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

A comradely letter from Workers Power

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Dear Comrades, 

We are writing to thank you for the invitation to observe your Politics and Policy Conference in London. 

The weekend was an example of how a commitment to democratic debate and participation can enable political confidence to grow and practical initiatives to flourish.

We attended the conference because we believed there would be a genuine debate about how to build a revolutionary communist organisation in Britain today. We were not disappointed – your honest discussion of differences and decisions is the best possible way to begin. 

In particular we thought the conference’s orientation towards the rank and file, militant antifascism and an anti-sectarian approach to united front work in general shows the ISN is taking the first steps in distinguishing from the best of the SWP’s tradition whilst separating from and rejecting the worst of its opportunist practice.

 

In the spirit of fraternal criticism, we would say that we thought some of the debates were limited by the absence of a political-economic perspective that could have enabled you to agree collective intervention in the class struggle as a unified organisation. 

This is not an argument for a narrow focus on ‘the real world’ of everyday activities but we think, and believe we share this approach, that the only reason for debating our politics is to show in practice the necessity of a revolutionary strategy – and the communist organisation that fights for it.  

One practical example of joint intervention in the class struggle is the work that Workers Power, ISN and ACI members have been doing and will continue to do together within the Revolutionary Socialists and Manchester Anticapitalist Students. These include the anti-EDL mobilisations, organising solidarity with the Higher Education strikes. Another could be rank and file initiatives, in the aftermath of the Grangemouth surrender. 

Likewise, the decision to support the launch of a women’s paper shows the ISN recognises that political debate must serve the dual purpose of organisation and agitation. The emphasis the ISN places on women’s liberation is correct. The creation of a working class women’s paper, one which acts as the voice of the struggles and lived experience of working class women would be an important step towards building a working class and socialist women’s movement in Britain.  

From our own point of view we found much to reflect on from the valuable debates which addressed the need for socialists to develop a theory and practice in the neglected and emerging fronts of the class struggle – the unemployed and precarious workers, intersectionality and disability to name just a few.

While unemployed workers’ campaigns and the many shades of Feminism are not new to socialists, each generation has the responsibility of enriching revolutionary Marxism with the best of the new methods. We look forward to collaborating in this process through common debate and struggle. 

On the question of building a new revolutionary communist organisation in Britain, we believe the ISN conference set out a serious roadmap which will enable revolutionaries – collectively or individually – to contribute to the task. 

On the issue of pluralism in a revolutionary organisation Workers Power has always defended the right to form factions and tendencies, with no time limit, just as we always defended the right of all oppressed groups to caucus to increase their participation and to raise any cases of abuse or neglect. 

We were originally expelled from the IS in 1975 for refusing to accept the rule which ordered factions to dissolve after every conference. However we do not believe that a “multi-tendency” organisation or federation of groupings, each arguing for their own viewpoints in public is a permanently desirable model, especially if it means avoiding a serious attempt to agree a common programme which can stand the test of action in today’s major class battles. 

Of course discussions and differences about our different traditions would probably continue for some while after a principled fusion and we would loyally accept any majority decision about the public expression of differences. In any case it is the disciplined carrying out of democratically agreed decisions for action in the class struggle that is the heart of genuine democratic centralism.

Workers Power is committed to working with the ISN, ACI, SR and all those who will doubtless join the process if we can demonstrate that it is in fact possible to unite revolutionaries – not by rushing into fusions before any solid political basis for lasting unity has been established, but through developing a political and organisational framework for action in the immediate struggles of the working class. 

In response to your request for articles and documents, which could serve as an introduction to Workers Power’s politics, we suggest our new members’ educational series, which can be found here(PDF)

More in-depth positions can be found on the website of the international organisation to which we belong, the League for the Fifth International as well as that of Workers Power.

www.workerspower.co.uk

www.fifthinternational.org

Fraternally,

Workers Power Political Committee