SWP’s Serbian Section Splits From IST
This is our statement explaining our decision to disaffiliate from the IST
We write to resign from the Socialist Workers Party and the International Socialist Tendency. We disagree with the leadership; it is taking us in the wrong direction.
From its foundation in early 2008, Marks21 orientated towards the politics of the IST. So it is with deep regret that we have decided to resign.
Some of our current members have been members of the SWP since the 1990s and are proud of the work they did with the party to oppose imperialist intervention in the Balkans and pose the Balkan Socialist Federation as the alternative to the nationalist wars of the local ruling classes. The anti-war work around the Kosovo War was a precursor of the Stop the War Coalition, the party’s most important united front initiative of the 2000s.
Regrettably, the recent turn in the SWP’s politics away from the united front approach makes it impossible for us to continue in the IST. While the Tendency is not run on the basis of democratic centralism, and we respect the work of many of its sections, it is clear the mistakes of the SWP carry enormous symbolic weight. The SWP is the leading political force in the Tendency.
The successes of the the Left Party in Germany, Left Front in France, the Left Bloc in Portugal, the United Left Alliance in Ireland, and, most spectacularly, Syriza in Greece, where the prospect of a united left government terrified the capitalist ruling classes of the European Union, are clear evidence of the opportunities a united front approach offers revolutionaries today.
Instead, the SWP defended the New Anti-Capitalist Party’s refusal to join the Left Front in France and Antarsya’s refusal to join Syriza. This is a recipe for sectarian isolation; it is not revolutionary good sense. Working with these parties carries real dangers, but not doing so carries still greater dangers. The rise of the far right Golden Dawn in Greece should be a warning to us all. The IST has a proud record of fighting fascism and racism but it should also be fighting for a united left alternative to the system that breeds fascism.
Similarly, the SWP’s effective withdrawal from the Stop the War Coalition has damaged its anti-imperialist credibility in Britain and in the Middle East. In the case of Syria, there has been a clear tendency to downplay the role of imperialist intrigue, the key question in imperialist Britain given the Libyan fiasco.
It is clear that the SWP has over-reacted to the failure of Respect, the left electoral coalition that grew out of the anti-war movement. Since then, the SWP has retreated to a sectarian comfort zone based on orthodox party-building, abstract propaganda and an economistic emphasis on industrial struggle.
This sectarian approach has resulted in a stifling party culture and regime. Contrary to the traditions of the IST, new ideas and methods are often rejected to uphold existing tradition. Emphasising the limitations of the internet as a tool for revolutionaries at a time of ‘Facebook Revolutions’ and international ‘Occupy’ movements is a case in point.
The scandal involving allegations of rape and sexual harassment against a member of the party’s Central Committee has shocked and angered us. It has exposed the dangers of the current turn. The fact that a full-time party worker was not allowed to continue in her post for raising similar complaints of sexual harassment against the said CC member speaks volumes, as do the expulsions of comrades who raised their voices against the leadership’s handling of the matter. This is conduct that reflects bourgeois management techniques, not the revolutionary socialist struggle for women’s liberation.
We resign, but we will continue to apply classical Marxism to the realities of our times and build a new left in Serbia, in the spirit of the IS. We will work with others on the left, whether or not they are members of the IST, whenever and wherever we believe this will advance the interests of the working class and the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism.