Entryism

Entryism

Entryism (or entrism or enterism) is a political tactic by which an organisation encourages members to infiltrate another organisation in an attempt to gain recruits, or take over entirely.

In situations where the organisation being "entered" is hostile to entryism, the entryists may engage in a degree of subterfuge to hide the fact that they are, in fact, an organisation in their own right. In the case of the Militant tendency, this was done by claiming that the tendency was in fact simply a newspaper, Militant, its editorial board and readers. Militant was open about its support for Trotskyism and revolutionary socialism. Other entryist groups have gone to the extent of hiding both their political views and their organisational existence.

Entryism does not involve dissolving the small organisation into the larger one. Entryism is often (but not always) done secretly and often in organisations run on democratic centralist lines. Entryism is seen by some as a logical conclusion from Leninist political theory which postulates that a "revolutionary vanguard" can successfully foment a revolution within a larger capitalist society, but according to some, the strategy of entryism is as old as politics itself.

Socialist entryism

Trotsky's "French Turn"

The French Turn refers to the classic form of entryism advocated by Leon Trotsky in his essays on "the French Turn": In June 1934, he proposed that the French Trotskyists dissolve their Communist League to join the French Socialist Party (the SFIO) and that it also dissolve its youth section to join more easily with revolutionary elements. The tactic was adopted in August 1934, despite some opposition. The turn successfully raised the group's membership to 300 activists.

Proponents of the tactic advocated that the Trotskyists should enter the social democratic parties to connect with revolutionary socialist currents within them, and steer those currents toward Leninism. However, entry lasted only for a brief period: the leadership of the SFIO started to expel the Trotskyists. The Trotskyists of Workers Party of the United States also successfully used their entry into the Socialist Party of America to recruit their youth group and other members. Similar tactics were also used by Trotskyist organisations in other countries, including The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Poland. Entrism was used to connect with and recruit leftward moving political currents inside radical parties.

Since the turn in France, Marxists have used the tactic even if they had different preconceptions of how long the period of entry would last.

  • A "split perspective" is sometimes employed in which the smaller party intends to remain in the larger party for a short period of time with the intention of splitting the organisation and leaving with more members than it began with.
  • The entry tactic can work successfully, in its own terms, over a long period. For example, it was attempted by the Militant tendency in Britain whose members worked within the Labour Party from the 1960s, on and managed to get a controlling influence in the Labour Party Young Socialists and Liverpool Council before being expelled in the 1980s. Many other Trotskyist groups have attempted similar feats but few have gained the influence Militant attained (See Militant's Problems of Entrism pamphlet).

Deep entryism/entryism 'sui generis'

In these types of entryism, entryists engage in a long-term perspective in which they work within an organisation for decades in hopes of gaining influence and a degree of power and perhaps even control of the larger organisation.

In 'entryism sui generis' (of a special type), Trotskyists, for example, do not openly argue for the building of a Trotskyist party. 'Deep entryism' refers to the long duration.

The tactic is closely identified with Michel Pablo and Gerry Healy, who were leaders of the Fourth International in the late 1940s and 1950s. The 'deep entry' tactic was developed as a way for Trotskyists to respond to the Cold War. In countries where there were mass social democratic or communist parties, it was as difficult to be accepted into these parties as Trotskyist currents as to build separate Trotskyist parties. Therefore Trotskyists were advised to enter secretly, and not to come forward as Trotskyists with their full program.

In Europe, this was the approach used, for example, by The Club in the Labour Party, and by Fourth Internationalists inside the Communist Parties. In France, Trotskyist organizations, most notably the Parti des Travailleurs, have successfully entered Communist-led trade unions and mainstream left-wing parties (see Lionel Jospin for a famous example).

Open entryism

Some political parties, such as the Workers' Party in Brazil or the Scottish Socialist Party allow political tendencies to openly organise within them. In these cases the term entryism is not usually used. Political groups which work within a larger organisation but also maintain a "public face" often reject the term "entryism" but are nevertheless sometimes considered to be entryists by the larger organisation.

On the political Right

Entryism is not an exclusively left-wing phenomenon; it is also found in the far-right entering mainstream right-wing groups, e.g., National Front infiltration of National Council of Civil Liberties in the United Kingdom, and British National Party members joining the UK Independence Party. In the US, the John Birch Society and other groups were accused of entryism when Barry Goldwater was unexpectedly selected as the Republican Party candidate for US president in the 1964 election. In Australia, the centre-right New South Wales state branch of the Liberal Party of Australia was accused of being taken over by a morally conservative group in 2006

Examples by country

In the United States

During the 2000 presidential election in the United States, some members of the Reform Party, which had been founded by Ross Perot, charged that the presidential campaign of Pat Buchanan was engaging in entryism. However, while a large number of new members did join to support Buchanan, he did not maintain a large separate organisation outside of the Reform Party. It is worth noting that, after the election, many of Buchanan's support did split from the Reform Party, taking several state organizations with them, to form the America First Party. The America First Party itself was quickly engaged in a controversy involving alleged entryism by supporters of James "Bo" Gritz.

Another example of charges of entryism involving the United States Reform Party involved supporters of Fred Newman and the New Alliance Party joining the Reform Party en masse and gaining some level of control over the New York State affiliate of the Reform Party. Another United States politician, Lyndon LaRouche, has attempted an entryist strategy in the Democratic Party since 1980, but with little success.

The two major parties regularly complain of entryism tactics by the other - however complaints by the Democrats against Republicans are more common, leading to the term 'dirty tricks' being associated with the right wing since the Nixon Era. In 2007 the Republicans settled a lawsuit in New Hampshire with the Democrats after accusation of infiltration. In addition, Republican and Libertarian Party chapters have complained of takeover by religious or police elements, in one case in Colorado leading to scandal when the charges led to police department shake-ups.

Also, complaints of entryism among non-party activist groups have appeared in many chat groups.

In Canada

Although the term entryism was used little if at all, opponents accused David Orchard and his supporters of attempting to win the leadership of the former Progressive Conservative Party in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the intention of dramatically changing its policies.

Orchard had made his name as a leading opponent of free trade, which was perhaps the singular signature policy of the Progressive Conservative government of Brian Mulroney in the late 1980s and early 1990s. While opponents pointed to this remarkable distance, Orchard and his supporters argued that they represented "traditional" Tory values and economic nationalism that the older Conservative Party, and the Progressive Conservative party before Mulroney, had espoused, namely that of John Diefenbaker.

Opponents of the 2003 merger between the Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance parties also charged Alliance members with entryism. It was widely speculated that most, if not all of the approximately 25,000 Canadians who swelled the PC Party's membership before the merger vote were Alliance members. They would likely have voted in favour of the merger.

Liberals for Life, a pro-life group allied with the Campaign Life Coalition, was accused of practicing entryism in the Liberal Party of Canada in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Members of Socialist Action, a small Trotskyist group, play a leading role in the New Democratic Party Socialist Caucus, a small faction on the left wing of that social democratic party, and advocate that their members join and engage with the NDP.

After the fall of Social Credit in British Columbia, the British Columbia Liberal Party saw the shift of former Social Credit members into the BC Liberal party. As a result, the new membership saw the party shift much more towards the right on fiscal policy. In this way, entryism led to a complete takeover of the original party by former Social Credit members. As a result of the more right wing policies of the British Columbia Liberal Party, the party is now officially separate from its federal counterpart, the Liberal Party of Canada.

In New Zealand

The Socialist Unity Party and Workers Communist League have been accused of taking control of trade unions, using them and anti-nuclear organisations to steer New Zealand foreign policy away from the United States.

New Zealand's Christian Right also attempted to obtain electoral influence. While the Coalition of Concerned Citizens infiltrated the National Party shortly before the 1987 general election, it met with little success. As a result of this abortive gesture, National quietly centralised its candidate selection procedures.

In the United Kingdom

The Guardian columnist, George Monbiot claims that a group influenced by the defunct right-libertarian LM magazine have pursued entryist tactics amongst scientific and media organisations in the UK, since the late 1990s.

In Australia

In Australia, the practice was widespread during the 1950s, where Communists battled against right-wing 'Groupers', for control of Australian trade unions. The Groupers subsequently formed the Democratic Labor Party. Today the practice in Australia is often known as a type of branch stacking.

References

External links

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