DSP and Australian Socialist Alliance

Steve Painter and Rose McCann spainter at optushome.com.au
Fri Nov 8 18:54:17 MST 2002

 Jeff Sparrow referred in a recent post to a report by Peter Boyle to the
DSP National Committee circulating widely on the internet.

This document is now available in full on Ozleft
(http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Boyle.html), with a brief
introduction by myself and Bob Gould, which points out:

"Ozleft is publishing this report because it has been circulating in the
Australian left for a week or so and it's of great intrinsic interest. It
spells out in detail the conception of left regroupment under which the
Democratic Socialist Party has made its proposal to "dissolve" into the
Socialist Alliance.

"It establishes quite clearly that the proposed Democratic Socialist
Tendency in the Socialist Alliance will be a rebadged DSP in all
organisational and political respects, with the DSP retaining its tight
control of all its existing material assets, political structures and weekly

"It spells out clearly the DSP's pessimism (quite rationally based) about
any serious future for the Socialist Alliance as an eletoral force.

"Peter Boyle's report underlines the point that other groups in the new-look
Socialist Alliance in the framework outlined here can have no other possible
future other than as secondary satellites of the DSP because of the DSP's
more effective organisation and greater weight. The new-look Socialist
Alliance will be, in effect, the main public face of the DSP.

"Reading this document clearly has hardened all factions in the ISO, the
largest group after the DSP in the Socialist Alliance, against the DSP's
proposal and brought them to the point of intending to withdraw from the
Alliance if the DSP carries out its plan to dissolve in January. So far, two
other groups in the Socialist Alliance, Socialist Democracy and the Workers
League, have indicated their support for the call of the ISO to the DSP to
postpone their disollution until at least the may 2003 conference of the
Alliance to allow tome for further discussion.

"The Workers Liberty group has indicated its critical agreemnt with the DSP
proposal, and so far Workers Power, the Freedom Socialist Party and the
Worker Communist Party of Iraq have not yet expressed their point of view.

"The DSP's response to the increasing the increasing resistance to their
proposal is not as yet clear.

"The public posture of the DSP so far is pained bewilderment that anyone
could be suspicious of their motives or intentions, but Boyle's report and
others by John Percy and Dick Nichols make it clear that other participants
in the Socialist Alliance have every reason to be cautious about the DSP's
proposals and intentions.

"One long-standing DSP member, Dave Riley (now no longer a member), has just
put up a petulant piece on the Marxmail email discussion list appealing to
the radical public to sign petitions demanding that the ISO cease its
recalcitrance against the DSP's "reasonable" proposals, but that suggestion
seems unlikely to get much response outside the ranks of the DSP.

"An interesting feature of the current argument is the collapse of early
claims that the Socialist Alliance had 2000-plus members. Two versions have
appeared of a survey done of the alleged membership, one in Dick Nichols'
report in The Activist, and the other in the ISO internal bulletin. The
Nichols version indicates a financial membership of 750, and the ISO one a
bit less than 700. The obvious point is that the other 1300 or so are people
who were willing to be classed as members for purposes of electoral
registration, but were not, apparently, willing to pay any money or become
particularly active.

"This indicates that the Socialist Alliance is not much more than the sum of
its various small party and mini-party affiliates."

Steve Painter

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