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The Scottish debate

Scotland, France and the International

A Special International Bulletin of the Committee for a Workers' International, October 1998


Contents

Chapter 1. 'A contribution to the Scottish debate' by Murray Smith (CWI IEC, France) 12 August 1998


Chapter 2. 'The Programme, the Party and the International' - A reply to Murray Smith from the International Secretariat of the CWI, 23 September 1998


Appendix A : Scotland


Appendix B:- General Correspondence Between The CWI And The UIT


Appendix C:- Correspondence Between CWI And UIT On Germany 


[Next]

Marxist.net editors note

Murray Smith, who originally helped bring fresh forces in France to the CWI, is Scottish by birth. He broke from the CWI not long after this debate.

Abbreviation:

UIT - Unidad de los Trabajadores Internacional – United Workers International


Introduction

This is a special Committee for a Workers’ International bulletin that is available to all members of the International. The issues relate to the debate on Scotland and France and other issues such as the revolutionary party, building the International and regroupment between the existing Trotskyist international organisations.

Murray Smith (France) submitted a document dealing with these and other issues that we publish together with a reply from the International Secretariat of the Committee for a Workers’ International. 

The extensive appendices that are published will give comrades a full background of how our relations with the UIT [Unidad de los Trabajadores Internacional – United Workers International] have unfolded during the last twelve months. This is one of the central questions currently being debated between the International Secretariat of the Committee for a Workers’ International and the French section.

All of the main issues covered in this bulletin will feature as part of discussion at the forthcoming [1998] 7th World Congress of the Committee for a Workers’ International. 

Tony Saunois for the International Secretariat of the Committee for a Workers’ International.


A Contribution To The 'Scottish Debate'

By Murray Smith (France, International Executive Committee), 12 August 1998

1. The debate that has developed between the Scottish Executive Committee and the British Executive Committee involves questions of the strategy and tactics for building our sections and the Committee for a Workers’ International today, and building mass parties and a mass international in the future. The debate may have started over Scotland, but it is becoming clearer and clearer, especially after the European School in Leuven, that it has much wider implications. The Scottish comrades are right to say that there are "fundamental differences of approach", and that "the entire International will benefit from an open debate around these differences".

2. For revolutionary Marxists, it should be a truism to say that we will not build revolutionary parties by a process of linear development, by simply recruiting to our existing organisations. Revolutionary parties will be built by a process of splits, fusions, realignments, linked to economic and political developments, the class struggle and to the crisis of the workers movement produced by the collapse of Stalinism and the bourgeoisification of the reformist workers' parties. Just one year ago, at the European School in Ghent, Peter Taaffe summed this up as follows: "But a new mass International will not develop in a linear fashion. The process will involve fusions, splits and the reassembling of genuine revolutionary forces on an international and national plane" (reprinted in the pamphlet, 'History of the Committee for a Workers’ International’ by Peter Taaffe). That was hardly the theme of this year's school in Leuven.

3. This does not of course mean that at each moment in each country we are presented with opportunities for regroupment or for building new parties. In many cases, no doubt the majority at the present time, we only have the possibility of building "arithmetically", by individual recruitment. But in so doing we are preparing a cadre force and developing our influence in such a way that will enable us in the future to take bold tactical initiatives involving fusions, regroupments, new parties, etc. In the future, as the Scottish comrades point out: "Before emerging as mass revolutionary parties, our sections in every part of the world will at certain stages be forced to participate in and, from time to time, initiate hybrid, transitional and broader formations". (New Tactics for a New Period para 7).

4. Notwithstanding the wider implications, it is our orientation in Scotland which is at the centre of the debate, so let's start from that. Are the comrades correct in launching the new Scottish Socialist Party? Is their definition of the new party as "hybrid" valid? And if so what does this mean? Are they going about things in a correct way? How should we deal with the question of links with the Committee for a Workers’ International?

5. The debate over Scotland got off to a very bad start with the first Scottish document. The project of launching the Scottish Socialist Party seemed to be justified more by conjunctural factors (the coming elections) rather than fundamental reasons, there was a lack of precision as to what forces would really be involved, and especially the role of the Committee for a Workers’ International forces in the new party and their relationship with the Committee for a Workers’ International was treated rather superficially. Many comrades in the International were alarmed by this document, particularly the last aspect. However, that was in March. Since then other documents have been written. The British Executive Committee wrote a reply to the first Scottish document. The Scottish comrades then produced: 'For a Bold Step Forward' (reply from the British Executive Committee: 'In Defence of the Revolutionary Party') and 'New Tactics for a New Period' (followed by 'Reply to New Tactics' from the British Executive Committee).

6. These documents deal with much broader questions concerning the party, the programme, and the history of the revolutionary movement. The British Executive Committee have charged the Scottish Militant Labour with nothing less than liquidationism and dissolution of our forces and the International Secretariat of the Committee for a Workers’ International now speak (in their letter of July 10th) of differences over principles, perspectives, programme, and organisational forms. Indeed, they contend, ominously, that the Scottish proposals are "at variance with the principles, perspectives, and programme which have been democratically established as the ideas of the Committee for a Workers’ International".

7. Neither the International Secretariat of the Committee for a Workers’ International nor the British Executive Committee have succeeded in justifying these extravagant charges. The reality is that this debate is not between "defenders of Leninism" and "liquidators". It is between partisans of a conservative and potentially sectarian conception of party-building, which in essence boils down to the linear growth of our own organisations, and those who advocate a more dynamic conception, involving, fusions, regroupments and new parties.

8. The British Executive Committee has reproached the Scottish comrades with choosing to write 'The Scottish Socialist Party: a Political Justification' rather than continuing the debate on the points raised in the above-mentioned documents. Quite clearly the Scottish comrades made a choice. They chose to reformulate and re-present their project and their propositions, in my opinion in a much clearer and more thorough way, taking into account criticisms and points made in the debate.

9. That choice was entirely justified and it is quite wrong of the British Executive Committee to claim that "A Political Justification" simply "makes a series of assertions about the strategy proposed by the Scottish Militant Labour Executive Committee". What the document does in fact is to present a closely argued case for the Scottish Socialist Party project, with an argumentation rooted in the real situation in Scotland and the real situation of our forces. Taken along with the Scottish Militant Labour Executive Committee's 'Proposals for progress on the new Scottish turn' (which are not the Scottish comrades' final word and are open to debate) this document should have enabled us to take the debate forward. Unfortunately, the British Executive Committee did not take advantage of this opening and chose to reply with a document which like its predecessors, fails to deal with the actual situation in Scotland and simply repeats accusations of liquidationism and dissolution.

10. Nevertheless the issues raised in some of the previous documents are important ones and I will try and take some of them up further on in this document.

The Case for the Scottish Socialist Party

11. In their most recent document, 'A Political Justification', and in their contributions at the European School in Leuven, the Scottish comrades have made the case that there is a place for a new Scottish Socialist Party, a space to occupy between a Labour Party in decline and a rising Scottish National Party. They explain that there is a potential audience for such a party, which would be a socialist combat party without immediately adopting all the positions of the Committee for a Workers’ International or being affiliated to it. They explain that there is a political constituency for such a party, among people attracted neither by New Labour nor the Scottish National Party, that this is linked to the stronger socialist and communist tradition in Scotland, and that the new party can rapidly grow. They argue that this party has to have as broad an appeal as possible and that therefore it should comprise the forces of the Alliance and indeed wider forces which would respond positively to the project and could come from the Labour Party, the unions and the Scottish National Party. On the necessity for a new party, the comrades have made a convincing case. The next question is: how to go about it?

12. The British Executive Committee and the International Secretariat of the Committee for a Workers’ International defend what has come to be known as Option I. The comrades would relaunch Scottish Militant Labour as the Scottish Socialist Party, seeking to recruit from the Alliance and beyond. This has been refused by the Scottish comrades as not enabling us to draw in forces broader than ourselves, and as being sectarian in relation to the forces with which we have worked in the Alliance. In A Political Justification they explain why, in some detail (paragraphs 60 to 73), and there seems no need to repeat the arguments here. But the case has been made and comrades who support Option 1 really have to: a) stop saying that the Scottish comrades haven't explained why it's sectarian; and b) reply to their arguments. Something that the latest British Executive Committee Reply to A Political Justification signally fails to do.

13. As for option 2, it is predicated on the existence of broad forces that no one including the British Executive Committee pretends exist at this stage. The British Executive Committee's reaction to that is that therefore the answer is option 1. There is of course another option: the Scottish option, which unlike option 2 starts from forces that really exist and represents a non-sectarian alternative to option 1. The Scottish Socialist Party would be launched from the present membership of the Scottish Socialist Alliance, without making it a condition that they join the Committee for a Workers’ International, plus our own forces not presently in the Scottish Socialist Alliance, plus other forces who could be attracted by the project. It seems clear that a new party launched from the Alliance with the support of trade unionists, ex-Labour Party, ex-Scottish National Party, would get a bigger echo than a simple relaunch of Scottish Militant Labour. And that it could attract new, fresh forces which we then could win in two ways a) by winning individuals to the Committee for a Workers’ International tendency; but b) and more importantly, by seeking to win the Scottish Socialist Party as a whole to revolutionary positions and to the Committee for a Workers’ International.

14. Would this signify that we are turning towards the old, tired, ex-Labour Party and trade union forces and not towards fresh layers? "Many of those who will be involved in the launching of a Socialist Labour Party will be former Labour Party activists and current trade union activists. But the main political constituency for such a party will not be found among these layers: its potential support is overwhelmingly amongst fresher layers of workers and young people who have never been active in traditional labour movement organisations".

"The case for a new socialist party is clear. By campaigning for socialist policies it would provide a banner behind which the most class-conscious workers, young people and radical middle-class strata could be mobilised".

15. Both quotes are from the editorial of 'Socialism Today' of December 1995. Replace 'Socialist Labour Party' by 'Scottish Socialist Party', the argumentation holds good. And in 1998, in Scotland, after a year of Blairism and given the importance of the national question, the potential support for a socialist party should be greater than it was in 1995-96 in Britain as a whole.

16. Will the Scottish Socialist Party be an electoralist party? The above-quoted editorial also explains: "The Socialist Workers Party continues to believe that mass working class support for socialist policies can be won without using election campaigns as a vitally important platform, a vehicle for mass propaganda activity. Scargill is right in suggesting that fielding a credible array of candidates in a general election will be vital to the effectiveness of a new party". A Political Justification explains that the elections of 1999 are not the most important question, but that they are important. Therefore fielding "a credible array" of socialist candidates for the first Scottish parliamentary elections would also be "vital to the effectiveness" of the Scottish Socialist Party.

17. If comrades are afraid that the Scottish Socialist Party would only be electoralist, on what are their fears based? Since the Scottish Socialist Party will be largely a continuation in a higher form of the Alliance, why should it be less involved in extra-parliamentary campaigns than the Alliance has been? The document 'Struggle, solidarity and socialism in practice: a report on Scottish Militant Labour and Scottish Socialist Alliance campaigns 1995-98' devotes four or five times as much space to mass campaigns and industrial work than to elections, and that reflects the reality of Scottish Militant Labour and the Scottish Socialist Alliance over the past period.

18. One of the fundamental arguments of the British Executive Committee is that a party must be either revolutionary or broad, one or the other. At its most caricatural, this is baldly expressed as "'broader' and 'Marxist' are contradictions" (Reply to New Tactics 48). This is frankly false, schematic and yes, undialectical. The logical and equally schematic continuation of this false dichotomy is the choice offered between options 1 and 2. The Scottish comrades argue that the Scottish Socialist Party would be a party in movement, hybrid, transitional. Such parties have existed throughout the history of the workers' movement, not only in the Second International but in the early years of the Comintern and in the 1930s. Describing such parties as centrist is insufficient. We have to know "in which way the arrow points". "What is most important in every political organism is its tendency of development" wrote Trotsky to Sneevliet. What is also important is the capacity of revolutionary Marxists to influence this tendency of development. The essential point is not that hybrid parties are impossible, but that they are unstable, cannot last forever and must either crystallise in one form or another, break up or disappear.

19. But the Scottish comrades are well aware of this. That is why they have set the objective of winning the Scottish Socialist Party as such to the Committee for a Workers’ International and to a clear revolutionary position. The British Executive Committee does at least recognise this as a possibility: "But in our view the new formation would only become a revolutionary party if the 'elements of a revolutionary party' within it constituted a politically cohesive, organised Marxist tendency actively working to win the other elements to the project of building a revolutionary party, on the basis of support for a Marxist programme, commitment to building a party based on the principles of democratic unity, and affiliation to our International" (In defence of the Revolutionary Party). But the comrades continue to insist on the inevitably "broad" (reformist or centrist) nature of the Scottish Socialist Party, independently of what our comrades actually do.

20. Certainly, in launching the new party we will have to make some concessions to other forces involved. But any political differentiations that will take place in the Scottish Socialist Party are unlikely to start from abstract discussions on programme. As the Scottish Socialist Party grows, they will more likely take place around concrete political choices, around alliances, tactics and slogans. And it is in those kind of debates that we can politically win comrades who are perhaps not willing to join Scottish Militant Labour today. The idea that the new party will inevitably be "broad" doesn't take account of real political processes. It declares that we launch a party with revolutionary and non-revolutionary elements, and - the result is a foregone conclusion. The character of the party is not decided by the struggle of living forces but by some obscure law of political genetics. On the contrary, the future of the Scottish Socialist Party will be decided by the course of the class struggle and the debates which flow from that, and in large measure by how we intervene.

21. Today the real question we should be asking is: how can we launch the Scottish Socialist Party in such a way as to create the most favourable conditions for it to evolve in the direction we want? Part of the answer lies in the organisation of our own forces as a tendency. But the real question is to define the tasks of that tendency, what it should do, before deciding its structure down to the last detail.

Programme

22. The British Executive Committee have raised the question of programme in a general sense. They have said very little, except negatively, about what should be the programme of the Scottish Socialist Party. This is however crucial. As we have said, the organisation of our own comrades is not an end in itself, nor is it only or even primarily to recruit individually or to organise some independent activities. It is to exert, before, during and after the launch of the Scottish Socialist Party, a conscious Marxist influence on the programme, perspectives, statutes, activity and forms of organisation of the new party. On these questions, not much help is forthcoming from the British Executive Committee.

23. The British Executive Committee documents have pointed out a number of problems in the way the Scottish documents deal with the question of programme -revolutionary, transitional, action programme, etc. These problems are real. In order to address them, we have to ask: what do we mean by "programme", and what makes a programme revolutionary?

24. On one level, we have the historic programme of Trotskyism. This is based on the heritage of classical Marxism, the first four congresses of the Comintern, Trotsky's later contributions, particularly on Stalinism, Fascism, Popular Fronts and the theory of permanent revolution; to which we can add the programmatic contributions of the Marxist movement and the Committee for a Workers’ International since 1940. It is important to educate our cadres in this tradition, which concentrates the lessons distilled from 150 years of the history of the class struggle and the workers' movement.

25. Of course, that doesn't mean we defend every jot and tittle of our heritage, but that we draw out what Trotsky calls the "essential principles":

"The International Left Opposition stands on the terrain of the first four congresses of the Comintern. That does not mean that it bows down before each letter of their decisions, some of which have only a temporary character, and which in their practical consequences, for some of them, have been refuted by subsequent experience. But all the essential principles (concerning imperialism and the bourgeois state, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the peasantry and the oppressed nations, the Soviets, work in the unions, parliamentarianism, the policy of the united front) are still today the highest expression of proletarian strategy in the epoch of the general crisis of capitalism". (Trotsky, the 'Eleven Points' revised, July 1933, translated from the French version).

26. But this does not exhaust the question of the programme:

"The importance of a programme does not lie so much in the manner in which it formulates general theoretical conceptions (in the last analysis, this boils down to a question of 'codification', i.e. a concise exposition of the truths and generalisations which have been firmly and decisively acquired); it is to a much greater degree a question of drawing up the balance of the world economic and political experience of the last period, particularly of the revolutionary struggles of the last five years - so rich in events and mistakes". (Trotsky, 'The Third International After Lenin', Pathfinder, p 3). (Trotsky speaks of "world economic and political experience" because he is dealing with the Draft Programme of the Comintern. The programme of a national section would of course also take into account national experience).

27. "The significance of the programme is the significance of the party"(...) "Now, what is the party? In what does the cohesion consist? The cohesion is a common understanding of the events, of the tasks, and this common understanding - that is the programme of the party". (Trotsky, Discussions on the Transitional Programme, Pathfinder, p136).

28. So first of all, we have to distinguish between: a) our programme in the historic sense, on which basis we educate our cadres; and b) a programme which is written to express our ideas at a given moment or over a given period, to sum up and present our objectives to workers and youth. Such a programme can be adopted by a congress and can be modified as the situation changes. Such a programme starts from "a common understanding of events and tasks" into which we can "codify" the main lessons of history but which takes as its starting-point the immediate past and the present to point towards the future. This kind of programme is not written for a revolution sometime in the future but starts from the situation today and throws a bridge towards the socialist revolution. We can extract certain key points of the programme and diffuse them massively, as the Scottish comrades propose to do, and we can conduct campaigns and agitation, around specific aspects of the programme. In discussing the Transitional Programme, Trotsky pointed out that the programme as a whole could not be understood by the workers in general, but only by the advanced layers.

29. This is the kind of programme that Peter Taaffe was talking about in his document 'Our programme and transitional demands' (British Members Bulletin 13, 1995) which begins: "From time to time it is necessary for our organisation to re-evaluate its programme, its slogans, to examine its language and update its ideas". Of course the way in which we put forward a programme of immediate, democratic and transitional demands flows from our overall historic programme, but it is also linked to our perspectives and to the immediate needs of the working class and its level of consciousness. This is the kind of programme we need to be discussing for the Scottish Socialist Party.

30. We have many examples of such programmes. For example, the French section has an "Action Programme", as no doubt do other sections. To my knowledge the British section has had no action programme under that name, but a series of such documents, most recently the 1997 manifesto of the Socialist Party.

31. In ‘In defence of the Revolutionary Party’ the British Executive Committee point out: "But it is necessary to recognise that winning broad, new forces to a transitional programme is not the same thing as winning their adherence to the programme of Trotskyism". But what better way of starting to win them to what the comrades correctly call "the full programme of the revolutionary party, which is a body of ideas and the accumulated experience of the Trotskyist movement" than by winning them to a transitional programme which is the concrete expression in a given period or situation of this full programme? Provided of course that there is a core of Marxist cadres to follow through this process. Isn't that what happens in our sections? Why should it be different in the Scottish Socialist Party, which will not be a section, provided the solid Marxist core of our comrades plays this role?

32. What should such a programme be like? In the document already quoted, Peter Taaffe writes. "Because of the character of this period it is necessary to integrate perspectives and the main programmatic demands, which should be put forward at each stage, as far as possible, in one document". Exactly: a programme should start from an analysis of the international and national situation, be clear on the main programmatic questions which are relevant to the present period, take up the main issues facing workers and youth, put forward demands, and indicate the objective, socialism. That is the method we have tried to employ in the Action Programme of the French section.

33. Fundamental questions of programme are not posed in the same fashion in internal educational schools and in a public programme. Take for example the question of the United Front versus Popular Frontism. Our cadres have to be educated in the history of these questions, the debates of the Comintern, Trotsky's writings on France and Spain, etc. We can hardly go into all that in a programme which we publish and distribute widely. But in such a programme we would have to explain in as accessible a way as possible the necessity of the political independence of the working class, of how we fight for workers' unity and why we don't make fronts with bourgeois parties, linking that to the concrete situation in the given country at the given time.

34. No programme taken in isolation is revolutionary. No revolution was ever made by a programme. If a party were to formally adopt Trotsky's Transitional Programme and remain wedded to reformist, parliamentary politics it would not be a revolutionary party. The nature of a party depends also on its leadership, cadres, structures, and above all its methods of action. A party whose primary goal is to mobilise and lead workers in struggle is infinitely more revolutionary than a sect with a "correct" programme.

35. Take the example of the famous "three planks" of the Bolshevik Party in 1912 (the democratic republic, the eight-hour working day and the confiscation of the landed estates). The RSDLP had a programme, adopted in 1903, which contained the objective of the socialist revolution on an international scale, but not as an immediate objective in Russia. In 1912 Lenin still defended the bourgeois nature of the Russian Revolution, albeit a bourgeois revolution which would have to be led by workers and peasants. When he changed his position in 1917 he had to lead a fight to reorient the party via the April Theses and then to translate that reorientation into slogans and into a popular programme, notably in: The Threatening Catastrophe And How To Avoid It'.

36. In 1912 the task was to overthrow the Tsarist autocracy. And the three planks prepared the party and the masses for that task. They constituted the basis of a worker-peasant alliance to carry out a democratic revolution. The Mensheviks had the same position on the nature of the revolution (though leaving its leadership to the bourgeoisie); but they limited themselves to partial demands - freedom of speech, assembly and association, the right to strike, -which the Bolsheviks did not refuse to fight for, but which did not lead workers to challenge the existence of Tsarism.

37. So the Bolsheviks had a programme that was revolutionary in the given circumstances, in that its realisation was incompatible with the maintenance of Tsarism. However, just as important as their programme was their method. While neglecting none of the immediate economic demands of the workers, the Bolsheviks consistently, and with success, sought to mobilise them in political strikes against the autocracy. It was the combination of programme, methods of struggle and a leadership and cadres steeped in the Marxist tradition and steeled by years of struggle that made the Bolshevik Party revolutionary in 1912. The Mensheviks had the same general programme (the programme of 1903) and the same general historical references, but they were not playing a revolutionary role, neither through the demands they put forward nor through the way they intervened in the class struggle.

38. What gives a programme its revolutionary character or not is not formal distinctions between "transitional" and "full socialist" but whether it helps take the working class forward to a confrontation with the ruling class and advances the struggle for socialism. It is not a question of whether one or another demand is realisable under capitalism but of the logic of the whole programme and the methods used to fight for it. It is not a question of whether you are for smashing the bourgeois state in general but whether you are for mass struggle now based on the mobilisation of working people.

39. If we apply this method to Scotland we will judge the Scottish Socialist Party by the content of its programme as a whole and its incompatibility with capitalism, but also by its practice, by how it intervenes in the class struggle. The Scottish Socialist Party is not conceived of as a revolutionary party, but as a combat party with a revolutionary leadership and cadres, with a socialist programme and which takes up the key issues facing the Scottish working class. The question we should ask is: is such a party, whose backbone would be Scottish Militant Labour, which does stand on our historic revolutionary programme, capable of taking the working class forward in the concrete conditions of Scotland today?

40. On the programme itself, it is clear that the Scottish comrades have made the programme of the Scottish Socialist Alliance evolve and that the Alliance accepts large parts of our programme. However the launching of a new party gives us a new chance to prepare a programme which will build on the advances of the Scottish Socialist Alliance period and if possible improve on them. It should aim to start from the main lines of the international and Scottish situation, and in particular the way in which the international economic situation affects Scotland (as one of the Scottish comrades did in an intervention at Leuven). It should be clear on the objective of socialism and the political independence of the Scottish Socialist Party, on the nature of the Scottish National Party, against any stages theory (first independence, then socialism) and the popular frontism that would flow from it, as well of course as developing specific demands. The raw material for all that largely exists already, not only in the programme of the Scottish Socialist Alliance but in the documents of Scottish Militant Labour and in the analytical articles in 'Scottish Socialist Voice'.

41. One particular point needs to be developed, and that is the question of Europe. The Scottish National Party slogan of "Scotland in Europe" was a minor stroke of genius. It enabled (he nationalists to escape from the image of isolationism, of being "Little Scotlanders", an image which is unattractive to large parts of the Scottish electorate, particularly young people. And they did it in such a way as to break out of the sterile debate of independence versus the Union.

42. The British ruling class will not easily resign itself to Scottish independence. They will try and resist it in different ways, for example by trying to play on divisions in Scottish society, particularly religious divisions. They will also try and whip up anti-Scottish chauvinism in England, of which demagogues of Right and Left like Lord Archer and Ken Livingstone recently gave us a small foretaste in their eagerness to be Mayor of London. Our organisation in England will have the responsibility of countering such demagogy.

43. Faced with a strong movement for independence, at the end of the day the British ruling class will probably be ready to propose anything short of full independence - more autonomy or even some sort of federation. And it will seek to find political forces in Scotland ready to compromise on independence. In such a situation to narrowly tie the question of an independent socialist Scotland to a Socialist Federation of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland could be a source of confusion. Of course we must stress the need for unity with workers in England, Wales and Ireland (including trade union links). But we should widen the horizon and put forward the perspective of the Socialist United States of Europe, as indeed all our European sections should be doing.

44. That would enable us to put across a really internationalist perspective, and to overcome the limits of calling for socialist independence in a small country. As the Scottish comrades put it: "Clearly, in the age of globalisation and multinational capitalism such a programme [a socialist programme for Scotland, - Murray Smith] is unsustainable for any length of time within the borders of a small country. Consequently, our demand for socialist independence has to be raised in a bold, internationalist form; we should seek to popularise the message that an independent socialist Scotland should take the lead in an international battle against multinational capitalism" (Scottish Militant Labour document 'Scottish independence and the struggle for socialism').

45. In this framework we can take on the nationalists, explaining to workers in Scotland the real meaning of the capitalist Europe that is the Scottish National Party's perspective, the Europe of Maastricht, Amsterdam, neoliberalism, deregulation, privatisation and unemployment (using examples from other European countries). We can say that we too are for "Scotland in Europe" but a different Europe, a workers' Europe, a socialist Europe. And we can make that perspective more concrete by giving prominence to workers' struggles in Europe.

The Committee for a Workers’ International and the Scottish Socialist Party

46. A large part of the discussion has centred on the question of the International, of the Committee for a Workers’ International. The British Executive Committee and the International Secretariat of the Committee for a Workers’ International are fundamentally opposed to our Scottish comrades creating a party which would not be a section of the Committee for a Workers’ International. Evidently, if we accept Option 1, the problem disappears. The Scottish Socialist Party would be the Scottish section of the Committee for a Workers’ International. This is clearly the preferred option of the British Executive Committee and the International Secretariat of the Committee for a Workers’ International.

47. However, the International Secretariat of the Committee for a Workers’ International and the British Executive Committee have begun to take stock of the fact that they have failed to convince all but a small minority of the Scottish organisation of the validity of Option 1. A discussion has therefore begun on how the Scottish comrades should be organised inside the Scottish Socialist Party if they do go ahead and launch it.

48. There should be no doubt in our minds as to the importance, not just of internationalism, but of an International. From this point of view the point that is made in New Tactics for a New Period 16 about the Bolshevik Party making the revolution without being part of an International, while factually correct, is politically misleading. In 1917 the Bolsheviks were actively trying to build a new revolutionary international, and the absence of such an international was a key factor in the defeat of other revolutions in Europe and the consequent isolation of the Russian Revolution.

49. Today, we build our international, the Committee for a Workers’ International and defend the perspective of a mass international, the conditions of whose creation we cannot predict in advance. Therefore, as should be clear by now, there is no question of our Scottish comrades leaving the Committee for a Workers’ International. As for the Scottish Socialist Party, our aim is to win it to the Committee for a Workers’ International. But this involves more than just an effort on the part of our Scottish comrades.

50. Why should there be resistance in the Scottish Socialist Alliance and the future Scottish Socialist Party to the idea of affiliation to the Committee for a Workers’ International? Doesn't this prove, as the British Executive Committee suggest, that there are bigger political problems than the Scottish comrades admit? Or alternatively that they are not doing enough to raise the profile of the Committee for a Workers’ International? Neither of those conclusions would be justified.

51. We all know that in the present period there is some reticence towards joining political parties, especially ones with a clearly-defined political profile. This reticence affects both workers who already have some experience of being politically organised and youth who are new to politics. The problem is probably less serious now than several years ago, but it is still a problem. And what goes for a party goes even more for an International. At least people can see our sections in action on a day-to-day basis, we can demonstrate the utility of a political organisation. For the International it is more difficult to have a profile: it depends on an international press, publications and campaigns. Remarks have been made along the lines that the Committee for a Workers’ International is better-known in Kazakhstan than in Scotland. Of course, because of the campaign for lonur the Committee for a Workers’ International is better known in Kazakhstan than in Scotland - or England, or France, or Germany. This level of "debate" just obscures the problem.

52. If we look at the example of the WPUS in 1934 (see below, para 68), it didn't join the ICL but it did come out for a "revolutionary international". However, that was in a context where the creation of a new international was widely discussed and sometimes advocated in the international workers' movement (Declaration of Four, Paris Congress, Spanish Socialist Youth, Caballero, etc.). That is hardly the case today. Today it is necessary to convince people first of all of the need of an international and secondly of why they should join our international. As regards the Scottish Socialist Party, we should be concretely discussing how the Scottish comrades and the International can act together to attract the Scottish Socialist Party towards the Committee for a Workers’ International.

53. As regards the organisation of our own forces, when we go into a party we have to be clear on two things. First of all, what is the nature of the party, and then what are our objectives, what do we want to do with this party. In the Labour Party we organised in a certain way, confronted by a bureaucratic apparatus which was our mortal enemy. In a party like the PRC in Italy or a coalition like the IU in Spain we could organise more openly, but still tightly. In a party which we seek to win en bloc to the Committee for a Workers’ International and in which we play a dominant role we can afford to have a looser structure. Not a looser political identity, but a looser structure.

54. Concerning our objectives, the reason for launching the Scottish Socialist Party is not to create a milieu where we can recruit individually. The Alliance would do for that. It is to create an instrument capable of attracting wider forces which we can then win to our ideas, individually and by seeking to win the party as a whole. The way we organise is conditioned by that. We want to influence the programme of the party. But just as important, we want to build the Scottish Socialist Party and make it function as a combat party. If that is the case then decisions flow from that as to the use of our full-timers, the question of finances, the paper, frequency of meetings etc.

55. If we look at the recommendations of the majority of the delegation which visited Scotland in this light, we will see that some of them are quite unadapted to the objectives fixed by the Scottish comrades. In reality, the comrades were trying to make proposals in the framework of the Scottish Socialist Party project, but since they don't actually believe in this project, the whole thrust is to try and take out the maximum insurance policy against dissolution of our forces by beefing up the Committee for a Workers’ International tendency, to the detriment of the Scottish Socialist Party itself.

56. If we applied the proposals concerning the paper, finances and full-timers, we would be launching a parry with a monthly paper (in order for the Committee for a Workers’ International tendency to have its own paper), we would be starving the new party of the subs of some of its most active members and keeping a large part of its potential full-time team for the Committee for a Workers’ International tendency. Frankly, there would be little point in launching a party under those circumstances.

57. Rather than starting by defining the tasks of the Committee for a Workers’ International tendency as if it were a party within the party, the aim should be to get the Scottish Socialist Party to act as much as possible as a section of the Committee for a Workers’ International would, in terms of public activity, mass campaigns, elections, branch educationals, public meetings. And for the Committee for a Workers’ International tendency to do what the Scottish Socialist Party cannot at this point do: circulate Committee for a Workers’ International material, 'Socialism Today', etc., publish a Committee for a Workers’ International journal, organise Committee for a Workers’ International meetings.

58. The Committee for a Workers’ International tendency should have its own structure, annual conference, leadership. It should publish an internal bulletin and a journal (monthly as soon as possible) and use the publications of the Committee for a Workers’ International and 'Socialism Today'. Fortnightly meetings of our members seems a not unreasonable objective to start with, but it is impossible to stipulate down to the last detail how we will function in a party that does not yet exist. In reality the frequency of our own meetings and the question of whether they are open or not will depend on many things - the rhythm of activity of the Scottish Socialist Party, the political issues which arise, etc.

59. But we should be clear on one thing. If the Scottish comrades take the initiative and the political responsibility of launching the Scottish Socialist Party, they have to have the means to make it work: that means in the first place the necessary finances and full-timers. We should determine the allocation of finances and full-time resources between the Scottish Socialist Party and the Committee for a Workers’ International tendency globally, according to the needs of each. And 'Scottish Socialist Voice', as the paper of the Scottish Socialist Party, should stay fortnightly until it can become weekly.

60. There is cause for considerable disquiet in the refusal of the International Secretariat of the Committee for a Workers’ International to guarantee the recognition of a Scottish section. Behind that there seems to be a narrow conception of international democratic centralism which is even more disquieting and which calls for a separate discussion. Hopefully an agreement will be reached between the International Secretariat of the Committee for a Workers’ International and the Scottish leadership on the functioning of the Scottish section. But the threat of non-recognition should not be wielded; and the proposal of the Scottish Militant Labour Executive Committee to draw a balance-shoe! of the Scottish Socialist Party experience after 12 months seems eminently reasonable.

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