Marxists and the British
The ‘Open Turn’ debate
By this time the internal debate within the Militant was in full swing and soon would spread into the entire Committee for a Workers’ International. ‘Scotland, Perspectives and Tasks 1991’ was not produced until after the by-election, in July 1991.
In August 1991 the Ted Grant and Alan Woods led Minority who opposed the new policy produced ‘The New Turn - A Threat To Forty Years Work.’ The reply to this by the Majority, ‘For The Scottish Turn: Against Dogmatic Methods In Thought And Action’, was produced in September 1991. Both the Majority and Minority documents were circulated and then debated at special meetings, at branch, regional and national level, including a full delegate conference in October 1991.
In October 1991 the Minority produced ‘The New Turn – What Is the Alternative?’ which was marked by its ill-tempered tone. The Majority felt that the points it raised had been answered in the existing documents, and no further reply was necessary. However, a Members Bulletin was produced (The Marxist, issue no.4, October, 1991), concentrating mainly on the ‘Open Turn’, and open to both the Minority and the Majority, from which we have selected three significant additions to this debate for this website section, (under the heading ‘The Experience of Entrism’).
By this time a debate on these issues was well under way throughout the Committee for a Workers’ International. This international debate widen to include issues should as the collapse of the Soviet Union and tactics in Italy towards the newly formed Prc. The CWI International Majority produced ‘Revolution and Counter Revolution in the Soviet Union’ also in October 1991, which dealt with the prospects for the Soviet Union after the fall of the bureaucracy.
This issue, one of the seminal ones of the decade, also differentiated the Majority from the Minority. Among a number of misjudgements in relation to these events, capitalist restoration had been ruled out by the Minority. The document could make no direct reference to the well-known, but essentially unwritten, position of the Minority and the Minority did not reply in print.
In addition, in January 1992, after the departure of the Minority, ‘Two trends: The Political Roots of the Breakaway’ was produced by Peter Taaffe, the Militant’s General Secretary and leading member of the Majority, revealing for the first time to the wider membership the difficulties and frustrations that had besieged the leadership of the Militant during the period preceding the ‘Open Turn’ debate.