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

King's College London SWSS Statement

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SWSSSince the beginning of term, a number of students have raised concerns with members of our SWSS group over the way that recent allegations of sexual assault and rape have been handled by the Central Committee (CC) and Disputes Committee (DC). We feel that it is incumbent on us to respond to these concerns.

As a SWSS group we share many of the concerns that have been raised, and expressed our views at the recent SWP conference. The woman involved, comrade W, has made it clear that she does not want the case itself to be reopened. However, it is absolutely necessary that the SWP reviews its procedures and learns from mistakes made. The Central Committee should have been at the forefront of fighting for these changes. We condemn them for failing in this duty. We also condemn their refusal to acknowledge the political impact that this issue has had on our ability to intervene in class struggle. It is vital that the SWP now works to correct this mistake. As a SWSS group we are arguing for this in our local branch.

 

The current crisis engulfing the SWP isn’t a crisis of Leninism, nor can the divisions inside the party regarding the handling of the disputes case, and its subsequent release into the mass media, be put down to “creeping autonomist” or “feminist” influences. As an aside, we would like to say that we do not see feminism as a slur, indeed with the recent rise of raunch culture, feminism has been, for many, a route into class politics. Responsibility for this crisis lies with the leadership of the organisation, who have falsely portrayed this as a generational problem and whose response has led to unnecessary polarisation.

For a revolutionary party to intervene in class struggle we have to have a continual analysis of the world around us, the political developments and balance of forces. This then informs how we can best move forward with our general perspectives. Sometimes this occurs on a localised level, such as when we campaign around local service closures, at other times this means having a national reorientation of our activity; for example the workfare protests. In the latter case, in response to a wider political development, the leadership of the organisation is responsible for re-orientating comrades to best implement our general strategy. It is this principle that makes democratic centralism and the Leninist party able to quickly react to a changing world.

Whilst the fallout from the crisis so far has not just affected students, our SWSS groups have been particularly affected. Not only has the lack of political leadership left comrades unconfident to engage with our periphery on this question, but it has resulted in key figures inside the movement severing ties with our organisation – harming our national strategy. Instead of compounding these issues, we demand the CC move to address the concerns raised.

We have argued in our branches:

  1. That the CC must fully acknowledge and engage with the concerns that both our members and our allies have raised.
  2. For a commission looking at ways that the dispute committee process can be improved. While the case itself is closed, our investigation into future improvements must be ongoing.
  3. That Comrade Delta should stand down from all public and/or paid positions in the SWP and/or united fronts for the foreseeable future.
  4. There must be no reprisals for comrades expressing their concerns and ideas for improvement in light of the recent crisis.
  5. To reaffirm the right of branches to call for a special conference at any point in the year.

We believe that these changes will ensure that in the future all comrades will feel confident to bring any complaint they may have to the party.

We are faced with a nasty coalition government, determined to use the current crisis to dismantle the welfare state and erode freedoms previously won. In this climate it is vital that we have a strong and functioning SWP that can work with a range of allies on the left in opposing this attack. The SWP has a proud tradition of fighting against oppression, exploitation and for a better world. Therefore it is vital that we overcome the current crisis as quickly as possible in order to concentrate on this fight. The leadership’s current position is an obstacle to doing this.