Sunday, 24 May 2009

UNITYblog EDITORIAL: Debate on broad left strategy continues within IST

The global debate about how Marxists should organise politically in the current epoch is continuing. The debate centres on the question of whether Marxists opt to maintain a narrow Marxist organisation or join together unreservedly with other leftists in broad left political formations. This crucial debate is intersecting with the question of how the left responds to the global economic crisis. Without a viable political force which mobilises masses of people the result of the crisis will be devastating for ordinary people. Socialist Worker-New Zealand supports the broad left strategy, which has been articulated in the articles and statements. See History calls for a broad left party and Organising to build a global broad left movement. Our ideas have been raised within the International Socialist Tendency (IST), to which we are affiliated. In the interests of furthering this important debate we are posting on UNITYblog an exchange of ideas between Alex Callinicos, leading British Socialist Worker Party member, and European activists Panos Garganas and François Sabado. In International Socialist Journal (ISJ) issue 121, (Winter 2008) Garganas and Sabado responded to Callinicos's original article Where is the Radical Left Going? (Issue 120, Autumn 2008). See: In turn, Callinicos replies in ISJ issue 122: Revolutionary paths: a reply to Panos Garganas and François Sabado In his reply Callinicos appears to make concessions to the idea of building broad left parties where Marxists do not organise as a "party within a party" and block vote. Something which the British SWP did with disastrous consequences in Respect. The shift in position is noted by current Respect activist Liam MacUaid in his blog post A shift of position (8 April 2009). Socialist Worker-New Zealand (SW-NZ) is very interested in this unfolding debate, reflecting as it does the crucial question of how Marxists work cooperatively in broad left political formations. As an organisation SW-NZ is continuing to work alongside other leftists in RAM - Residents Action Movement. We want to see a mass-based broad left political alternative built in New Zealand that can win the respect of masses of people. A task which today is only in its infancy. At the same SW-NZ maintains its own organisational structures, organises Marxist Forums for political discussion, and produces independent Marxist publications, UNITYblog and UNITY Journal. We retain our ability to represent Marxist ideas through these forums and publications at the same time as we are committed as individual members to the political outreach work of RAM. Please forward any new contributions (short or long) on the broad left debate or responses to any of the above articles to UNITYblog editor


Ondine Green said...

Personally, I would say the biggest obstacle to a real broad party in NZ at the moment is "critical mass". People will get involved once they see that a given structure is saying things that make sense, backing them up with practice, and getting results. The third is of course the most difficult bit, and at the moment you have several small groups acting in isolation, although with quite similar goals. This must change if we are to get somewhere - whether by RAM or another group growing and becoming hegemonic, or people putting aside their differences to build something greater.

Ben Courtice said...

Marta Harnecker on LINKS blog:

"9. For the left, politics must be the art of making possible the impossible. And we are not talking about a voluntarist declaration. We are talking about understanding politics as the art of constructing a social and political force capable of changing the balance of force in favour of the popular movement, so as to make possible in the future that which today appears impossible."

2 great articles which I think add a refreshing perspective that gets beyond the traditional Trotskyist debates over united front (of special type or not), popular front etc etc
#1 Insurrections or revolutions? The role of the political instrument#2 Convince, not impose

Richard said...

Why is this nonsense of a "broad left" still being discussed, it's ultimately either a dishonesty or wishful thinking. If this broad left is going to be anything more than an indulgence of the extreme left fringe then those advocating it would be seeking to work with the mainstream union movement, the Greens and the Labour Party. It is difficult to believe that SW-NZ sees RAM as anything more than a front organisation rather than a seedling that could replace the broad (as the dictionary defines it) left parties that gained 1 million odd votes at the last election. Or why not dispense with this broad left nonsense and be upfront about defining this desired movement as being far left and based on Marxism? Would that be more honest.

And then of course given that capitalism is facing it's greatest challenge since the 1930s why has SW-NZ or similar travelers been unable to stand a candidate in the Mt Albert election?

Ondine Green said...

"It is difficult to believe that SW-NZ sees RAM as anything more than a front organisation"

Why is that difficult to believe, Richard?

RAM is in fact working with the Greens in Mt Albert to support the candidacy of Dr Russel Norman. Your whole comment seems based on things that you have assumed in advanced, rather than actually watching what RAM is doing.