Marxism and Stalinism

Disputes in the WSL in 1983: the Korean jet, the witch-hunt at Cowley

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This bulletin contains documents from two disputes in the Workers' Socialist League in 1983, in the period leading up to the final break between a group round Alan Thornett and the WSL majority whose political continuation today is the AWL.

There is also briefer information about some other disputes in that period.

The two disputes documented in more detail are:

1. About the shooting-down of a Korean Airlines commercial passenger jet by the USSR airforce in September 1983. The argument was about whether to condemn this unequivocally (while also opposing the use of the incident to build up chauvinism and militarism); or to place stress on the unsubstantiated possibility that the Korean Airlines plane was a US spy plane in commercial disguise.

2. About the witch-hunt in which a number of socialists were sacked from the Cowley car factory in August 1983. The dispute was about whether this could be accurately seen as central to a general "massive witch-hunt against socialists in industry".

One page of the original bulletin (the end of the introduction) seems to be missing.

Reviews from Workers' Liberty 14

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Workers' Liberty 14 Reviews section

The real history of US labour (Dianne Finger and Barry Finger review a book by Kim Moody)
It takes all sorts? (Liz Millward reviews a book on the Krays)
As modest as Stalin (Jim Denham reviews Jon Halliday's biography of Enver Hoxha)
Helter skelter and stage by stage (Martin Thomas reviews books by Ken Livingstone and Seumas Milne
Marxism without bullshit? (Jon Pike reviews a handbook of "analytical Marxism" by Jon Elster and Karl Ove Moene)
"I have made enough voices" (Lilian Thomson writes on Greta Garbo)

Forum: Poll tax; Trotsky on Zionism; Hitler, Stalin, and art; and symposium on the nature of the Stalinist states

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Workers' Liberty 14 Forum section

How not to fight the poll tax; Trotsky on Zionism; Hitler, Stalin, and art.

A symposium on the nature of the Stalinist states: Martin Thomas; Stan Crooke; Duncan Chapple, Pete Keenlyside, and others; Sean Matgamna.

Which class rules in the USSR? A debate on the character of the Soviet Union

Robert Brenner, Oliver Macdonald, Torab Saleh, Frank Furedi, Martin Thomas

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Workers' states, systems where new ruling classes exploit the workers, or societies with no ruling class at all? At Workers' Liberty 1989, Martin Thomas (Socialist Organiser), Robert Brenner (Against the Current), Oliver Macdonald (Labour Focus on Eastern Europe and Socialist Outlook), Frank Furedi (author of 'The Soviet Union Demystified'), and Torab Saleh from the Iranian Marxist group 'Socialism and Revolution' debated the nature of the Eastern Bloc.

South Africa: Socialists face violence from state and Stalinists


A South African socialist active in the trade unions talked to Workers' Liberty about the obstacles in the way of building a workers' party to give direction to the struggle for liberation during Apartied.

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