How sectarianism works


by Sunny
31st December, 2010 at 11:18 am    

So I write a blogpost about how people from the SWP always try and denounce others, and I get a whole bunch of SWP fans on Twitter saying ‘OMG its not true, we never do that!’, including Richard Seymour from Lenin’s Tomb. The next day he writes a blogpost taking personal potshots at Aaron Peters, an activist and student, going by the exact script I outlined in my post.

Let’s check the score-sheet: (1) personal attacks – check. (2) Criticising him for being on the centre-left – check. (3) Accusing anyone of supporting mutuals as being very little to different to Osbornomics (sectarianism) – check. Bonus: believing crap in the Daily Mail to feed his narrative. Don’t you get ousted from the SWP these days for taking the Mail at face value?

I like mutuals. I like the Co-operative. I like John Lewis. I’m happy to support this effort by UKuncut, which prompted Richard to write a post dredging up all the personal past stuff (‘omg he actually said on Facebook he was employed by Demos, but he just interned! Wot a liar!‘)…. literally a day after he accuses me of being McCarthyite.

The substantive point is this: I don’t care if some people believe supporting Mutualism is akin to working at Goldman Sachs. Take your simplistic view of the world and shove it. I believe there is a massive distinction.

The whole point about not being sectarian is that you don’t go around telling other people, what events to run and what to support – just because it doesn’t match with your level of radicalism. Organise your own damn event if you want. Just because some people within UKuncut support mutuals, that must mean they support the privatisation of Royal Mail> This is the level of debate we’re supposed to engage with? Screw that.

Overall, I think Richard Seymour is a good bloke. He means well. But like other SWP people he sings the praises of unity while constantly engaging in the SWP tactics I mentioned earlier. Unless these folks shed their old habits they will always be regarded with suspicion by large parts of the left.

Update: Aaron Peters has written a reply to Richard.


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  1. sunny hundal

    Blogged: : How sectarianism works http://bit.ly/i3oc65


  2. sdv_duras

    This from @sunny_hundal Blogged: : How sectarianism works http://bit.ly/i3oc65 is the perfect example…


  3. Danny Anarchy

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : How sectarianism works http://bit.ly/i3oc65


  4. richdavidson

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : How sectarianism works http://bit.ly/i3oc65


  5. wmd-gnome

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : How sectarianism works http://bit.ly/i3oc65


  6. smileandsubvert

    How sectarianism works http://pulsene.ws/Dc7Z


  7. sunny hundal

    @davidwearing is this what you call "simply expressing a different opinion" http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/11276 ?


  8. sunny hundal

    @MissEllieMae comment #22 here: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/11276 – sums up my view here too. Criticising others for trying to


  9. sunny hundal

    @MissEllieMae comment #22 here: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/11276 – sums up my view here too. Criticising others for trying to


  10. zetkin « notebook

    [...] 5. In Soviet Russia Sectarian Is You! This final tactic is to be used with caution – after all, you wouldn’t want to be accused of just making definitions up, like some weird post-modernist. But when really threatened with having to engage in intra-movement debate, why not try being sectarian by accusing your opponents of sectarianism. Sneaky. There’s no need to understand or respond to the arguments of those nasty splitters – just recategorise whatever line they’re arguing as a sectarian attack and you’re home and dry. A bit like this. [...]


  11. Jenny

    So basically, this:http://t.co/bwJ8A4rf
    is how secretarianism works:
    http://t.co/p2NOaTQb


  12. Jenny

    So basically, this:http://t.co/bwJ8A4rf
    is how secretarianism works:
    http://t.co/p2NOaTQb




  1. unionworkeruk — on 31st December, 2010 at 12:04 pm  

    Not
    being in the SWP or any political organisation I would still like to
    comment on UKUNCUT and mutuals. We have unity on targeting companies
    not paying taxes. I see no “sectarian” criticism of that from SWP.
    It is Peters and those in Uncut who are trying to change the campaign
    aims by now supporting mutuals as a solution to the privatisation of the
    Royal Mail and support for John Lewis style companies.
    It is not sectarian to point out that John Lewis is not a company
    controled by its employees, does not recognise trade unions and neither
    is it controled by customer shareholders. It is a paternalistic company
    that shares profits as decided by the unelected board. It is also subject to the competative laws of capitalism so in a capitalist crisis the workers a free to sack themselves.
    The Royal Mail as a mutual would pose many more problems for its workers
    and customers as the government would be pleased to offload a public
    service to a mutual profit making company not accountable to the public and with no job security for its workers.
    What next the Health Service, education etc. Hang on, they are already
    moving in that direction and all the left are opposed.
    You want unity but shout “sectarianism” when anyone disagrees with the attempted
    redefinition of the aims of UKuncut.
    We have unity around the tax issue. It is the attempt to revise that
    issue into a campaign for mutuals by some in Uncut that will bring
    disunity.
    Arguing against that is not sectarian but commonsense.

  2. Andy H — on 31st December, 2010 at 12:14 pm  

    If he admires Lenin, then he’s not really “a good bloke” by any sensible measure.

  3. BenSix — on 31st December, 2010 at 12:34 pm  

    And so we meet the reason why there won’t be “unity”. The only thing to unite everyone is a hatred of the Cons. It’s like England, Australia and South Africa uniting to knock India off the number 1 spot. Sure, they’re all agreed on that but when it comes to who’ll replace it…

  4. Ellie Mae — on 31st December, 2010 at 12:37 pm  

    Jesus Sunny, unless you’re actually gunning for a full blown feud with Richard, I have no idea what you’re doing here.

    I stuck up for you re SWP and got into an argument with Richard as a result, but since then we’ve knocked it on the head because we are both on the same side ultimately. Surely the most anti-sectarian thing to do would be to draw a line?

    Re mutuals: I agree with Richard there, and I find it insulting that you’re suggesting that I haven’t got the nous to distinguish between John Lewis and Goldman Sachs. Although, incidentally, head of the mutual Circle Health is a former investment banker for Goldman Sachs. He is cynical about the ‘cuddly’ image of mutuals, as he calls it, arguing that it’s just another method of profit generation like anything else. As soon as it fails the company would drop it. That was in my blog post on Circle Health – though you cut out his quote for the Lib Con version.

    Finally it really bothers me that you say things like ‘I support UKUncut’ when you know full well UKUncut isn’t ‘behind’ this event -Aaron put it on the Actions list and UKUncut obligingly tweeted it. Aaron put it up autonomously, as that’s the way decentralised action works. The more *we* promote the idea that UKUncut has leaders or a party line, the easier it makes it for them to smear protesters like Aaron or that ridiculous story a few months ago.

  5. Ellie Mae — on 31st December, 2010 at 12:45 pm  

    And deus ex machina – comment 1 proves my point.

    UKUncut isn’t trying to change anything! Aaron put it up on his own volition. I am going to say this again, slowly, IT IS DECENTRALISED AUTONOMOUS ACTION.

    For fuck’s sake.

  6. douglas clark — on 31st December, 2010 at 1:09 pm  

    Sunny,

    Having checked out the link, it strikes me that Richard Seymour wants to lead us all. I doubt you are happy at that prospect.

    I am certainly not.

  7. johng — on 31st December, 2010 at 1:23 pm  

    Its very odd that whilst its perfectly ok to criticise the SWP (which it is) its considered outrageous if anyone has any differences with the ‘centre left’. Incredible double standards. The idea seems to be that if your not on the ‘centre left’ you should keep your mouth shut. Unfortunately if this was the case there would be…not a lot going on.

  8. earwicga — on 31st December, 2010 at 1:40 pm  

    This post has shut 3 NHS wards. Along with the 600 people your last post made homeless you should be feeling very ashamed Sunny! ;)

  9. Waterloo Sunset — on 31st December, 2010 at 1:41 pm  

    Having checked out the link, it strikes me that Richard Seymour wants to lead us all. I doubt you are happy at that prospect.

    I’m not keen, funnily enough. But I’m no more keen on us being little loyal Labourite troopers for the centre left. Or for us to be led by democratically unaccountable ‘voices of the movement’. And it’s the last one that seems to be the biggest issue at the moment.

  10. damon — on 31st December, 2010 at 2:18 pm  

    I think a good example of sectarianism was the SWP trying to get the RCP thrown off a big CND organised anti-war protest in London in 1991.
    It almost led to a few handbags being wielded.

    I don’t know why anybody pays the SWP any attention.
    It’s like they were a plot by the right to undermine and discredit the idea of a progressive left.
    Like the way that the Pink Floyd man’s son was used by the right wing newspapers.

  11. douglas clark — on 31st December, 2010 at 2:35 pm  

    Waterloo Sunset,

    Point taken. It is up to you guys to invent an inclusive, left of centre political party or movement that does what the members ask, not vice versa. And then put it to the ballot.

    I think you may be completely right in assuming that currently unaccountable ‘voices’ are trying to hijack your brain for their own purposes. I seem to recall that this web site was founded on the principle that ‘community leaders’ – read ‘voices’ – were acting ultra vires.

    Dunno whether you agree with me, but hey! It is all a rinse and wash learning experience.

  12. Naadir Jeewa — on 31st December, 2010 at 2:59 pm  

    Facebook doesn’t have a field for “Interned in.” Smear FAIL.

  13. Sunny — on 31st December, 2010 at 3:02 pm  

    It is Peters and those in Uncut who are trying to change the campaign
    aims by now supporting mutuals as a solution to the privatisation of the
    Royal Mail and support for John Lewis style companies.

    Sorry, what campaign exactly are they trying to change? You lead your campaign and others will have other campaigns. I don’t see why everyone has to fall in line with the same campaign. Why is that so difficult to understand?

  14. Refresh — on 31st December, 2010 at 3:16 pm  

    I like mutuals and credit unions and the like. So much so that I even ran a conference on them.

    However I do not see anything particularly wrong with Richard’s criticism. The basic point he makes is that mutuality is being used as a form of privatisation. That is to say it would be 2-step operation.

    Hand a part, only a part mind, of the ownership to the workers; and as we saw with all the demutualised building societies have the carpetbaggers mobilise to then have the workers sell their share.

    One of the bigger disasters of New Labour was that they did not, and would not actualy speak up for mutuals. That was Blair. And we don’t need words of unity from that team.

    And if anyone is attempting to subborn UKUNCUT then surely it needs exposing.

  15. Refresh — on 31st December, 2010 at 3:22 pm  

    And I should have added that turning existing companies into mutuals is of more interest to me than turning state owned assets into mutuals.

    The day Cameron or Milliband proposes that, that is the day I will listen. A good starting point should be the banks, given we already own significant shares in a few of them.

  16. Sunny — on 31st December, 2010 at 3:29 pm  

    We have unity around the tax issue. It is the attempt to revise that
    issue into a campaign for mutuals by some in Uncut that will bring
    disunity.

    Sorry but this is hogwash. There are large parts of the Labour party movement who fully support mutuals and mutualism in general. To think you have absolute unity on the issue is pure fantasy.

    Ellie:
    Surely the most anti-sectarian thing to do would be to draw a line?

    No, actually – I’ll continue to point out examples of this ideological puritanicalism if they’re going to claim that they’re for unity and working with everyone else.

    I find it insulting that you’re suggesting that I haven’t got the nous to distinguish between John Lewis and Goldman Sachs.

    Where did I say you haven’t got the nous to distinguish between the two. I haven’t mentioned you anywhere in the post.

    Yes, some mutuals aren’t perfect – shock horror! In the same way not all publicly owned companies are run properly! In the same way that not all unions exactly abide by the principles of equality and socialism. Shocking isn’t it, that not everyone is the same.

    It doesn’t detract away from the general principles of mutualism even if you find one or two examples that aren’t as good as you like.

    I’ll happily amend this isn’t a UKuncut event.

    Waterloo: But I’m no more keen on us being little loyal Labourite troopers for the centre left.

    Please don’t be. I haven’t advocated anywhere for me to be leader nor have I said people should do my bidding. I simply run projects to help people, I disseminate information and I write articles critical of the Coalition. I haven’t yet written a 2000 word thesis on how I’d lead the movement. When I do – feel free to criticise me.

  17. Refresh — on 31st December, 2010 at 3:42 pm  

    Sunny,

    The topic of mutuals, privatisation, tax evasion etc. is far too important to present as an issue of sectarianism. It deserves a proper post, which could also take on board some of the criticisms put forward by Richard Seymour.

  18. Ellie Mae — on 31st December, 2010 at 4:12 pm  

    Oh come on Sunny, don’t treat me like I’m daft and short-sighted when you know I’m not.

    You say ‘I like mutuals,’ and then imply those that don’t (e.g. Me) view them as akin to Goldman Sachs. And then say ‘you can take your simplistic world view and shove it.’ You’re clearly implying that anyone who agrees with Richard (again, me) is too simplistic. And don’t pretend you weren’t, it won’t work on me!

    IMHO the simplistic view is to laud the principles of mutuals without considering how they work in reality. Yes they might be good in principle, but if in reality they’re used as a cover for good old-fashioned capitalism then surely it’s valid to scrutinise them, right?

    I feel like we’ve switched roles here: you’re the one who usually wants to sacrifice principles on the altar of unity, and I’m usually the one that tells you off for compromising too far. But I really think you should drop this. One thing we can agree on is that the SWP are pretty forthright in their opinions, so your insistence on ‘calling them out’ is only likely to fruitlessly piss people off.

    I’m happy to row because I believe the left will put this bullshit aside when it comes to the real battles. But don’t get like a dog with a bone over this because it will just cause divides, and will impede opportunities to strategise – which I know you love to do!

  19. Sunny — on 31st December, 2010 at 5:52 pm  

    Yes they might be good in principle, but if in reality they’re used as a cover for good old-fashioned capitalism then surely it’s valid to scrutinise them, right?

    I’m not sure what you mean by this. I don’t want the state to produce anything – especially stuff sold by John Lewis for example.

    Do I want a government owned Tesco? No I don’t. I prefer free markets in that area to deal in products – if they’re mutualised, then even better.

    Nothing works perfectly in practice – not free markets, not state owned firms nor mutuals.

    so your insistence on ‘calling them out’ is only likely to fruitlessly piss people off.

    Sorry but I don’t care if it pisses some people off. They need to be pulled up when needed and it’s about time others on the left did it. Usually, they just get ignored (as most of the Labour movement do).

  20. Scooby — on 31st December, 2010 at 6:04 pm  

    Poor old Sunny. He still doesn’t get that the SWP don’t see him as a comrade in the struggle — they see him as an enemy, the “inner policeman” as Trotsky put it. The SWP will support Sunny’s soft left the way the “rope supports the hanging man”, as Lenin put it. Sunny, with respect, you are a textbook example of the proverbial “useful idiot”. And also a little bit of a hypocrite — you’ve said yourself that politics is about crushing your opponents, so how does it feel to be the crushed?

  21. Waterloo Sunset — on 31st December, 2010 at 6:15 pm  

    @ Damon

    I think a good example of sectarianism was the SWP trying to get the RCP thrown off a big CND organised anti-war protest in London in 1991.

    There are far better examples then that I think. The RCP were appalling a lot of the time and I suspect they weren’t an entirely innocent party, even without knowing the incident referred to. They were relentless contrarians and came up with some positions none of us would defend. (Support for Milosevic, claiming that AIDS wasn’t a threat to Western heterosexuals etc.). So without knowing what was being put out by them at this specific march, I’m reluctant to assume that the SWP were being a bunch of big meanies.

    @ Douglas

    It is up to you guys to invent an inclusive, left of centre political party or movement that does what the members ask, not vice versa. And then put it to the ballot

    This is where our political differences become most apparent. I have little to no interest in electoralism. I want people to take control of their own lives, not elect someone to do it for them. And I think the anti cuts movement is starting to develop along those signs.

    Please don’t be. I haven’t advocated anywhere for me to be leader nor have I said people should do my bidding. I simply run projects to help people, I disseminate information and I write articles critical of the Coalition. I haven’t yet written a 2000 word thesis on how I’d lead the movement. When I do – feel free to criticise me.

    That wasn’t a reference to you. I’m thinking more of people like Claire Solomon and Laurie Penny. I have no personal issue with them (I don’t know them, apart from anything else), but they are starting to be put forward by the media as movement spokespeople and I don’t think they have a mandate for that. (Claire can arguably speak for the ULU at least).

    I’m merely suggesting that’s a more pressing issue currently than the SWP, who haven’t been very prominent on this. Also, I think it should be recognised that the Labour Party are at least as prone to trying to hijack movements for their own electoral ends and attempting to dictate strategy accordingly. The anti Poll Tax movement is a prime example.

    In your case, I’d assume you’re just putting forward your own ideas, as do I. That’s a good thing. The ‘leadership of ideas’ is the kind of leadership I’m in favour of and that only comes through debate. You’ll notice that, while I’ve been critical of some of your arguments, I haven’t suggested that you shouldn’t have posted your opinion at any point.

  22. Guy Aitchison — on 31st December, 2010 at 6:34 pm  

    Well said. That post on Lenin’s Tomb exemplified the worst traits of a certain type of far left politics: sectarian and puritanical.

    Ellie, having criticised the SWP recently I really don’t understand why you’re now imploring Sunny to be quiet lest he offend them! Personal anti-pluralist attacks, and attempts to police the left like this, need to be exposed for what they are. There’s no harm in that. The comment by Scooby above, for example, is a classic of the genre, quoting Lenin and Trotsky to make cliched and violence-laden denunciations of Sunny. What century is Scooby living in??

    What we’re really seeing is desperation in certain quarters, that a movement has emerged with its own independent energy and momentum outside of traditional leftist channels. And I predict that we can expect more of this type of denunciation from those urging an embrace of a central Leninist leadership.

  23. douglas clark — on 31st December, 2010 at 7:29 pm  

    Waterloo Sunset @ 21,

    You say electoralism as if it’s a bad thing. Seems to me there is no legitimacy without votes. I am quite interested in this idea that anyone can have authority without accountability. Sounds like the CBI or the Taxpayers Alliance to me.

  24. damon — on 31st December, 2010 at 7:30 pm  

    They were relentless contrarians and came up with some positions none of us would defend.

    Waterloo Sunset, you might just have put your finger on the meaning of sectarian.
    Who is to decide what is contrarian? The SWP, CND …the Guardian?

    When you have a big anti-war march like the one in 1991 that I mentioned, you are going to get all the little generals clashing about stupid things like which slogans could be chanted.
    Is it all about oil? (like the SWP were pushing), or some wider imperialistic mission? … which I think was more the RCP’s line at the time.

    Also, a pedantic/sectarian point maybe, but I don’t think they supported Milosevic, and you’ve got the AIDS thing totally wrong too.
    This is what they actually said about that.
    http://www.spiked-online.com/Articles/0000000054CD.htm

    But that is how urban myths come about I suppose.

  25. tonyb — on 31st December, 2010 at 8:01 pm  

    On the sub-issue here about the RCP, in my two decades of coming across then they certainly where “contrarian” usually a cover for berating you for siding with imperialism (as they said) against the brave Serbian fighters, for saying that protecting your sexual partners and yourself was selling out somehow or for not giving full support to IRA bombing campaigns. They were a wrecking outfit and nothing more.

    On the SWP an outfit that I have had a lot more dealings with yes they can operate as a cult. However many of their comrades are real socialists and people who do fight for the class. They are somewhat in decline having just suffered the Counterfire split. To launch into them at present is to invite an attack on the whole anti cuts movement by the many witch hunters who are lurking around. I would guess that a witch hunt would be the most likely direct threat to the movement against the cuts, not take over by a particular political group. There have been a series of witch hunts within UNISON in the last couple of years against activists intent on standing up for their membership and being prepared to argue for militant action to do so.

    Remember the right wing are no more democratic than the various organisations governed by their political committees.

  26. unionworkeruk — on 31st December, 2010 at 9:10 pm  

    “We have unity around the tax issue. It is the attempt to revise that
    issue into a campaign for mutuals by some in Uncut that will bring
    disunity.”

    “Sorry but this is hogwash. There are large parts of the Labour party movement who fully support mutuals and mutualism in general. To think you have absolute unity on the issue is pure fantasy.”

    You would be right if I was saying what you claim. The issue is we have unity in the Uncut campaign over unpaid taxes. Trying to broaden the discusssions to include other issues like mutuals within that campaign could confuse the basic issue – tax evasion and avoidance.
    If people want to campaign for mutuals, no problem, but, do it outside the single issue and successeful UKuncut.
    And you have David Cameron on side as well-
    http://bit.ly/8ZGchx

  27. damon — on 31st December, 2010 at 10:25 pm  

    Another completely cock-eyed perception there tonyb, when you said:

    On the sub-issue here about the RCP, in my two decades of coming across then they certainly where “contrarian” usually a cover for berating you for siding with imperialism (as they said) against the brave Serbian fighters, for saying that protecting your sexual partners and yourself was selling out somehow or for not giving full support to IRA bombing campaigns. They were a wrecking outfit and nothing more.

    Personally I think they got the Northeren Ireland thing completely wrong, but the SWP weren’t much better on that I think.
    I don’t remember berating being their style, and I think you misunderstand their Yougoslavia position/stance.

    Because that was all it was. A stance and a take of world events. People get things wrong. Who here supported the NATO bombing of Serbia over Kosovo?
    If you did and still stand by that (like Tony Blair) then fair enough.
    But I thought blowing up the Serbian TV station was a war crime and I could never vote Labour after that.

  28. tonyb — on 31st December, 2010 at 11:03 pm  

    Damon, spittle was coming from the RCP speaker telling people that they had no backbone by not declaring unconditional support for IRA bombings. Some years later I remember sitting with a victim of a rape camp incredulous that the RCP stated at a meeting that he was part of organised lying. I also remember being told by an RCP’er (with a straight face) that it was indeed wrong to use a condom during sex as to do so was to surrender to some sort of ideology of fear.

    I for one did not support either the bombing of Serbia or the invasion of Kosovo. Imperialism’s crimes in the Balkans in the 1990′s did not mean that the Serbian side was not being lead by racist murderers.

  29. damon — on 1st January, 2011 at 2:51 pm  

    Tonyb, they got plenty of things wrong, but issue for issue against all of the other left groups, I think they also got a lot right too.
    Yougolsavia was a civil war started by Slovenia wanting to break away from the rest of the country.
    And then Croatia following suit.
    The break up of the country caused the war.

  30. Sunny — on 1st January, 2011 at 9:13 pm  

    Damon you’re hilarious when you’re off your rocker. Why not read about why the RCP’s magazine Living Marxism got shut down after losing the libel suit.

    The RCP lot should stick to opinion, because ‘facts’ imply a degree of fact-checking and reality.

    unionworkeruk:
    If people want to campaign for mutuals, no problem, but, do it outside the single issue and successeful UKuncut.

    Oh right – yes I see your point. Yes, I’m in favour of them sticking to that issue, though they’re generally trying to help and encourage activism across the board.

    But yes – I do see your point on that.

  31. damon — on 1st January, 2011 at 9:43 pm  

    Maybe Sunny, but you are someone who will regularly promote the ‘Plane Stupid’ nutcases who disrupt airports and others who go and pour oil (leaking out of a large pink pig made of paper mache) on the front steps of some commercial business HQ, and you’l higlight that nonsense month after month and just tell anyone who disagrees with you to get lost.

    link here

    I think the Spiked people at least give a reason for saying that’s not progressive political activity.
    I think the sectarian division between yours and their way of politics is quite evident.

    The RCP might have deserved to have lost that libel suit, but I thought Bob from Brockley and some of his readers gave a more sober asesment.
    It’s not all black and white.
    http://brockley.blogspot.com/2010/09/triangulating-bobism-2-furedi-cult.html

  32. Sunny — on 2nd January, 2011 at 1:35 am  

    Maybe Sunny, but you are someone who will regularly promote the ‘Plane Stupid’ nutcases who

    Stop playing that game of ‘look over there!’ – you’re basically taking as gospel a bunch of faux-libertarians who make money by churning out (usually contradictory) ‘contrarian’ opinion so people like you, who don’t like normal broadsheets, can feel like you’re being a bit edgy.

    Please don’t delude yourself.

  33. aaron peters — on 2nd January, 2011 at 2:27 am  

    This is the protest’s aims as written on the uncut website –

    It is our contention that it is time the British people began to have a genuine debate about how our banking sector is run and that all possibilities for our banks going forward should be scrutinized and thought over. In order to begin this debate we believe that the time has come to inform and educate the general public not only of the numerous failings of the existing system, where banks exist purely to advance short-term shareholder interest, but also of the many comparative advantages that other models might hold, be they mutuals, co-ops, credit unions or nationalized banks. Another financial world is possible.

    Given the likelihood of an attempt to privatize both Northern Rock this year and the Royal Mail we feel it imperative to get such a debate started as soon as is possible.

    This debate must be done on our terms and our streets. The people must define the debate about where we go with banking both retail and investment, this can no longer simply be left to media and political elites. In order to facilitate this we must educate and inform people of the alternatives. Banking reform and restructuring needs a movement, movements need people to participate, powerful participants need knowledge.

    There will be a series of public lectures at both John Lewis and HSBC. We will also distribute flowers and sweets to those whom choose to shop and more importantly work at John Lewis given, despite its numerous imperfections, that it represents a different . way of doing business. We will proceed to disseminate information with regards to the comparative merits of co-operative banking, mutuals and credit unions over privately owned public shareholder banks, as well as highlighting HSBC’s own tax evasion outside the HSBC on 431 Oxford St and 196 Oxford Street.

    The action will begin at 12:30 on Saturday, January 15th – we will meet outside John Lewis at 300 Oxford Street on the right hand corner of the front of the building as you face it. To self-identify and identify the group please bring your favourite book/ newspaper or flowers…look forward to seeing you all!

  34. damon — on 2nd January, 2011 at 11:07 am  

    Stop playing that game of ‘look over there!’ – you’re basically taking as gospel a bunch of faux-libertarians…

    I don’t take anyone as gospel, I have always had serious reservations about them. And I have even more with some of the the issues you promote.
    Protesting about Guantanamo in Parliament Square where the names of all the prisoners were held up on placards. Even though half of them at least must be dangerous terrorists.

    And turning up on Nick Clegg’s dorstep with a giant viagra pill to keep him hard on climate change.
    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/09/16/clegg-gets-giant-viagra-pill-for-climate-inaction/
    Why is that ”look over there” as you call it?

    I think their Battle of Ideas conference is one of the better political events.
    Having been to a few SWP ones over the years, I think they wipe the floor with them.

    I agree with you quite a lot. On your take on Harry’s Place for example, and I agreed with you on the Mehdi Hasan story, but I really don’t have much time for this student protest stuff (although I agree that the police are brutal), and Climate Camp was just a joke. I know, as I went to it on Blackheath for an afternoon.

    But somewhere here is the true meaning of ‘sectarianism’ so at least I’m being on topic.

    I see it in Northern Ireland too. It’s when people are so far apart politically and culturally, that they cant even live in the same streets or talk to each other.

  35. Shamit — on 2nd January, 2011 at 1:38 pm  

    aaron peters -

    mutuals are great for small scale enterprises but when you make it large then it is unaccountable, undemocratic and is less representative than a regular shareholder organisation.

    for example, if you own one share of microsoft if a dividend is issued you would get that dividend irrespective of what the top boss thinks – in mutuals, there is no such rules which protect the little members. JOhn lewis or monsanto ceo’s are appointed by boards which have no mandates – and HSBC is one of the biggest success stories and like typical losers – you want to ruin a true British success story.

    Why the fuck do you lot hate winning so much? or you are from the idiotic left who does not want to compromise with the electorate. And talking about an economic model – according to you the economic model has to be driven by the state – that done the world a lot of good didn’t it.

    So grow up and smell the coffee.

  36. Shamit — on 2nd January, 2011 at 1:47 pm  

    On the cuts – the total public expenditure is £696 Billion this year and is going to rise to £740 Billion by 2014. Which would be pretty much the same level of expenditure as we had in 2007.

    Let us not kid ourselves – the public does blame the previous labour government for the fiscal mess and souting cuts cuts cuts – and ruining people’s lives is not going to make them love labour more. Especially, when the person with most credibility in Labour alastair Darling made it clear that there would have been massive cuts if labour was in power.

    So, the only area where the coalition is vulnerable is NHS reforms and VAT rise/unemployment. If it somehow pulls those two things off without too much problem, the entire left movement would look a bit foolish. So, Ed miliban’d wait and see approach is far better than what all these blog warriors are suggesting. And also protests won’t work until the wider public feel the pinch – until then it would be the same old crowd and it ain’t gonna be mainstream.

    Yeah a lot came out with the student protest – like in France. yeah right

  37. damon — on 3rd January, 2011 at 4:44 pm  

    I know this shouldn’t really mean that much, as quality is usually better than quantity, but I have seen from using google, that Sunny was six when I went to my first political marches. The CND ones in central London where Neil Kinnock spoke out agaist nuclear weapons. And a year or so later when I first saw the RCP people protesting about a plastic bullet killing in Northern Ireland.

    It wasn’t so popular to say anything about Ulster on the liberal left back then, unlike it is with Jean Charles de Menezes and Ian Tomlinson today.

    http://www.irishhistorylinks.net/pages/Conflict_Images/SeanDownesFatallyWounded.jpg

    The RUC were pretty brutal, and the Spiked/LM people spoke of it often.

  38. Yakoub — on 3rd January, 2011 at 11:22 pm  

    I’ve said my bit about the SWP, end of, as far as I’m concerned. Excuse me if I now get a bit Mary Midley. The political Right have been hugely successful since Reagan/Thatcher, because they have possessed the most powerful narratives, centred around ideas of opportunity and choice. The broad school of Leftists don’t have a coherent narrative. The class-war radicals have their own class war mythology, the liberals have their own human/istic rights story, etc. You think the Right outnumber us? THEY DO NOT. They have a better brand, to cite a very successful neoliberal metaphor/narrative. We will NEVER defeat the Right without a unifying political narrative. Now climb out of your sectarian wookey holes and find a common story to tell so people can unite and defeat this government, before the poor and vulnerable of this nation are (further) shat upon now and forever more!!!

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