Saturday, July 12, 2014

After Seattle Victory. Socialist Alternative. Lessons from the past.

Socialist Alternative. Opportunities and internal life.

Whenever there is a change in the objective situation or a change in an organization then there is debate and discussion. The SA has recently gone through a change. It has made a significant step forward with its election in Seattle and high vote in Minneapolis and now its increase in membership and branches. As a result of this it is absolutely inevitable that there will now be increased debate and discussion in the SA. But it is not only inevitable. It is necessary. And to go further it is to be welcomed and encouraged. This is the only way to clarify the new situation in which the SA/ finds itself. Only through democratic discussion it can utilize the full resources ideas and experience of the membership. This is far and away, it is in fact the only way, to clarify the new situation in which SA finds itself. 

However I would like to raise this point for SA and other Comrades to consider. The history of the leadership of the CWI/SA shows that in similar situations before it has tried to keep all discussion within the leadership, work out a position in isolation from the membership, and then take this position to the membership. This is very wrong. It means that the resources of the membership are not utilized. It means the experience of the membership is not brought into play to develop the ideas, program, strategy and tactics of the organization. It also means that the dialectical relationship between the membership and leadership is prevented from functioning. 

I would appeal to the membership of the SA to insist upon its right to have a full and open and Comradely discussion on the new situation in which it finds itself. This includes the setting up of factions and these being accepted in a democratic and diplomatic manner. That is with no slanders or lies against factions that develop. Look at what Trotsky and other leaders wrote about the internal lives of revolutionary organizations. This is the way that the SA should now be thinking. It should discard the ways of the past.  Look at what past leaders of the movement said on this issue. 

Trotsky explained in 1935 that setting up a faction is not a crime against the revolutionary party. He wrote: “During the 17 years when Bolshevism arose, grew and gained strength and came to power factions were a legitimate part of Party life.” Trotsky talks about there even being "factions within factions" in the Bolshevik Party. Engels wrote that "internal conflict was the law of development of the revolutionary party." In the US Communist Party in the 1920’s before that party became completely Stalinized there were at least three factions that existed almost independently and controlled different sections of the Party’s work.
Compare this to the internal life of the CWI. At the slightest sign of the coming together of a group of members around an issue and maybe developing into a group or faction that would fight for its ideas the leadership launches an all-out war of slander, lies, and expulsions. Any serious alternative grouping has to basically work underground. This is totally foreign to a healthy internal life for a revolutionary organization. The CWI can never become a semi mass or mass organization unless it changes its internal life. The bigger an organization becomes the more there will be different views and the more demand there will be for debate and factions. With the present internal life the CWI can never allow this. Unless there is a major internal struggle which changes the internal life then the CWI is doomed to forever be a small group.


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