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Why Austerity isn’t Common Sense but is Class War October 12, 2010

Posted by Garibaldy in Capitalism, Inequality.
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Check out the video here by Mark Blyth.

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1. Mark P - October 12, 2010

On a very slightly related note, (well, austerity related) I see that Rory Hearne has an article in today’s Irish Times.

The main focus of his article is to argue against cuts to community schemes, and in so far as it sticks to the task, I suspect that few here would object to it. When he gets on to other subjects, however, he managed quite unintentionally to bring tears of laughter to my eyes.

Rory, you see, has “grown up”, moved past all that socialist childishness and found a niche as a charity worker. And now, he, of course, has fully adopted the mentality of the community grantocracy. This transformation won’t come as an enormous surprise to those who knew Rory, suspecting as many did that he always had an inner liberal waiting to get out.

Rory tells us that it makes him “smile and cringe now” but that just a few years age he believed that “radical, revolutionary, change was about to happen in Ireland and we would be leading it.” We presumably being the SWP, the organisation Rory worked for full time before he found the grant funded sector more to his taste.

Now, if anyone else told me that in their recent time as a socialist they thought that they’d be leading a revolution in Ireland within a few years, I would think that they were setting up a straw man, a caricature of socialist thinking. But having encountered Rory in his time as an SWP activist, I have little difficulty in accepting that he really did believe something so mind-numbingly stupid.

The SWP does not prize strategic thinking or political sophistication in its younger full timers, preferring instead excitability and enthusiasm. Rory was a paragon of the type. Anyone who can recall him enthusiastically lecturing rooms full of pensioners concerned about the bin tax about how it was incredibly important that as many of the people present as possible travel to the European Social Forum as it was “the school of the movements” will shudder at the memory. That sort of thing was par for the course.

So while I can’t criticise his honesty on that point, I do have to question his apparent assumption that his own breathless foolishness was widely shared by others on the socialist left.

He gets a little less scrupulous in his honesty when he says that “along with a few other committed individuals, I led the development of a new political organisation,” the People Before Profit Alliance. It isn’t strictly speaking false, as the SWP Political Committee is indeed made up of “a few committed individuals”, but it certainly gives a misleading impression.

Rory, it seems, has become disillusioned by dreams of major change and by “protest” against “corrupt” state agencies and “establishment” political parties (his scare quotes). Instead he wants to “strategically build allies” from “all sectors” to bring about “small changes”. An outlook which, no doubt entirely by coincidence, fits perfectly with a career as charity worker in schemes largely funded by state grants.

In fact it’s a perfect encapsulation of the lowering of political horizons which is necessarily linked to dependence on state grants (or grants from private foundations). Of course Rory makes big play of the “independence” of such schemes, but it’s an “independence” which consists of being allowed to politely lobby your paymasters. Most community schemes do very useful work, but they are at most semi-autonomous arms of the state rather than an independent force. If they get too uppity, they tend to disappear.

It has to be said that this isn’t the only political conversion that Rory had undergone. He has also become an advocate of public private partnerships and NGO provision of services. Which is to say privatisation and the replacement of state provision with charity. Unsurprisingly this too fits with the institutional interests of the “third sector”, although I can again credit Rory with more honesty than you usually get from people arguing this position, listing as he does PPPs and NGO provision alongside each other.

Much of the rest of the article is padded out with community sector and NGO boilerplate about “empowerment” and “rights led approaches”, the sort of standard issue waffle which need not detain us here, but it does contain a peculiar reference to “exploring genuine spirituality”, which leaves me wondering if he’s found God.

Finally, it’s worth noting that while Rory complains that socialism “no longer provides the mechanism for practical realisation of radical change”, he doesn’t seem to have discovered any alternative mechanism beyond getting a grant from the state to lobby the state.

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Garibaldy - October 12, 2010

I can see the sheer joy on your face as you typed that Mark.

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Mark P - October 12, 2010

I have to admit that his article filled me with a certain amount of glee.

In fairness to him, he’ll probably make a better charity worker than he did socialist fulltimer. A certain vagueness of thought and propensity for enthusiastic waffle can be very useful if you are making a career in the NGO sector.

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Garibaldy - October 12, 2010

We can only hope to find out the truth of your last remark Mark.

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LeftAtTheCross - October 12, 2010

Joy? Not an emotion that could be associated with Mark P I would have thought. More like hatred.

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Mark P - October 12, 2010

You say that like it’s a bad thing.

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EWI - October 12, 2010

I have a very good friend, someone just like Rory – in more ways than one – who has undergone just such a journey and over the same timeframe. So I understand the emotion very, very well.

Speaking of austerity – ESRI pushes flat tax that benefits the rich, news at eleven:

Today the ESRI published research showing that a 7.5% charge could raise enough money to replace all three charges. The main winners would be top rate taxpayers, who would see their marginal rate fall from 52% to 48.5%.

While this would suit the top 20% of taxpayers, all other income groups would lose out, unless there was a compensating mechanism, such as higher top income tax rates.

http://www.rte.ie/business/2010/1012/esri.html

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2. Mark P - October 12, 2010

Given that I’m apparently upsetting poor LeftAtTheCross with my nastiness, I’d better not express my opinions on Eamon Gilmore’s announcement that Labour will support water taxes and yet another “cut in the public sector pay bill”.

Not that it will stop a few of our fellow residents of the comments box here from voting for them of course.

Gilmore:
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/1012/1224280878774.html

Hearne:
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2010/1012/1224280878013.html

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LeftAtTheCross - October 13, 2010

Mark,

It’s not a case of upsetting me.

It’s just the one sidedness of the hatred that comes across in your writing. I don’t know you so my opinion of you comes solely through your words here. What I see, presumably what other people see, is hatred. Now maybe you’re great craic and have a lighter side, I’m not trying to judge you here. It’s just there’s a common theme in your words, and those of other SP members on other sites, a detachedness from normal human relations, a mania. (I’ll add that NeillCaff is a notable exception). Maybe you agree but think it’s a good thing, some sort of revolutionary attribute.

If part of your collective function in commenting on blogs and forums is to advertise the SP’s presence and attract potential new recruits through the dissemination of your thoughts then I’d really advise you to have someone take an objective look at the tone (not necessarily the content) of what you write.

Again, I’m not trying to have a go at you or the SP, this isn’t Trot-bashing time.

I’m just saying that your writing portrays you as a nut sometimes, a one-sided bigot.

Maybe you are.

Maybe we all are.

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dmfod - October 13, 2010

Style over content is one of the main problems of our current image & PR obsessed age – hence the upset over Brian Cowen sounding langers on the radio and the adulation of Lenihan for fluent bullshit while he destroys our society to protect the rich. Rather than being outraged by a strongly expressed opinion, you could try saying whether you agree or disagree with it which is the point of a discussion forum. Leave the whining about presentation to Terry Prone.

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LeftAtTheCross - October 13, 2010

dfmod, I agree in general that substance is more important than form. However, propaganda requires form also, and my point is that when the SP portrays itself in this image it really can’t do them much good in attracting anything but the narrowest of warped mentalities into their organisation. If they’re happy with that, grand, leave them to it.

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Mark P - October 13, 2010

There’s something grimly amusing about being patronised on the subject of the public presentation of political views by a clown who recently joined a political party which pays annual tribute to the wisdom, glory and leadership of Kim Jong-il.

It’s like being lecture on decorum by a man who is masturbating on the street.

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WorldbyStorm - October 13, 2010

Okay, enough. No more.

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neilcaff - October 13, 2010
EWI - October 13, 2010

@ Neilcaff

Man, that makes me feel old (I remember that website the first time around – ’98?).

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WorldbyStorm - October 13, 2010

Me too. Nice find neilcaff.

Re the bigger issue, or is it smaller. Yep, myself and a few others run the site and we determine the boundaries.

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neilcaff - October 14, 2010

I first came across it on a debate over the first Lindsey Oil Refinery strikes on that appalling SWP blog Lenins Tomb (now that was a flame war! I was glad of Mark P’s occasional salvoes from across the Irish Sea I can tell you)

Anyway after trying to talk sense into the SWP who were foaming at the mouth over this ‘racist’ strike one of the SWP dubbed me thusly: http://www.politicsforum.org/images/flame_warriors/flame_77.php

It’s one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said to me 🙂

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Mark P - October 13, 2010

Thank you for the amateur psychoanalysis. I’ll be sure to give it the same detailed and profound care, thought and attention that your contributions usually deserve.

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LeftAtTheCross - October 13, 2010
Mark P - October 13, 2010
WorldbyStorm - October 13, 2010
Mark P - October 13, 2010
WorldbyStorm - October 13, 2010
Tim Johnston - October 13, 2010

FWIW, In Mark P’s defence, I really don’t see the ‘hate’ in there. In fact it seems like a justified reaction to someone whose enthusiasm for his own political leanings was insufficiently deeprooted to survive university.

Hearne’s rewriting of his own history describes himself as “frustrated” with the main left parties after 2005 – but was he not “frustrated” with them when he was in the SWP?

Anyway, I know very few people who weren’t Marxists at some point in their lives (including me, a former SP member), particularly at college; most just don’t feel the need to advertise their subsequent “maturing”.

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3. sonofstan - October 12, 2010

Much of the rest of the article is padded out with community sector and NGO boilerplate about “empowerment” and “rights led approaches”, the sort of standard issue waffle which need not detain us here, but it does contain a peculiar reference to “exploring genuine spirituality”, which leaves me wondering if he’s found God.

It’s a well trodden path alright. I hate that stuff so much: I’d much rather encounter the bitter, possibly alcoholic, old school civil servant type that used to inhabit the dole offices and rudimentary social services in this country, than that kind of happy-clappy NGO type. And at least your victim has a radical past: many of the people I’ve come across in the sector, underneath the ‘equality’ and ’empowerment’ chatter, have a positively Victorian attitude towards their ‘clients’ – enjoying nothing more than assessing their ‘deserving-ness’ or otherwise.

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Mark P - October 14, 2010

Speaking of that NGO-speak gibberish, here is an amazing example of it, again from the Irish Times. In it the Gorta CEO talks of the importance of a “rights based approach” and creating “a powerful synergy of states, the private sector and civil society” to tackle world hunger.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2010/1014/1224281064946.html

Fucking idiots.

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dmfod - October 14, 2010

That article could have been produced using a Daily Mail-style headline generator app, modified for NGO-speak: ‘Hunger is a failure of governance’, ‘Food is not only a need but a fundamental individual entitlement’, ‘create an enabling environment that is conducive to people feeding themselves in dignity’ etc. etc.

The thrust of the article is to reframe structural poverty and inequality as resolvable through neoliberal ‘solutions’ like ‘synergies’ with the private sector (privatisation and foreign investment)and pseudo-self-empowerment through individualistic ‘rights-based approaches’ – both of which conveniently ignore the societal and structural elephants in the room in favour of ‘market access’ and microcredit schemes i.e. extending debt peonage to the poorest and relabelling informal workers as entrepeneurs.

The article concludes (incredibly) with: ‘Ireland can demonstrate the powerful synergies that can be created by harnessing the collective efforts of Government, civil society and the private sector’

For those eager to hear more, Peter Power (who has of course slashed the aid budget), Ciaran Cuffe, Karen Coleman and Marian Finucane’s husband, now styled ‘International Philanthropist of the Year’ for their vanity project with the black babies in South Africa, will be telling us how to solve third world poverty at a conference in Dublin tomorrow.

http://gortaworldfoodday.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/gorta-world-food-day-conference/#comment-4

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Mark P - October 14, 2010

Well, if you liked that, you’ll love this also from Gorta:

http://gortaworldfoodday.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/gorta-welcomes-participation-of-business-role-in-development-%e2%80%98golden-triangle%e2%80%99/

“Gorta Welcomes Participation of Business Role in Development ‘Golden Triangle'”

NGO challenges Irish business community to respond

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin, T.D., hosted a gathering in New York of leading figures from the political, corporate and civil society sectors to announce details of a commitment to address the immediate need to ensure children all over the world receive adequate nutrition in the first 1000 days, from conception to the age of two. The ‘Change a Life, Change the Future’ strategy is a collaboration harnessing the efforts of different countries in the area of childhood nutrition.

Muhtar Kent Chairman and CEO of Coca Cola, delivered a keynote speech on the substantial role business can play in this initiative and stated that while that progress is being made, huge challenges remain. He stated that critical to success is a partnership between government, civil society and business which he called the ‘golden triangle’. “Business,” he said “brings a lot to the table and has a clear desire to be part of the solution”.

Brian Hanratty, CEO, gorta attending the event strongly agreed with this statement: “As limited progress has been made on the Millennium Development Goals, this initiative of a ‘golden triangle’ between civil society, business and government offers true partnership in development. This fusion of experience broadens both the debate and the opportunity for real progress.”

Hanratty also stated that “gorta is committed to growing further partnerships with the Irish business sector as part of this ‘golden triangle’ approach which gorta will also encourage with the business communities of the countries within which it operates

Excuse me while I go and get sick in my mouth.

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EWI - October 14, 2010

this initiative of a ‘golden triangle’ between civil society, business and government offers true partnership in development.

Yes, like the kite being flown last year for Western corporation-owned and run cities in the Third World (colonialism is seeing a revival!)

Of course, as we know and the UK is finding out, they want to implement corporatism here too.

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4. Bartley - October 12, 2010

Whatever one thinks of his personal political journey, its rare enough to see such a badly written two thousand words grace the pages of the IT.

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EWI - October 12, 2010

Whatever one thinks of his personal political journey, its rare enough to see such a badly written two thousand words grace the pages of the IT.

The Romans insisted on humiliating captured enemies through the streets of Rome, and Madam Editor strikes me as a Classicist.

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5. HAL - October 12, 2010

I’m convinced that the state has compromised some of the best “left” activists by hiring them,some remain committed but most if it came to the crunch would baulk.I kind of agree with Mark P on this one, even though I would point out that the same probably applies to some members of his own group.I think most of these people do provide a sympathetic service but will only campaign within their remit.Saying that,I think the next election will see these agencies campaign strongly as their paymasters faith is predetermined.

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Ghandi - October 13, 2010

Strange world when I find myself broadly agree with Mark P.

“I’m convinced that the state has compromised some of the best “left” activists by hiring them,some remain committed but most if it came to the crunch would baulk”.

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

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6. RosencrantzisDead - October 13, 2010

I do have to question his apparent assumption that his own breathless foolishness was widely shared by others on the socialist left.

I tend to find, having endured my fair share of “I was a Marxist once…” disquisitions, that the defectors always believe that their view was paradigmatic of the group. This is especially true where the view in particular is unsophisticated, unsystematic, and unfathomable. No one likes to admit they were a moron by themselves, better to say that you had company.

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7. Eoin O'Mahony - October 13, 2010

Great video. Thank you. As for Rory’s ‘conversion’, sorry, that he has “evolved and matured through my experiences in academic research and working in the front line in communities.”: Sad. Quite sad.

Not an uncommon experience of former SWPers, it has to be said.

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8. C.Kenna - October 13, 2010

When I used to run into Rory Hearne back in his SWP days I found him to be a arrogant, self-centered, sectarian little arsehole. One change of career later, and he’s still the same. However, as Mark P so wonderfully illustrates, being an arrogant, self-centered, sectarian little arsehole is par for the course among the Trots, so it must make it extremely difficult for them to filter the insincere but arrogant, self-centered, sectarian little arseholes like Rory, from the totally sincere but arrogant, self-centered, sectarian little arseholes like Mark P.

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9. Mark P - October 13, 2010

It looks like I don’t have the respect and admiration of C.Kenna and Leftatthecross. Somehow, I’ll have to find the strength to hold back the tears and soldier on.

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10. Mark P - October 13, 2010

Rory’s replacement at Allen Towers gives him some entertaining prolier-than-thou stick:

http://www.swp.ie/news/we-need-more-protests-not-less-reply-dr-rory-hearne/3702

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Mark P - October 13, 2010

And hilariously, Rory’s article has been approvingly tweeted by Ciaran Cuffe and by some Labour Party councillor.

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11. Terry McDermott - October 13, 2010

‘It’s nice to know that there are people with PhDs who dare to leave the hallowed confines of Trinity College by reaching down to us little people below.’

The SWP also does reverese class prejiduce: except when it’s aimed at them! And if Rory was still in the SWP he’d be getting star billing at Marxism with all the other academics

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12. WorldbyStorm - October 13, 2010

Let’s not have a war about all this. Rory Hearne genuinely isn’t worth it.

By contrast LATC and Mark P are both valued contributors.

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13. FDonohoe - October 13, 2010

I’ve read the Hearne article again, very closely and really cannot find what is so disagreeable. Do people really think that a public service does not need a shake up? It has been revien with FF gombeenism for many a year now – what exactly is the problem here. Hearne is no longer a revolutionary socialist, shock horror, still seems like he does seek radical solutions

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WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2010

A fair point, if it were anyone other than Hearne writing only a small amount of what he was saying would seem in the slightest bit contentious. If indeed it was noticed at all.

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EWI - October 15, 2010

if it were anyone other than Hearne

WbS is right. I have to say that RH was indeed a particularly smug example of the species in his keffiyeh-wearing phase.

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Mark P - October 14, 2010

In the first comment to mention Hearne’s article, I did start by saying that much of what he says would be uncontentious here. Slashing community schemes is a bad thing, for instance, is nominally at least his central point. You probably won’t find anyone here who disagrees.

I do however object to his advocacy of privatisation, his smug “now I’ve grown up” condescension and the vacuousness of his strategic alternatives. And if you’d ever met the guy at the height of his SWP super-enthusiasm, you’d probably have difficulty stopping yourself from laughing.

The fact that Ciaran Cuffe could approvingly retreat his article tells you all you need to know about it.

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WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2010

That’s true, though I didn’t read what he was saying as advocating privatisation as much as a mix. That we could both read it and come away with different interpretations means that he is entirely unclear as to what he is saying. And in this current climate – given the attacks on that sector – that’s not good enough on his part.

BTW, I dislike the ‘I”m grown up tone of the piece’, and he’s astoundingly naive, though whether that was a byproduct of the formation he was in, a more widespread attitude at that point (in fairness it was very fin-de-siecle in the early to mid-00s amongst some on the left) or his own personal issue, is an interesting question.

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Mark P - October 14, 2010

Advocating shaking up the provision of public services so that it’s a mix between public sector, PPPs and NGOs is advocating privatisation. It’s not advocating total privatisation, but it’s advocating more PPPs as part of the “shake up” of the public sector.

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WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2010

The way you put it that sounds right, though my sense was that he didn’t think the state per se, and by that I took it that he meant say Departments, were necessarily the only way to deliver provision. He did mention he wasn’t as antagonistic to private sector provision, but I didn’t take from that that he sought outright privatisation, though who can really tell? It was as you said initially very diffuse.

I could for example imagine that one could see an expansion of semi-state agencies , the much hated quangos as the right sees them, or even non-profit entities working locally and on smaller scales rather than Departments. However that’s me projecting, and it’s not again clear in his text.

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14. E - October 14, 2010

Mark, sorry for this, think I know you from the past in the political world but really less of this slagging now.. did the younger people in the SWP get over excited about something, they did. Did I get over excited in the past, I sure did. Were you ever excited when you joined the SP or Militant Labour because you sound like “old guard” to me, an experienced member..

Look we have to temper the absolutely natural enthusiasm of new younger members with the fact that a revolution is a process, sometimes very long indeed. Did we get it right, course not. Many members of organisations such as ours (SP/SWP) never fully grasp the whole complex nature of this process and leave. Maybe loads have left the SP over the years, we never really hear about it…

And really, I just remembered your comment about Rory and the ESF thing with the pensioners.. why the hell not have Irish pensioners going to the Social Forum in Florence or where ever it was on that year? You think they would be clueless about stuff like that, a life time of experience behind all of them.. the grey vote marching into the poll booths still voting for “Dev” and FF? Is that it for them?

Sorry didn’t mean to lose it there but Rory has made his own decision finally about the radical left, maybe it is a curse on both our houses (SP/SWP)..

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E - October 14, 2010

I meant to say “Is that it for them” about the pensioners just there, you know what I mean..

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15. Mark P - October 14, 2010

E:

I wasn’t actually having a go at younger SWP members in general. Every political organisation recruits new people with widely varying degrees of political sophistication.

I was specifically talking about a particular type of younger SWP fulltimer I’ve encountered repeatedly both in Ireland and elsewhere. Constantly breathlessly excited, “inspired” by this or that event elsewhere, convinced that the SWP’s latest idea is absolutely, definitely, the most important thing in the world and neither overburdened by knowledge of the SWP’s own politics nor grounded in a realistic assessment of the world around them. I’m sure you know exactly the type I’m talking about, E – and its why Rory is quite believable when he talks about thinking that the SWP would be leading a revolution in a few years. I don’t think that many more experienced SWP members believe that.

As I understand it, making such people into fulltimers is a deliberate decision of the SWP – the idea being to harness their enthusiasm and loyalty while assuming that they can learn the politics on the job. Maybe I’m wrong about that and it’s an unconscious thing.

On your other points:

1) No, I was never in Militant Labour.

2) The speechifying about getting people to the European Social Forum at bin tax public meetings was inappropriate and silly. Firstly, as far as I am aware, not one single person signed up to go from those meetings which is itself revealing. Secondly, the way in which the issue was raised assumed that the people present saw themselves as part of “the movements” (and knew what the SWP meant by “the movements”). Thirdly, it was a distraction from the arguments which really did need to be won at those meetings – about non-payment, resistance to non-collection and so on.

Bin tax public meetings typically attracted large crowds, and yes, more of those people were Fianna Fail voters than supporters of the radical left. People can, of course, be convinced of a socialist case, whether they are old or young. But you have to start where people actually are and you can’t just assume that the same kind of “One more bus to Florence” speechifying that may or may not be appropriate at an SWP public meeting has any resonance at a suburban bin tax public meeting.

In my direct experience, that kind of intervention led to bewilderment on the part of most people present and active irritation on the part of a minority. Particularly when carried out in the kind of breathless way I was talking about earlier.

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16. neilcaff - October 14, 2010

I think a lot of people don’t really grasp what it’s like having to deal with the shennanigans of people like Rory Hearn when you’re a serious person trying to build the movement.

People like him are perfectly capable of ruining painfully constructed campaigns or disputes out of sheer fuck-wittery. This happens because ultimately they are not serious people in their approach to organisation or politics. So yes there is a certain satisfaction in seeing all the imprecations you muttered through gritted teeth whenever that person opened their mouth to pronounce on a subject they were totally clueless about borne out completely in their subsequent evolution. And if you’ve had to sit through even one of Rory Hearne’s orations back when he was an SWP activist you’ve certainly earned the right to have a wee gloat about it.

Let me put it to you another way. Imagine Mark P went off and became a Labour Party councillor and then preceded to write long rambling articles about the need to build a strong coalition with Fine Gael in order to deliver some unspecified change to this country.

I’ll bet there’s be people on here who’d be having orgasms of delight, and why not?

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sonofstan - October 14, 2010

*Listens for explosion*

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neilcaff - October 14, 2010

My point was it’s all just good clean fun as far as slagging off Rory is concerned and if Mark P was to do a 180 flip like Rory then people on here would be having a giggle for themselves as well, and what harm?

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Mark P - October 14, 2010

Oi, Neil, the implication there seems to be that I too am a pain in the balls to deal with when you are trying to build a campaign and am prone to clueless orations!

Are you trying to tell me something?

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Oscar Traynor - October 14, 2010

whatever would make you think that a guy who almost immediately compares those who criticise him to men masturbating on the street would be seen by the people who visit this site as a pain in the balls?

with the type of tantrums Mark P is allowed to throw you can see why this site is dismissed as a Northside version of politics.ie.

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neilcaff - October 14, 2010

Hmm that wasn’t my intention but on re-reading my post I can see how you could draw that conclusion. Think of it as a case of friendly fire.

I was aimin’ for the Eye-raqi’s but I done gone blown up that Polish tank sir!

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WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2010

‘Dismissed’ by who, Oscar? :). And in fairness a lid was put on this in what I thought was a reasonable way. What though do you suggest, casting LATC and Mark P into external exile for a while? If we don’t do that for people on the right we’re surely not going to do it for people on the left.

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Garibaldy - October 14, 2010

I did wonder by whom the CLR is dismissed as a Northside version of P.ie myself. Not least because I have nothing to do with the Northside.

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EWI - October 15, 2010

you can see why this site is dismissed as a Northside version of politics.ie.

Who/what/where/when,,,?

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17. E - October 14, 2010

Ok Mark, sorry I was probably thinking of someone else so. Fair enough, of course he was appointed to be full timer and what of it looking back. And about “learning as you go”, surely we all do that right? Maybe there we just disagree on emphasis about stuff and what level of knowledge you need.

And finally, maybe it’s a just an acceptable difference between us sometimes but why not try to raise the “big picture” stuff about why the councils imposed the bin tax (and future taxes) is set ultimately but the WTO/EU on a international level and so on. I still have hope people can evolve politically with our help on the radical left..

Leave it at that so..

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Mark P - October 14, 2010

I actually broadly agree with you there E, but with two small issues:

1) I think that an argument like “let’s all get on a bus to Florence” is something to be raised after you’ve started winning the wider political argument rather than something you can propose before that argument has begun.

2) I think that super-enthusiastic but very badly grounded full timers can do a lot of damage when let off the leash. Not maliciously or cynically necessarily, but damage nonetheless.

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De Northside Socialist - October 14, 2010

Hi Mark P,
Are you really suggesting that the SP has never had full-timers, who are over-enthusiastic, naive or personally irritating?

Is your organisation truly that perfect and devoid of faults, as you are suggesting?

I’ve heard stories in my time on the left about the SP/Militant that would tend to suggest otherwise.

Now, I personally retain a healthy level of regard for your organisation, as I believe that the vast majority of your members are sincere, dedicated socialists, who make positive contributions to the labour movement.

You may also be aware that the histories of the SP and SWP are closely linked back to the 1950’s British far left politics. In fact T. Cliff and T. Grant were in the same party for a while AFAIK – see below.

“A lot of these old articles repay reading today, even if Grant was not as consistently correct as he liked to claim in later years. Members of the Socialist Workers Party may be interested to know that it was Haston who in 1947 mooted the state capitalist analysis of Russia and that Tony Cliff, arriving in Britain from Palestine, argued the “orthodox” position of the degenerated workers’ state. In the course of this debate something remarkable happened – Grant and Cliff changed each other’s minds.”

http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/News&AnalysisInternational/News&AnalysisIntObituaryTedGrant.html

As has been suggested earlier, perhaps the next apostate or scandal will come from the SP/CWI tradition and I hope you will be as trenchant in your contributions.

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Mark P - October 15, 2010

Are you really suggesting that the SP has never had full-timers, who are over-enthusiastic, naive or personally irritating?

Obviously not. I’m only suggesting that being a pain in the balls has never been an advantage when it comes to being hired.

You may also be aware that the histories of the SP and SWP are closely linked back to the 1950′s British far left politics.

Yes I know. In fact it goes back earlier than that.

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18. E - October 14, 2010

No that’s fair enough, I happen to agree too. Sure the political argument you want to make has to be understandable and appropriate to the situation you find yourself in while leaving it open to talk in time about the “big” schematic issues.

And for sure, even some of our full timers, even with the best intentions could be pain in the arses sometime, inside and outside the party. Some names come to mind but this is not the place to drop names..

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19. Captain Rock - October 14, 2010

http://www.swp.ie/reviews/guide-left-wing-blogs/3649

The CLR has been recommended on the SWP’s website, which is a welcome departure and might lead to more people like E giving their views here, which has been missing in the past, whether you agree with them or not.

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WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2010

Very true. It’s a pity that up until now there have been almost no SWP members commenting so E is very welcome.

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Mark P - October 14, 2010

Yes, if you think about it we’ve had people commenting here supporting:

Labour,
SF,
Greens (although they seem to have disappeared),
Socialist Party,
Workers Party,
Irish Socialist Network,
Workers Solidarity Movement,
Socialist Democracy (briefly),

We’ve also had left republicans, although it’s never been entirely clear to me whether they were Irps, Eirigi, RSF or 32CSM.

About the only people missing have been the SWP and the Sparts! And Organise, now that I think of it.

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WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2010

The Sparts!

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Mark P - October 14, 2010

Given the anonymous complaints about my debating style, I’m not sure if we’re really ready for a Spart.

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WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2010

I guess we have to file the idea under ‘be careful what we wish for’… 🙂

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EWI - October 14, 2010

There were some Libertas supporters during the referendums and Euros as well, iirc.

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LeftAtTheCross - October 14, 2010

FG: Dan Sullivan (?)

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WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2010

That’s true. But curiously only ex-FFers…

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EWI - October 15, 2010

That’s true. But curiously only ex-FFers…

Well, Fianna Fáil certainly became ‘post-nationalist’ at last – it morphed into a gombeen version of the PDs! Given that, where are those who grew up with family histories of involvement in the movement going to go to…?

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20. FDonohoe - October 14, 2010

“That’s true. But curiously only ex-FFers…”
best if it kept that way

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WorldbyStorm - October 14, 2010

That’s another fair point.

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21. sonofstan - October 15, 2010

I suggest you add ‘Left Unity’ as one of the tags at the top of this.

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WorldbyStorm - October 15, 2010

😉

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LeftAtTheCross - October 27, 2010

Speaking of Left Unity, just saw this on Jim Monaghan’s Facebook:

“United Left Alliance formed.
Dublin Sun, 24th Oct, inv the People Before Profit Alliance, the Socialist Party, the Tipperary Workers and Unemployed Group, and Cllr Declan Bree,decision was taken to establish a left all to contest the next general election, towards a …new, left, anti capitalist formation. to be called the United Left Alliance. anti coalition with right wing parties, prog has been agreed.”

Probably worth a thread in itself. Perhaps Jim or others could provide further details?

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22. 3. work if you can 4. dream. 5. act « 53 degrees - October 22, 2010

[…] socialists bicker and the third sector pulls on a nice warm and fuzzy green jersey that abstracts itself, thank you […]

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