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

Undoing the politics of anathema

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google BookmarksSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

In the past few days the IS Network has seen a controversial article released on its website, many signatories to which are on the steering committee or in the publications working group. Whether or not people agree with that article or with the way that it was written, some have expressed regret at having put their name to it because of how it has been received. A lot of comrades disagree with it on a political basis but some people also feel hurt and upset by it. What follows does not reflect a collective view from the steering committee, but does reflect many concerns of those who have left or consider doing so. As such, we feel it is important to share these concerns with all of us in the network, and beyond.

 

A few comrades have left the IS Network in these past few days and others have resigned from positions within the network, which is absolutely devastating. People have asked why and we think it would be incorrect to say that this article alone has pushed these people to leave or resign from positions but for some it has certainly been the last straw and it is part of a much bigger problem. So far, those leaving have been younger comrades who are resigning for a number of reasons. We don’t think it would be fair to presume that we know all of those reasons or even to disclose them but, having listened to these young comrades, we need to look at the way that we speak to and treat them as a whole. A lot of them have come out of the SWP faction fight and are very used to being patronised and attacked by older members. They’ve emerged from this wanting a network in which they feel they can play an intrinsic part and feel entitled to a voice, without fear of being patronised and reviled by older members, who can sometimes appear as though they see their views as more developed or more valid.

It’s increasingly clear that the IS Network, at the moment, just doesn’t fit that bill and that’s a massive shame because all of the people leaving or resigning from positions have been just as vital in building the IS Network as any other member, including members who have received a lot more recognition for their input.

The people leaving are examples of the kinds of people the IS Network needs - people with fresh ideas, often people who have fought against oppression in another organisation and who fight to rethink and re-evaluate our approach to liberation politics in the IS Network.

We can’t keep these people from leaving, if that is what they have resolved to do, but what we can do is work to make the IS Network what they had envisioned when they joined and what they were pushing to make it before they left. We can make our organisation welcoming to comrades just joining but we also need to think about the grievances of the people already within it and those who have left and we need to address those.

We need to continue, or even begin to, engage with these comrades on the issues they felt have been neglected or badly dealt with in the network, not only as a way of encouraging them to one day reconsider rejoining the network they have helped to build, but because we need to keep building it and obviously we’ve messed up badly somewhere along the line.

We need to learn to react positively when pulled up on our language or other behaviour, so that comrades feel that challenges are welcomed, whatever our intent and whether or not we agree with - or even can understand what has caused - the challenge. If comrades feel that raising issues about their own oppression will result in them being patronised, particularly in public, they will not feel able to raise them.

Furthermore, we’d like to encourage members who have left to stay involved with or get involved with the upcoming women’s publication, where women especially will have an independent voice, free from the influence of the men who lead our organisations, and which will hopefully be a vehicle for change within the network as a whole.

Katherine N

Alison L

Kris S