Bob Gould, 2006

Full-blown Third Period Stalinism in the DSP

Source: Green Left Weekly discussion list, July 13-15, 2006
Proofreading, editing, mark-up: Steve Painter

The way a couple of members of the Boyle leadership of the DSP try to create a bit of psycho-drama on the Green Left list by creating cyber-entities who argue with each other is getting passing weird.

They must be getting pretty bored to put so much energy into creating such entities to argue with. It’s an obvious device to divert discussion from serious issues. I suspect it will get more weird before it improves.

A more important issue is the political content of Duncan Meerding’s recent post. I don’t want to be too tough on Duncan, who is a young bloke obviously just becoming acquainted with Marxism, nevertheless the full-blown wild Third Periodism he expresses is of some importance.

It’s a terrible indictment of the training in Marxism, or rather the lack of it, that the young obviously get in the Boyleite DSP. Anything goes, as long as it’s left-sounding about Labor. I’d recommend to Duncan that he make himself familiar Trotsky’s writings on Germany in 1932 to get an understanding of Social Democratic bureaucracies and the Third Period, and that he consult Trotsky’s and Lenin’s speeches at the first four congresses of the Comintern, and Left Wing Communism an Infantile Disorder.

Duncan blurts out the fully fledged social-fascist theory of the Third Period. He says Labor is a fascist party. All Trotsky’s writings on Germany cogently argue against this conception of Social Democracy.

It’s worth asking, if the Labor Party is indeed fascist, how can it be that when they are pushed and pushed the Boyleites grudgingly concede that they advocate a preferred vote for Labor against the Liberals. Is that policy, too, about to change?

On the question of fascist labour parties, Duncan might remember that a while back one of his Tasmanian associates published a moving obituary of a socialist emigre from Nazi Germany who lived in Tasmania, who was a member of the Labor Party when he died. Is it a fact that this obituary in Green Left Weekly was to a man who was a member of a fascist labour party?

Last year there was a fair amount of media comment on the fact that in Britain an 82 year-old German-Jewish refugee from Nazism, Walter Wolfgang, a 50-year member of the British Labour Party, once the secretary of the Victory for Socialism current in the British Labour Party, was flung out of the gallery at the Labour Party conference for heckling Tony Blair.

As he was frogmarched out, Wolfgang asserted that the Labour Party belonged to him and the rank and file, not Blair. Is Walter Wolfgang also a member of a fascist labour party?

Duncan Meerding should continue his education in Marxism rapidly and try to get some answers from his reckless leaders, who have obviously encouraged this dangerous, Stalinist Third Period nonsense.

Asserting that the Labor Party is fascist is particularly dangerous in current conditions, as the left side of side of society mobilises around the Labor Party, the unions and the Greens to defeat Howard’s anti-worker laws.

Bob Gould the Pabolite

July 14, 2006

Having read a genuinely offensive piece of condescension towards younger people in one of cyber-entity Roger Raven’s raves, I was consciously trying to avoid a condescending tone towards Duncan Meerding, but if he thinks I was condescending towards him, I unreservedly apologise.

There is, however, a bit of a difference between the excitement and illumination when one is first soaking oneself in Marxism and the viewpoint that you have after you’ve been around for 40 or 50 years.

One thing I find a bit interesting in Duncan’s post is his reference to me as a Pabloite, which suggests he has been digging around in some of the old literature. If he keeps doing that, and I hope he does, he’ll end up knowing more than his prayers, so to speak. I hope that doesn’t sound condescending. Enthusiasm about the Marxist movement is an entirely good thing.

When Duncan asserts that he’ll never change his tactical approach, he should be a bit careful, because in my experience tactical orientations often change. In my long experience I’ve rubbed shoulders with quite a few who’ve moved from an initial noisy ultraleftism to the extreme right. It’s impossible to foretell what one may do in later life, and it’s unwise to make noisy assertions about the future.

Duncan says I misunderstood his post and he didn’t say Labor was a fascist party. I take his point. I did consider saying that his Third Period proposition was an implication rather than a bald statement, but I decided against putting it that way because it seemed to me that even suggesting that Marxists working in the Labor Party had some similarity with Marxists working in the Nazi party was a rather dishonest device for introducing the Third Period notion indirectly.

Duncan now repudiates that proposition, and good luck to him for doing so. If he didn’t mean to imply that Labor was a fascist party, why did he make the analogy at all, and why did he compare working in the Labor Party with working in the Nazi party?

Incidentally, I don’t advocate that the DSP join the Labor Party, I simply say there are three categories of socialists: those who engage in independent activity through organisations such as the DSP, those who are members of the Greens, and those who are members of the Labor Party. The critical question is the united front, and the constant bombast from the Boyleite leadership of the DSP implying that it is replacing Laborism and Greenism is an obstacle to the united front.

I’ve now formed a mental image of Duncan ploughing through all the old literature the way I did when Nick Origlass opened the door to his ironing cupboard full of old bulletins and I’m developing a kind of soft spot for him in that respect.

A Canadian Stalinist talks about icepicks

Grok talks baldly about driving icepicks into skulls and all Norm Dixon can do is have a cosy discussion with him about the Canadian labour party

July 15, 2006

The definitive moment in my young life, when I was 19, was Khrushchev’s secret report on the crimes of Stalin, and the Hungarian revolt later in the same year, which shook me free of Stalinism and turned me into anti-Stalinist Marxist. That, in turn, led me to acquire an enormous respect for Trotsky and Lenin. All that was 50 years ago, in 1956.

So far this year, Green Left Weekly hasn’t even seen fit to mention the events of 1956, a decisive year for hundreds of thousands of socialists and communists around the world.

The declining number of Stalinists in the world still celebrate Stalin’s assassination of Trotsky in 1940, which was in fact one of the worst moments in the history of the 20th century.

Pipsqueak alleged young leftists in the British Labour Party in the 1980s, in the course of their shift to the right, used to run around with little medals of icepicks during their battles with various anti-Stalinist socialist groups in the Labour Party.

Brutal chatter about icepicks is one of the hallmarks of latter-day Stalinism and all Norm Dixon can think to do is ask this piece of uncreconstructed psychopathological Stalinism, this enemy of the working class, Mr Grok, polite questions about what he thinks of the labour party in Canada, the NDP.

This cosy chatter with the anti-working-call Grok, who celebrates the Stalinist assassins, and recommends icepicks as a method of political activity, ought to be hunted out of any halfway serious or civilised workers’ movement.

Dixon’s discussion with this Grok marks a new point of degeneration for the Boyleite leadership of the DSP, and it startles me a bit.

It also has an international factional dimension bearing on the conflicts in the DSP. There are quite a few revolutionary socialists in Canada, three of whom have visited Australia to participate in functions of the DSP under its previous leadership. They, and a number of others, are now associated in a socialist publication, and many of them work in the Canadian NDP. Dixon could have asked these people their views, but instead he went to the rather disturbed Stalinst, Grok.

Happily, I and others who have a similar tactical view to myself, live in Australia, a long way from Mr Grok in Canada, so we’re fairly safe from the implied threat in Stalinist chatter about icepicks.

The socialist comrades in Canada who work in the NDP are closer to this creature, Grok, and I wonder what they think about such anti-working-class chatter about icepicks. Norm Dixon, and his boss Boyle, leaders of the DSP majority, don’t say boo.

The way I read it, this signifies a rather dramatic degeneration of the Boyleite leadership and it doesn’t bode well for the minority comrades, who are combatting the Boyleites politically effectively but without a majority in the DSP.