Left Unity should model itself on the RSDLP or pre-WWI SPD:

  • If Left Unity stands for witch hunts against the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party, then count me out. That would reduce it to a sick joke. I don’t want an electoral pact between TUSC and Left Unity as a long term goal because those are liable to crumble at a moment’s notice. What I would like to see is a broad workers’ party that allows both of those organisations to operate within Left Unity as the bolshevik faction did inside the RSDLP, or both the SWP and SP supporters did within the SSP. The model we should propose, I would suggest, is like the pre-WWI SPD. That had a centrist wing around Kautsky, a reformist wing around Bernstein (which could cater for Mark’s needs) and a revolutionary wing around Rosa Luxemburg. Rosa failed to organise very well. Hopefully, Left Unity’s revolutionary wing will prove less amateurish. There is no good reason why Arthur Scargill, George Galloway, Owen Jones, John McDonnell, the SWP, SP, Ken Loach and the rest of the 7,000 can’t work together within a single party, with Bob Crow, Matt Wrack, Mark Serwotka and many other trade union leaders and members. Mark Perryman might want to ponder on elections inside the trade union movement. Read this in this week’s party notes of the SWP: http://www.swp.org.uk/party-notes
    Jerry Hicks won nearly 80,000 votes in the election for the Unite general secretary – an extraordinary 36 percent despite the fact that virtually every one of Unite’s full time officials (and most of the organised left) had thrown their weight behind current general secretary Len McCluskey. See http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art/33011/Jerry+Hicks+gets+an+amazing+80,000+v… The result proves that the SWP was right when we said there was a big audience that was not content with McCluskey’s strong rhetoric but little action and his support for Labour.

[comment left on Mark Perryman’s article on Left Unity website: http://leftunity.org/were-having-a-party/]

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2 Responses to Left Unity should model itself on the RSDLP or pre-WWI SPD:

  1. Jacob Richter says:

    This sounds good, except that I object to your characterization of the pre-WWI SPD. It had coalitionist wings (Ebert’s and Bernstein’s groups were distinct), a strike-and-direct action wing (not so much around Luxemburg, since as you said this was poorly organized), and a Marxist Center around Bebel (not Kautsky, only an editor within this tendency).

    If Left Unity is to tolerate reformists, it should be only to the extent that coalition strategies are to be rejected (perhaps like a radicalized Oskar Lafontaine or Alexis Tsipras): Left Unity alone! Also to be avoided is union cozying inherent in small-l labourite political organizations, and trade union members should be accepted only as individuals, not as some union bloc. Left Unity must emulate continental socialist organization, not small-l labourism.

    You mention “witch hunts,” but what if the presence of the SPEW and the SWP is inherently disruptive? Trying to poach members for the sect isn’t constructive activism. Individual SPEWers and SWPers should be allowed, but to the extent that they must openly identify their external affiliation and renounce poaching members towards the sect. Winning others to a more strike-and-direct action argument is not synonymous with poaching.

    One constructive activism litmus test for these r-r-r-revolutionaries could be the extent of their participation in food banks, recreational clubs, cultural societies, and all things solidarity networks / Alternative Culture organs established by an institutional Center tendency.

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  2. TomDelargy says:

    There is a fair bit here I agree with, Jacob. Too tired to offer much of a considered response just now. Will make a few initial observations though. Firstly, the SPD clearly had a left, right and centre. I would characterise Luxemburg, Kautsky and Bernstein as the theoreticians of the respective tendencies, while all three of them deferred to organisers of all three tendencies. Should Left Unity have a reformist wing? The reality is that it has such a wing already. Should revolutionaries try to drive them out? In my opinion they should not try to do that. Having said that, a large number of them are absolutely explicit in wanting to drive revolutionaries out of Left Unity. I think these individuals are intent on pushing things to a split regardless of the relative strengths of the forces involved. But I think revolutionaries should be calling their bluff. Revolutionaries must fight for unity in the face of an anti-socialist broadcast and print media in the pocket of the richest 1%, and of an anti-democratic electoral system that forces the left to make concessions they would not make in an ideal world. A split is not in the interests of our class. Certainly not at this point in time. If the reformist wing of Left Unity wants to force the SWP and SP to stand against Left Unity, then they must bear responsibility for that split, and they have to be shown to be exclusively to blame for this split. I do not believe Ken Loach will be happy if this happens. Nor do I think Socialist Resistance will want it either. Nor do I believe that any organisation run by these atomised reformists with the kind of Kinnockite politics advocated by Mark Perryman will prove stable enough to survive for very long, indisciplined as these people are, actually flaunting their indiscipline as some kind of attractive feature. Facing a hostile electoral system, proving utterly unable to answer questions from the mass media, as they will all sing from a variety of hymnsheets, a dischordant mess, they will sink without trace – if, that is, they refuse to unite with the more organised left, those to be found today in TUSC. The Mark Perryman wing of Left Unity would, if it tries to go it alone, raplidly fragment, and then scatter to the winds, with bits and pieces drifting off to the Labour Party, SNP, Greens, and an assortment of single issue campaigns. Revolutionaries need to forge an organisation out of Left Unity and TUSC, a single organisation with tendencies that put the interests of the new party first, but with factions maintaining the right to fight for their individual programme and their candidates inside the new party.

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