Saturday, 8 February 2014

The SWP's Leninist 'Democratic Centralism'

"Hey you! Are you white and working-class? Yes? Then you're a racist, a Nazi, a bigot and, worst of all, an Islamophobe."

Ironically enough, it was Trotsky who best - and most succinctly - described the main problem with Lenin’s ‘democratic centralism’. However, he did so in 1904 and most certainly must have changed his mind by the time that Lenin actually installed a democratically-centralised state on 250 million Russians. Despite that, it was also the case that the Bolsheviks’ democratic centralism also existed before the Bolshevik Coup of 1917, as it was how Lenin organised his own Bolshevik Party.

 Trotsky said (in 1904):

“Lenin’s methods lead to this:
The party organisation first substitutes itself for the party as a whole;
Then the Central Committee substitutes itself for the organisation;
And finally a single ‘dictator’ substitutes himself for the Central Committee…”  

(The SWP/UAF has always kept silent as to who its dictator is but, at present, it must be Alexander Theodore Callinicos, the aristocrat of Greek heritage.)

Of course this states the essence only of the Bolshevik Party during the period just before and after the Bolshevik Coup of 1917. Nevertheless, SWP/UAF’s own ‘design structure, as it were, corresponds very closely to Lenin’s model. (Then again they are as much Leninists as they are Trotskyists.) The SWP/UAF even still uses the anachronistic and give-away term ‘Central Committee’ despite its association with the Gulag, mass purges, mass starvation and other nasty things. Perhaps they’ve got nothing to be ashamed of and, after all, the organisation is indeed a democratic-centralist party.

At the bottom of the UAF/SWP ladder are the humble ‘branch meetings’, which are led by active members of the UAF/SWP who are sent as ‘delegates’ at the SWP/UAF annual conference.

At these meetings it is true that almost anything – as long as it ain’t ‘racist’, ‘fascist’, ‘Islamophobic’, etc. - can be said. But that doesn’t matter. Whatever is said against UAF/SWP doctrine (or its dogmas or its theoretical edicts) will be argued against or often just sneered at. (The questioner is of course a victim of ‘false consciousness’ or propaganda from the platonic Media.) If what is said is truly in conflict with ‘fundamental’ UAF/SWP positions or beliefs, or even any kind of UAF/SWP position or belief, then such a statement will never become ‘policy’ or even be heard by any SWP/UAF outside that particular meeting.
This silencing of all opposition – even from the left – is carried out in a simple manner. The delegate, or chairman, has the last say on what will be communicated to the Party or to the Conference. This means that nothing at odds with the general UAF/SWP position - on any subject - gets past these meetings. If something is adopted, it will be so because it squares perfectly well with what the SWP/UAF already believes. The chairman or delegate will of course recognise this.

It doesn’t help either that most novices at these meetings will be young students - or young rebels - trying to adopt a revolutionary persona. Thus they are often highly unlikely to fervently criticise the UAF/SWP on any particular position of the party let alone on ‘fundamentals’. These students, instead, are often extremely keen to adopt the whole UAF/SWP package-deal, warts and all, just as many young people do with Islam nowadays.

Of course the local branch chairman, or delegate, is already ‘elected’. But only the person who is most committed to SWP/UAF will be elected; even if local branch members become part of this bogus ‘electoral process’. And deviator, or SWP-deviant, or even any procrastinator, will simply never become local chairman or a delegate at Conference.

So it is the current local chairman of the SWP/UAF branch who will end up at the annual UAF/SWP national – Marxism 2013 or whatever – conference. Here the previous non-democratic processes are basically repeated.

Instead of the most zealous and/or dogmatic local member being elected to attend Conference, now only the fiercest among the zealous and pious delegates will become part of the SWP/UAF’s Central Committee. He will need to out-dogmatise or be more of a zealot than all the other delegates at Conference. (The conference is often like a Church service for Trots at which, amongst other things, they worship their prophet, Marx, and quote vast chunks from their Old Testament, Das Kapital, and their New Testament, the Communist Manifesto.)

Perhaps then the same sorts of things happen inside the Central Committee; except that the UAF/SWP isn’t supposed to have a dictator. They certainly don’t have a named dictator. (That doesn’t stop them from having a dictator. Although, to be fair, there has never been a flamboyant or charismatic leader like Hitler in the SWP; though some think that Tony Cliff had these qualities.)

So we have a few ‘substitutions’ here:

i)                    The local chairman/delegate substitutes himself for all the members of that local branch.
ii)                   The Central Committee substitutes itself for all the delegates at Conference.
iii)                 And, who knows, perhaps Charlie Kimber or Alex Callinicos substitutes himself for the Central Committee.

I’m talking about various substitutions here; but I have left out a vitally important way of setting out these substitutions:

i)                    The local delegate – and even the average SWP/UAF member! – substitutes himself for the UK working class (or UK Muslims nowadays).
ii)                   The UAF/SWP delegates at Conference substitute themselves for the working class (or Muslims).
iii)                 The Central Committee substitutes itself for the UK working class.
iv)                 Again, who knows, perhaps Charlie Kimber (he’s an aristocrat so he should know about ruling the working class) substitutes himself for nth million working class (or three million Muslims).

Much more simply put. I can say that the SWP/UAF substitutes itself for nth million members of the UK working class (or three-to-four Million Muslims) generally. Thus they see themselves as being the ruling class of the British working class (or of Muslims – in their self-delusional way).

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