DSP and Socialist Alliance

Alan Bradley abradley1 at bigpond.com
Sun Sep 8 23:20:31 MDT 2002

> From: "Steve Painter and Rose McCann"
> The DSP has recently reprinted Struggle for a Proletarian Party and is
> planning other Cannon reprints, I believe, next in line being A History of
> American Trotskyism.
> All this is mainly for the education of the DSP members in party building.
> I think Cannon made an important contribution to the socialist movement
> and many of his works are worthy study and reprinting, but the DSP
> comrades are fed a steady diet of a particular view of Leninism and party
> building from a current that has had repeated problems with sectarian and
> cultist degeneration worldwide.

Well, if you include Pathfinder in the picture, you might see another reason
for the DSP to reprint Cannon: its members can't _afford_ to read his stuff,
and neither can anyone else!

In the real world, DSP members spend a lot more time studying parties like
the PRD, SSP, and a bunch of other present-day parties than they do reading
Cannon. In fact, a very large proportion would never read Cannon at all, or
would do so out of curiosity about these books that happen to be sitting on
the bookshop shelves. As far as formal study goes, they would spend _much_
more time reading Lenin on the party than Cannon.

In fact, over ten years ago (while _you_ were still in the DSP), I remember
Jim Percy commenting to a group of comrades who were sitting around talking
about Cannon something along the lines of "Oh, so comrades are reading
Cannon again?", implying that it was unusual even then.

> Dave Holmes offers a definition of Cannonism:

Well, goodo. Dave has always been enthusiastic about things. It's an
endearing quality, but it leads him astray sometimes.

Hmm. I haven't seen him for about 9 years. Does anyone know what he is
doing these days?

> It's all there Alan, the good with some things that a lot of serious
> socialists have grave doubts about, in particular "the Leninist
> organisational principle of democratic centralism". If this principle is
> to be applied in the Socialist Alliance as it has traditionally been
> applied in the DSP, non-DSP members of the alliance would have cause for
> serious concern, in my opinion.

Well, I obviously disagree about how the DSP works, but in any case the
proposal is for an even looser way of doing things: explicitly, a
multi-tendency party.

Overall, on Cannon, I would go so far as to say that the positive elements
of his work (and _of course_ there are negative elements, and lots of them)
have had an important positive impact on the DSP's ability to actually
engage in this kind of activity.

After all, who wrote one of the most profound political analyses of
cliquism, cultism, and all the other classic sectarian diseases, if not
Cannon - a sectarian himself!

Alan Bradley
abradley1 at bigpond.com

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