[Marxism] A Response to Nick Fredman about Michael Thomson's alliance resignation letter, and GLW

Gould's Book Arcade ggouldsb at bigpond.net.au
Sun Feb 15 17:28:40 MST 2004

A Response to Nick Fredman about Michael Thomson's alliance resignation
letter, and GLW

Nick Fredman's response about Green Left Weekly (GLW) is a reasonable
response, and he adds a little more to the discussion about the evolution of
GLW. In reality, he concedes my central point - that GLW has been, and
generally still is, the political organ of the DSP, though its not
unreasonable of him to assert that the aspiration now is to turn GLW into,
to some extent, a broad left newspaper. He agrees that the six subjects for
discussion I've suggested are reasonable subjects for discussion, but he
ends with the obligatory sectarian point that maybe I'd be listened to in
such propositions more if I joined the Socialist Alliance. That throwaway
jibe raises just the point I was making rather sharply - I doubt, for a
start, whether if I capitulated to these repeated jibes and joined the
Socialist Alliance as a critical socialist independent, I'd have any more
chance of being listened to than say, Michael Thomson, who has just left it,
or the smaller affiliates, who are constantly derided as "holding back the
process". But that's not the point anyway. The overwhelming majority of the
left in Australian society, and the activists on the left in Australian
society, are outside the Alliance - either in or around the ALP, in or
around the Greens, or in the far left groups that aren't in the Alliance. In
these current material circumstances, therefore, any serious attempt by
Green Left Weekly to reinvent itself as an effective broad left newspaper
would have to try to create the conditions in which those many thousands of
activists outside the Alliance, for  conscientious reasons, could be
involved in discussion and debate. In practice I'm more likely to be able to
make that point sharply and effectively, as I think I do, from outside the

Nick says that the GLW issue wasn't the main issue, from his point of view,
in the pieces that he posted, but that he was mainly interested in "their
counter-evidence to Michael's rosy-coloured view of the current situation of
the NTEU". Well, the pieces he quoted didn't actually provide any
counter-evidence to Michael's point of view, at least not a coherent one.
That it seemed to me, was a part of Thomson's point. No coherent criticism
was made of the strategic content of the victory of the NTEU against the
Howard Government over the Industrial Relations component of the Nelson
Review, or of the details of the settlement at Sydney University. Just a
vague and not very clearly developed kind of sniping, of which Austin
Whitten's piece is a vintage example. Clearly, this is an area of discussion
and debate among activists in the NTEU, I don't profess any expertise in
this area, except to say on the face of it, that Thomson's assessment of the
settlement that it was a significant victory against the Howard Government
appears to be correct. If this is in dispute, then surely this ads a seventh
subject to my list of things that might be discussed in a public and open
way in GLW if it aspires to be a serious broad left paper. A discussion in
which all points of view ought to be put openly and frankly. In the interim,
as Nick is intimately acquainted with the issues in the NTEU, he might a)
indicate whether he agrees with the criticisms of Michael Thomson's position
and b) whether he agrees with the criticisms or not, he might do us the
service of trying to outline for us what they are in a coherent way, so that
socialists might be able to consider issues on their merits. It might even
be the case that a serious discussion of the issues involved in the victory
of the NTEU workers over the Howard Government might illuminate many of the
issues and problems facing socialists in the trade unions more generally.

Bob Gould.

Gould's Book Arcade
32 King St, Newtown, NSW
Ph: 9519-8947
Fax: 9550-5924
Email: bob at gouldsbooks.com.au
Web: www.gouldsbooks.com.au

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