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25367Re: The DSP and the Third Period

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  • br3068
    Jan 17, 2006
      For anyone interested, this is the real position of the DSP on the
      ALP taken from its program:


      PROGRAM OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST PARTY

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      ----------
      Socialists and the Australian Labor Party
      The Australian Labor Party is a social-democratic, liberal-
      capitalist party, and as such can never be reformed into a genuine
      socialist party. Because it holds the allegiance of important
      sections of the working class, the ALP is an obstacle to the further
      development of working-class consciousness, and must be replaced by a
      revolutionary socialist party.
      Replacing the ALP with such a party is not a task for the distant
      future, but one that socialists must pursue at all times. The
      struggle to replace the ALP with a revolutionary socialist party is a
      complex and lengthy process requiring a variety of tactics. No single
      tactic can be suitable in all the circumstances that arise as shifts
      in capitalist society alter the balance between the capitalist class
      and the working class or between liberalism and conservatism within
      the capitalist class.

      The ALP is a vital part of Australian capitalism's attempt to contain
      within capitalist limits the political activity of workers and other
      fighters for social progress. Despite the fact that most trade unions
      are affiliated to it, the ALP is not, as is often claimed, the
      political arm of the labour movement. It is one of the two main
      political parties of the Australian capitalist ruling class.

      The ALP attracts working-class support partly because of its links
      with the trade-union bureaucracy and partly because its liberal-
      capitalist policies often seem ``fairer'' than those of the
      conservative parties. These factors enable the ALP to posture as the
      party of the working class.

      Because the ALP has mass working-class support, currents within it
      sometimes reflect the anticapitalist consciousness of sections of the
      working class. This does not alter the fact that the leadership of
      the ALP is invariably dominated by political agents of the capitalist
      class.

      In periods of capitalist crisis, progressive and even potentially
      socialist currents sometimes emerge within the ALP. Unless these
      currents break completely with the capitalist, parliamentarist
      politics of the ALP, they remain simply the left wing of capitalist
      liberalism, and an integral part of the capitalist political
      machinery.

      A persistent source of error for left forces in the ALP is an
      insistence on remaining within the ALP in all circumstances. Like all
      political tactics, the tactic of working within the ALP must be
      judged according to its suitability in the political conditions of a
      given time. At times of mass political action or political crisis, it
      may be appropriate for progressive forces to remain within the ALP so
      as to encourage a mass break with its procapitalist leadership. At
      other times, it is totally wasteful for progressive or socialist
      forces to use up their resources in an arena controlled and dominated
      by reactionary, procapitalist elements.

      Because it is a liberal-capitalist party, the ALP sometimes opposes
      projects and policies of the conservative parties, and in such
      circumstances it is possible and necessary for socialists to build
      alliances with it. Alliances are also possible with sections of the
      ALP that oppose anti-democratic, anti-worker projects of capitalist
      governments, whether Liberal or Labor.

      Like all alliances, agreements with all or part of the ALP must
      necessarily be precisely defined and subject to regular scrutiny and
      critical assessment. Because the underlying assumption of all ALP
      politics is the preservation of capitalism, there can be no permanent
      and generalised alliance between socialists and the ALP.

      Too often, left forces in the trade-union movement and other spheres
      assume that they owe an automatic and all-embracing allegiance to the
      ALP because it is the liberal, rather than the conservative, party of
      Australian capitalism. As a result of this ill-considered attitude
      towards alliances, many left and progressive activists have been
      coopted into supporting Labor's anti-worker projects.

      Socialists enter into alliances with the ALP, or with sections of it,
      to defend the interests of working people, to improve the strategic
      position of the progressive and socialist forces, and to foster
      motion towards deeper mass political consciousness, particularly
      among those sections of the masses that look to the ALP for political
      leadership.

      Socialists reject any view that it is necessary to support the ALP in
      the interests of working-class unity. Political unity with the
      procapitalist ALP leadership is unity for reactionary ends.
      Sometimes, the reactionary policies of the ALP leadership provoke
      sections of the membership to break away in progressive directions.
      Socialists should support such breaks even if they weaken the ALP
      electorally, and even if they do not represent complete rejection of
      all capitalist politics.

      When progressive currents break away from the ALP, they should be
      encouraged in every way to adopt socialist politics, but even should
      they fail to do this it is important to encourage them to go through
      further experiences leading towards socialist conclusions. This is
      best done by encouraging resolute struggle in support of progressive
      issues, particularly those that led to the initial break with the ALP
      leadership.

      The party also rejects any view that it, or other working-class
      activists, should automatically recommend a vote for the ALP. But in
      circumstances in which voters are offered only a choice between a
      liberal-capitalist ALP government and a government of the
      conservative parties, socialists recommend a vote for the ALP. There
      are a number of reasons for this:

      Whether their daily lives are to be governed by a liberal or a
      conservative capitalist government is not a matter of indifference to
      most working people. The ALP usually governs less repressively than
      the conservatives, and more readily grants economic and social
      concessions. Because of this, most working people usually do not
      consider abstention a serious option in parliamentary elections.
      Having the ALP in government is essential to the process of
      destroying widely held illusions that the ALP is a working-class or
      progressive party. In office, the ALP forms capitalist governments,
      which can be clearly seen carrying out reactionary, anti-worker
      policies.
      When the question of government is at stake, as in general elections,
      socialists should recommend that their preferences flow to the ALP in
      order to help prevent the election of the conservatives. However, if
      the question of government is not at stake, as in the case of a by-
      election, socialists might not necessarily recommend that preferences
      should flow to any of the capitalist parties.


      --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "bobgould987"
      <bobgould987@y...> wrote:
      >
      > A further response to Dale Mills, Mike Karadjis and Norm Dixon
      >
      > By Bob Gould
      >
      > I take Mike Karadjis's point. It seemed reasonable to me to make my
      > points fairly sharply given the extravagant rhetoric of DSP
      supporters
      > in the past week or so, but I've got it out of my system a bit in
      the
      > past day or so, and I'll try to respond to the new, calmer tone that
      > seems to be emerging.
      >
      > I don't think, however, that my use of the term Third Period to
      > describe the DSP leadership's strategy in the labour movement is
      > unreasonable.
      >
      > As Mike says, the classical Stalinist Third Period did involve
      > characterising the Social Democrats as social fascists and the
      analogy
      > therefore isn't totally exact. Actually, from the point of view of
      > Marxist philosophy, as we both know, analogies are never exact, but
      > they are often useful nevertheless and are frequently used in all
      > Marxist literature. But Mike is right, when using analogies one
      should
      > state that it is an analogy and allow for differences.
      >
      > The DSP leadership doesn't call the Labor Party leaders fascist.
      They
      > do, however, with their theory adopted in 1985, treat the existing
      > labour movement, in all its contradictions, and in its political
      > expression through the Labor Party, as essentially the same as the
      > Liberal Party.
      >
      > They do place an equals sign between Labor and Liberal. The fact
      that
      > they give electoral preferences to Labor over the Liberals is a bit
      in
      > contradiction to their basic theory about the two equal capitalist
      > parties. On several occasions they in fact gave preferences to the
      > capitalist Democrats ahead of Labor.
      >
      > One aspect of the Stalinist Third Period that the DSP certainly does
      > repeat in spades is constant verbal abuse of socialists who choose
      to
      > work in the Labor Party, and even anyone at all who is in the Labor
      > Party, for being in a "rotten capitalist party", with the subsidiary
      > proposition that the only honourable thing they could do was join
      the
      > CPA, or in the case of the DSP, join the DSP.
      >
      > Eventually the Stalinists drew the lesson, when the Stalinist
      > Comintern allowed them to do so in 1935 that verbal exposure of that
      > sort rarely works. Unfortunately, the DSP has yet to learn that
      lesson
      > after about 20 years of that sort of verbal exposure propaganda.
      >
      > This theory about the equivalence of Liberal and Labor lays the
      basis
      > for a certain opportunism to creep in. For instance, when the DSP
      > leadership manufactures the artificial construct of a homogeneous
      > militant trade union current in Victoria and WA, they skate over the
      > contradictions in this current, a couple of whose inhabitants are
      > quite active at the political level in manoeuvres in the ALP that,
      > objectively speaking, help to shift the Labor Party to the right.
      >
      > If you say the Labor Party is just another capitalist party, of
      course
      > none of that matters much, and the Marxist leadership, the DSP, can
      > make any arrangements that suit its short-term interests. These
      > arrangements are often made on the basis of the diplomatic behaviour
      > of union officials towards the DSP. If they take a bundle of Green
      > Left to put on the counter in the union office, they are apparently
      > exempt from even gentle criticism of their internal alignment with
      the
      > right in the Labor Party, and so it goes. Extreme left talk is often
      > associated with a certain opportunism.
      >
      > On the other hand, when it comes to the Labor Party ranks as a
      whole,
      > other than a select group who may be diplomatic towards the DSP,
      they
      > constantly have to prove their credentials as leftists, in the way
      > that has been farcically expressed in the discussion over the past
      > couple of days on this list of who is or is not a leftists. Dale
      Mills
      > expresses this kind of attitude, which seems to me the fundamental
      > attitude of the DSP leadership, in his rambling discussion of who is
      > or is not a leftist, which he buttresses with his personal
      credentials
      > and the obligatory sideswipe at me because I run a bookshop. Ce la
      > vie. (Mills also says I've said three inaccurate things about him,
      but
      > when I ask him what they are he resolutely refuses to tell me. How
      can
      > I correct mistakes, or even decided whether they are mistakes, when
      he
      > won't tell me what they are?
      >
      > The way Norm Dixon and Dale Mills pose the question just repeats the
      > aspect of this approach that I object to most: the implicit, and
      > frequently explicit, assumption that all other left wingers, other
      > than those who are diplomatic towards the DSP, have to establish
      their
      > left-wing credentials in terms of the DSP's maximum program, and
      > that's obvious nonsense.
      >
      > Norm Dixon singles out Ed in particular for cross-questioning about
      > what he does as a socialist in the Greens, and broadens that to the
      > general question of what socialists should do in the Greens. A
      couple
      > of days ago Alan Bradley, in passing, made a point that incorporates
      > the ABC of what Marxists should do anywhere, is to organise a study
      > group to raise the Marxist political level of any contacts that one
      > makes. Bradley is clearly right. He is also right about something
      > else, which he has repeated a number of times. He is a bit cautious
      > about getting involved in faction fights of one kind or another that
      > erupt in the Greens. It seems to me obvious that socialists in the
      > Greens, when political arguments erupt, should support the most
      > left-wing positions that emerge and give critical support to the
      more
      > left-wing currents that emerge. As Alan Bradley has pointed out in
      the
      > past, it's not always clear who is the more left wing in some
      disputes
      > in the Greens.
      >
      > One thing, however, I'm absolutely certain about, is that socialists
      > in the Greens should avoid tactically the sad historical experience
      of
      > the DSP in both the Nuclear Disarmament Party and the Green, in the
      > early stages of both those organisations in several states.
      Socialists
      > in the Greens, in my view, would be extremely unwise to set
      themselves
      > up as a more or less public faction bidding for hegemony and power
      in
      > the organisation, with a great clamour about democracy, as the DSP
      did
      > in the NDP and the Greens in their early stages.
      >
      > I'll discuss the strategic tasks facing socialists in the Labor
      Party,
      > drawing on my experience in that area, in another post, in a while.
      >
      > PS. Another aspect of what I would describe as Third Periodism in
      the
      > DSP's attitude to the Labor Party arises in relation to the Howard
      > Government's reactionary industrial relations laws.
      >
      > The state Labor governments, despite all their other features, have
      > taken the extremely progressive step of challenging these
      reactionary
      > laws in the High Court. Even the reactionary High Court can be an
      > arena of struggle. A defeat for Howard's laws in the High Court
      would
      > be an enormous blow against the Howard Government.
      >
      > This seems to me a very obvious case where a united front approach,
      > even towards state Labor governments, would be of great value. The
      DSP
      > leadership tends to underestimate the importance of the High Court
      > challenge, and concentrate their fire on the idea that the state
      Labor
      > governments are reactionary institutions.
      >
      > They overlook the fact that the trade union leaderships, which are
      > pressing hard for the state Labor governments to take the case to
      the
      > High Court, are staring down the barrel of the potential destruction
      > of the trade unions, and they will fight very hard to avoid that.
      >
      > The DSP wiseacres should carefully study Trotsky's writings on the
      > struggle against fascism in Germany in 1932. Once again this analogy
      > has certain limits, as all analogies do. Nevertheless, when the
      > Stalinists screamed against unity with the Social Democrats who had
      > connived at the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Leibknecht,
      Trotsky
      > replied by pointing out that despite the crimes of the right wing of
      > German Social Democracy, the victory of fascism would wipe out the
      > entire labour movement, including the Stalinists. With some
      prescience
      > he pointed out that even the Social Democratic police chief in
      Berlin,
      > who had been involved in the murder of Luxemburg and Leibknecht, was
      > likely to end up in a Nazi jail, which in due course is exactly what
      > happened.
      >
      > Trotsky made this point to underline the need for a united front
      > between the Communists and Social Democrats against fascism. While
      > allowing that this analogy obviously has its limits, it's quite
      clear
      > there's an objective material basis for a united front between
      > socialists, Marxists, bureaucratic union leaders and even state
      Labor
      > governments, against Howard's new laws, the objective of which is to
      > put the trade unions out of business.
      >
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