Greetings from the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women to all delegates and observers at the Second Socialist Alliance National Conference, Melbourne, Australia
Don’t Risk Blowing Up Socialist Alliance
by Forcing Affiliates to “Integrate” or Leave!
It is now 28 months since representatives of the affiliate organisations met in Sydney and made the historic decision to launch the Socialist Alliance. Cynics and naysayers began speculating then how long we would hold together — most predicting that we’d be lucky to make it through the Federal Election. It turns out they were dead wrong! We’re not only still here but we can point to real achievements — not the least of which is putting socialism on the ballot by achieving electoral registration federally and in many states, as well as our work in defence of militant unions and the fact hundreds of previously unaffiliated socialists have chosen to join the Socialist Alliance.
Socialist Alliance has survived — and can point to some real achievements — because we have focused on those things we agree. It’s true that this agreement is broader than was anticipated at the meeting in Sydney which founded the Alliance. All of us have discovered that our understanding of socialism, and of the way forward for the working class, has many common threads. There has been a great deal of good will by all concerned as we developed positions intended to unite the diverse forces which make up the Socialist Alliance around a small but growing number of campaigns, including running socialist candidates in elections.
Still, important political differences have not disappeared. But rather than concentrate on these differences, affiliates and individual members have chosen to work on them outside the framework of Socialist Alliance. We do not see this as a problem — it is the nature of an organisation which is a robust alliance uniting diverse working class forces in action around a basic platform of socialist demands.
We believe that the working class needs a revolutionary party that is unified around a program to defeat the strongest international capitalist class in human history. A party without programmatic agreement is not sufficient to get rid of capitalism. There are many reasons for our belief in program as the critical glue, including the need to be as tightly organised as the forces that oppose us. Clearly, as a product of compromises, the Alliance is not — and cannot — be a substitute for a revolutionary party.
That does not detract for a moment from the importance of the Alliance as an historic step forward for the Australian Left. The unity in action we have achieved can only strengthen the movement for socialism in this country. We see no contradiction between our belief in the need to build a revolutionary party and our commitment to broaden and strengthen the Socialist Alliance. At this point in the struggle, we see it as necessary to do both. That is why the FSP is one of the founding organisations and why Radical Women members enthusiastically participate in the Alliance.
We are extremely alarmed by the amended proposal now advocated by some leaders of the Non-Aligned Caucus. In Discussion Bulletin Volume 3 # 7, comrade John Van der Velden proposes a further resolution which places a 12-month time line for implementation of the “seven points.”
This latest proposal has all the characteristics of an ultimatum to affiliates. If the majority at Conference agrees to this, then Conference will start the timer for an explosion of the Socialist Alliance in 12 months’ time. We know that the FSP is not the only affiliate which cannot and will not agree to a demand that we cease the struggle to build a revolutionary party capable of taking on the capitalist state.
Both the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women are deeply committed to the success of Socialist Alliance and have demonstrated this over the last two years. We want to continue to build the Socialist Alliance and the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women. All three types of organizations are needed.
As we look to the future, there is a possibility that new organizations may want to join the Socialist Alliance. We must welcome the affiliation of socialist organisations within immigrant and other communities as well as trade union branches and socialist parties which until now have chosen to remain outside the Alliance. The likelihood of any further broadening of the Alliance is jeopardised if a condition of affiliation is the immediate liquidation of the would-be affiliate. In other words, the latest proposal by comrade Van der Velden is self-defeating as well as short-sighted.
We appeal to all delegates to think carefully about what is at stake. A vote to fast-tracking organisational “unity” without political agreement threatens the real unity in action we have achieved and can be rightly proud of.
The Socialist Alliance must not be blown apart — it is too important.