Christo Coetzee, “Janus”
Corey Ansel blogs at The Chair-Leg of Truth — the title of which I still don’t understand, admittedly. He is also a former member of the Platypus Affiliated Society, having resigned shortly after I did back in May. Our reasons for leaving were largely the same; obstinacy and authoritarianism from the top, combined with outrageous and extremely irresponsible rhetoric both toward other groups and its own members. Ansel is by temperament more inclined toward the contemporary Spartacist League, the only group I see as really representative of Trotskyism once was (back when the Fourth International was still somewhat relevant), at least more so than I am. My own intellectual predisposition is toward critical theory and historical Bolshevism up to the period of the Left Opposition, though somewhat beyond.
This isn’t the first time Corey has taken aim at Seymour, however. Back during the SWP rape coverup scandal, he wrote an article which I republished here called “The Fools on the Hill.” Not long thereafter I published a brief response, perhaps too cleverly titled “No ‘True’ Trots, Man,” where I took issue with his quest for an “authentic” Trotskyist (or even Marxist) movement against which to contrast the phony organizations of today. In my view, such quest is vain. Stylistically, Ansel comes closer to the Sparts, who themselves seek to mimic Trotsky’s own rather bombastic prose. If you’d like, you can read back to those articles or just continue to the piece below. James Heartfield has also just published a follow-up, “Further Adventures in ‘Intersectionality’,” which I’ll be reposting shortly.
The Chair-Leg of
Those working in comics or film certainly couldn’t construct a better Two Face character — you know, from Batman — than Richard Seymour. In recent months, the poster child of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) opposition has been testing his luck with the forces of political chance. Formerly coming out of the corner of the British Cliffites, the self-described author decidedly changed his tune during the second period intermission. Those of us who have been long-time observers of the political zig-zags in the reformist camp weren’t surprised to see Seymour duck the punches of his former mentors in the SWP while he abandoned ship on the organization he had religiously defended up and to that point without any peep of protest. While the notion that the SWP magically became a bureaucratically warped organization seemingly overnight due to the mishandling of rape allegations within the organization might seem outlandish, it was no laughing matter to those who would go on to form the International Socialist Network (ISN), from which Seymour and his cohorts have now resigned. Making a career out of aligning with identity politics and “intersectionality,” Seymour seemed to have hoped that the coin would continue to fall heads’ side up. And it had, until now.
This time, fate had his number. A recent debacle took place on the Facebook page of a leader of the ISN. The instrument that had reaped so many rewards for these latter-day rebels proved to bury those who lacked prowess in handling the fairytale that is online politics. Ideologically, Facebook allows pseudo-Marxists and all of their hanger-ons to perpetuate allegedly open arguments that are actually structured to their benefit, flowered with all the language of “safe spaces” that have become so popular these days at the expense of any real political integrity. Whereas those attending political meetings that tend to be breeding grounds for interventions from the Spartacist League could traditionally only sing a tune with their fingers in their ears, now the “unfriend” button has become the fundamental object and means of criticism. This supplements the discussions on left unity that have become so rampant in the United Kingdom, with an organization titled by the same name and precious talks between fragmented opportunist organizations like Workers Power, which are actually just farces in the making. Just like sects across the globe seek to latch on to the movement and broad struggles of the day, so have these latter-day reformists jumped the wagon regarding talks of unity on the left, seeking to intersperse their generic brand of orthodoxy which will inevitably lead to more crying, but certainly not political clarity.
Building upon this house of cards, Workers Power and their phony League for the Fifth International (L5I) have all but begged Seymour’s ISN and the broad umbrella Anti-Capitalist Initiative to lend credibility to their tiny, irrelevant sect. However, in an article titled “Revolutionary Unity Must be Built on Firm Foundations,” the ostensible Trotskyists of the L5I utterly fail to question the social basis of women’s oppression, let alone discuss the shortcomings of bourgeois feminism and pressure politics. Instead, liquidationism is the slogan of the day. Whereas intersectionality becomes the clarion call of the ISN’s cohorts, Workers Power sings a tune of watering down political differences. For Marxists, phony unity is not the means of advancing the class struggle and the battle against oppression, but instead political clarity is paramount. No amount of veneer can hide this fact from both groups, including Workers Power that is quite fond of using the language of Marxism in asking questions about the revolutionary party, program and the socialist transformation of society. However, this veil is exposed as ripped and torn when it becomes apparent that the L5I has no interest of making a critique of the reformist political history of the SWP or the ISN, but instead seeks to accommodate to their capitulationist sloganeering. They wouldn’t dare raise a peep to offend those they need so desperately to continue treading the path of phony unity on the left amongst utterly different political projects, visions and structures for a post-capitalist society. Continue reading