Direct Action Perspectives in Relation to the DSP and the Leninist Party Faction

A Call for a united organisation of the Leninist Party Faction & Direct Action

May 2008

Our history and place on the left

Direct Action left the DSP because we considered the opportunist and sectarian turn it had taken after its 22nd Congress in January 2006 could not be reversed through waging an internal factional debate.

In essence, our analysis put greater emphasis than the Leninist Party Faction on the significance of the left's retreat since the late 1980s. We estimated that much of the cadre of the DSP - who were mostly recruited in this period of retreat - would not respond well to a written debate about Leninism. Our view was that only by practical example, or more likely by a major change in the course of the movement, would these comrades open themselves to the debate.

With such a perspective, we attempted a range of projects in collaboration with others over the last two years in areas as diverse as anti-racism, Latin American solidarity, progressive cultural activism and electoral activity, among others. These efforts resulted in some successes and some failures, but we consider that the period overall has principally been a positive one, both in terms of political experience gained and in practical terms of working with others on successful political projects. Such an approach has reaffirmed for us the vital importance of providing practical, political leadership in movements, and confirmedpotential for socialists to do this if approaching movements as well as other left organisations in a genuine and non-sectarian way. The value of this has been underscored for us, particularly in our efforts in building the movement in solidarity with struggles in Latin America. Like the LPF we see the current importance of this solidarity for all socialists.

While we disagreed with the tactical approach of the LPF, we have continued to consider the LPF comrades as representative of the best traditions of the old Socialist Workers Party/Democratic Socialist Party.

Direct Action shares the same traditions and speaks the same language of revolutionary Marxism.

This can no longer be said of the DSP.

The DSP leadership has diluted the Marxist character of the party, substituted it with left pragmatism in tactics, and a conception of strategy that resembles the old division between the "minimum" and "maximum" program more than the transitional method of Leninism.

Despite the best efforts of its leadership to disassociate it from the far left, the DSP remains part of it and may still play a role, as we hope many other left organisations and individuals will do, in the future development of mass revolutionary politics in this country. This will of course fundamentally depend on the course of the movement.

However, the current leadership of the DSP makes it an impossible organisational framework for the necessary revolutionary propaganda and agitational work, without which the left cannot grow in this period.

Perspectives on the international and Australian political situation

The working class movement in Australia remains characterised by the long term retreat dating back to the 1980s - since the begining of the neoliberal offensive in the industrialised heartlands and compounded by the ideological retreat of the post-Soviet era.

However, while there are yet no signs of the sort of persistent struggle and fightback that could provide the impetus for a new class struggle leadership in the mass workers movement, there has been a growing number of localised struggles in many of the advanced countries, including Australia, since the late 1990s.

These struggles reflect the growing political crisis of neoliberalism, manifest most notably in the weak links of the imperialist chain.

This political crisis has two outstanding features:

1. The centrality for imperialist policy of waging war; and

2. The growing generalised and organised character of the rebellion in Latin America; at the centre of which is the first socialist revolution in the "post-communist" era, unfolding in Venezuela.

Perspectives on building a revolutionary party in Australia

The far left in Australia is more fragmented than it has been for sometime. On a larger scale not much has changed since the demise of the old Communist Party in the 1980s, though what steps forward had been taken since have been lost in recent years, in particular as a result of the retreat of the DSP into opportunist sectarianism.

There is now less collaborative discussion and action among the far left than there was prior to the Socialist Alliance experience.

As the movement develops and finds new momentum in the struggles that will emerge against Labor in government and as a result of imperialism's current agenda, we need to be prepared to re-open some of these discussions and look for opportunities for developing alliances and unity projects anew.

At the same time, we need to continue the ongoing tasks of revolutionary propaganda, especially among young people, as part of helping to rebuild the left movement.

In our opinion, the key political foci for this agenda of revolutionary propaganda and education flow from our assessment of the period and include:

1. The revolution unfolding in Venezuela

2. The struggle against imperialist war

In addition, we have to be prepared to join struggles and develop a propaganda agenda around the variety of issues that will emerge under the Rudd Labor government.

What is to be done

We consider that an important start to the work of this period would be the unity of our two organisations, the LPF and Direct Action. A united organisation of the LPF and DA and its supporters would be capable of building a national organisation that could pursue this agenda of revolutionary propaganda in the short term, and play a constructive role in the much needed discussions and debates among the Australian left. We look forward to this possibility, and to testing out in action the perspectives we have outlined - recognising as all Marxists do, that the ultimate test of perspective is activity.