I found the article ?Statelet with no future? to contain a misrepresentation of Republican Sinn F?in.
Firstly, RSF is opposed to constitutionalism - the issue of decommissioning is only one of many serious disagreements that RSF has with the Provisionals. RSF does not accept the authority of Leinster House, Stormont and Westminster. Secondly, RSF has alignment with the Continuity IRA, but not the Real IRA, who are in alliance with the 32-County Sovereignty Movement.
No disrespect intended, but Peter Manson ought to have checked his article for any factual inaccuracies before submitting it for publication.
Confirming that the CPGB practises what it preaches, we find members were freely encouraged to take issue with one another on pretty fundamental questions at open sessions of the Communist University.
How do I know that? I know because the party press reported these heated debates. I found one of these disagreements particularly instructive. Apparently there was initially much support among CPGB members for threatening a ?principled rebellion? in the event of the Socialist Alliance abandoning the CPGB?s (absolutely correct) defence of a boycott of any referendum on Britain joining the European currency. I am pleased to find that Jack Conrad agrees with me: Leninists in the SA have to lead by example. It would be ironic in the extreme if those advocating that the SA embraces a democratic centralist regime were, simultaneously, refusing to abide by democratically agreed actions.
Could we exert any kind of moral authority inside the SA on this or any other action if we threatened a ?principled rebellion? in the event of our losing the vote? Of course not. On the contrary, we would ourselves be setting a precedent that would scupper any chance of moving towards democratic centralism.
All six of the principal organisations affiliated to the SA should recognise that standing in the tradition of the Bolsheviks is to stand against futile splits or anti-democratic purges. Both serve only to bolster our class enemies by pushing further and further into the future the ability of the vanguard of our class to transform workers from a class in itself into a class for itself.
Enshrining constitutional guarantees for disunity (? la Martin Thomas?s proposals for the SA) do not take us one step further either - they are a recipe for permanent paralysis. I do, nonetheless, share with the Alliance for Workers? Liberty, Socialist Party in England and Wales, International Socialist Group and the Socialist Workers Party certain anxieties about our repelling masses of potential worker activists who want an organised electoral alternative to the Blairites while remaining utterly unconvinced by the CPGB?s unadulterated Leninism.
In a letter a couple of issues ago, I stated that the elements of a comprehensive strategy for a Leninist SA relating to reformist workers lie scattered across many Weekly Worker articles. Regrettably, I forgot to spell out precisely what I thought these elements were. Just in case it was not clear what I was saying, I think the SA should use its priority pledges (whatever these happen to be at any particular time) to drive a wedge between leftwing MPs like Diane Abbot or Jeremy Corbyn and the Blairite machine.
Secondly, rather than assist Blair and apolitical trade union bureaucrats by calling for instant disaffiliation, rank and file trade unionists should be encouraged to scrutinise candidates prior to each election before backing them financially or in any other way. SA candidates have absolutely nothing to fear by submitting ourselves to democratic scrutiny by our class at a series of hustings meetings. It would be counterproductive for us to start demanding unconditional endorsement. What we must do is demand the ending of unions writing blank cheques for Blair?s toadies.
Thirdly, rather than calling on socialists in New Labour to walk away in dribs and drabs, we must seek to organise those who remain to set up underground networks of SA supporters - of Labour Party members who will fight for the unity of our class in principled opposition to the Blairite machine.
These eminently sensible tactics have actually been derided by ex-Labour Party members as rightwing, supposedly for being insufficiently intransigent towards the party which still holds the allegiance of most organised workers. In reality, it constitutes the indispensable strategy revolutionaries need in order to eat into the electoral base of Britain?s bourgeois workers? party, with the aim of ultimately replacing it with an unqualified workers? party.
If the SA does transform itself into a Leninist organisation (which I hope it can), it still needs to reach an accommodation with talented left reformist workers and intellectuals (in particular the verifiably honest ones) who refuse to accept any revolutionary programme as the basis upon which to arrive at democratically agreed actions.
After all, the very last thing we need is two more left electoral alternatives to New Labour. That is why we need to be clear that we can continue to support not only sitting New Labour MPs who endorse our priority pledges, but also other left reformists ready to stand alongside us against Blair. We need to be realistic and admit that there is no way the likes of Liz Davies or Louise Christian will join a Leninist SA party any more than they will join the SWP. Not today, and possibly not ever. But a principled accommodation with them can and must be found. I can see no reason why all six of the principal organisations cannot unite around such a perspective.
The revolutionary left needs to appreciate the importance of our organising the vast bulk of the SA?s activists at this stage in our history. We need to realise that we will have a far better set of bargaining chips with which to cut a deal with any mass reformist workers? party that eventually emerges out of the trade unions - whose ranks are today up in arms against Blairism - if we do not dishonestly disguise ourselves as simple left reformists.
It is of course true that we need to appeal to reformist workers to offer their votes to us, rather than to the Blairites or to make their protest negatively, by abstention. It is certainly possible to convince non-revolutionaries to give us their votes. But we need to be honest that we ourselves are not reformists. Unfortunately, many so-called revolutionary Marxists seem to think that in order to win the votes of reformists, we must pretend we share their prejudices. Not so.
Marxists - real Marxists - have to be clear that we do not believe there is a parliamentary road to socialism, or that the working class can take hold of the ready-made state machinery to wield it for its own purposes, or that the emancipation of the working class can be anything other than the act of the working class itself, or that socialism can be built in a single country. But we can, and must, appeal for the votes of many, workers who today disagree with us on all of these points. The revolutionary wing of the SA needs to democratically debate the purpose of standing in elections because there is clearly no agreed position at this stage.
In the course of such a debate I myself would have to take issue with the CPGB majority, proposing several amendments to the positions defended by Jack Conrad in his new pamphlet, Towards a Socialist Alliance party - in particular, the section on programme (chapter 9).