gschofield at SPAMone.net.au
Wed Jun 6 20:30:54 MDT 2001
Bryan, I received this as a private email so I thought I would reply.
Having read what you and Alan are saying below and not really knowing much
about the background, it does sound awfully familiar to a similar situation
which arose between the CPA and DSP (then SWP) back in the late 80's. It
did not come to anything then and I doubt very much it will between the DSP
and ISO now, I am too old for things which do not strike at the heart of
problems and such alliances can only be understood by what they don't say
and will not undertake.
I agree that there is a great social up-swell in Australia of a very
profound discontent, however, I have great faith in the ability of the
organised left in Australia to fuck-up everything it touches, there is a
utopian cancer at the heart of the movement that cannot do otherwise than
alienate and mislead any section of the working class it comes into contact
I do not think there are any magic solutions but only in stepping back and
getting a thoroughly critical understanding of this utopianism and begin to
combat it. I think the net offers the means, but we are a long way from
creating a "front" on it that can have any impact. What I do see on the net
is the same old stuff being played out of competing utopias (I would argue
this is what is going on in the Marxlist for the most part).
Of course even if things went well on the "net" there is still a great
distance to travel before anything becomes politically practical. To my
view the net has no particular virtues other than some of us are forced
onto as the only means of communication which at least allows ideas to be
I would be interested on your and Alan's views on this - I suggest it for
want of anything else that appears to me a practical way forward - I have
long given up dealing with the organised movement I am not that addicted to
reliving the past, and I am too experienced in defeats to wish to travel
that road when it can be avoided.
I am not trying to be pessimistic, rather the reverse, I think it is
possible with just a few resources to make the beginnings of some real
change, a break with the past and hopefully unleashing the self-critical
nature of Historical Materialism.
At 11:33 7/06/01 +1000, you wrote:
>I attended the Brisbane launch of the SA and was not surprised to find
>ISO and DSP caucusing separately before the meeting. What did surprise me was
>that the meeting had the tone and quality of a ISO branch meeting, that is
>of wild excitement and very little critical analysis. I say this as
>suffered many years of ISO branch meeting (a certain cure for insomnia!)
>There were a number of old time non aligned types there who raised a number of
>important issues that were left unanswered. First among these was what is SA
>going to do after the election and Howard is gone, how do we orientate to the
>unions, do we run SA members in union ballots where there are members, a
>of program setting issues were raised, etc. All the talk was how very exciting
>this new ground swell of anti capitalism is, we are about to experience a move
>to the left, etc. None of which was very productive but no doubt gave some a
>Rintoul has been given short shift in the Sydney branch, from the paper
>executive, because he has aired some caution on the whole exercise asking
>is such a wise idea to sink resources into the SA.
>Interestingly, the Socialist Alternative, a breakaway from ISO, is fence
>the exercise at the moment.
> > From: Gary MacLennan
> > It is not the attitude that needs to be got rid of. It is the
> > sectarianism. It is simply that I know Rintoul better than you do. Much
> > better and believe me that particular leopard will not change his spots.
> > He will have to be neutralised, and that will take a mass democratic
> > movement.
>I think I know Rintoul well enough.
>None of the sectarian leopards have changed their spots. That's not what
>the SA is about.
>Hopefully, part of what it is about is helping develop the necessary
>organised left component of the mass democratic movement that you mention.
>It may seem a little unlikely, but we have to grasp the nettle at some
> > Two years ago I went to a meeting with the DSP and the ISO planning a
> > rally and march for the East Timor. It was a night of wonderful
> > sterility. The DSP were friendly to me but disagreed with my position on
> > East Timor. The cretins from ISO opposed me having a spot on the platform
> > though we had the same line politically. But they had come to the meeting
> > with their little caucused position and their leader at the meeting who
> > was to decide which way the "cadres" would vote. He alone was licensed to
> > think, and he could not think in terms of having me as a speaker. In the
> > end I got on the platform because the DSP voted for me.
> From my experience the ISO are actually more likely to split in meetings
>than the DSP. That is, the DSP are a more reliable voting bloc than the
>ISO. It's not enforced and it doesn't meet that DSP members are drones, but
>it happens. It happens for a bunch of reasons, not least of which is that
>they see themselves as a team.
> > Rintoul was one of those. Socialist Alliance or no Socialist Alliance he
> > will be out for market share among those attracted to the Socialist
> > Alliance.
>Everyone will be trying to win market share in the SA. That's part of the
>point of it - it is a multi-tendency thing, and that means that its
>political direction and who will lead it (these two questions are deeply
>intertwined, of course) is up for grabs. What hopefully might permit it to
>work is if enough people see that its success will ensure a bigger crowd of
>people to work among.
>And, for what it is worth, any leftist with any talent and potential for
>being or becoming a leader should be able to become a leader of the SA. And
>yes, that does include all the old sectarian leopards. That's part of the
>deal, I guess - the old leaders get to stay leaders, if they want, and have
>at least a little bit of talent and energy left.
>Finally - it really is the case that there is no alternative to an SA that
>is built around the DSP & ISO. Nobody else can be the backbone of such a
>project in Australia at the present. So there really isn't a choice other
>than to relate to the SA or wait until something else comes along at some
>indeterminate time in the future. But even that something will probably
>involve some configuration of the same old painfully familiar groups and
>abradley1 at bigpond.com
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