More blah : Paul Norton, Are you obsessed with sects?, Larvatus Prodeo | Zounds! DSP National Executive statement on LPF split (wave of kaffiyeh to Ed Lewis): “On Tuesday May 13, the DSP National Executive recognized that this split had already taken place and therefore expelled all 39 members of the LPF remaining in the DSP in order to protect the security of the DSP. The LPF’s split actions left the DSP no other real choice.” Splitters!
On May 10, 2008, the national leadership of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (formerly the Democratic Socialist Party) decided to purge all of the members of a minority faction – the Leninist Party Faction – from the DSP. The LPF was formed at the end of the DSP’s 22nd congress in January 2006. Its platform was supported by a bit less than one-fifth of the DSP membership in the election of delegates to the 23rd DSP congress (held in January 2008).
According to Bob Gould (Australian DSP divides: Dysfunctional marriage is finally dissolved by the expulsion of the minority, Ozleft, May 12, 2008) “The LPF has about 50 members in Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, and some members at large overseas. The DSP majority has about 150 members, although it claims more, and quite a few of those 150 are not active.” On the surface, the split has been provoked by irreconcilable differences over the future of the Socialist Alliance. The LPF apparently believe this dog has had its day; the majority, led by Peter Boyle, that’s there’s life in the old girl yet. Allen Myers, a member of the LPF, goes into some detail regarding the recent history of the DSP, its entanglement with the SA, and subsequent split in ‘The Political and Organisational Degeneration of the DSP’.
So much for the good news; the bad news is that the ‘Marxist Solidarity Network’ — consisting of six Melbourne-based former members of the DSP — appears to be no more. Well, online anyway. Marcus Strom wrote at the time:
While “Trots split” is hardly earth-shattering news, to merely dismiss it as an irrelevance is a philistine error. The split reveals a lot that is awful about the ‘revolutionary’ left. It shows that all is not well in the DSP, its sectoid method of organisation and the state of the left in general.
Unfortunately it shows that the only modes of organisation that the far left knows is high-pressure sectoid madness or “liquidationist” merger with the ‘mass movement’. The crisis of the far left points to the urgent need for the Marxist left to develop a coherent and authoritative political centre in the labour movement, devoid of a sectist culture, yet committed to developing theory and practice at the highest possible level.
The MSN group includes Jorge and Roberto Jorquera, longstanding DSP members. Jorge has been a leading cadre of the organisation for at least 20 years. The six were members of the “Leninist Party Faction” led by ousted national secretary John Percy and ideology hatchet-man Doug Lorimer.
The LPF – I trust you’re keeping up up with the acronyms – formed after the DSP’s last congress, which reaffirmed its commitment to build the Socialist Alliance as a “multi-tendency socialist party”. Percy and Lorimer had argued that the SA had served its purpose (to do over the International Socialist Organisation, [basically)] and that it was best to close it down and rebuild the DSP as a public socialist organisation.
Previously on DSP Blues:
If anyone thought that my take on the DSP’s role in the SA was too cynical, measure it against the words of DSP national secretary, John Percy: “Remember what was the actual initiating event that prompted us to think about this tactic? The decision by the British Socialist Workers Party to contemplate election work after two decades of abstaining totally from it. We thought, ‘Here’s an opportunity to make an approach to the local International Socialist Organisation, for joint work, joint election campaigns and a regrouping of the left.’ They either had to respond positively, or suffer a political blow and organisational losses.
“In that respect, our tactic worked: they’re certainly a lot weaker than they were in 2001, suffering splits and attrition. And at their Marxism conference in September, they had half the attendance of recent years, with just 40 at their final session. We’ve suffered also, but not as much as them” (J Percy, ‘Party-building report to October 2005 DSP national committee on behalf of national executive minority’, The Activist, Vol.15, No.12, October 2005).
The “tactic” of setting up the SA was successful because of damage to the ISO. Now I leave it to the ISO to say what they think about whether they are as damaged as Percy says, but, whatever the reality, that is the perception that Percy is so self-congratulatory about…
On the ISO, see Further Adventures in Trotville (May 4, 2008).