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On setting up a faction

posted 1 Mar 2010, 03:22 by M MacDonald
By Martin Loof, Sweden

Dear Comrades 

Some comrades might wonder why have we decided to set up a faction 

If you read our documents there are quite some arguments for that.

But here I would like to point out that factions are a part of the history of bolshevism.

If you read the document 'Against burecratic centralism' that was 
written by Ted and Alan after the split in the 90s they make this very clear. 

On Factions 

The history of the Bolshevik Party was completely different to this. 
Throughout its entire history, the Bolshevik Party had an intense 
internal life, with internal debates, controversies, differences among 
the leaders, openly expressed, yes, and factions also. 

When we formed a faction to combat the disastrous “British Turn”, we 
were immediately accused of disloyalty. In a circular the EC attempted 
to prejudice comrades attitudes by feeding the “suggestion” that 
members were “shocked” at this action. In doing this, the majority 
merely demonstrate their abysmal ignorance of the real traditions of 
Bolshevism and democratic centralism. Trotsky had this to say on the 
subject of factions: 

    “In the Comintern, factions were forbidden, and this police ban 
was alleged to be in keeping with the Bolshevik tradition. It is 
difficult to imagine a worse slander on the history of Bolshevism It 
is true that in March 1921 factions were banned by a special 
resolution on the Tenth Party Congress. The very fact that this 
resolution was necessary shows that in the previous period – i.e., 
during the seventeen years when Bolshevism arose, grew, gained 
strength, and came to power – factions were a legitimate part of party 
life. And this was reflected in practice. 

    “At the Stockholm Party Congress (1906), where the Bolshevik 
faction was reunited with the Menshevik faction, there were two 
factions inside the Bolshevik faction involved in an open struggle at 
the congress itself over a major question, the agrarian programme. The 
majority of the Bolsheviks, under Lenin’s leadership, had come out for 
nationalisation of the land. Stalin, who spoke at the congress under 
the name Ivanovich, belonged to a small group of so-called 
“partitionists” that advocated the immediate partitioning of the land 
among the small property-owners, thus restricting the revolution 
beforehand to a capitalist-farmer perspective. 

    “In 1907, a sharp factional struggle was fought over the question 
of boycotting the Third State Duma (parliament).supporters of the 
boycott subsequently aligned themselves into two factions which over 
the next few years carried on a fierce struggle against Lenin’s 
faction, not only within the confines of the ‘united” party, but 
inside the Bolshevik faction as well. Bolshevism’s intensified 
struggle against liquidationism later on gave rise to a 
conciliationist faction inside the Bolshevik faction, to which 
prominent Bolshevik practical party workers of that time belonged: 
Rykov, Dubrovinsky, Stalin, and others. The struggle against the 
conciliationists dragged on until the outbreak of the war. 

    “August 1914 opened a period of regroupment inside the Bolshevik 
faction on the basis of attitudes toward the war and the Second 
International. Simultaneously a factional group was being formed of 
people who opposed national self-determination (Bukharin, Pyatakov, 

    “The sharp factional struggle inside the Bolshevik faction in the 
first period after the February Revolution and on the eve of the 
October Revolution is now well enough known (see for example, L. 
Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution). After the conquest of 
power a sharp factional struggle broke out around the question of the 
Brest-Litovsk peace. A faction of Left Communists was formed with its 
own press (Bukharin, Yaroslavsky, and others). Subsequently, the 
Democratic Centralism and the Workers’ Opposition factions were 
formed. Not until the Tenth Party Congress, held under conditions of 
blockade and famine, growing peasant unrest, and the first stages of 
NEP – which had unleashed petty-bourgeois tendencies – was 
consideration given to the possibility of resorting to such an 
exceptional measure as the banning of factions. It is possible to 
regard the decision of the Tenth Congress as a grave necessity. But in 
light of later events, one thing is absolutely clear: the banning of 
factions brought the heroic history of Bolshevism to an end and made 
way for its bureaucratic degeneration.” (L. Trotsky, Writings 1935-6) 

A prior condition for internal democracy is the free flow of 
information. Without information, it is impossible for the membership 
to express an opinion, much less to determine policy. In this respect 
also, our tendency has been completely unlike the Bolshevik Party or 
the Communist International in its healthy period. 

For the first five years of its existence, the Comintern held annual 
Congresses, despite the extreme difficulties involved. Every section 
discussed the problems of every other section. There were debates and 
controversies. The Russian party, despite its overwhelming strength 
and authority, did not attempt to use this to impose its views upon 
other sections. The Germans, Dutch, Hungarian and other parties 
pursued policies which were completely at variance with the standpoint 
of Lenin and Trotsky (usually with very negative consequences), but 
never experienced disciplinary measures or bureaucratic pressure. The 
only weapon used by Lenin and Trotsky was the weapon of convincing 
people by the superiority of their arguments. The tactic of character 
assassination, bureaucratic manoeuvres and the pressure of the 
apparatus was not the method of Leninist democratic centralism, but of 
Zinovievism and Stalinism. 

Compare the situation with us. There is virtually complete ignorance 
about the work of comrades in other countries. This is true not only 
of the rank-and-file, but even at IEC level. This body only rarely 
meets. The Comintern held annual congresses. The IEC itself only meets 
about once a year. The “reports” given to it are, in reality, a list 
of our successes (very real and important, to be sure), for the 
purpose of boosting morale. 

But very rarely do we get information about the problems faced by the 
comrades in difficult situations. This is not meant to be discussed 
outside the centre. Thus, an entirely false and one-sided picture is 
given even to the leading international comrades. 

But the area about which there is complete ignorance is the workings 
of the centre itself. Even the leading international comrades know 
nothing about it. In the course of the recent debate, a representative 
of the IS minority went to one of the main European sections that 
supports the majority and asked the EC a simple question: “What do you 
know about my work, or the work of any other IS comrade?” The answer 
was a most eloquent silence. That speaks volumes about our internal 

The same is true in relation to the British EC. At the beginning of 
the dispute the Welsh CC cdes admitted that “they hadn’t a clue about 
the workings of the EC”. That goes for the rest of the CC, who never 
received any reports of its work, etc. Again the real state of the 
organisation is kept secret. Comrades in one area have no idea what 
the situation is in other areas – all they hear about is the 

In the past, the lack of any written information was justified in 
terms of security. It should be made clear that this refers almost 
exclusively to security, not in relation to the state, but in relation 
to the Labour bureaucracy. 

It is quite ironical that the other faction now tries to justify the 
regime at the centre on the grounds of “security” when they have blown 
security sky-high by declaring an open organisation and publishing 
detailed information about the tendency in the pages of the bourgeois 

The fact is that the argument about “security” has been used to 
violate internal democracy and keep vital information from being 
distributed. It is not a weapon against the labour bureaucracy, but 
against the rank and file. 

When we quotes against buercratic centralism we dont mean that the 
situation is the same as in the 90s but we think that in that document 
Alan and Ted draw a lot of correct conclusions that was then lost 

We think we need to go back to those lessons and have a full 
discussion on what went wrong and how should we change so that the 
international functions better