November 11, 2002
In your letter of November 3 you stated that the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) National Executive (NE) felt it had no choice but to recommend to your December National Conference that it terminate your affiliation to the Socialist Alliance (SA) if the DSP’s 20th Congress were to vote to implement our National Committee proposal to convert the DSP into a tendency within the SA.
This difficult issue was the subject of a useful and comradely interchange of opinions on a November 9 teleconference between our two organisations, on which a communiqué has been issued.
The DSP Political Committee again discussed the issue at its weekly meeting today, and has come to the following decisions:
1. That, given the stance of the ISO NE, the DSP Political Committee will withdraw its recommendation to the DSP’s 20th Congress that the DSP cease to operate as a public organisation before the May 2003 SA National Conference;
2. That the DSP Political Committee will propose to the Congress that it authorise the incoming DSP National Committee to decide on the timing of the implementation of the proposal that the DSP cease to function as a public organisation.
The DSP Political Committee has adopted this stance in order to allow more discussion in the Alliance without the threat of ultimatums and a breakdown in relations. For us the SA represents too valuable a political gain with too large a potential to risk such a breakdown.
At the same time, however, the DSP continues to hold to its analysis of the limitations and potential facing the Alliance (as expressed in our initial letter to the SA NE and subsequent letters). We continue to share, for example, comrade Simon Millar’s aspiration (expressed in the Alliance Internal Discussion Bulletin, Volume 2 Number 5) to see the socialist groups in this country unite into one party. Continuing and deepening the left collaboration through SA offers the only feasible way to build the political basis for such a united party.
As things stand the SA offers the only practicable road forward today for greater left and socialist unity in Australia. Achieving a higher level of unity within the Alliance would be a huge step forward for the socialist cause, and would help anchor socialism on the Australian political map. Moreover, the SA cannot continue in its present form without squandering big opportunities and political space to the Greens.
If we all build on our considerable collective effort of the last year and a half we can continue to attract a much wider layer of socialists than are currently members of the affiliate groups in the Alliance, and prepare the conditions for a qualitative step forward.
In this context Alliance members, affiliated and non-affiliated, are already beginning to offer their own views as to how the Alliance should best advance. This is a precious gain of our discussion to date, and the DSP will do all it can to encourage the greatest possible participation by all Alliance members.
Out of this process the Alliance as a whole will be best able to develop the answers it needs as to how to go forward and how its relations with existing left organisations and institutions might best need to change.
For its part, the DSP will also continue to put forward its own views as vigorously and clearly as possible and will be a willing participant in all actions, proposals and discussions that strengthen left and socialist unity.
The DSP Political Committee calls on all SA members, whether members of affiliate organisations or not, to take up the debate about the sort of Alliance we need and to help ensure that the SA May National Conference marks a big step forward for the socialist cause in Australia.
John Percy, on behalf of the DSP Political Committee
– The Activist was as the internal discussion bulletin of the Democratic Socialist Party