John Riddell: Democracy in Lenin's Comintern

How did Communist parties handle issues of internal discipline and democracy in Lenin’s time? The recent intense discussion within the British Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) and beyond has heard claims that the SWP rests on the traditions of democratic centralism inherited from the Bolsheviks.

John Riddell: Democracy in Lenin's Comintern

Richard Atkinson: Death and the Bedroom Tax

Some extended thoughts about Stephanie Bottrill, the woman who committed suicide because of the bedroom tax.

Richard Atkinson: Death and the Bedroom Tax

Dave Renton: Who Was Blair Peach?

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the killing of Blair Peach by the police. David Renton looks back at Blair Peach’s life as a poet, trade unionist and committed antifascist

Dave Renton: Who Was Blair Peach?

Bunny La Roche: Nasty Little Nigel gets a rude welcome to Kent

Bunny La Roche of RS21 on Nigel Farage's visit to Kent

Bunny La Roche: Nasty Little Nigel gets a rude welcome to Kent

Financial Appeal

We're up and running! An appeal for funds to kickstart the IS Network

Financial Appeal

Ferguson: justice for Michael Brown - Darren Wilson is guilty

Protest: Weds 26th November, 7pm, outside the US Embassy London, 24 Grosvenor Square W1A 1LQ

We are not here to condemn the rioters. We are not here to ask for police forces to be beefed up. We are here to expose the biggest gang that is roaming on the streets of London and that is the Metropolitan Police. The Police…who have given a message loud and clear. And that message is the following; we can blow brains out and we can lie and there is nothing you can do about it. - Turkish Community in Dalston statement on the London Riots of 2011


Last night a grand jury decided that Darren Wilson, white police officer, would not be charged for the coldblooded killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man. This has inflamed the civil unrest, demonstrations and political turmoil that have gripped Ferguson St Louis since the summer.

Aside from Obama’s federal soft touch, the town has been under on-and-off periods of Martial Law designed to quell the growing and anger and confidence of the African American community and its allies there. This anger has taken many forms, from random to well-organised looting, the formation of citizens militias and police patrol units, huge acts of peaceful civil disobedience, as well as antifascist confrontations with members of the Ku Klux Klan threatening to intervene on the side of law and order; however much their intervention might be unnecessary to American imperialism as it lumbers up to crush its own people.

This lumbering has so far taken the form of armoured vehicles, police and guardsmen equipped with, amongst other things, automatic machine guns and tear gas. Again we see, in situations of acute social crisis, the most dystopian predictions and utopian demands of the historic communist movement crystallise into brutal reality.

It would be easy for us, as International Socialists in Britain to valorise and romanticise these events, especially in the light of the ability of the British Police to shoot dead black and brown men without any hint of culpability or, indeed, shame. The fact of the matter is that the American revolutionary left, like ours, is in no position to be coherently supporting let alone leading these events. Like its white counterpart, the African Nationalist and Socialist movement in America has, in the main, degenerated into sectarianism and campism, beginning with their response to Mugabe’s repression, and hardening up over the question of Syria.

Recent events should, whilst showing us the historical and political limits of American imperialism, bring into sharp focus the same limits of our politics and motivate our efforts for regrouping, rethinking and rebuilding our shared revolutionary traditions.

London Black Revolutionaries have called a solidarity vigil outside the US Embassy against the violent repression and oppression black protests and black people. International Socialist Network asks its members and supporters to participate in this and stand with the family of Michael Brown and the self-defence of the African American people of Ferguson in their fight against racist oppression, police repression and state murder.

*Support the Self Defence and Self Organisation of the African American community of Ferguson
*Disband the Police
*For International Solidarity and International Socialism


International Socialist Network


Support the Ferguson Defence Fund:

Despite overwhelming evidence that Mike Brown, an unarmed teenager, was murdered by Officer Darren Wilson, Officer Wilson has yet to be indicted. Despite the fact that six witnesses have said that Mike Brown had his hands up when he was fatally shot six times and then left dead in the middle of the street for four hours while Ferguson and St Louis Police got their lies together, Officer Darren Wilson has yet to be indicted. There are protestors in Ferguson who will stay there protesting until an indictment is handed down. And indictment is hardly justice, but it is the fairest procedure. These are young men and women who have put their lives on hold to stand up for all of our freedoms. The overly militarized police force in Ferguson has attempted to criminalize them by harassing and throwing them in jail for exercising their right to peaceful protest. They need our help. They need money for legal funds and they need money to live. The Ferguson Legal Defense Fund will help. We have partnered with Tef Poe and Tory Russell from Ferguson October to make sure the funds received go exactly where they are needed.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ferguson-defense-fund

 


A solidarity protest has also been called in Liverpool this Friday 28th November, 6pm, meeting at The Rialto at the top of Upper Parliament St, Toxteth, L8. Info here

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Polish fascists in London

Republished from North London Antifascists

A peaceful protest will take place in response to the fascist violence in Tottenham:

Monday 23rd June, 6pm
Tottenham Green Town Hall Approach Rd, London N15 4RY


Yesterday, Saturday 21st of June, there was a licensed community event in Marksfield Park, Tottenham. Unknown to the locals, police, and indeed us, a small, extreme nationalist Polish group, Zjednoczeni Emigranci (literally translated as United Immigrants, referred to in this post as Z.E.) had also planned an event nearby. Taking the peaceful community event by surprise, Z.E. launched an unprovoked attack, hurling verbal abuse at locals, intimidating the children and families that were present, before turning to physical violence. Footage from the community event shows Z.E. launching rocks and flares at the crowd. In this shocking turn of events, one local was stabbed and at least one fascist was arrested. (update: the stabbed man was released from hospital after receiving treatment for superficial wounds).

It goes without saying that we, and the community of Tottenham and North London as a whole, strongly condemn the attack by Zjednoczeni Emigranci. Z.E. are a relatively small but hardcore group, their social media pages show racist and neo-nazi imagery, and they have close ties to football hooliganism in Poland.

Any fascist group should be opposed, however Z.E.’s actions yesterday highlighted this group in particular as being particularly abhorrent. North London Antifascists have decided to take a strong stand against this, we urge anyone who notices Z.E. graffiti, stickers, or planned events to get in contact with us as soon as possible. We will not stop until every piece of Z.E. graffiti and stickers are removed or covered up, and their events so opposed by antifascists that they are forced to abandon them. We are actively monitoring Z.E. on social media and if they dare to try to intimidate the communities of North London again we will be there to oppose and stop them.

Regards,
North London Antifa

If you have information on Zjednoczeni Emigranci, or would simply like to contact us anyway, please email northlondonantifa@riseup.net or contact us via Facebook or Twitter (@NorthLondonAF).

 

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Report: We've always been United: Newcastle against the EDL



This report originally appeared on the North East Anti Fascists page. Thanks to NEAF for permission to republish.


The English Defence League's mobilisation in Newcastle yesterday (17/05) was choreographed around the theme of their latest bogus non-campaign to tackle Asian grooming gangs. It goes without saying that we feel the exploitation of this issue and the use of emotive images of children, leading the observer to consider sexual abuse, to be quite sickening. Sickening, given that the fascists use this issue to spread fear, hatred and division, sickening, given that (thankfully) this represents zero and nil campaign in reality, sickening in the lack of consideration for the survivors and victims, evident in the careless treatment of this issue. North East Anti-Fascists have already highlighted examples of sex offenders within the English Defence League/fascist spectrum and have speculated on the use of this issue as cover for abusive behaviours within its own ranks.

Their mobilisation was largely ignored by the local community and it was left to the usual gathering of misfits the misguided from across the region and as far away as Scotland to make up the numbers. It was overwhelmingly male and there no whiff of grooming issue gaining any traction that may have attracted families or new faces. Their well inebriated number probably amounted to 400-500, probably outnumbering slightly the counter demonstration, however it was the Police who came firmly on top with an operation that was fully in control, allowing little space for manoeuvre on either side. It contrasted poorly to their day out last year. where in the aftermath of the murder of Lee Rigby our gathering of 700 was heavily outnumbered by 2,000 from their side. It was clear also that in sharp contrast to last year, that the EDL did not have the sympathy of the local community.

EDL failure, in favourable circumstances of a right wing climate of fear and suspicion around immigration, stoked up by UKIP and mainstream discourse, can then perhaps offer us some small crumbs of comfort. There are major concerns however that North East Anti Fascists have consistently highlighted, which we feel need to be addressed in advance of a roll of the dice falling to the advantage of the fascists, once again.

The main organisers of the counter demonstration, with significant resources available to them, evidently did a poor job. Newcastle is a city and regional centre and being unable to exceed the fascist mobilisation is a clear disappointment. In addition to the EDL having the upper hand numerically, we need to consider the National Front having taken the Monument the week previously. Networks of the radical left, the Asian community and others were simply insufficiently mobilised. Alarm bells should be ringing fiercely and the cause for us to seriously consider how and why we organise. The lack of urgency required of the situation seems to reflect an official movement and leadership in clear decline. Official stewards acknowledged to us that this was a poorly organised event and it was certainly directionless, politically speaking.

Longstanding problems with the Newcastle Unites/UAF approach, with its politics of control and cop collaboration were once again a factor, if not quite reaching the levels of farce achieved last year. Lines of communication seemed to be deliberately closed down and two separate marches were ultimately shambolic, with the dispersal point leaving our number potentially vulnerable. It was fortunate for us that the fascists seemed not to have their wits about them, however it is not good politics to rely upon their stupidity for our security. The Nationalist bloc will pick up on this weakness and with successive edging ahead of our side will itching for a direct confrontation with us, although it will doubtlessly be teenagers or Muslim children who will be targeted first.

In an atmosphere of going through the motions, the palpable lack of energy on the demonstration was telling and affected our contingent also. Despite this being a beautiful warm sunny day there was no carnival of resistance feel. North East Anti-Fascists provided much of the flags and banners on display (antifa, anarchist, Unite Community etc), certainly beyond the proportions of our number, however there are big learning points for us also and by our own standards this was not a day we could claim as peak performance. Making a fist of it, we placed ourselves strategically on the demo and faced the fascist directly, as well as conducting our usual ground level intelligence operation throughout the day. Our book bloc shields were tried out and should be seen as symbolising our intention to innovate and experiment with tactics. Improved and developing collaborations on the ground with AWL activists in particular is something we will also be seeking to develop, as we incrementally build trust amongst key activists for future actions.

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Our next operation in Middlesbrough on 28 June will require tighter organisation from us and more groundwork also. We will making this a priority call out for anti-fascists across the North and beyond. The key to success, however, will be making links with communities across the north east, largely through the networks we have through Teesside Solidarity Movement and other networks of support we are patiently building up.

Yesterday, the opportunities for doing anything interesting were limited and we need to talk this through, however clearly we can and need to do better. Alone, we cannot overcome the crisis of a political left that unthinkingly seems willing to cede ground to both capital and street fascism. We can however point to the truth of what is happening in our analysis. We can continue to energise and mobilise and the patient slow-but-steady growth in personnel and capacity for action suggests perhaps that we aren't going away.

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Report: March for England - another fascist washout



Last Sunday saw the latest attempt of the floundering British fascist movement to “take back the streets” under the banner of March for England in Brighton. However, in what has become a yearly ritual humiliation for the “Master Race”, over a thousand anti-fascists chased the tiny far-right gathering out of Brighton, most of them only getting out in one piece thanks to the enormous presence of Sussex Police.

2014 is the seventh time March for England has shown up in Brighton. It has in the past attempted to present itself as a non-racist, patriotic and cultural celebration, while in reality being little more than a front for an assortment of British fascist and racist groups to march with a veneer of respectability – the membership of MfE has a significant correlation with that of the EDL and Casuals United, for instance. This year’s march in contrast did little to attempt to hide its political base – a “unite the right” project involving groups such as Britain First, English Volunteer Force and the Infidels. The “unite the right” project, which has seen joint demonstrations and work amongst fascist grouplets such as the National Front, British Movement and the Infidels, has attempted to capitalise on the decline of the BNP and the EDL to forge a more militant, racially aware and unified fascist movement. This latest demo is another sign that there are groups that, with much smaller pulling power but more militant, will attempt to fill the vacuum left by the increasingly redundant EDL.

Sunday’s demonstration bore all the hallmarks of such a process – through the decline of the EDL, coupled with an extremely successful campaign against them from anti-fascists in Brighton, the demonstration was reduced to a hardcore of fascists. No more than 50 attended the MfE itself, with little more than small groups dotted around the Brighton pubs. Considering the stated aim of the march this time round was to “Stand tall” against Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and to “smash” Antifa, the only reason the majority of MfE left with a full set of teeth was the hundreds of Sussex Police that had shown up as the fascists personal escort. From their first assembly at the nearby Wetherspoons, through their march and eventual herding onto the train, MfE was surrounded by cavalcade of horses, riot vans and officers. This didn’t stop the march being under continual threat from anti-fascists, as the police were pulled all over the place ensuring the security of the march. From the outset, when the march was confronted by over a thousand protesters on the sea front, MfE was harassed, confronted and prevented from moving freely. Splinter groups were forced to keep to the pubs (including one group that got a rigorous welcoming reception outside the Dorset Pub) and were continually confronted by groups of antifascists. At different points leading up to the train station barricades were erected by hundreds of protesters to again prevent their easy passage through the city. It wouldn’t be surprising if the fascists came away from that demonstration under the impression that the entire population of Brighton wanted them out of the city on a one way train.

The demonstration was particularly notable in that the success of confronting MfE, on Sunday and in the years previous, flew completely in the face of the position often put by the moderate and liberal sections of the anti-fascist movement. It showed that an anti-fascist movement which puts direct action and militant confrontation at the core of its politics is capable of scoring big victories against the far-right. The credit for the success in gradually reducing the fascist demonstration to the hardcore lies with those antifascists that have confronted MfE year in, year out. It demonstrated that militant anti-fascism is not solely dependent on a numbers game – a movement that embraces a diversity of tactics and refuses to accept the police’s prescriptions for the day is more than capable of being effective, even when outnumbered. Year in year out anti-fascists have given both fascists and the police the run round and been very successful in doing so. It also showed that unity does not have to come at the price of our politics – a “united front” whose political basis is that which bureaucrats and politicians can sign up to and which seeks to prevent action is not a united front in any sense. Brighton showed that a significant section of anti-fascists and anti-racists can be won to militant tactics and politics provided there are activists there to put them. Increasingly, the Anti-Fascist Network and the activists within it are showing the capacity to score victories, and it is essential we continue the work of building AFN around the country on the basis of working class politics and direct action.

For the fascists, it would be difficult to see this as anything other than a disaster. It neither saw a significant mobilisation nor did it show the fascists capacity for “reclaiming the streets”. It’s seen MfE reduced to a small rabble, and may well be the last time the fascists make the mistake of going to Brighton under the banner of MfE. While fascist demonstrations will no doubt continue to be a constant, the past years increasingly small demonstrations and ineffectiveness may see those gathered in the smaller groups move to a more militant and violent approach – attacking meetings and stalls more frequently or targeting activists and communities. The approach of Britain First, for instance, in their door step protests and ‘Christian Patrols’, while not unique, may become more common amongst those groups gathered under the banner of the United British Patriots. If that’s the case the anti-fascist movement will need to respond accordingly. For the time being, we can celebrate a disastrous weekend for the British fascists, and a well earned victory for the anti-fascist movement.

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An open letter from the left to the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition steering committee against the nomination of Steve Hedley

This petition appears on the We Want a Women's Mag website and was endorsed by the ISN Steering Committee at a teleconference on 28-iv-2014




We, the undersigned, are members of the anti-capitalist and working class movement who are deeply disappointed and dismayed by the decision of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to approve the nomination of Steve Hedley as TUSC candidate for the East Ham South Ward local election for Newham Council on May 22.

As the Steering Committee will be fully aware, Hedley was recently and publicly accused by Caroline Leneghan of serious domestic abuse. TUSC’s decision to stand him as a candidate is in direct contravention to the principles of women’s liberation which all trade unionists and socialists should support and defend. The abuse of women is a widespread problem within our society. In order to oppose this, the left and the labour movement must support women when they have the courage to come forward. We must not continue to place abusers in prominent positions within our movement.

We therefore demand that The TUSC Steering Committee:

  1. Publicly repudiate their support for Steve Hedley in the upcoming election and commit to not supporting his candidacy in future;
  2. Extend their solidarity to Caroline Leneghan, and all victims of domestic abuse;
  3. Make a future commitment to ensuring that the TUSC Candidate selection process takes a zero tolerance approach to gender violence.

To sign the petition, please click here

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