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5586The similarity between the American SWP-Militant and the Australian DSP-GLW in their approach to social-democrats in Spain and Australia.

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  • Gould's Book Arcade
    Apr 4, 2004
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      Richard Fidler springs to the defence of the DSP leadership, and accuses me
      of demagogy, etc, because I cross-posted Boyle's vintage piece and Latham's
      speech with my own comment. Well, I know the Australian DSP and Richard are
      mates, politically speaking, but I assert that its Richard and the
      Australian DSP leadership supporter whom he quotes, who are demagogic,
      rather than me.

      Richard and the other bloke are in fact being extraordinarily jesuitical in
      trying to draw some distinction between the demeanor of the American SWP,
      and the posture of the Australian DSP leadership about the Spanish and
      Australian events. The thing that the DSP and the SWP have strikingly in
      common, is the way they concentrate on the defects of the Spanish
      social-democrats and the Australian Laborites, rather than on the very
      material fact that the big mass parties of social-democracy favoring
      withdrawal from any imperialist involvement, is a pretty large opening for
      the forces opposed to any imperialist war.

      Richard Fidler takes up Peter Boyle's proposition that the Laborites are
      only opposing it from the point of view of traditional reformist laborism,
      not from a revolutionary point of view. That's also the approach taken by
      the American SWP and the Militant. It's a truism, with a touch of what Lenin
      described so succinctly as 'scolding scoundrels'. Richard Fidler seems
      shocked by the fact that Latham based his assertion about the bankruptcy of
      the Iraq involvement on the routine intelligence briefing given to
      opposition leaders in a so-called bourgeois democracy. What was striking
      about this week's events in the Australian Federal Parliament, was not that
      Latham had had such briefings, as opposition leader, but that he obstinately
      drew his own conclusions from them, which were that Australian troops should
      be withdrawn - which Fidler and Boyle are forced to acknowledge is driving
      the "main battalions" of the Australian bourgeoisie, off their tree.

      Its worth noting that that the Australian DSP's criteria for programmatic
      criticism is extremely subjective. For instance, here in Sydney, in
      preferencing a conservative populist member of parliament who kept the
      Greiner Tory Government in office with her vote, and whose electoral support
      comes from the richest postcodes in Australia, they abdicate all criticism.
      In the case of Latham and the Laborites, however, their assault is
      unremitting, permanent, and not very scrupulous. (An example of what I mean
      is that a DSP supporter, on the GLW discussion list, Carl Kenner, made the
      absurd and obviously false assertion that Australian Labor had supported all
      imperialist wars, no-one attempted to correct him; Kim Bullimore put in a
      knee-jerk post alleging that Labor in Bankstown was preferencing the
      ultra-right, One Nation Party, when it was actually the Liberals who were
      doing this. Bullimore then squared off for herself by asserting that her
      mistake was made was because it was difficult to tell the difference between
      Labor and the Liberals, both being 'neo-capitalist parties').

      Richard Fidler asserts that Boyle and the DSP leadership are completely
      correct in warning their members against having any illusions in Latham and
      the Laborites. I'd submit to Richard Fidler, who's just been in Australia as
      a respected guest of the DSP at their recent conference, the following: The
      DSP membership need more lectures about the evils of Laborism like a hole in
      the head. What they really need, is a few lectures, taken from the pages of
      Left Wing Communism, about the contradictions of Laborism and the grip that
      mass Laborism still has on the bulk of the left of society, including most
      of the working class. That's the area in which the DSP is defective, and I
      bet you saw that in full flight at the DSP conference.

      All through the upheaval over the second Iraq war, the DSP leadership and
      Green Left have adopted an ultra-sectarian attitude towards both the
      leadership and the ranks of the mass Labor Party in Australia, which all the
      blue collar unions are part of, and which gets the clear majority of the
      working class vote. They've routinely attacked the occasional inconsistency
      of the opposition of the Laborites to the Iraq war, which has been very
      public, about which the Australian and international bourgeoisie have gone
      ape-shit. An appropriate approach would have been enthusiastic support,
      combined with trying to push this Laborite opposition further. But the DSP
      leadership are incapable of that kind of approach. Typical of this approach
      has been the official ideologue of the DSP, the ubiquitous Peter Boyle who
      has talked about the 'conga line of suckholes' supporting Latham about a
      dozen times on various web discussion lists. The DSP leadership chose
      consistently to take a line that the ALP's opposition to the Iraq war was
      not real opposition, and that the Laborites really supported the war,
      despite the obvious evidence to the contrary in the action of the Laborites
      in the Parliament, and the very large participation of Laborites at all
      levels in the demonstrations against the war.

      The political basis for this is approach by the DSP leadership, which
      Richard Fidler apparently shares, is the proposition that the Laborites,
      whom the overwhelming majority of the left side of society support and
      engage with, are an equivalent capitalist party to the Tories in Australia.
      The practical bankruptcy of this approach is demonstrated by the evolution
      of Australian politics over the last eighteen months. In the pursuit of a
      completely chimerical alternative revolutionary electoral alternative to the
      Laborites, the DSP leadership end up supporting the conservative populist,
      Clover Moore, electorally. The whole period of the Iraq war, culminating in
      the events of the last couple of weeks, have demonstrated that there is a
      fundamental social and class difference between Australian Laborism, however
      degenerated, and the Tories. The overwhelming majority of Australian
      Laborites, and even the majority of the Australian Laborite structures, have
      in a halting, contradictory, reformist way, opposed the Iraq involvement.
      This has culminated in the last week in the clash between Latham and Howard
      which has driven the Australian and international bourgeoisies so
      hysterical. On the other hand the Liberal-National coalition has been 110%
      in support of George Bush and the Iraq involvement

      In this situation, the DSP leadership have, in general, raised their
      differences with Laborism to primacy. They may through gritted teeth now say
      that they'll invite Latham onto an anti-war platform in June (big deal!),
      but even as late as today, even on the question of the Iraq war, they are
      still concentrating their main fire on the defects of the Laborites. Today's
      Green Left Weekly contains a large number of attacks on the Laborites, and
      it does not anywhere contain a straightforward, general statement of
      solidarity with Latham and the Laborites on the very important question of
      Latham's sticking to his guns against the assault from the Howard
      Government. All they can think of to say is to continue, as Boyle did last
      Monday, to try to pick holes in what they claim are contradictions by the
      Laborites. I attach to this post, the main article, on these events, in
      today's Green Left Weekly by (Allison Dellit), to illustrate what I mean in
      this context. To concentrate on the past and present inconsistencies in the
      position of the Laborites rather than backing up the enormous break with
      bipartisan politics involved in Latham's stance this week, is the height of
      sectarianism. By way of contrast, the Socialist Alternative group, which is
      now approximately the same size as the DSP, has a far more realistic
      strategic orientation, and have just produced a petition supporting Latham
      headed "Don't back down on troop withdrawal", which recognises the
      importance of Latham's current stand.

      Richard Fidler somewhat pompously refers me to the slogan that used to be
      hung at the American SWP's Oberlin conferences - 'The art of politics is
      knowing what to do next' - this quote applies particularly to the Australian
      DSP, the American SWP, and in my view they both fail that test.

      Labor: why didn't you tell us?
      Alison Dellit
      Mark Latham's March 30 claim that the federal Labor caucus voted In March
      2003 to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq, initially gave us at Green
      Left Weekly pause for thought.
      Had we been too hard on Labor? Had the ALP clearly opposed the war, and we
      had simply not noticed?
      If Labor caucus did take a vote, they never announced it.
      On April 9, 2003, I wrote an article titled, "Labor fudges position on Iraq"
      . It concluded: "Neither Crean nor any other shadow cabinet member can even
      bring themselves to say publicly, no matter what is said in caucus, that
      this war is an injustice that must be stopped immediately."
      Labor did not have the spine then to come out and clearly oppose a war that
      Washington was waging. Instead, Crean tried to be all things to all people,
      always careful to defend Canberra's fundamental alliance with the
      warmongering US ruling class.
      Latham's pledge to bring the troops home by Christmas should be applauded.
      But already, as the ire of Washington descends, we are seeing cracks in the
      ALP's anti-war position.
      Labor amended a Democrats Senate motion on March 30, so that it reaffirmed
      "The need for Australian military forces in Iraq to be withdrawn from that
      country as soon as practicable once Australia's responsibilities as an
      Occupying Power have been discharged, with the intention of returning our
      forces to Australia by the end of 2004."
      Labor has come out publicly in support of bringing the troops back because a
      consistent, passionate campaign has made it a necessity. If we want to hold
      Latham to his pledge, we will need to keep it going.
      [Alison Dellit is the Green Left Weekly editor.]
      From Green Left Weekly, April 7, 2004.


      Gould's Book Arcade
      32 King St, Newtown, NSW
      Ph: 9519-8947
      Fax: 9550-5924
      Email: bob@...
      Web: www.gouldsbooks.com.au
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