The Paradoxes of Tony Cliff, 1917-2000: A Critical Memoir

Published on: Sat, 01/12/2007 - 09:22

Sean Matgamna

"The miners' strike is an extreme example of what we in the Socialist Workers Party have called the 'downturn' in the movement."

Tony Cliff, Socialist Worker, 14th April 1984

"Sammy lugged his papers up and down Fourteenth Street yelling about a war in Europe. He used to come home with a hoarse throat and 30 or 40 cents in pennies.
He would count the money and say, 'God dammit, I'm yellin' my brains out for
"Several weeks later Sammy came in with a dollar seventy-eight. Papa, Momma and
Israel danced around him. "'Sammy, you sold out all the papers?' said Papa in

AWL versus SWP

Published on: Fri, 11/11/2005 - 22:55

Material for an AWL day school, November/ December 2005, and other stuff on the political differences between AWL and SWP.

Download all the stuff for the dayschool as pdf (570 Kb), or read individual items below.

"AWL vs SWP" day school, November/ December 2005

Discussion points for the day school

1. Transitional programme vs fake ultra-leftism

Socialism after Stalinism, by Sean Matgamna, from How Solidarity Can Change The World

The SWP and its "March on Parliament", by Sean Matgamna, from Socialist Organiser 591, 03/03/94

2. Marxism vs "Apparatus Marxism"

The Degradations of Apparatus

Israel, 1948 and the truth

Published on: Wed, 26/02/2020 - 10:27

Martin Thomas

Socialist Worker has denounced all the Labour leader candidates over their agreement that it is antisemitic to describe the very existence of Israel (as distinct from particular policies) as racist.

This means, says SW, “to deny Palestinians the right to describe their oppression by Israel, or to explain their own history. Some 850,000 Palestinians were systematically expelled from their homes when Israel was established in 1948 to ensure that Israel has a Jewish majority”.

SW’s answer is somehow to re-run the 1948 war with a reversed outcome, which, they claim, would lead to a harmonious

Three decades of Socialist Worker on antisemitism

Published on: Mon, 27/01/2020 - 21:19

Dale Street

When Sunderland Polytechnic Students Union (SPSU) banned a campus Jewish Society in 1985, Socialist Worker (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party) rallied to its defence.

The SPSU was “quite clearly not racist. … One thing is clear – they are not racists, unlike the Zionists who oppose them.” (SW/928)

Socialist Worker conceded in passing that “it can be argued whether the SPSU was tactically wise to ban the Zionists.” But the ban itself was not criticised. In fact, the paper uncritically quoted the SPSU Treasurer’s rationale for the ban:

“The students union has a policy that Zionism

The left and self-defence

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 12:15

Becky Crocker

On 3 December, walking through Trafalgar Square on my way home from the anti-Trump demonstration, I noticed an SWP stall that had been turned upside down.

Skinheads, police, and SWP members were nearby. The SWP were asking the police. “Aren’t you going to do anything, he just knocked over our stall?” The police looked unsure of what to do.

Three people were jeering and doing Nazi salutes at the SWP. One got close enough to an SWP member and appeared to hit him and kick him to the ground. The police still looked unsure whether to intervene.

Although maybe 50+ years old and a little inebriated,

"Get out of jail free” for bullying bosses?

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 09:07

Patrick Murphy

On 5 December, a slightly revised version of an agreement between the National Education Union (NEU) and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) was put to the NEU National Executive for approval.

That agreement had been used in June, as I’ll describe, to sink an NEU dispute at Harbinger primary school in East London.

Kirstie Paton, one of the four Executive members representing Inner London, where the strike took place, moved an objection to reject the agreement and I seconded it. We reminded the Executive of the Harbinger story and emphasised the flat-out contradiction between the


Published on: Wed, 30/10/2019 - 10:49

Last week, you reported on the Morning Star coming out clearly in support of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.

Events have also pushed Socialist Worker to clarify its stance, in fact to show how bad it is.

For some time now SW’s basic line has been: “Shout about something else loudly enough to drown all thoughts about Brexit”.

SW of 22 October, however, explicitly applauded the victory of the nationalist-minded big union bureaucracies against the left-wing rank and file at Labour conference (Brighton, 22-25 September).

It complained that leading Labour MPs’ speeches on 19 October “flew in the face

Turkish troops out of Syria!

Published on: Wed, 16/10/2019 - 07:21

Pete Boggs

Since the Turkish invasion of Kurdish-controlled northern Syria started on 9 October, over 160,000 civilians have been displaced, with at least fifty civilian deaths already.

The invasion immediately followed the announcement by Donald Trump that US troops would be withdrawn from northern Syria.

Trump’s “America First” policy is confused and totally inconsistent. Attempts by the White House to portray Trump’s move as a step in disengaging the US from overseas conflicts were shown to be a scam when Trump also announced sending 2,000 soldiers to Saudi Arabia in a move against Iran.

The decision

When leftists argue that Labour should have voted with Johnson

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 10:41

Martin Thomas

Since the big vote in Parliament on 3 September, most of the left press has made its chief call for Labour to back Boris Johnson’s call for a super-early snap election.

The arguments, or the arguments on the face of it, are odd, at least.

Labour and the other opposition parties do not want to give Johnson an easy get-out from implementing Parliament’s instructions to avoid a no deal Brexit. They want to “hold his feet to the fire”, as they put it, and make him comply with the law.

They don’t want to give him a chance to call a snap election, date it for after 31 October, and then confront the

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