Add new comment

Submitted by sacha on Wed, 23/07/2008 - 10:17

Jason, when you say we only ever use the word Israel to describe Israel-Palestine, I'm really not sure where you get this idea from. In fact, not only do we refer to Israel-Palestine continuously; we have repeatedly polemicised against the idea that "Palestine" is a single unit; this is the underlying political basis of referring to "I-P".

Bill, a response to a few of your comments

1. You take offence at our claim that others on the Trotskyist left have "distorted" etc the idea of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. But you yourself regularly make this claim with regards to eg the AWL's ideas about the national question, imperialism and anti-imperialism ("Marxists think this; the AWL thinks that" etc etc). By definition, in areas when different Marxist groups have sharply different ideas, they will all believe that the others have strayed from the principles of classical Marxism. Your objection seems to come down to saying: "You think you're right and those who disagree with you are wrong"! Well, yes, we do... that being, you know, the basis of rational thought. And in fact it's also something you regularly do yourself - quite reasonably, though the hectoring manner in which you do it is usually unreasonable.
(It's worth noting, btw, that we are also perfectly happy to admit where we differ from "the classics", eg our disagreement with Trotsky on the class nature of the USSR, or the material we have printed critical of Lenin's position on "revolutionary defeatism".)

2. You further claim that we say everyone apart from us is "bureaucratic centralist" etc. Well, I have never heard anyone in the AWL make that claim in such an absolute form. But look at the record. The SWP's lack of democracy and free debate is well known. The SP is less overtly Stalinist, but has a stifling culture of conformity and as far as one can tell little internal debate and democracy. I don't have to explain to you WP's problems in this regard. Is PR's culture better? Yes, clearly, much better - but then you are a very new group, and one that emerged as a result of WP's highly bureaucratic regime. So, while we don't claim everyone else on the left has an anti-democratic regime, we do think our regime is fairly unusual and, given that, are doubly proud of it.
A similar point can be made about "honest debate and discussion". Again, we have never made the claim in such an absolute form. Yes, PR is much better than most of the rest of the left in this regard. Generally speaking, the left is very hostile to debate.

3. Your attitude to Respect Renewal seems to be that we should tone down our criticisms for the sake of unity; or, at least, when we criticise, refrain from suggesting that the comrades' participation in the project is fundamentally unprincipled from a working-class socialist point of view. I think this is kind of softly-softly unity mongering is wrong. Moreover, it is very strange from a former member of a group, WP, who walked out of the Socialist Alliance as soon as the Respect project was floated (I think it was in 2003; I was at the Birmingham national council meeting where you walked out), refusing to stay and take part in the continued fight against the SWP and their allies. I think that was seriously tactically mistaken; but at least you then showed a healthy contempt for the popular frontism of the "peace and justice" proposal that became Respect.
Oddly, you seem less hostile to Respect Renewal than you were to Respect when the SWP were participating. This seems to be a widespread sentiment on the left, and one I can only contribute to SWP-phobia. It certainly has no basis in Marxist politics. Perhaps PR has changed its mind, and thinks WP was wrong/sectarian etc - in which case good, but you are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
Perhaps I've misinterpreted your fairly unclear comments. Clarification welcome.

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.