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

Tim Nelson and Paris Thompson: Left Unity and the need for a broad party

Few active on the left in Britain will not have noticed the Left Unity project developing over the last few months. Ken Loach’s call for a new party to the left of Labour has gained over 8,000 signatories. Local groups are being set up across the country, with large meetings full of activists from a variety of campaigns, unions and traditions.

This is exciting not simply because of the buzz it is creating, but also because it’s an objective necessity to realign the left. Left Unity represents the best opportunity for this in a long time and should be treated with the seriousness it deserves. In this article we will attempt firstly to establish why in the current period left realignment is not just desirable but of fundamental importance, and also why it is a real possibility. We will then attempt to establish what role the revolutionary left can play in this, what positions it should take, and why its role is significant.

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Kris Stewart: Report from Left Unity national meeting

Last Saturday, 11 May, just over a hundred people met in a Bloomsbury hotel. This was the first national coming-together of people involved in the 'Left Unity' project since Ken Loach's intervention sent it viral.

Who was there?

All sorts came along. Workers and students, women and men, younger and older comrades, people from a number of different liberation groups. While I wouldn't say it was perfect, it was better than any other meeting I've sat in recently.

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Kieran Crowe: Elections – the headache and heartache of the far left

Debate is building up steadily about Left Unity (LU) – a project I think we should all be thoroughly enthusiastic for. We shouldn’t underestimate the novelty of this process: LU is coming together as an unformed organisation and allowing people who come into it the opportunity to have their own say on what sort of organisation it will be. Obviously this throws up all sorts of debates – and one of the key ones is the question of why and how to tackle elections.

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Penny Schenk speaks at Socialist Resistance conference

Penny from the International Socialist Network sends greetings to Socialist Resistance's April 2013 conference.

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Tim Nelson: Rosa Luxemburg and the revolutionary party

This is the first in a series of articles this blog plans to run as the IS Network begins a wide-ranging discussion and debate about the IS tradition and the way forward for the left. Each piece reflects the views of the author, not a collective position taken by the network.

Rosa LuxemburgOf the many debates which have emerged out of the crisis in the Socialist Workers Party, one of the most important has been the question of democracy within the movement, and how socialists should organise. Those of us who have questioned the level of democracy have been accused of wishing to abandon Leninist principles of organisation. Although this is not the case, I would argue that there has been, for a number of years, an overreliance on a certain interpretation of Lenin’s writings, which has led us to have a rather limited approach towards revolutionary organisation, and have hindered our growth. Furthermore, I would argue that the International Socialist tradition, particularly before the 1970s, did not limit itself to replicating the methods of Lenin and the Bolsheviks. Tony Cliff, and others within the early I.S., recognised that others, particularly Rosa Luxemburg, had as much to teach us as Lenin when we are discussing methods of organisation.

The debate surrounding Rosa Luxemburg’s contribution to the nature of socialist organisation has been long-running. The roots of the discussion lie in an exchange between Luxemburg and Lenin in 1904. It is often asserted that Luxemburg’s looser, more libertarian model of a revolutionary organisation is to be contrasted with Lenin’s Bolshevik Party, a hierarchical, top-down structure dominated by professional revolutionaries with an all-powerful central committee. This idea has, for a long time, suited both those who wish to reject Lenin out of hand as an authoritarian, and those who wish to reduce Leninism to orthodoxy, and justify undemocratic practice in his name. In other words, this false dichotomy has served both those socialists who wish to distance themselves from the Russian Revolution and the Bolshevik Party, and Stalinists and other authoritarian Marxists, who wish to justify their opposition to democracy in the movement by tracing its roots to Lenin.

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Left unity and the IS Network

There is currently a debate raging across our movement concerning “Where next?” for the left. The recent split within the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) by a number of comrades has resulted in the formation of the IS Network, a group that is currently debating the basis of its own formation, and will hopefully be an important step forward in the realignment of the left in Britain. Below is intended as a contribution to that debate, for both members of the IS Network and other activists within the movement that seek to build a stronger, more unified left.

The starting point of any analysis should begin with a concrete assessment of the situation facing the working class in Britain. Any honest appraisal of the current situation must lead to the conclusion that working class unity is not only objectively necessary, but should be an integral part of the work done by the socialist movement in Britain. The current attack on the working class both ideologically and materially, by its very nature of being a full frontal assault on ALL sections of the class, objectively requires the maximum amount of unity in resisting, and ultimately defeating, the government. The strikes on 30 November and the half a million march on 26 March showed quite clearly that where a concerted, unified opposition was organised people were willing to fight. In the many local struggles over services and cuts, we can see that the anger amongst the working class population towards the government's austerity consensus is substantial and growing.

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