[Marxism] Re: About Socialist Alliance

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Thu Jan 19 22:00:39 MST 2006

Thanks to Peter, Nick and Dave for giving me the DSP points of view I asked
for. Just one response to Dave:

>>the union membership and networks that the SA can now access [are]
beginning to match that of the old Aaronsite CPA before its decline.<<

Whaaa? The party was in a long, slow decline since 1945, and Laurie Aarons
didn’t become secretary till about 1966 or 1967, as I recall. But if we
take 1966 as a benchmark, the CPA still had very considerable weight in
significant unions. When Aarons’ predecessor Sharkey died not long after
his retirement, thousands of wharfies followed his coffin. I would say that
in the maritime sector alone, the CPA had far more weight than the Alliance
has today in the whole labour movement. They had a sizeable presence in the
coal industry, the railways, the tramways, the metal trades, even the NSW
Teachers. They played a significant role in the 1969 strike over the
jailing of Clarrie O’Shea and the bans against ships going to Vietnam.

Then came the SPA split and further decline in the seventies, but even then
they had Jack Mundey and Joe Owens of the NSW BLF, Roger Wilson of the
Seamen’s Union, Laurie Carmichael and John Halfpenny of the Metal Workers,
Jennie George in the Teachers Federation, George Zangalis in the railways,
and all of these had a certain CPA activist base behind them. Including Sam
Armstrong (the chief shop steward leading the great LaTrobe Valley strike)
a separate wharfies’ branch in Sydney, and a CPA branch in the Williamstown
Dockyards. That’s just what I can recall off the top of my head.

Are you really suggesting Socialist Alliance can begin to match that?
Certainly in my own union (CPSU) all the alliance can point to is the same
network of lefties that’s been around for the last decade or two, and it’s
considerably weaker than it was in the eighties.

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