Socialist schism

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The Oxford University arm of the Socialist Workers Party has split from its parent political organisation, following months of crisis within the movement. Members of Oxford’s Socialist Worker Student Society are set to join another recently formed left-wing group, named ‘Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century’.

The split comes just months after the SWP found itself mired in controversy over its handling of rape allegations made by party members. When a student member brought claims of sexual harassment and rape against a leading representative of the party, the organisation decided to deal internally with the problem and to set up its own jury to investigate accusations.

In explaining why the police had not been contacted, SWP representatives claimed at the time that the party did not recognise Britain’s “bourgeois” system of justice.

The organisation’s handling of the rape case led to the development of two opposition factions within the party. Following a special conference last year, one faction left to form the International Socialist Network, while the other stayed on in the party in an attempt to reform it.

The recent formation of RS21 took place after a party conference in December last year. An open statement of resignation on the ‘Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st century’ website reads: “We have resigned [from SWP] because the leadership failed to put our principles on women’s issues into practise.”

Olivia Stiles, a second-year Historian from Somerville, said that the move, “promises to be an interesting development at a time when Oxford students seem to be veering towards a more radical stance”.

“With Oxford students becoming inclined towards activism, this organisation could well have a broader basis of support than SWSS […] I’m so glad the demise of the SWP has produced something positive that we as Oxford students can rally around”.

Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century is “committed to the self-emancipation of the working class, liberating the whole of humanity,” according to its website.


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