Comrades! Let Us Forge Unity For the Struggle Ahead!
For The Defeat Of Ignorance Concerning Solidarity – From The Near East, To Ireland, The Caribbean and New Caledonia!
Rebuild The IST-Trainspotting Tendency!
Break From the Gouldite Leadership!
For The World Party of Socialist Revolutionary Trainspotting!
The ISO has finally got around to telling the world that on February 3 it successfully forged unity for the struggle ahead with the Socialist Action Group and Solidarity. The statement, dated February 13, reveals nothing with regards the reasons for the amalgamation, other than the experience of working together in the anti-war movement and in preparation for the APEC protest as having provided an opportunity for members of the three organisations to overcome whatever differences may have existed between them in the past. Outside of their relationship to the SWP International — aka the International Socialist Tendency — the chief difference between the re-forged Solidarity and its main rival in Socialist Alternative would appear to be the result of their history; in other words, personal differences between the party’s leaderships. In which case, at some point in the future, it may be that the two join together; alternatively, that there is a further split in SAlt. Note that SAlt split from the ISO in 1995; in 2002, it proposed the two re-fuse.
On Sunday, 3 February, a conference of three socialist groups, Socialist Action Group, International Socialist Organisation, and Solidarity voted to merge their organisations into a united group to be called Solidarity.
The merger represents a significant step forward in re-unifying the key groups of the International Socialist Tendency in Australia and the emergence of a new national group committed to building the left and the social movements in Australia.
The merger brings together the members of three groups that have played an important role in the fight against the Howard government – in the fight against the cuts to Higher Education and the introduction of Voluntary Student Unionism, against One Nation, on the side of militant unionism in the MUA dispute, the fight for refugee rights, against scapegoating Muslims and against the so-called war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Together with a joint commitment to the politics of socialism from below, it has been the experience of working together particularly in anti-war work and the lead up to the APEC demonstration against George Bush and John Howard in Sydney that laid the basis for forging the unity of the three groups…
The fight for social justice cannot be waged from the sidelines. The unified Solidarity is committed to throwing itself into struggles for social justice, to overturn the legacy of the Howard years and to strengthen the confidence of rank and file unionists on the shop floor.
We look forward to working in common struggle with other activists from social movements and the wider left to further these aims.
On Socialism From Below, see Tom Keefer, ‘Marxism, Anarchism, & the Genealogy of “Socialism From Below”‘, Upping the Anti, No.2, January 2006, for a cautious but still very useful critique of the concept which the IST, following Hal Draper (‘The Two Souls of Socialism’, 1960/1966), has claimed as its own. A detailed response to David McNally’s writings on the same subject — and employing essentially the same arguments as Draper — may be found in The Anarchist FAQ, Reply to errors and distortions in David McNally’s pamphlet “Socialism from Below”.
McNally performs the same role today as Draper served in the 1970s and 1980s, which is to counter anarchist criticisms that Leninism is an authoritarian doctrine, both in theory and practice. The idea that Leninism is somehow compatible with some form of ‘socialism from below’ has become increasingly untenable over the last few decades, not only as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Empire, but also under the impact of movements in opposition to neo-liberalism.
As for the SWP itself, following the recent (November 2007) split in the RESPECT coalition between an SWP-dominated faction (Respect — The Unity Coalition) and another (Respect Renewal), this week has seen one of its local councillors, Ahmed Hussain leave the SWP for… the Tories. The boofheaded leader of the SWP, John Rees:
…issued a press statement in the early hours of this morning [February 14] attacking the Advertiser‘s story as “a rumour”. They insisted Cllr Hussain remained firmly on their side. But after spending the night thinking, Cllr Hussain called the paper at 9.30am to confirm he was defecting. Three hours later, he met Cllr Golds and former Tory group leader Simon Rouse to sign his party membership forms, then emailed the council’s chief executive shortly after.
Here’s a man, they’ll say, who was first a Labour supporter, then a Respect councillor and then a cheerleader for the Socialist Workers Party. And now he’s a Tory!
Bring forth a beverage for Cllr Ahmed Hussain of Tower Hamlets, east London, who was said on Wednesday to be defecting from Respect to the Tories, a notion he dismissed. “There are some people who want to jump on any rumour,” a press release explained. But by yesterday the deed was done, completing Cllr Hussain’s passage from the George Galloway wing of Respect to the Tories via the SWP, a journey only equalled in length and complexity by the astronauts of Apollo 11. He must be tired. Get him a drink.
Ooops. For the record, here’s how Reespect handled the initial allegation regarding Hussain’s defection:
vers. 1.0 [since deleted] http://www.respectcoalition.org/?ite=1773
Tower Hamlets Councillor stays with Respect
Tower Hamlets Councillor Ahmed Hussain quashed rumours that he had joined the Tory party today and insisted that he was sticking with Respect.
Following stories in the local paper, The East London Advertiser, the leader of the Respect group of councillors Oliur Rahman said: “I spoke with Councillor Ahmed Hussain today and he made it absolutely clear that he is staying with Respect and stands by its values.”
Councillor Rahman added, “there are some people who want to jump on any rumour that gets out to damage Respect. They would be better advised to check the facts with me. Our Respect group remains united and ready to join the fight against the Tories and New Labour in the Greater London Authority elections.”
And following the cat’s leap out of the bag:
vers. 1.1 [still current] http://www.respectcoalition.org/?ite=1774
Statement from Respect on Cllr Ahmed Hussain’s resignation
We are sorry to hear that Cllr Ahmed Hussain has joined the Tories. We had discussions with him yesterday where he agreed that he was going to stay with Respect. We issued a statement saying that, in good faith, but clearly his assurances meant nothing.
He has joined a party which supports war and privatisation, which has little representation among ethnic minorities, and which has few supporters among working class people in Tower Hamlets or anywhere else.
This is a betrayal of the principles on which he was elected and will be a great disappointment to those who voted for him. He should resign immediately and stand in a by election, where voters will have the chance to cast their opinion on his change of politics.
See also : Inveresk Street Ingrate | On the Road from Trotsky to PNAC, see Ted Widmer, ‘What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been’ — “From exile to redemption to exile again: a history of the “militaristic idealists” known as neocons” — The Washington Post, February 3, 2008, a review of They Knew They Were Right by Jabob Heilbrunn, and this wicked chart; further disco at sans everything.