Workers' Liberty has been arguing that the Socialist Alliance needs to become much more than an electoral alliance if it is to succeed at enlarging and mobilising support for working class socialist politics. From its very founding we argued for a platform for the Socialist Alliance that is far more than a set of dot points derived from current political campaigns. We have argued for the Socialist Alliance to commit itself to socialism as nothing like the socialism of the old USSR, but to socialism based on production publicly owned and democratically managed by workers and the community. We have argued for the Socialist Alliance to be a voice for working class struggle, the struggle out of which socialism can be created. During the formation of the Alliance we argued for a democratic Alliance which would encourage open discussion of ideas about socialism, in the pages of its own websites, email discussions, and broadsheet. More recently we have put the case for the Socialist Alliance to work towards deeper left unity, and specifically we have made concrete proposals for mobilising the membership to build rank and file militant caucuses in unions and a serious attitude to union work.
Now the DSP leadership has announced its intention to propose to the DSP conference in December that the DSP should operate as an internal tendency of the Socialist Alliance and negotiate for the SA to take "as much of the political and organisational assets we have built up through the DSP into the Socialist Alliance as is possible". Workers' Liberty welcomes the DSP's new allocation of resources to the Socialist Alliance. This opens up new possibilities which could see the Alliance make great strides forward. Our proposals for the Alliance now gain greater immediate relevance.
We propose that at its May Conference the Alliance should commit itself to:
a more comprehensive class struggle platform,
a publication that can support the Alliance to become a party rather than a federation,
developing joint work at least in unions, campaigns and on campus, and
a new Constitution to support moves from an electoral alliance to a working class socialist party, and to guarantee free and unfettered discussion of political issues.
We take political agreement seriously, and the political basis for left unity very seriously. The DSP argue that more substantial political agreement than currently exists as per the SA platform has been demonstrated in practice. This agreement "in practice" falls a long way short of being a basis for a cohesive and consciously committed SA membership. A clear conscious political agreement MUST be the basis for unity, not an organisational swamping that might force out other left groups without political clarity.
Workers' Liberty will be renewing proposals for a more comprehensive and explicitly working class and socialist platform for the SA, to be debated up to and at the May 2003 SA Conference. We propose that the platform of the SA as a party should include:
A commitment to socialism as the creation of the working class, self-organised in struggle, overthrowing the power of capital, and democratically managing production.
Linking our aim of socialism to the present by basing ourselves on support for working class struggle.
A platform that translates into perspectives for the SA to put forward for how the union movement and campaigns can win reforms and demands, and that moves the SA beyond the rituals of protest politics.
We propose that the Alliance will need a publication that is both agitational and has space to address deeper theoretical issues. It must guarantee space for all points of view within the Alliance and the editorial board composition must reflect the variety of the opinions in the Alliance. We are for the Alliance to commence its own weekly publication from the May Conference onwards, once there has been time to consider and discuss the editorial policy and nature of the weekly publication.
Campaigning and branches
We propose that the SA should proceed to immediately discuss the only concrete proposals for developing a unified approach to trade union work that have been put forward - the trade union work proposal of Workers' Liberty comrades.
We are also concerned that the DSP (and some others in the Alliance) take a sectarian attitude to the labour movement, especially the ALP, seeking unnecessary organisational splits from the ALP rather than organising support for a socialist platform throughout the labour movement.
We also propose that SA branches should be encouraged to shift their emphasis from organisational details to political discussion and education.
We propose that the Constitution of the SA should provide for increased accountability of elected bodies, rights of recall, guaranteed representation on elected bodies for minority viewpoints and methods for making constitutional changes. All tendencies within the Alliance are currently guaranteed the right to organise as caucuses. Additional provision should be made for guaranteeing caucuses or tendencies within the Alliance, the right to publish and distribute their own material.
The DSP's motives
Whatever the DSP's motives, the Alliance has to date operated on a comradely and democratic basis, and DSP comrades have carried a significant workload in the Alliance. There are hundreds of non-aligned members, many of whom are relatively inactive, but many of whom could be mobilised and enthused at the prospect of the Alliance becoming a more effective political force. We look forward to the immediate opening of a vigourous discussion on the way forward for left unity and the development of working class socialist politics, and to the May 2003 Socialist Alliance Conference taking some bold steps towards these goals.