4 Responses to “Response to the “Socialist Party Resignation Statement””

  1. 1 littlemicky2012
    December 20, 2013 at 20:08

    I think it is unrealistic to expect a critique of the SP/CWI of the nature you outlined from the comrades concerned. Essentially the points of unity of those who resigned centre mainly on issues of internal democracy and questions around some of the SPs oppurtunist and sectarian behaviour (my characterisations not theirs). To reach the point you are coming from is it not almost a prerequisite that there is a general move in the left to a more democratic discourse? If the organisations that dominate the left here are anti democratic and authoritarian how can you even begin to explore the central political questions. The recent disintegration of the SWP in britain is a clear example of where the overly bureaucratic and undemocratic path can lead. The advent of the internet has to some extent facilitated the flow of ideas and the abject failure of the left in the current period of one sided class warfare has led to a lot of soul searching.

    Unfortunately as you point out the criticisms offered and the continued adherence of the comrades to a substantial portion of SP political practice means they are unlikely to make a break for a more revolutionary focus. A similar thing has happened with a group of those who have left the WSM in the last few years who reviewing their organisations activity and flaws have rejected revolutionary politics and retreated to social democracy as a solution. I fear a similar fate awaits the comrades as the SP is essentially reformist and the without a clear understanding and break with that a simple repetition of what went before albeit without the authoritarianism seems likely.

    • December 20, 2013 at 20:15

      I think your prognosis on the likely trajectory of these comrades will unfortunately prove to be accurate.

      However it is not necessarily the case that it is impossible to draw wider political conclusions from their experience – as Craig Murphy is showing to some extent.

  2. 3 HS
    December 20, 2013 at 21:51

    I think there are a number of assumptions in this response. Primarily the statement that revolutionaries ‘must’ look at an idealised transitional programme and compare it to the programme of the SP. It is an assumption on two counts, firstly that all revolutionaries adhere to the method of the transitional programme however defined and secondly that a definitive transitional programme or transitional methodology exists, which in itself is dubious. In fact there is no reason that self identified revolutionaries should either adopt the methodology nor compare every structural or programmic problem to the ‘ideal’ transitional programme (however defined). That is not to say that you should not support and argue for it, but that it should not be assumed from the outset that all self identified revolutionaries do.

    I think you ask too much to expect these comrades to write a definitive critique of world Trotskyism, that is the work of serious study and books rather than a resignation statement. And for this generation ‘actual existing’ Trotskyism is the SP and SWP. While they might not represent all Troskyist thought the authors in their defense stated clearly that their intent was to critique the practice of what they termed contemporary Trotskyism in Ireland and the UK.

    I also think you are making a very quick jump in defining a political trajectory from a single paragraph. And again the assumption seems to be Trotskyism is the ‘only’ form of revolutionism, which of course is not the case (even if you make the case it is the most effective or appropriate).

    For me there is a key dialectic of programme and structure, after all where does the programme come from? If a party does not have a structure and culture to allow dialectical discussion how can you expect any movement forward? Imagine if science for example adopted such a dogmatic approach, and indeed how could any programmic method work if ossified by a bureaucratic leadership? In that dialectic you posit that it is the programme that is the primary cause of the bureaucracy, of that I am not convinced. I suspect that the nature of the structure has stymied political development of the party, I am sure that the party bureaucracy themselves are utterly convinced the strict non-democratic structure is there to protect the party from ‘reformism’ and protect what they believe to be a revolutionary programme and method.

    Overall I think the statement points out the main problems the comrades had in the party, and they were structural in the sense that if anyone tried to address a political issue, the structure/bureaucracy got in the way. The sort of discussion/debate and polemic you discuss in your response don’t happen in the Socialist Party so it is difficult to expect comrades to have worked out political programme developed from discussions in the party.


    • December 20, 2013 at 22:26

      I accept that not all self-describing revolutionaries would claim adherence to the method of the Transitional Programme. However I think it is fair to raise this in a critique the SP/CWI as they explicitly claim to be implementing that political method.

      In critically assessing this statement I am of course going to bring my political perspective to bear. It is hard to see how I could engage with the statement without doing so.

      Maybe I am wrong about the political trajectory of the comrades and am making too much of the couple of references I pointed to. But those references were made and without any countervailing evidence I stand by my assessment of what they indicate. I would be delighted to be proved wrong in my assessment of their likely political development.

      I don’t know what goes on inside the heads of the SP leading cadre but if they really think that the concrete programme they present to the working class is an example of protecting the party from reformism and defending a revolutionary programme and method then they are, at best, seriously deluded. I assume a much greater level of conscious cynicism is involved.

      I agree that anyone in a bureaucratic organisation will initially respond against that bureaucratism as their primary focus. But it is not necessarily the case that their analysis will stay in that space – see Craig Murphy as an example of someone going further than the initial reaction to bureaucratism. And the rest of the resignees have had plenty of exposure and contact with him. By going public with this statement they are therefore fairly consciously rejecting any further development of their critique of the SP/CWI.

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