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By Ben Reid
August-April 2003 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, no. 23 -- Many of the most important mass struggles today are occurring within Latin America—in Bolivia, Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil. These countries vary considerably in their political and economic crises. The decades of political and economic restructuring that followed the debt crisis of the early 1980s have sometimes been accompanied by formal democratisation. The forces of the working class and the oppressed have been obligated to contest the electoral sphere in the midst of crises generated by the implementation of neo-liberal policies of financial liberalisation and export production. A challenge is posed, however, as to how this space will be utilised.
By Francois Duval
Francois Duval is a leader of the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire.
By Murray Smith
- SWP history
- The transformation of social democracy
- The united front
- What kind of party?
- Some points in conclusion
John Rees' contribution to the debate over what kind of party socialists should be building today deals with fundamental issues [see page 82]. As such it is very welcome, as is the reproduction in International Socialist Journal of the two articles from Frontline by Nick McKerrell and myself. The issues in this debate are also in one form or another being debated internationally. The three main points that I want to take up here are the nature of the Labour Party and similar parties elsewhere, the united front today and the question of broad and/or revolutionary parties, of what kind of party we need today.
By John Rees
- How did we get here?
- The nature of Labourism
- The united front approach
- The need for a revolutionary party
The resurgence of radicalism in the anti-capitalist movement and the trade unions has provoked an important debate across the left internationally. The issue is this: what kind of party should socialists build? Should it be a broad socialist party or a revolutionary organisation? This is a discussion that has recurred many times in the socialist movement since at least the days of Marx and Engels. But it has been renewed today both because of the rebirth of radicalism and because of the decline of Labourism and the traditional Communist parties. Murray Smith and Nick McKerrell have made important contributions to this discussion in recent articles in the magazine Frontline, reproduced in this journal. Murray Smith also raises some important questions about the history of the Socialist Workers Party, and so before we address the substance of this debate it is worth recalling the path that the left has taken to reach its current position.
By Nick McKerrell
By Alex Callinicos
Alex Callinicos is a leader of the Socialist Workers Party in Britain. His most recent book is Against the Third Way: an anti-capitalist critique.
The millennium was celebrated as marking the entry of the world into an epoch of capitalist prosperity and peace. In reality, the years that followed have been marked by the development of a global economic recession and by the most serious international crisis since the end of the Cold War. In counterpoint to these grim events has been the emergence since the Seattle protests in November 1999 of a worldwide movement in opposition to global capitalism and, increasingly, also to US imperialism's war drive. This has provided the context for a significant revival in Europe of what has come to be known as the radical left - parties to the left of mainstream social democracy. Among the most important developments are the success of Trotskyist candidates in the first round of the French presidential elections in April 2002, the shift leftwards by the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) in Italy, and the electoral challenge to New Labour mounted by the Socialist Alliance and the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) in Britain.
By Murray Smith
- Turning point
- Origins of the SWP
- The 1989-91 earthquake
- Cliff's troika
- Crossing the desert?
- The united front
- The crisis of the workers' movement
The Socialist Workers Party is the largest far-left organisation in Britain. The international current of which it is the centre, the International Socialist Tendency, one of several Trotskyist or post-Trotskyist internationals, is present in more than twenty countries. The SWP and the IST represent a force that has to be taken into account when considering the processes of recomposition and regroupment taking place on the left internationally, particularly in Europe, and how they evolve can make a positive or negative contribution to those processes.
by John Percy
from the Democratic Socialist Party
This resolution was adopted by the Twentieth Congress of the Australian Democratic Socialist Party [DSP], held in Sydney from December 28, 2002 to January 1, 2003. For an explanation of its background, see Peter Boyle's article in this issue.
This Twentieth Congress of the Democratic Socialist Party:
September 3, 2002
- State of the Socialist Alliance
- The international context
- The potential for and constraints on the Socialist Alliance
- Political basis for greater unity
- The Democratic Socialist tendency and the Socialist Alliance
I am writing to you on behalf of the National Executive of the Democratic Socialist Party to advise you that we have initiated a discussion in our party about making a radically bigger commitment towards left unity within the Socialist Alliance.
By Peter Boyle
- Leninist approach
- Politics of the Socialist Alliance
- ISO ultimatum
- Lessons from previous regroupment attempts
In September 2, 2002, the Democratic Socialist Party [DSP] national executive adopted the perspective of making the Socialist Alliance the party its members build by transforming the DSP into an internal tendency within the Socialist Alliance. The sole purpose of the Democratic Socialist tendency (DST), as it was to be called, would be to complete the process of left regroupment while preserving for the Socialist Alliance our main political gains (such as a popular weekly newspaper, our nationwide network of activist centres, and a politically educated cadre). Apart from carrying out this transition, the DST would not seek to be a permanent political tendency.
The national executive decided to conduct a thorough DSP membership discussion on this proposal, leading up to the party's Twentieth Congress (December 28, 2002-January 1, 2003) while arguing the case for this new step in left regroupment in the Socialist Alliance and facilitating a broader discussion in Green Left Weekly.
Challenges in uniting the left
Previous issues of Links have frequently discussed internationalism and internationals, or the question of how socialists should collaborate on an international scale. This issue is devoted to the closely related matter of left regroupment, or how socialists can collaborate at the national level. It discusses the challenges of left regroupment through concrete experiences in Australia, England, Scotland, France and Brazil.
In Australia in 2002, the Socialist Alliance, grouping nearly all the far-left organisations, was able to overcome difficult electoral registration requirements in several states and attract as new members a significant number of activists who were not members of any of the component groups. In September, the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), the largest member organisation of the Alliance, proposed to spur the process of left regroupment by becoming an internal tendency within the Alliance and carrying out all its public political activity through the Socialist Alliance.