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Re: Green Left Weekly,the Democratic Socialist Party and the Socialist Alliance

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  • ozleft
    Nick Fredman, who is a careful controversialist, tries to defend the interests of the DSP leadership against the points made in Michael Thomson s letter of
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 14, 2004
      Nick Fredman, who is a careful controversialist, tries to defend the
      interests of the DSP leadership against the points made in Michael
      Thomson's letter of resignation from the Socialist Alliance, by
      posting pieces by two Alliance "independents", without initially
      making any comments of his own.

      I responded on one part of the issues in dispute with a sustained,
      detailed and comprehensive argument against Austin Whitten's
      internally contradictory proposition that Green Left Weekly had
      always been a "broad left" paper, and anyway was going to become one
      now.

      I assembled chapter and verse, a comprehensive case that GLW had
      always been the newspaper of the DSP, which is a highly centralised
      organisation, in which discussion is kept internal, and even a lot of
      the time internal to the leadership of the DSP, and that GLW was
      produced in that framework.

      Being a sensible man with an almost impossible case to argue, Nick
      wisely doesn't take up the general thrust of my argument, but singles
      out one small example of the very new regime in which Brian Webb of
      the ISO had an article in GLW about the ALP national conference.

      The fact that Nick Fredman quotes such a recent event as evidence
      underlines my general point that on matters of controversy "line"
      articles are almost invariably written in the general spirit of the
      DSP's current political orientation.

      Even the very new phenomenon of an article by Brian Webb in GLW
      illustrates my basic point. It's true that the ISO has had a
      different attitude to developments in the Labor Party than the DSP
      leadership. Brian Webb's article, however, mainly focuses on the
      major defeat suffered by the left at the ALP conference: the defeat
      on the refugee question. It takes a pessimistic view of prospects for
      the left in the ALP and doesn't address in any detail the important
      areas in which a militant policy was successful, such as industrial
      relations.

      It's quite a convenient article for the DSP leadership, and fits into
      political orientation of the DSP leadership well enough for its
      purposes. There has been no article in GLW that put forthrightly the
      proposition, which happens to be a truthful one, that there were a
      number of progressive outcomes at the ALP national conference.

      Martin Kingham and Michelle O'Neil are grudgingly allowed to say that
      there were progressive decisions about industrial relations, in
      an "interview" that downgrades the importance of what they are saying
      and puts their comments about the progressive nature of the
      industrial relations decisions in an article that's carefully edited
      to draw the reader towards the conclusion that the ALP conference was
      an unmitigated defeat for progressive policies.

      In trying to use the one, unconvincing, example of an article by
      Brian Webb to defend the proposition that GLW is some kind of broad
      left paper, rather than the political organ of the DSP leadership,
      Nick Fredman is being too cute by half and presuming a lot about the
      credulity of his audience.

      I notice that neither he nor anyone from the staff of GLW or the DSP
      leadership have even deigned to comment on my very serious list of
      six possible topics for discussion, with divergent points of view, in
      future issues of GLW.
    • Nick Fredman
      Bob Gould ... More a sensible person with little time on Friday night but a few more minutes now. To go back a bit, I posed two replies from Socialist Alliance
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 15, 2004
        Bob Gould

        >Being a sensible man with an almost impossible case to argue, Nick
        >wisely doesn't take up the general thrust of my argument, but singles
        >out one small example of the very new regime in which Brian Webb of
        >the ISO had an article in GLW about the ALP national conference.

        More a sensible person with little time on Friday night but a few
        more minutes now. To go back a bit, I posed two replies from
        Socialist Alliance members active in the NTEU to Michael Thompson's
        resignation, not because I agreed with them to the letter (though I
        do largely), but because I felt they were a useful counterpoint to
        Michael's claims, and I was more immediately concerned with their
        counter-evidence to Michael's rosy-coloured view of the current
        situation of the NTEU, as one of them put it, than about GLW. I don't
        exactly agree with Austin Whitten's characterisation of GLW's past,
        as it's always been fairly clear that the DSP has played the major
        role in it, but there have also always been significant differences
        with traditional party-line papers as well. And I agree much less
        with Bob's claim that the DSP always tried to keep it's role in the
        paper a state secret and convince others of this. For many years it
        said quite clearly on page 2 what GLW was, that is was "initiated by
        the DSP and Resistance" etc. By-lines and ads etc also made it pretty
        clear. In the first "Common Cause" column in GLW, stating the paper's
        new trial relationship with Socialist Alliance, John van der Velden
        was probably more accurate than Austin when he stated "GLW already
        represents a successful 12-year broad-left project initiated and led
        by members of Resistance and the DSP".

        The main point now however is the current trajectory of GLW, which is
        why I had hoped to make my point succinctly by mentioning Brian
        Webb's article, which would have been an unthinkable thing 10 years
        ago. It's obviously early days, but one could also point to a number
        of articles by ISO and Workers Liberty members about struggles
        they're involved in, and an extensive discussion about a year ago
        around the future of Socialist Alliance. If Bob agrees that GLW is
        the last left paper still standing, then the obvious corollary is
        that the significant readership and infrastrucure around GLW will be
        a vital part of building a bigger and broader paper. Perhaps then the
        creation of a Socialist Alliance appointed editorial board to oversee
        GLW is a genuine attempt to develop the paper and not a sneaky trick
        by the DSP to force all their leftist opponents to drop all their
        political positions by writing in the same paper. Perhaps Austin and
        other members of the non-DSP majority of this board aren't such such
        stupid fellow-travellers as Bob seems to think they are, but are
        quite capable of asserting what they think GLW should be.

        >I notice that neither he nor anyone from the staff of GLW or the DSP
        >leadership have even deigned to comment on my very serious list of
        >six possible topics for discussion, with divergent points of view, in
        >future issues of GLW.

        Believe it or not Bob, GLW staff or DSP members shouldn't really be
        expected to immediately answer all your fairly frequent demands for
        comment, analysis and justifications for our existence. IMO the
        topics mentioned for discussion are probably good ones for GLW or
        maybe the upcoming Socialist Alliance magazine. The actual format,
        timing etc of discussions would probably depend on a whole lot of
        political and practical factors. In any case all the proposalss for
        Socialist Alliance publications have been clear that a regular SA
        paper would have space for discussion and debate. Maybe you should
        send your suggestions to the GLW editorial board. Maybe you'd have
        more chance of them considering and adopting your suggestions if you
        joined Socialist Alliance :)



        --
        ***********************************

        Nick Fredman
        Student Rights Advocate
        Southern Cross University (Lismore)
        Student Representative Council

        Shop 9 Plaza, SCU Lismore

        Ph: 6620 3044
        Email: sra@...
        web: http://www.lismoresrc.org.au/

        *********************************
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