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

Duncan Hallas: On Building an Outward-Looking Cadre

"Discussion, which is dangerous to the leadership, can be checked by hyperactivity; and this in turn is justified by the nearness of the crash [or the social explosion - Ed.]. The membership, driven at a frenzied pace, has a high casualty rate. A large proportion is always new -- and therefore does not remember the non-fulfillment of past prophecies. A vicious circle is set up which makes the correction of the line more and more difficult. 'Building the leadership' -- which is, of course, identified with the organisation -- becomes a substitute for serious political and industrial work. . . The leadership, which alone has much continuity, becomes unchallengable and finds it less and less necessary to check its policies and practice."

Duncan Hallas

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Sample Motions Calling for Special Conference

The Trotskyite-Cliffite Terrorist Centre* is unsurprised that the Central Committee continues to make the rules up as it goes along. Pravda* lays it on thick. For an interventionist denial of reality!*

The party has seen a lot of discussion and argument since conference. And these issues will no doubt be raised at the National Committee (NC) meeting on 3 February. The 50 comrades elected by our recent conference will want to have their say.The NC is an important political body whose task is to question, advise, guide and assist the CC. There will be report-backs from the 3 February NC to branches.Comrades have complained about some of the material that has appeared on blogs, Facebook etc. People are tired of slurs, lies and unsubstantiated allegations. Such matters, and what action to take, will also be discussed at the NC.We need to make sure we are not paralysed and do not become unable to intervene in the class struggle.We are moving ahead with the perspectives we agreed at conference. These were sent out last week in the post-conference bulletin. This is what our democracy looks like – debate, votes and elections involving all delegates and then carrying out the decisions in a united way.We are not going to overturn the decisions made two weeks ago by a very open conference, the highest level of our democracy. That is why the CC opposes the call for a recall conference, a demand that emerged even before the decisions of the 4-6 January conference had been sent to every member and which seeks to brush aside the decisions just made by the delegates.
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Richard Seymour: Reply to Party Notes

Each week, Party Notes apprises SWP members of news about the party's work, and the perspectives arising from it.  It is intended to help members orient themselves in the frontlines they fight on.  This is the theory.  In practice, it has become a propaganda sheet for the Central Committee in its internal battles, so manifestly fraudulent in its claims that it ceases to be useful to members.

 

This week's Party Notes consists of two elements.  The first is a description of the successes of the party in recent days.  How many demonstrated here, how many copies of Socialist Worker were sold; how many attending this steering committee meeting; how 'warmly received' a Central Committee member was at a meeting on Marxism and Feminism.  All this might under normal circumstances simply describe the many small actions undertaken by a revolutionary socialist party in a weekend.  This would be integrated into a wider perspective about how we can help take the relevant struggles forward.  Not this week. Add a comment

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Roobin: “Comrades Need to Stop Complaining on the Internet and Bring Their Concerns to Branch Meetings...”

I paraphrase, but variations on this canard are repeated quite often, sometimes with an addendum along the lines of, “we need to engage with the real world”.

 
We do need to engage with the real world but moral injunctions about branch meetings are just the opposite of such engagement. Revolutionary socialists advocate direct discussion and open voting against closed meetings and secret ballots, but this fine, hard won principle is not being applied intelligently.
 
Any medium is by definition is exclusive. You’re either online or not. You can either attend a meeting or you can’t. There are plenty of reasons why someone might not be able to make regular meetings on a Wednesday or Thursday night, too many to list. It certainly doesn’t make you lazy or devious or your opinions invalid. It can equally be said that electronic communication provides an invaluable resource for people not able to meet face to face. In fact it allows a far greater pooling of experience and information than a geographical branch. Add a comment

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Richard Seymour: More Dispatches From 'The Real World'

We restless and unhappy members of the Socialist Workers' Party are so often cautioned to re-focus our energies on 'the real world'. So it happens to be a problem that in 'the real world', because of a failure of both principle and strategy, we are rapidly becoming toxic for many whom we have built up working relationships with. The latest example: Essex socialist students being isolated and shunned.
 
I simply ask members this. If you are experiencing this sort of problem directly, what do you think can be done to repair the damage? And do you see any sign of it being done? Has anyone in the leadership offered you any productive advice on what to do? Other than, get your head down and hopefully it will all blow over? If not, how can this be? Isn't it because they, who pride themselves on defending a decisive, 'interventionist' form of leadership, are actually in a bunker composed of their own self-serving rationalisations right now? Isn't it because they have no idea what to tell you, because they refuse to concede that there is a real problem? Isn't it because they are in a state of profound denial about the crisis that befalls us? And what are you going to do about that?
 
My advice is, for what it's worth, is to pass motions in your branches calling for an emergency conference to address this crisis. That is the first and most important step. Since the matter falls to you to resolve, the least that you can ask for is the means to resolve it.
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China Mieville: The Stakes

Members of the SWP must understand what is at stake in the crisis rocking our organization. Not only is there already a steady outflow of members resigning in disgust at this farrago and its handling by the leadership, but now other organizations of the left are becoming hesitant about working with us, and in some cases are openly boycotting and censuring us.
This is a call to members to stay and fight. It is also to urge that we do so without illusions about the nature of the fight that we face.
 
Many of us have argued strongly that catastrophic errors of principle and process on the part of the leadership have taken us to this. But even those who – I firmly believe wrongly – disagree about this must recognise the situation we are in. This has rapidly also become a catastrophe for us strategically. Our name is becoming toxic. Our credibility as a collective and as individual activists is being grossly compromised, and is on the verge of being permanently tainted. We all know the allegations that any future potential recruit who takes two minutes to research us online will read. The hoary accusations of the loyalists that those of us expressing concerns are looking ‘inward’ to ‘blogland’ and are not in the ‘real world’ have never looked so pitiful as they do now. This is a real world, acute crisis, of the leadership’s making. Add a comment

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