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

Syria: three years on - the people still want the fall of the regime

This article first appeared on the revolution in the 21st century (rs21) site. Many thanks to the authors for permission to repost.



Over a thousand people marched through London to Downing Street on Saturday, to mark the third anniversary of the start of the Syrian Revolution.

This demonstration served as a reminder of the continued determination of Syrians to overthrow the Assad dictatorship. It also acted as a challenge to the British government: a government that talked about military intervention last year has now said that it will allow only 500 Syrian refugees into the country.



The demonstration was organised by the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (UK). Coaches came from nine cities across the UK. There were large numbers of people carrying Syrian opposition flags, and placards that raised the slogans of the revolution, calling for freedom and the overthrow of Assad. There were chants such as, “Revolution until victory”, “Syria wants freedom” and “Oh God we only have you by our side”.

After the demonstration, a group of Syrian children took a petition to 10 Downing Street asking the British government to open up humanitarian aid into the country.



Demonstrators refused to accept the depoliticisation of the revolution through references to it simply as a “conflict” or a “crisis”, obscuring the responsibility of the regime for the violence that has ensued. As one placard put it, “Syrians Started the Revolution; Assad Started the War.”

The #WithSyria campaign, that Banksy has been involved in, is an example of this tendency to depolitise the revolution and has caused anger among Syrians. There is no reference to Assad or the slogans of the revolution in their campaign video. The crudeness of Banksy’s Orientalist adaptation of his image of a girl with a balloon, with the simple addition of a hijab, has caused further irritation.

It is reflective of how the Syrian Revolution has been declared “too complicated” that there was virtually no visible presence of the British left or wider progressive forces on the demonstration. There were no union banners or Socialist Worker placards visible.

One Syrian demonstrator, who had attended last year’s demonstration in solidarity with the Syrian Revolution in Paris, remarked on the contrast. There, French political organisations, including NGOs, marched with the Syrians. There were more flags representing other communities from the region; here only the Egyptian flag was visible. However, that demonstration was smaller than the London demonstration.

One of the great achievements of the Stop the War movement at its height was that it brought together Muslim and non-Muslims with organisations of the labour movement and broader progressive forces. Islamophobia in France that made demonstrations of this kind impossible there was rightly criticised by the British left at the time. But now we might ask: where then was the British left on Saturday 15 March?

It would be wrong to say that the entire British left has abandoned its support for the Syrian Revolution. The conference organised on the Syrian Revolution last month by activists from groups such as the Anti-Capitalist Initiative, the International Socialist Network and Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century made a contribution, and many of the same activists were active in building the demonstration this weekend. But it is clear that there is much work still to be done.


Further reading: This report on demonstrations within Syria highlights the efforts Syrian revolutionaries are making to remind the world that the Syrian revolution is not dead

Photo Gallery: Syrian Community in the UK الجالية السورية في المملكة المتحدة‎

 

 

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March on the 3rd anniversary of the Syrian revolution



March on the 3rd anniversary of the Syrian revolution
Saturday 15th March
12pm
March from Piccadilly (opposite to Hyde Park Corner) W1 to 10 Downing Street


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Debates within International Socialism: message from US group Socialist Outpost

The IS Network received this note from comrades who have until recently been members of the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in the US:

Dear Comrades,

We have followed the IS Network since its inception and as people committed to the politics of International Socialism, we have been heartened and encouraged by your work. We have produced this letter as a constructive dialog with the comrades in the ISO in the US, whom we hold view as comrades even though we are no longer members, mostly not due to our own choosing. We hope that the discussion that has started in the ISO will move the organization in a positive direction. We wanted to share with you the document we produced. Please use it as you see fit. We welcome your input, insights and reactions. We hope that we will be able to revive the IS tradition on better foundations in the future with all of us in the same tendency.

In solidarity,

Sophie H

The comrades' document is at their Socialist Outpost Blog, with responses from comrades who are members of the ISO at their main web site, including this article in particular, The Challenges Facing Socialists.

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Sharon Smith: Greetings to the IS Network Inaugural Conference

ISOAs Rosa Luxemburg argued in her book The Accumulation of Capital-An Anti-Critique, “Marxism is a revolutionary world outlook which must always strive for new discoveries, which completely despises rigidity in once-valid theses, and whose living force is best preserved in the intellectual clash of self-criticism and the rough and tumble of history.” Indeed, one of the central tenets of historical materialism is that social relations are never static but remain in a process of ongoing negotiation via class and social struggle. The needs and wants of the capitalist class have never single-handedly determined the terms of social relations—including those of women. As a living and breathing theory, Marxism can and must continue to develop in relation to an ever-changing world – one that includes the explicit struggle for women’s liberation that began in the 1960s and continues to this day. This struggle often takes place far away from the point of production, but is nevertheless vital to the process of fighting for the future equality of all women, be it the fight for legal equality, equal opportunity and abortion rights, and against sexual objectification and – yes – rape and sexual assault, wherever and whenever they occur.

As the IS Network holds its first conference, please know that many socialist women around the world are congratulating you for standing on the right side of history, however difficult the circumstances that have led to this juncture. You have shown a genuine commitment to the principles of women’s liberation and its centrality to the struggle for socialism, and we are all hopeful that your principled stand will draw others into our common revolutionary socialist project. I wish I could be there in person with you this weekend, but hope that my words convey my warmest revolutionary greetings and highest hopes, for this weekend and far beyond.

In solidarity,

Sharon Smith
International Socialist Organization

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Statement of Resignation - IS Canada

Statement of Resignation

  1. Opposing violence against the oppressed, including violence against women, is a question of principle for socialists.
  2. There has been an allegation of very serious sexual violence involving a leading member of the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers Party UK (SWP).
  3. The SWP Central Committee has failed to deal with this with the seriousness it deserves. It has persistently rejected efforts by a substantial number of its members and supporters to address this adequately. In fact, members of the SWP have faced disciplinary action for attempting to remedy this situation.
  4. The International Socialists (I.S.) in Canada has been for many years, and remains, a member of the International Socialist Tendency (IST), of which the SWP is the largest and leading organization.
  5. In January 2013, delegates to the annual convention of the I.S. in Canada voted (14 to 2, with one abstention) to reject a resolution calling on the leadership to write a public a letter of concern over these matters.
  6. It is now March. The SWP has held a special conference on this issue. The SWP leadership remains intransigent. The leadership of the I.S. in Canada still remains silent, and therefore continues to be undifferentiated from the SWP in the IST.
  7. Silence is not an option. On principle, therefore, we the undersigned can no longer remain as members of the International Socialists. Regretfully, please accept this as our letter of resignation.

 

Abbie Bakan
Ian Beeching
Brian Donnelly
Jay Gannon
Paul Kellogg
John Riddell
Suzanne Weiss

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A message of support to the SWP opposition

Any Irish socialist wishing to discuss this message with Conor is welcome to do so. conorkostick@gmail.com

Conor KostickThe crisis in the UK Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is of international significance and the issues raised by it are of such concern that I have no hesitation in offering this statement on the matter, even though my affiliation is to the Irish SWP. We are all part of an international tradition that will suffer from the fallout of a serious political mistake by the leadership of the UK SWP and especially here in Ireland, where any issue related to institutional cover-ups of sex crimes has enormous public resonance.

It is not necessary to know the details of the particular case that has triggered this crisis to appreciate how deeply mistaken has been the approach of the CC. All one needs to know is that when a leading member of the party was accused of rape, the party allowed comrades who knew him and who had worked with him for decades to decide what the SWP response would be. No amount of appeals to the revolutionary integrity of those on the DC can undo this fact and this shocking display of ignorance of best practice in the labour movement (and indeed, wider society).

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Read more: A message of support to the SWP opposition