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the bin tax struggle and the building of a working class movement.

category national | bin tax / household tax / water tax | opinion/analysis author Tuesday October 21, 2003 20:13author by John Throne - Labors militant Voice.author email loughfinn at aol dot com Report this post to the editors

Open letter to the SP. No 2. From John Throne.

The anti bin tax struggle and the need to build a united working class movement against the offensive of capitalism.

The Socialist Party and its role in the anti bin tax struggle.
Open Letter 2. From John Throne.


On holiday in Ireland last week it was great to see the role the Socialist Party is playing in the anti bin tax struggle. JH, CD and DC have all been in prison for their work. Along with other socialist and anarchist groups and along with many community and trade union activists the Socialist Party Comrades continue the struggle against the bin tax. The Socialist Party is showing that it is committed to taking direct action, to carrying out fight to win tactics, to go to prison, to defeat this tax. I would like to thank the Socialist Party Comrades for their inspiration and example.

Taking on the capitalist offensive wherever it expresses itself is the central task facing working class people today. On a world scale the dominant feature is the offensive of capitalism against the working class. The main task for the working class is to halt and throw back this offensive. The main task for revolutionaries is to build a movement that can achieve this and that can challenge capitalism itself. The Socialist Party by its role in the bin tax struggle is showing that it is a central part of this process.

In this context I would like to raise a few ideas for the consideration of the Socialist Party Comrades. In my open letter to the Socialist Party last year I raised the idea of building anti capitalist working class direct action groups in the neighborhoods and workplaces. The Socialist Party leadership have argued against this by opposing my assessment that there are hundreds of activists or workers who want to be active who would be willing to respond to a proper non sectarian approach along these lines.

I was at the Socialist Party meeting in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin last Saturday night and there were between 400 and 500 people present. As far as I could see the anarchist and the other revolutionary socialist groups were not present. I am sure there were many other activists in the city not present. I suggest that this meeting proves that my estimate of the situation is more correct than that of the Socialist Party leaders. I would also suggest that the numbers that turned out against the invasion of Iraq show that there are significant forces prepared to be active.

I would like to raise again to the Socialist Party Comrades this question: “What are you saying to all these activists?” As far as I can see it is this. Join the anti bin tax struggle. Join the Socialist Party, those tiny few who agree with every idea of the Socialist Party that is. And in the future the Socialist Party will help “facilitate” in the building of a mass workers party to which all anti capitalist activists can join. But in the meantime unless you agree with all the ideas and the approach of the Socialist Party .......

I would like to suggest that this approach does not realize the full potential of the situation. I would like to suggest that it does not bring together into a cohesive layer those workers and activists prepared to fight unless they are prepared to join the Socialist Party or unless they are prepared to be active in the anti bin tax struggle.

I am not suggesting in any way that the Socialist Party should shift its emphasis at present from winning the bin struggle. However I am suggesting that it take a wider view of this struggle and it present this wider view publicly. I am also suggesting that the Socialist Party present the anti bin tax struggle and organization as part of a process that can evolve into working class committees to take up the general struggles of working people.

I was impressed with one of the flyers of the Socialist Party which put the anti bin tax struggle in the context of the struggle against capitalism and for socialism. But I was struck by how careful Joe and Clare were in their speeches at the Gresham meeting to present the issue as one of the “neo-liberal agenda.” This makes me wonder if the general anti capitalist message is being taken into the bin tax struggle.


I would like to suggest for discussion in the Socialist Party that the Comrades should present the anti bin tax struggle as one that is against the offensive of the corporations and their corrupt capitalist system and that the government is but the agent of these corporations and this system. I am not suggesting that the Socialist Party make an effort to formally commit in a crude way the anti bin tax struggle to this position but that this general idea is presented so that the committees can see the need to continue to exist and develop, that the anti bin tax struggle is only one aspect of the capitalist offensive, and this understanding can lay the basis for anti bin tax struggles and committees to evolve into the building of anti capitalist working class direct action committees in the working class.

I would like to suggest that the Socialist Party open up a discussion on this topic. And not only in their own ranks but with all the anti capitalist activist groups and individuals. In this way the Socialist Party will be presenting to the many hundreds active in this struggle, the many thousands active in the anti war movement in the recent past, the many community and union activists who are seeking a more effective way to struggle, a non sectarian way forward and a way forward that will bring the largest amount of activists together and this in turn will make more possible the organizing of the broader layers of the working class.

Such an approach in my opinion should seek to build the activist committees and movement around a few basic ideas.


#Opposition to the offensive of the corporations and their corrupt capitalist system.

#Direct action fight to win tactics against these attacks.

#The building of a working class movement on these principles.

I believe that this approach would allow the various anti capitalist forces, anarchist and revolutionary socialist to work together. It would allow for the many many community and trade union activists to participate without having to commit themselves from the beginning to a clearly thought out alternative to capitalism or to a particular revolutionary organization.

I was concerned that during the entire Gresham meeting not a single mention was made of any other group which is active in the anti bin tax movement other than the Socialist Party. I understand that at a rally outside Mountjoy a call was made from the platform to join the CWI. My impression is that many of the leading members of the Socialist Party consider that the participation of the other left groups in the bin tax movement is something that they do not like but have to put up with. That they would much rather if the Socialist Party was running the struggle itself. This is a sectarian influence in the approach.

It is also a self defeating approach. The Socialist Party would grow much more, its influence would be much greater, the working class movement would be much stronger, if as well as playing the role it does in the bin tax the Socialist Party openly welcomed the fact that so many groups are working together, that so many activists are coming together and put forward the approach above to assist in building these forces into an anti capitalist movement.

I agree with the emphasis in the Socialist Party material at present that the unions must take action to see that the bin struggle is victorious. I think that the building of support groups in the unions which would organize for workplace action is vital to take the movement forward. I do not think that the suggestions I make above would in any way cut across this work. In fact I think they would help this work.

At the Gresham meeting Joe H and Clare D spoke of Connolly and Larkin and how in messages of support they received these leaders had been mentioned. It is interesting to see how these leaders and their ideas are being raised again by the struggle. Maybe the activist committees could evolve into Connolly/Larkin committees.

In the bin tax special edition of the Socialist Party paper there is an article by Kevin McL. It is headed “Can we defeat the bin tax?” I agree with its emphasis on the need for the union movement to act. However I was very struck by the lack of attention to the building of the local committees, the building of an all Dublin wide structure and no mention at all of the other groups active in the struggle and the need to work together.

I would like to raise also the issue of the workers party. I know that the response to the suggestions I made in my open letter last year were to shoot it down on the basis that there was not yet a movement of the working class sufficient to build such a party. However I do not think that this is the whole story. I still think that in the South the Socialist Party thinks that it can break through and fill this vacuum on its own. In the North it is different.

In an article of the Summer 2003 issue of Socialist View there is an article by Ciaran Mulholland where he says the Socialist Party was the “main component of the Labor Coalition in 1996”. and he also writes that the Socialist Party is “in favor of a broad anti cuts, anti privatization slate at the next election...” this would involve “hospital campaigns, trade unionists in struggle and socialists”. He also writes that “several left wing groups may also stand including of course the Socialist Party”

This article continues: “Discussions must begin now to seek a way of bringing these forces together under a single banner, whilst leaving everyone involved the freedom to run their own campaign”. I am not on the ground but this seems to be a very positive position to take. The only point I would raise is that it is important that this is not approached as an electoral alliance and that is all. The Socialist Alliances in England and Wales have been ruined by this approach. Only by direct action struggle on the ground against the attacks of the capitalist offensive can a movement be built.

But Comrades I would like to compare this position with the position put on the South. In the same magazine Michael Murphy wrote an article titled “A government in crisis”. Michael writes: “It is clear that what is needed in Ireland is a mass workers party. The Socialist Party is in favor and will be to the forefront building such a party in Ireland. However we don't believe that the forces needed for the establishment of such a party exist at this time. As struggles develop against neo-liberalism, (there goes that neo-liberalism again J.T.) the building of such a party will be placed on the agenda.”

Then in the Socialist Party Voice of September 2003 Joe H deals with this issue in his column. He writes about the coming elections: “The Socialist Party will play an important role. We will be launching up to 15 candidates and conducting a serious campaign, offering a socialist alternative to the present system. We will also encourage genuine community organizations and campaigns to get involved in putting forward candidates and we will be advocating the need to move to a situation where a new party of the working class can be credibly launched”.

Comrades it seems to me that the objective situation is more ripe in the South than the North at present but in the North the Socialist Party is calling for “discussions now” and these to include other “left wing groups”, while in the South the Socialist Party will stand 15 candidates and “encourage genuine community organizations and campaigns to get involved in putting forward candidates.” Not a mention about any discussions now or other “left wing groups”. Is this difference because the Socialist Party can put 15 candidates forward in the South and many less in the North.

Comrades I am not suggesting that the Socialist Party can issue the call and a new workers party can come into being. What I am suggesting is that the Socialist Party should take the lead in openly campaigning for the unity in action of all the activist groups and individuals through the building of anti capitalist direct action working class committees in the communities and workplaces, and on this basis the building of an anti capitalist workers party within which all revolutionary groups can continue to exist and put forward their views.

There are many ways of moving in this direction as well as campaigning for these ideas directly. I was struck in Dublin by a couple of workers I met who were very clear on how how the corporations and the rich were screwing the working people but then went on to vehemently complain about and condemn immigrants. Would it not be possible to get unity amongst all the activist groups for a major campaign against racism and for workers unity and internationalism, this culminating in demonstrations and conferences.

Such activities on specific issues on a regular basis would help develop unity between the various anti capitalist forces and would also have a much greater impact than groups working separately as many hundreds of activists could be mobilized and the issues could be taken out to much wider sections of the working class. While campaigning for the ideas suggested above and the organizational steps suggested above the Socialist Party could also take initiatives like these.

Of course it is not only only up to the Socialist Party. The many other left groups can also take the lead on this. But the Socialist Party due to its great work in the water charges and now the bin charges and its correct and organic orientation to the working class has the deepest roots and therefore it also has the most responsibility.

One or two final points I would like my Socialist Party Comrades to consider. The Gresham rally was a great success as far as I could see. However it was interesting that the only people on the platform except the chair were Socialist Party members who hold elected positions in the bourgeois parliament or councils. Fifteen more people are to be put up in the coming elections. I believe that it would be very important for the Socialist Party to keep in mind the pressures that come with work in these bourgeois institutions, that is parliaments and councils, and the need to be careful the work on these does not begin to dominate the party.

Naturally enough I cannot end without raising the issue of the internal life of the Socialist Party and the CWI. Even when I was there I saw and experienced the destructive influence of the overly centralized life of the CWI and the Socialist Party. Consider again the meeting at the Gresham with up to 500 present, and with the excellent class composition of the meeting. Comrades for the Socialist Party to become a mass organization it must be able to accept into its ranks these worker comrades.

It is impossible to imagine the Socialist Party becoming a mass organization without such a membership composition and this in turn is impossible without differences and debates and factions. The Socialist Party will not be able to avoid dealing with the issue of what kind of internal life it has and the need to have an internal life which does not squeeze the life out of workers, which instead allows all of our energies and talents and ideas to flourish. The Socialist Party and the CWI no matter how successful in its interventions in struggles such as its very positive intervention in the bin tax cannot become a mass organization with its present internal life.

Comrades those who attended the meeting were very clearly supportive of the work of the Socialist Party. Some were new to politics but many were not. There were also many former Socialist Party members. For the Socialist Party to become a mass organization its ranks will have to resemble the composition of the Gresham meeting with all the great debate and discussion and struggle that is inherent to this composition. This is not something that the leadership of the CWI and the Socialist Party is able to contemplate at present. Control and unity on every detail is the obsession. This also negatively affects the intervention in the movement and stunts the development of a movement.

Once again thanks to the work of the Socialist Party Comrades and the inspiration of the anti bin tax struggle. Thanks also to all the other groups and individuals who have built this struggle. Thanks to the working class families and activists in the communities and the unions who have built this struggle. Hopefully this open letter will contribute to a discussion as to how these forces can work together to the greatest possible extent which will be consistent with the needs of the struggle of the working class against the offensive of capitalism.

John Throne.

Laborsmilitantcoice.com
Movementsforsocialism.com

Related Link: http://laborsmilitantvoice.com,movementsforsocialism.com
author by dunk - fuspeypublication date Tue Oct 21, 2003 20:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

communication is the key

indymedia is the worlds best network for healthy open information sharing.

i propose that indymedia set up a few workshops with the anti bin tax people, if they are unfamiliar with it already.
IMC going out to places where its not known, setting up workhops, getting more involved.

better links are made between different groups, imc becomes another resourse for them, indymedia diversifies.
we all learn more from each other.
simple

ill help in doing this, if there is interest
link below is more on how imc can/ should develop, in my view.

we put on a screening last week, it was great, more to come on that.
a new screening node is being set up at present.

goodluck
dunk

Related Link: http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=61275
author by Mickeypublication date Tue Oct 21, 2003 21:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John, I'll get back to ou on the meat of your post when I have more time but a quick correction of one of your "impressions" is in order.

The Socialist Party is very pleased that other left organisations are involved in this struggle. A number of left groups have played an admirable role so far - including the WSM, the Irish Socialist Network and Working Class Action - and we have no hesitation in saying so.

The role of other some other organisations has been less than entirely admirable, but you take the rough with the smooth on this kind of issue.

But more important than any of the left organisations in this struggle has been the involvement of huge numbers of ordinary working class people, in their communities.

As I said above, I'll get back to you on some of the rest if and when I have some time.

author by ipsiphipublication date Tue Oct 21, 2003 23:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

it's good to look back some times.

author by John mc Dermott - nonepublication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 00:50author email jmcd33 at eircom dot netauthor address author phone 8680717Report this post to the editors

virtually every other political party in the country has made manifest its emasculation or its enmity to the just struggle of the Socialist Party.Many good citizens must be in empathy with our fight for a more fair and open society .The public are subjected to a daily revelation of scandal,corruption and incompetence by a clever if crooked bunch of Gombeen Soldiers of Destiny who even now are moving to deflect the indignation that is abroad.Unfortunately they are helped by the general prosperity of recent years .many are apathetic.many are doing well.Many dont even bother to vote,they shrug their shoulders and say:what difference will it make"?
We must harness this embryonic determination and help it grow .We must harass "The Soldiers"relentlessly however and wherever we can.
Less of the "Anti Capitalism and Big Corporations" stuff." Its to generalistic.There are good and bad Capitalist Corporations.The public ownership of companies in Ireland(and elswhere)has been generally a disaster for the taxpayer in recent times.It still is.
(Aer Lingus,C.I.E, etc)
Look how a bunch of twits(the greens)can get a foothold in Dail Eireann .Lets have more good ideas ,more common sense policies, less anti everything.The electors get turned off by it all.
We have a little acorn.For Gods sake water it and let it grow.Now!
john McDermott 56 Martin Savage Park Ashtown,15

author by Green Supporterpublication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 03:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Watch out, I know where you live, mate. I'm comin atcha when you last expect it, so make sure you lock your door.

author by Januspublication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 11:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I note Mickey only congratulates organisations against whom his party will not be running.

I think the SWP and the Shinners have done their bit as well.

author by reply to januspublication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 12:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the reality is that the SWP and Sf have not done too much on bin tax. For the past number of years SWP have been flitting in and out of bin tax work. SP, ISN, etc have consistently done the hard work for the past while.

The SWP approach is to turn up to the demos and (bigger) public meetings and make themselves look like the leaders of the campaign. Since non collection they have argued against blockades and they are now proposing that Labour and Sinn Féin get involved!! That is seriously sowing illusions in pro-capitalist parties, not exposing them!

SF have also not been too involved. They have turned up to the odd meeting, and in their leaflets for elections they say they oppose bin tax. In one or two areas in Dublin, such as Finglas, they have done work (still not in proportion to their size). Even in these one or two areas they are conservative as they argue against blockades and want to 'calm it down a bit'.

author by Januspublication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 12:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

While I agree the SP has done more work than anyone else on the Bin Charges campaign, and I have stated that on more than one occasion, I think dismissing the SWP and SF is part of the SP's project to link this issue in people's minds with the SP and no-one else. And that does concern me a wee bit.

I am not aware of SF people arguing against blockades, a theory I find surprising when at the point when there were 15 people in prison for taking part in blockades, six were either Sinn Fein members or supporters. They have also consistently raised the issue in their propaganda. I do accept your point that their involvement has been patchy across Dublin.

About the SWP I know less to be honest. I know some of them are involved in the city campaign and I see them on marches and stuff. I was a little taken aback to see the way they tried to hijack Joe and Clarie as recruitment tools.

Both the SWP and SF have been on marches and pickets, and were doing so for years outside Council meetings. Both have, as far as I know, raised the issue with Trade Union groups and Council officials.

I want to make clear, again, for what may be the tenth or eleventh time, that in no way am I saying either of these groups did as much as the SP. I am saying though that they stood up and were counted, on blockades, in protests, in elected assemblies, marches and pickets. The Shinners spoke out in solidarity with Joe and Claire despite their political difference. Let's be honest, we know well that Joe wouldn't have done the same if Shinners were involved.

I do find it regrettable that the SP, entitled as they are to the bulk of credit, refuse to acknowledge that anyone else was involved.

I understand why they're doing it, I just find it unattractive.

author by hs - sppublication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 13:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think john makes some good points and there are possibilities. I think when john made his first call it was just a little premature but now the sp is much more famous and if the numbers are correct it was the biggest turnout for an sp meeting in a long time. Also after the war and this campaign things have moved along alot.
As for elections I don't see why people would vote more for a socialist alliance than the socialist party especially if its going to be an alliance like that in england which only appears a few weeks before elections and then dissappears again. Also just as the Sp has gotten a name for itself to me it would be complete madness to change the name again.
Committees aren't a bad idea, but isn't it possible that the irish social forum could provide this role. It isn't dominated by one party or group. If its a general anti capitalist leftish type of alliance. Community groups do exist in dublin too which could be a vehicle for organising more protest. Converting the bin charge groups into general anti capitalist groups i don't know about. But anyway its a timely debate.

author by John - Irish Socialist Network (personal capicity)publication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 13:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was released today from prison and I can honestly say that Joe Higgins is a remarkable comrade and if I lived in Blanch I wouldn't hesitate in giving him a vote and my support.

However, I was annoyed and angered by an interview that John McCamley (SP) gave in the Irish Times last Saturday. In my opinion he deliberately left out the fact that 8 members of the Irish Socialist Network were actively involved in the campaign in Finglas and that both Colm Breathnach and myself who were sent to prison were members of the ISN. Worse still, referring to the make up of the Finglas committee against the bin charges he referred to the two ISN members as "an ex member of the Workers Party and an ex member of Democratic Left. I found this very disheartening and the sort of thing you would expect from Stalins propaganda department.

author by hs - sppublication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 13:31author address author phone Report this post to the editors

i can only say that as far as I can see the majority of the sp supports the irish socialist network and appreciate the work you are doing.

author by Mags - WCApublication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 13:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Welcome - good to have you back. Behave yourself now ;)

author by OK - SPpublication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 15:19author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think it would be wrong to say that an interview that appears in the bourgeois press is a way to determine what someone said. They write what they want.

The Socialist Party fully acknowledge that the ISN have done a lot of work on bin tax, we mention you on the front page of the current edition of the Voice. From my interation with members of the ISN i've found them to be genuine, hard working and principled and are among the best anti-bin tax activists. I'm sure that's also the opinion of most members of the Socialist Party

author by John - Irish Socialist Network (personal capicity)publication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 17:20author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am under no illusions about the bourgeois press but it would be impossible for the reporter to know that there was one ex WP and one ex DL member (who both happen to be in the ISN) unless John McCamley told her so.

Thanks for the welcome home Mags. i hope your comrade is ok. he gave a whole new dimension to the term "flying picket".

author by Michael - SPpublication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 18:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John McCamley could have mentioned the ISN by name when interviewed and then asked by the journalist who they were and that's what came out in the article.

I know John being a Bus Driver he doesn't get to check out Indymedia as much as the rest of us if at all so rather than making any rash judgements you can raise it with him the next time you meet.

author by D11erpublication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 18:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The same newspaper could have misunderstood the SP when it said in relation to the forthcoming local elections
"it was confident it can win elsewhere, particulary in the Finglas and Santry wards in the Dublin North West Dail constituency."

author by Canteen Kevinpublication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 18:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

All of the O'Reilly rags have lined up against us and will try to spread half truths and downright lies to attack the campaign. Watch out for journos at demos from the Sunday Tribune, "Irish Times", "Irish" "Independent" and Evening Herald at future demos. I would suggest ignoring them but as they already have their stories prepared, they should be publicy identified as hacks to let them know how unwelcome they are and so that people can be aware of them. The Star, Sunday Mirror and Sunday Business Post deserve honourable mentions as their coverage has been decent.

BTW Welcome back John, I don't know you personally but all the best.

author by John - nonepublication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 18:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"All of the O'Reilly rags have lined up against us and will try to spread half truths and downright lies to attack the campaign.... The Star, Sunday Mirror and Sunday Business Post deserve honourable mentions as their coverage has been decent. "

The star is one of the o'reilly's rags (co-owned by O'Reilly with Desmond of the Express and Porno fame).

Check your facts before you begining some asinine rant.

author by Canteen Kevinpublication date Wed Oct 22, 2003 18:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I missed that , thanks for your friendly manner of pointing it out, arsehole

author by pat cpublication date Thu Oct 23, 2003 13:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the open letter to the sp no. 1 is at:
http://laborsmilitantvoice.com
on the left hand sidebar.

Related Link: http://laborsmilitantvoice.com
author by john throne - labors militant voicepublication date Thu Oct 23, 2003 20:57author email loughfinn at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

I would like to thank Micky and HS for the positive tone of their responses to my second open letter to the SP. I think I am right in assuming that these Comrades are in the SP. If this is so their tone makes possible a serious discussion of issues which can only strengthen the working class movement and also strengthen the work of the SP and all left activists.

Micky says that I am wrong and that the SP is pleased that other groups are involved in the bin struggle and he names the WSM, ISN, WCA. I am not convinced by your response Mickey. I am not saying I do not believe you, but the problem I have is that I do not see the SP acting according to what you say is its position. But rather than go back and forward about whether the SP is, or is not, pleased with the participation of other groups I would like to approach the issue from another angle.

My impression is that there is a need to develop greater unity in the bin struggle. That different groups tend to be active in different areas with limited coordination and this is a weakness in the struggle. Joe and Clare are recognized as very important and combative members of the bin struggle. Their willingness to go to jail inspired everyone. They came out full of fight and calling on the battle to be stepped up. Here was an opportunity to increase the unity of the bin tax struggle and to strengthen its morale. But the SP did not approach this opportunity from this point of view.

Instead of an SP meeting to welcome them out with only SP people on the platform and under an SP banner I would like to suggest the following would have been much more in the interests of the campaign. That all the various bin tax groups should have been contacted in the week before the release of Joe and Clare. That a proposal be made to them all to unite to organize a mass rally to welcome the Comrades and any other Comrades being released in those days. That all bin struggle groups have a speaker on the platform but that Joe and Clare and any other released prisoner be given more time to speak. (The Dublin Trades Council and supportive union branches could have been included in this approach.)

Up to 500 came to the SP meeting. I do not think it is too much to estimate that with the above approach there could have been one thousand plus present. Working together to build for this meeting and achieving a large turnout at the meeting would have strengthened the unity of the campaign and laid the basis for a functioning structure. I think it will be pretty obvious to all that this would have been a much more successful approach, and one which would have strengthened the struggle and the working class movement as a whole. This was a serious mistake on behalf of the SP under the guidance of the IS of the CWI.

Why did the SP keep this opportunity under its own banner? I believe because like the SWP with whom it is in continual rivalry it tends to put the interest of building its own organization above that of the struggle of the working class. So instead of looking at what Joe and Clare’s release could have done to unite the anti bin tax campaign and build a structure and boost morale it looked instead at how it could build the SP. This was a mistake and damaged the struggle. Just as the SWP damaged the struggle by trying with clever words on its posters to use the jailing of Joe and Clare to recruit to its own ranks.

The approach of the SP and for that matter the SWP, flows from their mistaken general analyses and policies in relation to the movement today and to building revolutionary forces. Instead of operating on the basis of the need to bring together all the activists and those prepared to fight in an anti capitalist fight to win movement, that is anti capitalist fight to win groups in the neighborhoods and the workplaces, and an anti capitalist party and anti capitalist international, both these organizations operate on the basis of united fronts only on specific issues, join the SP or SWP, and then see later what happens. They have nothing serious to say to the new forces moving into struggle such as those in the bin tax struggle and the millions who marched against the invasion of Iraq.

I saw many good activists at the meeting in the Gresham. They were there in support of Joe and Clare and the bin struggle. But neither the SP nor the SWP should pretend that their respective sectarian approaches does not repel the majority of these activists from organizing around revolutionary principles and in a revolutionary organization. The SP put Joe and Clare under the SP banner rather than under a united bin tax struggle banner and this was noticed by all.

A Comrade from the ISN on this list explains how disappointed he was to see how the SP member in the Irish Times interview was very careful not to mention the role the ISN is playing in the Fingal area. This has a very negative affect in building a movement to take on the offensive of the corporations and their capitalist system. It confirms all the worries that workers have about left groups and is a heaven sent opportunity to the right wing to portray the left as a bunch of sectarian splitters.

I spent a few hours in Dublin discussing with an old friend and 30 year trade union activist and revolutionary, ex CWI member. His explanation for why he was active as an individual in the workers movement and not a member of the SP anymore or for that matter any group, included just such sectarian tactics as we are discussing here. There are many many activists who share these views. The revolutionary organization that can be active in the movement without this sectarian approach will win and deserve to win the majority of activists to its ranks

The Comrades mention the most important component of those involved in the struggle is the many workers who have no political background. And I agree entirely. If it is only left activists then little progress will be made. But here too we should see this from the point of view of overcoming sectarianism and building a united movement. Let the SP honestly explain its own sins in this regard openly in front of these workers, then let the SP ask that all other revolutionary groups do the same. Let us all defend our tactics in front of the new workers in struggle. This is the way to take on sectarianism.

In the inner circles of the SP and the CWI there will be the usual mumblings about liquidationism etc. That is that I am not sufficiently focusing on building the revolutionary party. My answer to this is simple and has two parts to it.

The first is we need to be very careful and always consider if our tactics to build our own organization damage the struggle of the working class. Having the meeting for Joe's and Clare's release in the form it took, that is an exclusively SP affair, meant a missed opportunity to strengthen the bin tax struggle. I do not believe that this can be justified in any circumstance.

The second, and this is what is so ridiculous about the whole thing, is that nothing would help the SP grow more than if it jettisoned openly all aspects of its sectarian approach. If it openly discussed and debated its past mistakes. If it could succeed in convincing activists that it was not approaching its work in a narrow sectarian way then this would open it up to a whole new layer of activists joining its ranks. This is not too hard to see.

So why does the SP not see this. Why did it focus on the release of Joe and Clare from the crude and narrow point of view of boosting its own profile? If instead it had taken the approach I suggest above there would be a whole new buzz around the SP today, there would be a new debate inside the SWP and other left groups, and the possibility of building a united anti capitalist movement would be much greater.

To answer why the SP continues to make this mistake we have to also consider the organizations internal life. The leadership of the CWI and the SP are still trying to rebuild their organization on the monolithic model in which the leadership never makes mistakes. This demands very slow and careful recruitment. More like vetting. Everybody coming in has to be closely looked at. The older hardened activists and the new forces coming into struggle after the experience of stalinism and the left movement of the past decades will not accept this approach.

No organization can become a mass organization unless it has an internal life which is open and in which the workers who join can express themselves and question and organize in factions. Any revolutionary organization which is healthy would have to be prepared to approach the group of workers who were at the Gresham meeting and invite them openly to join and be prepared to do so in the knowledge that the more detailed politics would be sorted out in struggle inside the party with differences openly published and factions and sustained debate and struggle recognized as a natural part of the organization.

I was discussing with an older Comrade whom I had recruited to the CWI 25 years ago. He is long gone from the party but he was enthusiastically there in the Gresham. We had a good laugh about some of our debates and shenanigans. He said to me that he had told me many times that he was not “party material”. I suggested to him that I did not agree with him that maybe the problem was with the party model, not the "party material".

He was not convinced. There is a lot of work to do. The way the SP handled the release of Clare and Joe was a missed opportunity.

Thank you Pat C for providing the link to the first open letter. I did not know how to do this.

John Throne.

Related Link: http://laborsmilitantvoice.com
author by Mickeypublication date Thu Oct 23, 2003 21:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John, again I don't have time to take you up on most of your points, though they seem in any case to mostly be repetitions of arguments you have made at length before.

Where you seek to link those arguments to actual recent events, I think you fall down because you aren't seeing the context accurately.

To give two examples:

You express doubt that the Socialist Party is really glad of the contribution made to this struggle by activist groups including the WSM, ISN and WCA. I am afraid that such doubt reflects more on your longstanding preoccupations than it does on us.

We have not lost our critical faculties and we are quite capable of seeing and appreciating the positive contribution that the ISN etc have made. Simply put, there are areas of Dublin that have stronger, more active and more militant campaigns because of them and we are glad of that. We are in this campaign to win it. We have consciously taken a decision to avoid the kind of tokenistic, council election oriented campaign wanted by some and to fight this campaign in the most militant way we can. Any contribution to the victory of this campaign is very genuinely appreciated.

I have no idea if John mentioned the ISN by name in his interview with an Irish Times journalist. Only a tiny part of what he said would have been reported, as any of us with experience of the mainstream press should no.

I can tell you though that the ISN is mentioned on the front page of the most recent issue of the Voice - a newspaper we do have editorial control over!

Secondly, the Socialist Party rally to welcome back Joe and Clare was the first public meeting organised in our own name for a very long time. All of our energy has been taken up with helping to organise events, meetings, protests, blockades in the name of the anti-bin tax campaign.

It is not unreasonable or sectarian for an organisation in the middle of such a battle to hold a rally in its own name. If you were to look at the proportion of our energies that has gone into campaign events as opposed to party events over the last six weeks you will find that the rally stands pretty much alone as a party event.

Now in this context either you just aren't aware of the balance of our work or you are effectively arguing in we should not hold any events at all in our own name, and with that I entirely disagree. We have a duty to fight this campaign as best we can - and we are doing so - but we also have a duty to do our best to build a revolutionary socialist organisation in this country.

author by SP Member - SPpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 10:39author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John Said,
"A Comrade from the ISN on this list explains how disappointed he was to see how the SP member in the Irish Times interview was very careful not to mention the role the ISN is playing in the Fingal area. This has a very negative affect in building a movement to take on the offensive of the corporations and their capitalist system. It confirms all the worries that workers have about left groups and is a heaven sent opportunity to the right wing to portray the left as a bunch of sectarian splitters."

John you sound like someone who is desperately clutching at straws to prove your point. If you have any knowledge of how a newspaper report gets from the field to the page you will know that not only will the reporter (who has a word limit on his article) simplify what was said to them but also the sub-editor will come in and butcher the piece. So if JMcC said the ISN, the reporter most likely never having heard of them would most likely explain that they were mainly ex- WP which the reporter would have added. The sub-editor then, being short of space for the simple reason that he has heard of the WP but not the ISN. Sad but true.

author by pat cpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 11:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John T you also have 2 links running together & they go nowhere, you need to put them like this:

http://www.laborsmilitantvoice.com

http://www.movementsforsocialism.com

You can only safely put 1 link in the related link field. But you can put as many links as you want in the text of a posting. To prevent confusion it is best to put them on seperate lines.

It would be best if JMcC came here himself and explained what he said to the IT. He may not visit Indy often but I am sure that the SP have some means of contacting him. It might also be appropriate for the SP to write a letter to the IT correcting the errors in the article, they could post a copy of it here.

author by pat cpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 12:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There isnt a total ceasefire in the campaign at present: as well as the picket on the Debt Collectors, Ballybough/Clonliffe Against The Bin Tax was in action on Wednesday.

Despite the torrential rain twelve of us gathered to organise a token truck stoppage and give leaflets to the binmen letting them know that trucks would be blocked if all bins were not collected.

However our trusty band was spotted by an Inspector accompanying the truck who called the cops. A van load of gardai arrived and we engaged these "workers in uniform" in debate. We did not convince them to mutiny :( They left after about 15 minutes and so had the truck. They probably thought we intended a long term blockade.

The bin collectors later returned and collected all bins. They got the message.

author by kakalokapublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 13:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John what I find a few things disgusting about your critisism about the SP.

1. It is coming at a time when the SP and the Anti Bin Tax campaigns are under termendous pressure and red scares etc from the capitalist media (If you were in the country you'd appreciate this). They are scouring everywhere for a bit of dirt on the SP in order to attack the anti bin tax movement. You are only assisting them in this. You should keep this discussion within the bin tax movement not on an open messageboard, until after the bin tax battle at least.

2. You team up with people like 'magneto' and other dogmatic haters of the SP on this site regardless of what they say. For example Magneto a while ago was having a go at the Militant's role in Labour Youth. What did you choose to do? defend the organisation you were involved in? No, you simply let lies and slanders against your comrades go unanswered. Is it the case that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend', even if they are right wing members of the bourgeois labour party?

author by zan doogpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 13:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The current edition of the Voice on the front page when mentioning the jailing of Colm Breathnach clearly states that he is a member of ISN. The SP are not trying to claim that they are the only party/group that are seriously involved in this. ISN have played a very good role in the anti bin tax campaing in their area.

I think if you contrast this with the SWP's deliberate blurring of the lines between themselves and the SP. In the copy of the Socialist Worker that came out after the jailing of Joe and Clare they were mentioned about 35 times and not once were their party membership mentioned. Instead they were described as just 'socialists'. This is dishonest and a childish attempt to leech a bit of respect off the SP.

author by pat cpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 14:23author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"You should keep this discussion within the bin tax movement not on an open messageboard, until after the bin tax battle at least."

An SP member has been quoted in the IT, a newspaper bought by 120,000 people (a lot more public than a noticeboard), as making comments which has annoyed another organisation, ISN, involved in the campaign. The SP could clear this up by getting JMcC to comment here. Look at the log in your own eye before you point to a mote in JTs.

"For example Magneto a while ago was having a go at the Militant's role in Labour Youth. What did you choose to do? defend the organisation you were involved in? No, you simply let lies and slanders against your comrades go unanswered."

I dont agree with the Magneto Labour agenda but he told the truth about how Militant lost power in Labour Youth. That doesnt mean the New Direction group were saints. They were an eclectic mixture of Stalinists, Socialist Republicans and Soft Left.

I dont remember JT saying anything about this issue good , bad or indifferent but I would hardly have expected him to lie.

Its probably not profitable for the SP to drag up this issue again. You will not get away with rewriting history.

Now, why not get back to the present struggle. Lets unite and fight against the Bin Tax but constructive criticism should be accepted. The alternative leads to a Stalinist Internal Regime.

author by Archivistpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 15:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Pat C makes a very important point in response to kakaloka, about the need for open discussion rather than a stalinist internal regime. Just because the bin campaign is being attacked does not mean that open discussion of various issues is inappopriate. It was precisely the stalinists in the 1930s who used to say that because the west opposed the socialist experiments there then it was fascistic to criticise any aspect of what stalin was doing! It was absurd and counter productive then (we are still living with the consequences today). It is equally bonkers to say that nobody should criticise or question aspects of the SP's role in the bin tax campaign until it is all over - it might be lost, for heaven's sake, and it certainly raises issues beyond the bin campaign. Instead of trying to silence people like John Throne the workers movement needs to welcome open discussion - and to recognise that only by doing so, and by being seen to do so, will it have any potential to go beyond being a small sect. But when SP members say that they find any discussion of its role disgusting, for one I find a sense of disgust rising in my own throat....

author by SPMember - SPpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 17:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What K said was not that this shouldn't be discussed, its that it should not be discussed on an open forum that the bourgeois media has access to. The press will jump at the chance to publicise internal divisions in the movement. Internal discussion is important but the keyword is INTERNAL.

author by IOpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 17:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What K said was a load of nonsense. I don't know whether you've copped it yet but there is a search archive on this site. I don't believe JT has said anything really new. So what do you suggest stifle all debate about how we view the SP.

Personally I feel JT's comments are long winded, excessively repetitive but for all that worthwhile. He articulates what some of us not members of the SP think and what's more he was part of it. The crux of what he is saying is that all the old certainies are gone. Even during this campaign SPI have changed their postions on certain things and if the prelude to the Iraq war was to happen now it would be interesting to see how they would orientate towards the IAWM.

They are in for an interesting few months. It must be true that 'new layers' (am I using the lingo right)have joined i.e. ordinary punters. It should be fun to see how they interact with certain sections of the youth and the CWI disciples.

As to keeping it internal, how do you suggest that? From what I can see the SWP act independently of the campaign steering committees even if they have reps on it. SF act in a pot pourri fashion. In some areas very active, in other areas reps are advocating payment - very confusing. The SP pick and mixes when it consults with other groups but always want to give the impression of being in charge. The other groups are by and large small and are active in their own areas and usually by-pass the centre. And I doubt that there has been an activist meeting centrally or locally that hasn't had some 'outsider'.

Down with control freakery!!

author by pat cpublication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 18:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

the anti bin tax campaign is made up of many organisations and individuals, naturally there are going to be differences of opinions. the healthiest way to deal with this is to have open discussion.

to carry on as you are suggesting would leave the campaign open to public ridicule. harney & mcdowell would be able to ALLEGE that debate was being suppressed and that the campaign was being run undemocratically by leninists.

as i pointed out on another thread, the campaign is not a "democratic centralist" organisation. it is a federation of independent local groups. each group decides its own policy. the groups VOLUNTARILY accept positions on a city wide, county wide or greater dublin level.

no central committee can IMPOSE a position for or against blockades (or any policy) on local groups.

author by Mickey - SP (pers.cap.)publication date Fri Oct 24, 2003 19:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This stuff is rambling all over the place at this stage, and is getting quite unnecessarily heated.

This is an extremely heterogenous campaign, involving people with a wide range of political and tactical views. Trying to keep all disagreements "internal" to the campaign is completely unrealistic.

That said, there is an obligation on all of us to use our common sense when it comes to expressing our disagreements. Vitriolic denunciations of each other aren't likely to be helpful. Rowing at a press conference isn't a good idea either. You all know the score or at least you should.

The right wing press has been very determined to attack the campaign, even to the point of digging up some article written two years ago by somebody who isn't even living in Ireland any more, so as to portray the movement as "divided".

So, express your disagreements, but we should all try to remember that we are expressing our points of view in a context of very hostile scrutiny.

As for what John wrote to start this thread, I disagree with both his analysis of the Socialist Party and his proposals for a way forward. On the other hand, they are coherent, calm and not particularly filled with bile or damaging to either the SP or the campaign. I think he is talking nonsense, but I have no problem with him doing so.

author by john throne - labors militant voicepublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 05:46author email loughfinn at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Please Comrades from the SP my main point is that the bin tax struggle would have been further united and strengthened if the rally to welcome the release of Joe and Clare had been organized by the campaign rather than by the SP along the way I suggest. See my full quote on this below. How is this wrong.
How is this "nonsense"? Make your case.


I wrote: "My impression is that there is a need to develop greater unity in the bin struggle. That different groups tend to be active in different areas with limited coordination and this is a weakness in the struggle. Joe and Clare are recognized as very important and combative members of the bin struggle. Their willingness to go to jail inspired everyone. They came out full of fight and calling on the battle to be stepped up. Here was an opportunity to increase the unity of the bin tax struggle and to strengthen its morale. But the SP did not approach this opportunity from this point of view.

Instead of an SP meeting to welcome them out with only SP people on the platform and under an SP banner I would like to suggest the following would have been much more in the interests of the campaign. That all the various bin tax groups should have been contacted in the week before the release of Joe and Clare. That a proposal be made to them all to unite to organize a mass rally to welcome the Comrades and any other Comrades being released in those days. That all bin struggle groups have a speaker on the platform but that Joe and Clare and any other released prisoner be given more time to speak. (The Dublin Trades Council and supportive union branches could have been included in this approach.)

Up to 500 came to the SP meeting. I do not think it is too much to estimate that with the above approach there could have been one thousand plus present. Working together to build for this meeting and achieving a large turnout at the meeting would have strengthened the unity of the campaign and laid the basis for a functioning structure. I think it will be pretty obvious to all that this would have been a much more successful approach, and one which would have strengthened the struggle and the working class movement as a whole. This was a serious mistake on behalf of the SP under the guidance of the IS of the CWI."

Instead of avoiding this issue it would be very helpful to the bin tax campaign to discuss it. Maybe then a similiar mistake would be avoided. Maybe then all the various groups could be more conscious of the need to see their own actions more in the light of the need to unify and build the campaign.

I am accused of attacking the bin tax campaign. I am doing no such thing. I am being accused of giving ammunition to the capitalist press by raising the points I do. I am told that this should either be done in some secret way or not until after the campaign is over.

Most of the SP people see themselves as in the Bolshevik tradition. Through the period of the Russian revolution of Febuary to October 1917 there were three public mass Bolshevik papers in Petrograd. They all at times put different positions and criticized each others position. Nobody thought this was some "disgusting" development. If my memory is not gone altogether did Lenin not come back in April 1917 and launch a bitter attack on the position of Stalin and other of his fellow Bolsheviks and do so in writing and in a publicly produced document. I am not suggesting in any way that I am any kind of Lenin what I am suggesting is that the kind of approach taking by at least some of the SP Comrades reflects how the internal lives of revolutionary organizations and their general tactical approach have become distorted by stalinism and isolation.

Then I am accused of linking up with "Magneto". I have not the slightest idea who this person is. As regards the issue of the Militant group losing the leadership of Labor Youth. SP Comrades you have a hard time learning. You keep bringing things up one after the other and you do not know what is involved.

On the Labor Youth and the right taking the leadership. I do not know what happened there. I was not in this country and I was not consulted. No more than I was about the tactics around the time of the expulsion of the Militant from the Labor Party. In fact I was pressured against my will to agree not to be involved in the Militant group in Ireland. Now I can continue with this. It is up to the SP member who makes these accusations. I can lay out everything that happened. I have no wish to but I will not be slandered and accused of lining up with right wingers against the SP and sit with my mouth shut.

So I suggest that all the SP members who are going to contribute to this discussion deal with the issue involved. I would like to suggest that you make a major effort to open your mind to the possibility that the bin campaign could have been strengthened if the suggestions I make had been carried out. But let us not stop there. The approach I suggest can still be taken and the SP can use its resources to try and bring together the campaign at every opportunity.

I would like to also suggest to the SP Comrades that they consider the point I made at the end of an earlier posting. If the SP had acted in the way I suggested then the SP would have been immeasurably strengthened. It is not I who damage the SP. It is those who persist in defending its every move and who are unwilling to openly discuss its tactics and decisions and its unhealthy internal life.

It should not be too hard. Forget about attacking me. Forget that it is me that is making these points. Just look at the issues. My position is that the bin tax campaign would have been further unified and strengthened if the SP had acted along the lines of my suggestions, and the SP would have been further strengthened also.

I believe it is an open and shut case and it is because this is so that I am accused of linking with somebody called Magneto, of giving ammunition to the right wing press, etc. etc. And in relation to Mickey of the SP please give a bit more argument as to why you say what I argue is "nonsense".

John Throne.

Related Link: http://laborsmilitantvoice.com
author by Mickeypublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 18:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John, I already dealt with your point about the Socialist Party holding the public meeting that welcomed back Joe and Clare.

In the more than six weeks since this struggle really kicked off, the Socialist Party has spent almost all of its energies on events organised by the broader bin tax campaigns. I am talking about every rally, protest, meeting or blockade.

The Joe and Clare meeting was in fact the first public Socialist Party event on the issue in that entire time.

In the context of this balance of work, what you are effectively arguing is that the Socialist Party should not organise any events in its own name at all. I disagree with you fundamentally on that.

So John lets take it from the beginning. Do you in fact think that the Socialist Party should not organise any events in its own name and why?

author by John Throne - laborsmilitantvoicepublication date Sat Oct 25, 2003 23:58author email loughfinn at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Mickey, this is getting a bit wearing. You decide that you can answer me better if you put the words in my mouth that you wish to be there. So you write:

"In the context of this balance of work, what you are effectively arguing is that the Socialist Party should not organise any events in its own name at all. I disagree with you fundamentally on that.So John lets take it from the beginning. Do you in fact think that the Socialist Party should not organise any events in its own name and why?"

This should not take long. Mickey I never said this and I do not believe this. I am entirely in favor of the SP organizing and publishing and intervening under its own name. I do not think I can be any clearer. In fact from 1971 until I left in 1983 I worked as a full timer creating the organization that evolved into the SP without this maybe the SP would not have a name to intervene under. So please spare me this type of approach, this distorting of my views.

Of course it is much easier for you to respond to this falsehood than to respond to the actual point I did raise. That is would the Anti bin tax campaign not be stronger and more unified if the SP had used its resources to have a welcome out rally for Joe and Clare organized by all the anti bin tax forces rather than by the SP under its own banner.

Comrade Mickey the internal life of the SP is trapping you here. Look at where it is getting you. You cannot take up the actual points I do raise because if you do so this will lead you to question the SP policies and this is not allowed in any public way if you are a member of the SP. So you have to try and evade the issue and this leads to distortion of others views.

But look at this from another point of view. The SWP have just exposed themselves as acting in the most sectarian manner in the Des Derwin situation. Imagine the position the SP would be in now if they had done what I suggest on the Joe and Clare rally. If they had done what I suggested and had an all bin tax rally they would be in a perfect position now to take up the sectarianism of the SWP. As it is they will have to answer that they too on occasions put their own sectarian interests over that of the movement.

But it is not too late. The SP can come out with a statement now saying that it believes that it made a mistake and should have held an all bin tax rally. That it made this mistake because of the affects of sectarianismn which affect all of the left and this includes the SP. It should come out in support of Des Derwin's candidature in the SIPTU. But it should also make a statement that it wants to put on the agenda of all the left including itself how sectarianism has damaged the movement. For this to have credibility it would have to openly explain the occasions in the past when it has acted in a sectarian manner.

Mickey the thing that is most frustrating of all is that such an approach would be in the best interests not only of the working class and of the left activist movement but also it would be in the best interests of the SP in terms of growth and development. The SP keeps shooting itself in the foot and when I point this out you attack me for criticising your actions.

I hope that the SWP decision which has put sectarianism on the agenda as not for some time will help develop a discussion in the SP along these lines. That this will include its decisions on the Gresham meeting and will result in an open admission of mistakes. And that the call will be raised for the SP to use its resources to campaign against sectarianism both in its own ranks and the left in general. Specifically I hope that the SP or members of the SP would now take action to try and convince the left activist movement itself to organize a conference of all the anti capitalist activists in the movement to discuss the damage done by sectarianism.

I believe that in this context many of the points that I and Labors Militant Voice have raised will be found relevant. The need to change the internal life of the SP to where factions are a natural part, to where differences are understood to be inevitable and these are printed in the organizations publications and website, to where a discussion is initiated on how the internal life of the left has been distorted by stalinism, the fight against stalinism and by isolation. Any step towards taking these actions against sectarianism in the movement in general would mean that the SP would have to openly criticise its own actions in this regard and all the members of the SP would have to be free to speak out.

I hope that you initiate such a discussion in the SP Mickey. If you do not then the opportunity that the SWP's recent action has given for a real struggle against sectarianism will be lost. The challenge for the SP is to come out against sectarianism wherever it exists including its own ranks, if the SP comes out just to take advantage of the chance to stamp on the SWP and that is all then this will only strengthen sectarianism. Can you Mickey, can the SP, rise to this challenge. If so then the working class movement, the left activist movement, and the SP itself will all be strengthened.

John Throne.

Related Link: http://laborsmilitantvoice.com
author by Mickey - SP (pers.cap.)publication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 04:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

John, I agree that this is getting wearing. I'm not sure that I agree with you exactly why this conversation is becoming tiresome.

I have repeatedly explained to you the context in which the extraordinarily succesful meeting to welcome back Joe and Clare took place. The Socialist Party has been involved in organising an enormous number of meetings, rallies, protests and blockades in the six weeks since the bin tax issue erupted. Every single one of those events has been organised as campaign events, with one single exception.

You are arguing that there should have been no exception. You have repeatedly seized on the fact that the Socialist Party organised that one single event in our own name as some kind of evidence that we have been behaving in a sectarian manner.

You maintain on the one hand that you are in favour of us organising events in our own name. On the other hand you criticise us for being "sectarian" when we organise one such event in a sea of campaign events. This is at best somewhat inconsistent of you. The balance of our work - quite rightly - has been overwhelmingly tilted towards campaign events.

You now raise the behaviour of the SWP when it comes to Des Derwin. Their behaviour has undoubtedly been crass and sectarian, but that is hardly unusual is it? As someone in that thread pointed out, the Socialist Party has been on the receiving end of such electoral stunts by them on more than one occasion. Incidents of the SWP acting the maggot in this fashion are ten a penny and one more is not going to change our attitude towards politics or towards them.

We remain convinced that a party of the working class is necessary in this country. We remain convinced that the Socialist Party will only form one section of what will be a much broader organisation.

The Socialist Party will do all we can to help to facilitate a new mass working class party into existence. That will probably include taking the initiative to establish broader structures when we think that such structures could play a real role in moving us towards that goal.

But such structures aren't going to be rushed into. They aren't going to be set up for the sake of setting them up. They aren't going to be based on any kind of lash up between ourselves and an unreconstructed and downright damaging sect like the SWP. We aren't going to set up committees that we aren't in a position to maintain. In short we aren't going to rush off half-cocked and set up something that would be more likely to be at best a waste of limited resources and at worst an actual barrier to progress.

It remains an open question how much the struggles around the bin tax issue will have changed the situation on the ground with regard to this broader picture. That's something that will certainly see discussion in our own ranks and beyond, but I don't have a crystal ball. As our view of the situation we are in changes, so to does our view of the way forward. I hope that the same is true of you.

author by the wall with a ladderpublication date Sun Oct 26, 2003 22:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"We aren't going to set up committees that we aren't in a position to maintain." -:Mickey

Surely you mean "committees that are sustainable through working class need" we wont get into it deeper as i think we might end up at fists/guns length when you find the revolutioon.

Thes secterian WE needs flushed, remember to pull the chain, instead of our legs.

author by hs - sppublication date Fri Oct 31, 2003 16:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

As far as the argument goes on the meeting, I don't think it was such a bad idea. The party has organised the bin tax campaign in Fingal very openly and very democratically. There have been no complaints about this (apart from an SF member who swears Ruth C. won't answe his calls!) if there was complaints we would hear about them. When you look at the organisation of the Fingal Campaign as compared to other parts of the city I think it looks like its been organized quite well and openly. There have been alot of meetings over the last three years organised as bin tax meetings. For the rally the party choose to have a party meeting. I think this was justified for two reasons, firstly because the two people being released were not only SP members but SP representatives and in essence the most famous reps of the party. There were no non party releases that they, had there been there could not have been a party rally. Secondly the party has put massive resources of manpower and time into the campaign it has dedicted many many hours and I don't think you can accuse the party of opportunism or sectarianism on this issue.

In short if we could not have a party rally when our two public reps had been released from prison when could we have a public meeting?

I have my doubhts if 1,000 would have come if it had been called by the bin tax committees, I think
people went to this meeting to hear Joe and Clare rather than the organisation that called it. And I don't think a statement saying it was a mistake is necessary. Should the trade union council say it was a mistake for calling a protest march against the jailings of Clare and Joe? What kind of a party would not hold meetings in support of their comrades?I think you blow out of proportion single events to prove a thesis you have already decided on.

people from the party are talking with you in a reasonable manner. I would not pay any attention to any idiots insulting you without admitting their names, they may or may not be in the party.

On your general thesis if I understand it correctly you believe committees should be set up on a more generalized basis, Larkin and Connolly could be the names. Which could attract new layers and anarchists etc. Its possible but whether it would attract masses is another thing. Often I find we can when we become involved in left politics can often loose touch with how people outside the movement feel or think. That is become more concerned with issues which outside leftist circles are meaningless. My general test for this is simply talk to non activist friends wheter in a pub or in work and float ideas. I think if I suggested these committees people wouldn't see much difference between them and the party. I honestly don't think we have reached such a generalised stage to which these committies would attract more people than the parties groups that already exist. For example most people know what political parties are and what they do etc I'm not saying that this is permannent and the committees are a bad idea. For the anarchists they have launched such an inititive called the grass roots gathering and I wish them luck with it. It is very doubhtfull they would involved themselves in an "authoritarian" one. On a broader basis the Irish Social Forum is trying to do something similar. I think in reality the Larkin committees would probably end up being Socialist party members plus one or two, socialist party marxist forums. I think we are better organising under our own name for the moment. In the end it is actual struggle which will see broader movements being built rather than soley intellectual ideas.

We would need a number of struggles like the bin tax happening at the same time to justify the committees. Or to attract people to them, such as service charges committees (bin and water), then they could be expaned to include other issues. And they would evolve naturally.

But the idea does deserve merit and discussion because we could be wrong.

author by Joepublication date Fri Oct 31, 2003 17:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"if there was complaints we would hear about them."

Maybe, or then again maybe not. Perhaps those of us who might have stuff to say are waiting until later on to say it. Right now there is a high chance of anything but the vaguest hints (and if you read between the lines these are there) would end up in the Sindo or Joe Duffy in order to undermine the campaign.

author by john throne - labors militant voicepublication date Fri Oct 31, 2003 18:49author email loughfinn at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thank you HS for your comments. I am entirely in favor of the SP building its own forces. Since I was expelled from the CWI my own resources have been centered in building and developing a small group based on theory and principle. I have no disagreement with the SP on this. This is not an issue inspite of some recent attempts by CWI people to alledge this.

But I believe it is not possible to build a healthy organization dedicated to ending capitalism unless the relationship of that organization to the movement of the working class is correct. I also believe that we are working in very different terrain than was the case throughout most of the history of the SP and the CWI.

Look at the bin tax. As far as I know there are many different groups working in this in many different areas. I have no doubt that the SP will have put down roots in the working class in this struggle that will not be equalled by many other groups. I have no doubt that the SP is more influential than any of the other groups in this struggle.

I know the great strengths of the SP, especially its orientation to the working class and its responsible attitude to intervening in the working class and taking responsibility for its actions and the struggles. I congratulate the SP for the work they have put into the bin tax struggle and I am pleased that this is so.

The question for me is how does the SP use this position in relation to building a workers movement. My understanding is that the SP sees itself as leading this struggle and continuing to lead this struggle and believes it will come out of it dominant and so strengthened that its rivals will be left behind to such an extent that it will be unchallenged as the anti capitalist group in Ireland.

HS I am very familiar with this approach. I had it for decades. However I would like to ask you to consider that we always said that the mass of the workers would not move to us that they would seek the line of least resistance and look to try and reform the system before seeing by experience and with the help of the revolutionaries that this would not work. Do we still believe this if so what do we say to the mass of the workers.

My position on what we should say on this may be all wrong. But the SP only says join the SP. This was described by the CWI for all the years I was in it as ultra leftism. Build the revolutionary party and that is all. We scorned the organizations which did not put forward a position which would allow the more advanced and serious workers to organize yes as revolutionaries but also to relate to and link with the mass of the workers who for a more prolonged period would seek a way out through reforming capitalism.

Then there is the more immediate situation of the needs of the movement today and the potential of the movement today. I do not hear any longer the cry from the SP leaders that my idea that there were hundreds of activists in the Dublin area alone that were prepared to struggle and that there were many thousands more who would be if they could see a way to do so. It is clear that i was correct on this. So what do we say to these.

The SP says be active in the united fronts in the unions, the united fronts such as in the bin tax struggle and join the SP. But we all know that this will not work with the majority of these activists. Many of them have already been in the SP. Many in other organizations. many are anarchists. And along with this there is the very powerful caution about organizations and about alternatives and about organizations that appear to know all the answers in this post stalinist time.

Comrade HS if the SP does come out of this as the leading force in the bin tax struggle it will recruit a handful of new members and I am glad it will do so. But if this is all it will have offered no realistic alternative to the many other activists and it will have only exacerbated the sectarianism which is so damaging. Look at where this can lead for example in the last Presidential elections in France with three candidates on the far left standing against each other and splitting the vote and allowing the NF in a run off with Chirac.

Why was this so damaging? If there had been a run off for the second round between a far left candidate and Chirac this would have helped enormously to build a new radical workers movement in France. The role of sectarianism in the French presidential campaign and all three groups are responsible was a crime against the workers movement. I do not want to see this repeated in Ireland or anywhere. Do you think the SP approach to winner take all in the bin tax struggle will help prevent this. On the contrary it will make it more likely.

So i am arguing that the SP should see this bin struggle as a way to throw back the bosses offensive by victory on the bin tax but should see that it should do this in a way that helps lay down some foundation for the building of a united front non sectarian tradition in the activist and working class movement. This means the SP seeing this as an objective and working toward it. This is what is in the interest of the working class movement.

Look at this from this point of view. What is in the interest of the working class in Ireland at this time. I believe that it is that the bin tax struggle be won and that out of this the hundreds of activists from different traditions come out of this feeling well I disagree with this and that of this or that group but we worked well together and a real tradition of united front non sectarian struggle has been laid down. The movement as a whole would have its head lifted by this.

So to the Gresham meeting. HS of course the SP has the right and in fact I would say the duty to have its own meetings and build its own base and explain that its activists are playing a principled and leading role in the bin tax struggle. This is not a question of rights or a question building the party or not. The question is this:

Was the decision to this particular event, to hold the welcome out rally for Joe and Clare as a SP rally in the best interests of the bin tax struggle, the best interests of laying down an anti sectarian tradition which would allow for the many hundreds of activists and different traditions to increase their confidence in their ability to work together, was it in the best interests of the working class. I say it was not. I would be very interested to hear any kind of reasonable refutation of this.

But to go into another area. Was it in the best interest of the SP. I would say absolutely not. The entire country knows that Joe and Clare are in the SP and that the SP is the main left force in the campaign. Nothing was gained in this regard. The meeting did not have to be held to achieve this. Sure it was good for morale but I would suggest the cost of this was to further blinker the SP in terms of the needs of the movement and in fact its own interests. And in fact morale in the SP would have been boosted much more by my suggested approach.

Let us say for example the SP had done what i suggested. that is have a totally non sectarian approach and used its resources to convince the bin tax movement as a whole to hold a welcome out rally, that all committees have a speaker, that any other prisoners or prisoners families be represented, that a major drive be put on in this. HS I know and you know and anybody else reading this knows that this would have strengthened the unity and the influence and morale of the bin tax struggle. And anybody can see that the SP would have got the main credit for this.

This would have also been a significant blow against sectarianism. It would have helped build confidence in the ability of groups and activists to work together in a non sectarian way. It would have strengthened the cohesion of the activist layer in the working class in Dublin and elsewhere and been a step towards rebuilding a new activist cohesive fighting section in the working class. The SP would have got the credit for this.

Then just imagine the position the SP would have been in over the past week. The SWP panicked and took its step in the SIPTU. Sectarianism was placed center stage in many activists consciousness as a scourge that is damaging and has to be strengthened. Then the SWP held its own meeting for its imprisoned bin tax activist repeating the approach of the SP. In this situation the SP's approach would have stood out for all to see as the approach that would best build the movement. As the approach which would allow for the widest layers of activists to work together in the struggle against the capitalist attacks. As the approach that was in the best interest of the working class.

Comrade HS please it is an open and shut case. What I suggest would have been in the best interest of the bin tax struggle, would have been in the best interest of unifying the activist layer in struggle, the best interest of the working class as a whole and of course the best interest of the SP itself.

This is not the end of the problems with setcarianism. It is only the beginning. And the danger of sectarianism is much greater in this period. The bin tax struggle and struggles in the future have activists from many more different traditions involved than has been the case in the past, the present situation has workers with much greater suspicion and caution about revolutionary organizations. This has to be recognized. This is why I am in favor of a struggle to develop an anti sectarian initiative that would place this issue on the agenda, that would attempt to clarify where it comes from, what its roots are and which would seek to develop a Charter Against sectarianism.

I was asked on another thread what organizations I see developing such an initiative such a charter. I would see that a handful of serious activists from different traditions would be able to take this issue up and would be able to make it an issue that all left organizations would have to respond to and think about and act on. This does not have to wait for any organization. A handful of serious activists can put this on the agenda and increase the consciousness on this issue and create an atmosphere in the movement where sectarianism is put on the defensive.

A final detail HS on the SP. To be able to operate effectively in this period open acknowledgement of mistakes, open publication of differences in the party publications, open understanding and acceptance that there will be different factions and sustained struggles over policy in the revolutionary organization willl be inevitable. To work in a healthy way in this period, that is in a way that is in the interests of the working class and the revolutionary organization and movement the internal life of the SP will have to change. The admirable and courageous actions of the SP leaders and members in blocking the bin trucks on the roads, while such actions are essential to build the movement and the organization, these will not be an adequate substitue for a proper approach to the movement as a whole and an internal life that corresponds to the needs of the movement and the membership. John Throne

author by hs - sppublication date Mon Nov 03, 2003 17:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I doubht it joe if someone even had a whiff of an idea there might be problems it would be all over indymedia.

author by hs - sppublication date Mon Nov 03, 2003 18:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Even if the meeting was a mistake (Which I don't believe it was, I think you are excatturating its importance) It is still one public meeting of hundreds organised by members of the party for the bin tax committee.

I think the second part of your proposal is much more important. That is of the committees, I have outlined my problems with this and why I believe (at this stage) they wouldn't work.
Firstly it probably would be seen as a front. Secondly I don't think anarchists would take part. And thirdly I don't think it would actually attract more people than the current left.
I believe these committees could only come out of a number of struggles, bin tax activists uniting with activists from similar type of struggles.
For the socialist party itself, as you know the party line is the SP is not and will not be a mass movement or party but it will a part of this movement or party.

In all honesty if these committees were to be created it would be probably be better if they were organised by people not in any party or group (including anarchist) , so it won't be suspected of being a front.

author by Joepublication date Mon Nov 03, 2003 18:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Look HS some of us have enough common sense to know when to bring up specific problems and when not to do so. It is unfortunate that some SP members were not capable of showing the same sense in advance of March 1st, in that case about their more fevered imagings of state repression that was in store. There are after all another 16 in the High Court today, lets be sensible about what we are feeding the media.

Go read the reports I posted to http://struggle.ws/wsm/bins.html and you will find a scattering of hints there. Better yet ask any SP member on the steering committee or who attend activist meetings whether 'the anarchists' are altogether happy with things. Or you could ask to read the resignation letters of any SP members that have left your organisation in the last weeks which I'm guessing would be another source of what I might be on about. There are a few specifics in my contribution at http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=61909
as well

I reckon that there is a 50% chance that someone other then HS posted the bit I'm replying to. If so nice try, but I'm not biting...

author by hs - sppublication date Mon Nov 03, 2003 18:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

just occurred to me joe, the campaign is actually a couple of years old and has been running long before the press were interested. And as I'm sure you remeber the party was torn apart just before the bin tax blocades. Now if there had been problems about the partys actions in the campaign before it definitely would have come out then. If the only example of sectarianism is organising a rally for our two public representatives in an election year (I know you are an anarchist, but we have different ideas on elections before anyone starts). After spending three years working in the campaign and the previous two months the whole party in dublin was working flat out. I think having a public meeting isn't such a bad thing.

author by hs - Sppublication date Mon Nov 03, 2003 18:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sorry I didn't mean to offend, I simply pointed out that people would complain and even if someone heard about complaints they'd probably publish it, I wrote the second reply before I read yours if it seems strange. But again I think someone would have said something before especially before the blockades. On the last point is it only anarchists that have complaints? Could it be an idelogical complaint? Could it be some tiny detail that someone did or didn't do or some mistake? I remember once the WSM writing an article on John McCamly because the letters he sent out for an anti rascist campaign were a day late. There are complaints and complaints, and I never heard of problems in the water charges campaign which is similar. Differences of opinion yes but serious complaints no. But little hints and reading between the lines and "unhappy Anarchists" don't cut it. I don't believe you should publish now if you believe it would be damaging to the campaign. But after I'd like to see you back up the "hints" if you don't mind.

I'm simply asking please don't take offence. And what resignation letter and who? And I know some of us have brains, but others don't and I suspect some would prefer to see bad press on the sp than not, campaign or no campaign. And it is me.

author by Joepublication date Tue Nov 04, 2003 11:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

HS if your going to bring up old arguments try and get them right.

What actually happened was that John included an attack on us in an article in issue 3 of 'Socialism 2000', the Socialist Party magazine. This had nothing to do with the timing of letters being sent out.

It arose out of long standing disagreements in the Anti Racism Campaign. In a reply we published in Workers Solidaity No56 we explained the background to this as follows

"This issue was eventually decided at a National Conference of anti racist organisations, which agreed to the establishment of a "National Federation of Campaigns Against Racism". The debate which led up to this decision was at all times carried out by WSM members in an open and honest fashion.

"We can only presume that we were guilty of "petty sectarianism" because we held a different point of view to the SP. Or was it because at one review meeting our comrades declared our political affiliations (after all people have a right to know who's who and what's going on)?

"This pressurised the SP people present to do so as well, instead of posing as just new ARC members (there were at least four senior SP members present who had not previously attended ARC meetings, and it was clear that they were attempting to pack the meeting and have their proposals agreed).

"Since the vote at the National Conference, at which their proposals for a National Campaign with a centralised leadership were defeated, the Socialist Party have not attended any ARC meetings or stalls. They have made a deliberate effort to take away the name of the campaign by calling public meetings in the name of "members of ARC". Media statements purporting to be on behalf of the campaign have been issued by John McCamley, despite the fact that he has no authorisation to do so, and hasn't even been present at campaign meetings for months."

-- extract ends --

The full article is at http://struggle.ws/ws99/ws56_sp_reply.html

For anyone lost in this wander back to 1998/9 ARC no longer exists, it wound up in April 2002. The old web site is at http://struggle.ws/arc.html

author by hs - sppublication date Tue Nov 04, 2003 16:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Pack a meeting with four members, not a very good effort is it :) But anyway I remember a lot of fuss about small things. And I remeber the base of complaints about us being idelogical which you confirm (I think). But back to the present I still think if there had been problems with democracy during the bin tax campaign it would have come out on indymedia. As I said it's been running for years before the sindo took an interest. On your comments about activists from outside fingal not been welcome I personally saw three people from Finglas at the Lohunda blockade.

author by hs - sppublication date Tue Nov 04, 2003 16:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

they were not sp members but from the ISN I think

But the point of the success of the first days in Fingal were the local activists in the campaign (non party political) and local people coming out.
Not subsituting locals by "professional" revolutionaries. Its suprising that an anarchist would come to the position that this was a mistake.

If you have problems with our ideas, fair enough, but don't confuse it with campaign democracy. You're not the only ones on the planet with ideas of tactics or how a campaign should be run.

author by Joepublication date Tue Nov 04, 2003 16:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

HS some of the other questions you ask should be directed not at me but your HQ, they should be able to fill you in on who has resigned and what reasons they have given. Beyond that I've written a longer reply and then deleted it because I can't see anyway of sensibly going beyond what is already said.

author by Chekovpublication date Tue Nov 04, 2003 16:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

We do have certain problems with the way the campaign has gone which we will put forward whenever we think that there is no risk of it being used against the campaign. I'd imagine that all of the political groups involved will have encountered some problems which they will share with us in their analyses once the campaign is over. For all of your lack of faith in us, we do have the good sense not to splash every criticism all over indymedia.

In the meantime, please stop your imaginings of what our problem is. Since you haven't been involved in the campaign on the ground, there is absolutely no way that you could know what we are talking about so your conjectures about democracy vs ideological problems are just guesses. Keep them to yourself or you might just provoke some angry activist into an ill-conceived rant.

Also, what on earth are you playing at in bringing up the old ARC dispute? Your first reference to it was very, very inaccurate (as evidenced by the quotes posted above from the article) and your subsequent rememberings seem equally strange. Is it just the case that you are feeling left out over there in blighty and want to get stuck in to some good old fashioned sectarian bickering?

Please leave it out.

author by hs - sppublication date Tue Nov 04, 2003 17:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

when joe made his short comment, I answered in excatly the same manner and he became offended.
I have a small problem with people making shadowy accusations and I simply made the point in the years that the campaign has been running there have been no complaints on indymedia and I believe there would have been. For a sectarian scrap believe me in Italy theres plenty of that going on I don't need to go home for it! But again I was in the middle of a conversation with John Throne on his open letter to the socialist party, which I am a member. My idea may be conjecture but if someone wants to make shadowy accusations they may just get a shadowy answer in response :)

author by Joepublication date Tue Nov 04, 2003 17:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Your second post sent during the time I was composing the reply I was making to your first actually blundered onto some of what I was going to post but then deleted. But now that you have chosen to put it in the public sphere ...

You right, sending 'professional' revolutionaries out was not the way to win. So care to explain to me why one morning when waiting for people to assemble to do a solidarity blockade in the North city I was surprised to see two SP members pass on the other side of the street. At the time the (dissident) SP member I was beside explained that the SP was sending its 'professional' revolutionaries out to Fingal. Even when as in this case there was a blockade happening on their own doorstep.

Even funnier is your other 'proof'. It's hardly a secret that the SP hopes to swallow the ISN after all. Would it be too cynical to suggest that they (and SP members) were being fed the opposite line from the 'Fingal leadership' to every other political group active in the campaign.

Anyway this is all pretty minor and circumstantal stuff in relation to Fingal. It falls into focus when you here of some of the strange things going on in the city. But please cop yourself on a little at this point HS, your furious digging has so far only uncovered a suspicious smell. There are better times to argue over what lies beneath.

author by Joepublication date Tue Nov 04, 2003 17:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think I stupidly allowed myself to be provoked. So I'm not responding to any more posts in this thread. It can wait.

author by hs - sppublication date Tue Nov 04, 2003 17:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

any of the anarchists have any input?

author by Paul - ISN (personal capacity)publication date Tue Nov 04, 2003 17:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't think the SP would like to swallow all of the ISN. (Think of the indigestion)
After all, some of us are 'bourgeois individualists' who don't have any intention of reading 'The Revolution betrayed'. (i.e. well intentioned but dodgy)

author by hs - sppublication date Tue Nov 04, 2003 17:25author address author phone Report this post to the editors

i wrote my last before I read yours. I have been absolutely polite with you. I have made no effort to provoke you. If you wish to engage in debate try to realise I may not agree with you.
I again have done nothing to provoke apart from disagree with you. Now on your accusations I was only in dublin for a couple of weeks a the beginning of the blockades and the majority (yes majority) of those involved were not members of parties or groups. On the blockades i was on (some with hundreds) and even the small ones with a few people, the majority were always local activists.

author by hs - sppublication date Tue Nov 04, 2003 17:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think that argument had better finish if we could return to the topic at hand JTs proposal, has anyone any ideas on it.

author by john throne - labors militant voicepublication date Thu Nov 06, 2003 01:48author email loughfinn at aol dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

on the proposal
by hs - sp Monday, Nov 3 2003, 5:02pm.

HS you wrote: "I think the second part of your (That is mine-JT) proposal is much more important. That is of the committees, I have outlined my problems with this and why I believe (at this stage) they wouldn't work.
Firstly it probably would be seen as a front. Secondly I don't think anarchists would take part. And thirdly I don't think it would actually attract more people than the current left.
I believe these committees could only come out of a number of struggles, bin tax activists uniting with activists from similar type of struggles."

Comrade HS I try to keep focused on the needs of the working class at this time and the potential for moving in this direction. I believe that the working class needs a movement to fight back and defeat the capitalist offensive. I believe that the hundreds of anti capitalist activists in the Dublin area for example, the thousands in the country as a whole, have a responsibility to work together in a united front manner and assist the working class as a whole find its feet. The SP has this responsibility in particular given its size and influence. So I approach things in this way, with these guidelines.

I look at the bin tax struggle as a way to defeat the capitalist offensive on this particular front but also I look at it as a way to take forward and develop united front struggle amongst the activists and to root the activists in the working class as a whole. I hope that out of it would come a greatly increased consciousness especially amongst the activists of the need to fight on a united front basis but also a greatly increased confidence that this could be done in a non sectarian manner and this in turn would help take forward the work of building a cohesive fighting active section of the working class once more.

The SP and the SWP approach this work with a much greater emphasis on the need to build their own party in the short term than on a comprehensive understanding of the needs of the working class and the potential at this point in time. This is the influence of sectarianism. And it is also by the way extremely short sighted on the part of the SP. If it acted in the way I suggest it would be in a much strengthened position to grow and develop. It would be seen as the main force fighting the bosses and the capitalist offensive in the shape of the bin tax at this time, and also the main force fighting the sectarianism that weakens the working class. It would be standing out as a pole of attraction to much larger sections of the activists.

Look at the issue of the committees that I suggest and on which you comment HS. My understanding is that the anti bin tax struggle involves activists from many traditions and none working together in the various areas. In other words there are at present in existance a form of neighbourhood committees, that is in the shape of the locally based anti bin tax struggles and formations. What plans does the SP have for these after the bin tax struggle is over. I hear of no plan. I suspect that there is none. This can only be because the SP is not sufficiently focused on the development of united front anti capitalist struggles of the activists and the linking of these to the working class and too much focused and in a very shortsighted manner on building its own ranks.

My position is that as we struggle together we explain the points I raise above and we suggest that when the bin struiggle is over that we should continue to work together, that is continue to operate in united front work such as the bin tax committees. I am in favor of trying to keep these in existance to carry on on a day to day basis the struggle on the other issues that affect the working class. That is that we try and develop in an organic way from the work together on the bin tax, from the bin tax committees themselves, united front working class anti capitalist committees in the neighbourhoods. These could be increasingly linked to the activists in the workplaces and the unions and the schools and colleges, and out of this process could develop an anti capitalist front, and other formations.

Comrade HS what does the SP have to say about the bin tax groups, what should happen to these when the bin tax struggle is over. These are genuine groupings of struggle thrown up in the struggle itself. I do not know what the SP has to say to these. I would like to hear. However I hear nothing. And when this is put together with the others issues I have raised then I am forced to conclude that the SP has an element of sectarianism in its approach and is not sufficiently guided by the needs of the working class today and the potential that exists amongst the working class and the activists. And that its policy is to let the anti bin tax formations die as soon as the bin tax struggle is over.

John Throne.

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