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

Stand up to misogyny

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Occasional disclaimer: Sometimes people get the wrong idea about us, so just to be clear this is an article written by some members of the IS Network in response to this piece by other IS Network comrades. Any further discussion on this subject will take place in our discussion bulletin, which will be available to download from this website. The IS Network is a diverse group  that welcomes debate and discussion and not all members will agree with everything that is said in any article as we all have minds of our own.

Last year the IS Network published on our website the testimony of a comrade who had experienced rape within the SWP, describing the disgusting way the SWP treated her. In it she wrote: “the SWP is counter-revolutionary and is against the socialist tradition”. We believe this to be true. This is not solely because of the crimes of the SWP - though these are many, with two of the latest examples being:

and

As well as understanding the appalling nature of the SWP's behaviour, it's important also to remember that it is an organisation which demands of its members, publicly at least, complete acceptance of its actions. And over the past several years that has included actions which are misogynist and rape apologist. Other organisations have committed greater crimes, but they are not small, tightly-knit, democratic-centralist groups that insist upon all members publicly supporting every action, every crime. And none of them has the same capacity to systematically and ruthlessly feed off and weaken the organised left in the way the SWP does.

That's why we believe that any actions to promote the SWP (for example selling Socialist Worker, or attempting to recruit people to that group) lead to an increase in the amount of misogyny that women face from within our movement and are therefore acts of misogyny in and of themselves. That's why we stand alongside those who wish to challenge the SWP and to frustrate attempts to reinvent and rehabilitate it.

In any given situation people will choose different methods to achieving this end, and tactical considerations have to be taken into account. As individuals, where we are involved, we will take part in these discussions. We do not propose, however, to offer general advice on what tactics are appropriate in every situation. Such advice is, in our view, unhelpful - it is impossible to do in the abstract, without taking account of specific circumstances and the relevant context. But as well as being at best ineffective, we think offering general advice could have the effect of directing some of the rightful anger currently aimed towards the SWP towards us instead. This could make it impossible to further engage with those resisting them, as we become identified as either on the wrong side or at best an irrelevant nuisance.

We believe the tactics of an organisation are best decided by people involved in that organisation, be it a student union or any other. There is a need to take into account the amount of emotional energy and time people can put into pursuing the goal of combating the SWP, as well as the many other campaigns and actions that they are involved in. Of course, we hope that we will be part of those struggles and be in a position to be listened to, but regardless we stand with those fighting.

We believe that ridding our spaces of a misogynistic, rape apologist organisation is one of the most important political tasks we have. We recognise that there will be setbacks in this struggle, and perhaps it is ultimately unachievable, but trying and being seen to try is crucial. We support all acts which have this as their goal.