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Entryism

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Entryism (or entrism[1]) is a tactic in which the members of an organised group conspire to secretly join a larger organisation en masse, with the intention of changing the targeted organisation's policies or actions.[2]

Entryism provides a means for a small but determined group to leverage their influence onto a larger sphere, by using the entered organisation's resources (e.g. state funding, existing networks of activists, or voter goodwill). Entryism is particularly effective where there is a large but somnolent party with many inactive members who might pay their fees but not do anything else. It is most commonly associated with attempts to move a centre-left party leftwards, or a centre-right party rightwards. But it does not have to focus on a political party, and entryists could target a campaigning organisation, charity, club or society. Perhaps even a wiki.

Fantasies or fears of entryism are as common as actual cases of entryism: it appeals to the conspiracy-minded to imagine a secret organisation lies beneath each overt public body, exactly as Joseph McCarthy talked about secret communist infiltration in every American organisation. Even long-term, comparably successful entryists like Militant in Labour managed only minimal positions of power (Militant took the leadership of one already troubled and radical city, Liverpool). In most cases claims of entryism are a way to slur rivals.

On the left[edit]

Trotskyists[edit]

Leon Trotsky in June 1934 proposed the "French Turn", that his French Marxist supporters should quit their Communist League and join the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO in French). It quickly expelled the Trotskyites. They tried the same tactic in the USA, entering the Socialist Party of America, and elsewhere.[2] Most of the organisations they entered were small, and had little or no power, so it is unclear if the tactic achieved anything.

Since then, many allegations of entryism have focused on Trotskyite bodies, such as Militant in the UK Labour Party (see below), or claims about the Revolutionary Communist Party and Living Marxism in the UK[3].

Militant and the UK Labour Party[edit]

In the UK, the most famous case of entryism was that of the Revolutionary Socialist League, better known as the Militant Tendency or simply Militant, a hard-left Trotskyist group that infiltrated the Labour Party in the 1970s and '80s. Militant was formed in the late '60s and seems to have pursued entryist goals since the early '70s, for a while gaining control of the National Organisation of Labour Students, student wing of the Labour Party.[4] A series of inquiries from 1975 by the press and the Labour Party found that they had violated the Labour Party constitution by running an organisation within the party and promoting their own candidates. However, they had done nothing very unusual because in practice Labour had always had a range of sub-organisations such as the right-wing Manifesto Group (later Labour Solidarity) and the leftist Campaign for Labour Party Democracy. The Labour Party leadership took no serious action against Militant for a long time until in 1983 the first Militant member was expelled, and under the leadership of Neil Kinnock they slowly rooted out subversives.[4]

Militant were most successful in Liverpool in the 1980s, where council leader John Hamilton and deputy Derek Hatton (widely seen as the power behind the throne) pursued aggressively leftist policies, refusing to implement cuts to balance the council budget. Instead they cancelled planned redundancies, froze rents, and launched a program of housebuilding. Things got increasingly crazy when they sent out redundancy notices to every council employee; they claimed it was just a negotiation technique in their funding battle, but the image of council officers traversing the city in taxis giving people their notices became part of '80s British folklore — especially given that it happened under a hard-left Labour administration, the sort of leaders who, as Kinnock famously noted[5], traditionally opposed such actions on the part of Conservative governments. The Labour Party eventually took action, expelling Militant members, but the decisive action was taken by the district auditor who had the power to suspend or expel council officials who violated rules.[6][7]

At its peak, Militant had 8,000 members in Labour, and 3 MPs: Pat Wall, Terry Fields, and Dave Nellist.[1] Militant split from Labour in 1991 and continued as a separate organisation, later changing its name to the Socialist Party in England and Wales, now part of the Trades Union and Socialist Coalition, while Scottish Militant Labour eventually joined the Scottish Socialist Party (whose leader Tommy Sheridan was ex-Militant).[4]

Jeremy Corbyn[edit]

Supporters of UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn were accused of entryism with the suspicion that he was an evil far-leftist being pushed into the Labour leadership by external forces such as the Trades Union and Socialist Coalition or the Green Party. Corbyn was elected through a primary in which anyone who paid a modest supporters' fee could vote, an arrangement which makes it easy for non-Labour supporters to influence the vote. The Labour Party's vetting process found 100 former Green Party candidates had tried to sign up.[8] Michael Crick estimated at most 5000-10000 entryists from the Left (probably mostly Greens), and 5000 right-wing disruptors in an electorate of 400,000, which is a sizeable number but far too little to affect the result.[1]

There are similar claims about entryists infecting Momentum, the grassroots organisation formed to support Corbyn, although Momentum took action in early 2016 to prevent far-left entryists.[9]

TERFs vs. transgender feminists[edit]

Trans-exclusionary radical feminists, or TERFs, have been known to accuse trans women of entryism when they get involved in the feminist movement, arguing that they are invading women's spaces by "pretending" to be female.[10]

On the right[edit]

David Orchard[edit]

One example of claimed entryism in the right is of David Orchard, a protectionist conservative who allegedly infiltrated the Progressive Conservative Party in Canada with the intention of changing its free trade policies. Anti-abortion activists are alleged to have infiltrated the centrist Liberal Party of Canada in the past.[2] However evidence for organised entryism in either of these cases is scant (an unsourced section on a Wikipedia page, to be precise).

Free State Project[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Free State Project

The FSP's goals are to have 20,000 libertarians move to New Hampshire and, by virtue of being very politically active, influence politics there.

Christian Exodus[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Christian Exodus

Similarly, Christian Exodus was an attempt to influence the politics of a US state, in this case turning South Carolina into a religious right paradise. They seem to have mostly given up on their plan, though; their web page is all but dead and little more than a collection of photo galleries of various sites they own, only one of which is located in South Carolina.[11]

Augustus Sol Invictus[edit]

Because when you need your political stories to be just a bit wackier, you turn to Florida.

In 2015-16, an Orlando attorney, Thelemite, and unhinged neo-fascist named Augustus Sol Invictus (yes, he actually changed his legal name in 2013 to a Latin phrase meaning "majestic unconquered sun") waged an entryist campaign against the Libertarian Party of Florida in order to claim their ballot line for the 2016 US Senate race. Recruiting neo-fascists and white nationalists into the party to support his campaign, he prompted the state party chairman to resign in protest when the executive committee refused to disavow him and deny him their ballot line.[12] In the end, Libertarian Party members who opposed Invictus' candidacy (i.e. just about all of them other than Invictus and his recruits) found some random nobody to run against him in the primary — and that nobody, a 31-year-old computer programmer and Iraq War veteran named Paul Stanton who barely even campaigned, wound up winning the primary with 73.5% of the vote simply on account of him being "not the raving lunatic who admitted to drinking a goat's blood".[13] Invictus' reaction was to whine on Facebook.[14]

In religion[edit]

Islam in Europe[edit]

There are claims by those on the islamophobic right that Muslims are infiltrating British institutions to promote their religious ideas.[15] Former Conservative minister Sayeeda Warsi has been accused of filling positions on Government bodies with radicals, although even her critics seem to stop short of accusing her of being an agent of the Global Islamic Conspiracy. Asian and Islamic media has been quick to pick holes in the story.[16]

Communists in Judaism[edit]

On the other hand, there are fringe claims of left-wing peace activists infiltrating the main organised body of British Judaism, the Board of Deputies of British Jews.[17]

Jews into... everything, really[edit]

See the main article on this topic: International Jewish Conspiracy

Pretty self-explanatory. Jews have, for over 200 years, been secretly (and collectively) plotting to infiltrate almost every single position of power in the world.

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Why entrism is such a small part of Jeremy Corbyn’s rise, Michael Crick, Channel 4
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 See the Wikipedia article on Entryism.
  3. Invasion of the Entryists, George Monbiot, The Guardian/monbiot.com, 2003
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 See the Wikipedia article on Militant_(Trotskyist_group).
  5. Neil Kinnock - 'That Speech' ("I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises. You start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, outdated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council — a Labour council — hiring taxis to scuttle 'round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers!")
  6. Who, What, Why: What was Militant?, BBC, 28 May 2015
  7. The English city that wanted to 'break away' from the UK, BBC, 8 November 2014
  8. Labour leadership: 100 Green Party candidates have joined party in latest evidence of 'entryism', Andrew Grice, The Independent, 5 August 2015
  9. Momentum bans far-left activists after Labour moderates voice entryism fears, Ian Silvera, IB Times, 8 Feb 2016
  10. Ward, Roy. "Surf and TERFs: On Trans*-Exclusionary Radical Feminists." Vada Magazine, 30 May 2013 (recovered 5 May 2017).
  11. Christian Exodus
  12. Romano, John. "Romano: Bizarre Senate candidate Augustus Sol Invictus fractures Florida's Libertarian Party." Tampa Bay Times, 7 October 2015 (recovered 29 March 2016).
  13. Ballotpedia: Paul Stanton
  14. https://www.facebook.com/InvictusForSenate/posts/649094785248350
  15. [1], Andrew Gilligan, The Daily Telegraph, 22 Feb 2015
  16. #Entryism: Activist accuses Baroness Warsi of allowing radicals into Whitehall, UK Asian
  17. A bizarre case of entryism: the goings on at the Board of Deputies, Adloyada, March 15, 2012