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Re: Greens "sectarianism"

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  • ozleft
    By Bob Gould I feel a bit like Goldstein must have felt in 1984. I ve become a kind of supra-historical villain. It s flattering, but extremely bizarre. When I
    Message 1 of 28 , Sep 8, 2004
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      By Bob Gould

      I feel a bit like Goldstein must have felt in 1984. I've become a
      kind of supra-historical villain. It's flattering, but extremely
      bizarre.

      When I post something to the Green left list I'm abused for doing so,
      and when I don't post it's implied that there's something strange
      behind that.

      If Shane Hopkinson makes a plea for civility in debate, and points
      out the abusive character of some DSP posts, he's darkly imputed to
      have some sinister agenda. Wow!

      It's even more eccentric when you consider that the seminar at
      Marxism where I'm alleged to have said something was about the same
      size as the one attended by Peter Boyle the next day.

      The primitive red-baiting involved in Boyle's, Meerding's and
      Benedek's posts is worth a bit of examination.

      John Percy, the general secretary, attends a small meeting of the
      Socialist Party (about 18 people) with his Green Lefts and his
      package of leaflets for about six events, and he gets a hysterical
      wildly disproportionate and quite wrong response from Dave Murray.

      I do pretty well the same thing with my little bag of tricks, which
      these days mainly consists of the website flier, and I cop hysterical
      abuse from the DSP, saying I'm like the Sparts.

      Apparently it's okay for the DSP, but it's not okay for anyone having
      an argument with the DSP to do the same thing. It's called agitation,
      comrades, and I've been doing it all my life. I don't intend to stop
      now, just because it upsets the DSP leadership.

      I'm a fair age, in reasonable health and I've got broad shoulders,
      and in fact political argument helps to keep me young. I can't stop
      the political abuse from the DSP leadership, but I demand that they
      stop lying about my political position.

      I frequently attack occasional Green sectarianism, and more frequent
      Labor sectarianism against the Greens, and I argue in favour of the
      united front. I've had a little bit of success in that, although of
      course that's hard to measure. But political necessity and the need
      to remove Howard is forcing a more reasonable position on both the
      Greens and Labor.

      I never talk about Green or Labor sectarianism without criticising
      both, and that's certainly what I said at the small seminar. I
      certainly said that the DSP leadership was much more primitive than
      the Greens in their abuse of the Laborites, which the DSP leaders
      pass of as telling the necessary truth.

      Anyone who doesn't believe me about my general political position on
      these matters can go to my "Open Letter to Fellow Members of the ALP
      http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Greensletter.html, arguing
      against ALP sectarianism, and my article on "Socialists and the
      Coming Federal Elections"
      http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Militant.html

      I continuously emphasise the need for a united front and a sense of
      proportion between the Laborites, the Greens and the far left, 40 per
      cent of which is represented by the Socialist Alliance, after recent
      departures and defections.

      Back in the early 1920s, Lenin issued a document, with all his
      prestige, directed at the British Communist Party, insisting that
      they don't stint labour, propaganda resources or money in working to
      get the Labour Party elected to government. It would be interesting
      to study British CP documents from those elections. I'll bet they
      don't have the objectionable slogan: "Dump the Tories but trust
      neither".

      Taking up Luke's point, presented considerably more civilly than the
      DSP leadership points, I don't regard Marxism as some static entity
      that requires lecturing the working class from a great height. That's
      in fact what the DSP leadership does in this politically crazy
      headline.

      If part of your political audience is the organised working class,
      migrants, etc, who are still quite vigorously supporting Laborism, a
      much saner slogan from a Socialist Alliance point of view, if you
      cared about a working class audience and if the DSP weren't such
      inveterate sectarians, might be something like" "Throw out Howard,
      vote Socialist Alliance 1, Greens 2, Labor 3, elect a Labor
      government and campaign to get progressive outcomes from this Labor
      government".

      Such a set of slogans might correspond to the deep groundswell among
      both Labor supporters and the Greens for the removal of Howard.

      The DSP leadership seems unable to come to terms with enormous
      electoral cement truck of the Greens and Labor that they're on a
      collision course with. As Anne P, of the ISO, pointed out in language
      even more colourful than mine at the Marxism seminar in question (a
      flea and and elephant, is what she actually said), the whole
      Socialist Alliance electoral project is likely to have minimal
      results, which is why Humphrey McQueen tried to sound a note of
      warning about their ill-prepared electoral activities.

      Like me, he has been around a bit and seen a lot. I'll take up his
      formulation about the ALP and country parties in some other context.

      It's worth noting that when McQueen says something similar to me
      (about the Socialist Alliance electoral activity being problematic),
      he gets a genial slap on the wrist, but I get abused.

      I return to a point I made in an earlier post about the 15 unions
      quite rightly agitating for the release of Craig Johnson. They're all
      firmly in the ALP, and all campaigning vigorously for the election of
      a Latham Labor government. When they do such a thing it's acceptable,
      when I do it, I'm a Goldstein figure. That's life.

      The real nitty gritty in Boyle's hysteria is revealed in his curious
      comment about Leftist Transpotters and Marxmail, and his assertion
      that everyone internationally ignores me. That's just his shorthand
      for the fact that I don't agree with the DSP leadership.

      The real thing the DSP leadership is cranky about is the efficient
      way Ozleft has drawn attention to the crisis in the DSP/Socialist
      Alliance, indicated by the documents that burst out on Melbourne
      Indymedia last week.

      After the documents had been on Indymedia for a few days, we put up
      my comments on Ozleft, with links to those documents, and we've had
      about 450 hits on those comments in less than a week.

      My educated guess is that about half the hits are local, because many
      locals would already have seen the material on Indymedia, and about
      half would be from the pointers we put on Marxmail and Trainspotters.

      Incidentally, serious articles about the Australian Socialist
      Alliance and the far left get a very good readership on Ozleft, such
      as Ian Rintoul's analysis of the Socialist Alliance
      http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Lookingclass.html, Michael
      Thomson's letter of resignation from the Socialist Alliance
      http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Mthomson.html, the recent
      resignation letter of the Socialist Alternative dissidents
      http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Saltresignation.html
      resignation letter and my lengthy articles on Leninism
      http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Lenin1.html and
      http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/LeninII.html .

      We're only two weeks into the election campaign and there are four or
      five more GLWs to go in the campaign. One shudders to think what
      pearls of sectarianism the DSP leadership will dream up to cap this
      week's headline.

      PS Boyle and the DSP leadership should be a bit careful in their
      hubris about the coverage they get in the Financial Review, the main
      financial paper of the ruling class. It clearly doesn't want a Latham
      Labor government, so it suit it to highlight the Socialist Alliance's
      hostility to Latham and Laborism.

      The DSP/Socialist Alliance is hardly going to recruit from the
      Financial Review and so far Green Left Weekly's sizeable hit rate on
      its website, which is an interesting phenomenon, doesn't appear to
      have produced any significant increase in the political influence of
      the DSP. Rather, the graph of political influence of the DSP appears
      to be pointing the other way.
    • stuartmunckton
      I ll bet they ... I fail to see what is objectionable about this slogan. Unless Gould thinks we should trust the neo-liberal leaders of the ALP that will form
      Message 2 of 28 , Sep 8, 2004
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        I'll bet they
        > don't have the objectionable slogan: "Dump the Tories but trust
        > neither".

        I fail to see what is objectionable about this slogan. Unless Gould
        thinks we should trust the neo-liberal leaders of the ALP that will
        form government if they win the election. I doubt we are actually
        telling too many people anything new.

        Perhaps we should tell people to trust the ALP. That no doubt would
        stop Gould attacking us. But I doubt too many people would actually
        believe us.

        That's
        > in fact what the DSP leadership does in this politically crazy
        > headline.

        It seems for Gould that stating an obvious fact (that the ALP can not
        be trusted by the working class) is politically crazy.


        One shudders to think what
        > pearls of sectarianism the DSP leadership will dream up to cap this
        > week's headline.

        You never know. We may engage in serous self crticisim next week and
        run a headline lime "ALP really the workers friend! Put your trust in
        Latham!"


        --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "ozleft" <ozleft@y...> wrote:
        > By Bob Gould
        >
        > I feel a bit like Goldstein must have felt in 1984. I've become a
        > kind of supra-historical villain. It's flattering, but extremely
        > bizarre.
        >
        > When I post something to the Green left list I'm abused for doing so,
        > and when I don't post it's implied that there's something strange
        > behind that.
        >
        > If Shane Hopkinson makes a plea for civility in debate, and points
        > out the abusive character of some DSP posts, he's darkly imputed to
        > have some sinister agenda. Wow!
        >
        > It's even more eccentric when you consider that the seminar at
        > Marxism where I'm alleged to have said something was about the same
        > size as the one attended by Peter Boyle the next day.
        >
        > The primitive red-baiting involved in Boyle's, Meerding's and
        > Benedek's posts is worth a bit of examination.
        >
        > John Percy, the general secretary, attends a small meeting of the
        > Socialist Party (about 18 people) with his Green Lefts and his
        > package of leaflets for about six events, and he gets a hysterical
        > wildly disproportionate and quite wrong response from Dave Murray.
        >
        > I do pretty well the same thing with my little bag of tricks, which
        > these days mainly consists of the website flier, and I cop hysterical
        > abuse from the DSP, saying I'm like the Sparts.
        >
        > Apparently it's okay for the DSP, but it's not okay for anyone having
        > an argument with the DSP to do the same thing. It's called agitation,
        > comrades, and I've been doing it all my life. I don't intend to stop
        > now, just because it upsets the DSP leadership.
        >
        > I'm a fair age, in reasonable health and I've got broad shoulders,
        > and in fact political argument helps to keep me young. I can't stop
        > the political abuse from the DSP leadership, but I demand that they
        > stop lying about my political position.
        >
        > I frequently attack occasional Green sectarianism, and more frequent
        > Labor sectarianism against the Greens, and I argue in favour of the
        > united front. I've had a little bit of success in that, although of
        > course that's hard to measure. But political necessity and the need
        > to remove Howard is forcing a more reasonable position on both the
        > Greens and Labor.
        >
        > I never talk about Green or Labor sectarianism without criticising
        > both, and that's certainly what I said at the small seminar. I
        > certainly said that the DSP leadership was much more primitive than
        > the Greens in their abuse of the Laborites, which the DSP leaders
        > pass of as telling the necessary truth.
        >
        > Anyone who doesn't believe me about my general political position on
        > these matters can go to my "Open Letter to Fellow Members of the ALP
        > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Greensletter.html, arguing
        > against ALP sectarianism, and my article on "Socialists and the
        > Coming Federal Elections"
        > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Militant.html
        >
        > I continuously emphasise the need for a united front and a sense of
        > proportion between the Laborites, the Greens and the far left, 40 per
        > cent of which is represented by the Socialist Alliance, after recent
        > departures and defections.
        >
        > Back in the early 1920s, Lenin issued a document, with all his
        > prestige, directed at the British Communist Party, insisting that
        > they don't stint labour, propaganda resources or money in working to
        > get the Labour Party elected to government. It would be interesting
        > to study British CP documents from those elections. I'll bet they
        > don't have the objectionable slogan: "Dump the Tories but trust
        > neither".
        >
        > Taking up Luke's point, presented considerably more civilly than the
        > DSP leadership points, I don't regard Marxism as some static entity
        > that requires lecturing the working class from a great height. That's
        > in fact what the DSP leadership does in this politically crazy
        > headline.
        >
        > If part of your political audience is the organised working class,
        > migrants, etc, who are still quite vigorously supporting Laborism, a
        > much saner slogan from a Socialist Alliance point of view, if you
        > cared about a working class audience and if the DSP weren't such
        > inveterate sectarians, might be something like" "Throw out Howard,
        > vote Socialist Alliance 1, Greens 2, Labor 3, elect a Labor
        > government and campaign to get progressive outcomes from this Labor
        > government".
        >
        > Such a set of slogans might correspond to the deep groundswell among
        > both Labor supporters and the Greens for the removal of Howard.
        >
        > The DSP leadership seems unable to come to terms with enormous
        > electoral cement truck of the Greens and Labor that they're on a
        > collision course with. As Anne P, of the ISO, pointed out in language
        > even more colourful than mine at the Marxism seminar in question (a
        > flea and and elephant, is what she actually said), the whole
        > Socialist Alliance electoral project is likely to have minimal
        > results, which is why Humphrey McQueen tried to sound a note of
        > warning about their ill-prepared electoral activities.
        >
        > Like me, he has been around a bit and seen a lot. I'll take up his
        > formulation about the ALP and country parties in some other context.
        >
        > It's worth noting that when McQueen says something similar to me
        > (about the Socialist Alliance electoral activity being problematic),
        > he gets a genial slap on the wrist, but I get abused.
        >
        > I return to a point I made in an earlier post about the 15 unions
        > quite rightly agitating for the release of Craig Johnson. They're all
        > firmly in the ALP, and all campaigning vigorously for the election of
        > a Latham Labor government. When they do such a thing it's acceptable,
        > when I do it, I'm a Goldstein figure. That's life.
        >
        > The real nitty gritty in Boyle's hysteria is revealed in his curious
        > comment about Leftist Transpotters and Marxmail, and his assertion
        > that everyone internationally ignores me. That's just his shorthand
        > for the fact that I don't agree with the DSP leadership.
        >
        > The real thing the DSP leadership is cranky about is the efficient
        > way Ozleft has drawn attention to the crisis in the DSP/Socialist
        > Alliance, indicated by the documents that burst out on Melbourne
        > Indymedia last week.
        >
        > After the documents had been on Indymedia for a few days, we put up
        > my comments on Ozleft, with links to those documents, and we've had
        > about 450 hits on those comments in less than a week.
        >
        > My educated guess is that about half the hits are local, because many
        > locals would already have seen the material on Indymedia, and about
        > half would be from the pointers we put on Marxmail and Trainspotters.
        >
        > Incidentally, serious articles about the Australian Socialist
        > Alliance and the far left get a very good readership on Ozleft, such
        > as Ian Rintoul's analysis of the Socialist Alliance
        > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Lookingclass.html, Michael
        > Thomson's letter of resignation from the Socialist Alliance
        > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Mthomson.html, the recent
        > resignation letter of the Socialist Alternative dissidents
        > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Saltresignation.html
        > resignation letter and my lengthy articles on Leninism
        > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Lenin1.html and
        > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/LeninII.html .
        >
        > We're only two weeks into the election campaign and there are four or
        > five more GLWs to go in the campaign. One shudders to think what
        > pearls of sectarianism the DSP leadership will dream up to cap this
        > week's headline.
        >
        > PS Boyle and the DSP leadership should be a bit careful in their
        > hubris about the coverage they get in the Financial Review, the main
        > financial paper of the ruling class. It clearly doesn't want a Latham
        > Labor government, so it suit it to highlight the Socialist Alliance's
        > hostility to Latham and Laborism.
        >
        > The DSP/Socialist Alliance is hardly going to recruit from the
        > Financial Review and so far Green Left Weekly's sizeable hit rate on
        > its website, which is an interesting phenomenon, doesn't appear to
        > have produced any significant increase in the political influence of
        > the DSP. Rather, the graph of political influence of the DSP appears
        > to be pointing the other way.
      • chen9692000
        ... Duncan ... said ... and ... doubt be ... On this list unfortunately there s nothing strange about attributing views to someone and then attacking what
        Message 3 of 28 , Sep 8, 2004
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          --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "Peter Boyle" <ppz@t...>
          wrote:
          > --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "chen9692000"
          > <chen9692000@y...> wrote:
          > > Its strange isn't it? I have several pointless exchanges with
          Duncan
          > > on the issue of Bob's posts - Peter makes the allegation that Bob
          said
          > > at the ISO conference that the Greens were sectarian to the ALP
          and
          > > challenges him to repeat it and in your post this is continued by
          > > attributing to Bob the view that this press release will "no
          doubt" be
          > > read by "demented" Bob as "expose labour sectarianism".
          >
          > Really Shane, what is strange about it?

          On this list unfortunately there's nothing strange about attributing
          views to someone and then attacking what they were supposed to have
          said or, attacking them personally. That's my point

          >Bob Gould's political universe (wherever that it).

          QED

          > been posting Greens media releases in the hope that he might finally
          > make the obvious comment. Which he did at a small workshop at
          >Marxism.So I challenge him to repeat it on this list.

          That's fine and now he has we can take it from there. I was just
          objecting to a "debate" based on what X was supposed to have said

          > What is really strange is you seem to take Bob's Gould's posture
          > (that's all it is an obvious posture to deride the Socialist
          >Alliance)about some broader left unity project in Australia today as
          >a serious proposal. I know you live in an isolated place but really
          >Shane you cannot be that gullible?

          You see what I mean? To take someone's argument seriously and say that
          we should debate what is actually said, makes me gullible since
          people who disagree with you must surely just be posturing.

          > When I said Bob Gould was pathetic I wasn't abusing him but making a
          > political assessment of his politics. It is pathetic.

          Well you said "You are truly a pitiful person, Bob Gould" and
          a "pitiful, sectarian windbag". I'm not sure what to make of the
          idea that one's politics can be "capable of arousing sympathetic
          sadness and compassion." There's not very much sympathy in any of
          this. Apparently Bob is like a `Spart', there are mysterious "people
          who have visited Sydney" (from where I should wonder? Other DSP
          branchs I guess) and they have realised (apparently quite
          independently of Peter) that Bob is pathetic too. In addition
          apparently no-one listens to him on other lists as well. I guess the
          evidence is now overwhelming that Bob is a loony – the only mystery
          that remains is why I am so gullible and seek to defend the idea that
          we should debate things. I'll have to go away and think about it.

          >But you must have your reasons for appointing himself his lawyer on
          >this list.

          But wait… of course this wasn't really a question – its meant to
          smear me with the same brush. So I guess I've lost that argument too.

          > P.S. And don't call me intolerant for thinking that some people are
          > pathetic. That's my view and I have a right to it.

          This assertion of bourgeois individualism is beneath you Peter. Just
          admit you had a hard day, that Bob pisses you off for some good and
          some bad reasons, and let's move on.

          Shane
        • chen9692000
          ... Indeed - thanks for that. ... Yes and now Bob has replied we can consider the point. ... Indeed. I guess they are playing to the choir the way they do up
          Message 4 of 28 , Sep 8, 2004
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            --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, Nick Fredman <sra@s...>
            wrote:
            > Shane said:
            >
            > >these debates are hard enough without
            > >attributing views to people and debating with straw people.
            >
            > Yes point taken, I will attempt to contain my comments to the
            > verifiable views of persons. Bob Gould is free to confirm or deny
            > what he really thinks of the Greens, re the ALP or anything else.

            Indeed - thanks for that.

            > However my main point in a few posts has been that Greens approach
            > the ALP doesn't seem much different to the Socialist Alliance
            > approach, so I've mainly been commenting on Greens media releases.

            Yes and now Bob has replied we can consider the point.

            > The Greens policy on drugs is good, and it's wrong as the dumb
            > red-neck Nationals are to take the liberalising aspect out of
            > context

            Indeed. I guess they are playing to the choir the way they do up
            here. The local member here is DeAnne Kelly and her recent liftout in
            the papers condemns the ALP's cutting of the diesel fuel rebate as
            destructive to industry but made worse by the fact that they want to
            use the money to pay for their "socialist" education policies. I
            wonder has anyone told the ALP that that's still on the books.

            Thanks for the comments on the drugs policy too.

            Shane
          • chen9692000
            Dear Luke There are some interesting comments here and I hope I am reading you right - its 4 in the morning so here goes... ... bourgeois ... between ... I m
            Message 5 of 28 , Sep 8, 2004
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              Dear Luke

              There are some interesting comments here and I hope I am reading you
              right - its 4 in the morning so here goes...

              > I'm sure Bob can speak for himself, but I think his answer would be
              > that he holds GLW (as a Marxist organ) and the Greens (as a
              bourgeois
              > parliamentarist party) to different standards. Petty jostling
              between
              > the left parties (ALP and Greens) who are competing for votes is to
              > be expected, but that the role of Marxists to provide a serious
              > analysis and not to buy into this.
              >
              > My criticism of this approach I have outlined before.

              I'm not clear what you mean by "this approach" you mean of denoucing
              one or the other bourgeois party.

              >That is, it
              > treats 'Marxism' as some podium from on which to criticise social
              > forces and against which to measure them. Can't socialists learn
              > anything from anyone in the Greens? Or even maybe the ALP?

              Good question. The answer - I'm sure you know - is "of course we
              can". The Greens have built themselves into a serious 3rd force in
              politics while socialists have not and I'd love to be clearer about
              why union militants stay in the ALP - what do they see as the pros
              and cons, the way forward and so on. Bob claims that the NSW Labour
              Councils website is one of the most leftwing - this is a worry but if
              that assessment is right then it shows where the political spectrum
              lies.

              > If we judge the Greens as an organisation to be an equal partner,
              > rather than just a 'centrist formation'

              I know what you are getting at I think but I just don't think that
              the SA and Greens are "equal partners". I have asked Alex (who may
              be busy with parenting duties) to spell out what he sees as SA
              significance because electorally there's no comparision.

              > I don't see any problem of principle with GLW or
              >SA's 'sectarianism' towards the ALP,as this is not (as Bob possibly
              >maintains) just squabbling between organisations that are more or
              >less on the same side of politics,

              This is a key question. Of course the ALP is firmly in the hands of
              the right and dominated by neoliberal philosophy. But are all its
              members - including most of the unions signing up to defend Craig
              Johnston - on the opposite side.

              >but is based on a real programmatic difference,

              I'm not sure what "real" adds to this - they have programmatic
              differences.

              >and more importantly on the fact that they are the expression of
              >different social forces.

              This is fundamental, however, I just can't see the SA as the
              expression of any social forces. They are a propaganda group of
              students and ex-students for the most part younger radical activists.

              The Greens are the expression of the environment movement (in our
              terms of the contradiction between capitals need to grow and its
              material base in the natural environment). There program is anti-
              neolliberal and pro-peace supported electorally by a million votes
              of predominantly white collar workers in state and service
              industries.

              > On the other hand, I would make the critique that the Greens
              > especially do not focus enough on defeating the Liberals as a step
              >to building the left.

              The general line is howard has to go - but Latham is not a real
              alternative like the Greens.

              >Some Greens at times seem to put Liberal and Labor
              > in the same box and just call for a vote to the Greens, which I
              >think misreads the situation a lot.

              Some members (like others on this list oddly) don't see any
              difference between the major parties - but then there focus is
              usually just on environmental questions.

              >The vast majority of Greens hate Howard
              > and will preference the ALP and will see a Liberal loss as an
              > inspiration that 50% of people are rejecting the 'Howard agenda'.

              Indeed. So what do you think revolutionary socialists should do about
              that?

              Thanks for your kind words as well.

              Shane
            • chen9692000
              ... Perhaps Bob might like to comment but I am fairly sure that he doesn t trust the leaders of the ALP. And I m fairly sure that many ALP supporters also are
              Message 6 of 28 , Sep 8, 2004
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                --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "stuartmunckton"
                <stuartmunckton@y...> wrote:
                > I'll bet they
                > > don't have the objectionable slogan: "Dump the Tories but trust
                > > neither".
                >
                > I fail to see what is objectionable about this slogan. Unless Gould
                > thinks we should trust the neo-liberal leaders of the ALP that will
                > form government if they win the election. I doubt we are actually
                > telling too many people anything new.

                Perhaps Bob might like to comment but I am fairly sure that he
                doesn't trust the leaders of the ALP. And I'm fairly sure that many
                ALP supporters also are aware that the ALP might run up a different
                flag in office - so the point is what do *they* make of you stating
                the obvious as a headline. Either you are preaching to them in a
                patronising way (ie by seeming to assume you ARE telling them
                something they don't know) or you are conflating Howard and Latham as
                equally untrustworthy (which is NOT true in the minds of most
                people).

                > Perhaps we should tell people to trust the ALP.
                >That no doubt would stop Gould attacking us.

                Why? Do you think that that would stop Bob attacking you? YOu think
                that's what Bob is aiming at - to defend the ALP from the SA? I think
                he'd demand that you go and re-do the classes on the united front but
                for the opposite reason.

                >But I doubt too many people would actually believe us.

                No that's right - but then that's not the only 2 options is it?

                > It seems for Gould that stating an obvious fact (that the ALP can
                > not be trusted by the working class) is politically crazy.

                I think in the minds of most people the slogan is not "obvious" - if
                it were then you wouldn't need to say it - because it seems to
                conflate the arch-enemy and the man most likely to defeat him.

                > You never know. We may engage in serous self crticism next week

                No danger of that Stuart - no danger of that.

                > run a headline lime "ALP really the workers friend! Put your trust
                >in Latham!"

                This is what being sectarian means Stuart. Anyone who criticises you
                can only be the enemy so if he says this headline is sectarian to teh
                ALP it can only mean he wants you to be a cheerleader for the ALP.
                Now they are not the only options are they? In fact no self-criticism
                is required since you are free to critque what Bob has actually
                said! : "Throw out Howard, vote Socialist Alliance 1, Greens 2, Labor
                3, elect a Labor government and campaign to get progressive outcomes
                from this Labor government".

                Now that's a bit wordy but you get the idea. What's wrong with his
                proposal? I see even the Greens get 2nd place ahead of the ALP - what
                craziness is this from a diehard ALPer. :-)

                Cheers

                Shane







                > > Such a set of slogans might correspond to the deep groundswell
                among
                > > both Labor supporters and the Greens for the removal of Howard.
                > >
                > > The DSP leadership seems unable to come to terms with enormous
                > > electoral cement truck of the Greens and Labor that they're on a
                > > collision course with. As Anne P, of the ISO, pointed out in
                language
                > > even more colourful than mine at the Marxism seminar in question
                (a
                > > flea and and elephant, is what she actually said), the whole
                > > Socialist Alliance electoral project is likely to have minimal
                > > results, which is why Humphrey McQueen tried to sound a note of
                > > warning about their ill-prepared electoral activities.
                > >
                > > Like me, he has been around a bit and seen a lot. I'll take up
                his
                > > formulation about the ALP and country parties in some other
                context.
                > >
                > > It's worth noting that when McQueen says something similar to me
                > > (about the Socialist Alliance electoral activity being
                problematic),
                > > he gets a genial slap on the wrist, but I get abused.
                > >
                > > I return to a point I made in an earlier post about the 15 unions
                > > quite rightly agitating for the release of Craig Johnson. They're
                all
                > > firmly in the ALP, and all campaigning vigorously for the
                election of
                > > a Latham Labor government. When they do such a thing it's
                acceptable,
                > > when I do it, I'm a Goldstein figure. That's life.
                > >
                > > The real nitty gritty in Boyle's hysteria is revealed in his
                curious
                > > comment about Leftist Transpotters and Marxmail, and his
                assertion
                > > that everyone internationally ignores me. That's just his
                shorthand
                > > for the fact that I don't agree with the DSP leadership.
                > >
                > > The real thing the DSP leadership is cranky about is the
                efficient
                > > way Ozleft has drawn attention to the crisis in the DSP/Socialist
                > > Alliance, indicated by the documents that burst out on Melbourne
                > > Indymedia last week.
                > >
                > > After the documents had been on Indymedia for a few days, we put
                up
                > > my comments on Ozleft, with links to those documents, and we've
                had
                > > about 450 hits on those comments in less than a week.
                > >
                > > My educated guess is that about half the hits are local, because
                many
                > > locals would already have seen the material on Indymedia, and
                about
                > > half would be from the pointers we put on Marxmail and
                Trainspotters.
                > >
                > > Incidentally, serious articles about the Australian Socialist
                > > Alliance and the far left get a very good readership on Ozleft,
                such
                > > as Ian Rintoul's analysis of the Socialist Alliance
                > > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Lookingclass.html,
                Michael
                > > Thomson's letter of resignation from the Socialist Alliance
                > > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Mthomson.html, the
                recent
                > > resignation letter of the Socialist Alternative dissidents
                > > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Saltresignation.html
                > > resignation letter and my lengthy articles on Leninism
                > > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Lenin1.html and
                > > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/LeninII.html .
                > >
                > > We're only two weeks into the election campaign and there are
                four or
                > > five more GLWs to go in the campaign. One shudders to think what
                > > pearls of sectarianism the DSP leadership will dream up to cap
                this
                > > week's headline.
                > >
                > > PS Boyle and the DSP leadership should be a bit careful in their
                > > hubris about the coverage they get in the Financial Review, the
                main
                > > financial paper of the ruling class. It clearly doesn't want a
                Latham
                > > Labor government, so it suit it to highlight the Socialist
                Alliance's
                > > hostility to Latham and Laborism.
                > >
                > > The DSP/Socialist Alliance is hardly going to recruit from the
                > > Financial Review and so far Green Left Weekly's sizeable hit rate
                on
                > > its website, which is an interesting phenomenon, doesn't appear
                to
                > > have produced any significant increase in the political influence
                of
                > > the DSP. Rather, the graph of political influence of the DSP
                appears
                > > to be pointing the other way.
              • Luke Fomiatti
                ... No, the approach of seeing yourself as having all the answers (or at least having qualitatively more answers than anyone else) by virtue of
                Message 7 of 28 , Sep 8, 2004
                • 0 Attachment
                  > > I'm sure Bob can speak for himself, but I think his answer would
                  > be
                  > > that he holds GLW (as a Marxist organ) and the Greens (as a
                  > bourgeois
                  > > parliamentarist party) to different standards. Petty jostling
                  > between
                  > > the left parties (ALP and Greens) who are competing for votes is
                  > to
                  > > be expected, but that the role of Marxists to provide a serious
                  > > analysis and not to buy into this.
                  > >
                  > > My criticism of this approach I have outlined before.
                  >
                  > I'm not clear what you mean by "this approach" you mean of
                  > denoucing
                  > one or the other bourgeois party.

                  No, the approach of seeing yourself as having all the answers (or at
                  least having qualitatively more answers than anyone else) by virtue
                  of self-identification as a Marxist.

                  The problem is not so much the arrogance of this (although that could
                  mean that people don't learn anything) but the view that comes of
                  this that anyone outside your own project is the enemy / is
                  destructive / is stupid. It breads a sectarian mentality which is
                  very harmful.

                  (Not that I'm saying Bob has this outlook necessarily, just that I
                  see that as a potential problem with his starting point.)




                  > I know what you are getting at I think but I just don't think that
                  > the SA and Greens are "equal partners". I have asked Alex (who may
                  > be busy with parenting duties) to spell out what he sees as SA
                  > significance because electorally there's no comparision.

                  Yes, but that wasn't my point. The problem is not that Greens members
                  don't see socialists as real leftists because they don't get many
                  votes, the problem is that socialists often don't see Greens members
                  as real leftists (or at least not to the extent that they see
                  themselves). They tend to view the Greens as "the last organised
                  hesitation before socialism" or something like that. I think this is
                  a problem.

                  So my 'equal partners' comment was directed more at the realm of
                  ideas than at the size or support of particular political formations.
                  But maybe your criticism extends here too, maybe socialists should in
                  fact see that they have a great deal to learn from the Greens, rather
                  than vise versa.



                  > >but is based on a real programmatic difference,
                  >
                  > I'm not sure what "real" adds to this - they have programmatic
                  > differences.
                  Yes but all parties have programmatic differences, they would be in
                  the same organisation otherwise wouldn't they? My point is that the
                  programme of the ALP is different from the that of the Greens in a
                  far more material way than the Greens' programme is with say the
                  Socialist Alliance.

                  Of course, this wasn't my main point, which was...


                  > >and more importantly on the fact that they are the expression of
                  > >different social forces.
                  >
                  > This is fundamental, however, I just can't see the SA as the
                  > expression of any social forces.

                  Sure, but I wasn't talking about SA, but about the Greens and the
                  ALP. The Greens are a political expression of a massive growth of
                  left dissatisfaction with neoliberalism, they are new and still
                  linked to their supporters. The ALP is significantly more ossified
                  (both in its structure and its support base), there is a much sharper
                  distinction between it and its supporters, and to the extent that it
                  is moving politically, it is to the right.

                  I agree that SA is not the expression of any social forces. However,
                  nor was the Greens when it first started. It was a conscious effort
                  by particular individuals, it didn't arise spontaniously out of the
                  environment movement. There isn't necessarily a contradiction between
                  being and not being the expression of a social force. These things
                  change over time.

                  The real question is whether or not the SA can ever become such an
                  expression. Or, as well, whether it has the intention of doing so.




                  > > On the other hand, I would make the critique that the Greens
                  > > especially do not focus enough on defeating the Liberals as a
                  > step
                  > >to building the left.
                  >
                  > The general line is howard has to go - but Latham is not a real
                  > alternative like the Greens.

                  Not to dispute that this is the general line, but this has not been
                  my experience. My experience has been that the Greens say there are a
                  whole heap of parties swirling around and that they are simply the
                  best of them. Do you have any examples of media releases or such
                  showing how the Greens are calling for Howard to go?


                  > Indeed. So what do you think revolutionary socialists should do
                  > about
                  > that?

                  Well thats the question isn't it? To be honest I really don't know.

                  I think the End the Lies demos are a good initiative. I've been doing
                  general 'anti-liberal' campaigning on UWS that's been focused on
                  getting people involved rather than on voting and I'll be campaigning
                  for the SA this time round. But on the bigger questions of whether
                  socialists should run, how they should run, etc. I'm pretty undecided
                  at the moment.

                  Luke




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                • stuartmunckton
                  ... Throw out Howard, vote Socialist Alliance 1, Greens 2, Labor ... That is our position. But it hardly makes for a good slogan on the cover of the paper. I
                  Message 8 of 28 , Sep 8, 2004
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                    --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "chen9692000"
                    <chen9692000@y...> wrote:
                    > --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "stuartmunckton"
                    > <stuartmunckton@y...> wrote:
                    > > I'll bet they
                    > > > don't have the objectionable slogan: "Dump the Tories but trust
                    > > > neither".
                    > >
                    > > I fail to see what is objectionable about this slogan. Unless Gould
                    > > thinks we should trust the neo-liberal leaders of the ALP that will
                    > > form government if they win the election. I doubt we are actually
                    > > telling too many people anything new.
                    >
                    > Perhaps Bob might like to comment but I am fairly sure that he
                    > doesn't trust the leaders of the ALP. And I'm fairly sure that many
                    > ALP supporters also are aware that the ALP might run up a different
                    > flag in office - so the point is what do *they* make of you stating
                    > the obvious as a headline. Either you are preaching to them in a
                    > patronising way (ie by seeming to assume you ARE telling them
                    > something they don't know) or you are conflating Howard and Latham as
                    > equally untrustworthy (which is NOT true in the minds of most
                    > people).
                    >
                    > > Perhaps we should tell people to trust the ALP.
                    > >That no doubt would stop Gould attacking us.
                    >
                    > Why? Do you think that that would stop Bob attacking you? YOu think
                    > that's what Bob is aiming at - to defend the ALP from the SA? I think
                    > he'd demand that you go and re-do the classes on the united front but
                    > for the opposite reason.
                    >
                    > >But I doubt too many people would actually believe us.
                    >
                    > No that's right - but then that's not the only 2 options is it?
                    >
                    > > It seems for Gould that stating an obvious fact (that the ALP can
                    > > not be trusted by the working class) is politically crazy.
                    >
                    > I think in the minds of most people the slogan is not "obvious" - if
                    > it were then you wouldn't need to say it - because it seems to
                    > conflate the arch-enemy and the man most likely to defeat him.
                    >
                    > > You never know. We may engage in serous self crticism next week
                    >
                    > No danger of that Stuart - no danger of that.
                    "Throw out Howard, vote Socialist Alliance 1, Greens 2, Labor
                    > 3, elect a Labor government and campaign to get progressive outcomes
                    > from this Labor government".
                    >
                    > Now that's a bit wordy but you get the idea. What's wrong with his
                    > proposal?

                    That is our position. But it hardly makes for a good slogan on the
                    cover of the paper. I really don't see what the fuss is about. If you
                    say you can not trust the ALP, then the implication is obviously that
                    if you want progressive outcomes you will have to "campaign" to get
                    them them.


                    >
                    > > run a headline lime "ALP really the workers friend! Put your trust
                    > >in Latham!"
                    >
                    > This is what being sectarian means Stuart. Anyone who criticises you
                    > can only be the enemy so if he says this headline is sectarian to teh
                    > ALP it can only mean he wants you to be a cheerleader for the ALP.
                    > Now they are not the only options are they? In fact no self-criticism
                    > is required since you are free to critque what Bob has actually
                    > said! : "Throw out Howard, vote Socialist Alliance 1, Greens 2, Labor
                    > 3, elect a Labor government and campaign to get progressive outcomes
                    > from this Labor government".
                    >
                    > Now that's a bit wordy but you get the idea. What's wrong with his
                    > proposal? I see even the Greens get 2nd place ahead of the ALP - what
                    > craziness is this from a diehard ALPer. :-)
                    >
                    > Cheers
                    >
                    > Shane
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > > > Such a set of slogans might correspond to the deep groundswell
                    > among
                    > > > both Labor supporters and the Greens for the removal of Howard.
                    > > >
                    > > > The DSP leadership seems unable to come to terms with enormous
                    > > > electoral cement truck of the Greens and Labor that they're on a
                    > > > collision course with. As Anne P, of the ISO, pointed out in
                    > language
                    > > > even more colourful than mine at the Marxism seminar in question
                    > (a
                    > > > flea and and elephant, is what she actually said), the whole
                    > > > Socialist Alliance electoral project is likely to have minimal
                    > > > results, which is why Humphrey McQueen tried to sound a note of
                    > > > warning about their ill-prepared electoral activities.
                    > > >
                    > > > Like me, he has been around a bit and seen a lot. I'll take up
                    > his
                    > > > formulation about the ALP and country parties in some other
                    > context.
                    > > >
                    > > > It's worth noting that when McQueen says something similar to me
                    > > > (about the Socialist Alliance electoral activity being
                    > problematic),
                    > > > he gets a genial slap on the wrist, but I get abused.
                    > > >
                    > > > I return to a point I made in an earlier post about the 15 unions
                    > > > quite rightly agitating for the release of Craig Johnson. They're
                    > all
                    > > > firmly in the ALP, and all campaigning vigorously for the
                    > election of
                    > > > a Latham Labor government. When they do such a thing it's
                    > acceptable,
                    > > > when I do it, I'm a Goldstein figure. That's life.
                    > > >
                    > > > The real nitty gritty in Boyle's hysteria is revealed in his
                    > curious
                    > > > comment about Leftist Transpotters and Marxmail, and his
                    > assertion
                    > > > that everyone internationally ignores me. That's just his
                    > shorthand
                    > > > for the fact that I don't agree with the DSP leadership.
                    > > >
                    > > > The real thing the DSP leadership is cranky about is the
                    > efficient
                    > > > way Ozleft has drawn attention to the crisis in the DSP/Socialist
                    > > > Alliance, indicated by the documents that burst out on Melbourne
                    > > > Indymedia last week.
                    > > >
                    > > > After the documents had been on Indymedia for a few days, we put
                    > up
                    > > > my comments on Ozleft, with links to those documents, and we've
                    > had
                    > > > about 450 hits on those comments in less than a week.
                    > > >
                    > > > My educated guess is that about half the hits are local, because
                    > many
                    > > > locals would already have seen the material on Indymedia, and
                    > about
                    > > > half would be from the pointers we put on Marxmail and
                    > Trainspotters.
                    > > >
                    > > > Incidentally, serious articles about the Australian Socialist
                    > > > Alliance and the far left get a very good readership on Ozleft,
                    > such
                    > > > as Ian Rintoul's analysis of the Socialist Alliance
                    > > > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Lookingclass.html,
                    > Michael
                    > > > Thomson's letter of resignation from the Socialist Alliance
                    > > > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Mthomson.html, the
                    > recent
                    > > > resignation letter of the Socialist Alternative dissidents
                    > > > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Saltresignation.html
                    > > > resignation letter and my lengthy articles on Leninism
                    > > > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Lenin1.html and
                    > > > http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/LeninII.html .
                    > > >
                    > > > We're only two weeks into the election campaign and there are
                    > four or
                    > > > five more GLWs to go in the campaign. One shudders to think what
                    > > > pearls of sectarianism the DSP leadership will dream up to cap
                    > this
                    > > > week's headline.
                    > > >
                    > > > PS Boyle and the DSP leadership should be a bit careful in their
                    > > > hubris about the coverage they get in the Financial Review, the
                    > main
                    > > > financial paper of the ruling class. It clearly doesn't want a
                    > Latham
                    > > > Labor government, so it suit it to highlight the Socialist
                    > Alliance's
                    > > > hostility to Latham and Laborism.
                    > > >
                    > > > The DSP/Socialist Alliance is hardly going to recruit from the
                    > > > Financial Review and so far Green Left Weekly's sizeable hit rate
                    > on
                    > > > its website, which is an interesting phenomenon, doesn't appear
                    > to
                    > > > have produced any significant increase in the political influence
                    > of
                    > > > the DSP. Rather, the graph of political influence of the DSP
                    > appears
                    > > > to be pointing the other way.
                  • chen9692000
                    Chen 96920000 wrote ... YOur reply ... Fair enough then it is hard to see what all the fuss is about. If you agree with Bob s basic united front strategy what
                    Message 9 of 28 , Sep 8, 2004
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Chen 96920000 wrote

                      > > Now that's a bit wordy but you get the idea. What's wrong with his
                      > > proposal?

                      YOur reply

                      > That is our position. But it hardly makes for a good slogan on the
                      > cover of the paper. I really don't see what the fuss is about. If you
                      > say you can not trust the ALP, then the implication is obviously that
                      > if you want progressive outcomes you will have to "campaign" to get
                      > them them.

                      Fair enough then it is hard to see what all the fuss is about. If you
                      agree with Bob's basic united front strategy what are you all fighting
                      about? Its just a distinction without a difference.

                      Cheers

                      Shane
                    • simongb2
                      While there has been a bit of superficial discussion about how the Socialist Alliance doesn t yet represent any substantial social forces in Australian
                      Message 10 of 28 , Sep 8, 2004
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                        While there has been a bit of superficial discussion about how the
                        Socialist Alliance doesn't yet represent any substantial social
                        forces in Australian politics perhaps we need to give more
                        consideration to what social forces the very, very small handful of
                        (admittedly voluminous) commentators on this list represent as
                        well!?!

                        So what do Bob Gould, Shane Hopkinson QC and the OZleft crowd
                        represent? Are they merely reflecting a widespread debate throughout
                        the Australian left about the best way to relate to the ALP. Are
                        Bob's proposals for SA election slogans or a united front between the
                        SA, Greens and ALP to be taken seriously. Are the ALP trade unionists
                        uniting with the SA in the trade union movement similarly concerned
                        about "SA sectarianism" towards themselves. Hardly.

                        Unfortuately its not a real debate... the serious underlying
                        political errors underlining all of Bob Gould's criticisms of the SA
                        are the same he has persisted in doggedly for 40years or more. He has
                        an ideological conviction that Socialists should not organise outside
                        of the ALP. He is not simply hostile to specific SA or DSP politics
                        or tacitical decisions. He opposes socialists trying to build
                        socialist parties, politically independent of the ALP. That is the
                        basis for his criticisms - all of them.

                        I think Shane (and probably most of the OZLEFTers) are in a different
                        catergory. They do not agree with Bob's political strategy at all
                        (thats why most of them are Greens supporters or members and not in
                        the ALP). But they are willing to paper over their differences with
                        Bob on these very important issues to join in the fun - or at least
                        appoint themselves as adjudicators "above the debate" so they can
                        castigate reply's to Bob as stepping out of the bounds of civil
                        debate. So there IS a kind of very small "united front" going on but
                        I question the principled political basis for this 'joint
                        collaboration'. In any case it doesn't have any reality outside this
                        email list. And neither is it the kind of united front work that
                        Trotsky would have advocated for Marxists to engage in - but perhaps
                        Shane has gleaned something more from his recent re-reading of
                        Trotsky on the United Front. Do I need to go back for a second look?

                        Cheers
                        Simon b
                      • Nick Fredman
                        ... Word up, Shane! That s a very good question. Gould s suggestion: Throw out Howard, vote Socialist Alliance 1, Greens 2, Labor 3, elect a Labor government
                        Message 11 of 28 , Sep 8, 2004
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                          >Fair enough then it is hard to see what all the fuss is about. If you
                          >agree with Bob's basic united front strategy what are you all fighting
                          >about?

                          Word up, Shane! That's a very good question.

                          Gould's suggestion: "Throw out Howard, vote Socialist Alliance 1,
                          Greens 2, Labor 3, elect a Labor
                          government and campaign to get progressive outcomes from this Labor
                          government".

                          Socialist Alliance main slogan: "Troops our, Howard out, vote socialist".

                          On the SA postcard being delivered to 200 000 homes: "Put people
                          before profit. Howard must go. Make your vote count this election.
                          Put Socialist Alliance 1, then Greens followed by Labor. Maximise the
                          opposition".

                          From the main GL article this week on the elections: "Only a strong
                          left vote can force Labor to be better than Howard. Without that
                          pressure from the left, a Latham government will be just like the
                          Hawke and Keating governments. The more a Labor government depends on
                          Green and Socialist Alliance preferences to get elected, the more
                          likely it is to deliver a few reforms and the more nervous it will be
                          about attacking our rights".

                          Of course there's difference in tone, and of how directly the SA
                          campaigns to "elect a Labor government". But along with Bob's
                          repetitive and unnecessary sermons about the united front, the
                          differences are constantly exaggerated and distorted by him. The only
                          explanation I can think for all this exaggeration and distortion is
                          that his preferred version of the united front contains a bare
                          minimum, if any at all, criticism of the ALP, lest the obviously
                          thin-skinned and precious ALP members be terminally pissed off.

                          One thing he always fails to answer is this: if the SA approach is so
                          disastrously wrong, if it puts ALP members off so much, why then are
                          the ALP union leaders and militants he mentions on the whole very
                          friendly and collaborative with SA? Maybe the better ALP members
                          aren't so thin-skinned and actually agree with a lot of the
                          criticism, and at least understand and respect what they don't
                          currently agree with, e.g. organising an open socialist alternative
                          to Labor.
                          --
                        • chen9692000
                          ... I see, very true. ... Yes and we have had many good examples of this in the last few days. ... Or of the other Marxists on the list who do this. ... Yes.
                          Message 12 of 28 , Sep 9, 2004
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                            --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, Luke Fomiatti
                            <lfom5608@y...> wrote:

                            > No, the approach of seeing yourself as having all the answers (or at
                            > least having qualitatively more answers than anyone else) by virtue
                            > of self-identification as a Marxist.

                            I see, very true.

                            > problem is not so much the arrogance of this (although that could
                            > mean that people don't learn anything) but the view that comes of
                            > this that anyone outside your own project is the enemy / is
                            > destructive / is stupid. It breads a sectarian mentality which is
                            > very harmful.

                            Yes and we have had many good examples of this in the last
                            few days.

                            > (Not that I'm saying Bob has this outlook necessarily, just that I
                            > see that as a potential problem with his starting point.)

                            Or of the other Marxists on the list who do this.

                            > Yes, but that wasn't my point. The problem is not that Greens
                            > members don't see socialists as real leftists because they don't get
                            > many votes,

                            Yes.

                            >the problem is that socialists often don't see Greens members
                            > as real leftists (or at least not to the extent that they see
                            > themselves). They tend to view the Greens as "the last organised
                            > hesitation before socialism" or something like that.

                            Nicely put.

                            > So my 'equal partners' comment was directed more at the realm of
                            > ideas than at the size or support of particular political
                            >formations. But maybe your criticism extends here too, maybe
                            >socialists should in fact see that they have a great deal to learn
                            >from the Greens, rather than vice versa.

                            Yes – and of course some socialists have responded and are trying
                            to rethink their ideas, including Marxists on this list – though at
                            the level of ideas this has happened rather late and often takes the
                            form as it does in Bellamy –Foster for instance of trying to shoehorn
                            the discussion into a materialist vs idealist framework with a kind of
                            "we told you so" Marx knew all this before you said it attitude. In
                            fact it is quite extraordinary what Marx did say about ecology but it
                            took the rise of the Green movement for Marxists to begin noticing
                            that. That in itself is not surprising or a problem what's annoying is
                            when Marxists then adopt the "we told you so" kind of attitude, which
                            ends up looking like we are latecomers trying to prove we are out in
                            front.

                            > The real question is whether or not the SA can ever become such an
                            > expression. Or, as well, whether it has the intention of doing so.

                            Agreed

                            > Not to dispute that this is the general line, but this has not been
                            > my experience. My experience has been that the Greens say there are
                            > whole heap of parties swirling around and that they are simply the
                            > best of them. Do you have any examples of media releases or such
                            > showing how the Greens are calling for Howard to go?

                            > > Indeed. So what do you think revolutionary socialists should do
                            > > about that?

                            > Well that's the question isn't it? To be honest I really don't know.

                            The reality is the no-one does – but at least from that starting point
                            we can begin to figure things out rather than assuming in advance
                            that we have all the answers. So where so you want to start?

                            Comradely

                            Shane
                          • chen9692000
                            ... You miss the point what is needed want is for the voluminous commentary to be directed at how to build a socialist alternative. To do that we need to
                            Message 13 of 28 , Sep 9, 2004
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                              > -- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "simongb2"
                              <simongb2@y...> wrote:

                              > While there has been a bit of superficial discussion about how the
                              > Socialist Alliance doesn't yet represent any substantial social
                              > forces in Australian politics perhaps we need to give more
                              > consideration to what social forces the very, very small handful of
                              > (admittedly voluminous) commentators on this list represent as
                              > well!?!

                              You miss the point what is needed want is for the voluminous
                              commentary to be directed at how to build a socialist alternative. To
                              do that we need to analyse Australian Society and the social forces in
                              motion and how to get a hearing from them for socialist ideas. That
                              SA doesn't represent a social force is not an insult it's a statement
                              of the problem. What we are (supposed to be) debating is how (or if)
                              it can become so.

                              > So what do Bob Gould, Shane Hopkinson QC and the OZleft crowd
                              > represent?

                              I'll let the "QC" bullshit go and answer the question. Ozleft
                              represents a group of socialists concerned about how best to
                              rebuild the socialist project in Australia who are organised around
                              a website as a means of exchanging ideas, learning a bit of
                              history and keeping up to date with current events on the left.
                              Political practices vary – I'm in the Greens, some are in the ALP
                              and so on.

                              >Are they merely reflecting a widespread debate throughout
                              > the Australian left about the best way to relate to the ALP.

                              No I don't think so because most of the Left are involved in
                              either campaigning for the ALP or the Greens. It's a bit of a
                              debate for the far left and always had been brought into focus by the
                              election.

                              > Bob's proposals for SA election slogans or a united front between
                              > the SA, Greens and ALP to be taken seriously.

                              I would assume so. It seems that Stuart now agrees not only that it
                              be taken seriously but in fact we agreed all along.

                              > Are the ALP trade unionists
                              > uniting with the SA in the trade union movement similarly concerned
                              > about "SA sectarianism" towards themselves. Hardly.

                              How many Trade Unionists does this represent? There is a Campaign to
                              free Craig Johnston (who is an SA member) and backed by a large number
                              of ALP aligned union militants. Militant trade unionists are not
                              concerned about SA sectarianism because they are not concerned about
                              the SA - there's no reason for them to be since it is not part of
                              their political practice. Again that's the problem.

                              > Unfortunately its not a real debate...

                              You can say that again.

                              > the serious underlying
                              > political errors underlining all of Bob Gould's criticisms of the SA
                              > are the same he has persisted in doggedly for 40years or more.

                              Here we go again - instead of proceeding to analysis we get back to
                              Bob's "errors". That would be the same political error that Tommy
                              Sheridan persisted in until 1985 when he was expelled from the labour
                              party. Right? We could debates the merits of entrism if you like but
                              since no-one is advocating that (incl Bob) then it would seem pointless.

                              >He has an ideological conviction that Socialists should not
                              >organise outside of the ALP.

                              Maybe he does but can you show me where he says that?

                              I stumbled across an old reply that Bob made to me on Marxmail
                              http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/marxism/2002w48/msg00001.htm

                              "It's a question of what strategic orientation Marxists should adopt
                              towards mass workers' organisations or formations and that kind of
                              strategic question isn't primarily about the leaderships of those
                              organisations, or even what socialists might do inside them."

                              And later in the same piece he says that in the light of the general
                              crisis of the whole left in the 1990s

                              "I went to conferences and meetings of the far left, posing sharply
                              the need for a discussion with two central axes: what a strategy and
                              policy for the transition to socialism would look like, on the basis
                              of the lessons of Stalinism in the 20th century; and the appropriate
                              strategy and tactics for Marxists in the labour movement"

                              There's nothing about not organising outside the ALP but a lot of
                              questions and criticisms in the rest of his analysis that I think are
                              worth debating. So what "strategic orientation" should Marxists have
                              have to the mass workers organisations? What is SA's strategic
                              perspective? It is to try and build a revolutionary party. This has
                              been the far left's perspective for 20 years. What is it in the
                              current poltical situation that makes you think its more likely to
                              succeed? I would like to see someone else on this list (apart from Bob
                              who has done so) draw a rough balance sheet of the Aust. political
                              situation and what that means for socialist strategy and the way
                              forward. Who do you think the audience for socialist ideas is? Where
                              are they and how do you reach them? Is "building the revn party" or
                              the revn "perspective" the best way forward for the socialist project?
                              Maybe it is but people want to be convinced based on some analysis.

                              > I think Shane (and probably most of the OZLEFTers) are in a
                              >different category. They do not agree with Bob's political strategy
                              >(thats why most of them are Greens supporters or members and not in
                              > the ALP). But they are willing to paper over their differences with
                              > Bob on these very important issues to join in the fun -

                              Its not that we paper over differences we just accept them as normal.
                              I don't think working in the ALP as a member is very useful but I
                              don't think people who do are the enemy either. I want to see an end
                              to capitalism and I don't think we have very much of an idea of how to
                              do that. The socialist project is completely marginalised and for
                              most people it is dead. We have to accept that and work out how to
                              move forward. It's more like Russia 1895 than 1917 if you like. The
                              main problem I think on this list is that people do not have a sense
                              of how deep the crisis is. SA is important but its NOT the centre of
                              what's happening in Australian politics. We need to devise a strategy
                              that can create a new audience for anti- capitalist ideas. That's
                              what I think Bob's proposals are aimed at and so I agree with him on
                              that. If you don't that's fine but if you think a "party building"
                              strategy is the best way to move the socialist project forward then
                              well we are going to disagree. That's fine but it would help if you
                              didn't treat those who won't sign up to your project as the enemy.

                              I am in the Greens because they represent a real social force opposed
                              to neoliberalism and are where people are actually moving against
                              the system as it presently exists. Its not very exciting most of the
                              time but for me if an anti-capitalist movement is going to take form
                              then this is the place to be. For others it's the ALP. Frankly I
                              don't always get it but genuine people make their choices and we need
                              to connect with them. And we socialists need to connect with them far
                              more than they need to connect with us. Some humility is called
                              for.

                              I think part of re-building the socialist project mean a better
                              understanding of Australian history (so perhaps above I should have
                              said that its more like Aust. 1890 than Russia) and there's some of
                              that on the Ozleft site but I learn a bit from Bob about labour
                              history or at least where to start looking and his shop is a valuable
                              resource on that score. I am writing a summary of the early years of
                              Trotskyism in Oz the first part based on Laurie Shorts bio to appear soon.

                              >So there IS a kind of very small "united front" going on but
                              > I question the principled political basis for this 'joint
                              > collaboration'. In any case it doesn't have any reality outside this
                              > email list.

                              Our political practice as I said is varied. The only reason you think
                              its not principled is because you think you are the only ones with
                              principles. Having spent 10 years in the DSP, my guess is you think
                              that we are united around being against you – in fact Peter confirms
                              this in his recent post. The fact is that it is the reverse – that's
                              what sectarian mindset amounts - seeing things as if you are in the
                              centre as in the SEP stuff about revolutionary prospects. I hasten to
                              add that you are NOTHING LIKE that but the seed of seeing what SA does
                              as the focus is the problem. What unites you is not a serious
                              analysis of the Aust political situation (and I have asked a couple of
                              times to see this) and the best way to build socialism based on that
                              but a strategy to build *yourself* that's why everyone outside is the
                              enemy or at best, as Luke put it "the last organised hesitation"
                              before socialism.

                              My political practice is virtually unaffected by SA as is most peoples
                              in Australia. I use this list as a discussion point for ideas about
                              how we might move the socialist project forward since it is a place in
                              which I know serious revolutionaries meet to discuss matters. While it
                              is getting a bit tiring of conscious of the debating tactics as work
                              that consistently divert the list from a discussion of the real issues.

                              > And neither is it the kind of united front work that
                              > Trotsky would have advocated for Marxists to engage in - but perhaps

                              Email lists don't constitute united front work whether or not Trotsky
                              said it. I don't think Trotsky said much about working within Green
                              parties either. Strange that.

                              > Shane has gleaned something more from his recent re-reading of
                              > Trotsky on the United Front. Do I need to go back for a second look?

                              Maybe you should have a look at "Revn Strategy and Tactics in the
                              Trade Unions" which Doug wrote which is based on Trotsky's ideas
                              about the United Front and I understand that Bob is in full agreement
                              with. Perhaps with Stuart we might discover that we have been in
                              agreeance all along.

                              Shane
                            • chen9692000
                              ... I think you re right that Bob does polemise too much and exaggerates but exaggeration and distortion occur on both sides. Progress is made in the struggle
                              Message 14 of 28 , Sep 9, 2004
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                                --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, Nick Fredman <sra@s...>
                                wrote:

                                > Of course there's difference in tone, and of how directly the SA
                                > campaigns to "elect a Labor government". But along with Bob's
                                > repetitive and unnecessary sermons about the united front, the
                                > differences are constantly exaggerated and distorted by him.

                                I think you're right that Bob does polemise too much and
                                exaggerates but exaggeration and distortion occur on both sides.
                                Progress is made in the struggle between opposites leading to a
                                new synthesis that's what we need to achieve not a declaration of
                                the winner.

                                >The only explanation I can think for all this exaggeration and
                                >distortion is that his preferred version of the united front contains
                                >a bare minimum, if any at all, criticism of the ALP,

                                Now this is the crux of the issue. If you and Bob differ the ONLY
                                explanation can be that he wants you to tail-end the ALP? Now that's
                                possible it could be that Bob supports a popular front strategy but
                                that seems unlikely. It could be that he is in fact unwittingly a
                                pro-capitalist, that's possible but not very plausible. You could
                                both be misunderstanding each other or it could also be that you are
                                committed to the SA project and because of your political training you
                                are taught to respond to differences and criticisms as threats.

                                > lest the obviously thin-skinned and precious ALP members be
                                >terminally pissed off.

                                The sarcasm here is important. We need to find an audience for
                                socialist ideas – now this comment implies that the attitude of ALP
                                members doesn't matter but if you consider them an potential audience
                                for your ideas then their attitude does matter a lot. Of course if
                                you don't then it doesn't matter. In any case it's not about them
                                being thin skinned – its about winning them politically to the idea of
                                building an openly socialist party – do you think based on an
                                assessment of the Australian political situation that this is likely
                                or is it really that you have a party-building strategy because the
                                needs of your organisation require it?

                                > One thing he always fails to answer is this: if the SA approach is
                                >so disastrously wrong, if it puts ALP members off so much, why then
                                >are the ALP union leaders and militants he mentions on the whole very
                                > friendly and collaborative with SA?

                                Well I suppose it's because the ALP union leaders and militants are
                                not sectarian and appreciate support from whatever quarter they can
                                get it. They may even sympathise with socialist ideas but the question
                                is whether a party-building strategy is most appropriate because these
                                people are not gonna join SA.

                                > Maybe the better ALP members aren't so thin-skinned and actually
                                >agree with a lot of the criticism,

                                That's right so they don't need a bunch of student radicals to tell
                                them. I'm sure they respect you – it's a question of whether the
                                strategy is viable.

                                Shane
                              • Sue B.
                                The interesting thing Shane is that all around the country, and not only in Melbourne, Socialist Alliance is getting large numbers of unionists joining SA who
                                Message 15 of 28 , Sep 9, 2004
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                                  The interesting thing Shane is that all around the country, and not only in Melbourne, Socialist Alliance is getting large numbers of unionists joining SA who hadn't considered joining the Greens. These are unionists who haven't been members of left parties before. They are finding something in SA which is lacking in the Greens. There are more and more comments being made that SA is more an more filling the vacuum left by the dissolution of the old CPA.

                                  For the unionists who are joining, for some they are inspired by the fact that SA is uniting the left. Others are joining SA, never having come in contact with left parties before. And now we have left migrant groups affiliating, who are impressed that we are starting to develop deeper roots in the trade union movement.

                                  Sure, it is early days, but this is the first time in 20 years that so many unionists have been looking towards the socialist movement.. And the unionists who are still in the ALP but support  Socialist Alliance, it is a genuine alliance, with two-way support for each other. There are people from this milieu joining SA, especially after the jailing of Craig Johnston. and the role of the ALP, the bosses, the ACTU and the AMWU national office in his jailing.
                                  Sue Bolton


                                  chen9692000 wrote:
                                  --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, Nick Fredman <sra@s...>
                                  wrote:
                                  
                                    
                                  One thing he always fails to answer is this: if the SA approach is
                                  so disastrously wrong, if it puts ALP members off so much, why then
                                  are the ALP union leaders and militants he mentions on the whole very 
                                  friendly and collaborative with SA? 
                                      
                                  Well I suppose it's because the ALP union leaders and militants are
                                  not sectarian and appreciate support from whatever quarter they can
                                  get it. They may even sympathise with socialist ideas but the question
                                  is whether a party-building strategy is most appropriate because these
                                  people are not gonna join SA.
                                  
                                    
                                  Maybe the better ALP members aren't so thin-skinned and actually 
                                  agree with a lot of the criticism, 
                                      
                                  Shane 
                                  
                                    

                                • chen9692000
                                  ... Dear Sue I m not sure what you expect my reaction to be. I think this is great news for SA. If its drawing in a layer of union militants and drawing
                                  Message 16 of 28 , Sep 9, 2004
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                                    --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "Sue B." <sueb@d...> wrote:

                                    Dear Sue

                                    I'm not sure what you expect my reaction to be. I think this is great
                                    news for SA. If its drawing in a layer of union militants and drawing
                                    others into political activity around socialist ideas that's great too.

                                    I'm not sure that there's really a vacuum left by the old CPA but I'll
                                    have to think about that. I acccept your implicit criticism of the
                                    Greens - not enough is being done to forge links with union militants.
                                    The old issue of jobs vs the environment is one that is hard to
                                    address in relation to a lot of blue collar militants. Here the coal
                                    industry just got a big boost - the local unions were really positive
                                    - and it will mean more work for struggling workers. Its an
                                    environmental disaster of course but global warming takes a poor
                                    second to food on the table. The big local issue here - greens wise-
                                    is the development on East Point. Environmentally bad - but mosst of
                                    the local unionists just see jobs - even short term ones.

                                    That said the local branch in Gladstone did support workers on strike
                                    there and Kerry Nettle's office condemned the High Court decision,
                                    referring to the fact that it would stifle Green bans.

                                    I would be interested to know if you think that what they find lacking
                                    in the Greens has anything to do with the program. Its a clear
                                    anti-neoliberal position- what do these workers find attractive about SA?

                                    Comradely

                                    Shane
                                  • Michael Karadjis
                                    ... Shane: That s right so they don t need a bunch of student radicals to tell them. Me: Shane I appreciate your attempts to de-flame the discussion, but the
                                    Message 17 of 28 , Sep 10, 2004
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                                      Nick:

                                      > Maybe the better ALP members aren't so thin-skinned and actually
                                      >agree with a lot of the criticism,

                                      Shane:

                                      That's right so they don't need a bunch of student radicals to tell
                                      them.

                                      Me:

                                      Shane I appreciate your attempts to de-flame the discussion, but the
                                      description of the entire SA membership as "a bunch of student radicals"
                                      simply shows that even the 'holier-than-thous' are not immune from a bit of
                                      their own flaming. As you well know, the membership of SA consists of a
                                      pretty broad range of people in terms of current occupations, past
                                      occupations and class/social backgrounds. "Student radicals" are relativelly
                                      few and far between, but hopefully there are also students joining, as with
                                      other parties. If there is a greater predominance of 'new social layers' (ie
                                      ex-students now in white collar or professional areas) than blue-collar
                                      workers, that is a problem well recognised but it is no different to the
                                      Greens, except that SA would also have more members and links among active
                                      unionists than the Greens. While the ALP obviously has mass voting support
                                      from blue-collar workers, which is after all a key problem, we should not
                                      forget that the bulk of the ALP leadership are also originally from these
                                      same "new social layers", the difference being that they are the upper crust
                                      and most upwardly mobile sector of it, they are the section of it who have
                                      long ago decided that capitalism is all the go and strive to represent their
                                      own layer within capitalism, evidenced by Latham's tax cuts for the
                                      35-85,000 group together with actual dramatic income cuts for workers on
                                      under 35,000 and unemployed.

                                      The changing nature of the ALP's membership base (as opposed to voting base)
                                      has been widely commented on, and while that in and of itself may not decide
                                      an entirely new range of tactics, it is worthwile remembering when we get
                                      into this kind of rhetoric about "student radicals" etc. My own experiecne
                                      suggests the cahnge started some time ago. I was a member of Leichhardt ALP
                                      in the late 1970s, when the working class sector of the branch membership
                                      were the over 50 year olds, and all the younger members were nothing but the
                                      "new social layers", labour lawyers, aspiring politicians, people going
                                      direct to union officialdom without a day on the job and various Albanese
                                      look-a-likes. I was thankfully expelled by the right-wing. I don't know if
                                      Bob Gould or anyone has done a thorough survey of ALP branches in recent
                                      times to determine whether there is any clear change in this long-changed
                                      nature of the AKLP membership, whether there has been any influx of working
                                      class membership, whether my experience was exceptional (no doubt in some
                                      regional areas where the ALP is the only thing going it may well attract the
                                      odd working class militant), but the evidence i know of from recent ALP
                                      surveys suggests its membership has been in a state of paralysis if not
                                      crisis for soem time.
                                    • Michael Karadjis
                                      ... But let me ask in all non-sectarian honesty, is it also an issue that is ahrd to address in relation to a lot of non-working class Greens members? I mean I
                                      Message 18 of 28 , Sep 10, 2004
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                                        Shane:

                                        >The old issue of jobs vs the environment is one that is hard to
                                        >address in relation to a lot of blue collar militants.

                                        But let me ask in all non-sectarian honesty, is it also an issue that is
                                        ahrd to address in relation to a lot of non-working class Greens members? I
                                        mean I am well aware that the Greens are far from the tree-hugging 'who
                                        cares about jobs' stereotype invented both by the media and greens
                                        fundamentalists themsleves, but maybe Shane could explain just what the
                                        Greens do say in response to concrete problems like the following:

                                        >Here the coal
                                        >industry just got a big boost - the local unions were really positive
                                        >- and it will mean more work for struggling workers. Its an
                                        >environmental disaster of course but global warming takes a poor
                                        >second to food on the table. The big local issue here - greens wise-
                                        >is the development on East Point. Environmentally bad - but most of
                                        >the local unionists just see jobs - even short term ones.

                                        What did the Greens say to the workers? What kind of jobs did you suggest to
                                        replace these jobs you don't approve of to allow them to put food on their
                                        table? Do you say that no-one should be unemployed whatever the case, that
                                        society is wealthy enough to provide everyone one of those coalminers with
                                        jobs if the industry had to close down (is that the only alternative?), and
                                        if no jobs are immediately in the offering they should be paid 100% of their
                                        former wages until such a time as jobs can be found for them etc? And the
                                        problem is that even if we do say all that, workers may be unlikely to
                                        believe us when we are only small, so do the Greens demand an immediate end
                                        to the industry at this point etc? I'm really quite interested to know as I
                                        think in the past just as many enviromentalists actively put off working
                                        class communities concerned with their jobs as trade-unionists played the
                                        anti-green card.
                                      • Alex Bainbridge
                                        Shane said: In fact it is quite extraordinary what Marx did say about ecology but it took the rise of the Green movement for Marxists to begin noticing that.
                                        Message 19 of 28 , Sep 10, 2004
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                                          Shane said: "In
                                          fact it is quite extraordinary what Marx did say about ecology but it
                                          took the rise of the Green movement for Marxists to begin noticing
                                          that."

                                          Not entirely a fair comment.

                                          As we've noted many times, right from the very first issue of Direct Action
                                          (precursor to GLW) which came out in 1971 or 72 from memory, there were
                                          articles against pollution and other environmental issues and a
                                          (semi-regular?) column "capitalism fouls things up". This was of course
                                          after the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and so you could say
                                          at some level the environmental movement had already begun, but of course
                                          there were not yet any "Green parties" in Australia or anywhere else at that
                                          time. Since this was the beginnings of the tendency that is now the DSP it
                                          is not unreasonable for socialists from this tendency to assert that we have
                                          something to say about ecology (without in any way claiming we know it all
                                          or worked it out first).

                                          More remarkable is the extraordinary work of Soviet scientists ("Marxist
                                          ecologists") in the 1920s. (The word "biosphere" was coined by the Soviets
                                          during this period for instance.) This was of course way (!) before the
                                          modern environmental movement had begun.

                                          Alex B

                                          (Plenty more I'd like to say about the strategy questions in this discussion
                                          but no time now, so have to be later.)
                                        • chen9692000
                                          ... Fair enough and the old SWP wrote about what became known as the beauty myth well before Naomi Wolf but for most of the old left environmental issues
                                          Message 20 of 28 , Sep 10, 2004
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                                            --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "Alex Bainbridge"
                                            <alexb@d...> wrote:
                                            > Shane said: "In
                                            > fact it is quite extraordinary what Marx did say about ecology but
                                            > took the rise of the Green movement for Marxists to begin noticing
                                            > that."
                                            >
                                            > Not entirely a fair comment.

                                            Fair enough and the old SWP wrote about what became known as
                                            the "beauty myth" well before Naomi Wolf but for most of the old left
                                            environmental issues were marginal concerns - even today some
                                            Marxists see "green" issues as petty bourgeois. I was thinking of the
                                            mainstream Marxist movement which by and large focused its efforts on
                                            proletarian bread and butter issues. Nothing wrong with that of
                                            course but "green-global" consciousness emerged as did modern
                                            feminism out the 60s radicalisation. There's no problem with this,
                                            social movements emerge and then change the values and Marxists
                                            respond by re-reading their tradition and renovating it and re-
                                            discovering the things you mentioned. What annoys me about it (I
                                            don't mean you are doing this) is that this "re-reading" is cast in a
                                            triumphalist "we told you so" way. AS you say we certainly do have
                                            something VERY important to say to these issues (after all if we
                                            didn't then we would be a movement without any future). I tend to
                                            think of my views as "ecosocialist" to remind myself of the
                                            importance of the contradiction between labour and capital as well as
                                            the contradiction between nature and capital as the two fundamental
                                            axes.

                                            Look forward to your other comments when you have time.

                                            Cheers
                                            Shane
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