Revolutionary Socialist Party launched

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Announces publication of Direct Action

The Leninist Party Faction, a dissident minority expelled from the Democratic Socialist Perspective on May 13 and Direct Action, an organisation established by former DSP members in Melbourne and Geelong after they left the DSP in May 2006 have united to launch a new party, the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) with members in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Geelong, Adelaide, Newcastle and Cairns, and others currently residing overseas.

This is a principled unification of our two organisations. Both the LPF and Direct Action support the Program of the Democratic Socialist Party, a program that the DSP remains formally committed to but which it is abandoning in practice. Together, LPF and Direct Action members waged a common struggle against the degeneration of the DSP until May 2006, when six LPF members decided to leave the DSP to establish Direct Action.

Both the LPF and DA seek to preserve the continuity of the revolutionary tradition of the DSP prior to its political and organisational degeneration in recent years, culminating in the wholesale purge of the LPF on May 13. The LPF and Direct Action share not only basic programmatic agreement, but also agreement on the main tasks and perspectives for regrouping and rebuilding the revolutionary Marxist current once embodied in the DSP and its predecessor, the Socialist Workers Party, founded in 1972. The RSP’s strategic aim is to build a mass revolutionary workers party capable of leading the Australian working class and its allies to overthrow capitalism and, together with the working people of other countries, to build socialism, a global society of shared wealth and democratic planning to meet social needs. We recognise that we are not the only revolutionary socialist organisation in Australia, and that a future mass revolutionary socialist party will not be achieved solely through the incremental growth of any one of the existing far-left organisations.

Building towards the future mass revolutionary workers party will require a variety of tactics, among them efforts to unify the existing far-left organisations. But in today’s conditions of continuing working class retreat, the creation of a broad left party of anti-capitalist resistance is simply not on the agenda. The necessary partners for such a party — substantial new class-struggle forces and leaders — do not yet exist, and will not come into existence until there is a sustained mass upsurge of working class resistance. The Socialist Alliance is not such a broad left party or even a modest step torwards such a party, but a front for the DSP. The RSP rejects any such sectarian attempt to masquerade as a broad left party. Rather, we seek to collaborate with all left and progressive organisations and individuals to achieve the maximum unity in action where we have agreement.

The RSP’s ongoing campaign priority is to help build a broadly based solidarity movement with the Latin American socialist revolutions in Venezuela and Cuba. Building solidarity with the Venezuelan and Cuban peoples is not only the duty of revolutionaries everywhere, especially in an imperialist country closely allied with US imperialism, the inspiration of these living socialist revolutions is key to winning a wider hearing for revolutionary socialist ideas among working people in Australia. The RSP seeks to build the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network as a democratically functioning national network of affiliated solidarity groups and individual solidarity activists.

Next week the RSP will launch a new monthly radical left publication, Direct Action. This new publication, and its associated website, will present the views of the RSP as well as encouraging constructive debate on the left and will seek contributions from a broad range of radical commentators, activists and organisations. The RSP will hold a delegated founding congress in early 2009.

May 28, 2008

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The RSP has set up a website, where the party’s documents and political positions will be progressively uploaded. The RSP’s initial Perspectives Resolution is available there, as well as the RSP’s program and constitution. The Perspectives Resolution is attached below. For further background on the political debate in the DSP see the article by Allen Myers, “The Political and Organisational Degeneration of the DSP” on the LPF website.

The RSP has established a National Office in Sydney at Suite 72/65 Myrtle St, Chippendale 2008. For further information contact John Percy 0419 989 720, Marce Cameron 0413 158 480 or Doug Lorimer 0434 209 342, or email.

* * *

RSP Perspectives Resolution

Building the Revolutionary Socialist Party

Imperialist decline and socialist renewal

1. Planet Earth may have already crossed the threshold of catastrophic and irreversible climate change. As higher temperatures reduce crop yields, tropical rainforests are razed and more farmland is devoted to growing fuel for cars, hundreds of millions more of the world’s poorest people are suffering from hunger as staple foods become suddenly unaffordable. Since August 2007 the capitalist world has been also hit by the most severe financial crisis since the 1930s Great Depression. Moreover, the dream of the US rulers of dominating the world politically and militarily has faltered in the cities and towns of Iraq, where US imperialism is bogged down in an unwinnable counterinsurgency war.

2. These multiple crises remind us that we are living in the epoch of decline and decay of the global capital social order. Capitalism’s contraditions are profound, insoluble and explosive. The revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the building of socialism — a global society of shared wealth and democratic planning to meet social needs — offer the only hope for the survival of civilisation. But such a revolutionary transformation of society will not happen spontaneously. It requires conscious revolutionary socialist leadership.

3. The most radical political and ideological challenge to imperialism today is the socialist revolution unfolding in Venezuela, led by revolutionary socialists in close collaboration with Cuba’s outstanding Marxist leadership team. Despite many difficulties and some setbacks, the Bolivarian Revolution continues to advance and consolidate. Efforts to forge a mass party of the revolution, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, are a critical step forward.

4. Venezuela is giving besieged socialist Cuba some much-needed moral and material reinforcement, as Cuba gradually emerges from the post-Soviet “Special Period”. The Venezuela-Cuba axis of solidarity and socialist renewal is showing with deeds — sharing the oil wealth, wiping out curable blindness on an entire continent — what socialist collaboration on the scale of whole peoples can achieve if the working people have state power. With the Cuban and Venezuela socialist revolutions leading the way, Latin America is the continent in which the struggle against imperialism and for socialism is most advanced.

Working class retreat

5. Australia continues to be one of the most politically stable imperialist countries. There are no new revolutionary upheavals in the Asia-Pacific region; Australia’s involvement in the imperialist occupation of Iraq is minimal; and Australian capitalism is enjoying its longest period of uninterrupted expansion, driven by a mining boom sustained by China’s thirst for raw materials and propped up by ever-higher levels of household debt. While millions of working people are feeling the pinch from higher mortgage interest rates and rising rent, food and petrol costs and the rural drought, a decade and a half of relative prosperity has softened the impact of neoliberal counter-reforms aimed at shoring up capitalist profitability.

6. While corporate profits soar, strikes have fallen to historically low levels, with the trade unions still dominated by a privileged bureaucracy utterly subservient to capitalist rule whether “left” or “right” in ALP factional terms. With the complicity or capitulation of the ALP-ACTU bureaucracy, the capitalist class has been able to make deep inroads into working class consciousness and organisation during the past two decades. Enterprise bargaining and individual contracts backed up by some of the harshest anti-union laws of any imperialist country have further stratified and fragmented the working class, eroding traditions of struggle and solidarity.

7. The enactment of the Howard government’s Work Choices legislation was a significant defeat for the working class. While militant unionists were able to exert some pressure on the union bureaucracy to take action, the militant current was too small and too isolated to compel the ALP-ACTU bureaucracy to launch a campaign of crippling national strikes that could have forced the Howard government to retreat. Instead, the Laborite trade union bureaucracy channelled the opposition to Work Choices into a successful campaign to elect the federal ALP to government.

8. The class struggle in Australia is still defined by the ongoing retreat of the working class in the face of the capitalist neoliberal offensive. Defeat after defeat for the working class without a real test of its potentially enormous collective power is punctuated by only sporadic outbursts of active dissent and dispersed defensive struggles — and even such sporadic mobilisaitons are at a low ebb today. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the rulers of the imperialist countries, including Australia, launched a new ideological offensive aimed at undermining working class solidarity by stoking racist xenophobia against the Muslim peoples of the Third World and clamping down on dissent in the name of national security, sending a chill through the progressive dissenting constituency.

9. The election of the Rudd Labor federal government in November 2007 has not significantly altered the class struggle landscape. Labor was not elected on the crest of a mass upsurge of independent working class mobilisation or radicalisation, but as a result of an electoral campaign by the ALP-ACTU bureacracy that featured a series of bureacratically controlled mass mobilisations. Despite some largely cosmetic tinkering around the edges in Aboriginal affairs and climate change policy, Rudd Labor pursues essentially the same neoliberal agenda as the Howard government. Expectations of progressive change have been so reduced by decades of capitulation of the Laborite trade union bureaucrats that simply replacing the Howard government with Rudd Labor’s cosmetically ’softer’ version of neoliberalism is welcomed with a sense of relief by most of the progressive dissenting constituency

The radicalisation today

10. With social protest and mobilisation at a very low ebb, the declining moral and ideological credibility the capitalist ruling class among growing numbers of working people, is the most important political opening for revolutionaries in Australia today. The popularity and impact of progressive documentaries such as Sicko and An Inconvenient Truth point to a search for explanations fueled by growing awareness of the glaring contradictions of capitalism in decline, from Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction to alarm at the looming ecological apocalypse. The explosive growth of the internet over the past decade has made a much wider range of information, including the full spectrum of radical critiques, readily accessible and more easily shared. A significant minority is relatively open to anti-capitalist ideas and explanations.

11. There is no mass anti-capitalist radicalisation today, but individuals continue to draw radical conclusions. This tenuous, fragile radicalisation is disconnected from the clarity and empowerment that can come from direct participation in mass struggles, and it bubbles away in the absence of any widely held conviction in the possibility and desirability of a socialist revolution in the advanced capitalist countries. The challenge for us as a small Marxist party is to engage this dispersed radicalising constituency in an ongoing “battle of ideas”, i.e. to gain a bigger audience for Marxist ideas and explanations and to recruit, educate and train professional Marxist cadres.

Propaganda

13. The strategic goal of the Revolutionary Socialist Party is to build a mass revolutionary socialist party capable of leading the Australian working class and its allies to overthrow capitalism and build a socialist society, but we recognise that we are not such a mass party or anything approaching it. We are only the propaganda nucleus of such a future mass party; propaganda being the dissemination of socialist ideas and explanations to those who are most receptive to such ideas and explanations. All our activities are propagandistic in their goals, that is, aimed at reaching out to radicalising workers and students with our ideas and winning them to our ranks.

14. While we are far too small to directly alter the objective political situation by calling into being mass struggles, this does not mean that our role must be limited to commenting on events from the sidelines. We can initiate or help build modest-sized actions that set an example of how to struggle to broader forces. Where agitation on and actions around these issues and demands connect with the concerns and sentiments of the broad masses, such actions can have an impact on the class struggle by forcing the trade union bureaucracy, the capitalist media and the bourgeois parties to address these issues and concerns

Left regroupment

15. While our strategic goal is to build a mass revolutionary workers party, we recognise that we are not the only revolutionary socialist organisation in Australia, and that a mass party capable of leading a socialist revolution will not be built solely through the incremental growth of any of the existing far-left organisations. Building towards a mass revolutionary party will require a variety of tactics, among them efforts to unify the existing far-left organisations. However, in today’s conditions of continuing working class retreat the creation of a broad-left party of anti-capitalist resistance is simply not on the agenda. The necessary partners for such a party — substantial new class-struggle forces and leaders — do not yet exist and will not come into existence until there is a sustained mass upsurge of working class resistance.

16. From its formation in May 2001 until early 2003 the Socialist Alliance achieved modest success in facilitating greater practical collaboration and constructive dialogue among its revolutionary socialist affiliates and unaffiliated membership. Since 2003, however, the trajectory of the Socialist Alliance has been a progressive decline while the left unity dynamic has dissipated. Given the formal or de facto abandonment of SA by all its affiliates other than the Democratic Socialist Perspective, the Socialist Alliance is no longer a genuine alliance of socialists but simply the public face of the DSP.

17. The only practical steps we can take towards the eventual emergence of a broad party of anti-capitalist resistance are building our own party, the Revolutionary Socialist Party; explaining the desirability of such a broad-left party as a step towards the creation of a mass revolutionary socialist party; and our participation as a public Marxist party in various united front-type campaign coalitions with the aim of achieving maximum unity in action.

Venezuela-Cuba solidarity

18. The Venezuela-Cuba axis of solidarity and socialist renewal is inspiring millions of people around the world as the real story gets out and more people are able to experience these revolutions first-hand. This socialist renewal is political gold, a “gift” that must not be squandered. There’s nothing like a living revolution in all its concrete richness, contradiction and emotional appeal to inspire youth to become dedicated lifelong revolutionaries and to absorb Marxism into their bones. We know from experience that youth drawn around us through this solidarity work tend to be very open to the ideas of revolution and socialism.

19. Venezuela-Cuba solidarity is our number one, ongoing campaign priority. We do not view this solidarity work as simply a means to recruit to our party. We are serious about building up a broadly based solidarity movement together with all other organisations and individuals who share this goal. A key task of our Venezuela solidarity work is seek to establish the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network as a democratically functioning national network of affiliated solidarity groups and individual solidarity activists.

Direct Action

20. As a small Marxist propaganda party facing the difficult task of rebuilding in a period of protracted downturn in working class struggle, we need to return to Lenin’s conception of building the party around the paper. Direct Action is our primary outreach, campaigning, recruitment and educational tool. The paper must profile and promote the party and its revolutionary Marxist ideas syematically and explicitly. We are not seeking to hide the party behind the paper.

21. At the same time, we seek to establish Direct Action as an authoritative and widely read publication among the Australian and international left. To achieve this, DA cannot be a party paper in the narrow sense. It must seek to engage a wider audience than those who are already won to the ideas of revolutionary Marxism. The paper must explain and popularise the party’s views without compromising its broader appeal. DA will seek to encourage and promote constructive debate on the left and will seek contributions from a broad range of radical commentators, activists and organisations.

22. RSP branches should seek to organise at least monthly Direct Action public forums. Each forum should have at least one party speaker who can present the party’s views on the topic in question to facilitate a more regular dialogue with our supporters. Building up these forums into a real institution on the left in each city can complement a rich and varied program of Marxist classes, seminars, workshops, camps and discussions in party branch meetings.

International collaboration

23. The working class in this country will not be able to rise to the level of class consciousness needed to overthrow capitalism until decisive numbers of workers have overcome the petty divisions, narrow parochialism and racist nationalism cultivated by the capitalist ruling class to secure its ideological domination. For there to be a socialist revolution in this rich, imperialist country it won’t be enough for the working class to have more confidence in its own strength. It must also come to identify not with its own relatively privileged position in the global division of labour but with the struggles of the working peoples of the Third World and those of other imperialist countries. For the RSP, international solidarity and collaboration are not just add-ons to the task of intervening in Australian politics. They are at the very heart of how we intervene to win the battle of ideas.

24. The Revolutionary Socialist Party seeks international collaboration based on the principles of mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of other parties. In particlar, we seek to facilitate ongoing collaboration and the exchange of views among revolutionary parties from the Marxist tradition in the Asia-Pacific region. We declare our political solidarity with the revolutionary socialist leaderships of the Cuban, Vietnamese and Venezuelan socialist revolutions, and we look forward to establishing relations with the Communist Party of Cuba, the Vietnamese Communist Party and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.

Party spirit

25. We must strive to cultivate the spirit of revolutionary comradeship in the RSP. We need a party spirit that can sustain us through the ups and downs of the struggle, that takes from each of us all that we are capable of giving and that gives each of us, in return, something infinitely precious and beautiful — a tiny glimpse of the communist future of humanity.

* * *

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33 Responses to “Revolutionary Socialist Party launched”

  1. Megan Says:

    Are there any human beings behind this alienated and alienating piece of posturing verbiage?

    It is indeed (thank you Bob Gould) a mirror image of Socialist Alternative public meetings as you described and others have confirmed.

    We declaim, you listen, you will not speak or have any way of doing so except, oh yeah, by sending an email. Passivity and subservience most highly praised traits prized in members.

    That is the principle message, here.

  2. Max Lane Says:

    I am a member of the RSP and a human being.

    Max Lane
    http://blogs.usyd.edu.au/maxlaneintlasia/

  3. Kim Says:

    LOL! Yep, you caught us out Megan, the RSP is really a cunningly devised creation by cute little mice, working inside the earth’s core (the answer to life, the universe and everything by the way is 42! 🙂

    Oh okay, no its not, I just stole that idea from Douglas Adams. It really just made up of plain old human beings (not as exciting as the mice theory, I know but I guess you can’t have everything 🙂

    Anyhoo, like Max, I am also a member of the RSP and a human being too (or at least I was the last time I looked)

    Kim Bullimore
    http://www.livefromoccupiedpalestine.blogspot.com
    http://www.rsp.org.au

  4. entdinglichung Says:

    does anybody know, who now “owns” the GLW?

  5. Ed Lewis Says:

    The paper and the website and, as far as I know, pretty well all the assets go with the majority. That has been in the DSP/SWP constitution from the beginning, unless something has changed in the meantime, or there are negotiations.

    There have been two issues of Green Left Weekly since the split and they have been published by the majority.

    The minority’s journal will be called Direct Action, which was the name of the DSP/SWP’s journal from about 1970 until about 1989, when GLW replaced it.

  6. Zur Spaltung der DSP und zur Zukunft des “Green Left Weekly” « Entdinglichung Says:

    […] Nachtrag 29.06.: Die oben genannte LPF hat sich mit der 2006 von der DSP abgespaltenen Gruppe “Direct Action” inzwischen unter dem Namen Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) zusammengeschlossen, weitere Infos dazu gibt es auch hier. […]

  7. Comrade Organon Says:

    No, Megan, there are no human beings behind the formulation of the alienated and alienating piece of posturing verbiage that you refer to.

    It is in fact the work of a dialectical super-computer that has been programmed with every piece of data from the history of left vanguardism, and every possible permutation in dialectical logic.

    It is therefore the most advanced political statement that is possible to be conceived at the current level of technological development.

    The computer predicts that the RSP will be the pre-eminent force in the workers’ movement by the end of the decade.

  8. Megan Says:

    Ok, Max and Kim, tks for yr blog links. Neat.

    Do you have a FAQ section or somefing? Where’s the RSP discussion blog for for people to discuss yr resolution? And some of yr links don’t work, like the feminism and socialism blog.

  9. old_guard Says:

    Bob,

    I want you to write a serious analysis of the Communist League – another breakaway ex-trot group here in Sydney and compare its formation and political pedigree to that of the now embryonic RSP.

    I think you will find the comparison instructive on learning the mindset of the leading members in both parties and why they are now where they are.

    That is, I am interested to find out how these experienced socialists and communists feel that after a lifetime of activism, that their small group of lost souls can contemplate the immense poltical tasks facing them.

  10. Ed Lewis Says:

    Oldguard, I think you’ve come across a demonstration of the law of entropy at work in politics. All the “useful” energy of the Australian Communist League was used up long ago, in a burst of frenetic activity following expulsion from the DSP for being an agent of a foreign power (the US SWP). From accounts I have heard, this activity drove some of the participants perilously close to nervous collapse.

    These days, any motion is almost entirely due to the gravitational pull of the mothership in New York.

  11. Dave Says:

    It should be pointed out to the RSP that “Direct Action” is still used by the IWW. The RSP are in no position to take the name period.

  12. Kim Says:

    Re Direct Action – as Ed points out Direct Action was the former name of the paper published by the SWP which later became the DSP.

    It should be also pointed out that the name of one of the two groups which have politically fused to form the core of the RSP was also named Direct Action.

    In relation to Dave’s comment, as I understand it one of the reasons that the SWP adopted the DA name was because of its radical history. By the way I checked out the international IWW website and did not see any mention of them still using Direct Action (but I could be wrong).

  13. Kim Says:

    Hi Megan,
    You asked do have a FAQ section, but I was not sure if you were referring to our blogs or the RSP website.

    If the question relates to the blogs, I have a section on mine called Facts and History, which has several different links to some very good Palestine solidarity websites which have FAQ sections etc. If you have any particular questions in relation to Palestine, let me know and I am happy to point you in the right direction or even attempt to answer them lol.

    If its in relation to the RSP website, no I don’t think we have a FAQ section. Is there something in particular you were wanting to know?

    Re a “RSP discussion blog”: as you can imagine everything has been happening with lightening speed since the majority of those of us making up the RSP were expelled from the DSP, so at the moment, we are just concentrating on the trying to get the basics done – establishing a new organisation, putting out an initial resolution about the RSP politics, getting a paper written and printed, as well as getting our comrades organised politically and ready to get back out on the streets campaigning, as well as doing the boring mundane organisational stuff such as getting a national office, branch offices or meeting places etc etc.

    So as you can imagine, our priority has not been on us specifically setting up a public discussion list to discuss the resolution. However, that does not mean that we are not happy to discuss it on lists like the GLW list or on blogs such as the Ozleft one.

    Yes, I noticed some of the links did not work, in particular the Fem and Soc blog link but hopefully our web person will be able to get fixed asap.

  14. Helpful Comrade Says:

    Re Direct Action.

    A century ago the IWW called its paper Direct Action because that’s what they advocated. Direct action occurs when workers cotton onto the humbug of political parties, bureaucratic unions and self-styled labour leaders and take the class struggle into their own hands.

    It’s the opposite of what the SWP/DSP/RSP is all about, the essence of which is engaging in vanguardist intrigues and entertaining fantasies about controlling the bureaucratic labour movement and leading The Revolution.

    Why, then, so as not to mislead people, don’t the good comrades of the RSP choose a name that more accurately describes what they’re about? I suggest one of the following: The Vanguardist, The Cubaphile, The Splitter, The Percy, The Revolutionary Fantasist, Leninism on its Last Legs.

    Perhaps readers might help with suggestions of their own.

    • Col Maynard Says:

      “A century ago the IWW called its paper Direct Action because that’s what they advocated… It’s the opposite of what the SWP/DSP/RSP is all about…Why, then, so as not to mislead people, don’t the good comrades of the RSP choose a name that more accurately describes what they’re about?” Helpful Comrade

      I make no comment on Helpful Comrade’s views of the present RSP but reply here for the sake of historical accuracy.

      When the SWP/SYA first published Direct Action in 1970, we made efforts to ensure that no other organisation was using the name, especially any descendants of the IWW. We could find none at the time. The paper was published in the context of the anti-Vietnam war movement and the SWP/SYA were in the forefront of advocating and building mass direct action around that issue, against the machinations of “political parties, bureaucratic unions and self-styled labour leaders” who sought to keep the movement under their tight control, contained within the parliamentary process and off the streets. So certainly, at the time and in that context, we were well qualified to claim an inheritance in the name of the original Direct Action.

      As the first National Secretary of the SWP I was the de facto listed “publisher” of Direct Action. I also make claim to suggesting the name, though others may have a different reccolection.

  15. @ndy Says:

    ‘Direct Action’ was the title of the IWW paper in Australia in the early 20th C. The SWP adopted the name for its paper c.1970–1990. The contemporary IWW has been publishing ‘Direct Action’, again, for some years — most recently in 2007 afaik.

  16. Megan Says:

    Hi Kim, I was intrigued by the invocation of what some leftists would call the spectre of spirit in the RSP Perspectives Resolution’s final clause and wondered if you could elaborate on what is meant by that and why you use it only in relation to the internal membership of the party.

  17. Dave Says:

    http://www.iww.org.au/node/217

    As per the last edition they put on the website is for Nov 2006, so by all definitions the IWW still own the title. Therefore the RSP does not have any moral right to the title. The RSP being the new people on the block should respect the rights of the IWW to keep their heritage and avoid the arrogance of the DSP over the last few years.

  18. filly Says:

    Dave, the notion of intellectual property or ownership is profoundly bourgeois, obnoxious as well as vomitous. If someone can make better use of the mere words “Direct Action” than some latterday revolutionary wannabe, than all power to them and fuck the pretender, I say.

  19. john Says:

    With all these small, splintered, angry groups… who does a simple socialist align himself with? My time with SAlt was depressing – just kept being told to “do as we say, think as we say”… if I didn’t agree with anything (including where to have a coffee!) I’d get shut down… SAll people won’t even say hello because I was in SAlt… bloody Brisbane.

  20. Helpful Comrade Says:

    Re Direct Action.

    The problem with the RSP wanting to usurp the name Direct Action for its paper, apart from a lack of imagination and creativity on their part, is that they, like all vanguardists, don’t believe in direct action as a tactic – unless,of course, they’re in control of it, in which case, properly speaking, it isn’t direct action at all.

    As with everything else that vanguardists like the RSP do, their usurpation of the name Direct Action is pure opportunism and cynicism.

  21. Matthew Rayner Says:

    Speaking as a former Socialist Alternative member, for the most part the tiny Trotskyist groups are a dead end.
    They’re important in the sense that they do the hard slog work of building demonstrations etc but their size and their revolving door of memberships limits their ability to have any effect in the real world.
    The constant splits and mergers are also a problem when it comes to wanting to be taken seriously as a revolutionary.

  22. Kim Says:

    Hi Megan,

    comradeship amongst revolutionaries is viewed as a very important thing.

    Lenin, in particular, talked about comradeship as being something more than “friendship” (sorry, as I am in Palestine at the moment, I don’t have access to my bookshelves, but Paul Le Blanc discusses this issue in his excellent book called Lenin and the Revolutionary Party).

    I suppose you could say that comradeship develops as a result of being united in a common cause and objective around a common ideological frame work rather then personal friendships or likes or dislikes. For me it, involves political and human respect for each other, as well as loyalty and solidarity with each other. Comradeship develops and becomes much deeper then personal friendships precisely because it develops around being united in a common objective and around a common ideological frame work, as mentioned.

    As a result, because it develops around this common objective and framework, it has the ability to help sustain revolutionaries much more through the ups and downs of revolutionary struggle, as we note in the RSP statement.

    While the RSP statement specifically refers to revolutionary comradeship in the RSP, this does not mean that we do not see other socialists as comrades or that we can not develop a comradeship with them or others in the course of the struggle for a better world.

  23. Megan Says:

    Kim, thanks for your response to my query about the meaning of the final clause of the new RSP Perspectives document which concludes:

    “25. We must strive to cultivate the spirit of revolutionary comradeship in the RSP. We need a party spirit that can sustain us through the ups and downs of the struggle, that takes from each of us all that we are capable of giving and that gives each of us, in return, something infinitely precious and beautiful – a tiny glimpse of the communist future of humanity.”

    I found this clause very intriguing for a number of reasons. One, I don’t know it’s ever been something a revolutionary party has spelt out in this way in a foundational document. Correct me if I am wrong. And I wonder what prompted its inclusion, indeed its status as the final clause of the resolution? I thought it might have at least something to do with the recent experience of the expelled comrades from the DSP, which is understandable, but that still doesn’t explain, or justify, why it’s highlighted in this way.

    It’s fascinating you refer to Paul Le Blanc (thanks for the reference) and I note Michael Yates from Monthly Review interviewed him recently where among other things he mentioned his interest in the work of Joel Kovel, specifically his book “History and Spirit”.

    I feel faint at the prospect of summarising Kovel’s beautiful, convincing but complex thesis about the essence and necessity of spirit in the quest for human liberation, not least cos the last time I vaguely tried to do so on a left Oz blog the only response I got was a rude query about what I waz smoking.

    I think it’s very tempting and quite normal to try to construct some sort of group, even if you are the only member, which gives you a sense of or hope in or “glimpse of” the communist future. Of course, most people would define that ‘heaven’ somewhat differently. I don’t know that any particular political group can ever be even a halfway adequate repository of such hopes.

    I would say about spirit, in the Kovel tradition, which is not original, that what’s needed is both a radical negation which at the same time must incorporate a transcendental affirmation. I guess the really difficult thing today is finding the positives, but it makes it so much harder if we can’t and it HAS been so much harder to do so in the last two decades.

    Jeffrey St Clair’s new book, “Born Under a Bad Sky: Notes from the Dark Side of the Earth”, is a bit of a model, I reckon about how we need to explain our politics and elicit affiliation.

    http://socialistworker.org/2008/05/29/once-and-future-movement

  24. CK Says:

    Megan,

    You had it right in your first posting.

  25. passing by Says:

    Now maybe I am reading more into this than what is mean… However, it worries me that the RSP could institute stuff about “comradeship” and “visions of the socialist future” in their program – particularly if they agree with Kim that it is “deeper than friendship” etc.

    I think it is a very bad idea to base your social life around any political organisation.

    Yes activism is a great way to meet people… But I have found friendships based purely on politics tend to be pretty thin. And a whole social life based on being involved in one organisation is a great way to lose any kind of reality-check to your political beliefs.

    As for “Party Spirit”… It’s just gang mentality and something the left should have rid itself of a long time ago.

    “The Communists do not form a separate party opposed to the other working-class parties.

    They have no interests separate and apart from those of the proletariat as a whole.

    They do not set up any sectarian principles of their own, by which to shape and mould the proletarian movement.”

  26. Virginia Says:

    Hi, “passing by” – that section of the resolution wasn’t intended to mean that people should join the organisation as a way to form friendships etc — it was about working class solidarity, which is deeply lacking under capitalism, as capitalism socialises us to interact in ways that don’t particularly encourage us to co-operate to work together for change. That was the sense in which Kim wrote that comradeship is “deeper than friendship” — it’s not that no friendships can be deep or meaningful, but that they don’t all involve working together for fundamental social change (which our planet needs in order to survive).

    That last quote you include from the Communist Manifesto is an important one, but it’s not intended to suggest that it’s sectarian to try to build a socialist party — on the contrary, as it says a bit further down, a party is needed to unite the working-class, and replace the rule of the bourgeoisie (capitalists) with the proletariat (working class).

    Nor is it intended to suggest that we can wish one single socialist party into being, by waving a wand. Unfortunately, right now the working class is unorganised and not involved in struggling for fundamental social change. A few of its members are active in the bourgeois parties (parties which don’t support the working class, even if some of the working class supports them), and a few are in some small socialist groups. We definitely need to do all that we can to unite the working class in socialist struggle, but that will entail a lot of work along the way — propagandistic, campaigning, fusions etc — but unfortunately, none of it can be decreed. The DSP attempted to wish a broader party of the left (Socialist “Alliance”) into being, but ended up substituting for partners in this would-be “Alliance”. Thus the DSP diminished itself, both politically and organisationally, by substituting for a broader working-class radicalisation. This led to increased sectarianism and was not great for the morale of the working class (or more precisely, of its advanced, more politicised, layers). That doesn’t mean that all is lost, because we’ve been through a valuable learning experience. Anyhow … you can look at some of what the RSP is doing now, (our new publication), where you can also find an analysis of what went wrong with the Socialist Alliance.

  27. bill weller Says:

    with all the movement in the DSP/SA could it be worth joining the RSP?

  28. Ed Lewis Says:

    No Bill. The RSP only wants to go back to the way it was for before the Socialist Alliance project.

    It was a small left group for 30-odd years before that and showed no sign of ever becoming anything else.

    The RSP supporters had the best of the argument with the DSP majority, but it’s not offering anything new.

    Leftists who want to engage with and change Australian society need to be in the mass organisations, which are the unions, the Labor Party and the Greens.

  29. bill weller Says:

    I am a member of the greens, Federal candidate for Kingston and former convener of the Kingston branch and asst SA Greens convener but feel that the greens are moving to this so called third way which i see as masked capitalism. Global warming . poverty. peace . equality etc etc cannot be addressed under a capitalist system or by capitalist supporting parties. If the ALP states cannot work together to fix the Murray Darling river way. how the hell can the nations work together to fix all the major problems. The world is enslaved to the capitalist system with its greed and promotes hate through religions that support this system. The ALP is not for the worker and the Greens are moving to the right in SA. There is no alternative for Socialists as they are weak in both parties.

  30. bill weller Says:

    Why support Capitalism

    The world is in crisis. Due to the continuous support of the capitalist system we find ourselves at the edge of total disaster. Greed and profits have brought us to the point of no return, the world and mankind beyond help. Religion., an enslavement tool for the capitalists will always prevent nations from working together and this is the downfall of any measures used by the capitalist parties and governments to combat climate change. The Greens preach a ” Third way ” yet no one can explain what this way is and how it will work. This ” Third way ” is just another cover for capitalist support at the expense of the disadvantaged and the poverty stricken. Until the Greens see that its move to the right will make them ( I will not be renewing my membership) contribute to the problem rather than solve it they will never be an alternative. The Greens have had elected parliamentarians that are not Socialist but career politicians serving not the members that worked hard for them nor the community but themselves . Again the richy rich gain control and direct the party on a capitalist supporting path. What hope do the residence of the earth have when the only alternative party is capitalist embracing.

    Regards bill

  31. Ed Lewis Says:

    Very briefly, Bill. The Greens consist of people of varying points of view, some of whom no doubt have some sort of third way theory.

    It’s important for socialists to be in touch with these people, to understand their views, and to engage with them to try to persuade and influence them.

    The socialist sects have proved that they can’t do that, and there’s no prospect of that situation changing.

    The socialist sects provide a comfortable home for small handfuls of people who have a semi-religious adherence to socialism and who don’t have much time for complexity of strategy and tactics. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, but don’t expect any serious help from that quarter in tackling the many problems that capitalism creates.

    Socialists and leftists belong in the mass movement, not isolated in small groups.

    Marx said socialism was a living political movement. There’s nothing more dead than a socialist sect.

  32. bill weller Says:

    “Socialists and leftists belong in the mass movement, not isolated in small groups.”

    In the ALP i cannot see what the left has achieved. In fact the ALP has and continues to move to the right. The total waste of time the ACTU is just an ALP right supporter group. They shafted me in the election with broken promises of support. In Kingston the YR@W (ACTU) supported the SDA right wing catholic ALP candidate and Put me, a AMWU leftist Green third after telling me there would be a dual ticket. What good did the Socialists in the ALP and ACTU do for the cause? They supported the SDA (DLP) and shafted the worker
    regards bill

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