Journal Review from the April 2016 issue of the Socialist Standard
Marxist World Issue 1 – Spring 2016. £3.50 inc.
This is the first issue journal of the small split from the Trotskyist so-called ‘Socialist Party of England and Wales’ (known as SPEW and not part of the World Socialist Movement) ostensibly over the causes of economic crisis. The journal carries articles on the character of China’s economy, experiences in the Labour Party, Marx’s Capital, Bernie Sanders, a reprint of an article by Peter Taaffe, ‘The Greek Road to Socialism’, Electronic Voting in the Trade Unions and a book review.
Marxist World claims SPEW hold an underconsumptionist view of economic crisis; that there is not enough purchasing power to buy back commodities produced, whereas they claim the ‘tendency of the rate of profit to fall’ since the 1970s has caused the current economic crisis. This did not sit well with SPEW leader Peter Taaffe, and after some debate two critics were ‘indefinitely suspended’ and eleven ended up leaving.
The Labour Party account included here is one of left-wing Labour members’ disagreements with right-wing Labour members (business as usual in the Labour Party) and the left-wing author concludes by seeming happy to remain on this merry-go-round. The Peter Taaffe reprint argues the old Communist Party was reformist, Marxist World use this to argue SPEW are reformist. The Bernie Sanders article is a good exposé of Sanders, but boils down the problem to the wrong leader, never considering that leaders are unnecessary if not harmful.
In fact this goes to the heart of the problem of Marxist World, who welcome only activists adhering to general ideas of ‘Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky’. They claim willingness to ‘join any revolutionary organisation’ that ‘guarantees genuine democratic centralist rights and faction rights based on open discussion.’ But where has ‘democratic centralism’ ever allowed factions for long? Where has ‘democratic centralism’ allowed challenging incumbent leaderships? Where has ‘democratic centralism’ allowed public dissent?
Trotsky answered at a Bolshevik party congress in 1924 ‘Comrades, none of us wants to be or can be right against the party. In the last analysis, the party is always right, because the party is the sole historical instrument that the working class possesses for the solution of its fundamental tasks. I have already said that nothing would be simpler than to say before the party that all these criticisms, all these declarations, warnings, and protests – all were mistaken from beginning to end. I cannot say so, however, comrades, because I do not think it. I know that no one can be right against the party. It is only possible to be right with the party and through it since history has not created any other way to determine the correct position.’ And ‘We can only be right with and by the Party, for history has provided no other way of being in the right’.
The lesson here we should conclude is: don’t swap leaders, especially not living ones for dead ones.