JohnG Almost Gets It

It’s here on Socialist Unity! The announcement we’ve all been waiting for:

I’m not interested in denying that appalling mistakes have been made. But I think its quite important that in putative talks about unity we don’t start laying down the law on which particular ideological belief particular tendencies have or demanding that they accept every dot and comma of anything. I think there was a bit too much of that the last time round if truth be told.

Comment by johng — 11 June, 2009 @ 8:56 pm

I mean its worth pointing out that whatever mistakes the SWP made, they were in a position to initiate left unity projects. Importantly today we need more then a single organisation to do that, and possibly there is more of an objective basis for that to happen. And its possible that this will mean less chance of messing up.

Comment by johng — 11 June, 2009 @ 8:58 pm

But what can these “mistakes” be? Entering into a coalition led by an unscrupulous spiv in association with a bunch of activists from a South Asian fascist party?

Well I think my understanding of the mistakes flow out of the initial comment. When it became clear that Respect was not attracting other forces as all had hoped the SWP tended to substitute itself and treat its allies as satelites, re-enforcing a top down approach which was to have disasterous consequences.

Rather then debate differences openly (in some cases I think if this had been done some of these arguments might even have been won), and go into a minority when appropriate attempts were made to force things through in a way which could only be destructive.

It came as a large shock to those of us not directly involved in the areas were Respect was a real force to actually hear about these things (and for a very long time many found it difficult to believe).

Hence the Democracy Commission, hence the shift in emphasis. I would say that some of the structural problems (ironically enough analysed pretty well by George in his initial article on the subject where he pointed to the weaknesses of Respect which had worsened the situation) were real, but they were handled very badly.

In terms of an overall, and I think balenced approach (comrades will probably disagree) the piece written by the Tower Hamlets chair was pretty much on the money. I can remember having a discussion about it with one comrade who thought it good but ‘unpolitical’. In retrospect I can’t work out what this was supposed to mean. And of course the other failing was not to have corrected all this sooner.

Ah well. Nearly there.


Hang on a sec – Democracy Commission did you say? Let’s have a look…

SWP Democracy Commission

by Sheila McGregor, Chair of the Democracy Commission

The Democracy Commission was set up at the recent Socialist Workers Party (SWP) annual conference. It is made up of ten elected members and four members appointed by the SWP’s Central Committee. Its first meeting will be on Saturday 7 February.

Since the 1999 Seattle protests sparked a new wave of global resistance to capitalism, party members have thrown themselves into building the movements – particularly those against globalisation and war – as well as developing an alternative to New Labour.

However, concern has grown over the last few years that there has been a lack of proper debate and reflection about our activities. Many comrades feel that this has led to mistakes and unaccountability.

Hence the widespread view among members articulated at our recent conference that we need to restore a proper culture of debate within the party.

This will enable all comrades to discuss the party’s work and provide the basis for democratic decision making and accountability.

Just as importantly, it can provide the framework within which all members feel confident about taking up a leadership role in their sphere of work.

We must be able to properly assess events so we can decide how best to respond.

The fast-changing world situation makes it all the more pressing that comrades feel engaged in our discussion of how to respond – whether we face the Israeli assault on Gaza or the recent wave of unofficial strikes across Britain.

If everyone feels they have taken part in the discussion we can be confident that decisions, once taken, will be respected by all.

The commission’s purpose is to look at the “culture of debate”, the way we organise inside the SWP, and how we discuss and decide on our work. It will draft proposals to take to a special conference within the next three to six months.

At our first meeting the members of the commission will look at how to take that discussion to branches and districts in the next few weeks.

We also welcome submissions from individual members of the party. Please contact the SWP national office for submissions to the Democracy Commission.

Oh, this is hilarious. A committee has been set up – appointed! – to investigate whether democracy is a good idea, or not.

Let a hunded flowers bloom!

Hat tip: modernityblog