Friday, April 22, 2016

Students in confusion (1986)

From the April 1986 issue of the Socialist Standard

Last February the Socialist Workers Student Society of Central London Polytechnic (SWP) ran a weekend of discussion and debate on Marxism for Students. Why Marxism is any different for students, they do not say. But their advertisement said ". . . and still the crisis goes on — not just for Britain — all over the world there seems no way out of the circle of decline  . . .  Russia is no different . . . The Third World sinks deeper into debt and American multi-nationals continually hover on the brink of collapse."

They may "hover on the brink" but the first thing the SWP has to learn is that capitalism will not collapse; also that there is a "way out" of the cycle of decline through the normal economic laws of capitalism. When demand revives the capitalists re-invest and the cycle of boom, depression, stagnation and slump starts afresh.

The SWP's Marxism for Students then turns into an attack on Kinnock because "Labour doesn't do anything" to "challenge the Tories . . .  At no time has Kinnock stood by those who challenge the Tories . . . What is surprising to many socialists in the Labour Party is the way in which the ‘Soft Left' in the Party have danced to Kinnock's tune.” The idea that there are any socialists in the Labour Party is as ridiculous as Catholics in the Ulster Unionist Party or members of the Anti-Betting League in the Bookmakers' Protection Association. Despite the hard facts proving that the Labour Party is a gang of politicians serving capitalism, the old musty Leninist tradition drags on. The entire tone of the SWP is a petulant whine at the "misconduct" of Kinnock, based on the obsolete Leninist notion that somewhere, somehow, the Labour Party ought to be a socialist party because it is financed by the trade unions. "Those who once denounced Kinnock as a scab, now sacrifice all principles in the name of unity", they moan. How the Labour Party, which has never had any principles and has always readjusted its politics to the prevailing wind, could sacrifice something it never had they do not say.

"Many former revolutionary groups joined the labour Party hoping to turn it Leftwards, but instead found it swallowed them up." How delightfully modest and self-effacing not to mention that it was precisely the SWP and its Trotskyite followers who flogged "entryism" (infiltrating the Labour Party) for years, kidding the workers that it could be transformed into a socialist party. After 60 years of floundering and blundering, the SWP has now just realised that "Russia is no different" and that the Labour Party is a bourgeois party. How many decades of progress towards socialism have these Trotskyite red herrings cost us? When will members of the SWP read and study Marx himself instead of Trotsky’s false interpretations? When will they realise that the only way to socialism is through voting, not rioting?

The admission to this mish-mash of confusion cost £7. The Socialist Party has never in all its 82 years charged admission to its lectures, meetings or schools. Our advice to London Polytechnic students is to keep their money in their pockets; instead attend the meetings of the Socialist Party, where authentic Marxism is expounded free of charge, as it ought to be. They can then speed the day when one of the main obstacles to socialist progress — the confused and bewildered Left Wing — will realise their futility and quietly vacate the scene, leaving the way open for genuine socialism and the organisation of the revolutionary democratic socialist movement.

In the same issue of the students' magazine is this gem: "The thing about the SWP is that very few of them are socialists - and even less are workers.”

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