Write On: Letters to Green Left Weekly


Sect outlook

In her discussion article in GLW #526, presenting the Freedom Socialist Party's view of the future of the Socialist Alliance, Alison Thorne argues that the SA cannot become a vehicle for regroupment of the socialist left into a united, multi-tendency, socialist party because "Regroupment is something that may be achieved after a thorough process of discussion around program".

That's certainly one way in which it may be achieved. But does that exclude regroupment being achieved through a process of common activity and discussion around program (a codification of commonly agreed-upon views of the line of march and tasks required to achieve socialism)?

In fact, Thorne not only excludes the latter road to left regroupment, she even excludes the option of left regroupment "after a thorough process of discussion around program" — unless this discussion leads to agreement with the FSP's "ideas of revolutionary feminism".

According to Thorne, the FSP's "revolutionary feminist ideas represent the program required to emancipate humanity" and are thus "non-negotiable". She could not have stated the sect outlook of the FSP more clearly: The only party that the FSP will be part of is one which adopts the FSP's programmatic point of honour!

Doug Lorimer
Summer Hill NSW

Modern tribalism

My exhilarating experience of marching with hundreds of thousands against the war on Iraq was tempered by the recognition that so many on the left remain chained to their competing closed caucus mentality.

Since I am old enough to remember way back — I can recall a time when none of the main left players occupied political space in this country. So it comes on as rather arrogant for one or the other to proclaim that their own unique revolutionary schema is crucial to the whole box and dice.

In one form or another all the major tendencies have failed to make the political impact their franchise at first indicated.

Differences are easy. Anyone can differ — take their bat and ball and go play elsewhere — but it takes a special kind of revolutionary will to come together and organise as a collective force. Primarily, that is what it is all about: organisation — platform and program are secondary issues.

By that criteria, the purveyors of closed caucus politics seem like so many competing shopkeepers. On the day of these recent massive demonstrations that is exactly how they functioned — each displayed their wares like in some Marxian bazaar — trying to pick up one or two supporters here and there while the rest of the 1 million politicised totally independent of their input.

Through what pure gall — relative to the immense tasks before us — can anyone justify such group-centric behaviour? Despite their supposed theoretical underpinnings, these outfits are indulging in a modern form of tribalism.

In hindsight, the failure of the left to come together at this present political juncture will later be judged a criminal act.

Dave Riley

Newcastle anti-war rally

After hearing that Wollongong had over 5000 people at their rally the weekend before, we here in Newcastle had our fingers crossed that we would be able to at least come close. So we were a little anxious when Saturday the 15th came around and it was our turn to rally against the war.

As one of the chairpeople for the event, I had to ask three times for clarification of the police estimate for attendance at our rally. I couldn't really see far enough, but surely it couldn't be true that we had 18,000-20,000. Maybe they meant 8000?

I triple checked it before announcing to the crowd that there were 18,000-20,000, not 15,000. Please correct your mistake!

That's something I would expect from the corporate media which have an interest in making progressive movements seem smaller than they are!

Vanessa Bowden
Newcastle University Students' Association president

Trade unions and the anti-war movement

The NSW Trades and Labor Council and several affiliate unions that are part of the Walk Against the War Coalition here in Sydney should be congratulated for the effort put into leafleting and publicising the February 16 rally.

On one e-list, Bob Gould proclaimed there were 20,000 at the union feeder rally. We wonder where he was. We were part of our respective union contingents. Several other activists we know were also present. We all agree that it was 5000 tops and, in comparison to the rest of the rally on the day, relatively disappointing.

There is no argument that plenty of other union members were part of the hundreds of thousands at the rally, but the general lack of identification with organised union contingents should give us reason to pause. Perhaps it is okay that the majority of union members turned up with other groups. Then again, if we are to pose a serious challenge to the war drive, we need people to take collective action that will impact upon the corporate and political leaders.

The NSW Labor Council can make an important contribution in getting delegates in workplaces to own the campaign. We really need to develop a situation where people are prepared to organise industrial action when bombing starts and ban work related to military activity or government policy implementing the war drive.

We can deepen the level of commitment through workplace meetings, discussion and debate to rebuild the confidence of organised workers to take action. We need to rejuvenate the culture that placed unions at the forefront of struggle against the Vietnam War and ended the genocide in East Timor.

Union leaders need to discourage the perception that it is yet another area simply run by union officials.

Melanie Sjoberg
NSW Public Service Association delegate
Daniel Jardine
National Tertiary Education Industry Union divisional executive

Hussein's deadliest weapon

Probably it is only because it does not wish to cause worldwide panic that the US government has not yet publicly denounced Iraq's biggest weapons threat.

However, it can no longer be denied that Iraq already possesses millions of barrels of a highly flammable explosive: oil. Not only are such quantities of this substance capable of incinerating whole cities, but the by-products of its use are deadly, cancer-causing atmospheric pollutants. Furthermore, it is easily transformed into other weapons of mass destruction, such as napalm.

The wily dictator Saddam Hussein has kept most of the oil weapon underground, where it is virtually invisible to the UN weapons inspectors.

Despite this deception, it is obvious that the world will not be safe until the oil is removed from Hussein's control and transferred to the United States, which has more than a century of experience in managing an ever larger proportion of the world supply of this deadly substance.

Once Iraq's oil weapon is under the management of experienced US professionals, many of them personal friends and/or business associates of the President himself, we will all be able to sleep better at night if only because lighting (outside the US) will become considerably more expensive.

Allen Myers
Phnom Penh Cambodia

From Green Left Weekly, March 5, 2003.
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