Adelaide: 'Left unity' meeting - past experiences?

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Rats
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Jul 4 2010 08:38
Adelaide: 'Left unity' meeting - past experiences?

Adelaide has a peculiar left - everyone seems to get along. So the meeting was called to see where all the different socialists could get cooperate. At our meeting we discussed this, and our position is that we're in favour of a network and common media - but aren't in favour of a front group.

I've read about this kind of thing happening in other places, and that this kind of thing generally happens during a lul in class conflict and leftists get bored and aren't sure what to do. If people who've been involved in things like this in the past would discuss it that'd be great. Cheers.

The proposal:

Quote:
Our next ecosocialist meeting will host a number of groups from the Adelaide Left, with a view to starting a discussion as to how we might work together more closely - on a possible joint project/s - possibly even within some formal/semiformal structure that may emerge over time.

The groups who have been invited are:

The Communist Party
The Socialist Alliance
The Anti-Capitalist Forum
The Anarcho-Communist group Organize
Left members of the Greens
The Ecosocialist Convergence

Given the deepening ecological and economic crises, and the increasingly manifest inadequacy of leadership elements within the Greens - here in SA at least - to provide solutions , it's clear that a broad, primarily extra-parliamentary, grassroots, anticapitalist-oriented formation of some kind is increasingly required. Existing parties/tendencies on the left such as those listed above have probably the majority of their policies in common with each other, their differences remaining significant, but hopefully and ultimately not obstacles to joint work and networked activity.

Adelaide possesses a positive milieu for the activist left in which the above groups get on well; we should seize this opportunity to take the next necessary steps forwards to a more unified presence. To that end, on the night these groups will:

* present a brief overview of themselves and their broad perspectives (5 min)
* put forward some thoughts on what concrete steps might be taken to begin a closer cooperative process

This can then be taken up and discussed by all those present; hopefully we'll end the night with some tangible and positive next steps forward....!

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Rats
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Jul 5 2010 17:06

Well the meeting went on a little more painfully than we expected.
There was meant to be short introductions from each group followed by putting forward some practical ideas for how this could function or what an informal collaboration of socialists could do. But this dragged on into very very long introductions, and little talk of what a collaborative effort might be or do.

When the ball was eventually passed on to the two present from our group to introduce ourselves, we skipped the two paragraphs of basic politics of our group and just said:
We talked about this at our meeting, we concluded.
If it's a choice between some informal network and another front group - we will participate in the former.
It should be non-aligned but with a couple aims/principles.
It could mimic the various solidarity networks that exist.
It could just be a central medium where we all communicate.

Some of the banter ended up talking about maybe the movement could have political representatives controlled by the community in parliament. I think they missed the point at the beginning about a necessary move away from parliamentarism. Basically i think some people thought that a new party was a great idea - probably much to the disdain to the people from the existing parties; and to us who couldn't care less about another party - cos we're just chillin.

We came up with this though, and got it done after the meeting too:
http://leftadelaide.wordpress.com/

Work in progress

pak
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Jul 7 2010 11:42

The irony is the single largest demographic of people viewing the site is people who clicked on that link.

Also, it kind of hits home what the left is when, even after inflating what could be considered a left event or activity, and even though the Ecosocialists, left-Greens and the Anti-Capitalist Forum still haven't given me any contact details I can post up, there are still more left groups and parties listed, than events or activities.

Still, I wouldn't want to be too negative about it. The Left Adelaide site would be a good way to get around that frustrating point in a conversation when you've convinced somebody of anti-capitalism and have interested them in taking action, but then can't tell them what to do without hitting them with a multi-volume glossary and making them feel like their joining a doomsday cult. And there were a few people at the meeting who seemed like they were there because they wanted to spend more time doing the theory than talking about the theory, so if anything can be organised with them we'll be at least a little closer to turning the left into more than just a collection of quirky social clubs.

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Jul 11 2010 05:59

I think it's good to have cordial relations toward groups where you have some commonality. There are fundamental differences in approach toward organisation between, for example, leninists and anarchists that mean conflict is inevitable. There are also differences between anarchists and some green-type groups, despite there usually being more in common than not, that can result in disagreements. Where there is good structure and a clear basis for discussion, at least, these difference don't mean a lot. In the absence of clear goals and limitations, shit will reign, at least in my experience. For example, who can speak on behalf of the forum, if anyone? How are goals set? Who gets to participate and who does not? How is that decided? When these question come up, that's usually when things start to fall apart.

A simple forum for discussion where groups can give and receive proposals seems realistic. Where possible, motherhood type statements can be distributed and groups are free to sign up to them or not, or act on them or not.

Keep us informed of developments. Given the Greens developments of late, it will at least be very interesting to see how they feel about participating in a forum alongside capital C communists. Is the CPA-ML or the CPA?

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Jul 18 2010 03:52

Sorry i've not replied to this in a while.
Your suggestion for a forum where groups can discuss and give/recieve/reject proposals and still have free association to the forum is one we favour, we talked about this some more at our last meeting.

Some people who attended definitely had some grand illusions about what this network could do - with one suggesting it could run candidates for parliament -even though at the beginning it was stated that it needs to be extra-parliamentary at the least - and several more people suggesting that it could be a way to direct effort into every single issue ever.

The most absurd was suggesting it focuses on a boycott BP campaign.

It's not the greens participating as a party, it's actually just one (marxist? unionist? i dont know) green(maybe ex-green now?). And its the non-maoist CPA, the CPA-ML doesn't exist here(that i know of).
The worst part to me was when someone suggested that we shouldn't interfere with the union campaign against the ABCC.
WHAT THE FUCK!?

N. Rossi
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Jul 30 2010 10:48

Where commonality exists it should definitely be explored and the possiblity for joint action posed. However I think in reality these types of projects usually end up in the swamp of 'lowest common denominator politics'.

In this sense I think my gut feeling is not different to Lumpen's on this one, though maybe I go further:

Regarding the actual proposal for 'left unity', suffice it to say, communists are not leftists.

Nic.

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Aug 12 2010 05:11

Rossi,
As much as I agree with you (and you know I do), I think it suffices to say that this is, at least, a step in the right direction. Granted, the goals of this, even the minuscule ones are lofty (unity between Organise! and the CPA? Come on!), the conclusions that revolutionaries in Adelaide will, at least be, a posteriori.
It's worth making the effort, even if it simply demonstrates that this avenue wasn't worthwhile. It gives communists and anarchists in Adelaide something to work from.

For groups like Organise! though, the most important thing is working toward building links with workers, and developing their political line.

N. Rossi
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Aug 18 2010 11:33

I think you make a legitimate point, B, but that's not to say I think it's right.

You (albeit reluctantly it seems) agree that the project doesn't have much prospect of developing in a positive direction, but justify it on the basis that through a negative experience, lessons can be drawn (which really isn't that different to how the Trotskyists justify their support for Labor at election time). The reality is, history has already confirmed these lessons time and time again. Leftists and revolutionaries have nothing in common (except maybe good intentions, but we all know what road is paved with these).

At best I think this kind of endevour is a waste of time and resources. At worst I think it could build serious illusions with leftism.

That's not to say I reject any and all attempts at finding common ground. I think the attempts by the ICC to re-evaluate how it relates to the internationalist milieu and specifically the joint work it is conducting with internationalist anarchist groups in different parts of the world, are an example that should be taken seriously. What is essential is that common ground is found on a principled basis, not on 'lowest common denominator' opportunism.

Nic.

N. Rossi
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Aug 18 2010 11:34

It's been a month since the original meeting, could any Organise comrades give us any updates (if there are any)?

Nic.

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Sep 7 2010 16:04

I don't think any of us have read this forum in a while, Ha.
Ok so, the following happened:
1. Noone from Organise! attended one of the LU meetings(we were all busy/ill)
2. Participating groups or individuals(not sure who, but we weren't there) finally agreed upon the following:
Rallying for ark tribe in close liason with campaign organisers(we agree with the first part, but the 'organisers' can frankly go fuck themselves, imo)
formation of a new political party(this must've been suggested by ex-greens)
an educational role for Left Unity(we brought this up at meeting number 1, then gave up, possibly an empty suggestion)
electoral reform: optional preferential voting, proportional representation(fuck that)
policy formulation(not sure why, but a waste of time nonetheless)
and rally on Maralinga Day(great idea, don't see it happening, but we do support it fully)

In short: we're not really sure what's going on, but we're going to participate in the next meeting, and be involved in the 'red bloc' at the anti-abcc rallies. Only, we're going to have our own leaflet, and probably won't sign the leaflet to be given out as a 'left unity' leaflet, because it's going to be full of shit, and there's no point wasting our time debating the content of leaflets.

Thats it so far.

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Sep 8 2010 07:51

lol another political party to fail abysmally at the polls.

whats maralinga day?

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Sep 8 2010 09:52
Gabs wrote:
formation of a new political party(this must've been suggested by ex-greens)

How depressing. Run, Gabs. Run!

riot_dude
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Sep 8 2010 11:53

maybe if the party looked something like this it could work?

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Sep 9 2010 01:47

If the party was to look like the Anarchist pogo party, Organise! would back it wholly. But we all know deep down it isnt.

Maralinga day is the commemoration of either when they tested the first atomic bombs at Maralinga in the 50's(see my post on military industry), or the last detonation, not sure, don't really know the history of it.
But still, nuclear bombs are punk rock so we support it.

I don't remember the name of the book about the whole thing, but i went halves in a copy of it with a friend, i'll find out the name and post it here, its written by a guy who lives in a town north of adelaide who was one of those soldiers who had to stand around in the desert when the bombs went off.

"Ok boys, turn around so your eyes don't get hurt."
"What about gamma rays? And cancer?"
"That's just a communist lie!"

Garco
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Sep 11 2010 11:34

LOL, as the young people say.

The important thing to remember is that if your aim is to recruit people to your way of thinking then you should have in mind some sort of trajectory of numbers. What I mean is: you should decide how many people you should be recruiting in a week, or in a month, or maybe in a quarter of a year. Maybe one person per quarter year is enough for you?

If you are not recruiting these numbers then a rethink of your strategy may be required.

P.S. when I use the term 'recruiting' I do not mean only 'joining' an organisation, I mean 'convincing people of the rightness of your views'.

Garco
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Sep 11 2010 16:23

The other thing is: what are you actually doing? What jobs do you have? What 'struggles' are you personally involved in?. If these things are up front then there may be strategies that can be disseminated. If it is just a question of the unification of left-wing discussionj groups then there is nothing, in my opinion, worth discussing. I will keep looking at this thread to see if there is anything you contribute to it to which I can reply. Good luck. However, I do expect a reply to the post I posted above.
Cheers'
Garco

Garco
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Sep 11 2010 16:34

Another thing. Maralinga is not punk rock. It was bloody awful for everyone subjected to it. Especially those people who saw their ancestral land poisoned. It only takes a quick look on Google to understand the importance of Maralinga.

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Sep 14 2010 16:10

I'm not sure what kind of response you need to the first post, we're focused on providing a revolutionary political analysis and following that up with whatever action we can, and if that draws people towards the group, hey, more hands to make light work.

We're also starting to publish works that we like (E.g. Einsteins 'why socialism?') and put on film screenings. We've had discussion about setting up an infoshop, and on doing regular presentations, but that hasn't happened yet.

I forgot whether i had a point or not, so i'll stop typing now.

Cheers.

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Sep 15 2010 02:18

Garco, Gabs was being facetious.

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Sep 15 2010 02:23

Also, Gabs, it sounds like this 'left unity' thing has taken a predictable turn for the worst. Abandon ship!