Corin Redgrave and the falsification of history

April 6, 2010 at 5:02 pm (fascism, history, Jim D, stalinism, war)

The death has just been announced of Corin Redgrave. Like his sister Vanessa, he was a fine actor with subjectively socialist – but in reality, very dodgy – politics.

It has been noted that he often played right-wing and establishment figures, despite his own radical politics. No harm in that: he was an actor, after all. But as Jack Cleary noted in November 2004 (in Solidarity, paper of the AWL), he took part in a seriously dishonest episode of the popular TV drama Foyle’s War. It is virtually inconceivable, given his particular family and political background, that Redgrave was not aware of the truth and the fact that he was participating in a travesty:

  • Marxism and war

I once bought a tape of songs from the 1984-5 miners’ strike, and what did I find in amongst the songs by miners and about miners?

A song about the 1982 British-Argentine war over the Falkland Islands which took it for granted that the right socialist approach was to back Argentina — the Argentina of the butchering military junta under Galtieri.

That had been the line of a sizeable part of the left, though not, as it happened, of the SWP, nor of Solidarity’s predecessor Socialist Organiser. In the tape about the miners, it was there as, so to speak, the “furniture” of the conventional left. It would enter into the consciousness of newcomers who had little knowledge of the issues raised for socialists by the Argentine seizure of the British-populated islands 400 miles from Argentina’s shores.

An episode of the TV series Foyle’s Law on 14 November reminded me of the tendency for pious myths to get substituted for history in the left.

Set in the Hastings area in June 1941, Foyle’s Law showed the police being instructed to watch a visiting leftist. Two profiteering capitalists were the villains of the story. An upright, candid, admirable shop steward was sympathetically shown trying to set up a works committee.

What the the influx of women into industry to replace men gone to the army meant to the employers — getting the same work for about half the pay — was spelled out. The senior police man, an Assistant Chief Constable, who wanted to frame the visiting leftist and lock him up without charge or trial, was shown to be pitiable as well as nasty. His estranged daughters is set to marry the agitator.

In general, the whole episode presented an honest picture of social realities, with a left and pro-labour-movement slant.

But that was not all it did. Who is the visiting agitator, politically? He is a supporter of the “People’s Convention”. He gets to explain to the decent cop hero what they stand for: working-class rights, “freedom for the colonies”, and so on.

Nothing is said by anyone to indicate that the People’s Convention was a Communist Party front during the Stalin-Hitler pact (August 1939 to 22 June 1941). Its central purpose was to make “peace” propaganda on behalf of Stalin’s ally Hitler. De facto it was a pro-Nazi organisation.

Its opposition to the British ruling class and the British Empire was accompanied by painting up Stalin’s ally Hitler as a victim of British and French imperialism, and someone who only wanted peace.

Lots of honest dupes were taken in by the People’s Convention’s “leftist” agitation against British capitalism and British imperialism, but it was the Stalinist cynics, not the dupes, who determined what the People’s Convention was. The TV story presented it as a bona fide left-wing organisation.

At the end of the episode the news comes in that Hitler has invaded Russia, and the agitator says to the good cop: “We’re on the same side now”. In fact the CP turned from making pro-Hitler to making pro-British-imperialist propaganda — and to strikebreaking in aid of the war effort.

I thought at first it was accidental irony that had the bad Assistant Chief Constable played by Corin Redgrave, brother of Vanessa, whose father Michael Redgrave was a luminary in the People’s Convention, one of the CP’s “useful idiots”, until a press outcry induced him to withdraw. Michael Redgrave was banned by the BBC for a while as a result.

But it may not be unlikely that Corin Redgrave had a hand in shaping the “leftist” but history-falsifying storyline. Does it matter? Yes, it does.

If the labour movement and the left does not know its own real history, then it will be unable to learn to avoid repeating its mistakes. 

34 Comments

  1. Jenny said,

    I know it ain’t your cup of tea, but his sister has been rather lackluster on Palestinian rights lately too-namely denouncing the toronto film boycott:

    http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/2009/12/deane-disses-dodgy-daniels-divan.html

    the refernce to her is right near the end.

  2. Michael Ezra said,

    I have lots of information on Cde. C. Redgrave. But busy this week, but maybe I shall get a chance over the weekend to write something for Harry’s Place.

    • Lobby Ludd said,

      You may well find that some of the pages of your scrap-book have stuck together over time. Be careful with it, we do not want any documents of historical merit to be lost or damaged. Can you as a one-off, at least, confirm or refute the rumour that he was involved with Gerry Healy at some time in his life? It’s been niggling me on and off for years.

      (Will you be leaving this collection to some library or other when you’ve done the write-up?)

  3. Dr Paul said,

    I think you’ll find that the People’s Convention emerged after the CPGB dropped its pro-German line. The pro-German line — that Britain was more responsible for the war than Germany — lasted until the fall of France in June 1940, then the line was a more pacifist one, and that’s when the People’s Convention was set up.

    For a very brief while, in June 1940, the CPGB held a position quite close to that held by the Workers International League; that is, one quite close to Trotsky’s Proletarian Military Policy, including the call to arm the workers in the factories. I thought that this was a local initiative by the CPGB in response to the fall of France, but Monty Johnstone (who had been in the Moscow archives) told me that this was ex cathedra.

    The line was soon dropped for the pacifist approach that held until the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. The line of June 1940 was quite popular, and this was the only time that the CPGB really was harassed by the authorities. Perhaps the ruling class recognised that a call for a revolutionary fight against Hitler was a bigger threat to it than pro-German noises and pacifism.

    It is odd that Moscow should sponsor a line close to that proposed by Trotsky. Perhaps that’s why it didn’t last long.

    I think you’ll find the telly programme is called Foyle’s War.

  4. David K said,

    Norman Harding, (a long term member of the Socialist Labour League and then on the NC of the Workers Revolutionary Party) wrote quite a good autobiography stuffed with insights into the regime of Gerry Healy and criticisms of the Redgraves.

    One story he tells is that Healy told Harding to chauffeur Lynn Redgrave about. Harding told Lynn (who comes across as much more likable then Vanessa) he thought she was more convincing then her sister in a TV play they were both in. Later in a row between Lynn and Vanessa, Lynn brought up the fact Norman thought Vanessa had been hammy in the play. Vanessa complained to Healy, who told Harding in no uncertain terms that Vanessa was their most important comrade and therefore criticism of her acting is a politically treasonous act.

  5. Jim Denham said,

    Thanks for pointing out my mistake over the name of the TV programme, Dr Paul: I’ve now corrected it.

    And thanks for your precise information about the Comintern line between the fall of France (June 1940) and the German attack on the Soviet Union (June 1941): I don’t think that changes the fact that the so-called “Peoples’ Convention” was an essentially pacifist and objectively pro-Nazi outfit. Superficially, it may have held a similar position to the Trotskyists of the WIL, but Trotsky’s Proletarian Military Policy, for all its incoherence, was fundamentally anti-Fascsit (see Cannon’s “In Defence of Socialism”, for instance), unlike the Stalinists and most pacifists who were pro-Nazi until the invasion of the USSR in1941. Orwell is very good on the pro-Nazi and anti-semitic role of pacifists during this period.

  6. Corin Redgrave and the falsification of history « Poumista said,

    […] Redgrave and the falsification of history Jim Denham versus Foyle’s War. Published […]

  7. resistor said,

    Denham does it again, ‘the so-called “Peoples’ Convention” was an essentially pacifist and objectively pro-Nazi outfit.’ and ‘Orwell is very good on the pro-Nazi and anti-semitic role of pacifists during this period.’

    From

    http://www.idiocentrism.com/orwell.htm

    ‘In 1944, however, Orwell pulled back from his earlier statements:’

    For instance, I particularly regret having said in one letter that Julian Symons ‘writes in a vaguely Fascist strain’ – a quite unjustified statement based on a single article which I probably misunderstood. But this kind of thing results from the lunatic atmosphere of war, the fog of lies and misinformation in which one has to work and the endless sordid controversies in which a political journalist is involved.

    December, 1944 Partisan Review “London Letter”.

    We are told that it is only people’s objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are ‘objectively’ aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true, the ‘objectively’ line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore ‘Trotskyism is Fascism’. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.

  8. Jim Denham said,

    From Orwell’s ‘Notes on Nationalism’, October 1945:

    (v) Pacifism. The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to the taking of life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists whose real though unadmitted motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defence of western countries. The Russians, unlike the British, are not blamed for defending themselves by warlike means, and indeed all pacifist propaganda of this type avoids mention of Russia or China. It is not claimed, again, that the Indians should abjure violence in their struggle against the British. Pacifist literature abounds with equivocal remarks which, if they mean anything, appear to mean that statesmen of the type of Hitler are preferable to those of the type of Churchill, and that violence is perhaps excusable if it is violent enough. After the fall of France, the French pacifists, faced by a real choice which their English colleagues have not had to make, mostly went over to the Nazis, and in England there appears to have been some small overlap of membership between the Peace Pledge Union and the Blackshirts. Pacifist writers have written in praise of Carlyle, one of the intellectual fathers of Fascism. All in all it is difficult not to feel that pacifism, as it appears among a section of the intelligentsia, is secretly inspired by an admiration for power and successful cruelty. The mistake was made of pinning this emotion to Hitler, but it could easily be retransfered.

  9. Lobby Ludd said,

    Um, not sure what is to be made from what Orwell said in 1945 about pacifism. There are a lot of claims made in that quote which are not substantiated. It would take a proper historian to unpick a lot of what Orwell says.

    I hope that quotes from Orwell are not being used as a kind of irreligious version of quotes from ‘holy’ books.

  10. Michael Ezra said,

    The negative unity is a unity of of inner and outer which is identical with its own content.

    Appearance as outer is the unity of the moments of inner and outer when Essence Appears in a negative form. These negative moments are grounded on existence, which is a negative unity of the two moments of Existence and Appearance which are the content,. Both content and form are now equal to each other,

    The form Appearance contains the negative dialectical unity of Appearance and Existence and the content contains the dialectical negative unity of Existence and Appearance. Together, they comprise the negative of the unity of opposites which becomes the negative as as against the positive, which has its source in the real world of actuality.

    ‘”Actuality”‘ said Lenin in a quotation from Hegel ‘”is the unity of Essence and Existence.”‘ (Page 156, Volume 38) These terms incorporate Essence (Existence) in Appearance and Appearance in Existence (Essence).

    Gerry Healy.

    I trust this is clear.

    • Lobby Ludd said,

      It is as clear as it ever was,Michael, you twat.

      • Michael Ezra said,

        I assume that you do not need to be polite. I guess politeness is a function of my bourgeois morality.

  11. Lobby Ludd said,

    Michael, I am in general a very polite person. I do not like being patronised, perhaps I over-react. This is a leftist blog, do you not understand that revelations about the WRP are rather old-hat? The combination of patronising and stupid is particularly annoying.

    • Michael Ezra said,

      Lobby Ludd,

      In one sentence you accuse me of being patronising, and in the next you tell me that this is a “leftist blog.” Do you have double standards when it comes to being patronising? You then inform me that “revelations about the WRP are rather old-hat.” One wonders why you have bothered reading this thread in the first place. Given that it is clear that the thread is about Corin Redgrave, what did you expect to be discussed here – his acting talents?

      • Lobby Ludd said,

        Yep, double standards, moral relativism, the lot really.

        Please try to understand, I am insulting you, not trying to engage you in debate.

  12. Waterloo Sunset said,

    Passive-aggressive whining is not politeness.

    And it’s entirely hypocritical to make regular guest posts on Harry’s Place and make comments like that anyway. Feel free to challenge me to back that up with direct quotes.

    • Michael Ezra said,

      Waterloo Sunset,

      Please enlighten me. Why is it hypocritical of me to make posts on Harry’s Place and also to quote some of Gerry Healy’s gobbledygook on this thread?

  13. Waterloo Sunset said,

    You misunderstand me. That isn’t hypocritical. (Although as Lobby points out, most people on here have at least a basic grounding in the WRP. You don’t seriously reckon anyone on here is sympathetic to Healy, surely?).

    What’s hypocritical is to complain about people not being polite to you, when you post on a blog that regularly hosts fullblown personal attacks on anyone that’s the current target of their five minute hate.

  14. Michael Ezra said,

    Waterloo Sunset,

    There are no doubt people sympathetic on this blog to the Butcher of Kronstadt, so, why shouldn’t there be people sympathetic to Healy? It may well be true that “most people on here have at least a basic grounding in the WRP, but do you not think that it is quite possible that I may know one or two things about the WRP that some readers of this blog, possibly including yourself, are not aware?

    It is certainly true that Harry’s Place regularly attack people who it perceives to be pursuing an ideological bizarre or hypocritical political line, but the main posters tend to justify their attacks. (Those in the comments box can be a law unto themselves.) The main posters do not tend to call people a “twat” as Lobby Ludd has done to me in this thread without backing it up.

    • Waterloo Sunset said,

      As an anarchist, can we have our slogans back please? (Particuarly as you only ever attack figures on the left. I’ve never seen you attack Churchill for sending in troops against strikers, to give one example). And your response shows your lack of understanding of the nuances involved on the left. Obviously I’m no fan of Trotsky. Equally obviously, the fact this blog contains Trotsykists doesn’t mean that you’re likely to get Healy supporters here. Your inability to paint with anything other than the broadest brush leads you to being unable to grasp that there are diferent traditions among Trotskyists.

      A specific example from Harry’s Place then. http://hurryupharry.org/2009/11/15/penny-dreadful Explain to me how the large amount of ad hominems within are more justified then Lobby calling you a twat. And HP can’t disown the responsibility for the actions of their commentators. They know fully well what will happen when they make a post like that. It’s a culture they created and that you tacitly condone by participating there.

      • Michael Ezra said,

        Actually, that post on Harry’s Place was in response to an article by Laurie Penny on “the samosa.” Her article is ridiculous and her attack on Harry’s Place is unjustified. Had she not written that piece, there would have been no reason for the piece on Harry’s Place.

        You accuse me of only ever attacking figures on the left. Would you like to revise that statement after reading the post I made last month (linked to below)?

        http://hurryupharry.org/2010/03/07/david-irving-on-michael-foot-on-oswald-mosley/

        You suggest that my response shows a “lack of understanding of the nuances involved on the left” and that I am ” unable to grasp that there are diferent traditions among Trotskyists.”

        One of my personal political interests, as those that know me can testify, is my interest in the nuances of the left. The differences in opinion between various small Trotskyite sects, the debate as to whether Russia was State Capitalist or a degenerated workers’ state; the split between Pablo and the Orthodox Trotskyists in 1953, the view taken on Cuba after Castro came to power and the list goes on.

        But by and large, Trotskyists wish to smash the state and install a dictatorship of the proletariat. It is that overriding quality, combined with the Leninist view that there can be no parliamentary road to socialism and the idea that the party is always right, that you can only be right with the party, that I am opposed to. Since these factors are pretty much common to all Trotskyist groups, the nuances become pretty irrelevant in the grand order of things: Trotskyism, like Stalinism, is not democratic, it is totalitarian. (And please do not come back at me with the idea of democratic centralism.) Pretty much common to all Trot groups is the line comes from above and they soft soap their members by running articles in their newspapers in support of that line – any debate is a foregone conclusion in favour of the line. Dissenters, may be tolerated for a while as a “faction” but then they are ultimately expelled unless they toe the line. This expelled faction may then go on to form their own party and behave in exactly the same way as the party they were expelled from or would have been expelled from if they had not left.

  15. Voltaire's Priest said,

    Michael;

    *Coff* Owen Hatherley *Coff*

    • Michael Ezra said,

      To be fair, when that error was pointed out, David T did retract the attack and made it clear in the headline that he was in error.

      http://hurryupharry.org/2008/12/13/owen-hatherley-is-the-new-statesmans-dilpazier-aslam/

      • Waterloo Sunset said,

        He replaced it with a different attack. He also didn’t explain why he made that claim in the first place. The most charitable explanation is that David T doesn’t bother to check his facts before he publishes attacks on people.

      • Waterloo Sunset said,

        ctually, that post on Harry’s Place was in response to an article by Laurie Penny on “the samosa.” Her article is ridiculous and her attack on Harry’s Place is unjustified.

        It’s irrelevant whether you think her attack was justified. She attacked the culture of Harry’s Place. The response was personal abuse.

        The subject at hand is your previous objection to impoliteness. Here you justify the personal abuse against someone who had made no personal attacks on any members of Harry’s Place.

        So, it is proven conclusively that you are a hypocrite.

        Had she not written that piece, there would have been no reason for the piece on Harry’s Place.

        So personal abuse is justified if you think the person deserves it. As long as it isn’t you.on the recieving end.

        You accuse me of only ever attacking figures on the left. Would you like to revise that statement after reading the post I made last month (linked to below)?

        That’s reasonable. I retract that and stand corrected.

        II will replace it with the following statement. Your focus is very much on the lleft and, specifically, you do not apply the same standards to establishment figures you do to your political enemies.

        One of my personal political interests, as those that know me can testify, is my interest in the nuances of the left. The differences in opinion between various small Trotskyite sects, the debate as to whether Russia was State Capitalist or a degenerated workers’ state; the split between Pablo and the Orthodox Trotskyists in 1953, the view taken on Cuba after Castro came to power and the list goes on.

        Then how can you possibly have got the impression that someone on here was likely to support Healey?

        But by and large, Trotskyists wish to smash the state and install a dictatorship of the proletariat. It is that overriding quality, combined with the Leninist view that there can be no parliamentary road to socialism and the idea that the party is always right, that you can only be right with the party, that I am opposed to.

        I assume you’re not a pacifist? So surely your objection to Trotskyists is their ends, not their means.

        On the question of the party, you did get that I’m an anarchist and against the Leninist conception of the party , yeah? The difference is that my objection isn’t based on the fact that Trotskyists are opposed to the status quo, which I suspect yours is.

        Also, your double standards are showing here. Because you made it very clear up there you considered personal abuse justified because HP were criticised, HP being your ‘party’. Frankly, that’s the closest I’ve seen to Healyite politics on this thread.

        Since these factors are pretty much common to all Trotskyist groups, the nuances become pretty irrelevant in the grand order of things: Trotskyism, like Stalinism, is not democratic, it is totalitarian. (And please do not come back at me with the idea of democratic centralism.)

        Are the CBI democratic? How about the police?

        I don’t remember voting for them. To repeat, I’m opposed to Trotsyism, but your approach to the subject seems to be to set up straw men and bogeymen, as opposed to actually tackling them properly. Have you read Luxemburg? Gorter? Bookchin?

        Pretty much common to all Trot groups is the line comes from above and they soft soap their members by running articles in their newspapers in support of that line – any debate is a foregone conclusion in favour of the line.

        See, now we’re getting somewhere. ( I’m actually far more interested in the here and now then historical arguments).

        And that isn’t actually true. Off the top of my head, it’s not true of the AWL who publish dissent on their website. Nor is it true of the CPGB. Nor the Socialist Party. Can you show any evidence otherwise?

        Dissenters, may be tolerated for a while as a “faction” but then they are ultimately expelled unless they toe the line.

        How does that not apply to the Labour Party expelling Militant? Or does this only apply if you dislike the party doing it?

  16. Andrew Coates said,

    Yes Waterloo.

    Not to mention that Healy was one of the major Trotsyists who defined the whole ‘Trotksyism’ versus ‘Pabloism’ division.

    In any case someone who grew up with leftists in North London I’d say Healy and the WRP were generally regarded as nutters by the time I had first heard of them (circa 1970 – I am not *that* old just political very young).

    One thing that remains in my memory is seeing a copy of the Newsline around the mid-70s which justified torture by ‘anti-imperialist’ arab states.

    I bloody wish I’d kept it for future use.

  17. Red Maria said,

    Michael;

    *coff* “Lucy Lips'” ugly tirades *coff*

  18. Michael Ezra said,

    Waterloo Sunset,

    Your requirement for conclusive proof is not very much is it?

    It is true that my focus is very much on the left as that is my interest. If my interest was on train spotting, I would write about train numbers, but it isn’t, I am interested in those from the political extremes – Far left, far right and yes, anarchists. In fact, I have read quite a substantial amount of Rothbard, but I suspect Rothbard was not your kind of anarchist. But my main interest is far left and one of the best attacks on Leninism that I am aware of was written by G.P. Maximoff, an anarchist. I am therefore quite aware that anarchists are opposed to Marxist-Leninism. So while I do not spend my time attacking Gordon Brown or David Cameron, it is because that spending time writing posts on such people does not interest me as much as writing about those on the far-left of the political spectrum.

    I am not a pacifist (in fact I think pacifism as a doctrine is morally reprehensible) but that does not mean to say, as you imply, that my only disagreement with Trotskyists is the ends not the means. Judt because I am not a pacifist does not mean that I approve of violence for something that should not require violence. I did not agree with the Care in the Community program, but had the Labour opposition tried to defeat it by shooting Conservative MPs, then I would not have supported that either even if it achieved the result that I would have preferred.

    Regarding the police not being democratic, it does not matter as they are accountable to the government which is elected in a democratic fashion.

    I have not said at any time that Trotskyist groups do not publish dissenting views, but in general the line that is set as opposed to any debate on the policy is a foregone conclusion. What becomes more interesting is when there is a difference of opinion by a leading member of the organisation – one can consider the recent example of the SWP and German etc. They ultimately resign and if they had not done so, they would leave. The relevant matter is that after the debate has occurred then the minority tendency that lost has to terminate as factionalising on the matter is then not allowed. This is pretty standard.

    Regarding the Militant tendency, this is somewhat different. They were not the same as say the Tribune group, the Campaign Group, the Fabians and the list goes on, they fundamentally disagreed with the whole idea of parliamentary democracy – they were after all Trots. The Labour Party, and the Conservative Party for that matter, have many members who are against specific policies of their respective parties and they do not necessarily toe the line, even when the whips get pretty tough. Open dissent to party policies is therefore tolerated in major political parties in a way that is not possible in Trot organisations.

    • Waterloo Sunset said,

      <Your requirement for conclusive proof is not very much is it?

      I’ll recap this for you.

      1. You complained that a personal attack was made on you.

      2. You were shown a post where HP made a large number of personal attacks on someone who had attacked them as a blog, not as individuals.

      3. Not only did you refuse to condemn those personal attacks, you justified them and suggested that it was her fault for criticising HP.

      Therefore, you have condoned personal attacks against people you disagree with, while complaining about the same happening to you. That’s a textbook definition of “double standards”, hence hypocrisy. To be clear, I really don’t care about personal attacks, either dishing them out or getting them. It’s your refusal to apply the same standards to your friends you apply to others I take issue with.

      In fact, I have read quite a substantial amount of Rothbard, but I suspect Rothbard was not your kind of anarchist.

      I think a strong argument can be made that Rothbard wasn’t an anarchist at all. He falls too much outside the history of anarchist thought. Obviously he called himself one. But I don’t believe the GDR was actually democratic either.

      But my main interest is far left and one of the best attacks on Leninism that I am aware of was written by G.P. Maximoff, an anarchist.

      Maximoff isn’t bad. But I’d recommend “Stalin did not fall from the moon” by the Worker’s Solidarity Group. It’s easy enough to find online.

      So while I do not spend my time attacking Gordon Brown or David Cameron, it is because that spending time writing posts on such people does not interest me as much as writing about those on the far-left of the political spectrum.

      Obviously. It’s the reason for that focus I’m highlighting. You’re quite obviously interested as an anti far left partisan. Which is fair enough, as those are your political views. But it’s intellectually dishonest to try and present that interest as purely scholarly, when it’s ideologically driven.

      I am not a pacifist (in fact I think pacifism as a doctrine is morally reprehensible) but that does not mean to say, as you imply, that my only disagreement with Trotskyists is the ends not the means. Judt because I am not a pacifist does not mean that I approve of violence for something that should not require violence.

      Precisely. So the difference lies in what you see as requiring violence. It’s not a rejection of the use of political violence per se, any more then it is for me. So while you can criticise Trotsky for his use of violence at Kronstadt (as do I), it doesn’t follow that makes Trotsykists more violent than you or I.

      Regarding the police not being democratic, it does not matter as they are accountable to the government which is elected in a democratic fashion.

      We’d obviously disagree on that. The police certainly aren’t directly accountable to the people they supposedly serve.

      And you only support political (representative) democracy. Do you accept that your lack of support for economic democracy (workers controlling their own industries) means you don’t support democracy across the board?

      I have not said at any time that Trotskyist groups do not publish dissenting views, but in general the line that is set as opposed to any debate on the policy is a foregone conclusion. What becomes more interesting is when there is a difference of opinion by a leading member of the organisation – one can consider the recent example of the SWP and German etc. They ultimately resign and if they had not done so, they would leave. The relevant matter is that after the debate has occurred then the minority tendency that lost has to terminate as factionalising on the matter is then not allowed. This is pretty standard.

      The SWP are an exception, not the rule. What other groups can you name that ban permanent factions? And what evidence do you have that other groups have a predetermined line that isn’t changed by debate?

      Regarding the Militant tendency, this is somewhat different. They were not the same as say the Tribune group, the Campaign Group, the Fabians and the list goes on, they fundamentally disagreed with the whole idea of parliamentary democracy – they were after all Trots.

      So you accept that it comes down to what polices a party considers incompatible with its political principles?

      Open dissent to party policies is therefore tolerated in major political parties in a way that is not possible in Trot organisations.

      Counterexample. Labour Party members can be expelled if they publically support an election candidate from another party.

      I hope you will join me in condeming this totalitarian policy.

  19. Michael Ezra said,

    Waterloo Sunset,

    Your logic fails you. I did not complain of a personal attack, all I did was mention that someone was not very polite. I am quite a consistent person.

    I have previously read “Stalin did not fall from the moon” but it is not particularly detailed. I far prefer SP Melgounov’s book on the Red Terror.

    I have never said that my interest in far-left groups was “purely scholarly” although if it was solely ideologically driven, I would not have spent anywhere near the amount of time I have, reading obscure publications and attending obscure meetings.

    Your argument on my acceptance of violence is ridiculous. I would support (unlike a pacifist) violence to stop someone being raped but that does not mean to say that I would support violence to stop a child from reading a book by Enid Blyton. Trotskyists lack morals. How can anyone take seriously a man ( Trotsky) who said (Terrorism and Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky [New Park Publications, 1975] p. 82):

    As for us, we were never concerned with the Kantian-priestly and vegetarian-Quaker prattle about the “sacredness of human life.”

    Consequently, while I accept violence, my “bourgeois morals” restrict me to where I find violence acceptable.

    Regarding factions, given this thread is about the Redgrave and the WRP has been discussed, Healy did not even allow factions time to develop, they were expelled from the party before they got off the ground. Oh, and Healy also used violence against his internal critics.

    The Labour Party is not totalitarian as its policies are decided upon by its members. Openly supporting opposition is reasonable grounds for expulsion as was, the reason for Galloway being expelled. The relevant point is how policies are created and supported and to what extent dissent is allowed. Militant simply did not allow any extent. It was in effect, a party within a party – it was more than a campaigning group or a lobby group within a party.

    • Waterloo Sunset said,

      Your logic fails you. I did not complain of a personal attack, all I did was mention that someone was not very polite. I am quite a consistent person.

      And you consider the HP post in question polite?

      I have never said that my interest in far-left groups was “purely scholarly” although if it was solely ideologically driven, I would not have spent anywhere near the amount of time I have, reading obscure publications and attending obscure meetings.

      I certainly accept you have a trainspottery interest in the far left as well as the ideological side. (Which isn’t an attack. It’s true of a lot of us on here, myself included). I’m suggesting the focus of that interest is guided by ideology. Which, again, isn’t a bad thing of itself. My interest in the internal politics of the far right stems from my antifascism, not vice versa.

      Your argument on my acceptance of violence is ridiculous. I would support (unlike a pacifist) violence to stop someone being raped but that does not mean to say that I would support violence to stop a child from reading a book by Enid Blyton.

      Yes, but am I also right to assume that you don’t only support purely defensive violence? By which I mean, are there times you will support violence that isn’t in response to an immediate attack?

      How can anyone take seriously a man ( Trotsky) who said (Terrorism and Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky [New Park Publications, 1975] p. 82):

      As for us, we were never concerned with the Kantian-priestly and vegetarian-Quaker prattle about the “sacredness of human life.”

      While you might not like the wording, surely you aren’t in disagreement? You’ve already made clear that you aren’t against taking life in all circumstances. If human life is truly sacred, that isn’t a logical position to hold.

      Consequently, while I accept violence, my “bourgeois morals” restrict me to where I find violence acceptable.

      So, specifically, where do you find violence acceptable? And I suspect “statist morals” are more the issue. In other words, while there are exceptions, you are more likely to support state violence then violence by those not committing their violence under the ‘rule of law’.

      Regarding factions, given this thread is about the Redgrave and the WRP has been discussed, Healy did not even allow factions time to develop, they were expelled from the party before they got off the ground. Oh, and Healy also used violence against his internal critics.

      True, but I don’t think anyone would seriously claim the WRP were typical, not even those who are ideologically opposed to Trotskyism. And, to remind you, you made the claim that factions were not allowed to operate in “all Trot groups”. I’ve given you several counterexamples, none of which have yet been addressed.

      The Labour Party is not totalitarian as its policies are decided upon by its members.

      So why are policies decided at Labour Conference not automatically put into their manifesto? And why do Labour governments take decisions not in their manifesto in the first place.

      This shows the contradiction in many of those that claim to be in favour of “democracy”. If democracy isn’t genuinely participatory, then it isn’t meaningfully democratic.

      Openly supporting opposition is reasonable grounds for expulsion as was

      So you do support the expulsion of some dissenters from party policy. So it’s merely a matter of which ones.

  20. Michael Ezra said,

    Waterloo Sunset.

    Whether you consider Rothbard an anarchist is neither hear nor there – As I said, I doubted he was your kind of anarchist. I do not agree with his views either, but in my opinion he was a brilliant man. (Likewise, while I do not agree with Marx, I accept that he was brilliant.) Rothbard just came at anarchism from a very different angle. I think his book, The Ethics of Liberty, should be read by anyone interested in political theory.

    • Waterloo Sunset said,

      Believe it or not, we agree more on Rothbard then you might think. I think he’s too far outside anarchist thought to be considered an anarchist. But I think that, as a thinker, he was undoubtably brilliant and well worth reading.

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