Thursday, April 26, 2007

'Some Socialist Equality Party Members are more equal than others'

Read to the accompaniment of The Jam's 'Funeral Pyre' playing in the background:

  • SEP leader a capitalist.
  • A Tale of Two Men
  • Call me naive, but I thought 'North' was his real surname, but it's always nice to finally put a face to a (false) name. Never did get to see the great leader speak in person.

    A storm in a alice-in-wonderland teacup if you ask me, and it's got sod all to do with the fact that Fred had a factory in Manchester.

    However, the burning question for me is how is it that when the head honcho of the WSWS/ICFI owns a ultra-modern printing press, the Socialist Equality Party members always end up giving out badly photocopied leaflets at demos? If I was one of the rank and file, I'd be pissed.

    Apparently there is a furious thread on this matter going on over at the socialism discussion group on myspace, where a former SEP'er is all upset at this news and at the earlier realisation that the SEP isn't *shock* *horror* that democratic.

    It's always a shame when a would-be vanguardist gets fucked over by his central committee before s/he gets a chance to fuck over the working class.

    Now, come in on the second beat:

    And as I was standing by the edge
    I could see the faces of those who led pissing themselves laughing

    (and the flames grew)

    Their mad eyes bulged their flushed faces said

    The weak get crushed as the strong grow stronger


    Will said...

    "Read to the accompaniment of The Jam's 'Funeral Pyre' playing in the background"

    I did. Excellent tune of course -- a bit off putting while trying to follow the links and the narrative of the post mind.

    Darren said...

    I wish people wouldn't take me literally.

    Jim Grant said...

    "However, the burning question for me is how is it that when the head honcho of the WSWS/ICFI owns a ultra-modern printing press, the Socialist Equality Party members always end up giving out badly photocopied leaflets at demos?"

    Perhaps because he's a capitalist piece of shit? ;)

    They do it over here too, mind. There can't be more than like 10 of them (yes, rich coming from a CPGBite) but I have a demand for a revolutionary anti-war youth movement in my lav. (where it belongs.)

    Darren said...

    Sorry to break it you you Jim, but I think the SEP in Britain might be numerically stronger than Jack & Mark's Red and White Army.

    I remember the SEP back in Britain when they were still called the International Communist Party. Around about the mid-nineties when I was a student in London, them and another fragment of the WRP fallout, Socialist Future, would hang around the University London Union peddling their papers.

    First time I spotted the SEP here in the States was at a big demo in New York last year and, yes, just like their bretheren back at demos in London, they were at the side of the march distributing badly photocopied print outs of articles from their WSWS website. It reminded me of blighty. ;-)

    And as I noticed you came to the page via the MySpace discussion page, couple of points of information:
    1) 'Fraid I didn't hear about the fall out from "lurking" on the discussion group, but via the yahoogroup Leftist Trainspotters, where someone posted a link; and via the SPGB yahoo discussion group where someone else also posted a couple of links. It's spotty news. I thought that would be after your own heart.
    2) On that thread on MySpace I had to have a chuckle at your description of the SPGB as a cult with a reading list passed down from on high by the leadership.
    I thought you prided yourself on being a left trainspotter? I'd love to have a look at this 'reading list'. Are you perhaps referring to Articles For New Members?

    You know; that set of articles that was proposed as an introduction to socialist theory to new members and others? As I understood it, it was a resolution proposed by a Branch to Conference - rather than by a 'leadership' imposing it from on high - and the resolution was passed by the membership on a one member, one vote basis. Doesn't really resemble your description of us. ;-)

    Cheers for looking in, btw.

    Jim Grant said...

    Well, pretty much as soon as I posted that, it was revealed they're running a candidate for the Welsh Assembly. And who posted it on Trainspotters?

    I was throwing you in because you have (had?) an entrance exam, the questions (and answers/marking criteria) of which are presumably decided by...somebody or other, and not the undisputed objective truth of marxism, whatever that may be. So while it would be a bit bizarre, even by my standards, to accuse the SPGB of being a leadership cult, the point about having some theoretical programme with which one must agree applies - for different reasons - to both the SPGB/WSM and the SEP/ICFI (and the RCP). So i was being unfair to lump you in with cults, but not with regard to the point i was making.

    Darren said...

    Hello Jim,

    No idea who posted the original story on the Leftist Trainspotters list. It wasn't one of the regulars contributors.

    Yeah, I saw they were contesting in Wales and in Scotland. I'm curious to know if they qualify for a PEB in Wales, and whether or not they have produced one. Just watched the PEB by the Communist Party of Britain, that they produced for contesting the Welsh Assembly elections.

    Stylistically it wan't that bad. It could have been worse, it could have been a Daily Record Tommy Suntan driving about in a mini-cab, berating an unseen passenger in the back about how he's still big, it's only that the stakes have got smaller. ;-)

    With reference to the 'entrance exam' to join the SPGB, I don't think it's any biggie. The SPGB wants people who understand and agree with the Party's case to join its ranks. People who are in agreement with the object and declaration of principles.

    However, anyone who knows the spats and disagreements that have percolated throughout the SPGB history will know that just because there is a call for agreement with the Party's positions doesn't mean that there is a monolithic political culture within the organisation. Get three SPGBers in a room, and you'll find four positions on any one question .;-)

    The membership test is conducted either through the branch - the basic unit of organisation - or through the membership dept, where the applicant doesn't live close to a branch. The membership questionnaire is pretty straightforward, and has been amended and changed down the years via democratic discussion at Conference or ADM. It's not meant as a trap or as a straight jacket. Just going by the logic that if you are socialist organisation, you preferably want socialists to join it.

    Unlike organisations such as the SWP or SPEW, someone who has been in the SPGB for one week has the same voting rights as a member of forty years standing.

    Unlike the CPGB or the AWL there is no probabtionary period or 'candidacy membership', where you have to jump through certain hoops before you qualify for full membership.

    Don't take this the wrong way, but your description of someone joining the CPGB/Weekly Worker as something more akin to cult like behaviour than anything I've ever witnessed in the SPGB.

    I know that CPGB members are not cult-like, 'cos I've met them etc etc, but surely you can see the weight that Fischer and Conrad carry within the organisation smacks more of delivering politics from on high than anything you can point to in the SPGB, whether or not we have a reading list or 'entrance exam'.