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Socialist Worker - Solidarity or Misinformation?

category dublin | bin tax / household tax / water tax | opinion/analysis author Thursday September 25, 2003 19:33author by Bin Tax Hater Report this post to the editors

The latest issue of "Socialist Worker" contains a number of articles about the bin tax and about the imprisonment of Joe Higgins and Clare Daly. There's something strange about the coverage though.

The names "Joe Higgins" or "Clare Daly" appear nearly 40 times in the latest issue of the SWP paper. At times the coverage almost turns Joe into some kind of secular saint.

One thing is strangely missing though. Despite all those mentions of their names, never once is the party affiliation of either Joe or Clare mentioned.

We are told how wonderful they are and we are told that they are socialists. We are also presented with many cut out forms imploring us to "join the socialists", by which the paper means joining the SWP.

Now forgetting to mention the fact that Joe and Clare are in the Socialist Party might be understandable once or twice. Nearly 40 times in one issue of a paper and it can safely be said that a conscious decision has been made.

Anyone who has picked up an SWP leaflet since the jailing of the two Socialist Party elected representatives will see that the pattern continues there. "Free the Socialists!" demand the leaflets and they finish with more offers to "join the socialists", again meaning the SWP.

It is clear that the SWP are engaging in a rather cynical attempt to associate themselves with Joe and Clare.

What makes this all the more unpleasant is that Joe and Clare have fought long and hard to get the right wing media to stop referring to them as independents or just as "socialists" without mentioning their party affiliation. To have a left wing organisation come along and do its best to distort that issue again while they are in prison is shameful. Particularly when that left wing organisation hopes to gain from the distortion.

Joe and Clare need every bit of solidarity they can get. That doesn't include attempts to distort who they are, what organisation they represent or what they stand for.

If the SWP is going to produce leaflets or a newspaper talking about Joe or Clare, the least they can do is pay them the respect of making their real political affiliation clear.

author by Socialist Partypublication date Thu Sep 25, 2003 19:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

25th September, 2003


Joe Higgins infuriated over Begg's "Stab in the back".

Prison rules do not allow Socialist Party T.D. Joe Higgins to speak to the media
or issue Press Statements.

To-day Joe Higgins expressed his frustration at being gagged but told a
Socialist Party Colleague Mick Barry who visited him in Mountjoy that he was
"infuriated" over the attack which ICTU General Secretary David Begg made on
the Anti Bin Tax Campaign.

He said that Mr Begg's statement was a "deliberate stab in the back to the
hundreds of thousands of working people and their families in the Greater Dublin
area who are demanding the immediate suspension of the non-collection of refuse
bins from householders boycotting the bin tax and the abolition of the tax in
favour of proper funding of local authority services from the taxes workers pay
Government."

"Who is Mr. Begg representing?" Joe Higgins asked. "The big majority of the
trade union membership affiliated to I.C.T.U. have through their National
Conferences adopted a clear policy of opposition to double taxation in the form
of local taxes. So Mr. Begg's attack is expressing his view and not that of the
membership he is supposed to represent."

Joe Higgins said it was "an incredible situation that not only is the Anti Bin
Tax Campaign under attack from the Government, and from leading members of the
so called Opposition in the Dáil but now the leadership of the trade union
movement, flying in the face of its membership is prepared to be a mudguard for
the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrats Government."´

Joe Higgins told his visitor "Is it any wonder that with the leadership of the
Irish Congress of Trade Union in its pockets, this Government can feel free to
give massive tax breaks to big business while piling on a plethora of stealth
taxes on ordinary working people; can abolish the first time house buyers grants
while allowing obscene profiteering in the housing market create endless misery
for the scores of thousands now priced out of a home".

Joe Higgins said that Mr. Begg tried to raise the issue of proper funding for
local authorities but his attack on those fighting the bin tax means the
Government has no problem carrying on hitting the usual suspects for taxation.

Joe Higgins accused Mr. Begg of "gross dishonesty" in alleging that the Anti Bin
Tax Campaign might cause privatisation of the bin collection services in Dublin.
"The reality is that the dozens of local authorities which have privatised
domestic refuse collection did so after they had forced a bin tax regime and
browbeat households into compliance."

"In any case Mr. Begg has no moral authority to speak as an anti privatisation
champion having been himself a willing tool in the preparation of Telecom
Eireann ? a vital national asset ? for privatisation a scheme which burned
thousands of small people conned into purchasing shares.

Joe Higgins accused Mr. Begg of feebly attempting to justify the bin tax in
environmental grounds. "Mr. Begg falls for the line that the bin tax is a
serious environmental policy ? in fact it is a substitute for a policy and in
reality a crude revenue raising measure.

Finally, Joe Higgins asked, "after 16 years of so called partnership between
trade union representatives, government and employers, it would seem that Mr.
Begg doesn't remember who he is supposed to defend or represent. If he couldn't
bring himself to articulate the feeling of the majority of trade union
membership in opposition to the bin tax, he should have chosen a shamed silence
over open treachery".

author by Paddypublication date Thu Sep 25, 2003 20:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Bin Tax hater makes a fair point, though the SPs paper usually fails to mention other left organisations, even if the article refers to activity that they are involved in.

However, much worse than the SWP trying to cash in on the jailing of Joe and Clare, is the current tactics of that party viz the bin tax campaign. While they constantly claim to favour blockades, they have consistently tried to stop such action in Dublin City. They are trying to stop more militant areas such as Cabra, Finglas, Liberties and Stoneybatter from engaging in temporary solidarity blockades of bin trucks. The real reason for this is not, as they claim, that we should wait until non-collection starts before blockading (which is a defeatist attitude that will leave people unprepared when this eventually happens), but that with the exception of Ballyfermot, they have been incapable of building genuine mass campaigns in working class areas. At least two recent Dublin activist meetings have been packed with mostly middle class SWPers claiming to represent areas where they have no popular base. Ballymun is a case in point: here the SWP have failed totally to mobilise people, holding public meetings which attract a few dozen, and failing to organise any street blockades at all. Meanwhile, in sharp contrast, down the road in Finglas and Cabra huge meetings of hundreds have been held and blockades are happening weekly, because the various left activists (SP,WCA,WSM,ISN)in those areas have managed to build real mass campaigns.

Now it seems the SWP want to control these militant areas through the 'central committee' and prevent or at least discourage street blockades, though its obvious the more militant areas will just ignore them.

Before you jump in complaining about SWP bashing, just to point out that Paddy has never joined in the usual childish attacks on them even if he dtests aspects of their politics. But this is different coz we are in the middle of a fiercely fought battle and the position they've adopted is dishonest and defeatist.

author by Mags - WCApublication date Thu Sep 25, 2003 20:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Especially...

"Now it seems the SWP want to control these militant areas through the 'central committee' and prevent or at least discourage street blockades, though its obvious the more militant areas will just ignore them."

Did anyone else see the hilarious leaflet the SWP were pushing on normal people outside the jail an Monday night? It had the usual preachy "What must be done" section instucting us (in semi hysterical language) on how to run the campaign. The first item was about the need to "go into the communities to organise public meetings and explain why the Bin Tax must be opposed".

The laughter this little homily provoked at least kept the cold out of our bones for a few minutes. Of the 4,000+ people present all but about 150 were easily recognisable as normal working class people from Dublin communities. That is because the campaign has been organising in those communities for the past 18 months. Just because the SWP has had minimal, or in the vast majority of cases, no involvement in the campaign they think they can then waltz along and 'take leadership of the struggle'. They can f*ck right off.

author by pt - sppublication date Thu Sep 25, 2003 22:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

none of us would really expect the swp to advertise another party in their paper, what we need (easier wished for than done) is a paper all the parties and groups could write for, like a printed indymedia. But in the end party political paers are just that, party papers.
still they could mention us once, they have done before. on the other hand we don't excatly mention them much. in the end if a patry has 12 pages a fortnight much more can't be expected.

author by BTHpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 01:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What it comes down to pt is this:

The SWP are presently celebrating Joe and Clare over and over, 40 times in their paper and in every single leaflet. Yet despite all that they refuse to mention that Joe and Clare are in fact in the Socialist Party. In fact they are doing their best to confuse and hope that people will think that they have something to do with the jailed pair.

This is dishonest. It is frankly disgusting.

author by Sinbinpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 04:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

They jump on every bandwagon going, Palestinians, Iraq, everything. They flood all these meetings with paper vendors and giant banners so the passerby would think they had organised the whole thing, to the detriment of these causes usually.

They're parasites, no other word for them.

author by mattpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 10:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The claim that 'left activists' such as the groups mentioned are responsible for the anticharges campaign in Finglas and Cabra is laughable. If they all combined have more members than initials in the two areas combined I would be astounded. The 'working class' doesnt need you idiots to tell them how to 'organise' no more than it needs a few middle class SWP students and lecturers to play Trotsky to their 'toiling masses'. Oh, and by the way, in case you failed to notice, the major left group in the areas concerned, as in all of the other Dublin City Council areas is the Republican Movement but unlike the micro groups referred to, it doesnt need to be constantly trying to persuade itself and others that it is the font of all wisdom and unlike the others its membership is actually comprised of local activists. Maybe that is why SF is popular and has councillors and TDs and mass working class support of the level that is the stuff of adolescent fantasies by the "revolutionary left".

author by republican - .publication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 11:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

provisional sinn fein didn't support blockades in the first place, whatever about the swp if Joe Higgins at all hadn't started the blockades provisional sf wouldn't have done it. Not to mention the obvious fact they have introduced bin chargs where they are in power and didn't turn up for the dublin city council meeting.

author by mattpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 11:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Get your facts right "republican" (which group of hoods do you support by the way?). Sinn Féin have not introduced service charges anywhere, and have voted as a group on Dublin City Council against the charges on each occasion they have arisen. The only party on the Council to have a consistent position on the issue. I think one of the four Councillors missed one vote over two years ago due to unavoidable circumstances. Would appear that you along with your other irrelevant splitters are obsessesed with the same thing - using the campaign to undermine support for Sinn Féin - unsucessfully by all appearances. Just another service provided for the people who pull your strings.

author by Chekov - WSM & anti-bin chargespublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 13:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Somebody has to book the rooms, put the posters up, co-ordinate with other areas, propose the blockades and so on. The reality of the situation is that this often falls on the shoulders of experienced political activists. While the various groups mentioned above do indeed have tiny memberships, they have all done very valuable work in building a real fighting campaign on the ground in working class areas. Nobody is suggesting that they are the campaign and if they were the whole thing would be squashed in seconds. However, to dismiss these activists as 'idiots' does you no justice whatsoever.

On the other hand you claim that SF are the campaign, so what are ye doing to oppose non-collection?

author by Misinformationpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 14:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I noticed that about Socialist Worker too. At first I thought it was funny but then it started to wind me up a bit. How can a paper give detailed coverage to events surrounding two elected representatives and fail to mention what party they are in? FORTY TIMES!

The SWP are hoping that some people might buy their paper or pick up their leaflets and then make the mistake of thinking that Higgins and Daly are in the SWP.

I would like to hear an alternative explanation from the SWP or a defence of their conduct but I doubt if we will ever be presented with one.

author by Could it Bepublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 14:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Apparently the 5 Catholic Worker ploughshare activists facing a maximum of 10 years imprison for their didarmament of a US war plane at Shannon (& chasing 3 US cororations out of the country transporting troops through neutral Ireland) have been told by SWP members that there is no room on the platform for them at Satrurday's peace rally.

What's the motive to marginalise these people who were not mentioned form the stage on Feb 14 while they were in Limerick prison?

Could it be the SWP fear of alternative leadership in the movement?

Could it be the total lack of mutuality that it is associated with the SWP body-snatchers etc etc

author by Badmanpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 15:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

They seem to hold the naive view that they are about opposing the war and imperialism. We all know, however, that they serve the purpose of building the profiles of our wannabe leaders.

author by Killian Forde - SFpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 15:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A bit of balance and factual information is needed here.

SF did not vote for/support the introduction of bin charges in Dublin City Council. - EVER.

SF have been active on and with the various anti-bin tax campaings. Speaking fromm my own point of view, my own cumman made up half of the activists who blockaded a truck on Monday in Donaghmede. This was the first and only blockade in Dublin north east to date. We have also hawked in the estate the memeberships, done information leaflets and we always passon peolle who wnat to get involeved with the campaign the name of the lcoal co-ordinator, whose party affiliation I don't know but am aware it is not SF. I have no desire, inclination or ambition to run or control the local campaign.

I am aware that Dessie Ellis in Finglas and Daithi Doolan in Ringsend and SF activists have been to the forefront, organising events, blockades, pickets, of the campaign in their areas. In addition Dublin South Central SF and Cabra have been both visibly and logistically fully behind the campaign. In other areas where we are strong in the city I am not up to date where they are at.

SF put down ninteen amendments, two of these were related to bin charges, to the Envioronment Bill 2003 during it passage through the dail. All of these were defeated by the establishment parties.

SF support and member base is strongest in Dublin City Council, the steering committee of the dublin campaign is split about what steps need to be taken next, and have constitently said that it is up to local areas to do what they theink it is appropaite. In some areas the local SF organistion do think solidarity blockades are a good tactic, in other areas, they think the support locally is not their and so haven't taken that step, seeing it as divisive and counterproductive. We see blockades as a issue of tactics not principle.

SF has a very small presence in Fingal and we have played a limited role in that area. That said I know of members who have partaken in blockades in both Santry and in Dublin 15.

The SP did lead and do most of the hard work in Fingal.

The SWP have been active and to the forefront in areas of Dublin south central, Dublin South East.

(I don't know enough about the who, what, hwo many and where of the other left groups to comment. Sorry!)

The thread above is really quite pathetic, have we forgotten who we are targeting, is it the PD and FF our is it each other? Do people really think that SF are pro-bin tax or are people so blind, vindictive and lets call a spade a spade, envious, that they have convinced themselves they and their group/party are the "truth" they are "the oracle of the working class" or are they just politicing? All fighting over the crumbs of public support discarded by the establishment?

author by SFpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 15:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Killian, what you have just produced is a fantasy.

Sinn Fein voted for the tax in Sligo in return for having a go at being mayor. Then they voted for it to increase.

In Dublin, half the Sinn Fein councillors failed to turn up for the vote that introduced the bin tax to the Corporation area. This was precisely predicted by the anti-bin tax campaign before it happened - in print - as it was well known that a deal had been cut between all of the parties to get the tax through.

That is a very bad starting point to SF involvement in the campaign. Over the following years, with the almost solitary exception of Dessie Ellis, SF stayed entirely clear of the campaign and of the hard work of actually trying to build non-payment.

Since the blockades in Fingal and the jailing of the SP reps catapulted the issue to national prominence SF have become a bit more involved. So far so predictable.

SF have played no role in the blockades in Fingal. They have taken part in some - not many but some - of the actions that have taken place elsewhere.

Those are the facts about SF involvement in the campaign. The question is what are SF going to do now? Are we going to see are real involvement on the ground over the days and weeks ahead or are we going to see the usual turning up with a few placards whenever there might be cameras around?

You would be well advised to put a muzzle on the likes of matt. Those of us who have actually been involved in the campaign over the years know the truth and matt's yapping just makes you look sillier.

author by pat cpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 15:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have been on depot pickets with dessie ellis & other SFers. Christy Burke had a reason for missing the vote, he had a long standing committment to represent his local AA at a conference. If you are saying that there are no circumstances in which any councillor should miss a vote on anything then, a lot of records could be examined.

some people seem to be using the bin tax threads to bash SF & SWP, that is not going to help the anti bin tax campaign, Joe & clare or the SP.

if SF are not so active in Fingal then it may be that they do not have so mant members there.

i was on a picket in stoneybatter yesterday morning, 5 WSM and 1 SP member were present among the protestors. this doesnt mean the SP are inactive in stoneybatter, it just represents the balance of forces.

author by Joe Macpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 15:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

All so dull and predictable. The micro left fighting amongst themselves to decide who are the champion campaigners on the bin charges. What's the prize and how do we measure it. Whos been at more meetings, put up more posters, handed most leaflets, stood at more picket lines blah, blah, blah. One might ask what the micro left have done on a whole array of issues at local level across the city but frankly I couldn't be arsed. And we wonder why the majority of working class people vote for Fianna Fáil.

I live in Finglas and I know the work Dessie Ellis has done on this issue and a whole host of other issues, bin charges being just one of many. Dessie will be there long after the Chekovs or "republicans" of cyberspace have departed to fight the next great battle on behalf of the working class. I know who i will be putting my faith in.

author by Chekovpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 16:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You can f**k right off. I have not had a go at anybody over any of this nor have I claimed that any particular group has done the most of anything, if I'm wrong please set me straight.

The attacks on this thread came from a couple of (probably SP) people having a go at the SWP and SF. Then a couple of SF people having a go at the 'micro-left'. So why the f**k are you having a go at me?

You may say that working class people should put their faith in Dessie Ellis rather than any micro-leftie. I'd say that they should put their faith in themselves and most certainly not me or any other micro-leftie or any SF fixer for that matter. That is what the bin tax campaign is all about if you ask me.

author by Historianpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 17:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Actually this thread was started by an anonymous person, giving out about the SWP's dishonesty over Higgins and Dalys' membership of the Socialist Party. Fair enough I would have thought.

Then somebody (Paddy?) agreed that this was bad and started detailing their behaviour at the last couple of City area meetings. I don't know how accurate what he said was but Mags from WCA agreed with it.

Sinn Fein weren't even mentioned in this thread until an SF supporter (Matt) started laying into the activists involved in the campaign and making all kinds of odd claims about how great SF is.

Predictably given SF's patchy record people responded angrily to Matt until you got randomly abused by some SFer. Caught in the crossfire, Chekov but I wouldn't be so quick to absolve SF from responsibility for this bunfight. Matt was the one who provoked it.

author by pat cpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 17:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

i wasnt criticising chekov, mags or paddy; they all made valid points. but others on this thread and elsewhere are making attacks which are not helping the campaig, joe & clare or the SP.

author by Killian Fordepublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 18:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I wrote a factual piece on Sinn Fein and bin charges and you said;

"Killian, what you have just produced is a fantasy."

I would appreciate if you point out to me where my post is a fantasy. Point out in what I "just produced" is a lie, stretching out the truth or, even a opinion. i.e where is the fantasy in what I have written?

I remember the same kind of shit being thrown at SF by the SWP and the SP during the anti-war stuff. And also the SP were throwing a load of crap at the SWP during that campaign.

As an observation, I remember the bitterness being shown by SP members because Richard Boyd Barrett, who showed himself to be an articlate and credible spokesperson, was garnering headline and airtime. Contrast that with the manner that the SWP have engaged on the anti-bin tax campaign despite the publicity and credit being monopolised by SP.

On a final note let me give you another FACT a TRUISM.

"Sinn Fein have the most consistent and credible opposition to service charges in the 26 counties. Our record stands second to none."

author by Chekovpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 19:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

To be honest I don't care who has had the most consistent or credible record on the bin-tax. We are in crisis mode at the moment. If non-collection is not faced down, we are going to lose, simple as that. There will be plenty of time after the campaign for parties to crow about their record.

What I would like to know, though, is what SF propose to do now about non-collection?

author by Killian Fordepublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 20:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Chekov,

Thanks for the civil reply!

Your question is a bit of a $64,000 one. From what I can see the anti-bin tax campaign has drifted off message and become an issue of civil liberties and parity of treatment. This is, in my opinion laubale, valid and neccessary. However it does seem that the fingal campaign has...well..sort of ran out of steam. The blockades appear to have stopped and the council are, as far as I can tell, freely implementing their plan.

I can't tell you what SF are actually going to do, as whatever we think has to be done can only be effective if endorsed and supported by residents. I think the jailings have really knocked the wind out of people, in my own area, at a meeting held on weds before the jalings the crowd was militant and agressive, people agreed with the ida of blockades. Over the weekend I received a phone call from a residents committee member to tell me to tell the local co-ordinator they would not be taking part and that neither would any of the residents. The end result was that only 6 persons turned up on monday morning at the blockade . 4 of these were party activists, one the local co-rodnator and one local resident.

Now in areas where the campaign is strong, such as the liberties, crumlin, cabra, finglas, ringsend, ballyfermot etc the campaign, the activists and their resistance could act as a catalyst to the rest of the city. Could that is, but I think the DCC manager has thought long and hard about this and as such will, chop off areas as he goes along.

If we accept that the legal options, leglastive and parliamentary options are exhausted, for now, or only hope is a grassroots working class led resistance that HAS to be co-ordinated. In areas where SF are active we are advocating non-payment and membership of the campaigns. With regards to blockades we view that as a tactic and not a principle (in abscence of any unambigious direction/advice from the steering committee). Blockades whilst full collection is occuring, is in my view, a mixed bag, they might act as a rallying point for local communities or they may just alienate and confuse people. We all have to get clear on blockade policy and disseminate that to the communities that we represent or active in.

That said without a clear co-ordinated stratedgy mapped out, the city council campaign will fall arse over elbow.

In short SF will be active on the ground within, and in places leading, local campaigns against DCC policy. On a legislative and parliamenatry level aside from recorded support and sniping at FF/PDs there is Fuck all that can be done to reverse the bin tax- the numbers and influence are simply not there. In addition there is ongoing meetings and discusions with the unions to try and encourage them to come out stronger and in the case of the bin workers unions for the union to clarify their position and support to their workers.

Chekov, we are willing to play out role as individual activist and a party to contribute to the defeat of the tax, but without more coherent and honest discussion on stratedgy taking place, I see a situation where isolated pockets of resisitance are simply dealt with one at a time by the city manager's office. I would like to ask you the question - what do you think SF can do to assist the battle against the bin tax?

author by Anonpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 20:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The reality is that SF have been doing very little on the bin tax, except show up at the big meetings and portests and pickets and try to pretend that they have been the main orgainisers. Dessie Ellis has in fact been arguing against blockades and has only gone along with them because that has been the decision of the people in the communities. He is backing the SWP and the likes of Dermot Connolly in trying to stop blockades and has been arguing that we should all wait until non-collection begins in your local area. In otherwords let Fingal stew and get defeated while they wait until the battle comes to them!

author by Blockaderpublication date Fri Sep 26, 2003 21:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The blockades in Fingal have not stopped!!!

There were at least three there yesterday. I don't know about today but there will be more on Monday.

It is true that the residents there can't continue to blockade most of the service every day. The struggle - meaning the blockades - has to spread or we will all be defeated.

Dun Laoghaire / Rathdown Council could be implementing non-collection from Monday. Alternatively it could just be a feint in that direction as the City Council have tried. Either way we need to spread the action.

The Fingal campaign has organised dozens and dozens of blockades, some lasting for more than a week.

The other campaigns need to DO SOMETHING! Some of the more militant areas of the city campaign have organised a few solidarity blockades. That is the right tack to be taking but it is only the start.

Anyone arguing for the other campaigns - and in particular the city campaign - to sit back and wait for their own council to move and to have a nice big protest in the meantime is arguing for the isolation of Fingal and the eventual defeat of all of the campaigns.

I don't care if the person arguing for that is Dessie Ellis or from the SWP or anywhere else. It is an argument for defeat.

author by sp - sppublication date Sat Sep 27, 2003 03:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the only comment here by an sp member said he wasn't bothered about the swp paper not mentioning us. Then the rest of yes started fighting, don't blame us for this one chekov!
We're out doing our bit and none of us are giving out about anyone. Did joe not get visited by members of SF, the Greens and even Labour! We welcome sinn feins involvement in the campaign and anyone elses. this way we can win. On the SWP I have personally spent days with an swp member in fingal so they are active there.

author by john throne - labors militant voicepublication date Sat Sep 27, 2003 04:53author email loughfinn at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am very interested in the idea raised by PT-SP in this thread that the left in general needs to have a paper, sort of like a printed indymedia he/she said. I think this idea is taking up the issue of the anti capitalist forces putting their resources together to try and help the working class movement go forward. In this anti bin charges struggle we can see the possibility that exists if the various anti capitalist forces take up the issues that are most immediately confronting the working class and take them up in a direct action fight to win manner.

It seems to me to be pretty clear that the SP has been very central to this struggle and they should get the full credit for this. It is similar to the anti water charges struggle and the role played by the SP which if my memory is correct was the basis on which Joe H got elected. The SP came out of the water charges struggle with increased authority and influence. In my open letter to the SP I raised the idea that the SP missed a real opportunity at this time. From that base of increased authority and a platform in the Dail I suggested that the SP should have launched a struggle for a united front of the anti capitalist movement throughout the country. Instead the SP decided that while it would take part in united front work on specific issues that its approach on the wider political front would be to ask people to join the SP and leave it at that. I think this was a serious mistake.

Now with the anti bin charge struggle and the role the SP is playing a similar opportunity to that which existed after the water chanrges now exists. The SP will have increased authority coming out of this struggle. How will it use this increased strength. This idea from PT of the SP about a paper for all the left is very encouraging. I would like to suggest that the SP membership now open a full and democratic discussion about its responsibility to develop a united working class front to take the movement forward. I would like to also suggest that SP members consider again the open letter that I wrote to the SP and to consider does it not make a lot of sense in the present situation. A great deal of scorn was heaped on this letter in relation to my idea that there are hundreds of activists and people who want to fight back in the Dublin area alone. I would like to suggest that the anti war movement and the present anti bin charge struggle shows that i was not so far wrong .

Below I enclose a part of an open letter to the left movement in Chicago. This regards a proposal for a bulletin to be produced by all the left anti capitalist forces in the city and surroundings in an attempt to reach out to the mass of the working class. I hope that readers consider it is relevant to the situation now facing the SP and the anti capitalist forces in general.

Finally a concrete example from Chicago which shows the serious weakness of the left movement because of its inability to work together. It was recently announced in the bourgeois press here that the local utilities robbed the gas consumers of the Chicago land area of $236million in the winter of 2001 to 2002. Dan labor the group I am active with proposed to the anti capitalist forces that we put our resources together and take up this issue. That we print a few million flyers on this robbery and get them out to the working class in the area. That we identify the companies and the major individual share holders of the companies who made this decision to carry out this robbery. That we organize a boycott of these companies and individuals in a struggle to get the money back. If the hundreds of anti capitalist individuals in Chicago had been prepared to work together on this we would have been able to begin to connect with the mass consciousness in the area. Instead each little group went their own way and another opportunity was missed.

I enclose the concrete suggestions we are making here for a bulletin of the anti capitalist forces and how we are trying to bring this about. I hope it will be of interest to the activivts in Ireland.

I would like to thank PT of the SP for raising this issue. And I would like to ask SP members and others to consider once again the suggestions I made in my open letter of last November.






Part of an open letter to the left activists and organizations in the Chicago area.

It is to this small number of individuals that I wish to propose a discussion with a view to seeing if we can work together in a more coordinated way toward a number of related objectives. One would be to begin to connect with and build links with wider layers of the working class around a series of basic ideas that would connect with the workers consciousness and movement and assist it as it struggles to move forward. Another would be to assist the new anti-global capitalist forces to develop more of an orientation to the working class. And another would be to see to what extent the principled forces within the revolutionary movement from different traditions can work together at this time.

In looking at such an effort, it should be recognized that there is a wide gap between the mass consciousness of the working class and revolutionary ideas and organizations. Not that this gap could not be bridged rapidly on the basis of great events. However it exists at the moment and unless it is recognized attempts to build fighting anti-capitalist alternatives in the working class would come to nothing.

My suggestion therefore is that we discuss taking the following steps:

Begin the publication of a one page, two sided bulletin which would be based on the following three basic ideas, or three points of unity. Around this bulletin we would attempt to engage in a dialogue with the layers of the working class and youth we could reach, and from this try to help develop some forces for a fight back against the capitalist offensive.

Points of unity.

1. We live in the capitalist system. This is ruled over by the capitalist class which constitutes a dictatorship over society and the basis of this dictatorship is the exploitation and repression of the working class. The problems that working class people face, the exploitation they live under, the problems of human society and the planet in general cannot be resolved within the context of capitalism. Therefore we are opposed to capitalism and committed to fighting to end it. We are anti-capitalist.

2. Only the working class has the power to end capitalism and build a new society. Here in the US the working class is potentially the most powerful force in society. However the working class is not conscious of itself as a class or of its own power. We believe that the working class has no common interests with the capitalist class and therefore we stand for the working class to organize independently as a class in order to fight for its own interests and to confront in struggle capitalism and the capitalist class. We oppose all attempts to divide the working class along racist, sexist, nationalist lines. We are for the working class organizing independently and uniting to fight for its own class interests.

3. The struggles of the past decades have been defeated because they have been led by or fallen under the influence of forces that base themselves on capitalism and in cooperation with the capitalist class and with the offensive of capitalism. They see no alternative to capitalism which they defend and from which they draw many benefits. This is what has determined the strategy and tactics of these elements. We stand instead for a strategy and tactics that would mobilize the working class to confront and throw back the offensive of capitalism and in its place open up a new offensive of the working class. We oppose the idea of ineffective protest. We stand for a program, strategy and tactics which will aloow working class people to fight and to win.

These are the three basic ideas which in may opinion would be essential to any working class current which sought to seriously challenge the capitalist offensive at this time. I may be missing something and I present these three ideas for discussion. Hopefully they will be given a good kicking and shaking, and improved or added to in the process.

What activity would I envisage we could take on? I propose that initially we would cooperate in producing a bulletin. This would be small, the two sides of one page. It would be produced regularly and would be distributed free. The main points of distribution would be in and to workplaces, working class neighborhoods, and el and bus stops. It would also be distributed in the different workplace and neighborhood struggles and anti-global capitalist actions and anti-war activities and where possible in the various activities in which we are all involved. It would be circulated as widely as possible via the internet. I just read that 5,000 Enron workers have set up a list serve and a web site. Our bulletin should be on places like this.

The challenge facing this bulletin would be two fold in my opinion.

1. It would have to be able through its tone, content and presentation to make contact with the existing consciousness of the more conscious and thoughtful sections of the working class. If this was not achieved then the project would fail. Speaking personally I would put up a hard struggle to try and ensure that this bulletin spoke in the language of the working class. Part of the challenge that I see, and the excitement that I see in this project is to be able to express these points of unity in words that have workers saying -- that is right. And hand the bulletin on to their friends saying, have a read at this. What they say is right.

I would see the bulletin having a name which would be an expression that is used daily amongst working class people to draw attention to something or to introduce a discussion. I want to emphasize that I am not proposing any of the following. I am just trying to give an example. I do not think I am sufficiently rooted in the working class to be able to propose the best title and I am also from another country and culture with different expressions.

But for example the name of the bulletin should be along the lines of “have you see this” or Read this’ or Read this dude” if I could think of a non-sexist word instead of dude. All these ideas are inadequate. They do not have the precision, they are not sufficiently of the consciousness of the workers. There has to be some expression rooted in working class language which would have workers when they see it think that it would be natural to read it and that it would make them want to read it. The name should have workers reaching out for it and saying let me have a look at that.

I am better equipped to say what I would oppose in a name. I would be utterly opposed to anything along the lines of For a workers revolution, or even worse, god forgive me, For a proletarian revolution”. The name of the bulletin would be important for a number of reasons. It would have to connect with the existing consciousness. Discussion on a name would help show if we had unity on one essential premise of the project. That is making a connection with the existing consciousness. It would also be a discussion to some extent about the existing consciousness.

The content and the headlines would also have to be able to make contact with the existing consciousness. Take for example if we had had such a bulletin in the past weeks. I would envisage the main headline would deal with Enron. And I think the worker’s quote where he said”The lesson of Enron is that you cannot trust your company” should have been the main headline. Along with the name the headlines should be such as to draw the reader to read the bulletin and not to attempt to stick the conclusions we draw down the throat of the worker before he or she even decides to read it.

I would envisage that the points of unity would be printed in a small box in each issue and that we would not have article after article ending in the same conclusion. Rather that the contents would in general point towards the conclusions of our points of unity not beat the worker over the head with them to the extent that nobody would want to read the bulletin. I would also envisage that the bulletin would have material on all aspects of working class life and would also include humor. Not cynical jokes at the expense of capitalism at which nobody ever laughs, but humor that makes people laugh and makes people think.

The struggle to achieve this connection would have to be counter-balanced with the struggle to get the basic ideas of our points of unity across. There would be little point in connecting with the consciousness if we did not have something to say which would contribute to the evolution of that consciousness. For example in the uprising in Argentina a participant was quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying “the capitalists came in the 1990’s and took everything and left the Argentine people with nothing”. I would feel that this would have been a major headline. I would envisage using every opportunity to let workers and others speak our conclusions.

When O’Neill, the corporate thug who is presently secretary of the treasury was asked about Enron he said it was “part of the genius of capitalism”. Again here is the opportunity to discuss capitalism through others words and to drive home one of our points of unity that we live under a system and it is capitalism and that it is a sick system.

On the other points of unity I have suggested The working class needs to organize independently and fight back and and needs to soberly assess the balance of forces and from this fight on a program, strategy and tactics that can win. These points also would have to be explained in the language of working class people. Especially in the actual language of people who are involved in struggles or have been involved in struggles, themselves.

The struggle would be to get the balance. To be able to connect with the existing consciousness and to be able to get across the basic points of unity that we want to campaign for. This would involve a genuine dialogue with the working class and a genuine examination of our own consciousness and emphasis and history. As well as everything else this should be fun.

I have suggested the areas of distribution that I envisage. These are broadly speaking to the working class in general. But we have to be more specific if we can. There are many levels of consciousness in the working class. All I would feel confident to say at this time is that I feel that the bulletin would be aimed at the most thinking, sober and combative sections of the working class. But this is very general at this time and I believe necessarily so. One reason for this is that in my opinion it is not possible at present to point to a layer of workers who are in struggle and who make up an evolving combative cutting edge.

There are many workers who have drawn conclusions from events who would agree in general with the points of unity I suggest above and who are not involved in any way in struggle at this time. This is due to the balance of forces in the unions, the balance of forces between the classes in society at this time, the defeats of the past etc. At the same time there are new layers coming forward into struggle such as the meat packers in St Paul and the Little Village struggle in Chicago who are combative but who at the same time have not drawn the lessons of the activists who experienced the defeats of the past twenty years. And there are the new youth activists who have great audacity and willingness to struggle and who in many cases, though by no means all cases, are prepared to identify and openly oppose capitalism. But who, with important exceptions have very little experience of the role and history of the working class movement and in particular the role of betrayal of the leaders. In the struggles to come there will be an increased differentiation in the working class and anti-global capitalist forces. This would help us identify the most combative sections and where we should concentrate our distribution and intervention.


Flowing from the production and distribution of our bulletin I suggest that we would organize a forum every month. This would be aimed at bringing together those we reached in our activity. These fora would not be held to discuss the differences between the various Comrades involved in the bulletin project. They would be held to discuss the issues that workers and youth activists bring up as we meet and discuss them. Discussions for example between socialism and anarchism should not have a place in the bulletin or the fora in my opinion. Of course in the fora this could not be rigidly adhered to as activists who come may raise these issues. This should not prove to be a problem if we were agreed on the overall project.

If Comrades wanted to discuss these differences then a separate venue and place should be organized for this purpose by these comrades themselves. I believe an important part of this work will be to allow us to work together even though we come from different revolutionary traditions and none. And I would look forward to discussing the issues. However this would not be a part of the aims and content of this bulletin and the fora. If it was in my opinion it would make the project a failure from the beginning.

I belong to the small group Labors Militant Voice which I help to build. I consider myself a revolutionary socialist. I help produce and sell our small magazine. Amongst the Comrades i am asking to discuss this issue are members of other revolutionary organizations and none. Some have been in revolutionary organizations in the past which come from a different tradition some have not. I would envisage that at our fora all newspapers of the revolutionary groups involved would be openly displayed for sale.

I would envisage where the issues come up naturally in discussion we are entirely open with workers what our ideas are. That amongst us there are different ideas and traditions but that we agree on the points of unity etc. One question which may come up in Comrades minds is what happens when workers and activists ask us what is our alternative to capitalism when there are comrades from an anarchist and socialist tradition. What do we say in this case.

In my opinion and this is only my suggestion. that as this is an area where we do not have agreement then we leave it partially open. We explain that as far as the specifics of the new society we are not agreed. However I believe that we can go a little further on this. I believe that we can say that there are some general principles of the new society on which we are agreed. We agree that the new society has to be based upon and organized and run collectively by the working class itself, and that its objective would not be profit for the few but the necessities of life for all. These would be the principles we believe should shape a new society.

We can quite openly say if this comes up that there is disagreement amongst us as to how that society would be organized and that we hope that this issue will be clarified by events and also that these new workers we are discussing with and who would be asking us these questions will help clarify this issue for all of us. Each of us would be completely free to explain our own view on the specifics while saying that around our bulletin project there are different views. I would not see that any thinking worker would be put off by such a response.

I believe that those who would be prepared to be involved in this project at its early stage would be small. I am trying to discuss this with a small number of comrades in the Chicago area and one in South Bend at the moment.

I believe that working together and producing the bulletin and discussing the dialogue that we are having with the working class as we distribute the bulletin will lead to a better understanding of our different views and the possibilities for this project. In the course of getting this process of the ground I would suggest that the decision making process would be based on the idea that everybody has one vote but that one or two people can block any decision.

Comrades I feel it will be clear that the production of a bulletin and the holding of a monthly forum is not the final result that I would hope would come out of this project. For me real success would be if in the process of this initiative we can come together sufficiently to engage in some struggles. If we can link with struggles or even initiate some struggles based on the approach summed up in our points of unity this would be the real success.

I hope that this project which would start out small and which inititially would be mainly an exercise in working together in the distribution of material mainly of an agitational and organizational nature and holding an increased dialogue with the working class, would begin to assemble some forces which could help in the struggle to halt and throw back the offensive of capitalism and through successful struggles begin to open up a new offensive of the working class instead.

All of us are involved in areas of work to which we have committed a lot of resources and time. I would hope that by working together in this project a few things would happen. We would hopefully learn to trust each other more and we would learn from each other. We would increase our contact and dialogue with the working class. And we would on this basis either intervene in or initiate some struggles along the lines of our points of unity and this would be a factor in helping lay the basis for a new movement.

Comrades I was extremely frustrated in the past weeks, The Enron collapse was unfolding, the Argentine uprising was taking place, the war in Afghanistan was becoming more complicated for the Bush regime. Argentine workers were saying the capitalists took everything, O’Neill was saying Enron showed the genius of capitalism. An Enron worker said the lesson of Enron was do not trust your company.

I have a small magazine but this could not connect in any way with any numbers of workers on these issues. I hope we can begin to fill this vacuum that exists and which allows capitalism through its media and system to have the monopoly in framing the issues and drawing the conclusions.

Over the past years i have been frustrated many times in meeting workers who through struggles have drawn important conclusions concerning the role of the corporations etc. But these workers in the main have not been prepared to join a revoltionary organization with a worked out alternative theory etc. I have had nowhere for that these workers to go and to organize. I would hope that this initiative with its anti-capitalist working class based policy of struggle and fighting to win can begin to help resolve this problem also.

Sean O’’T.

Related Link: http://laborsmilitantvoice.com,movementsforsocialism.com
author by pt - sppublication date Sat Sep 27, 2003 13:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

you're wrong about the water and bins. After the water charges joe higgins became a well known figure but the party itself did not. We were always the socialist party, joe higgins TD. This time though the party has been in the newspapers almost daily. I think this is a much more important breakthrough. Some of the things you wrote in your last letter weren't really relevant. It is very common in Ireland for independents to be elected Joe for the first four years was seen as an independent. Only at the time of the afghan and iraq wars did we begin to be seen as a party and really now for the first time we are seen as a party. You were a little premature with the letter.

We are respected by community activists everywhere we work but bot so much by other politicos, for a number of reasons. national question being one. and anarchists for obvious reasons. some of the newer activists because they see us as old fashioned and boring.

On uniting the left I don't know if its possible at this stage. I mean you've seen the sort of infighting that goes on here. And the anarchist groups will never join us thats for sure. The only hard left group who are willing to join with us is the SWP. there are some problems though with there methods, they have a habit of taking over and alienating people.

We though would have no problems with the unemployed group and the ISN and the workers party.

On campaigns definitely we will work together with all the groups and well as in this. but a general campaign would be more difficult. Most of the anarchist type groups are organised around the grassroots gathering. And generally they look down there nose at us. Alot of the indymedia people see us as some sort of leninist cult.

A printed indymedia is probably the only way the left will pull off a united paper. I can't see the parties and groups pulling it off. On the other side theres the shinners and greens. But we don't know quite what way SF will develop, but we've a fair idea. And the greens when it comes down to it aren't solid. Look at this (the bin)issue, also prominent members having millions in oil shares while opposing the iraq war!

Its easy to write left unity but when you look at it concretely the anarchists and the fashionable types won't have anything to do with us. The SWP we have problems with as much for methology as anything. I think politically we could sort out differneces. They'd probably change their positions if we asked.
And the shinners and greens I've already said.
We don't have the huge amounts of groups you have in America or Britain. here in reality a socialist alliance would be us and the SWP. And then I'm sure the workers party and ISN would come in.

But for me one of the problems of a socialist alliance is you can spend to much time concentrating on other socialist groups and individuals and get mixed up in intrigues and infighting while completely ignoring the outside world. The SA in england has become this. Something which turns up a few weeks before elections and then dissappears. This won't work.
The SSP on the other hand built up roots and got positions as Scottish Militant Labour before launching the party. Then they were able to attract people. The SA had nothing between them at the beginning apart from a few Socialist Party councillers and since then its even lost them. They have very little to offer.

What we need to do is build roots in working class communities and in the trade unions first. We are doing this but we are far to small.
We could join with the SWP, but theres also the big problem of trust. Would it be another front (of a special kind) or would it be a serious alliance. I've worked with them before so I have my reasons for mis trust. It would really be bad if we made a mess like in England.

These are some basic problems but I'm open to suggestions. We can work together on concrete issues but changing this to general issues is difficult. Just calling for committees isn't enough although its a start. We need much more concrete ideas.

But John at this point people will concentrate on the bins then I predict a rest and the next thing that the SP and SWP and WP will be looking at will be the local elections. If we are successfull in these it would be an excellent time to launch an inititive.

For an election alliance I honestly don't think its necessary. The SWP called them selves SOcialist rather than SWP in the last election and we didn't clash, and i don't think the average punter will know the difference. Some see it as cynical, but in my experience the hard left only wins positions by hard work rather than a name so it won't make much difference.

Anyway in short, its a good callbut you need more concrete ideas. Also it would be interesting to hear from anarchists if they would be willing to take part in any united front with the SP. I doubht it to be honest.

author by pt - sppublication date Sat Sep 27, 2003 13:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

heres an example of some of the problems we would have to deal with on unity, note the arrogance of the report. This is a quite common attitute to working class politics from some of the newer activists. and look how angry it made the bin tax campaigners.

http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=61244&results_offset=60

author by Badmanpublication date Sun Sep 28, 2003 15:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the poster said nothing about the campaign or the working class. He said the speeches were over long and boring. 99% of the working class people there thought the same. Guess what, nobody but the extremely brainwashed thinks grandstanding speeches are great entertainment. For your information the poster is more 'working class' than 99% of the socialist activists there.

author by honk honkpublication date Sun Sep 28, 2003 16:05author address author phone Report this post to the editors

'Anarchist look down there noses at us'

Its a mutual veiw from the perspective of our differing ideologies. Its not personal. yet(?)

author by Gavin - Independantpublication date Sun Sep 28, 2003 21:49author email gavindryan at hotmail dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

There is no such thing as a sure thing in life, but if there was it would be left-wing sectarianism, suspicion and hair splitting. At a time when the government is trying to steam-roller over opposition it is comforting to know that we still know how to divide and be conquered.
Are the S.W.P trying to promote their own party?
Do the Socialist Party try to promote theirs? Yes, of coarse they do. Both parties are equally sure that they have the answers and both are made up of hard working people with belief and integrity. At the risk of sounding like a watery shite could they not just kiss and make up.
Long live the Peoples Front of Judea, down with the Judean Peoples Front.

Amen.

author by Bean Counterpublication date Mon Sep 29, 2003 17:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Quite right about Socialist Worker but here is a suggestion

1. Go to http://www.socialistparty.net/bintax/index.htm

2. Count the number of times organisations apart from the Socialist party are mentioned in connection with organising blockades (answer = 0)

3. Count the number of times the Socialist Party are described as the main organisers of the campaign (true only in Fingal). (answer = ?)

Draw your own conclusions on the subject of cynical party building.

author by pt - sppublication date Mon Sep 29, 2003 23:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

he didn't slag off people read it again buddy and read the responses. Bored cause we wouldn't storm the joy!!! Us Poor innocent working class people scared of you crazy masked blackblockers. We're so naieve and innocent! its the most arrogant and disrespectful article i've seen in a long while.
He turns up for a march every may and then turns up at a 3 year old campaign which is dealing with serious problems from the police, like jailings, and sniggers his way through. Just keep up your attitudes it does wonders for everyone. And it is frankly an embarrassment to everyone involved. its just the middle class kids that the right wing press want to find to discredit the campaign.

author by pt - sppublication date Mon Sep 29, 2003 23:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

judge the party on its record nothing more or less. we have helped the campaign alot but we could never have done it alone, we could never have blockaded a single lorry without local people being involved. We have been saying this from the beginning to the right wing press and critics on indymedia from the beginning. People aren't stupid they know who are involved and who aren't. Nobody can pretend to have done something they didn't. its stupid and doesn't work.

author by Bean Counterpublication date Tue Sep 30, 2003 11:47author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In that case you should find it very easy to give us the URL of one page on the SP site that mentions other organisations involved in the campaign. Or are you now pretending it is just the SP and 'locals'?

author by john throne - labors militant voicepublication date Tue Sep 30, 2003 21:22author email loughfinn at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thank you PT-SP for your reply. There are many points in it that are undeniable. For example there are the problems with all the left groups working together that you point out. However I think that to approach the issue from this starting point is to retreat in front of the sectarianism that is so prevalent in the left and so damaging to the working class struggle.

I would like to suggest that we approach it instead from the point of view of the needs of the working class and the resources that exist. I believe that the dominant feature in the world and Irish situation is the offensive of the capitalists against the working class. I also believe that the main need of the working class is to halt and throw back this offensive. I believe that the battle against the bin charges is part of this halting and throwing back of the offensive. The SP and the other groups and individuals and the sections of the working class involved in this have to be congratulated for their struggle. If it wins it will help demonstrate that the capitalists offensive can be defeated and this in turn will help build a new movement of the working class.

My first concrete suggestion for the SP is that on the basis of its increased authority arising from its role in the bin struggle it put this general idea across to the working class. That is that as the bin struggle ends it move for a series of public meetings around this idea and invite other groups and activists and the bin charge committees to help organize these. In other words it carry out a propaganda campaign to explain the nature of the capitalist offensive and how the day to day attacks flow from this capitalist offensive and it involve the active sections of the working class and the various left groups to assist in organizing such a discussion.

That the second point that the SP put across in these series of meetings is that the union and social democratic leaders, with one or two honorable exceptions, are cooperating with the capitalists offensive. That no help can be expected from these people so what is necessary is the building of a movement in the neighborhoods and workplaces to take on and throw back the capitalist offensive. And in this way the SP challenge all forces on the left to unite in this struggle.

You will probably say Comrade that the left groups with one or two exceptions will not agree to this. The anarchists will not agree etc. This is very possibly correct. But the point to see here is that the main aim of these meetings and this campaign is to get this idea across to working class people in the neighborhoods and workplaces. You speak of building left unity. But I am not talking here about building left unity. I am talking about building a working class movement that will take on and defeat the capitalist offensive.

My suggestion is that the SP should speak out now from its increased platform along the lines I suggest above. That it should seek to establish activists committees based in the working class to take on and defeat the attacks on working people. That in doing so it challenge its own tradition and challenge also the left groups and left activists to take part in this process. Let us see the left groups and left activists argue against such united front work in front of working class people.

This campaign by the SP may not succeed in building many such committees. But where the SP exists it surely would be successful. If the SP acted in these areas in a non sectarian way then over a period of time it would begin to attract to this work and this approach many activists and also some of the various left groups.

In my open letter I suggested that there were hundreds of left activists and union and neighborhood activists who were looking for a way to fight but were put off by the sectarianism of the left groups. The SP leadership heaped scorn on the idea that there were hundreds of such activists. I believe that the recent events around the war and around the bin charges show that I was correct. The SP has to now explain what it says to these activists. Is it just that they should join the SP and that is all.

But these activists are put off by the sectarianism of the left and also by the internal life of the left groups and this includes the SP. What the working class needs and what the resources that are available make possible is rank and file neighborhood and workplace based committees dedicated to taking on and fight the capitalist offensive. The SP can put this issue onto the agenda of the working class and the activists if it chooses to do so.

There will of course be suspicion and wariness about the SP taking up such a campaign. But like in all areas of our work we have to fight for our ideas and through such a fight begin to convince people. Of course another factor that would enormously strengthen the SP in such a campaign would be if the SP were to also openly confront and discuss the overly centralized internal life of itself and all the revolutionary socialist groups.

Comrade such an approach would begin to attract some of the left activists and some of the working class people who see the need to fight. Some of the smaller left groups would also begin to look at this development and if the approach was correct some of the rank and file of groups like the SWP would begin to challenge their own groups sectarianism. I believe that a similar affect would take place in relation to the anarchist groups many of which also have a sectarian approach.

So this is my concrete suggestion Comrade. I am not familiar enough with the situation to be more concrete than this. I have an idea that may be without any merit but here it is, maybe such local based fighting activists committees could be called the Connolly/Larkin committees.

So to try and sum up on this point. I am not arguing for left unity. i am arguing for the building of fighting working class based activist committees in the neighborhoods and workplaces which would be consciously dedicated to fighting the capitalist offensive and the capitalist system and dedicated to the the direct action tactics which are being used in the anti bin charge movement. I believe that there are hundreds of activists who would be prepared to dedicate themselves to such work. I believe the SP could play a major role in moving this process forward. What I am worried will happen is that the SP will instead focus only on building its own ranks and this will result in the full potential of the situation not being realized.

I am not against the SP building its own organization. But what I am against is if this is done in a way that cuts across the potential of the movement. I should also say that if the SP took up the position I suggest above and began such a campaign, and if at the same time it openly discussed its own overly centralized internal life and moved to change its internal life in the direction of the left parties before the distortion of the civil war in Russia and the rise of stalinism then the SP would grow by leaps and bounds and become the main left group in Ireland without any serious challenge.

Comrade PT-SP I would like to approach this issue from a different angle, that is by asking you to consider where a sectarian approach can lead. in the last presidential elections in France in the first round the three candidates which called themselves revolutionary socialists won almost as many votes as the National Front, the fascist party. The NF then went into the run off with the Chirac party. I consider that these three groups are guilty of a crime against the working class.

It is very very possible that if these three parties had an agreed single candidate then they could have defeated the NF and there could have been a run off for the French presidency between Chirac and a revolutionary socialist. This would have impacted all European politics and would have been an important step in building opposition to the capitalist offensive. As I say I consider that these groups are guilty of a crime against the working class.

But more specifically related to this discussion I would like to ask why there was not an outcry across the left in general about what happened. I believe that the reason for this is that all the left groups are sectarian and from this position then they could not see much wrong with what had happened in France. Or if they saw something wrong they just thought that it was inevitable as they could not see how they would have acted differently.

I have had some heated debates with supporters of these parties. They have a tendency to approach things a little like yourself PT-SP. That is they will point out all the sectarian attitudes of the other parties and how uniting behind a single candidate was impossible because of the sectarianism of the others.

My suggestion was that the parties should have put in front of the working class the need for a single candidate of the left. That they should have asked the other parties to contribute to this discussion and come up with suggestions how to have a single candidate. If it came to that I suggested that if I was in one of these parties in France I would have proposed that whichever party I belonged to should propose to stand down to force this issue of one candidate to the fore.

I am bringing this point up here Comrade because I think that the criminal activity of the left in France in the last election flows from the approach of the SP and the other left groups. My approach is to put this issue in front of the working class and make all parties justify their policies in front of the working class. In the Irish case now the SP should put the need for fighting activist committees in front of the working class and make all left groups justify their positions in front of the working class.

There are other points you make PT-SP. One the issue of the Socialist Alliance in England and Wales I think we agree. I think the SA did not work because it was an attempt to unite the left in an electoral alliance as opposed to building fighting workplace and neighborhood committees to take up the local attacks by direct action fight to win policies and if this had been successful then some sort of real united front action, possibly including an electoral alliance could have developed.

John Throne.

PS. It is frustrating to have to discuss all the time in indymedia with people who will not give their name. Hopefully PT-SP you can identify yourself. JT.

Related Link: http://laborsmilitantvoice.com
author by reading the last few wordspublication date Wed Oct 01, 2003 18:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

can you?
tricky business are these masks, aren't they.

author by hs - sppublication date Thu Oct 02, 2003 12:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think that pts response is an honest view of attitudes inside the socialist party. And it is a fact that there is alot of mistrust between different political groups. Not to accuse everyone of being sectarian (a very overused word!). there were attempts by us to set up an alliance with some workers party people in waterford (i think) and the unemployed workers group. They didn't work out. But attempts were made.

But in the campaigns on the bin charges everyone has worked together pretty well as far as I can see. indymedia has a habit of making differences look alot worse than they actually are. often through trolling. for example if anarchists blockade a petrol station we attack them for being "elitist". if we did the same action they'll accuse us of not being radical enough. They also accuse us of wanting to replace peoples ownsactions by that of "leaders", which is ironic in my opinion as they often take a leadership role in direct actions. And Socialist Youth members have a habit of getting in unnessecary arguments. (but i don't want to start another row on this one!!!)


I think the best way is to organise around the communities rather than build inter left alliances (i think we are all in agreement there). Which I think at this stage must be done around concrete issues. like the charges or local issues rather than a general anti capitalist thing. This could be done by permanent groups but i don't know if the situation exists (in that i don't know i'm not arguing against it)

I'm not in the country now so I'm not really in a position to know what the e state of play is. I was at home for the beginning of the bin war and really the party has done everything it could (as far as I can see). the communities are in revolt and the part of the city where the sp is organising (where i'm from incidently) is very well organised. And everything was organised democratically. I have heard no complaints from anyone on this. And believe me if there was problems in the campaign on this front we would very much hear about it!

For me I think that we need this kind of organisation and central organistaion. the reason that fingal was so effective (blockading all trucks on the first day etc) is because we had someone centrally directing all the activists to where the trucks were etc, (mobile phones are a wonderful thing). And I believe we need a political party. obviously a small minority will join but we can get support from others.

Ireland will eventually have a new party and I'm sure we'll be part of it and not it. But i think it will come through struggle. This is just a beginning.

For the elections I think we should stand on an anti service charges platform and encourage community activists to stand, as was done with the water charges. and this could be the beginning of something new.

On France, in the last election the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party did not clash anywhere. We ran seperate campaigns but we did not run against each other. Which is the first time this happened and positive. The small cwi group in France also called for a single candidate in France.

In conclusion I really don't think the situation in ireland is as bad as people are making out, indymedia does make it seem much worse as people will say things they wouldn't say to others faces. For myself i am in the sp because i think it is the best party (why i joined!) which i don't think is so unusual for any party member of any party. no party is perfect but for me we are making a small impact and i think we can win more support. I would like to see a larger broad based party but at this stage i don't know if will happen. And i say at this stage but things can change very quickly (in fact they are I think)

This is just an honest answer nothing sectarian. And by party i don't mean a simple alliance of swp and sp but something which would be greater than the sum of the two parts otherwise i think we would end up like the english Socialist alliance rather than the SSP.

For the anarchists they can only speak for themselves, obviously they won't be interested in electorial alliances but we work together in campaigns. And i don't think relations between us and them are too bad, at least the WSM.

Obviously this all needs to be discussed as much as possibly.

For my identity, they are my real initials and people in the party know who i am. I'm not hiding behind anything. but when I sign my full name to something I like to have it well thought out rather than a comment.

author by Hal Silkepublication date Fri Oct 03, 2003 15:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Is it because he fears the wrath of Stephen Boyd? Sometime ago John Throne invited hs to mail him privately. Perhaps the secret debate is starting to have an effect on him.

author by hs - sppublication date Tue Oct 07, 2003 11:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So what excatly do you think stevie boyd wants to do to me? You're a very strange person, but i suppose somebody is paying attention to what i'm saying. So while we're at it why don't you tell us your real name "hal Silke" or are you afraid of imaginary gulags as well? For my own initials most comrades would figure that out pretty quick theres not so many ex banch spers living in Italy.

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