Graeme Kemp and Alan Woodward (letters, May SR) rightly want a society in which workers' councils represent the workers, not act as transmission belts for a party dictatorship.
They correctly point out that under Stalinism there were no genuine soviets, no workers' democracy. But in fighting against Stalinism, in Hungary in 1956 and Poland in 1980-81, workers built mass democratic organisations that made a start at mobilising the creative energies of all the poor and oppressed, who for the first time began to imagine a new society, that only they should and could build. In this sense, the Hungarian workers' councils and Poland's Solidarnosc were a thousand times closer to the spirit of Leninism than the state capitalist tyrants who ruled in the name of Lenin.
There were not well established revolutionary parties with deep roots in those societies. And in Indonesia, Serbia and Argentina today such parties are also lacking. However, in every real uprising of the oppressed, those in revolt spontaneously attempt to organise democratically. And in those organisations, some people will see the possibility and necessity of a new world, of smashing the rule of the billionaires and replacing it with the rule of the billions.
Those people are the nucleus of a revolutionary socialist party, without which revolt against capitalism will not succeed in ending it once and for all. The crucial question is, do they know it? This is why the SWP puts such emphasis on building such parties around the world.
The workers' councils must release the creativity of the poorest and lowest layers, of all the oppressed. Once freed by victory in one country, however, we can only remain free through victory in many countries. Then no workers' party would be able to dictate to us, and there would be no reason to. This is what did not happen in Russia. But without a party like the one that Lenin built, the first steps to liberation, the revolution in the first few countries, will not happen.