An open letter on the Socialist Alliance

by

From Socialist Democracy to the DSP

John Tully, for Socialist Democracy

John Percy,
National Secretary,
Democratic Socialist Party.
10 November 2002
Dear John,

There is virtually no support outside of the DSP for the DSP leadership’s proposal to “dissolve” into the Socialist Alliance. Even inside the DSP, there is opposition to the proposal as it stands. However, the proposal now has the weight of the DSP’s national committee behind it. This is an enormous error. We are writing to urge you, to plead with you, to shelve the proposal at this stage.

If the DSP goes ahead with the proposal and the ISO carries out its threat to leave, the Alliance will collapse. Thus, we might well squander the best chance for left wing unity in a whole generation. More than that, we will be condemned to eke out our political lives like hamsters on a treadmill, expending plenty of energy but never going beyond the confines of an iron cage.

The Left is now probably weaker than it was 100 years ago. The affiliates of the Alliance trace their most direct roots to “the generation of 1968”. For most of the thirty-odd years since then, we have been at loggerheads. At times the antipathy has gone beyond rudeness to physical violence.

We have come a long way towards breaking down the old sectarianism, but if the Alliance implodes now, it will take much longer than thirty years to put the pieces back together. To invert the old cliché, nothing fails like failure, and there will be little enthusiasm for a re-run. Not in this generation, anyway.

If nothing else, the proposal has been useful in demonstrating the great differences that exist within the Alliance. Each of the affiliates has a different viewpoint on how to proceed. We need to work these out and the process cannot be forced. Far better for us to consolidate our joint work, and to consider other ways to bring about greater unity and to bring in broader layers outside of the existing left milieux.

It is precisely because we agree that there has never been a greater need for a united left party that we are asking you to apply the brakes. Let us have the discussions and debates we need to have, but without time lines and without unilateral actions. Please listen very carefully to what the ISO and the other affiliates are saying. There is still time for a change of course.

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