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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
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Sick kids and paying upfront

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Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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Why I have resigned from Socialist Alternative

I have always believed in and understood the need to build a revolutionary socialist party.  Capitalism is a powerful force that needs a powerful counter-force to overthrow it.

That powerful counter-force is the working class and it is the working class that in pre-revolutionary times must build its own political party to keep alive revolutionary ideas, to lead working class battles and ultimately to be the focus for the working class to overthrow capitalism.  It both leads and is led by the working class.

Much of the left today is in love with broad party formations, including with non-revolutionary forces, and they excoriate the idea of a revolutionary party. In that sense Socialist Alternative is unique in that it is an example of an organisation committed to building a revolutionary party which has survived, prospered and grown.

It has built up a membership of 300, growing by 20 percent in the last year. Now 300 is tiny in terms of the class, but it is like a little seed waiting to grow.

Some of that membership growth (about one-third) was as a result of the Revolutionary Socialist Party members joining.

Nevertheless, compared to the example of other socialist groups in Australia and elsewhere 20 percent growth is, for me at least, a beacon of hope in such apolitical times.

Critics often paint Socialist Alternative as a student group. Clearly this has some truth to it in that a number of new members come from the campuses. Socialist Alternative orients to universities in part because it is one of the last bastions where different ideas can be aired and where some students come looking for alternative narratives of life under capitalism and rail against, for example, its inhumanity, (or aspects of it), its costs and pressures.

However, many of those students who stay in the organisation become workers. In fact the majority of members or close to the majority are workers. There are union groups in some areas as well as a union co-ordinator. There is also a student organiser.

I have had disquiet for some time about the direction Socialist Alternative is taking and the heavy-handed approach to difference. I aired my concerns about the merger with the Revolutionary Socialist Party on the basis that people who put property relations ahead of democratic production relations may be fair-weather friends of the revolution.

So of course may Socialist Alternative members like me. There is a huge difference between romanticising revolution and being part of it and leading it or fighting for its leadership.

I am prepared to admit I may have been wrong about the RSP comrades, but subsequent developments around state capitalism suggest to me that the Socialist Alternative comrades might be changing their own view of revolution.

I have always regarded the theory of state capitalism as a subset of and flowing from one of Marx’s basic points namely that the emancipation of the working class is the act of the working class.

Socialism is not property relations imposed by the Red Army, or peasant armies, or a band of guerrillas or de-classed intellectuals or some combination of these.

The theory of state capitalism was one major reason why I joined the International Socialists (IS) in 1980. The IS, through various splits and expulsions was a precursor to Socialist Alternative today. But it wasn’t just the theory. Here was a group of socialists active in their unions and social movements and with a range of other theories that made sense and helped explain the world.

Some of the comrades in the organisation, people like Tom O’Lincoln, Janey Stone, Liz Ross, Rick Kuhn and a range of others, were very impressive.  Some of the other leaders I had and have difficulty with.

Corey Oakley, Peter Jones and Ben Hillier are more recent impressive comrades. Other recent leaders I didn’t know at all or very well.

And most of my comrades in Canberra branch I care for and wish all the best to.

Back in the 1980s I was the kid in the IS lolly shop. But reality makes one grow up, even if just a little. Faction fights and separate organisations, expulsions, mergers, expulsions, mergers, building new organisations and then setting up Socialist Alternative are part of that rich journey of clarifying ideas and practices.  However if that is all the revolutionary left does then it is a failure. We become doomed to a Sisyphean existence.

Socialist Alternative is building its muscles through the struggles of today and through theoretical education. But it is still tiny. An important part of all the faction fights, expulsions and mergers has been to me which group has a realistic perspective of the current period.

I dismissed the overblowers and bullshitters and sided with those who talked about being realistic and having a sober assessment of the situation. Socialist Alternative today has that, in my view. That is why it will continue as the largest revolutionary group in Australia, perhaps grow more and successfully involving itself in some struggles and work.

The madness of the analysis of the British Socialist Workers’ Party and its ‘1930s in slow motion’ to describe the 1990s laid the groundwork for both the current splits in that organisation and the destruction of a number of sister organisations around the world or their weakening. In Australia it led to the establishment of Socialist Alternative.

One of the issues for the SWP was that the mis-analysis led not to a re-evaluation but to a tightening of top down control to reinforce the message. This both saw democratic membership participation and control dwindle and debate become more structured around the ‘holy tablets’ of principles or even Marxism itself as well as practices.

I see hints of the same trends in Socialist Alternative. The decision to discuss unity with the RSP was a top down one, but like the SWP, enthusiastically supported by most of the membership. Those, like me, who had doubts did not hear convincing arguments to allay our concerns but were swept aside in the membership’s enthusiasm for unity.

Let’s be clear; the leadership may well have been correct in its view but the process for determining the outcome caused concerns for a few members like me. Why did we have a membership so keen to endorse the leadership’s view on everything it said? Where was the constant questioning and testing of the leadership’s ideas?

Part of the issue is the nature of the people recruited. We live in an incredibly apolitical world, where a small minority want to understand why everything is so stuffed. But many of that small minority have unformed political ideas, and part of the culture in the organisation doesn’t seem to be about Marxism but more about action. For example it seems to be a widely accepted view that street fighting is radical.

It is a culture the leadership are now trying to address with strident pleas and exhortations against mindless militancy. But that fails to address or understand why many members think that jostling with the cops, bashing on a Vice-Chancellor’s windows or holing up political opponents is somehow radical per se.

This failure to examine why our members sometimes indulge in mindless militancy is one of the things coming out of the National Conference over the weekend and on Monday that made me question why I am in the organisation. There was some discussion of some of our mistakes – the debacle of shoe throwing at riot cops, the NUS disaster, even a mention of the hang Tony Abbott disgrace of a banner at Equal Love in Brisbane.

This wasn’t coupled with a discussion of other mistakes like our chanting against a Labor for Refugees member speaking at a refugee rally in Sydney, nor our placement of Fuck Tony Abbott on Equal Love posters in Sydney nor the SOS Conference yelling, pushing and shoving we evidently did in Brisbane.

In fact the person who led the shoe throwing demo and the NUS debacle was elected to the National Executive. Evidently a few mea culpas, or should that be Hail Marys?, cures all sins.

There may be a pattern here and it is beholden on revolutionaries not just to acknowledge these mistakes and to do so publicly (which my guess is won’t happen for all of these outrages)  but to try and understand why they happen. Why do young comrades think throwing shoes at cops is radical? That shouting at Labor students is acceptable?

In fact I have seen younger comrades shout at other comrades, conference delegates taking minority positions. This is completely unacceptable but part of the culture that sees aggression as radical politics.  Indeed a recent note from National Executive member Sandra Bloodworth praised aggressive women as if this is something worthy in itself. The idea that shouting at comrades is the way to convince people rather than reason, discussion and debate is anti-Marxist but its existence in the organisation is in part because this is an atmosphere the leadership or elements of it encourage and think acceptable in quashing difference and dissent.

Workers would rightly be repulsed by this juvenile and aggressive approach.

An article of mine in the Internal Bulletin arguing against our current abstentionist and I believe sectarian position on some women’s demonstrations has met with a barrage of responses including threats to campaign against the latest ‘fads’ on women’s liberation and protect the Marxist position on women.

This idea of one true faith misunderstands Marxism completely. It is a caricature of real Marxism.

It also doesn’t address my point that there is nothing in the principled position that the liberation of women from oppression can occur only through a working class revolution of women and men workers which leads inexorably to the conclusion that Reclaim the Night is ‘objectively reactionary’.

As is clear from my comments before, the theory of state capitalism is very important to me as an expression of the idea that workers must liberate themselves.  Yet despite coming out of the International Socialist Tendency and long proclaiming state capitalism as at the heart of its politics, in unity discussions with the Revolutionary Socialist Party the leadership of Socialist Alternative abandoned state capitalism. It has not for example been mentioned once as far as I know in the new newspaper, Red Flag, since its inception in July this year.

There was nary a peep from most of the membership, presumably because more recent educational material doesn’t emphasise this and because the majority of the membership have been trained to accept the twists and turns of the leadership without question. It’s as if the politically undeveloped new members are developed in certain ways so that they have some sophistication on some points but remain undeveloped on most other matters or even worse, are mis-trained in some aspects.

Today the position of Socialist Alternative on the state capitalist regimes is incomprehensible. Its principles state that Stalin is the gravedigger of the revolution. What about Mao? What about Ho Chi Minh? What about Fidel Castro? Silence.

The principles also say that ‘the political character of the regime established by the Stalinist bureaucracy in Russia most closely resembled that placed in power in capitalist countries by victorious fascist movements – an atomised population ruled over by a ruthless bureaucratic dictatorship masquerading behind social demagogy.’

This fundamentally misunderstands both fascism and the USSR but was a compromise the leadership were willing to accept to bring in the RSP. But if the USSR closely resembled fascism, what is the nature of China? Of Vietnam? Of Cuba? Of North Korea? As an organisation Socialist Alternative has no answer to these questions, and while individually some members might use the theory of state capitalism to explain in greater or lesser nuance those regimes, the fact that the organisation doesn’t have a position on them, or to be charitable, does have a position that is incoherent, cannot be sustainable as capitalism across the globe, including in the state capitalist regimes, produces quantitative and qualitative changes and challenges to the dictatorships.

That Socialist Alternative now regards state capitalism as a shibboleth indicates it has abandoned state capitalism for some fuzzy nonsense to accommodate the Stalinoid elements of Trotskyism that regard state ownership as decisive rather than who owns the state.

In this sense Socialist Alternative has gone backwards and this abandonment of state capitalism and by implication the idea of the self-emancipation of the working class in my view will have as yet unforeseeable ramifications for the group.

For me, if North Korea is socialist, if Cuba is socialist, then I am not fighting for that vision of ‘socialism’. And since my own organisation now fudges the issue, it became time for me to reconsider my membership.

At the National Conference I moved an amendment to the agenda to include an updated set of principles which was inclusive in recognising state capitalism, degenerated workers’ states and other formulations as examples of the basic principle of the emancipation of the working class being the act of the working class.

Of the approximately 100 delegates I could not get a seconder for my procedural motion which meant we did not debate the substantive motion about including a reference to state capitalism and other theories (ie being inclusive) in the principles. It is a good thing that I got no seconder. It showed to me how far the membership goes along with the unsubstantiated shifts of the leadership on key questions and the complete abandonment of state capitalism as a way of understanding the world.

In the student debate, where comrades were crowing proudly about the number of NUS delegates and key positions we won, as well as how successful the F**k Tony Abbott T-shirts were, I made two points. I said these T-shirts represented the wider apolitical nature of society infecting us and that there was nothing radical or political about the T-shirts. This met with much tut-tutting and shaking of heads, especially from those wearing the T-shirts.

Fight Tony Abbot, or Strike Against Tony Abbott seem to me to be slogans that connect with anti-Abbott sentiment in more political ways. F**k Tony Abbott is a juvenile slogan of adolescent angst, not serious political engagement.

I also asked why, if as some leading members had said, we didn’t represent mass forces on the ground on campus and that students didn’t vote for us as Socialist Alternative, that we then stood in elections for NUS? I got no substantial answer other than it was good training. Well, but so is organising on the ground on campus, having stalls and making concrete arguments about defending higher education and more general ones about, oh I don’t know, the USSR closely resembling fascism rather than being state capitalist perhaps?

And what sort of training is it when the end result is the NUS debacle, led by a now newly elected member of the National Executive?

There is something else that came out of the conference too. Readers will know that I have defended my comrades at the shoe throwing education rally in Melbourne in late October on the basis of the truth of what my comrades said about it. I re-posted an article from Red Flag about it. In criticising the shoe throwing National Executive member Mick Armstrong said we bullshitted about the demo and got away with it.

I was shocked. It means the article in Red Flag and re-posted on my blog is a lie to the world and to our members. What sort of organisation lies to its members and the working class?

The leadership also railed in general terms about apolitical or worse, stupid, posts on Facebook. There was no debate, no motion, no vote on any of this supposed Facebook threat. I think there are two reasons for this.

Some leading members see communications they cannot control as a threat. But secondly the fact that there were only general and vague concerns about the so-called threat allows the leadership to then use those general comments to shut down discussion as being against what was said at conference.

It is also indicative of the unreality of the organisation at this juncture that it sees Facebook use by its members as a bigger threat than the Brisbane Equal Love ‘Hang Tony Abbott’ banner or throwing shoes at riot police, or abusing National Labor Students. Its priorities are askew partly because of a failure of leadership, partly because of a failure to educate young members in basic Marxist ideas and partly because there is no strong working class element within the organisation able to impose discipline and priorities.

Of course, as a minority of one it wasn’t long before I become a target. In the break immediately after I had spoken against the stupid T-shirts and NUS nonsense a leading comrade asked me why I had posted a link to Ian Birchall’s resignation from the SWP on facebook. I replied ‘for information’ . And that was certainly my motivation. That day we were in fact to have a discussion about the British SWP, as it turns out a quite intelligent and informed discussion. I wanted comrades to know the latest news of the state of play.

But armed with ideas of the bogey of Facebook, and realising I was a minority who needed to be crushed, or harassed, or driven out of the organisation for the sake of the great majority, the comrade accused me of supporting Birchall by posting his resignation from the SWP. I thanked him for his insights and turned away. His action was another indication that whatever else Socialist Alternative is creating it may not be cadre.

The fact that comrades were monitoring my Facebook posts was and is a great concern.

I feared this Facebook bogey might become a pattern as pay back for my opposition to standing for NUS delegate positions, our juvenile T-shirts, the NUS disgrace, the failure to examine why the various mistakes or debacles had occurred and my support for us attending Reclaim the Night.

Sure enough, today I got an FB message from another leading comrade about a post about the ridiculous anti-Socialist Alternative diatribes on Facebook. In other words I was defending Socialist Alternative. She said:

John – will you please stop posting stupid posts calling on people to make derogatory comments about Socialist Alternative. I don’t care how funny or whatever you think this is, it is not controversial or clever, it is politically wrong and goes against what we were talking about at conference.

So the self-appointed Socialist Alternative Facebook police will pass incorrect judgments on my posts based on the concerns of a few of the leadership at Conference. There was no debate about Facebook, no motions at Conference, but now some of the perhaps justifiable concerns of some of the leadership have been turned into a shibboleth to use against me and presumably any other renegades, or curmudgeons as one comrade described comrades like me.

This is convenient cover for attacks on me because I don’t see eye to eye on a range of issues in the organisation. The fact that this leading comrade (and former close friend) could do this and not understand what that says about the organisation speaks volumes about the organisation.

I got the sense that comrades were lining up for attacks on ‘fadists’ like me with our tactical views on Reclaim the Night. Yes, of course I am a fadist, adopting fads like state capitalism to help explain the world and the need for working class revolution to overthrow capitalism and overcome the oppression of women, racism and the like.

If I thought that I could have raised these issues in a calm and relaxed atmosphere within Socialist Alternative I would have. But the hothouse that is the organisation and its one-sided cadre development means I can’t and couldn’t without expecting a barrage of abuse and fake debate on positions I don’t hold.

I still regard building a revolutionary party around key principles like the self-emancipation of the working class and deep democracy both within the organisation and within society as essential.

At this juncture that space doesn’t exist for me in Socialist Alternative.

I accept that the enemies of Socialist Alternative and of building a revolutionary party will use some of my arguments against the organisation. That is not my intention. These whingers, these sideline jockeys on their rocking horses are not in the race.

I hope one day to see an organisation where different views are debated openly and without rancour and without sending to Siberia those who disagree and where a strong working class element can keep the hotheads under control, the students grounded on the realities of life under capitalism and the leadership accountable.

For what it is worth, here is a link to the Red Flag article on the shoe throwing demo I posted on my blog and until Sunday defended. It now appears it was a lie to the working class and the membership. I feel betrayed.

To comment on this article or to see what others are saying hit the comments button under the heading. Like all posts on this blog comments close after 7 days.

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Comments

Comment from Rafi
Time December 18, 2013 at 1:29 am

Hey John, nice article, just wondering what the ‘NUS debacle/disgrace’ is referring to, thanks!

Comment from David Walters
Time December 18, 2013 at 2:04 am

John, it seems the RSP which came in with *Trotsky’s* understanding of the primacy of property relations (and central planning) and more or less continued to hold to these positions. And perhaps one a few from the SA’s membership to their position. Regardless…to raise the question of membership, your own in this case, over the EX-USSR seems trite, to me. It seems that you are upset over a “classification” of a state than no longer exists and you resign over this?

Comment from Interested Person
Time December 18, 2013 at 2:17 am

John, if you started a party, I would join it.

Comment from Stefan Thornton
Time December 18, 2013 at 2:29 am

While nearly all socialists condemned the bourgeois capitalist state, a large number apparently felt it more expedient or more efficient to adapt to and reform the state structure, rather than overthrow it. Opposed to these gradualists were the orthodox Marxists and the advocates of anarchism anarchism [Gr.,=having no government], theory that equality and justice are to be sought through the abolition of the state and the substitution of free agreements between individuals…… Click the link for more information. and syndicalism syndicalism , political and economic doctrine that advocates control of the means and processes of production by organized bodies of workers. Like anarchists, syndicalists believe that any form of state is an instrument of oppression and that the state should be….. Click the link for more information. , all of whom believed in the absolute necessity of violent struggle. In 1898, Eduard Bernstein Bernstein, Eduard , 1850–1932, German socialist. From 1872 he was actively associated with the Social Democratic party. In 1878, antisocialist legislation sent him into exile…… Click the link for more information. denied the inevitability of class conflict; he called for a revision of Marxism that would allow an evolutionary socialism.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 18, 2013 at 7:46 am

I think that to at least some extent, democratic processes and socialism are mutually exclusive.

It is my belief that the Communist Left and Pro-Australian Centre parties will grow in strength in the coming years.

However, by the time they are able to take on Labor/Greens and Coalition, there will be more laws in place to kneecap and jail (or throw into the nuthouse) anyone who has the audacity to disagree with government.

One of the best ways to halt the development of a corporate neo-communist regime would be to get rid of the superannuation system and carbon religion which drive it, and revive a government pension system which is much fairer to the poor and average.

For Australia to withdraw from 7000+ international agreements would also be helpful.

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 18, 2013 at 7:50 am

“All it takes for evil to thrive is for enough good men and women to do nothing.”

Or worse still… to continue voting for the same people who send our nation backwards, and then complaining to the messenger!

Comment from Nick Fredman
Time December 18, 2013 at 9:10 am

Solidarity John at what must have been a very difficult decision. Not one I necessarily cheer about. I was thinking of writing something about my disappointment with the curtailed unity process with a title like, ‘Why I would have liked to join Socialist Alternative but am not able to’. Hopefully this can be be a spur to critical reflection rather than either denunciation or crowing. One thing that struck me about Ian Birchall’s resignation letter was a quote from Cliff, previously unknown to me, that revolutionary organisations have to be seen as streams that lead to a river. So I guess you have to judge whether a stream is taking you there.

I can’t speak to lack of any lack of democracy, something very difficult to judge from the outside of an organisation, even though plenty of critics think they can do that. I’ve been fairly cautious commenting on the debates about ‘ultra leftism’, as I haven’t been to the actions in question, or seen much of the discussion, although I generally agree with what you say. The big problem I see is not so much the occasional shoving or shouting or fuck fuck fuckitty fuck on t-shirts or movement posters, but using such as a point of demarcation, exacerbated recently. Compared to recent debates about tactics, slogans and who should call rallies, there was a *much bigger difference* last year between SAlt and Socialist Alliance *and the RSP* on Reclaim the Night – i.e. between completely abstaining from it and denouncing it as reactionary, and building it. You can’t get a much bigger practical political difference than that. Yet unity was OK last year, and is called off now because of recent differences.

On state capitalism, etc., you’re on the right track that something needs to be said that’s coherent and inclusive of different anti-Stalinist traditions, and that the SAlt statement of principles point on this is entirely unsatisfactory, being in fact a rather out of context and incomplete bit of plagiarism from the Transitional Program. I think the Solidarity group in the US do what you’ve suggested in mentioning different theoretical positions. But having a coherent and relevant political line is much more important than that. I’ve mentioned before the Socialist Alliance draft principle document on this, in saying what needs to be said about the dangers of bureaucracy and the imperative of socialist democracy, and being inclusive without unnecessary agreements on theory http://socialist-australia.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/problem-of-bureaucracy.html

The relevant bit from the draft platform points that Socialist Alliance presented to Socialist Alternative, without unfortunately any response at all, are a bit stronger and clearer and worth pasting here. I don’t think anyone from SAlt has commented on either of these things, despite me and encouraging comments a number of times. Hopefully your announcement can encourage critical discussion on this and other issues.

“10. The bureaucratic one-party “Communist” dictatorships that emerged in countries such as Russia and China – amidst economic backwardness, imperial military siege and isolation – were based on a total suppression of the socialist democracy that is require to liberate society from capitalism. These dictatorships wiped out the socialist revolutionary movement in those countries and have embraced the return of the most ruthless capitalist exploitation.

“11. Only with the most thorough-going socialist democracy can the creativity and energy of the working class needed to build a classless society be unleashed. Further, after the direct or indirect experience of the tyranny, corruption and economic misery that millions of working people have suffered at the hands of these dictatorships, socialists today can only win mass working class support if we are seen as the most consistent and resolute defenders and builders of democracy.”

http://alliancevoices.blogspot.com.au/2013/11/5-draft-documents-prepared-by-socialist.html

Comment from Seamus
Time December 18, 2013 at 9:38 am

Interesting read John, thanks for sharing.

Unfortunately it’s always been my experience that far-left groups aren’t anywhere near as big on discussion/dissent as they claim on paper.

Any ideas on where you’ll be focussing your political efforts in the future?

Comment from John
Time December 18, 2013 at 10:48 am

I suggest you read the article David as to why I resigned. Your caricature is incorrect.

Comment from John
Time December 18, 2013 at 10:49 am

Interested person, I am not starting a party, an organisation or whatever. I hope Socialist Alternative will improve, especially with an influx of workers. It might be hope against hope but …

Comment from John
Time December 18, 2013 at 10:54 am

I think one problem is not so much the claims about discussion and dissent which are heartfelt but the uniformity of views within the organisation and much of the membership’s almost unthinking acceptance of whatever the leadership says as gospel.

I will continue to write my blog and attend demos, protests etc.

Comment from jake
Time December 18, 2013 at 10:57 am

Thanks for sharing your thoughts John. I think your words on the mindless militancy around confronting police and Vic-Chancellors is spot on. Since when did fighting the cops and being martyred constitute intelligent progressive politics? More like egoism dressed up as bravery.

Comment from John
Time December 18, 2013 at 10:58 am

There can be no socialism without democracy and no democracy without socialism.

Comment from dave riley
Time December 18, 2013 at 11:01 am

Good luck John. I recognize how loyal, partisan and committed you were to Socialist Alternative. In the light of Ian Birchall’s and David Renton’s resignations from the UK SWP and the warning raised by Richard Seymour and China Melville et al about similar habits in the IS Network — one would hope that a message could start getting through.

Comment from John
Time December 18, 2013 at 11:10 am

And Jonathan Neale.

Comment from Concerned
Time December 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm

hi John, thank you for posting this, it is most interesting.

What stood out mot what when you talked about lies told.

At Monash Uni Socialist Alternative are absolutely horrible to those who are not members of SAlt. It is amazing the crap that the leadership within SAlt comes out with against other leftists on campus and how readily the younger and perhaps more impressionable members accept what is told to them. Honestly, it beggers belief that SAlt are so prepared to shoot themselves in the foot over what almost always amounts to petty power struggles. Then after all the lies, the leadership approach other leftists all sweet as pie talking about ‘unity’. Honestly, it is baffling.

Don’t get me started on the love affair between Labor and SAlt.

This is often just silly student world BS, but it seems representative of the whole when you have experienced in it.

best of luck to you and I hope the fall out is not to severe.

Comment from PGZ
Time December 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Thanks for that post John, I recently came to the same decision in regards to my membership. In my view the great tragedy of Socialist Alternative is that it has a strong intellectual framework that promotes discussion of Marxism, political economy, sociology and current events, which would be attractive to students and the working class. However this intellectual character is hidden and clouded by aggressive and appalling behaviour such as the NUS disgrace, fighting cops and the shoe throwing etc all in the name of being radical, this has the overall effect of turning people off the organization. Well that’s my 2 cents, I wish you well in the future.

Comment from Rafi2
Time December 18, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Hey John, just echoing rafi’s question, wha’s the NUS debacle you’ve referred too a couple of times?

Comment from John
Time December 18, 2013 at 2:11 pm

NUS is National Union of Students. Their conference was last week. Running off on a demo, bashing on the VC’s window, bagging out labor students for not joining in, etc etc, basically threatening the voting bloc through aggressive behaviour. Argy bargy with Labor students evidently. Us managing to turn the focus from the fight back against education attacks to our fighting.

Comment from Chris Warren
Time December 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I have seen and been involved (in various guises) for over 40 years in this type of development and event.

Marx essentially had the same problem and distanced himself from self-styled elements of different types.

I have no real answer to how this can be resolved given that in the past the working class has benefited so much from plundering the Third World and pushing off crisis, through debt, onto future generations.

A useful book in the National Library is:

Jukka Paastela “Marx’s and Engels’ concepts of the parties and political organisations of the working class”

Marx ended up saying that we don’t need parties, just networks of like minded individuals. However, the American Committees-of-Correspondence which was the result of a split in the CPUSA have faded and all similar attempts in Australia have proved sterile.