Sunday 29 January 2012

Resolution of 2012 conference of Socialist Worker

The defining event of our times is world capitalism’s historic slide towards collapse under the chaotic, intersecting and escalating pressures of five terminal crises:

• profitability,
• ecology,
• resources,
• imperial leadership,
• legitimacy.

This is the context for this resolution of Socialist Worker’s 2012 conference:

1. Push forward focused outreach work on global capitalist collapse, including the formation of a broad left Forum composed of people who see system collapse looming, leaving room for a range of views on how that might express itself.

2. Help consolidate an eco-socialist network open to a variety of issues and campaigns important to the 99%.

3. Wind up Socialist Worker:

• (a) in favour of members getting involved in the above two strands of activity, as well as interfacing with other leftists in unions, campaigns, iwi, Labour, Greens, Mana, Maori Party and so on,

• (b) with all members encouraged to financially support either or both the capitalist collapse Forum and the eco-socialist network.

4. The Socialist Centre in Onehunga, Auckland to be renamed the eco-socialist centre, which will:

• (a) host the capitalist collapse Forum and the eco-socialist network, and

• (b) house a good portion of the books of the Red Kiwi Library for the use of the capitalist collapse Forum and the eco-socialist network, and

• (c) require funding from friends of the eco-socialist centre to maintain this important resource of the left.

Co-moved by Grant Brookes, David C and Grant Morgan.
Passed with 2 abstentions.


Daphne said...

Congratulations to all comrades involved in drafting this resolution. I'm sorry I had to leave conference early because I would have heartily voted for this. Looking forward so much to carrying on this important political work.

Anonymous said...

The Echo Socialists bid farewell to the working class.

Daphne Lawless said...

I wish we were nearly as staunch as the Redline crew, who stick solidly to their proletarian following by, er, posting on a blog about how much the Labour Party sucks.

Dave Riley said...

To say the least, it's an interesting move. I suspect that given the context of contemporary NZ politics and the state of revolutionary forces it makes a lot of sense.

Good luck. Good will and all that.

Allan Ashby said...

I feel sorry for all of you and to all others that have worked so hard over the years that it has come to this.

It does beg the question "Whatever has happened to the vanguard party of the working class"?

Good luck in whatever you all choose to do.

Daphne said...

The answer to your question, Alan, is that if you do exactly the same thing for 50 years and it doesn't work, best to do something different. It's certainly better than the political equivalent of the "sunk costs" fallacy - the idea that you have to keep doing whatever you've been doing because doing otherwise would be an admission of failure.

Our hard work has paid off in experience and (hopefully) will contribute to continuing to be able to work hard, and well, in future.

Anonymous said...

Eat organically flower children.

Joe Kelly said...

I think this is nothing less than betrayal of the generations of comrades who have worked for revolutionary socialism in New Zealand. I am really sad Socialist Worker has come to this, and really glad I left when I did. I didn't think the few people left in in the organisation could become any less relevant to the working class in New Zealand; I have been proven wrong.

Daphne said...

The argument that the working class are disinterested in ecological issues strikes me as particularly dumb. I guess people who say that have never talked to the Tuvaluan unionists whose homeland will be underwater in 20 years time.

And I can't understand the people who didn't like the political direction SW took screaming about how winding up makes things worse. The idea that continuing with an incorrect politics because "generations of revolutionaries" did so before us is not Marxism, it's ancestor worship.

Anonymous said...

Settle down Daphne, no one's screaming.

Or ancestor worshiping. There is such a thing as respecting the shoulders we can see further from , if that is our wont.

Grant said...

Oh, Joe! Try sucking on fewer lemons, will ya?

I know that you stormed out of Socialist Worker in a rage quite a few times, but you were never really in it, were you?

FWIW, I am glad I left the organisation when I did, too... at the conference which passed the motion I co-moved to wind it all up. Now I can get on with the job of "*not* betraying the generations of comrades who came before".

Which I find I have to do quite a bit, as union members contact me out of the blue, over this, or that. Occasionally, they even vote for me, then listen to what I have to say, in my representative capacity.

It's all a lot of work - this not betraying of past comrades. I could actually use a bit of help.

What are you doing with your time these days, Mr Kelly?

Anonymous said...

Well that's an interesting set of assertions.

To storm out of a political party "quite a few times" suggests a rather low entrance threshold for the collective.

The "lemon theory" is another new twist. I know materialism is all the thing with you chaps, but this quantity into quality one lemon too many is enough to give one the pip.

It's nice that union members give Grant the time of day though and now they will not be distressed by him pointing out that union politics is bourgeois politics.

Anonymous said...

Grant, what did you have to actually do to be "really in" Socialist Worker?

Did Joe not get the secret handshake right?

Grant said...

Ah, Anonymous. I've met you so many times on the net... rarely have I found you as well-informed (or as worth interacting with) as your individually-named peers. And so it proves once more...

I've talked a lot about unions over the years. Much of it published on the internet. Never once in my 20-odd years of activism have I described union politics as bourgeois politics. See for yourself - try Googling "Grant Brookes" "trade union", then Google "Grant Brookes" "trade union" "bourgeois politics".

And for historical interest, the conditions of membership for Socialist Worker were published in each publication put out by our organisation. The final version (adopted at 2007 national conference) said: "A member is an individual who accepts Socialist Worker’s constitution,
agrees with our Marxist politics, pays dues and actively supports the
collective and its publications." (The Constitution and "Where we stand" on Marxist politics were also in each publication).

Secret handshakes were optional.

Grant said...

P.S. Anyone who wants to post any more ill-informed anonymous comments should get in quick. The resolution to wind up Socialist Worker, passed at our 2012 national conference, will also see this blog archived soon.

Daphne said...

I miss the secret handshakes and the top-secret chocolate fondue ritual you had to endure to be a 100% Real Honest-to-Karl member of Socialist Worker. Ultimate, the high price of chocolate is what has led to this need for organisation rearrangement.

But totally seriously... I remember being told in 2004 that when we changed the name of our journal it meant that we were rejecting Marxism and giving up on the working class and "snuffing out our socialist flame". So logically we can't be doing all that AGAIN in 2012, can we?

I'm still a Marxist, as is Grant (I believe).

Anonymous said...

A sad end.

A bit of courtesy to Joe would not have gone amiss.

Ok, so wind up your blog.

Daphne said...

I just have to say it again. Why is it a "sad end" when you never liked our politics to begin with? Shouldn't you be applauding?

Grant said...

Mister anonymous may have made a typo, 'cos it's not even an end. Rather, those like him who disliked our broad Marxism all along can now lament "sad new beginnings".

Joe Kelly said...

Grant, I never stormed out of Socialist Worker in a rage. Why would you say that? It's simply incorrect, and makes me wonder who has been sucking on lemons. When I emailed the central committee early last year to explain why I was not renewing my membership I was very critical, but not angry. I still think my reasons were leaving were relevant, and, well, reasoned. I still think some sort of response, even a thank you, would have been appropriate.

To say I was never really 'in it' is also nasty. I was a financial member for several years (I think between 1999 and 2001?). I was also a financial member again between 2006 and 2008 (I think). During those periods I was active as anyone in the organisation in Wellington, as you should know, and Gordon or Don could attest.

I've never criticised your work as a trade unionist Grant. Good on you. I may bump into you in that context at some point.

Daphne, your statement about continuing with incorrect politics is the heart of where I disagree with you. I don't believe those politics were incorrect at all. I believe that SW's strategy, as charted by Grant Morgan, which I will sum up as 'look for the best left-liberal organisation to fold into'as totally incorrect. If that's the future of socialism (and it isn't, thankfully) I'll see you all at the Green/Labour party conferences next year.

Bronwen Beechey said...

Hang on, how come I never got the chocolate fondue treatment?

Seriously, the comments from Joe and Mr/Ms Anonymous demonstrate to me the correctness of our decision. If being "revolutionary" means slagging off anyone who disagrees with our particular "line", then in the words of John Lennon, count me out. I want to engage in constructive action with the broadest range of people possible who want to stop the descent of our society into social and environemental barbarism, not waste time arguing with people whose idea of political activism is making snide remarks on blogs which most of them don't even have the guts to put their name to.

David said...

The winding up of SW has certainly been an emotional event for all concerned, and fair enough, all of us present at the conference (and many who weren’t there) put years of our lives into building the organisation. However, the main emotion I felt was not sadness. Although my ideal scenario would have been the evolution of SW into the “new kind of organisation” I argued for in my pre-conference contribution, I’m happy with the outcome.

I can understand the expressions of sadness from some of the commentators here, and also some of the irritated responses. I don’t agree with those who see this outcome as a “betrayal” of the working class, of Marxism or of the socialists who came before us. I don’t see it as a mistake, although, of course, I think SW (like every individual and organisation) has made plenty of those over the last few years.

Adaptation, adjustment, radical rethinks and breaks with tradition have always been part of Marxist practice. Socialist Worker itself came into being as a result of a radical rethink on the part of the Communist Party, which some condemned as a betrayal.

Nevertheless I can understand why some people (and not just those who have long been hostile to SW) can only see the end of SW in a negative light.

The last few years have seen some major changes in SW’s assessment of what is happening in the world and how Marxist activists should best respond to this. Often our practical conclusions called into question long-held theoretical assumptions.

One of the greatest failings of SW was that we didn’t take the necessary time to make theoretical sense of what we were doing, particularly when this diverged from the positions we still formally held. Some of this theorising is contained in the contributions to the pre-confernce discussions published on the blog below. Much much more, I’m sure, is still to come.

That the socialist left and the left more generally in this country and around the world faces some enormous challenges over the coming decades. We will not meet these challenges without a lot of reassessment, new thinking and new ways of organising. The Ecosocialist Network will, I hope, be one forum where this will take place.