I can recall first encountering Denis Freney‘s expose on the DSP, Raiders of the Left Ark, some time around 2000. Then I thought it was a thoroughly scurrilous and highly enjoyable piece of journalism: now I think it’s only a slightly scurrilous, but still reasonably informative and entertaining, piece of writing.
I can also remember asking around inre the author’s identity (I believe it’s been circulated under a number of different pseudonyms, and possibly even titles), and also inre the accuracy of some accounts; especially where they intersected with anarchist activism. Broadly speaking, it appears to be a largely accurate, if biased, account of some of the more memorable escapades in the DSP’s short history.
Its continued circulation also appears to upset the DSP leadership, so what the hell? Nick Fredman says: “This piece of scurrilous garbage was written by an arch-sectarian Stalinist hack, the late and unlamented Denis Freney (I have a copy of the anarchist mag Rebel Worker in which it was reprinted in 1991), so [there] won’t be no vol 2, sorry for all you left train spotters and gossip mongers. It has flown around the internet a bit in recent years, without Freney’s byline, sometimes with the intro that it was written recently by an unnamed ex-DSP member, despite the fact that it refers to nothing after 1990, showing that some people will believe anything that will reinforce their schemas.”
In the interest of ‘shoring up my schemas’, then, here ’tis:
RAIDERS OF THE LEFT ARK
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
The DSP’s origins can be traced to the formation of Resistance in Sydney in 1967. Resistance was formed from among anti-war youth who joined the Vietnam Action Campaign (VAC). Resistance had a parallel “adult” organisation, the International Marxist League which maintained a clandestine existence at this time.
Although the VAC had a wide membership, it was dominated by Bob Gould and his student supporters Jim and John Percy. After some initial success, the VAC was unable to obtain a breakthrough in mobilising very large numbers against the Vietnam War and Conscription.
In 1969, a broad sponsoring group began organising for the Vietnam Moratorium held in May 1970. This was too broad and large for Gould or the Percys to control.
The growth of the Moratorium led to divisions inside Resistance-IML. The Percy brothers wanted both to become disciplined and structured organisations, while Gould wanted a loose one which he could control. The other major dispute concerned the Third World Bookshop which was formally owned and operated by the VAC, which had virtually stopped existing.
The Percys claimed the bookshop should become the property of Resistance, while Gould claimed it as his own private property (having legally made sure this was so). The bitter and at times violent dispute did not stop both trying to stack meetings and ferociously resisting demands that the Vietnam Moratorium Committee (VMC) be a delegate body, with representatives from its many affiliates.
SOCIALIST YOUTH ALLIANCE & SOCIALIST WORKERS LEAGUE – SOCIALIST WORKERS PARTY
Resistance became the Socialist Youth Alliance in 1970 and in 1972 the “adult” and fully “Leninist” party, the Socialist Workers League (SWL) was formed and became at first a “sympathising section” of the Fourth International and not long after the “Australian Section”. In 1976 the SWL because the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).
The Fourth International was founded in 1938 on the basis of “international democratic centralism” and its various “sections” would become parties with mass followings able to lead revolutions. Instead, they soon became narrow sects revolving around leaders jealously guarding their cult following.
In 1979, the US SWP supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Later in 1982, they reversed their earlier support. But the Australian SWP for the first time ever disagreed with their American mentors and continued to stridently defend the invasion.
Relations with the US SWP rapidly deteriorated and in August 1983 the Percy leadership forbade any Australia SWP member to have any political collaboration with the US SWP, even though both organisations were formally members of the Fourth International.
Immediately after, a grouping of long-time Australian SWP members and leaders were subject to an “investigation committee” and after an inquisitorial examination were summarily expelled because they agreed with the US SWP and disagreed with a number of Percy policies.
[A contemporary anarchist response to the formation of the SYA may be found here.
The Re-Emergence Of Obsolete Communism (1972)
The re-emergence of all the old Maoists’ philosophies in the last two years is a more disturbing event than any more blatant counter-revolutionary trend. That W.S.A. [Worker Student Alliance – Maoist], S.Y.A. [Socialist Youth Alliance – nominally Trotskyist], etc., are counter-revolutionary is obvious from their dogma, organisation and activities.
They have dragged up all the antiquated shit that should have long ago been placed in its historical perspective, relevant to capitalism and society in C19th Europe. And even then it was corny.
The authoritarian vanguard-style of revolution, advocated by Marx and all the varieties evolving from him, have led to a consistent betrayal of popular uprisings. That the vanguard party become counter-revolutionary is obvious from a few examples.
The role of Lenin and Trotsky in post-revolutionary Russia was primarily to dismantle the workers’ councils or soviets as autonomous bodies and to place them under the control of the Central Committee. These experiments in free self-management were working successfully in the factories and free rural collectives which were established in the Ukraine. The Bolsheviks systematically dismantled these until in 1921 workers and sailors in Petrograd revolted. Their demand – “All power to the Soviets”. The very same demand the Bolsheviks fought for in 1917. Trotsky had them slaughtered. Immediately after the revolution much sexual repression in Russian society was swept away. By 1922 these advances had been renounced, laws against homosexuality and sexual freedom were re-introduced. In “revolutionary” China sexual repression and the authoritarian family structure are still a part of society. The link between sexual intolerance and a repressive state has often been made by people such as Wilhelm Reich…]
IN THE EIGHTIES
From the early 1980s the Percys had discussions with the Socialist Party of Australia (SPA) [founded in 1971; known since 1996 as the Communist Party of Australia]. Although the SWP supported Poland’s “Solidarnosc”, its previous harsh criticism of the Soviet Union and Stalinism was softened and eventually virtually disappeared from the pages of “Direct Action”. By 1984-85, the SPA and SWP had formed the “Socialist Alliance” which contested elections for a number of years[!].
In August 1985, the Australian SWP formally announced its split from the Fourth International. The SWP was no longer Trotskyist, Percy declared; the 1938 formation of the Fourth International was a mistake and it was necessary to open up to the “communist current”, namely the Brezhnevite leadership of the USSR. The SPA “alliance” served to gain some introductions, and for the following couple of years the SWP pursued this attempt to win friends in Moscow with energy. But it achieved little.
NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT PARTY
The spectacular success of the NDP in 1984 including the near election of Peter Garrett and Jo Vallentine’s actual election to the Senate occurred without the NDP having any structure, constitution or policy outside the three nuclear disarmament points. This naturally attracted the attention of the SWP whose members were directed to join what NDP branches existed and to form them where they did not.
Jim Percy wrote in a booklet, “The ALP, the NDP and the Elections”, that “we should be in there helping to build it (the NDP). We don’t know where it’s going but it’s going to go better if we’re in there, provided we don’t go in there with lead boots and stamp all over the place. There is absolutely no contradiction between us loyally building the NDP and continuing to build the SWP… The most important concern is the use we make of the campaign to get our ideas around…”
The NDP was, as Peter Garrett later put it, clearly seen by Percy as a “host” party for the growth of the SWP. After the NDP success in the 1984 elections, preparations began for the founding national conference. It was an open conference held in Melbourne in Easter 1985, at which anyone with an NDP membership card issued freely for a nominal charge, could attend. Of the 170 present, it was estimated that 70 were SWP or Resistance members. Jim Percy sat at the back of the hall, directing SWP tactics.
The SWP blocked any voting on resolutions proposed, including those most hotly in dispute: that members of other parties could not be members of the NDP and a proposal that the NDP call for nuclear disarmament “East and West”. Out of frustration, the leading figures in the NDP proposed that all proposals not voted on be submitted to a referendum of NDP members. This was defeated 87 votes to 86. The conference then divided and in the emotional heated atmosphere, the result was unclear and the NDP leadership around Jo Vallentine and Peter Garrett walked out.
Others like NDP founder Michael Denborough remained, as did Robert Wood (later NDP Senator) along with others who did not understand the walkout. But the SWP’s “lead boots” had effectively “stomped over” any hope of the NDP becoming a viable formation. Their use of well-tried meeting tactics and number-stacking against people inexperienced in such operations made sure of that.
The SWP opposition to the slogan “Disarmament East and West” which had been accepted widely including in the Palm Sunday rallies reflected their flirtation with the SPA and the Soviet leadership. Their opposition to any ban on two Party membership reflected their desire to build the SWP through the NDP.
The SWP quietly withdrew most of its cadres from the NDP. Only Rob Wood and friends kept it operative in Sydney. The SWP however did recruit a few members from the NDP experience, proving no doubt that it was worth the effort…
NEW PARTY OF THE LEFT – THE “CHARTER” PROCESS
In 1984 the CPA (Communist Party of Australia) publicly called for a process for the “renewal of socialism” including the formation of a new party of the Left. This was attacked by the SWP. The Broad Left Conference held in Sydney in Easter 1986 brought together a wide range of some 1600 left, environmental and other activists. The SWP also strongly attacked the organisers of this conference.
Later in 1986, when a wide range of activists issued a call for a New Party of the Left, the SWP after initially attacking it, almost overnight changed its position and asked to join in the process. Despite doubts among many involved in what became known as the “Charter Process”, the SWP’s public acceptance of the principles set out in the Charter meant that the SWP was allowed to participate in preparation for an initial conference.
The SWP leadership initially agreed to the principle that members of any New Party of the Left could not be at the same time members of another party or para-party. As the conference to discuss the new party draw close, the SWP began to back-track and floated the idea that Resistance would continue as an independent grouping. Many saw this as a manoeuvre to keep the SWP operating under a different guise.
At the conference, the principle was adopted that the major documents, particularly the call for a founding conference of a new party would have to be adopted by a two-thirds majority. At the conference, the SWP had about a third of those present and with a few supporters was able to block the final document, which had already been substantially modified to try to accommodate their demands. The conference broke up in disarray. The SWP tried to continue the fiction of their own Charter process, but this was soon dropped by their leadership.
A group of long-time SWP members, including leading figures in its Sydney organisation, who had been deeply involved in the Charter Process and genuinely worked hard for its success disagreed with the SWP veto of decisions at the Melbourne conference. They were summarily expelled by the Percy leadership without even the minimal democratic processes.
Only in July 1990 was the New Left Party [a short-lived group that later collapsed into the Search Foundation] formally founded after another long and laborious process initiated in 1988 by a second broad range of sponsors. Two-party membership was banned. The SWP was not invited to take part.
In late 1989, the SWP announced that its national committee had voted to change its name to the Democratic Socialist Party. The DSP was to be more democratic and open to varying views. But it has remained as tightly disciplined as ever with any dissent severely repressed.
In part, the change of name can be explained by the discredit the SWP had earned itself throughout the broad Left, ecology and peace movements by its manipulative practices throughout the previous twenty years. Second, it was part of a new strategy to hitch itself to the process of renewal and radical change taking place in eastern Europe and Gorbachev’s Soviet Union.
In these few years, Percy and other SWP/DSP leaders paid numerous visits to Moscow and other east European capitals. Resources were found to place two SWP/DSP leaders in Prague for a long period. During these visits, Jim Percy forged links with various forces inside the Soviet Union, including many radicals, who may or may not have been aware of the SWP’s stand supporting Brezhnev’s invasion of Afghanistan.
Some visits were made via Libya on tickets supplied by that country’s government through one Robert Pash, a long-standing neo-Nazi. But the large expenditure on such trips cannot be accounted for from that source alone.
The various DSP initiatives in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union gained credibility for the DSP as the local representative of renewal in that part of the world. They also formed part of Jim Percy’s empire-building aimed at proving to his former comrades in the Trotskyist Fourth International that he was a force to be reckoned with, and that he was successfully integrating himself in the old communist movement.
An important DSP venture is the Green Left Weekly. Despite its claim to be “independent” and under the supervision of a “broad” range of sponsors, the paper remains very much under DSP control. GLW is well known for refusing to publish or censoring articles which, although revolutionary and anti-capitalist, do not conform to the Marxist-Leninist Party line.
ENTRISM – “DEEP” AND “RAIDING PARTIES”
The key to understanding the varied history of SWP/DSP intervention in mass movements is the concept of “entrism”. It was proposed by Trotsky in the Thirties when his movement was very small and isolated. Under tactics based on “entrism”, Trotskyists entered the mass communist or social democratic parties to form their own leftwing groups.
Such entrism was mostly carried out secretly and without acknowledging membership of another party. The idea was to build a revolutionary left within these mass parties which would, in a crisis, be able to lead the masses, after taking control of the mass party.
There are several variants of “entrism”:
“DEEP ENTRISM” implies the concentration of all members of the Trotskyist Group in entrist work in the “host” party. No independent Trotskyist publication is produced, with all efforts going into a newspaper produced under the name of the front entrist Group. The most successful applicants of the strategy have been the “Militant Tendency” in Britain which over decades [once] worked with the Labour Party, denying the existence of the secret Trotskyist group. The Militant Tendency won control of the Labour Party’s youth wing and city branches. In Liverpool it controlled the city council through its majority in the caucus.
“RAIDING PARTY ENTRISM” on the other hand, scorns such long term tactics and concentrates on relatively short-term entrism by a minority of members of the Trotskyist Group into the mass party. This was the policy of the SWP in the 1970s when it kept some undercover members in the ALP and produced a small magazine “Labor Militant” a few times a year. At times, the numbers in the ALP might increase when it seemed there were chances of recruitment, but generally the number of SWPers undercover were small.
Most European Trotskyist groups have adopted a policy which spreads numbers more or less evenly between “entrist” and “open” work, switching emphasis as times change.
Although the SWP/DSP in the past decade has virtually stopped all entrist work in the ALP, urging all left wingers to leave, it has adapted the tactic to other formations and movements. Being very flexible, the Percys find-tuned the old entrism tactic to a degree not seen elsewhere.
The UWU in Hobart was unusual for such groups because it had been a financial success. It established the first wholefood store in Hobart and prospered. But by 1984 the initial founders of the UWU had drifted out of the organisation due to other commitments. As an Unemployed Workers Union it was moribund and not serving its initial functions. Among the few remaining people active in it were the leading people in the small SWP organisation in the State.
In April 1984, a special general meeting was called, supposedly to secure its assets against a (non-existent) right-wing take over and to deal with taxation and other difficulties. To stack the meeting, 25 SWP members were flown in from Sydney and Melbourne and given UWU membership on the spot. They voted to transfer its assets, of around $30 000, to a new organisation the Tasmanian Progressive Society (TPS).
The TPS was not incorporated and had, to say the least, very strange rules. Its constitution and rules spelled out that it would “not consist of more than six members”. New members could join by “invitation only”. The president was appointed by resolution to hold office “until death or resignation or unless removed from office by resolution” of the other five members. The President was none other than Jim Percy!
He could remove trustees and expel other members. And “there [was] no quorum required” for meetings of the TPS. As President, Percy had the “sole authority for the interpretation of these rules” and his decision was “final and binding”!
David Mazengarb, a leading SWP member in Hobart had second thoughts about the asset-stripping and alleged that the money went not to help the UWU (as required in the TPS rules), or even to help the SWP operations in Tasmania, but rather to fund the SWP’s national operations based in Sydney. He and other leading SWPers resigned in disgust and exposed what had happened.
The only response offered by the SWP when their UWU operation was exposed, was to say that Mazengarb and the other resigned SWPers had been part of the operation transferring the UWU money to TPS/Jim Percy agreed with it at first, only to reject it later. The SWP then accused the four ex-SWPers of wanting to grab the money for themselves and, when they couldn’t get it, setting up a rival wholefood shop to the one controlled after April 1984 by TPS/Percy.
Nothing has been heard of the TPS since. The “Corporate Raiders of the Left Ark” moved on to other goals.
The Tasmanian UWU operation can be seen as a new variant of raiding-party “entrism”, with the sole aim of gaining access to a large amount of money.
THE “LEFT-WING” USTASHA OF THE HDP
The HDP (Croatian Movement for Statehood) never hid its admiration for the Ustasha puppet regime established after Hitler’s troops conquered Croatia and the rest of Yugoslavia in 1941. Like other Ustasha groups in the West, it celebrated April 10, the date the neo-Nazi regime was established. It glorified the Ustasha fuehrer Pavelic and General Luburic who were responsible for the massacres of hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, Gypsies and anti-fascist Croats.
The HDP leader was Nicola Stedul, who left Yugoslavia in 1956 for West Germany to join the movement headed by Pavelic and later a rival one, the HNO (Croatian National Resistance) headed by Lubiric. He was an HNO representative in Australia from 1966 to 1971, a time when the HNO and other radical Ustasha groups carried out a series of bomb attacks. The then Liberal Government and ASIO outrageously covered up for those responsible for these bombings. The SWP at the time condemned these terrorist attacks.
The HNO, which later became the HDP, was also on record as carrying out numerous terrorist attacks in Western Europe. In one attack, HDP hero, Miro Baresic, assassinated the Yugoslav Ambassador in Sweden in 1971. He was released the following year when Ustasha terrorists hijacked a jet. He went to Spain, then Paraguay, where he joined the death squads of the dictator Stroesner. Baresic was arrested in the USA by the FBI and returned to prison in Sweden.
The neo-Nazi credentials of the HDP were as clear as a pike-staff. But they also tried to woo the left. Stedul formed the “Socialist Party of Croatia” in exile precisely for the purpose. In Australia, they approached Left Labor figures …and the SWP. Only the SWP welcomed them.
In 1982, the HDP tried to march on May Day in Melbourne and received a hostile reception. The SWP took up their cause and for the next few years campaigned vigorously on their behalf against every other section of the left and progressive movement who pointed out the HDP’s attitude to the Ustasha and its terrorist and neo-Nazi links. It was pointed out that in the early 1970s, war criminals here such as Srecko Rover tried to woo the Left and that early Ustasha and then the HDP had a well documented record of trying to woo the Soviets ever since the Tito split with Stalin in 1948.
What were the reasons for the SWP’s blind endorsement of these Ustasha? SWP leader David Holmes wrote in August 1983 that “the HDP leaders are revolutionaries…As a result of the collaboration between the HDP and the SWP and also through the development of the class struggle in this country, many more Croatians will come to see the need to build a revolutionary workers’ party here and fight to overthrow capitalism.”
It is easy to see the very special “entrism” involved here. It is into a whole community – there were then over 150 000 Croatian migrants in the Australian workforce. The HDP had some support among them. By “collaborating” with them, the SWP hoped to recruit among that community which would see the need for a “revolutionary workers’ party” (that is, naturally the SWP/DSP). It is a very big raiding party involved; a couple of hundred SWPers taking over the Croatian community… Such is the stuff of dreams!
Enough then to ignore what the HDP actually wrote about the Ustasha regime, enough to even lionise the terrorist neo-Nazi Baresic in the columns of Direct Action (now “Green Left Weekly”).
The SWP did recruit a few HDP members into their ranks, but after all their abject apologising for the HDP, its leaders here soon broke off links with the SWP, precisely because the SWP was trying to recruit its members. Even then, the SWP refused to criticise the HDP or admit its error, speaking of it following a “rightwing drift” in 1984, although its extreme-right credentials were available well before.
[See also Joan Coxsedge, Ken Coldicutt and Gerry Harrant’s Rooted in Secrecy: the clandestine element in Australian politics, esp. ‘One, Two, Three — Ustasha Are We!’, pp.43-59.]
Robert Pash has long been a member of the small neo-Nazi network in the country. For many years he was a one-man Nazi band in Brisbane, heading National Vanguard from a post office box in Capalaba. For some time he was head of the Brisbane branch of National Alliance, then the Progressive Nationalist Party and finally, for a brief period, of National Action.
But in 1984, Pash formed the All-Peoples Congress, began circulating the Green Book on Libya’s Ghaddafi and made the first of many trips to Libya. Soon he was the semi-official representative of Libya here, much to the consternation of its embassy.
Under attack from the Left, Pash felt if necessary to seek friends on that part of the political spectrum. He contacted the SWP who expressed interest in the free round-the-world air tickets he was handing around for those who were friendly to Libya and himself. Always interested in the main chance, Pash denounced the racists in National Action and swore himself a friend of the non-Europeans around the world, after some of his earlier productions had been widely exposed. But Pash remained in close contact with anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi circles here and in Britain, organising the visit of leaders of the neo-Nazi British National Front to Libya. Pash did try to act out his Nazi fantasies a little more discreetly than in the past, although the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” were still on sale in the Libyan Cultural Centre he operated in Melbourne.
In a repeat of the HDP experience, Direct Action defended Pash ferociously, accusing his critics of being anti-Libyan and anti-Arab.
A number of SWPers did get those round-the-world airfares which meant useful trips to Europe and the USA.
The various forms of entrism have also been applied to many other mass organisations over the past twenty years. In the “Committee in Solidarity with the Caribbean and Central America” (CISCAC) in the early ’80s, it provoked a split with almost all other forces when it insisted that it have half of the membership of the ruling body as against all others, Latin Americans included.
There is an idea that members of the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), as affiliates of the Queensland Green Network (QGN), are proposing. It is that an national “Alliance” and not a Green Party is the way to go. The DSP tell people how wonderful the Green Alliance campaign in Brisbane was, and how good the QGN is. But there was discontent amongst green activists in QGN who thought they were being manipulated by the DSP. The DSP’s constitution states:
“Article 4. Paragraph 2. Members of the party shall have the following obligations: (a) To be loyal to the aims of the party, to reject any conflicting political loyalty, to place all their political activity under the direction of the party, and to engage in the work of the party to the best of their ability.”
It is hard for me to see how any organisation with this constitution can honestly participate within a grassroots democracy without making a mockery of it for the other people involved. How can non-DSP people expect to use consensus when there is a disciplined block of DSP members arguing one line and unwilling to compromise or change their position for the benefit of the group?
To me participatory democracy is not where some people dominate discussion at the expense of others. It is where all people contribute equally and not only in relation to a timeframe. Contributing equally means not having dogmatic ideas or being bound to decisions made by other organisations but is when each person respects the others ideas. It does mean willingly being able to modify your ideas with respect to what has been said at the meeting. I feel a true grassroots participatory democracy does away with the patriarchal system of individual competitiveness which simple majority voting is associated and replaces it with a system, as the ecofeminists may describe it, of love and caring for the group.
I think the question should be asked now. How can an organisation who has a constitution stating the members must be loyal to the aims of the DSP, reject any conflicting party loyalty and place their political activity under the direction of the DSP be trusted to follow the direction of an “Alliance” if they were elected to parliament? An “Alliance” in the future with the DSP would be pointless because it would not benefit the “Alliance” only the aims of the DSP. Therefore the QGN preferred model of including a proscription clause in the constitution of a national Green Party is a sensible and one which I support.
Arana Hills Qld]
In the “Bring the Frigates Home Coalition”, formed in Sydney around the Gulf War, the SWP supported IS/Socialist Worker (whose slogan was “Victory for Iraq”) in blocking a resolution that would have also condemned Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, while keeping the major emphasis on opposing the US war. The SWP in fact had “two-bob each way”, formally opposing Iraq’s invasion in Direct Action, but arguing that to include such a demand among those advanced by the Coalition would have made it “narrow”, even though “Socialist Worker” were about the only ones opposing it.
In the early 1980s, the “Movement Against Uranium Mining” (MAUM) in Sydney faced the usual SWP takeover numbers-game when it began to mobilise many of the tens of thousands on the streets. The SWP was slow to jump on the bandwagon, but when they did, they did so with a vengeance, stacking one ordinary meeting with some 70 of its members, gaining the majority. However, this was overturned the following meeting when all the other forces in MAUM, particularly the non-party independents, rallied all their supporters to stop the SWP take-over. The SWP/DSP can only succeed in such operations when the numbers in the target organisation are small, or it is moribund and at the end of its life.
The DSP, and other Marxist-Leninst groups like Socialist Worker [ISO], continue to intervene in single-issue campaign groups, trying to recruit new members. Stacking meetings, caucusing, blocking resolutions, accessing contact lists, and other political manoeuvrings have often caused groups to spend more time on dealing with internal wrangling, than with practical work.
Some caveats are necessary: many ordinary and younger DSP/Resistance members are completely unaware of how their organisation works. Hence they genuinely believe they are doing the right thing, seeing no contradiction between “entrism” and real work for the campaign group concerned. In the past, such people have often been expelled when they have questioned the end results of the tactics they have worked hard to implement.
Second, there can be no question the DSP/Resistance has every right to advance their views, act around their beliefs and join campaign groups. But such organisations also have the right to expose and defend themselves, against those who undermine campaigns by participating with ulterior motives and hidden agendas.
In its own internal operations and in contrast to what it preaches, the SWP/DSP/Resistance leadership rules with a rod of iron. They not only refuse membership to those whose first loyally is to another party, but will expel any dissident who persists in this error.
No DSP/Resistance member can ever give their full commitment to a campaign, nor can they participate as an individual with their own ideas. As the Constitution of the DSP states, “Members of the party shall… place ALL of their political activity under the DIRECTION of the party…”. DSP branches “[direct] the work of party members in non-party organisations and movements… in accordance with the Program, policies and decisions of the party”.
The DSP’s principles and practice of manipulation, deception and opportunism are anything but “democratic” and “socialist”.
According to Dave Murray:
…On the UWU takeover… I remember Percy saying to me that “wholefoods were better than books”. A clear reference to what Percy always referred to as Gould’s theft of “his” bookshops back in the Vietnam Moratorium days in Sydney. The UWU wasn’t moribund as the writer implies in the article. In fact it was very active and had participated in many actions in the interests of the unemployed. It was because of the activities of the UWU that Percy became interested. He wanted to know how the UWU could afford to produce the leaflets and other material that I regularly sent to SWP National Office. I told him about the financial arm of the UWU, that is, The Wholefoods Shop. He flew down within the week. He hadn’t been in Hobart since 1972!!! He had in fact actively sought to close the Tasmanian branch of the Party. We were always considered a little too critical of the Party on many questions. He strolled through The Wholefoods Shop freely helping himself to whatever took his fancy. He resolved there and then that he wanted the assets. The Shop was turning over $400,000 a year. Run by volunteers. He came up with the schema of a supposed right wing take over which the SWP would protect the UWU from by holding all its assets. Hence the Tasmanian Progressive Society (TPS). The rest is history. Except to add the post script that the DSP after over 15 years of ripping off the fruits of the UWU finally abandoned the shop in 2001 by simply walking out and letting it collapse. A look at the financial records for the past 15 years would make for interesting reading. This action was as a result of the stink that hovered over their ownership of the shop. In the face of attempts to become part of a newly emerging left alliance they finally realised the liability of Percy’s legacy. They spent years slandering myself and others involved in exposing the UWU takeover. I’m pleased that some of their shameful antisocialist behaviour is at last coming to light.
Ozleft has some out-of-print or hard-to-get material on the history of the DSP and ISO:
The Politics of the DSP and ISO, by Chris Gaffney, is a two-part piece on the response of these organisations to the rise and fall of Gorbachev and the break-up of the Soviet Union. It was written in 1994.
Sectarianism and the Socialist Workers Party, by George Petersen, is an extract from his memoir, George Petersen Remembers, published in 1989. It mainly focuses on the 1982 elections in the Federated Ironworkers Association, and particularly the Wollongong steelworks, where the DSP (then the SWP) ran under the name, Militant Action Campaign.
The Socialist Workers League and the NSW Socialist Left, also an extract from George Petersen’s memoir, concerns the SWL’s role in attempts to form a Socialist Left in the NSW ALP in 1971.
As for Trotskyists in the Mother Country:
Soon after the global day of action on June 18th 1999, the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) started to take a keen interest in the ‘direct action movement’ generally and anti-globalisation issues specifically. Obviously pissed off that they’d let 15,000 people smash up the City of London without any of their paper sellers around to tell people about the ‘socialist alternative’, they targeted the action on November 30th (N30) as the next big thing.
An article from [the superb] Do or Die, #9. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 134-135.
Unfortunately, I can’t find a copy of Carry on Recruiting online. I have, however, found this review:
Review: Carry on Recruiting! (Why the SWP Dumped the ‘Downturn’ in a ‘Dash for Growth’) by Trotwatch (AK Press).
Many people find a critique of Bolshevism boring. Unfortunately even one’s uninteresting enemies can be powerful.
Of more recent vintage is:
1) Class War, London Calling, November 2004:
THE EUROPEAN SOCIAL Forum took place in London from 15 to 17 October . The ESF is supposed to be a massive forum where progressive and revolutionary ideas and experiences can be shared, and areas of mutual concern – such as the war in Iraq – can be addressed in an open and non-oppressive fashion. That’s the theory! In practice, though, it was very different.
The Socialist Workers Party had teamed up with ‘Red’ Ken Livingstone in a state-sponsored jamboree supposed to show off London and to boost the SWP’s credentials – as well as giving Livingstone some much-needed radical chic. Ken threw at least £400,000 of council-tax payers’ money down the drain on the ESF – paying for the travel of 20,000 lefties, subsidising accommodation, at the Millennium Dome if you please, printing fuck loads of nonsense – and hiring Alexandra Palace.
Throughout the event, working class people including many anarchists were excluded from the junket. It was something like £30 for a ticket, and all the decisions relating to the ESF were taken in closed meetings months ago. Trots and their lickspittles do do one thing well! They can stitch up events and conferences with great skill. And this time they had Ken Livingstone and his police force on their side.
The Wombles organised an alternative, Beyond ESF, which was a well-attended event in Tottenham. They did themselves proud by organising, at short notice, a full programme of events and discussions, and provided free accommodation for hundreds of people from across Europe in squats. Sadly, their event was marred by the constant presence of the filth. Forward Intelligence Teams sat outside the venue the Wombles had hired, they dogged the Wombles’ footsteps – and generally made their lives a misery.
To protest the ESF stitch-up, to highlight the way the SWP and Livingstone had gerrymandered the entire social forum process, and to bring the views of the anarchist alternative to the ESF we stormed Alexandra Palace. Well, not so much stormed as pushed our way in! But from the response of the SWP and their poxy lickspittles you’d think we’d lynched St Paul Foot or something!
We heard that Livingstone had cried off addressing a meeting, curiously about racism and fascism, because the police had wind of the plot to gatecrash the ESF and couldn’t guarantee his safety. When we got into the large hall at Ally Pally there was a bit of confusion – but nothing violent. In retrospect, we might as well have smacked a few SWPers, they acted like we had anyway.
Weyman Bennett, an SWP bigwig claims that his mobile and wallet were stolen, and that he was assaulted in the irruption of anarchists. Lee Jasper claimed, in a letter to the Guardian, that the uninvited guests were all white males – which we plainly weren’t – hellbent on smacking black and Jewish people. Which is utter bollocks: the following day the Guardian had the decency to publish a letter from a number of people who’d observed the to-do which righted the previous day’s nonsense.
Still, the SWP refuse to retract their libellous attacks on anarchists – and we feel strongly that they should not be treated as comrades (though given the SWP’s attitude to us over the years, we doubt any CW reader or supporter has any sympathy for them anyway).
To add injury to insult, at the ESF anti-war get-rid-of-Bush march on the Sunday of the ESF, the SWP had the gall to hand anarchists over to the police. When members of the Wombles tried to make an announcement from the podium in Trafalgar Square, the stewards apparently initially said it was fine, then some SWP “arrested” them and passed them to the filth. Such behaviour marks a new nadir in the SWP’s pisspoor record.
2) Finally, check out Monopolise Resistance:
In early September 2001 (before the 9-11 attacks) SchNEWS put together a pamphlet in response to the sudden involvement of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in the ‘anti-globalised-capitalism’ movement through a front group called ‘Globalise Resistance’…
Several months after this was published, and the war in Afghanistan had started, the SWP then began putting their energy into another front group – the Stop The War Coalition. We looked at this and updated the pamphlet in an article in SchNEWS Of The World, which you can read here.