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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

Ged Colgan and Paris Thompson: Proposal for IS Network conference

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The last week has seen two interesting but quite fractious debates within the IS Network, firstly over the potential employment of a paid administrative assistant, and secondly over the Network's intervention within the Left Unity project. Both arguments have highlighted certain underlying tensions within the Network that have yet to be resolved, specifically in three areas: how we conceive of the Network and what direction we wish to take it in, what positions the Network should take and policies it should pursue, and how we intervene as an organisation within the movement.

 

The creation of a national organisation is a difficult and taxing project, and to this point it has been understandable that simply establishing the Network as a viable organisation has taken precedence over thrashing out a shared strategy. The first two national meetings served a useful purpose in that they brought together comrades from the IS tradition, held together those leaving the SWP and stated clearly that we wished to move forward as an organisation and a tendency. However, they failed to address certain fundamentals over the political direction of the organisation beyond our commitment to democratic organisation and a reaffirmation of the fight for women's liberation as a central political principle for revolutionary socialists.

The debate over the employment of an organiser became a fractious debate for the simple reason that, in one sense, it wasn't really a debate about the position at all. Instead it was a discussion over the political and organisational direction the Network should go in. Until those much more fundamental points are addressed each debate has the potential to become a proxy debate for other underlying issues.

This has the potential to become problematic for the organisation in the near future. The establishment of local People's Assemblies, the debates in Left Unity in the run-up to the policy conference, the continued revolutionary unity talks, the rise of the fascists and populist far right, the European question and the general election will all present challenges for our organisation, and the sooner we begin these discussions and debates the better.

For that reason, we believe that an IS Network policy conference, held no later than September, and covering two to three days to ensure full debate, is an absolutely necessary step in order to take our organisation forward. In the run-up local branches and regions should meet to discuss the different matters that will arise at the conference, and a Conference Arrangements Committee of both Steering Committee and lay members should be organised as soon as possible to ensure the effective running of the event. Such a conference would be an excellent opportunity to set the Network on a firm footing for the difficult but exciting period that lies ahead.

Ged Colgan and Paris Thompson