8427Re: Liberals as the main enemy etc
- Aug 17, 2004Smith refers to the challenge to "broaden" the base of these
projects while "deepening" their politics. This is an approach I
agree with -- in fact I think that is an imperative. To do so
artifically or brutally would be a mistaken tack. To not do so,
would be criminal.
But he also develops his argument in the context of a very clear
perspective --that of revitalising the socialist movement.
This is something that Shane has side stepped, I think -- because if
we were talking about the twin poles that Luxembourg refers to, it
is hard to accept that those socialists in the Greens are
consciously working within those parameters. Sure, there is a left
ward consolidation process occurring there -- but it doesn't appear
to be a conscious thing with the same aims in mind.The many comrades
I know of in the Greens who come from a Marxist background (and
would know what Luxembourg is talking about) don't seem to be doing
that. Instead they seem to be doing something else. So I cannot
agree that the Greens option is on par with that for the Alliance as
though there's an equal sign between the two enterprises as an arena
of political activity.
Although I wasn't drawing peoples attention to it, the key aspect of
the Alliance to the Scottish Socialist Party process was a very
conscious politics on the ISM's part, and Smith's polemic is a
debate about building for a revolutionary party and not simply about
building broad formations --as the SWP position seems to be. If it
was simply a case of building broad formations that way then we
could tail end the Greens and celebrate that achievement instead,
and try more keenly to influence their trajectory. While I'm sure
that happens anyway, the main game still lies with the Alliance
which is now, to put it bluntly(and to note the massive support for
that trajectory) a party building project --as the Scottish
experience is/was.Thats' an important distinction that many try to
Given that is where the main discussion is at, it seems pretty
important for both the SSP and the RESPECT experience to be
monitored closely, so that more people are familiar with the issues
at stake. I think the latest round in the Callincos/Smith exchange
is timely in that regard primarily because it reflects an ongoing
debate among the SA affiliates here and a good section of the SA
membership outside that.
In this regard, it's also worthwhile going back to the hoary
question of political program. I find that I am caught up is so many
old formulations here that it hard to find the right words to
express the sort of fluid dynamic that Smith seems to be on about. I
also note that Peter Boyle has a stab at it too with his use of such
terms as "values". Even Smith falls back on old labels that don't
quite bend as well as I'd like.
This is where the standard cant of Marxian debate begins to leave us
and why so many Marxist orgs simply have so much trouble registering
what is at stake here --especially when so many hold the SA at arms
length. In this regard, those of us with an Alliance first
perspective are more considerate of this dynamic. This is perhaps
where too much theory (or too much program(ming))can be a bad thing
and where the old Bonapartist adage -- "fight then see" -- really
has to kick in.
However, a key differences between the Greens and the Alliance
projects are the presence of and role being played(or not being
played) by signed up Marxist organisations. This sets up a
remarkable tension where any one group's desire for keeping it
broad and shallow has to deal with the problem not only of the
ongoing class struggle with all its demands, but competition between
groups for their own patented programatic viewpoint to prevail.
Indeed, despite the x number of affiliates, the deciding factor lies
within the SA's broad membership. In essence, it's hundreds of
personalised programs contending, and any attempt to shut down that
process -- keep it artificially broad -- also corrupts the
democratic processes of the SA to decide its own future and would
result in a much narrower formation which would soon die off.
So the Alliance, regardless of anyone's contrary will , has an
inevitable future ahead of it. Nothing stands still. Nothing stays
the same. And Smith has captured a core political dynamic that will
impinge on RESPECT as much as it will impact of the Alliance here.
So unless some force steps in to stiffle that process and
consciously thwart that trajectory, it will happen and inevitably
the spectre of a fully formed party will bear down upon those who
would have it otherwise. That applies as much to England's RESPECT
as it does to Australia's Alliance. Only then does the question of
what sort of party (or what sort of party program) become resolvable
as a category for thsoe who demand such things. As Smith points out
in passing -- the main function of a political program is to unite
people into a core perspective. Or, to paraphase Leon Trotsky and
the Old Testament -- in the beginning was the deed, the program
followed as its phonetic shadow.
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