January 25, 2013 at 9:50 am #91248
I see the SWP CC are counterposing political debate with activity again. Seems like their last resort when just bashing their critics as sectarian and enemies doesn't work.http://swp.org.uk/party-notesSWP Party Notes 21st January 2013The 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.It is also clear that as part of the discussions some people are raising a wider debate about the direction of the party. This does not mean that everyone who has raised issues about the recent events is attacking our political tradition. But some are seeking to overturn important parts of what we stand for – and the politics we reaffirmed at conference.There are some people who want to replace a Marxist analysis of women’s liberation with one centred on patriarchy theory. Others believe that changes in capitalism have altered the structure of the working class so fundamentally that it is no longer the key element in the battle for socialism.Others, outside the party, are making attacks on the SWP as a way to buttress Labour.And in his article on why he is leaving the SWP, “Donny Mayo” attacks the party over recent events but then goes on to attack its attitude to Syriza and its failure to back Len McCluskey for Unite general secretary. He then delves deeper and claims there is a “global crisis of old-style Trotskyist Leninism” and that the SWP is an example of a “historically outdated model” and that democratic centralism has become an “increasingly cultish mantra”.We need to win people to our analysis of exploitation and oppression, Leninism today, and the revolutionary party.Please note that if branches are going to discuss motions they should be circulated to all branch members in good time in advance. This is to ensure that comrades have a democratic right to take part in the discussion. After consultation with the chair of the Conference Arrangements Committee, any motions for a recall conference have to be in by 5pm on Friday 1 February. This is to make the NC aware of them.January 26, 2013 at 7:54 pm #91249Quote:There are some people who want to replace a Marxist analysis of women’s liberation with one centred on patriarchy theory
The SWP are dead wrong about Leninism and so-called "democratic centralism", but not about this. We need to be careful about endorsing people who make the above sort of criticism of the SWP. In fact, perhaps the best thing that Chris Harman wrote was his refutation of the above view in his "Engels and the Origin of Human Society".I don't know who Donny Mayo is but this is the sort of criticism we should be backing:Quote:And in his article on why he is leaving the SWP, “Donny Mayo” (…) claims there is a “global crisis of old-style Trotskyist Leninism” and that the SWP is an example of a “historically outdated model” and that democratic centralism has become an “increasingly cultish mantra”.
Don't know about "has become", though. It always was.January 29, 2013 at 1:22 pm #91251Young Master SmeetModeratorQuote:Moreover, what our critics dislike most about us – how we organise ourselves – is crucial to our ability, as Jones puts it, to punch above our weight. Our version of democratic centralism comes down to two things. First, decisions must be debated fully, but once they have been taken, by majority vote, they are binding on all members. This is necessary if we are to test our ideas in action.Secondly, to ensure that these decisions are implemented and that the SWP intervenes effectively in the struggle, a strong political leadership, directly accountable to the annual conference, campaigns within the organisation to give a clear direction to our party's work. It is this model of democratic centralism that has allowed us to concentrate our forces on key objectives, and thereby to build so effectively the various united fronts we have supported.
That is, a strong leadership can manoeuvre and shift quickly, and build alliances that may well be repugnant to their membership. Coupled with the capacity to provide the apparatus to gerry build an organisation, that is what enables the SWP to intervene and control.The most fascinating aspect of this debate is it shows us how the SWP conceive of themselves. Most importantly, is their fundamental denal of the democratic principle that a minority should be able to try and turn itself into a majority, minorities should just remain defeated, is their view…January 29, 2013 at 2:11 pm #91250
The Prof asks Is Leninism finishedhttp://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12210I have read a second person to claim a mass purge is imminentGiven that Seymour, Mieville et al are calling for a recall conference (in public anyway), a purge would seem more likely than a split.January 29, 2013 at 2:54 pm #91252
Leninism is finished: a reply to Alex CallinicosOnly there really is no basis for revolutionary socialist organizations to keep their business internal. This was not the case in Lenin’s day, nor should it be the case today whether we are communicating through the printed page or on the Internet. This idea that we discuss our differences behind closed doors every couple of years during preconvention discussion was alien to the way that the Russian social democracy operated. They debated in public. We are obviously more familiar with Lenin’s open polemics with the Mensheviks that some might interpret as permissible given that a cold split had taken place (a false interpretation as Pham Binh and Lars Lih have pointed out.) But even within the Bolsheviks, there was public debate as demonstrated over their differences on whether the bourgeois press should be shut down.January 29, 2013 at 3:51 pm #91253
I don't think we can agree with this Historical Revisionist view of Lenin as merely a Leftwing Social Democrat that Louis whatever-his-name-is puts forward:Quote:Largely through the efforts of Lars Lih, it has become more and more difficult to ignore the historical record. The publication of his 808 page Lenin Rediscovered: What Is to Be Done? In Context was like Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door in 1517, except in this case it was the door of the Marxist-Leninist church. Unlike Peter Camejo or me, Lih was not interested in building a new left. He was mainly interested in correcting the record. As a serious scholar with a deep command of the Russian language, he was quite capable of defending his thesis, namely that Lenin sought nothing more than to create a party based on the German social democracy in Russia. There was never any intention to build a new kind of party, even during the most furious battles with the Mensheviks who after all (as Lih convincingly makes the case) were simply a faction of the same broad party that Lenin belonged to [emphasis added].
In the years up to WW1 Lenin may have toned down a bit what he had written in What Is To Be Done in 1902, but he returned to it with a vengeance after the Bolshevik coup of November 1917. If not, why did he insist on splitting the Labour Movement outside Russia and building up "Communist" parties as a "new kind of party" based on the top-down principles of "democratic centralisation" he had outlined in his 1902 pamphlet?The SWP in fact has consciously modelled itself, as far as both tactics and organisation are concerned, on the CPGB of the 1920s seeing itself as that party's modern equivalent. That's why the have an undemocratic constitution with an all-powerful Leadership "elected" as a slate and with no chance of being defeated, either in elections to it or over the "orientation" it puts before Conference. and with the power to order the membership to follow its line.These latter-day critics of "democratic centralism" should go the whole hog and throw Lenin out with the bathwater.January 30, 2013 at 11:03 am #91254
This news item (copied from a link a member has provided on one of our other forums) would seem to be relevant to any discussion on (true) Leninism and the SWP:http://rt.com/politics/communists-power-lenin-zyuganov-971/January 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm #91255AnonymousInactive
A group calling itself 'SWP Southwark' has just joined our Meetup group. Any particular significance?http://www.meetup.com/The-Socialist-Party-of-Great-Britain/members/77199952/January 30, 2013 at 8:23 pm #91256AnonymousInactivejondwhite wrote:The Prof asks Is Leninism finishedhttp://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=12210I have read a second person to claim a mass purge is imminentGiven that Seymour, Mieville et al are calling for a recall conference (in public anyway), a purge would seem more likely than a split.
'purge', or perhaps silence the 'disaffected and dissatisfied' members. Machiavelli may have agreed ‘the end justifies the means’. The Party will be better off in the long run.We would never do that!January 30, 2013 at 10:43 pm #91257
Is Leninism finished?Replies so far fromLouis Proyect (Broad Bolshevik?), 28 Janhttp://louisproyect.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/leninism-is-finished-a-reply-to-alex-callinicos/Kevin Crane (seemingly broadly "IS tradition" loyalist, deep cover Counterfire?), 29 Janhttp://rethinkingtheleft.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/is-interventionism-finished.htmlJamie Allinson, 29 Jan (SWP Democratic Opposition "change the CC"?)http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/is-zinovievism-finished-reply-to-alex.htmlPham Binh (ex-ISO), 30 Janhttp://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=5319January 31, 2013 at 7:38 am #91258
Zinovievism? Intrigued by the title I took a look at this one: http://internationalsocialismuk.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/is-zinovievism-finished-reply-to-alex.html and found confirmation that the SWP is modelled on the CPGB of the 1920s:.Quote:The model operated currently by the SWP is not that of the Bolshevik revolution. It is a version of the Zinovievite model adopted during the period of “Bolshevisation” in the mid-1920s and then honed by ever smaller and more marginal groups.
On the face of it "democratic centralism" seems reasonable: Conference votes for something; this is binding on all members and an elected executive body is responsible for carrying out the decision. This is how our party functions. But this is not how the SWP (and, let's not forget, other Leninist and Trotskyist groups) operate. As the author of the article points out, what the SWP Conference decides is what is proposed to it by its executive body and this executive body is "elected" as a slate and co-opts its successors and new members. This is certainly "centralism" but is not democratic.Quote:But merely invoking the term “democratic centralism” does not tell you anything about which level of decision get made by which people, how frequently decisions are made or what mechanisms should exist for review, let alone how to elect a Central Committee or of whom it should consist. Two examples will show how our current model is weighted towards centralism at the expense of democracy.The first is in relation to decision making. According to the theory, conference discusses and decides (democracy) and then comrades, including those who opposed the agreed position, carry out the decisions (centralism). Fine: but what does conference actually decide? It is presented with a series of general perspective documents which are usually so bland and platitudinous that it is virtually impossible to disagree with them: the economic crisis is not going to be resolved, times are hard but there are also opportunities, we must not be complacent over the threat of fascism, and so on. To agree with this kind of statement is not to make a decision over strategy or tactics, or anything specific enough for the CC to be held to account. The real decisions about actual policy – to establish united fronts, to join electoral coalitions – are almost always made by the CC itself between conferences, with conference asked to ratify them after the event.The second is in relation to the composition of the CC. The CC self-selects: it has an agreed political perspective; when someone dies or resigns it chooses as replacements comrades who agree – or who are thought to agree – with that perspective; at no point is the chain ever broken by open political debate. And if the perspective is wrong? The problems extend to the membership of the CC. What are the requirements of a potential CC member? There are apparently two: that they should live in or around London and that – with a handful of exceptions – they are full-time employees of the party. So – the comrades who are eligible for membership of the CC are those who until their selection have been paid to carry out the decisions of the previous CC and who, because they tend to have been students beforehand, rarely have any direct experience of the class struggle. How can a leadership this narrow be capable of forming an accurate perspective?
The trouble is that the author and many of the other critics still look back to the Bolshevik party that usurped power in November 1917 as their model. Hopefully, it will be a case of them learning one step at a time that Bolshevism and Leninism should not be regarded as models to follow.January 31, 2013 at 11:52 am #91259Young Master SmeetModerator
http://piraniarchive.wordpress.com/home/investigations-campaigns-and-other-stuff/the-break-up-of-the-wrp-from-the-horses-mouth/ Simon Pirani gives an account of the break-up of the WRP (hat tip Stuart, late of this Parish).February 1, 2013 at 7:38 am #91260
We know Healey loyalist Corin Redgrave of old: http://www.newstatesman.com/node/147017Pirani does raise the intriguing question of the psychological state of those who join hierarchical, Leninist organisations and their willingness to submit to the dictates of the Leadership.February 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm #91261
Things must be bad when even the IBT are criticising the SWP "democracy"http://bolshevik.org/statements/ibt_20130203_swp_crisis.htmlFebruary 4, 2013 at 4:47 pm #91262
They're not criticising the SWP for its lack of democracy, but for not being properly "democratic centralist". What else would you expect from people calling themselves "Bolsheviks" !
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.