[Marxism] Re: The SWP, Gay Liberation and Leninism

Nick Fredman sra at scu.edu.au
Tue Apr 20 07:08:49 MDT 2004

Jose has made a typically lucid case relating democratic centralist 
modes of organising and opposition to oppressed group "caucus" type 
bodies in revolutionary groups to a number of things including 
sectarianism and abstentionism towards the movement, particularly in 
the case of the US SWP and its attitude to gay and lesbian liberation 
in the early 1970s, but suggesting this phenomenon is inevitably 
present to some extent in all groups attempting to organise in a 
"Leninist" model similar to that of the SWP at the time.

I've suggested here before that critics of the US SWP on this list in 
their explanations of its degeneration have fetishised its 
organisational forms at the expense of its political errors. Here I'll 
just make a couple of counter examples to Jose's to think about.

The Australian DSP imported its organisational ideas pretty much 
wholesale from the US SWP, but at least by about 1978, had a serious 
attitude to gay and lesbian liberation, publishing a document on this 
and helping to initiate in that year in Sydney the Gay Solidarity march 
that become the massive (but obviously less political) Sydney Gay and 
Lesbian Mardi Gras. I.e. Cannonists don't have to be sectarians.

As far as I can work out the Freedom Socialist Party (whose small 
Australian group is in the Socialist Alliance) has a serious attitude 
to black, women's and gay and lesbian movements, seen in a fairly 
"autonomous" way, and fiercely defend the idea of caucuses of oppressed 
groups operating within a revolutionary organisation. But this doesn't 
stop them from being far more insistent than say the DSP that all 
socialists must gather around all the same detailed programmatic 
principles  (the FSP's principles of course) for a new party to be 
formed. They even seem to make the quite ludicrous claim that a 
revolutionary or socialist organisation can't even be considered 
feminist without adopting their shibbolith of a women's caucus. I.e. 
sectarians don't have to be Cannonists.

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