Sectarianism: A Guide for New Users

4 January 2011


In these days of collective anti-cuts action, we on the anti-capitalist left welcome alliances with our comrades from the liberal intelligentsia. Unfortunately, it appears some of these new, keen Twitter activistas haven’t quite understood the concept of sectarianism.

Never fear! This handy bookmark-and-keep guide will set you on the path to becoming a truly effective purveyor of quality sectarianism, keeping the left small and the goals unwon since time immemorial.

1. Keep It Personal
When dealing with people from within the movement you don’t agree with, don’t fall into the trap of critiquing their politics. Throw around insults instead. Sunny Hundal shows the way admirably with this ‘idiots’ jibe. Well done.

2. You Say Debate, We Say In-Fight (let’s call the whole thing off?)
Guaranteed to derail any serious internal debate, the true sectarian often turns to accusations of in-fighting in response to criticism. You can of course have your say about what’s wrong with the movement, but be quick to accuse anyone else’s ideas as pointless lefty bickering. Splitters! See here for a particularly subtle example.

3. Play the Trot Card
No one likes Trots, right? Anarchists remember Kronstadt, liberals remember… well, every time they’ve been exposed as not-so-left by a head-banging communist with those terrifying class politics. So why not discredit your dissenting activist chums entirely by slapping the Trot label on them? Wield those icepicks comrades! See a storming example here.
(N.B. Some strange people may be proud of this label, but never fear, it’ll have the correct effect on your followers).

4. When In Doubt, Purge
When all attempts have failed to convince others that people you don’t like should be shunned, you need to take a leaf out of the Uncle Joe Book of Political Organising. Draw a nice ring around the movement that only includes people you agree with entirely. Those nasty troublemakers, they’re not with us! Purge them from your anti-cuts groups forthwith! As seen in classic format from Emily Davis here. Top marks.

5. In Soviet Russia Sectarian Is You!
This final tactic is to be used with caution – after all, you wouldn’t want to be accused of just making definitions up, like some weird post-modernist. But when really threatened with having to engage in intra-movement debate, why not try being sectarian by accusing your opponents of sectarianism. Sneaky. There’s no need to understand or respond to the arguments of those nasty splitters – just recategorise whatever line they’re arguing as a sectarian attack and you’re home and dry. A bit like this.

This post was brought to you by the People’s Commissariat for the Correct Use of Already Long-Defined Political Terms. Please ask your friendly local Trotskyist for more information. And remember kids: a united anti-cuts movement is an ever-present threat. Be vigilant at all times, stay indoors and check Twitter for updates.