8436Re: Liberals as the main enemy etc
- Aug 18, 2004--- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "dave_r_riley"
> Smith refers to the challenge to "broaden" the base of theseSo far so good.
> 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.
> But he also develops his argument in the context of a very clearif
> 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, itNow it comes out. In my first post I flagged the use of "conscious
> is hard to accept that those socialists in the Greens are
> consciously working within those parameters.
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 manycomrades
> I know of in the Greens who come from a Marxist background (andNo you're right. There are socialists in the Greens but as you said
> would know what Luxembourg is talking about) don't seem to be doing
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 Allianceas
> though there's an equal sign between the two enterprises as anarena
> 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
this place to be in an organization which has the
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 aspectof
> the Alliance to the Scottish Socialist Party process was a veryabout
> 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 thenwe
> 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,I'm not trying to gloss over anything. Firstly this is your political
> 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.
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 prettyYou see this is where we differ. The SSP/RESPECT experience is
> 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.
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 hoarymany
> question of political program. I find that I am caught up is so
> old formulations here that it hard to find the right words toI
> 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 ofsuch
> terms as "values". Even Smith falls back on old labels that don'tPerhaps I was a bit harsh above. I was a bit surprised by PBs use of
> quite bend as well as I'd like.
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 leaveus
> and why so many Marxist orgs simply have so much troubleregistering
> what is at stake here --especially when so many hold the SA at armsThose that formed the SA certainly were prepared it seemed to give up
> length. In this regard, those of us with an Alliance first
> perspective are more considerate of this dynamic.
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
alone a revolutionary one.
> This is perhapsThat's right some things can't be determined in advance and so one
> 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.
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 AllianceIndeed. SA is an Alliance of Marxist Organisations (not all of
> projects are the presence of and role being played(or not being
> played) by signed up Marxist organisations.
them are in it tho)
> there is remarkable tension where any one group's desire forkeeping it
> broad and shallow has to deal with the problem not only of theYour idea of broad/shallow here is really narrow. All Alliance
> ongoing class struggle with all its demands,
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 betweenCompeting for market share as it were.
> groups for their own patented programatic viewpoint to prevail.
> Indeed, despite the x number of affiliates, the deciding factorlies
> within the SA's broad membership. In essence, it's hundreds ofand would
> 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
> 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
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 anSo the SA will inevitably become a party (or it will die) and so
> inevitable future ahead of it. Nothing stands still.
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 andOf course the clever ISO comrades should write a piece explaining
> 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 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 thenThat 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 ofresolvable
> what sort of party (or what sort of party program) become
> as a category for those who demand such things. As Smith points outYes but I don't think he advocates resolving differences in that
> in passing -- the main function of a political program is to unite
> people into a core perspective.
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 programYes maybe but saying that we should just form that party since
> followed as its phonetic shadow.
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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