Third parties and socialism, pt. 2

Dave Riley expands on his thought from yesterday’s post.

If I could add one addendum and that is the ‘problem’ organised socialist groups have with regroupment politics like this.

If you think you are ‘the way’ and that your program is ‘it’ â┚¬â€ it is very hard to then be as one in working collectively with other forces and accept them on equal terms when the assumption is that you will proceed though a process to a position of greater unity â┚¬â€œthat forces will integrate with one another to create a new party â┚¬â€ can be anathema.

Flexibility is key, as well as having certain core beliefs that aren’t negotiable. Maybe most important, in coalitions you don’t have to agree on everything, just the issues at hand.

But the problem is that when they do this half way or with so many riders and provisoes driven by separate schemata the business can be very limited indeed. The business of politics is motion but the soc orgs are still, in their vast majority, caught up in a standalone and separate competing caucus mode.
Herein the example of the New Zealand new workers party is instructiveâ┚¬Â¦

But then there are many examples today that indicate various options in this process of regroupment. And as the political space enlarges the challenge is to find ways to fill it given the very small size of the organised socialist left.

Of course IF the socialist left doesn’t try to help fill it other forces will â┚¬â€œand the orgs will be outside and marginal.

The example of the Scottish Socialist Party is very relevant in this regard as despite themselves the orgs had to sign up with the project because they were marginalised by its success.

Elsewhere the whole recent experience of revolutionary forces in Latin America from the FDR/FMLN of El Salvador to Venezuela today is about a process of radical regroupment and collective activity. That’s the lesson.

That doesn’t mean that organised cadre forces are irrelevant and unnecessary: my experience in Australia suggests that such a core is essential to drive the process forward and defend it and consolidate it. You need that conscious core for it to work. I’m convinced of that,

That’s been what I’ve learnt as I began with the Alliance here with a very spontaneous perspective.

But hey! let’s say it isn’t easy. Here there has been a penchant to assume that this was an easy quick fix guaranteed to grow exponentially as though the political conditions are ALWAYS favorable.

It doesn’t work like that at all except in your imagination.

This then comes back to all the initiatives Camejo has been involved with before the Greens from the North Star Network, to the Committees of Correspondence, etc. He has been trying hard on this. But I guess where I’d differ from him â┚¬â€ not that he is supposed to care â┚¬â€ is that he probably doesn’t see the cadre aspect as relevant or important as I see it as crucial if any particular formation is to hold its course.

Look at the US Greens as a case in point and their collapse under pressure from the Dems.

That wouldn’t have happened if the US Green Party was more like a cadre. Although by definition, a mass party can’t really be a cadre, but still, to be effective, it needs a disciplined, organized core. I find it fascinating the neocons have more or less openly said that Lenin and the cadres is their organizational model. They understand how effective it is.

Interestingly enough, this year a socialist caucus has been formed inside the British Green Party. Thats’a hopeful development that begins to suggest that the power of the Green copyright (of a colour) is beginning to fade and people are looking for more.

Being for an environmentally friendly government and planet without questioning the capitalist economic system that creates much of the mess seems myopic to me. That’s where socialism comes in.

With this you have to study examples elsewhere â┚¬â€œand the ongoing debate about RESPECT in the UK is very instructive. My guess is that that is something that appeals to the ISO there in the US given their enthusiasm for Galloway.

But RESPECT is a ‘have your cake and eat it’ model which, I think, will end up squandering the opportunity it has initially seized. This is what you do rather than embrace Scots bearing gifts (ie: the SSP).

Where I am , even the main force driving & leading this process â┚¬â€ the DSP â┚¬â€ has a small minority within it which wants to junk this orientation to the Alliance and go back to the ‘olden days’.

Many groups will see this process as one of liquidating their politics. I don’t believe that at all.

Herein lies an instructive tale of how revolutionary formations survive and prosper while carrying the leadership burden and mixing it within a much looser congregation of forces which do not adhere to your outlook, that in fact begin life as broadly socialist and don’t have a sharp and developed perspective of what needs to be done.

And, I guess, the motor of that tale is simply this: struggle â┚¬â€ going through the struggle together and learning as you go to develop these new party formations both politicallly and organisationally.

But the major problem that bears down on say the US left is this: here is this massive new movement being generated within the working class in relation to immigration. Despite its massive scale and grass roots nature â┚¬â€ unless there is some attempt to ensure its independent organisation and secure its perspective, it will be subsumed into the Dems. That’s the iron rule of US politics.

Indeed. They’re already trying to co-opt it. “Today we march, tomorrow we vote.”

Do we then hope that the left orgs can pick up a few ones or twos from it to replenish their own ranks and facilitate their interventions, or is there another tactical option?


  1. Did you hear Ted Kennedy manipulating the crowds at the demo he was speaking at (heard on the liberal ‘Democracy Now!’ the next day)? I almost lost my lunch. But there it was: the co-optation process — naked in the flesh for all of us to see & hear.

    Still, gotta hand it to the old political whore: he sure knows what buttons to punch; and he’s a master at that game… Too bad there was NO ONE there on that podium to call him on it (for that matter he should never have been invited up there) — and let the assembled masses know they were ‘being had’ by the Democrats yet one more time.

  2. I will try here to put a reference list together. The two key components are Great Britian and Australia, but material on France is very relevant to this debate also(and Smith has written on that too as he is now located there) This is large area of study and one that LINKS and SUN (and the Scottish ISM)have contributed a lot to in way of recording it as the debate has raged intensely for the past so many years (and still more to come!)… Camejo was part of it up all until the early nineties.
    But check out the SUN, LINKS, and SUN sources for more stuff as it moves quick smart from “theoretical issues” to practical experience.

    (1) The Murray Smith exchanges here:
    (for broader regoupment reports search “regroupment” in LINKS)

    The broad party, the revolutionary party and the united front
    (This is an important read)

    Building broad anti-capitalist parties

    Towards a new anti-capitalist workers’ party

    (2)The debate in the DSP

    Imperialist crisis and the advancing Venezuelan revolution
    By Kerryn Williams. Adopted by the 22nd DSP congress, January 2006

    Our revolutionary party-building perspective and the Socialist Alliance
    By Peter Boyle. Adopted by the 22nd DSP congress, January 2006

    MORE HERE: ( review various pirces)

    (3) Andy Newman from SUN:

    The debate inside the SSP Andy Newman

    Broad Socialist Parties and the Cadre Question Andy Newman

    Andy Newman: The Socialist Alliance no longer exists,the task of left unity continues

    (4) New Zealand Charter

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