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8436Re: Liberals as the main enemy etc

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  • chen9692000
    Aug 18, 2004
      --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "dave_r_riley"
      <dhell2@o...> wrote:
      > 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
      > artificially or brutally would be a mistaken tack. To not do so,
      > would be criminal.

      So far so good.

      > 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
      > 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.

      Now it comes out. In my first post I flagged the use of "conscious
      programatic perspective" and was corrected as if I was saying that's
      all Dave was saying but here it comes out. The Greens are not the
      because they don't have a conscious program perspective. Again its
      true that Luxemburg was speaking about the development of a
      socialist perspective but that was in the context of a mass workers
      And Smith too is talking about political movements which do not (yet)
      a basis in Australia. I even suggested tongue in cheek that he was
      equating the ISO with RESPECT and SA with SSP.

      >Sure, there is a left ward consolidation process occurring there --

      Sure they have Senators, 10000 members and 10% of the vote
      on a program which is anti-neoliberal explicitly and which has
      transitional elements and are drawing people from a real social
      movement base due to their anti-war/pro-refugee stance but hey
      they are somehow not conscious..

      > to be a conscious thing with the same aims in mind. The many
      > 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.

      No you're right. There are socialists in the Greens but as you said
      are not an organised current. But what would happen if they were to
      declare themselves in the way Dave thinks is necessary? They would
      be isolated and for 2 reasons. 1. Because the vast bulk of
      people think the socialist project is dead having had something to do
      with either the ALP or the CPA, if indeed they really have any sense
      of a socialist project at all and 2. Because the socialist project
      itself is in
      the process of being re-thought. So for people to stand up and say
      for socialism is not very concrete. People want to know what you are
      going to do now and what socialism will look like. Without concrete
      issues in which some of the old debates will take on a new concrete
      form we would isolate ourselves pretty rapidly or end having debates
      about reformism vs Stalinism or state capitalism. Issues about the
      forward have been discussed for the last 15-20 years and no one has
      come up with a formula that we can all say well this works. I worked
      in an open socialist group for 10 years and we were not able to be a
      pole of attraction for left-ward moving people, maybe SA will become
      that, maybe not. In the interim (and in Mackay) I prefer to be in
      Greens (however ambivalently) because my political judgement is that
      its better to be talking to people in motion.

      >Instead they seem to be doing something else.

      Like what? Building anti-war demos, talking left politics to the

      > agree that the Greens option is on par with that for the Alliance
      > though there's an equal sign between the two enterprises as an
      > of political activity.

      I didn't say that there was. They are different areas of political
      In steering between the 2 poles that Luxemburg is talking about you
      have to make a political judgement. Is it better as this juncture
      and in
      this place to be in an organization which has the
      correct "programmatic
      orientation" but is by necessity speaking to a narrow audience or do I
      go to where there is real movement of people for social change
      (however limited their consciousness may seem from a revn socialist
      viewpoint) and try to teach and learn from them. Now wherever we
      are there will be people to Left saying you are selling out and people
      to the Right saying you are sectarian or unrealistic.

      > Although I wasn't drawing peoples attention to it, the key aspect
      > 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
      > building broad formations --as the SWP position seems to be.

      I just think linking the SSP and SA in this way is well pointless. If
      I had a choice between the Greens and an Australian equivalent
      of the SSP then I would join but I don't have that choice. Smith is
      critiquing the narrowness of Callinicos' party building perspective.
      And his lack of concrete analysis of a variety of the situations in
      Europe such that uses of a `model' do not work. He says, just
      above the Luxemburg stuff "Today we are faced with the task
      of building broad formations while deepening their political content".
      Doesn't sound like a party building call to me.

      > if it was simply a case of building broad formations that way then
      > could tail end the Greens and celebrate that achievement instead,

      What's this about tail-ending? Socialists need to find ways to be
      leading the Greens – I think the work of Peter Camejo in this
      respect is excellent and work by Joel Kovel and Walt Sheasby.

      > 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.

      I'm not trying to gloss over anything. Firstly this is your political
      judgement – its not an argument you simply say that the "main
      game" IS SA (and anyone else is tail-ending the Greens) but that's
      what's in dispute between us. It's no evidence for your argument
      to point to the SSP as model since it doesn't exist here.

      Now what I'm about to say is bound to be taken negatively so
      let me try and be clear. I think SA is a BIG step forward – I think
      it represents the best aspects of the thinking of the far-left and I
      hope it continues to grow and develop beyond the periphery of
      the far-left. But SA remains what Smith calls a far-left reqroupment
      project, which is a great step forward but its not (yet) a political
      force it's a enlarged propaganda group. There's nothing wrong
      with that but its important to see where the project is. It will
      not become another SSP in the absence of the equivalent
      of a poll tax campaign in which the SA could take a leading

      Secondly you say there is majority support for a party project in
      SA. I'm not sure that this is the case but even if it is I don't
      Smith would be siding with you on this one. You need to show
      concretely why the best way to advance the socialist project in
      Australia is to form a new revolutionary party. As I understand it
      The LCR debated this possibility in France recently and
      decided that the time was not right there – and the social forces in
      France are far in advance of anything we have here and they had
      Far-left candidates getting 10% of the vote. Any party that forms
      out of the Alliance now will not be a party it will what SA is – a
      propaganda group calling itself a party since it does not represent
      a PART of any movement of people – working class or otherwise.

      > 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 Callinicos/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.

      You see this is where we differ. The SSP/RESPECT experience is
      important as is the Callinicos/Smith exchange but NOT because it
      reflects an on-going debate among SA affiliates. I assume you mean
      the debate between the ISO that wants it to be a version of RESPECT
      and the DSP that wants it to be a version of the SSP. That's great
      but it shows how entrenched you still are in competing for market
      with each other. The issue is to look at the SOCIAL FORCES in
      MOTION in OZ at the moment and make some assessment based on
      That and make a judgement about the way forward, learning what you
      can from overseas experience of course but the idea of using SSP MODEL
      to beat the ISO with while they advocate some model based on
      RESPECT is well a bit pointless unless you can show that the political
      situation is the same.

      > 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
      > 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.
      > also note that Peter Boyle has a stab at it too with his use of
      > terms as "values". Even Smith falls back on old labels that don't
      > quite bend as well as I'd like.

      Perhaps I was a bit harsh above. I was a bit surprised by PBs use of
      the word `values' in his good post the other day. What I am
      is that you are missing the gist of Smiths argument its not about
      dynamics but about social forces.

      > This is where the standard cant of Marxian debate begins to leave
      > and why so many Marxist orgs simply have so much trouble
      > 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.

      Those that formed the SA certainly were prepared it seemed to give up
      building their own organization for the greater good of the socialist
      movement. This mean sane compromises on program and on the need
      for a party. I can't see what the rush is to start re-naming SA a
      party, let
      alone a revolutionary one.

      > 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.

      That's right – some things can't be determined in advance and so one
      has to act in order to test ones ideas in practice. If the socialist
      is brought about by SA growing into the ASP then we will know but its
      not an argument with your opponents with whom you have an ALLIANCE
      to say they should abandon their perspective on the way forward.
      Otherwise they could just say – "yes lets start fighting to build a
      Broad group and if that fails then we'll try yours".

      > 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.

      Indeed. SA is an Alliance of Marxist Organisations (not all of
      them are in it tho)

      > there is 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,

      Your idea of broad/shallow here is really narrow. All Alliance
      Affliates have a revolutionary program and see the SA as a
      Broader formation. The differences are over whether it should
      be revolutionary or not but in the Australian political context this
      is not broad versus narrow.

      What do you think are the key issues in the class struggle for
      the majority of working people in Australia or even for that
      matter what do the vanguard of socialist oriented thinkers in
      Australia think is the most pressing task? Do any of these
      require the formation of a new revolutionary party? Or one
      based on "old labour" values. Is that's what's really needed?

      > but competition between
      > groups for their own patented programatic viewpoint to prevail.

      Competing for market share as it were.

      > Indeed, despite the x number of affiliates, the deciding factor
      > 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 --
      > corrupts democratic processes of the SA to decide its own future
      and would
      > result in a much narrower formation which would soon die off.

      So you think that the vanguard of thinking on socialist politics in
      Australia as represented by the SA membership thinks the most
      pressing issue they face is that the ISO wants to keep their
      "artificially broad" by appealing to ex-ALPers when it is so clear
      the socialist movement really requires them to form SA into a narrower
      organization. And that if this line is not followed it will be seen
      as a
      lack of democracy and the surprising fact is that this artificial
      will lead organization to being narrower than the formation of another
      party. I find that difficult to believe.

      > So the Alliance, regardless of anyone's contrary will , has an
      > inevitable future ahead of it. Nothing stands still.

      So the SA will inevitably become a party (or it will die) and so
      those that oppose the formation of a party are simply pissing in
      the wind. I mean if it's inevitable why bother to try and convince
      anyone. Just sit and wait.

      > So unless some force steps in to stifle 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.

      Of course the clever ISO comrades should write a piece explaining
      That SA will "inevitably" became a vibrant broad left pole of
      like RESPECT unless "some force" stifles the natural forces in motion
      by consciously narrowing the project which will, of course, result in
      the organization becoming narrower and dying off.

      > Only then

      That is when we accept that the question which we are debating is
      resolved in our favour ie whether we should be a party at all is
      forgotten since that's inevitable then we can ask about program (

      > does the question of
      > what sort of party (or what sort of party program) become
      > as a category for those 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.

      Yes but I don't think he advocates resolving differences in that
      Core Perspective by simply asserting that those who disagree with us
      Are simply fighting the inevitable and should simply move on.

      Or, to paraphrase Leon Trotsky and
      > the Old Testament -- in the beginning was the deed, the program
      > followed as its phonetic shadow.

      Yes maybe but saying that we should just form that party since
      That's inevitable and THEN debate the program is well disingenuous.
      Imagine if it was decided in advance for SA to form a party then at
      The next conference everyone could watch the Marxist affiliates debate
      which of their (re-written) programs SA should adopt.. but then again
      since its inevitable that the DSPs program would be adopted since
      "nothing ever stands still" and save ourselves a whole lot more time.
      Actually maybe someone should put forward the Australian Greens
      program and see how many people they could win to that.

      I hope this is coherent as its getting late.


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