Adam Baker

I announce the dissolution of the Red Eureka Tendency (RET), effective immediately. I also tender my resignation from the Socialist Alliance.

What is ideology? Is ideology a good or a bad thing? What attitude should socialists take towards ideology? Should socialists engage with ideology, take part in an ideological struggle, or abstain from it?

The state of the left in Australia in 2012 looks quite different to what it was at the turn of the century. In 2000, the socialist left comprised two large (for the standards of the left in an advanced capitalist country) parties or organisations, and perhaps half a dozen or more other smaller groups. The two largest were the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) and the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) alongside its youth organisation Resistance.

While not ascribing any views to anyone in particular, there may be some Socialist Alliance (SA) members who hold misconceptions about what the professed views, aims and strategies of the Red Eureka Tendency (RET) actually are. We understand why this might be the case, and take on board the fact that perhaps a comprehensive explanation of our positions has yet to be put forward.

There are a number of mantras we live by now as Socialist Alliance (SA) members. One of them is “We are not a Marxist Party”. Another is “practise is everything, theory is nothing”. Another is “We avoid ideology because we are non-dogmatic”. Another is “programs are what sectarians always refer to — they are of no use to us anymore”. All of these have their own intrinsic shortcomings with regard to the building of a socialist party. But perhaps the most prominent is the “We don't have all the answers” mantra.

Incredulous comrades ask, where is the evidence that SA is becoming a liberal organisation? Where are the signs that SA has adopted a social-democratic outlook? To be sure, there are no statements from SA declaring its aim is to win seats in parliament. There are no SA positions which expressly state opposition to the working class taking state power. There are no educational classes taking place on the theory of liberalism.

Enthusiasm for the Greens is reaching fever pitch within the Socialist Alliance (SA). Green Left is now editorialising in favour of still more collaboration with Australia's third largest parliamentary party. SA pronounces with ebullience that SA has confirmed it “seeks the greatest possible political collaboration with the Greens”. (1) Greens MLC David Shoebridge's visit to Socialist Alliance's 8th National Conference is hailed with almost messianic fervour.

In the early days of the Socialist Alliance (SA), the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) was our inspiration. The example it provided was one we sought to emulate. Not only had it achieved a remarkable 6 MSPs (Member of the Scottish Parliament), it had united 95% of the left in Scotland. Its advance at that time seemed to be firmly set — it was going places, and it was providing an example to the left internationally. It was a shining light to the then inchoate Australian Socialist Alliance. But then it collapsed.

Let me state from the outset that Comrade Tony Iltis possesses one of the most brilliant political minds in this country. His accumulated years of socialist activism have combined with recent years of experience as a Green Left Weekly journalist to produce an analysis of politics which is an asset to the entire left. Many a time I have found myself simply listening and learning as he deftly exposes the roots of a current political issue confronting socialists.

Question: What is the RET?

Answer: The RET is a Marxist tendency which operates within the Socialist Alliance (SA). The politics of the RET are briefly summarised in the Platform of the RET.

Most political organisations, especially socialist parties, hold up and look to certain past or present leaders, writers, activists and other builders of the socialist movement. They point to their writings, their work and their activity which they carried out, often in very difficult circumstances, as they put into practice their interpretation of how the struggle for socialism should be fought, or how it was best fought in their particular situation and at a particular point in history.

About 18 months ago, I was talking to a friend who is a member of the Greens. We were talking about the Socialist Alliance, and she came out with “The Socialist Alliance now is where the Greens were in the mid-1990s”. At the time I was indignant, she has misunderstood what the Socialist Alliance is about, I thought. SA is a revolutionary party which seeks the overthrow of capitalism, isn’t it?

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