26 December 2010


Socialist Workers' Party ideological chief Alex Callinicos has responded to Laurie Penny on the student movement on the Guardian's Comment is Free website.

Surprise, surprise, he argues that Penny's rejection of Leninist "leadership" of the student movement is naive. She hasn't realised, apparently, that students need the power of the working class to achieve their ends. It might or might not be true that she hasn't realised – I think it's not – but:
  • Since when has the SWP provided an effective means for anyone to forge links with the organised working class?
  • Why are Callinicos and the SWP – or any other self-appointed Leninist experts or leaders – any better placed than informed independent-minded students to make decisions about the future direction of the student movement?
The condescension is laughable. As Linton Kwesi Johnson put it so perfectly in "Independent Intervenshan" on Dread Beat An' Blood back in 1978:
What a cheek, them think we meek
That we can’t speak up for ourself ...
The SWP can’t set we free
The IMG can’t do it for we
The Communist Party, true dem too arty farty ...
In short, Leninism is, as ever, part of the problem, not part of the solution. Do it yourselves: you don't need leaders. And you don't need me to tell you ...

  • Laurie Penny has responded to Alex Callinicos on her New Statesman blog here.
  • ... and Callinicos has replied on his Facebook page here.

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