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RE: [GreenLeft_discussion] Re: RSP on progress towards merger with SA

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  • Renfrey Clarke
    ...we do seek to win Socialist Alternative members to our positions... Members of the RSP in the future will naturally continue to explain their views...
    Message 1 of 83 , Oct 5, 2012
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      "...we do seek to win Socialist Alternative members to our positions... Members of the RSP in the future will naturally continue to explain their views... including publicly." If that's what you plan to do, then you're a public tendency. Best to be up-front about it.

      In my view, an organised tendency operating within SAlt and addressing the questions of Cuba and Venezuela would be an excellent thing both for SAlt and for the Australian left as a whole. People who are so revolutionary they can't recognise revolutions have problems. Sharp debate within SAlt itself on these questions might prompt some movement, where mass radicalisation and mobilisation in Venezuela, strategised and promoted by the country's leaders, have so far failed to do.

      To that extent, I wish James and his comrades luck. I suspect, though, they're going to need it. The rigidities of British-style Trotskyoid sectarianism are notorious, and the RSP are only a handful.

      If the RSP aren't simply to help build a bigger ghetto, a little self-examination might be in order. Among the very last things the left needs is organisational fetishists convinced that party norms and structures appropriate to Russia in 1902 and the US in the McCarthyite period are indispensable in Australia today. Sorry, that's not norms and structures, it's principled revolutionary politics, isn't it? Inconceivable, meanwhile, that Marxist revolutionaries could survive, thrive and spread the word in an organisation focused on class-struggle unity...

      Don't get me wrong: I'm absolutely in favour of the Socialist Alliance pushing hard and consistently on collaboration both with SAlt and the RSP. I'm also in favour of exercising a high degree of flexibility, not to speak of risk-taking, in pursuing organisational unity with these forces. If that means another spell inside the semi-sectarian ghetto (been there already!), then so be it.

      But historical clear-headedness is also necessary. SAlt is a long way from being the first organisation to have been founded and built along its general political lines. Parties of this type don't have a happy record. Almost as a matter of course, particularist compulsions get the better of them, and they split within a few years. When genuine mass struggles erupt, this same particularism (only true revolutionaries need apply!) walls them off from broad layers of militantly active workers, who aren't eighteen-year-old politics students. The result, all too often, is that the left ifinds itself outmanoeuvred; vital battles for the confidence and support of workers are won by social democrats, and the struggles go down.

      Those are among the real lessons we have to assimilate. Anyone who is serious about revolution in Australia will be seeking to engage with SAlt, but the political forms we ultimately need won't be those of SAlt. They'll be much more akin to those of the Socialist Alliance.

      Renfrey

      To: GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com
      From: james_crafti@...
      Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2012 01:56:03 +0000
      Subject: [GreenLeft_discussion] Re: RSP on progress towards merger with SA


























      There is so much speculation on here. In terms of Owen's point's, Owen states that it "Makes no mention of the terms of agreement, which for mine must have as a minimum the right to formal tendency. I fear the merger will be a liquidation without some form of right to tendency."



      The RSP is NOT seeking to maintain itself as a tendency within Socialist Alternative. There are several reasons for this, firstly a rejection of permanent factionalism, we seek to engage in comradely debate and discussion with members of Socialist Alternative, setting ourselves apart from the rest of the membership would be a barrier to us doing so.



      However we do seek to win Socialist Alternative members to our positions and vice versa in a comradely and non-sectarian way. As the statement says "Members of the RSP in the future will naturally continue to explain their views as individual members of a new united organisation, including publicly. Discussions between the RSP and S.A. have confirmed the usefulness and democracy of this approach."



      What does this mean? Owen says "A right of reply to all anti-Cuba/Venezuela articles would also be nice, but probably not likely given the balance of forces." The question here is a logistical one. Socialist Alternative are open to us having articles debating their line including in their magazine. Obviously it is easier to do this online then through the 24 pages of a monthly publication, online there will be very little limits in terms of "counter" articles.



      But publicly RSP members will be able to advocate their ideas. Comrades will still write for their various blogs, express their opinions on facebook, twitter and so forth. Comrades will still be able to engage in campaigns and areas of work which are not a priority for Socialist Alternative including Agent Orange Justice and solidarity with Cuba/Venezuela.



      "I also think it's disingenuous to refer to the merger as the next logical step,as though it's onwards and upwards for the RSP. What's really driving the merger is the decimation of the RSP. E.g. They have only managed to produce 3 issues of Direct Action this year. There's nothing wrong with admitting that."



      It is the next logical step. No one has claimed that things are bright and shiny for the RSP. As the statement says, "The RSP has been continually testing to find the right path forward in this situation. It has made some mistakes and suffered some setbacks, but its members have remained active in a number of campaign areas, in building international links and maintaining its newspaper and website."



      One of those setbacks was the fact that 8 comrades liquidated from building a revolutionary party at all. Our comrades have done our best to hold the revolutionary tradition of the DSP in the wake of being expelled and a number of our members jumping ship. Given that we have done extremely well and have won modest respect with Socialist Alternative and independent activists. We are now going to be working with a greater number of revolutionary socialists and having comradely debates and discussions with them along the way.



      Renfrey says:

      "The irony is that if the RSP want to swim in a bigger pond, the logical step for them would be to join SA, where they'd have much more extensive political agreement, plus the right to operate as a public faction and even to keep putting out Direct Action if they wanted. But such are the necessities of self-vindication..."



      Actually we are joining SA. Socialist Alternative were SA well before Socialist Alliance were and still have the website sa.org.au. But cheap shots aside, we have more in common with Socialist Alternative because they are clearly a Marxist revolutionary organisation, Socialist Alliance makes no such claims as the RSP statement says "However, it has become absolutely clear that the members of S.A. are also committed to building the same kind of party that publicly defends the heritage of Marx and Engels, drawing too on many of the best of those who followed in their path, such as Trotsky, Luxemburg and, most of all, Lenin."



      Socialist Alliance is not such a party. Socialist Alternative is! We will have comradely debates with them and we already have the right to operate publicly with Socialist Alternative, so no thanks Renfrey.



      Luke says "Personally, despite past history,I would love to see Owen and his group back, along with every socialist who wants to build a broad socialist party." This is the crux of it. The RSP including myself doesn't want to build a "broad" socialist party. We want to build a revolutionary socialist party. If members of Socialist Alliance continue to argue they are a broad i.e. reformist party then that isn't the sort of unity we want. As for breadth of numbers well, Socialist Alternative also has a much larger active membership then Socialist Alliance (although that in and of itself is not our reason for unity).



      Marce and Chris are both wrong. The RSP's decision is not based on personal grudges. Socialist Alliance is not revolutionary, why would we go to SAll first? Marce used to write and vote on faction documents while we were in the DSP noting how far backward Green Left Weekly had gone as a tool for revolutionary leftists and now he is singing its praise?



      In terms of Chris Slee's point that "When those who later became the RSP were a faction inside the DSP, one of their criticisms was the supposedly insufficient priority given by the DSP to solidarity with the revolutionary governments on Cuban and Venezuela.



      Now they are proposing to unite with a group that does not acknowledge these governments as revolutionary at all."



      Yes that was ONE of our criticisms, we still have differences with current members of Socialist Alternative but we will have those debates in a comradely manner, internally and publicly, and building revolutionary socialism in the process.



      Dave says, "The main game has to be "unity" and "regroupment' per se -- not a schematic type of unity like the caricature Socialist Alliance is so often fitted with by its opponents. But unity in action for its own sake." Well I am sorry but I don't want to have unity with the Greens or the ALP (maybe we should even have unity with the Liberal party by your logic!), the main game is building the revolutionary party to overthrow capitalism, the next step in that game is building a revolutionary cadre organisation i.e. Socialist Alternative.



      Dave dismisses Marce by saying "You and others on the left seek to abstract this unity business as though it's some boutique attribute buoyed only by rhetoric."



      But it isn't abstract, the RSP and Socialist Alternative are doing it and we are doing it on a principled basis. It is these sorts of liberal abstract calls of unity by people like Dave Riley that make it impossible for revolutionaries to seriously consider unifying with them.



      For Socialist Alliance members and independent revolutionary marxists who aren't currently in a revolutionary oragnisation but are interested in building a revolutionary organisation; I strongly encourage you to join in this unity process and join the RSP or Socialist Alternative as we demonstrate what real principled unity looks like.



      --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "alanb1000" <alanb1000@...> wrote:

      >

      > Renfrey Clarke wrote:

      > > The irony is that if the RSP want to swim in a bigger pond, the

      > > logical step for them would be to join SA, where they'd have much

      > > more extensive political agreement, plus the right to operate as

      > > a public faction and even to keep putting out Direct Action if

      > > they wanted. But such are the necessities of self-vindication...

      >

      > This misses the point that SAlt is a "Leninist" rrrevolutionary organisation, while the Socialist Alliance isn't.

      >

      > Self-vindication aside, in the RSP's eyes, SA is a liquidationist swamp that they don't want to have anything to do with. And worse, not a particularly successful one. On the other hand, SAlt claims to be growing and winning the lion's share of radicalising youth, while also maintaining an uncompromised "revolutionary" position.

      >

      > In other words, on key programmatic points, it's actually SAlt that has more in common with the RSP than Socialist Alliance.

      >

      > Of course that's codswallop, but there's that self-vindication aspect involved...

      >

      > There's also the issue of where it leads in the longer term. Adam aside, the goal of the unity of (at least) Socialist Alternative, the RSP, the Socialist Alliance (and Solidarity) is worth striving for. In this case, it's the RSP comrades (and Jorge J) who are leading the way here, and serving as guinea pigs, and that is very much to their credit.

      >


















      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • chris_breen_70
      Hi all I have had a request for the C&S minutes where the Soc Alt disaffiliation was discussed, and a suggestion that I upload them on sribd, so I have done
      Message 83 of 83 , Oct 21, 2012
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        Hi all I have had a request for the C&S minutes where the Soc Alt disaffiliation was discussed, and a suggestion that I upload them on sribd, so I have done so.

        Regards

        Chris Breen

        http://www.scribd.com/doc/110667296/Minutes-2012-Special-Meeting-3-08-10-12
        http://www.scribd.com/doc/110667292/Minutes-2012-17-01-10-12
        http://www.scribd.com/doc/110667158/Minutes-2012-16-13-09-12
        http://www.scribd.com/doc/110667280/Minutes-2012-15-27-08-12




        --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "chris_breen_70" <cbreen70@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > Hi all, Omar has claimed:
        >
        > "An example closer to home, Solidarity at Melbourne Uni are in a
        > campaign with the Liberal-dominated Clubs and Societies committee to
        > disaffiliate us and sabotage the Marxism 2013 conference. Our agreement
        > on the Russia question is relatively irrelevant; their rabidly sectarian
        > shenanigans are the dominant barrier to unity and cooperation."
        >
        > This is simply not true, and Omar should know that it is not true. If he
        > doesn't know, it can only be because his Melbourne University comrades
        > have not told him the truth.
        >
        > I intended to attach the minutes from all 4 Clubs and Societies
        > committee meetings about the disaffiliation, but it seems attachments
        > are not possible in this forum (if you email me at cbreen70 @...
        > <mailto:cbreen70@...> I will send them to you. I am open to any
        > other suggestion about where I can upload them, they are word docs up to
        > 20 pages each). It is clear from the minutes at the C&S committee that
        > the petition to disaffiliate Socialist Alternative was not brought about
        > by Solidarity. The complaint was not initiated by us. The original
        > report comes from security, and has been taken up by people within C&S.
        > We were not present at any of the meetings. We are not in any campaign,
        > and have not conspired with the Liberals.
        >
        > Socialist Alternative are aware of this. In fact, Stephanie Price asked
        > the committee directly about Solidarity see pg.6 of attached minutes
        > from C&S committee regarding Soc Alt disaffiliation, 01-10-12:
        >
        > Stephanie Price: The petition is based on unfounded accusations. Fiona
        > is aware that Jasmine Ali is not a member of Socialist Alternative and
        > has had contact with her. Speculates about Fiona'smotives
        >
        > Fiona Sanders : Stop implying things and ask me an actual question.
        >
        > Stephanie Price: Do any anecdotal complaints come from Jasmine Ali?
        >
        > Fiona Sanders: No.
        >
        > Omar's post above comes only a week after this was revealed at the
        > C&S committee meeting.
        >
        > Similarly Liz Walsh from Socialist Alternative has claimed on Facebook
        > (a week after Omar's comment):
        >
        > "Solidarity…. is collaborating with the Young Liberals at Melbourne
        > University to disaffiliate Socialist Alternative from the Student Union
        > thereby jeopardising the Marxism conference. Your clubs central role in
        > this appalling affair is fully documented in the student union minutes."
        >
        > There is no such thing documented in the minutes. These comments by Omar
        > and Liz appear to be made in the full knowledge that they are not true.
        >
        > It may suit Socialist Alternative to try and scapegoat Solidarity,
        > rather than look at their own comrades' behaviour which has put them
        > into this situation; but sooner or later, you have to face facts.
        >
        > Socialist Alternative members may want to ask why their leading members
        > are inventing conspiracy stories rather than tell the truth. We hope to
        > see a retraction from Omar and Liz of their unfounded attacks on
        > Solidarity.
        >
        > Chris Breen
        >
        >
        >
        > --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "sherrife2008"
        > <sherrife@> wrote:
        > >
        > > Hi all,
        > >
        > > First time poster on this list, and a member of Socialist Alternative.
        > >
        > > I think James (and Jorge, and the RSP's official statement) have
        > pretty clearly enunciated the reasons for why they are for revolutionary
        > unity. Here James C sums up my take on things too:
        > >
        > > "Well I am sorry but I don't want to have unity with the Greens or the
        > ALP (maybe we should even have unity with the Liberal party by your
        > logic!), the main game is building the revolutionary party to overthrow
        > capitalism, the next step in that game is building a revolutionary cadre
        > organisation i.e. Socialist Alternative."
        > >
        > > Those who disagree with this strategic orientation are free to do so,
        > but it is a point of convergence for the SA and the RSP. Both seek to
        > build an explicitly Marxist organisation. Both believe in the working
        > class as an agent for change. Both see systematic transformation of the
        > system as necessary. Both are opposed to oppression and imperialism. On
        > all these questions there can be differences of opinions, but the
        > principles are uncontroversial.
        > >
        > > Someone raised the point that the formal political programs of the RSP
        > and the leaders at the core of the Alliance being more similar than
        > those of the RSP and SA. So too in Greece, the abstract positions of the
        > DEA and SEK are more or less identical. Go back far enough, the formal
        > position of Lenin and Martov on the question of the coming Russian
        > Revolution was pretty similar too, at least until Feb 1917.
        > >
        > > Clearly, in all these cases, strategic questions have proven to be far
        > from secondary. SEK counterpose ANTARSYA (itself a failed attempt at
        > broad unity) to building a new, genuine mass workers party of the left
        > in the form of SYRIZA. Martov prioritised an alliance with the
        > bourgeoisie over one with the working class/peasantry. And so on.
        > >
        > > An example closer to home, Solidarity at Melbourne Uni are in a
        > campaign with the Liberal-dominated Clubs and Societies committee to
        > disaffiliate us and sabotage the Marxism 2013 conference. Our agreement
        > on the Russia question is relatively irrelevant; their rabidly sectarian
        > shenanigans are the dominant barrier to unity and cooperation. Meanwhile
        > the RSP (and the Alliance for that matter) are happy to discuss unity
        > and have long worked with us in a comradely way.
        > >
        > > So, on the need to continue to build an interventionist, cadre,
        > *Marxist* organisation, the RSP and SA are in agreement. On a whole
        > series of general principles, the same is true. Where there are
        > differences, they will be debated in a comradely manner, as we work
        > together to build a revolutionary current in Australia.
        > >
        > > On questions such as Cuba, Venezuela etc., James rightly refers to the
        > fact that people in existing campaign work will be allowed to continue
        > that work. But the reality is that there are few instances where these
        > issues will have direct import for Australian revolutionaries. Where
        > differences do arise, open debate and democratic decision-making will be
        > the default means of dealing with them. At the same time, it will be
        > important to avoid unnecessary sectarian point scoring - there is
        > limited value in rehashing historic debates endlessly.
        > >
        > > Finally, I would echo James's conclusion. Those who wish to be part of
        > the exciting new developments on the revolutionary left should come to a
        > meeting and/or contact our leadership for a more direct discussion.
        > >
        > > Omar
        > >
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
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