Left press: Marxism and Gossip

Submitted by on 16 July, 2002 - 12:35

Weekly Worker reports on Red Spark the SWP's new youth group, launched at Marxism 2002

But is it Marxism? Bits of gossip from Marxism 2002

A truth universally acknowledged Marcus flashes his wad - the gossip challenge
Sparky does it
Here's a little mystery. Weekly Worker reports:

'The Socialist Workers Party took the opportunity of this year's Marxism to launch Red Spark, a youth organisation "based on the politics of the SWP and [for] school and college students who want to fight capitalism". Around 30 trusted young comrades were gathered together prior to the formal launch on July 7, the first Sunday of the event. An editorial board of 12 was created - "basically those who put their hands in the air," I was told.'


I have searched the Socialist Worker for either a report of the meeting or a notice leading up to it. Now it may be that Weekly Worker is quicker off the mark or that Socialist Worker had more pressing matters to report, but where did the 30 come from? How did they know about the launch meeting? Is some form of telepathy a requirement for that 'hands in the air' editorial board?

You have to agree with WW's conclusion:

Red Spark will have very little formal structure - partially understandable for such a new organisation, but a bureaucrat's dream when it comes to unaccountable control. ...

Despite this, there has already been some dissent in the new organisation about its relationship to the 'parent' body. One participant in the inaugural meeting told me that he was aware of a general sentiment in favour of creating a distance from the SWP, particularly the Socialist Worker Student Societies that are widely regarded as failures. While various apparatchiks present themselves as supportive of this attitude to a certain extent - 'It's your organisation,' people were frequently told - the reality will be rather different, I suspect.'

But is it Marxism?
The SWP in the Socialist Alliance are keen to show their fluffy, non-sectarian side, but sometimes when they all get together, as at the laughably named Marxism, the strain shows.

Solidarity sellers caused a bit of a stir by talking to people (always a dangerous activity) and had to be severely warned off. An improvement, of course, on previous years, when actual punches were thrown.

Not quite a war zone. Unlike this bizarre report from the Marxism 2002 gay workshop when the issue of Afghanistan was raised. Apparently, Islam is not homophobic. And to prove it, an SWP member read out passages from a seventh-century Islamic text to his bemused listeners. You really don't know whether to laugh or cry.

A truth universally acknowledged
At the AWL's own summer school, Ideas for Freedom, the big money was out. Marcus (the Marvellous Mechanical Man) Strom of the CPGB and SA exec. challenged the assembled Workers Libbers that he would donate £100 if they were all fully paid up members of the Alliance.
You know what you have to do.

Then in a curious bit of over-trumping, in response to Jill Mountford's comment that Weekly Worker was 'all gossip', he promised another £100 to anyone who could produce evidence of any piece of gossip in the pages of WW. As an avid WW reader and gossip-lover, methinks he has money to burn.
Must be in need of a wife.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 16/07/2002 - 01:20

I had also searched the SWPs website and the printed edition of Socialist Worker for details of "Red Spark" - but before I (didn't) read any article in the Weekly Worker about this.

And indeed I had heard of the new "group" before I noticed a few stickers for "Spark" on the escalators in a number of tube stations quite near to the venues where "Marxism" was held.

(That was quick, 30 telepathic young comrades launch a paper/organisation and less than a new recruit later, they've already got some poshly printed two-colour stickers, complete with logo, phone number, PO box and email address....how do they do it?)

Anyway, my not-so-secret source information was the "anti-capitalist" bulletin board website "Urban 75", where one poster calling themselves "anarchist earth" "dished the goss" on the 7th July.

"I know the structure was set up by Chris Bambury of the SWP central committee, that it will have SWP politics and try and recruit school and college students from the anti-capitalist movement, but thats about all, anyone know any more?, s/he asked.

Read all 4+ pages of replies at


Perhaps "anarchist earth" is the Weekly Worker's mole on Red Spark's central committee (sorry, I mean "networking affinity group" or whatever anarchisty title they've presumably given it)? Sorry, is this "gossip"? Does that mean I have to give the CPGB 100 quid now?

Bob Moran

e-mail: bobmoran287 at yahoo.com

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 16/07/2002 - 15:20

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

my mole sent me this:

Right, here's the Marxism gossip....

1. Yes, some random SW hardnut did threaten me and Jim on the steps of ULU for selling papers. It happened something like this...

some random thuggish-looking guy (who wasn't on the 'Team') told us to '***** off' the steps outside ULU cos we were 'blocking the entrance'(??) and anyway 'it's our ***** event'. In response, I said I wouldn't move unless he asked the SW sellers to move as well. 'Move or I'll ***** make you move myself - don't make me angry sunshine...blah blah'.

Anyway, as he looked ever more ready to punch me, Jim came to my rescue.

Unfortunately the charming SWPer also threatened to beat him up. He said he was 'having a ***** crap day' - you're telling me!

I protested that the ULU steps were a public place, that he couldn't have booked them & anyway, it was my Union.

He then changed his story a bit and said that ULU had complained there were people selling on the steps. ULU didn't mind SWPers selling (apparently) but didn't like Solidarity sellers! A quick call on my mobile to the ULU President found out that (surprise) he was talking bollocks and ULU management didn't care. This didn't seem to pacify him ("you're ***** dead" etc). He then got urgently called away by a full timer who no doubt gave him a good talking to...

2. In a 'debate' on No Platform for Fascists with Nick Cohen, Chris Banberry (sp?) said that the SWP didn't call for state bans for Nazis.

This confused lots of people, not least the SWPers I talked to after the meeting who were sure that that's what the policy was. 'It certainly

rings a bell!' said one. Sam Norman, a former full-timer and member of Lewisham SA was very annoyed that we didn't support state bans when he spoke to me the night before the meeing. 'So you don't support smashing the Nazis by any means necessary do you?' he said to me. Whoops.

What was also strange is that the ANL website has/had the slogan 'Jail All the Nazis!' An SWP front having completely different politics to

the SWP? Hmmmm.

3. The 'fight for gay liberation' meeting was also interesting. A SWPer stood up and said he had recently been to his Trade Union's 'gay and

lesbian conference' although actually it was a 'gay, lesbian, BISEXUAL & TRANSGENDER conference!' at this the audience fell about laughing -

clearly the evils of identity politics are somewhat amusing! Anyway, there was a motion condemning Afghanistan's human rights record. The SWPer spoke and voted against this because 'why should you single out Afghanistan? There are loads of regimes a lot worse than the Taliban'

Perhaps the most bizzare intervention came from SWPer James O'Nions who contradicted the main speaker by saying that Trade Union L&G

conferences were a good thing. (Careful James - that's autonomy you're advocating!) He read out some obscure 7th Century Islamic text on the

interpretation of dreams that said something about if you dream you are 'sodomising' (lovely phrase) a young man while you are having sex with your wife you will have good fortune. Or something. It was all rather unclear.

Still, it does show that Islam isn't homophobic after all, so that's a good thing isn't it?

My intervention in this meeting includede a quote from RAWA against fundamentalism. The next speaker was very angry about this. He found it

offensive that I was using the word undamentalism cos it's offensive to muslims. Okay, I would use 'Islamism' mostly, but this was a quote from

RAWA - I think that's a muslim organisation guys!

That's more or less it. Apart from the usual thing of trying to stop their naive studedent members from trying to talk to us. Oh, and no-one I spoke to knew the SWPs position on the Euro. A lot wanted to vote for.

Well they can't now.

no, bob, we're not parting for dosh for nobody. who would like to join me in a campaign for more gossip. you know you love it!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/07/2002 - 01:12

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I do have to correct myself somewhat here, sorry, the bombshell re. "Red Spark" was first dropped on Urban75 on the 5th June by "spinner" and not "communist earth".


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