The Corresponding Society and the Fourth International Supporters Caucus

I am reminded that it is 25 years since Arthur Scargill launched his Socialist Labour Party which was to give the Fourth International Supporters Caucus (FISC) its all too brief moment in the sun.

It is arguable that without the SLP experience FISC would have languished in total obscurity but this small grouping had an existence, in one form or another, for a substantial period beforehand.

To understand FISC and what it was you have to look at debates on the far left in the early 1990s, for and against continued entry into the Labour Party and the questions of if, how and when to orientate towards broader social movements and open parties.

For the ISG, British section of the Fourth International, these internal debates led to a number of comrades, individually or in small groups, leaving the organisation. Some of these then coalesced, around 1992, as the Corresponding Society. This was made up of former ISG supporters but was also open to other socialists from different traditions.

CS looked to developments such as Rifondazione Comunista in Italy and set itself the task of regrouping the class struggle left with a view to “re-founding of a mass party of the left”

Within the CS those who considered themselves still to be supporters of the FI, and who wanted to pursue a relationship with it, styled themselves the Fourth International Supporters Caucus and also set up an International Viewpoint Supporters Club on the basis that they would be a group selling IVP, the English language FI magazine, outside the ISG.

FISC then sought a formal relationship with the FI which was opposed by the ISG which argued, quite understandably, that the FISC comrades had placed themselves outside the official Section at different times and for varying political reasons and did not constitute a coherent group.

This interesting document is part of a Militant Labour internal bulletin reporting on discussions with the USFI. It gives an introduction to the CS and FISC, and reproduces a FISC report.

With the announcement by Arthur Scargill of his intention to break from Labour and create a new party, the CS opened up a discussion with him. When the SLP was formed the CS dissolved with most of its former members joining the SLP.

Whether FISC, or the IVP Club, continued to exist in a formal sense at this point is debatable but comrades Heron, the Sikorskis and Wood were an identifiable current within the SLP, allied to the Scargill leadership, and were commonly referred to as FISC eg in the pages of Weekly Worker.

The story of what happened next has been told before. Scargill rigged the SLP congress in 1997 with 3,000 phantom votes to outvote all opposition driving out much of the left and most critical voices. A detailed description from a WW/CPGB standpoint can be read here.

The following year the FISC found themselves out of the SLP and, it seems, went in different ways. At least one, Wood, joined the Socialist Democracy Group and was later active in the Socialist Alliance remaining close to the Socialist Resistance project and the FI section.

Brian Heron , Carolyn Sikorski and Patrick Sikorski do not appear to have joined or formed another group but continued to be active in various campaigns.

Any further information would be welcomed.


Addendum- we have just found some material relating to campaigns and events the CS were involved with.

Four page leaflet Unshackle The Unions Campaign

Draft letter and artwork for a Modern Politics of Socialism Conference

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