Bad News for Spotters : RSP and SAlt to merge?

This is what happens when I’m not paying attention. Barely have I recovered from the fact that a card-carrying Communist has been elected to local council in Sydney when I discover that the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), born in 2008 as a split from the Socialist Alliance (SA) (formerly known as the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP)) has announced its intention to merge with Socialist Alternative (SAlt).

SAlt was itself born as a split from the International Socialists (IS) in 1995; the IS subsequently became the International Socialist Organisation (ISO), underwent a further split in Brisbane in 2004 to produce the Socialist Action Group (SAG), and in February 2008 recombined with both SAG and Solidarity (a split from SAlt) to form Solidarity.

Local communist Marce Cameron (of Cuba’s Socialist Renewal blog fame), for one, is not. happy.

Interestingly, according to Cameron:

Socialist Alternative will announce the formal abandonment of state capitalism, the theoretical basis for their separate existence as a current in the socialist movement. According to Socialist Alternative sources they will, however, retain their conception of “revolution from below”, on which basis they’ll continue to call for the overthrow of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments while at the same time stepping up their solidarity work, assigning Tom Bramble and Sanda Bloodworth to the Free the Cuban Five political prisoners campaign and organising a national speaking tour of Mariela Castro to highlight Cuba’s progress on LGBTI rights…

It’s time like this I miss an old cranky-pants like Bob Gould

Of course, it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings. And maybe — just maybe — Marce is just taking the mickey — or simply pissed at former RSP member Jorge Jorquera’s recent decision to jump ship, who knows?

See also : Why are there so many socialist groups?, Allan Myers, Direct Action, No.22, May 2010 | Trot Guide 2012 (April 10, 2012).

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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29 Responses to Bad News for Spotters : RSP and SAlt to merge?

  1. Wombo says:

    Unfortunately, Marce’s extended fantastic depiction of the coming “RSP-SAlt unity process” is apparently his idea of humour, and was an attempt at satire.

    However… the word on the socialist street corner is that the RSP and SAlt *are* indeed engaged in unity/merger discussion.

  2. (A)dam says:


  3. LeftInternationalist says:

    Wha? Didn’t expect this. If it is really happening. I mean, it would be odd for SAlt to give up its state cap designation for Cuba in particular, cause ol’ Fidel himself has already said, when urging Mexican businesspeople to invest in Cuba in 1988: “We are capitalists, but state capitalists. We are not private capitalists.” I wouldn’t trust Marce much (that is if he isn’t joking), him being a standard apologist for the one party dictatorship in Cuba who would no doubt regard the Fidel quote as dirty, filthy, American imperialist propaganda, and regard me as a petty-bourgeois anti-socialist heretic. If anything, I imagine the RSP would either have to give up or tone down some of their own positions, cause they’re the much smaller and less influential partner in any merger.

  4. Grumpy Cat says:

    This is a joke right?

  5. Lumpen says:

    I am just as pleased we can’t tell if the developments of the far left are happening or a parody of what is happening. Toot toot!

  6. @ndy says:

    I’m appalled nobody has corrected my claim that the ISO “underwent a further split in Brisbane in 2004 to produce the Socialist Action Group (SAG)” when everybody knows it was Solidarity that emerged from that split and the SAG was created in Brisbane as a split from SAlt.

    Also, try the fish.

  7. @ndy says:


    “We stand for the transformation of human society, from its current basis of greed, exploitation, war, oppression and environmental destruction, to a commonwealth of social ownership, solidarity and human freedom, living in harmony with our planet’s ecosystems. Such a transformation requires the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and its replacement by socialism — a classless society based upon a worldwide system of democratically planned production to meet human needs.

    In fighting for revolutionary change, we base ourselves on the scientific theory of social development developed by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, as further developed and expanded by subsequent generations of revolutionary socialists. We seek to learn in particular from the experiences of the Russian, Vietnamese and Cuban socialist revolutions, and from the Bolivarian socialist revolution now unfolding in Venezuela…”


    “…The society that existed in Russia after Stalin’s rise to power was not socialist. Nor are those in China, Cuba or Vietnam. Such regimes, which are merely a statised version of capitalism, are essentially no different from the West. Just as here, a small minority benefits from the labour of the majority. Whether that minority control is exercised through the state, private corporations, or a combination of the two, makes no difference to the fundamental dynamic of the system.

    We support workers’ revolutions to overthrow the remaining Stalinist states in, for example, China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba. We support the replacement of these bureaucratic regimes, not with other forms of capitalism, but with genuine workers’ governments based on workers’ councils.”

    Presumably, then, the RSP will learn from the study of the Vietnamese and Cuban (and Bolivarian?) socialist revolutions that the bureaucratic regimes these socialist revolutions produced must be replaced (through workers’ revolution) by genuine workers’ governments. And if by some chance these further socialist revolutions produce more bureaucratic regimes, well then…

  8. lumpnboy says:

    “I’m appalled nobody has corrected my claim that the ISO “underwent a further split in Brisbane in 2004 to produce the Socialist Action Group (SAG)” when everybody knows it was Solidarity that emerged from that split and the SAG was created in Brisbane as a split from SAlt.”

    Well played.

  9. Dave says:

    I noticed – too busy arguing on libcom to point it out

  10. @ndy says:

    Priorities comrade.


  11. Dave says:

    pssst. Rumour is that SA and SAlt are now in unity talks. Take that RSP!

  12. Wombo says:

    I have it on very good authority (well, my bookshelf), that thesis and antithesis are in secret unity negotiations.

    Answers on a postcard please.

  13. Grumpy Cat says:

    Bunch of RSP speakers at next year’s Marxism
    That has to be a first doesn’t it?

  14. @ndy says:

    RSP speakers? Yeah, I think so. And not just one, but several: Kim Bullimore, Doug Lorimer, Max Lane, John Percy and Ian Jamieson. Among other things, I assume the fact that SA has abandoned Marxism while the RSP has not — and faces many difficulties recruiting new members — is largely responsible for a collaboration of this sort.

  15. Member of SAlt says:

    Hi comrades,

    This was published on our website today. No doubt the Socialist Alliance will have some discussion of this in their online forums over the next few days and weeks.

  16. @ndy says:

    Hmmm. One would expect that, on the face of it, there’s sufficient common ground to allow for some closer collaboration b/w SA and SAlt, if only inre SAlt’s annual conference; the prospects for more formal (organisational as well as political) unity, however, would seem to remain with the RSP…

  17. Grumpy Cat says:


  18. Spotter says:

    John Percy on Facebook (24/09/12): “we’re having discussions and testing out the possibilities for collaboration. Socialist Alternative have invited us to participate fully in Marxism 2013 next Easter, and they’ve invited five RSP comrades to be speakers. The first publicity for the conference was released today, and it looks like being an excellent conference, which we’ll do our best to help build.”

    RSP has no choice – facing oblivion otherwise. Massive loss of members since 2008 and DA has only been published twice in nine months this year (started as a monthly). Still, hard to see this lasting in the long term.

  19. @ndy says:

    I dunno. TP survives with what I imagine is only a handful of members. So too AWL, CL, FSP and SLA. The problem is these mobs have rel distinct perspectives, whereas RSP… well.

  20. Spotter says:

    If the RSP was to join the ranks of TP, AWL, CL etc that would be oblivion. Although in many ways they are already there.

    In other news TP has recently recruited another member – from SA. Adam Baker’s 1 man Red Eureka Tendency has “dissolved” and he has joined TP.

  21. @ndy says:

    I only became familiar w RET in March; at the time there were two. I didn’t know RET went TP. But that’s hardly oblivion: Committee for a Revolutionary Communist Party in Australia / Communist Left Discussion Circle / Communist Party Advocate(s) / Marxist Initiative / National Preparatory Committee of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Australia / New Era Communist Party of Australia / October Seventh Socialist Movement / Revo Australia (Revo) / Socialist Appeal / Socialist Democracy / Socialist Labor Party of Australia / Workers’ League / Workers’ Power / Internationalist Communist Affiliate Network / Sydney Anarchist Communist Trajectory… that’s oblivion.

  22. LeftInternationalist says:

    statement by RSP on merger with socialist alternative:

    “The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) held its third congress on 29-30 September. The RSP was founded in 2008, after a long struggle inside the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), in defence of seeking to build a political party that publicly defends and explains revolutionary socialism and Marxist ideas as the foundation of its political work, alongside intervening in and contributing to campaigns that are fighting the exploitative, oppressive or discriminatory policies and practices of capitalism.

    Since 2008, the small group of activists that make up the RSP have been endeavouring to decide the best way to achieve the formation, consolidation and growth of a party that can prioritise the public defence and explanation of revolutionary Marxism and help prepare the fight to overturn the system and build a new one. RSP members had already rejected the proposition that there were any quick fixes to achieve accelerated growth or sudden wider reach-out or “broadness”. An extended period of retreats and some defeats of the working class had resulted in a depoliticisation of society generally. Struggles against the predatory attacks or inhuman policies of the capitalist class still break out in Australia, but they are small, irregular and rarely sustained. This is the case despite the fact that a small but significant percentage of the people possess sentiments that oppose, or at least radically question, the inhumanity and injustice of the current status quo. The grubby, mean and greedy politics of the likes of Gillard and Abbott, reflecting the moral bankruptcy of the contemporary capitalist class and its politicians and the desperation of that class generated by the contradictions of late capitalism, will ensure that that sentiment grows.

    The RSP has been continually testing to find the right path forward in this situation. It has made some mistakes and suffered some setbacks, but its members have remained active in a number of campaign areas, in building international links and maintaining its newspaper and website. We remain committed to doing whatever is necessary and useful to move towards creating the kind of Marxist revolutionary party of popular explanation and intervention that we envisaged from the beginning.

    At this Congress, the RSP decided unanimously that it would step up exploring a merger with Socialist Alternative as the logical next step towards building a fighting, interventionist party that can also effectively publicly defend the ideas of revolutionary Marxism. The RSP has some not unimportant political differences with S.A. on various questions, such as on the nature of past revolutions and their outcomes. These differences are in some cases not merely historical, as in the cases of Cuba, Venezuela and Vietnam. However, it has become absolutely clear that the members of S.A. are also committed to building the same kind of party that publicly defends the heritage of Marx and Engels, drawing too on many of the best of those who followed in their path, such as Trotsky, Luxemburg and, most of all, Lenin. We believe that the existing political differences need not and should not prevent the building of a united revolutionary organisation.

    The initial talks with S.A. have been conducted in a comradely and very constructive manner. The RSP Congress has resolved to build on these talks over the next months with the determination to do everything we can to bring about a successful merger. Wherever we can already take steps to intermesh activities, we will be willing to do so. Of course, we continue to hold those views that are different from those held by S.A. Members of the RSP in the future will naturally continue to explain their views as individual members of a new united organisation, including publicly. Discussions between the RSP and S.A. have confirmed the usefulness and democracy of this approach.

    There is nothing more precious to be struggled for than a world without exploitation and oppression and in which human beings can live in dignity and freedom and can, as part of a common social process, fully develop every individual potential. Given the anti-human and dictatorial character of the capitalist classes that dominate most of the world today, we know that creating that world will require a prolonged and determined fight. Perhaps in Australia today, where levels of struggle are low and society is managed in a way to keep it depoliticised, the opportunities will be for small steps, small gains, small wins. So be it. We keep going. We will do whatever is necessary to gather and organise with people who are also determined to build the kind of organisation the working class will increasingly need.”

  23. Pingback: Fast Times at Trotsky High : RSP, SA & SAlt | slackbastard

  24. Zionist Lackey and Slanderer of the Cuban Revolution says:

    It’s interesting to look at the program for Marxism 2013 – lots of RSP-aligned speakers, guests from a number of overseas countries but not from Cuba or Venezuela, and sessions on several international issues but none on developments in Cuba or Venezuela. A far cry from the time when Kim Bullimore (now of the RSP, then of the DSP) upbraided me in Workers Online over my criticism of Cuba’s one-party regime. It smacks of a desperate and dateless – and ageing – RSP seeking salvation in an influx of young SAlt students, and being prepared to burn what they cherished in order to achieve this.

  25. Zionist Lackey and Slanderer of the Cuban Revolution says:

    Spotter, thanks for the link to Adam Baker’s manifesto. I knew Adam at Griffith University in the late 1990s – even helped him get elected to the SRC as part of a broad left ticket – and whilst his politics were pretty hard-core then, they’ve obviously hardened even more in the interim, to something like the Sparts’ line of defending deformed workers states to the point of becoming indistinguishable from Stalinist shills.

  26. @ndy says:

    As far as I can tell, the price of the RSP’s admittance to SAlt is the relegation of active support for the Cuban and Venezuelan governments by its members to a private activity. That is, such activity will not only not be a focus of party work but instead the role of front groups, not under SAlt’s control, which individual members of the RSP will be free to participate in. I mean, the RSP regards both Cuba and Venezuela as (basically) socialist, whereas SAlt maintains they’re (fundamentally) capitalist: the contradiction between the two would seem fairly stark and not easily contained within the one organisation. Of course, the other option would be for the party to maintain silence on the issue, which seems unlikely. And yeah, the RSP’s inability to recruit (yoof) and the loss of a considerable proportion of its existing members since its establishment in 2008 would seem to be the most likely explanation for its pitch.

    As for Adam’s manifesto, yeah, it’s basically Spartacism, of which Trotskyist Platform is the less obviously-deranged/more socially-savvy expression. But the positions they express seem fairly orthodox from a Trotskyist perspective, certainly more so than either SAlt or the RSP. I mean, it was Mr T who wrote about degeneration and deformation and stuff.

  27. @ndy says:

    Reflections on starting “anew” in Australia: some experiences from the Australian Left
    Max Lane
    October 11, 2012

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