DSP and the Australian Socialist Alliance

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Sep 4 09:43:43 MDT 2002

>Now as I said at the beginning, it is is not
>impossible that the DSP are entirely sincere in their
>liquidationism. Stranger things have happened and
>without being on the ground, I can't tell.
>On the other hand if this move really is about closer
>cooperation on the left, why is the process starting
>with a DSP announcement rather than a discussion
>amongst the "allies"?
>Is mise le meas
>Brian Cahill

Just a couple of words to fill in the background on this. Brian is a
long-standing militant of the Irish section of the Trotskyist Committee for
a Workers International that has been involved in bitter turf battles in
Great Britain with the Cliffite SWP (with which the Australian ISO is
affiliated). He tends to project the political vocabulary of his own
tradition into this initiative of the DSP. The term "liquidationism" is a
hoary favorite in Fourth International circles. For example, during the
1950s the Pabloite wing of the FI (which included Ernest Mandel) was called
"liquidationist" by the groups orbiting around James P. Cannon and Gerry
Healy. This terminology is of limited value, in my opinion, since it is
based on a rather narrow concept of party-building. On one hand, you have
vanguard formations intervening with their party press all festooned with
hammers and sickles and commentary on events taking place 3000 miles away.
On the other hand, you have these horrid liquidationists who want to throw
the "program" overboard as they pursue unprincipled alliances with
petite-bourgeois elements. Blah-blah.

There, of course, is an alternative to all this. One can consider the
possibility that a vanguard party does not exist in Australia, not even in
an embryonic form. Furthermore, all the "theoretical conquests" that
distinguish the Trotskyist, post-Trotskyist or Maoist vanguard formations
might be of little value in forming a true vanguard party, because these
conquests turn out to be little more than shibboleths about revolutions
that took place more than a half-century ago. When they turn into litmus
paper tests, they obviously get in the way of true unity.

Ultimately, this is what Marxist party-building must be about. Instead of
thinking in typical small proprietor "market share" terms (newspaper
circulation, membership numbers, attendance at national events, etc.),
activists must think in terms of the needs of the class as a whole. There
is little question in my mind that an objective basis for Marxist unity
exists in Australia as many of the "split questions" of the 1970s and 80s
recede in importance. Those who can seize the opportunity to establish a
new framework for revolutionary unity will be honoring the best traditions
of Marx and Lenin, no matter what their petty detractors say.

Louis Proyect

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