[Marxism] Max Lane on the RSP/Socialist Alternative fusion

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Oct 11 08:04:28 MDT 2012

Sometimes the twists and turns of politics surprise you. Sometimes it is 
a bitter surprise: I would never have thought I would have to fight so 
hard against people who had been comrades and friends in the DSP and 
that I would have to leave an organisation I had dedicated 27 years to 
build. Neither would I have predicted that it would have been rejection 
of a central tenet of Leninism – as a doctrinaire “ISM” –  that could 
have the opened a new possibility for furthering the development of a 
revolutionary socialist party in Australia. For various reasons – the 
urgings of a former RSP member as well as friendly approaches by members 
of Socialist Alternative – there were conversations between RSP members 
and Socialist Alternative members. SocALt had grown to at least 200-300 
people while we had struggled to start anew. They came from a different 
socialist tradition and had a different style to us. We had many 
theoretical differences on quite important issues, both as they relate 
to Australian politics as well is international politics. We had been 
rivals, sometimes caustic rivals, in the past: and the differences we 
had meant that there would probably be important debates in the future. 
But, I had thought, unity with them would never work. Marxist groups 
espouse democratic centralism, which meant that what we had to say that 
was different would never be heard outside, if we merged. However, it 
turned out, that SocAlt held the view that small groups, still at an 
embryonic stage, should not enforce strict democratic centralism. This 
is what their comrades said, and when I checked, it was what was in 
their constitution and some of their other documents.

Individual members could express differences with the majority publicly.



So, "individual members could express differences with the majority 
publicly." I guess this is a step forward but I don't know exactly what 
that means.

I doubt that Socialist Alternative would have ever had the kind of 
internal regime of the SWP in which you can be expelled for telling a 
non-member (and at a certain point) that an article in the latest 
Militant strikes you as stupid.

For me, the kind of party that we need will incorporate public debate, 
which is a bit different than the expression of one's individual 
opinion. For example, when the SWP was involved with its idiotic "probe" 
of the gay movement, it would have been useful for gay members to be 
writing articles in the Militant challenging the implicit homophobia of 
the leadership. The idea that such a challenge could only be mounted 
during preconvention discussion is not "Leninist". It is much more like 
the internal functioning of the Teamsters Union.

To be blunt, when I see an article in the Socialist Alternative press 
making the case for Cuba, I'll be persuaded that something has changed. 
Meanwhile, this might all be a moot point since the RSP leadership was 
committed to Cannonist party-building methodologies not that different 
than those articulated by Mick Armstrong.

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