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Split and expulsion on the Australian left

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  • ozleft
    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
    Message 1 of 12 , Sep 2, 2004
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      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
      http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Saltresignation.html

      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
      at http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/L-L-Leninism.html
    • Peter Boyle
      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
      Message 2 of 12 , Sep 3, 2004
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        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
        OBSESSED about.

        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.

        Peter Boyle

        Get a dose of sanity, visit:

        <www.socialist-alliance.org>

        <www.endthelies.net>
      • Stalinist Worker
        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
        Message 3 of 12 , Sep 3, 2004
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          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
          http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Saltresignation.html

          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
          at http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/L-L-Leninism.html



          Visit http://www.greenleft.org.au




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        • ozleft
          ... Peter, Your apolitical personal response reveals the level of your political desperation. Robert Allen
          Message 4 of 12 , Sep 3, 2004
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            >>You are truly a pitiful person, Bob Gould.>

            Peter,

            Your apolitical personal response reveals the level of your political
            desperation.

            Robert Allen
          • duroyan fertl
            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
            Message 5 of 12 , Sep 3, 2004
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              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 seems
              to have been the immediate trigger for the DSP
              leadership deciding to remove their main critical
              student member, LF, from the Democratic Socialist
              Perspective.")<<

              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...

              Duroyan

              --- ozleft <ozleft@...> wrote:
              >
              > >>You are truly a pitiful person, Bob Gould.>
              >
              > Peter,
              >
              > Your apolitical personal response reveals the level
              > of your political
              > desperation.
              >
              > Robert Allen
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
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            • ozleft
              A couple of links have been added to Bob Gould s article, mentioned in the first post in this thread http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/L-L-Leninism.html
              Message 6 of 12 , Sep 3, 2004
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                A couple of links have been added to Bob Gould's article, mentioned
                in the first post in this thread
                http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/L-L-Leninism.html

                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
                into disrepute.
              • paperclay_man
                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
                Message 7 of 12 , Sep 3, 2004
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                  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
                  Jolly Comrade.

                  ...now not so jolly.
                • alanb1000
                  ... I m sorry. I don t see what the problem is. It looks like LF was consciously working at cross-purposes to Resistance and the DSP, and refused to refrain
                  Message 8 of 12 , Sep 4, 2004
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                    "ozleft" wrote:
                    > 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.

                    I'm sorry. I don't see what the problem is.

                    It looks like LF was consciously working at cross-purposes to
                    Resistance and the DSP, and refused to refrain from doing so when
                    asked.

                    That's his privilege, but it's incompatible with being in the DSP.

                    Big deal.

                    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.
                  • ozleft
                    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
                    Message 9 of 12 , Sep 4, 2004
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                      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
                      on LF.

                      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
                      way deviated.

                      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.
                    • paperclay_man
                      ... activity ... DSP, ... which ... abuse.
                      Message 10 of 12 , Sep 4, 2004
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                        >
                        > 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.
                      • Carl Kenner
                        ... committee operate ... lies that is. The DSP is executing people now??!! Gosh. So that s what their exec means! Thank you for warning us. Socialists can
                        Message 11 of 12 , Sep 4, 2004
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                          > 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.

                          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 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.

                          If the DSP has only just transformed into this obstacle, why did you
                          continually protest it before?

                          -----Original Message-----
                          From: ozleft [mailto:ozleft@...]
                          Sent: Saturday, 4 September 2004 11:08 PM
                          To: GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com
                          Subject: [GreenLeft_discussion] Re: Split and expulsion on the Australian
                          left



                          A response to Peter Boyle and Paperclayman

                          By Bob Gould

                          ..
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