Thursday, March 07, 2013

Open Letter to the SWP

Fellow workers,

We have heard of recent expulsions, resignations, allegations of unjust procedure and internal dissent in the Socialist Workers Party. We are surprised by the scale of recent events rather than the occurrence of the events themselves. We have heard regularly over recent years of expulsions, resignations, allegations of unjust procedure and internal dissent. Some commentators are calling the events in 2013 ‘the SWP Spring’.

Not all of you may be familiar with our organisation, The Socialist Party of Great Britain, but we are the longest existing socialist party in the country.

We would like to appeal to all independent-minded freethinking workers and (by way of comparison) explain some of our most important principles of organising of which we are very proud.

Movements and Owen Jones

Irrespective of membership numbers, we don’t believe political criticism is necessarily sectarian.

A sect is a group that, unlike a party, believes itself unaccountable to anything broader than the sect.

If parties are accountable and seek to represent everyone not just a vanguard of ‘advanced workers’, then we believe a “socialist network” aimed at political power is unnecessary.

A sect is a group that, although it may have open recruitment, nevertheless treats non-initiates only as potential recruits or avowed enemies.

A cult is a group that, worse than a sect, denies validity of any reference from wider society.

We oppose secrecy, all our business meetings are public, all business meetings are minuted and published for the working-class to inspect.

This includes our annual conference, which this year is from 29 March to 30 March.

Central Committees and Richard Seymour

SWP practice is a departure from recognisably democratic practice, such as we have in our trade unions.

We have never expelled any member without a democratic vote of the membership.

All our members have an equal say in directly deciding our policy, our Executive committee cannot put motions to conference

We're not anarchists espousing the tyranny of structurelessness, we believe in majority decisions. We also believe that majority decisions should bind all our activity (we're not autonomists), but we won't bully members into activity either.

We believe these ordinary labour movement practices contrast favourably when compared to the Socialist Workers Party.

Sexism and Laurie Penny

We oppose sexism and believe women should feel equally as safe as men at party events.

We call out sexism even if comrades are otherwise ‘good socialists’.

We do not consider allegations of rape a matter for a political party to hear and judge.

Democratic Centralism and Lenin

We are not federalist and we centralise administrative functions for effectivity, but not political decisions.

The rules governing members' conduct are like those of any democratic free association, to protect members and the democratic process from abuse.

Our unity of purpose is achieved through an emphasis on conscious understanding of the case for socialism by any prospective member.
The politically privileged will not share their privilege willingly, this goes for the SWP Central Committee too. Democracy is built, not granted.

An organisation wishing to establish socialism, which is based on people's direct democratic control of the society and its resources can only achieve this goal by organising itself in a democratic manner. Likewise; regardless of its alleged 'socialist aspirations', a political party that is based on a hierarchical structure with an overly powerful central committee is doomed to achieve a hierarchical society with a privileged party elite. We believe that this unity between communist theory with practice and democratic means with ends is vital for the socialist movement, as Marx so aptly put it 'the emancipation of the working class must be the work of the working class', not, we would add, the work of a centrally controlled vanguard.

Yours for socialism,
The Socialist Party

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