This poster was plastered on the walls of Manchester University by a group called Communist Students last week, inviting to a “debate and discussion on Stalinism, what it is, and why we oppose it”. What does it say in huge letters? “Stalinism is anti-communism”. A clear enough statement, right?
Or so you would have thought. In a letter to the Weekly Worker, Stuart Randle, a member of the Socialist Workers Party, claims that Communist Students were “uncritically plastering a mass murderer’s face around the university”, which he professes to find “downright offensive”. It stands to reason that the comrade’s cognitive skills are severely impaired. Either that, or he is deliberately lying.
I cannot say much about the other claims Randle makes, but I’m sure Chris Strafford will address them in next week’s edition of the Weekly Worker.
As for my own personal experiences with the SWP, they haven’t been the most postitive so far. No doubt there are many well-meaning, dedicated, and very active comrades in that organisation. Yet at the same time, it is abundantly clear that the SWP leadership hates democracy and open debate like the devil hates the holy water. It’s a pity when younger comrades adopt these attitudes, as evidenced by the fact that the notion of “open debate” seemed to cause such offence to Stuart Randle’s sensibilities that he deemed it worthy of highlighting in his letter.
Randle further complains about Weekly Worker’s publishing an SWP member’s name “without asking his permission”. But the comrade’s name appears on SWP websites many times, e.g. as a writer for Socialist Review. No, it’s not the publication of names that the SWP is really worried about - they just dislike criticism of their politics and activities.
I like how Randle uses a quote by Oscar Wilde that he doesn’t understand (“eyes on the stars…”) at the end of his letter. If my own experience is anything to go by, then the SWP have turned another out-of-context Oscar Wilde quote into their motto: “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.”