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8427Re: Liberals as the main enemy etc

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  • dave_r_riley
    Aug 17, 2004
      Smith 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
      gloss over.

      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.

      dave riley
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