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SWP (Britain)

A comradely response to Mike Gonzalez’s 'Letters from Venezuela'

Example of Chavista graffiti in an area where Dan Gent was living in Merida. The opposition barricades are way down the road, where you will not find any of this graffiti. 

See also "Federico Fuentes replies to Mike Gonzalez". For more discussion on developments in Venezuela, click HERE.]

April 11, 2014 -- RS21 -- Dan Gent, writes from Venezuela having witnessed the events surrounding the opposition riots. It is offered as a comradely response to Mike Gonzalez’s "Letters from Venezuela". This piece was originally published on the Comrade Markin blog, where there are more photos that Dan has taken in Venezuela. Dan was a participant in the most recent solidarity brigade organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network.

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Britain: People's Assembly conference a step forward in anti-austerity struggle

By Dave Kellaway

March 17, 2014 -- Socialist Resistance, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Bob Crow’s family sent a message of solidarity to the People’s Assembly conference on March 15. They recognised that he was fully supportive of this movement. A truly nationwide movement if you listened to the accents and checked the delegate lists of those attending yesterday. A broad movement with over a dozen major unions affiliated. A movement that is not a top-down coalition, as some of its ultraleft critics have suggested, but one that is embedded in over 80 local groups. More than 660 people registered and there were around 500 in attendance. As someone remarked to me, you could tell it was a broad mobilisation because you did not recognise many people.

The Emmanuel Centre with its biblical exhortations beautifully marked out on the walls was full with activists actually fighting for some of those good intentions in a 21st century where hundreds of thousands have to go to food banks each week.

Britain: Creation of new ex-SWP group welcomed

[For more on the crisis in the SWP, click HERE. For more on the Left Unity project, click HERE.]

By the Socialist Resistance executive committee

January 17, 2014 -- Socialist Resistance -- Socialist Resistance welcomes the news that the comrades who left the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in December as a consequence of the ongoing crisis over the abuse of women in that organisation have launched Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st century group (RS21). We recognise that they have done this in order to continue the struggle for revolutionary politics and we look forward to establishing both practical and political collaboration with them.

We welcome the openness of the statement they have posted on their website and the basic principles around which it is framed.

It is never a time for celebration when an important organisation of the revolutionary left goes into crisis and decline because, ultimately, the whole movement suffers. The question it poses, however, is how to build something new and better out of this experience and how to move on in a positive direction.

Britain: After the SWP -- a moment for revolutionary ambition

Former members of the SWP are discussing what's next?

January 9, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Britain's Socialist Workers Party (SWP) has been in crisis for over a year after the central committee's handling of a rape allegation against one of the party's leaders sparked a huge opposition. Now the last of this opposition, those who chose to stay and take the fight to a second annual conference in December 2013, have resigned as a bloc and are discussing what to do next.

Below, Tom Walker, part of an earlier wave of resignations, lays out a way forward based on what he's learned since leaving the SWP. It first appeared on the web site of the International Socialist Network and has been submitted to Links by the author.

For more on the left unity process in Britain, click HERE.

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By Tom Walker

'Left reformism' and socialist strategy

Syriza supporters march. "Left reformists"?

By Ed Rooksby

October 7, 2013 -- International Socialism -- There has been a significant revival of interest among the radical left in “big picture” questions of socialist strategy that, as Mark L. Thomas has pointed out, represents a return to “important debates of the left largely absent over the last three decades”.1

It is not difficult to identify the major factors driving this. Several years of deep capitalist crisis together with the almost total capitulation of social-democratic parties across Europe to the austerity agenda have opened up a clear space to the left of these organisations—a development that has reinvigorated the radical left, but which has also forced it to confront fundamental questions of strategic orientation.

A Marxist’s place is in the feminist movement

[See also "Why socialists need feminism". For more discussion of feminism, click HERE.]

By Karen Fletcher

August 6, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Tony Cliff was characteristically blunt when he set out what was to become the International Socialist Tendency’s (IST) position on “the feminist movement” in his 1984 book, Class Struggle and Women's Liberation:

How should socialists organise? Paul Le Blanc, Gilbert Achcar discuss Leninism, left unity, revolutionary parties

July 31, 2013 -- SwpTvUK -- The following panel discussion -- involving Paul Le Blanc, a speaker from the SWP and Gilbert Achcar -- took place at Marxism 2013, organised by the British Socialist Workers Party. Questions addressed included Lenism today, "left reformism", the left unity process underway in Britain today and the crisis in the SWP. It is followed by a vigorous discussion from the floor.

For more by Paul Le Blanc click HERE. For Le Blanc's thoughts on Marxism 2013, click HERE. For more on the left unity process in Britain, click HERE. For more on Leninism, click HERE. For more on the crisis in the UK SWP, click HERE.

Des secteurs révolutionnaires à Londres – « Marxism 2013 » et son contexte

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3451.]

Militant trotskyste aux Etats-Unis, historien marxiste renommé, l’auteur avait été invité à intervenir dans le cadre du cycle de conférences publiques, intitulé Marxism, que le SWP de Grande-Bretagne organise chaque année au début de l’été. C’est de cet événement et des échanges qu’il a eus à cette occasion, dans le contexte particulier de la crise que ce parti traverse en 2013, que Paul Le Blanc rend compte ici.

Comme il le rappelle dans son texte, l’auteur est désormais membre de l’ISO (International Socialist Organization, la principale formation de la gauche révolutionnaire aux Etats-Unis, exclue en 2001 de l’IST, le courant international du SWP britannique), alors qu’il provient et continue de se réclamer d’une tradition politique différente, celle de la section états-unienne de la IV° Internationale (l’ancien et défunt SWP de James P. Cannon et Joseph Hansen – à ne pas confondre avec son homonyme insulaire). -- Jean-Philippe Divès

Lindsey German responds to Abbie Bakan and Sharon Smith on ‘Marxist Anti-Feminism’

Lindsey German.

By Lindsey German

July 25, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I would like to respond to the articles by Abbie Bakan and Sharon Smith concerning Marxism and feminism today. Abbie’s article refers to me as a proponent of “Marxist Anti-Feminism”. I was a member of the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) for 37 years until I left in 2010 because I was unhappy with the direction away from the wider movements in which the party was going. I am now a member of Counterfire, a socialist organisation in Britain. I wrote a number of books and articles on the subject of women’s oppression during that time.

Like most people on the left, I have been horrified by the accusations of rape against a leading SWP comrade, and with the way in which the party has handled the issue. I therefore welcome the discussions on issues of women’s oppression that have been, in part at least, triggered by these revelations. Whatever disagreements we might have, those of us on the left have a responsibility to further develop our theories in order to deal with current questions. I feel, however, that some of the arguments relied on here are partial and in some cases distorted.

Let me run through a few points.

Paul Le Blanc: Revolutionary elements in London -- Marxism 2013 and its context

By Paul Le Blanc

July 20, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is an important “far left” organisation in Britain which, among other things, organises an annual educational conference -- Marxism -- in London. The SWP is undergoing a crisis which is only one aspect of a much larger phenomenon, taking place on a global scale within the revolutionary left. This involves a recomposition of the revolutionary socialist movement as a political force, in tandem with the struggles of the multi-faceted working class struggling against the effects of the present world crisis of capitalism.

In what follows, I want to offer a report on what I was able to observe while attending Marxism 2013 (July 11-15, 2013). I will also take up various issues having to do with discussions and debates having to do with the Leninist tradition and how it relates to realities and struggles of our time.

Ahmed Shawki (US ISO): Legacy of the International Socialist Tendancy

July 19, 2013 -- The above talk,"Legacy of Interrnational Socialism", was presented by the US International Socialist Organization's Ahmed Shawki at the organisation's annual Socialism conference in Chicago, June 27-30, 2013. It outlines the some of the history of the International Socialist Tendency and how the Socialist Workers Party of Britain came to dominate and command it. It deals with the relationship between the ISO and SWP, and the current crisis afflicting the UK SWP. It opens a discussion on the basis of international collaboration between left parties. This and other talks are also available at Wearemany.org.

Shawki is author of Black Liberation and Socialism and editor-in-chief of the International Socialist Review.

Barry Sheppard's SWP histories an 'eye-opener' for young socialist activist

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume I: The Sixties, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (Sydney), 2005, 354 pages.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (London), 2012, 345 pages.

[For more reviews of Barry Sheppard's books, visit HERE and SWPhistory.com.]

By Daniel Lopez

Marxism and women's liberation: talks by Sharon Smith, Abbie Bakan (video and text)

July 12, 2013 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Abbie Bakan and Sharon Smith's talks on why it is impossible to be a Marxist without also embracing feminism. It was presented to the International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2013 conference in Chicago, June 27-30.

Abbie Bakan is head of the department of gender studies at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and a professor of political studies. Her research focuses on employment equity, Marxist theory and anti-oppression politics. Sharon Smith is author of Women and Socialism, Subterranean Fire: A History of Working-Class Radicalism in the United States and the forthcoming Marxism, Feminism and Women’s Liberation.

For more video and audio from the Socialism 2013 conference, go to Wearemany.org.

Britain: Steps towards revolutionary unity (updated with discussion documents)

July 10, 2013 -- Anticapitalist Initiative -- This joint statement was agreed by the International Socialist Network, Anticapitalist Initiative and Socialist Resistance delegations to recent unity talks. They met to discuss the formation of a united revolutionary tendency.

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Delegates from Socialist Resistance, the Anticapitalist Initiative and the International Socialist Network came together on Sunday July 7, 2013, to discuss the next steps on the road to forming a united, plural and heterodox revolutionary tendency on the left in Britain.

Scotland: Socialists discuss building a 'better left'

The Scottish Socialist Party's Colin Fox marching in the Edinburgh May Day, 2013.

Click HERE for more on Scotland.

June 17, 2013 -- Frontline, an independent Marxist magazine is Scotland, hosted a meeting recently which brought together socialists from different backgrounds to look at the question of building left unity in Scotland. In the first article below Frontline editor Alister Black reflects on the challenges ahead. Below are also articles from sections of the Scottish left that discuss the prospects for a better left in Scotland.

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Britain: New opportunities for left realignment

By Alan Thornett, Socialist Resistance

May 4, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- The impact of austerity has thrown politics in Britain into turmoil. Both parties of the ruling coalition government -- the Conservative Party (Tories) and the Liberal Democrats -- lost heavily in municipal elections in England last week to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) – a right-wing, populist, anti-immigration party that is pulling all the main parties to the right. Labour’s performance was better but poor, since its answer to austerity is its own brand of austerity and it has pandered to anti-immigrant sentiment.

The left was nowhere in the election – there was nothing to rally the left in the way UKIP rallied the right – which raised again the desperate need for a broad party of the left that can start to do what Syriza has done in Greece: provide a clear anti-austerity platform to which the working class can relate.

Rediscovering Lenin

"Speech by Lenin at a Rally of Workers", by Isaak Israelovitch Brodsky (1929).

By Phil Gasper

April 2013 – International Socialist Review #88, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- Lenin led a successful workers’ revolution, but are his ideas about organisation still relevant today? Does it make any sense to identify oneself as a Leninist in the 21st century?

One of the side effects of the continuing serious crisis of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in Britain has been a renewed debate around this question. I don’t intend to go into the details of the turmoil in the SWP here—suffice it to say that after the serious mishandling of a rape accusation against a leading member and the party leadership’s attempts to end discussion of the matter, some of its outside critics on the left have taken the opportunity to declare the Leninist model of party organisation dead.

Richard Seymour: The British left badly 'needs to change course'

The following are excerpts from a much longer article, "The actuality of a successful capitalist offensive", that appeared on Richard Seymour's website, Lenin's Tomb. Seymour is a leading member of the new IS Network, which is one of a number of developments on the British left that may encourage progress towards a regroupment of the left. The full article is available HERE.

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By Richard Seymour

Britain: Encouraging left regroupment/left unity initiatives

Ken Loach has called for a new left party in Britain.

March 25, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In the recent period a number of left unity/left regroupment initiatives have been launched on Britain's far left. They include the Anti-Capitalist Initiative, Left Unity and radical film director Ken Loach's call for a new left party in Britain.

Another important development has been the formation of the International Socialist Network out the hundreds of revolutionary socialists who have resigned from the Socialist Workers Party during its recent crisis.

And in June 2013 a People's Assembly Against Austerity organised by the Coalition of Resistance is to be held, already having gathered the support of more than 1600 activists from all sections of the left.

Below are a number articles from the British left that introduce and survey some of these developments.

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