DSP's initiative

Peter Boyle peterb at dsp.org.au
Sat Sep 7 07:43:07 MDT 2002

I want to thank Jose Perez and others on this list who have urged people
to be a little less quick to dismiss the DSP's initiative for greater
unity in Australian Socialist Alliance as either "liquidation" or a

It is neither. We have invested a lot in the Socialist Alliance and have
strived to make it a vehicle of ongoing united work. The results of this
investment may appear modest in electoral terms but they are quite
significant in broader political terms.

Revolutionary socialists from a wide range of groups have been working
together for a whole year and a half on a common project, discussing
their differences democratically and without the destructive point
scoring that has too often typified the far left. As the letter points
out we've reached agreement on most of the major issues that have
confronted us, and then moved on to practical work on that basis. Check
out the Socialist Alliance website (www.socialist-alliance.org) for a
bit more detail.

On top of that a growing number of influential movement (especially
union) leaders are coming in or around the Alliance. Why? Because they
want left unity and there is a pressing need for that unity.

Now our judgement (in the DSP national executive) is that it is time to
take that real unity a step further. And we will facilitate a broad and
public discussion on the merits, or otherwise, of that move even while
our membership has its discussion on whether to take the unilateral step
we propose for January. There is a good four months to do just this and
everyone can say what they think.

Some people might be uneasy about the unilateral aspect of our decision.
But just think about what it is: the DSP (if its membership agrees) is
offering to unconditionally stop building and recruiting to itself  and
build the Alliance before we starts negotiating with the Socialist
Alliance about taking over the political and organisational assets we
have built up over three decades.

Is this some sneaky trick? Nope. It is a responsible way for the DSP,
the biggest group in the Alliance(although the Alliance has three times
as many members as all the socialist groups combined), to initiate a
constructive negotiation without it being a takeover.

Certainly it also helps mobilise the forces for greater unity in the
Alliance but should we be condemned for this?

Is this riding roughshod against other groups in the Alliance? Not at
all because every real step forward for the Alliance will be negotiated
from next year. We will be open, democratic and inclusive in this as we
have been n the Alliance from the start.

Are we "liquidating"? Perez has made the point that we are not in anyway
liquidating our revolutionary politics. We don't think that operating as
part of a Socialist Alliance that hasn't formally adopted a detailed
programmatic response to every issue (historical or otherwise) means
liquidation. And remember the groups in the Alliance already agree on
ninety-something of a revolutionary program. We are not so sectarian to
say that you have to agree on the remainder right now or you liquidate.

We won't be liquidating in an organisational sense either because we
will continue to organise to ensure that the good stuff we do (paper,
activist centres, political education, movement building) carries on in
one form or another right through the process of transition.

The DSP does not have a sectarian understanding of Leninism, as I tried
to explain about a month ago on this list -- perhaps not very
successfully. I mainly objected to the DSP being fitted up with
caricatures of Leninism. Hopefully we'll be more successful in
demonstrating this in practice over the next period.

Peter Boyle
DSP national executive member

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