[Marxism] Re: Balance sheet of the struggle in the Australian DSP

Ozleft 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 
Ozleft homepage.

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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