Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 22, 2007

Lenin’s Tomb on the crisis in RESPECT

Filed under: revolutionary organizing,socialism — louisproyect @ 8:11 pm

An article by Richard Seymour (aka, the blogger Lenin’s Tomb) has just shown up on MRZine, an online publication that is associated with Monthly Review. The article defends Seymour’s organization, the British SWP, against its rivals over who is to blame for the split in RESPECT, a promising leftwing alternative to Labour. Edited by Yoshie Furuhashi, MRZine is widely perceived as a vehicle for some of her ideas about the need to synthesize socialism and Islamic radicalism. Since one of the SWP’s main complaints about its rivals is “communalism,” in other words pandering to “notables” in the Islamic/immigrant communities in order to get votes Tammany Hall-style, an exception to the general editorial dynamic must have been made in this instance. If there is one thing that can be said about Islamist politics in the Arab world, it is that it is based on this kind of old-fashioned politicking.

Seymour informs his readers that the struggle commenced with a letter written by George Galloway:

The letter, a scattergun attack on various organisational problems in Respect, with the implicit target being leading SWP member and Respect National Secretary John Rees, was taken by the SWP as a manifestation of a developing left-right division in the organisation and an attack on the largest far left party in the coalition.

As one who has read the letter, I could find no such “left-right” division–even implicitly. You can read it at http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=726. Mostly it seems consumed with organizational problems, including fund-raising:

This is all but non-existent. We have stumbled from one financial crisis to another. And with the prospect of an early general election we are simply unable to challenge the major parties in our key constituencies. None of the Respect staff appears to have been tasked with either membership or fundraising responsibilities. Or if they have it isn’t working. There is a deep-seated culture of amateurism and irresponsibility on the question of money. Activities are not properly budgeted and even where budgets are set they are not adhered to. Take, for example, the Fighting Unions Conference which was full to the rafters but still managed to lose £5000. The intervention at Pride, where we gave away merchandise rather than sold it, lost £2000.

Perhaps the “left-right” division is based on Galloway’s annoyance with giving away merchandise, a bourgeois deviation to say the least. Any true socialist will understand that selling merchandise rather than giving it way is the road to perdition.

Seymour next informs his readers about the kind of Tammany Hall behavior that forced the SWP to uphold the banner of the proletariat:

On various occasions, notable members attempted to purchase memberships at concessionary rates for a number of people at the door, with the presumed intention of affecting votes on crucial matters. One such vote would be on the delegates for the national conference that has recently taken place — a technique refined by the mainstream parties and known as “pocket members”. In another, a handwritten list of delegates, including non-members of the branch (one nominated entirely because they worked George Galloway’s office) was presented out of the blue, 90 minutes into the meeting.

This is what those in the legal profession call hearsay evidence and is hardly worth commenting on. I should add that when I was in the American SWP a lifetime ago (no relationship to the British SWP other than their belief that they are the vanguard of the coming socialist revolution), we used to call this an “atrocity story”. Used by somebody properly trained in the fine arts of demagogy, it can be a powerful tool.

At a subsequent committee meeting, George Galloway MP arrived and denounced the SWP. He argued that they were “Leninists”, “Russian dolls” who had no business being in the leadership of Respect. The implication was that the party was an outside element, its membership composed of Manchurian Candidate-style foils, trying to control the Respect coalition, a claim that has since been made explicit, despite its patent absurdity.

Well, I don’t know about “Russian dolls”, but surely somebody who calls himself Lenin’s Tomb might not want to make a big stink about being called a Leninist. I guess the problem being called attention to here is red-baiting. My advice to Richard Seymour, and anybody else who belongs to a group like the SWP, is this. If you want to avoid these kinds of complaints, you have to dump the “democratic centralism” nonsense. My experience in the American SWP from 1967 to 1978 gives me a kind of perspective into these sorts of conflicts that might be helpful.

My group was always being charged in the same fashion. And, like Richard, we always attributed this to red-baiting. What we didn’t understand at the time was the natural animosity that arose when people in the mass movement figured out that we had our votes lined up in advance and it made no difference what arguments were raised in favor of alternative proposals. As “Leninists”, we understood that the revolutionary party worked out its line within its ranks (the central committee) and then fought for it in the mass movement. It simply made no fucking difference if we were proposing something daft. If a party member decided that it was daft and spoke out against it or acted against it in public, they would get the boot.

This, in fact, is what has happened to a number of long-time SWP members working in RESPECT, including Nick Wrack. When Wrack decided that Galloway’s proposals made sense and voted to support them, he was expelled.

This kind of trigger-finger on the expulsion button has nothing to do with the Bolshevik Party’s functioning. From its birth to the victory of the October 1917 revolution, there is only a single member who was expelled–namely Bogdanov. When members of the Bolshevik Party, including central committee members, broke discipline and spoke out against the seizure of power in October 1917, they were not expelled. It is only with the fetishization of Bolshevik “norms” in the 1920s that this kind of strict discipline became commonplace. It was understood as “Leninism” both by the CP’s and by the Trotskyist parties, including subvariants of Trotskyism such as the British SWP.

Recent scholarship, most especially as found in Lars T. Lih’s “Lenin Rediscovered”, puts democratic centralism into some kind of context. If the British SWP or any other group swearing allegiance to Leninist principles went back and took a closer look at how the Bolsheviks operated with an unbiased eye, they would understand that they have very little in common. And as long as they adhere to bogus notions of “democratic centralism,” which essentially means accepting the discipline of the party rather than the mass movement, then they will continue to be regarded as manipulative, controlling, etc.

Richard continues:

To put it moderately, the SWP has always comprised a minority in both the membership of Respect and in its leadership positions and could therefore not possibly ‘control’ Respect.

This is really beside the point. The American SWP was also a minority in the coalitions and activist organizations of the mass movement. We were not interested in “capturing” ourselves. But a well-organized minority (we called ourselves the big red machine) could always push through its agenda through dint of effort. And when we couldn’t, we could always walk away as the British SWP did with respect to RESPECT.

It is of some interest what Richard has to say about members of the International Socialists Group, who have sided with Galloway:

The retort has been that many socialists in the organisation, such as the ISG, support George Galloway’s position, and therefore it could not be an attack on the socialist left. If you take this argument seriously, then it follows that there was no left-right split over the war on Iraq, since a number of people who place themselves on the Left supported it.

To start with, this is a perfectly silly argument. Just because Norm Geras and Christopher Hitchens “place themselves on the left”, there is no reason to accept that they are leftists. As is generally the case on the left, imperialist war is an acid test. If you back imperialist war, you suffer the consequences of being excluded from the left no matter how many times the Euston Manifesto describes itself as upholding the True Leftist banner.

It is of some interest that the ISG has a position that is much closer to Lars Lih and others (including myself) on the “Leninism” question. Murray Smith, who was one of the best known members of the ISG (he apparently is working with the LCR in France right now) has been involved in an ongoing debate on “democratic centralism” in the pages of Links, the theoretical magazine of the Democratic Socialist Party in Australia, a group that shares the British SWP’s misconceptions. Although the proximate cause of Smith’s article in issue 26 is to stake out a reasonable middle ground between the DSP and yours truly, who he describes as “mistaken”, I find much of what Smith writes to be highly commendable, including this:

The entire history of the RSDLP, and of the Bolshevik faction and then party, was marked by often sharp debates. Practically all of them were public. Why was that? In the first place, public debate is not necessarily contradictory with democratic centralism. Properly understood, democratic centralism is a means to achieve unity in action around decisions taken after democratic debate. What it is not is an attempt to impose ideological uniformity.

Although it would surely defy the most deeply held convictions of the British SWP, they would be acting more “Leninist” if they would have allowed a Nick Wrack to argue against John Rees openly. Furthermore, if a genuinely mass revolutionary party ever evolves in Britain, it will be marked by this kind of open debate. This is not to say that deeply mistaken and self-limiting propaganda groups like the SWP cannot play a useful role, for without them many thousands of young workers and students would be robbed of the opportunity of hearing a socialist analysis.

The rest of Richard’s article consists of “he said this,” “she did that” type atrocity tales that are hardly worth commenting on. I generally find Lenin’s Tomb a most bracing and perceptive source of Marxist analysis, but on the RESPECT affair, it is entirely wrong-headed and as a more serious offense quite boring.

14 Comments »

  1. As one who has read the letter, I could find no such “left-right” division–even implicitly.

    I don’t think I suggested that the left-right split could be read off simply from the letter. In fact I’m fairly certain I elucidated the basis of the split as one of how to respond to the enormous pressures of careerism, clietelism and the impact of the Labour Party machine. I’m personally not content to call this “communalism”, but if you remove the politics and allow representatives who don’t really care that much about the principles of Respect, you suck out the radicalism and end up with an increasingly conservative, opportunist, electoralist organisation. That has already cost us in ways I outline.

    There is the question of the letter’s failure to cohere. Many of the criticisms are in fact untrue, and have been dealt with, but even the ones that are accurate hardly redound to Galloway’s advantage. The reason the letter is scattergun and hypocritical is because it was an attempt to galvanise different forces in Respect around his aim, which was to depose the national secretary. The reason for doing so was because the national secretary opposed the strategy of one side of Respect that accepted the careerism, clientelism and so on, so long as it would enable certain people to win elections. Now, what do you think is the effect of subordinating the largest socialist bloc in Respect? Aside from the question of why on earth we should accept being subordinated due to problems that everyone in the coalition bears some responsibility for, how would it not weaken the left within the coalition?

    This is what those in the legal profession call hearsay evidence and is hardly worth commenting on.

    Actually, this isn’t even denied. No one denies that the list contained names that didn’t originate from the branch; no one denies that it was presented 90 minutes into the meeting and was handwritten. And I don’t even think the various deadbeats at Socialist Unity (sic) would deny that there was pocket membership going on. The members will tell you that this happened, and practically everyone in the local branches can give you precise examples of who did what and when. It isn’t hearsay, it is fact, and it is one of the huge problems we have faced.

    Well, I don’t know about “Russian dolls”, but surely somebody who calls himself Lenin’s Tomb might not make a big stink about being called a Leninist.

    You will understand that I don’t regard your advice on democratic centralism as being particularly pertinent here – it has *nothing* to do with this split. However, I do want to clarify the point about Leninists and so on. The reason Galloway said it is not because he really wanted to engage with our political tradition, but because he wanted to characterise us according to a popular stereotype of Leninism as controlling, authoritarian etc. In the same way, he didn’t tell a certain other person that it was about “Trotskyism” because he really thought the legacy of Leon Trotsky was implicated. He calibrates his language in different settings to satisfy the audience. I have no problem with being described as a Leninist, but I do know that the use of language is not always literal – it is about connotation as well as denotation.

    The American SWP was also a minority in the coalitions and activist organizations of the mass movement. We were not interested in “capturing” ourselves. But a well-organized minority (we called ourselves the big red machine) could always push through its agenda through dint of effort.

    This is beside the point: the fact is that we did not push our agenda through. We supported an alternative selection for a candidate, lost the vote, accepted it, and campaigned for the chosen candidate. That’s what we would have expected of anyone else, and that’s what we insisted on for ourselves.

    You appear to have approached this on the basis of highly specific experiences of your own, paying no attention to the actual specifics of this case. No one would deny that we accepted losing that vote, campaigned for Harun Miah, and helped him win the seat. What George Galloway denies is that we had a right within the coalition to argue for an alternative selection.

    Just because Norm Geras and Christopher Hitchens “place themselves on the left”, there is no reason to accept that they are leftists.

    Hitchens doesn’t do that, in fact. The point is, however, that plenty of left-wingers have taken right-wing positions without even acknowledging that they are right-wing, especially on the question of imperialism. Simply because a left-wing person espouses a particular position doesn’t mean that they have been consistent or left-wing in espousing that position. This is patently obvious, and those advancing the argument must be doing so in bad faith.

    Although it would surely defy the most deeply held convictions of the British SWP, they would be acting more “Leninist” if they would have allowed a Nick Wrack to argue against John Rees openly.

    That was never the issue. The issue was whether he should accept a competing position as a member of the SWP.

    Now, at this point it would behoove you to acknowledge that, although the SWP didn’t start this fight it did make concessions. It wasn’t prepared to accept the position explained by George Galloway in a Tower Hamlets Respect committee meeting that the SWP had no role in the leadership at all, but it did accept the National Organiser position to address some of the problems.

    on the RESPECT affair, it is entirely wrong-headed and–of a more serious offense–boring.

    I find it difficult to take either charge seriously since, as you have demonstrated, you know nothing of the case. I have provided details which Respect members have confirmed time and again. I have done the actual work of speaking to them and finding out, and paying attention to the arguments coming from both sides, so I know what I’m talking about. That’s a rather important advantage to have. I might add that your attempt to compress a very complex argument into a rant about your own theoretical obsession with democratic centralism is hardly a high-octane thriller.

    Comment by lenin — November 22, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

  2. “I might add that your attempt to compress a very complex argument into a rant about your own theoretical obsession with democratic centralism is hardly a high-octane thriller.”

    I would only state that Richard made the same point on his own blog when I used to post there, along with a veiled threat that my comments would be censored if I didn’t engage with him on the “atrocity tale” basis. Despite his assurances, this *is* very much about democratic centralism as the expulsions of key members of the SWP would indicate. If Richard, Callinicos, Rees and all the rest were not so clueless about what Lenin really was trying to do, he and his crew would not be working overtime to undo a public relations disaster.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 22, 2007 @ 9:11 pm

  3. When Wrack decided that Galloway’s proposals made sense and voted to support them, he was expelled.

    That is, incidentally, rubbish. Really, Louis, you should try and find out the facts of the case before spouting off like that. Nick Wrack was not expelled for supporting Galloway’s proposals. The sole concrete proposal was the creation of a National Organiser position, to work alongside Rees. That decision was approved unanimously by the National Council.

    Comment by lenin — November 22, 2007 @ 9:12 pm

  4. You were never threatened with censorship, and this self-pitying drama is pathetic and irritating. Provide a single example of this ‘veiled’ threat.

    Secondly, you haven’t been able to provide a single reason for thinking this is about democratic centralism. You refer to the expulsion of members who broke party discipline, but everyone in the party accepts this discipline as a condition of membership, and it is *not* the cause of the split. Galloway doesn’t give a damn if SWP members are expelled, and neither does anyone else on his side.

    Comment by lenin — November 22, 2007 @ 9:14 pm

  5. You refer to the expulsion of members who broke party discipline, but everyone in the party accepts this discipline as a condition of membership, and it is *not* the cause of the split.

    Sigh. You are even more clueless on this question than I thought. That you and other SWP members can speak highly of Lars Lih’s book can only be described as political schizophrenia. Your understanding of “discipline” is flawed. It is derived from Tony Cliff’s misreading of Lenin, which was typical of a number of Trotskyist leaders of his generation. As I said, you are entitled to run your party on the basis of this misunderstanding. I think that the SWP does some very good work, even though it is eminently disqualified from ever playing a major role in the creation of a revolutionary party–unless it dumps the “democratic centralist” horseshit of course.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 22, 2007 @ 9:36 pm

  6. errr – Richard.

    Speaking as someone who you descibe as a deadbeat :o)

    One thing I found very revealing about your account was that your criticised the galloway camp for apppearing on BBC newsnight, without mentioning that your SWP sentral committee member John rees, and SWP travelling councollor Oli Rahman alao appeared in there, and it was the SWP who accepted the BBC invitation first1!! What is more Oli Rahman peddled his implausible story that he was the victim of politically motivated violence from the gallaoway supporters.

    i know that you travel light in terms of Marxist theory, and make up for it with academic post-grad arrogance and a keen interst in newspaper articles about the Middle east, but in fact Louis is on the money isn’t he??? that this issue is about democratic centralism, and the SWP’s under-theorised “United Front of a Special type”??

    The funniest was last weeks article by callinicos in SW, where he said that the problem was “reformists” reverting to type? What dies that mean, didn’t your brilliant central committee predict that if you k=joined a broad party the nnon-revolutionaries might stay as non-revolutionaroes? What did you think would happen? That after a few years of rubbing shoulders with you r-r-revolutionaries that Galloway and Abjol Miah would just do what your central committee thinks best?

    The truth is that this was another Cliff style get-rich-quick scheme that you didn’t think through.

    Comment by Andy Newman — November 23, 2007 @ 1:41 am

  7. The SWP’s (US) democratic centralism, in the antiwar movement against the war in Vietnam, is what saved it from being a “negotiate now” movement. You should be bragging about your past.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — November 23, 2007 @ 3:46 am

  8. The reason for doing so was because the national secretary opposed the strategy of one side of Respect that accepted the careerism, clientelism and so on, so long as it would enable certain people to win elections.

    Ahem. I suggest to my compatriot that if John did take such a position, he kept very very quiet about it. Perhaps this is the Elmer Fudd school of Leninism.

    On the other hand, perhaps the problem was that the right people weren’t winning elections. Hence the hue and cry about “pocket memberships” in Tower Hamlets and Birmingham, while elsewhere it was perfectly all right for the SWP to register members en masse or even revive moribund branches for the sole purpose of electing conference delegates…

    Are you sure this is an argument you want to get into?

    Comment by splinteredsunrise — November 23, 2007 @ 8:08 pm

  9. As one of a number of SWP members expelled for opposing SWP sectarianism inside Respect, I don’t accept Richard Seymore’s claim that ‘democratic centralism…has *nothing* to do with this split’.

    The SWP’s version of democratic centralism, combined with their ultra-leftism, has everything to do with the split.

    As Respect developed and broadened, as the gap between the reasons for our electoral successes and SWP influence widened, so the SWP increasingly resorted to the same style of top down, autocratic management to control Respect that characterizes the regime that runs the SWP. Worse, Respect became infected with some of the uglier aspects of the SWP’s internal culture. Both our most high profile elected councillors in Tower Hamlets and Birmingham, Abjol Miah and Salma Yaqoob, complained of being bullied by SWP leader John Rees. And both they, and others, suffered ostracisation by a National Office controlled by Rees because they had the temerity to disagree with him. Not exactly practices conducive to the proper workings of Respect, an organization in which working in a consensual manner was seen as fundamental to its existence as a coalition. Tensions around SWP control freakery, and the political damage Rees autocratic style was causing, formed the backdrop to George Galloway’s letter.

    As for the SWP attempting to counter pose this split as being between those who pander to the pull of ‘communalism’, (the term the SWP use but Seymore, quite rightly, is embarrassed about), and those who don’t, anybody with even the most elementary grap of what is happening on the ground knows this to be rubbish.

    The one person who has done more to both explain what more accurately would be called electoralist pressures, and show in practice how to undercut them, is Respect founder Salma Yaqoob (see her recent interview in Green Left weekly and article Feminist Review, forthcoming). Yet she is the very person supposedly in the leadership of a communalistic pandering right wing bloc! Indeed the SWP have never theorized nor substantiated what exactly these pressures are, and how they express themselves, other than making reference to ‘pocket members’ i.e. election candidates signing up their supporters from their networks to support their candidacy. Their charge of ‘communalism’, and most cynically, a ‘witch-hunt’, are factional devices designed to whip their own supporters into line behind an ultra-left turn.

    The SWP would rather have a Respect they retain control over, even at the cost of driving out their biggest electoral successes, than one they don’t control, for fear that such an entity could successfully occupy political space to the left of Labour and in so doing prove a competitor to the SWP. Their conception of Respect is one that occupies a subordinate role to the SWP and serves as a conveyor track into it, facilitated by one or two high profile SWP victories like election to the Greater London Assembly (a prospect now dead in the water). Commitment to a more ambitious, non-sectarian conception of Respect, went down the toilet with John Rees’s failed Tower Hamlets election campaign and similar SWP failures elsewhere. This sectarianism has been massively compounded by a model of democratic centralism inside the SWP more characterized by a culture of bullying, deference and self censorship, than genuine participation, democracy and member ownership of the decision making process.

    Comment by Ger Francis — November 24, 2007 @ 2:42 am

  10. Well Comrades,

    As a Shachtmanite (and the bad kind at that), I am convinced that my naive and even delusional faith in the realignment of the Democratic Party will bear more fruits for the socialist cause than sectarian arguments between Cliffites and Cannonites (or whatever flavor of Trotskyism Comrade Proyect identifies with). I think Proyect is right about “democratic centralism” but I think he is wrong to say this authoritarianism was some late degeneration of the 1920s.

    All the best,
    Adrian

    Comment by Adrian — November 24, 2007 @ 4:09 am

  11. PS: But I do think the SWP’s “Cliff style get-rich-quick scheme” has turned out rather well all things considered. Our ISO must be SOOOOOO jealous of the SWP’s relative prominence in the British left.

    Comment by Adrian — November 24, 2007 @ 4:15 am

  12. (1) There are elements in Galloway’s letter which can be ‘decoded’ as political criticisms from the right (of the SWP). The first is the characterisation of the ‘Fighting Unions’ conference as a waste of money: the SWP and Rees in particular have been urging in a limited way a stronger orientation to the trade unions both in Respect and in Stop the War Coalition, and this is a traditional left approach. The second is the complaint about councillors being pressed to participate in Respect’s intervention in Lesbian/ Gay Pride 2007. It has been a sore point with the rest of the left since the beginning of Respect, and probably with some SWP rank-and-filers, that Respect involved an attempted alliance with political islamist groups who are positively hostile to lesbian/ gay equality issues, and involved the SWP downplaying this issue. The pressure on Respect councillors to attend Pride could be read as an attempt by the SWP to ‘move left’ on this issue and Galloway’s criticism of it as a criticism from the right.

    (2) However, the split *is* also about “democratic-centralism” or, more correctly, bureaucratic or Bonapartist centralism. It is, of course, true that any party has to have the power to expel people who act directly against it (this is as true of mainstream as of left parties). But the expulsion of Ovenden, Hovenden and Wrack was plainly a pre-emptive strike to prevent discussion within the SWP and protect the jobs of the SWP’s central leadership. It thus belongs to the world of the Russian CP and Comintern in 1921 and after (the rise of Stalinism) not to the history of the Bolshevik faction or party down to the revolution or even in the early years of the civil war (Louis’s points about Lih’s book, and there are loads of other books making similar points about Bolshevik practice).

    (3) Adrian wrote (comment 11) that “I do think the SWP’s “Cliff style get-rich-quick scheme” has turned out rather well all things considered. Our ISO must be SOOOOOO jealous of the SWP’s relative prominence in the British left”. The reality is that the orginal IS, now SWP, jumped to about its present size (around 1500-2000 before this split, larger membership claims being fakes) through a call to unity on a set of minimum points in the late 1960s and a vigorous turn to the industrial shop-stewards’ movement in the early 1970s. Until the 1980s it was one of three groups of approximately similar size – the other two being Ted Grant’s Militant and Gerry Healy’s Workers’ Revolutionary Party – with the official CP being a lot bigger. Since then the official CP has collapsed, with the Morning Star’s CPB being about the same size as the SWP, the WRP has collapsed, and Militant split into two considerably smaller pieces. This left the SWP ‘last man standing’ with increased *relative* prominence in a smaller left. The SWP has *not* got rich quick out of Respect, but lost a substantial chunk of its members.

    Comment by Mike Macnair — November 26, 2007 @ 11:26 am

  13. The SWP doesn’t practice democratic centralism Louis. It’s bureaucratic centralism. I’ve posted my take on the RESPECT split on my blog if you care to read it. It seems we’re pretty much in agreement:

    http://prisonerofstarvation.blogspot.com/2007/11/british-swp-destroys-respect-unity.html

    One thing I didn’t take up though was the role of Leninists in movements. I do agree that a disciplined Leninist group can have a disproportionate amount of influence in shaping and directing a united front because our opponents/allies are usually not as organized. Therefore, we should be careful not to misuse our weight as it seems the SWP did in RESPECT.

    There are more than a few occasions in which the U.S. ISO did not caucus as a group at conferences of united front groups in order to allow the debate to “breathe” and evolve organically. Sometimes this can be a much more fruitful method, especially when there aren’t any organized competitors (reformists, anarchists, Stalinists, etc) within the ranks.

    For example, I casted a deciding vote against including a Point of Unity at the Campus Anti War network conference back in Nov. 2003 about opposing a U.N. occupation force. I didn’t think that the bulk of the student movement opposed a U.N. occupation force and therefore it couldn’t be a Point of Unity – clearly there was a lot of confusion about the issue and there needed to be education, discussion, and debate about it so that in the future it could be a Point of Unity. I voted against it despite the fact that every other ISO member voted for it. One comrade was on the verge of tears because she believed so strongly that CAN should stand against a U.N. occupation of Iraq and it lost by one vote (mine). But I still think it was the right thing to do.

    Democratic centralism is not a magic bullet that will help revolutionaries overcome all obstacles, but it does help if it’s used correctly and sensibly. Ditching it would be a big mistake in my opinion. The same is true of a “vanguard” organization. Leaders have to learn from the movement (and from their adversaries/opponents) – it’s not a one-way street where “we know the best way to do X and the rest of you are clueless reformist numbskulls.” If it becomes a one-way street, you end up like the British SWP.

    Comment by Binh — November 27, 2007 @ 4:03 pm

  14. […] sort of misinformation is what Louis Proyect has described as an “atrocity story”, where both sides in a factional dispute produce hearsay […]

    Pingback by SOCIALIST UNITY » Report on Student RESPECT Conference — December 5, 2007 @ 1:43 pm


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