SWP Rape

Posted: February 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

I’ll assume readers are familiar with the accusation of rape against the former Central Committee member and national secretary and present full timer for the Socialist Workers Party, Martin Smith, and the party’s subsequent kangaroo court. Here is the latest…

Nick Cohen reported:

Anna Chen saw the misogyny up close. She stopped working as a comic and poet in the early 2000s to devote every waking hour slaving for the Socialist Alliance, Stop the War and other SWP front organisations. “Because the revolution comes first, human beings are just disposable,” she told me. “I was struck by how sexless and ugly the leading men in the SWP were. But they always had women. If you slept with one of them, they promoted you. It was as basic as that.”

Anna adds on her own blog:

I looked from pig to man and then man to pig and then back again and wondered who’d look better in a bacon sandwich. Then I looked a bit harder and realised that the senior women had been part of what I once rudely called the “fuck-circuit”: two power couples at the top; a complicated nexus of, ahem, “relationships” over the years; Lindsey calling me into a room at SWP HQ (said to be swept for bugs) to grill me on my new boyfriend. They are OK if you come already attached to a partner but woe betide you if you change partners and the lucky fella’s not from the SWP pool. As the sympathetic partner of a senior member told me regarding my treatment, “It’s because you’re not available.”

So far only one person from the Central Committee, Mark Bergfeld, has resigned. Bergfields letter of resignation reads:

FOR SWP MEMBERS ONLY. DO NOT DISTRIBUTE OUTSIDE THE PARTY. DO NOT PUBLISH ONLINE.

The new CC is set on a course that will do immense damage to the party and its work. If it pursues this direction further the inevitable result will be an irreparable breakdown in relations within the party and with wider forces on the left. This has already created huge damage among our student groups. It now threatens to spread much further.

Lets hope so. Perhaps the best known current member of the party, Richard Seymour, is in open revolt. Seymour writes a popular blog and his books get reviewed by mainstream newspapers and he is therefor perhaps too valuable for the SWP to purge. While I do hope the party disintegrates I’m sure something equally repellent will take its place.

Alex Callinicos, a Professor of European Studies at King’s College London and a Central Committee member has apparently called for lynch mobs to deal with the situation:

If party members refuse to accept the legitimacy of the decisions taken at the special conference, “lynch mobs” (his words) will be formed.

This is certainly not the first case of this sort on the far-left. Gerry Healy is the most infamous example, but there are others. As one left blogger recounts:

In 1988 one Mark Curtis was arrested in Des Moines, Iowa, on a charge of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl, and subsequently convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Curtis was a member of the US Socialist Workers Party, no relation to the British organisation of the same name.

How did the US Socialist Workers Party react?

by claiming a huge state conspiracy to frame up Curtis on account of his political beliefs. This was not very likely from a glance at the facts of the case… In fact the evidence against Curtis, who was literally caught with his trousers down, was overwhelming. Still, it did allow the Barnesites to launch a large-scale defence campaign, publishing a book about Curtis’ martyrdom, getting various union figures and leftist celebrities to sign Free Mark Curtis petitions, and not least, raising money for the cause. It seems, incidentally, that the Barnesite leadership themselves didn’t have much faith in Curtis’ story, as his party membership was quietly terminated at some point after his release from prison.

The German sister group to the SWP also had a very experience (as recounted here):

In mid-2001 Linksruck entered a deep crisis that resulted in a split in the organisation. An accusation was raised within the organisation that the [Central Committee] CC had covered up a case of sexual assault involving a member of the organisation’s inner circle and even protected the accused. Following this, multiple cases of sexual harassment and assault by another member of the CC came to light. The CC had been aware of these allegations for some time but had not reacted to them. This accorded to their logic that leadership was the critical element in building the organisation, and thus must be protected at nearly all costs. After this we learned of another CC member’s embezzlement of party funds to pay for calls to phone sex hot-lines. The outrage amongst the membership was, as you can imagine, immense.

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