[Marxism] Re: Balance sheet of the struggle in the Australian DSP
Ozleft at optusnet.com.au
Wed Jan 18 20:17:07 MST 2006
Response to Joaquin and to Shane
By Bob Gould
Joaquin legitimately asks what is the essence of the political
differences between the two groups in the DSP.
I've already commented on the overt and formal political differences
between the two sides in previous posts, which are all available on the
Ed Lewis has briefly summarised these political issues in a recent post
on Leftist Trainspotters (see below). Greg Adler has also commented in
an article that's also on the Ozleft homepage. Taken together, these
posts summarise the main political issues that appear to be in dispute.
My posts, particularly my last post, include observations about the
internal dynamics of the DSP, as I understand them and it seems to me
that this kind of comment and analysis is both legitimate and
contributes to political discussion/
The political issues, the dynamics of the organisation, and its
interaction with the rest of the left in the labour movement and society
are all part of the story. If anyone thinks I'm wrong about any of these
questions, they should comment on what I say and I'll either defend my
position or correct any errors that I may be shown to have made,
whichever is appropriate.
On the very limited Stalin analogy, which I made, I stand by that. As
I've said, repeatedly, I'm not suggesting that Peter Boyle is a mass
murderer like Stalin, just that Boyle has one thing in common with
Stalin: that he has assembled a majority faction on the basis of verbal
ultraleftism and constant appeals to backwardness. My evidence for this
view is the deliberately primitive nature of many of his contributions
to public discussion on the Green Left list, and even to some extent on
Marxmail, although he has been better behaved on Marxmail.
In retrospect, his outbursts on on the Green Left list, while overtly
directed at me, actually had the dimension of being directed at the
ranks of the DSP to get support for his incipient faction by a direct
appeal to ultraleftism and the encouragement of a rather primitive
outlook and practice. Clearly this has worked pretty well for him in the
internal battle in the DSP. Boyle's internal opponents, and myself
externally, didn't have a very clear idea of what was happening in this
respect until it happened. In that way the analogy with Stalin's rise to
power seems to me a very powerful one.
I don't mean to infer that Boyle has the kind of brutal or barbaric
mentality of Stalin, or that in the future he will kill his opponents.
I'm just talking about the early Stalin, during his rise to power.
Even Trotsky, who loathed Stalin, pointed out that had Stalin understood
the outcome of developments later in his political rule, the early
Stalin would probably have drawn back from the path on which he had
I don't accept Shane's proposition that analogies and comparisons from
the history of the Bolshevik movement are totally out of date and of no
use in the current discussion.
The reason I make the analogy is that the more interested people in
Marxist groups know a fair bit about the history of the Russian
Revolution, and it's certainly one of my lifelong personal preoccupations.
This is a debate among Marxists and such analogies can illuminate.
On Joaquin's question about the regroupment process. Since the early
1990s I've been agitating among anyone who will listen for the general
idea of a political discussion among Marxists, directed towards
regroupment: an open discussion that would involved the members of the
different Marxist groups, leftists active in the Labor Party and the
Greens, and independents.
I've frequently said that the two poles of this discussion would be what
a socialist society would look like and what is a socialist program
since the fall of Stalinism; and the second pole would be strategy and
tactics in the labour and workers' movement.
When the DSP initiated the Socialist Alliance, they deliberately
constructed it to exclude from the process either open discussion of the
above points or participation in the discussion by people active in the
Labor Party or the Greens.
They deliberately confined it initially to a top agreement between the
leaders of socialist sects, and later they used their customary
foot-stamping “democratic” rhetoric to impose their political line on
everyone else in the alliance, with disastrous results.
Myself and others set up Ozleft to advance an alternative notion of
regroupment to the one proposed by the DSP, and as everyone can see
these questions are still on the table on the far left in Australia and
in a number of other countries.
My views on a lot of these questions, as many people are well aware, can
be found in the Marxmail and Green Left archives, most of which are
pointed to from Ozleft.
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