Split and expulsion on the Australian left
- In the past couple of weeks, two of the larger groups on the
Australian left have been shaken by a crisis in their student work.
In the case of Socialist Alternative, this led to a serious split,
and the dissident's letter of resignation is available on the web at
In recent days, the Democratic Socialist Perspective, formerly
Democratic Socialist Party, has expelled one of its prominent student
leaders. Documents relating to this expulsion, and some other DSP
material, have been posted on Melbourne Indymedia. This material can
be reached through links in an analysis of these events written by
The article, An Outbreak of L-L-L-Leninism on the Australian Left, is
- It is sad but predictable what moves some folk most. Not the two
important campaigns that Socialist Alliance activists are putting
their energies into -- the End The Lies/Bring The Troops Home rallies
on October 3 and the campaign to free jailed militant trade union
leader Craig Johnston. No, not for Bag-The-DSP Bob, he's worked up
about a supposed "Outbreak of L-L-L-Leninism on the Australian Left"!!!!
So 30 people left Socialist Alternative, and a DSP branch meeting (not
a leadership body or leadership appointed tribunal) expelled one
member who is deliberately and campaigning against Resistance, the
socialist youth organisation. Interesting that Bob Gould's article
rushes over the former and dwells on the latter. Why? Because it is
about the DSP, the group that this pitiful, sectarian windbag is
As usual, what few facts he thinks he has gleaned from the dirt and
provocation files of the Commy-bashing anarchist sect that has wrecked
indymedia in this country are then embelished into a dishonest rant
against the DSP and Socialist Alliance. His rants and the rants of the
socialists-are-the-main-enemy anarchists on the indymedia are really
self-demolishing on all counts, I think. But readers (who can be
bothered) can judge for themselves.
You are truly a pitiful person, Bob Gould.
Get a dose of sanity, visit:
I disagree somewhat with Bob's perspective on Socialist Alternative.
Socialist Alternative in the student movement has been a very hit and miss affair, right from its inception.
I disagree that "SocAlt is influential on several campuses in Brisbane". That is not strictly the case. SocAlt's Brisbane branch (before the split) had some 22 members. Beyond being a simple propaganda group (which it did very well), its influence at a campus level in Queensland (specifically) has been very nominal, despite its frequent attempted campus interventions to acquire positions in student unions.
Nonetheless, it is accurate to say that SocAlt's membership (nationally) is/was extraordinarily top-heavy with undergrad university students in their early 20s, which is a starkly different case to say, the DSP. The momentum for friction between SocAlt's young activist cadre and its older, more conservative national leadership has clearly been a source of great anxiety.
It is also notable to say that Labor Students (whether they be NOLS, ALS or Unity) comprise about 60% of the overall student movement at the current time - and indeed on many campuses this figure, alarmingly, is much, much higher.
The non-ALP far Left, controls somewhere between 25-30% of positions on campuses nationally. Thus within the broad left spectrum of the student movement, there is of course SocAlt (until its recent split), a smaller number of fairly passive Greens students, a very limited number of Resistance students and perhaps even fewer ISO Socialist Worker Student Club students. The Solidarity tendency (comprising ex-ISO and ex-SocAlt members) is also an emerging grouping in the student movement which has a viable network in Brisbane and possibly soon in Sydney.
The rise of the "freelance" or "swamp" left within the student movement, presents a serious problem for the NBL as a whole. In fairness, these non-aligned students have played a major role to be the gel to which the "bloc" has been semi-held together over the past 3 years, however the all too frequent lack of consensus and the absence of common organisational methods has weakened the NBLs interventions into the movement as a whole.
ozleft <ozleft@...> wrote:
In the past couple of weeks, two of the larger groups on the Australian left have been shaken by a crisis in their student work.
In the case of Socialist Alternative, this led to a serious split, and the dissident's letter of resignation is available on the web at
In recent days, the Democratic Socialist Perspective, formerly Democratic Socialist Party, has expelled one of its prominent student leaders. Documents relating to this expulsion, and some other DSP material, have been posted on Melbourne Indymedia. This material can be reached through links in an analysis of these events written by Bob Gould.
The article, An Outbreak of L-L-L-Leninism on the Australian Left, is
Find local movie times and trailers on Yahoo! Movies.
- Desperation? Or boredom? I'm getting kind of done with
reading every DSP-gone-bad theory that Bob cooks up.
The level of Peter's response was most importantly on
the topics of the End the Lies rallies and the Craig
Johnston campaign, and we would do well to discuss the
content and trajectory of these- which are real, and
important, campaigns, affecting a relevantly-sized
part of society- rather than trying to bicker over
who's got the dirtiest story on the DSP (or anyone
else on the left).
Desperation? Sure, and exasperation. It would be
refreshing to hear some encouraging arguments and
ideas from Bob, rather than the (somewhat
hallucinogenic) "explanation" that an incipient split
in Socialist Alternative somehow prompted the DSP
leadership into a vindictive spree of "me-too-ism".
>>("The impending split in Socialist Alternative seemsto have been the immediate trigger for the DSP
leadership deciding to remove their main critical
student member, LF, from the Democratic Socialist
And, of course, the extinction of the unicorn led to
the discovery of penicillin.
Now you'll have to excuse me, I've got a poster run to
do, and an election campaign to think about...
--- ozleft <ozleft@...> wrote:
> >>You are truly a pitiful person, Bob Gould.>
> Your apolitical personal response reveals the level
> of your political
> Robert Allen
> ------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor
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Proletarios de todos los paises y pueblos oprimidos, unios!!!
Find local movie times and trailers on Yahoo! Movies.
- A couple of links have been added to Bob Gould's article, mentioned
in the first post in this thread
They point to the charges laid against LF. These masterly works of L-
L-L-Leninism are so good they deserve wider circulation. See below.
Wednesday Aug 18, 2004
Dear Comrade LF,
This is written notice of charges against you from Comrade RR. In
accordance with the DSP constitution, the DSP branch executive of
Monday August 16, which received these charges, voted to set up a
commission to investigate the charges. The commission voted upon is
made up of Comrades PB, SH and SM. As detailed in the DSP
constitution, every DSP member in Sydney shall be obliged to furnish
the commission with any information it may request. You have the
right to submit oral or written statements to this commission in
response to the charges. The commission shall make a recommendation
to the DSP branch, which will decide upon any action to be taken. The
commission plans to report its findings to the DSP branch on Sunday
August 29. You have the right to submit a written or oral statement
regarding the charges to the meeting that will consider the charges.
If you require any clarification, please contact me.
comradely PB, on behalf of Sydney DSP branch executive
Comrade R charges that you have made continued breaches of the
following sections of constitution of the Democratic Socialist
Perspective: ARTICLE 4. RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF DSP MEMBERS
Paragraph 2. Members of the DSP shall have the following obligations:
(a) To be loyal to the DSP and its aims. (b) To place all of their
political activity under the direction of the DSP and to engage in
the work of the DSP to the best of their ability (c) To carry out
their political activity to the best of their ability in accordance
with the decisions of the national and local governing bodies of the
DSP. (e) To conduct themselves in a manner which does not bring the
DSP into public disrepute. Comrade R has supplied as evidence of
constitution breaches the following: 1. An email written by yourself
dated Mon January 12, 2004, entitled "A letter to comrades", sent to
DSP members in Sydney, which included the declaration: "I do not
accept that I should `loyally implement' (and cease discussion of)
any perspectives agreed upon by a majority of party members
regardless of their consequences. Should I consider such a
perspective to be detrimental to the process of left unity and
refoundation I consider it not only my right but my duty to take a
stand against it. In doing so I forthrightly state that my loyalty
foremost lies with the ideals of socialism and not with any
particular organisation." This email was written shortly after the
DSP congress, the highest decision making body of the DSP, which
democratically decided upon a direction and resolution for the work
of the DSP, and specifically for DSP members with regards to
Resistance. As a result of your stated unwillingness to abide by
decisions of the DSP congress, the DSP District committee of January
20, 2004 voted to de-assign you from Resistance. 2. You continue to
work outside the framework of DSP perspectives. In particular, you
breached the constitution continually through your email postings to
the National Broad Left Rebel list, a grouping involving and led by
anti-socialist students. Forces in the NBL Rebel list are hostile to
socialism and to Resistance and the DSP. Yet, as a member of an
organisation committed to building socialism, your posts (on July 15,
2004; August 3, 2004; and August 4, 2004 - full transcript attached):
a) Agree with anti-socialist characterisations, including describing
the existing socialist organisations as "a barrier to people getting
involved in the Left." b) Argue, without any discussion or direction
on any DSP bodies, and in contradiction to the perspectives of the
last DSP congress, for the extension of the anti-socialist Rebel NBL
grouping as "a pluralist left on campus beyond the 50 odd people on
this list". c) Denigrate Resistance, the youth organisation the DSP
is in solidarity with, and which DSP members are obliged to build,
support and defend. You state, to a group already hostile to
socialism, that your "oppositional group" in Resistance
was "crushed", and deride the "democratic decision making bodies" of
Resistance. Resistance is a key and vital project of the DSP. The
fact that you, or any comrade, are not assigned to Resistance, does
not in anyway make the undermining of Resistance acceptable. d)
Include internal pre-conference discussion documents of Resistance,
including one which was also an internal discussion document of the
DSP. Posting minority internal documents which attack DSP and
Resistance structures, to a hostile list, is particularly disloyal.
Posting such internal documents on a list of people hostile to
socialism and Resistance and the DSP, can only be designed to bring
the DSP and Resistance into disrepute. Disloyalty to Resistance is
not acceptable for comrades whether they are assigned to Resistance
at the time or not - Resistance is an organisation the DSP seeks to
build and support. One example of the composition of NBL Rebel
grouping is DL, former president of UWS Bankstown and current Queer
officer. L has been the main person involved in attacks on DSP and
Resistance Comrade MC that included attempting to pressure Comrade C
to resign from her role as UWS Bankstown Education officer. Your
contributions, instead of defending your fellow comrade, and the DSP
and Resistance in general, assisted L's anti-Resistance attacks. 4.
This intervention into student politics disregarded clear direction
from the DSP membership through the congress, and subsequent
direction from party leadership bodies, in breach of our
constitution. You have persisted in acting in a manner that is
disloyal to the DSP, that goes against the direction of the DSP and
decisions of DSP bodies, and is calculated to publicly bring the DSP
- As Isaac Deustcher analysed in his famous 1955 essay-- Heretics and
Renegades -- Ozleft seems determined to follow one while posing as
the other of these two paths. The whole Ozleft canon reminds me of
those so many memoir texts that were so de rigueur during the
fifties. Now on rewind, repackaged and retitled, Ozleft should now
revise its marketing label with a generic banner heading: Once A
...now not so jolly.
- "ozleft" wrote:
> They point to the charges laid against LF. These masterly works ofI'm sorry. I don't see what the problem is.
> L-L-L-Leninism are so good they deserve wider circulation. See
It looks like LF was consciously working at cross-purposes to
Resistance and the DSP, and refused to refrain from doing so when
That's his privilege, but it's incompatible with being in the DSP.
But of course, we all know that members of the ALP are welcome to
campaign for the Greens, and vice versa. It's only sad L-L-Leninists
that object to such things.
- A response to Peter Boyle and Paperclayman
By Bob Gould
I've just been to three sessions of the ISO's Marxism weekend in
Sydney, a reasonably well-attended event, with more than 100 present
despite the somewhat reduced character of the ISO.
It was very striking to me that I could only see two DSP members at
the event, Lisa McDonald, who spoke at a forum on regroupment attended
by 22 people, and, running a bookstall in the foyer, the grand
inquisitor/district secretary/organiser of the DSP, who subjected me
to immediate verbal abuse before I'd opened my mouth, in the same
terms as Peter Boyle on the Green Left list, that I was a "pathetic
human being", repeated a number of times.
There are two points about this. One is the curious nature of the
Socialist Alliance from the DSP's point of view. For a major event
organised by the Alliance's second largest affiliate it appears that
the DSP can't spare more than two of its vaunted activists to participate.
The second point is the substitution of abuse for political argument
by the grand inquisitor. Such is life. (Needless to say, I was a bit
verbally colourful in return.)
The political basis for the inquisitor's substitution of abuse for
political debate is laid by Peter Boyle's incoherent written abuse.
Boyle's approach is then taken up in a rather more literary way by
Paperclayman, who makes a slightly obscure reference to Isaac
Deutscher's book, Heretics and Renegades, classifying me as a renegade
and throwing abuse at the whole body of work on Ozleft, which he says
should by under the rubric of "once a jolly comrade".
That's all a bit revealing, actually. "Once a Jolly Comrade" was the
rather journalistic title given by an editor to a memoir by longtime
Communist Party functionary Keith McEwan after he left the CPA.
Despite his political demoralisation at the time, his book is actually
a very useful description of the practices and structures of the old CP.
The striking thing about the DSP is how similar its practices and
structures are to those of the old Stalinist party.
I cut my political teeth in the revolt against Stalinism in the
workers movement that started in Australia in the late 1950s. I've
always regarded myself as a heretic, not a renegade, and the content
of my lifelong political activity speaks for itself.
Paperclayman may resent the very wide range of material we've put up
on Ozleft, quite a bit of it written by me, and quite a bit by other
people, but this resentment may well be driven by the poverty of
Paperclayman's own intellectual activity.
Boyle says I'm obsessed with the DSP, but a perusal of Ozleft shows
that I have a range of other political, cultural, historical and
labour movement questions on my mind.
In fact, of my work on Ozleft only about an eighth of it, at most,
would have even incidental reference to the DSP.
I've spent a bit of time discussing the DSP the way I spent a bit of
agitational time on the old CPA between the 1950s and 1980s, because,
in my considered view, the DSP has in some ways been transformed into
the same sort of political obstacle to the development of a healthy
socialist organisation that the CPA was.
Note carefully that I'm not saying that the DSP is explicitly a
Stalinist formation. I'm saying that a number of practices of the DSP
leadership are similar to those of the old Stalinist leadership.
One has only to read Frank Hardy's novel, "But the Dead are Many", or
Jean Devanny's autobiography, or Denis Freney's description of his
first expulsion from the CPA in the 1950s, to understand what I mean.
In "A Map of Days", Freney describes an expulsion process strikingly
similar to the expulsion process to which LF was subjected.
In her autobiography Jean Devanny describes internal CP disciplinary
commissions set up to pass judgment on her, and the bodies she
describes sound strikingly similar to the one set up to pass judgment
These things resonate powerfully with me because I lived through the
agitations of Marxist heretics for many years against the Stalinist
practices of the old CPA.
Incidentally, the behaviour of the DSP leaders when challenged, saying
they doesn't have time to talk about their bizarre organisational
practices, because they're too busy being activists, sound exactly
like the kind of square-off that the CPA leadership tried to lull its
members with, whenever they were doing a job on individuals who in any
Boyle is totally disingenuous when he says that LF was expelled by the
Sydney district, implying that the national leaders had nothing to do
with it. If you believe in that you believe in fairies, or the second
coming of Christ, particularly when all documents are quite explicit
about the procedure.
Did the organiser who laid the charges, and the judge-jury-executioner
committee operate independently of the national leadership? What a
John-Howard-type pack of lies that is. Boyle's disingenuousness
beggars belief in an outfit like the DSP.
It's also worth carefully examining Boyle's proposition that LF
attacked Resistance. What LF actually did, in that context, was what
many people do in similar situations. He defended Resistance and other
socialist groups against being pushed out of a broader radical
formation. He said that Resistance had made mistakes, but shouldn't be
excluded because of those mistakes. What was he supposed to do? Say
that Resistance had never made any mistakes?
The nitty-gritty of the charges is that LF didn't ask permission of
the DSP leadership for every detail of his daily political activity.
That's a Catch 22 if ever there was one.
All my political life I've rejected the proposition that the activity
of Lenin led directly to Stalinism, but what emerges from a serious
study of the history of the revolutionary movement, and of the
political practices of some sub-Leninist groups, in this case the DSP,
is that they have institutionalised and crudified a completely
invented schema about Lenin's practices to justify an unreasonably
centralised small political machine.
The political mincing up of LF demonstrates this in spades. Clearly
the DSP leadership has no convincing answer on these questions, which
is why Boyle and Paperclayman are forced to rely on gratuitous abuse.
> All my political life I've rejected the proposition that the
> of Lenin led directly to Stalinism, but what emerges from a seriousDSP,
> study of the history of the revolutionary movement, and of the
> political practices of some sub-Leninist groups, in this case the
> is that they have institutionalised and crudified a completelywhich
> invented schema about Lenin's practices to justify an unreasonably
> centralised small political machine.
> The political mincing up of LF demonstrates this in spades. Clearly
> the DSP leadership has no convincing answer on these questions,
> is why Boyle and Paperclayman are forced to rely on gratuitousabuse.
> Did the organiser who laid the charges, and the judge-jury-executionercommittee operate
> independently of the national leadership? What a John-Howard-type pack oflies that is.
The DSP is executing people now??!! Gosh. So that's what their "exec" means!
Thank you for warning us. Socialists can watch their backs now. No wonder
you are so opposed to them. Sorry we doubted you.
I thought they were just stopping people who had different goals to their
organisation from being members. This isn't really a punishment at all. It's
not like there are any privileges for being in the DSP. And it's not like
the DSP isn't trying to help create a broad all-inclusive socialist group
for people who have different ideas to the DSP.
> I've spent a bit of time discussing the DSP the way I spent a bit ofagitational time on
> the old CPA between the 1950s and 1980s, because, in my considered view,the DSP has in
> some ways been transformed into the same sort of political obstacle to thedevelopment of
> a healthy socialist organisation that the CPA was.If the DSP has only just transformed into this obstacle, why did you
continually protest it before?
From: ozleft [mailto:ozleft@...]
Sent: Saturday, 4 September 2004 11:08 PM
Subject: [GreenLeft_discussion] Re: Split and expulsion on the Australian
A response to Peter Boyle and Paperclayman
By Bob Gould