Tom O’Lincoln is quite unfair to Kim Bullimore in their exchange on Leftwrites. He says Kim Bullimore should get over the split and get to the politics.
Kim, in particular, has a record of getting to the politics in a very energetic and resourceful way.
I’ve had the odd rather sharp exchange with her in the past, but I’m mightily impressed with her activities in support of Palestine, and I’ve found her frequent factual reports from the political battlefront there of great value and I know that activists in the Palestine support movement share this regard for her activity.
When she gives a concrete and rather brief summary of the way the Boyleites tried to remove her from Palestine work for the DSP, that’s highly political in itself.
In conjunction with the curious emails between some DSP leadership supporters in Brisbane, that provides an insight into the real internal life of the Boyle faction, and broadens our knowledge of the real political and cultural climate in the DSP in recent times. In the world of real political struggles and conflicts, particularly in the broader labour movement, the details of the way those things work is highly political.
Over the past couple of years I’ve followed the political upheaval in the DSP fairly closely, and one way or another I’ve managed to get hold of most of the documents. Sometimes one source dries up, but then another source emerges.
I have serious strategic and political disagreements with the Percy group on the Labor Party and trade union matters, but I’ve formed the opinion, following the developments with some care, that the Percy group as a whole is a serious political formation guided mainly by its political program and ideas and that the other group has evolved very rapidly into a very opportunistic political cult a few central personalities, who use every trick in the book to try to present themselves as some kind of majority.
They lie publicly in accusing the other group of splitting, when in fact they had carefully and deliberately prepared an expulsion. There wouldn’t be too many people on the Australian left who would believe the split version as the story unfolds.
Episodically, in a formal way, the Boyle group seems to have moved closer in recent times to some of my strategic and tactical ideas, but that doesn’t impress me terribly much. That’s just belated recognition of the real circumstances that exist in the workers’ movement. Despite this apparent tactical convergence, I don’t trust the Boyle bunch.
After a prolonged factional struggle of the sort that has happened in the DSP, the opposition recording its side of the story in a demotic and public way, as a number of the Percy supporters have done in the past few days, is highly political after two or three years of constrained silence.
For the past few months I’ve been involved in a mass revolt in the Labor Party and the union movement against the neoliberal fifth column of bankers and speculators that has so publicly become a force in the NSW Labor Party.
In my experience, the whole fabric of the struggle is highly political: all the detail of the to-ing and fro-ing in the Labor parliamentary caucus, in the unions, and at the rank and file level, including at the May 3-4 state conference, and now the battle in the parliament (for which one of the catalysts has been Greens MP John Kaye).
Working class, labour movement and Marxist politics aren’t just questions of abstract propaganda. They’re expressed through the activities of people, branches, tendencies and factions, leaders and ranks, throughout the movement, in big formations such as Labor and the Greens and in the small socialist groups.
The argument about the ethics of hacking into emails and the e-list in the DSP isn’t a trivial factional question, but a highly political matter.
Tom’s rather superior dismissal of the detail of these matters is not really political. It think it goes to the heart of the propagandist practice of Socialist Alternative, for instance, which I critiqued in some detail recently.
I put it to Tom that he might consider whether Socialist Alternative would take up my proposal for some public discussion in each city on program, strategy and tactics for the socialist movement and the workers movement. That, it seems to me, would be highly political.
While I understand that all of us will still have to work together in the broader movement, in the short term, I’m unreservedly on the side of the ranks of the Percy group, who in their accounts of various incidents and events have provided an anatomical description of how a socialist group can be transformed into a bit of a cult.
Initially, when I first read the DSP leadership’s charge document I was inclined to put it aside. It was rather more than I really wanted to know, and I’m sure that many others had a similar reaction. But when I went back to it the rather extraordinary implications of it began to anger me considerably.
In my view, this explosion in the DSP is highly political. Many programatic and strategic questions are not yet resolved, but let’s have a rational discussion among socialists about them. The speaking bitterness emails of the past few days may not have been the perfect start to such a discussion, but they are a start.