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IB Statement of the IMT British Faction on Internal Democracy

posted 24 Feb 2010, 01:23 by M MacDonald   [ updated 24 Feb 2010, 05:51 ]

This is the final version of the document we sent to the British EC today. We will post their reply as soon as we receive it.

 

The members of the British faction wish to put our differences with the leadership in writing and circulate them in the Internal Bulletin.

 

We are comrades who wish to ensure that the organization fully utilizes the opportunities available to it, and overcome any difficulties encountered, through a deep and serious analysis of theory, organization, strategy and tactics. Our aim is to build on our successes and limit the damage from our errors. This means self-critically and openly assessing our strengths and weaknesses, particularly when they are revealed by significant splits, ruptures and disagreements. We are still developing our ideas and expect that our suggestions will stimulate the leadership to respond constructively.

 

The main issues we are concerned about in brief:

 

In the field of Theory we detect a drift towards empiricism, this has been revealed in the discussions on China and on Marxist economics.

 

a.              On China: We welcome the debate that has developed on China. We note that the leadership acknowledges that the official position on certain points has been strengthened by the debate. However we feel that the method of the leadership has a tendency to substitute abstract formulae for thought-out analysis. The leadership has not responded to the substance of the arguments raised, which at root are about the nature of economics in a transitional society. This has resulted in poorly formulated and contradictory positions being propagated by leading members of the IS, in written and spoken form, both internally and in public.

 

b. On Economics: The leadership has engaged in a rather confusing polemic that misrepresents Marx's theory of crisis as presented in the third volume of Capital by the comprehensive and multi-faceted theory of the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, and seem to be trying to replace it with a series of selective quotes and a repackaged version of pre-Marxist theories of crisis i.e. the lack of purchasing power of the masses is the primary cause of modern economic crises.

 

In the field of Organization we detect a drift towards voluntarism. This is reflected in a mechanistic concept of political development, based on crude numerical models and on motivational speeches. We feel that education of revolutionary cadres requires the nurturing, promotion, development and cultivation of the critical faculties of the membership and the leadership. We recognize that not everything is the fault of the leadership but feel that the problems of the leadership reflect the lack of initiative within the whole organisation. Instead of a routine in which the centre acts and the members criticize, we would like to see comrades taking greater individual responsibility and the leadership learning from and providing feedback.

  

In the field of Innovation we detect a drift towards Routinism. This is reflected in the gradual downgrading of Socialist.net and the complete absence of living, on-going Internet discussion forums. There is an hostility towards the establishment of internal discussion forums for members; where we can all openly discuss issues of the day, theory, controversy, perspectives, strategy and tactics as we get on with our work of building the movement and empowering workers with the ideas of socialism.

 

In the field of Democracy, we detect a drift towards Bureaucratism, this is reflected in the systematic promotion of pliant and subservient youth often with a low theoretical level, and the simultaneous systematic demotion and lack of appreciation of critically minded older cadres with a high theoretical level and experience in the workers’ movement. We think that not enough is done to promote genuine internal democracy and the leadership tend to have an overly centralized method in how they develop analysis, theory and tactics.

 

We think these concerns are sufficient grounds for the formation of a faction. We feel the development of cadres requires greater on-going participatory discussion throughout the section and the entire International. This in turn will strengthen the authority of the leadership; limit the effect of damaging overstretch at the International and national centres; increase participation; reduce the many burdens placed on full timers; and enhance the disciplined unity of the members. This unity can only be founded on living participation through collectively assessing problems and making decisions on issues that confront the revolutionary movement, on a permanent basis. We are very lucky to be living in an age where instantaneous collaboration on a world-scale is made possible by the material development of the means of communication, which can augment our current means of revolutionary combination and production. This can provide us with opportunities to speed up the struggle to unify the workers of the world, in ways and at tempos, that the great Marxists in history could only have dreamt of.

  

Toward this end, the British faction would like to announce our closed, members only IMT internal web site (intranet) which is part of the International Bolshevik faction (IBF) which so far is comprised of the entire Iranian section, the majority of the Swedish CC and EC with many sympathizers and the Polish EC and majority of the section) at www.karlmarx.net. Any member of the organisation can review all our discussion documents, and make suggestions or criticisms on any of the issues raised there.

 

We note that the leadership of the British section has opposed providing access to this intranet web site to the members. The proposal for giving access to such a site was voted down at the January CC (with many abstentions although they were not recorded). However, the proposal was only for formal recognition and does not forbid comrades from communicating with each other. Therefore, any comrade can make an individual request to join our discussions on this closed members only site by sending a simple request to admin@karlmarx.net . All requests by individuals whose membership is even remotely in doubt will be vetted by the appropriate leading body of the section concerned.

 

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Points of clarification in response to recent emails sent out by RS for the EC, the IS and recent articles on socialist.net and marxist.com:

  • We would like to take this opportunity to affirm our belief in the need for a revolutionary leadership, elected and accountable. We are opposed to anarchism. We believe that the working class will only conquer power lead by a disciplined party based on the ideas of Marxism. We believe that the current task of the party is to be realistically prepared for the events that lay ahead.

 

  • Our concerns are not fabricated but have emerged from an accumulation of experiences over time. We understand that not all comrades have had the same experiences and will not agree with us. Nevertheless, we expect this discussion to unfold in a comradely manner and on a high political level. We hope that it will not be reduced to alarmist and unsubstantiated accusations of sabotage. We do not want to see the leadership of our organisation reduced to the language and tone of the Spanish leadership. We believe that how we build the revolutionary party is a very political question and should be taken very seriously.

 

  • At the January CC comrades MM and DH announced the establishment of a British faction. The announcement was made before a statement had been finalized. This was in order to be as transparent as possible and not to be seen as secretly factionalising. It was agreed at the CC that the British faction would use the IB to release its statement by the agreed deadline of Feb 22, which is exactly what we have done and will continue to do. It should be made very clear that it was the leading bodies of the Iranian, Swedish and Polish sections that released the announcement of the intranet, not the British faction (And only after the Iranian leadership felt communication with the IS had completely broken down). Therefore it is erroneous to accuse the British faction of any breach of the structures. We do however take this opportunity to announce that we intend to officially join the international faction (IBF) and we will be helping to develop the members only, closed discussion site (called the intranet) in collaboration with them.

 

  • The members of the British faction do not, and never have supported the tactics of the leaderships of the Spanish, Venezuelan and Mexican sections. We applaud the leadership for criticising these methods, albeit too late and in an ineffectual way.

 

  • We would like to formally apologize for any emails that have been accidentally sent to non-members. We need to work with the leadership on how to resolve this on going problem while maintaining the right of members to communicate with other members of the same organisation freely and openly.

 

  • An elected admin staff of members of the faction will moderate the intranet site discussions and documents. For your information, the admin elected are ML from Sweden, ER and MM from Britain, WL from Poland and A from Iran.

 

  • Finally, for those who feel there is no justification for the formation of a faction in Britain and internationally, a list of concrete examples behind our criticisms is currently being compiled and will be made available to comrades upon request.

 

Comrades, thank you for taking your valuable time to consider our concerns.

 

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Comments on some of the attached documents

In addition to the above statement, it was agreed at the British CC that the following documents would be attached to this IB (please note that we would like to reserve the right to provide the latest versions of all the documents below and wish that no docs attributed to us should be attached without our approval):

Forward to Democratic Centralism! The first faction document from the Swedish, Polish and Iranian ECs.

Appendix to Forward to Democratic Centralism. Questions and answers by the Swedish, Polish and Iranian ECs.

Marxism and the internet: suggestions on how to expand the influence and strength of the revolutionary Marxist movement is a draft, discussion document by Heiko Khoo sent out to members in January. After initial reaction, he has modified the document by amending the line:“There should not be an ‘International Centre’, which ‘does the International work’. Instead there should be an International composed of the members who are in constant intercommunication.' which could be misinterpreted if taken out of context to mean that he advocates for no leadership at all. This is wrong and the corrected document reads: "There should not be a single location for the ‘International Centre’, which ‘does the International work’. Instead there should be an International composed of members in constant intercommunication.” Heiko regrets any misunderstanding.

It should also be noted that the Marxism and the Internet document is NOT an official British faction document meant for the IB but is a document that has been submitted by an individual comrade. Therefore, members of the faction do not wish to present it in the IB. But, if necessary we attach the latest, amended version for your information. However, we encourage all comrades to contribute to the development of ideas on this question on karlmarx.net

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