[Marxism] Why I am joining Socialist Alternative in Australia (Omar Hassan)

Nick Fredman nick.fredman at optusnet.com.au
Thu Sep 13 20:46:56 MDT 2012

On 14/09/12 11:24 AM, "Omar Hassan" <sherrife at gmail.com> wrote:

> Our strategy has left us as by far the biggest group
> leading many of the biggest campaigns in Australia

Omar, I appreciate your comradely and comprehensive response. I'm encouraged
by your statements and that of others in SAlt (e.g. at
http://www.facebook.com/jorgeandresjorquera) about Cuba and will be
interested to see how such issues are negotiated in practice.

I agree it's beholden for anyone claiming to make an accurate assessment of
Socialist Alternative to read material, go along to meetings, talk to
comrades and so on. Too often members of "competing groups" (what are we
competing for, a medal?) rely on third-hand accounts and assumptions to
denounce others variously as "Stalinists" or "ultra-left sectarians" and so
on. I haven't been to *any* SAlt events in the 2.5 years I've lived in
Melbourne (the previous 13 in Lismore with no other left groups), mostly
because I work full-time, have two small children and and a nearly full-time
shift-working partner, so very little time, but also because I'm sure I have
some hang-over from the rather nasty inter-left relationships of the 90s. My
loss perhaps, but it was surely your loss when for example *no* other
members of any other left group came to the last Socialist Alliance meeting
I made it to a few weeks ago, a great discussion with Quebec student leader
Guillaume Legault (I understand on the other hand there was a joint campus
meeting with him in Canberra).

That is, unless you do think you are actually "it" (which you presumably
don't if there's serious discussion with a small group like the RSP), the
admonition to get to know other left groups surely goes both ways. I don't
think you have for example an accurate picture of Socialist Alliance at all.
This has not been a picture of remorseless decline over 18 years as you seem
to think. SA grew from around 500 at its formation in 2001 to a high of over
1100 in 2005. Yes it's shrunk in the splits since then but I understand it's
still something like 600. Yes probably less active on the whole than SAlt
members but not insignificant. There's also hundreds of Green Left
subscribers, some important activists, who are not SA members. SA's draft
"what we stand for" type statement:


is firmly within the Marxist and revolutionary tradition, although in my
opinion it could be more explicitly so, and SA conducts plenty of Marxist
education and discussion.

I don't think you know much if anything about the left in not unimportant
centres like Geelong, Newcastle, Woollangong, Hobart, Cairns and Armidale
where SAlt doesn't exist and where SA has active branches, (SA has some
organised presence in a few other places including Darwin). I understand
that in Adelaide where SA has a vibrant branch and works with others in a
Left Unity group SAlt only has a couple of members (perhaps I'm mistaken). I
think the same is the case for outer western Sydney and Melbourne. In regard
to campaigns, SA members play leading roles in climate action groups and the
anti-CSG campaign, whereas in my observation no-one from any IS group has
ever been involved in any environmental campaigns (perhaps I'm mistaken). In
regard to publications, GreenLeft.org.au, with an Alexa ranking of 207,222
and often in the Hitwise list of the top 10 political sites in Australia,
appears considerably more read than sa.org.au, with an Alexa ranking of
3,313,822. There's also some important members from and links with migrant
left groups such as Tamils, Sudanese and Latin Americans, which is surely a
historic weakness of the post-60s far left in Australia.

I don't say any of this to brag, as I'm far from sanguine about SA, but to
encourage you and other SAlt members to consider what you aren't yet and
don't know. 

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