Socialist Alliance

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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.

Despite their seemingly anti-authoritarian beliefs, they do tend to be apologists to authoritarian regimes such as Venezuela and Cuba.[1][2]

Relationships with other groups[edit]

Socialist Alternative[edit]

The Socialist Alliance has a long-standing rivalry with the Trotskyist Socialist Alternative - with many SA of by its most long-standing members referring to SAlt 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 organization in Australia. Hence this rivalry probably extends a bit deeper beyond which of the two organizations is least involved. Incidentally, the predecessor organization 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 tends to focus on elections and union organizing, Alternative mostly focuses on student activism and selling newspapers.

Despite this rivalry, in Victoria, they have (at least publicly) been able to put their differences aside for a while - 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 grown larger than the two founding organizations combined.[3] Ultimately, the Socialist Alliance withdrew from the Victorian Socialists in 2020, mainly citing SAlt's sectarianism, refusal of allowing other socialist movements into VS, and political dominance of the party as their reasons for leaving.[4]

The Greens[edit]

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 the Socialist Alliance is or its connection to the Green Left (and vice versa) to confuse it for being a publication of the Greens. The DSP apparently established the 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 puts the Greens at number 2 on its how-to-vote cards during elections.

Labor[edit]

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.

Trade unions[edit]

As mentioned before, Socialist Alliance is active within the trade union movement, where its members exert some influence and have held leadership positions .[5] 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.

Principles[edit]

According to their website,[6] their party is based on 5 principles:

  1. Solidarity and collaboration - not dog-eat-dog competition and rivalry
  2. Environmental sustainability - living in harmony with the planet
  3. Participatory democracy - not just voting for "representatives" every three years
  4. Social economy - putting people's need before corporate profit
  5. True equality - between peoples, nations, religions and the sexes

External links[edit]

References[edit]