify this.

But of course Jonathan Neale also wrote that “if I thought my party was covering up abuse, I would leave, and  do damage on my way out.“, which is what many now-former-members feel. Many of us feel betrayed, abandoned or disgusted by what our former party has done. Others have been shocked by the hostility of “the loyalists” and their anti-democratic practices. And many of us are finding it hard to simply let go and see the SWP as simply a bunch of, mainly good, memories.

That is why people who should be striving to work together in the interests of the working class seem to on the verge of creating yet another left wing party. That is why many on the left, including ex-members, feel disgusted and angry about what has happened.

And that’s why I have gone from being an active member of a political party to an anonymous blogger. Hopefully, my blog posts will have made a few people smile & encouraged a few more to question everything. Hopefully, my blog posts will end soon and I can get stuck into practical politics again. Or I’ll learn to use it to engage seriously in current debates and to help influence and organise in the “real world”.

Yours, in Solidarity, dave

Three

peterTaaffe

NSSN supporter

 Dear Comrades,     My first post, on the success of the National Shop Stewards Network conference, was a trial run. I’d had a little spat on facebook when “The Socialist”, the SP paper, announced  that at the next NSSN conference, a Stop the Cuts group would be set up. before motion had been put or a vote had even happened. Later, I laughed as I read the email discussions of my pre-Special Conference faction of the SWP, and during a discussion about Socialist Worker, a member (Tom Walker I think) did a template discussion of what the paper would write about a news story – and they it got it spot on.

So I thought I’d satirise the predictability of left papers by writing a report of NSSN conference before it happened, cutting & pasting from the previous year. I’d never blogged before, or written more than the odd letter to SW or my local paper in 25 years. But it seemed to work; about 10 friends looked at it – along with 5 people in Holland…

Yours In Solidarity, dave

Four

MARXISM SPOOF

Dear Comrades, I was having a hard time, and combined with no longer feeling able to attend Marxism 2013, I satirised the predictability of Socialist Worker with my second post Marxism 2013 – A Great Success. I should have known that mentioning the words “SWP” and “sexual harassment” would generate a few more views, but  I was gobsmacked to have hundreds of “hits”. I felt a little guilty, especially as for reasons non-political I’d chosen to be anonymous.

So, apologies for offence caused to SWP members. But laughing at the predictability of Socialist Worker, or the endless claims of “biggest and best Marxism ever” were common within the SWP I’d been in.

Yours in Solidarity, dave

Five

delta-force-poster

Film showing at Occupy Marxism

Dear Comrades,  More apologies – I’d enjoyed writing the previous post. It was therapeutic for me and I wanted more. I read someone say “Occupy Callinicos” on Facebook, and my imagination got carried away, as I imagined Occupy Marxism. I tried to be fair and insult everybody, and was later amazed by the response to the piece. I still can hardly believe nearly 3,000 people have read it. Apparently the Association of Musical Marxists thought it was funny enough to read on their radio show, and the Revolutionary History Group passed it round their meeting – hopefully laughing.

Meanwhile, I feel even more guilty as I realise that friends may be reading this not knowing who I am.

Yours in solidarity, Dave

Six

Dear Comrades,    Well, posting pictures of SWP CC members is probably an expellable offence – as if the state & fascists haven’t got them already. The loss of so many leading members of the SWP leadership over the last few years has been commented on by many. Of course it shouldn’t matter in a party of leaders.

You Know Who

Lenin’s Central Committee 1917

Given that our tradition boasted how in 1926, when the British State locked up the leaders of the Communist Party, the party was able to carry on, surely the SWP could survive a few losses. But only if it really taught its members to think for themselves about what strategy to follow, what mistakes could be learnt from, where the CC had gone wrong in the past , who should be on the CC and why, etc.

I copied the “Lenin’s 1917 Central Committee” just to make a point about how much of the old leadership had gone, though no doubt it could be seen as making an analogy between the CC and Stalinism.

I also discovered that using Ubuntu, its harder to use a WordPress blog & I realise why so many revolutionaries give money to Bill Gates instead of using free, open source software.

Yours in solidarity, Dave

Seven

Dear Comrades,    For some reason, for my Diary of an Incognito Comrade at Marxism Part 1 post , and Part 2 continued my bitterness at missing Marxism. Rather childishly, I’d thought about Martin Smith also sitting at home not able to attend. I liked the idea of me, or him, being there in disguise. But as soon as I had him/me hiding in the toilets I was taken down memory lane – the true stories of the CC panic at Skegness “cottaging”, which then sent me down the road of the IS/SWP tradition of fighting for gay liberation – something I’d been pretty involved with since the 1980s.

 I found the SWP and all the members i met brilliant on gay politics, and I never encountered any homophobia personally. But I thought the CC had been pretty over the top at the subsequent “Lesbian & Gay Caucus”. It seemed to be more about fear of people drifting away from Marxism than a genuine political disagreement, and in my opinion, made the leadership look a bit paranoid and out of touch.

It was nice to hear mygay left marx memories and criticisms confirmed after 25 years by readers of this blog I’ve never met!

My main criticism of the SWP and gay issues back in the 1980s was the pretence that the SWP had always been perfect on sexual politics, and that the Russian Revolution had liberated lesbians and gays.  So I tried to put the record straight (sic).

However, the SWP, like the communist party, did at least begin to get it right by 1976, whereas the Militant were dreadful for another decade or two – to the extent that a comment from an SP member on this post resorted to outright lies to cover their embarrassment.

Yours in solidarity, dave

Eight

Dear Comrades,  I’m sure anyone who remembers David Widgery will do so with genuine affection. Although I bet he was a pain in the arse to some of the hacks. I posted his piece from 1975 Gay Left separately just so anyone NPG P1071; David Widgery by MarkÈta Luskacov·could read his prophetic comment ” “A  modern revolutionary party unable to come to terms with  feminism and the gay movement is storing up trouble  for itself.”.

Of course what’s also interesting is the story of Don Milligan’s pamphlet not being published by the I.S. (though my copy is by Pluto Press, very much associated with IS back then), and Widgery’s review not being published either.gay left

Now such attitudes to gay politics would lead to a mass exodus of course. Widgery & Milligan published anyway, in a similar way to the way some SWP members set up their own blogs now. They weren’t expelled or disciplined, though under the Rees regime of the early 21st Century SWP they’d’ve been out in the blink of an email.

Yours in Solidarity, Dave

Nine

Dear Comrades, with the dust settled after Marxism 2013, I can only marvel at the similarity between my “Plagarism and the Left blog post and Socialist Worker’s report from Marxism!  Some of the “opposition” in the SWP have over the last few years been arguing to make more use of the internet, especially younger people’s expectation of hearing news within the hour rather than a week later.2fingers

To be fair, the web was used for updates, and you tube is handy. And thankfully unedited! But some of the detail in the debate was missing from the report. I had planned to do more reporting from Marxism on the debates as the Comrade Incognito became The Comrade who wasn’t there, but its hard wirting with kids running around.

Yours in solidarity, Dave

Ten

Dear Comrades, when I hear the rumour that Martin Smith had resigned from the SWP, I didn’t expect the leadership of the SWP to actually lead its members any more than it had when the internet revealed the 2013 conference discussion on the “disputes committee”  report. OK, so they only took a week before Party Notes made a statement, by which time anyone who really cared knew.

The sad thing is, a blank statement took me a few seconds to do, but was my most popular post. Maybe it was a load of right wing media hacks thinking they’d found something, proving no doubt I’m some Fifth Columnist.

Yours in solidarity, Dave

Eleven

Dear Comrades, I resigned from the SWP in March 2013. Charlie Kimber still hasn’t replied to my letter, but many of us were told how we would inevitably “move to the right” and end up in the “wilderness”. I couldn’t help wondering if Smith’s friends on the CC think this will happen to him.

Those who stayed in the SWP, for whatever reason, were expected not to discuss the party’s “internal affairs” with non-members. In fact one of the reasons for the expulsion of “the facebook four” just before the 2013 conference was their outrageous inclusion of a non-member in an internal discussion. I couldn’t help wondering if Smith’s SWP friends conduct their discussions in line with party discipline.

Yours in solidarity, dave

Twelve

Dear Comrades, I’d never intended to write so much nonsense about my former party, but I had enjoyed writing satire. I needed another target.

stuff-the-jubilee-badge-300x3002Despite my allergy to TV news, I couldn’t avoid hearing about the royal baby. With a little knowledge of child protection, I suspected that if a family on a council estate, a family with a history of violence, told their first born child that they were destined to rule over their inferior siblings because their god had said so, and that they had already chosen their lifetime “career”, there would at the least be an investigation.

Perhaps I have moved to the right since leaving the SWP, but despite a republican upbringing, when I read Johann Hari, I decided that from the point of view of the royals as human beings , the monarchical system was a disgrace.

Yours in solidarity,dave

Thirteen

Dear Comrades, Party notes’ statement on Smith’s resignation was better than nothing. But it made me fantasise that the SWP had got it right 3 or 4 years earlier, the moment the CC found out he was with a 17 year old. Instead of saying that people like me are guilty of “bourgeois morality“, imagine if they’d suspended him then. A brief mention in party notes would’ve been enough. Whatever may have happened subsequently is anyone’s guess really.  Though I find it hard to believe the kind of wide ranging debate that is going on now would be occurring, and many of what became the opposition may have drifted away anyway due to all the other problems.

Yours in solidarity, dave

Fourteen

gay left 7Dear Comrades, it took me ages to convert a pdf file to a blogpost. But this was the other part of the real story about the IS and Gay Liberation that deserved to be told. I’m not sure if it warranted being on the ISN site though.

Yours in solidarity, dave

Fifteen

Dear Comrades, When the Socialist party’s sexual abuse scandal hit the blogosphere again, I was reminded of a phone conversation I had with an SWP CC member back in January 2013. He told me that the SP weren’t attacking us. It was obvious that they would’ve had their own members accused of “sexual misconduct”, and that their disputes committee would be similar.peter taffe 80syoung Callinicos (I’ve asked SP members for their disputes committee-equivalent’s rulebook, to no avail.)

It also struck me that just like in towns across Britain, leading members of the two parties would’ve known each other for decades. And would talk “business” sometimes. So I let my imagination run riot, hopefully telling more truth than some of my previous postings!

By the way, Tariq Ali’s book, Redemption, is a spoof of the Trotskyist left, and includes characters such as Nutty Shardman,Jimmy Rock, Alex Mango & Jimmy Rock, from “The Rockers”, and “The Burrowers” led by Jed Burrow. I read it 20 years ago & haven’t a clue if its good or funny.

Yours in solidarity, dave

SIXTEEN

Dear Comrades, See – I don’t just satirise the SWP & SP! In many ways, my only hope for being part of a useful organisation is Left Unity. But I can’t be bothered with the platform debates, and when I saw the “Grumpy Old Trot” bog doing satire, I had to reblog it. The author seems to have thought better of the joke & it’s now been made private.

Apologies to Alan Gibbons for saying it was him!

SEVENTEEN

Dear Comrades, Once again, I attempt to stop thinking about “my” SWP. I’d always British_Empire_Union_WWI_posterwondered what would happen if every country on the planet repatriated all of its descendants of Britain. Thanks to the wonders of Wickepedia I can calculate precisely how many that will be. The racist van sent my imagination on a strange fantasy, giving UKIP the UK of their dreams.

And of course I can’t resist having another jibe at those foreigners at the palace. (Also an excuse to reproduce the brilliant poster made especially for them…..)

Yours in solidarity, dave

EIGHTEEN

Dear Comrades, I have friends and family in “precarious” employment, and have spent years noticing how groups like “Solfed” do some good work around organising lib com organisethe unorganised while the traditional left seems content to focus on the minority of workers in public sector unions. So I can’t help get annoyed when I see the “united fronts” led by our two main left parties, suddenly get excited about opposing zero hours contracts. Its almost like they just want to get on the telly………

In my town, after months of trying to get local left activists to build for the November 30th strike amongst private sector workers, the person most keen to help was a non-aligned branch secretary of a public sector union.

Yours in solidarity, dave

NINETEEN

Dear Comrades,Screenshot-49 when I spotted this on SWP blogger David Renton’s facebook page I couldn’t believe it. Apart from mentioning a “comrade X”,as a sexual harasser back in 2008, it dealt with many of the issues of sexist behaviour and sexual violence within the organised left. More importantly it tried to encourage resistance to sexism, and educate men too.

While I’m sure most male members of left parties don’t need such education, clearly some do. And had this pamphlet from 2008 been made compulsory reading for anyone who joins a left group or campaign anywhere, perhaps the left would’ve been able to avoid dragging its name into the mud.

Yours in solidarity,dave

TWENTY

Dear Comrades, I doubt anyone’s still reading this. But thanks for all your time those who read the other posts. I hope to stop blogging soon and return to “interventionist” politics. I hope my party manages to sort itself out and deal with the minority of wreckers. Perhaps I will end up rejoining, but that will probably require a whole new leadership or a bigger split.

In the meantime, I will take my isolation and frustration out on some of the shibboleths of the Leninist Left. And perhaps the establishment too. Please don’t take what I say too seriously. I’m thinking of doing a post on why the government should produce porn.  I’ve also got a couple of friends in the North with horror stories of precarious bar work and Job Centre Get-A-Shit-Job courses that need telling. And when the SWP pre-conference discussion begins in a months time, maybe it’ll be time for the Magical Leninist Faction to emerge, or for an IB piece on the wonders of the slate system.

Yours in solidarity, dave

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