Some answers for Ben Reid
k_bullimore at hotmail.com
Sat Nov 16 18:29:23 MST 2002
"Ben begins his questions to myself and Rose with a version of the DSP
mantra about Bob Gould: that his posts are "a mixture of half-truths,
exaggeration and quite simply differences in perspective". The last of these
three points I agree with".
"Nick Fredman is fond of the term distortions for views that he doesn't
agree with. Not disagreements on facts or analysis, slight differences of
opinion or interpretation, nuances, etc, but distortions"
While Painter and Gould may have differences of perspectives (which I agree
they are quite entitled to have), both Nick and Ben are correct in pointing
out that Gould's contributions do contain numerous distortions, half truths
For example Bob Gould's last post contained a number of them (I had
originally begun a response but got side tracked by the WTO protests here in
1. Gould states in his post that "A woman from Newcastle let a cat out of
the bag when she said if the DSP proposal went ahead, which it would, the
Newcastle branch could bring 160 people to the Alliance conference next
year. The 160, it emerges, is the number of electoral registrations in the
Hunter Valley. But, of course, if the DSP proposal didn't go ahead the
number they would bring down would be far less".
The figure given by comrade Kathy (the "woman from Newcastel") about how
many she thought Newcastle branch could bring to conference next year etc
was actually 60 not 160 (a fact, by the way Gould could have confirmed when
he spoke to her on Thursday at the WTO unity rally in Hyde Park).
2. Gould wrote "At the end of the process, nobody in the Alliance except
two or three loyal ex-members of the DSP, and no one among the Socialist
groups outside the Alliance on the far left, supported the DSP initiative.
Everyone on the far left outside the DSP could see that given the history
and character of the DSP, no one could reasonably expect the new-look
Socialist Alliance to be anything but a formation in which a rebadged DSP
would be the dominant force, fighting for hegemony, both short term and
long-term, of all its tactical perspectives in the DSP style with which
everyone on the left in Australia is familiar".
I could be kind and say that Gould had obviously not been reading his GLW
lately or otherwise I am sure he would have included in his post the fact
that a number of articles had appeared in GLW written by union militants who
were "independents" in the Alliance who all supported our proposal, as well
as some letters by allies in the green movement such as Cam Walker from
Friends of the Earth who also supported the proposal and as far as I am
aware these people have not changed their minds.
In addition, as both Painter and Gould would know from reading our internal
bulletins that we also printed a number of responses we had received from
other independents in Socialist Alliance supporting our proposal as well as
a response to our posting of the proposal on Indymedia from a member of the
ALP socialist faction saying that he thought it was a great proposal, saying
that "Left regroupment can only be a good thing".
Lastly, Gould claims to "know" the thinking of the all the membership of the
Socialist Alliance and "everyone on the far left outside the DSP", saying
that none of them support the DSP proposal etc.
Perhaps than Bob would like to explain why it is then that many of the SA
"independents" I have spoken to over the last few weeks have actually told
me that they do support the DSP proposal. Indeed, perhaps Bob could also
like to explain why another "independent" activist who was had not been a
member of the Alliance or any of the other left groups decided to formally
join the Socialist Alliance (ie. paying his membership etc) at the WTO
protest on Thursday, saying that he had been meaning to join the Alliance
for ages and that he had been following the debate closely in GLW about the
DSP proposal and that he" very much agreed with the DSP's proposal".
3. Gould states "The striking thing about the discussion was the implacable
uniformity of the DSP speakers - about 15 of them. They showed no sign of
the diversity of views that was evident among the ISO speakers".
Again Gould distorts and misrepresents with half truths the contributions
made. Contributions made by ISO comrades, while some saying they thought
regroupment was a good idea in general, ALL said they did not agree with
the proposal, but despite their unanimous disagreement Gould does not seem
to see this as "mechancial uniformity".
In relation to the DSP contributions made on the night, I was one of the "12
rank and filers" who spoke at that meeting. In my contributin, I made the
point of saying that when I first heard of the proposal I was not sure
whether I agreed with it or not or whether I would support it or not.
I then went on to say, that after having thought about the proposal
considerably, I had decided it was a good proposal which was worth
pursuing. I also said that yes, the prosposal was a bit scary in that it
would all force us to move out of our comfort zones but this was a good
thing. I then went on to outline the work my branch of the Socialist
Alliance had been doing in the Canterbury Bankstown area saying that if the
Alliance was to succeed we need to break free of what is often called the
"inner city left ghetto" (or words to that effect).
In short, in the 3-4 minutes available to me to speak, yes, I spoke in
favour of the proposal because I agreed with it political, but I also spoke
about my initial reservations.
My political agreement is a result of not only a very considered discussion
with my fellow comrades in my branch and other comrades I am friendly with
in other branches, both formally and informally (with these discussion
including discussion about the pros and cons of the proposal) but also my
own assessment from my own experience of my local Socialist Alliance branch,
as well as my experience of campaigning every week over the last year in the
local area where I live (the very working class suburb of, Lakemba and
Bankstown located in Sydney's south west).
And despite Painter implication that DSP members can't speak in public
meeting "without permission", I spoke because I wanted to speak and because
I felt that I had something to contribute to the discussion about what it is
like for Socialist Alliance campaigning in an area which was
socio-economically poor and had a high migrant, Arab, Muslim and working
class population who have been facing an onslaught of racist attacks for the
last year or more and not because I was "assigned" to speak.
(I would also like to point out that despite Painter's statement that while
the DSP " doesn't have the patience to get involved in the process of
tapping and developing political movements at the level of working-class
communities", in the last year or more, while we have been working with the
local communities in Lakemba and Bankstown, organising local rallies,
speakouts, meetings, doing stalls every week and talking to and working with
the local community etc, the local Greens have been no where to be seen).
"A good part of what passes for education in the various Marxist groups is
in fact lining up new members behind the particular shibboleths of the
different groups, in the absence of serious discussion (a sort of steeling
of cadres in the furnace of Doug Lorimer-Dick Nichols-John Percy-Peter Boyle
thought, so they can go out fully prepared to face the ISO, Socialist
Alternative, Green, etc, infidel, not to mention Bob Gould)".
I have already said this before in a post in response to one of Gould's post
saying that "It's a rather homogeneous outfit, inside which you have to be
pretty game to challenge the leaders, on any major question", but I will say
it again here: WHAT A LOAD OF BALONEY!!
I find both Gould and Painter's assertion that the membership of the DSP can
not think for ourselves, arrogrant, insulting and even a tad sexist
(according to Painter's forumala "the furnace of Doug Lorimer-Dick
Nichols-John Percy-Peter Boyle thought", there is no women in the leadership
of the DSP - obviously all our women leaders are all also non-thinkers who
have all just bowed to the intellect of these male comrades etc).
I joined the DSP at the age of 32 and I can assure Painter and Gould that I
am quite capable of making up my own mind, thinking for myself, expressing
an opinion of my own and am quite capable of coming to my own political
conclusions, as are other members of the DSP. I never been shy about
expressing my opinion or differences about something if I feel strongly
about them and I can safely say, at age 38, I am not about to start doing
And if I sound "irritated", I am. Primarily because I take great offence
at the membership of the DSP being painted as idiots who can't think for
themselves and who are to afraid to say boo - which is basically how
Painter and Gould are portraying the membership of the DSP.
In addition, while I have no problem with Painter, or Gould for that matter,
offering different perspective's on the DSP positions or proposal or even
criticising the perspective put forward by the DSP, I do object to Painter
and Gould elevating themselves and portraying themselves as "experts" on the
current internal functioning of our party or the internal discussions taking
place in the DSP
While Painter may have been in the SWL/SWP/DSP for 22 years, he has not been
a member of the DSP since the early 90s, and while he is in a positon to
offer his own interpretation on the internal functioning of the party during
that time, he has absolutely no clue about the internal functioning of the
DSP for the last 10 years or so.
So while Painter can assume and surmise all he likes, the fact is that any
knowledge he has of how the party functions internally today or what debates
and discussion are taking place ones are ones gained through second or third
hand gossip or by reading the bare bones of them in our internal bulletin -
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