This pamphlet, written in the form of an open letter, originated in correspondence between the Socialist Party in Ireland and the Socialist Workers Party, initiated by the latter. The SWP approached us with a view to having a bloc in the recent local elections. While we were willing to discuss this, we had severe reservations about the positions and methods of the SWP which we wished to discuss before considering an agreement.
The initial correspondence is reproduced as an appendix. After the SWP sent us a longer reply (also in the appendix) which raised a number of other issues including the attitude of Marxists to the former Soviet Union and to the national question in Ireland we decided to write a more thorough explanation of the nature of our differences. In order to follow the arguments it would probably be best for the reader to look at the appendix first, especially the SWP¹s letter of 11 January 1999.
It is not our normal practice to respond at such length to arguments raised by what in reality is an organisation with little weight within the working class. However, the issues raised go to the heart of what sort of party is needed today to lead the struggle for socialist change. In a sense by responding to the SWP at length, we have taken the opportunity to explain our ideas, our methods and our structure in a more developed way than we have for quite some time.
Of course, we hope that this will be read by serious members of the SWP who wish to understand our reasons for not accepting automatically the proposal for an electoral bloc. But we also believe that this pamphlet will serve to inform new members of our party and others on the left as to why there is more than one organisation in Ireland claiming to be Marxist.
We are confident that socialist minded workers and youth will agree upon examination that the ideas, methods and organisational structures of the Socialist Party – but unfortunately not those of the SWP – represent the genuine continuity of Marxism on this island.
On behalf of the National Executive Committee of the Socialist Party (CWI – Ireland)