Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hang together or hang seperately?

What is going on? This week’s Socialist Worker has an article by Esme Choonara about the launch of Solidarity last weekend. (Don’t worry you don’t have to buy it, you can see a PDF of the page here, or just the text here)

The article is surprisingly critical.

For example: “Tommy Sheridan spoke towards the end of the meeting. …The opening of his speech seemed a little downbeat compared to the mood of the meeting. He said, "We may collectively as socialists never realise our dream. We may never deliver the type of society we have burning away in our hearts, but can we say in unison that we will fight with all our ability to discover that type of world regardless of the obstacles?"Dave Sherry, from the southside of Glasgow, …, "I was a little disappointed not to have heard Tommy Sheridan spell out more about what we need to do over the next few months."


"Akhter Khan, an activist with Friends of Lebanon, told Socialist Worker, "I came to the meeting with some friends. I have voted for the SSP but never joined them."I will probably join the new organisation. But it needs more young people and more creative thinking, and there need to be strong people around Tommy Sheridan who can challenge him."

It seems the SWP are putting some shots across the bows of Sheridan, letting him know that they may have perjured themselves in court to defend the fiction of his perfect family life, but they cannot be taken for granted. Towards the end of the article we read:
"Euan Dargie, a student from Dundee, said, “The meeting gives me hope that we can build something wide and open that makes a real difference to people’s lives.
“But I don’t want a new party to have too much bureaucracy or for it to hold back the grassroots members.”

This rather reads like code for there being no mechanism to make the SWP answerable to the membership of Solidarity. The difficultly for the SWP is that having lied in court and exposed their members to potential prison sentences, they have rather hitched themselves to Sheridan. It also means that they have to go on lying, to their own members, to the working class, and to the world.

By the way, I strongly recommend that you read the report by Jim Jepps of both the SSP and Solidarity rallies last weekend. Jim very sensible argues: “However terrible you might think Sheridan is, or Leckie or Fox - the fact of the matter is that the more mud that is slung the harder it will be to build unions, build campaigns and a political alternative to neo-liberalism. The past is important but the future more so and we need to assess where now rather than concentrate on where we came from. We have two socialist organisations with strengths and weaknesses that have good cadre in the class struggle. They can both play a valuable role in the struggle.”

I am sure Jim is mainly right, but there can be no reconciliation without truth. That means being frank about the fact that the SWP and CWI were always opposed to the model of pluralist party that the SSP represents. It also means recognising that the Sheridan camp slandered comrades in order to prop up the myths that the cult of Tommy depended upon. By their perjury they have also opened up the workers movement to investigation by the police. .


Martin Wisse said...

I would be a mite more careful with throwing accusations of perjury around if I were you; where's your evidence?

Or are you one of those deluded people who sees the SWP as machiavellan puppet masters?

Liz said...

I don't deem the rump SSP as being pluralist. Especially not for women who work as strippers or are or have been any kind of sex workers. Perhaps this is a fixation of mine, but I am simply appalled that a socialist organisation can adopt such a policy.

AN said...


The SSP does not necessarily have the correct positions on all questions, but it does provide a democractic and participatory structure that allows these questions to be debated.

AN said...


In court there were two sets of testimony about the SSP NC meeting of 9th NOv 2004. 11 comrades testified (reluctantly) that at that meeting Sheridan had admitted he was the unnamed MSP that the NOTW had referred to, and he intended to sue NOTW and prejure himself.
Sheridan called 6 winesses that gave a different account of events. One of these, Graham MacIver, was flustered and unsure of himself in court. Two of them - Steve Arnott and Mike Gonzalez were not even at the meeting in question!

So either the 11 committed perjury, or at least 4 of the 6 did, plus Sheridan.

I don't know whether SWP member Mike Gonzalez perjured himslef, as he did not give false testimony about the 9th Nov meeting, However SWP member Pat Smith did.

How do we know which group told the truth. Well apart from the question of personal trust, let us look at the language being used. The SWP refer in the IST document to concerns by the SSP leadership about "the way in which Sheridan intended to defend himslf in court could have had damaging implictions for the party as a whole." Note that the SWP argue that the comrades had a class duty to back Sheridan in court.

But further evidence is the Sun 18 June 2006 EC meeting that voted that those SSP members now cited as witnesses in the libel action should go to court under protest but neither perjure themselves nor place themselves in contempt of court.

Two SWP EC members vote against this statement, but offer no alternative strategy.

So the SWP EC members voted aainst telling the truth in court! Of cousre they didn't propose an alternative startegy, as this would have been a prejudicial admission that they intedned to commit a criminal offence.

i don't think the SWP are puppet masters, cerianly in Scotland they don't have the numbers to play that game even if they wanted to. But they have entered an unholy alliance with Sheridan for factional advantage - and in the course of it exposed the movement to intervention by the state, and were reckless about the reputations and even liberty of honest comrades.

Liz said...

The whole thing was reckless, and had Sheridan not played the teetotalling family man card to begin with it would not have come to this. He could have just told NOTW it was none of their business. I dislike the hypocrisy he displayed, my view being that while the allegations were probably exagerrated they had a grain of truth at least.

Was it me I probably would have said I couldn't quite remember what had been said, but that can only go so far to be plausible with everyone. I used to admire the SSP for not being as faction driven as the English left and being able to organise well. But it seems this whole sorry affair has ruined them by showing the opposite, besides the issue of their dodgy positions on certain matters. It looks as if it will set socialism back a great deal in Scotland. I was pleased initially and still am to some extent pleased about Sheridan's victory over NOTW, but only for the same reasons the jury probably voted in favour for him (ie their preferation of him to Murdoch). But I did think better of him than this.

AN said...

It would be nice to think you could get away with amnesia Liz, but 11 or more people all forgetting what happened at the most importnt meeting in the history of the party? And sustaining it through cross examination by top QCs? And perhaps the judge banging you up indefintaly for contept of court until you answer questions?
I suspect the wheels would have quickly come off that strategy :o)

But don't write off the SSP yet. this crisis has made those who have stuck with the party bond more closley together, and also they are looking quite self critically at ways to improve, learning from what went wrong.

And we need to be cautious becasue it could have long term damage on the activists and electorate, but this week they have bounced back from 2% in the polls a couple of weeks ago to 6% again.

Liz said...

Amnesia as a strategy may have been plausible for a few people but not for everybody, it could only have gone so far to have been believable, so you're right. That's why the whole thing was reckless of Sheridan.

I feel that with the departure of Sheridan the party will automatically lost some supports, as he was a big figure. It may not be good, but the electorate do often identify political parties with individuals, and the departure of a charismatic leader does raise these problems.

Regarding their policies - the Statism they show in regards to porn and prostitution is not only symptomatic of a wrong approach and attitude to these issues - it also betrays a statist attitude per se, a tendency on the whole to too readily look to the State for solutions to what they deem to be problems (and ultimately State imposed laws do not tend to work in the interest of the working class, in my experience). It is an attitude that is thoroughly reformist, if you see what I'm getting at. And of course the left nationalist position poses another set of problems, on whether an 'independent socialist Scotland' would be viable or workable.

With such a big split like this I suspect that the group may have become less plural and thus have fewer people in it who will pose alternatives and argue against these questionable policies. I can't say that for sure though, hence I'll have to keep an eye on how things develop.

Dave Riley said...

Well I gotta say that from my POV from Australia the major problem with this exercise as far as the CWI and the SWP membership should be concerned is the sort of culture you have to accept to go along with these manoevres.

The amount of spin doctoring that is being exercised in their collective milieu is quite startling. If you cannot be truthful in discourse with your own comrades then you are sure to more generally warped and will pay a high price in the long term for such duplicity.

I see that as a problem -- a political problem. So I think this point has to be made by way of clearly affirming what happened in Scotland and who was involved -- because the only victim here isn't just the SSP membership(regardless of who they sided with)

I'm not trying to be moralising as there's a few key issues here that unfortunately won't be going away now that the SWP/CWI have embraced such a slipper slide as Sheridan's coat tails.

I hope there's not the ramifications I envisage but I very much doubt that the main protagonists will get off as lightly as they have if/when the ruling goes to an appeal.

As for proponents of regroupment elsewhere -- the key lesson unfortunately is that we cannot rely on or trust some of our affiliating partners who are quite capable of dedicated sabotage when the opportunity presents itself.

Darren said...

Martin wrote:
"Or are you one of those deluded people who sees the SWP as machiavellan puppet masters?"

I see the SWP leadership as less about being machiavellian, and more a group of individuals who would fuck over people if they thought it would generate a temporary spike in membership figures, paper sales or influence.

Bending the stick never sounded so painful.

AN said...


I think that is a reasonable description, but it is one sided.

It is also true that the SWP have a number of talented and non-sectarian comrades. And even that the SWP as a whole can bring tremendous energy and expertise to projects that they agree with.

The trouble is that even when those positive things are in play, there is a short-termism, rarher than a long term commitments to build long term coopertaive relations with other people.

So they are actually a pleasure to wrk with when they are on the same side as you, but if they decde to no longer prioritse the campiagn or initiative you have been working with them over, then they behave exactly as you say.

(Actually this is all true within the SWP as well, through the so called "star system" - where comrades whose activity confirms the wisdom of the current line are promoted, to be dropped when the line changes)

AN said...


With regard to the plurality of the SSP - it is really woirth watching the speach by carolyn Leckie at the Unity rally:

Note the really genuine, friendly and positive way that she welcomes the particiation of the comrades who disagree on the national question. "Sandy, I'm really opleased you are here today"

Also look at the fact that John McAllion, a former Labour MP, is also fully committed to the SSP. Showing that the most important part of the SSP's plurality - uniting socialists who come from revolutionary and social-democratic traditions.
McAllion made a brillianat speach, you can watch that as well:

Louisefeminista said...

"Actually this is all true within the SWP as well, through the so called "star system" - where comrades whose activity confirms the wisdom of the current line are promoted, to be dropped when the line changes"

Jeez. I have never heard anything like that before, the "star system". It reminds me of being at school, gold star being top of the class and so on. I just find that kind of thinking strange beyond belief.

Promoted one minute, dropped the next. Sounds like a capitalist company. It doesn't sound like it does much for morale in the org.

AN said...

Well - the "star system" is not acknowledged, and there is a bit of "cognative dissonance" going on - but i think most older lags would recognise the description.

Interstingly - apparently after their break with London the Amercian ISO have gone through a process of de-SWP-ing.

With emphasis on stopping the bad habits of the star system, and also what they identified as "full-timer bullshit syndrome". I can't think what they mean :o)

Louisefeminista said...

Yeah, think a lot of trot groups suffer from cognitive dissonance. Quite like the "full-timer bullshit syndrome"!

Darren said...


I know I'm being naive but you would think there would be something qualitatively different from an organisation that is supposed to be about the self-emancipation of the working class.

I know I'll be denounced as a Menshevik for my troubles but I think an organisation should to the best of its ability foreshadow the sort of society it is seeking to help create.

I think the SWP fail that test every time.

Louisefeminista said...

Darren: "but I think an organisation should to the best of its ability foreshadow the sort of society it is seeking to help create."

It isn't just the SWP but most Trot groups fail the test. Surely it's about developing ideas by encouraging critical and independent thinking as opposed to following the line? And building a campaign and then dropping it for various reasons (sometimes opportunistic) does nothing for confidence or building the profile of your org. Who takes you seriously?

And I am not only talking about the SWP either. One big problem is democratic centralism which actually curtail growths and the "party is always right" rubbish. I wish groups would think about ditching DC and have more of a fluid organisation. That's my tuppence worth anyhow.

AN said...

Indeed Louise.

Excessive regard for the organisationa forms of a specific period of history.

It is all tied up with still thinking that the main dividing line in the workers movement is reform or revolution, when actually the divide in the movement is between class struggle and social partnership.

I am agnostic about whether DC is always wrong, or whether it is just the British experience of it since the 1950s has been bad.

But nowadays we might question what the "leaders" of these groups had actually done in the movement? Written some books and articles, that thier own press have published?

Louisefeminista said...

I am unsure about DC but I it does have a strangle hold on the revo left. Have heard of groups of ditching DC as surely, at the end of the day, it is about building a healthy and dynamic group which emphaises open debate, intellectual growth and education? And where people can adapt their own ideas.

I agree with what you say about the self-styled "leaders". Engagement in real life activity and struggles may be a start as well as writing on various lines and positions. I just think it is one big missed opportunity and the revo left is losing out to its adherence to DC and party discipline.

Way can't there be a re-think on DC? I don't know, put away in the cupboard until the time is right.

I am sure Lenin (Real one) would be spinning in his tomb.

Louisefeminista said...

Even as an atheist the state of the revo left reminds me of the quote from Milton: "it is better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven".

Louisefeminista said...

Oh yeah... just finally, which of the 57 varieties of DC do you go for..? Who is "correct"??

Liz said...

Louise - on the whole I agree with you about DC, it has a tendency to stifle democracy and is inherently an elitist way of organising. However, I would dispute as to whether it is EVER a good way to organise. It can be argued that when it was developed in Russia it was due to conditions of illegality though, which certainly does not apply to Britain today.

Andy - I read your point vis a vi Leckie and the national issue. Perhaps they do allow for some dissent on this issue. However, I would still hesitate before supporting them as I suspect they would be less tolerant of dissent on other issues. The porn and prostitution issues - I get the idea that men in particular would hesitate before criticising this policy lest they be accused of supporting what the party views as 'violence against women' or 'abuse'. I feel strongly about this issue partly because I myself have worked in the sex industry , and I refuse to accept the victim label. I find their attitude elitist, patronising and at the end of the day offensive to me. Despite his faults, there was no excuse for Sheridan to have been accused of supporting sexual slavery, which was what he said a few of the SSP feminists had accused him of. I know the SSP feminists are not 'radical feminists' - but it appears their stance on this issue comes from that school of thought rather than that of socialism. As theirs is a policy that would once have affected me negatively were it put in practice, it would have effectively stripped me of my income at the time. Telling me that they may be good on other issues is not enough to convince me that they deserve my support. Were I in Scotland and persuaded that there would be room for me to fight against these policies from within I might be - but I somehow doubt that this would in fact be the case.

I find them wholly inconsistent because they are similtaneously strongly pro choice on the issue of abortion. If women are unable to consent to certain types of sex how on earth can they be expected to consent to an abortion?

I think you know what my position is here - I know you will disagree but in my view in the case of abortion there is always someone who can never consent - the unborn child or foetus.
Most pro choicers seem to get round this by denying the humanity of the foetus, but others hold the view that it is acceptable to kill human beings in some circumstances, this being one. While I disagree I have more respect for this view than the other, and it seems far more open to dialogue. I realise some people may initially deem me to be inconsistent in the other direction - but if they know my views they will see my logic, even if they don't agree. I wrote a post on my blog explaining briefly my views on this and I had a relatively sympathetic response from the woman who writes the 'Fetch me my Axe' blog, which I replied in length to. See: and-yesterday-i.html

This is another inconsistency of radical feminism which irritates me so. I have had a few run ins myself with adherents of the 'United Left' and they were extremely intolerant of my views on this matter. I therefore suspect that they would have a similiar attitude to other women's issues. I know that they are fond of direct action on this issue, and I would not be able to support them in this. Therefore I'm not so sure they would even want me as a member knowing my controversial views on this and their intolerance thereof.

AN said...

Let us put aside the DC issue - cos from my point of view I would certainly not want to be in a DC organisation ever again, and certianinly our experience of how it woorks in briatain has been almost all negative. But I simply haven't studied experiences outsde Britain, and both the DSP in Oz and the LCR in France would say they were DC, ans I simply don't know how it works for them.

But on the sex worker issue, I agree with organising sex workers in the same way as any other workers, and am proud of the work the GMB have done in this area. I believe that the UNITE union in New Zealand has also had success organising in the sex industry. Many socialists disagree with this position, and in my experience often talk about sex workers in a moralistic and condescending way. Saying things like "surely you can't condone it", etc.

But the issue is complicated by the fact that within the workers movement many gains that we took for granted are now a battle again, such as 50:50 representation, creches at events, giving preference to women speakers, womens' right to self oraganise.

The SSP in particular has been sucessful in recruiting beyond the ranks of the political left, and there is a task of political education, against the wider sexism of socisety coming into the party. Sheridan knew what he was doing playing the "gender obsessed" card, as an appeal to the members in the regions outside the central belt, where there had been less political development.

Whatever disagreement we may have about the attitude to the sex industry, the comrades in the SSP have made a serious attempt to combat sexism, in the party and outside, so even if we disagree over particular issues there is room for respect and collaboration.

I don't agree with you about abortion, as you know. However I do agree that much of the left talks bollocks on the issue.

I wrote something mysef on this issue - mainly for my own benefit after a particularly stupid exchange on UKLN where the CPGB's Steve Cooke said (seriously) that he beleived in "abortion" of baby's up to a year after birth! And no one except me commented that this was outrageous, and there was some sniffy comment from someone else about how I hadn;t been keeping up to date with the debate by medical ethicists !!!

One can only assume these people have never met a baby.

Anyway, this is what i wrote:

So in

Louisefeminista said...

I wouldn't want to experience another DC again but I don't think it should be junked overall etc. Maybe re-written.

There are a big problems with issues such as women's autonomy (and I have encountered so much hostility because of this from the left and being accused of being a separatist... which I am not!), 50:50 representation was accepted and seen as important for building women participation. It is not fantastic but there has to be something which increases activity by women.

Yes and the number of meetings I have attended which don't have any women speakers (the number of male-dominated platforms as astounded me cos it wasn't like that when I first started out)and also giving preference to women speakers, again that existed when I first got involved in politics.

Same with creches which also appals me as every conference I have attended in the past couple of years doesn't have one. It does still shock me on how crap the Left has become over women and not just on women. And frankly, when I have voiced these concerns I have had silence in return or people unsure what I am talking about as it hasn't been part of their experience.

I still respect many of the women in the SSP as they are committed Socialists and feminist activists and also TU activists. And I would work with them on many issues.

And as a socialist feminist I have been active in fighting for reproductive rights and women controlling their own fertility (and I haven't just concentrated on abortion)I have been involved in campaigning for nursery provision and against closures, highlighting forced C-sections, supporting choice around childbirth and being aware of these issues so on.

I am pro-choice as regards to abortion and I do believe the slogan, "every child a wanted child".

Liz said...

Andy - I think Steve Cooke may be a fan of Peter Singer. Singer, I believe, supports infanticide on the grounds that a newborn baby has less sentience than a year old child. A seeming contradiction as he also is pro animal rights. I can't say I'm altogether surprised that Cooke's comment passed without much controversy though, as there are people on that list and in WW who are ready to defend abortion a day before birth - so why not after?

I believe NZ has decriminalised prostitution, much to the ire of some feminists. I don't see how any socialist could oppose the unionisation of sex workers, I've only come accross a couple of people who take the moral tone you describe.

I agree that it is important to fight sexism - however I find much of the rhetoric of the rad fems and the SSP feminists to be sexist in a way - as it does infantilise women. The women as victims mentality I don't believe to be conducive to women's self esteem and how we should regard ourselves.

I'm not 100% sure about the 50/50 policy either - Louise grants it is not perfect. It strikes me as being a bit of a top down and bureaucratic way to fight sexism, and it in itself will not stop the attitudes that tend to privilige men.

Louise - while I'm not against people's right to self organise (not just women but also other groups) I'm not sure of it as a political strategy. Overall there is a danger that it may excacerbate existing divisions and further ghettoise people, ensuring that certain issues remain marginalised on the wider left. Issues such as creches etc should not just be regarded as women's issues, they are something everyone should be interested in. Again, giving preference to women speakers simply on the grounds they are women has it's problems. I'd rather be called to speak because my opinions are respected, not because I'm a woman. I suppose I'm only in favour of affirmative action policies when there seems to be no other solution to an imbalance.

Louise - I'm glad that you do campaign for other things besides abortion as such is not the case with many people on the left. People who just campaign on abortion but nothing else I won't call pro choice, I just call them pro abortion. A lot of the left is terrible on this issue. I'd be quite happr to work with people who are pro choice on abortion on other 'reproductive rights' you describe. I believe that women should control their fertility, but by other means rather than abortion. Leaving aside the issue of the foetus, abortion is for many women an invasive and unpleasant experience they would rather avoid if they can.

I agree every child should be wanted, but I think my take on this may be different from yours. Socialists have long argued (as did Andy in the other thread) that child rearing should be the responsibility of the community, not just the individual biological parents. I'm not one for pushing adoption as an alternative to abortion as that is not without it's problems, although I believe it to be a preferable outcome to abortion in our current society.

I feel that in a socialist society no child should be unwanted, as even if the biological parents are ambivalent the child should still be welcome and wanted by the wider society. In a capitalist society there are plenty of 'unwanted' adults too - i.e disabled people in institutions, people with addictions, the homeless etc. I ultimately believe in a society where caring and nurturance are praised as values rather than the selfish individualism and competition valued by capitalism. I'm of the thought that in a socialist society abortion should become obsolete, as besides these values I hope contraception will have improved too and be more widely accesible.

AN said...

I think the advantage of the 50:50 policy is that it forces organisations to take a long term view about developing their women cadre.

If they were selecting their candidates based upon experience and standing in the community, and had 80% men, then they sudeenly had to make it 50% women, it does raise the question of why there are fewer suitable women candidates, perhaps that is due to sexism, and perhaps it is something they should do somethig about.

The 50:50 rule may unfortunataly make it hard for Rosie Kane to be relected as she was elected as #2 on the Glasgow list, and if it weren't for the 50:50 rule would automatically be number one after the defection of Sheridan, but I assume the SSP will have to find a male #1 for Glasgow under 50:50.

with regard to giving perference to women speakers, at a meeting where there are more people wanting to speak than chances to call them all, I think it is correct to try to correct for gender balance, rather than just base it on whose hand went up first.

BUt when it comes to platform speakers, there shoudl alsways be women on the platform, but so often I have seen left groups use this cynically just as a way of ensuring that they get a speaker!

AN said...

And Liz

I agree that in a socialist society no child would be unwanted, but a 10 week featus is not a child.

However, there are certinly some adults I know who I can imagine would not be particularly wanted in a socialist society, not unless they buck their ideas up a bit!

Snowball said...

Sorry for joining this discussion late, but I just wanted to state as an SWP member that I have never heard of the 'star system' that Andy refers to, nor have I heard 'old hands' ever refer to it.

Perhaps - like Pluto - it has simply been dropped, or perhaps he is confusing the SWP with the Tudor monarchy (which had a 'Star Chamber'), or (more likely) he is just talking bollocks.

I am not going to bring in a full blown defence of DC here, but the idea that the capitalist class are just going to hand over political power to ordinary people without a fight is idealistic day-dreaming.

That is why socialist organisations can't simply draw inspiration from Gandhi's 'be the change you want to be in the world' when it comes to how they organise themselves - unless they want to simply be calmly rounded up by the state come any sort of revolutionary situation.

To think that there is nothing of any use any more we can learn from Lenin's theory of the revolutionary Party - which was critical to the only successful socialist revolution the world has yet seen - shows either a profound arrogance or a profound lack of interest in trying to learn anything from the past struggles of the working class...

Snowball said...

Sorry I think the Gandhi quote is 'be the change you want to see in the world'...

Anyway reading Lenin is of more use to socialists than reading Gandhi is the point I was trying to make.

AN said...


You can disagree with calling the practice the "star system", but surely you recognise the practice of those comrades who - for example - rapidly promoted, or encouraged to speak at conference - are those comrades whose current practice happens to coincide with the current perspective, but when the perspective changes then a differnet set of comrades will suddenly be prominent?

And sorry there is a complete non-sequiter to justify DC on the basis of the fact that the capitalist class will not give up without a fight. The fact that socialists require a class struggle party, does not dictate the internal functioning of its decision making. Certianly on that basis the leadership of the KPD, which was democratic centrallist, in squandering the opportunites of the German revolution,s or of the democratic centralist CPGB that argued "all power to the general council" in 1926, are hardly proof that the DC model is effective.

And strangly, didn't Zinoviev and Kamenev oppose (in the bourgeiois press) the October revolution before it happened (which Lenin described as scabing) despite their impecable credentials as leading members of democratic centralist party?

Given the hugely different circumstances of imperial russia - a small (first generation) working class, hardly any tradition of parlaimentarism, shallow roots for reformism, and puny trade unions, what is directly applicable about thier organisationsl forms to working in the British working calls today?

AN said...

And Snowball, who excepot you, has mentioned Ghandi?

Honestly, are you trying to invent some arguments that are easier for you to argue with?

And at which point when reading Lenin did you find Ilych say that it was permissible to stand in a bouregois court and alledge a totaly false conspiracy, and expose 11 honest comrades to possible imprisonment by the state?
In what volume of the colected works will I read lenin say that a cult of personality should be constructed based upon lies, so that if a leading comrade wishes to lead a double life, projecting himsellf as a perfect "familly man" to the electorate, while that is far from the truth, where did Lenin say that the socialist response should be to lie in court to protect that hypocritical double standard?

AN said...

Snowball, on the terminoloy of the "Star System."

May i anonymously quote a clip from some correspondence of an experienced international comrade from the IS Tendncy (not in Britain) about his assessment of the ISO following the split with the SWP.

"The Chicago leadership are a very stable and tightly knit group. That raises the possibility of personal clique ties getting in the way of politics. But they generally seem very accessible and open - more importantly, honest and modest. I would guesstimate the fulltimers at maybe 20-25 with half at the centre and the rest in the field, more appropriate to their size than the SWP's bloated apparat. What I could say in terms of regime is that the current rectification campaign - my phrase, not theirs - is a very good thing. This takes the form of identifying bad habits associated with the SWP and trying to break from them. Chief among these habits are the star system and what you might call fulltimers' bullshit syndrome. But no changes in the formal ideology which remains more or less that of the late 70s SWP."

Liz said...


"I agree that in a socialist society no child would be unwanted, but a 10 week featus is not a child."

That's really a matter of semantics, and it says nothing about the humanity (or not) of the organism. Some may view that a newborn baby is not a child either, hence Singer's view of infanticide. I may think that a 10 week old foetus deserves the right to life, others may not. I like to hope in a socialist society where no child would be unwanted there will be no need for anyone to contemplate an abortion.

These terms (foetus, baby, child) are used to define stages of development, nothing more nothing less. What we decide to call it at a given point is variable. Pregnant women do often refer to the foetus as the baby, and 'unborn child' is a common usage, it was not invented by the pro life movement.

AN said...

Well not really Liz.

My ex-wife lost a baby at 10 weeks due to an ectopic preganancy, and although it was very distressing, it isn't the same as losing a baby nearer to term.

Individual women have to make their own choices, but at the very early stages the baby is only a potential life with no viability outside of the woman's body, so it should be the woman's choice whether to continue or not.

If you start arguing that al potential life should be protected, you are on the slope to opposing contraception as well. If a one week foetus is a life, then isn't an egg, aren't spermatazoa? (The whole seeds of Onan thing from the bible springs to mind)

Liz said...

Andy - An individual sperm or egg does not have the potentiality to grow into anything if left alone, it is not a potential human being. I hold the view that life a such begins when heartbeat and brainwaves develop. I don't follow the viability argument as it becomes earlier as technology develops anyway. A newborn baby would not survive alone for very long either if nobody assisted it.

I'm sure a miscarriage must be more traumatic later on - but I may also hazard a guess that the loss of a five year old child may be more traumatic for some people than the loss of a newborn.

Anyway - I didn't really want to turn this into an abortion thread!

I initially brought it up when I was talking of the SSP's intolerance over this particular issue, and my suspicion that they would not be so plural over dissent about their views on the sex industry either. What do you think about this? I get tired of much of the intolerance of the left over the abortion issue, a few people have told me they are of the same view as myself but are afraid to voice it. It doesn't bode well for democracy or plurality of ideas. I recall that episode on UKLN where somebody from the group we have been discussing told me I should be treated as a racist. I find much of their rhetoric about sex workers bigoted, but I wouldn't equate them with racists.