[Marxism] From the crisis in the SWP via 1981 to Socialist Alternative in Brisbane today

En Passant with John Passant en.passant at bigpond.com
Sat Jan 12 12:29:14 MST 2013

In response to the crisis in the SWP questions will and have arisen about its internal democracy regime,  feminism and the vanguard party project to name a few. Insiders who may be in the process of becoming outsiders have raised them. 

But the crisis also opens up protestations from those who will use any excuse to indulge in IST bashing. 

Gary's comments about Socialist Alternative in Brisbane are an example. Gary explains the bitterness he felt for his expulsion from the international Socialists in 1981. I assume he is linking that organisation to today's Socialist Alternative in Brisbane, 32 years and various organisational formations later. The link seems tenuous.  The link to the SWP in the UK is even more tenuous.

I can sympathise with the sense of bitterness Gary feels. The University of Canberra shafted me from my job in 2011 for being a leftie and union activist who stood up as best I could to the rabid neoliberal agenda of the Vice-Chancellor. I still feel bitter. My wife tells me to get over it and move on. Good advice. But after 32 years Gary, surely the time has come to remove the bitter glasses from your eyes and see the reality. Bitter glasses? Well, Gary says, without any evidence, 'I see it here in Brisbane with Socialist Alternative. The membership never seems to age.  It just gets chewed up.'

A couple of points. Socialist Alternative is not part of the IS Tendency.  It has just merged with the Revolutionary Socialist Party and is in unity discussions with Socialist Alliance. Part of its organisational response has been to allow members to disagree publicly with the organisation. Unlike the SWP and like Richard Seymour a majority supports SYRIZA. 

Its membership includes not only young people, but older people like me. The young people attracted to the organisation aren't being chewed up. Its analysis of what is possible is realistic, not hyper-activist.

Indeed the other main radical left organisations in Australia recognise the ability to attract young comrades and develop them as one of the real strengths of Socialist Alternative.

By all means have a discussion about what is happening in the SWP in the UK but let's not drag in irrelevant considerations for cheap points scoring driven by events 32 years ago to apply to a different organisation in a different era in a different country.

John Passant

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