Reforging the Party

LAST SUNDAY a special meeting was held in London under the title Democratic centralism, the SWP and the tasks of revolutionaries. It was organised by the CPGB and introduced by members of the International Socialist Group.

The ISG is a group of comrades who have left the SWP and are fighting for democracy in that organisation. Andy Wilson, the opening speaker at the meeting, was expelled from the SWP for raising this demand.

The meeting was also attended by comrades from Open Polemic and the Revolutionary Democratic Group. The lively debate at the meeting was a welcome extension of our efforts to raise the question of the Party and democratic centralism among all revolutionaries in Britain.

Andy Wilson began by explaining some of the theories which had first drawn him towards the SWP, the lynch pin of these being Tony Cliff’s state capitalism. For him and others in the ISG, in the face of bureaucratic regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, this theory expressed the need for self-emancipation of the working class and self-centralism.

The discussion touched on the theory of state capitalism, but centred on the relationship between Party and class and on democracy in the Party. ISG comrades remarked - an irony for them - that despite the theory of state capitalism the internal regime in the SWP was more ‘Stalinist than the Stalinists’.

Comrades in the CPGB suggested that the lack of democracy in the SWP was not so much an irony, as a function of its inherent opportunism - responsible also for its Labourism, as well as for Cliff’s state capitalist theory.

Comrades in the RDG, ISG and CPGB agreed on the need for principled unity around a revolutionary programme and with full factional rights, allowing all views to be organised, expressed and thus developed.

In principle no one was against joining with the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB for the task of reforging the Party the working class needs, and further discussions will no doubt be held. The CPGB welcomes this discussion and urges the comrades to use our press and meetings to carry it forward.

Lee-Anne Bates