Sunday, April 08, 2007


For Socialist Disunity
(Part 35a)
News reaches me that in Australia the local franchise of the International Socialist Tendency, the ISO, has resigned from the dead in the water Socialist Alliance. It would be tiresome to detail the hypocrisy of their complaint that the Democratic Socialist Perspective group in acting so as to "impose a series of disastrous decisions that debilitated and demoralised many members and affiliates" given that the Socialist Workers' Party acted in exactly that fashion in the unlamented Socialist Alliance in England.
The continued confusion with regard to perspectives which greatly over estimates the possibilities for building an alternative to neo-liberalism remains embedded in the ideas of the ISO. Indeed they have no choice on this matter unless they wish to reject, as would be advisable, the tutelage of the SWP. And so we have empty headed talk Linkspartei and WASG in Germany being born out of "mass protests against government attempts to dismantle the welfare state". In fact the formation of both groups is more complex and in the case of the formerly Stalinist Linkspartei far less positive than the ISO would have us believe. As for the idea that Respect in Britain was born out of a "successful anti-war movement" have I missed news of the withdrawal of troops from Iraq?
More interesting by far is the denunciation of the DSP, by the ISO, for acting in a sectarian manner with regard to the Australian Labor Party. They write that it is wrong to 'treat the ALP as if it were simply "Another Liberal Party"' as this will establish insurmountable barriers to attracting past and present Labor Party members! All very well and good and the comrades, it is to be hoped, will in future make use of the United Front tactic in working with such Labor supporters in common struggles against the bosses and neo-liberalism. But I wonder what might happen were the ISO leadership to think this question through.
It is, as far as I know, commonly accepted amongst Marxists that the Labour Parties of the world based as they are on the electoral support of working people and politically on their links with the trade union bureaucracy form a particular type of reformist Workers' Parties. Albeit in this period they are reformists without any serious interest in reforms which might benefit the working classes. Reformists withiout reforms then to coin a old phrase. Such Workers' Parties are of course sometimes described as Bourgeois Workers' Parties as they are based on the working class but defend capitalist political positions and policies.
All of which is, or rather was in the not so distant past, accepted by all revolutionaries coming from the Troyskyist tradition. But in recent years has been rejected by a number of goups as the reformist parties have moved dramatically to the right and their base in the working classes has eroded. Which position, one I regard as incorrect, has the merit of clarity if openly advocated and based on an analysis of any given BWP. But that has not been the practice of the member groups of the IST who have rather tended to argue that the BWP's are simply liberal parties to be rejected and opposed. That is the political basis for their participation in Respect, the Linkspartei and so forth. But it is a position never made clearly and unambigously allowing the leadership of the IST/SWP to blur the question as to the class nature not only of the BWP's they reject but also to blur the class nature of the new parties they seek to build.
As we have seen in Australia where the ISO has split and split again, only in part on this question to be fair, this confusion as to the nature of BWP's and the projected political alternatives that can be built to the left of such parties is a theiretical and political disaster for revolutionists. So too in Britain where the first alternative the SWP sought to build to the left of Labour, the Socialist Alliance, clearly failed to win disillusioned Labourites as they hoped it would do and collapsed in rancour, only to be followed by the formation of Respect. Yet both these very different political formations are theorised as examples of what Callinicos calls the United Front sui generis.A United front of a soecial kind indeed that does not attract workers to its banner, iis not based on a limited agreement based on common action but instead is a semi-permanent formation oriented on electoralism and appealing to backward petty bourgeois sectoralists!
In plain terms Respect is not a United Front of any kind but a populist party. But logically if the Labour Party is no longer a BWP then the SWP ought to advocate a new Mass Workers' Party if they are themselves unable to fill the vacuum left by the move to the right of the Labour Party. That they do not do so in either Britain or Australia is simply proof of the utter inability of the leadership of the IST to distinguish between a BWP, however decayed, such as the Labour Party and populism, the belated recognition of the ISO of the Auistralian labor Party as a BWP is then of some small import. This confusion on the part of the IST is then a recipe for future setbacks and that is to be regretted given the importance of that small tendency to the dimished revolutionary left of 2007.

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In the USA, we have nothing resembling a labor party. I wish I could be involved even with one turning right, In the US, if a labor party was built, it would be a revolutionary situation.
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