Monday, 11 March 2013

A new Network

The crisis that has engulfed and dishonoured the SWP should not be allowed to obscure the best aspects of the International Socialist tradition. We are committed to building and maintaining that tradition, as part of a strong and principled Left. As a first step, we invite those on the left who have been galvanised by the crisis to join the International Socialist Network by emailing

The discussion list, and this blog, will be an initial platform for announcements and discussion of theory, politics, and forthcoming events - details of which will soon follow.

We welcome those who feel they have no choice but to leave the SWP, those who are committed to staying and fighting for change within the party, as well as all who wish to be part of a healthy International Socialist tradition in Britain.

Join us in renewing that tradition

In solidarity,
International Socialist Network


  1. dear comrades
    briefly i am an ex IS/SWP member,from 1972-1977/1977-1985.i only left the SWP for the purely practical reason of moving to the USA to live/work where i joined the ISO then the US sister organisation of SWP UK.i was however excluded from the ISO,which i found such a difficult/devastating experience that i did not rejoin the SWP although i was an active supporter well into the 1990s.i was only able to renew my contact since 2010 when i discovered that i now do have differences with the SWP,although i work alongside SWP comrades.i have found"recent events"highly distressing due to their nature(rape,democracy,party life)"echoes"of my own experience and wider concerns about austerity and crisis on the left.i have felt unable to play a direct role in recent events,although my concern about maintaining and defending the genuine contribution of the IS tradition to the wider movement has concerned.
    i am therefore writing to indicate my support for those concerned in the democracy and politics of the SWP which i feel need radical refocussing and renewed concern with the IS tradition which i still do not wish to see lost,especially as i do not consider that other traditions are fully any more capable of developing han the current SWP.
    i hope that comrades at ISN/international socialist network will therefore make contact with me.i can be contacted at or the email address below.i hope i might look forward to hearing from you

  2. Just to say that we've had a heck of a response to this post, so do please all be patient and we will be getting round to adding everyone to the network as soon as we can.


  3. Dear comrades:

    Please add me to this network. I was part of a group of activists who found ourselves establishing the IS in Canada in 1975. We had an eye to building a new left, free of sectarianism and open to creative socialist theory and practice. I see this network as a continuation of that work.

    Stay strong.

    Yours in solidarity,

    Abbie Bakan

  4. Just curious: Would applicants still be obliged to accept Cliff's "state capitalism" thesis?

    1. "Just curious: Would applicants still be obliged to accept Cliff's "state capitalism" thesis?"

      if that was the case, then it would be another useless sect.

    2. I think its important for the new network to be open to all of the marxist traditons. I agree with the theory of state capitalism: but it clearly isn't the key issue it was during the cold war; Nor is it necessarily a guide to the present, since people who adhere to every part of the IS tradition can still find themselves divided over contemporary issues (eg, the Syrian Revolution).

    3. Hi, Ross, Danny, & Bryan, & other readers.

      Today I've been dealing with this matter in a practical way with a SWP Lyncher, a member since 1993, who uses the pseudonym, stuart, on 'Socialist Unity'. We've been discussing the SWP crisis for over 2 months there, me arguing points often made by the Democratic Renewal Platform, Stuart doggedly regurgitating the latest nonsense from the Lynchers.

      Yesterday a respected militant asked Stuart to contact Vauxhall (SWP HQ), to ask how the SWP could help a large group of GMB workers in a long-term dispute in a PFI hospital in Swindon. Stuart's unbelievable response was this:
      "My advice is for Andy to get one of the strikers to make contact with our industrial department."
      (comment no.601, 7:36am today, Thursday, 14 March,; the request was made in comment 593, 10:08pm, Wednesday)

      The immediate response was by another reader, majikthise:
      "When the class has to make an appointment to meet the party, you know bureaucratism is endemic." (comment 602, 7:53am)

      This episode led me to make a longish comment (no.614), as Stuart's response highlights what a degenerated IS/SWP tradition can mean in practice. In it I made an argument advocating that a revolutionary socialist party needs to be INVOLVED in the class struggle, not intervening as such (today's SWP policy), that it needs to OFFER its resources to workers in struggle, further encouraging their self-mobilising, their self-activity, increasing their confidence to make their own decisions, taking responsibility for their struggle. I summed it up as the struggle for socialism from below - the only sort there can be. I ended my comment by quoting the National Secretary of the IS in the early 70s, Jim Higgins.

      my comment is no.614, 7:22pm today on

      I'd like to know what you, and others, have to say about this, & any other things that this exciting new network should address.

    4. Comrades good luck with the IS Network and please add me to your circulation list.

      I am not surprised at 'Stuarts' response however disappointing and inept it may be. SU Newman is irrevocably hostile to SWP and would want nothing less than the destruction of the organisation and its traditions. So it is not surprising that any suggestion of cooperation with Newman on the SU site would be treated with suspicion.

    5. Hi, georgier. I wish you would be logical, & let go of the wrong end of the stick: (1) this is not about individuals, it's about a large group of GMB members in a long-running dispute; (2) in my SU comment I never mentioned 'SU Newman', as you put it, so I don't know why you have; (3) the request to stuart was to help the GMB members, & has nothing to do with, as you put it, "cooperation with Newman on the SU site"; (4) it's somewhat paranoid for you to speak of "suspicion": this is a dispute that has appeared in 'Socialist Worker', it is a direct class struggle, no-one should try to reduce it to individuals or personalities. We can all rise above that, comrade.

      I only introduced it here to illustrate that ideas & habits have practical consequences, a highly deleterious one in this case. I suggested how a group with the resources of the SWP could relate to disputes in quite a different way. A degeneration of Marxist ideas & ways of working harms the relationship of an organisation to the people it professes to serve, & this is plain to see in what I have described. This is not a trivial matter.

    6. Hello,

      With all respect, while I agree with your general points about aiding self-organisation, it really would be a better starting point for those involved in the struggle you mention to contact the SWP industrial department directly rather than go through a pseudonymed individual to achieve the same purpose. Assuming that is what they want to achieve.

      Secondly, I think we should not use terms like 'lynchers'. Criticize strongly, yes. Offer alternatives, for sure. I do find the SWP threads on the SU site a real turn off, as while I left the SWP a few years ago for reasons around their top down approach; I have no desire to stick the boot in & would rather see constructive arguments which suggest a way forward within the International Socialist tradition.

      This itself can be disagreed with, but at least it would be encouraging for it to be done in the manner of the culture we would seek to create.

      Anyway, I still hope for a constructive outcome, whether external or internal to the SWP.

    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    8. I don't want to take this further because it could become too heated for a thread that is about renewal and setting up a new network. But frankly it does not take a genius to put together SU + Swindon + GMB + Andy = Newman. Occasionally 2 + 2 does equal 4.
      Adam H. You put it far better than me but that essentially is where I was heading.

      15 March 2013 06:21 wis

  5. A small request about the blog:

    The current template is bandwidth-intensive, so is slow for those of us without fast connections. It's also difficult to search, as it has no 'history bar'

    Is it possible to switch to a more 'low tech' template? One that just gives the articles in reverse chronological order, and lists them at the side?

    1. A great help. Thank you very much...Comrade Watermelon :-).

  6. I joined IS in the late 1960s and am one of the comrades expelled with hundreds of others in the faction purges in of the mid-1970s. I am still an active revolutionary, currently in the Anticapitalist Initiative (ACI).

    Together let's try to put together a revolutionary organisation that draws on the best traditions of the early IS – its tolerance of different ideas and views, its democratic structures in conference and electing leaderships, its belief in a high degree of autonomy for its branches and above all its willingness to re-examine our history in a non-dogmatic fashion.

    If we can do that together we will make a major contribution to re-establishing a genuine democratic and revolutionary tradition in Britain.

  7. Hey - sign me up. Solidarity from Canada.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. After the SWP: renewal or dispersal?

    .. Author: Editorial

  10. As a former SWP member, 1984-88, and a product of the '80's 'ideological hardening', I'd very much like to be kept informed of developments.

    In solidarity

  11. I was a member for 23 years until I could no longer trust the politics of the leadership (those who left like Rees, German, Nineham and Bambery and those who remained)so I left in 2009. I am interested in finding out more about the network.

  12. Hello,

    I have always sympathised with the left and I mingled with the left community in my first year at university but since then I have retreated away from direct involvement in politics. I have now reached a point in my life at which I need to centre myself around my convictions. This happens to have coincided with recent events in the SWP, events which to my mind preclude me from becoming involved with them.

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