Friday, September 15, 2017

Resignation of Rhode Island Branch of Socialist Alternative. Some observations from Facts For Working People Blog.

3 to 4 million protest on the women's marches
We very much appreciate the resignation statement of the former Rhode Island branch of Socialist Alternative in which they explain why they decided to leave that organization and the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI) to which it is affiliated.

We appreciate both the content of the statement and also its non-sectarian tone. Thank you Comrades.

The founders of Facts For Working People Blog, are former members of the Committee For a Workers International (CWI) of which Socialist Alternative is presently the US Section. We were expelled from the US section of the CWI and from the CWI in 1996 when the US section was called Labor Militant. Below are our observations based on our experience in that organization, and our experience in relation to our expulsion from that organization and based on our political work since.These experiences have led us to look critically at our past work, to look critically at the work of all self-styled revolutionary groups and draw conclusions from this. We have concluded that as revolutionaries, it is crucial that we change, and we consider we have changed, our way of working in several areas. 

We consider the last two decades of our political work to have been the most fruitful period of our political lives. We have had to think about the many basic ideas and methods of our work and have been forced, thankfully, to consider these, make judgements, draw conclusions and, we hope, learn lessons. We have also taken note of the approach and methods of the many self-styled revolutionary groups and drawn conclusions in this area also.  Being expelled from the CWI was in a way the best thing that ever happened to us. It unshackled our thinking. We wish to share our experiences and conclusions with the RI Comrades and with the readers of our Blog. In doing so we would like to emphasize that we remain committed to what we consider the task of tasks in this period of history. That is, contributing to the building of a mass revolutionary international leadership of the working class which would be capable of overthrowing capitalism.

Having said this,  we would like to offer the following observations. 

You state the following reasons for your resignation from the SA/CWI.
1. SA's decision to endorse Sanders in the 2016 election.
2. SA's approach to the Democratic Party and DSA. 
3. SA's approach to identity politics and special oppression.
4. SA's position on International issues. 
5. Serious problems you have had with the SA's leadership and you give examples. 

Your setting out of these reasons so clearly is a great help. We would like to respond to them individually. But before doing so we would like to make a few points in relation to our thoughts concerning the building of revolutionary currents and organizations. 

Regardless of what they say, most revolutionary groups such as the CWI, expect unity on just about every detail and punish in one way or another, or exclude, those who do not toe the line. We have concluded that this approach is incorrect and not only incorrect, but damaging to the struggle to end capitalism. We have concluded that while there has to be unity on such fundamental issues as the need to end capitalism and the need to work to assist the international working class to come to power and build a democratic socialist world, it is idealistic to imagine that there can be unity on all issues at all times in a healthy revolutionary organization. To expect this is in fact a reactionary viewpoint.

Let us see what some of the founding leaders of the revolutionary movement had to say on this.  Engels said that the law of the internal life of the revolutionary party is struggle. Trotsky said that the healthy period of Bolshevism was the time of factions and even factions within factions. Lenin would get enraged when members who had differences would not write these down and circulate them for discussion and debate and so would not help clarify the organization’s ideas. Marx, as the First International took shape, was involved nonstop in debate with all sorts of groupings inside the First International. Rosa Luxembourg stated: "Self criticism, cruel unsparing criticism that goes to the very root of the evil, is life and breath for the revolutionary movement". 
Stack this up against the approach of the CWI and all the self styled revolutionary groups today. It is a different world. 

It is true the Bolsheviks banned factions during the civil war. We have doubts if this decision was correct. But this happened at the height of a ferocious military conflict and no left group today is in anything like the same universe as the Bolsheviks were at that time. 

We keep the following in mind. It will take a revolutionary organization of tens of millions in the US and hundreds of millions internationally to carry through the world revolution. It is utterly impossible to imagine such forces assembling and being built without differences, debate, discussion, continual exchange of views and without the recognition that there has to be factions, that there will be factions, to express the different views. Such a concept is utterly foreign to the CWI/SA and in fact to all self styled revolutionary organizations. Along with the CWI/SA's bad politics, especially the tendency towards opportunism which is rooted in its approach, and which was expressed in their relationship to Sanders and earlier in their role in the short lived Labor Party Advocates, it is utterly un Marxist, utterly un dialectical, utterly inorganic, to imagine as the CWI/SA leadership and the leaders of all the self-styled revolutionary organizations do, that they can become semi mass organizations never mind mass organizations with their present bureaucratic centralist approach. 

The bigger organizations like the CWI become, if they become bigger, the greater will be the diversity of opinions. But because these organizations cannot tolerate different views, the present state of affairs where we see split after split, resignation after resignation, expulsion after expulsion, bureaucratic repression, public condemnation and slander, all will continue. 

This does not mean that a split in a revolutionary movement or organization is never justified. At certain times it could be justified. But the issue is that groups like the CWI do not see that the building of a mass revolutionary international will only happen with great majestic struggles over ideas, over perspectives, over program, over strategy, over tactics; the cut and thrust of real life------the cut and thrust of the great challenging contradictory dialectic. Not the dead hand of bureaucratic centralism that dominates the internal life of groups like the CWI and SA. 

We could go on with this, but we will leave it here except to say that one thing to be considered is how come the British section of the CWI led a struggle like the anti-poll tax in Britain where18 million people refused to pay the tax and where hundreds went to jail; a struggle that brought down Thatcher, and yet they came out of it in crisis, never mind failing to build a large revolutionary force! Even a large anti capitalist force!  Of course there was the collapse of Stalinism which was not anticipated by the CWI, but this was not all. There was also the fear the CWI leadership had that it would lose control and also their misunderstanding of how a mass revolutionary force can be built, will inevitably be built if it is to be built at all. They want to build it block by block one at a time, top down under the direction of the chief of construction, that is the dominant figure in the British section. The madness of it. They do not even consider what will happen when this person, now in his seventies is no longer around. This approach is shared to a greater or lesser degree by all self-styled revolutionary organizations.

Any organization that has the same person heading it (generally a male figure) for decades, and this is the case with most of the self-styled left groupings, cannot be a healthy organization. The presently leading figure in the CWI has headed that organization for over half a century. This is a reflection of a mistaken approach.

But to go directly to the resignation statement of the RI Comrades. In doing so we approach it not with what is the usual sectarian view of immediately seeking to find where we disagree, like a terrier seeking to find its prey and pounce on it, shaking it up in the air in 'triumph'. Strutting with chest out proud that some difference has been found. We have a very different approach. We seek to see where we agree and proceed from this point. We are pleased when we find agreement. We then seek to identify if there are areas we think need clarification and more discussion. And also as part of this process we seek to identify if there are areas where there might be disagreement, and if there are, can we live with this disagreement, and if so how? 

So now to the resignation statement of the RI Comrades.

On the first reason the RI Comrades give for resigning from the SA, that organization’s relationship to Sanders. We feel there is total agreement between us. We published a number of pieces on our Blog and a number of fliers to do with this issue. You can read one here . There are many more on our Blog. At the time we were reaching out to the youth to whom we had access and were putting out our ideas mainly through this blog.  We were struggling to find a name for ourselves, hence the name on that flier. This name did not last.  We were discussing with a number of youth around the Sanders campaign and thought correctly, that when the penny dropped and Sanders supported Clinton as we explained he would, many of these youth would be seeking an alternative. Having a sense of proportion we did not consider there was any possibility of any significant numbers of such activists joining the left sectarian groups, or for that matter grouping themselves around our Blog.  

We considered the possibility that some of them might turn to the Greens with its somewhat of a national presence and with it recently having adopted an eco-socialist plank in its platform. We were in the main incorrect on this. We made a limited initiative around the Green Party for a little time, mainly through discussing ideas on their sites and we were able to increase the audience for our ideas, increase our little core of comrades somewhat, around our Blog and our associated Think Tank out of which has come our weekly conference calls.

But we were mistaken in thinking that there was a possibility that any substantial numbers of Sanders supporters when they saw his supporting of Clinton would go to the Greens. We did not fully see the serious weakness, in fact the conscious obstruction of the leadership of the Green Party, its right wing character as it refused to put forward its eco socialist plank and its fear of growth. In this, the leadership of the Green party has something in common with the sectarian organizations. A fear of growth in case they might lose control. The same can be said of the heads of organized labor. They too prize their control of their organizations over all else, in their case organizing the unorganized. 

We did not see the rise of the DSA. How it would to a small extent appear to many young people as an organization through which to fight. We think it is important to openly state where we make or made mistakes. Otherwise we cannot learn. Mistakes are inevitable. But if honestly recognized and discussed they can lead to improvements in ideas and ways of working. If the inevitable mistakes are not recognized openly, success in our struggle is impossible.  

On the RI Comrades second reason for resigning from the SA/CWI------SA's approach to the Democratic Party and the DSA.

On the Democratic Party we are in complete agreement. We do not have to dwell on this point. 

On the DSA we believe we are also in agreement. We see the growth of the DSA as a positive development. However we also see that it faces a very troubled future. It has attracted many very good and sincere mostly young people. But it has a wide variety of opinions within it, and most importantly no clear strategic vision for ending capitalism. This will lead to many serious crises in the future. These will not be avoided, in fact they will be made worse, by the decentralized nature of the DSA. The future of the DSA will also be complicated by the myriad of sectarian groups and sectarian and ambitious individuals of all shapes and sizes who are hovering in or around it like vultures. We think it is important to contribute in the effort to help the membership of the DSA in clarifying ideas. But we do so with some humility. The DSA has grown to over 20,000 members; a growth like this inevitably presents problems. We recognize that this membership is of a varied nature. But nonetheless, any serious revolutionary grouping has to start by asking why the DSA has had this growth and seek to learn from this while at the same time assisting in the clarification of ideas. 

Whether this is best done by joining the DSA or by working in united fronts with local DSA branches is we believe a tactical issue which is also influenced by what resources revolutionary socialists have and the different situations that exist in different areas. 

Something to be taken into consideration in relation to this is that DSA has its no 'democratic centralist grouping' rule. That is that no 'democratic centralist' group can have membership. Those of us around the Facts For Working People Blog and Think Tank and conference calls have been discussing the issue of what is known as democratic centralism for some time now, totally separate from any thought of the DSA.  In our opinion this term has become inseparable from Stalinism and left sectarianism and we no longer use it. It no longer clarifies. It only confuses. We think if we tie the term democratic centralism to our banner then it will be impossible to convince people that we are neither Stalinists or left sectarians. This will put an unnecessary obstacle in front of our work of campaigning for socialism. 

But more important, if we use the term democratic centralism we ourselves will not thoroughly discuss and clarify our thinking on internal organizational questions. So we reject the term democratic centralism, what is known as democratic centralism and what is practiced under the name of democratic centralism, whether by Stalinists, left sectarians or so called Trotskyist or Maoist groups.

In our opinion the method of organizing known as democratic centralism has shown itself to be an unsuccessful method of organizing. 

Further, in relation to where we feel we have full agreement with the RI comrades on the Democratic Party we have many articles and commentaries on the Democrats, the trade union leadership and the relationship between them if Comrades wish to check the labels on the right of the blog.  Check DemocratsTeam Concept , unions, and Labor  

On the RI Comrades third reason for resigning from the SA/CWI - identity politics and special oppression. We feel that this is an area where we would find it very helpful for us to have further discussion and clarification. The RI comrades’ statement where these issues are dealt with has made us all think more. We thank the Comrades. 

The RI comrades state in relation to the SA/CWI position: "At every turn, white supremacy and anti blackness are subordinated to an analysis of class as mere derivatives." We believe that those of us around FFWP do not do this. The Comrades' statement also explains that the SA/CWI position is that "fighting classism is the best - and indeed the ONLY WAY (RI comrades' emphasis) to eradicate racism." We are not exactly sure of the RI comrades thinking around this sentence. We would like to explore it more. In this context we would like to share our experience in Northern Ireland where some of our FFWP people did political work.  It was not race but religion and gender but much more overtly religion, that was the basis for special oppression and the tool used to divide and rule.

A personal experience of one of the founders of Facts For Working People blog is useful here. This Comrade was from a Protestant Orange Order background on the border of Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. He took the lead in building the civil rights movement in the town of Strabane. The Northern Ireland civil rights movement was inspired by the civil rights movement in the US. In Northern Ireland it was in opposition to the discrimination against the Catholic population. This Comrade, as well as leading in building the civil rights movement in Strabane also led in the building of the Young Socialists organization in Strabane. He was also a member of the Young Socialists and the Labor party in Derry the second biggest city in Northern Ireland. 

In 1969 there was an uprising in the Catholic area of that city of Derry. The Bogside Uprising. For more details Google "Battle of the Bogside 1969".  This comrade physically took part in that uprising against the Protestant and British state. A body was formed to organize that uprising called the Bogside Citizens Defense Association (The Bogside was the name of that Catholic area of the city) This present FFWP comrade was the only person from a Protestant background who was on that defense committee, political people are well aware that this could have cost him his life. 
We make this point not to boast but to try to show that we do not retreat from the defense of oppressed minorities, just confining ourselves to repeating phrases about class unity.  

After the 30 year war of the IRA there is now a peace agreement in Northern Ireland. But Northern Ireland is more divided along sectarian lines than ever and unless there is a socialist revolution in England, Scotland, Wales and Southern Ireland which engulfs the North of Ireland there will most likely be a new war in the future and most likely ethnic (religious) 'cleansing' and a new Protestant statelet. As long as capitalism lasts, the problem of sectarianism and discrimination against the Catholics and against women in Northern Ireland will continue. We also believe that here in the US as long as capitalism exists the US will be a vicious racist and sexist society.

We agree very much with the RI Comrades' statement that "Violence against people of color is often counter productive from the perspective of capital". We used to put it this way in the North of Ireland: British imperialism bases itself on sectarianism and divide and rule and the special oppression of the Catholics in the North. They cannot rule without this. But what we explain is that while British imperialism cannot rule without divide and rule, without sectarianism, they want sectarianism to simmer, not boil over. When it threatens to boil over, in most circumstances they take action to get it back to the simmering level. Here in the US, the ruling class is now looking at the danger of an explosion of the oppressed minorities in race and gender and worry that Trump will cause the whole racist situation to boil over and seriously damage their cities and industries and institutions. As well as this having negative affects for them at home it would further undermine their diminishing authority around the world. 

There is a book by a bourgeois writer that draws a balance sheet of the economic cost to US capitalism of the uprisings in the African American communities in the US in 1968. US imperialism is aware of this. They do not want it repeated-----at least at this stage. It would be different if they were faced with a mass revolutionary movement of the working class challenging for power. Then they would turn to drown this revolutionary threat in a racist blood bath and to hell with the immediate economic consequences as their hold on power would be threatened. Defeating the threat of losing power would be their first priority. So they would seek to unleash the nightmare of a racist civil war.

One of the many problems US imperialism is faced with at the moment is it does not have a conscious, astute bourgeois in the White House at a time when there is a general economic, political, social, environmental and military crises of US capitalism. Having what is close to an idiot, a totally self-serving moron in the White House, destabilizes their system further.  Amongst other things, they are worried with the racist Predator in Chief that they might not be able to keep the racism simmering. It might boil over. So they make a few "concessions". The racist statues for example; at least take a few down and make some gestures to take more down. They are hesitating on DACA as Trump threatens to take it away while at the same time blaming Republicans for failing to make it work and giving six months for them to come up with something. It is not inconceivable that he could make a deal with the Democrats to “legalize” DACA as a major section of the bourgeois, especially the high tech sector, strongly opposes taking it away. US capitalism is also fearful of an uprising of the 800,000 people covered by DACA and their supporters. 

They are also worried if their racist pot boils over, their misogynist pot boils over, their repression of gender orientation boils over, that this will weaken their military where approximately 40% are either minorities or women or transgender.

To draw further on the experience of Northern Ireland. British imperialism and its Northern Protestant state had to make some concessions over the past years to end what had degenerated into an open sectarian thirty-year military conflict. It is very similar to how US imperialism had to make some concessions to the 1960's black revolt, put in place a few anti racist laws and develop a Black and Latino petit bourgeois and leadership. As we face the consequences of their destruction of the environment and their climate change, it is worth noting that the mayor of Houston is African American and the mayor off Miami is Latino. Whatever the color of the skin of whoever is in some position of power in the US, US capitalism is still, and always will be, a vicious racist state and society. 

We have numerous statements and commentaries on this issue on our blog. We do not believe we will have any serious disagreement with the RI comrades on this but it is in our opinion an issue which would be useful for us to explore further.

In closing on this point. We would again like to emphasize that under no conditions do we subordinate the fight against racism sexism etc., to the class struggle. This is an accusation used by much of the petite bourgeois left and left academia. These people do not see that the struggle that is subordinated above all others and that they assist in subordinating, is the need to pursue, to bring to the fore, the struggle of the working class against capitalism. This struggle is practically never mentioned in US society and unfortunately practically never mentioned amongst the left petite bourgeois and academia. 

We stand with Malcolm X when he said: “You cannot have capitalism without racism.” We then proceed on from that. This statement by Malcom X if it means anything, means you cannot eliminate racism, and we would include sexism something which Malcom X did not address in the main, without eliminating capitalism. And we would proceed further. The only force that can end capitalism and therefore racism and sexism, is the united working class with a revolutionary leadership. Therefore we must at all times fight racism and sexism, and at no time subordinate the fight against racism and sexism to the fight of the working class over wages conditions etc. 

Our thinking is that we should seek to fight racism and sexism in a manner that takes into account building working class unity, uniting the working class, as this is the only force that can in the last analysis overthrow capitalism which is necessary if racism and sexism is to be ended. And of course in this way, and simultaneously, the working class will be capable of emancipating itself. 

We do not think it is an accident that so much of the struggle of left academia, of the African American and Latino petit bourgeois and bourgeois, never mention Malcom X except to stress his nationalism. Never mention Martin Luther King, except on occasion to point to his non-violence. Both Malcom X and Martin Luther King before they were assassinated were talking about ending capitalism, were talking about socialism, about "the unity of the oppressed” (Malcolm X), about "the need for some sort of democratic socialism in the US" (Martin Luther King) and Martin Luther King was organizing his "Poor Peoples " march on Washington. And he was moving to oppose US imperialism and its savagery in Vietnam. 

This evolution of ideas and methods of these leaders toward these conclusions was the reason the bourgeois had these leaders assassinated when they did. No, the evolution of these leaders towards a united movement of all the oppressed, towards the need unite all poor people, towards the need to end capitalism and imperialism does not fit into the approach of most of the petite bourgeois leaderships of the various groupings and individuals opposing in one way or another racism and sexism at this time.  

Here are links to a few pieces we have written or statements we have made on this subject.  We feel it would be very useful for all if we had further discussion and clarification on this subject with the RI Comrades and all who are involved in fighting racism and sexism.  

On the RI comrades fourth reason for resigning from the CWI, the international issues, from what we see in the resignation statement we have full agreement. One of the many potholes the SA got itself into with its opportunist support for Sanders was his position on Zionism and on US imperialism. They staggered about and waffled on Sander's position on these issues. It would be interesting to see what position the CWI group in Israel has on Zionism and Sanders. We hear that it may be different from the position of the CWI. See an article on our Blog by Roger Silverman, the first secretary of the CWI and another Comrade whom the CWI could not tolerate because he was a critical and independent thinker. 

On the RI comrades fifth reason for resignation-------SA/CWI's leadership and internal life------ we have complete agreement. We have had a similar experience to the RI comrades. We have tried to draw general conclusions from this experience. We have concluded that it is not only a question of petty ambitious individuals running that organization, though this is the case in the CWI, and their selection and promotion of people in the leaderships of its various sections who are similar to themselves, petty ambitious people who will do what they are told and who will repress others in their sections who will not do what they are told. 

The CWI is an organization which selects those most unfit, those most incapable, to lead its sections, and either crushes or drives out those most fit those most capable. The most fit, the most capable, meaning those with the strongest, deepest roots in the working class and those most willing to critically assess the ideas and methods of the organization and put forward their views-----these comrades are either driven out, or "re-educated."

It is the case that the leadership of the CWI is dominated by people who have petty individual ambitions. But Comrades of the FFWP do not believe this is the only factor involved.  There is also the false method, the false understanding of the CWI leadership of how the internal life of a revolutionary organization has to take shape. As we have already explained, the method of the CWI is to build its organization from the top down one block on top of another, crushing any different views by fair means or foul,  driving out any independent thinkers, seeking at all times to have unity under the command of the top few leaders, usually male.  The CWI and SA shares this false method with all the self styled revolutionary organizations.   

Finally: This statement from FFWP is not a statement set in stone. Unlike the old methods of the CWI where a statement, a document, from the leadership was holy writ and had to be accepted and if later events showed it was incorrect it was buried and anybody who tried to dig it up and discuss it was acted against. Comrades of the FFWP share this statement with all who are interested and in the course of discussion if there is any change of opinion of any FFWP comrade this will be shared openly on our Blog.  
In relation to leadership. FFWP Comrades believe there needs to be a leadership, one way or another there will always be a leadership, but we reject the false method where all decisions are made in advance by the leadership and then by fair means or foul these decisions are imposed on the membership, as is the practice of the SA/CWI and all of the self styled revolutionary left organizations. We also believe that there has to be more emphasis on building a collective and diverse leadership. 

We believe a revolutionary organization is essential. We hesitate to use the word a centralized organization as this has so many negative connotations given how it has been and is used by Stalinism and the left sectarian organizations. But we oppose the undemocratic decentralization and consensus methods of organization. We seek a short phrase with which to describe the type of internal life of a revolutionary organization that we seek to help build. We would more prefer some term such as a democratic unified organization. Or perhaps a unified democratic organization. We are exploring this and would welcome help in developing a precise formulation. 

Settling on a precise formulation for organization is difficult.  We are dealing with a complicated issue both historically and at the present time, and one in which all things are in a continual process of change and development, it is difficult to adequately describe such a complicated and continually moving phenomenon using a two or three word term. Perhaps all that is possible is to state the principles which we believe should govern organization. We believe in an organization with full open discussion, decisions made by majority with minority opinion having the right to be heard and to organize as factions to better present their opinion. But with the policies of the organization being decided by the majority of the organization. We do not believe in the undemocratic methods of decentralization or consensus. 

The method of the CWI/SA is that the leadership is the teacher of the membership. We reject this method; we reject the cult of the leader. We believe that revolutionaries  who play leading roles, in fact all revolutionaries have to harness their ego to the needs of the movement.  This is not the case in groups like the CWI. The CWI leadership sees that the membership's role is to carry out the policies of the leadership, policies which the membership never have a real genuine role in formulating. The CWI and all the self-styled revolutionary left organizations when they have the resources, also have a full-time apparatus that assists them in this, very much like the staffers in the trade union movement. 

We are not against a full time apparatus by any means but it is how their role is understood, and related to this how the leadership sees its role. We are for leadership but we are for a dialectical interaction between the leadership and the membership. A dialectical relationship which would not be fixed but would be influenced by the phase through which the organization was passing at any given time. The situation where a tiny organization exists which has no influence on the mass consciousness, on the working class, would be very different than if there was a mass organization such as the Bolsheviks were in the 1917 October days faced with taking power

There are articles on many subjects pinned to the top of our Blog. On the right side of our Blog there are many labels on many different subjects. Our Blog represents a body of work, our high tech library, which seeks to explain the process of our thinking over the past years. Please feel free to have a look at any subject of interest and also feel free to raise any issue. We can say we no longer hold to every detail of our thinking on all issues, even more than that on occasion. But that is the beauty of the method of being determined to always face up to and openly acknowledge the evolution of our views and where we were wrong and why we were wrong, that is, show the evolution of our ideas. We reject the method of the CWI where every meeting is to congratulate itself on how correct it has been on everything and take bureaucratic action against any suggestion to the contrary. 

Comrades, we are very enthused by the statement of the RI Comrades and the steps they are taking. Many thousands of people have gone through the CWI and other sectarian self styled organizations and found them wanting and have either retreated into fighting on a local basis, or even given up fighting capitalism, or given up trying to build an international revolutionary current/organization. The statement from the RI Comrades shows that they are taking none of these roads. They are committed to continuing the fight, to learning the lessons from their experiences so far and building on a healthy basis. 

Speaking for the FFWP this is very inspiring. We appeal to all the many people who have gone through revolutionary organizations and found them wanting, to the many people who are in revolutionary organizations and find them wanting, to continue the fight but to do so in collaboration with those of us who have found the methods of the existing organizations incorrect and work together to build a revolutionary movement with a healthy culture.  FFWP Comrades seek to assist in the building of an international revolutionary movement with a healthy culture. We hope that we can discuss with the RI Comrades and other Comrades workers and youth who are opposed to capitalism to this end.  

We seek to discuss with and collaborate with the many people who consider themselves revolutionary socialists but who see the false methods of the existing self styled revolutionary groups. It is a staggering fact, it is a staggering condemnation of all the self styled revolutionary groups, that there are many, many, more people who consider themselves revolutionary socialists outside these organizations than there are inside them. There is something wrong with all these organizations. Something new has to be built. Something which learns the lessons from the past, from the mistakes of the past. Something with a healthy culture. 

We very much wish to continue discussion on this issue both with the RI Comrades and any other Comrades and workers and youth who are prepared to fight capitalism. 

Please get in touch, we can be contacted through the e mail on this blog or through the blog’s Facebook page at:  

September 2017


Anonymous said...

" We believe a revolutionary organization is essential. We hesitate to use the word a centralized organization as this has so many negative connotations given how it has been and is used by Stalinism and the left sectarian organizations. But we oppose the undemocratic decentralization and consensus methods of organization. We seek a short phrase with which to describe the type of internal life of a revolutionary organization that we seek to help build. We would more prefer some term such as a democratic unified organization. Or perhaps a unified democratic organization. We are exploring this and would welcome help in developing a precise formulation. "

What is your take on the minority's obligations towards the majority on a given issue, and how far can/does party discipline go for you? If you are against decentralization, then aren't you "centralist" in some capacity even if the phrase has baggage? How, very specifically, do you understand the flaws of "democratic centralism" as practiced by historical "Stalinist" parties, and then modern ones? Do you think they suffer from exactly the same flaws, or are there important differences between the historical "models" and their sectarian inheritors in your view?

Richard Mellor said...

Thanks for your comments. As we say in our post we are interested in discussing ideas such as these. However, we also like to know who we're discussing with. There is an e mail on the blog, or you can contact me at
and perhaps we can discuss this issue, I am sure you have ideas as well that would be useful to us.

If you have to remain anonymous for legitimate reasons, undocumented, an SA member afraid to identify yourself etc, we would respect that you wish your identification to remain confidential.

Anonymous said...

I just don't like the idea that my hard-line left-wing ideas can be traced back to my name by any member of the public and I don't like the effort of constantly making up new pseudonyms. The questions work just as well in rhetorical format if my trenchant anonymity proves a barrier to discussion.

Richard Mellor said...

Whats the point of the question then? If you read our statement we are open about what we want to do and help build. But here's the main point. The bosses are not afraid of "hard left" views. And obviously you are not involved in building anything as you don't want any "member of the public" (workers) to know who you are. I've met members of so-called revolutionary groups who won't give out their e mails or phone number. This is definitely a crisis of overblown egos, all 15 or 20 of them. Not only that, the bourgeois can easily find out who they are or who you are, pseudonym or not, and listen to what you are saying but the working class can't. Don't you see how absurd this is?

At work there were members of a left group that never identified with it, they were so important the FBI might find out. They never fought the boss and more importantly never fought the trade union leadership. The workers hardly knew who they were. I was always open. My defense is the worker, the working class. Firstly, I was not important enough to worry about the state and when the boss came after me the workers came to my defense, they had to come after all of us. I am not going to discuss with an anonymous person in this situation. What's the point? Send me an email and only you or I will know who you are but you can't help build a mass movement if the workers don't know you exist.

Anonymous said...

The public is a bigger place than the workers who fill the workplaces you struggle in. Disabled people exist, whose security concerns may look different based on our relative isolation.

A disabled person who is too sick to organize or even show up to events is not going to be of especial concern to the state even if they say things online that are odious. I'd get swept up in a generalized crackdown but because of my background pre-disability that would have happened anyways.

More to my point, it can, however, make a difference based on what smaller, less capable fry like Nazis may decide to do based on what they learn about us online. If I, a disabled person, have hard-left views, and local Nazis discover this (I comment online a lot, a fair amount of it pseudonymously, I am not saying I think my local Nazis are monitoring your blog it's just my general policy), then they may view me as low-hanging fruit. It may be wise to stick to a pseudonym for some kinds of public conversations.

I reject the idea that I am an ultra-left clandestinist because I do not delusionally believe that there exist gangs of militant organized workers I have no direct contacts with who will protect me and therefore am proactive in taking certain kinds of measured security measures, and I think that what is really absurd here are the assumptions and judgments you made about me based on literally no information about me.

I didn't feel important enough to merit a direct, one on one private political exchange, because as you so correctly denounce me for, I am not building anything, I am busy being sick. So I made an anonymous comment. Sorry to bother you.

William Jarrett, Newcastle upon Tyne branch of Socialist Party (E&W) said...

Promoting incompetence? I struggle with this, not only as a slur. I struggle with the notion that the organization is a clearinghouse for idiots, when among us are the most credible, dedicated, and determined class fighters I've ever known. We're talking not only about successful strike-leaders and builders of mass campaigns, but some of the finest, most efficient, and resourceful organizers on the left. Whether in parliamentary chambers or workplaces, these people risk everything for the advancement of our class. Theoretical issues aside, I read the personal charges aired in this blog with great despair and sadness. I've had the tremendous privilege of attending two CWI schools, and have met organizers from sections around the globe, often who work in secrecy due to repression, and some of whom risk their freedom and lives. Yet and still, their commitment to this organization is entirely voluntary, and they have chosen it from among a field of many other competing disciplines, and other socialist organizations. I'm confident that should any of them encounter this blog that they'll draw conclusions contrary to those of the author(s), based upon their experiences of the organization, and the unparalleled support it provides them.

Richard Mellor said...

You are an extremely naive individual in which case you will hopefully learn the hard way, or you are just another apologist for the regime. I was expelled from the organization you are in despite giving my life, time and money to it. Read my piece on this blog here and lets talk about that. There are more heroic, dedicated figures than you can imagine who have in one way or another been driven out of the CWI. I went through the miners strike, the poll tax, the struggles here in the US. I am almost twice your age. You think I never met people like that, many of them driven out, humiliated, slandered. You should experience despair and sadness, the truth hurts. You have an opportunity to stand against the tide, struggle to change the organization and rescue it for the clique at the top. I owe my allegiance to the working class, my co-workers, the folks that trusted me and helped build the Afscme Activist only to have it wrecked by the undeclared faction that operated behind our backs, some of them getting their just deserts now. The choice is yours, degenerate along with the organization or fight back for the working class. Let's hear your thoughts on the Rhode Island statement and our thoughts on it and the failure of the left in general, something we share responsibility in. Any organization with the same person at the top for 50 years is an unhealthy one.

Sean said...

William Jarrett, Comrade perhaps when you are discussing the CWI you would please comment on the reasons why that organization split in pieces, why its leadership in places like Liverpool and Scotland and Ireland to a great extent while carrying on the revolutionary struggle are no longer in that organization. Why for example the British section of the CWI led the anti poll tax movement and then failed to develop any semi mass or mass socialist or anti capitalist movement out of this. I believe it was because of the sectarianism of the leadership of the British CWI, its leadership's terror at perhaps being replaced, its refusal to admit openly to the catastrophic mistake we all made in ruling out the return of capitalism to the former Soviet Union. Comrade if you want to play a role in the socialist revolution you have to face up to the mistakes. Learn from the mistakes. Comrade think about this. Have you heard about people like Dermot Connolly, the most leading person in the CWI in Southern Ireland after John T left. People Finn Geaney another leading figure. People like Clare Daly a member of parliament and Joan Collins a member of parliament. None of them any longer in the CWI. Have you heard about the period after the CWI had a big base in Liverpool that that area then for a time became known as a "Taffee Free Zone." Comrade demand an open internal life in your organization. Demand an end to the Stalinist method of writing people out of history. Demand an end to the refusal to admit mistakes such as when your organization wrote off the British Labor Party and now with the rise of 100's of 1,000s of new members your organization is tying itself in knot after knot to try and make out it was not wrong. Comrade if you are committed to the revolution against capitalism as opposed to being blindly loyal to the decades long never replaced leadership of the British section of the CWI which dominates the CWI then stand up and demand a voice. Stand up and demand that the leadership of that organization admit its mistakes. It you do not take this stand then you are contributing to the crisis of your own organization and preventing it playing a positive role in the socialist revolution. Sean O'Torain.