“The first template – the Trotskyist-Leninist party, the fighting propaganda group – is, I think, the most important one in terms of understanding where we are and overcoming our divisions. I am a Leninist. For me Lenin was a partyist, a democrat and, like a good Second International revolutionary Marxist, he fought for the unity of the party on the basis of the acceptance of a revolutionary programme: unity in action, but freedom to publicly criticise. But today’s left, tragically, bears very little relationship to this approach. It is unfortunately the case that even the most vehemently and honestly anti-Stalinist of our comrades today base themselves on a party conception which is steeped in Stalinism and the unhealthiest aspects of our class’s culture in the 20th century.
The result is an organisation that restricts debate and open expressions of dissent in the name of activism, where comrades are constantly running around, not ‘wasting time’ with voicing their criticisms in the party press, etc. That model can be traced back to Joseph Stalin himself.
This party conception, shared by far too many today, is a significant block on our ability to move forward, because it actually leads to an endless cycle of splits – often over silly and unnecessary things. It is not that there are not big divisions or fundamental questions that need to be addressed, but gagging dissident or minority views breeds further splintering and overall fragmentation. Even though the open expression of differences is no guarantee against splits, what certainly will guarantee them is if comrades in a minority are effectively banned from fighting to become the majority. It is bureaucratic centralism passing itself off as democratic centralism.”