A note of caution on name changes

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Dave Kerin, in his article Change of organisation and newspaper names, style, look and feel suggests changing the names of Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly.

He says: “I like the names Green Left and Socialist Alliance. However my experience indicates that these names are still associated with the old Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), and that the general radical public, the broad historic left who may be looking for a home, still do not know that a change has occurred ...“Most still do not know about the dramatic shift away from a specifically Trotskyist style of party-building model, and the change in names, style and look will do much to finally get that fact out there.”

I don't find Dave's argument convincing. Changing the names of the paper and the party would have some significant disadvantages. We would lose the name recognition built up over more than 20 years of Green Left and more than ten years of SA. We should only do this if the gains would outweigh the losses. I don't think this would be the case at present.

If we want to tell people about SA's approach to party-building, we can write articles on the topic for Green Left and other publications, websites etc. We don't need to change the name of the party to do that, and still less the name of the newspaper.

Dave seems worried about any association of SA and Green Left with the former DSP. But such associations are a product of history. They can not be abolished by a change of name.

We should not generalise about the attitude of the “general radical public” or the “broad historic left” towards the former DSP. Many respected the DSP for a range of reasons, including its role in creating Green Left and its participation in building SA.

It is true that many people had political or organisational disagreements with the DSP at various times in the past, and some of them are suspicious of SA today because of the significant role that former DSP members play in it. But these people would not be impressed by a change of name.

Hopefully over time some of them will, if they agree with what we are doing today, put aside their suspicions and join SA. But there is no quick fix to make this happen.

The adoption of new names for the paper and/or the party may occur in the context of a future left unity process. I don't see any indication of this happening in the near future. But who knows? Things can change rapidly.