What would Clement do?

A Labour blog that witters on about Clement Attlee. Hurrah for The Major!

The problem with Leninism…

Hey ho, lets go…

After Laurie Penny’s recent article in the Grauniad, Alex Callico Knickers of the SWP, and his band of plucky Leninist parrots have resurfaced…

Laurie can of course defend herself and views much better than I can, but with the recent student demos giving a filip to the shrinking hard left,I think it germain to weigh in, as an ex-member of both Militant and of the SWP, and now as a proud Democratic Socialist.

The Leninist theory at the root of SWP/Socialist Party/CPGB/etc.etc. practice is one that has blighted the Left for a century, and is responsible for some of the worst crimes against humanity that took place during the Twentieth Century. Yet many good class fighters throughout the world proudly bore the name of Lenin aloft and in their hearts. They were at best mistaken. Millions died to prove the theories wrong, many were proud Bolsheviks of many years standing, undone by the logic of their beliefs. Many millions more were ordinary workers, peasants and soldiers.

The Vanguard Party substitutes itself for the class. The Party Organisation for the Party, The Central Committee for The Organisation, and The Leader for the Central Committee. Trotsky pointed this out as long ago as 1902.

How many examples do you need? Russia, Spain, the awful mess in interwar Germany, China, North Korea, Cuba, Prague 1968, Poland 1980, the list goes on. And then there are the parties, both orthodox and trotskyist in the west – their zig-zags and deviations, their abandonment of womens’ and gay rights in favour of currying favour with tiny Islamicist groups … not to mention the strangulation of free Trades Unions and all dissenting voices – both Socialist and otherwise.

The expulsions, bullying, both mental and physical, the outright lies perpetrated as fact whenever the “line” changes…

Alex Callinicos is apparently a respected academic Marxist Philosopher, with tenure, so we must pay heed to the comfortable gentleman of 1968. He is no more relevant than “Congratulations” by Cliff Richard, also of 1968.

There have been, and no doubt still are good socialists in the SWP and other factions, there are those who would describe themselves as Marxist-Leninists who I would be happy to march alongside, and I have no time for witch hunts, but  for sheer pointlessness it would be hard to match their party activity. Better they use their time fruitfully rather than staging “interventions”, or selling papers.

I will give one concrete example of Leninist practice from the early 1990s: A young student comrade of about 20 ends up at a party where he then sleeps with both a man and a woman. He is a little immature, and, as many are when young, sexually confused. Embarrassed, he hopes that the incident will be forgotten and pass, as he now feels he may know that he is straight. Sadly the couple were also party members. A week later, despite his evident misgivings, he is dragooned into a party “intervention” into the founding meeting of the citys OUTRAGE Group – it is his socialist duty, it is explained, because he has recently slept with a man, to inject some socialist politics into this “bourgeois” protest group.

A good time was had by none. No useful point was served.

Aah, but it was so romantic to be caught up in Revolutionary politics…

“Soviet Communism is the illegitimate child of Karl Marx and Catherine The Great.” – How true Clement, how true…

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