Following an incident at the SWP’s Marxism 2010 festival (reported here) Claire Fisher and myself sent a readers’ letter to the SWP paper, Socialist Worker.
We had the faint hope that honesty and solidarity would prevail over apparatchik attitudes and our letter would get printed.
Initially, one Socialist Worker journalist expressed (feigned?) interest in our concern when speaking to an SWP member and friend of mine in private. But he never replied to any of my messages, and our letter remained unpublished. Here it is for your information and enjoyment.
I would like to express my concern about an altercation I had with Socialist Workers Party members at this year’s Marxism. I was distributing flyers for a ‘London Communist Forum’ fringe meeting outside one of the sessions when I was approached by stewards who demanded that I stop handing them out. When I refused, one of the SWP members threatened to “rip my head off” and assured me that he was “not the kind of guy to be messing with” amidst a barrel of abuse and intimidation. The stewards watched on passively.
Even if I was in breach of some rule on leaflet distribution – written or otherwise – then the comrades’ reaction was completely inappropriate and disproportionate. It was hardly as if I was shouting down any of the speakers, disrupting the discussion or posing any sort of security threat to the meeting about to take place.
Indeed, at festivals like Marxism it should be completely natural that groups and individuals will issue their own ideas and publicity for other events. The healthy exchange of ideas and views – free from intimidation and violence – has always been a hallmark of the best parts of our movement. In other words, if you actually do have a rule that restricts people advertising political meetings on the fringe of the main event, it is wrong.
I hope that you will take appropriate action to ensure that such an incident does not occur again. It not only discredits the SWP, but the left as a whole.
With communist greetings