| How the sausage is made|
The Socialist Alliance is an Australian democratic socialist party founded in 2001. While rejecting capitalism, they also reject the more dogmatic, authoritarian strains of Marxist-Leninist thought. Like most democratic socialists, the Socialist Alliance seek to extend democracy beyond the limits of representative, liberal democracy; embracing elements of decentralised, direct democracy as a way to not only run politics but the economy as well.
Despite its name, it isn’t really an alliance of individual socialist groups, at least not any more. It’s membership basically consists of people who were formally members of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP, which merged into Socialist Alliance) and those who aren’t. It also claims to be a multi-tendency socialist party - however, in practice, they are an organisation espousing the Marxist variant of socialism.
They are largely on their deathbed as an organisation and have been in a long spiralling decline for nearly two decades.
Relationships with other groups
The Socialist Alliance has a long-standing rivalry with the Socialist Alternative - which is often referred to by its most long-standing members as “dogmatic” and “sectarian”. While this claim may be valid, it is noteworthy that Socialist Alternative has overtaken Socialist Alliance to become the largest socialist organisation in Australia. Hence this rivalry probably extends a bit deeper beyond which of the two organisations is least involving. Incidentally, the predecessor organisation to Socialist Alliance, the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), employed a similar approach to Socialist Alternative. One major difference between the two groups is that while Alliance tend to focus on elections and union organising, Alternative mostly focuses on student activism.
Despite this rivalry, in Victoria, they have (at least publicly) been able to put their differences aside - helping to form the Victorian Socialists to contest the 2018 Victorian State Election as well as future elections in the state. The Victorian Socialists have also grown bigger than the two founding organisations combined.
Socialist Alliance’s relationship with the Australian Greens is warm, to the point that it is even willing to promote this party ahead of even its self and say it supports policy positions that it doesn’t.
It also publishes Green Left, which latches on to the Greens brand. It is not uncommon for left-leaning people who have no idea of who Socialist Alliance is or it’s connection to Green Left (and vice versa) to confuse it for being a publication of the Greens. The DSP apparently established Green Left with the help of some left-wing members of the New South Wales Greens, until the former were kicked out when the Greens federated.
In any case, the Socialist Alliance almost always put the Greens at number 2 on its how to vote cards during elections.
Socialist Alliance’s relationship with the Australian Labor Party is lukewarm. However, they work with Labor members at the grassroots level in trade union campaigns - even if these individuals are subject to ridicule behind closed doors.
As mentioned before, Socialist Alliance are active within the trade union movement, where it’s members exert some influence and have held leadership positions . Some in the union movement, who are otherwise sympathetic, are critical of Socialist Alliance for using union leadership positions to engage in pointless activities instead of using these positions to build union power and create long-lasting and meaningful change.
According to their website, their party is based on 5 principles:
- Solidarity and collaboration - not dog-eat-dog competition and rivalry
- Environmental sustainability - living in harmony with the planet
- Participatory democracy - not just voting for "representatives" every three years
- Social economy - putting people's need before corporate profit
- True equality - between peoples, nations, religions and the sexes
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