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