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

Welcome to the wilderness

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Dear comrades, welcome to the wilderness. This is Magpie from the IS Network, and I'm not a person who was recently in the SWP, so that must colour my perspective. But as a member of the IS Network steering committee, a publisher for our website, and a member of the women's and LGBTQ caucus, I though I might have a few useful thoughts about the territory out here.

The first thing to report is that it's contentious! If I'm continuing my metaphor of a wilderness, I could call this some stormy and changeable weather. As a group, we are likely to change our minds, to be convinced of new arguments and concepts and to find ourselves on different sides of political arguments from our close friends. This changeability and contention reflects our learning. We are developing new ways of conducting ourselves in meetings, in our publications, and on the internet that affirmatively encourage the participation and power of members of our liberation caucuses. Meanwhile, we are trying to learn how to conduct ourselves more civilly in new media such as Facebook. 

We are making mistakes - lots of them; we are airing our dirty laundry in public, and our writings, in hashing things out, are often impenetrable to outsiders.

However, we are working on this. We are a new organisation and nothing about us, from our politics to our culture, is set in stone. As compared to the bordered, byzantine lands of the SWP, the wilderness which we share has fewer defined borders, and the comrades who work in this space find themselves more open to ideas from outside groups. In the ISN, we have incorporated ideas from intersectional feminism, and in applying these ideas, we've been inspired by many groups outside our tradition, including autonomists, anarchists and issue campaigns. But we still walk this space together as a group, with a shared experience in the international socialist tradition and a shared conviction that socialism alone can save our species and planet.

The wilderness is vast, but it is not endless. In the end, my metaphor does not refer to a physical space, but rather an idea space. Each of us made an individual decision to walk out into the wilderness because we wanted to repudiate bad ideas and to discover new ideas - new analyses and new tools to achieve our end, revolution and the salvation of our immeasurably precious world. Over the past year, many of us have debated with many of you, about tactics in the faction fight. But now that you are here, each having made their own decision to walk into the wilderness, we wish only to move forward with the essential task of finding the tools and resources we need to build our engines of change.

It would be arrogant of us to ask you to join our Network en masse. As we all learn and discover, some of you may join us, and some of us will leave. What we do hope to do is build strong, trusting, productive lines of communication. We invite you to write with us, to debate us on platforms and online, to attend our meetings and to share with us the exhilarating process of redefining Leninism and revolutionary regroupment.