Αυτοκαθορισμός

Αυτοκαθορισμός

Κυριακή, 11 Σεπτεμβρίου 2016

How a rape accusation has destroyed the Socialist Workers Party....αυτό το "θέμα" γιατί δεν το μάθαμε νωρίτερα εδώ; ας πούμε λόγου χάριν από την "Παντιέρα"; θα απαντούσαμε στο ερώτημα: εκτός από τους "σταλινικούς" και τους "εθνικιστές" είναι γουρούνια φαλοκράτες και αριστεριστές;;; τι λες ρε παιδάκι μου, δεν μπορείς να πιστέψεις κανέναν σήμερα (λέμε τώρα)

  

Να τρολάρουμε λίγο, έχουμε το δικαίωμα μετά από τόσες συκοφαντίες των χυδαίων αυτών, που έχουν κατακλύσει το "κίνημα" με τις μπουρδολογίες τους.

(σας διαβεβαιώ πως θα μπορούσα να το χοντρύνω και άλλο, αλλά δείχνω έλεος)

(Φανταστική) Δήλωση μέγα επαναστάτη Κωνσταντίνου, για την υπόθεση περί (πιθανού) βιασμού "εκ μέρους" ηγετικού στελέχους στο σούπερ ντούπερ υπερεπαναστατικό κόμμα SWP, αδερφό κόμμα του ΣΕΚ-ΑΝΤΑΡΣΥΑ (ΚΕΕΡΦΑ):

"Μάλλον πρόκειται για σταλινοσιωνιστική συνωμοσία. Σύμφωνα με πηγές μου σκοπός του μυστικού πράκτορα της Μοσσάντ, του οποίου ο παππούς ήταν κηπουρός και κολλητός φίλος του Στάλιν, και με τις οδηγίες του οποίου διείσδυσε στο κόμμα της εργατικής τάξης, ήταν να προκαλέσει διάσπαση στο κόμμα και το κίνημα της μεγάλης αραβικής εργατικής και λίγο (μωρέ) ισλαμιστικής επανάστασης της Συρίας"

Αποτέλεσμα εικόνας για κωνσταντίνου σεκ

Comrades at war: the decline and fall of the Socialist Workers Party

Comrades at war: the decline and fall of the Socialist Workers Party

How a rape accusation has destroyed the Socialist Workers Party – whose members have included Christopher Hitchens and Paul Foot – and provoked a crisis on the far left.

The supporters of the Socialist Workers Party who gathered in Trafalgar Square on a bright sunny day at the end of March could not agree how to define the relationship between their organisation and the rally taking place around them. One seller of the weekly Socialist Worker, who was down from Sheffield for the day, told me that Unite Against Fascism was a “front” for the SWP, but the man working on the stall selling party literature was more cautious: “It’s not an SWP event,” he said. “We’re part of it. But it’s bigger than us.”
That was certainly true: UAF is an orga­nisation with many supporters, including many trade unions, and the demonstrators who had assembled at the statue of Nelson Mandela outside the Houses of Parliament had marched to Trafalgar Square beneath a wide array of banners. There were Socialist Worker placards saying “No to racism: blame Tories and bosses not migrants” but there were also banners of local branches of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Labour Party. “Hugs not Thugs”, said one, and another, “Save Your Hate for the Daily Mail”. The speakers on the stage set up between the fountains in Trafalgar Square reflected the make-up of the crowd: Wayman Bennett, the joint secretary of UAF and a prominent figure in the SWP, was followed by Diane Abbott and Christine Blower, the general secretary of the NUT.
The speakers were interspersed with bands, evoking memories of UAF’s predecessor the Anti-Nazi League, and the great days of Rock Against Racism in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The SWP has always sought to “punch above its weight”, as the saying goes, by attempting to co-ordinate a broad constituency in support of a cause. But at the moment it has a particular interest in surrounding itself with respectable figures, and in directing attention towards its anti-fascist campaigns, because it is seeking to repair the damage caused by a scandal that has played out over the past 18 months.
In 2010, one of its leading members, who has always been referred to as “Comrade Delta”, was accused of sexually assaulting a young female “comrade”, and the party’s attempt to deal with the matter via a “disputes committee” composed largely of his colleagues has provoked anger and derision. Three further allegations of rape prompted claims that sexual abuse was “endemic” within the organisation.
Yet it was the suggestion that the leadership had protected one of its own, and persuaded hundreds of members to collude in a cover-up, that convinced many people it was irredeemably corrupt.
In March, the University of London Union, which used to let rooms to the SWP for its annual conference on Marxism, changed its constitution to allow its officers to ban the party from the premises and accused it of being a “rape-apologist organisation which prides itself in creating an unsafe space for young women”. The attacks are not only verbal: recently, SWP stalls have been overturned at student demonstrations, and its activists harassed and abused.
The man working on the stall at Trafalgar Square articulated the defiant view that the leadership has taken throughout the affair: “We’re not going anywhere,” he said. “If anyone thinks we are, they’re crazy.”
Yet such loyalty is increasingly rare: hundreds of former members have left the party, many with scornful parting words for their former comrades. “If I had died last year I should have died happy to have been a party member,” wrote a long-standing member, Ian Birchall, in his resignation letter. “Unfortunately, the events of the last year have changed everything.” Birchall’s remark that he had never seen a “crisis remotely comparable to the one we are now going through” carries some weight. He had been a member for 50 years and wrote a biography of Tony Cliff, the revered Trotskyist activist who set it up.
Cliff was born Ygael Gluckstein in Palestine in 1917. He was the son of a Zionist building contractor, although Paul Foot – the campaigning journalist and long-standing SWP member – said he was “speedily converted out of Zionism by observing the treatment of Arab children”. In 1947 he came to Britain, where he changed his name, and established the Socialist Review Group, which became the International Socialists (IS) in the early 1960s and then the SWP in 1977. It defines itself as “a voluntary organisation of individuals who understand the need to organise collectively to fight for the socialist transformation of society”.
The transformation required is absolute, “for the present system cannot be patched up”, and it will be achieved only “through the self-activity and self-emancipation of the working class”. Tony Cliff said that “the emancipation of the working class is the act of the working class” and the concept is often expressed by the slogan “Socialism from below”. Christopher Hitchens, who was an early member of IS, said that the result of a “revolution from below” would be that “those who worked and struggled and produced would be the ruling class”.
Hitchens went on to become features editor of Socialist Worker, the party’s newspaper, and book reviews editor of International Socialism, its theoretical journal, but when he was a student at Oxford in 1967, his local branch of IS had no more than a dozen members. “For a long time, these groups remained tiny,” Foot wrote, after Cliff’s death in 2000. Yet the SWP became the dominant force on the far left in the late 1980s, in the lead-up to the dissolution in 1991 of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
The end of the cold war had strengthened the SWP. It seemed to bear out Cliff’s view that the Soviet Union had never been a socialist society, but a “state capitalist” one, which “people on the left had no reason to defend”, as David Renton, another member who left this year, said to me. “Cliff toured the country, addressing rallies, saying I was right,” he recalled when I met him at his house on an estate near the Caledonian Road in north London.
Renton is an Old Etonian and the nephew of a former Tory chief whip. By the time he joined the SWP in 1991, he had become used to living in “a perpetual civil war” with his family and contemporaries at school, his resignation letter said. He had been involved in other organisations on the far left, but he was drawn to the SWP because he felt it was playing a positive role in the upheavals of the time, and because of its approach to revolutionary politics. “They were serious about the project, and the years it would take, while not making the compromises with capitalism that would mean giving up before you started,” he told me.
David Renton said that the SWP believed it was the natural home for people to the left of Labour but it became apparent during the 1990s that there was a “size threshold” it couldn’t pass. “The history of the SWP in the next 20 years is watching a series of attempts to take this image of themselves as a mass political party and give it legs,” he said.
Richard Seymour – the author of a critical account of Hitchens’s journey from revolutionary socialist to advocate of the war on terror – joined the party in 1998. “The situation politically wasn’t offering much hope,” he told me, “but people had lots of anecdotes about past experiences. They were saying we were nearing the beginning of a mass movement, and when the anti-capitalist movement kicked off around ’99, and the anti-war movement after 9/11, we had a sense that they were probably correct.”
The attempt to set up an organisation to exploit the anti-globalisation campaigns failed, but the party had more success with Stop the War, which was launched after the 11 September 2001 attacks, and reached its apogee at the mass rally in London to demonstrate against the impending invasion of Iraq. Few of the people who went on the march on 15 February 2003, myself included, would have known it was organised by the SWP, and even fewer joined the party as a result. But the scale of the protest offered a glimpse of the influence to which the SWP aspired.
It attempted to capitalise on its success by forming an alliance with the Respect Party, whose public face was the MP George Galloway. Galloway won the parliamentary seat of Bethnal Green and Bow in London for Respect in 2005 and later became MP for Bradford West, but the alliance with the SWP collapsed in 2008. Respect’s national chair at the time, Linda Smith, blamed the SWP’s “sectarianism” and “control-freak methods”, while the SWP said Galloway and his allies were moving to the right.
The SWP had gained nothing from the venture, the journalist Paul Anderson writes, except a “few recruits . . . and a lot of ridicule for cosying up to barmy reactionary Islamists”. One of its periodic bouts of infighting ensued: John Rees and Lindsey German – “the two leading figures most responsible for the Islamist turn”, in Anderson’s phrase – were expelled, and a new national secretary, who would come to be known to the wider public as Comrade Delta, was appointed.
****
The first complaint against Comrade Delta was made in 2010. A woman who was referred to as “Comrade W” accused him of sexually harassing her, and he stepped down as national secretary while remaining part of the party’s leadership: its central committee, or CC. The party was told about the allegations at its conference in 2011.
Alex Callinicos – professor of European studies at King’s College London and grandson of Richard Lyon-Dalberg-Acton, the 2nd Baron Acton – introduced the session at which they were discussed. As the SWP’s international secretary and the editor of International Socialism, Callinicos is the party’s chief theorist, but according to Richard Seymour he was also its “main pugilist” throughout the Delta affair. His speech has been described as “a euphemistic triumph”. “At no point did Callinicos talk of sexual harassment or sexual assault,” a former member wrote. “He made it sound like there had been a lover’s tiff,” David Renton says. “He gave the impression it was a relatively minor row, and said we have dealt with it because we have slightly demoted this figure.”
Comrade Delta spoke next: he told the delegates that if they “knew the very worst he was accused of, they would gasp at how empty the story was”. Other leading figures spoke on his behalf, and Renton says the delegates responded “to every signal that the misconduct was of the mildest character possible by chanting, ‘The workers united will never be defeated,’ and gave [Delta] a standing ovation.”
Rosie Warren, a student at Sheffield University who joined the party during the student occupations of 2010, said it was a very uncomfortable event: those who were not applauding were either as confused as she was, or “some combination of disgusted and appalled”.
Charlie Kimber, the party’s new national secretary, maintains that the standing ovation was provoked, not by the dismissal of the allegations of sexual harassment, but by another attack on Delta. “I very much regret the two became intertwined,” he told me.
The assurances that the affair was “a bit of a misunderstanding” and that “both Delta and the female comrade wished to put it all behind them” soon proved false. Comrade W was not satisfied with the result of the original complaint; in fact, she came to the conclusion that she had understated her case. She left the SWP in the autumn of 2010 because she felt she could not remain a member while Delta was on the central committee, but she rejoined a year later and in September 2012 she accused him of rape.
Even then, many people in the party still “didn’t want to hear it”, Richard Seymour says. There were pragmatic reasons for that. Despite a subscription-paying membership of no more than 2,000, the SWP employs 50 or 60 people full-time at its headquarters in Vauxhall, south London – and the national secretary decides who gets the jobs. What’s more, many people liked Comrade Delta and his strategy for the party. “He said we don’t need big united fronts and all the rest of it: the workers and the trade unions are going to start fighting back against austerity, and we have to help that struggle along,” Seymour recalls. “A large chunk of the party had great sympathy with this.”
The younger members were not so easily placated. The generational divide had personal and political dimensions: David Renton told me that “almost all the young full-timers took against Delta” because they didn’t like him.
Others found themselves at odds with the party’s old-fashioned attitude to feminism, which it associated with “a separatism that doesn’t really persist, particularly on campuses”, Rosie Warren says. “The feminism we’d come across was focused largely on harassment and assault, and getting angry at victim-blaming narratives,” she says. “So the knee-jerk reaction we saw in the party when everything came out was completely alien to us.”
Soldier of some revolution from below: Christopher Hitchens’s first job was at Socialist Worker. Photo: Muir Vidler for the New Statesman, 2010
The party’s decision to investigate the allegation internally, through its disputes committee, rather than referring it to the police, is the most remarkable aspect of the affair: it has astonished people outside the SWP, and some within it, too. “What right does the party have to organise its very own ‘kangaroo court’ investigation and judgment over such serious allegations against a leading member?” wrote the former Socialist Worker journalist Tom Walker in his resignation letter. “None whatsoever.”
David Renton, who is also a barrister and has dealt with cases of rape and sexual harassment, believes that it didn’t occur to the disputes committee to suggest that the woman should go to the police – as one of its members later said, the committee had “no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice”.
Comrade W’s reasons for not reporting the case to the police are less clear, but Renton suggests she may have had two concerns: as well as the understandable fear that the police would treat her case insensitively, she may have believed that their priority would be to secure a conviction against the leader of a revolutionary party – an attitude, he adds, that stems from an overestimation of the SWP’s significance. “People on the left often do this,” Renton says, citing Julian Assange’s belief that the rape charges against him must be politically motivated because he is “the world’s number-one bad guy”. In other words, she may have been trying to protect the organisation from what she saw as a “predatory man” who should not be in a leadership position, and from state scrutiny.
Regardless of what her motives were, Comrade W was “doubly betrayed”, says another former member called Linda Rodgers. She came to the SWP because she trusted it, and it should have told her it wasn’t competent to investigate. “Would the DC [disputes committee] have investigated a murder?” Rodgers wrote. “I would guess not, but then what does that say about the level of seriousness with which the CC and DC treat rape?”
Kimber maintains that because the complainant did not want to go to the police, they had no choice but to investigate themselves. Yet the decision left the disputes committee “hopelessly out of its depth”, David Renton says. None of its members had relevant experience, nor did they not seek advice from party members who were lawyers. “I’m gobsmacked that no one ever said
to the SWP, ‘Look, if you take statements, you’re collecting criminal evidence.’
Published accounts of the hearing, which was held over two days in October 2012, exposed even more egregious flaws: Comrade Delta was supplied with details of the complainant’s case weeks in advance but she was not allowed to see his evidence beforehand, and the committee members – who included colleagues of Delta’s, old and new – asked her questions about her drinking habits and sexual past. Comrade W left the room in tears, saying that they thought she was a “slut who asked for it”.
****
By the time the disputes committee presented its report to the SWP’s annual national conference at Hammersmith Town Hall on 4-6 January 2013, the revolt against the party’s handling of the case had begun: four members, who became known as the Facebook Four, had been expelled for discussing the case on social media and two dissenting factions had emerged, each with the support of 50 or 60 members. “The party was split in two,” Rosie Warren says. “My organiser was desperately trying to get each half of our district just to sit together.”
The DC told the conference that it had reached a unanimous verdict: Comrade Delta had not raped Comrade W. It also found that he was not guilty of being “sexually abusive or harassing”, though not unanimously: the chair of the committee said he had decided “that while sexual harassment was still not proven, it was likely that it had occurred”. He also felt that Delta’s conduct “fell short” of what “one should expect of a CC member”.
The complainant was not allowed to speak, though she had wanted to, but other people spoke on her behalf: one asked the conference to reject the report because of the “serious failings in the way the hearing was conducted” and another said that W felt “completely betrayed” by the way she had been treated since the hearing. The conference was also told that a second complaint of sexual harassment had been made against Delta which the committee had not investigated. “It was all beyond belief,” Rosie Warren says. “I wasn’t the only one who cried after that session, from fury as well as despair.”
The delegates were given no good reason to approve the report, beyond that the people on the panel were long-standing members with good reputations. “I couldn’t believe those voting in favour of the report had been sat in the same room as me,” Warren says. “I couldn’t believe they were people I had respected, taken leadership from – I couldn’t believe that we were even in the same organisation. I couldn’t believe the injustice.”
The motion passed by the narrowest of margins – 231 for and 209 against, with 18 abstentions. Yet the leadership did not treat the result as a warning, or a cause for reflection: critics say it was still not too late to moderate its approach, but instead it imposed its authority by insisting that Comrade Delta had been vindicated and that anyone who did not accept the vote should leave the party.
News of the disputed report soon spread: a transcript of the debate on the DC’s report appeared on the Socialist Unity website on 7 January and people started asking what was happening. Three days later, Tom Walker resigned from the SWP and from his job on Socialist Worker, saying he did not believe that “anyone sensible” would ever join the party again.
“That was the beginning,” Richard Seymour says. Soon, the “bourgeois media” picked up the story: Laurie Penny wrote an article for the New Statesman website and the Daily Mail joined in.
Pressure came from outside the organisation, as well as within: union organisers wrote an open letter asking the CC to reconsider its approach to the case, and journalists and academics, including Ilan Pappé and Owen Jones, said they would not speak at events organised by the SWP. Linda Rodgers called on all the members of both the CC and the DC to resign, and China Miéville, the science-fiction and fantasy writer who stood for parliament in 2001 for the Socialist Alliance, the SWP’s electoral coalition, declared that “the fight for the soul of the SWP is now on”.
****
The argument was partly about the nature of the SWP’s internal processes. It operates what it calls “democratic centralism”, which means that policies are debated during the three months running up to conference, and voted on at conference. Once ratified, all members are required to support them. In effect, argument is silenced for nine months of the year, and even the conference debates are severely curtailed. According to Rosie Warren, a member of the central committee would introduce each session with an overarching description of the year’s events, after which lowlier members would report successes in individual workplaces or campaigns. At the next session, delegates would be handed a summary of the discussion and invited to agree with it by vote. “It always struck me as really bizarre because there was nothing to vote on,” she says. “It was just a description of the session.” It is hardly surprising that many members saw the Comrade Delta case as not only disturbing in itself, but illustrative of a “deep democratic deficit” within the party.
Its broader culture was also called into question. “When you treat human beings as disposable objects in the name of la causa, when appropriation of activists’ labour and good will is the norm, when exploitation of your own side goes unchallenged, sexual abuse is one probable outcome,” wrote Anna Chen, who worked unpaid on various SWP press campaigns, including Stop the War. She believed the SWP’s habit of “ripping off their activists for wages, thieving their intellectual efforts and claiming credit for their successes” had initiated a pattern of “diminishing regard for their members”, which had led to the point “where even someone’s body is no longer their own”.
The party’s hierarchical structure and its culture of “loyalty beyond logic” concentrated power in the hands of the central committee at the Vauxhall headquarters. Yet the leadership had no intention of “opening up the party’s structures”, as its first response to the debate made plain. Towards the end of January, Alex Callinicos published a long article in Socialist Review, the party’s monthly magazine, which examined the necessity of “deepening and updating Marx’s critique of political economy” and referred to the Delta affair, in passing, as a “difficult disciplinary case”, significant in so far as it prompted “a minority” to dismiss “democratically reached conference decisions” and, hence, undermine democratic centralism.
What the dissenters were arguing for, he wrote, was “a different model involving a much looser and weaker leadership, internal debate that continually reopens decisions already made, and permanent factions”. Such changes would make the SWP “smaller and less effective”. Defending the handling of the Delta case was synonymous with defending the party’s revolutionary purpose.
In March, the leadership conceded to demands for a second conference to re-examine the allegations, but only on the most unconciliatory of terms. “Let us be clear that this comrade has been found guilty of nothing,” said the pre-conference bulletin. That was true – Comrade Delta has never been formally charged, let alone tried or convicted, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence like everyone else. Yet it was not his guilt or innocence that was in question, but the way the party had dealt with the complaint.
The leadership refused to acknowledge the criticism. It said the March conference was to “reaffirm the decisions” of the January conference and, sure enough, the “opposition got smashed”, Richard Seymour says, because people “who had never been seen in the organisation turned out to vote”. China Miéville had said that the conference would be “a last chance to save the party from disgrace”, and when it was over, he, Seymour, Rosie Warren and many others resigned.
David Renton stayed on because he wanted to see if they could take the complaint any further. He had met the second complainant, Comrade X, in February, and “was absolutely convinced that in every single thing she said she was telling the truth”. In the summer, the disputes committee concluded that Delta had a case to answer – but he would not have to answer it because he had left the party: the inves­tigation would be reinstated only if he should choose to rejoin. “Essentially, they admitted that the second complaint was probably true,” Renton says. “Which obviously cast a light backwards on the first complaint as well.”
In March, before the special conference, another member had told the Guardian she had been raped: she said that the problem was “a systemic thing” and that the SWP was a “dangerous environment to be in”. In October, a fourth woman revealed that she had also made a complaint. She said she had been raped in December 2012. She reported the case at the end of January 2013, after the handling of the Comrade W case had provoked outrage within the party, and yet she was treated in exactly the same way. The two women from the DC who interviewed her asked, “What effect would you say drink and drugs had on you that night?” and encouraged her to drop the complaint. A pattern had become apparent, the woman maintained: “. . . the Socialist Workers Party is a group that is sexist, full of bullies, and above all will cover up rape to protect its male members and reputation.”
****
Not surprisingly, Charlie Kimber dismisses the allegation. “It is wholly untrue,” he told me. “If I believed it for a moment then I would not be the party’s national secretary – or a member of the party.” It is partly because the SWP takes the oppression of women seriously, he added, that the case was so painful for it. He said it could hardly be accused of attempting a “cover-up”, as the case provoked non-stop debate for the best part of a year and prompted the party to elect an independent body to review its disputes procedures. “Did the Lib Dems act in this way over allegations of harassment?” he asked. “Has the Labour Party?”
The new disputes procedure was announced in December, at the party’s third conference in a year. The code corrected some of the flaws made apparent in the Comrade Delta case, and the CC also issued a partial apology to the complainants. “We are sorry for the suffering caused to them by the structural flaws in our disputes procedures . . .” Kimber wrote. Even that fell far short of the full apology and whole-hearted invitation to self-examination that its critics wanted. But David Renton realised that the leadership had gone as far as it could. “If they had admitted that they got things wrong, and genuinely apologised to these two women, they would have had to stand down, and completely overhaul the organisation. In a sense, that was the story of the last year – why a bunch of us said things and why, beyond a certain point, the organisation refused to listen. Because if they had listened, they would have had to switch the organisation off.”
Yet many people have maintained that the leadership’s attempts to save the party had the opposite effect. “You think you won in Hammersmith,” wrote a member called Richard Atkinson in his resignation letter that March. “You didn’t: you lost. For all the foot-stamping and cheering you lost, comprehensively and probably irrevocably.”
David Renton and 165 other people left in January to form a new group called rs21 (Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st century) and he believes the SWP has been left with no more than 200 active members. Richard Seymour says its rump of “worker-ist activists” is “brain-dead, unpleasant and thuggish” – and destined to become more so. “It is toxic,” he says. “It’s doomed.”
Rosie Warren’s verdict is even more damning: she says the only thing left for the leadership to do is to issue a full apology, and then “declare that anything that was ever good about the SWP has been utterly destroyed, and pack up and go home”.
Charlie Kimber says the party is “far from doomed”, though he concedes that the left cannot afford any more splits. Unfortunately, its propensity for internecine conflict seems undiminished. The International Socialist Network, which Richard Seymour, China Miéville and others set up after leaving the SWP, lasted less than a year before disintegrating over an online argument about a sexual practice called “race play”. Seymour now believes it will take a generation to reconstruct the left, and might not happen at all. But the implosion of the SWP has given it a starting point, at least. David Renton believes it will have to begin with an appraisal of the failings of the party to which he belonged for most of his adult life. “Our mistakes were so awful that anyone trying to rebuild the left is going to have to say, ‘We are not at all like them.’ ” 

Edward Platt is a New Statesman contributing writer. His most recent book is “The City of Abraham: History, Myth and Memory – a Journey through Hebron” 

 

Socialist Workers Party (UK) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Internal crisis since 2013 over allegations of rape

A Disputes Committee document was discussed at the party conference in January 2013 about allegations of sexual assault and rape made by a much younger female member against 'Comrade Delta',[89] a senior party official who by then was no longer in his former post. Allegations about Delta's behaviour had been an issue for several years within the group,[90] the first complaint against him being made in 2010. 'Delta' has never been questioned by the police about the allegations made against him.[5]
A transcript was leaked to the Socialist Unity website shortly after the January conference, and the party's perceived failure to adequately resolve the issue resulted in strong internal criticism.[91] One member of the disputes committee[92] had asserted that the party had "no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice."[91] Journalist Laurie Penny noted that the allegations were investigated and dismissed by friends of the accused, and that the alleged victim and her friends have been harassed by other party members,[93] while journalist John Palmer, a one-time IS member, pointed to problems with the policy of 'democratic centralism' as it had been adopted by Tony Cliff,[94] though Alex Callinicos defended the party's version of Leninism, and referred to the 'Delta' issue as "a difficult disciplinary case" in the February issue of the party's monthly Socialist Review magazine.[95]
In an official statement, the party's Central Committee, via Charlie Kimber, stated that the issue was an internal matter, insisting that "we strongly condemn" the release of the conference transcript and that "this case is closed".[96] Richard Seymour, on his Lenin's Tomb blog, criticised the party's leadership.[90] Along with another writer and (then) SWP member China Miéville and others, Seymour was involved with the internal opposition's blog, International Socialism, established in January 2013.[97] According to Alex Callinicos: "the internal opposition are accountable to no one for these actions. They offer an unappetising lesson in what happens when power is exercised without responsibility."[95] The Guardian reported that a woman who complained about rape in the SWP claimed she was asked a number of offensive questions about her sexual past and drinking habits. Another article in The Guardian suggested that instead of actually dealing with the rape allegation, the SWP preferred to talk about its internal organisation, thereby protecting its leadership.[98] A report by Shiv Malik and Nick Cohen published by The Guardian the following March revealed that further allegations of rape have been made internally against 'Delta' and another senior party member.[89]
A special conference was held on 10 March,[89] in which Seymour and Miéville's faction was defeated, and the central committee insisted the report about the complaint against 'Delta', "that no rape had occurred", be accepted.[99] Seymour, who later accused "the leadership" of "rigged debates and gerrymandered votes",[100] announced his resignation,[101] while the newly established International Socialist Network gained more than 100 now former SWP members.[100]
Julie Sherry, a member of the Central Committee responding to allegations of the party's sexism, has written: "We believe women cannot be free until capitalism is destroyed by a revolution led by women and men together."[102] Sherry replaced a member of the Central Committee who disapproved of the handling of the case while her father was a member of the disputes committee who found the allegation of misconduct against 'Delta' "not proven".[100] Journalist Owen Jones speculated in January that "the era of the SWP and its kind is over."[103]
Subsequent to the publicity surrounding the SWP's response to this rape allegation, a number of critics on the left called those in leadership positions "rape apologists"—for instance, these allegations were publicly aired and were the basis of a walkout in protest against SWP candidates at the National Union of Students (NUS) meeting in April 2013.[104] The Socialist Workers' Student Society has been active at many universities, but the SWSS suffered a serious decline in membership as the 'Comrade Delta' scandal unfolded.[105]
'Comrade Delta' himself was reported to have resigned from the SWP in July 2013.[3] According to Alex Callinicos in June 2014, around 700 members of the SWP have resigned from the group.[106]

 

Socialist Workers Party leadership under fire over rape kangaroo court .

 

Socialist Workers Party leadership under fire over rape kangaroo court


A woman has claimed she was subjected to a series of offensive questions about her sexual past and drinking habits after bringing an allegation of rape against a senior member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).
The UK's most prominent far left organisation is already facing a major showdown over previous handling of separate rape accusations against a senior party figure – identified by the party only as Comrade Delta. This weekend up to 500 members could quit the Marxist group over the alleged whitewash.
The SWP's leadership is under fire for setting up a "kangaroo court" to hear allegations of rape and sexual misconduct dating back to 2008 against the man. The allegations made at the party's disputes committee were dismissed by a panel of seven and never passed on to the police.
One alleged victim claimed that during the hearing, she was asked if she "liked to have a drink".
A transcript of the SWP's annual conference in January, leaked to the Socialist Unity blog, revealed that senior officials pleaded with hundreds of activists to trust in the committee's verdict and reminded lay members that the party had "no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice".




On Sunday, scores of party members will gather in London after the leadership was forced to call a special conference to deal with the growing "In Defence of Our Party" faction which wants to challenge the way the allegations were heard and the organisation's democratic structures.
Another woman – who cannot be named for legal reasons – has told the Guardian that she also faced a welter of inappropriate questions during her own disputes committee hearing after she reported being raped by another man in the party.
The young female member in the latest case says that the senior party member had physically abused her in front of other party members. Then, she claims, in early 2011 the male organiser pressured her into meeting and then raped her in her bedroom.
She felt that if she'd gone to the authorities, she would have be expelled from the party, because of the SWP's hostility to the police. "If you go to the police you get kicked out automatically," she said.
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Following the incident she quit the party but a local organiser then persuaded her to take her allegations to party's internal disputes committee.
The senior party member, who could not be contacted, has previously denied the allegations. However when she arrived at the hearing in late spring that year, she says the two judges in the case, Amy Leather and Pat Stack, were from the central committee.
She described the line of questioning during her hour long cross examination as offensive. "[They asked me] had you been drinking? … Are you sure that you said no, and are you sure you didn't consent. Was he drunk? Because it would be different if he was drunk."
She says she was also interrogated about her previous sexual history.
During the hearing two other women made allegations against the senior figure including attempted rape and sexual impropriety.
She says she was called back that afternoon and told the verdict. The committee did not rule on the truth of the rape allegation, she said.
She claims she was told the alleged rapist was going to be suspended and encouraged to read up on women's liberation. She then says she was warned against speaking about the hearing.
"They said, if you go around calling him a rapist, you'll be in trouble. If you tell anyone, you'll be in trouble … They didn't elaborate. They're not the kind of people to get on the wrong side of."
She added that she was coming forward two years later because she believes the SWP is a dangerous environment for women: "I want people to know it's a systemic thing. They've done this a few times, covered things up in the interests of the party and it's a dangerous environment to be in."
The SWP has denied a cover-up and says they do not recognise this account of the hearing.
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But participants in the disputes committee hearing described the line of questioning as "disgusting" and described the suspension as a travesty. "The fact that he got basically a slap on the wrist was just appalling."
"They [the SWP leadership] are putting the interests of the party above the interests of the women … which I think gives a green light to people to behave in an appalling way to women because there's now been two signals that you'll get away with it."
Responding to the allegations of mishandling an investigation, Charlie Kimber, the party's national secretary said: "The SWP strongly contests major elements of this account of the disputes committee hearing. The woman concerned brought serious accusations to our attention, we investigated, found against the accused and took prompt action. Those are the facts of this case."
Kimber said the SWP had taken effective action but said that he couldn't go into further details as the matter was confidential.
He added: "I hope that after the party's conference [on Sunday] we can move forward united."


How Not to Handle a Rape Allegation: the Case of the SWP

by Pham Binh on January 9, 2013
Trigger warning for trauma survivors
With a political backdrop of horrific rapes in India and Ohio, and the unfolding coverup of British entertainer Jimmy Savile’s decades of raping and molesting minors, Andy Newman of the Socialist Unity blog published the 27-page transcript of the British Socialist Workers Party’s (SWP) internal debate surrounding its Disputes Committee report that found that rape, harassment, and abuse charges against ousted Central Committee (CC) member Martin Smith to be “not proven.” This report was accepted by a razor-thin margin of 231 votes for, 209 votes against, and 18 abstentions.
Of course, you won’t find a hint of this in the Socialist Worker report on the annual party conference, the SWP’s highest decision-making body. Instead, we find a glowing report about the SWP’s role in fighting women’s oppression and news that the expulsion of four members for the crime of having “a closed Facebook conversation” (as the CC described it) has been ratified.
However, it is impossible for “Leninist” groups to conduct trials, purges, and expulsions in secret in the age of the internet. The way this scandal has unfolded in the SWP over the past few months bears an uncanny resemblance to the events in Steubenville, Ohio, in the following ways: conflicts of interest seriously undermined due process, leaks by anonymous (both lower case and upper case A) undermined attempts to keep things hush-hush and swept under the rug, and social media (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram) has created new evidentiary and political battlegrounds.
The Disputes Committee debate transcript deserves to be read in its entirety by anyone who considers themselves a socialist or a feminist. Whether or not Smith (referred to as “Comrade Delta” in the documents) is guilty as charged is not the key issue, and the debate transcript reveals that both opponents and supporters of the “not proven” verdict sincerely believe that they are upholding their party’s commitment to fighting women’s oppression. However, as Marx explained: “We do not set out from what men say, imagine, conceive, nor from men as narrated, thought of, imagined, conceived, in order to arrive at men in the flesh.”
In other words, the subjective sincerity of the parties involved has nothing to do with the fatally flawed pseudo-judicial processes, practices, and methods applied by the SWP in this instance.
The following flaws and errors stand out:
1. The first and biggest problem was the following admission by “Candy” of the Disputes Committee:
“We’re not a law court. We are here to protect the interests of the party, and to make sure that any inappropriate behaviour of any kind by comrades is dealt with, and we do that according to the politics of a revolutionary party.”
Investigating and taking action against criminal or violent behavior by a member of any organization is best left to the actually existing bourgeois state, at least from the point of view of the victim or alleged victim, the admonition from “Sara B” that “[w]e have no faith in the bourgeois court system to deliver justice” notwithstanding. Anything less guarantees that due process will be denied thanks to  “amateur hour,” as inexperienced and unprofessional would-be revolutionaries mimic the bourgeois state’s mechanisms of judge and jury but without the power to detain, arrest, subpoena, and thoroughly investigate forensic evidence. Worse yet, incidents like this open the party up to criminal investigation by the capitalist state which does not take a positive view of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and tainting witnesses and evidence.
Anyone guilty of rape should be behind bars, not simply removed from the CC or the party.
Occupy Wall Street tried to handle similar issues internally without involving the New York Police Department and failed miserably, eventually adopting an admittedly flawed approach once they realized dealing with rapes and sexual assaults requires rape kits, counseling, and legal authority to protect victims and/or apprehend suspects.
Victims of sexual assault, burglary, and similar offenses are not betraying any revolutionary principle by calling the cops. That the female who made these allegations chose to handle it internally rather than going to the proper place — a law court — is testament to the powerful, unhealthy emotional attachment of members to their party, an attachment that gives rise to such profound groupthink that those outside the ranks view it as cult-like.
2. The second problem was the Disputes Committee’s inherent bias. Despite their loud and frequent declamations that they truly, honestly, and really were not biased towards Smith whom they “had worked incredibly closely with” and against a woman they practically never heard of, these comrades are apparently unfamiliar with unconscious bias. Again, the sincerity of these statements and reassurances is beyond a doubt, but that does not necessarily make them true.
The reason lawyers in the U.S. can eliminate jurors from a jury pool in criminal cases is precisely to guard against the problem of unconscious or hidden biases. Hardly any potential juror will say “I hate Blacks” or “all criminals deserve to be executed,” so lawyers have to eliminate jurors who privately think and feel this way but would never be so stupid as to admit it publicly.
Candy of the Disputes Committee even admitted that it was impossible to create a truly unbiased body in this situation:
“To be honest comrades, I don’t believe you could have another panel of people who didn’t know Comrade Delta better than they knew that woman.”
3. The Disputes Committee’s bias became exposed in practice when they asked the woman who brought the complaint “about past and subsequent sexual relationships” according to “Viv.” These comrades threw hypocritical and patriarchal bourgeois morality towards alleged rape victims out the door only to have it re-enter through the window. “Sadia” elaborated:
“She was questioned about why she went for a drink with him, her witnesses were repeatedly asked whether she’d been in a relationship with him, and you know, she was asked about (Karen begins to talk over Sadia to warn about providing details) [sic] … she was asked about relationships with other comrades including sexual relationships.”
Worse yet according to “Viv”:
[O]ne of the most distressing things for her was that she was expected to respond immediately to the evidence that Comrade Delta was able to bring – she never got to see it in advance. He had her statement for weeks before she appeared in front of the panel. Some of the issues that were raised were things she had blocked out, and it was an incredibly traumatic experience for her.
The Disputes Committee’s response to this complaint was, “he didn’t actually provide evidence in advance and that’s why they didn’t, why W didn’t see it.” So the accused knew weeks in advance how to prepare himself and his defense from his accuser but his accuser was expected to respond immediately to that defense.
How is that for revolutionary justice?
When a second woman (“X”, a former district organizer) brought forth a similar complaint against the accused, it was treated in much the same way (he saw the evidence in advance, she was questioned about her drinking habits, and she was removed from her job in the party’s office). The Disputes Committee excused its inexcusable behavior under the following pretext:
we’d asked her whether she wanted to make a formal complaint, and we’d made it clear to her that she had every right to do so. And at that point in time she did not want to make a formal complaint. Therefore we only listened to her testimony in regard to whether it changed our point of view on the original investigation.
The fact that similar incidents happened with two different women strongly indicates a pattern, an underlying systemic problem with the way the SWP is set up internally to deal with these issues.
4. The Disputes Committee in its entirety, including Pat Stack who was the lone dissident who felt “uneasy” about the question of sexual harassment, never denied the substance of the complaints about how the investigation was handled. Instead, they justified their actions using subjective and flimsy excuses based on their good intentions and revolutionary morality.
5. A proposal by 30 members that “included some very very basic things” like “comrades who bring a complaint of serious sexual misconduct should be supported, should be kept informed and not be questioned on their sexual history” were barred (presumably by the CC) from distributing this proposal.
So in the SWP, you can expect to be expelled for comments on Facebook while rape/sexual harassment charges against someone who is high up in the party will not be investigated with anything remotely approaching impartiality or due process, much less empathy.

Sue Sponte January 9, 2013 at 6:54 pm
What the toy tribunals and internal investigations of this marginalized political group do or don’t do are of interest as it regards their attitude towards this case and the broader issues involved, but the real question is what real cops and courts will do about it.
Arthur January 10, 2013 at 6:42 am
I read the transcript and have no time at all for the SWP. This article strikes me as a thoroughly unprincipled smear attack.
There’s nothing inherently suspicious about a complaint of rape or sexual harassment not being upheld when it was made two years after the event.
Its clear from the transcript that the complaint was indeed taken seriously and with due process.
There was an obvious flaw in that process:
Since the accused was a well known leader who worked closely with members of the disputes committee they should have delegated the handling of the dispute to others who were not close to the accused despite the fact that the disputes committee was constitutionally elected to consider such disputes.
That is not a particulaly difficult mistake to make.
One can agree on that basis with the nearly half the delegates who voted to reject the disputes committee report with having to go along with the kind of malevolent scandal mongering in this article.
Frankly I was quite surprised at the extent to which open democratic disscussion within the SWP was demonstrated in the transcript. My expectations of that group would have been for far less scope to point out the obvious flaw.
I can’t be bothered responding to most of the points made in the article.
Suffice to say that I don’t share the authors confidence in the police nor his belief that the onus is on the accused to provide details of their defence evidence to the accuser in advance, let alone the subtext that of course the accusation must be true.
Part of the problem seems to be that the SWP itself is prone to this sort of tripe – eg excluding the accused from being present contrary to the basic requirements of justice.
Pham Binh January 10, 2013 at 10:27 am
I never expressed “confidence in the police” nor did I imply that “the onus is on the accused to provide details of their defence evidence to the accuser in advance.” I merely pointed out the double standard between how testimony and evidence from the accuser and accused was handled.
SWP members are joining in on what you call the “unprincipled smear attack”:
http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/944/swp-why-i-am-resigning
Arthur January 10, 2013 at 10:37 am
1. “Investigating and taking action against criminal or violent behavior by a member of any organization is best left to the actually existing bourgeois state…”. That is an unequivocal expression of confidence in the police.
2. The “double standard” you “pointed out” is fundamental to most people’s conceptions of basic justice. We would consider it outrageous if the defense were required to give the prosecution advance notice of their evidence instead of the other way round.
3. It is obvious that SWP members are not only joining in but initiating the unprincipled attacks. Such behviour is typical of all factions in unprincipled organizations and should not be emulated.
Pham Binh January 10, 2013 at 11:03 am
1. No. It is a recognition that no force outside of the capitalist state has the resources and expertise to even deal with this issue. That does not mean the capitalist state is good at delivering anything remotely approaching justice.
2. There is no defense and prosecution here. The Disputes Committee is not a court. “Most people’s conception of basic justice” involve calling the police, not a Central Committee.
3. It is unprincipled to let matters like this slide without saying anything about it, to attack the personal character of the accusers, question their sexual histories, to create kangaroo courts stacked with the friends and comrades of the accused. We have a duty to Combat Liberalism after all.
Arthur January 10, 2013 at 12:28 pm
Points 1 and 2 are again a reaffirmation of your confidence in the police.
I don’t like the SWP and I’m not letting your unprincipled attack on it slide. It would be more convenient for me to be liberal about it and let it slide.
Pham Binh January 10, 2013 at 2:53 pm
I don’t like the police but I will call them in a case of rape, murder, assault, pedophilia, and so on. When we set up an effective Red Guard, I’ll call them instead.
Arthur January 10, 2013 at 9:18 pm
Its not about whether to ever call the police. Your confidence in the police is expressed by the claim that is always the best thing to do.
The article Richard Estes linked to below expresses the same subtext as you – that accusations should be assumed true (and even rumours). But it says:
“The backlash that women face when alleging sexual violence is a further factor. An attitude of “police or it didn’t happen“, silences women within an environment where the police are recognised as a force of state control with an appalling record on handling rape cases, particularly where the perpetrator is known to the victim. Most women who experience sexual violence do not go to the police – for very good reasons – yet whatever decision is made, it is likely to be the woman who loses. Only approximately 5% of rape allegations ever result in conviction. To go to the police with an allegation against a prominent member of a left wing party brings in accusations of “grassing” and with a 95% chance of no conviction resulting, the ongoing narrative is likely to be one of exoneration of the perpetrator and demonisation of the victim – making subsequent victims less likely to come forward.”
Second Council House of Virgo (http://s.tt/1y14c)
The contrast may help you understand that your aticle DOES express your confidence in the police.
Also that article makes no suggestion that the onus is on the accused to provide details of their defence evidence to the accuser in advance.
Pham Binh January 11, 2013 at 9:41 am
“Whether or not Smith (referred to as ‘Comrade Delta’ in the documents) is guilty as charged is not the key issue” — as I wrote in the piece. But as you said in your first comment, “I can’t be bothered responding to most of the points made in the article.” So I shouldn’t be surprised at how many strawmen you created in this thread.
Brian S. January 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm
@Arthur I’m rather bewildered by your stance here Arthur. I would have thought you of all people would understand that the “bourgeois democratic” legal sytem, despite its many flaws and biases, represents an important acquisition gained by the struggles of democratic forces over more than a century. As such it offers the only robust social mechanism available for dealing for serious acts of misconduct, such are alleged here. The issue of treatment of rape victims, in particular, hasbeen (and is) the subject of a major campaign by feminist and civil liberties groups in the UK, which has produced some significant changes in how rape cases are handled both by the police and the public prosecutors. (and there is an important network of ngo support organisations). These are the only people capable of handling such a situation with a modicum of effectiveness.
While I’m on this subject, let me register my view that I do not think that “comrade Delta” should have been named in the reports of this issue, given that he has not been convicted of anything by anyone.
Arthur January 12, 2013 at 2:33 am
Brian, its pretty simple. Any revolutionary communist has to be first of all a revolutionary democrat and will therefore fight against more backward institutions without sharing in the confidence that conservatives have in such nstitutions as the police, the courts or the parliament.
Its really quite elementary that any organization such as a political party is OBLIGED to seriously investigate complaints about misconduct by its members and especially its leaders. One has to be really ignorant of issues related to sexual misconduct to be unaware that many victims are reluctant to go to the police. It would be OUTRAGEOUS for the SWP to have refused to investigate serious charges by one of its members against one of its leaders on the ground that it is up to the member to go to the police.
It is also obvious that far higher standards must be expected from the leaders and members of a political party than mere compliance with the criminal law and further that disciplinary tribunals can and do act to uphold their organizations integrity without needing to be satisfied “beyond reasonable doubt”.
Yet the central focus of this article is the ludicrous attack on the SWP for doing what any reasonable person (not necessarily a revolutionary democrat, let alone a revolutionary communist) would agree that it was OBLIGED to do. This is rather similar to the stance taken in “The Independent”:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ranks-of-the-socialist-workers-party-are-split-over-handling-of-rape-allegation-8448429.html
BTW although I’m sure there have been improvements I doubt that many of the 29 regional Sexual Assault Referral Centers in the UK would be able to offer much help for a complaint 2 years after an incident. Typically they offer services up to one year.
http://www.rightsofwomen.org.uk/pdfs/Legal/report_to_court_for_web_may11.pdf (p31)
It isn’t just a matter of democracy either. The concept of a civil society with its own autonomous institutions pre-dates modern democracy by centuries. The claim being made here that only the state should handle disputes is really quite extremist.
Finally, you are right that “Delta” should not have been named. But not naming him would just have been a formality of the same self-serving type as the disclaimer that whether he “is guilty as charged is not the key issue”.
In fact the whole tone of the article assumes that he is guilty and even ludicrously suggests that exoneration in an SWP internal investigation has some magical power to keep a rapist out of prison – with more than a hint that this was its purpose.
” Worse yet, incidents like this open the party up to criminal investigation by the capitalist state which does not take a positive view of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and tainting witnesses and evidence.
Anyone guilty of rape should be behind bars, not simply removed from the CC or the party.”
A principled stand would simply agree with nearly half the SWP conference that the disputes committee report should be rejected because they had failed to delegate to people who were not close to the accused.
The unprincipled smear attack here will naturally encourage splits along personal lines with people defending an obviously wrong procedure because their comrades are being viciously attacked.
A principled approach will support a political fight between supporters and opponents of basic democracy in the SWP and assist far more in the long overdue implosion of that absurdity.
Pham Binh January 12, 2013 at 7:20 am
Smith was not charged nor investigated by the Disputes Committee for bringing the party into disrepute but for criminal acts.
Arthur January 12, 2013 at 9:43 am
Correction. I misunderstood that the incident was two years before the complaint. Actually according to the transcript “the complaint concerned incidents that had taken place over a period of about six months in 2008 and 2009, which was three or four years before we met.”
Richard Estes January 10, 2013 at 4:43 pm
The resignation statement of Tom Walker, linked in your article, is compelling. It is important to note that SWP members are currently under a directive to not speak any further about the matter upon pain of expulsion. Hence, people like Richard Seymour find themselves in the embarrassing position of trying to explain the relationship of capitalism and patriarchy, while refusing to engage those objecting the conduct of the SWP:
http://www.leninology.com/2013/01/patriarchy-and-capitalist-state.html#comment-761449556
Fortunately, others have stepped into the breach, as this excellent post indicates, “Misogyny and the Left”:
http://www.2ndcouncilhouse.co.uk/blog/2013/01/06/misogynists-and-the-left/
As an aside, based upon my limited contact, the Second Council House blog, the site where this article was posted, is excellent on a variety of subjects, such as, for example, the recent disclosure that Blackwater has been hired to provide law enforcement assistance by the Greek government.
Pham Binh January 11, 2013 at 9:02 am
A bit ridiculous for a Marxist to pretend that our organizations are not operating within the framework of and will inevitably be tainted by the capitalist patriarchy/patriarchal capitalism in the name of “party discipline” no less.
Evidently this is not just a Cliffite problem:
http://necessarymeansfight.blogspot.com/2012/12/progressive-labor-party-defends-rapists.html
patrickm January 10, 2013 at 11:44 pm
I can’t see how any functioning organization can avoid a disputes committee and I don’t see how the seriousness of the dispute /crime allegation can make it too serious to be dealt with, irrespective of being dealt with by the forces of the state or not. People ought to be, and are expelled for bringing their organization into disrepute for example, there does not have to be a criminal style dispute between members but if there is the responsibility does not change. I think this is quite basic stuff.
For example killing your infant as some sort of sacrifice in the desert would bring the group you belong to into disrepute, and if the leadership were doing their job it would end your membership. In short a dispute committee would via a leader or other member raising the complaint, have then heard a case, made a finding, and expelled you accordingly, as would the civilized state you live in jail you if you did such a thing.
Now as it happens a functioning highly developed part of a bourgeois state (Australia) was gripped with something that I can only describe as madness just 30 year’s back and the N.T. courts convicted Lindy Chamberlain, when all along she was an innocent person that her organization (the Seventh Day Adventist church) ought to have stuck by and defended and fought for and they did. The organization should not just throw it’s collective hands in the air and declare what the hell do we know, we haven’t even got access to forensic science and scientists when it was those people that got her wrongly convicted in the bloody first place! You can’t be a member in good standing and kill infants in your spare time.
Another example is the Hurricane boxer episode in the U.S., if he had been a member of any SWP type group they ought to have evaluated the situation for themselves and decided to stick by him irrespective of what the court found, and irrespective of whether the three gunned down had been other members of that same organization.
Bringing your organization into disrepute can have you rightly hauled up to explain yourself or face expulsion. Taking it to the state, OR the state having taken its own interest does not absolve the organization of running a disputes resolution process and finding for or against, or even the Scottish case, not proved. (that however has real problems and is sometimes used by the forces of reaction that can’t get their way and yet want to pretend that they had a case in the first place) I know about this stuff first hand and can assure people that other mortals involved in running the state are often doing a terrible job even when not trying to deliberately frame people as with the Guildford 4, and Maguire 7, and the Birmingham 6.
If revolutionaries want to see change they must embrace taking more and more responsibilities and not cop out when it gets serious.
Only Neverland says never, never involve the state, and even when they say it they know they are lying both to themselves and everyone else, just as they lie about telling proletarian seafarers to never involve bourgeois navies of the word to deal with pirates threatening their lives while they do the honorable job of transporting stuff like COAL produced ready for shipping by other workers just as honorably employed! They know they have been lying to themselves and have to go quiet. Issues don’t get any more serious than these and we leftists take decisions over them!
I think the OWS sexual assault situations showed exactly the same issue as the Cairo assault on that U.S. MSM female reporter namely that there are cases where the forces of the state ought to be involved. Soldiers in Cairo saved the reporter from shocking behavior by misbehaving ‘revolutionaries’ against the state. There can’t be any complete black and white Neverland world.
The conclusion is; we must be flexible as always, and we must not unite with theories, but with real forces to get the revolutionary tasks attended to. If I belonged to a SWP type group I would want an expulsion motion put for any person who argues in support of pirates, as if workers don’t have a world to win and the right to do their jobs without being terrorized; raped; killed; kidnapped; ransomed and so forth. This is quite a divisive issue in Neverland and shuts a lot of people up but people will have noted, not supporters of Iraqi Baathists!
Pham Binh January 11, 2013 at 9:09 am
patrickm: I’m not against a disputes committee and the things you mention. The problem is that the British SWP clearly set up and conducted this pathetic excuse for a process in lieu of and counterposed to calling the cops and involving the state.
I also think Arthur has joined the Neverland crowd on this one.
R January 11, 2013 at 3:35 pm
No, “clearly” not. There is absolutely nothing to stop “w” from making the accusation of rape to BOTH the DC AND the police.
Pham Binh January 12, 2013 at 5:07 pm
It has been reported (www.socialistunity.com/what-i-really-said-about-the-swp-and-sharia-law/#comment-631518) that W was told by a party official that going to the cops would damage the party and the cause. This corresponds with Tom Walker’s supposition in his resignation letter that she was pressured into going the internal route. This would also explain why the SWP took it upon themselves to issue a verdict on guilt/innocence on the accusations.
Arthur January 12, 2013 at 9:53 pm
That link goes to comment 91 now. Please quote the actual “report” so I can find it.
If such a report exists and is true then an attack on the official and/or the party for saying that would at least make sense. Though on the other hand it would be difficult to find anyone actually familiar with sexul assault complaints to the police who would advise in favour of going to the police with a complaint 3 or 4 years after the event.
But you are not in a position to judge whether any such report is true. You *need* it to be true. You have not acknowledged that WITHOUT such a “report” being true you have attacked the SWP for doing what it was OBLIGED to do given that the woman had chosen not to go to the police and had made the complaint to them.
Brian S. January 13, 2013 at 6:57 am
@Arthur If you want to check this out, you can scroll up to comment 78 (the original) or down to comment 93 where it is quoted. But there is no source provided for it – it sems just another rumour. I am trying to stay out of this discussion in so far as it involves the internal situation in the SWP, partly because I think the issue has been aired enough publicly and the ball is now in the SWP’s court to work out how to react; and partly because this is (predictably) becoming a sectarian-fest for attacks on the SWP by its opponents.
But on the more general issues raised by your post (and our previous exchange): first, the British legal authorities (police and DPP) have recently charged someone with sexual offences that go back 30-40 years; secondly, you are making the same mistake as Binh – he is assuming such reports are true; you are asuming that they are false. (and for exactly the same reason – you need them to be false for the rest of your argument) . From my point of view this just goes to bolster my judgement that issues like this cannot be seriously dealt with on a “do-it -yourself” basis. The fact that it takes an 84+ page booklet (the link posted by you in our previous exchange) to present just a layman’s account of the legal and procedural complexities involved in handling such issues demonstrates how inappropriate any diy mechanism is going to be. (And also demonstrate how seriously this issue has been treated in British society over the last decade).
There is nothing in this that involves naive “faith in the police”. ( I think we have both experienced the rough edge of “bourgeois justice”.) Its simply a realisation that established legal procedures (at least in the UK – it may be different elsewhere) are the least flawed mechanism for dealing with allegations of this sort. And , as important, the flaws of the legal system are likely to be played out in the public domain where they can be the subject of public criticism and protest (unlike diy procedures).
Arthur January 13, 2013 at 8:00 am
Brian, thanks – I did notice #79 (quoted in #93). but as you say, it is obviously just a rumour. So I thought Pham’s broken link might have been intended to refer to some actual report by an identifiable person in a position to know – eg a claim by “W” as an explanation for the 3 to 4 year delay. I’m not so used to casual rumor-mongering as to just assume people are doing it without confirmation. So I’ll wait for Pham to confirm that is what he was doing.
I am not making any assumption that the accusation is false at all. (I do believe there would need to be a good explanation for the 3 or 4 year delay and that such a delay would make any claim very difficult to prove but I would not form an opinion without access to the evidence).
Regardless of how offences against children are treated it is as simple fact that allegations concerning incidents between adults 3 or 4 years ago have far less prospects of success through the courts than through disciplinary procedures of organizations that want to protect their reputations. It is also a simple fact that it is not up to an organization whether a victim of one of their officers chooses to go to the police or not.
Your “judgement that issues like this cannot be seriously dealt with on a “do-it -yourself” basis” is a toal cop-out.
As Secretary of a Disputes Committee how would you rephrase this draft for your letter to the complainant?
“Dear Comrade W,
Thanks you for your complaint informing us that a leading member of our organization raped you 3 or 4 years ago.
As you haven’t gone to the police there is nothing we propose to do about it.
Yours fraternally,
Brian S”
However you chose to phrase it you would be rightly condemned for OUTRAGEOUS refusal to carry out the obligations of a disputes committee.
Pham Binh January 13, 2013 at 8:40 am
“Reported” in this case is hearsay, not an official document by the police or anyone else, but it would explain a lot. Only a full criminal investigation or a statement by W will clarify whether it is true or false.
Arthur January 13, 2013 at 9:24 am
It isn’t even hearsay. Hearsay is a statement by some identifiable person that some other identifiable person in a position to know something made a certain statement about it. Hearsay is seldom of much value.
What you have done is simply quoted anonymous internet speculation as a “report”. That is pure rumor mongering. Pause and think about why you NEED to believe such a “report” and why you are reduced to such rumor-mongering by the stance you have taken.
patrickm January 13, 2013 at 8:18 am
The British SWP has been at the center of bankrupt Neverland thinking for some time. But this thread is well beyond a legitimate criticism of how a particular issue “the complaint concerned incidents that had taken place over a period of about six month’s in 2008 and 2009, was dealt with by that group’s leadership. Despite these efforts (some say in spite of) numerous members are putting an end to their involvement in what has become for them an authoritarian sect that they no longer have any confidence in. A sensible micro party faced with this level of stuff-up stays with it until there is close to a consensus before trying to move on. Only bullies and fools try to shut people up and rule by a slim majority in these circumstances.
People do not have to look for an excuse to expose the SWP, after all it does not get much worse than the pseudoleftist response to the 9/11 attacks of setting up the ‘Stop the War Coalition’ a mere 10 days after 9/11. The masses were not buying that ‘anti-imperialist’ line then, and all the predictions from 11 year’s back sound pretty hollow now. But that paltry effort of the usual suspects obviously paid big dividends 1 year later when the SWP were beside themselves with new members tumbling on board, as the ‘peoples movement had begun’ in the turn-out of the march against the liberation of Iraq of 15 February 2003. Ten years on they have slowly seen their position collapse, and now their dispirited membership implode as we are beginning to see a ‘fighting left’, emerge again in the wake of the liberation of Libya, and the revolutionary war for the liberation of Syria.
Undoubtedly the group is broken and will split – just as the NATO intervention into Syria is escalating. It seems that people are grasping a ‘that’s the last straw’ line. http://www.socialistunity.com/swps-serbian-section-splits-from-ist/#comments
“Similarly, the SWP’s effective withdrawal from the Stop the War Coalition has damaged its anti-imperialist credibility in Britain and in the Middle East. In the case of Syria, there has been a clear tendency to downplay the role of imperialist intrigue, the key question in imperialist Britain given the Libyan fiasco. It is clear that the SWP has over-reacted to the failure of Respect, the left electoral coalition that grew out of the anti-war movement. Since then, the SWP has retreated to a sectarian comfort zone based on orthodox party-building, abstract propaganda and an economistic emphasis on industrial struggle. This sectarian approach has resulted in a stifling party culture and regime. Contrary to the traditions of the IST, new ideas and methods are often rejected to uphold existing tradition….”
What is shattering the confidence of many in the SWP? Hands-off campaigning over Syria is not going to even potentially get the masses out like hands-off Iraq did! The turn out might be as small as the turnout for hands-off Libya events I suppose, but the way things are going a turnout to demand intervention is just as realistic. Something has changed big-time over the last decade.
The masses want the Syrian regime put a stop to. The SWP type sects don’t want real military forces involved. They want the regime stopped in theory, but in practice act though they want it preserved. They know that the Baathist Iraqi regime was put a stop to and Iraq transformed, and they know who did it. They also know that ‘the journalist’ we all remember was in a new era when he did (the shoe throwing) what he would never have contemplated doing before the fall of the mass-murdering Hussein regime. They also know that the Libyan regime was eventually stopped by an ‘air’ war.
There is a shattered anti-war movement that now has the most democratic of its elements speaking up for united-front methods, and confronting in doing so, the prospect of being seen as clearly mistaken over more than just 1 small war against a tyranny in Libya. When the tanks were advancing on a rebel city in Libya, and they told stories about supporting a no-fly zone it was because they could not call directly for war YET. They wanted war and were happy to be lied to about NFZ’s; and Responsibility 2 Protect (R2P). Many are still not prepared to call for war against the Syrian tyranny but now they tolerate other revolutionaries that always seek the overthrow of fascist regimes.
The SWP leadership directly brought the ‘trigger’ problem on by not delegating the resolution of the issue to people in the group who would be seen to be at arms length from the parties in dispute. But we must all understand that the SWP was, as Arthur has systematically pointed out, obliged to deal with this matter.
People are entitled to their views about what is the best way for the fully grown woman to deal with her complaint of some years earlier when she was also presumably of age. Assaults against children even if they turn out to be recovered memory nonsense are a different issue. Obviously women can’t be treated like children and can and will consider issues as they see fit, taking advice from any number of people with any number of views and possible outcomes including advising for or against police involvement. Only the woman can go to the police. No one can go to the police on her behalf acting in loco-parentis or whatever. If she chooses not to involve the police in this issue her view is perfectly valid and it establishes nothing either way to the merits of the matter.
It’s clear that the SWP and all similar organizations are deep in Neverland pseudoleft politics and ‘getting real’ requires leaving Neverland far behind. But as people leave the sects and cults they can turn left or further right without necessarily noticing. This thread proposes to turn even further right.
The ways that people come out of such a strange place as the ‘socialist’ anti-war milieu there is often no telling up from down, until they stop moving and can get a bearing on reality. If you can’t tell up from down you won’t be able to tell right from left either, and that seems to be what is being demonstrated in this thread. So I would like to introduce some 100% clear examples to indicate to Brian and Binh how to proceed when we are faced with no such uncertainty and then re-consider the uncertain example.
The expression get a job resonates with working people across the globe. Perhaps Binh and Brian should (theoretically at least) get a job as a journalist, but then if they did I would recommend they adopt some journalistic standards and join together with other journalists to develop and enforce them and naturally be subject to those standards. Being self declared leftists they couldn’t object to joining, or forming a journalists union, and being subject to the rules of both civil society and the state at least as a general rule either. We can all now say that they would be dealt with by their journalists union if they bring the profession into disrepute.
Munthather al-Zaidi was a journalist who stopped being a journalist and turned into a minor assailant of a head-of-state and was dealt with exactly as I argued he would be by the state authorities that he was compelled to answer to. The event happened and it was on film that we all saw – it was a 100% certain assault and predictable arrest. It was not a ‘he said, she said’ puzzle of accusations from events several year’s back as the SWP had to deal with. My basic assessment was subsequently confirmed by events, the fellow was arrested; tried; convicted; did some jail time and was released.
A gatekeeper for Neverland Mike Ely, at Kasama would not permit a debate over what the new countries of the ME will produce, namely a legal process that results in just that outcome. This was all too emotional in Neverland. How dare people not see that the criminal was being stood up to! Censor Mike Ely / Nando is not subject to standards and held to account, so communists that speak up for reality like me @8,11 and 14 just get disappeared and never spoken of again. Munthather al-Zaidi shamed his professional body and own government and around the world the SWP members and supporters beamed with pride.
Any fair-minded individual can see in this very important example how sect conduct harms the ‘ease of mind and liveliness’ required for the development of the ideas fit for our time with the tools of our time. The left that I was introduced to as a child prided itself on being able to stand up in a debate, but as this example demonstrates the quality of Kasama is at the level of the juvenile delinquent, and Kasama as we have seen over Libya and Syria has limped along degenerating even further since December 2008, and even turned on the revolutionaries of Nepal who have the nerve to run the Government.
I noticed a couple of days ago a terribly unfair post (concerning yet another rape allegation) that was put up at Kasama about the Nepal prime minister not doing what a demo had demanded, supposedly not doing the right thing about the case, and then when it was challenged for being appallingly crappy journalism that could not pass the smell test, it was disappeared! The discussion no doubt has been taken to where the bright light of public exposure won’t harm Kasama and that’s exactly what’s wrong with these hive-mind sects.
Remember these clowns at Kasama are supposed to have a Maoist background (100 flowers and all that) but yet won’t tolerate anyone that actually continues to uphold views that Mao was expounding when he died. When one reflects on the strange behavior of the RCP (USA) over 30yrs ago it brings to mind the Jesuit expression ‘give me the boy till he is 7 and I will give you the man.’ The current loopy cult is the product of a progressively distilled sect that was apparent by 1980. All these micro-parties that can’t handle the reality of even discussing what is happening to a publicly misbehaving journalist are like Kasama, and the SWP, dishonest intellectual bankrupts.
Another concrete example I am very fond of is to ask the more academic type who defends piracy etc., to get a job welding; or truck driving; or as crew on a cargo carrying ship; indeed anywhere along the supply chain on actual products that the student ‘radical’ is right now touching, or about to.
In Australia the entire Green movement is now rabidly anti-proletarian. (The SWP tendency dissolved in Australia to form the Green Left tendency that renounced Marxism!) We know about the revisionists but what about the anti-revisionists? In Australia we have the head of the Greens Party demanding an end to the coal industry!
OK so the concrete connection is this.
A year after the SWP set up ‘Stop the War’ to work against NATO and other countries even fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban (not debating how to fight them effectively by really unleashing social revolution in Afghanistan but just pointlessly opposing the half-arsed effort of our ruling-elites) the U.S. ruling-elite were planning an illegal war to smash the lawful tyranny in Iraq and to liberate the Iraqi peoples’ and enable all the freedoms that the Syrian peoples’ are now dying for in their many tens of thousands to achieve.
It is Syria and that steady collapse from the comfortable position of never support the Great Satan when it all seemed so simple years ago that is setting the scene and people want to break this up.
A debate over what the new countries of the ME will produce – a legal process as part of the bourgeois democratic revolution that would have to unfold in the wake of the destruction of the Baathist regime – ought to have been full on but was NOT. Instead the largest demonstrations ever were organized and people were encouraged to think and act like sheep. The SWP types were on cloud 9 as the masses turned up in very large numbers to protest what they thought was going to be a war of conquest for the aggrandizement of the U.S. ruling-class or some such thinking. They have been wrong from well before 9/11. Even Binh ought to know that all these sects got the issue of Kuwait totally wrong.
The elections that Binh wants to (undoubtedly prematurely) focus on in the U.S., are at least a way out of the pathetic ‘demonstration’ nonsense from the pseudoleft; but one shudders at the thought of what politics Binh is actually proposing to take forward into any electoral arena. Garbage-in = Garbage-out is all people can get until the next steps are taken.
patrickm January 13, 2013 at 8:39 am
A gatekeeper for Neverland Mike Ely, at Kasama would not permit a debate = http://kasamaproject.org/2008/12/16/1000-shoes-for-bush/
R January 11, 2013 at 3:15 pm
Pham Binh,
Firstly, the SWP is not a cult, or “cult-like”, and I’d appreciate it if you refrained from insulting the intelligence of the party’s members with such terms.
Secondly, a lot of women choose not to report accusations of rape and sexual assault to the police, for understandable reasons. You have absolutely no right to make assumptions about someone’s motives for not doing so or to tell them the “proper place” to deal with it. Who the fuck do you think you are? If “W” chooses to report it to the police she has every right to do so but either way it is her decision; not the SWP’s and not yours.
The DC of the SWP is obviously not a substitute for the police/courts. It obviously has authority o tnly within the party, and expulsion is the most it could possibly do. Making a complaint to the DC and going to the police are two different decisions and whether “w” decides to report it to the police or not, she has made the accusation to the DC who then have to figure out how the party should respond to it internally. Whether, and how, it should be dealt with by the state is not up to them. Whether they came to the correct conclusion, I don’t know but I think it’s clear they at least took it seriously.
‘Fatgollummuncher’,
Grow the fuck up and try to have some clue what you’re talking about before you start slandering people. The SWP is obviously not a”rape cult”,whatever that is even meant to mean. If any member of the party, whatever their position, has committed rape or anything like it, they should be expelled (again that is aside from prosecution, etc).
As to all the other bullshit, members of the CC of the SWP have faced both prosecution (which could potentially have resulted in jail time) and death threats for their role in Unite Against Fascism. Any Socialist with a brain in their head “fears the state” because the state can and will fuck you up if it considers you even remotely threatening to state or ruling class interests. And spare me the prolier-than-thou nonsense.
Ben Campbell January 11, 2013 at 4:04 pm
You are right that the comment by ‘Fatgollummuncher’ was out of line and slanderous. It has been removed. Sorry about that; should have spotted it earlier.
Pham Binh January 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm
“Firstly, the SWP is not a cult, or ‘cult-like’, and I’d appreciate it if you refrained from insulting the intelligence of the party’s members with such terms.”
It has nothing to do with anyone’s intelligence and everything to do with the culture of fear that rules the organization. As Tam Walker, former journalist for Socialist Worker wrote:
The CC is shutting down all debate, on the pretext that it is about the rule that factions must dissolve after conference. Party workers are being spoken to individually, and if they refuse to give a guarantee that they will never so much as mention the case again, they are being told they must leave their party jobs.
Silencing intimidation tactics like threatening to fire people if they speak their minds on forbidden topics are more akin to the practice of the church of Scientology than that of the Bolshevik wing of the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party or really any party of the left.
I’d appreciate it if you separate the issue of the SWP’s behavior in practice from the intelligence of its membership. I know that’s probably asking a bit much, but at least try.
“Secondly, a lot of women choose not to report accusations of rape and sexual assault to the police, for understandable reasons. You have absolutely no right to make assumptions about someone’s motives for not doing so or to tell them the ‘proper place’ to deal with it. Who the fuck do you think you are? If “W” chooses to report it to the police she has every right to do so but either way it is her decision; not the SWP’s and not yours.”
It was the SWP’s decision to either “handle it internally” and/or involve the police and the courts. They made the wrong decision on both counts and, in doing so, have created a legal liability for the whole organization by tampering with evidence, possibly coercing witnesses (depending on who said what to whom), conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. Martin Smith and whoever is left in the SWP better pray that “W” does not go to the proper authorities because if the state decides to prosecute the organization or its leadership or the Disputes Committee, that will be the end of group. No one on the left will defend them from the bourgeois state over this, and rightly so.
And last but not least, please read and abide by our commenting policy here. Cursing and abusive language are not welcome here.
Richard Estes January 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm
The question is how any socialist endeavor can effectively address sexual harassment and violence within its ranks. The SWP has failed to do so, and by some accounts, failed to do so for decades. Instead of defending the indefensible, as some socialists also recently did in regard to the deplorable, erroneous statements about what does and does not constitute rape by George Galloway, we should be trying to develop more effective alternatives.
R January 11, 2013 at 6:56 pm
Regarding commenting policy, seems fair enough, and I think I met most of those criteria except that my tone was probably a bit aggressive and I do tend to swear. I’ll try to rein it in. However, I do object to being described as a member of a cult, let alone a “rape cult”.
On the actual issue, I don’t see any evidence of it being a case of an internal matter OR a police investigation. The SWP does not have the power to imprison someone, only to expel them. The police have the power to imprison people, not to decide whether they are members of the SWP. It’s 2 separate things. If “w” makes the accusation to the police, I don’t see much the SWP could do to prevent that, even if they wanted to. If the accusation was proved beyond reasonable doubt, the CC would have to expel the accused or risk losing half the members.
To be clear, I am not remotely an apologist for or defender of rapists. It’s one of the worst things you can possibly do, absolutely indefensible and unjustifiable under any circumstances. The problem is that I do not know if “delta” is or is not a rapist or anything similar without knowing specific facts and details which are covered by confidentiallity. Therefore it’s virtually impossible to make a reasonable judgement.
redfred January 14, 2013 at 2:08 pm
R, From what I have read, the issue not the “verdict” itself, but how the whole process was handled. To be fair, one of the dispute resolution committee members works as a rape counselor.
People on the DC who were close to Martin Smith should have recused themselves from this matter, and there are reports that the woman was questioned inappropriately when telling her account, which traumatized her further, the dc denies that they did this, so we really do not know.
But the SWP is not a court: they cannot provide forensic scientists, psychotherapists, etc. As socialists, we oppose the courts and the police, of course, but if a woman is raped, this is her only recourse. And these modern bureaucratic centralist sects do pressure their people: big time.
SJD January 12, 2013 at 1:50 pm
I back Pham on the bulk of what he’s said. It’s certainly far less a smear than most of what I’ve seen about this shocking episode.
Cult membership has zero to do with intelligence.
It was indeed the complainants decision to not call police.
It was the decision of party systems that Dispute Committee was competent and appropriate to investigate and adjudicate on charges of rape. They are not and there is no way to suppose they are. It utterly belittles crime and the evidence indicates the treatment of the complainant was vile.
Whatever one thinks of the Assange case, the SWP were highly vocal
That he should be extradites to stand trial on charges that were serious, but less serious.
The Swedish Court system won’t suffer too much less from ‘formal bourgeois morality’
Oh, wait… Assange isn’t a leading light of the self appointed revolutionary vanguard. Silly me.
There’s so much about this that is clearly rancid, or at least stupid. One thing that stands out is the claim that there is no better panel to have adjudicated. Despite the ‘life experience’ cited as qualification to investigate and adjudicate, this person seems to have not heard of juries.
Lexicon, pomposity, arrogance and hypocrisy of some concerned raise the possibility that they assime they are running something like Moscow Show Trials, not a rather small party that has a fair bit to offer but has just shown itself to be an entity none would sensibly trust. I’d be interested to know what other TUSC components are thinking right now. I doubt it’s flattering.
John R January 15, 2013 at 3:40 pm
Here’s a long quote from Andy Newman from Sept last year when Socialist Unity were defending George Galloway.
“The long term editor of Socialist Worker used to have a reputation that “no means yes”, and when he vistied some districts, experienced comrades in the know sought to ensure he was not left alone with young women.
When women who had been assaulted complained, they were diminished and hounded out of the SWP. I know of one occasion when a victim of sexual assault was sat down with a senior woman CC SWP member who told her to keep quiet for the good of “the party”, excusing the behaviour because “capitalism fucks everyone up”, and then warning if she didn’t keep quiet then no-one would believe her, and the SWP would destroy her reputation.
During the 1980s there was a strange phenomenon of several angry young womwn comrades who used to talk about the sexism of this leading comrade, but they had been intimidated out of explaining what had happened, and instead the discusion often focussed on seemingly trivial details, like the fact that he always referred to women socialists by their first names, and male comrades by surnames (lenin and marx, but Rosa and Clara, for example)
To fnd an organisation that systematicaly for decades covered up sexual assault and who intimidated women who complained into silence praised in this was is disgraceful.
Even worse, I know of an IS/SWP district in the 1970s who colluded in silence and looked the other way when a leading industrial militant was raping his own step-daughter: the individual in question had previoulsy been in the IMG, who had also covered it up. When as a young 17 year old I confronted him at a party and asked him loudly if he was still fucking his duaghter, it was me cautioned by the SWP, while the truth of thse allegations was quietly ignored.”
http://www.socialistunity.com/time-for-the-left-to-stand-up-for-galloway/#comment-617753
Here’s what (ex) Socialist Worker Journalist, Tom Walker said in his resignation letter –
“It is stated that the accuser did not want to go to the police, as is her absolute right if that was truly her decision. However, knowing the culture of the SWP, I doubt that was a decision she made entirely free from pressure.
Do not underestimate the pressure the SWP can bring to bear on members by telling them to do or not do things for the ultimate cause of the socialist society the party’s members are all fighting for. Against the prospect of the liberation of the whole of humanity, they will attempt to make even the most serious issue seem less important than the party’s survival. I do not think the CC are cynical cultists, by the way – I think they believe this themselves.”
http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/944/swp-why-i-am-resigning
I would not say the SWP is a “rape cult” but I would say that there is a strong suspicion that they have tried to keep rape and sexual assault allegations “in house” for the greater good of the Party. Certainly on this occasion, maybe on others. We wait and see what else might come out.
As for complaints against “bourgeois justice” – if a rape accused were investigated by friends in the police, tried by a jury of his friends with the judge also being a friend with the said accused being found “not guilty” there would be an outcry.
But this is how the SWP handled this complaint.
The Party’s over, Comrade. This will be flung in the face of the SWP for years to come – and the CC will expect their members to defend it.
R January 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm
“…I think it’s clear they at least took it seriously.”
On further thought, I’d like to retract that.
JJJ January 11, 2013 at 4:11 pm
“If revolutionaries want to see change they must embrace taking more and more responsibilities and not cop out when it gets serious. ”
[admin edit: insults removed] Serious? You mean as in like, if some woman had been say, seriously raped? If maybe TWO women had been sexually assaulted by a man? GET SERIOUS, GIRLS.
Ben Campbell January 11, 2013 at 4:57 pm
Pham Binh January 11, 2013 at 10:47 pm
I never said the SWP was a cult.
The issue here is not Smith’s guilt/innocence but how the SWP, specifically its CC and the Disputes Committee (DC) handled W’s complaint. Instead of advising her to get a lawyer and go to the police, they chose to set up a farce disguised as an investigation that was riddled with conflicts of interest and engaged in the very same behaviors the party derides when it happens outside its ranks (questioning W’s sex life, etc.).
All of this was approved by the slimmest majority and the CC-approved slate was elected, which means the entire organization now bears political, moral, and dare I say legal responsibility for all of the fallout.
If drastic reform doesn’t happen fast, the SWP is finished as a political force. Members are leaving/being expelled, the IST is falling apart, and no one on the left will come to the SWP’s defense if the cops begin investigating the organization for conspiracy, intimidating witnesses, and obstruction of justice in this case.
anitah January 13, 2013 at 12:26 am
Reading the transcript, my thoughts changed while reading the various statements etc.. I felt that the position to vote Yes to accept the report was strongly put and probably would have voted that way based upon the given information in the speakers for and against the motion. But there is more to it than that and it appears to be highly idealised and politicised and so it is no wonder there was a significant expression of dissatisfaction on the floor. Reading Lenin’s Tomb filled in some of the details but really none of this surprises me, and as far as I can see neither the accused or the accuser had anything like justice or good process. For example it is clear that confidentiality ought to have been maintained but is right out the window.
The problem is that it is clear from the numbers that the majority knows the details as the rumour mill had been turning fast and so about 50% of the conference floor have no confidence in the leadership. So it becomes farcical.
I once dealt with similar issues while a member of the CC of the student grouping Left Alliance. (LA) It was problematic and I would have said in hindsight that these committees only deal with sexual harassment issues and not rape allegations, but I recognise the contradictions and implications of making that distinction, and am stuck with the view that if the misconduct procedures apply, then they must apply to all levels of misconduct. Our matters were not further complicated by CC member involvement but it was still vexing and destructive to all concerned.
It is simply wrong for the CC not to protect the organisation against accusations of conflict of interest and the leadership ought to have delegated to ‘disinterested’ parties. That is so very basic that their incompetence brings everything after that undone, and in the end one I would have had to vote to reject on the basis that the whole thing was flawed from the start. The winning side should have rejected it’s ‘win’ and stayed with this issue till a consensus was worked through of what to do now. Numbers crunching in these circumstances is bound to bring on a split. But then I would have to care about such a lot splitting.
It is also wrong to conduct these procedures in lieu of pursuing remedies open via criminal law provisions. i.e members do not/ can not be expected to relinquish their rights when a crime is perpetrated by other Party members. These are the rights that they have just fought to obtain like in Iraq or Libya (I wonder what the Iraqi or Libyan SWP members think of this? LoL) . The Party can’t order an individual to not seek reparations for damages caused in the Party life. It is completely up to the individual. Without knowing the details which I don’t need to know or want to know, it is moving on time as I cannot and donot wish to comment further on this aspect.
On the question of rape. It is sad to again see that responsibility for sexual conduct is in the spot light and in question. I think women and men have an obligation to pursue sexual relations ethically, and to pursue any kind of grievance in a timely fashion, this appears not to have been done in a timely fashion. Dispute Committees ought to only deliberate grievances up to 1 year of the occurrence, or risk being too vulnerable to misuse imv. Time limits can always be over-ridden in the event of a good argument but there still ought to be some restrictions. This would have to be a good argument to get by me.
Sorry if it seems like crowing .but …dissolution quickly is a good option. Seeing this I understand why the Australian Communist Party (CPA) members voted Yes to dissolution – however I don’t think that will happen here any time soon. The CPA existed factionally riven for quite some years prior – the idea of unite and don’t split definitely unable to operate here as well, and so the prospects for solid Party building are just not there in the future imv – but the SWP are wrong on so much there isn’t any point fighting for the name as it’s rather like name and shame – that is a liability.
In LA we operated on a democratic centralist based Constitution and I continue to support such operating practices though no longer belong to any such functioning community.
It seems to me that the author is definitely biased on the side of the accuser and speaking as a woman that won’t do either.
Arthur January 13, 2013 at 8:09 am
PS
1. “the flaws of the legal system are likely to be played out in the public domain where they can be the subject of public criticism and protest (unlike diy procedures).”
I’ll just let that dangle gently in the breeze…
2. Forgot to include a link for the #79 rumour.
http://www.socialistunity.com/what-i-really-said-about-the-swp-and-sharia-law/#comment-631492
Pham Binh January 13, 2013 at 2:29 pm
The guilty party here is the SWP which completely and totally mishandled this from start to finish. Thanks to them, we’ll never have a chance to figure out whether Smith is guilty or innocent of anything.
Pham Binh January 28, 2013 at 11:01 am
Lamia February 1, 2013 at 12:00 am
“What you have done is simply quoted anonymous internet speculation as a “report”.”
It’s not anonymous, it’s coming in profusion from numerous current and former members of the SWP.
The SWP has had it. most of its members can see that. Most of them are disgusted by the behaviour of its leaders. The only curiosity is why people such as yourself are determined to defend [them] to the bitter end.
[admin: edited]
Pham Binh February 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm
Brandy Baker February 19, 2013 at 6:23 pm
There are people who were on the inside on both sides of the Atlantic who are saying, off record, that the Martin Smith case is just one of many and the tip of the iceberg.
I am writing about the SWP’s history right now as we speak, but even what I am putting out is based on public record and will not wholly catch the real picture.
I hope that people in the know will start to come forward.
Pham Binh February 24, 2013 at 12:47 pm
Not many have commented on this angle of the issue:
http://sovietgoonboy.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/the-age-gap-and-why-it-matters/
Richard Estes February 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm
Wow! When you think that it can’t get creepier, it does. It gives the appearance that the SWP is, for some members, a place where they can “recruit” new young members for their own sexual benefit.
Richard Estes February 27, 2013 at 1:54 pm
turns out the University of North Carolina handles rape complaints just like the SWP
let the Honor Court decide
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/02/26/unc-charged-student-honor-code-violation-discussing-her-rape-allegation
makes the CC’s claim that it was rejecting bourgeois forms of justice a little hazy
Pham Binh March 1, 2013 at 12:46 am
You know that “it gets better” thing? In the SWP’s case, it gets worse:
http://socialistunity.com/and-there-are-more-swp-sexual-abuse-scandals-to-come/
Pham Binh March 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm
British CWI member has been publicly accused of domestic violence by his former partner (they are both members of the British union RMT). This link should have a trigger warning at the top rather than the bottom of the page where her photos are:
http://carolineleneghan.wordpress.com/2013/03/08/3/
I doubt the British CWI will do anything about this since the statute of limitations was up by the time this woman went to the police to complain.
Pham Binh March 9, 2013 at 8:18 pm
Pham Binh March 28, 2013 at 10:45 pm
Pham Binh April 2, 2013 at 10:37 am
Chickens come home to roost:
“THIS IS A TAX DEMO, WHY DON’T YOU GO BACK TO YOUR RAPE DEMO”
http://athousandflowers.net/2013/03/31/this-is-a-tax-demo-why-dont-you-go-back-to-your-rape-demo/
Richard Estes May 1, 2013 at 12:46 pm
I saw this, too. The amazing thing is, the SWP, after complaining about being subjected to “no platform” measures, said that the protesting women should, in effect, be . . . . no platformed. The hypocrisy of these people is striking.
Pham Binh May 1, 2013 at 12:31 pm
Progressive Labor Party takes a page from the SWP playbook:
http://www.solidarity-us.org/site/node/3835
Pham Binh July 9, 2013 at 9:37 am
University of London’s Student Union is going to give the SWP a hard time at its yearly Marxism conference:
http://www.ulu.co.uk/news/index.php?page=article&news_id=376413
This is great news. Accountability will be enforced if not from within then from without.
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1 σχόλιο:

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