The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated

This week is orientation week at Melbourne, so as I wended my way out to grab a morning coffee, I found myself in the midst of the stalls set up to attract new students to clubs. It’s a gorgeous sparkling day, and the place was packed. Although I really should be working on a couple of R&Rs, I decided to check out some of the clubs.

Having received advance notice this morning that my friend Andrew Norton will be arguing on Monday for higher death taxes (more on this on Monday), I figured he was ripe for conversion to the socialist cause, and decided I would collect the necessary material for him to make the switch. But after buying a copy of The Socialist (50 cents or $1 solidarity price), I suddenly realised that the proliferation of socialist clubs wasn’t just a feature of the 1980s and 1990s. Nearly seventeen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Melbourne University has the Socialist club (of said newspaper), the Socialist Workers’ club, and the Socialist Alternative club (despite the name, it does not appear to be offering an alternative to socialism). In the end, having grabbed all I could, I decided that Andrew will just have to make his own mind up between them. Perhaps the best option will be for him to get someone who’s gone the opposite direction to provide advice. Does anyone have Paddy McGuinness’s phone number?

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13 Responses to The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated

  1. Sacha Blumen says:

    I think that Socialist Alternative is an electoral grouping of Socialist Worker and the DSP – they run in elections (eg in inner Sydney).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the people on the stalls are saying the same slogans and messages that people in those clubs were saying 10-15 years ago, when I was a young undergraduate. There’d be little questioning of what they themselves say.

  2. Sacha Blumen says:

    DSP – Democratic Socialist Party

    Socialist Worker – a (student ?) brand of the ISO – International Socialist Organisation (unless they changed their name).

    Before Socialist Alliance appeared, these two groups had enormous differences with each other, which, like many divisions between socialist groups, appeared pretty small to outsiders. Perhaps they papered over their differences to run an electoral platform against the evil economically rationalist ALP.

  3. Andrew Norton says:

    I haven’t tried to buy one of these papers since the 1980s. I used to tease the guy selling Direct Action (a predecessor of Green Left Weekly, I think) for ripping off the workers by charging more than The Sun (a predecessor to the Herald-Sun). Then when I actually wanted to buy one, he refused to sell it to me! I should have taken him to the Equal Opportunity Board for discrimination on the basis of my political beliefs.

  4. Robert says:

    In her first comment, Sacha confuses the Socialist Alternative (which split from the ISO) with the DSP/ISO Socialist Alliance (which follows a UK model that achieved slight electoral success).

  5. Sacha Blumen says:

    Ah! I had heard of a split within the ISO a few years ago – perhaps SA is the resultant. I just looked at the socialist alternative website and noticed at least one old ISO name.

    The question in that situation surely must have been, “Who were the splittists?!”

    I can’t see the socialist alliance (or any of the socialist groups) gaining any electoral success in Australia except as a support for left-leaning candidates, and perhaps in inner Melbourne (don’t see it happening in Sydney!).

  6. Steve Edney says:

    Even at my left inner-west sydney polling station, where the Greens outpolled the Liberals by a good margin, the Socialist Alliance failed to get even 2% of the vote.

    I can’t see any of the local latte left voting for them, I would have thought that almost all of their vote was from uni students.

  7. Geoff R says:

    Socialist Alliance disapproves of the ISO’s electoral turn via Socialist Alliance. They out recruit the ISO on campus thanks to their hyper non-brainer activism. Their star intellectual is Tom Bramble of UQ who Andrew L will be pleased to observe is a staunch free-trader: http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/marx/interventions/fairtrade.htm. The ISO have Rick Kuhn, ex BIE policy officer, whose scholarly output is quite impressive: http://www.anu.edu.au/polsci/rick/pub.html. How can organisations with such bright individuals produce such bad papers? But consider Maurice Dobb in the CPGB.

  8. Sacha Blumen says:

    From memory, the socialist alliance (and DSP in years gone past) received about 2.5% in inner-city electorates (in federal elections?) and about 1.5% in other urban electorates. I seem to recall that this didn’t change over time.

  9. Robert says:

    The Socialist Alliance would be more successful here if it wasn’t for the Greens.

  10. Yobbo says:

    The DSP also publish Green Left Weekly.

  11. dibo says:

    at my booth in grayndler in the last federal election, the democrats outpolled the socialist alliance (45 votes to 43) when they had two card tables and at least one person at the (very crowded) front of the hall at all times and the democrats had a pile of leaflets under a half-brick.

  12. Sacha Blumen says:

    Robert’s comment: I wouldn’t be surprised that the socialist vote would increase if the Greens didn’t exist, but I bet it wouldn’t increase by much. The Greens aren’t anti-capitalist economically, they moreso want to transcend capitalism by not allowing costs to be dumped into the environment. (this isn’t precise but that’s the idea). I suspect that many green supporters would be interested in form of capitalism where all the costs are properly considered and not ignored.

  13. Durty Mollie says:

    “Even at my left inner-west sydney polling station, where the Greens outpolled the Liberals by a good margin, the Socialist Alliance failed to get even 2% of the vote.”

    In the good old days of the Wranslides, there were booths around Glebe where the CPA outpolled the Liberals.

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