5331Re: Australian Socialist Alliance lurches dramatically to the Right
- Mar 23, 2004A response to Peter Boyle, Nobby Tobby, Karen F and Dr Ben Reid on
the question of preferencing Clover Moore ahead of Labor
By Bob Gould
These responses are cynical, a bit surreal and rather dishonest by
way of omission and by way of complete failure to indicate where any
of these people stand on the preference question, other than by
Peter Boyle and Dr Reid shelter behind quoting from The Guardian, the
organ of the Stalinist group that helped evict us all, the DSP and
myself included, from the broad antiwar committee that formed against
the Iraq war. Even more significant, politically, is that The
Guardian is the organ of an unrepentant Stalinist organisation that
routinely lies about enormous historical questions such as the Moscow
A few months ago The Guardian published a lengthy article defending
the witchcraft trials in Moscow in the 1930s. This article caused me
to send an open letter about the Moscow Trials to The Guardian
demanding a debate, which they ignored.
If the Guardian Stalinists continue to defend the exploded lies about
the Moscow Trials in the year 2003, it's a comparatively small thing
for them to lie about the role of Clover Moore, which they do by
omission in the article Peter Boyle and Dr Reid have posted.
The Guardian article mentions progressive things supported by Moore
and the other independents, but it omits the fact that they kept the
Greiner Liberal government in office and to the end voted for its
reactionary, anti-union, industrial legislation. Some progressives!
The Guardian article also doesn't address the vexed, immediate
question of contracting out council workers' jobs, against which, as
recently as last night at the debate in Sydney Town Hall, Clover
Moore was not willing to commit herself. Again, some progressive!
In matters of truth and the interests of the working class,
internationally or in Australia, the Stalinists of The Guardian are a
very tainted source to rely on for arguments.
The really cynical aspect of this matter is the failure of anyone
from the DSP leadership to express their point of view on this
question of preferences to Clover Moore.
Boyle accuses me of being a disrupter because I assert that a number
of DSP leaders are saying that they disagree with the decision, but
that it was the rank and file in the Sydney branch and the ISO
leadership who pressed for the preferences to Clover Moore.
At last Sunday's antiwar demonstration, I spoke to about six people
in the DSP, including a number of leaders, and about half of them,
including some leaders, said they disagreed with preferencing Moore
I actually had a conversation with Boyle in which he said he had
initially disagreed with the decision, but it might be necessary to
look again at questions of the trajectory of movement, etc.
I'm now accused of attacking the Socialist Alliance unreasonably for
trying to bring the question of preferences into one arena of
possible public debate about it, the Green Left Weekly discussion
site. If it can't be discussed frankly on this site, where can it be
This explosion of innuendo from the four people above underlines the
political problem of the kind of structure that is the DSP. Obviously
some kind of decision has been taken at leadership level in the DSP
not to have a frank, public discussion of the issues involved in
preferencing Clover Moore, on the GLW site.
This is demonstrated by the failure of those members of the DSP and
its leadership who told me they disagreed with the decision to
preference Moore, to express that point of view publicly.
They obviously feel bound by some notion of DSP discipline not to
express their point of view publicly on the GLW discussion site.
It was possible in the Bolshevik Party, as I point out in my article
on reclaiming Lenin from "Leninists" and "Leninism", for Bolsheviks
to disagree publicly about questions such as Lenin's April Theses in
1917, but it doesn't seem possible in the DSP to have a public
discussion on a question such as preferences to Clover Moore or Labor.
It's also striking that none of the four people from the DSP who've
posted on this question actually take up my arguments. They just
ignore my arguments and abuse me and/or the Laborites.
I've lived a long time, politically, and I have the benefit, or
perhaps the curse, of a long memory, and I'll just repeat a little
anecdote. The issue that blasted me out of the orbit of the old
Stalinist Communist Party in 1956 was the lies and dishonesty of the
CPA leadership about Khrushchev's secret speech. I was present at a
packed meeting of CPA activists in East Sydney, chaired by Bernie
Rosen, who is now a member of the Socialist Alliance and can confirm
the authenticity of this story.
The CPA leadership, in Tribune, had denied the authenticity of
Khrushchev's report (as published in the New York Times) and said it
was a CIA fabrication. A number of oppositionists in the Wollomooloo
branch of the CPA, with whom I was associated, knew it was a genuine
document, and that this had been reported to the CPA Political
Committee by Harold Silverstone, a leading member of the New Zealand
CP, who had heard the speech read out at the British CP congress,
which he had attended on behalf of his party, with a watching brief
from the CPA.
Silverstone had met one of the members of the Wollomooloo branch in
Sydney on his way back to New Zealand, and said that the CPA
leadership was lying because he had reported to them on the
authenticity of the document, but he swore the CPA branch member to
secrecy about having told him, for reasons of party discipline.
The cadre meeting on the crisis was addressed by the very
accomplished Stalinist demagogue, Jack (J.R.) Hughes. The man from
the Wollomooloo branch bravely asked Hughes at the meeting whether
the report was genuine, and the party leadership was lying, but he
was hamstrung by not being able to name his informant.
Hughes, who was one of the great Stalinist orators, didn't answer the
question directly. He just went on for about 20 minutes about
the "filthy New York Times, which lies about the workers all the
time, how can you believe anything it says" etc, etc, at great length.
Eventually, he had about 100 CPA members eating out of his hand and
looking at us oppositionists as if we were vermin. That was the last
CPA meeting I attended as any kind of supporter of the CP.
Regarding Peter Boyle's cynical demagogy, I'm in very much the same
position as the man from Wollomooloo was about Harold Silverstone.
Two significant DSP leaders told me they opposed the decision to
preference Moore over Labor, but I'm not going to name them publicly.
This situation underlines the similarity of the DSP's conception of
discipline to that of the old Stalinists.
My purpose in raising this question was to initiate a responsible and
serious discussion of preference policy. Some people might not agree
with my position, but I've put forward some substantial arguments.
I'd dearly like to see a response to them so we can have something
approaching a discussion.
Ben Reid demands to know what my associates on Ozleft think on this
question, because the Greens are preferencing Moore. I know a lot of
Greens, including my associates on Ozleft, and I know quite a few in
the Sydney council area who disagree with the decision to preference
Moore, but that doesn't matter too much in the Greens or among the
Ozleft collaborators because it's possible in both those environments
to have public disagreements. I would imagine that my colleagues at
Ozleft will express their point of view in due course if they
disagree with me. That's no big deal.
We should cut through the extraneous issues and actually try to have
a serious discussion on who it's appropriate for socialists to
preference in the Sydney council, and a good way to start would be
for anyone who disagrees with my point of view to try to refute my
position in detail, rather than with generalities and abuse.
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