[Marxism] John Percy crudifies the events of 1956
ozleft at optushome.com.au
Mon May 23 17:42:26 MDT 2005
By Bob Gould
Lifetime DSP General Secretary John Percy's treatment of the events
surrounding the 1956 upheaval in the international communist movement,
in his "History of the DSP and Resistance", is ahistorical and bizarre.
John Percy's utterly self-serving reference to the magazine Outlook:
"it was a refuge for those fleeing the CPA and often tending to look
for a safe haven in the ALP and was unable to build an alternative
organisation. It folded in November 1970, having failed to relate to
or build from the 1960s youth radicalisation and the antiwar movement"
is an inane caricature and stands reality on its head, which is pretty
typical of Percy's historical approach. Percy treats Laborism as
original sin, and all past labour movement issues are measured
retrospectively against the yardstick of Percy's strange DSP political
The actual history of Outlook was quite different to Percy's summary
version. In the context of its time, the magazine was a very leftist
and serious attempt to come to terms with Australian political reality
from a broadly socialist point of view, and its end, when its
supporters judged in 1970 that it had served its purpose, was by no
means the "dead end" that Percy says it was. By that time Outlook had
influenced a generation of activists who were already, or were to
become, important in the antiwar, anti-apartheid, women's, youth,
trade union and other movements, and in developments such as the
growth of the Socialist Left in the Victorian Labor Party and elsewhere.
If you choose, as Percy does, to ridicule Helen Palmer and her
associates for not building a Marxist "party" of the Percy type, and
don't note the multitude of her other socialist political activities,
you impoverish yourself. Compare, for example, Percy's miserable
assessment of Outlook with Ian Turner's The Long Goodbye,
http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Outlook.html in the final issue.
Helen Palmer wrote the Ballad of 1891,
http://members.optushome.com.au/spainter/Ballad.html which became the
leitmotif of the socialist musical, Reedy River, a show that
contributed to the radicalization of tens of thousands of Australians.
How is it possible to contemplate the development of socialist
organisation of any sort if you treat with narrow-gutted and cavalier
contempt, as Percy does, the radical activities of previous
generations that don't measure up to your self-interested stereotype?
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