4604A Reply to Nick Fredman, Please Don't Verbal Michael Tho mson!
- Feb 17, 2004A Reply to Nick Fredman, Please Don't Verbal Michael Thomson!
By Bob Gould
In Nick's response, he says "one of Michael's criticisms being the quite
banal one that [Socialist Alliance] didn't instantly become a mass party".
Well, at the risk of straining the relatively civil exchanges we've been
having, Nick, you've just gratuitously and offensively 'verballed' Michael
Thomson. In the usual fashion, common on the far left, which has been turned
into a form of high art by the DSP leadership, you here take some words of
Michael's, reinterpret them in your own loaded language, and serve it back
to us as the what Michael said. Michael Thomson's formulation about the
inability of the Alliance to develop its possible initial potential was far
more careful, considered and modulated, than the crude expression of dashed
hopes that you put into his mouth.
I'm rather sensitive to that kind of verballing, for the obvious reason that
DSP leadership polemicists do it constantly to me. Also, however, the DSP
school of journalism tends to do it a bit to the whole of the universe, so
to speak. If people who have a different strategic orientation to the DSP
are ever quoted, their quotes are carefully edited and usually buried in a
pile of other quotes consistent with the current political orientation of
the DSP leadership.
Yesterday, and last week, I argued that Green Left Weekly hold a substantial
open forum in its pages where different perspectives on the left about the
elections were put forward freely, with proper weight given to the different
points of view. Also, the fairly dramatic swing to Labor in the last few
weeks has made it increasingly difficult for GLW to ignore the groundswell
against the Howard Government. What popped out, however, once again, is a
rather exquisitely edited 'line' article by Kerryn Williams, which is
presented as if its some kind of discussion, but is actually a sustained
polemic for the Socialist Alliance project, and the Socialist Alliance
project alone. It starts with an elaborately argued version of the dubious
DSP leadership proposition that the Australian ruling class are preparing
the masses for a Latham government, almost to the point where Williams seems
to suggest that significant sections of the bourgeoisie regard a Latham
government as desirable. This kind of conspiracy theory is usually wrong.
Mostly, in Australian society, the most powerful sections of the bourgeoisie
prefer, most of the time, Liberal Governments. This is particularly true
when the Liberals are in office, because even the process of defeating
Liberal governments raises the dangerous spectre, from the point of view of
the bourgeoisie, of a certain amount of mass mobilisation. Williams then
goes on to quote one Laborite, Harry Quick, and then four or five adherents
of the Socialist Alliance, who all say that the real political task is to
build the Socialist Alliance, particularly to replace the rotten Laborites.
Norm Dixon, in his usual energetic way, just today drew attention,
particularly to this article, on the Green Left discussion list. Whether or
not the DSP leadership's analysis of the coming election is valid or not, is
not the issue here. The issue is that there is Kerryn Williams carefully
crafted and implacably edited 'line' article, presented as some kind of
discussion, is not really a discussion. Nick Fredman says, in relation to
GLW that "the conference decision that mandated the current changes in the
paper, . read in part:
That the Socialist Alliance should move to produce its own regular
publication aimed at:
* Propagating the Alliance's analysis of contemporary politics and its own
* Providing analysis of trends in the trade unions and various social and
* Stimulating and housing debates in the broadly anticapitalist and
anti-neo-liberal camp (Greens, left ALP, various movements); and
* Reflecting debate within the Alliance itself."
That part of the resolution appears to allow for the possibility of the kind
of open discussion that I have been proposing to GLW. Kerryn Williams' 'line
' article on the elections and Sue Bolton's 'line' article on the industrial
relations issue at the ALP conference, are not that kind of discussion,
though some attempt is made to suggest that they are. Once again, I commend
the nine subjects for discussion that I've raised over the last week or so
to GLW, and suggest that devote four pages of the paper to such an open
discussion. I'd be interested in a serious response from the GLW editorial
board to this proposal.
Gould's Book Arcade
32 King St, Newtown, NSW
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