An anticipatory obituary for the SWP

The SWP have appeared dead in the water for months, since the revelations of sexual violence and attempts at cover-up like an inept, less popular and worse-dressed Catholic Church. And yet, like cockroaches, they have survived.

The latest horror to come to light is a phrase uttered to applause at their conference:

We aren’t rape apologists unless we believe that women always tell the truth – and guess what, some women and children lie

At best, this statement can be interpreted as unabashed, unapologetic rape apologism. At worst, one wonders why they’re laying the groundwork for smearing children who have survived sexual violence as liars, and what else may emerge.

Following this statement, the SWP has once again haemorrhaged members, and some are once again celebrating the death of the party. I hope this is true, but sadly I suspect that we’ll be seeing this gang of misogynists shambling on, long outstaying their welcome. After all, they’ve survived this long.

Part of the problem is the SWP are everywhere. As well as their folding tables and newspaper salesmen, and the chap who shows up with a legion of placards screaming the SWP branding, you’ll find them in other places. They get themselves elected into positions on trade unions. They have a number of front organisations, including Unite Against Fascism, Unite The Resistance and Right To Work.

There’s a lot we can do to hasten the demise of the SWP. First and foremost, we absolutely must not organise with these fuckers. We must not organise with the SWP itself, and we must not organise with the front groups. This is harder than it sounds, given they have attempted to monopolise resistance, but it’s absolutely crucial if we are to take a stand against sexual violence.

We must make sure that they are completely and utterly unwelcome in our spaces. Wherever there is a SWPper, have the words “misogynist” and “rape apologist” ringing in their ears, as anyone with principles left long ago. Vote them from elected positions, and scream at them in the streets. If they do not leave, direct action may be necessary. Be critical not just of the SWP, but those who try to defend them, like the AWL did.

This is not a ban. It is simply standing up.

And finally, we need to create a climate wherein misogyny and rape apologism are thoroughly unwelcome in all of our organising spaces. It’s not enough to challenge it when it comes from the SWP–after all, everyone hates them. We need to put the necessity of safer spaces front and centre in all that we do.

I look forward to the demise of the SWP. I look forward to the demise of misogyny in my organising spaces even more.

Further reading:

I heard you have an SWP problem (thenameoflove)

Kill the SWP inside your head (me)


7 responses to “An anticipatory obituary for the SWP

  • Socialist Feminist

    Hi Zoe,
    Fair enough if you disagree with the AWL’s position of opposing physical attacks on the SWP, but don’t you think describing us as “defending the SWP” implies we are defending their conduct?
    And why aren’t you applying the same logic to the Socialist Party, with its domestic violence scandal?

    • stavvers

      Yup, they’re awful too.

      But REALLY. Tipping a table=physical violence? This is the same sort of bullshit that the state tried to make fly with a few broken windows at Millbank. I saw through it then, and I see through it now.

      • Clarity please

        It is violent. The Millbank windows were violent, too; we really need to get away from this idea that “violence=bad ∴ justfied action=not violence”. And direct harm of people’s bodies is different from smashy-smashy intimidation, sure, but that intimidation IS a form of violence. The reason it comes off so mealy-weak when people talk about the protestors “violently” smashing windows at Millbank is not because smashing windows isn’t violent, but because the relative power imbalance of the protestors and their target makes the idea of actual intimidation laughable.

        Smashing up a stall, in person, is a different case. It is direct, personal, physical intimidation. It may not be harm to a *person*, but it *is* violent. And again, I’m not saying that this makes it necessarily wrong! We should definitely smash up fascist stalls, for instance, whenever we’re able.

        However, awful as they are, the SWP are not fascists. And saying that the AWL are “defending” them by calling for them to be censured by *different means* — NOT left alone, just attacked DIFFERENTLY — is dangerously disingenuous.

  • Socialist Feminist

    On the SP: ok, but you haven’t written anything about them. Why? And this reflects a more general problem: very little has been said about the SP’s domestic violence and sexism cases.

    Over-turning/smashing up a stall and burning placards etc may not be the same as physically attacking people. But it comes pretty close. In any case, whether or not it is “physical violence” doesn’t solve whether it’s a good idea.

    Smashing windows at Millbank had a positive effect, ie scaring the ruling class and the government and galvanising a mass movement. You can’t just say “They’re both physical force, therefore they’re the same”.

    The other thing is, the way you write (“I see through it”, we “defend” the SWP) as if the AWL has some sort of interest in defending the SWP’s conduct – despite the reams and reams and reams we’ve published, and all the work we’ve done in the real world, criticising and attacking and challenging them about it. Am I mis-reading or do you actually think we have some kind of interest in defending the SWP’s record?

    • stavvers

      Smashing up a SWP stall had a damn good effect on the ruling class: scaring rapists.

      And, given the level of defensiveness, yeah, i do get the feeling you have an interest now.

  • Tim

    [Mod note: comment edited for length. I have replaced the first eleventy billion paragraphs with the gist of it]

    *long wet brocialist fart*

    Get a grip.

  • eye2deal

    ‘A gang of misogynists’ sums up many in power, on the one hand there is this sickening liberal tolerance & two faced P.C. attitude that allows you to create a rape culture with no punishments, de sensitizing abuse to women & girls…SWP have lost the picture…years ago…

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