Friday, May 02, 2008

Simon's Placed

Harry's Place moves addresses, and 'Harry' moves centre stage. (I guess this means that I can now delete this link from my bookmarks.)

Will's right: Harry is a bit of a disappointment as a sports writer. None of the wit and verve that he displayed when he was winding up the CPGB/Weekly Worker crowd over at UK Left Network (or the rest of us in his incarnation as 'Dave Dudley') is evident in his sports journalism, and I don't think Dave Zirin's gig as the pre-eminent radical sports journalist is under threat any time soon.

Will's post over at Drunk Sots provides a couple of links to old discussion boards where Harry discusses his Tankie past - and where he is discussed in turn - and I couldn't help but notice this passage from 'Harry' Simon that is dated 9/14/00:

"If for the sake of brevity I must find some neat expression to sum up the SL [Straight Left] strategy it would be “political sleepers”. I presume that most comrades here are familiar with the use of the term “sleeper” in relation to intelligence work (I am sure Guy and Kim are!) and the Artists (a number of whom were not without some knowledge/experience of intelligence work –allegedly) applied the same strategy to politics.

It is, as Guy points out, superficially similar to the Trotskyist “entryist” strategy but there are crucial differences. For a start the project was carried out with subtlety. Did you ever see an Artist standing outside meetings with their paper? Did you ever see posters? There was a “fighting fund” of sorts but that too was discreet. The only time the group resembled an orthodox organised political unit was at the CPGB congress. Meetings were held prior to congress and efforts were made to gather the maximum number of votes for SL-backed candidates.

The sleeper strategy involved select individuals gaining key positions within certain bodies. But, and this another difference with classic entryism, the aim was not necessarily to take over but to take up a “holding position” and slowly build influence until the time came to activate those key people and those selected organisations. The activation might be done in a period of social unrest, a rise in militancy in the working class, or a threat to the peace during the cold war. In the meantime the short-term aim was to develop progressive policies and outlooks, that would assist the struggle for peace, oppose destructive forces and strengthen the broad left, while attempting some raising of consciousness.

This strategy necessitated a different approach to recruitment. If people were to be trusted with holding a sleeper position for a lengthy period of time, building relationships, both personal and political, then they must be reliable, intelligent and effective individuals. The Artists did not recruit openly, nor did they accept all those who wished to become part of their circle. They took the concept of a revolutionary vanguard seriously and were building an elite group of cadres. The Artists were rarely among the rank and file in any organisation they were involved in – they were invariably holding top positions, although not in the CPGB."

The 'Artists' that Harry Simon is referring to is Straight Left members. Love the following nugget from piece quoted above:

"This strategy necessitated a different approach to recruitment. If people were to be trusted with holding a sleeper position for a lengthy period of time, building relationships, both personal and political, then they must be reliable, intelligent and effective individuals. The Artists did not recruit openly, nor did they accept all those who wished to become part of their circle. They took the concept of a revolutionary vanguard seriously and were building an elite group of cadres . . . [My emphasis.]

And some people wonder why I have an issue with the 'generals without armies' crowd. Pompous and elitist blowhards one and all.

But it does conjure up the fascinating thought that 'Harry' might still sleeping. I wonder if David T, Gene and the other HP regulars ever ask themselves that. Like they give it shit.

2 comments:

Karl-Marx-Straße said...

This SL lot were just the same as Socialist Action now then. Similar politics too.

Darren said...

I sometimes wonder if the RCP/Spiked shift rightwards/leftwards (can't decide which) is nothing more than a similar style sleeper type of arrangement.

It almost makes me want the classical 'leninist type' revolutionary situation to kick off so I see all this lot suddenly switch to 'wide awake' mode.

Brendan O'Neill and Mick Hume careering down Farringdon Road with their copies of State and Revolution bursting out their back copies, shouting out 'Wait for us! Wait for us! We're still Bolsheviks.'

Almost, but not quite. ;-)