Let’s unite behind Green Left Weekly

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

For many years we were regular contributors to Green Left Weekly and proud supporters of the paper. We’ve now decided to resume writing for GLW and we urge other former contributors to consider doing the same.

In May 2008, we and about 50 other former members of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) launched the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the monthly paper Direct Action (DA) following a bitter internal dispute in the DSP that centred on the Socialist Alliance.

In August 2010, we and six other members of the Sydney branch of the RSP left the organisation as a group, having concluded that the RSP was not viable as a Marxist party because it lacks both a critical mass of activists and realistic possibilities for recruitment.

We were unable to establish enough of a readership and support base for DA to justify the effort that goes into the paper.

GLW, on the other hand, has established itself over the past two decades as a socialist publication with a relatively high profile, readership and support base.

It’s the only such publication that comes out weekly and its website is among the ten most visited Australian political websites.

It has to be recognised that GLW is a valuable institution for the left as a whole whether or not one agrees with the politics of the Socialist Alliance, the organisation that underpins GLW.

As socialists we disagree on many things, yet most of the content of a typical 24-page edition of GLW is stuff we probably all agree on, or largely agree on.



If space is made available to express a variety of viewpoints and facilitate constructive debate among those opposed to capitalism, GLW can be both Socialist Alliance’s paper and something more: a publication of, by and for the socialist movement as a whole.

We’re not members of the Socialist Alliance and we don’t intend to join. The Socialist Alliance isn’t the kind of party we want to build. Yet we recognise the value of GLW to all of us.

With the class struggle at such a low ebb in Australia it’s very difficult to build radical left parties. “The battle of ideas” in a more pure form than the traditional party/paper combination, and non-party forms of socialist collaboration, assume greater importance.

Radical left publications, especially those with an attractive online presence, can be one form of such collaboration.

GLW could be an institutional bridge of continuity between the small and splintered socialist movement and a new, future wave of anti-capitalist radicalisation in Australia precipitated by the unfolding of capitalism’s multiple systemic crises.

In a deep crisis of capitalist rule the need for revolutionary organisation would be posed as an objective necessity and real steps could be taken towards a mass revolutionary socialist party.

In the meantime, GLW could and should be more of a collaborative project in the inclusive spirit of the introduction on the paper’s website: “Green Left Weekly aims to provide a much-needed forum for discussion and debate about changing the world ... by sharing a wide range of views.”

Tags: Australia socialism Comment and Analysis

Comments

I suspect that the authors cannot answer their own challenge -- if "the Socialist Alliance isn’t the kind of party we want to build.." then they aren't building anything else are they? They may PREFER something else worth the effort of their personal investment, but there are hundreds of socialists who have chosen the Socialist Alliance as their party building project and think otherwise.

If you love GLW you don't have to think that the SA is the bee's knees of course. Many Greens members love GLW but they aren't in the Alliance. But the fact is that without the Socialist Alliance supporting the GLW project there would be no paper out there online or out and about across Australia.

So maybe that's worth the deference? The Socialist Alliance may not be " the kind of party we want to build." But GLW is apparently the kind of paper we want to read.

Wrong party/right paper? Go figure. A paper that has an open inclusive unity agenda supported by a party... that has the same open, inclusive unity spirit...

Some of us think that the SA is "a much-needed forum for discussion and debate about changing the world ... by sharing a wide range of views” and once deciding, doing our best to make that decision happen.

We think that any forum of debate has to be wedded with a democratic means to decide and then to collectively act.

That's my kind of party: open, accountable and democratic.

Well written Iggy and Marce!

Us socialists, ( and here I will include most of the Greens and a few of Rank-and-file Laborites) campaign for the rights of all, especially the most oppressed - such as the rights of indigenous Australians, Refugees unemployed and disabled. Us socialists, campaign against Washington's wars, for the rights of Tamils, Palestinians, West Papuans, and Latin Americans against foreign intervention. Us socialists campaign to protect our natural habitat, against the salination of our land and rivers, and for the promotion of renewable energy.

I may be a crazy dreamer, but I fail to see why we cannot all promote the one paper, and the one Socialist, Democratic and Internationally focused Party.

Lets reserve our Tuesday/Wednesday Night meetings the time to debate over the meaning of the Russian, Chinese or Cuban revolutions and other such important but not immediately vital issues.

What's curiously missing in this article is the evolution of their politics after leaving the RSP: they came out in full support of the NATO bombing campaign in Libya.
DA had still being running articles by Marce until early 2011, but after his position on Libya was mistaken for that of the RSP the national committee decided not to run any more.
Well I guess we can all be for "unity". But when it comes to fundamental positions like to support or not support for imperialist intervention unity pretty much becomes impossible.
Given the blood of the Libyan people that is on their hands, I surprised anyone would touch them with a barge pole. It's a real reflection of the sorry state of the left in general and Green Left that this article is even running.
I'm glad these pro-imperialist turncoats have found a home. It makes the politics of Green Left even clearer...

I think the second comment here is a bit churlish. We should welcome positive engagement with Green Left on its self-avowed basis that it isn't just a party paper, but a broad socialist paper. We should welcome that some talented socialists have chosen such engagement, which is a higher level of joint work than merely collaborating in this or that campaign, when too many drop out completely or restrict themselves to union or single issue work when left groups do not measure up to their standards. Socialist Alliance as it is is but one stage in the fight for a the party we need and we need to engage with others, including small groups and individuals, at the highest level we can. I look forward to Iggy, Marce and friends' articles.

Nick Fredman.

Some of us *may* indeed think that the SA is "a much-needed forum for discussion and debate about changing the world ... by sharing a wide range of views”, or might also think GLW fulfils that purpose.

But speaking as someone whose views were very clearly unwelcomed from both, I have to say that nice as that *sounds*, wanting something to be the case doesn't mean it is.

A year or two ago I tried to use GLW to engage in serious debate about the change in the political nature of the views on domestic violence being put forward. Despite the fact that during the '90s, GLW used regularly to host debates in its pages on various issues, I was unable to do so. I was told that my only recourse was to submit a very short piece to the letters page (the word limit I was given was shorter than some articles by SA members in the letters pages of around that time). However, it was odd since despite my attempting several times to submit pieces on this issue, it seems they weren't received. [See http://directaction.org.au/issue17/domestic_violence for a letter on this issue I sent to my party's paper, Direct Action, instead.]

Re SA, as soon as the DSP had expelled its dissident minority in early 2008, I found that I had been removed from SA's notification list of its events. Mind you, by that stage, Perth SA meetings (especially of the decision-making kind) had pretty much dried up.

But our experience of the decisions being made (in the DSP and now SA) is that they were made with regard to what we thought many inactive SA members (or people who we'd like to have been SA members) *might* want, or anyway were increasingly influenced by an increasingly inactive membership, and by many of the real decisions increasingly being made behind the scenes. And by the fact that members of the DSP were losing their political confidence to support Marxist politics due to acting as the non-revolutionary partners we'd hoped to find in SA, with this causing many decisions to be affected by hopes for quick short-cuts. With the DSP now dissolved into SA, I can't imagine that that problem wouldn't have increased.

I can't agree that I have sufficient agreement with the contents of GLW for it to be worth my while distributing it. I haven't seen any signs that the political decline in GLW over the past 6 or so years has been substantially turned back. That's not to say I disagree with all its content, of course; it would be odd for socialists never to agree, and I've certainly enjoyed some recent real-time discussions with SA members. I've noticed some of the more recent coverage on porn is pretty sharp. I'm glad of that, but still I feel life is too short to be spent distributing political propaganda which argues for an approach to struggle with which one disagrees. A paper that was genuinely a forum for socialist debate about the way forwards might well be a different matter (depending on various factors such as alternatives, who's involved etc), but we're not discussing that.

Virginia Brown

Well maybe we need to first sort out Marce and Iggy's trials at The Hague for the war crimes our friend here is happily accusing them of. We'd also better hold off saying anything positive or agreeing with anything put forward by Fidel and Chavez too, due to their quite awful support for the neo-liberal, racist butcher Ghaddafi.

By the way I'm being sarcastic.

Nick Fredman.

Here, I entirely agree with Nick Fredman.
Virginia

I'm sorry to introduce a reality check but the party that is needed is in fact one that is "open, accountable and democratic" not one that you have to agree with 100 percent (nor with a paper which you may not be able to relate to unless you can agree with 100 percent of its content).

Look there are other excellent journals on the far left -- no question about that -- but the fact is (and here's another reality check) they all more or less say the very same thing issue by issue varying only occasionally from one another in their POV. Of course they pretend that they are different but place them side by side article by article and the difference is not significant enough to warrant that there by x number of journals rather than one presenting the richness of the socialist analysis and perspective. And of course, GLW is not the party paper of the Socialist Alliance much as some folk want to rule that way. It supports the SA, carries SA stuff, the SA has a major say over its content -- but it still can function as Marce and Iggy point out (and underline) as a paper that is open to a larger reach out than the SA membership and its supporters.

And the fact is no matter how good a journal may be it still is only going to be as useful only as the scale of its readership. In that regard -- and here's another reality check -- GLW's readership and support base outstrips all the others combined. Direct Action may indeed be the best thing on the left as far as we may know -- but unless it is being read so that these few differences in perspective can be independently asserted -- isn't it better to follow Marce and Iggy's example and sign on with Green Left?

That's extraordinary Nick: you're willing to gloss over these people's support for imperialism! Pointing this out becomes "sectarian"!

"We'd also better hold off saying anything positive or agreeing with anything put forward by Fidel and Chavez too, due to their quite awful support for the neo-liberal, racist butcher Ghaddafi."

Actually I think they got it right, certainly better than most of the Western left. The opposition is even more neoliberal, more racist and more butchering. Just ask the migrant African population.And as for this nasty beast that you feel Ghadaffi was... why then did Libya have the highest human development index score for Africa?

It was always a conflict between imperialism and Ghaddafi and Fidel and Chavez rightly sided with latter.

I know who I would prefer to be "united" with and it's not the bombers.

May you share your grisly bed together...

Virginia;

Marce and co.'s position on the NATO bombing is well known. It is not "bonehead sectarianism" to point this out and to query the motives of why GL would welcome the participation of the pro-imperialist left. As difficult as it is on a personal level: those are the political facts.

The last comment is disingenuous. There us no contradiction in Marce, Iggy and any other people wanting to collaborate with Green Left but not wanting to participate in the Socialist Alliance, while the two are linked they are separate entities. It is possible that this experience of collaboration may change their minds re SA, or alternatively it could reinforce the reasons that they do not want to be in SA.

By questioning their reasoning in the way above it actually suggests that SA is not open and inclusive as it poses collaboration as being based on willingness to join SA, rather than welcoming any collaboration as a postitive in and of itself.

I welcome this any such collaboration. The movement for socialism can only move forward if more in the left abandon the unhealthy and self-destructive tradition of demanding agreement on more than is necessary to work together and move forward. We need to work together around what we can agree now and then, later, on the basis of the experience of working together, come to greater agreement and forge deeper unity.

At this stage Green Left Weekly is 90% of our political work and therefore agreeing to support Green Left Weekly could be said to be 90% agreement, though in fact it is more.

Peter Boyle

Ok so I'm also not a member of SA, and I also still like Green Left. But what is the point of this article (aside from a dig at the RSP)? So some people left a political party, formed another one, then left it, and now they say they support the paper of the original party. You could have put something interesting in this space...

And Marce and co, get an imagination ffs! Go try something new. Then we might be able to move on an stop having the same arguments over and over again.

Re the previous two comments - I'm unable to grasp the logic of distributing something which argues a basic political direction with which I disagree, simply because its readership is larger than Direct Action's. And DA certainly is read, despite not having built up the readership GLW has been able to over decades.

Re Peter's criticism of those "in the left [who won't] abandon the unhealthy and self-destructive tradition of demanding agreement on more than is necessary to work together and move forward" - funny, I could have sworn I was expelled from the DSP precisely because of disagreeing not with the DSP's Program (increasingly, the majority were disagreeing with it), but because I was in a minority whose politics were disagreed with by the majority.

But if, as Peter says, "At this stage Green Left Weekly is 90% of our political work" (meaning SA), then my disagreement with GLW's political approach surely does constitute a significant overall disagreement with SA.

It really isn't healthy to approach building left unity by implying it's best achieved by everyone joining our party. (And that will be especially ineffective with those who've had the history with that which I have.) Nor by overlooking the best way to achieve unity amongst socialists right now, by collaborating in the various left campaigns in which many socialists are in fact working closely. In my experience, more positively, and with more trust, following discussions over what went wrong in the SA experiment. Many of us found that the contradictions imposed by pretending SA was more real than it could be, was a real impediment to socialist unity.

Virginia

Please don't patronise me by asserting without justification that my objections to these comments are "personal" (an unimpressive criticism often levelled at women).

My point was that we all make mistakes and that asserting not that they should not be welcome in one's party, but that any collaboration at all should be shunned (eg no-one should "touch them with a barge pole", "May you share your grisly bed together..."), is sectarian and ridiculous. I've had disagreements with socialists over other positions, and you know what? These positions also dealt with human rights and lives. But I never spoke of blood on people's hands or shunning people entirely. I'm pretty sure I've also had mistaken positions on various matters, and pretty sure you have too.

And it's certainly the case that softer words do help us build bridges and make us more amenable to collectively working out the way forward and perhaps improving our collective positions. At the very least, telling people to "share your grisly bed together" will achieve nothing useful.

Not sure if I am replying to one person or several, when comments are made anonymously it's hard to tell.

Virginia

When Nick F wrote, "We'd also better hold off saying anything positive or agreeing with anything put forward by Fidel and Chavez too, due to their quite awful support for the neo-liberal, racist butcher Ghaddafi", he pointed out he was being sarcastic.

Since he says he was, let's assume he meant it (although I assumed his criticism of Ghaddafi was real, given his relevant public comments over the last year don't seem to have indicated support for him). And although most of this discussion has been about uniting around left papers, I think we also need to bear in mind that future unity in parties (and future mergers will absolutely be necessary) will have to be determined by not only the objective political circumstances (are they conducive to the particular kind of unity party project), but also on agreement on the way forwards. Deciding not to unite with anyone we've ever disagreed with will rule out any kind of unity project.

Virginia

The idea that Marce and Iggy's position on Libya is some kind of "mistake" is disingenuous. This is a major capitulation to imperialism. The core of Leninism is the rejection of social chauvinism. It is: "the relentless struggle waged all along the line against these parties—or groups, trends, etc., it is all the same—there can be no question of a struggle against imperialism, or of Marxism, or of a socialist labour movement."

That's right: "relentless struggle"

How can any revolutionary or even militant current of the labour movement so enthusiastically welcome this trend and still regard itself to be Marxist?

Raising the possibility of sentimental attachment to these comrades was being charitable. If you can't see the truth in this Virginia then I suggest your avowed commitment to Leninism is at best formal.

While I agree that the running and publicising of this article could be seen as churlish and sectarian, I do think that the intent of the statement written by Iggy and Marce, and possibly the other four comrades who left the RSP, was to indicate to people that despite their differences with SA that they thought the project of Green Left was inclusive and should be supported by socialist identifying individuals and groups as a mechanism through which to build the left in Australia.
Supporting Green Left should not require 100% percent of its content, just like being in an organisation should and cannot be based on 100% agreement with its program and actions (such a requirement can only lead to sectarian dead ends). However the question of how much agreement is necessary is ultimately up to individuals.

While i have had my disagreements with both Marce and Iggy in the past I do think that their attitude towards Green Left (irrespective what you think of Green Left or Socialist Alliance, or how much you may or may not agree with them) is a healthy non-sectarian one which is needed now more than ever on the Australian left if we are to overcome the setbacks and retreats of the past decades.

Just to clarify one thing: This article was published on the request of the authors, asthe authors and Green Left editors can confirm.

Yes, the commentary was published at our request. We decided to resume writing for GLW and we asked to be given space in the paper to offer an explanation to readers, some of whom may be interested. As well as an explanation we offer a suggestion for a way forward.

We make it clear in the commentary that we are not members of SA and we have no intention of joining, because SA is not the kind of party we want to build. We want to build a party that explicitly and consistently argues for the need for a socialist revolution in Australia, not a party that fudges the question of revolution in order to present itself as less radical and therefore more acceptable.

We want to build a party like the pre-2003 Democratic Socialist Party, but we were unable to persuade a majority of the DSP to adopt this course and the attempt of the expelled DSP minority to reestablish such a party through launching the Revolutionary Socialist Party has failed. Given this, we believe the most constructive contribution we can make to the future prospects for a mass revolutionary socialist party in Australia is to unite behind Green Left Weekly, to contribute to the paper and help ensure its viability in these rather bleak times for revolutionary party-building.

We see no reason why GLW cannot be a more collaborative project if there is goodwill on both sides, despite the differences on SA. The fact that SA and the GLW editors decided to publish our commentary and that the editors have welcomed our offer to resume writing for the paper means that a door has been opened to such collaboration. That can only be a good thing for GLW and for the socialist movement as a whole.

Our contribution to GLW won't be to promote SA or its politics. SA members already do that and will continue to do so whether or not we contribute to GLW. What we'll be contributing to is GLW as an institution that is both SA's paper but also something more. To do as we're suggesting nobody need abandon their views on SA nor cease contributing to other socialist publications.

How many times have we submitted articles to trade union journals when we don't agree with the approach of the union leadership? In such cases the political divergence is far greater and more irreconcilable. There's nothing unprincipled in our approach and it's the right thing to do in the circumstances.

Of course, we understand and accept that what is published in GLW is at the discretion of the SA-appointed editors. We're not asking for it to be otherwise and it would be silly to demand special consideration as a condition for collaboration. We'll be submitting our contributions to GLW just like anybody else.

Marce Cameron

Anonymous says: "Well I guess we can all be for "unity". But when it comes to fundamental positions like to support or not support for imperialist intervention unity pretty much becomes impossible."

Normally this is the case, but there can be exceptions.

In 1999, the Democratic Socialist Party supported Australian troops being sent to East Timor to end the massacres and to ensure implementation of the referendum vote for independence. Most other left groups, including the International Socialist Organisation, were opposed to the sending of the troops.

Despite this difference, the DSP, ISO and other groups came together in 2001 to form Socialist Alliance.

This illustrates that differences of over such issues do not necessarily prevent groups from working together. (The ISO and other groups later left Socialist Alliance, but this was not due to the differences over East Timor)

Of course, the specifics of Australia's intervention in East Timor and NATO's intervention in Libya are very different. Each situation must be looked at on its merits.

I have argued against support for NATO's bombing of Libya (see for example http://links.org.au/node/2300#comment-107302). But this does not mean I am against any form of cooperation with those who take a different view. I welcome the decision of Marce, Iggy and others to write for Green Left.

Chris Slee

One little commentary published on April 3 is a major capitulation to imperialism?

If expressing an opinion on Libya makes one complicit in butchery, I'll keep that in mind: next time I need a leg of lamb I'll grab a pen and paper.

Seriously, Libya is complicated. It's not as clear-cut as Germany in 1914. Surely that's obvious. There was a popular insurgency directed against an autocratic pro-imperialist regime. Then there was a popular insurgency backed by imperialist air power, arms and supervisors. In other words, a messy amalgam that defies simplistic analysis.

Some anti-imperialists, ourselves included, tried to come to grips with the concrete dilemma posed by the Bengazi-based insurgency's plea for assistance in late March. Were we mistaken when we argued on April 3 that we should not oppose the TNC's call for NATO air strikes to stop the Gaddafi regime's crushing of the armed uprising in Bengazi? As Lenin said, the truth is always concrete.

Perhaps Iggy and I were mistaken. Then again, perhaps not. I haven't reached a firm conclusion either way and I'm open to persuasion. The course of events may clarify things one way or the other. I hope that you, Kathy Newnam (I presume), are also open to persuasion.

Marce Cameron

I hate to say this but how much agreement is warranted before you sign up to any project? Only fools and infantiles insist on an absolute 100 percent. So the point has to come back to the old political stand-by of "line of march" . And the fact is that the SA and GLW on are on the same journey and I find it disingenuous on Marce and Iggy's part to consciously try to separate the two.

Th neither came down in the last shower.

But of course there can be a difference between IDEAS as expressed in the pages of GLW and the sort of ORGANISATION that is built. I give you that. But to not recognise that there is some relationship between the two is unfair.

We're not fools and 100s on the left recognise that there is something happening between what the SA does and strives for day to day and what is published in the pages of GLW.

But to say " However the question of how much agreement is necessary is ultimately up to individuals..." is simply to pander to subjective apolitical double think. Tens of thousands sign onto the ALP despite that fact that they agree with only a smiggin of what it does. Millions are trade union members even though their unions do fuck all for them.

At some point you have to step back from what's "ultimately up to individuals" and make a decision about what is needed and with whom you seek to align. Not in a boutique customized way -- but with a decision that makes historical sense. And playing up to separate subjective preferences is a massive undermining of what we collectively need to do.

In Australian politics at the present time the options are straight forward: go with Labor, the Coalition, the Greens...or...and that's the rub. How can the less than 50 members of the RSP address this conundrum or even the 6 who left that organisation?

How can even each one of the separate would be socisalist parties address this question?

But we are told that separatism for the sake of disagreement is right, just and warranted.(Adter all we value our individuality after all). Maybe grudges are involved ... but while this angsty business goes on our working class peers are faced with increasingly worse political options JUST SO OUR DIFFERENCES CAN BE SUSTAINED.

No, Anonymous, Raising the possibility [that my objection to this approach of shunning all collaboration with these comrades was a result] of sentimental attachment to these comrades was NOT being charitable.

You could just as easily have simply said it was irrational. Instead, you chose to use code to achieve exactly what I suspected you intended to do; make implications of personal/emotional ties, a nasty tactic to employ in any dispute, and one which is especially sexist when applied to women, since they're already considered to have their views determined especially by attachments to people. It was gossipy and nasty. And I notice you didn't apply it to Nick Fredman.

It's not at all Leninist to shun any and all collaborations with anyone who takes a single position with which some of us disagree on imperialist interventions. And there isn't simply one core component of Leninism - a general Marxist approach is a necessity. I've had disagreements with socialists on a number of issues - domestic violence, prostitution, the state, military projects, etc. Quite a few of these issues could be considered 'core' Marxist issues. Should we abandon collaboration with any worker who gets it wrong - are they thenceforth consigned to marxist hell? Do you really think the path to revolution works in such straight lines, that once someone makes a mistake they can never after that contribute positively to the struggle?

This thread has contained a few ideas about what each contributor thinks is a positive way forward. Let's try to keep it that way - we won't all agree, but at least our intention to contribute something positive will be clear.

Virginia

The error Marce and Iggy made was to underestimate the capability and necessity of the working masses to emancipate themselves. In context, this was an easy error to make, of course, which is why I am inclined to cut them some slack. However, it was not an isolated incident.

The same thing occurred during the faction fight that gave rise to the RSP. The minority comrades similarly underestimated the potential of the struggles occurring in Australia, and instead adopted an inflated estimate of the Venezuelan struggles, and tried to orient towards that. Similarly, they adopted an inflated estimate of the Cuban revolution.

There's a term for this. The essence of Trotskyism (outside the Soviet Union) was the defence of the self-emancipation of the working class, against the search for saviours and gurus.

That's why we need to call Cameron and Kim's mistake what it was: a Stalinist error. But it didn't come from nowhere - the RSP is prone to the same tendency.

And the ex-DSP majority comrades in the Socialist Alliance are at risk from it too.

Alan B

The idea that leftists who have a few differences with each other could work together on broad agreements is dangerous.

I mean, how will the ruling class ever be able to keep the socialist left an irrelevant fringe group if the groups work together? That Karl Marx was the worst of the lot when he popularised the slogan "workers of the world unite"!

OK, end sarcasm. Great news, it's always been sad that the other various groups have sought to denigrate GLW as "just the SA/DSP" when it has such potential to get the word out about our struggles for a better society and discuss the way forward. Holy, hell, struggles? Going forward? What about elaborating our programmatic differences? Can't the struggle wait? (I can't help sinking back into sarcasm again!)

(Sarcasm put aside again) However conditional the unity embodied in GLW, this is great news, good on you comrades and looking forward to whatever level of collaboration we end up with.

BCC

GLW was always pitched as a broader paper than the party that ran it. The editors and the DSP may not have always managed to uphold that broad approach, but it's a good approach to keep if it can draw in others.

I'm not sure if its available online but the first GLW edition in 1991 had a pretty broad list of sponsors way beyond the DSP that was launching the paper. Pretty sure they didn't all agree on the DSP's way of organising but they supported the paper.

I think it's great if this small group of people want to support. And the approach in this comment, that because SA supports GLW you need to support both (that seems to be the implication) is a damagingly narrow view of the way things work. Making GLW broad is good. If it doesn't overlap completely with SA that's good. The more the better!

BCC

It would be nice to have all the far left in one big happy family. There's valid points here. But this is also an attack on Marce et al for being "disingenuous" when they make a decision to work with other leftists. This is the old DSP approach in spades. You can work with us, it's imperative for the class in fact, but we're bigger so you have to do it on our terms. What a lot of crap. Didn't work in the past, it was an attitude that destabilised the Socialist Alliance while the DSP still existed as an affiliate, now apparently it's still being used to prevent people working together. Get over it.

We hold no grudges towards anyone. However, we do have political differences on the question of SA. Despite these differences we believe collaboration around GLW is both possible and necessary.

Marce Cameron

AlexBainbridge's picture

The whole quote by Lenin goes: "The fact that is that “bourgeois labour parties,” as a political phenomenon, have already been formed in all the foremost capitalist countries, and that unless determined and relentless struggle is waged all along the line against these parties—or groups, trends, etc., it is all the same—there can be no question of a struggle against imperialism, or of Marxism, or of a socialist labour movement." (http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/oct/x01.htm)

Whatever your opinion about what Marce and Iggy wrote on Libya, the simple fact remains that they do not constitute a "bourgeois labour party" or even a group or a trend in favour of one or objectively building one.

Anyone who truly wants to wage a "relentless struggle" against Laborism, really needs to find the ways to unite with others who have the same goal, not to splinter further an already fractured left.

Feeling pure in a small group that has zero weight does not equal a "relentless stuggle" against imperialism and it is a long way short of a "socialist labour movement".

Personally I welcome the decision by Iggy and Marce for their one step towards a more united left.

My understanding is that the RSP decided to not allow Marce to write on Cuba ... because of his position on Libya! Whatever the case, Marce's article on Libya (http://links.org.au/node/2247) was part of an ongoing discussion among leftists of many traditions, which was also hosted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal (http://links.org.au/taxonomy/term/222).
Such discussion is essential to the left as a whole coming up with a correct position. The idea that if one takes an unpopular or wrong postion on one issue, that condemns them to being wrong on every other issue, or worse, an "agent of imperialism" with "blood on their hands", is simply childish.
As editor of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, I collaborated with Marce, as editor of the very useful "Cuba's Socialist Renewal" (http://cubasocialistrenewal.blogspot.com), for a number of months prior to the ex-RSP group's decision to work with GLW. I'd like to think that that collaboration helped pave the way for this small but important step forward in left unity.
Hopefully, others on the left can emulate Marce and Iggy's example.
Terry

No quote says: "these parties—or groups, trends"
“OR groups or trends”. One does not need to be within a social democracy party to be a trend in favour of social chauvinism. There are no doubt all manner of pro-imperialists out there. Do we only struggle with the ones in favour of building labour parties?

Here's the rub: GL or SA claim to be in favour of regrouping with leftwards moving forces. Marce and co are clearly on a rightwards trajectory. What is your position: opposition or accommodation?
If the latter: why not regroup with the supporters of the Iraq invasion? Why not Christopher Hitchens and the like?

Your kidding aren't you.

Let's not let a little disagreement about a fundamental issue in world politics get in the way of "collaboration"! I mean c'mon: support for the NATO attacks is not just a tactical quibble! As the other post says: why not involve supporters of the Iraq invasion?

Imperialism's strategy in the Middle East is premised on the Libya intervention. It’s fairly certain that they will use it as a springboard for intervention in Egypt and elsewhere if the radicalisation process continues and begins to threaten Israel.This is not a triffling matter: it is a fundamental divide.
Of course collaboration will continue with all kinds of people. But do you invite them/ accept their participation in your publication? I don't think so...
As for the personal stuff and why you and not Nick: Fredman has already repudiated Marxism in favour of leftwing version of social democracy (SA). It is no surprise that he would enthusiastically greet Marce and co.s participation in GL. What is your excuse?

Of course we all have political difference with anything we do any one day of the year. Nothing I ever do is what I want it to be. Everything is a disappointment...but I still negotiate through this and club together a political journey that I may think makes the best of what is to hand.

That's life on the left.We have to get used to it as we strive to remake the modus operandi.Thats' what folk like Lenin did.

While Marx and his mate talked about a socialism that was Utopian AND scientific most far left politics (post Trotsky) is ruled by Utopianism as it's individual dynamic is ruled by niche hunting: seeking an outfit who suits personal political preferences...as though history and the imperatives of history matters not one iota.

But, in the beginning, it nonetheless took the disaster of the rise of Fascism in 1933 before Trotsky gave up on he Communist parties...

Everything is ruled by 'last hesitation' thinking: I cannot join THEM because I have differences. This cannot be built now because I expected something much more to happen. I'm a socialist but I cannot sign up with any socialist party because I don't relate to any socialist party that exists...but the one I like is so small.

As for this aside about 'since you're big' I hate to say that's a very old excuse to stay small ..and irrelevant -- because what you mean is that you're right and the rest is wrong. But the complication is how do we know that is true? Because you are small, failed to grow,and are more read up than the rest ..so of course you're small and side lined but magnificently right? That supposedly justifies it. So what you do is focus on the differences between you and any larger activity as proof positive that you are right..a proof positive that justifies your smallness.

How can that logic work enough to be justified under an anti capitalist agenda?

On the other hand you could take the view that you can have confidence in the ability of any number of people to come together and create a viable political enterprise through a shared commitment to socialist transformation of society and en route work through any differences as they may occur.

Whats' wrong with that as a game plan? Because it isn't big enough yet? But just look at where your ruling from? IF it was at take off maybe you'd reconsider...But the fact is that even for the Greens the take off was a long time coming and they won that not because they were special but because historical circumstance(pre existing senators) and main party duplicity was so bad that such a come together ordained them as the primary alternative political option.

And today Greens members, including those who see themselves as socialist, have to sign onto a party that is enmeshed in neo-liberal cut backs and committed to the capitalist market.

The Greens are much more conservative than I expected them to become.As a political option for socialists I think they have failed miserably to deliver. So the question of what to do/what to form/where to go still hangs...To presume that you can then negotiate a future coming together without utilizing the unity vehicle that exists in the form of the Socialist Alliance borders on naivete.

If GLW is a major asset on the left then so too is the Socialist Alliance .

So one article overrides the comrades' many dozens of articles and actions over the last decade or two and amounts to a "trajectory"?!

I might say I prefer Direct Action too. But that’s beside the point. Hardly anyone other than RSP members read Direct Action. It can be as revolutionary as it likes; but if that message is not reaching anyone, what does it matter?

Further, Virginia writes, “I'm unable to grasp the logic of distributing something which argues a basic political direction with which I disagree, simply because its readership is larger than Direct Action's.”

But Marce and Iggy’s proposal makes no mention of distribution. The point is writing, being heard, getting out the revolutionary message. And that can’t be done with DA. Direct Action is hardly sold, hardly read, comes out just once a month in print format, sometimes goes months at a time without having its web presence updated, and elicits zero feedback. It amounts to a great pile of paper on an office floor.

On the other hand, Green Left is a weekly, has an established long-term readership, has an increasingly relevant web presence, and as this very debate attests, generates feedback on its content. Like it or not, it is an institution on the Australian left.

Owen Richards

If we have to settle matters by trading quotes from a Russian who's been dead for nearly 100 years it only underlines that we aren't talking about doing jack shit in Australia now.

Further: If "Marce and co" are on a rightwards trajectory I want you to calculate the mathematical equation that describes the direction and curve of that trajectory. While you're at it, tell me the trajectory of your orbit and what planet it's around. If you can do that I'll at least accept that you're not just using hyperbolic rhetoric to mask your political grudges.

It's unbelievable that we still get these messianic cults that go around declaring themselves the arbiter of who is or isn't a Marxist. I heard recently a well-known anarchist blogger explaining that most of the "anarchist" left in Australia are in fact of a Marxist bent; himself being one of the few that isn't. I'm happy if anarchists want to call themselves (or other anarchists) Marxists. Hopefully they will learn something from Marx. On the other hand those who set themselves up as the only pure and true Marxists seem to have missed the whole point. I think the word for them is "wanker".

One article!

They're supporting imperialist intervention. Somehow it really doesn't surprise me that this doesn't mean much to you...

My views regarding collaboration with GLW vis-a-vis my views on Libya have been amply covered in those two articles, as well as by many of the posts here. And that is the core of the discussion, of course.

But, gee whiz, I'm burning with curiosity about who this "anonymous" contributor is, who accuses Marce and I of having "blood on [our] hands" and equating us with the German social democrats who voted for war credits in WW1. (I mean, I stand by what we wrote, but I'm not sure how I feel about being accused of running NATO from my little patch of Sydney!)

Could I respectfully ask that you at least tell us your name? The others directly engaged in the debate with you have had the courage to name themselves.

Iggy Kim

It's a little confusing figuring which anonymous is which if you don't give a name. At least be pseudonymous.

Well Marxism means being for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. Does SA call for this? No. Does it call itself a Marxist party? No.

Given that it little more than the ex-DSP pretending to be a "broad party" it sounds like repudiation to me.

True, our proposal doesn't specifically mention distribution. But it does say that we recognise GLW to be a valuable institution for the left as a whole because of its profile, audience and support base. As an institution, GLW it is not just dead trees and a website. It's also a network of people who write for the paper, produce it, promote it, distribute it and raise money for it. It follows that if we're going to support GLW as an institution we should not rule out helping to promote and distribute it.

I'm happy to promote and distribute a publication that I contribute to. Why not?

Giving money is a different question. As I understand it there is no financial separation between GLW and SA, and I don't want my money being spent on things like the glossy SA climate charter that could have been written by the Greens. "Challenging the capitalist market" is bullshit and most SA members know it. Our only hope lies not in challenging but abolishing the capitalist market and replacing it with a social order based on economy-wide, democratic planning with a subordinate role for market mechanisms. This can only happen through a social revolution, as in Cuba and Venezuela. That's the truth, so why not say so? Because you don't want SA to be too radical because you want lots of people to join it. In my opinion that approach is dead wrong. You can be non-sectarian, flexible, creative, whatever. But you have to tell the truth. Otherwise you end up tail-ending, rather than leading, the battle of ideas.

Marce Cameron.

We're not on a rightward trajectory. We just had a different view of how the anti-imperialist left should respond to the concrete dilemma posed by the fact that the Gaddafi regime was about to launch an all-out assault on Bengazi in late March/early April. We thought, rightly or wrongly, that the crushing of the rebellion by the pro-imperialist thug Gaddafi would be a setback for the anti-imperialist struggle in North Africa and the Middle East, and that the likely outcome of imperialist air support for the rebels, a somewhat less autocratic pro-imperialist regime arising out of a popular insurgency, would offer better prospects for the class struggle of Libya's working people than the stabilisation of Gaddafi's pro-imperialist autocracy.

Perhaps we were mistaken. Time will tell. We're not rusted on to a viewpoint we expressed on April 3.

All of us in the DSP at the time demanded Australian imperialism's intervention in East Timor under the UN flag, an intervention that involved a lot of boots on the ground and human rights abuses by some Australian service personnel. Others on the left were astonished and dismayed and some accused us of betraying the anti-imperialist cause. Yet that instance of support for an imperialist intervention didn't reveal that we were on a rightward trajectory. We just disagreed with other anti-imperialists on how best to respond to a concrete dilemma.

I meant to add my name to the post above that begins: "We're not on a rightward trajectory".

Marce Cameron

Socalist Alliance is no risk of becoming Stalinist. we know for experiences with the cpa how were pro soviet about the beaucratic nature of soviet union and the way that the cpa conducted its internal affairs is way different form democratic manner in which dsp was run, which allowed rank and file of party to vote on any policies did allow right to object and propose any policies. It was not top down. Socialist should not throw the word stalinism around willy nilly as some parties do. They are wrong in their analysis of cuba and venezuela.

There is no risk of socialist alliance becoming stalinist because we allow the right to all rank and file members. For example, Libya. We had many different opinions about NATO's intervention, with majority opposing the bombing of Libya. Stalinism would see those who object to policies reprimanded, which is in democratic.

by sam bullock brisbande

After all the nonsense which has been going on in this discussion, Marce and Iggy should be able to understand how the majority felt in the discussion that led to the split in the DSP.

Leaving aside who was right and who was wrong, the over the top antics of some minority supporters had a remarkably corrosive impact on the debate.

And we're seeing it again, except that this time the targets are former supporters of the minority.

Alan B

Sam Bullock misses the key point about Stalinism - it does not refer to a particular organisational form, but rather is a description of a particular political approach, whose key feature, compared to Trotskyism, is the downgrading of the role of the working class in its own emancipation.

'Moreover, when you are small you have a tendency to collect the windbags and to substitute for the fact that you have no real mass weight, with a certain arrogant posing: to talk about your claims to continuity with Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky — as though you could inherit a program instead of forging one in life, in the class struggle itself. And then this written program is elevated above everything else, because if you’ve got nothing — you’ve got no mass press, you’ve got no trade union implantation, you’ve got very few cadres, you don’t have a functioning team — at least you have “the program”. Remember all the sayings we were brought up on: The program will conquer the party; the program will conquer all these things.'

Jim Percy, "Trotskyism and the Socialist Workers Party" (1984)

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