Proposed amendments to the Socialist Alliance Perspectives Resolution

Proposed amendments to the Socialist Alliance Perspectives Resolution

State of the Alliance

5. Conference reaffirms the importance of working towards building greater political cohesion and membership activism in the Alliance.

Change to:

5. Conference reaffirms the importance of working towards building greater political cohesion and membership activism in the Alliance. While we have made some progress in identifying and strengthening some key areas of importance for building the party, there is a still a way to go. Conference acknowledges the need for thorough, democratic debate at all levels of the party with a united aim of building the strongest possible force for socialism in Australia, and encourages all members to be a part of such discussions through leadership bodies and our discussion bulletin Alliance Voices.

Public conference

Current:

7. The Alliance will begin organising a large, public socialist ideas conference for April 2016. The purpose of the conference is to promote the Socialist Alliance, to amplify the case for socialist change in Australia and to create a forum for political education of our membership and the broader radical public.

Change to:

Our conferences
7. The Alliance will begin organising a large, public socialist ideas conference for April 2016. The Alliance will provide major support to RYSA’s Radical Ideas conferences, which are to be held in December 2015 and 2016, with the possibility of a members-only educational camp before or after and full details of the 2016 event to be worked out by the incoming RYSA leadership body. The details around the camp are outlined in the youth and campus report. The purpose of the conference is to promote the Socialist Alliance, recruitment, to amplify the case for socialist change in Australia and to create a forum for political education of our membership and the broader radical public. Radical Ideas conference should be a conference organised by youth, but participated in, and treated as a serious exercise, by all party members.

Current:

8. This conference delegates to the incoming National Executive the decision about when to hold the next decision-making conference of the Alliance.

Change to:

8. This conference delegates to the incoming National Executive the decision about the exact dates of when to hold the next decision-making conference of the Alliance, which is to be in mid-2016, with university exams, assessment times and holidays taken into consideration.

Rationale for change:

We are in a period of rebuilding Socialist Alliance. The party is experiencing growing discussion and debate over how best to build ourselves in order to meet the challenges of politics today. Following this conference a key focus should be on encouraging greater sharing of experiences from branches, via such mechanisms as our National Newsletter, the National Council email list, and for more substantive discussions, Alliance Voices.

Over the coming year, we need to focus on developing and improving the areas of our work that aid in growing and strengthening the party and improving its public profile, such as developing and building RYSA, party education, our interventions in social movements, the operation of our leadership bodies, our online presence, how we produce and distribute our media and propaganda, and more.

As we grow and improve in these areas, new ideas will arise, new ways of building Socialist Alliance will be experimented with, and new leaders will emerge. For these reasons, and given the period of development and change the party finds itself in, a vibrant decision-making conference in 2016 will be both absolutely necessary and incredibly valuable for Socialist Alliance.

RYSA’s Radical Ideas conference in December should be a conference organised by youth, but participated in by all party members. It has the clear and explicit purpose of consolidating our growing youth layer, but will be of similar benefit to non-RYSA members. Prioritising this conference as the only other national conference apart from our national decision-making conference that we put resources into in the coming 12 months is consistent with our recognition that building and supporting RYSA is our number one priority.

An additional public conference is unnecessary, has no clear organisational or political basis, would be an extraordinary drain on resources for no clear gain, and would be in competition with Radical Ideas.

Radical Ideas needs the full and focused support of Socialist Alliance, not just to be considered something inconsequential for the youth leadership to practice on, with another conference being the “proper” one. Also concerning is the question of what amount of resources are required to pull off for this conference; if Sydney needs two comrades to assist with organising and building Radical Ideas two months ahead of time, that does not bode well for being able to effectively pull of a big public conference five months later.

Green Left Weekly

Add new point:

16. This conference places a high priority on promoting GLW's online presence in order for it to remain relevant in today’s current media landscape. While an online paper cannot replace the hard copy for now, our online presence is important. This conference tasks the incoming NE to provide assistance to GLW in upgrading the GLW website and improving its capabilities in line with other online publications.

Rationale for addition:

Currently the GLW website is outdated, unprofessional looking and difficult to navigate, lacking even the mobile responsiveness available on almost every other site on the internet. There have been some improvements over the last year, but more remains to be done. This would involve things such as fixing the design/look/layout, changing article tags to a “you may also like” bar, removing obsolete links like the discussion page or latest comments from the sidebar and replacing with social media and top stories links, changing article layout to be more modern i.e. more prominent pictures and videos, and so on.

Examples of good achievable left wing news websites can be found at Jacobin or Red Flag. Obviously we can’t pull off a full mainstream news website with a scrolling weather bar and what not but we can definitely improve a lot of things easily with additional resources devoted to assisting GLW with this task.

This improvement will result in a wider reach for GLW online, and more people will see it as a legitimate news and analysis source than is currently the case. Furthermore, improvements to our online presence are in no way counterposed to the hard copy and it is ignorant at best and dishonest at worst to present it that way. This is a change that could be implemented by freeing up a comrade to work with the GLW editorial team on this project.   

Education in socialist ideas

Current:

19. The next priority publication for the national education committee is development of a new Feminism and Socialism document and associated class series.

Change to:

19. The next priority publication for the national education committee is development of a new Feminism and Socialism document and associated class series. This document is vitally important to our feminist work and as such the education committee is tasked to have it ready to be printed by September 8. Not only has new socialist feminist theory emerged since the last writing, the feminist movement has changed drastically and as such the document needs to reflect that in order to give our own members a clear perspective and education.

Current:

20. It remains a priority for branches to ensure that all new members have the opportunity and are encouraged to complete Introduction to Socialism, Introduction to Marxism and Feminism and Socialism classes.

Change to:

20. It remains a priority for branches to ensure that all new members have the opportunity and are encouraged to complete Introduction to Socialism, Introduction to Marxism and Feminism and Socialism classes. Branches will seek to take new members through the three introductory educational class series as soon as practicable after they join Socialist Alliance. These are: Introduction to Socialism, Feminism and Socialism, and Introduction to Marxism. Branches are encouraged to implement (but not necessarily complete) this within the first three months of membership. Branch leaderships are to explain to new members the importance that Socialist Alliance places on theoretical education as a guide to our practical work.

Current:

21. Further development of our educational materials is an ongoing project.

Change to:

21. Further development of our educational materials is an ongoing project. The education committee is tasked with centralising education in the sense of collating education materials from branches. These range from small lists of discussion points to full speeches and PowerPoints. While preparing educationals is an excellent tool for educating and integrating new members, having a centralised education list would reduce the work double up and give branches a greater idea of what is being taught in other branches.

The National Executive should also be tasked with improving the operation of the national education committee, seeking additional members to work on it, and having discussions over who from our branches and even outside the party can assist with new publications.

As internal education of our members is a central priority for the party, the work of the education committee needs to receive significant backup and direction from the National Executive, with special effort made to seek broader party input. The committee needs to be more than a literature drafting body. It should reach out to branches to investigate their educational needs, to survey what branches can contribute to party-wide education, and more. Draft publications should be circulated to branches for input within given timeframes.

The education committee should initiate a national process of seeking input from branches for a new organisational principles and methods handbook for the Socialist Alliance.

Rationale for change:

On motion 19, it is vitally important we prepare up-to-date education on feminism asap. Our current Feminism and Socialism pamphlet is so out of date it can be barely used for educationals. The rationale behind putting a deadline on this is we simply cannot wait over a year for new material, like we did with the new ITM series.

In regards to the contents of this new pamphlet, I believe material on topics like intersectionality, privilege theory and identity politics are crucial for educating our own members in navigating the current feminist movement.

We have seen in some of the PCD put out by the Witches' tendency that incorrect identity politics have emerged in some younger members and as such we should educate around these topics, not only to give comrades a clear political understanding but to help them when they encounter identity politics in the social movements.

For motion 20, except for “(but not necessarily complete)”, this has been taken entirely from our current Constitution. Alex has proposed we delete this section from it in his  “Constitutional amendments” proposals. Whether or not this is deleted from the Constitution, something more concrete needs to be in the party-building report on education. We resolved last year to take internal education more seriously, and as such the wording around it needs to be stronger than “have the opportunity and are encouraged”. Education is vitally important for integrating new members and should be more than encouraged: it should be nearly mandatory for members who are active.

Motion 21 is simply furthering the aim of making education more centralised/a national priority. It would be a useful tool for branch execs. Members can still be asked to create new educationals in their branches as a way of furthering their own education and integration. This isn’t so much a developing of a curriculum as a sharing of resources, ideas and knowledge. Furthermore, if internal education is a priority in the party our education committee needs to be more dynamic, meet more frequently, and have more support.

New Section:

Communications

This conference also tasks the NE with creating a new, closed, hidden (termed “secret” on FB) national Socialist Alliance Facebook discussion group, similar to the one RYSA has nationally, and the one Brisbane branch has.

Both the Brisbane branch and national RYSA groups have worked very well and have been valuable tools for increasing input and participation. Currently, the only medium for national communication about our day-to-day work is the National Council email list.

Experience shows that social media discussion groups are proving more useful than email lists for day-to-day activist organising. Younger people, especially now, barely use email lists for discussion. This applies in Socialist Alliance and elsewhere.

A new, closed National Facebook group will enhance and democratise the day-to-day sharing of information between branches in order to facilitate: the most rapid sharing of valuable information regarding our collective intervention in the social movements; the sharing of best-practice information on branch building; rapid national responses to current events; enhanced day-to-day communication between branches to encourage the best national coordination of our branch and campaign work. Alliance Voices will still play its role as the party bulletin, home to substantive contributions

This group would only consist of financial SA members. They can be asked upon ratification if they would like to be added to the group, then added if they agree. Branch membership secretaries and the NE (in case of at large comrades) are to maintain the group’s membership, removing people who have left the party or let their membership lapse. The NE is tasked with establishing moderation rules for this members' page including ground rules/code of conduct for the group which is to be in the sidebar/group description and in a pinned post.

Branch membership secretaries and members of the NE are to be the admins of the group, following the example of the RYSA group where the admins are the current executive.

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