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

Notes on a footnote

An article that we put our names to has caused quite a stir in the IS Network since its publication. We had hoped to start a period of debate and discussion about the central argument of the piece – that we are tending towards a sect, that we are shrinking and that this ought to be viewed as a crisis and that urgent, collaborative attempts be made to rectify this parlous situation. Instead, the furore that has followed has focused on the footnote at the very end, in which two particular incidents are cited as examples of the ways in which liberation politics are occasionally misused and misapplied in the IS Network. We concede that it was perhaps an error to assume that a footnote was adequate space to explain what we think these incidents exemplify – this second commentary, then, is an attempt to explore the issues raised in more detail. Before we respond to the many and various reactions to the article that we have been alarmed by, let us explain precisely what the footnote referred to, what we think it exemplifies, and why we disagree.

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Undoing the politics of anathema

In the past few days the IS Network has seen a controversial article released on its website, many signatories to which are on the steering committee or in the publications working group. Whether or not people agree with that article or with the way that it was written, some have expressed regret at having put their name to it because of how it has been received. A lot of comrades disagree with it on a political basis but some people also feel hurt and upset by it. What follows does not reflect a collective view from the steering committee, but does reflect many concerns of those who have left or consider doing so. As such, we feel it is important to share these concerns with all of us in the network, and beyond.

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A letter from Socialist Resistance

11 December 2013

Dear comrades

We said that we would give you a more considered response to the decision of your politics conference to call for a wider regroupment involving Workers Power, Plan C and the IWW which would conclude with a regroupment conference in the spring. This effectively replaced the existing three way process between ourselves, yourselves and the ACI comrades.

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Can liberation politics be 'vulgarised'?

Steering Committee Note: The steering committee is aware of a lot of discussion in the organisation about an article called 'The politics of anathema in the IS Network'. We will be publishing further responses shortly and would encourage members to submit pieces, either for the website or for our external bulletin, regarding these issues.

This is a response to a recent article from several members of the International Socialist Network. I've generally got a lot of time for this group, who made a concerted effort to transform their former organisation (the SWP). But this piece's gender politics were quite troubling. Specifically, its only footnote: 

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A proposal to take to Left Unity: an organising party

2013 has been a year of massive problems for the far left, but one that has also seen a vastly wider and more varied discussion about what to do than has recently been the norm. One fundamental change is that the parties that had previously dominated the conversation on the socialist left no longer have the ability to do so, and while this has cost the left its previously stability, it has also presented us with the opportunity to try to look for tactics which might reverse a generation of the left shrinking despite mass movements coming and going. The ability of hundreds of us to come to the Left Unity founding conference this November to agree to establish a new type of party has been an encouraging step forward, but it has been rightly described by supporters as being only a first step. One apt criticism of the ‘platform debate’ in the run-up to conference was that it focused discussion too much on what the new party will say at the expense of what it is going to do – which is really the point of a political party.

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The politics of anathema in the IS Network

Recent controversies inside the IS Network have foregrounded the problem of personalised anathema inside the organisation. We think this is necessarily and intrinsically linked to the danger of becoming a small sect, as we will spell out later. Irrespective of the truth of that, personalised politics has always been a particular danger for us. There are a number of reasons for this.

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