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left unity

What kind of left for the 21st century? Democratic Centralism and broad left parties

Socialist Resistance steering comittee

January 2008 -- Since the beginning of the decade important steps have been made in rebuilding the left internationally, following the working class defeats of the ‘80s and ‘90s and the negative impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Broad parties and narrow visions: the SWP and Respect

By Murray Smith

January 4, 2008 -- The crisis which has led to a split in Respect is an important development, affecting as it does the principal force of the radical left in England. The future will tell us whether the current crisis represents just another failure, another dead-end, another missed opportunity for the English left, or whether, as seems increasingly possible, it offers Respect itself the chance for a renewal and is perhaps a step on the road towards a broader formation.

Whichever way you look at it, the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) is at the centre of the crisis. It is or was the central component of Respect, as it had been of the Socialist Alliance which preceded it, and it has been one of the main protagonists in the conflict that has engulfed Respect. So I want to look at what has happened from the point of view of the relationship between the SWP, a traditional far-left organisation, and the broader left formation that Respect is. I think there are some lessons to be learned which go beyond Britain.

DSP Congress reaffirms commitment to broad left regroupment

By Peter Boyle
January 7, 2008 -- The 23rd Congress of the Democratic Socialist Perspective, a Marxist endency in the Socialist Alliance in Australia, reaffirmed its commitment o broader left regroupment.

The Congress noted that a new political terrain was opening up with the
election of the Rudd Labor government on the back of a mass campaign of opposition to the anti-worker "Work Choices" laws introduced by the former Liberal-National government.

The Democratic Socialist Perspective and the Socialist Alliance

The following resolution was adopted by the DSP's 22nd Congress in Sydney, January 5-8, 2006, following extensive internal discussion about the experience as a leading force within the Socialist Alliance since its formation in 2001.

***

The prospects for socialism (or barbarism)

By Boris Kagarlitsky

Not long before the European elections, in which the social democratic vote collapsed, two of the most authoritative social democratic leaders, Tony Blair and Gerhard Schröder, published a letter in which they formulated the principles of the so-called "new centre" (neue Mitte). These principles could be summed up as arguing that the traditional ideas of social democracy (redistribution, a mixed economy and state regulation in the spirit of Keynes) needed to be replaced by new approaches in the spirit of neo-liberalism.

True, the authors of the letter took their distance from neo-liberalism itself, stating that they did not share its illusions that all problems could be solved through market methods. At the same time, they proposed to solve the problems of world trade by liberalising it further. Instead of solidarity, they called for increased competition, and instead of job creation, for preparing young people better for life under the conditions of a constantly changing market conjuncture.

Estrada's decline and the Philippines' left

By Sonny Melencio

Former movie actor Joseph Estrada was elected president of the Philippines in a landslide vote in June 1998. This electoral mandate, however, paled in comparison with the people’s mandate that brought Corazon Aquino to power in 1986. The latter was a product, not of an election, but of the people’s power uprising known as EDSA.

This comparison is significant in that Estrada’s landslide represents a lowered expectation of the masses in the government that they voted into office. The people’s euphoria during the initial period of the Aquino administration was subsequently damped by the regime’s incapacity to alleviate the destitution of the people during its six-year existence. The succeeding administration of Fidel Ramos was a continuation of this suffering.

Militant: what went wrong?

By Phil Hearse

Phil Hearse came into politics through the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and subsequently joined the Young Communist League in 1962 at the age of 13. He was expelled in 1963 for being a member of a "Trotskyist-led faction". From 1967, he was for 27 years a member of the British section of the Fourth International, before joining Militant Labour in 1994. After three years he left with a small group to help found Socialist Democracy.

Proposals For An International Left Platform

By the South African Communist Party

[This is a working draft prepared by the leadership of the SACP and circulated on the internet.]

Internationalism and international links

By Murray Smith

The development of the Scottish Socialist Party [SSP] is not an isolated phenomenon, but part of a process of rebuilding the left internationally. In this article, we look at the relationship between the building of national parties and an international movement.

As Marxists and internationalists, we do not conceive of building a socialist party just in one country, but as part of an international movement. Until January of this year, the ISM was part of an international organisation based in London, the Committee for a Workers' International [CWI]. We took the decision to leave this organisation as a result of growing political differences which first became apparent when the CWI opposed the launching of the SSP three years ago. It gradually became clear that we had radically different and incompatible views concerning the tasks of Marxists today and the kind of parties we should be building.1

Axes of Marxist internationalism

By Murray Smith

Murray Smith is an international officer of the Scottish Socialist Party and a leader of the International Socialist Movement, a Marxist current within it. This paper has been adopted by the ISM.

The fact that the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) is not part of any international organisation makes it all the more important to have an international perspective. The three axes of the party's international work are participation in the movement against capitalist globalisation, solidarity with workers and oppressed peoples and developing the party's international links, in Europe and beyond. Just as the International Socialist Movement (ISM) has no interests other than those of the SSP, so it has no hidden international agenda. But as with other questions, the ISM has a specific role to play as a Marxist platform. In international terms this means not only playing an active role in developing all aspects of the party's international work. It also means deepening our analysis of international events and taking an active part in the debates that involve all those across the world who are working to build new parties and new international links.

The broad party, the revolutionary party and the united front [2]

By Murray Smith

CONTENTS

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.

The broad party, the revolutionary party and the united front [1]

By John Rees

CONTENTS

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.

The united front today

By Nick McKerrell

Nick McKerrell is a leading member of the International Socialist Movement platform in the Scottish Socialist Party. This article is reprinted from issue 8 of Frontline, the ISM's journal in the SSP.

CONTENTS

Regroupment and the socialist left today

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.

CONTENTS

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.

Where is the SWP going?

By Murray Smith

CONTENTS

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.

Resolution on work in the Socialist Alliance

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:

Australia: Letter to Socialist Alliance National Executive

September 3, 2002

  1. State of the Socialist Alliance
  2. The international context
  3. The potential for and constraints on the Socialist Alliance
  4. Political basis for greater unity
  5. The Democratic Socialist tendency and the Socialist Alliance

Dear comrades,

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.

Steps toward greater left unity in Australia

By Peter Boyle

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.

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