[Marxism] Re: Win some, lose some. Clyde Cameron and the Australian Socialist Alliance

Ozleft Ozleft at optusnet.com.au
Mon Jan 23 20:59:50 MST 2006

Much spluttering in the hive

By Bob Gould

My rather leisurely post about Clyde Cameron, which was aimed at 
generating a careful discussion about the history of Laborism from 
another angle, the political life of a major figure in the Labor Party, 
has produced an outburst of fury, as Duncan Meerding puts it on the 
Green Left list, from DSP leadership supporters.

Bandwidth can hardly be an issue here, as no less than three DSP 
supporters have put up the whole text of new maximum leader Peter 
Boyle's important words on Green Left. One might have thought that the 
pointer that was included in my article might have beens sufficient, but 
apparently that's not adequate for the respect that should be shown for 
the words of the leader.

Nick Fredman attacks me for having digressions about my own political 
experiences. But, as is obvious to any serious reader, that central to 
my story. After all, I was there, as I describe and later my good friend 
Jenny Haines was there, as I also describe, as significant players in 
the political battles in the labour movement over the proposed 
wage-price freeze in 1971 and the actual Accord in 1983.

Unfortunately, Clyde Cameron was also there, and his political role was 
somewhat more conservative.

My aim is to draw the attention of the activists in the DSP to Cameron's 
own writings, which provide a useful introduction a useful introduction 
to the dynamic, conflict-ridden life the Labor Party and the trade 
unions, the reality of which is in sharp conflict with the DSP sectarian 
idiocy about the two equally reactionary capitalist parties, Liberal and 

Now that Clyde has joined the Socialist Alliance, it seemed to me that 
it would be a good time for DSP members to read his books to get some 
clue about the inner dynamics of labour movment politics, about which 
they know so little other than a caricature view of the two equal 
capitalist parties.

Quite predictably, Louis Proyect in his Olympian way, attacks me for 
arguing with the DSP. Well, on my patch of turf in Australia, the DSP is 
about 40 per cent of the active far left, so what they do has some 
impact and makes them worth arguing with. My arguments with them also 
seem to me to have a kind of educational value, because the extreme 
sectarianism of their theory and practice presents many openings for 
discussion about strategy in the labour movement, which is of interest 
to most people on the left. I find the DSP a useful counterpoint.

It's a bit rich for Louis, who hosts a whole website about the history 
of the US SWP, to attack me for arguing with the Australian DSP. His 
assertion that I was never in it is a spurious semantic point, as the 
DSP emerged from a split between myself and others on one side and the 
people who started the DSP on the other.

Louis engages in one very unpleasant piece of verbal sleight of hand. He 
drags out of context my mention of Cameron's age. The next paragraph, 
which he could have and should have for honesty's sake, included, is a 
kind of celebration of Cameron's continuing political activity at an 
advanced age.

The whole article, while it's totally an argument with Cameron's 
politics during his right-wing phase, is also a kind of celebration of 
his lifelong activity in the labour movment.

People like Louis and Nick Fredman, when it suits them, try to reduce 
politics just to the narrow programmatic terrain that they choose, also 
when it suits them.

Labour movement politics, however, proceeds through the life of classes, 
parties, groups and individuals, and it's often impossible to comprehend 
particular developments without discussing the personal dimension. I'm 
blessed or cursed, depending on how you see it, with a pretty good memory.

Anyone who disputes my memory of events is welcome to correct me, but no 
amount of personal attacks or pomposity from either Nick Fredman or 
Louis is going to stop me drawing on my personal experience to 
illuminate and amplify what I say about programmatic and strategic 

I know from comments and the number of hits on a lot of my articles on 
the Ozleft site that many active political people find my occasionally 
anecdotal style more accessible than the crude Sam Kekovich assertions 
that you get from many on the left who think that's what passes for 

(For international readers, Sam Kekovich is a former professional 
footballer, now a television comedian, who does a pretty good imitation 
of what many Australians would call a motormouth boofhead, with lots of 
opinions that have little basis in reality.)

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