DSP and SA: facts of the matter

Nick Fredman nfredman at scu.edu.au
Sat Sep 7 07:42:11 MDT 2002

The "sceptical" and well-named Nigel Irritable seems to be able to
discern from his watch-tower in Ireland the nature of the activities
and intentions of, and the balance of forces between, all of the
groups in the Australian anti-capitalist left. Maybe he's not so
irritable as to listen to the opinions of someone actually involved
therein (DSP member since 1990).

>The Australian Socialist Alliance consists of the DSP,
>the ISO, a handful of tiny organisations and a small
>number of active independents

SA is by far the biggest, with 2000 members, Socialist organisation
in Australian for at least 20 years. While many of the 1300 or so
"independents" are not that active, they do include many important
union militants and other activists, and about 500 "independents"
participated in the federal election campaign, along with about 500
from the groups making it the biggest socialist election campaign for
a long time.

>The other reasonable-sized organisations on the Australian left
>- the Progressive Labour Party, the Communist Party,
>the Socialist Party and Socialist Alternative

Trying to be objective as possible, the PLP and CPA are moribund,
sectarian reformist-Stalinist sects, with almost no public profile,
and which failed to raise their creaking "cadres" enough to gain
electoral registration where this has come up recently. The SP has
maybe few dozen members, some profile and some good recent election
results, but has definately declined in the last few years, and has
virtually nothing outside Melbourne. Socialist Alternative has
something of among students in Melbourne and Brisbane, but that's
about it. All of these groups have been repeatedly asked to join
Socialist Alliance (Soc Alt did for a bit). It's hard to see their
problems with larger and more active groups "dominating" SA, when
they, like everyone else at this point, would have automatic
representation on leading bodies, and the strength of their view at
conferences etc would, like everyone else, depend on how many
delegates they got elected.

>There is certainly a possibility that the DSP honestly
>wants to liquidate its revolutionary organisation into
>a reformist one, but given its long history of
>sectarian manouvering another option presents itself.

The possibility that Nigel can't seem to understand from his
sectarian schematism is the most likely one (in fact the true one) -
that the DSP wants to gradually dissolve into a larger revolutionary
organisation, that would for the forseeable future have various
tendencies and trends as per the existing revolutionary groups in
Australia. This is crystal in all the public announcements the DSP
has been made about SA since the DSP initiated it early last year,
and is also significantly different from the SSP model of "classs
struggle party" that leaves the question of revolution open. The
latest announcments certainly forces the discussion but SA as a
minimalist electoral bloc will wither unless some serious
transfusions of energy, resources and program are injected soon.

As for the being "no discussion" and "no unity", the announcement is
only from the DSP NE, it can't even be adopted until our next
congress in December, before which they'll be intense internal
discussion and public discussion, open to all tendencies, in out
paper Green Left Weekly, as well as in all SA bodies. If the DSP does
dissolve from January, SA can continue to discuss all proposals for
its future and not have to actually decide anything until its next
national conference in May 2003. By that point I'm confident that the
groups and independent members can agree the nature of a weekly
paper, public headquarters, and at least a basic revolutionary

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