Friday, 5 December 2008

SWP: Time to Share the Love. No, Really, I Mean It.

A generation ago I was in the old CPGB - I joined because I was impressed with the magazine Marxism Today. The party I joined was both small and in the throws of a civil war. The argument, as I recall, was partly about the relative importance of class and party, as opposed to reaching out towards wider strata. It got unpleasant and it got dirty, as slow motion divorces often do - and, in the end, both sides lost, though hardly for reasons to do with the argument per se. But it did provide a rather engaging spectator sport for much of the rest of the Left.

I can't imagine what has brought this to mind after all this time - oh wait, yes I can: the SWP is about to do a revival of our old theatrical review. They've dumped their leader and a civil war is threatening. So, obviously, there is a part of me which wants to go straight into the tried and trusted tropes of 'the Judea Popular Front' and '1456th time as farce'. Plus make a few encoded comments about how Peter Taaffe et al must be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of seeing their number 1 competitor in a pretty crowded market place go off into internal strife.

But...I'm older now. That kind of cheap shot is too obvious, and really, really...well, just boring. The reality is that Left political groups, in the main, encourage, even produce, a kind of emotionally two dimensional behaviour. The quixotic search for 'the correct line' gives a sort of ideological cover for the most childish and vicious sort of in-group/our-group definitions of reality. In all honesty, I sometimes wonder if this has put more people off socialism than even the collapse of the Berlin Wall...

I disagree with the SWP. I think their ideas contain the seeds of totalitarianism - they are Leninists,after all. If pushed I could produce a long list of political questions on which I think they've fucked up. But I think the original motivation which brought them to Left politics was, for almost all of them, not that different from mine.

So here's a word of advice: have a good, dignified divorce. Argue out your differences and then part in disagreement but some kind of mutual respect. Don't let 'politics' be winner-take-all in an emotional sense. Think of the kids.

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