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

University of East London SWSS statement

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For an Outward Looking SWSS

SWSSUniversity of East London (UEL) Socialist Worker Student Society (SWSS) holds the International Socialist tradition in the highest regard. A tradition founded upon breaking from the evils of Western capitalism and the horrors of Stalinism, and one that fights to this day for real working-class emancipation. A tradition that has fought tirelessly against sexism, racism, homophobia and the class exploitation that capitalism creates. It is as proud followers of this immense political tradition that we feel the necessity to write this statement.

Our SWSS group publicly condemns our leadership’s recent handling of a serious allegation of sexual abuse brought against a leading member of the party. We believe the subsequent inability of the Central Committee (CC) to address the crisis embroiling the party, is paramount to, and indicative of their refusal to accept any responsibility for their bureaucratic mishandling of the case, concerns and political turmoil comrades have faced in both the pre and post-conference periods.

We recognise that this is a crisis that could and should have been avoided. We believe that the reprehensible response the CC have conjured up represents a detachment from the hostility comrades have faced in their workplaces, campus’s and unions, which has paralysed our ability to carry out the interventionist work required of a revolutionary party. The clear demarcation of the leadership’s relationship to the membership, and their insulting disregard for the political turmoil we face in our respective workplaces and campus’s was typified in the most recent pseudo claims in Party Notes, denouncing the political concerns of the emerging opposition as seeking to overturn our Marxist analysis of women’s liberation, and no longer seeing the working class as central to the fight for socialism.

 

We also condemn in the strongest terms possible, the hostility and negligence being emitted onto our student groups across the country, where comrades have faced a tirade of slander and personal assaults, whilst a section of disgraceful sectarians have tried to score political points without any regard to the confidentiality of the women involved in the DC case by circulating the transcript of the DC session at conference.

We affirm and stand by our organisation’s commitment to women’s liberation. We adhere to the party’s proud theoretical tradition of understanding women’s oppression through a revolutionary Marxist perspective, and we acknowledge the tremendous work the party has done in fighting for women’s liberation. We celebrate Lindsey German’s 'sex, class and socialism', Chris Harman’s “Women’s liberation and revolutionary socialism”, and Tony Cliff’s “Class Struggle and Women’s liberation”, as the cornerstone of our political tradition. We will always agitate within this tradition, and we will build the organisation and the wider developing movement by doing so. However we reject the following; the failure of the DC to carry out the investigation into allegations of a sexual nature in an entirely impartial way, the concomitant manner in which the DC and the CC have failed comrade ‘W’ and the membership by undermining ‘W’s’ rights and moving to stifle any dissenters who supported her, and the brandishing of the term ‘feminism’ as an apparent insult. All of which we believe mark a sharp departure from our party’s tradition on women’s liberation. We recognise that across the world, a broad movement is developing, from Slut-Walks, Pro-Choice Demonstrations and Anti-Sexual harassment rallies. Therefore we see feminism as a root in to class politics, and not a root out, as it was in the downturn of the class struggle that saturated the early 1980’s. We also maintain that no political organisation is abstracted from the impacts on society under capitalism, including our own organisation.

We note that SWSS’s across the country are facing the destruction of our groups, our work and our relationships with various societies on our campuses. Our student’s union officials are facing serious pressures, including votes of no-confidence and no-platforms. The possibilities of united left slates are in disarray as left activists vary from refusing to work with us, to petitioning and demanding public statements. We are no exception. Confoundedly, the SWSS Notes emailed to us by the Student Office this week provided no attempt to deal with the tumultuous situations we are confronted with. Instead of displaying any form of political lead, this has hailed yet another departure from our party’s political tradition, and did not resemble the political content or strategy one would expect from a revolutionary party. This is epitomised by the notes argument that we should stand SWSS-only slates, as opposed to forming united left slates, or trying to rebuild relationships with societies and activists who would have otherwise stood with us in elections. We face the distinct possibility of having the gains we’ve made in our SWSS groups around the country for the last three years being substantially rolled back, unless the leadership is willing to address the situation we face, and bare responsibility for their role in it.