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A Reply to Nick Fredman, Please Don't Verbal Michael Tho mson!

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  • Gould's Book Arcade
    A Reply to Nick Fredman, Please Don t Verbal Michael Thomson! By Bob Gould In Nick s response, he says one of Michael s criticisms being the quite banal one
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 17, 2004
      A Reply to Nick Fredman, Please Don't Verbal Michael Thomson!

      By Bob Gould

      In Nick's response, he says "one of Michael's criticisms being the quite
      banal one that [Socialist Alliance] didn't instantly become a mass party".
      Well, at the risk of straining the relatively civil exchanges we've been
      having, Nick, you've just gratuitously and offensively 'verballed' Michael
      Thomson. In the usual fashion, common on the far left, which has been turned
      into a form of high art by the DSP leadership, you here take some words of
      Michael's, reinterpret them in your own loaded language, and serve it back
      to us as the what Michael said. Michael Thomson's formulation about the
      inability of the Alliance to develop its possible initial potential was far
      more careful, considered and modulated, than the crude expression of dashed
      hopes that you put into his mouth.

      I'm rather sensitive to that kind of verballing, for the obvious reason that
      DSP leadership polemicists do it constantly to me. Also, however, the DSP
      school of journalism tends to do it a bit to the whole of the universe, so
      to speak. If people who have a different strategic orientation to the DSP
      are ever quoted, their quotes are carefully edited and usually buried in a
      pile of other quotes consistent with the current political orientation of
      the DSP leadership.

      Yesterday, and last week, I argued that Green Left Weekly hold a substantial
      open forum in its pages where different perspectives on the left about the
      elections were put forward freely, with proper weight given to the different
      points of view. Also, the fairly dramatic swing to Labor in the last few
      weeks has made it increasingly difficult for GLW to ignore the groundswell
      against the Howard Government. What popped out, however, once again, is a
      rather exquisitely edited 'line' article by Kerryn Williams, which is
      presented as if its some kind of discussion, but is actually a sustained
      polemic for the Socialist Alliance project, and the Socialist Alliance
      project alone. It starts with an elaborately argued version of the dubious
      DSP leadership proposition that the Australian ruling class are preparing
      the masses for a Latham government, almost to the point where Williams seems
      to suggest that significant sections of the bourgeoisie regard a Latham
      government as desirable. This kind of conspiracy theory is usually wrong.
      Mostly, in Australian society, the most powerful sections of the bourgeoisie
      prefer, most of the time, Liberal Governments. This is particularly true
      when the Liberals are in office, because even the process of defeating
      Liberal governments raises the dangerous spectre, from the point of view of
      the bourgeoisie, of a certain amount of mass mobilisation. Williams then
      goes on to quote one Laborite, Harry Quick, and then four or five adherents
      of the Socialist Alliance, who all say that the real political task is to
      build the Socialist Alliance, particularly to replace the rotten Laborites.

      Norm Dixon, in his usual energetic way, just today drew attention,
      particularly to this article, on the Green Left discussion list. Whether or
      not the DSP leadership's analysis of the coming election is valid or not, is
      not the issue here. The issue is that there is Kerryn Williams carefully
      crafted and implacably edited 'line' article, presented as some kind of
      discussion, is not really a discussion. Nick Fredman says, in relation to
      GLW that "the conference decision that mandated the current changes in the
      paper, . read in part:
      That the Socialist Alliance should move to produce its own regular
      publication aimed at:
      * Propagating the Alliance's analysis of contemporary politics and its own
      policy alternatives;
      * Providing analysis of trends in the trade unions and various social and
      environmental movements;
      * Stimulating and housing debates in the broadly anticapitalist and
      anti-neo-liberal camp (Greens, left ALP, various movements); and
      * Reflecting debate within the Alliance itself."

      That part of the resolution appears to allow for the possibility of the kind
      of open discussion that I have been proposing to GLW. Kerryn Williams' 'line
      ' article on the elections and Sue Bolton's 'line' article on the industrial
      relations issue at the ALP conference, are not that kind of discussion,
      though some attempt is made to suggest that they are. Once again, I commend
      the nine subjects for discussion that I've raised over the last week or so
      to GLW, and suggest that devote four pages of the paper to such an open
      discussion. I'd be interested in a serious response from the GLW editorial
      board to this proposal.


      Gould's Book Arcade
      32 King St, Newtown, NSW
      Ph: 9519-8947
      Fax: 9550-5924
      Email: bob@...
      Web: www.gouldsbooks.com.au
    • br3068
      Sorry, but I almost fell off my chair laughing when I read Bob Gould complaining of Nick Fredman allegedly verballing Michael Thompson. For someone who
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 17, 2004
        Sorry, but I almost fell off my chair laughing when I read Bob Gould
        complaining of Nick Fredman allegedly "verballing" Michael Thompson.

        For someone who admits openly he only polemicises against
        caricatures of other's position rather than their actual content, it
        is no surprise that Bob goes on to present 10 of his own slanders/
        caricatures against the DSP (all in 5 paragraphs!):


        1. In the usual fashion, common on the far left, which has been
        turned
        > into a form of high art by the DSP leadership, you here take some
        words of

        Why single out the DSP. Where is the evidence?

        2. I'm rather sensitive to that kind of verballing, for the obvious
        reason that
        > DSP leadership polemicists do it constantly to me.

        Oh boo hoo. CONSTANTLY?



        3.If people who have a different strategic orientation to the DSP
        > are ever quoted, their quotes are carefully edited and usually
        buried in a
        > pile of other quotes consistent with the current political
        orientation of
        > the DSP leadership.

        Which quotes are carefully edited? Are the quotes from the trade
        unionists in the Bolton article manipulated? You're just upset
        because even what the left officials say is more critical of the ALP
        leadership than you are. Take it up with them.


        4. What popped out, however, once again, is a
        > rather exquisitely edited 'line' article by Kerryn Williams,

        Line article? In what sense is it a "line"? It is signed by
        Williams.

        5. which is
        > presented as if its some kind of discussion, but is actually a
        sustained
        > polemic for the Socialist Alliance project, and the Socialist
        Alliance
        > project alone.

        What exactly is this supposed to mean? It's no surprise Williams
        defends SA: GLW is a pro-SA paper. In what sense does the article
        deny though that others on the left will have their own and
        different tactics?


        6. It starts with an elaborately argued version of the dubious
        > DSP leadership proposition that the Australian ruling class are
        preparing
        > the masses for a Latham government, almost to the point where
        Williams seems
        > to suggest that significant sections of the bourgeoisie regard a
        Latham
        > government as desirable.

        What DSP leadership proposition? Blind Freddy could see the
        corporate media in particular is heavily promoting Latham. Even
        Howard complains about. CEOs I know have come to same conclusion.


        7. This kind of conspiracy theory is usually wrong.

        what conspiracy? If its a conspiracy then maybe the whole notion
        that the ruling class might even exist or may favour any party is
        one too. What is occurring is social process whereby sections the
        ruling-class are turning to the ALP.


        8.
        > build the Socialist Alliance, particularly to replace the rotten
        Laborites.

        Who says that? Who makes this the main task of SA? Nobody in the
        article.


        9. > That part of the resolution appears to allow for the
        possibility of the kind
        > of open discussion that I have been proposing to GLW. Kerryn
        Williams' 'line
        > ' article on the elections and Sue Bolton's 'line' article on the
        industrial
        > relations issue at the ALP conference, are not that kind of
        discussion,
        > though some attempt is made to suggest that they are. Once again,

        No Bob: they do quote a reasonable range of sources. It is just that
        everyone is more critical of the ALP than you are.



        10. I commend
        > the nine subjects for discussion that I've raised over the last
        week or so
        > to GLW, and suggest that devote four pages of the paper to such an
        open
        > discussion. I'd be interested in a serious response from the GLW
        editorial
        > board to this proposal.
        >


        Given the above: you wonder why GLW won't take you seriously?
      • ozleft
        By Bob Gould The DSP leadership loyalist whose email address identifies him/herself as BR, but who doesn t provide any other identification, tries to heat up
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 18, 2004
          By Bob Gould

          The DSP leadership loyalist whose email address identifies
          him/herself as BR, but who doesn't provide any other identification,
          tries to heat up the political atmosphere as much as possible. In an
          almost occult way, he/she claims acquaintanceship with company CEOs
          who support Mark Latham and Labor in the coming elections as a useful
          second party of capitalism.

          I don't move in the same exalted circles as CEOs, plugged into the
          wisdom of the ruling class as BR does, I just have to operate on
          basis of my general political understanding and observations. It may
          be true that after an uninspiring diet of Crean and Beazley some
          working journalists are a bit excited about Latham.

          Rather than the views of a couple of CEOs, a better guide to the mood
          of the bourgeoisie is the editorial line of the major capitalist
          newspapers. Their general line is that the Liberals had better
          smarten up their game or Labor might beat them, which is presented
          generally as a danger.

          The Murdoch press and most of its stable of right-wing columnists,
          such as Piers Ackerman, are mightily hostile to Labor. I repeat what
          I said earlier: as a general rule, from the viewpoint of most of the
          bourgeoisie, while they can live with Labor governments from time to
          time, their general preferred option is the Liberals and Nationals,
          and most of the ruling class doesn't like transitions to Labor
          governments because such governments often unleash aspirations on the
          part of the masses.

          Different estimates of these questions are not, however, the main
          issue. BR's extremely violent reaction to my careful critique of the
          GLW school of "discussion" is at the centre of this argument.

          I continue to assert a fairly simple proposition: discussion articles
          are not carefully edited and angled items such as the Sue Bolton and
          Kerryn Williams pieces. These two articles are presented as some kind
          of discussion when they are actually, reasonably clearly, what people
          who know about Marxist newspapers call "line" articles.

          The quotes of people who have tactical disagreements with the DSP are
          usually carefully edited and buried under other quotes that express
          the political point of view of the DSP leadership. Such articles are
          slightly deceptive, but quite effective, propaganda. The one thing
          they are not, however, is serious discussion.

          Serious discussion requires that people with divergent points of view
          express and develop their points of view in interaction with each
          other, and that doesn't happen when the editorial hand converts
          interviews into line articles. The fact that these articles are
          signed by individuals such as Sue Bolton and Kerryn Williams is quite
          incidental to this point.

          Once again, I make this extremely simple proposal to the DSP
          leadership: for the moment put aside my proposal for nine topics of
          discussion and just try a pilot project of one such genuine
          discussion supplement, in which you give five or six representative
          people on the left of the ALP-trade union continuum the chance to
          express their point of view as to why they're in the ALP and what
          their perspectives are for the coming federal elections and after,
          and get five or six Socialist Alliance members to express their point
          of view, in some real interaction between the points of view, with
          minimal editorial intervention other than, perhaps, asking the
          original questions and tidying up for coherence and syntax.

          What could be clearer than this modest proposal? BR directs a lot of
          personal abuse of me, but even he might deign to consider my
          suggestion on its merits, and the GLW editorial board might put aside
          any views they might have about me and consider this proposal on its
          merits. What's wrong with conducting a discussion in such a way in a
          socialist newspaper that desires to be accepted as a vehicle for
          broad left discussion?
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