Comrades in Russia have written a brilliant article about their decision to leave the Committee for a Workers International (CWI); re-linked here (as we can’t re-blog it for some reason!): Why the Russian CWI section doesn’t suit us.
(The Socialist Party (England and Wales), SP, the party which the members of this discussion group left, is also part of the CWI)
It is interesting to read the above article and learn what disagreements a significant section of the Russian party had towards the CWI as an organisation and specifically the leaders of the Russian section. Some of these are the same disagreements we had when we decided to leave the British section of the CWI.
The part entitled ‘Stereotyped Analysis’ sums up many of the socialist parties approach to protest movements and demonstrations. The point that these parties have no real analysis of any of these ‘mass movements’ and as a result will apply the same formula to each; that is try and win over the majority to socialism and try to lead the movement. [By ‘real analysis’ I include, at least, perspectives on historical analysis and situation, class and political composition of the movement.] Usually this leads to a few party contacts being made, but nothing more. The questions should be asked: How much effort should be spent intervening and what goals can we achieve from doing this? Is this useless activism?
The biggest and most recent example of this being the Scottish referendum in 2014, where the party membership was told that if we supported the ‘yes’ result, the working class of Scotland will see how good socialism is and support it on mass. More examples are given in the original article above and in a earlier article here.
Another issue that we also experienced in our party branch was the hostility to other views and ideas. We would run and advertise the ‘Marxists Discussion Group’ biweekly, where similar to now, we would discuss Marxist theory that wasn’t covered in weekly branch meetings. On several occasions we were criticised for reading articles that weren’t written by the CWI, regardless of quality, and for discussing/criticising theories about the Soviet Union that weren’t orthodox Trotsky. We can only assume that our leadership feared we might suddenly join the Spartacist League (a crazy ultra sectarian cult organisation) or the like!
Ultimately the Russian comrades focus on the lack of democracy in the organisation; to challenge and discuss new ideas and points of view. We certainly experienced this in the SP’s move towards Labour after the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of said party. Apart from token discussion (one meeting was had for the South of Wales), the leadership of the SP had already decided our approach to the Labour party and we as members were obliged to follow what they thought best. We disagreed on this issue as being reformist in nature.
The article linked above is well worth a read, especially if you are involved in the CWI worldwide. There are a few points in it which we have not experienced in Britain. Our leaders were not hypocrites like the Russian leadership. However there will be a lot of points many people will have experienced as part of the organisation.
These few words are not meant to be just another point scoring exercise (something common among all socialist organisations). It is hoped that some of these prevalent grievances are recognised as real issues and not something to be swept under to carpet till ultimately comrades feel they can not continue as part of the the CWI.