The big lie

How the SWP’s bureaucratic factionalism is wrecking Respect

If like me, you have trouble figuring out what’s happening with the Respect/SWP rupture because you don’t know the players and the history, the following explains clearly what happened, then puts the blame squarely on SWP. Their conclusion –

If Respect now crashes this will have extremely negative effects. It will create deep scepticism about the possibility of greater left unity and the potential for a broad left party. It will set back and complicate the whole process of politically and organisationally refounding the British left. Although the SWP leadership clearly don’t see this, it will have major negative consequences for the SWP itself and confirm the suspicions of all those who see the SWP as a deeply sectarian and factional formation.

It will confirm those suspicions because they are, sadly, correct. The SWP has shown itself in successive experiences – the Socialist Alliance, the SSP and Respect – to be incapable of fruitful long-term co-operation with other socialists in building a national political alternative. The leopard hasn’t changed its spots.

I call it”Leninitis.” A left faction decides it is inerrant and therefore need not form coalitions or cooperate with those with differing views because, ta da, they are leading a revolutionary vanguard, just like Lenin did! Well, ah no. There was only one Lenin (love him or hate him, he was a brilliant and charismatic organizer, strategist, and tactician) and they aren’t him. What they forget is that for a vanguard party to lead, people must want to follow. Not “be forced to”, not “bludgeoned into” but “want to follow.” Because if they want to follow, then poisonous bureaucratic factionalism never really has a chance to form, does it?

For continuing coverage of what’s happening, check Socialist Unity and Liam Macuaid.

Tip: Left Click


  1. Sullivan makes the same case on the Bushies: they believe they are infallible and do not (and should not) need to form coalitions either nationally or with our allies. It’s a “with us or against us” approach that dooms compromise and condemns the moderates among us to poor choices between incompetent candidates.

  2. Interestingly, more than a few neocons have expressed admiration for Lenin’s skills. But they aren’t him either.

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