Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 7, 2013

Guest speakers at the 2013 Socialist Rapist Conference

Filed under: Academia,British SWP,sexism — louisproyect @ 6:35 am


Paul Le Blanc
Paul Le Blanc is an author and activist flying in from the United States for Marxism 2013. His many books include “Lenin and the Revolutionary Party”, and “Black Liberation and the American Dream”. He will speak on “The history and future of Lenininism” [Is that anything like Troskyismism?]

Gilbert Achcar
His many publications include “The Arabs and the Holocaust”.  His new book “The People Want: a Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising” is out this year.

Plus Alan Freeman and Radhika Desai who seem to live for these things.


  1. Golly Paul cant this be expressed less offensively?

    Comment by Kannan Srinivasan — May 7, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

  2. No doubt any women protesters will be “no platformed”, because it is only an unacceptable thing to do when directed against the SWP.

    Comment by Richard Estes — May 7, 2013 @ 5:20 pm

  3. From Sebastian Budgen:

    “Gilbert’s circular and my response.


    Gilbert Achcar

    The campaign against the SWP is taking a regrettable turn. It now includes attempts at intimidating those participating in Marxism 2013, including myself, into withdrawing from the conference. The SWP is being described as a “socialist rapist party” and taking part in the conference as an “apology of rapism”.

    Whatever one thinks of the crisis in the SWP and the behaviour of its leadership, such terms applied to a whole party ­– the largest on the British radical left – and to the open forum that the party organizes each year are outrageous. They reveal the regrettable persistence of a certain mindset on the left, a mindset the origin of which is known all too well and for which anathemas and excommunication are substitutes for political fight.

    I do not recall any such attitude towards innumerable left parties the leaderships of which are guilty of much worse than what the SWP is accused of. To give but one example, I have accepted in the past invitations by the French Communist Party to their annual Fête de l’Humanité, as do regularly countless intellectual and activists who are deeply critical of that party. Had I regarded participating in such open forums as an endorsement of the party’s political, organisational or ethical record, which I deem to be incomparably worse than that of the SWP in all respects, I would have never accepted. Instead, I regarded my participation as an opportunity to engage with the public who attend such events, be they party members or non-members, and defend my own views, which differ from those of the party. No one ever blamed me for that.

    I do firmly believe that the crisis in the SWP is a worrying symptom of a deeply-rooted problem pertaining to a vitiated conception and form of organisation. Regrettably, a few of the SWP’s opponents worldwide are taking this same vitiated tradition to extremes in the way they practice SWP-bashing. It is high time for the radical left to get rid entirely of that tradition if it is ever to regenerate.

    8 May 2013


    For the record, I am publishing the comment I made in private on a statement that was sent to me on 26 January by the friends (no SWP members) who authored it, with a request to sign it. The statement is below, followed with my own comment.

    The ongoing crisis in the Socialist Workers’ Party – precipitated by the handling of rape allegations against a senior party member – has raised fundamental questions about democracy, power and sexism in the organisations and culture of the left. We believe that the way in which the central committee of the SWP has handled the situation, and its lack of a reasonable response to the legitimate protests voiced by many of its own members, as well as others on the left, point to issues that cannot simply be swept under the rug.

    We have all previously participated in events and initiatives promoted by the SWP, including the annual Marxism festival, or written for its publications. We continue to value the commitment and work of many SWP members as trades unionists, activists and comrades. Nonetheless, we can no longer in good conscience participate in SWP publications and platforms until the party recognises and seriously addresses the legitimate criticisms of its handling of this case and the ensuing crisis.

    My comment on 26 January

    There are two reasons why I can’t sign. Both are in the second paragraph.

    I have no problem with the first. With the second, my key reservation is that I don’t think one should mix Marxism, which is an open forum, with the SWP line. If one had told me that participating in Marxism meant an endorsement of the SWP’s line and practices, I would have never taken part in it. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense in my view to say that because one disapproves of the way the SWP handled this whole affair, one won’t attend Marxism any longer. Moreover, one should not appear as taking sides directly in the crisis itself. What we should be interested in is not substituting ourselves to a commission of inquiry or a tribunal of the left, but drawing the general lessons of the crisis. To give an ultimatum of this kind won’t help in the least; it will only increase the tension. I don’t think that a break-up of the SWP would be in the interest of the left in the UK and beyond.


    Thanks. I will circulate. But you have failed to address two key arguments:

    – Marxism is not an “open forum”, as you know. It is an SWP event organised by the SWP on the SWP’s terms. Comparing it to the Fête de l’Humanité, where anybody can set up a stand and say what they like, is not credible; moreover, when revolutionaries have participated in the Fête they have taken the opportunity to publicly address the failings of the PCF (for example its participation in the Jospin government), whereas at Marxism you will be given a meeting on the Middle East where any such discussion of the SWP crisis will be structurally excluded;
    – the PCF is beyond redemption, so when you speak at their events you are speaking to a much wider potential public; the SWP is an organisation you might still hope to influence, given the fact that it is closer to you politically. In this case, “tough love” is a much better tactic than allowing them to instrumentalise your presence as a token of “openness”. In this context, non-participation can be seen as for the SWP’s own good, so that it wakes up to the consequences of its actions – something obviously never going to happen to the PCF…”

    Comment by MS — May 8, 2013 @ 7:20 am

  4. “Socialist Rapist Conference?” Gimme a goddam break, Lou.

    Comment by David Altman — May 8, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

  5. Gimme a goddam break, Lou.


    Comment by louisproyect — May 8, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: