On the issue of "internal" discussions -- ISO/SWP opposition

Jose G. Perez jgperez at SPAMnetzero.net
Fri May 19 19:32:54 MDT 2000

Marx and Engels did not circulate these documents beyond a handful of
leaders at the time they were written. Indeed, the threat to make them
public was a threat to take the discussion to the party as a whole. Marx and
Engels did not do it because of their evaluation that German social
democracy was continuing to move in the right direction; also, it apparently
did not occur to them that they could or should try to substitute themselves
for the party's actual leadership.

I do not believe the examples you cite at all make the point that, as a
rule, workers' parties should have all their major political discussions

The argument is made that this is to prevent the police and other currents
(so-called "opponents")  from intervening in the discussion. Any group that
operates in bourgeois legality and recruits as broadly as the SWP and ISO
appear to are fooling themselves if they believe keeping discussions
"internal" accomplishes that goal. My experience in the U.S. SWP was that
the Sparts, for example, always had instantaneous access to all our internal
bulletins. We also know from the "COINTELPRO" files that came out after
Watergate that the U.S. government infiltrated all sorts of groups on the
left, including the SWP, the CP, and the Black Panthers.

But more than a question of whether the measure can be effective in meeting
its stated goals is the one of the party or group and its stance towards the
working class.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Luko Willms" <L.WILLMS at link-f.frankfurt.org>
To: <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Sent: Thursday, May 18, 2000 12:34 PM
Subject: Re: On the issue of "internal" discussions -- ISO/SWP opposition

JGP> The comrades of a given group may be very good communists, indeed
JGP> excellent communists in every respect; but if Engels is right that
JGP> Communism is a *movement* then, by its very nature, these comrades
JGP> cannot be the only ones; why do we want to wall ourselves off from
JGP> the rest?

  Marx and Engels did not make public their sharp criticisms of the
Gotha programme or the letter on the necessary proletarian composition
of the party and the role of intellectuals ("Circular letter to Bebel,
Liebknecht, Bracke et.al", September 1879). They threatened to make it
public und thus proclaim their break with the German socialdemocratic
party, but they didn't. Neither did they wage a public polemic against
Ferdinand Lassalle and his "Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein",
although they had the sharpest disagreements.

Lüko Willms
/------------ L.WILLMS at LINK-F.frankfurt.org --

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