Zinovievism in Britain: the SWP

Philip Ferguson plf13 at student.canterbury.ac.nz
Thu Nov 21 13:18:30 MST 2002

Weekly Worker 457 Thursday November 21 2002

Building Chris Bambery’s ‘new’ SWP sect

Kenny McEwan of the Scottish Socialist Party attended the October 18-20
conference of the Socialist Workers Party in London. Though his report
to the SSP membership - which we reprint in full - is somewhat dated, it
does cast a very useful light on the SWP’s internal life and regime. The
SWP claims to practice democratic centralism. In truth what we see is a
classic example of bureaucratic centralism.

Real debate in the SWP is confined to the central committee. Conference
exists to affirm the political victory of the dominant grouping,  not to
thrash out the arguments, let alone reconsider or change the line. Alex
Callinicos writes in Socialist Worker of “democracy, debate and
openness” being essential, but this is purely for external consumption,
maybe simply for those abroad.

SWP membership is stunningly passive. This is evidenced by the
appallingly low level of contributions to the Pre-conference bulletin
and the role played by rank and file conference delegates. They exist to
do the bidding of the leadership and to ritualistically confirm the line
of the dominant central committee grouping. Speaker after speaker gets
up to agree with the main rapporteur and their chosen message.

This is inevitable while permanent factions are outlawed and difference
on the central committee remain a closed book to the membership. From
the viewpoint of the central committee their mistrust of democracy is
understandable. Quickly recruited and badly educated, the rank and file
stands markedly to the right. Therefore democracy must be carefully
managed and gutted of any real content. The fact that for the first time
the SWP’s national council has been fully elected is a shocking
admission in itself. Why was the majority previously appointed? But the
fact of the matter is that an alternative list system operates and that
means the central committee retains full control.

Full article at: http://www.cpgb.org.uk/worker/457/swp.html

This issue of 'Weekly Worker' also contains an amusing wee piece on the
SWP and their European groups' 'intervention' in Florence, where, among
other things, they tried to push in at the front of the huge march and
were sorted out by the Fiat workers' contingent.

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