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WP no. 371 Editorial

WP371 p1
The crisis in the Socialist Workers Party has implications for the entire left.

Allegations of rape against a leading member were shamefully mishandled. Expulsions and a clampdown on dissent provoked a substantial and ongoing exodus from the party.

The International Socialist Network is grouping together many who have left the SWP. It held its first national meeting In London on Saturday 13 April. The ISN adopted a draft constitution, elected a provisional steering committee and pledged to discuss and develop its politics in the months ahead.

It also indicated a willingness to discuss the issue of revolutionary unity with other groups on the left both in Britain and internationally. This is certainly

an offer that Workers Power will take up. Indeed we made such a proposal ourselves in the February issue of our paper.

At the same time, the Ken Loach appeal for Left Unity has created a flood of interest amongst former members of left groups, Labour and activists.

Workers Power strongly supports this initiative and believes that we should do all we can to draw in the largest possible number of those fighting to defend the gains of the working class against the heirs of Thatcher, those disillusioned with the wretched policies of Ed Miliband’s Blue Labour.

Of course we recognize that in its first phase such a new party will draw together a plurality of traditions; this makes the fundamental question of a reformist or revolutionary alternative an open question yet to be decided. For us though this does not mean that this is either an unimportant issue, one we should keep quiet about now nor that we can devise some sort of a halfway house between them.

What we do believe is that if revolutionary socialists want to go beyond the stage of small propaganda groups – even ones with a few thousand members like the SWP – then we will have to have these debates out again with a far larger audience, with a new generation of fighters.

But amongst revolutionaries who stand in the classical Marxist tradition there is a powerful feeling that the divisions between us damage the influence we might have in the broader working class movement, especially in this time of deep and prolonged capitalist crisis.

This desire for unity urgently needs to be addressed. But how to do it in a principled way, one that can lead to solid and lasting unity? Well it must certainly start from the burning issues of strategy and tactics facing the working class today, which require a revolutionary, not a reformist answer.  Nor for that matter an incoherent mixture of the two (i.e. a centrist answer). We can see where that leads in the policies of the SWP and the Socialist party in the movements against the cuts: tailing the union leaders and mimicking left reformist Keynesian policies.

The questions we need to address are the following.

•  How to get mass direct action sufficient to halt the Coalition onslaught and drive them from power,

• How do we unite the forces of resistance at national and local level?

•  How do we organise the ranks and file of the unions against the bureaucratic misleaders,

• How do we organise powerful movements amongst women youth, the immigrant communities?

From these burning issues arise more fundamental ones- the issues of a developing a revolutionary programme of transitional and immediate demands, of what democratic centralism and a Leninist party would look like today, of the need not only for international solidarity but for an International that can raise a world vision of revolutionary change.

These are only some elements of an agenda for discussion we would like to discuss with all those who see the need for revolutionary unity.

We encourage all our readers to join – or set up! – their local Left Unity group in a spirit of enthusiasm and collaboration.

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