written by struggletown92
“The move towards a fusion of Socialist Alternative and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) has opened up an extensive discussion on the Australian left about questions of left unity, socialist regroupment, and what kind of organisation the left needs.” – Corey Oakley, Marxist Left Review, Issue 5
This has expressed itself in comradely discussions between the Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative via Marxist Left Review and also during Marxism 2013. Both organisations argue that despite avoiding much of the devastation of the global capitalist crisis, assaults are being waged on the working class, Women, the LGBTI community, Indigenous people, refugees and our welfare system. It is because of this reason, they argue, that a real fight back and a real alternative are needed. According to the Socialist Alliance (S.A) and the Socialist Alternative (SALT), a left realignment is a significant step towards presenting this alternative.
The first and most obvious point of discussion regarding the Left Unity process relates to the differences and similarities of the two tendencies, both current and historical. While it is true that this project has managed to overcome some previous tensions over tendency differences, new tensions have emerged which prove may prove to be a significant problem in the unity process.
Disagreements regarding the nature of the post-Lenin USSR have divided the two tendencies for a long time however; it seems that this issue has become more an academic difference. The disagreements in analysis of Latin American revolutions (Venezuela & Cuba) have also become less important.
In place of these ‘old’ disagreements, new ones have emerged that highlight the differences in the two organisations. These ‘new’ issue manifest themselves mainly in relation to movement work and campaign priorities. Socialist Alternative claim that the environment movement and the movement for Women’s rights (Reclaim the Night, Slut Walk etc) are either too insignificant or are reactionary. They argue that due to socialists being too small in numbers, they cannot have enough influence to
push for more radical demands. What is more, they argue that movements like ‘Reclaim the Night’ are reactionary and call upon state repression. This analysis draws out the most reactionary forces of the movement, exaggerates its influence and ignores the debate within the movement itself, about how to best deal with street violence.
What is interesting about Socialist Alternative’s position on this movement and also the environment movement is that they recognise the aggregate ‘irrelevance’ of Socialist groups in Australian politics. What they don’t do however, is propose any actual alternative to the ‘form party, build membership, revolution will come’ model. This is not to say that Socialist Alliance are dealing with that question any better. In Brisbane, at least, SA/Resistance have a tendency to be overly introspective and in my opinion, their participation in movement work suffers as a result. This is not to mention the organisation’s slightly mechanical understanding of ‘racism’, seeing the refugee issue as a ‘weapon of mass distraction’ or their consistent analysis that the ALP and the LNP are two sides of the same coin. This reflects their current position of Australian capitalism ie. Neo-liberalism equals cuts, but I will let smarter people than myself talk about what is actually happening with capital in Australia (watch this space!). T
So, the discussion around left unity between Sociaist Alternative and Socialist Alliance needs to address these differences and also needs to initiate a discussion about how Leninist groups relate to the working class, as it currently is (i.e service rather than factories). There are also a lot of other political problems such as organisational structure and decision making and how socialists should view elections. A good starting question might be – “When did we start getting our arses kicked and what are we gonna do about it?”
Image taken from Great Moments in Leftism