The early 1990s, after the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, were a time of capitalist triumphalism. Capital’s academic hirelings proclaimed ‘the end of history’, an absurdity nevertheless repeated in popular media. Really existing capitalism had been proven to be all that was possible, declared those who benefited from it. Socialism, along with the Soviet Union, was dead.
Democratic Socialist Party
Volume 1 of this history, focusing on our tendency’s origins and the early years of Resistance and the founding of our party, was published in early 2005, and I had already drafted the outlines and taken some notes for Volumes 2 and 3. But shortly after publication, a major political struggle broke out in the Democratic Socialist Party. This is not the place to recount that struggle and its aftermath, except to mention that those of us in the minority in that struggle were expelled from the DSP and, in 2013, united with Socialist Alternative just before the opening of its Marxism conference in Melbourne.
Comrades, on June 7 this year the DSP National Committee unanimously adopted a report given by Peter Boyle which proposed that it was “time for the DSP to make a decisive turn towards building the Socialist Alliance as our new party”. Right from this first sentence of his report, Boyle began his usual obfuscation. The DSP made the decision to build the SA as its “new party” in December 2003, ceasing to function as a public party and becoming the Democratic Socialist Perspective, defined as a “Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance”. What Boyle’s report really proposed is that the DSP dissolve into the SA., or as he preferred to describe it, “merge” with or “integrate” into the SA.
On May 10, 2008, a subcommittee of the national executive of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP– formerly Democratic Socialist Party) announced a predetermined decision to expel all of the members of a minority faction of that organisation. Those expelled represented a bit less than a fifth of the DSP's total members, and around one-third of its active members. They included a broad cross-section of the organisation, from relatively young and new recruits to revolutionary politics, to comrades with more than three decades devoted to the DSP, including founding members of Resistance and the Socialist Workers League (predecessor of the DSP)– party full-timers, union militants, students, blue collar and white collar workers, unemployed.
At its first meeting after the DSP congress (on February 1), the majority of the national executive adopted a statement on the formation on the last day of the congress of the Leninist Party Faction. The statement declared that the “fact that NE minority platform supporters met during the 22nd Congress as an exclusive caucus led the Congress delegates to pass the following motion:
The August 15 national executive meeting unanimously adopted a draft resolution for vote at the 22nd DSP Congress in January 2006 that stated that the political “conditions to build the Socialist Alliance into a new party did not exist” at the time we embarked on this turn; that without a “regroupment with broader left forces that are generated by a new upturn of resistance to the capitalist neoliberal ‘reforms’” the SA cannot “take a significant step to creating a new socialist party”, and that, in the absence of the existence of these conditions, the DSP should build the SA, not as a
In her PCD article “Political divisions in the DSP and how to proceed” (The Activist Vol. 15, No. 10) Comrade Pat Brewer urges “comrades to read exactly what the documents are saying so the differences can be clearly expressed”. However, she completely ignores her own advice and bases her assessment of what the NE minority is saying not upon the documents we have written, but upon the assumption that we are engaged in a “cynical manoeuvre” to shut down the Socialist Alliance. Comrade Brewer is not alone in doing this.
In the last issue of The Activist (Vol. 15, No. 9), a number of NC comrades made contributions which do little to clarify the debate on the relations between the DSP and the Socialist Alliance because they do not take up the actual issues that are in dispute – I refer in particular to those by comrades Nikki Ulasowski, Jim McIlroy, Sue Bull and Graham Matthews.
At the September 26 national executive meeting comrades Max Lane, John Percy and I presented for a vote four amendments to the NE’s draft resolution on “The DSP and the Socialist Alliance” (see “Minutes from DSP national executive (extracts), September 26, 2005”, The Activist Vol. 15, No. 8). These amendments were motivated in the draft party-building report for the October 15-16 National Committee plenum presented by Comrade Percy to the NE meeting and in our PCD articles printed in the The Activist following the August 15 NE meeting.
The National Executive’s draft resolution for the 22nd DSP Congress on “The DSP and the Socialist Alliance” provides the political motivation for a new party-building orientation in which the DSP ceases to operate as an internal tendency of the Socialist Alliance and returns to functioning as a public revolutionary socialist organisation that recruits members from within and outside the membership of the Socialist Alliance, while continuing to be affiliated to the Socialist Alliance, to build it as a campaigning alliance in the social movements (particularly the trade union movement) that s