Thursday, 23 May 2013
When you find you disagree with something
Following to my blog post on sectarianism which is deeply ingrained on the British left I thought I’d share a few more thoughts. I have a few times recently raised criticisms or perceived criticisms I tend to see them as more suggestions with a critical tone to help move things forward. I’ve been rebuffed by some of my own comrades in the socialist party not by many just a few I must admit sadly. A few private messages had come to me in a quite sharp tone noting I shouldn’t be raising criticisms of the party and its strategy on a public interenet forum instead I should take any disagreement I have to my regional committee or an elusive internal bulletin which has been promised for months and I’ve still not heard anything about it or how I can access it. Being blind doesn’t help as no doubt it will come out in print form forgetting we have comrades who may not be able to read print but tat is by the by. Its my issue that how democratic centralism is interpreted that any disagreement or public criticisms is a crime and must be kept all in house which troubles me. I suppose for most of the left discussing your differences in public is a "cardinal sin". Minorities within the 'party' are either expected to keep their views to themselves or at best limit the airing of their disagreements with the leadership to closed meetings or the pages of internal bulletins. A monolithic facade of 'unity' must always be presented. The public expression of differences supposedly portrays weakness to those outside your ranks and, worse, serves only to 'confuse workers'. That, at least, is how much of the left have chosen to interpret the Leninist organisational principle of democratic centralism it would seem. We’ve seen just this year how the SWP leadership tried to clamp down on public out cry on how the leadership looked to cover up a allegation on rape I do think although slightly better in terms of democracy our party I feel can still be found wanting to shut down debate and to keep our disagreements in house. Is it a lack of confidence I wonder? Facts that we don’t want to let the class see we have those who are not all 100% signed up to the party line or have questions over things. I do wonder sometimes. I mostly agree with what we say in our programme but when there is a issue which comes up like our attitude towards Left unity and the direction or lack of in TUSC I am shot down for daring to ask valid reasonable questions. In reality of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Democratic centralism - genuine Leninist democratic centralism, that is - while imposing on minorities the duty to abide by democratically agreed decisions, provides also for the fullest public criticism. The party should allow access to its public press for dissenting views as a matter of course. If a particular submission is considered unsuitable, then the author must have the right to publish it themselves - even in the capitalist press. Only in this way can we correct our mistakes and arrive at the truth. If you fear answering public criticisms and would prefer to brush them under the carpet comrades doubts and questions will only grow. Instead of other comrades taking a sharp tone with me how about trying to help me understand or to work with me to understand what I’m saying maybe clarify things in a comradely fashion. As sometimes when you are not feeling like you’re listened to or feel valued in an organisation you will start to talk out in anyway you can. Finding an elusive internal bulletin and talking to a regional committee who are far more experienced than myself and in a way make me feel small and less knowledgeable simply for being a member for a shorter period of time I am not sure why they feel my issues must be channelled down a path convenient to them. Surely they are my disagreements or issues should it not be up to me how I express them. I have tried to explain my frustrations to other comrades but have felt like I’m the stupid one for asking questions or daring to give differing points of view. Comrades our arrogance isnt pretty sometimes we sometimes may be wrong a bit of humility sometimes wouldn’t go a miss. We do not have all the answers and a set way to do things. We’re still a very small party if we were 100% correct on everything we would be far bigger it would be good to remember that sometimes and try to bring people with us rather than writing them off so soon. No comrade or political party is politically infallible I don’t think its right to pretend we ever are. We all have our own beliefs and understandings we all come to conclusions at different times not allowing any form of public criticism as it doesn’t present a unified front in action is sad. As long as it doesn’t hamper the overall thrust of what the party is saying a few questioning critical comrades giving constructive suggestions should always be welcome in my view. Who knows they may actually have some useful points to help.