This letter is in response to Honi’s investigative piece, SAlt of the Earth.
I read your piece on Socialist Alternative with interest. Having answered your questions honestly and in some detail, I hoped we would get a fair run. I was disappointed both with the factual errors and gross political bias of the article.
Firstly, the article repeatedly insinuates that we have some evil, all-powerful dictatorial hierarchy which tells every member what to do, who to be friends with, and presumably what brand of toothpaste to use. This is ridiculous, McCarthyist scaremongering.
Factually, it was Ridah and I who suggested that we move to Sydney, as we believed that it was ludicrous for the biggest socialist organisation in Australia not to have a club at Sydney Uni. I clearly stated this to Honi in my interview. That Honi refused to publish facts in favour of false ‘speculations’, says more about the standards of this publication than about our organisation’s leadership structure.
Like all political organisations that operate at a national level, we have a national leadership that coordinates our work; thinks through particular political issues, discusses priority topics for the newspaper, and more. There is no alternative to such a structure for a sizeable group. But unlike most organisations our leadership bodies at every level are directly elected by members, and are recallable at any time. We are extremely proud of our radically democratic culture.
But don’t take my word for it. As SRC Education Officer Eleanor Morley wrote when she joined SA just last year:
Another frequent criticism I have encountered is the accusation that members are forced to follow a strict political line, dictated from above. After attending branch meetings and watching how political debate and contribution from all members is not only common but encouraged, this argument also seemed hollow.
Further, as Eleanor was a leading negotiator for the Grassroots last year, and has since chaired a rally of 1000 students, the claim that we only recruit ‘vulnerable’ students with ‘social anxiety’ is also unfounded and offensive.
The article also quotes extensively from Cam Petrie, who was never a member of Socialist Alternative (another factual error), and is now a member of the RMIT Labor Right. This club has opposed and boycotted the education campaign this year, and is aligned to the section of the ALP which concocted the PNG solution, supports the ban on marriage equality, and promotes neoliberal economic policies more generally. Forgive us if we pay no attention to his criticisms.
I could go on about how the ‘leaked email’ quoted in your article is an obvious forgery, about how we happily collaborate with any number of progressive organisation in a range of campaigns, about how we don’t conceive of ourselves as a ‘vanguard party’… but I’d rather get on with life and the campaign against the Liberal government.
I would encourage any student who seriously wants to know what Socialist Alternative stands for and how you might get involved with the most successful revolutionary group in the country to give us a call. Seriously, do it. All we ask in return is your firstborn child.
President of the Socialist Alternative Club
0421 185 037