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

Laurie Penny, China Mieville and Chris Nineham: What's the point of the left?

Recorded at Dangerous Ideas 2013

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Our first meeting - a brief report

IS NetworkThe International Socialist Network, launched on 11 March, held its first national meeting on Saturday 13 April in central London. 90 socialist activists from around Britain were joined by observers from the IS tradition in North America and some groups in Britain.

The meeting discussed the next steps for the IS Network – from organisational structures to relationships with the rest of the left in Britain and internationally and how best to continue and develop the best of the IS tradition, theoretically and practically. It passed a draft constitution and elected an interim steering committee.

Women members reported back from the caucus earlier in the day and news was shared of local IS Network meetings that have been held and others that are planned. Members made clear their commitment to transparency and in this spirit, minutes of the meeting will be published to members and on the website within the week. This practice will be adopted for all future meetings.

For further information on the IS Network email internationalsocialistnetwork@gmail.com

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China Mieville: On cult-like thinking

China Mieville
Photo by Katie Cooke

It's disarming to a socialist when a rote canard of the right, that the far Left - let alone the group to which that socialist until recently belonged - is 'like a cult', is persuasive.

That accusation has been regularly levelled against the SWP during its ongoing crisis. It's easy to see why: the CC's and loyalists' panicked and bullying responses to perceived heresy; the faith in an infallible leadership (in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary); the argument by citation of holy (Cliffite) writ; the almost unbelievable refusal, even now, to admit to any mistakes; the growing sectarianism. But underlying all this, and perhaps the most damning and extraordinary component of such mentality, is a fervent idealism.

This idealism and its dogmas are self-perpetuating. They underpin many of the leadership’s appalling errors and dogged self-defence, and thus demand investigation. As the 'austerity' onslaught continues, there's an urgent need for serious far-left politics. The SWP remains a major player on the Left, its growing isolation notwithstanding. Its regime and fate will continue to have an effect. Getting right the story of what the SWP is getting so wrong is crucial for those of us who have left to ensure that it does not happen again - and for those still inside, to take stock.

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Roobin: All the hegemony you can eat

GramsciThe way things have been if I don’t see another buttressing quote from either Lenin, Luxemburg or Tony Cliff for a long while I will be happy. So, in that spirit, let’s talk about Lenin!

One thing I have been adamant about for some time is that the revolutionary party was not Lenin’s key innovation. Firstly, even if he intended to found “The Bolsheviks” he did not intend his party to be a new party. He was trying to found a Russian SPD. Later, when the International was trying to found new parties many Communist Parties were not made brand new but founded out of Socialist Party majorities. Despite instants of political hardship (not least of which was Hitler’s invasion of Europe) from the mid-twenties onward the CP was a realistic means for a political career. Lenin intended for the Third International to consist of revolutionary parties, but being in this case is only the same as doing.

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Keith Fisher and Martin Pravda: The Magic Circle

They are, to put it bluntly, enemies of production. Production makes them uncomfortable. You never know where you are with production; production is the unforeseeable. You never know what’s going to come out. And they themselves don’t want to produce. They want to play the apparatchik and exercise control over other people. Every one of their criticisms contains a threat.
Brecht

The Magic CircleThe largest group of revolutionary socialists in Britain is falling apart. Not because of major shifts in the ‘balance of forces’, nor because of some new ‘turn’ in strategy or tactics but because of its leadership’s appalling response to members coming forward with rape allegations.

No one could’ve predicted that it would end like this and we can’t ignore the ‘balance of forces’ or the ‘structural’ explanations on offer (oftentimes referred to as ‘history’), but it has been shockingly bleak to watch individuals that we’ve known for years – decades in some cases – retreat behind explanations that start in 1976/89/99… for something so vile and immediate, something right there in front of you, that'll ultimately destroy the party’s reputation.

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Towards a strategy for Left Unity: Lessons from the European Left (pamphlet)

This pamphlet was produced by the Left Unity working group in the International Socialist Network. The Left Unity working group is made up of IS Network members who are active in Left Unity. As with most things, there is an extremely diverse range of views within the IS Network on Left Unity and broader questions of left strategy and tactics. The LU working group hopes that this pamphlet will contribute to a debate within Left Unity and the wider left on some of the crucial issues facing us in Britain and internationally.

Download the pamphlet here

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