:: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 ::

Confessions of a Liquidationist

For the first time in 21 years I find myself not being a member of a small Marxist group, as the ISM platform in the SSP voted to dissolve.

It doesn't feel too bad actually, kind of liberating in a way. The ISM's enemies have cranked out rather bilious statements which they probably wrote some time ago, but frankly when they can prove themselves capable of putting the interests of the class before the interests of their own sects, then I might be prepared to listen. I'm not holding my breath.

Frontline magazine will continue as an independent publication, not tied to any platform. I hope and expect that this will mean improved content, format and readership. Already there has been some interest. In the short term we will put out the next issue probably in the same way as before. But then we will need to have a new structure in place to decide the democratic control of the journal. A cooperative is one possibility. Certainly I don't see Frontline being the property of any one platform.

The ISM achieved a hell of a lot. It formed the SSP and laid the basis for an unprecedented cooperation between the socialist left in Scotland, and the most successful election results for the left since the 1930's. It also broke with the dogmatic and sectarian mind-set that had dominated the left, particularly 'Trotskyist' groups for decades. We encouraged free thinking and new ideas.

Ultimately the ISM ran its course, with its activists quite correctly putting their energies into building the SSP. ISM members were no longer a homogenous group and different views on issues such as feminism emerged over the last couple of years.

Rather than a dissolution I think it would be more accurate to see this as a re-alignment. I expect that pro-party elements in the SSP will see the need to work together in an open and democratic network to safeguard the future of the party.

As a postscript let me leave you with Red Pepper editor Hilary Wainwright who in an article on Znet, takes up the never-ending cycle of initiatives for a new left party in England with some observations on recent attempts. It is instructive that for her the SSP continues to be a model.

ZNet |Politics | Who Will Speak For Us?: "The point here is the importance of building a structured movement as a foundation for electoral initiatives. The Scottish Socialist Party, after all, was built on the rock of such a structured movement. Four years of the Scottish Socialist Movement and then the Socialist Alliance preceded and prepared for the formation of the Scottish Socialist Party and has no doubt given it the resilience to overcome recent problems in its leadership. A further lesson from the past is the uneven nature of local resistance and political alternatives and the importance of building and learning from this rather than pursuing a single national strategy from London. The left in the UK has always varied enormously, according to the history of local political economies, traditions and personalities. The Independent Labour Party was founded in Bradford, not London. The centralised nature of the British state, mirrored in the power structures of the Labour Party, has disguised this uneven reality and national alliances of the left have not sufficiently nurtured innovative local initiatives. What is needed is a form of organisation that can allow for autonomy, co-ordination and learning from experience."

:: Alister | 9:25 am | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | |


Congratulations! Reverting to single membership must be quite a wrench, but I'm sure it's a correct decision.

I haven't been politically active for years, I have to confess. I was in the Socialist Society (alongside the redoutable Hilary W); we were instrumental in getting the Socialist Conferences going, which then produced the Socialist Movement, which then split geographically (I still remember the shock of hearing Allan Green say, in so many words, That's all very interesting, but actually we don't really care what you do...) The [English] Socialist Movement shed Trots as it went along; the SWP were never really interested, the Mils stayed out, Socialist Organiser (aka AWL) tried to float off our Labour Party section and left when we told them they couldn't, and by the end there was only the ISG (your lot?). We split with them, anyway; shortly afterwards the Movement turned into the Socialist Network and then disappeared. But we got Red Pepper out of it, which I suppose was a result.

The SSP, though - and (to all intents and purposes) no Respect. That is a result.

By Blogger Phil, at 1:16 pm  

Hi Phil,

Thanks for your post, been interesting to see the reaction around the web, was thinking no-one would notice!

Just to clarify, the International Socialist Movement (ISM) platform was formed when Scottish Militant Labour left the Committee for a Workers International (the international of the people formerly known as the Militant Tendency.) Phew...

Actually I have been asked elsewhere to clarify that it was SML in conjunction with a few others such as Allan Green, Bill Bonnar of the Communist Party of Scotland, Red Republicans like Alan Armstrong etc who formed the SSP, technically the ISM was created after the formation of the SSP.

Your blog continues to impress, if only I had the dedication to write such erudite posts.

By Blogger Alister, at 3:33 pm  

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