Reply to Kay McVey: re Socialist Alliance

Kim Bullimore k_bullimore at hotmail.com
Sat Nov 23 15:09:03 MST 2002


Kay asked:
"How has working in campaigns as the Socialist Alliance been different to
working as the DSP?  Is there any difference in practice?"

Kim writes:
Apologies for not replying sooner (work and study called)

While the actual mechanics of campaigning - stalls, organising rallies,
meetings, doing pasteups, leafleting, talking to people etc - is basically
the same,  I think the main "difference" or perhaps benefit would be a
better word, that I have found campaigning publicly as a Socialist Alliance
member is the "unity factor" and the ability this has to draw people closer
to socialist politics and activity.

Many of the people I have met over the last 18 months were really glad to
hear that the many groups on the left were working together in on common
group.  I have had many people say to me "its about time".    The division
between the left in Australia (and no doubt elsewhere) has been a real
barrier which has stopped many people getting involved in left/socialist
politics.

I know many of the members in my branch, as well as other branches have
joined the Alliance because for the first time they felt they could be part
of a wider left organisation, which was not only active but also socialist.
They joined because for the first time, the left was able to concentrate
more on  our commonalities and similarities, rather than on the our
differences.  They saw the strength in this and what we could do together
and I think this is true.

The attraction of "Left Unity" should not be under estimated in my opinion.
At the Left Unity meeting here in Sydney, two "independent"  comrades who
are members of the Alliance spoke strongly about this issue.

One said (to paraphase) "We talk about our goal being the unity of the
working class, but how can we be taken seriously by the working classs, if,
we ourselves can not unite", while the other "independent" who was once an
active and leading member of the socialist movement in Argentina said (again
to paraphase) "In Argentina, to often the leaders of the class or the
movements spent so much time fighting amongst themselves, they forgot about
the students, the workers and the poor, who were outside struggling.  We
have to remember our place is to be outside with the workers, the students
and the poor, fighting alongside them, not fighting amongst ourselves".

The other difference I suppose relates to the old adage that the "sum of us
is greater than the individual parts".  The Alliance project, because it has
allowed us to work together, has allowed us (by this I mean the socialist
left) to be able to work more closely in and on a  common project together
and in general this has allowed us,  in most cases,  to all "pull" in the
one direction rather than against each other.

The Alliance project has allowed the many groups on the  left to actually
experience working together closely on a common ongoing project (which is
qualitatively different from just working together as different groups in
various  campaign groups etc).  Instead, the Alliance has allowed members in
different organisations to develop not only some respect for other comrades
different groupings, but has allowed us to get past the crude
characterisation and caricature of each others politics which had previously
existed.  As a result it has allowed us to relate to each other in a much
less sectarian way, opening up  more room for dialogue and working together
than had previously existed.

The other thing the "sum of us" has resulted in, is that it is now possible
to have bigger and a more visible socialist presence and profile in public
-at rallies, on the street etc etc - and to project ourselves as bigger
united force, which is something which,  as I said, holds a lot attraction
for people.

This is the reason why, the DSP at least, has chosen for the last 18 months
to march and campaign under the banner of Socialist Alliance, rather than
the banner of the DSP.  For example, we have chosen to profile Socialist
Alliance at rallies rather than the DSP, so have been marching under/with
placards and banners of the Socialist Alliance rather then with DSP banners
and placards, we have chosen to argue for Socialist Alliance speakers at
rallies and meetings, rather than a speakers from the DSP and we have chosen
to turn our regular weekly Green Left Stalls into Socialist Alliance stalls
etc.

Over the last 18 months, I think the Alliance has been well worth the effort
and  that it has potential to become so much more than it is now and I have
to say, that I for one certainly hope that happens.

Kim Bullimore





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