Honestly, when I saw this on Slackbastard back in September, I thought it was a joke. A merger between Socialist Alternative and Revolutionary Socialist Party… What the f-ck?!
In the past I’d argued that :
The society that existed in Russia after Stalin’s rise to power was not socialist. Nor are those in China, Cuba or Vietnam. Such regimes, which are merely a statised version of capitalism, are essentially no different from the West. Just as here, a small minority benefits from the labour of the majority. Whether that minority control is exercised through the state, private corporations, or a combination of the two, makes no difference to the fundamental dynamic of the system. – Socialist Alternative, General Principles
The contrast with Revolutionary Socialist Party seems clear:
According to the Victorian leaflet, the SA [Socialist Alliance – kb] believes that “the differences which do exist [among socialist groups] can be contained within a single organisation”. This ignores reality. For example, the Socialist Alternative (SAlt) group while formally opposed to US threats against Cuba, considers Cuba to be a capitalist state and advocates a mass armed uprising to overthrow the Cuban government. The SA has policy of solidarity with Cuba against US threats, but it hasn’t adopted a position on supporting Cuba’s socialist revolution. Perhaps, therefore, the SA could co-exist with SAlt in a united organisation in regard to its policy toward Cuba. But how could the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), which regards the Cuban Revolution as an inspiring example to the working people of the world of socialist politics in action, get along in the same party with socialists who advocate the overthrow of the Cuban government? –
Allen Myers in Direct Action, May 2010, ‘‘
It’s two and half years later and they’re a merging. Socialist Alternative is stepping back from ‘state capitalism’. RSP members are selling Socialist Alternative magazine alongside their Direct Action. There’s a joint Christmas party.
And no one mention the war?
Members of both organisations have told me that in the present situation, the political differences don’t matter, it’s a shared tactical position that brings the two groups together. They both want to build cadre style Lenninist parties with disciplined Marxist politics, rather than broad electoral alliances.
Anarchists always love a bit of Trot-spotting, but the merger of RSP and SAlt is worth considering for other reasons.
We continue to exist on the far left. The challenge for anarchists in Australia today is to begin the task of advancing anarchist ideas to people looking for an anti-capitalist alternative. As we do this we have to contend with the ideas being put forward by other groups. At the moment, Socialist Alternative remains the dominant grouping in our small pond.
And history matters.
Vietnam and Cuba matter for precisely the reason RSP said they matter in 2010. If you think Cuba is an inspiring example to follow, then what the hell is socialism? Socialist Alternative state their goal is “socialism from below”, yet they are making ready to accommodate apologists for dictatorship.
Any growth in far left politics has to be welcome news to an anti-capitalist. But the merger of SAlt and RSP poses a challenge for anarchists. When the pace of class struggle heightens in Australia, and more people look for an anti-capitalist alternative, we must make sure that authoritarian ideas are not the only ideas on offer.