Home > Uncategorized > Huge Split in CWI To Which SP(I), Organisers of Solidarity and Cross-Community Labour Alternative, is Affiliated

Huge Split in CWI To Which SP(I), Organisers of Solidarity and Cross-Community Labour Alternative, is Affiliated

Both Sides of Split Claim to be the original CWI-Statements by Both Sides Below  https://wp.me/pKzXa-1fv

Statement by Socialist Party of England and Wales on Split in Committee for a Workers International(CWI)

CWI Re-Founded with determination and confidence

Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary

“This opposition has taken a right-ward opportunist turn, buckled to the pressures of identity politics, turned away from conducting a systematic and consistent struggle in the trade unions and blunted the socialist programme that the CWI and its sections have fought to defend”.- (this criticism of the other side of the split is expanded further down in this article-the “opposition” includes the Irish section-PH)

 

On Sunday 21 July over 200 delegates at a special conference of the Socialist Party in England and Wales voted overwhelmingly, 84% to 16% (173 – 35 with 0 abstentions) to sponsor an international conference to reconstitute the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI – the international organisation of which the Socialist Party is part).

The international conference which followed over the next four days was attended by delegates and visitors from England and Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, France, Austria, Finland, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Chile, South Africa and the United States.

Unfortunately, comrades from South Africa and Nigeria who had planned to attend could not due to visa problems.

The international conference’s decision to reconstitute the CWI followed an intense debate and political struggle in the CWI over the last seven months.

This political struggle has been fought between those represented at this meeting who defend the Trotskyist method and programme the CWI was founded on in 1974 and an opposition moving away from this position.

This opposition has taken a right-ward opportunist turn, buckled to the pressures of identity politics, turned away from conducting a systematic and consistent struggle in the trade unions and blunted the socialist programme that the CWI and its sections have fought to defend.

The international conference in London had lively discussions on the world situation and the tasks facing the working class and socialists, the revolutionary and counter revolutionary upheavals taking place in the neo-colonial world, and also a balance sheet of the recent debate in the CWI and tasks for building the re-founded CWI in the coming period.

The re-founded CWI was constituted on the basis of the political and organisational principles adopted by the first four congresses of the Comintern, the founding documents of the IV International in 1938 and the congresses of the CWI.

The determination and confidence of those present and represented at this conference was reflected in the collection which raised over £25,000.

The conference agreed that the International Secretariat will seek to convene a world congress in 2020 of CWI sections and groups that defend the programme of the CWI and also invite revolutionary socialist organisations which are committed to building revolutionary socialist parties based on the working class and which are prepared to discuss and collaborate on an honest and principled basis.

Following the decision of the Socialist Party conference, a small number of our members have announced they have left our party.

They have tried to disguise their decision by claiming they were expelled. This is not the case. The resolution that was overwhelmingly passed by the Socialist Party conference called on all members, regardless of their position in the debate, “to continue to help build the Socialist Party as part of a healthy Trotskyist international organisation in order to prepare for the mighty class battles ahead.”

The resolution agreed was “confident that the overwhelming majority of Socialist Party members will wish to participate in this historic task.”

However, it went to on to explain that, “if a small minority decides instead to build an alternative organisation” based on opportunist policies, they “will have to do so outside of the Socialist Party where they will have the opportunity to test their ideas against the reality of the class struggle.”

Even before the Socialist Party conference had taken any decision a small number of members had clearly made plans to launch a new, rightward-moving organisation, the launch rally of which was held an hour after our conference had finished.

The vast majority of members, however, have come out of the recent debate with a renewed confidence in our party.

We defend the programme and approach of the Socialist Party which historically, in an era of heightened working class struggle, enabled us to lead the struggles of Liverpool City Council and the battle against the poll tax, the latter bringing down Maggie Thatcher.

We were also central to numerous struggles against racism and the far right. At the present time our methods have allowed us to orientate effectively to those mobilised in support of Jeremy Corbyn, campaigning for the removal of the Blairites and the transformation of Labour into a workers’ party with a socialist programme.

We are pioneers of the fight against council cuts. We play a vital role in the trade union movement, including our members playing a leading role in the rank-and-file National Shop Stewards Network. At the same time we have built a significant base on the university campuses.

Most importantly, we are building a party based on a clear socialist programme, currently over 2,000 members strong, which will be able to play a vital role in the mighty struggles of the working class which are ahead.

We will publish further material on the issues in the debate, and the key documents from it, on our websites in the coming weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

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Statement by Other Side of Split

From Chinese Section CWI   https://chinaworker.info/en/2019/07/26/20933/?fbclid=IwAR2lFxZ5wg_syavZT5A4jN6uSmEM-uTZ_ogtvTiFOU4p1LWB5UaJ3jaI-X0

 

Huge Split in Committee For A Workers International (CWI) to Which Socialist Party (Ireland) is affiliated. The Socialist Party are the organisers of Solidarity (26-Counties) and Cross-Community Labour Alternative(6-counties)

Bureaucratic coup will not stop CWI majority from building a strong revolutionary socialist international! JULY 26, 2019  Full Statement  https://wp.me/pKzXa-1fv

A minority of the CWI has bureaucratically forced through an unfortunate and damaging split in the worlds largest and most influential revolutionary socialist organisation, the Committee for a Workers’ International

They attacked our sections in Ireland and the USA, which successfully led mass struggles of workers, women and youth, achieving victories while raising the banner of revolutionary socialism in a principled and flexible manner, for “capitulating to petit bourgeois identity politics”.

In addition, in England & Wales, over 100 members, representing a majority of activists in over a dozen key cities, have been expelled from the Socialist Party for supporting the majority of the CWI, and have been forced  to begin the rebuilding of the CWI’s forces there. An SP special congress on 21 July passed a resolution stating that supporters of the CWI would have to act outside the Socialist Party, and were told “goodbye and good ridddance” by the party leadership(Peter Taafe) from the platform.

From Chinese Section CWI   https://chinaworker.info/en/2019/07/26/20933/?fbclid=IwAR2lFxZ5wg_syavZT5A4jN6uSmEM-uTZ_ogtvTiFOU4p1LWB5UaJ3jaI-X0

Those who follow the CWI, in its publications and activities, will be aware of the important debates that have taken place in our revolutionary socialist international during the last 7 months or so. These debates have arisen from a complex world situation, with capitalism economically, socially and ecologically exposed as parasitic and its institutions largely discredited, while simultaneously most workers’ and Left organisations and their leaders internationally have not been up to the challenge. As a result, the workers’ movement in general has not as yet decisively put its imprint on events.

Bold initiatives or conservatism in thought and action

On the other hand, the conditions suffered by large numbers of workers, youth, women, migrants and other layers in society have brought many into action. In the case of mass movements against specific forms of oppression, these have often been marked by ideological confusion, and varying degrees of bourgeois and petit bourgeois influence. The majority of the CWI and its ranks believe the best way to help overcome this confusion is by participating as the most dynamic and programmatically clearest component in those movements, clearly drawing a line between our working class approach and that of our opponents.

The former day-to-day leadership of the CWI which has carried out a bureaucratic coup in the organisation, (the majority of the International Secretariat and the minority fraction it gathered around it), showed a lack of confidence about intervening in these movements. They emphasised the fear that our membership would be intoxicated by petit-bourgeois Identity politics and other “alien ideas” in these movements and preferred, in their own words, to “dig in” and await events within the official labour movement.

 

They attacked our sections in Ireland and the USA, which successfully led mass struggles of workers, women and youth, achieving victories while raising the banner of revolutionary socialism in a principled and flexible manner, for “capitulating to petit bourgeois identity politics”. The majority believes that, far from protecting working class socialist principled, such an attitude would leave our membership unprepared, and petty-bourgeois influences unchallenged in some of the most important mass mobilisations of our epoch. Moreover, these movements have often also been characterised by a strong participation by the working class, and are increasingly being expressed in working class strike action, for example with industrial action against sexism taking place around the world from the USA to South Africa.

With mass movements taking on new and innovative forms around the world, often but not always outside of the formal structures of the official labour movement, Marxists energetically intervening in these movements with a socialist and class perspective were denounced by the CWI minority faction around the IS majority as “turning their backs on the trade unions”. On the contrary, the forces of the CWI majority retain a strategic, but flexible orientation towards the trade unions, where we have won crucial victories in struggle, sometimes reflected in winning leadership positions in unions in many countries.

Democratic traditions

Having debates in a democratic manner has always been part of the CWI’s rich traditions. In the past we had important debates on Europe and the introduction of the Euro, the character of some of the populist right wing parties, the class nature of the Chinese regime and many other issues. We believe those debates and exchanges strengthened the political understanding of all participants.

Based on the traditions of the revolutionary workers’ movement and its organisations, the CWI has in its constitution and those of its member parties a number of inbuilt guarantees protecting its membership against the possible undemocratic behavior of its leadership. All leading positions are elected and subject to recall, no elected position provides any material gain, and every three years a World Congress composed of elected delegations from the national sections elect an IEC. The IEC leads the CWI in between these congresses and elects an International secretariat that takes functions as a day to day leadership. No one national section or combination of few sections on their own can be sufficiently represented to dominate a world congress. If one third of the IEC members demand the organization of an IEC, the IS has the constitutional obligation to do so. Financial auditors are elected at the World Congress are double checking the finances etc.

But however democratic the rules might be, in a Marxist organization we believe the main guarantee of healthy democracy are not rules, but the existence of a critically thinking membership of workers and youth prepared to hold leaders to account, and with a political understanding and education which allows for full meaningful participation in all key discussions.

The CWI, just like any other organization, is not immune from any phenomena present in society, including the growth of conservative strata and bureaucratism. In our 45 years of existence we have had to fight this phenomena at various levels, and mostly we were able to correct them without too much damage. However, at times it has required the intervention of a politically conscious membership against a degenerated central leadership to safeguard the CWI’s programme. This was the case when the big majority of the CWI rose up against the leadership around Ted Grant in 1992, and has unfortunately had to be the case with the leadership around Peter Taaffe this year. Bureucratic violations of our democratic statutes have never sufficed to stop the CWI’s membership from continuing to build its sections and its international.

The CWI Majority, united and intact in 35 countries around the globe, will continue to fight for a socialist world. We will provide further information and analysis of our internal debate and crisis, including through the publishing of the key internal documents of the dispute, in the near future.

A bureaucratic coup

About half way through an agreed period of democratic political discussion and debate, a minority grouping, based around the majority of the CWI’s International Secretariat and the leadership of the Socialist Party of England & Wales, have declared in an article on socialistworld.net (a valuable resource stolen from the majority of CWI members) on 25 July to have taken at a conference the  “decision to refound the Committee for a Workers’ International” and “convene a world congress in 2020 of CWI sections and groups that defend the programme of the CWI”.

What this really means is that they are founding a new organisation open only to the minority who support their leadership. It is a step taken with no reference whatsoever to any of the CWI’s existing democratic structures. In reality, it amounts to a bureaucratic move with no political or organisational legitimacy.

In the process, this grouping has also illegitimately appropriated the collective material, financial and political resources of the CWI (including its international website and most of its social media accounts), against the clear will of the majority of its sections and members. Out of 45 countries in which the CWI is organised in national organisations, this grouping holds a majority in only seven.

The bureaucratic coup which their actions represent amount to a clear break with entire national sections and members of the CWI in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hong Kong, Israel/Palestine, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Quebec, Romania, Russia, the Spanish state, Sudan, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, Tunisia, and the USA from the CWI, as well as a majority of members in Germany and South Africa who oppose their plans.

 

In addition, in England & Wales, over 100 members, representing a majority of activists in over a dozen key cities, have been expelled from the Socialist Party for supporting the majority of the CWI, and have been forced  to begin the rebuilding of the CWI’s forces there. An SP special congress on 21 July passed a resolution stating that supporters of the CWI would have to act outside the Socialist Party, and were told “goodbye and good ridddance” by the party leadership from the platform.

An accelerated bureaucratic degeneration

In November 2018, the International Secretariat majority (IS – a leading body elected by the CWI’s International Executive Committee), finding itself in a minority on the body which elected it, launched a factional rampage. Beginning with a campaign of distorted and sectarian denunciations of the Socialist Party of Ireland, a political narrative was built accusing the big majority of CWI of having broken with the fundamental principles of socialism and Marxism – in particular, with an orientation towards the working class as the force destined to lead the transformation of society.

At a meeting of the IEC in November 2018 in which the IS majority lost the vote, they launched a minority faction in the CWI (called ‘In defense of a working class, Trotskyist CWI). Immediately afterwards, the IS majority began to disregard the democratic and political legitimacy of the body which elected it. The IEC had unanimously agreed to initiate a year-long political debate on the fundamental political issues which the minority faction placed on the table, during which the IEC would meet again in August 2019 and a World Congress – the highest decision making body of the composed of delegates from national sections – would be organised in January 2020.

The IS majority immediately sought to torpedo this agreement, boycotting the Congress Organising Committee which was elected to oversee the debate. They then declared that the CWI’s democratic structures to be illegitimate, due to the existence of “fundamental political differences”. This amounted to the open rejection of any accountability to those who elected them.

The democratic procedures of a working class organisation, which are especially important at times of debate and disagreement, were completely jettisoned. The IS majority explicitly stated that they could not participate in any meeting where they might face de-selection (which they termed “regime change”) in a democratic vote. The overwhelming majority of the CWI, who defended the fundamental principle of working class democracy, were dismissed as “constitutional fetishists”.

The IS majority, in technical possession of hundreds of thousands of dollars of CWI members’ money, also obstructed the access of an elected auditor of the CWI’s accounts to the books of the organisation, in obvious preparation to run away with this money, which they now appear to have done.

The Orwellian decision taken to “refound” an organisation, against the will of its only existing democratic structures, amounts to a bureaucratic coup. The seizure of the collective assets of an organisation on this basis is especially heinous. While any group of members has the right to separate from the CWI and set up a separate entity, any organisation born on the basis of such methods will be marked by opprobium in the workers’ movement.

This bureaucratic approach represents a complete break from the democratic culture of discussion and debate which has hitherto existed in the CWI, which has seen countless internal debates and discussions conducted in a democratic manner, with a leadership confident to argue its ideas without resorting to bureaucratic measures.

The CWI continues

This bureaucratic sectarian split from the CWI, which has succeeded in disorienting and derailing many honest working class fighters, is a serious setback for the CWI. But as the saying goes: don’t mourn, organise!

As well as the criminal actions of an unaccountable degenerated bureaucratic leadership, this crisis for our organisation has shown its opposite: that the CWI is a healthy and living organisation in which a majority has been able to rise up against bureaucratic degeneration and maintain the unity of the vast majority of our international, despite having to stand up to some of its most authoritative founding leaders in the process.

The CWI majority is united, intact and retains significant fighting capacity in over 30 countries around the globe! We are determined to discuss and debate to draw all the lessons from the crisis we have been through, for how to build a youthful, democratic and powerful world party dedicated to the fight for a socialist revolution. At this very moment, we are intervening in the explosive events of Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Sudan and elsewhere.

We will soon launch an international website and other publications. 

We call on all CWI members, and workers and youth of all countries to discuss with and join us!

Provisional committee of the CWI IEC Majority:

Stephen Boyd  (Ireland)
Eric Byl
Danny Byrne
Tom Crean
Andre Ferrari
Cedric Gerome
Sonja Grusch
Vincent Kolo
Claire Laker-Mansfield
Andros Payiatsos
Per-Åke Westerlund

—————————————————————–Fourth Article in Irish Times on “Clash” in Socialist Party(I) and CWI

CWI Members Bulletin ,Paste into URL

https://docs.google.com/file/d/1awGh8HkPPhCnIxWGqOHNB_7_sXofHzIh/preview

Socialists Clash over How To Compete With Sinn Féin

Fiach Kelly, Irish Times March 7,2019  https://wp.me/pKzXa-1fv

Murphy describes rivals as bourgeois sectarian nationalists with “an armed wing”

TD Says Key Strategy was applied during Dublin South West  Byelection

Dublin South West TD, Paul Murphy:

“Of fundamental importance to any political description of Sinn Féin is that they are a sectarian party, a party which currently plays a sectarian role in the North-whose armed wing in the past waged an individual terrorist armed struggle”

The challenge of how to compete with Sinn Féin for left wing votes is at the centre of differences in political strategy between leading members of the Socialist Party. Dublin South West TD Paul Murphy advocates challenging Sinn Féin with a so-called “united front” approach. Mr Murphy explains this approach in detail in a paper called “The United Front method and putting forward a Socialist Programme today”, published on November 20th. In explaining the united front approach, Mr Murphy cites a definition from the “Executive Committee of the Communist International Theses on the United Front”. By this definition, the tactic is “nothing other than the proposal made by the Communists to all workers, whether they are members of other parties or groups or of none, to fight alongside them, to defend the elementary and vital interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie. “Every action for even the smallest demand is a source of revolutionary education, because the experience of combat will convince the working people of the necessity of the revolution, and will demonstrate the meaning of Communism to them.” He says this can be “applied to today’s situation to win over workers looking towards other organisations”. Mr Murphy also cites Trotsky in expanding his argument, adding: “Trotsky made it clear that even in a specific united front, there was a need for clear differentiation from other forces.” ‘No common platform’ He then quotes Trotsky thus: “No common platform with the Social Democracy, or with the leaders of the German trade unions, no common publications, banners, placards! March separately, but strike together! Agree only how to strike, whom to strike and when to strike! Such an agreement can be concluded even with the devil himself, with his grandmother, and even with Noske and Grezesinsky. On one condition, not to bind one’s hands.” In effect, Mr Murphy says this would allow Socialists join in common action with others “in order to achieve real gains for the working class” while maintaining their own independence as the “revolutionary” party. “The united front method also means revolutionaries fight in that movement to expose the limitations of the other organisations and ideas, to prove the superiority of revolutionary ideas and seek to win a majority to a revolutionary programme and the leadership of the revolutionary party.” An example of how this was applied, according to Mr Murphy, came during the Dublin South West byelection in 2014. It saw Mr Murphy beat Sinn Féin, who had been expected to take the Dáil seat, on the back of an anti-water charges ticket. His victory is widely credited with pushing Sinn Féin and then Fianna Fáil towards a position in favour of abolishing water charges. Sinn Féin did not initially favour of non-payment of the charges, as the Socialists had. “Here, a very critical and ‘hard’ approach was taken to Sinn Féin, on the concrete issue of water charges to illustrate in practice the weaknesses of their programme and approach, and win over their supporters,” Mr Murphy says. “A consistent element of our campaign was appealing to Sinn Féin supporters to vote for us to apply pressure on Sinn Féin ’to change their position’ and ‘join with us in campaigning to build a mass movement of non-payment’. Weak position “In the election leaflet the comrades themselves quote, it clearly says: ‘The election of Paul Murphy would make it clear to Sinn Féin that a weak position on Water Charges in the future will not be tolerated’. “This was a theme running through much of our election posters, leaflets and other material. “Failing to understand the importance of applying the united front method has resulted in mistakes in the past in relation to Sinn Féin, and can result in mistakes in the future.” The byelection is also used in a paper from others in the movement, replying to similar arguments that had been previously made by Mr Murphy. This paper, is called: “A brief contribution on some political issues mentioned by PM” and is written 3/7/2019 irishtimes.com – Paul Murphy uses Trotsky to explain how Socialists can compete with ‘sectarian’ SF – Wed Mar 06 12:42:27 GMT 2019 https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/paul-murphy-uses-trotsky-to-explain-how-socialists-can-compete-with-sectarian-sf-1.3816304?mode=pri… 2/2 by Laura F, Stephen B, Kevin M, Joe H, and dated October 10th last. The authors are understood to be Laura Fitzgerald, Stephen Boyd, Kevin McLoughlin and Joe Higgins. “We should be hesitant about using labels if they don’t accurately convey what we mean,” they say. “We don’t have the time to go into more generally, but will use the example DSW By-Election just given to try to illustrate the difficulty with the term. “There was no question of a unified approach with Sinn Féin on the water charges. There was obviously an attempt by us to win over people who voted for them by using the water charges and austerity issues, but there is a major difference in the content and tone of our campaign.” Differences also emerge between Mr Murphy and his colleagues on how to describe Sinn Féin. Sectarian Mr Murphy says: “The comrades…respond to my description of Sinn Féin as a nationalist, pro-capitalist party saying the following: ‘Of course they are “nationalist, pro-capitalist party’, the reality is that Sinn Féin are a bourgeois nationalist party – but of fundamental importance to any political description of Sinn Féin is that they are a sectarian party. A party which currently plays a sectarian role in the North – whose armed wing in the past waged an individual terrorist armed struggle, that was overtly sectarian and at times directly targeted working class Protestants.” Mr Murphy then adds further description is needed on the term “bourgeois nationalist party” the Socialist have used for Sinn Féin. “It seems to me that further clarification may be needed. If the comrades mean it is a capitalist nationalist party, i.e. one with a pro-capitalist nationalist programme, as demonstrated by their implementation of austerity and sectarian policies in Northern Ireland, then I completely agree. “However, if the term ‘bourgeois nationalist party’ is used to indicate a party which represents the nationalist aspirations of the bourgeoisie, then it is not a precise description of Sinn Féin. While in the North, Sinn Féin has support amongst a section of the Catholic capitalist class, in the South, no significant section of the capitalist class supports Sinn Féin.” Mr Murphy also corrects his comrades on their understanding of the “united front”. “The comrades begin with an inaccurate historical description of the united front as ‘tactics the Comintern and revolutionary parties adopted in general towards the mass organisations of the working class in the 1920s and 1930s’,” he says. “I will deal below with the question of whether the united front is solely a tactic or a method, or both. Nonetheless, the history is clear. The united front did not originate in the 1920s as seems to be implied [by others]. Bolsheviks “It was in fact central to the success of the Bolsheviks in 1917, and was fought for by Lenin in particular. The most well known example is the united front struggle proposed by the Bolsheviks to stop the Kornilov coup against the Kerensky government in August 1917, using ‘Kerensky as a gun-rest to shoot Kornilov.’ “It wasn’t until later, in particular at the Third and Fourth Congresses of the Communist International in the early 1920s, that the united front was theorised. The same process took place with the transitional method and the workers’ government slogan, both of which were implemented by the Bolsheviks in 1917, for example in Lenin’s ‘The Impending Catastrophe and How to Fight It’, and the ‘Down with the Ten Capitalist Ministers’ slogan demanding that the Mensheviks and SRs form a government without the participation of the capitalist parties. “The comrades are unfortunately wrong to suggest that the united front was then adopted by the Communist Parties. In fact, the tragedy of the 1920s and 30s is precisely that it was not fully adopted or properly implemented.” © 2019 irishtimes.co

 

 

 

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Irish Sunday Business Post

Peter Taaffe says focus of Socialist Party has switched to women’s and gay rights as unions are abandoned By  Michael Brennan    Sunday Business Post  Mar 3, 2019

A prominent English socialist figure has accused the Irish Socialist Party of giving up on the working class to focus on the rights of women and LGBTQ people. https://wp.me/pKzXa-1fv

The Irish Socialist Party includes three TDs – Paul Murphy, Mick Barry and Ruth Coppinger – who are also members of the Solidarity-People Before Profit party.

It has come under fire from Peter Taaffe, the general secretary of the Socialist Party of England and Wales, who was expelled from membership of the British Labour Party in 1983.

Taaffe said the ‘Irish comrades’ did not believe in the possibility of mobilising independent working class support.

He said they had admitted that “the new ‘vanguard’ for change is not the working class” and were instead concentrating on “the forces around the movement for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights”.

This is a strong criticism because it has been an article of faith for socialists like Taaffe that the working class is the main revolutionary force that will replace capitalism with socialism.

There is recent evidence of the strong focus of Coppinger, Murphy and Barry on rights for women and LGBTQ people.

All three were active in last year’s campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Coppinger has attracted international attention for holding up a thong in the Dáil to highlight how a jury was told about an alleged rape victim’s underwear during a court case.

Murphy has brought in a sex education bill which he has said would help young LGBTQ students who felt excluded and isolated in school.

Taaffe complained that the Socialist Party and its sister organisation Rosa – set up by women in the party – did not have a clear orientation towards working class organisations during the abortion rights campaign.

“We all agree that they carried out tremendous work in their participation in this campaign, but it was not through clear working class methods and orientation,” he said.

There have been rumblings within the Irish Socialist Party that such campaigns rely too much on middle class students who are not interested in wider socialist campaigns.

Taaffe’s criticisms were published online, in a rare example of dissent between the political parties which follow the philosophy of Soviet revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky.

They meet through an umbrella organisation called the Committee for a Workers’ International.

Taaffe said the Irish Socialist Party had effectively abandoned working within the Irish trade union movement for a period.

“But all the great leaders of the working class – Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky – emphasised the absolute necessity even in difficult periods for organised systematic work in and around the trade unions,” he wrote.

TD Paul Murphy could not be contacted for comment.

————————————————————————————Irish Times

Socialist Party documents illustrate criticism from international comrades

Papers show serious differences between leading party figures on domestic strategy

From left to right: Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger TD, Cllr Michael Murphy and Mick Barry TD pictured in 2017. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

The inner workings of the Socialist Party are not usually on display for all to see.

Its TDs – Paul MurphyRuth Coppinger and Mick Barry – are the most cogent left wing voices in the Dáil.

Also operating under the Solidarity (formerly Anti-Austerity Alliance) banner, they have led debates on issues such as abortion and water charges.

In our view a tendency has also developed of some leading Irish comrades seeing all struggles through the prism of the women’s movement, rather than seeing how it interconnects with other struggles

Documents recently circulated within the party, however, illustrate how their movement has been criticised by international comrades for an excessive focus on abortion and women’s rights issues.

A collection of documents, including internal policy papers and international policy papers totalling 66 pages, have been seen by The Irish Times, and also reveal serious differences between leading figures on domestic political strategy.

Mr Murphy, Ms Coppinger and Mr Barry did not return repeated requests for comment yesterday.

A number of party councillors also declined to comment, with one saying he had been asked not to speak to The Irish Times. Former party TD Joe Higgins, also named in the documents, did not return calls.

Former Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins was named in the documents but did not return requests for comment made by The Irish Times. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Parent organisation differences

The documents show how differences emerged with the International Section (IS) of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), the parent organisation of the Socialist Party.

Concerns were raised with Irish members last autumn on “struggles relating to women’s oppression”.

The differences, in fact, pre-date last year’s referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

British activists felt the AAA was not forceful enough in arguing during the 2016 general election for “public ownership of the main sectors of the economy”.

This generation of petit-bourgeois feminists put very little focus on winning material gains for women concentrating overwhelmingly on individuals’ experience of sexism

The sharpest exchanges, however, came over the importance of the abortion referendum.

“It is our duty, as the elected leadership of the CWI, to raise our concerns in order to strengthen the work of the whole international,” the International Section of the CWI said in a paper called Women’s Oppression and Identity Politics – Our Approach in Ireland and Internationally.

“We think the comrades could be in danger of overstating the importance of the victory on abortion rights. In our view a tendency has also developed of some leading Irish comrades seeing all struggles through the prism of the women’s movement, rather than seeing how it interconnects with other struggles.”

It also questioned the future of the pro-choice group linked to the Socialist Party, Reproductive rights against Oppression, Sexism and Austerity (Rosa).

For the IS, the campaign against water charges is held up as a better example of “how united working-class struggle can win, and crucially our role in leading it”.

Role in Ireland

However, the role taken by those in Ireland in leading campaigns to increase awareness around abortion pills in the years before the referendum is praised.

“Clearly, the militant and campaigning stance taken by the comrades – for which they were attacked by a layer of bourgeois and petit-bourgeois feminists – was an important positive factor.”

There is some criticism of Ms Coppinger for comments made at an “Englandand Wales Socialism 2014 event”. Ms Coppinger is noted as saying: “Most young women wouldn’t have seen unions doing much for women. I thought a lot of the contributions were from middle-age women and were economic.”

The IS responded by saying the event in question “had a particular trade union focus that had not been the case in many other years”.

“However, in our view Ruth’s comments also reveal a misunderstanding about the necessity of us explaining how economic and social change can be won, and the role of the organised working class in achieving that, as well as an underestimation of the importance of economic issues for working-class women, including young women.

“This generation of petit-bourgeois feminists put very little focus on winning material gains for women concentrating overwhelmingly on individuals’ experience of sexism. In that sense their ideas are a retreat from at least some of the feminist struggles of the 1970s.”

The Irish National Executive Committee (NEC) sent its own document in response. “From the NEC in Ireland, with all NEC comrades, bar Paul M voting for the document,” it notes, and argues: “The IS document could give the impression that the Irish section is soft on, and friendly with the forces of petitbourgeois feminism.

“The IS document says we are in danger of overstating the abortion rights victory. Unfortunately, the IS are understating it.”

The response to the Belfast rape trial last year of rugby players Paddy Jacksonand Stuart Olding (who were both acquitted of rape charges) is also a flashpoint between the IS and Ireland.

The Irish NEC says: “In the context of the Belfast rape trial and presumably in reaction to the ‘I believe her’ slogan that emerged from below, the IS document cautions, ‘we have to be careful not to go along with the conclusion of many petit-bourgeois feminists that every accusation of sexual assault made by a woman against a man has to be accepted. The IS are intimating that we just follow petit-bourgeois feminists. This is inaccurate to say the least. The facts are that when we called the demonstration North and South regarding this trial, we purposely called it under the general title/slogan of ‘Stand with Her & All Survivors’.

 

Socialist Party to present truth in ‘most digestible’ way to working class

In internal documents Paul Murphy advocates ‘united front’ when dealing with Sinn Féin

 

Paul Murphy, left, said: “The guiding line for us all in this debate should be what Lenin, approvingly quoting Trotsky, argued, that ‘ideological struggle within the party does not mean mutual ostracism but mutual influence’.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

The Socialist Party will present the truth “in the way which is most digestible to the working class at a particular time”, TD Paul Murphy has said.

In internal documents discussing Brexit and wider strategy, he asks: “Are we guilty of not ‘telling the truth’ to the working class when we don’t bring a demand to leave the EU?

“We always tell the truth to the working class. But we present the truth in the way which is most digestible to the working class at a particular time.”

In exchanges with members including Joe Higgins, he advocates a “united front” method of dealing with groups such as Sinn Féin.

Lenin

“The guiding line for us all in this debate should be what Lenin, approvingly quoting Trotsky, argued, that ‘ideological struggle within the party does not mean mutual ostracism but mutual influence’.”

He also corrects his comrades’ “inaccurate historical description of the united front as ‘tactics the Comintern and revolutionary parties adopted . . . in the 1920s and 1930s’.”

“It was in fact central to the success of the Bolsheviks in 1917, and was fought for by Lenin in particular,” he says, citing the “struggle proposed by the Bolsheviks to stop the Kornilov coup against the Kerensky government in August 1917, using ‘Kerensky as a gun-rest to shoot Kornilov’”.

Mr Murphy did not return requests for comment.

 

Socialists clash over tactics for competing with Sinn Féin

Paul Murphy describes rivals as bourgeois, sectarian nationalists with an ‘armed wing’

Paul Murphy TD outside Leinster House, Dublin Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The challenge of how to compete with Sinn Féin for left wing votes is at the centre of differences in political strategy between leading members of the Socialist Party.

Dublin South West TD Paul Murphy advocates challenging Sinn Féin with a so-called “united front” approach. Mr Murphy explains this approach in detail in a paper called “The United Front method and putting forward a Socialist Programme today”, published on November 20th.

In explaining the united front approach, Mr Murphy cites a definition from the “Executive Committee of the Communist International Theses on the United Front”.

By this definition, the tactic is “nothing other than the proposal made by the Communists to all workers, whether they are members of other parties or groups or of none, to fight alongside them, to defend the elementary and vital interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie.

“Every action for even the smallest demand is a source of revolutionary education, because the experience of combat will convince the working people of the necessity of the revolution, and will demonstrate the meaning of Communism to them.”

He says this can be “applied to today’s situation to win over workers looking towards other organisations”.

Mr Murphy also cites Trotsky in expanding his argument, adding: “Trotsky made it clear that even in a specific united front, there was a need for clear differentiation from other forces.”

‘No common platform’

He then quotes Trotsky thus: “No common platform with the Social Democracy, or with the leaders of the German trade unions, no common publications, banners, placards! March separately, but strike together! Agree only how to strike, whom to strike and when to strike! Such an agreement can be concluded even with the devil himself, with his grandmother, and even with Noske and Grezesinsky. On one condition, not to bind one’s hands.”

In effect, Mr Murphy says this would allow Socialists join in common action with others “in order to achieve real gains for the working class” while maintaining their own independence as the “revolutionary” party.

“The united front method also means revolutionaries fight in that movement to expose the limitations of the other organisations and ideas, to prove the superiority of revolutionary ideas and seek to win a majority to a revolutionary programme and the leadership of the revolutionary party.”

An example of how this was applied, according to Mr Murphy, came during the Dublin South West byelection in 2014. It saw Mr Murphy beat Sinn Féin, who had been expected to take the Dáil seat, on the back of an anti-water charges ticket. His victory is widely credited with pushing Sinn Féin and then Fianna Fáil towards a position in favour of abolishing water charges.

Sinn Féin did not initially favour of non-payment of the charges, as the Socialists had.

“Here, a very critical and ‘hard’ approach was taken to Sinn Féin, on the concrete issue of water charges to illustrate in practice the weaknesses of their programme and approach, and win over their supporters,” Mr Murphy says.

“A consistent element of our campaign was appealing to Sinn Féin supporters to vote for us to apply pressure on Sinn Féin ’to change their position’ and ‘join with us in campaigning to build a mass movement of non-payment’.

Weak position

“In the election leaflet the comrades themselves quote, it clearly says: ‘The election of Paul Murphy would make it clear to Sinn Féin that a weak position on Water Charges in the future will not be tolerated’.

“This was a theme running through much of our election posters, leaflets and other material.

“Failing to understand the importance of applying the united front method has resulted in mistakes in the past in relation to Sinn Féin, and can result in mistakes in the future.”

The byelection is also used in a paper from others in the movement, replying to similar arguments that had been previously made by Mr Murphy. This paper, is called: “A brief contribution on some political issues mentioned by PM” and is written by Laura F, Stephen B, Kevin M, Joe H, and dated October 10th last.

The authors are understood to be Laura FitzgeraldStephen BoydKevin McLoughlin and Joe Higgins.

“We should be hesitant about using labels if they don’t accurately convey what we mean,” they say. “We don’t have the time to go into more generally, but will use the example DSW By-Election just given to try to illustrate the difficulty with the term.

“There was no question of a unified approach with Sinn Féin on the water charges. There was obviously an attempt by us to win over people who voted for them by using the water charges and austerity issues, but there is a major difference in the content and tone of our campaign.”

Differences also emerge between Mr Murphy and his colleagues on how to describe Sinn Féin.

Sectarian

Mr Murphy says: “The comrades…respond to my description of Sinn Féin as a nationalist, pro-capitalist party saying the following: ‘Of course they are “nationalist, pro-capitalist party’, the reality is that Sinn Féin are a bourgeois nationalist party – but of fundamental importance to any political description of Sinn Féin is that they are a sectarian party. A party which currently plays a sectarian role in the North – whose armed wing in the past waged an individual terrorist armed struggle, that was overtly sectarian and at times directly targeted working class Protestants.”

Mr Murphy then adds further description is needed on the term “bourgeois nationalist party” the Socialist have used for Sinn Féin.

“It seems to me that further clarification may be needed. If the comrades mean it is a capitalist nationalist party, i.e. one with a pro-capitalist nationalist programme, as demonstrated by their implementation of austerity and sectarian policies in Northern Ireland, then I completely agree.

“However, if the term ‘bourgeois nationalist party’ is used to indicate a party which represents the nationalist aspirations of the bourgeoisie, then it is not a precise description of Sinn Féin. While in the North, Sinn Féin has support amongst a section of the Catholic capitalist class, in the South, no significant section of the capitalist class supports Sinn Féin.”

Mr Murphy also corrects his comrades on their understanding of the “united front”.

“The comrades begin with an inaccurate historical description of the united front as ‘tactics the Comintern and revolutionary parties adopted in general towards the mass organisations of the working class in the 1920s and 1930s’,” he says.

“I will deal below with the question of whether the united front is solely a tactic or a method, or both. Nonetheless, the history is clear. The united front did not originate in the 1920s as seems to be implied [by others].

Bolsheviks

“It was in fact central to the success of the Bolsheviks in 1917, and was fought for by Lenin in particular. The most well known example is the united front struggle proposed by the Bolsheviks to stop the Kornilov coup against the Kerensky government in August 1917, using ‘Kerensky as a gun-rest to shoot Kornilov.’

“It wasn’t until later, in particular at the Third and Fourth Congresses of the Communist International in the early 1920s, that the united front was theorised. The same process took place with the transitional method and the workers’ government slogan, both of which were implemented by the Bolsheviks in 1917, for example in Lenin’s ‘The Impending Catastrophe and How to Fight It’, and the ‘Down with the Ten Capitalist Ministers’ slogan demanding that the Mensheviks and SRs form a government without the participation of the capitalist parties.

“The comrades are unfortunately wrong to suggest that the united front was then adopted by the Communist Parties. In fact, the tragedy of the 1920s and 30s is precisely that it was not fully adopted or properly implemented.”

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