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Public statement from UCD ex-SWP group - Socialist Alternative

category national | miscellaneous | news report author Saturday April 27, 2002 18:07author by blisset Report this post to the editors

The debate starts here

The UCD branch of the Socialist Workers’ Party have recently decided to leave the main party and re-name ourselves Socialist Alternative. From now on we will operate as an independent socialist group; we aim to work with other activists on the anti-capitalist left and would like to help build up an activist network of left-wingers who have been alienated by the sectarianism and dogmatism of the existing far-left parties.

The UCD branch of the Socialist Workers’ Party have recently decided to leave the main party and re-name ourselves Socialist Alternative. From now on we will operate as an independent socialist group; we aim to work with other activists on the anti-capitalist left and would like to help build up an activist network of left-wingers who have been alienated by the sectarianism and dogmatism of the existing far-left parties.

Our decision to leave the SWP was not taken lightly; like any intelligent socialists, we deplore the propensity of the far left for splits which paralyse our ability to fight against the system. For a long time, we disagreed strongly with the party leadership yet aimed to reform the SWP from within. Only after realising that this was an impossible task did we opt to break away. There were three main reasons for our decision:

1) The party’s approach to propaganda and recruitment is so misguided that it does more harm to the socialist cause than good; its paper, leaflets, posters and slogans give the most unattractive image of revolutionary Marxism to potential sympathisers that could be imagined

2) The party’s general political perspective is completely out of line with reality; by exaggerating the scale and depth of radicalisation in Ireland and Europe, the SWP leadership is distracting attention from the work necessary to sow the seeds of a genuine revolutionary upsurge in the future

3) The internal regime of the party makes it impossible for SWP activists to correct the inadequacies of the party line; policy decisions are the prerogative of a self-perpetuating clique who discourage internal debate and isolate dissenters in order to prevent a meaningful challenge to their authority

A brief account of our experiences as SWP members will explain how we came to the above conclusions. We joined the party on arriving in college (or in one case a year beforehand) because we saw it as the natural home for hard-left socialists like ourselves. None of us became socialists because we were convinced by the arguments contained within Socialist Worker; we all made our own way to the far left, and had our own ideas of what a socialist organisation should be. It soon became clear that the SWP left a lot to be desired; however, we found the arguments of Socialist Review and the ISJ generally congenial and felt a broad affinity with the party leadership and its aims, even if we disagreed about certain tactical questions.

Genoa proved to be a turning-point, though not in the way we had hoped. The SWP’s full-timers came back from Italy convinced that the revolution was nigh and that it was necessary for party activists to shift up a gear and build a mass revolutionary party as quickly as possible. They also felt it essential to curtail any autonomy which had been allowed to branches in the past; a rigid, military-style discipline was now required for the tasks facing the party.

In September of last year the first of many blazing rows erupted when we questioned this analysis. After we argued against the idea that revolution was on the short-term agenda, and the ultra-left slogans and propaganda which accompanied it (we were particularly vexed by the needless proliferation of exclamation marks, as if revolutionary socialism could be sold by the same methods used to promote supermarket clear-outs), our commitment to the cause was questioned by two PC members. Reference was made to the recent expulsion of the ISO-US from the International Socialist Tendency (mystifying to us at the time, this now makes perfect sense, as we were unwittingly repeating the argument of the ISO almost word for word).

So our year was off to an inauspicious start, and matters quickly got worse. Our differences with the party leadership concerned two main issues: the paper and the party’s style of recruitment. As one SWP pamphlet put it, the party’s essence can be summed up in one sentence: sell the paper and recruit. It’s unfortunate therefore that their approach in these areas is atrocious. The Socialist Worker is a trashy, sensationalist rag, not a serious left-wing newspaper. Its editors ignore the most basic principles of journalism; there’s no distinction between reportage and opinion, and stories are written in a crudely didactic style which drives home the message with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Anyone who suggests a lighter touch is accused of wanting to dilute the SWP’s principles. We know many people through friends and family who’d like to buy a good leftist paper; none of them have any desire to buy Socialist Worker.

This would be bad enough in itself; but given the importance which the paper holds in the party’s activism, its dire quality undermines everything else. The jewel in the party’s crown should hardly be a lump of coal. Selling the paper is supposed to be the most important way of recruiting new members; if nobody wants to read it, a problem presents itself. Our solution was simple: we opted out of paper sales. This was greeted with near-hysteria by the SWP hierarchy. They were similarly perturbed by our criticisms of their recruitment style.

As soon as a person is foolhardy enough to tick the box reading "Yes, I’d like to join the SWP" and leave a phone number, they’re besieged with phone calls at all hours of the day and night urging them to attend a meeting/paper sale or whatever else. Rather than being allowed to find their own level of involvement, new members are immediately hassled into becoming full-time activists; the party leadership sends them out to sell papers and distribute leaflets before they even understand fully what the SWP’s politics are about. Many concluded that they had stumbled across some sort of bizarre religious sect and never came back.

The SWP’s approach to recruitment in broad, united front groups is similarly inept. In an anti-war group, for example, it’s quite easy to make the argument linking war with capitalism if it’s done well; but shouting a few slogans and standing outside the meeting afterwards selling papers is futile. This approach is particularly inappropriate in a college, where you’ll find the same faces coming to several meetings throughout the year. It’s possible to build up relationships with sympathetic people and convince them that socialism isn’t just for nutters. If they want to come along to SWP meetings, our posters are up and they’ll know where to go; constant pressure to join won’t do any good. Selling papers on such occasions would be perfectly acceptable if the paper was any good, but we’ve covered that ground already.

It should be noted that nowhere in this indictment will be found a questioning of the principles of revolutionary Marxism; this should be stressed since any questioning of the party’s tactical approach is usually met with irrelevant (not to mention impertinent) insinuations about the strength of the questioner’s commitment to socialism. It should be clear to any intelligent person that it is quite possible to be a committed Marxist while rejecting an evangelical style of recruitment (as it was described to us by a member of the SWP’s Political Committee during one discussion; this individual made clear his contempt for such a style at the time).

We saw recruitment and propaganda as tactical issues; there was no need to change the party’s ideology, merely its way of presenting the case for socialism. So we were bemused and increasingly irritated by the consternation which our arguments caused. "Sit-downs" became ever more frequent; this absurd ritual, whereby an errant party member is summoned for coffee and sternly informed of the error of his/her ways, is supposed to correct any deviation from the party line. It proved ineffectual because we argued back and declined to recant our heresies. The leadership were shocked by this response; despite their consistent failure to persuade us of the correctness of their position, they expected their superior authority to be sufficient argument. Dark mutterings went on behind our back; we were described as "reformists" and "indistinguishable from Socialist Youth" among other things.

After a few months of this, it was clear that UCD SWSS was regarded by the party leadership as a rogue branch; we later discovered that SWP members who came to UCD had been advised not to join us lest they be infected by heresy. When we ran a candidate for president of the Students’ Union, the only college branch in Ireland capable of doing so (and polled 40%), we were offered no assistance or encouragement from the leadership (although they did expect to be granted a veto over the manifesto). We were increasingly forced to ask questions about the party’s internal regime.

We were never given reliable information about the activities of other branches, let alone about the discussions they were having; we were only informed once of the time and location of a meeting of the party’s National Committee. No opportunity was given to us to offer constructive opinions about party policy (the details of which are rather obscure for the uninitiated); any attempt to improvise our own approach was sabotaged by ever-closer supervision of our activities. The party’s student organiser seemed to think it his business to attend meetings of united front groups in UCD and speak on behalf of our branch despite not being a UCD student; he justified this behaviour to one party member by explaining that he had to "substitute himself" for the student members.

Anyone with a smattering of Marxism should be familiar with Trotsky’s remarks about "substitutionism", remarks which seem remarkably apposite when considering the SWP. The party leadership decide what the SWP is to be, based on their close study of the first volume of Tony Cliff’s biography of Lenin (apparently all the knowledge which is required); a mould is constructed into which rank-and-file members must fit. No flexibility or autonomy can be permitted. So the ideal member of a "revolutionary" party is a compliant drone. Anyone who emerges from the rank-and-file membership confident and articulate enough to challenge the leadership is expelled; the infection is contained by the lack of horizontal communication between branches. The PC is a self-perpetuating elite, re-elected year after year; new leaders are co-opted, not chosen by the membership. The contradiction between this type of organisation and the SWP’s ostensible ideology ("socialism from below", remember) need hardly be stressed.

Since we began to question the nature of the SWP, the knowledge gained from our direct experience has been enhanced by research on the Internet, the fruits of which can be found elsewhere on this website. Briefly, the last decade has seen a rapid degeneration of the International Socialist Tendency; affiliated parties from New Zealand to the USA have been expelled for disobeying orders from London. Shortly before Christmas, most of the Belfast branch were expelled from the SWP for opposing these developments (no attempt was made by the PC to inform us of this decision; it would be surprising if other branches were informed either). Currently Alex Callinicos is conducting a shameful vendetta against the Zimbabwean ISO. The roots of this degeneration can be found in the ideas of party organisation formulated by the SWP’s theoreticians in the late sixties and early seventies. This was compounded by the adoption of a catastrophist perspective reminiscent of the third-period Comintern. The whole sorry story can be traced in the documents assembled here. The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that the SWP is heading for disaster and all serious Marxists would do well to abandon this sinking ship.

Despite its innumerable flaws, the SWP is the most prominent and active group on the far left both in Ireland and in Britain; until an alternative group emerges, it will continue to recruit idealistic young people attracted by socialist ideas and turn them into burnt-out cynics within a year or two. At a time when events in Seattle, Genoa, Palestine and Venezuela are leading more and more people to question the capitalist system, the ineptitude of the SWP is positively criminal. The task of creating an alternative home for socialists is urgent. Anyone who shares our views should get in touch.

Signed:

Donal Lyons, Daniel Finn, Ciaran Murray, Finbar Dwyer, James Redmond

(UCD SWSS Branch Committee

author by Paul Kinsella - Variouspublication date Sat Apr 27, 2002 18:53author email paulkinsella53 at yahoo dot comauthor address 53 Lorcan Grove, Santry, Dublin 9 , Eireauthor phone 087 - 9748511Report this post to the editors

This is a repeat posting.

author by AnAngryYoungManpublication date Sat Apr 27, 2002 19:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This isnt a repeat posting. Do you actually read Paul, or do you just look at the title and figure thats all you need to know?

author by KGpublication date Sat Apr 27, 2002 19:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It is good to see that UCD swss has broken away and have rejected the crude and sectarian methods of the SWP of 'recuit members and sell papers'. This method on the part of the swimmers has led them to seek to dominate various campaigns and abandon them when it suits them.

author by eamonnpublication date Sat Apr 27, 2002 21:43author email gumbridge at hotmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

as a student in ucd i did actually notice something of a difference in the activities of swp members out there.they were in general far less "in your face" than the average swp members that i've had the misfortune to come in contact with over the last 5-10 yrs.the reference to their evangelical style of recruiting is particularly applicable-they act like political jehovah's witnesses.
the thing is though, it's a bit rich the ucd lot coming out now crying that they joined a political party that turned out not to be what they had envisaged it to be.surely the relentless way that they were recruited should have set off mental alarm bells."sit downs" as they are called-the same thing except that's EXTREMELY fucking spooky and really should send anyone with an ounce of wit/independence of thought running for the hills
i don't mean to sound as though i'm crowing, but when anyone joins any political party/organisation, that in itself is an act of surrender of one's independence to a higher authority than the individual,and is fraught with danger,and leaves the person open to all sorts of manipulation by "others".
think for yourself ALWAYS and,literally, for the love of sanity stay the hell away from gsoups of people who, no matter how noble their aims may seem(as they all too often do),smell cultish,as the swp so obviously do

author by hydrarchist - slash.autonomedia.orgpublication date Sun Apr 28, 2002 06:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Quite a few ex SWM/SWP members are involved in the journal Red Banner. A shared reflection on your experiences might be of value.

Unfortunately most of those who leave are so embittered by the cynicism they experience that they never involve themselves politically again.

A similar situation occurred in Trinity in the early '90s where the branch was basically put on ice, as several members were accused of involvement with anarchist tendenciers etc.

Fair dues to ye.

author by Stuart King - Workers Power (Britain)publication date Sun Apr 28, 2002 21:14author email scking at gn dot apc dot orgauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

As someone who was expelled from the SWP in the mid 1970s the cdes experience sound all too familiar. I was a member of one of at least five or six factions and tendencies that were expelled from the SWP in the 1970s ( hundreds of members in total) . It was a time when the party regime moved to a form of bureaucratic centralism reminiscient of Zinoviev's comintern - it has only tightened up since.
It is a party regime and method of activity completely alien to the anti-capitalist movement of today and a complete turn-off to the libertarian and radical youth who should be being won to revolutionary Marxism - thus the stagnation of Globalise Resistance in Britain.
I have provided a link to an article about the expulsion of the American ISO. Go to www.workerspower.com, and look under analysis.

Related Link: http://www.workerspower.com/wpglobal/analysis.html
author by Jon Anderson - International Socialistspublication date Mon Apr 29, 2002 12:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What the UCD comrades are saying is horribly familiar. Granted that the SWM/SWP always had its flaws, the character of the party has changed so radically in the last 3 years or so it's hard to recognise any more.

The paper is a case in point, and as someone who wrote for it regularly I should know. Wild exaggeration of numbers, quotes from party members not identified as such, even outright invention. How can the paper advance the revolutionary cause when it is basically dishonest?

The paranoid authoritarianism of the PC makes it virtually impossible for comrades to try and correct overblown perspectives. Not surprising to hear that reference was made to the American ISO. Callinicos' behaviour has been an absolute scandal, and so has the Irish leadership's cringing before him.

But it's great to hear that not everybody in Dublin has gone along with the leadership's abandonment of Marxism. More power to you, and here's hoping the saner elements of the Irish revolutionary left can work together and build an alternative pole to this increasingly nutty cult.

Related Link: http://www.geocities.com/isireland/
author by anarchopublication date Mon Apr 29, 2002 18:49author email anarcho at geocities dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is a positive sign. However, it would be a
better sign if they questioned the whole authoritarian basis of Bolshevism and looked for
a real libertarian alternative, namely anarchism.

The fact that self-proclaimed Marxist parties can
operate in such anti-democratic ways (and for so
long) suggests that democracy and decision making
"from below" is alien to that tradition. Indeed,
this is to be expected as Lenin noted on numerous
occassions that "Only from below" was an anarchist
principle and that the organisational principle of
Marxism from "top-down."

With that legacy, can we be surprised at the bad
performance of the SWP/IST?

for more information on anarchism visit:

http://www.struggle.ws/wsm.html

http://www.anarchistfaq.org

http://www.infoshop.org

for an anarchist critique of Marxism try:

http://www.infoshop.org/texts/iso.html

Related Link: http://www.anarchistfaq.org
author by james redmond - socialist alternativepublication date Mon Apr 29, 2002 22:48author email antrophe at hotmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thank you to everyone who replied to the post, for your encouragement and support for the position and actions we have taken. While the previous documents reflect the opinion of Socialist Alternative, I can only speak in a personal capacity here and not for the others, I’m going to keep this brief and try to answer some questions raised.

“Excuse me for being cynical but why do these 'splits' always happen on the Eve of Major Anti establishment Mobilisations whether they be Anti capitalist Events or in this case today's Major Anti war Mobilisation in Dublin? This just proves the folly of relying on (Mostly) middle class Students to be the vanguard of the Revolution whether they be Leninist, Anarchist, Environmentalist etc, etc. At the end of the day these (Mostly) middle class Students know which side their bread is buttered on and they (Mostly) return to their comfortable middle class backgrounds and to hell with the Revolution and overthrowing the system and improving the lot of the masses.”-Very cynical and suspicious!

I can’t answer that question, I’ll just put it down to your cynicism and coincidence. We decided to go public with the split before the end of the college term, and as last Friday was the last day of the term, hence the announcement. I also disagree with relying on Students to act as a revolutionary vanguard, no one can act as a revolutionary vanguard. As the cliché goes, and it still rings through the liberation of the workers must be through the actions of the working class themselves. Unfortunately your description of students is a rather shallow analysis of the present situation. Students occupy a strange position in society, students come from a variety of social backgrounds, and all are not in college for the same reason, they are in college for a short period of time and may be more willing than other sections of society to put up with atrocious living standards due to the promise of riches to come. Students occupy a duel position, the majority are now forced to work to fund their education and as workers are subject to the same exploitation as other sections of the working class, student workers are also more disempowered as fragmentation of labour sees them working in shops, pubs etc and areas with an isolated work force, so there are no real union presence to fight their case, apart from USI and the pretty much useless dual membership of SIPTU. Successive governments seem only to happy to allow the continuation of student poverty as it feeds into the interests of business and the creation of a section of society forced to work in the low wage economy.
As stated the SWP has over gauged the depth of radicalisation here and abroad, this equally applies to the student movement. In UCD and elsewhere Unions remain dominated by rightwing regressive forces such as The UCD KBC, who rather than advancing the interests of students, building a fighting union or involving the mass student body in the activities of the Union they do all they can to disempower and sabotage the student movement, evidenced by the recent Fianna Fail coordinated attack on USI. Students, as eamann macann has noted are now engaged in a particular form of struggle, that of economic survival. I believe that we, like must activists should act in the sphere they exist in, I as a student should campaign on issues relating to students. Of course I should also understand the broader struggle of the workingclass as a whole and how we relate to that. It is a common struggle, the GATSif implemented will fuck over students, teachers, and other sections of the working class with the same ferocity, it is our collective responsibility to act wherever we exist in fighting off this encroachment of the market on yet another sphere of our existence.

‘There is nothing the SWP leaders fear more than the anti-capitalist movement.’-I am not an anarchist, I'm a socialist

Briefly, I think the SWP are particularly delighted with the emergence of the anti capitalist movement, as all revolutionaries are. Their actions in Globalise Resistance, as in other United Fronts, is similar to the operation of other groups and organisations, they attempt to inject their politics into the movement, attempting to pull it towards revolutionary politics as opposed to say arguing the case for fair trade. The problem with the SWP is that they don’t have the tact that other groups have, an intervention is not standing outside a meeting selling a paper as discussed previously. Anyway moving on quickly.


‘What kind of organisation will UCD Socialist Alternative be?
Will it be a broad group or will it maintain a distinct 'party line'. Will they link up with the expelled Belfast branch or the ex SWP Rathmines group? What about the sections of the IS in Greece and USA’-activist

At the moment we are basically in discussion of what form we will take, I can send you more information when it araises if you reply to my email address. Seemingly there was a socialist society in Trinity a number of years ago, that and its structure is something to investigate. A problem eith the SWP and the reason the SWP is always seeking to ‘raise the level of politics among its members’, is because the membership are not involved in the formulation of the party’s political perspective. Hence the need for constant weekly meetings, or weekend Marxist schools to keep the membership up to date on the latest diagnosis of the PC , perpetuating the image of the party as nothing more than what A ucd Comrade called once called ‘a talking shop for the intelligentsia’. The other problem with the way the SWP formulated party lines, was that it seemed to reinforce the top down model that was developing in the party, with the organiser coming out and explaining the party line, while we sat back like good little revolutionaries having our own perspectives and ideas ignored. It also created a sense of isolation, as membership felt isolated from the decision making process, a number of Swss-ies that dropped out of activism this year admit this too as a factor in their dropping out, if we formulate opinions somehow as a collective, then it would be all inclusive, maybe adopting some sort of adaptation of Platform Anarchist organisational structures is my suggestion, I guess just wait and happen. We are not going to have any formal link with any other organisation, though we may share a theoretical affinity. But we will continue to build resistance to the system with all on the left,a nd as a matter of course will probably work closer with people sharing an greater affinity with our ideas than others.

‘hower, "Keeping it loose" (organisation of the party, meetings etc. is undemocratic because strong speakers can take over meetings while a propper chair can allow everyone to have their say.’-mark

Yep, basically im in agreement with you, structure is necessary to counter the meergence of natral leaders who, if structures are absent, can not be held responsible to the broader body. This applies to GR, if there was some sort of coherant democratic structure, a lot of the paranoia and distrust around the group would dissipate.

‘Which Belfast branch of the SWP has been expelled?
Who were the members of the branch? When did it happen? What was the issues involved?’-puzzled

Check out http://www.geocities.com/isireland/ or a comment by Jon Anderson on this issue on the same newswire at http://www.indymedia.ie/cgi-bin/newswire.cgi?id=2732

thesocialistalternative@yahoo.com

author by King Mobpublication date Tue Apr 30, 2002 00:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

That was an eloquent well thought out and intelligent response, considering the emotions you'd be going through and frankly speaking from experience the almost cult like difficultly of breaking from the SWP. (Those face to face coffee "talks" are emotionally shattering)

Considering what you've been through I'd ask you not to hide from the SWP come to protests and meetings and continue taking part don't allow yourselves to be intimated or scared by the SWP

I can't help noticing how quiet the SWP are. And Paul despite your despite your ranting incoherant demands that these are just middle class wankers (and yadda yadda yadda you wrote the freaking post it SCREAMS you) these are commited individuals who are willing to defy a emotional spiderweb stranglehold (the SWP are a working class party me arse, by losing UCD the SWP have lost a Major base in their recruitment drive) I am to wander back to the point so very curious why the SWP don't feel that this is worthy of a response? Why they won't answer charges that the SWP are idealogical or tactically immensely flawed? Consistently the SWP have been attacked and consistently the SWP have slunk away from charges never answering them but merely accusing the "splitters" of being "sectarian" or "damaging the movement"

Now some of your own are screaming "J'accuse", fancy fessing up?

James again I admire you and your groups bravery, go forward now don't be affraid and don't slink from what you believe.

KM
-Be realistic demand the impossible-

author by I need a Catheter - damp crotchpublication date Tue Apr 30, 2002 12:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The SWP normally don't respond to attacks on them on the internet. Given the state of uk.indymedia and this place they'd be at it forever if they tried.

Akshully I betcha they're just waiting for this one to fuck off down the newswire and fighting back would just draw more attention back to it.

Dats the more senior people I'm talking about there. The ordinary members just don't know what the hell is going on. I meeeeeen do you really think that your average punter who joined up to fix the world gets told what is happening in anudder branch?

author by kompass - independent trotskyistpublication date Tue Apr 30, 2002 15:13author email kompass at end-war dot comauthor address California, USauthor phone Report this post to the editors

What are the politics of the group around RB? Do you have a mailing address, phone # and/or emailfor them?
Will SA be publishing or putting up a website?

author by james redmond - socialist alternativepublication date Tue Apr 30, 2002 16:33author email antrophe at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

yeah, we should be getting a website together soon, unfortunately only one of us have the technical ability to put one together, so it might take a bit, but we'll post out details on the usual mailing lists, or alternatively send a mail to thesocialistalternative@yahoo.co.uk. Like wise with any otehr questions.

author by james redmondpublication date Tue Apr 30, 2002 16:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

someone mentioned this group we havent heard of it, but if anyone out there is involved feel free to send us contact details or some literature. thanx.

author by Jim Monaghan - Independentpublication date Tue Apr 30, 2002 17:29author email jbm7 at tutor dot open dot ac dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

While at one level talk of splits is depressing sometimes it is the only way foward. The Caudillo and messianic approach is a major flaw of nearly all the Trotskyist groups.Different versions of "we are the way, the truth etc."
I have seen the Healyites, the American SWP( which I supported when it was sane) go the same way. A little bit of success and the leadership begin counting the days to the rev. I think the prognosis of the UCD people is correct there is not a rev. situation.This does not mean passivity but realism.
Red Banner which is not a group but a forum provides a necessary place for debate and exchanfges on the way froward. The pity is that a United approach would have given a shadow alternatibve in this election. Alas both the SP and the SWP in different ways did not see Unity as the strategic neccessity but as a tactic disgusing a raid.
Jim Monaghan
Not the one in Columbia but a somewhat tired Socialist

author by Brian Cahillpublication date Tue Apr 30, 2002 21:09author email nigel_irritable at yahoo dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Red Banner is a very good magazine. It's nice to have a non-affiliated left wing journal around. In fact its interesting to have a few magazines around on the Irish left. Most of them are even worth reading. The biggest problem they tend to have is regularity.

Come to think of it there seems to be a lot more in the way of left groups kicking around at the moment. I know that years ago there were a few more - the Young Socialists, League for a Workers Republic, Irish Workers Group, Organise and so on, but I don't remember any of them.

If the SWP keep dropping branches like it has for the last few years we could end up with quite a few groups. I'm not suggesting that would be a good thing, I hasten to add. I live in London at the moment and the sheer number of bickering left wing groups is beyond belief.

I'm not sure what that raiding exercise bit was about, by the way Jim. I never really understood your thinking on that "Socialist Alliance" fiasco.

author by Jim Monaghanpublication date Wed May 01, 2002 13:43author email jbm7 at tutor dot open dot ac dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

johnmeehan1@oceanfree.net


The above with Des Derwin and others is on the editorial board of Red Banner.There is a direct email but I have not got it to hand.I will puyt my thoughts together on the late lamented Socialist Alliance later.Tobe honest I think that if some of the current politburos had been around in 1917 Trotskys application to join the Bolsheviks would have been put on hold.
An Election campaign in which I will vote for the SWP but without the enthusiasm to work for them, not that they would even ask.
Was not the French election result for Arlette and the LCR great.Now Unity to smash La Pen.
Jim Monaghan

author by monkey man - 1st arts ucdpublication date Wed May 01, 2002 16:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

so we dissaffliated from the swp. when was this dicision taken and by whom? The committee40% in the election but we did not raise the abortion issue and had the l&h helping us. I'M SWSS

author by Hugh - UCD SWSSpublication date Wed May 01, 2002 18:54author email hugh.oconnor.2 at student dot ucd dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Lets get one thing straight. This was a decision taken by the commitee of UCD SWSS and no-one else. They did not advertise this 'meeting'. No emails were sent to the regular email list, no members were phoned.

5 people (the commitee) voted for this, one against. There are 130 on paper members of SWSS. Realistically there are thirty or so activists. No one was told about this AGM. This is dishonest and quite frankly absurd. I know at least 10 SWSS members who are outraged and are, like me, fighting to save OUR society. 6 out of 130 is not an acceptable turnout to demolish a society.

If the five have issues with the SWP/SWSS fine. Quit. I don't share your concerns and am not leaving with you. This is the majority consensus.

The issue here is the appaling coup style behaviour of secret meetings and the posting of this statement on the net for members to read about. That is to say the least, cowardly. Why not tell other members to their faces or at least send an email with the AGM's results. SWSS have met since the AGM on the grounds we had no knowledge of this meeting (if it ever actually took place).

I had the manners to tell Danny and Donal my opinion before posting it in public. They wouldn't do me and other long serving members that courtesy. Hoping no-one would spot it in exam time until it was too late is disgraceful behaviour.

I am still a member of UCD SWSS (we had a meeting on Le Pen last week, well attended,and none of the five had the guts to attend and at the least let us know the score) until a properly advertised AGM which is genuinly indicitave of membership is held.Until then, these guys have just quit on masse.

Then there is the logistics. When can we, the remaining majority, have our books, locker and money? That is how illconcieved this is. They still have a bookmarks stall, membership forms, papers etc!

If they want to form a new organisation, let them. But they have to break with SWSS, not ursurp fifteen years of hard work by students in UCD.

Shame on you lads.

author by Still SWSSpublication date Wed May 01, 2002 19:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Debate Starts here? I’m glad they acknowledge that, as it wasn’t debated amongst members of SWSS.
Its hard to know where to start with this. Firstly this split was a deeply flawed process. They accuse the SWP of being undemocratic, the PC being a ”self-perpetuating elite”, yet deliberately don’t involve members in the planning and execution of the split, which has been months, if not years, in the planning. How dare they lecture on internal democracy while not advertising an AGM as fundamental as this.
This is a hatchet job driven by personal feuds, not any deep seated political issue. Posting on indymedia prior to telling SWSS members of the split is disgraceful, and the behaviour of spoilt kids. Cutting through the bullshit, they simply do not get on with party organisers and are looking to justify this in Marxist theory.
There are a number of factual innaccuricies in their rant . “Most of the Belfast branch were expelled from the SWP…” One person was, on a behavioural issue, one more left. This happened years ago. The hyperbole is the only thing consistent in this rant.
“…SWP members who came to UCD had been advised not to join lest they be infected by heresy”. Who are you referring to here? Are we seriously to believe that members of the party were told to stay away from meetings? And they did?
They want to take their ball and go home. They disapprove of the quality of the paper, yet Danny who writes eloquently for UCD publications didn’t see the need to offer to write for the paper, or forward any suggestions for improvement. None of the five signatories felt any compulsion to share this diatribe with other SWSS members, or even in letter form to other comrades after they left. Was their unhappiness a big secret? That is what NC and the regular district committee meetings are for. If they felt dissatisfaction with party leadership, they could have discussed it with others in the party. Oh no, go out with a bang, shaft the likes of Terry Connolly who nearly killed himself building an organisation for you to destroy.
You have split the left in UCD, playing right into the KBC’s hands.But of course that was probably the point
Spoilt brats.

author by conor mc gowan - former ucd swsspublication date Thu May 02, 2002 20:43author email c_mc_gowan at hotmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

15 years hard work by ucd students?? yes
15 years of selling "socialist worker" recruiting
the masses and appealing to a wider student body?
-no
the issue of splitting has nothing to do with the
ucd swss members of 1987,or am i wrong?

author by Comrade Caz - Belfast SWPpublication date Thu May 02, 2002 21:27author email littlecazz at hotmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

"most of the Belfast branch were expelled from the SWP for opposing these developments (no attempt was made by the PC to inform us of this decision; it would be surprising if other branches were informed either)."

Wow. I guess the information you get about other branches isn't as patchy as you make it out to be. Certainly, I think most other branches were not informed of the Belfast split. In fact, as a member of Belfast branch SWP, I was particularly surprised by this revelation. Why, it had never occured to me that maybe I should count my comrades, in case vast numbers of them had suddenly disappeared overnight. I know I can be a little dozy at times, but I had always thought that I would notice if most of the branch got expelled from the party. Likewise, I think the Rathmines branch might be rather upset to find out that they've all been expelled from the party, given that on Saturday last they all seemed to be blissfully under the impression that they were still part of the organisation. Have any of you thought to tell the Rathmines branch that they've been expelled? No one seems to have had the guts to yet...

I don't know where this talk of a split in Belfast came from. The closest thing we've had to a split in the last year was in September, when Andy and Stewart, both long time members left us. Was it political? No - Andy was going to France to work with asylum seekers and Stewart was heading off to university in London. I mean, I know Belfast branch is a bit smaller than some of your Dublin branches, but 2 members doesn't really make "most of the Belfast branch". Maybe this communications thing is so bad that even the Belfast comrades haven't been informed that we've had a split...


"Listen, the only people we hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People's Front!"
"Splitters!"
"And the Judean Popular People's Front!"
"Splitters!"
"And the People's Front of Judea!"
"What?"
"The People's Front of Judea - splitters!"
"We're the People's Front of Judea!"
"Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front..."
"PEOPLE'S Front!"

author by Dan - Socialist Alternativepublication date Fri May 03, 2002 12:59author email rogerprotzlives at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

So the SWP have finally responded to our statement. First it should be noted that they havent answered any of the allegations we made about the SWP: that the party's internal regime is undemocratic, that it uses Globalise Resistance as a recruitment front etc. Obviously this is because these allegations are true and they have nothing to say in response.

Instead they attempt to distract attention from the real issues with shrill accusations of "undemocratic" behaviour on our part. The old saying about pots and kettles is barely adequate. Here's the facts: Hugh O Connor claims that there were "realistically speaking 30 active members"! As anyone involved in UCD politics could tell you, this is pure fantasy. During the course of the year 6 people were regularly involved in the branch (Comrade O Connor was not among them) and they all agreed to the split. Where are these "10 SWSS members" livid at our decision? Why havent they tried to contact us and express their anger? If the SWP was the sort of party which could keep 30 students actively involved in politics we wouldnt have had to leave. An AGM was held at which we agreed to split; incidentally the constitution of UCD SWSS describes it as a "non-party" group, so the link with the main party has always been a de facto, informal arrangement. No constitutional change was required; the Swappers havent a leg to stand on here. If they really cared about the views of their student members theyd still have a UCD branch. Oh well!

The other comments barely merit response. We didnt bring up our problems at NC meetings cos we were never told when or where they were on. Every full-timer in the party was perfectly well aware of our arguments after all the "sit-downs" wed been through. The other correspondent (obviously not a UCD student, despite the feeble pretence - is that you Grace Lally? Or if not why dont you sign your name?)claims the split has been "years" in the planning! Dear god these people are even crazier than I thought. I think Jon Anderson has answered the questions about Belfast quite adequately. As for splitting the UCD left: its now more united than it has been for years. Labour, SF, Socialist Youth and the Greens all got behind our election campaign; everyone is involved together in groups like Global Action. Theres a healthy, non-sectarian atmosphere; I suspect this is exactly what the SWP PC dislike so much. Our election campaign itself was criticised by "monkeyman" (oh dear!); well,why didnt you bring it up at our campaign meetings? Theres no point whining now.

I suspect everyone whos come into contact with the SWP will be familiar with their standards of honesty and judge these claims accordingly but its best to set the record straight anyway. It all just confirms what weve been saying about the party. Time will tell just who the "spoilt brats" are.

author by John Connollypublication date Fri May 03, 2002 14:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The SWP are trying to build a mass revolutionary party. Therefore we do ask people to join. If they decide not to then they don't, big deal. Is GR just a front for recruitment purposes, i don't believe so, my experiences in Galway do not lead me to believe so.
We have a paper that has news and views on many local, national and international events. We want to spread Socialist politics by using the news paper - if anyone doesn't like it because they think it has a crap writing style or they think the politics is bullshit then fine don't buy it, you will buy it if you want to, you won't if you don't.
got to go.
1 more thing, if UCD SWSS has quit, why were UCD SWSS meeting on Le pen last week or whenever?

author by conor - socialist alternativepublication date Fri May 03, 2002 15:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

its good the le pen meeting came up-its a perfect example of why we split/swapped.a swp member came out from head office to poster give a stall and organise a talk on the le pen issue-and in true head office style forgot that the 3rd s in swss stands for STUDENTS !! they also showed how in touch they are with STUDENTS that they diddnt remember that the STUDENTS have exams all this week.so im sure that the meeting was a buzzing hotbed of anti facist emotion full to the brim with an swp speaker and -6 people??
the point here that no one gives a fuck what happens in swss-thats no one in the 18000 or so people who live play study skateboard and work in belfield.oh im forgetting that "commitee" hugh refers to,yknow the undemocratic one,well hugh ,that "commitee" IS swss.they do the talks(the ones decided upon by head office)they attend the talk,they ask the questions to avoid the cringing silence of the disintrested "masses" who attend
.i was on the commitee-but opted out in about january-for all the reasons outlined in the statement and more.i will be in socialist alternative, i will be active (mabey even as active as hugh was in swss),but i sure as hell know i wont be selling that sensationalist piece of toilet roll ,that lends us(as in any self respecting socialist) as much credibility as a visit from tony blair.yes i agree the agm wasnt postered well,as a mainly outlying faculty student member ,i diddnt see any in earlsfort terrace,but then again im the only swsser in the terrace(thats a full 0.001% horray)- my point.
whats more ,of the broadly socialist(shit shouldnt i have "recruited" these PEOPLE)friends i have 4 yes thats 2/3 an entire meeting are more than interested joining in a genuinly hard left-non allaigned non dictated to headofficeless group.that wouldnt be swss then
im sure that the "spoilt brats" in kbc (some of them are my friends,how very nice of you) will see this as another step twoards that elusive dream of becoming an S.C or fianna fail td for laois/offaly - but that shouldnt concern us,-were going to have the best , free speakin ,hard left group in ucd,
and whats more,new members like me ,wont just fuck off every november

-thats something for the spoilt brats to think about

-conor mc gowan - 1st eng UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN i.e one of the students the socialist alliance will be recruiting

p.s. hugh- how many were there at that le pen meeting then?? tou forgot to say

author by John Cambell - Socialist Alternativepublication date Fri May 03, 2002 17:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Heres another voice from U.C.D.
I think its worth pointing out that Hugh's comments are seriously mistaken. 30 activists??? I have to say in my experience with SWSS I know of only four maybe five activists in SWSS in UCD.

Perhaps you can give the names of the missing 25?

Also, Hugh's suggestion that no-one would miss a large scale defection from the S.W.P. because students were sitting there exams is downright stupid, to say the least....

Ah well, Im another person who will be getting involved with Socialist Alternative next year and I look forward to working with those who truly wish for the anti-capitalist movement in Ireland (and abroad) to take off and not those who wish only to further their own Machiavellian desires......

author by Hughpublication date Fri May 03, 2002 19:05author email hugh.oconnor.2 at student dot ucd dot ieauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

My last post was a personal reaction, not an SWP statement, lets be clear on that.

A brief reply to some of the stuff levelled at me:

"Also, Hugh's suggestion that no-one would miss a large scale defection from the S.W.P. because students were sitting there exams is downright stupid, to say the least...."

The AGM results were not forwarded to anyone, first we heard about it was when it was posted the Friday before exams began. It was clearly done to stop the mass of members finding out about it.

Dan, was I not involved when I could, and did I not offer to give talks etc. on numerous occasions? Or was I kept out of the loop because you knew I wouldn't play ball on this.

I have a few questions for the five committee members and I hope them will try and answer them with some civility, not the personal attacks they are resorting to.

1: Why was the AGM not advertised to members? Why was nominal, if any, postering done? Did they deliberatly keep this to themselves as is commonly percieved?

2: Why were the results of the AGM not forwarded to members not at the meeting? Can I see a copy of the AGM report?

3: Why use indymedia to make a statement prior to contacting members?

4: Will the SWSS email pasword (which has recently been changed), member lists and phone numbers of members be given to a remaining SWSS member? Could they comment on the ownership of books and literature etc?

5:Are they willing to recall the AGM if more SWSS members than voted for the split ask them to? If not are they willing to at least sit down with those members cut of the society and explain their decision and the process that led to it coming into being?

Could all remaining SWSS members please get in touch.

author by Comrade Caz - SWPpublication date Fri May 03, 2002 21:02author email littlecazz at hotmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

"I think Jon Anderson has answered the questions about Belfast quite adequately"

Jon Anderson did not mention what you'd said about Belfast ONCE in his reply. Added to that, Jon Anderson has not been involved with Belfast branch for quite some time. Are you suggesting that Jon Anderson knows more about the party in Belfast than someone who is regularly active there, just because he agrees with your point of view?

You know what? I think you're embarrassed about this - which is why you are refusing to confront this glaring inaccuaracy in your argument.

To everyone who's reading - everything these people have said about Belfast branch is a complete FICTION, it's entirely MADE UP. That makes me wonder what other 'facts' you've made up in your argument.
If you have to resort to making things up to justify your position, I think that completely discrediits your argument.
How is anyone supposed to believe what you're saying about UCD SWSS when you make up facts and then won't admit when you're wrong?

It sounds like you're looking for excuses for your split, rather than presenting coherent reasoning. It sounds therefore, like you lot are a complete joke.

author by patrick o donnell - socialist outlookpublication date Sat May 04, 2002 11:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't think that this group have any real hope of doing anything. to me they sound nothing more than a drinking club 'wear(ing) a political t shirt and sacred college scarf discussing the world situation but just for a laugh'
I was in ucd 4 years ago when terry connolly run for su pres i think he got about 2000 votes, all on the back of hard work, he created a real buzz round the place. he had all sorts of people working around that campaign from scott miller(su ents) right through to some snotty student(me) big group. Swss meeting were large well attended over 40 people at most.( ididnt join cos i don't think what they say about the north is correct)no one back stabbing just poeople happy that made a difference. from attacking ahern right through to robbing a load of wine of the kbc (those pesky kids) all right i'm pissed after all i finished an exam but dont have on till friday. danny, conor, and that other bloke, terry connolly wasn't frightend to hand out smash capitalism leaflets unlike danny and the likes this freshers week. ah bless his little cotton socks.i wonder how does he feel about this?

author by Marc Mulligan - N/Apublication date Sat May 04, 2002 15:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As a political 'hack' in UCD I think its only fair to point out the Dan Finn, (one of the signatories), ran for the student union's presidency this year and got well over 40% of the vote. I believe there's an piece earlier on in the newswire about the election and the electioneering by Dan's opponant... (even myself, while not agreeing with socialism encouraged my friends to vote for him) - I even had a poster of him in my window in Res.

Dan also managed to attracted a wide campaign team, from Socialist Youth to Sinn Fein, Labour Youth, and aside from politics attracted the campaign teams of 3 other candiates when the Presidential election was postponed
see http://www.geocities.com/finghin2000/syucd/news/260202b.html for full story
Not only this but this is the first year that any socialist force was felt on the S.U.'s Council, and this has to be acredited to the 6 ex-socialist workers (4 of whom signed the original article). From what I've seen at council these people are less then introverted and have no problems about making their arguement heard (even if its less then popular - halting site on campus anyone?) and by argueing have attracted a sizeable following on council. They even had a college paper come out in direct support of Dan (an un-precedented move), and somewhat better then when the national party got disciplined for using college facilities illegaly ( my favorite S.W.P. quote - "if you want us to give you an official line, it's we know nothing about it")

To imply that the lads in U.C.D. are timid or cowardly when they've made a lot of noise all year beggers belief. I have to wish them well and hope they keep making things difficult for the KBC.

Related Link: http://www.geocities.com/finghin2000/syucd/suelections.html
author by Donal O Liathain - Socialist Alternativepublication date Sun May 05, 2002 01:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Firstly Im sorry to disapoint you I wont be raising any grand political arguments, but just a couple of things I've noticed while reading this.

Hugh, to start off, I smiled and thought of you today when I noticed an S.W.S.S A.G.M. poster still up outside the union shop... also the statement refearing to us "keeping this (the AGM) to themselves as is commonly percieved" just one question, who sees it that way? Anyone bar yourself and the P.C.?
Your 2nd point is fair enough, maybe an AGM report should have been sent out, but seeing as the e-mail list is largly defunct because Rory took the contact details and although was asked many a time, never produced them for us to update details, its funny though because Grace's Aoife's and Rory's e-mails are all on the list - although they're not students of UCD - or in fact have ever been..... strange

Point 3. Indymedia was used as the most convienient way of notifying the anti-capitalist population of Ireland, and as the "technicaly aware" one it fell down to me and as the e-mail list was too far gone to save I decided to post it here. Also , leading nicely into point no. 4 the email password was changed because a certain libertarian-communist UCD student had guessed the cunning password and was causing alot of grief for the group. Hugh, you might have heard about this if you came to the organising meetings, but by all means I will hand over the e-mail account to you, and you can go through the tedious process of unsubscribing the account for various advertising lists. As i said before we've never had the contact details for the members, this naturely made it very difficult for us to organise any major event. Im also glad you raised the point of books, technicly the society is owed over 100 euro, as money was indeed given to a student organiser but no books were ever recieved. In fact our treasurer is still awaiting a explanation about that money.
A second AGM immediatly seems a reasonable request, that is of course if I didnt have personal experience of being 'requested' to come to certain meetings to vote for a 'suprise' motion. Fine tactics to be sure, even the government use them.

Another question I have to ask is to Parick O'Donnell. You've never met us, youve never talked to us, you admit to leaving UCD 4 years ago, but yet you feel confident enough to judge us not only politicly but personly. (UCD has a scarf?!?!)
I have to congratulate you on stealing wine from the KBC, and I hope you'll congratulate us on 'stealing' council from the KBC, 'stealing' all (but one) sabbatical positions from the KBC, 'stealing' ahead of Sinn Fein and Fine Gael to become the second biggest political society in UCD, 'stealing' the Art's block vote, Social Science vote, Law vote and a number of other faculties from the KBC. Not as much fun as drinking wine perhaps but it does give you a warm glow in the stomach none-the-less.

Oh and even Rory, with his selective grasp on reality will tell you that I along with others were more then happy to recruit people on Fresher's week.......

One last thing, by the way by the friendly use of Dan's name - he is after all DANIEL Finn in the statement - you'd swear that you'd been talking about us with someone else, perhaps someone in the SWP?

Well I must go back to my studies (sigh - another late night for me) I hope certain things have been answered and Im sure I'll hear from you soon

author by Donal O Liathain - Socialist Alternativepublication date Sun May 05, 2002 01:01author email IthinkIm at bigfoot dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Firstly Im sorry to disapoint you I wont be raising any grand political arguments, but just a couple of things I've noticed while reading this.

Hugh, to start off, I smiled and thought of you today when I noticed an S.W.S.S A.G.M. poster still up outside the union shop... also the statement refearing to us "keeping this (the AGM) to themselves as is commonly percieved" just one question, who sees it that way? Anyone bar yourself and the P.C.?
Your 2nd point is fair enough, maybe an AGM report should have been sent out, but seeing as the e-mail list is largly defunct because Rory took the contact details and although was asked many a time, never produced them for us to update details, its funny though because Grace's Aoife's and Rory's e-mails are all on the list - although they're not students of UCD - or in fact have ever been..... strange

Point 3. Indymedia was used as the most convienient way of notifying the anti-capitalist population of Ireland, and as the "technicaly aware" one it fell down to me and as the e-mail list was too far gone to save I decided to post it here. Also , leading nicely into point no. 4 the email password was changed because a certain libertarian-communist UCD student had guessed the cunning password and was causing alot of grief for the group. Hugh, you might have heard about this if you came to the organising meetings, but by all means I will hand over the e-mail account to you, and you can go through the tedious process of unsubscribing the account for various advertising lists. As i said before we've never had the contact details for the members, this naturely made it very difficult for us to organise any major event. Im also glad you raised the point of books, technicly the society is owed over 100 euro, as money was indeed given to a student organiser but no books were ever recieved. In fact our treasurer is still awaiting a explanation about that money.
A second AGM immediatly seems a reasonable request, that is of course if I didnt have personal experience of being 'requested' to come to certain meetings to vote for a 'suprise' motion. Fine tactics to be sure, even the government use them.

Another question I have to ask is to Parick O'Donnell. You've never met us, youve never talked to us, you admit to leaving UCD 4 years ago, but yet you feel confident enough to judge us not only politicly but personly. (UCD has a scarf?!?!)
I have to congratulate you on stealing wine from the KBC, and I hope you'll congratulate us on 'stealing' council from the KBC, 'stealing' all (but one) sabbatical positions from the KBC, 'stealing' ahead of Sinn Fein and Fine Gael to become the second biggest political society in UCD, 'stealing' the Art's block vote, Social Science vote, Law vote and a number of other faculties from the KBC. Not as much fun as drinking wine perhaps but it does give you a warm glow in the stomach none-the-less.

Oh and even Rory, with his selective grasp on reality will tell you that I along with others were more then happy to recruit people on Fresher's week.......

One last thing, by the way by the friendly use of Dan's name - he is after all DANIEL Finn in the statement - you'd swear that you'd been talking about us with someone else, perhaps someone in the SWP?

Well I must go back to my studies (sigh - another late night for me) I hope certain things have been answered and Im sure I'll hear from you soon

author by Dan - Socialist Alternativepublication date Sun May 05, 2002 14:15author email rogerprotzlives at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Ok,this is getting tiresome so ill keep my remarks brief. First of all id like to point out that the SWP have still failed to respond to any of the accusations we made in our statement. Theyve had more than a week now, so if they continue to decline the challenge, this must be taken as an admission that everything we said is true.
In fact the only specific accusation that has been answered is the one concerning the Belfast branch. Weve since been speaking to some of the ex-SWP members in Belfast and it seems we were somewhat mistaken; rather than kicking them all out at once, the PC forced the dissidents out over a period of months, some resigning, some being expelled. Of course I only have their word for this, but my experience leads me to distrust anything the PC and their acolytes say; since we were never informed that there was ANYTHING going on in Belfast, i cant say i find their version of events convincing now. When the ISO-US were expelled, the British SWP concocted all sorts of outrageous lies about their behaviour; since weve left, head office has been coming out with similarly preposterous stories about us.

Secondly, most of the correspondents defending the official line have accused us of "personal vendettas". In fact youll search long, hard and fruitlessly to find any personal abuse or insults in our documents; this is far too serious a matter for puerile name-calling.

Finally id like to bury this laughable "30 active members, 10 of whom are indignant about the split" story once and for all. If there really are ten such individuals, why havent they posted their comments on indymedia? So far weve had several pseudonyms used by people who are quite obviously SWP full-timers and one guy who says he left UCD four years ago, two years before any of us came here. If any of these 10 members would care to post under their real names, we can check in the membership book to see if they ever joined UCD SWSS (cos they certainly havent been coming to our meetings). If they dont, then I guess this means they dont exist.

Unless the SWP see fit to engage with our actual arguments, instead of coming out with meaningless insults (one day were anarchists, the next day electionists - make up your mind comrades!), I wont be responding to whatever else they put up here. Id rather get on with the serious work of discussing what the anti-capitalist left in Ireland should be doing, and leave the Swappers to their stick-bending.

author by Brian Cahillpublication date Sun May 05, 2002 15:12author email nigel_irritable at yahoo dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

I like your email address, Dan. I wonder how many people outside of some of the older SWPers get the reference?

Protz was a former editor of Socialist Worker in Britain and a leading member of the International Socialists. During the 1970s the IS, which was incoherent and not particularly effective, but which was open and fairly democratic was transformed into the SWP we now know and love.

Wave after wave of expulsions took place as internal democracy was destroyed. In the process many of the sects littering the British left were created out of purged monorities and the tiny industrial base which had been painstakingly built over the previous years through rank and file work was obliterated.

One of the purged splinters called itself the International Socialist Group and was led by Protz and Jim Higgins, the former National Organiser of the IS.

Higgins actually wrote a book about his experiences called "More Years for the Locust". It is one of the funniest books ever written about the British far left and is of great interest to anyone who wants to understand how the SWP came to be the way it is today.

The book's weaknesses are political. It glosses over the earlier purges when Higgins and Protz stayed in the organisation, which might lead the uncharitable to think "live by the sword..." It also works from a fundamental premise that the real problem with the SWP is that it is led by people who aren't as nice as Higgins and Protz. It almost certainly isn't, but that doesn't mean that a "nicer", more democratic SWP would be particularly useful either.

Nowadays Protz is the leader of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, which is all very worthy but not terribly political.

author by Jon Andersonpublication date Tue May 07, 2002 14:52author email isireland at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is getting very tedious but since an anonymous poster purporting to be from the Belfast SWP has mentioned me as an unreliable source I thought I should set things straight.

I assume "Comrade Caz" joined the SWP after I left it (Feb 2000) or he/she would be well aware of what used to go on. I may not be privileged with knowledge of current discussions in the Belfast SWP - though I am familiar with their public activity - but you'll concede that comrades who are no longer in the party at least know the circumstances of their own leaving.

Briefly, the then Northern organiser and a few cronies were running a Nixon-style "enemies list" directed at anyone in the branch who disagreed with the leadership, who was suspected of disagreeing with the leadership, or who they just didn't like. As far as I am aware the PC in Dublin had zero problem with this.

The tactics will be familiar to comrades in Dublin. Withholding of information. What information we did get was often as not false or distorted. Character assassination. Outright lies. Personal attacks on long-standing members - not the occasional casual remark, but vendettas going on for months on end. For most of 1999 the atmosphere in the branch was so poisonous it's a miracle we could function, especially as the "enemies of the party" tended to be the most consistently active members. And as I've said, formal expulsion procedures were not gone through.

The theory seemed to be that there was a "conservative block" holding the party back. If only the "conservatives" and "sectarians" were got rid of, and the energetic new members (who were used as a Red Guard element against us) were given the lead, then the party would go forward in leaps and bounds. As the British CC has been claiming "massive opportunities" exist since at least 1988 this is a fairly common justification for purges. Whether it worked is another question - my impression is not.

Politically speaking, I would argue that I didn't leave the SWP but the SWP left me. If SWP members think the best way to demonstrate solidarity for Palestine is to picket Jewish-owned businesses then they bear little resemblance to the party I joined and spent years helping to build.

"Comrade Caz" (whoever he/she may be) could have easily found this out by asking me. And while current members of the Belfast SWP who were around at the time may give a very different version, it should be clear that quite a number of long-standing members left and there were political issues involved. If anyone is spinning a fiction here it is the SWP PC who continue to insist that NOTHING happened in Belfast. Just as they insist that in Nov 98 they didn't say the Irish economy was on the brink of collapse (the "Making the Turn" document) when it went on to have three years of the highest growth in the world.

Now do you want to tell us about "policing the police"?

author by Deanpublication date Wed May 08, 2002 22:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You left then, so who was expelled ? Or did the SWP in Belfast leave them aswell?

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