Sunday, July 20, 2014

How come so many UK leftists are Trots?

In Terry Bisson’s interview with Ken MacLeod in The Human Front (PM Press, 2013), there’s this great answer to Bisson’s question “How come so many UK leftists are Trots?” :

Short answer: because Trotskyists in Britain moved fast on the CP’s crisis in the 1950s, and moved with the times in the 1960s.

Long answer: in the 1960s in a lot of countries semimass currents arose to the left of the official Communist Parties. In some countries, including the United States and West Germany, most of the radicals who wanted to be revolutionaries became some kind of Maoists. In others, including the UK and France, much the same kind of people became Trotskyists. I think part of the explanation goes back to the 1950s, and especially the aftermath of 1956 and the Soviet intervention in Hungary.

The crisis of the Communist Party of Great Britain gave rise to a very serious opposition around a magazine called The New Reasoner, involving academics and people with real labour movement roots, which became what’s now called the Old New Left. Some of these people were very open to Trotsky’s arguments, and none of them were interested in adopting a new personality cult or clinging to the old one.

The funny thing is that in the United States the Trotskyists were much better organised than in Britain. For one thing, they were all in one party, the Socialist Workers Party (except for the Shachtmanites, who were busy becoming social democrats). In Britain they were all in one party too, but it was the Labour Party, and they were split into (at least) three mutually hostile groups. But the largest group was able to intervene in the crisis of the CP and rip off a couple of hundred serious people: intellectuals and trade unionists. Then they picked up more young people from the first wave of anti-nuclear activism—the Aldermaston marches and all that. They proceeded to lose or burn out the best of them, largely because their leader, Gerry Healy, was a thug as well as an ultra-left. The regime in Healy’s group was far worse than anything anyone had experienced in the CPGB. Say what you like about Harry Pollitt (the CP’s general secretary until 1956) he never thumped another communist, or threw anyone down the stairs. But other Trot groups were there to pick up people from the heap at the bottom of Healy’s stairwell. What’s worrying, actually, is how many went back up the stairs. In the United States, the SWP fumbled the CPUSA’s crisis, saw the CP left wing walk past them and into the increasingly ultra-left Progressive Labor, and followed up by failing to dive into the Civil Rights struggle. The mass movement they did dive into was the Vietnam anti-war movement, and even there they found themselves to the right of the young radicals who wanted to wave Vietcong flags. They came across as a very staid, conservative organization, rather like the CPUSA itself, and missed the 1960s. It took some doing at the time for a revolutionary organization to recruit almost no one out of SDS, but the SWP managed it.

Two of the British Trotskyist groups of the 1960s, the International Socialists and the International Marxist Group, were very much more open to the so-called counterculture. They didn’t frown on kids with long hair who smoked dope. They waved their own Vietcong flags. They shifted farther and faster than the U.S. SWP did on gay liberation, as it was then called. They had plenty of militant working-class struggles to pitch into, which the SWP didn’t to the same extent (and it missed out on the ones it did have).

So Britain is infested with ex-Trots instead of with ex-Maoists, which is a small mercy.

The lesson, yet again: don’t go hating on the kids with weird hair and strange habits…

on the main Kersplebedeb website:

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Banksy in Boston: FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS CANCELLED, Essex St, Chinatown, Boston by Chris Devers

on the main Kersplebedeb website:

Friday, July 04, 2014

NYS Parole Board’s War Against Political Prisoner Jalil Muntaqim

New York State Political Prisoner Jalil Muntaqim was recently denied parole for

the 8th time by the New York State Parole Board. Jalil first became eligible for

parole in 2002, and has been denied parole from that time to the present. At

this point there is no longer a need to discuss Jalil’s accomplishments and why

he should be home. Instead, let’s talk about the forces that are working to

influence the parole denials of Jalil Muntaqim.

Law Enforcement officials across the country, spearheaded by The New York City

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), have led a nationwide media campaign

against Jalil and Herman Bell, his co-defendant. The PBA has labeled them in the

eyes of the public as violent sixties radicals who murdered two NYC police

officers in cold blood. Police unions in San Francisco, Chicago, New Jersey and

Florida have all mobilized their ranks and have publicly petitioned the New York

State Parole Board to deny parole for both Jalil and Herman.

People, you don’t have to believe us. You can look on pro-police websites such

as and The Fraternal Order of

Police, the same group that has lobbied publicly for close to three decades for

the execution of Mumia Abu Jamal, have also lobbied to help keep Jalil and

Herman in prison. In fact, Sally Velasquez-Thompson, who is an active member of

the Fraternal Order of Police and the Detective Endowment Association, was one

of the parole officers assigned to Jalil’s parole hearing in 2012. This shows

the clear connection between the police and parole board. This is similar to the

parole hearings of The Move 9, where two of the parole officers involved in

their hearings are former police officers.

People should be outraged by this, especially if you live in New York State,

because your tax dollars are paying the salaries of these legalized terrorists

called The New York State Parole Board. Instead of the interest of the community

calling for parole for Jalil being taken into consideration, the opinion of the

police – the same police who brutalize, murder, and maim Blacks, Latinos, and

poor whites – is given a platform at Jalil’s and other political prisoners

parole hearings. They get the say so on this because they are the police.

At this point Jalil is not only held as a political prisoner. He is also now a

hostage of the New York State Parole Board and the New York City Patrolmen’s

Benevolent Association.

This has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with hate and

vengeance. Jalil is being made to pay for taking a stand against this corrupt

government just like the rest of our imprisoned freedom fighters who took a

stand against this rotten corrupt government.

It’s time to stand up and fight back. If we are as loving and courageous as our

Freedom Fighters, we will be able to bring them back to their community and

their loved ones, where they belong.

The PBA wants to retroactively sentence our beloved Freedom Fighters to life

with parole, but this is not what the law says.*Jalil, Herman Bell, Robert Seth

Hayes Mohamman Koti and Maliki Shakur Latine have all been denied parole

multiple times due to the pernicious influence of the PBA over the parole

board.* Even their own propaganda against Jalil proves that it is his ideas they

are truly afraid of.

The system tries to create the illusion that it is omnipotent, but there are a

lot of cracks in the wall, so let’s keep pushing until all the walls come

tumbling down!

Free Jalil Muntaqim and All Political Prisoners and POWs!

on the main Kersplebedeb website:

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

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