Perspectives resolution of 23rd Congress of DSP

The following resolution was adopted with the support of 80% of delegates at the 23rd Congress on the Democratic Socialist Perspective on January 4, 2008. Regular delegates: 46 for; 12 against; no abstentions. Consultative delegates: 34 for; 8 against; no abstentions.

1. As the reputation of the Venezuelan Revolution, the first socialist revolution of the 21st century, has spread around the world, socialist ideas are once again commanding the attention of millions. Challenging retreatism, sectarianism and dogmatism in the left, this new advance will create new openings for international socialist renewal and regroupment.

2. This new revolutionary advance takes place while the imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned into hopeless quagmires, there is rising instability in the world capitalist economy (even though it is in an expansionary phase) and capitalism proves unable to deal with multiple environmental crises, most of all the global warming crisis. The leadership demonstrated by the revolutionary governments of Venezuela and Cuba on all these critical issues has made deep impressions on millions, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean, but increasingly across the Third World and now within the imperialist heartlands. Working closely with revolutionary Cuba, the Venezuelan revolutionary government has begun to develop concrete challenges to the neo-liberal agenda on a regional scale, giving a boost to all anti-imperialist struggles and helping reverse the decline of socialist influence in these movements.

3. As a result of the impact of the Venezuelan revolution, even though the class struggle has only begun to shift in favour of the working class in a few countries in Latin America, there is now a greater opportunity to advance the socialist cause even in a wealthy imperialist country like Australia. Taken in conjunction with its three and a half decades of promoting socialist ideas, left regroupment and independent mass action in the social movements, the DSP’s initiatives and leadership in building awareness of, and solidarity with, the Venezuelan Revolution place us in a good position to advance socialist consciousness among broader layers of people (including Greens and ALP members). This dynamic should be consciously promoted by involving these layers in concrete Venezuela solidarity work (building the Australian Venezuela Solidarity Network, Venezuela brigades, speaking tours and other educational campaigns).

4. Green Left Weekly should continue to report on and champion the new revolutionary processes in Venezuela and elsewhere and reflect the debates they are generating, building upon the strong reputation this publication has won in Australia and around the world. Green Left Weekly is also well placed to play a major leadership role promoting debate about answers to the urgent challenge of global warming. Green Left Weekly remains our greatest political weapon and so the writing for, production and distribution of Green Left Weekly is a top priority for the DSP. Green Left Weekly’s formation and continued success depends on the existence of a strong and united DSP.

5. In anticipation of a new wave of youth radicalization being spurred the Venezuelan revolution and broader anti-imperialist struggles and the rising environmental struggle, the DSP prioritises its work among radicalizing youth through the independent socialist youth organization, Resistance. The DSP will help Resistance build upon its successful initiatives in the youth and student movements through consistent and close political collaboration and practical assistance. The DSP needs to be united in its solidarity with and support for Resistance, and its activities, and it is a duty of all DSP members to assist, encourage and promote Resistance.

6. The DSP will work to expose militant workers in Australia to the advancing Venezuelan Revolution and the experiences of workers’ control and popular power that are part of that revolution. However, socialist consciousness will not be spread in the Australian working class only through propagating socialist theory and by building solidarity with revolutionary advances overseas. Socialists also need to have the maximum possible engagement in the class struggles in Australia and demonstrate leadership in those struggles.

7. The Australian ruling class is attempting to reverse rights to organize that working class has won through a century of struggle and the ALP continues to move to the right, leaving it increasingly exposed before all who want to resist the capitalist attacks. The sweeping defeat of the Howard government and the election of Rudd Labor in November 2007 brought in another government that is anti-union and conservative. After promises made by Labor after mass mobilisations against the attacks by the Howard Coalition government, in particular Work Choices, most workers expect the new Labor government to reverse the Howard government’s policies. However, Rudd’s announcement that a Labor government would keep the sections of Work Choices which severely limit industrial action and the right of unions to enter worksites, means that there needs to be a new stage in the fight for these fundamental rights. The challenge will be for socialists to engage with other militants in the trade union movement and activists in other movements to build an extra-parliamentary struggle fight for workers’ rights, and against attacks on welfare recipients and indigenous communities, for serious action to stop global warming and to withdraw all Australian troops from the wars that they are engaged in under the imperialist alliance with the US plus a refusal to support future US military plans.

8. While the Greens still occupy most of the opening electoral space to the left of the ALP, the Greens have not filled the political space opened up by the crisis of leadership in the trade unions and the broader labour movement. The Greens also remain torn between the anti-capitalist direction of their stated aims of “ecological sustainability, social and economic justice, peace and non-violence and grassroots democracy” and strong tendencies to opportunism and parliamentarism.

9. Since the dissolution of the old Communist Party of Australia in 1991, and the retreat of much of the old social movement leaderships associated with and influenced by that party, the DSP has become the biggest socialist organization in Australia. While the DSP was then and remains today far too small to fill the political vacuum left by that retreat, it has consistently offered leadership and initiative in the movements. While this places a strain on the small revolutionary cadre core accumulated in our tendency, we can not escape this responsibility. The DSP needs to grow significantly to reduce this strain.

10. The DSP recognizes that it is not enough for the DSP to hold up its revolutionary political program and call for the support for this program. Rather, our challenge is to unite with the actual leaders of the working-class resistance and win them to our revolutionary politics while fighting alongside them in a common struggle against the capitalist ruling class and its allies in government, the ALP and the trade union bureaucracy. This has been a longstanding party-building approach of our tendency to the challenge which this 23rd Congress of the DSP reaffirms.

11. In the late 1990s, a new militant current emerged in the trade union movement in Victoria. Its influence has begun to spread to other states. This current has supported several important political struggles, including the 1998 maritime struggle and the anti-corporate globalization campaigns. It has persistently sought collaboration with the DSP and other socialist groups.

12. The DSP has responded to this opening, recognizing our major challenge to root our party in the working class. In this context, the DSP will place particular emphasis on further developing the implantation and organisation of its working members in politically useful work, particularly work that makes it possible to advance an all-round socialist intervention in the workplace and the trade union movement. It will encourage Resistance to pursue a similar goal.

13. After seven years of life the Socialist Alliance represents a modest but definite step towards the emergence of a broadly based anti-capitalist party in Australia. It is identified by advanced elements of the working class as the political pole of militant initiatives on the trade union movement (particularly in initiating a mass campaign against the anti-worker “Work Choices” laws) and for more general leadership in other progressive social movements, including the anti-war, anti-racist, environment and democratic rights movements. The continued membership in the Socialist Alliance of significant mass leaders and hundreds of other individuals not belonging to the DSP or any other left group is evidence of this. By championing the need for a broadly based anti-capitalist party and by organizing the most united left intervention possible in the social movements, the Socialist Alliance can continue to win the respect of and recruit broader layers of militant workers to its ranks and in this way take practical steps along the road to such a party. This is a specific opening that needs to be further tested out and developed with strong and united leadership from the DSP.

14. Therefore, the DSP should continue to (a) project and build the Socialist Alliance as a step along the road to a new party, (b) make available resources to the Socialist Alliance and (c) promote the Socialist Alliance through Green Left Weekly. DSP members will also continue to politically organise together with other Socialist Alliance members through branches, caucuses, committees and working groups, wherever effective, in order to build the most united left political intervention possible and to build the Socialist Alliance.

15. The DSP sees the struggle to build a broadly based anti-capitalist party as an important tactic in the struggle for a mass revolutionary party in this country. The creation of a serious anti-capitalist alternative, whatever its particular form of presentation (“red-green”, “real people’s party” etc) but founded on a complete break with class-collaborationism, can open the way to working class and broader social movement victories in the struggle against the capitalist imperative to make working people bear the costs of the system’s survival. The tactic is necessary in order to develop the forces needed to challenge the domination of the Australian labour movement by the ALP and the trade union bureaucracy as well as other bureaucracies within the social and environmental movements. While such a party begins with a class struggle platform of social, economic and environmental reforms and a broad socialist objective (i.e. does not have an explicitly revolutionary program), our goal is that in the course of united engagement in mass struggles, it will steadily and democratically develop its program in a more explicitly revolutionary direction as struggles develop and if revolutionaries provide it with serious and patient leadership.

16. If there is a new rise in the class struggle, new partners will be drawn into the project for a new party and the Socialist Alliance may have to become part of or be transformed into or be supplanted by new structures for organising the strongest and most effective political voice for anti-neo-liberal struggle.

<17. While it builds the Socialist Alliance as a broad, class struggle socialist party project, the DSP should continue to maintain its own structures and to build a highly united and disciplined revolutionary cadre core. Revolutionary cadre, systematically educated in Marxism and experienced in struggle, are indispensable in this and any other tactical stage we go through to build a mass revolutionary party. We need to continue to recruit strongly to the DSP from within and outside the Socialist Alliance and, primarily through Resistance, win, educate and develop a new generation of revolutionary youth cadre. The DSP will openly seek to win others in the Socialist Alliance and the general public to its revolutionary politics.

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