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2127Re: More on the WA ETU elections

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  • Nick Fredman
    Aug 20, 2003
      Alan Bradley made 2 very pertinent points, that I'll comment on, that
      sums up what's wrong with Bob Gould's demagogic thunderings on this
      issue and his ill-informed speculations on the nature of the DSP and
      the Socialist Alliance in general.
      >The question of whether that should be done in a public or internal
      >forum can't be resolved mechanically. It needs to be considered in
      >every specific situation in a political manner, since it is a
      >political question. That is, the choice is a political act.


      >How exactly is _anyone_ outside Perth supposed to have enough
      >information to second guess the people on the ground? At best, what
      >they know is what someone from Perth told them.

      Public and private

      What may some as a shock to Bob Gould is the proposition that a
      socialist group can make a decision that is both correct and
      democratically arrived at, even if he is not consulted. It could be
      argued that a group should be able to defend and explain all its
      positions, and having all debates publicly facilitates this, but
      surely another principle is that it's up to the group to make its
      decisions, and to work out the processes whereby it makes them. Ie as
      Alan said it's a question of political context and public isn't in
      all cases better. For fairly obvious reasons the discussion in SA is
      more public than in its affliates, and it would be more relevant for
      a large socialist organisation to be more public than a small one.
      But eg the Greens have a members-only discussion page on their
      website, so they don't think all discussion should be public. I never
      see any public broadcasting of debates within the Greens' national
      leadership or branches (I'll stand corrected if wrong). In a recent
      dispute at the university where I work, it was so obvious as to not
      being open to discussion that meetings of the NTEU branch executive
      would be secret, as we would need frank discussions of how to respond
      both to management and the nefarious role played by the CPSU.
      Non-members are also not welcome at NTEU branch meetings. Also in
      this dispute, the union's national office completely took over the
      running of the campaign, including changing the nature of a meeting
      that the local leadership had decided upon, for reasons that where
      entirely appropriate and pragmatic in a fast-moving situation, which
      brings me to the second point ...

      Local and general

      The way the DSP works is not so complicated, unusual, secretive, or
      particularly controversial - it's only portrayed so by those with
      sectarian axes to grind. Like any sensible political or "movement"
      organisation it decides *general* policy and orientation in a
      democratically centralised way (delegated congresses and elected
      leaderships), which are implemented with due regard to local
      conditions by branches and districts. Of course the way the DSP
      operates has like any organisation a particular political basis and a
      particular history, and could undoubtably be improved in a number of
      areas, one reason that building a common organisation with a range of
      other socialists is a good idea. In any case it's why I don't feel
      "qualified" to comment on Perth events as I obviously not involved in
      the minutinae of analysing and implemented the tactics there. It's
      completely ludicrous to expect every local decision to be canvassed
      and discussed nationally before decisions are made, though having a
      national leadership would be a bit pointless unless unless it kept
      track of and commented on where necessary local work. I would expect
      though as is the norm to receive reports via the various DSP media
      (and often other sources) of what is happening in various locales and
      sectors, including any controversies therein, and I would form an
      opinion on what's happening to the extent that's useful and relevant
      (eg something controversial or something I'm involved in or
      knowledgable of would be more relevant to have an opinion and/or
      comment on than some routine work).


      Nick Fredman
      Student Rights Advocate
      Southern Cross University (Lismore)
      Student Representative Council

      Shop 9 Plaza, SCU Lismore

      Ph: 6620 3044
      Email: sra@...
      web: http://www.lismoresrc.org.au/

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