Learn more about 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 organization 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 organization 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 .
In Australia, the practice was widespread during the 1950s, where Communists battled against Catholics and other anti-Communists, known as 'Groupers', for control of Australian trade unions. The Groupers subsequently formed the breakaway Democratic Labor Party.
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.
 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 organization and leaving with more members than it began with.
- The entry tactic can work successfully 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 organize 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.
 Religious entryism
 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 organization 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.
 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.
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.
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.
 In New Zealand
In New Zealand, marxist leninist organisations were never very large. The oldest, the former Communist Party of New Zealand, never seems to have espoused entryism as a political tactic, and members of marxist leninist organisations openly participated in the heyday of the New Zealand peace movement, or in international solidarity movements against US imperialism in Latin America or apartheid, during the seventies and eighties.
However, the same cannot be said of New Zealand's Christian Right. While the Coalition of Concerned Citizens infiltrated the National Party shortly before the New Zealand 1987 general election, it met with little success. As a result of this abortive gesture, National quietly centralised its candidate selection procedures.
 External links
- "Problems of Entrism" by Ted Grant with an introduction by Peter Taaffe and various writings by Leon Trotsky as published in a Militant Tendency booklet.de:Entrismus