Many Left Unity members will be aware of the woefully apolitical campaign that is currently being conducted against the party’s principle speaker, Bianca Todd. As in the case of Manchester LU comrade Laurie McCauley, who has been suspended from the branch for writing a sharply critical report, the witch-hunters in this instance also pose as victims.
Instrumentally involved in both cases are comrades from the International Socialist Network, a loose post-SWP grouping which has, by and large, adopted the 1980s postmodern theory of ‘intersectionality’. The influence manifests itself in two respects: 1) a move away from the notion of objective scientific truth in favour of countless subjective mini-narratives of oppression, and 2) an uncanny ability to posture as innocent brittle flowers even when acting like a vicious swarming mob.
Paul Demarty is fed up particularly with their anti-socialist politics of individual moral flawlessness. In his latest article for the Weekly Worker, he argues that our movement needs “honest polemics, not background checks”:
When comrade Bianca Todd posted the article in an unofficial Left Unity group on Facebook, all hell broke loose: the entry soon evolved into a mega-thread that, once again, brought to the fore the peculiar guilt-trip politics of the S̶p̶a̶n̶i̶s̶h̶ ̶I̶n̶q̶u̶i̶s̶i̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ ISN. On the upside, even some of those normally ill-disposed towards the Weekly Worker identified a lot of truth in comrade Demarty’s words.
After a brief intervention from comrade Felicity Dowling, who ominously invoked her draft ‘safer spaces’ document, the thread mysteriously disappeared. Luckily, we managed to preserve it for posterity, bar the last three or four posts – please find it here for reference:
Shortly after, Left Unity saw at least one resignation from comrade Pony Mayonnaise, which was swiftly deleted by a moderator.
The trained eye will detect the typical tactics of intersectional-feminist warfare: opinions that one finds annoying become “bullying”. Speaking becomes silencing. People of different sexes pouncing on the lone Bianca Todd like a pack of hyaenas become victims of “men”. And so on.
We hear that the charge of transphobia was sparked by ugly scenes in the LU women’s caucus. Hence, there is good reason to suspect that the issue is linked to TERF wars – i.e. just the kind of competition between special oppressions that fragmented the New Left in the 1970s. As Mike Macnair warns us, it will once again become destructive if a ‘safer spaces’ policy is implemented. Fortunately, the suggestion that Left Unity as a whole – or even a considerable section of its membership – is hostile towards transgender people is manifestly absurd.
Where there is chaos, some will be calling for law and order: the Bianca Todd vs ISN affair has alerted those of a conspiratorial mindset, and, once again, the language of McCarthyism emanates from certain quarters. There is talk of cracking down on tendencies and the freedom of expression and association – i.e. precisely the democratic principles that could distinguish Left Unity from sub-Stalinist cults such as the SWP. Hopefully, the LU leadership will resist any such temptations. The question, “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party” – or ISN, for that matter – is not one we ever want to be asked in a left organisation.