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

Open letter to members of the Anticapitalist Initiative

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Dear comrades,

We thought it would be useful to write to you following our Politics Conference at which we passed a motion calling for “immediate discussions with the ACI [Anticapitalist Initiative] with a view to forming a new united organisation”, explaining why we would like to pursue this and why we feel a united organisation is the right approach.

 

The IS Network is a new organisation, and our members are still in the process of coming together and thrashing out our views on many topics. While a majority of our members share the experience of having previously been members of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and see ourselves as more or less in the ‘International Socialist’ tradition, what we should do now and what that tradition means in 2013 are still very much open questions. We also have a number of new members who don’t have the same background of SWP membership, which demonstrates the appetite people have for a new kind of organisation.

Our Politics Conference was a demonstration of some of this. While we were in agreement about the core of our politics – commitment to rank and file trade unionism for example, or to militant anti-fascism – tactics, strategy and organisational form were all up for debate and there were many close votes across the weekend. For many of us, this is a learning curve, and we are still developing the methods and skills of operating in a more plural political environment. We are also working hard at integrating the fight against oppression into everything we do, for example by having liberation caucuses at all our national meetings. We are determined to do what we can not to repeat the mistakes and behaviour of the past, and of the SWP in particular.

Since setting up the IS Network we have been working closely with comrades from the ACI both in our political work in different cities and regions and by sharing speakers at meetings, putting together a joint publication and so on. It has become clear through this work that both organisations are engaged in a similar project, that of revisiting the revolutionary traditions we are part of. We know that the kind of socialist groups many of us have recently left and others of us refused to join do not have all the answers and have failed to either adequately theorise the current situation or to engage in a political practice that fits with the world around us.

Part of the reason they fail to come up with adequate analyses is each of them being wedded to their particular pieces of dogma, the things that mark them out from all the other groups on the revolutionary left, and which they cannot let go of for fear of losing their uniqueness, however out of date they become or however much they don’t match reality. We know that we can’t go on like this, that it isn’t good enough any more, and both of our organisations are finding our way towards a more pluralist, open, democratic way of doing politics. Many IS Network members would agree that the ‘IS tradition’, if it means anything, means being iconoclastic, constantly reapplying our ideas to the situations we find ourselves in and rethinking where necessary.

The IS Network is committed to a project of working with much wider groups of people, from a variety of different political backgrounds and traditions, and indeed people from no particular background or tradition. We want to test things out, see what is successful and what is less so. We think that our organisations contain enough diversity to mean that unity would boost the exchange of ideas, but enough of a common goal to make it constructive and worthwhile.

Solidarity,

International Socialist Network