Bob Gould, 2005

Laurie Ferguson and Labor for Refugees
Leftists in the Labor Party

Source: Ozleft, April 21-26, 2005
Proofreading, editing, mark-up: Steve Painter

Green Left Weekly discussion list

Norm Dixon is being a bit cute. He well knows, or should well know, that I and a number of associates have been vigorously engaged in campaigning in the Labor Party against Laurie Ferguson’s views on asylum seekers, and for the program of Labor for Refugees.

One close associate of mine has been conducting a veritable war in cyberspace with Ferguson on these matters, and Labor for Refugees supporters all over the country have been joining in this political argument, which is ongoing.

At a recent meeting addressed by Ferguson, John Robertson (NSW Labour Council) and a woman from the Refugee Council, Ferguson was bombarded from the floor by the 50 or so Labor Party members present, and by the other two platform speakers, for his views.

In the course of this discussion I described Ferguson, who I’ve known personally for a very long time, as a grumpy curmudgeon and I made the point that his views were inappropriate for the postion in shadow cabinet that he holds. There was quite a bit of laughter at my description of him as a grumpy curmudgeon.

I don’t intend to ask Ferguson to airbrush me out of his campaign newsletter. Given the Stalinist experience, I’m strongly opposed to airbrushing anyone out of anything. History is whole cloth, as Marx used to say.

It’s a two-edged sword anyway, for Ferguson to use a picture in which I’m present. I’m very well known in the labour movement for sharp opposition to many of Ferguson’s views, particularly his views on asylum seekers.

Secondly, on the curious, chronic exchange between Sam Minh and Louis R. Godena, I believe that Margaret A, the moderator, has adopted the correct approach in the difficult circumstances of the list being bombarded by a couple of cyber-entity trolls, ostensibly in conflict with each other.

Sam Minh is quite clearly a constructed cyber-entity, a fluent right-winger who chooses to adopt a Vietnamese persona. It’s also becoming pretty clear that Louis R. Godena is also a fluid cyber-entity, who chooses to adopt a brutal caricature “Marxist” Sendero Luminoso persona.

The real clue here that Godena is a carefully crafted cyber-construct is the vicious way he caricatures Marxist ideas, those of Lenin in particular, and the way he picks up on the conflicts on political questions between myself and the DSP leadership, and kicks my head whenever he can.

Who knows? The cyber-entities Sam Minh and Louis Godena may even be the same person having a bit of a lend of us all.

There’s not much anyone can do about that, let’s see how this little cyberspace funkenspeil plays out.

Norm Dixon’s demagogic demands for a detailed description of Labor left-wingers’ activity

April 26, 2005

On the Green Left Weekly discussion list Norm Dixon accuses me of advocating that all socialist activists should enter the Labor Party, “counterposing that activity to that of building the Socialist Alliance and a genuine left alternative”.

First of all my argument with the DSP is not directed at suggesting that the DSP should enter the Labor Party wholesale, or the Greens for that matter. The DSP has obviously chosen for the moment to engage in independent activity.

My argument is directed at trying to persuade the members of the DSP to adopt a more realistic united front attitude towards members of the Labor Party and the Greens, rather than bombarding them with offensive ultimatums about what they should do, particularly when these ultimatums are linked to an exposition by the DSP of the unscientific and inaccurate two-equal-parties-of-capitalism theory on which they base their approach, both to the Labor Party and to individual Labor Party members.

Much the same principle ought to apply to the DSP’s approach to socialist activists in the Greens.

In my experience, socialist activity in the Labor Party, or in the Greens, isn’t something that can be turned on and off like a tap, on the basis of some insulting, slightly demagogic, ultimatum from the DSP leadership.

We are just coming out of a period of quiescence for socialist activity in the Labor Party, and in society at large.

If past upsurges of socialist militancy in the Labor Party are any guide, and they are, initiatives for renewed socialist activity in the Labor Party must be based on something real.

As it happens, I have a few bright ideas for renewed socialist and leftist activity in the Labor Party that may have some reality in the current conditions, but it’s not use for Bob Gould to belt out a few bright ideas, no matter how smart they may be, as an isolated initiative.

All around the country there are socialists and militants who hold Labor Party tickets, including most of the militant trade union current to which the DSP orients.

I put to you very seriously, Norm, that perhaps Green Left Weekly could open up a serious discussion on what socialists who are in the Labor Party, or in the Greens for that matter, might do in the immediate future.

You might interview, in this context, people such as Hughie Williams of the Transport Workers Union, the young leaders of Labor for Refugees in Queensland, the assistant secretary of the Maritime Union in WA, and perhaps even Kevin Reynolds in WA, maybe the young leaders of the Labor left and Labor for Refugees in the ACT, maybe a representative group of Labor for Refugees activists in NSW, and maybe people like Michele O’Neil, Martin Kingham, Kevin Bracken (MUA Vic) and Robyn Rothfield and Lev Lafayette from Labor for Refugees in Victoria.

In the context of a serious discussion like that about immediate perspectives for the Labor left, I’d be more than willing to toss in my views. In the absence of a serious initiative like that, I’ll continue to ignore the slightly self-interested sniping from the DSP leadership. I generally make it a practice not to respond in politics to the “when did you stop beating your wife” kind of question.


See also The DSP and the united front