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

Workers Power: Toward Revolutionary Unity

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For more than a year the crisis of the revolutionary left has centred on the Socialist Workers Party. Sparked by the mishandling of accusations of rape and harassment by women comrades, the leadership’s attempts to suppress opposition resulted in expulsions, factional struggles and two serious splits.

This has led to widespread accusations that the revolutionary left at large is characterised by an abusive attitude to women and dictatorial and undemocratic regimes. It is true that such attitudes and practices are far from being restricted to the SWP: it is not true that all revolutionary organisations and traditions in the UK can be characterised in this way.

It would be a serious blow to the working class movement and the future building a serious revolutionary party in Britain if the revolutionary left should suffer further decline, fragmentation or remain stuck in its current state of disunity.

It is vital that revolutionaries do all in our power to overcome the differences that divide us. We should do so on a principled basis – first of all by agreeing a set of basic policies and organisational principles and practices which enable us to work together on the decisive fronts of the class struggle.

That is the goal we should set ourselves.

But we have to be realistic about where we stand now. The groups represented in discussions aimed at revolutionary unity – the International Socialist Network, the Anticapitalist Initiative, Socialist Resistance and Workers Power - all recognise we have both agreements and differences on many issues.

We recognise that there has to be an acceptance of this pluralism or heterogeneity of views. Such differences will continue to be expressed publicly by groups and individuals and it is not desirable that they should be covered up in any way. But at the same time there has to be an intention to seek convergence on a series of issues vital for any effective work in the class struggle.

To establish an exchange of ideas which is both plural yet centred on the realities of the class struggle we should aim to both establish the points of agreement as the basis for immediate work, as well as isolating the areas of difference which will be subject to further debate.

To facilitate this process we suggest that we jointly discuss, and amend where necessary, the text of the ISN’s ‘Where we stand’.

Topics

We propose that we discuss the following points:

  • The state of the resistance to the Tory-Lib Dem government’s assault on the welfare state, on jobs, on trade union and democratic rights, etc. This should include an assessment of the People’s Assembly and what policy revolutionaries should argue that it should adopt
  • The trade unions and the level of grassroots organisation, the attitude to the bureaucracy, and possibilities of building a rank and file movement etc.
  • International solidarity with the Arab revolutions - particularly Syria - and Palestine
  • The fight against racism and the fascist groups
  • The Labour Party and our attitude towards electoral tactics etc., the need for a new working class party, and the political basis on which it should be built
  • The position to be adopted towards the question of the European Union and Britain’s membership of it. Likewise the position to be taken on the Scottish independence referendum.

We think that out of these discussions our aim should be to produce together an action programme focussed on the class struggle in Britain in the period immediately ahead. Intimately linked to this is the question of the revolutionary party – its programme, its relationship to the working class, its organisational principles, etc.

There are in addition specific programmatic issues that will have to be discussed. These include

  • The basis of the struggle for women’s liberation today, the different currents of feminism and which are compatible with Marxism and a class standpoint
  • The fight against environmental destruction- what is Eco socialism etc.
  • Social oppression of LGBT and disabled people and the debates around Queer and Gender theories

Organisation

We propose that our agreed agenda of topics, whatever they are, be discussed at the series of regional and national meetings as first proposed by the ISN’s Politics and policy conference.

Meanwhile we propose that we collectively invite the RS 21 comrades to participate in the process of Revolutionary Unity.

We propose that we work together in the public events and actions in solidarity with the Syrian revolution.

We propose that we work together to produce a women’s publication, which is primarily aimed at addressing the issues of importance to women’s struggles and in particular to working class and socialist women.

We propose that we all participate with equal rights in the publication of The Exchange as a magazine/website of the on-going discussion.

We propose the setting up of a liaison committee consisting of representatives of the participating groups to organise all the meetings, conferences and joint actions conducted under the banner of the revolutionary regroupment initiative.

 

Workers Power
i-2014