While Martin Thomas (Solidarity 259) spells out the benefits of the “propaganda routine” doggedly pursued by the Australian group Socialist Alternative (SAlt), I think he is too soft on its downside in SAlt’s case, e.g. their overall neglect until recently of working-class struggle in the unions etc.
This tendency to cut themselves off as a self-sustaining sect (or cult at times), has always been my central critique of their activity (not just their political problems in terms of communal and democratic struggles, anti-imperialism, etc).
Until recently, they have not been able to maintain their members when they stop being students and become workers. For some reason they have managed that with the most recent cohort of students. Why?
I don’t know, but it may be influenced by the the changing nature of university education. Perhaps they have changed their approach to that transition period. I know that in the past they gave very little support or recognition to their members who did organise in unions. This seems to have changed, and they are now organising fractions in a number of unions.
It would be useful perhaps to restate our overall approach to revolutionary regroupment of being for building multi-tendency parties, open debate, etc.
Also, to argue more strongly that recent developments show how SAlt have shifted towards an implicitly “soft-stalinist” anti-imperialism — they can forget their old programmatic differences on the basis of a shared approach to opposing the US, etc.