Party News: Monty Johnstone Debate
Something of an old tradition, the public debate, was revived at a well-attended meeting at Islington Central Library last year. On the day that President Brezhnev’s death was announced, Monty Johnstone of Marxism Today and the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain opposed the view that Lenin had distorted the ideas of Karl Marx. Stephen Coleman for the Socialist Party of Great Britain put the case that Leninism and Marxism were contradictory political ideologies.
The debate was chaired by Philip Watkins, the chairman of the Liberal Association in Islington. Johnstone described the Russian revolution of October 1917 as “a bold historical step” and said that “it had resulted in negative phenomena, but also in phenomena which have in their historical importance been enormously positive”. Coleman opposed the anti-working class governments in such places as Russia and Poland and argued that Leninism was basically an “elitist political view”. He supported Marx’s view that “the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class themselves”. This debate was the first in a series to be run by the Socialist Party in Islington against defenders of capitalism.