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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

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Richard Atkinson: Death and the Bedroom Tax

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Bunny La Roche: Nasty Little Nigel gets a rude welcome to Kent

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Financial Appeal

We're up and running! An appeal for funds to kickstart the IS Network

Financial Appeal

University of Essex SWSS statement

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That our organisation is in a state of crisis is by now clear to all. Attempts have been made by comrades since conference at the start of the month to rationalise this crisis, and at the centre of each of these attempts is the report of the Disputes Committee. The point has been made elsewhere but it is important to reiterate that a mere two fifths of conference delegates approved the Disputes Committee report, a vote at conference that tends to be unanimous. Despite the wish of the Central Committee at the end of Conference for the matter to ‘remain closed’ it was never to be so, even before a full transcript emerged on sectarian blogs.

The party is under attack from many sides and this is highly pronounced on our campuses, not just from our opponents, but those whom we work alongside in the Students’ Union and in our united front work. The position that is being pursued does not allow our comrades to argue with the politics of our tradition; it places us in an impossible bind. Our party has a strong theoretical tradition on women’s liberation and a record to be proud of but this is under threat.

Comrades from University of Essex SWSS were in the dark around the issues of the Disputes Committee report, and at no point in our aggregate was the matter discussed. This shows that despite the majority of the Central Committees contestation at conference that political disagreements in our leadership are open to the organisation; clearly this is not the case. The procedures of the Disputes Committee failed the comrade at the centre of the case, and so, Essex SWSS delegates rejected the report at Conference.

 

The Central Committee took a defensive position in the lead up to conference, going as far to issue a response to a minority Central Committee statement that had not been circulated to the membership. Their defensive position continued after conference and has consequently paralysed the leadership; a marked contrast to the breadth of debate within the membership that the CC wanted to stop in relation to the Disputes Committee report. In the fight to save our organisation, and maintain the strength of the tradition of the IST, it is the membership, not the Central Committee who is providing interventionist leadership. With the current form of leadership from the Central Committee, we currently cannot and will continue to not be able to implement the political perspective endorsed by Conference. Instead of an interventionist leadership we have a leadership who is circling the wagons.

At conference, we voted for a perspective for students in which SWSS comrades were a revolutionary current on campus, transmitting our ideas and winning people to our tradition for life. We feel that the moves by the Central Committee since Conference pose a threat to that strategy. The decisions of the Central Committee are informed by factional considerations against leading student comrades who have expressed disagreement with the Disputes Committee report. In a period of the deepest crisis of capitalism since the 1930s, we have an opportunity to build a strong revolutionary current on our campuses; an inward looking strategy now would be a step in the wrong direction.

Essex SWSS agrees:

  • A censure of the Central Committee on the basis of the ineffective leadership given in this crisis
  • The removal of Comrade Delta from party work and from representing the party nationally or internationally, or within our united fronts
  • A special conference should be called on the issues outlined in this statement