- Update Thursday May 22 2008 (final results!).
UpdateSaturday December 8.
Update Saturday December 1 : The SEP has published its own assessment of its performance at the election.
Update Monday, November 26 : Figures constantly updated. The latest issue of the GLW is understandably quiet on the fate of its candidates; the SEP, meanwhile, has published its own version of events: “The working class will soon come into conflict with the new Labor government, directly posing the need to build its own political party. Herein lies the significance of the Socialist Equality Party’s election campaign. The SEP advanced the only independent political perspective for the working class, and fought to clarify both the current and historical role of the Australian Labor Party and the unions as the key props of bourgeois rule. We explained that Rudd Labor in no way represented a “lesser evil” to Howard and that it would rapidly emerge as even more ruthless in prosecuting the interests of corporate Australia at the direct expense of the working class.”
Yeah so Kevin07 won. But how did the Trots fare? A cynical whining rightwinger posing as an anarchist guides you through the results…
In general, the Socialist Alliance continues to have the upper hand in its struggles with its arch-rivals in the electoral arena, the members of the LaRouche cult, beating them into second-last place in almost every contest. On the other hand, despite being jam-packed with experienced socialists who’ve contributed enormous amounts of time and energy to building literally innumerable social campaigns and struggles, this revolutionary enthusiasm does not appear to be reflected at the ballot box. Meaning that The Lessons of The Bolivarian Revolution have yet to be translated into Australian terms.
House of Un-Representatives:
Blaxland, NSW: Raul Bassi got 522 votes, or 0.7% of the total, a gain of 0.2% on 2004. On the other hand, and slightly less positively, in the popularity stakes socialism remains the most unpopular political doctrine among the voters in Blaxland, Bassi polling last of eight candidates; his closest rival, Gabrielle Kent of Family First, gaining over twice as many votes.
Brisbane, QLD: The massive swings to the ALP in Queensland didn’t quite translate into massively increased votes for SA. Nevertheless, Ewan Saunders (placed first on the ballot) gained 566 votes in Brisbane, an increase from 0.4 to 0.7% of the vote since 2004. In other positive news for the Alliance, Ewan, while not proving to be quite as popular as either the Democrats or Family First, managed to absolutely trounce the CEC candidate, much to the undoubted chagrin of the cult’s followers.
Calwell, VIC: Frank Gagliotti (SEP) asked for the votes of the people of Melbourne’s outer north-western fringe, and the people responded by giving him 273. Unfortunately, 99.7% of votes went elsewhere, Frank finishing last of nine candidates.
Charlton, NSW: Terry Cook of the SEP got 404 votes, or 0.5%, which, on the bright side, is an increase of 404 votes on 2004. Terry also managed to beat David Stow of the CEC by 110 votes; which, given the fact that Lyndon LaRouche is a bona fide genius, is no small feat.
Chifley, NSW: A good result for the SEP, James Cogan getting 1,069 votes, or 1.3%. Still, at risk of being called a cynical whining rightwinger posing as an anarchist, I suspect this may have had something to do with James being placed first on the ballot.
Corio, VIC: Hmmm. Chris Johnson appears not to have fared so well, gaining just 332 votes, a decline of 0.3%, from 0.7% to 0.4%.
Cunningham, NSW: Congratulations go to Jess Moore of the SA. With 706 votes, or 0.8% of the total (a gain of 0.4), Moore has beaten John Flanagan of Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting) into last place, John gaining a measly 489 votes.
Denison, TAS: Susan Austin of SA has at this stage proven to be slightly less popular than her predecessor, gaining just 494 votes, a decline of 0.1 (from 0.9 in 2004) to 0.8% of the total.
Franklin, TAS: Matt Holloway has managed to maintain the line for SA in Franklin, gaining 365 votes or 0.5% of the total, a swing of 0.0%.
Fraser, ACT: A bit of a disaster in the ACT for the SA. Farida Iqbal got just 539 votes, or 0.5% of the total, an actual reduction in support of 3/4 from a dizzying high of 2.1% in 2004.
Fremantle, WA: Dockworker Sam Wainwright of the SA has experienced a disappointing result in the struggle for the hearts and minds of voters in Fremantle in this, his first tilt at the seat. With 361 votes, or 0.5% of the total, Sam is in a remarkably similar position to SA in 2004. Less positively, Sam has proven to be a lot less popular than the Jew-hating Sue, Ms. Bateman of the One Nation Party gaining 988 votes.
Gellibrand, VIC: Ben Courtice trounced both the CEC and the Democrats, gaining a relatively massive 1,334 votes or 1.6% of the total, a gain of 0.9% on 2004. Well done Ben! (Note: this may have had something to do with Ben being placed first on the ballot…)
Grayndler, NSW: Pip Hinman did really well, gaining 1,394 votes, or 1.7% of the vote, a gain of 0.5%. Patrick O’Connor of the SEP did less well, gaining just 328 votes, or 0.4%. At this point, the Trots have trounced both the Democrats (on 1.7%) and also the CDP (1.2%).
Griffith, QLD: A disappointing result for SA in Griffith, Jim McIlroy receiving just 293 votes or 0.4%, a decline from 0.7% in 2004. The halving of the socialist vote is doubly perplexing in Jim’s case, given that he’s been politically active since opposing the Vietnam War in the 1960s, is renowned locally as a grassroots campaigner (from anti-WorstChoices to the Dr Haneef civil rights campaign), and especially as he spent 2006 in revolutionary Venezuela reporting for Green Left Weekly, as well as having authored numerous pamphlets in labour and socialist history. Are beardy blokes that unpopular?
Kingsford Smith, NSW: Another relatively good result for the SEP, Alex Safari gaining 1,096 votes, or 1.3% of the total. Unfortunately, Safari still managed to come last, his combination of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky being (slightly) less popular than the winning combination of Christianity and Democracy embodied by Marcus Campbell of the CDP.
Melbourne, VIC: This seat would not seem to be a socialist stronghold. Will Marshall of the SEP got 418 votes; Kylie McGregor of the SP 539. This renders them the two least popular candidates, less popular even than the LaRouche fanatic, Andrew Reed (586 votes — Andrew was placed first on the ballot).
Moncrieff, QLD: Another mixed result for SA in Moncrieff. Perhaps the most positive dimension to Tim Kirchler receiving 315 votes for Socialism is that this proves Socialism is more popular than Lyndon LaRouche (214 votes), and adds yet another victory to the SA in their intense rivalry with the CEC.
Newcastle, NSW: Unfortunately, despite wearing a hardhat, Geoff Payne gained a rather meagre number of votes for the SA, just 333 or 0.4% of the vote, a decline from 0.5%. Noel Holt of the SEP didn’t do quite as well as Patrick O’Connor, gaining a relatively meagre 277 votes, or 0.3%. As such, the socialist candidates in Newcastle came last.
Parramatta, NSW: Here, the SA and SEP fared better, Rachel Evans of the SA gaining 1,015 votes or 1.2%; Chris Gordon of the SEP 261 votes, or 0.3%.
Pearce, WA: Annolies Truman of the SA scored 316 votes, or 0.4% of the total; steady as she goes for the SA in Pearce.
Perth, WA: Chris Latham of the SA got 464 votes, a decline from 1.3 to 0.6%.
Swan, WA: Not a great result for Joe Lopez of the SEP: 157 votes or 0.2%. On the bright side, Joe thrashed Norman R Gay of the CEC, who received a meagre 92 votes or 0.1%.
Watson, NSW: Results obtained by Ronald Poulsen of the Communist League suggest that the inevitable historical transition from Capitalism to Communism is indeed dragging its heels. Ron got just 424 votes, or 0.5% of the total. Still, that’s an increase from 0.3. In which case, a majority Communist vote will surely be obtained by… a long, long time from now.
Wills, VIC: The rappin’ skillz, phat beats with tight cuts and incisive lyrics of Zane Alcorn, aka MC Doc Fruit, have failed to set the electorate on its head. Zane got 624 votes, or 0.7% of the total, a reduction of 0.4%. On the bright side, he still managed to soundly defeat the CEC candidate, which is something.
- Party Totals
Socialist Alliance: 17 candidates, 9,973 votes, 0.1% (average approximately 587 votes)
Climate Change Coalition: 7 candidates, 9,470 votes, 0.1% (ave 1,353 votes)
Democratic Labor Party: 4 candidates, 6,018 votes, (0.0%) (ave 1,505 votes)
Socialist Equality Party: 9 candidates, 4,283 votes (0.0%) (ave 476 votes)
What Women Want: 4 candidates, 3,870 votes (0.0%) (ave 968 votes)
Conservatives for Climate: 4 candidates, 3,239 votes (0.0%) (ave 810 votes)
The Fishing Party: 2 candidates, 2,083 votes (0.0%) (ave 1,042 votes)
17) Socialist Alliance: 3,351 votes or 0.08%
[20) Citizens Electoral Council: 2,224 votes or 0.05%]
21) Socialist Equality Party: 2,139 votes or 0.05%
25) Group P Independents (Progressive Labour Party): 948 votes or 0.02%
17) SA: 1,941 votes or 0.08%
[22) CEC: 1,155 votes or 0.05%]
16) SA: 770 votes or 0.08%
[19) CEC: 267 votes or 0.03%]
[12) Group I Independents: 5,695 votes or 0.18%]
17) SA: 2,535 votes or 0.08%
18) SEP: 2,403 or 0.08%
[19) CEC: 1,697 votes or 0.05%]
[12) Group P Independents (Graeme Campbell): 1,621 votes or 0.13%]
[15) CEC: 1,002 votes or 0.08%]
17) SA: 928 votes or 0.08%
Total SA vote: 9,525
Total SEP vote: 4,542
Total ‘anarchist’ vote: 5,695
This is just too funny for words.
Cue the candidates having a go at anarchists for “doing nothing” and praising themselves for “trying”.
@ndy, what you need to remember is that in Grayndler the trotskyist vote is elevated because both were placed at the top of the ballot, meaning a much greater dummy vote was manufactured accidentally – rather than as a result of any increased campaign activity.
Overall it has been a “business as usual” vote for the socialist movement, neither above or below the equivalent votes of 1998, 2001, 2004 in any particular way.
Take the CL in Watson as an example:
Ron Poulsen, Communist League candidate for Watson has polled 318 votes as of today:
2007 – 318 votes
2004 – 335 votes
2001 – 322 votes
This is very much on par with 2004 and 2001. In all cases the small core communist vote in south western Sydney remains unshakable. It did not decline. This even in a hard environment for socialists, where Labor won booths in muslim suburbs like Lakemba with votes up to 78% on primary votes alone.
Here’s Doc Fruit tearing it up. He’s no Vents. I think they should start a beef. It’ll be like Naz versus Jay-Z, or Castro versus life.
I accidentally shook hands with Kelvin Thompson yesterday. He jumped out of nowhere, grabbed my hand and without skipping a beat he boomed, “You’ll be voting for me, won’tcha mate.” I nearly crapped myself. All I could think about were his underworld connections.
Yep, I understand that, and I look forward to this fact being addressed in the GLW’s coverage.
“Business as usual” might also be less charitably read as “stagnation”, especially as:
1) when the SA was launched in 2001, it was sold as being a new departure in local socialist politics, a consolidation of a number of leftist sects (AWL, DSP/Resistance, FSP, ISO, Socialist Democracy, Worker-Communist Party of Iraq (in Australia), Workers’ Power) into the one electoral front; an attempt to capitalise, at the ballot box, on what was perceived to be an upswing in ‘anti-capitalist’ sentiment capable of this form of political exploitation and;
2) there has been both a (continuing) evacuation of the Left within the ALP and a growing leftist sentiment outside of it.
Unfortunately for the DSP, they’ve been largely unable to capitalise on these developments, and instead The Greens have formed what there is of a political opposition in this country to the neo-liberal ‘mainstream’. What makes this an especially worrying development, for the DSP, is the decline in yoof support (ie, Resistance) and a failure to translate the minor support SA has received within the labour movement into real political support.
“…but even if we don’t get in…” ~ Zane keepin’ it real on the campaign trail.
(What’s with the tea cosy? Anyone?)
“imagine a hip-hopper in the parliament, throwin’ down to the politicians and really takin’ it to ’em”
you don’t need a book of karl marx to quote
to know that capitalist democracy is a joke
you don’t need to be hugo chávez
to have imperial wars makin’ ya see red
the gauntlet has been thrown down.
Haha stop encouraging it, seriously. He will go away on his own.
You a player hater.
…and speaking of Chávez, un poco más de realidad:
The effect of the ISO, the CPA, the CPA-ML and SAlt backing the Greens, should be factored in to any commentary.
Combined, these four groups have about 300 members. I’d say a fair number of these were handing out for The Greens and *not* any socialist candidate, so on balance, the socialist vote is under stated.
Um… I’m really not sure how many members these groups have, but from largest to smallest I believe it goes something like SAlt, ISO, CPA, CPA-ML. In any case, even assuming that a figure of 300 is accurate, and that all 300 members were actively supporting The Greens on election day, I don’t see how this explains the dismally small socialist vote.
Of course, SlackBastard is engaged in little more than petty sectarian trolling, with this post. I suppose being a self-declared “anarchist” relieves you of any need to actually attempt to do anything in the elections, just shitcan those that do.
As such, the concept that there is more to socialist electoral activity other than the simplistic measure of the raw votes as the sole yardstick to beat active socialists with escapes him.
Among the measures also of interest to socialist activists being how many people participated in support of genuine socialist politics, how many more people were reached by, and agreed with or seriously considered, the socialist message through face to face campaigning, leaflets, posters, the internet and local press (but did not necessarily vote for Socialist Alliance — as always many people gave Socialist Alliance their second or third preference votes, wrongly fearing their vote “would not count”). In all those, SA did very well.
In Parramatta, where I canvassed, SA’s respect among active Greens and many Labor and Your Rights at Work activists was undisguised. The Greens gave SA their second preferences on their how to vote card. SA also had a crew of Sudanese refugees staffing several booths on our behalf. On my booth, the Greens did not have enough people to staff it.
Slack Bastard also ignores the fact that other parties, including the Greens, have millions of dollars to campaign with, the socialist vote was split by the mad Socialist Equality Party targeting many SA candidates (the SEP directed 33% of its preferences in the Senate to the Howard government!), and in this election the “Got to get rid of Howard first” sentiment was huge, squeezing all small parties’ votes.
Nobody argues that SA set records this election (that was never the goal), the vote *was* small, not fundamentally better or worse in raw figures than average, but all in all it was encouraging and worthwhile.
But that said, within an electorate, the total vote does not tell the whole story. In Parramatta, SA’s Rachel Evans has won 1.15% of the vote overall, but this includes very low votes in areas of the electorate where SA is not active or visible, as well as in the more well-off managerial areas of the hills. In the areas where SA is most active and does most of its political work, and in some strongly working-class areas, SA did well. At the Parramatta Town Hall booth, SA won 2.3% of the vote (compared to the Greens’ 8%), 2% in Parramatta North (Greens 4%), 2% in Seven Hills (Greens 3.7%) and 1.8% in Metalla Rd, Toongabbie (Greens 4.8%). And many of our strongest supporters, young people and recently arrived refugees and migrants, do not yet have the right to vote.
That was meant to be ‘Nas‘ versus Jay-Z.
I declare the beef to be on. Vents is just being cagey. I expect a diss song to be on MySpace by this afternoon.
Trolling on my own blog?!? Is there nothing these dastardly anarchists won’t stoop to?
I am, of course, perfectly well aware of the rationale for socialist electoralism, over and above actually gaining votes or even — non-existent Heaven forbid — office. Such factors as raising the scarlet standard high, reminding voters of the existence of a ‘socialist alternative’ (not Socialist Alternative) etcetera operate irrespective of the number of votes gained. But what I’m actually engaged in in this post, as in the case of a number of others, is assessing precisely this question: how well (in terms of votes) did the self-declared socialist candidates perform? A hint that this might be the case is given by the fact that I actually examine the number of votes received by every single such candidate that I’m aware of, in both Houses, and from among the CL, SA, SEP, PLP and SP.
Obviously, the number of votes gained is subject to interpretation. That is, what does it mean? Further, when assessing the impact of such a campaign, what elections actually provide is an opportunity to assess the relative popularity of candidates, parties and (to a much lesser extent) policies, by providing an assessment of the relative ability of each to command a vote ‘for’ some person or party. In other words, in terms of popularity contests, it’s a lot easier to assess by actually counting the number of votes than it is anecdotal evidence about, say, “how many … people were reached by, and agreed with or seriously considered, the socialist message through face to face campaigning, leaflets, posters, the internet and local press” etcetera etcetera etcetera.
Secondly, in terms of SA itself, it has a history, and it’s possible to compare current results with previous ones. In this manner, it’s possible to make some kind of assessment of the actual political impact of the project.
I remember when SA was established, in 2001, and the rhetoric which surrounded it. Here, supposedly, was an opportunity for the left to electorally capitalise upon a (re-)emergent anti-capitalist movement (or broadening sentiment). I’ve followed SA’s course since then. Over this six-year period, in terms of votes, the results have been absolutely minimal. Further, it has progressively shed whatever pretence it originally had to being an ‘alliance’ of socialist forces, and has become what it was likely always destined to be: an electoral platform for the DSP.
Thirdly, in reference to the results in 2007: yeah, Rachel Evans got approximately 818 votes, or 1.1%, considerably more than a number of other SA candidates. She was also placed first on the ballot. (As was the SEP’s James Cogan in Chifley, who received 811 votes, or 1.2%.) In terms of campaign finances, I’m also well aware of the fact that the major parties have greatly more resources than do SA, but the point of comparison is 1) not just the majors, but the other minor parties and 2) previous outcomes. On both these scales, all things being equal, SA is not performing well.
Finally, a few questions: in Victoria, Joe Toscano and Jude Pierce received 4,181 Senate votes, the SEP 3,258 and the SA 1,916. Given that the other two campaigns were even less well-resourced than the SA campaign, and that the SA campaign had a number of other advantages over both these rivals, how is this result to be explained other than by reference to the fact that, when it comes to making a choice and a political commitment (however minimal), voters would rather support the mad bastards in the SEP and some crackpotkinists over and above SA? Why the relatively massive decline in the socialist vote in Canberra? What evidence do you have to support your claim that I am a “right-winger”?!?
As I said, I’m in NSW so cannot tell you all the dynamics of Vic. But my experience in NSW is that many who voted for the SEP thought they were voting for Socialist Alliance. They were voting for the “socialists” and did not differentiate.
In Vic, it looks like the AEC made a mistake attributing 1730 votes from one booth in the seat of Gorton to the SEP (instead of the ALP we think). If we take this mistake into account the SEP polled less than SA.
SA was never simply or primarily an electoral project, as you claim. And it was never expected that it would automatically translate into remarkably better electoral results. It was well understood that the Greens would continue to be main electoral expression of the left/radical vote, in fact benefitting most from much of SA’s work in building the movements.
There are many objective factors that depress the socialist vote in general and in this election in particular (which I’ve already mentioned), not least we live in a society dominated by the capitalist parties and their mass media (duh!). Any sensible analysis must take those into account. It is only right-wing columnists, shock-jocks and sectarian nit-pickers like you that ignore them to make cheap debating points.
The real test of SA’s “popularity” is its year-round activity, involvement and leadership in the mass movements and their political developments. That role has most recently been illustrated by SA members’ leading role in the anti-APEC protests in Sydney, bringing 15,000 people into the streets to defy the Lib-Lab state intimidation, and the Indigenous rights movement in Queensland.
As modest as they are, SA’s getting the best of the far left vote also illustrates that, of course the Greens have got by far the most of the available left vote without doing much of the movement hard yakka beyond making speeches and issuing press releases. The fact that, for the first time, more than $15,000 in donations from trade unions was recieved by SA this election is also a marker of this.
This is all very well and good, but I’d like some figures on how Peter Watson and The Stalinist League fared on Saturday at the polling booths.
“I suppose being a self-declared “anarchist” relieves you of any need to actually attempt to do anything in the elections, just shitcan those that do.”
Absolutely one of the best things about being anarchist. And foreign.
My prediction for this thread came true!
“SA was never simply or primarily an electoral project, as you claim.”
I’d agree that it was never simply an electoral project, but I’m pretty certain it was primarily an electoral project.
Talking to friends from regional Australia, it’s interesting that they view SA as an entity unto itself and not as something run by the DSP. Granted this is typical of DSP front groups.
vote 1 for da east brunswick massive!
this guy ALMOST broke my funny.
1) If voters are voting for the SA or the SEP because they want to vote ‘socialist’, it’s very possible that the distinction between SA and SEP is lost on them. In other words, the reverse could just as easily be the case (“many who voted for the Socialist Alliance thought they were voting for the SEP”).
2) Inre the SEP vote in Victoria: interesting. I suppose this correction will be made in the coming days or weeks. Still, this fails to explain why Toscano and Pearce at this stage appear to have received more than double the SA vote. Secondly, the SA ranked 18th; the DLP, Climate Change Coalition, Australian Shooters Party, What Women Want, One Nation, Christian Democratic Party, Conservatives for Climate and Environment, Carers Alliance, Liberty and Democracy Party and Senator On-Line all ranked higher.
3) “SA was never simply or primarily an electoral project, as you claim.” It’s not just me what claims that Norm. In their resignation letter, for example, the ISO writes: “Despite the rise of the Greens as an electoral force, it was clear that there was still a space for a left electoral alternative with more explicitly working class politics. With time Socialist Alliance might have begun to make ground, as Steve Jolly’s Socialist Party did in Yarra – a council where Green control had seen a continuation of neo-liberal priorities.” Further, apart from once having been an alliance of leftist groupuscules, this is what is distinctive about SA; in every other respect — and here I refer to the participation of its members in all the other activities you mention — it is simply another sect. So maybe you’re right: SA was never simply or primarily an electoral project, as I claim; it is now simply or primarily an electoral project for the DSP.
4) It’s been six years since SA was founded. Of the eight leftist groupuscules which formed it, almost all have since left or disintegrated. Thus the Freedom Socialist Party (March 2007), the International Socialist Organisation (January 2007), Socialist Democracy (disbanded December 2005… apparently), Worker-Communist Party of Iraq (defunct… in Australia?) and Workers’ Power (April 2006) have all upped stumps. That leaves Workers Liberty’ and the Workers’ League (whoever and whatever that is). (Socialist Alternative also appears to have dipped its toe in, however briefly).
Beyond this, Seeing Red has disappeared, and the number of branches reduced. SA membership is overwhelmingly drawn from the DSP and Resistance, as are its candidates. Speaking of which, Amelia wrote earlier that:
Kirchler has received 273 votes at this stage (Monday afternoon). How many of the other candidates fall into this category? As far as I can discern, the answer is very very few.
5) Yes Virginia, there is a ruling class ideology. Nevertheless, one question that can be asked of those opposed to this consensus is: how best to break it? To suggest that I’m not aware of the dominant role of bourgeois ideology in shaping popular consciousness is simply idiotic.
6) Finally, you claim that “the real test of SA’s “popularity” is its year-round activity, involvement and leadership in the mass movements and their political developments. That role has most recently been illustrated by SA members’ leading role in the anti-APEC protests in Sydney, bringing 15,000 people into the streets to defy the Lib-Lab state intimidation, and the Indigenous rights movement in Queensland”. There’s an obvious problem with this contention, and that is: if SA is truly as popular as such myth-making suggests, why is this not reflected in electoral returns? If SA was so instrumental in bringing 15,000 people on to the streets of Sydney, why did it only manage to get 2,716 votes in the Senate? Or to put it another way, why did SA prove to be even less popular than the Christian Democratic Party, DLP, Shooters, Fishing and Lifestyle Party, Pauline’s United Australia, the Australian Democrats, the Climate Change Coalition, The Fishing Party, Family First, One Nation, What Women Want, the Carers Alliance, the Liberty and Democracy Party and Conservatives for Climate and Environment? None of whom, to my knowledge, have recently — if ever — brought 15,000 people on to the streets of Sydney, let alone played such a leading, indeed absolutely vital role in the vast number of campaigns SA has?
Or could it be that you’re simply talking a load of bollocks?
Norm Dixon I wish you good luck in your socialist revolution that you are trying to kick start by pointlessly participating in the bourgeois elections that function on very few democratic principles. Don’t forget to occasionally reassure yourself that you are DOING SOMETHING, as opposed to lazy anarchists and their crazy ideas about not participating within the current framework, and I’m sure you will make us all proud.
You cheeky bastard! “And for what they are worth, here is my comment on Ozleft’s dismissal of independent electoral activity (similar “debate” is taking place at the “anarchist” Slack Bastard blog…”
Any you accuse me of trolling?!?
Not very cheeky. Do-nothing sectarians (of the anarchist, Green and ALP varieties) use the same stale and petty arguments to belittle socialist activism, and get much the same reply. I’m into recycling!
For the rest, you are just using circular arguments: “You got a small vote so therefore you are irrelevant”. The Greens have taken the most of the left electoral space, but not the activist space, which for socialists is far more important. That does not preclude electoral participation, for the reasons which I’ve explained. However, Socialist Alliance activists are central to most of the key mass protest movements in this country, and will remain so. That’s a fact and that will continue.
Now you’re being both cheeky and silly. You’re a “know-nothing” sectarian who self-evidently doesn’t know me, but who’s still prepared to call me a “right-winger” and a “do-nothing”. And I mean shit, mindless abuse can be fun, but aren’t you supposed to be offering some kinda quasi-serious analysis or defence of SA? You also appear to be only semi-literate: “You got a small vote so therefore you are irrelevant” is not my argument. What I’m suggesting is that SA has not only got a small vote, but has done so since its inception. Further, given that:
1) there has been no significant increase, of any size, in SA’s vote;
2) the DSP’s “partners” in the “alliance” have all abandoned SA;
3) almost all of SA’s candidates are drawn from the DSP/Resistance (I’m aware of only one that isn’t);
4) SA’s sole “independent” journal, Seeing Red, has been abandoned;
it’s the case that SA is now precisely what I believe it was always destined to become: an electoral front for the DSP.
To be continued…
Awesome, radical debate at its best.
Andy’s argument is pretty spot on here: SA is a political failure. Its attempt to build a broad space of left social democracy just hasn’t worked. The reasons for this I think are both structural and contingent. For me what seems strikingly erroneous is how SA was/is premised on an ideology of nostalgia. It is still trying to build a radical and catalysing force on the left side of social democracy, failing to notice that the social democratic project is over. Post-Fordist/neo-liberal capital is composed of a radically different set of co-ordinates and class composition. Facing this SA can only produce a stagnant but regular series of efforts consisting of protest-as-usual mobilisations and electoralism. With predictable results.
But Norm’s retort of anarchist inactivity can not simply be brushed away. Yet I think it is framed incorrectly. It is not a question of how “active” one is, but the quality of the political sequence that they are engaging in. And whilst anarchism is a more pleasant ideological flavour than any of the Bolshevik offerings it is also seemly incapable of generating a politics that is both relevant to the current compositions of class and power and that can really participate in the formation of emancipatory popular formations and spaces.
Another thing that Norm’s theory for the vote doesn’t explain is why SA in particular did so badly. After all, One Nation, the CEC and the Carers Alliance all face the same society “dominated by the capitalist parties and their mass media”. SA did worse than other candidates whose platforms were at least similar and just as on the fringe.
I’m feeling charitable, so I’ll admit that I would have thought they’d at least do better than the CEC. I think it is better explained by the Greens capturing what would nominally by SA’s votes, if SA were better organised and comprised and had feasible policies (if wishes were horses…).
Just to echo some of Andy’s comments, I think the Greens have played a far bigger leadership role in regard to general left wing activism and Aborigines themselves have lead the way in their own emancipation both in form and substance. As far as I’m aware, organised Aboriginal groups and prominent individuals haven’t had much to do with SA at all, let alone allowed SA to take leadership roles… This is not denying that members of the DSP/SA have been supporters of these campaigns.
And by your definition, Norm, the electorate are all “do-nothings” because the ‘something’ is deferred to politicians. Anarchists, even ones you inexplicably put between quotation marks, actively organise against this passive role, which is why it’s fun to stick the boot in.
PS I fucking loved the Kersal Massive clip. An oldie but a goody.
I am sure Norm will mention this but in Queensland the SA Senate ticket was headed by a prominent and well respected indigenous comrade by the name of Sam Watson.
Yeah, at this stage Sam & Co. got 1,585 votes. In 2004 Sam also ran, and after final counting, SA got 2,546 votes (by way of contrast, Help End Marijuana Prohibition got 28,122 votes). Earlier in the year, SA also contested the NSW state election. They got 15,142 votes (according to the updated figures from the AEC). I’ve no idea how prominent she is, but Jakalene X got top spot on the SA ticket for the LC in NSW. She is also an indigenous woman.
I still wouldn’t characterise SA as being the leaders or taking leadership roles even with Watson’s involvement. I’m not dismissing Sam Watson just because he’s in SA, but it’s a pretty big claim to say that the party has played “[a] leading role in the anti-APEC protests in Sydney, bringing 15,000 people into the streets to defy the Lib-Lab state intimidation, and the Indigenous rights movement in Queensland.”
None of this respect or prominence has translated into votes. I dispute the effectiveness of the campaigning in raising issues, mostly because there’s no evidence that this translates at all.
Senate results (Qld)
Socialist Alliance (Sam Watson): 1,585
Does this mean that a Eurasian land bridge is now an issue amongst Queenslanders on the same level as indigenous rights?
SA do not have a monopoly on indigenous rights as part of the platform and obviously others have campaigned more effectively. Even Norm can acknowledge there are potential risks with the SA strategy, such as low votes delegitimising an issue.
The idea that SA exists outside of a cynical strategy to recruit on the margins is a total fantasy. Even then it isn’t working. The quality of the candidates is irrelevant. The strategy is flawed.
P.S. I was listening to some MC Doc Fruit joints today and I thought I heard him rhyme “I’m better than Vents/ I’m Kanye to his Fifty Cents.” I was like, woah, they’re fighting words. You should do something about that Vents. Don’t quote me though. I think it was on his track ‘I’d Give Chavez My Missus’.
I think @ndy and Lumpen in their rush to score points off SA run the risk of validating voting as something with meaning. It is impossible to really interpret what any amount of votes “represent”. Voting is not a practice of active commitment but passivity. It is largely a mute activity – which I am sure is old news to you. So why use essentially parliamentarian arguments to mock SA electoralism? It is not like it is actually funny.
…aaand we’re back.
Norm: you’re avoiding the hard questions. You’re also engaged in a question-begging exercise. Both are a product of failing to acknowledge the purportedly distinctive nature of the SA, as opposed to the DSP.
Before SA formed, the DSP ran in elections, as well as did all the “building” the Leninist construction industry is always engaged in. However, the SA was meant to be a departure, a political broadening based on a minor recombination of the Leninist left and a hope that, with the collapse of the ALP left and the seeming re-emergence of an anti-capitalist discourse, new political space had opened up for just such a venture. Six years later, the results are quite literally in. The ‘Socialist Alliance’ is in reality, if not in name, the DSP and Resistance, re-branded. Back to square one, perhaps, but with the added bonus of having the rival ISO much reduced in strength.
That’s how I see it.
Dave: social democracy has collapsed, but I’m not sure this means it may not re-emerge, even despite what are purportedly major shifts in the economic and social infrastructure of Western societies such as Australia. The way I see it, popular pressure can force states to act in the short-term interests of their constituents, and social democratic ideologies and movements are based upon this realisation. The real problem, of course, is the erosion in the economic and social base for this form of political practice — especially in terms of the trade union movement, but also in terms of the labour movement more generally. In terms of Australian economy, I think that the country’s role as a vast reserve of natural resources for export is key to understanding its role in the global economy, and as such, is deserving of special attention. More on that later, perhaps.
As for nostalgia… well, this mob has justified participating in elections by reference to Engels’ writings on the German Social Democrats so, y’know…
As far as I’m concerned, Norm’s accusation of “anarchist inactivity” may, in fact, easily be brushed aside, at least insofar as it’s personally directed at myself. I read it more simply as an invitation to engage in a pissing contest. (As an aside, this is the stock-standard response I receive from the likes of Norm.) On the other hand, I agree with you that being ‘active’ is one thing, being effective another (which is how I interpret the meaning of a qualitative intervention in a series). Of course, I disagree with you that ‘anarchism’ “is also seemingly incapable of generating a politics that is both relevant to the current compositions of class and power and [one which] can really participate in the formation of emancipatory popular formations and spaces”, but elaborating the reasons why moves some way from examining the socialist vote in the 2007 federal election.
Finally, in terms of examining this subject in particular, I’m a political trainspotter, and have been for many years. As such, I find the ups and downs experienced by groupuscules on the far left and the far right to be noteworthy. I agree, of course, that the empancipatory potential of voting in a representative capitalist democracy is negligible; on the other hand, I think it full of comic potential.
Lumpen: one of the key faults with Norm’s “analysis”, such as it is, is that it fails to compare SA with similarly-placed parties and platforms. Instead we’re treated to the not-exactly-obscure fact that there’s such a thing as the capitalist media, with all that implies for the manner in which political ‘alternatives’ are presented to the public.
“Duh”, as Norm so aptly puts it.
In these terms, and not in comparison to the ALP, or the Coalition, or even The Greens, the SA has done very poorly. Their competition is not the majors but the minors. In every single Senate contest, for example, the SA was out-polled by ‘What Women Want’, and by a considerable margin. (WWW formed in 2007.) The same goes for a large number of other parties. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that, in the popularity stakes, the SA does battle with the CEC for the title of the most un-popular political formation in Australia; amazingly, despite it’s members ability to get 15,000 people to take to the streets of Sydney (etcetera etcetera etcetera). Ridiculous assertions about the leadership role of the SA in struggles for indigenous rights in Queensland do little more than distract from these realities — presumably Norm’s purpose in making them.
Um, I think some meaning can be gleaned from votes. Specifically, that the SA platform is not working and that the Fishing Party is more popular.
Not only that, but every weekend The Fishing Party plays a leading role in bringing tens of thousands of anglers onto the country’s rivers and streams. Of course, Lumpen is engaged in little more than petty sectarian trolling, with this comment. I suppose being a self-declared “anarchist” relieves you of any need to actually attempt to catch your own fish, just shitcan those that do.
Lumpen: does that mean the ALP and/or Liberal platform is working?
Uhhh, Norm, clear this up for me? How is it sectarian for us Anarchists to want nothing and never have had nuffin’ to do with fucking Marxist-Leninoid zombies? Who are responsible for endless amounts of suffering around the world in shitty places like China, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, former USSR and Africa? Not to mention their shitty wigger rap songs?
Pardon me if I don’t want to sell Green Left Weaklys, cringe in embarrassment as my Comrades scream and rant on megaphones, sit in boring five hour meetings on my Saturday afternoons and listen to overweight heroes of the proletariat trying to convince us that the organisation is still even vaguely relevant, while he sips at Coca-Cola (a product Resistance always makes sure its fridges are well stocked with) before surrendering the last of this week’s drinking money to the donation box and heading down to the Comrade’s house to smoke some cones and drink lots of goon and drunkenly discuss which revolutionary hero everyone’s got a crush on (James P. Cannon was surprisingly popular!). Because that about sums up my three years in Resistance.
You was a member of Resistance for three years? And now you’re an Anarchist who wants nothing to do with them? To be honest, cobbling together some money, heading over to a mate’s house, smoking cones, drinking booze, and drunkenly discussing which film/rock ‘n’ roll star (‘revolutionary hero’) everyone’s got a crush on sounds like a not atypical teenage experience…
Saturday, December 15, 2007 at 9pm : G20 Arrestees Benefit Gig @ Arthouse. $10.
ABC Weapons, Combat Wombat, Doc Fruit & Kron Fusion of Dhopec plus Purple Duck, Sentinel…
Andy I think my comments on social democracy were far too general, as are all my little snippets on your blog.
Perhaps we can make a distinction between social democratic politics and real existing social democracy; with the latter actually being a mode or period of capitalist governance and rule. It would be typified by a deal struck between capital and labour: more wages for more productivity, the involvement of labour’s official representatives in planning, the welfare state, public infrastructure and so on. Its more radical version would also suggest a democratization of the state and greater participation. Its Australian variant would also include multi-culturalism. This was the playing field across which capital and labour (in the broadest broadest sense) confronted each other – till labour decided to break the rules (WOOHOO!) and capital responded by abolishing the pitch (BOOHISS!).
Social democratic politics both preceded and exist after this period – indeed it was social democrats who abolished social democracy in Australia in the 1980s.
Dave asked: “Does that mean the ALP and/or Liberal platform is working?”
Depends on what you mean by “working”, but…yes. That doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.
Good little article posted on Sydney and Perth indy from an old student of mine, “The task ahead”. Not sure I agree with all of it, but it basically articulates the key point.
Regardless of the activist bona fides of anyone running, who got in, or didn’t, the key work is ACTIVISM. You want it, go get it. Labor ain’t gunna just give it.
As I see it, the main shifts in government policy will be the (potential) removal of some of the key aspects of WorkChoices (and the retention of others) and the signing of the Kyoto Protocol — in reality, a fundamentally flawed, hopelessly inadequate, protocol. In terms of environmental policy, the Government, notably, supports Gunn’s and its pulp mill and the expansion of the uranium mining industry. I honestly look forward to Peter Garrett’s elaboration on these themes. More generally, the Government supports the maintenance of the system of mandatory detention of ‘illegal non-citizens’, participation in imperialist adventures and the commission of war crimes under the sponsorship of the US state, and all the key features of the Hawke-Keating era, including neo-liberal reforms to economy and society…
Business as usual.
Vive la résistance!
HOLD UP I’M CONFUSED. i was a member of resistance and a provisional dsp member (yeah i know i know) when the whole dsp changed to the Democratic (ha) Socialist (ha x2) Tendency (you can have that one)… and the way that dissolving into the alliance was explained to me and other comrades by the organizer and other “higher-ups” was that the alliance was just a marketing tool to get people interested in socialism and had sweet fuck all to-do with the elections themselves. it was just intended as an intervention in another arena like going to/holding rallies for palestine or whatever. and since the dsp doesn’t take it that seriously, how the fuck am i “doing nothing” cause i don’t go to that one little stupid thing when there are a whole bunch of better things i can and do do with my time. would i be doing something if i attended every dsp endorsed function/rally yet didn’t actually change anything in my life (as i was hassled to do when in res about the issue of me not wanting to drink coke that was sold by the branch… which to my knowledge has been sold even despite dsp “support” for the boycott) cause to me that would be doing nothing. to just consume and die, but bang on about marx to fucking uni students to try and get them to attend dumb arse meetings to discuss marx, then to get other people to… you get the idea. oh and norm and whoever else from the dsp is readin’, can i get an answer on how we can take you seriously when you talk to us [and at the same time] belong to an organization that tells its members not to speak their minds but instead to uphold the party line (oh sorry i mean a democratic centralist organization), because if you continue to do “something” by being in the dsp, don’t you have to lie to me and anyone else about issues like the alliance being a bad fucking joke?
I will take this opportunity to say I am addicted to Coke and Jolt and anything else that rots your teeth out of your head.
…and Rudd is a churchie that is pushing the marriage = man/woman, gay = hell, thing
(Addendum to Andy’s last post)
“We explained that Rudd Labor in no way represented a “lesser evil” to Howard and that it would rapidly emerge as even more ruthless in prosecuting the interests of corporate Australia at the direct expense of the working class.”
What’s your opinion on this statement, given that we now have people such as Greg Combet, Bill Shorten, Julia Gillard etc in government? Surely the above text is a bit off the mark?
Well… the fact that Combet, Shorten and Gillard are now in Government, in and of itself, means relatively little. Patrick O’Connor’s argument is that the Labor Government will continue to do as HoWARd did. In support of this, he quotes The Australian:
What Rudd does in relation to both industrial relations and welfare measures remains to be seen, but I think it reasonable to expect him to roll back at least some of WorkChoices, if not all. As for welfare, I think even less can be expected. I agree with O’Connor that Rudd Labor will be ruthless — how ruthless though, I’m not sure.
What do you think?
Kevin Rudd is a class traitor who is the enemy of the proletariat. Marxism-Leninism is the only way out of this problem.
I think what will change is the feeling of the implementation of neo-liberalism. Broadly the same results will be aimed for but the process (a la the Accord) will be far more consultative and will aim at creating a social consensus and social peace.
Radical arguments against participation and representation – and perhaps even the notion of democracy – will have to be pulled out of the tool box and resharpened.
Afaik, the Accord was, in fact, consultative, as well as being aimed at creating a social consensus. In this it largely succeeded. Those elements of the trade union movement that resisted — eg, Australian Federation of Air Pilots (1989) and BLF (1986) — were isolated and crushed. The position of the trade unions now is very similar, if weaker, with a decline in representation generally, but a few key industries — construction in particular — still remaining highly unionised. As such, it’s no surprise that Rudd’s Government remains committed to the ABCC. Outside of the unions and the labour movement — still dominated by the ALP — social movements remain very weak, and unlikely to challenge government rule in the short-term. Possibly, a break within the labour movement may occur, with more ‘radical’ elements helping to crystallise a broader movement in opposition to further neo-liberal impositions…