David Hollings from King’s College London has responded to comments on his previous article with some thoughts on the nature of party discipline.
Whilst [Tony Cliff] clearly was not arguing for breach of discipline to become commonplace, it is essential that the membership is able to oppose the leadership when it feels that there has been a break with the correct theory and that to follow the instruction of the leadership would damage the Party and set back the possibility of revolution.
A leadership advocating an insane course of action can only hope to be supported by an insane membership. In such circumstances it is inappropriate to even consider demanding mechanical discipline from dissenting members.
Members who have been genuinely won to the party’s theory will only dissent when the leadership has appeared to break with the theory and has been unable to account for or defend its actions. As such, discipline can only be won through openness of debate and only by a leadership which has the confidence to publicly defend and debate its position.