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SWP (Britain)

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.

Marxismo, feminismo y liberación de la mujer

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3210]

Por Sharon Smith, traducción para Sinpermiso.info por Lola Rivera

10/3/2013 -- Sinpermiso -- Inessa Armand, la primera dirigente del Departamento de la Mujer en la Revolución Rusa de 1917, hizo la siguiente observación: “Si la liberación de la mujer es impensable sin el comunismo, el comunismo es también impensable sin la liberación de la mujer”. Esta afirmación es un perfecto resumen de la relación entre la lucha por el socialismo y la lucha por la liberación de la mujer: no es posible una sin la otra.

Britain: Mark Steel on the crisis in the SWP -- 'Oh Good Lord what have they gone and done NOW?'

By Mark Steel

March 13, 2013 -- Mark Steel's Blog -- It shouldn’t matter. It really shouldn’t matter, should it, what goes on in the Socialist Workers Party. Their membership is roughly the average home gate at Mansfield Town. By the time I left them, in 2007, the most common comment I heard about them was, "Oh. Are they still going?" the way you might refer to Bernard Cribbins.

But somehow they’ve got themselves in such a mess that thousands of people have been gripped by it, as if it’s a real life Trotskyite soap opera, with onlookers settling before the internet with a tub of ice cream for the latest episode and gasping, “Oh my God they’ve called the faction leader a disgraceful liberal moralist, I can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow.”

John Riddell: Party democracy in Lenin’s Comintern – and small Marxist groups today

[For more articles by John Riddell, click HERE. For more on the Communist International, click HERE. For more on the British SWP, click HERE. For more on revolutionary organisation, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

February 20, 2013 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- How did Communist parties handle issues of internal discipline and democracy in Lenin’s time? An intense discussion now under way within the British Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) raises issues related to the nature of internal democracy in the Communist International (Comintern) during 1919–23, the period of its first four congresses.[1]

Marxism, feminism and women's liberation

Alexandra Kollontai, a leading member of the Bolshevik Party and one its leading theoreticians on women's oppression.

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

January 31, 2013 -- Sharon Smith, International Socialist Organization (USA) member and author of the soon-to-be-republished Women and Socialism: Essays on Women's Liberation, examines how some in the Marxist tradition have approached the struggle to end women's oppression, including its attitude toward other theories. This article is based on a talk given at the US ISO's Socialism 2012 conference in Chicago. It first appeared in the US Socialist Worker. It represents an important reassessment in the approach of an influential tendency within the international Marxist movement, those associated with or with their origins in the International Socialist Tendency.

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Britain: Is the left coming together or falling apart?

By Socialist Resistance (Britain)

January 29, 2013 -- This is the editorial from the latest issue of the British socialist newspaper Socialist Resistance -- Recent events on the [British] left give the impression that it is falling apart. Last summer, following George Galloway’s outrageous comments on rape, Respect suffered the resignation of Kate Hudson, Andrew Burgin, Salma Yaqoob and others. Now, the Socialist Workers Party is tearing itself apart after its leadership tried to protect one of its own from allegations of rape in order to “defend the party”.

Paul Le Blanc: Leninism is unfinished

February 1, 2013 -- The crisis in the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) has stirred a sharp debate among party members about the allegations of sexual harassment and rape at the centre of the crisis and about how a revolutionary organisation deals with disputes and disagreements among its members and leaders. In response to an article titled "Is Leninism Finished" by SWP leader Alex Callinicos, Paul Le Blanc, author of numerous books, including Lenin and the Revolutionary Party, published the following comment on the website of the newspaper of the US International Socialist Organization.

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[For more on the British SWP, click HERE. For more on revolutionary organisation, click HERE. for more discussion on Leninism, click HERE and HERE. More articles by Paul Le Blanc can be found HERE.]

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By Paul Le Blanc

Britain: Socialist Workers Party members debate 'Leninism', party democracy (updated Feb. 3)

The first document below was produced by opposition members of British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) (authors listed at its conclusion, the best known include Richard Seymour, Neil Davidson and China Miéville). The SWP is the dominant party within the International Socialist Tendency, with affiliates around the world. The SWP is presently in the midst of a major dispute over inner-party democracy. The article is a reply to SWP leader Alex Callinicos' recent article, "Is Leninism finished?"

Following that are two articles by Tom Walker, a former Socialist Worker journalist who resigned from the SWP during the current dispute.

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Britain: Reflections on the crisis in the Socialist Workers Party

"As an important part of the English-speaking left, the SWP over the years has influenced many individuals and groups. Without correction, the actions by the current leadership, along with the errors regarding women’s oppression and left organising, risk damaging the project of building a new left for the 21st century." 

[For more on the British SWP, click HERE. For more on revolutionary organisation, click HERE.]

By Paul Kellogg

January 13, 2013 – PolEcon.net, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with author's permission

Greece in the eye of the storm (the Greek left, SYRIZA and the limits of the concept of ‘left reformism’)

SYRIZA rally. Photo by SYN Flickr.

By Paul Kellogg

November 18, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, originally published as six notes at PolEcon.net. Republished here with Paul Kellogg’s permission.-- An economic crisis of enormous proportions has erupted in a first world country in the global North. The scale of the economic crisis in Greece has few modern equivalents, and is at the root of a massive social and political upheaval. Navigating that crisis poses difficult challenges for the social movements in Greece, and has important lessons for activists around the world. The article that follows is an attempt to provide information that can assist those, unfamiliar with the situation in Greece, in navigating this situation.

Richard Seymour: A comment on Greece and Syriza

Photo from Kasama Project.

[For more discussion of SYRIZA, click HERE.]

By Richard Seymour

October 9, 2012 -- International Socialism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal in the interests of promoting left discussion -- The “strategic perplexity” of the left confronted with the gravest crisis of capitalism in generations has been hard to miss.1 Social democracy continues down the road of social liberalism. The far left has struggled to take advantage of ruling-class disarray. Radical left formations have tended to stagnate at best. Two exceptions to this pattern are the Front de Gauche in France and Syriza in Greece. While the Front de Gauche did not do as well as many hoped, it did channel a large vote for the radical left in the presidential elections won by Hollande. Meanwhile, Syriza is potentially a governing party in waiting.

Is Venezuela a 'one off'? A response to Richard Seymour's must-read analysis

Supporters of the Bolivarian revolution mobilise in their millions. Caracas, October 3, 2012.

Click HERE for more coverage and analysis of the Venezuelan revolutionary process.

By Stuart Munckton

October 13, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Richard Seymour has written a very interesting analysis on Venezuela that is a must read for a number of reasons. It is open ended in its assessments and deliberately poses as many questions as it seeks to answer. Fair enough, as the revolution is open ended and poses questions that only the struggle will answer.

It is far superior to the article written by the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP) Latin American "expert" Mike Gonzalez, that acknowledged reforms, victory against the right, but then presented the ongoing struggles in a basically distorted "from below counterposed to Chavez" line.

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