RCP/LM watch

Keeping an eye on the RCP/LM and its fronts

Modern Movement: an insider view

An interesting post [1] has appeared on a blog called Necessary Agitation, which gives an insider’s view of the short life of Modern Movement, which was set up in March 2009 as a direct reaction to the success of the Plane Stupid environmentalist direct action group. MM was at best ‘strongly influenced’ by the RCP/LM, at worst another front, as this blog argued in a previous post. The post on Necessary Action is written by a progressive Marxist who supported, and still supports, cheap flying and the expansion of Heathrow airport,  and not unreasonably joined MM as he shared their ostensible goals.

The article gives a good insight into how the RCP/LM manages its ‘offshoots’, and to why the MM eventually bit the dust. The poster is not unsympathetic to the Institute of Ideas:

Something which can be said of the new generation of recruits clustered around the Institute of Ideas is that they are on the whole more personable and open minded than the old RCP stalwarts. Indeed, the clique that originally banded together to form the majority of Modern Movement’s members were drawn to do so on the basis of their dissatisfaction with the present line of the continuity RCP’s leading lights—Frank Furedi, Claire Fox, etc.—and a desire for a space to stake out their own unique positions on the new issues thrown up by the 2008/09 financial crisis.

Although he does see the RCP as “a group straddling the fine line between a committed cadre and a middle class cult”, you get the feeling that he supports their general attitude. However, it appears that for all the RCP/LM’s trumpeting of “intellectual ambition and curiosity” and “open and robust debate” [2], intellectually speaking they operate on a pretty basic level, and in MM actively sought to lower the level of intellectual debate and suppress dissent. Not long after MM’s formation, according to the poster, it split between a “left” faction which was anti-capitalist and supportive of airline workers, and the dominant “right” faction led by the RCP/LM personalities:

In the short space of a month or two a left and a right faction of MM started to appear. Broadly speaking the rightwing leadership clique were closest to the IoI, most reverent for the traditions of the RCP, dismissive of democracy, and pro-capitalist. Conversely, the leftwing faction were more insistent on marking a break from the old formulas of the RCP, operating in a democratic fashion and taking an openly anti-capitalist line.

This split eventually brought about the movement’s dissolution:

Members of the right started to flake away, leaving the rightist leadership clique increasingly isolated. And then, suddenly, they just quit. With the scales having tilted decidedly in favour of the left the democratic decision to take an anti-capitalist message to the G20 was too much for the leadership to stomach.

The impression given fits in with other anecdotal reports of groups and events organised by the RCP/LM: that the sect tightly controls debate, is undemocratic, and is controlled by a cabal of senior figures going back to the RCP days. “Open debate” is not a feature of RCP/LM groups and events, for all Claire “Her Master’s Voice” Fox’s combative rhetoric on the Moral Maze and Question Time.

The closing paragraph of the post is telling and damning:

And so in a microcosm there you have a demonstration of the kind of shenanigans favoured by the post RCP. Secrecy, an aggressive ‘Leninism’ based on no respect for democracy, a tight control over ‘the message’, often at odds with the real aims. It could be added that the IoI itself reflects all these tendencies. Essentially a fringe political party in all but name, but lacking even the faintest trace of internal democracy, debate over fundamental principles or tolerance of dissent from Frank Furedi’s ideology. Evasiveness over core ideology is even promoted amongst new recruits; and as such, for all the endless show debates put on by the organization, there is next to no theoretical exposition or discussion of their central beliefs. The ‘line’ spread both inside and outside is that there is ‘no line’ and, as O’Brien tells Winston in Orwell’s 1984, 2 + 2 does equal 5.

[1] “Inside Modern Movement: the anatomy of the continuity Revolutionary Communist Party“, Necessary Agitation, 4/8/10

[2] Institute of Ideas website home page, accessed 6/8/10


August 6, 2010 - Posted by | RCP/LM, RCP/LM fronts | , , , , , ,


  1. The RCP/LM lot are contrarians. If you find something to agree with, they will disagree with it as a matter of principle. Their position on apartheid era South Africa during the 1980’s is a prime example of their contrarian attitude. On that issue they were closer to Thatcher than the left.

    Comment by buddyhell | August 18, 2010 | Reply

  2. How were they closer to Thatcher, exactly? Did Margaret Thatcher support workers’ direct action against the South African regime? (For example, blacking South African imports at the docks.)

    What’s strange is that the mainstream left at the time were calling on Reagan and Thatcher to topple a government they had supported for years. How radical.

    Comment by CH | August 19, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks, CH – you saved me the bother. Meanwhile… “Disagreeing as a matter of principle”, buddyhell? Go join Alice in her adventures in Wonderland.

      Comment by Pod | August 27, 2010 | Reply

      • Did I touch a raw nerve?

        Comment by buddyhell | August 30, 2012

    • Don’t make me laugh, son. The RCP characterised the anti-apartheid campaigners as “bourgeois”, which is rich coming from designer-label wearing bourgeois contrarians. The RCP never had time for the working class, so don’t pretend that you did.

      Comment by buddyhell | August 30, 2012 | Reply

    • What’s strange is that the mainstream left at the time were calling on Reagan and Thatcher to topple a government they had supported for years. How radical.

      That’s a strange comment. You’re saying that the “mainstream left” “had supported” the apartheid regime for years. How do you figure that?

      Comment by rcpwatch | September 13, 2012 | Reply

  3. You saddo: No wonder you hide your intellectual light in a lonely corner of the internet like this – you can’t even keep a coherent argument going through a single blog post!

    So the RCP conspirators are evil Leninists who undemocratically keep tight discipline and stifle debate?

    And – at the very same time – the Modern Movement, er, splintered into different ideological factions?

    Was that all part of the evil Leninist master plan too?

    Your problem with these people is clearly that they have political views and work hard to try to spread them.

    You probably have no real political views of your own to be proud of, so you snipe at other people’s efforts instead.

    And I don’t even agree with the RCP/LM/Spiked whatever on a load of policies and practices! But I’ve got better stuff to be getting on with than spending my life blogging about them…

    Comment by RCP Conspirator | November 23, 2010 | Reply

    • Desperate stuff “RCP Conspirator”.

      “And I don’t even agree with the RCP/LM/Spiked whatever on a load of policies and practices! But I’ve got better stuff to be getting on with than spending my life blogging about them…”

      Oh? Then why are you here defending them?

      Comment by buddyhell | August 30, 2012 | Reply

      • It’s pretty hysterical stuff from the sect follower, right enough, but such purple prose has always been standard practice of RCP members/supporters/fans. The tactic is to dish out wild ad hominem insults such that the original poster spends ages refuting them and the focus is shifted from the organisation. One minute writing insults can result in many hours wasted by the insulted defending him/herself, so it’s a good investment if the insulted allows herself to be wound up. There are countless examples of this in the sect’s Usenet and LM Forum days, and the practice persists – see the vitriolic personal abuse that the RCP/LM’s TV golden boy, Martin Durkin, dished out to his critics. Another tactic is to put words into other people’s mouths, and RCP Conspirator is at that all right.

        The sect has been Leninist in its organisation from the word go, as was the case with pretty much all Trot sects in the day. This organisation certainly persisted up until the demise of LM, and likely persists now though direct evidence is hard to obtain now that sect followers no longer engage with online fora. Only personal accounts such as that quoted in the blog post give insights into current sect organisation. Indirectly, the fact that Big Cheeses like Brendan “Rotweiler” O’Neill, Kenan Malik, and Clare “Her Master’s Voice” Fox all speak with one voice and clearly cleave to a party line indicates that there’s a high degree of internal discipline. It’s rare indeed to read any sect follower go ‘off-message’ on any of the many front organisation websites, or on the broadcast media and in the written Press.

        This Leninist mode of organisation may well be the sect’s eventual downfall, as it’s a 19th-Century model of organisation suited to clandestine revolutionary movements which is essentially inflexible and unresponsive to the rapid change and unhierarchical decision-making that characterises modern political movements.

        Comment by rcpwatch | September 13, 2012

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