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Disaffiliating.. January 19, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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The most recent statement from the Connolly Youth Movement indicating that it is disaffiliating from the CPI is very interesting. And no doubt worthy of discussion, but a question it raises is over the origin of the CYM. I was reading the Brendan Scott biography by John P Swift and in it mention is made of the CYM being almost autonomous at the beginning before affiliating with the CPI around 1970. Indeed it disbanded in the early 1990s and then was re-established in the early 2000s. So quite a history, but… how autonomous was the CYM in the early 1960s? Was it linked to the CPI from the beginning or did it move towards the CPI? Any thoughts?

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1. alanmyler - January 19, 2021

Probably worth noting the CPI’s recent article in Socialist Voice on the origins of the CYM.

https://socialistvoice.ie/2021/01/the-birth-and-growth-of-the-connolly-youth-movement/

Not that it sheds any light on the current situation.

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2. roddy - January 19, 2021

A sound enough organisation but I had to laugh at “Sean’s dangerous mission to South Africa to distribute leaflets”! Others from this island also embarked on even more dangerous missions to South Africa folllowing contacts between Kadar Asmal, Mick O’Riordan and a certain bearded gentleman who held elected office both sides of the border!

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3. gregtimo - January 19, 2021

I have no ideas as to why, other than the reasons given by CYM (i can believe the ossification bit implied sadly) . A clue might be the digression into the ‘instant revolution’ complaint in the CPI article (as if that has happened again) and the CYM’s dismissal of the ‘clique’ as ‘reformist’ , but i am guessing it is in most part bad personal relations as the CYM were more friendly to China in the past year, whereas the CPI has ignored it. Echos of the disintegration of the French and Italian CPs back in the day on a minor scale. Taken with the recent splinters of SWM (and worse in UK/USA), wholesale splitting of SP/CWI and trouble even in WP it would have a person running away from the notion of ‘Left’ if there was somewhere else to go . I have to utter ‘Gah’ !

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alanmyler - January 19, 2021

I can believe the allegation of ossification too, although I think that in fairness this can apply to any type of organisation, political or otherwise, and depending on whether or not the organisation objectively benefits from the wisdom and experience of the leaders this isn’t always a blocker that can’t be worked around. Maybe it’s more of a subjective assessment of the lack of progress towards the stated goals of the organisation, mixed with loss of confidence in the leadership, that is the problem here.

About the French and Italian parties, certainly the PCI imploded three decades ago but the PCF still has a decent sized membership, a daily newspaper, seats in parliament etc. Yes they’re not the party they once were, but relative to their peers it’s probably unfair to reference them as part of this discussion.

I’d share your negative sentiment about the fractured state of the Left here, up to a point, but a glance at the Timeline of the Irish Left would suggest that this is far from being a new phenomenon (https://www.leftarchive.ie/page/timeline-of-the-irish-left/). It must be about time for a Left Unity initiative, it’s been a few years since the last one…

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4. banjoagbeanjoe - January 19, 2021

I was on a trip with the CYM to Bulgaria in 1985. Not a member, a cheap holiday to see some of the Eastern bloc. So I’d know one or two of the current CPI people, but not well at all, and never did any political work with them.
But how many people are actually in either the CYM or the CPI? Smaller than the two WPs added together?
And all four of them together still tiny and irrelevant…. so why do I care :(. ?

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5. Jim Monaghan - January 19, 2021

Both the WPI and CPI are affiliated here. Will they make space for the CYM? https://www.solidnet.org/home/ Maybe all might meet up at the next international gathering.

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6. pettyburgess - January 19, 2021

As I understand it the background is simple enough. The CPI let its very small number of young members relaunch its youth wing in the hope of finally arresting its long slow slide into marginality (even by the standards of the left).

They built it, quite successfully on a small scale, on the basis of appealing to online Stalinist subcultures, edgy, parent-shocking, stuff. Which no doubt seemed like a great success. Right up until a bunch of young men attracted by and trained in a very abrasive style of politics with a great deal of revolutionary posturing started pushing for changes in the adult party. Which is a very staid organisation, oriented towards trade union officialdom, dedicated to networking and lobbying.

At which point recruiting a group of energetic and organised people with radically incompatible politics abruptly stopped seeming like a master stroke and started looking like an ill judged get rich quick scheme. So they were marginalised. And given the structures and nature of the CP, marginalised easily and successfully, culminating in the expulsion of the CYM leader and a few others from the CP.

Unfortunately for the CP, the expelled had their own miniature power base in the youth wing and they took it with them. The main remaining issue in the short term is to see if any other elements of the CP follow them out. In the longer term presumably the CYM will set up its own mini party to stop its leaders from ageing out.

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alanmyler - January 19, 2021

Is there any echo in that analysis of lessons learned (or otherwise) from the SP’s recruitment amongst the radical youth milieu in terms of the get rich quick scheme of identity politics, and how that fed into the SP/CWI/RISE parting of ways?

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WorldbyStorm - January 19, 2021

That’s an interesting point PB re ‘ageing out’. That is a real issue for youth wings – all too soon people do get older and that provides a structural obstacle unless the movement actually is large enough to have its own momentum.

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pettyburgess - January 19, 2021

Certainly the leadership’s age will play a strong determining role in what they do in the medium term. Nobody who runs that type of group is just going to retire from it unless it’s a springboard to a role in an adult party.

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pettyburgess - January 19, 2021

The English SP leadership would certainly frame those rows in ways that would have some parallels. The other sides would see them very differently.

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7. Colm B - January 19, 2021

Just from the bits I’ve read it looks like a conflict between what might be called Third Period or radical Stalinism versus the more orthodox politics of the CP or what you might call social-democratic Stalinism. So it looks like a clash based on both ideology and style of activity.
The CYMs politics seems very similar to the WPY, if Twitter posts are anything to go by, maybe that’s the direction they will travel.

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alanmyler - January 19, 2021

I stopped following WPY on FB (before I stopped using FB altogether) as the tone and content of some of the posts was just a bit too much for me. I might be incorrect here but I think there might be close personal ties between one of the WPY social media admins and a prominent member of the CYM, which might explain any perceptions of similarity. Whether there’s anything more substantial to it I really don’t know.

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pettyburgess - January 19, 2021

I don’t think the political distinction is quite as neatly defined as that because I don’t think that politics of CYM style internet meme page Stalinism are coherent enough to be described as “Third Period”. The greater radicalism is at least as much about aesthetics as about theory.

The Third Period involved a specific set of “left” shifts in both domestic and international policy as the Stalin faction purged the “rights”. Meme page Stalinism likes the hard edged abrasive rhetoric associated with that but you can’t really square things like their simultaneous love of Xi’s China with the domestic substance of the third period shift. They don’t go back through the history of Stalinism and parse out the things they agree with or think are applicable from the things they disagree with to form a coherent whole, it’s all just jumbled together in contradictory ways. The only internal logic is in the aesthetics.

When Stalinist politics has greater real world purchase, left Stalinists used to pay great even obsessive attention to working out when and why “revisionism” had set in. That then dictated their attitude to other parties, regimes, historical events.

Compare that to point 12 I’m the CYM statement. A “clique” has “led the party down a narrow reformist culdesac”. How? Why? When? When was the CPI revolutionary by their light? Why do the other CPs treat it as a sister party? Are they reformist too? It’s all very lacking in political seriousness or even a basic desire to explain events in a way that wasn’t true of left Stalinist movements historically, whatever we may think of their ideas.

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Colm B - January 19, 2021

Take your point – sound like it’s more like Third Period virtual cosplay then.

Some of the social media stuff looks a bit like the “own the libs” stuff the alt-right love. Designed to outrage/provoke other lefties who they deem to be liberals/woke warriors/trots etc.

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WorldbyStorm - January 19, 2021

Those are excellent questions PB in your last paragraph.But I wonder is it of a piece with other analyses on that site, for example there was a piece arguing that SF ‘has been accepted into the political mainstream both North and South’. Given that we saw the coming together of FF/FG in a coalition this last year with the express reason of a) retaining/regaining power and b) keeping SF out I can’t say I’d think that the most robust assessment of Irish political reality. This isn’t to say that SF isn’t itself changing for many reasons in respect of its political orientation, but the idea that it is being waved in by and into the ‘mainstream’ seems very adrift of the reality.

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roddy - January 20, 2021

Although SF are in govt in the North due to the fact they cannot be legally excluded, they are still regarded as outsiders.They are still regarded as not quite legitimate by the vast majority of the media and British and Irish establishments.The GFA was designed to give a permanent UUP/SDLP govt and privately most of those who pushed it as a “permanent” solution are aghast that the electorate though different.

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WorldbyStorm - January 20, 2021

I wouldn’t disagree roddy. Tolerated just about but certainly not welcome. All the time there’s the ‘why oh why did the ‘extremes’ come into the place’ line which is asinine on the part of some making that criticism and self-serving on the part of others.

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pettyburgess - January 20, 2021

The approach is just to dismiss all other political currents without any considered analysis. They are “the communists”, everyone else is a liberal, the establishment, a wrecker, a revisionist etc. I’ve no particular problem with trenchant political criticism of other currents (lol) but I do think that you have to investigate and understand first.

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WorldbyStorm - January 20, 2021

+1

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8. Colm B - January 19, 2021

Just to be fair, the CYM have lot of material on Twitter on George Nkencho killing – protests and opposition to the right-wing smears against the him.
That contrasts with the dodgy refusal by some ultra-stalinists to engage with issues to do with racial oppression and discrimination because it’s “woke politics” etc.

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pettyburgess - January 20, 2021

I’m not sure if my favourite bit of their material is the twitter stuff demanding Alan Kelly have a cage fight with their supreme leader or their article about how unfairly the Call of Duty video game series misrepresents the Gulags.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, the CPI have to say in response. They don’t often comment on organisational or party matters, but then again they don’t often have a youth wing disaffiliated and accuse them of being a moribund party under the thumb of a reformist clique. The next Socialist Voice is likely to be even more eagerly awaited than usual.

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WorldbyStorm - January 20, 2021

It will be interesting reading if addressed – I missed that piece re CoD and the gulags. I have the urge to hunt it down.

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9. banjoagbeanjoe - January 19, 2021

Just on the future and the onward march of time. I suppose that as the leadership and membership ages, they can just decide at some stage to drop the y. The CM. And when the kids join, all aboard the CYM refoundation.

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