Socialist Studies (1989)

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Socialist Studies
Founded 1989
Split from Socialist Party of Great Britain
Website
http://www.socialiststudies.org.uk/

Socialist Studies is the name of a quarterly Marxist periodical and of the group which publishes it. The group was founded in 1991 by sixteen expelled members of the Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB) who claim that their expulsions were the result of an anti-socialist conspiracy. Though small the group has remained an active and vocal critic of the SPGB since its inception.

The publication[edit]

Socialist Studies
Socialist Studies № 1.png
Cover of Socialist Studies № 1
Type

Quarterly periodical

format = A5
Owner(s) Socialist Studies
Publisher Socialist Studies
Editor Richard Lloyd
Founded 1989
Political alignment socialist
Language English
Headquarters London
Circulation < 100
Official website socialiststudies.org.uk

Socialist Studies was first published in 1989 by the Camden and North West London branches of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, though since issue № 3 (1991) it has been published by an independent organisation (see History and activity below).

The early issues consisted primarily of material reprinted from the works of Karl Marx and the Socialist Standard, though the paper now consists of original material. The format has remained the same for the past fifteen years: three to twelve A4 sheets of single-column word-processed text, photocopied and folded to produce an A5 booklet. The publication is text-only, with no graphics or photographs; none of the articles have a byline, and until № 35 (Spring 2000), none of the issues were dated. It is sold in small numbers by mail order and at Socialist Studies propaganda meetings.

The group[edit]

The history of the group now known as Socialist Studies dates to 1991, when the Camden and North West London branches were expelled from the Socialist Party of Great Britain in a party-wide referendum. Some of these ex-members, comprising sixteen individuals, refused to recognise the expulsions and attempted to continue operating as the Socialist Party of Great Britain, which they claimed to have "reconstituted".[1][2] As the original Socialist Party of Great Britain had never been dissolved, and indeed continued to operate following the expulsions, it successfully mounted various legal challenges against Socialist Studies's use of the SPGB name.[3][4][5] Because of this, and to differentiate itself from the original SPGB, the group has variously referred to itself in its publicity material as the Reconstituted Socialist Party of Great Britain, the New Socialist Party of Great Britain, and Socialist Studies. Third parties refer to them as the Socialist Studies group.[6][7][8]

The group's activity consists primarily of publishing Socialist Studies and various pamphlets, and holding occasional propaganda meetings. Socialist Studies was not a registered political party until December 2006, when they registered with the Electoral Commission as Socialist Studies Party (1904).[9][10] As of 2013, though, they have never contested a local, national, or EU election.

Differences with the Socialist Party of Great Britain[edit]

Socialist Studies adopted the object and principles of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, and thus claims to hold that party's general ideology and stance on most social, economic, and political issues. However, there are several ideological and practical differences between Socialist Studies and the Socialist Party of Great Britain, most of which arise from the former's narrower interpretation of the object and principles and its views on how strictly these interpretations must be adhered to. For the matters discussed in this section, Socialist Studies generally adopts the position that anyone who does not hold their interpretation cannot be regarded as a true socialist. On the other hand, the Socialist Party of Great Britain holds that at least some of the following issues are ones upon which genuine socialists may disagree with each other; disagreement with the majority position does not automatically disqualify one from being a socialist or from membership in the Party.[11] Socialist Studies's less accommodating stance has been labelled "doctrinaire", a characterisation which they categorically reject.[12]

Political franchise[edit]

The principal ideological disagreement Socialist Studies has with the Socialist Party of Great Britain is its attitude towards attempts by workers living under political dictatorships to establish elementary democratic and trade union rights, especially in Eastern Europe in the 1980s and early 1990s.[13][14][15]

The stance of the SPGB since 1939 is summarised by the following 1990 party conference resolution:

This Conference re-affirms the stand taken in the September [actually October] 1939 Socialist Standard and repeated in the September 1989 Socialist Standard, that the Socialist Party of Great Britain wholeheartedly supports the efforts of workers everywhere to secure democratic rights against the powers of suppression. Whilst we avoid any association with parties or political groups seeking to administer capitalism, we emphasise that freedom of movement and expression, the freedom to organise in trade unions, to organise politically, and to participate in elections, are of great importance to all workers and are vital to the success of the socialist movement.[16]

Socialist Studies, on the other hand, regards the struggle by workers living under a dictatorship to establish some measure of political democracy as a reformist struggle which socialists should oppose. They believe that the difference between democratic capitalist governments and dictatorial capitalist governments is of no significance to workers, that political democracy is not essential for the propagation of socialist ideas, and that workers in dictatorships should not directly confront the forces of suppression. Instead, Socialist Studies believes that they must be "hostile to such movements for democracy and to call on workers to form instead a socialist political party based on [their] principles".[16][17]

The SPGB does not consider Socialist Studies's position to be incompatible with socialism, but rather simply a different (albeit illogical) interpretation of its principles:

Indifference to moves by workers to try to establish a minimum of political democracy has, once again, been a minority position within the SPGB though not a matter for expulsion. If [a companion party] were to adopt this position, we could live with it and would not consider it a matter for its exclusion from the World Socialist Movement (though we would reserve the right to criticise it as illogical).[11]

Cooperation with capitalist law[edit]

Despite calling for the establishment of socialist political parties, Socialist Studies believes that such parties should not engage in political action which requires use of or active cooperation with what they call "capitalist law" or "bourgeois legislation". This arises from their interpretation of Clause 8 of their Declaration of Principles. That clause states that "Socialist Studies… enters the field of political action";[18] the group interprets this as specifically excluding "legal or moral action" and as "overrid[ing] any other consideration".[19] In light of this, they accuse the Socialist Party of Great Britain of being capitalist collaborators for having registered with the Electoral Commission, which is a legal requirement to contest elections in the UK.[19] Nonetheless, members of the group had previously registered as candidates for parliamentary and council elections when they were members of the SPGB,[20][21] and the group itself eventually registered with the Electoral Commission.[10] Also, the group as a whole has occasionally appealed to the state's legal institutions, such as their 1994 lawsuit against the Britannia Building Society.[4] They have also accused others of "criminal libel"[22] and have repeatedly indicated that it is prepared to sue if necessary.[3]

Party name[edit]

The Socialist Party of Great Britain had been using the short form of its name, "The Socialist Party", for publicity purposes as far back as 1910.[23] In 1988, the party passed a resolution at its annual conference indicating when to use the full-form and short-form names: the full-form name was to be retained as the official name for use on legal documents and publication credits, and the short form was to be used for most other purposes, including election ballots and propaganda.[24] (This is analogous to how the Conservative and Unionist Party publicises itself as "The Conservative Party".) The resolution was made partly to codify an existing practice, and partly to avoid what some members considered the nationalistic connotation of "Great Britain".

Socialist Studies interprets the 1988 resolution as having completely changed the party's name and proscribing the use of the full form.[1][22][25] They see this resolution as conflicting with the party's Declaration of Principles, one clause of which mentions the party's full name explicitly. It is largely on this basis that they justified their continued operation as the Socialist Party of Great Britain: they claim that they were expelled from "The Socialist Party", not "The Socialist Party of Great Britain".[12][19] They also claim that they are entitled to use the name because the original Socialist Party of Great Britain no longer exists:

The Socialist Party of Great Britain of 52 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7UN, is defunct and no longer exists as a political party. It does not produce political literature, hold propaganda meetings or contest elections. It cannot exist merely as a name without a body… We are the only political organisation in this country bearing the title 'The Socialist Party of Great Britain'.[3]

Reformism[edit]

The SPGB has a longstanding position that it is "opposed to a reform programme and to reformist organisations, but not opposed to reforms as such"[13]—that is, the party does not campaign for reforms itself, since its sole object is the establishment of socialism, but is not opposed to reforms passed by the government when they are clearly in the interests of the working class. The Socialist Studies group disagrees with this position, explicitly stating that socialist MPs in parliament should vote against reform measures even when they are in the interests of the working class.[26]

The SPGB considers Socialist Studies's position on how socialist MPs should vote to be "a legitimate position for a socialist to hold, even though it is not the one that, as a matter of historical fact, has been adopted by the SPGB", and "do[es] not regard it as a matter for serious dispute".[11]

Abolition of the state[edit]

Socialist Studies accuses the SPGB of coming under the influence of anarchist ideas and not sufficiently emphasising the parliamentary aspect of the socialist revolution. Socialist Studies claims that the SPGB's position is that the state would be abolished immediately upon the overthrow of class society, whereas Socialist Studies's position is that the state would "gradually wither away" instead.[27][28] Referring to the SPGB's 1984 Conference resolution (since rescinded[citation needed]) that "Socialism will entail the immediate abolition of and not the gradual decline of the State", Socialist Studies writes,

If you are in favour of the immediate abolition of the State when Socialism is established then you are in favour of its immediate abolition here and now, which is of course the anarchist position… Unless Socialists use the power of the machinery of government to dispossess the capitalist class they will be unable to establish Socialism. We find it inconceivable that intelligent Socialists of a future generation would even consider such an act of monumental stupidity.[29]

A page from The Clapham-based Socialist Party – Just Another Capitalist Party, one of dozens of Socialist Studies publications attacking the Socialist Party of Great Britain.

Relations with the Socialist Party of Great Britain[edit]

Much of the material published by Socialist Studies is highly critical, and often outright contemptuous, of the Socialist Party of Great Britain, which it refers to as the "Clapham-based Socialist Party" or the "Socialist Party of Clapham". The group variously claims that the SPGB is anarchist,[1][12] reformist,[12] capitalist,[12][19] fascist,[30] Stalinist,[31] Trotskyist,[31] undemocratic,[12] and democracy fetishist.[12] According to Socialist Studies, the Socialist Party of Great Britain colludes with the Electoral Commission to "prevent Socialists [from] carrying out political propaganda on the web", and does this because its own propaganda is not being read as widely as that of Socialist Studies.[19] Socialist Studies also claims that the SPGB has a secret de facto leadership of "godfathers",[31] who conspire to suppress socialist ideas and to destroy Socialist Studies.[19][25]

Socialist Studies has repeatedly called on the SPGB to respond to some of these accusations and to engage in debates on their ideological differences. However, as these calls were made at the time Socialist Studies was still claiming to be the Socialist Party of Great Britain, the SPGB refused to recognise their legitimacy.[22] The only official published comment the SPGB has made on the Socialist Studies group has been in an article devoted to the history of breakaway groups in the centenary issue of the Socialist Standard, which described them as "a small group of rather disgruntled ex-members".[7]

Publications[edit]

  • Socialist Studies 1 (1989) to 84 (2012)
  • 1904-2004 A Century of Political Struggle (2004)
  • War and Capitalism (1996, 2000, 2005)
  • Materialist Conception of History (1995)
  • Impossibility of Anarchism[when?]
  • New Labour, A Party of Capitalism (2000, 2005)
  • Capitalism causes War and Terrorism (2002, 2005)
  • Socialism versus Religion, War and Capitalism (2007)
  • Socialist Policies and Principles: Setting the Record Straight
  • The Communist Manifesto in the 21st Century
  • Marxism in the 21st Century (2010)
  • Barriers to Socialism
  • The Capitalist Class and the Ruling Class
  • The Reality of Chinese Capitalism

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Reconstituted Socialist Party of Great Britain. Socialist Studies [then publishing as "The Socialist Party of Great Britain"]. 11 June 1991. 
  2. ^ According to a Socialist Studies retrospective article ("The Reconstituted SPGB: A Historical Document". Socialist Studies (Socialist Studies [then publishing as "The Socialist Party of Great Britain"]) (40). Summer 2001. ), the sixteen founder members were J Bell, O Blomley, J D'Arcy, E Hardy, G Howlett, L Lestor, L Frank, A D'Arcy, T D'Arcy, D Davies, M Davies, K Knight, R Lloyd, C May, G Wilson, and H Young.
  3. ^ a b c "The Socialist Party's Fraudulent Claims". Socialist Studies (Socialist Studies [then publishing as "The Socialist Party of Great Britain"]) (13). 1994. 
  4. ^ a b The Socialist Party of Great Britain v Britannia Building Society (1993, Edmonton County Court case № ED400825)
  5. ^ The Socialist Party of Great Britain (14 October 2006). "Report to the 2006 Annual Delegate Meeting on Actions Taken Pursuant to the 1995 Conference Resolution Concerning the Protection of the Party's Identity and Funds". Proceedings of the 2006 Annual Delegate Meeting of the Socialist Party. London: The Socialist Party of Great Britain. pp. 13–23. 
  6. ^ Percy, John (June 2004). "The Ukraine scam, internationals and internationalism" (– Scholar search). Links (New Course Publications) (25). [dead link]
  7. ^ a b DAP (June 2004). "Getting Splinters". Socialist Standard (Socialist Party of Great Britain) 100 (1198): 38–41. ISSN 0037-8259. 
  8. ^ "What is the SPGB? (Part 4): 1945–2004". World Revolution (International Communist Current) (276). July 2004. 
  9. ^ Prince, Rosa (2007-04-23). "X factor: Forget the big three… Here are the others after your votes". Daily Mirror. 
  10. ^ a b "Socialist Studies Party (1904)". Register of Political Parties. The Electoral Commission. 2006. Retrieved 2007-04-25. 
  11. ^ a b c Executive Committee, The Socialist Party of Great Britain (3 May 2003). Reply to the World Socialist Party (India)'s Ninth Annual Conference Critique of the Socialist Party of Great Britain 1991 Expulsion/Reconstitution Events. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Democracy and Principle". Socialist Studies (Socialist Studies [then publishing as "The Socialist Party of Great Britain"]) (51). Spring 2003. 
  13. ^ a b Executive Committee, The Socialist Party of Great Britain (6 August 1991). "Annexe: The Political Differences Between Camden & North West London Branches and the Executive Committee". Minutes of the 20th Meeting of the 88th Executive Committee Held at Head Office on Tuesday 6 August 1991. 
  14. ^ Untitled circular. Socialist Party of Great Britain, Camden and North West London Branches. 18 February 1982. 
  15. ^ About the Polish Political Organisation, Solidarity. Socialist Party of Great Britain, Camden and North West London Branches. 15 September 1990. 
  16. ^ a b Socialist Party of Great Britain (1990). Proceedings of the 1990 Conference of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. 
  17. ^ Misleading the Workers in Eastern Europe. Socialist Party of Great Britain, Camden Branch. November 1990. 
  18. ^ "Object and Declaration of Principles". Socialist Studies website. Socialist Studies. 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-14. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f The Clapham-based Socialist Party – Just Another Capitalist Party. Socialist Studies [then publishing as "The Socialist Party of Great Britain"]. 1 August 2006. 
  20. ^ "Greater London Council Election Results: Lambeth". United Kingdom Election Results. David Boothroyd. 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-09.  (Relevant candidates are H. Baldwin, M. Sansum, and H. Young.)
  21. ^ "Greater London Council Election Results: Cities of London and Westminster". United Kingdom Election Results. David Boothroyd. 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-09.  (Relevant candidate is J D'Arcy.)
  22. ^ a b c "Revolutionary Litigants?". Socialist Studies (Socialist Studies [then publishing as "The Socialist Party of Great Britain"]) (8): 6. 1993. 
  23. ^ "General Election – Manifesto of the Socialist Party". Socialist Standard (Socialist Party of Great Britain) 6 (65). January 1910. ISSN 0037-8259. 
  24. ^ Socialist Party of Great Britain (1988). Proceedings of the 1988 Conference of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. 
  25. ^ a b Socialist Principles Explained. Socialist Studies [then publishing as "The Socialist Party of Great Britain"]. 1993. 
  26. ^ "The Socialist Position on Reforms". Socialist Studies (Socialist Studies [then publishing as "The Socialist Party of Great Britain"]) (43): 15–17. Spring 2002. 
  27. ^ Hardcastle, Edgar (1995). Withering Away of the State. Socialist Studies [then publishing as "The Socialist Party of Great Britain"]. 
  28. ^ Socialism & The State – Why Buick is Wrong. Socialist Studies [then publishing as "The Socialist Party of Great Britain"]. October 1991. 
  29. ^ "Clapham and the Immediate Abolition of the State". Socialist Studies (Socialist Studies [then publishing as "The Socialist Party of Great Britain"]) (28): 20–23. 1998. 
  30. ^ "The Bourgeois Revolutionaries with the Judas Touch". Socialist Studies (Socialist Studies [then publishing as "The Socialist Party of Great Britain"]) (14): 5–11. 1994(?). 
  31. ^ a b c "Desperate Spoiling Tactics". Socialist Studies (Socialist Studies [then publishing as "The Socialist Party of Great Britain"]) (60). Summer 2006. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]