Re Australian Labor Party

Peter Boyle peterb at
Sun Sep 22 22:03:25 MDT 2002

Dear Comrades

Doug Lorimer, who is not on this list, asked me to post the following
note on Bob Gould's criticism of the DSP's position on the Australian
Labor Party:

In the first part of his post (Sept 22), Gould wrote:

`In the 1995 reprint of the pamphlet, Doug Lorimer has this piece of
slightly dishonest mumbo-jumbo, as an explanation for the DSP's new

"The DSP's previous characterisation of the ALP, which it had inherited
from the Trotskyist movement's analysis of Social Democratic parties
around the world, was based on the determination of the class character
of a political party not only by its program - its real aims and the
means by which it seeks their attainment - but also by the class
composition of its membership and supporters. This approach, however,
represents a departure from the Marxist method of analysing social
phenomena ... "Thus, for Marxists, the class character of a political
party is not determined by the class that supports it at any particular
time, but by what class the party supports, ie, by the party's program,
by its real aims and basic policy. From this point of view, the only
correct one for Marxists, the ALP is not a worker's but a bourgeois

`Lorimer simply asserts without serious explanation as to why, that the
Trotskyists were wrong about all the sociology, and that the only thing
that mattered in this context was the program of political parties.'

Elsewhere in the sam post Gould recommnded the Progress Publishers Lenin
collection `On Britain'. However, he appears to either not have read
this collection or to have dlberately ignored the articles in it dealing
with the ALP and its British counterpart. If he had, he would have
discovered where the DSP derived its view that the `Trotskyist were
wrong' to rest their analysis of the Labour parties `on the sociology'
of their composition, to wit:

`First of all, I should like to mention a slight inaccuracy on the part
of Comrade McLaine, which cannot be agreed to. He called the Labour
Party the political representative of the trade union movement, and
later repeated the statement when he said that the Labour Party is ``the
political expression of the workers organised in trade unions''. I have
met the same view several times in the paper of the British Socialist
Party. It is erroneous, and is partly the cause of the opposition, fully
justified in som measure, coming from the British revolutionary workers.
Indeed, the oncepts ``political department of the trade unions'' or
``political expression'' of the trade union movement, are erroneous. Of
course, most of the Labour Party's members are workingmen. However,
whether or not a party is really a political party of the workers does
not depend solely upon a membership of workers but also upon the men
that lead it, and the content of its actions and its political tactics.
Only this latter determines whether we really have before us a political
party of the proletariat. Regarded from this, the only correct, point of
view, the Labour Party is a thoroughly bourgeois party, because,
although made up of workers, it is led by reacionaries, ad the worst
kind of reactionaries at that, who act quite in the spirit of the
bourgeoisie. It is an organisation of the bourgeoisie, which exists to
systematically dupe the workers with the aid of the British Noskes an
Scheidemanns.'' (Lenin, Speech on Affiliation to the British Labour
Party Delivered to the Second Congress of the Communist International,
August 6, 1920, emphasis added.)

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