2014-10-21 22:13:27 UTC
2014 : LETTER TO SOCIALIST WORKER
The following letter was sent to Socialist Worker in reply to Alex
Callinicos?s article ?The Left must Unite to be an Alternative?
It was not published.
Alex Callinicos (SW 14 October) is quite right to deplore ?the extreme
fragmentation of the radical left, compounded by the mutual hostility
that exists among these fragments?. The left is weak, and much weaker
because of its divisions.
I was a member of the SWP for fifty years before resigning last year. I
am now a member of no organisation, but I remain a revolutionary
socialist and would dearly love to see greater unity on the left. But
Alex leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
For many years the SWP has been organised on the basis of a version of
?democratic centralism? (there are many versions). This form of
organisation has many merits and has enabled the SWP to make successful
interventions. But it is quite obvious that the various fragments of the
left will not agree to unite in such a form. If there is to be a united
left wing alternative to neoliberalism, it will need to be a much
looser, more federal form of organisation.
From the Anti-Nazi League to Stop The War, from the miners? strike to
the poll tax, the SWP has much to be proud of. But it is also
unfortunately true that many on the left, in organisations or not, do
not trust the SWP. And building trust takes time and hard work.
Alex is right that the present situation ?demands that we change?. But
is the SWP prepared to change? Will it start telling the truth about
membership figures? Will it abandon the practice whereby the Central
Committee complacently renominates itself en bloc once a year, and will
it work for a real renewal of the party leadership? Will it develop a
democratic culture in which mistakes can be recognised and openly discussed?
Or is Alex?s appeal for unity just rhetoric? I hope not. One small
indication would be if Socialist Worker published this letter in full.
We need an open debate in the paper. As Alex says, history will judge us
if we fail.