History Of The DSP 1960s To 1980s by Christopher Pickering


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History Of The DSP 1960s To 1980s by Christopher Pickering

  1. 1. HISTORY OF THE DSP PART 1: 1960s to the 1980s
  2. 2. 1969-2008 <ul><li>International Marxist League (1969-1970)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Socialist Review Group (1970-1972)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Socialist Workers League (1972-1976)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Socialist Workers Party (1976-1989)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Democratic Socialist Party (1989-2005)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Democratic Socialist Perspective (2005-?)‏ </li></ul>
  3. 3. JIM PERCY (1948-1992 )‏
  4. 4. PARTY BUILDING <ul><li>Organisational questions, party-building questions = political questions </li></ul><ul><li>Faction fights & political struggles </li></ul><ul><li>Making mistakes, correcting mistakes </li></ul><ul><li>Lessons learned embedded in collective memory of party </li></ul>
  5. 5. TWO INFLUENCES CONDITIONED DEVELOPMENT OF DSP <ul><li>1: Positions, ideas, lessons borrowed from other parties in other countries & other periods: some useful, essential, some dubious value   </li></ul><ul><li>2: Lessons based on experiences gone through in class struggle & attempt to build revolutionary party in Australia   </li></ul><ul><li>Dialectical unity of theory & practice </li></ul>
  6. 6. THE BEGINNING: 1960s <ul><li>1965: Beginning of our current of thought </li></ul><ul><li>1967: First organised expression via formation of Resistance. Initially called SCREW (“Society for the Cultivation of Rebellion EveryWhere”). Soon changed </li></ul><ul><li>to Resistance </li></ul>
  7. 7. Resistance grew from worldwide radicalisation of young people during 1960s & mass struggle against Vietnam War, developing in big way in Australia from 1965  
  8. 8. INFLUENCE OF “FIRST WAVE” TROTSKYISTS <ul><li>Influenced by Trotskyists playing leading role setting up Vietnam Action Campaign — Bob Gould & Ian MacDougall, winning several young activists in 1965 to Trotskyist positions  </li></ul><ul><li>They were part of small Trotskyist group existed in Australia since 1930s: split early 1965 following split in Fourth International. Minority in Australian group, but internationally was main Trotskyist current. After split didn't function as group, as activists in anti-war movement (Other current, led by Nick Origlass, one-time mayor of Balmain & Leichhardt, continued as tiny group for number of years)   </li></ul>
  9. 9. BOB GOULD
  11. 11. YOUTH RADICALISATION OF 1960S <ul><li>Deepgoing international rebellion on cultural, social & political issues. Broke through conservative Cold War atmosphere of 1950s  </li></ul><ul><li>Rebellion on cultural/social issues flowed on to rebellion on political issues </li></ul><ul><li>Political break: crack in ideological hegemony of ruling class </li></ul><ul><li>Break appeared first among students & young workers. Enormous popular mobilisation & semi-revolutionary upsurge in France May-June '68 showed potential to spread to working class as whole </li></ul><ul><li>New rise of Women's movement, Gay movement, Aboriginal movement & heightened interest in Environment </li></ul>
  12. 12. FRANCE MAY-JUNE ‘68
  13. 13. HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT OFFENSIVE <ul><li>DSP/Res. tendency began on uni campuses but most dramatic successes in Sydney in late 1960s in organising high school students </li></ul><ul><li>High School Students Against the War in Vietnam - contacts in 100 Sydney high schools </li></ul>
  15. 16. REVOLUTIONARY INTERNATIONALIST POLITICS <ul><li>Demonstrations against Vietnam War were enormous; shift in public opinion achieved was immense  </li></ul><ul><li>Revolutionary-internationalist politics chimed in with mood of many radicalising youth in Australia & in nearly all advanced capitalist countries at that time  </li></ul>
  16. 18. BASIC PERSPECTIVES <ul><li>Firstly : Basic revolutionary perspective in opposition to reformist, class collaborationist outlook of Labor Party & those in Communist movement infected by this </li></ul><ul><li>Secondly : Critique of Stalinism. Socialism as democratic & anti-bureaucratic  </li></ul><ul><li>Thirdly : International political perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Fourthly : Mass orientation </li></ul><ul><li>Fifthly : Serious, dedicated activists. Party question central in struggle for socialism  </li></ul><ul><li>Sixthly : Central orientation to youth </li></ul>
  17. 19. ANTI-STALINIST PERSPECTIVE <ul><li>Political developments in 1960s conducive to growth of anti-Stalinist tendencies </li></ul><ul><li>Brezhnevite conservatism in Soviet Union contrasted with revolutionaries in Vietnam & inspiring Cuban revolutionaries recently making breakthrough of first socialist revolution in Western hemisphere </li></ul><ul><li>Crushing of Prague Spring in 1968 by Moscow made choices clear to radicalising young people </li></ul>
  18. 20. CUBAN REVOLUTION, 1959
  19. 21. PRAGUE SPRING, 1968
  21. 23. STRUGGLE OVER VIETNAM ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT <ul><li>Continual battle with CPA. Late 1969, CPA attempts exclude us from establishment of Vietnam Moratorium Campaign in Sydney. We convinced majority founding meeting to reject CPA's proposals: established as non-exclusionary coalition functioning through open meetings of grassroots antiwar activists. Jim Percy elected to VMC's initial five-member secretariat   </li></ul><ul><li>1970-71: VMC built largest antiwar actions ever seen in Australia up to that time, through series nationally coordinated street marches in all major state capitals </li></ul><ul><li>Within Vietnam antiwar movement continuous political battle to keep movement focussed on independent mass mobilisations. Against ALP & CPA attempts to subordinate movement to ALP's electoral interests + against ultraleftists, especially Maoists in Melbourne & Adelaide </li></ul>
  22. 25. RESISTANCE STEPS FORWARD <ul><li>Through active participation in movement able to expand from tiny group based in one city into largest socialist youth organisation in Australia </li></ul><ul><li>Through involvement in antiwar movement began to change relationship of forces within radical left between reformist & revolutionary currents in favor latter  </li></ul>
  23. 26. JOHN PERCY
  24. 27. FIGHT OVER PARTY QUESTION <ul><li>Developed party-building orientation through major year-long internal struggle in Resistance </li></ul><ul><li>Fight over three basic principles:  </li></ul><ul><li>1. Politics & program of organisation should be democratically decided on by whole membership </li></ul><ul><li>2. Elected leadership, not individuals with loudest voice, stars, or self-appointed leading clique </li></ul><ul><li>3. Question of organisation itself & take finances very seriously </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  25. 28. Assisted by lessons borrowed from history of US SWP, eg James P. Cannon’s The Struggle for a Proletarian Party
  26. 29. FORMATION AND FIGHT OVER PARTY GROUP <ul><li>1969-1970: Political fight beginning of party history </li></ul><ul><li>Pushing for properly functioning group: meeting active/passive resistance from those from old Trotskyist group  </li></ul><ul><li>May 1969: 30 key activists in Resistance & Vietnam Action Campaign establish International Marxist League. Different perspectives over future of Resistance & nature of party group </li></ul><ul><li>Mid-1969: serious conflict between Percys & others against Bob Gould & his supporters </li></ul><ul><li>Issues: democratic functioning for Resistance, to be serious or not re building a party & whether allow individuals to function without democratic control  </li></ul>
  27. 30. CONTACT WITH US SWP <ul><li>July/August 1969: Barry Sheppard from US SWP, returned to US from Europe after 1969 World Congress of Fourth International via Asia & Australia </li></ul><ul><li>We wanted help: how to build a party? What to do? </li></ul><ul><li>We had built strong youth movement, impressive headquarters & bookshop </li></ul>
  29. 32. December 1969: US SWP's youth organisation, Young Socialist Alliance, invites us to convention in Minneapolis
  30. 33. THE FIGHT FOR A PARTY: IML SPLITS <ul><li>1970: fight escalated. Accused of trying to carbon copy US SWP & YSA, to turn Resistance into “proto-party,” “too Bolshevik.'' Pushed ahead with proposed reforms to Resistance & won decisive majority  </li></ul><ul><li>Resistance organisation that had some reality: carried out the activity, issued publications, ran headquarters. IML was really grouping of factions, main activists in Resistance </li></ul><ul><li>Split takes place: our faction controls Resistance, Gould controls Third World bookshop </li></ul>
  31. 34. SOCIALIST REVIEW GROUP <ul><li>During pro-party struggle linked up with some from old Trotskyist group who supported Fourth International. Started publishing & printing business, initially with political aims: now one of largest Australian book publishers — Southwood Press </li></ul><ul><li>May 1970: With them published new magazine, Socialist Review , & began functioning as Socialist Review Group; direct precursor of Socialist Workers League   </li></ul>
  32. 36. RESISTANCE: FIRST NATIONAL CONFERENCE <ul><li>August 1970: first national conference of Resistance at Uni of NSW, attended by 45 comrades: delegates from Sydney, Canberra, & Adelaide </li></ul><ul><li>Functioning national organisation, renamed Socialist Youth Alliance, & Jim Percy elected first national secretary </li></ul>
  33. 37. SYA Second National Conference, Melbourne, Easter 1971
  34. 38. DIRECT ACTION LAUNCHED <ul><li>September 1970 </li></ul><ul><li>Launched monthly newspaper Direct Action , borrowing name of IWW’s paper during World War I, published by SYA  </li></ul>
  35. 39. Sue Andrews selling first issue of DA at Sydney Moratorium, Sep.1970 <ul><li>SS </li></ul>
  36. 40. FOUNDING OF SOCIALIST WORKERS LEAGUE <ul><li>January 1972, Sydney: 100 people attend </li></ul><ul><li>SWL conference adopts program, constitution, documents on other political issues </li></ul><ul><li>Applies to become a section of Fourth International </li></ul><ul><li>Direct Action became joint paper of SYA & SWL   </li></ul>
  37. 41. <ul><li>DAVE HOLMES KEITH LOCKE (NZ SAL)‏ </li></ul>
  38. 42. FUSION <ul><li>January 1972: Conclusion of founding conference, fusion with members of Labor Action Group - group of supporters of Fourth International in Brisbane </li></ul><ul><li>Main leader John MacCarthy </li></ul><ul><li>had joined Fourth International </li></ul><ul><li>section in Britain </li></ul>
  39. 43. SPLIT <ul><li>February 1972: 11 comrades </li></ul><ul><li>around Roger Barnes & others from </li></ul><ul><li>old Fourth International group (ones </li></ul><ul><li>with printshop), resigned following </li></ul><ul><li>dispute over question of discipline </li></ul><ul><li>Presented counter positions & </li></ul><ul><li>documents leading up to founding </li></ul><ul><li>conference </li></ul><ul><li>Wanted looser, less active group, </li></ul><ul><li>not democratic-centralist party </li></ul><ul><li>Advocated less critical approach to </li></ul><ul><li>ALP & preferred to submerge in it </li></ul><ul><li>ROGER BARNES </li></ul>
  40. 44. INTERNATIONAL INFLUENCES <ul><li>Broadening of international contacts with Fourth International: overseas conferences, events of other parties, congresses & executive committee meetings of Fourth International </li></ul><ul><li>Organised speaking tours for overseas comrades. Frequent international guests at Resistance & party conferences </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Two-edged sword: Fourth International fierce factional struggles </li></ul><ul><li>Founders of SWL generally sided with US SWP in internal debates in Fourth International, & part of Leninist Trotskyist Faction. Brisbane group generally sided with majority in Fourth International, including most of European Fourth International leaders, organised as International Majority Tendency </li></ul>
  41. 46. ANOTHER SPLIT: FORMATION OF COMMUNIST LEAGUE <ul><li>August 1972: serious split consequence of factional situation in Fourth International </li></ul><ul><li>Following fusion with Brisbane group (John McCarthy), sharp differences over strategy & tactics in mass movement & re ALP. Also influenced by dispute in Fourth International over international questions </li></ul><ul><li>1/3 membership split to form Communist League: not completely healed until 1978 </li></ul>
  42. 47. DOWNSIDE OF EARLY INTERNATIONALIST APPROACH <ul><li>Attached ourselves to party-building tradition of James P. Cannon: no comparable Leninist tradition here </li></ul><ul><li>We asked for help, advice, wanted to be told what to do </li></ul><ul><li>Got advice, interference, even instructions, when we didn't want it from Fourth International </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Didn’t fully escape from “Cominternist” methods until broke with US SWP & left Fourth International in 1980s  </li></ul>
  43. 48. CLIQUES <ul><li>1972: Ian MacDougall left. Wanted </li></ul><ul><li>structure of intersecting circles: a </li></ul><ul><li>party built of series of interlocking </li></ul><ul><li>cliques  </li></ul><ul><li>Group around Roger Barnes (who ranSouthwood Press) left on basis of range of political differences, bound together by personal ties. </li></ul>paperback    hardback      book structure    standard book size    paper type    binding type    no. of pages      starting production    typesetting    file preparation    proofs    manufacturing    delivery & warehousing    Southwood Press Pty Ltd. Copyright 2006 paperback    hardback      book structure    standard book size    paper type    binding type    no. of pages      starting production    typesetting    file preparation    proofs    manufacturing    delivery & warehousing    Southwood Press Pty Ltd. Copyright 2006 Southwood Press has recently merged with Ligare Pty Ltd www.ligare.com.au Equipment and staff have been relocated to Ligare’s premises in Riverwood, Sydney. The Contact Us contact us page will direct you to Ligare’s contact details. This website still offers information on how books are produced for self-publishers designed to help you deliver the files ready to print. For further information contact the friendly Ligare staff who are happy to help you. Also take the time to browse Ligare’s website www.ligare.com.au You will find further information on such things as sustainable paper and the increased offset and digital short run print and binding options that the capacity growth of this merger has produced.
  44. 49. THE ALP QUESTION <ul><li>Nature of ALP & approach towards it essential for socialists. Didn't get this right until 1980s </li></ul><ul><li>Old Trotskyist group had policy of deep entry into ALP, with barely a public face for group </li></ul><ul><li>Viewed ALP as the working-class party. We began with similar orientation. </li></ul><ul><li>1960s so much happening outside ALP let our ALP membership lapse </li></ul><ul><li>Broad social movements in 1970s —women's liberation movement, anti-uranium mining movement, gay liberation movement, & international solidarity work with Vietnam, Chile, Palestine etc. </li></ul>
  46. 51. WHITLAM GOVERNMENT COMES TO POWER <ul><li>Communist League: opposed SWL decision in 1972 to give critical support to ALP in forthcoming federal election </li></ul><ul><li>December 1972: Whitlam Labor government elected. Promises to end conscription & withdraw Australian troops from Vietnam </li></ul><ul><li>Big election rallies: deep support for Labor among workers & others after decades of conservative rule  </li></ul>
  47. 52. SWL AND THE ALP <ul><li>Dual policy of promoting vigorous public profile for SWL & Resistance, & working inside ALP </li></ul><ul><li>Victoria: close to winning control of Young Labor Association so ALP leadership expelled 34 SWL/Res. & supporters in February 1974. After vigorous campaign forced to reinstate </li></ul>
  48. 53. THE DISMISSAL: NOVEMBER 11, 1975
  49. 54. Whitlam government thrown out by Fraser-Kerr coup <ul><li>SWP stood 9 Senate candidates in December 1975 elections: first time fielded candidates in parliamentary election </li></ul>
  50. 55. FROM SWL TO SWP <ul><li>January 1976: Fourth National Conference changed name to Socialist Workers Party, reflecting growth & increasing intervention in political process  </li></ul><ul><li>Direct Action established as regular weekly paper from beginning 1976 </li></ul><ul><li>SWP & Communist League had grown. Set up branches in Perth, Wollongong, Newcastle, Canberra, & Hobart in addition to original branches in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide & Brisbane </li></ul>
  51. 56. TWO FUSIONS WITH COMMUNIST LEAGUE <ul><li>1976-77: fused with a group around John McCarthy that split from CL to join SWP </li></ul><ul><li>1977-78: fused with CL as a whole </li></ul>
  52. 57. THE “TURN TO INDUSTRY” <ul><li>1979-82: following initiative of US SWP, decision to make major push to get majority of membership jobs as industrial workers </li></ul><ul><li>Gained valuable experience in trade union work; campaigns such as Jobs for Women campaign in Wollongong, but lost large chunk of membership </li></ul>
  53. 58. Testing the Trotskyist perspective to the full <ul><li>First time Trotskyist movement in Australia integrated into Fourth International. SWL & CL recognised as sympathising organisations: fusion - became official section of Fourth International </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>1974-75: Comrades working on Fourth International's English-language magazine Intercontinental Press , published by US SWP from New York </li></ul><ul><li>1979-80: comrades worked full-time in Fourth International centre in Paris </li></ul>
  54. 59. 1979: REVOLUTION IN IRAN
  57. 62. SIGNIFICANCE OF 1979-80 <ul><li>Nicaraguan Revolution triggers reassessment of aspects of political theory & break with Trotskyism </li></ul><ul><li>Beginning of definitive break with US SWP: major influence on party throughout 1970s  </li></ul>
  58. 63. IMPACT OF NICARAGUAN REVOLUTION <ul><li>Toppled Trotskyist theory of Permanent Revolution that socialist revolutions were one stage affairs, vindicating Lenin’s two-stage strategy of revolution </li></ul><ul><li>Re-examined attitude to Cuban revolution </li></ul><ul><li>Early years of our movement in Australia we totally identified with Cuban revolutionaries & Cuba </li></ul>
  59. 64. IMPACT OF NICARAGUAN REVOLUTION <ul><li>1970s: like most Fourth International, ceased following developments in Cuba closely, assuming adapting to Stalinism </li></ul><ul><li>Cuban leadership's unequivocal support for Nicaraguan revolution demonstrated had not abandoned revolutionary internationalist outlook </li></ul>
  60. 65. DECEMBER 1979: SOVIET INTERVENTION IN AFGHANISTAN <ul><li>Forced another rethink: Soviet troops went to Afghanistan to block US-organised war to topple radical regime in Kabul. Strong support to Soviet & Kabul government forces in civil war </li></ul>
  61. 66. US SWP ON AFGHANISTAN <ul><li>Initially US SWP held similar position to ours but in August 1980 switched, condemning Soviet intervention as “counterrevolutionary” </li></ul><ul><li>Other sections of Fourth International aligned with US SWP obediently followed </li></ul>
  62. 67. POLAND <ul><li>Suppression of Solidarnosc by Polish Stalinists. US SWP decided against uniting in solidarity actions with anyone who didn't understand need to defend Polish socialist state against imperialism </li></ul><ul><li>Sectarian departure from whole previous approach to defending democratic rights in Stalinist states </li></ul>
  63. 68. BREAKING WITH US SWP <ul><li>US SWP little suspicious of us: coming completely from youth radicalisation. Hesitant about our initiatives & independence   </li></ul><ul><li>US SWP leadership school: invited to send comrade for training. Dave Deutschmann in 1980. Emerged as factional agent of US SWP leadership. Started own full-time school in 1981 in response </li></ul><ul><li>Other political issues that developed into differences with the US SWP, in addition to the question of Afghanistan, Poland, were turn to industry, & building independent leadership </li></ul>
  64. 69. THE CULT OF JACK BARNES <ul><li>Early 1980s: Organisational degeneration of US SWP increasingly clear </li></ul><ul><li>Run by clique, with cult around national secretary, Jack Barnes </li></ul>
  65. 70. SECRET FACTION EXPELLED <ul><li>1983: Barnes leadership declared war on SWP, declaring it ``finished'' as revolutionary organisation. </li></ul><ul><li>1984: Expelled 5 members functioning as disloyal secret faction on behalf of US SWP </li></ul><ul><li>Degeneration of US SWP forced us to look more closely at problems of Trotskyism </li></ul>
  66. 71. LEAVING FOURTH INTERNATIONAL <ul><li>August 1985: Decision to leave Fourth International </li></ul><ul><li>Cut links with Fourth International also to make easier to develop relations with other revolutionaries around world  </li></ul>
  67. 72. FOURTH INTERNATIONAL’S WORLD VIEW <ul><li>Key problem with the Fourth International: failure to respond to new revolutions & revolutionaries </li></ul><ul><li>Believed mass revolutionary international movement comes via winning new revolutionary forces to programmatic & organisational form of Fourth International </li></ul>
  68. 73. STALINOPHOBIA <ul><li>Problem of Stalinophobia within Trotskyist movement: hatred & fear of Stalinism so intense it distorts political judgment </li></ul>
  69. 74. OUR RETHINKING ON THE ALP <ul><li>Labor Party: most vital question for Australian socialists </li></ul><ul><li>Has dominated labor movement politics for 100 years </li></ul><ul><li>Socialists played important role in early years of ALP & always active within it, & though most of more politically conscious workers traditionally give it their support, ALP has never been a working-class party </li></ul><ul><li>Always been bourgeois party: capitalist ruling class's second party of government, entrusted with management of state machinery in all Australian capitalism's most serious crises. Lenin recognised its nature & role way back in 1913 </li></ul>
  70. 75. <ul><li>Many socialists think because of affiliation of most trade unions to it, ALP is fundamentally working-class party, & socialists should urge workers to vote for it, & support continued trade union affiliation </li></ul><ul><li>Widely held view that ALP is “political arm of the labor movement”, as distinct from “industrial arm” represented by unions, carries with it idea socialists obliged not only call for a vote for Labor, but see it as fundamental organisational framework for their political activity.  Eg “entry” into Labor Party as universal, timeless tactic </li></ul>
  72. 77. 1983-1996 : THE ACCORD <ul><li>1982-83: Recession </li></ul><ul><li>1986: BLF deregistration </li></ul><ul><li>1989: Pilots strike </li></ul>
  73. 78. 1980s THE SEARCH FOR A BREAKTHROUGH <ul><li>Range of attempts to open out, develop left unity, & build political formation to pose alternative to ALP </li></ul>
  74. 79. EASTER 1983: KARL MARX CONFERENCE <ul><li>Initiated & built by SWP, in Melbourne bringing together extremely broad range of speakers & participants in very prestigious event  </li></ul>
  75. 80. <ul><li>Easter 1984: Initiated Social Rights Conference in Melbourne built jointly with Socialist Party of Australia (today’s CPA) & forces opposed to Accord. Social Rights Campaign flowed out of this </li></ul><ul><li>Participated in Fightback Campaign & conferences: continuation of thrust of Social Rights Campaign trying to mobilise union & other opposition to accord  </li></ul>
  76. 81. 1983-1984: ATTEMPTED FUSIONS <ul><li>Turkish comrades from Revolutionary Path </li></ul><ul><li>Small group of Trotskyists around journal Socialist Fight (today’s Workers Liberty) </li></ul><ul><li>Group militant mineworkers in Tasmania </li></ul>
  77. 82. 1984-1985: NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT PARTY
  78. 83. NEW LEFT PARTY: “The Charter Process” <ul><li>1986-1987: Explored to fullest extent possibility of building New Left Party with Communist Party of Australia when leadership partially distanced selves from accord </li></ul><ul><li>Laurie Aarons Eric Aarons </li></ul>
  79. 84. SOCIALIST ALLIANCE <ul><li>1988-1989: Explored to fullest extent possibility of socialist unity with Socialist Party of Australia   </li></ul><ul><li>Jack McPhillips Peter Symon </li></ul>
  81. 86. MIKHAIL GORBACHEV <ul><li>Last General Secretary of Communist Party of Soviet Union & last head of state of USSR: serving from 1985 until its collapse in 1991 </li></ul><ul><li>Gorbachev's attempts at reform: </li></ul><ul><li>Perestroika (restructuring)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Glasnost (openess)‏ </li></ul>
  82. 87. 1989: FROM SWP TO DSP <ul><li>Publicly identify with reform process underway in Soviet Union </li></ul><ul><li>Dissociate ourselves from US SWP </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid confusion with International Socialist Tendency (IST) & their mother party, the British SWP </li></ul>
  86. 91. TO BE CONTINUED …..