Letters //

Semester 1, Week 4 Letters 2016

Standing with students I write regarding the horrible photograph in Honi Soit of the Muslim prayer room in shambles after an attack. I ache for all those who returned to their sanctum and found it so violated. The desecration of a house of prayer is a desecration of the name of God. I pray the…

Standing with students

I write regarding the horrible photograph in Honi Soit of the Muslim prayer room in shambles after an attack. I ache for all those who returned to their sanctum and found it so violated. The desecration of a house of prayer is a desecration of the name of God. I pray the barbarity of these ignorant attacks may serve as a rooster’s crow. May this horror rouse us to stand resolutely alongside our Muslim brothers and sisters. May Allah raise the downtrodden, and replace suffering with joy.

Yitzi Tuvel

In defence of revolutionary socialism

Liam Donohoe’s piece last week was an insight into a revolutionary organisation gone wrong. Liam’s first-hand account of the inward looking, manipulative and cynically self-promotional political practice pedalled by SAlt will leave many good left-wingers reaching for a bucket.

The left is effective when it combines both principle and unity. As Liam shows, SAlt betray their principals in shabby and dishonest deals on the one hand and sabotage practical unity through their dismissive arrogance towards other activists on the other. Sadly, it appears such an attitude is rendered through an internal culture that rests heavily on primary-school style peer pressure and messianic self-delusion. Such a distorted practice is a blight on the Left and weakens us in the face of the real fights against the Liberal government and corporate power.

It would be a mistake however, to let SAlt’s particular pathology tarnish Revolutionary Socialists as a whole. We live in a world of crisis, war, oppression, environmental catastrophe and gross inequality. As the world burns, the powerful reassure us that capitalism is the only option. They say any attempt to achieve radical change will lead to a tyranny far-worse than what we face today.

Tragically the behaviour of those like SAlt gives ammunition to the conservative lie that socialism is authoritarian.

The truth is, the capitalist system that produces the horrors we see around us is no more eternal than the feudal society that came before it. It is a society perpetuated by human action and human action can liberate us from it.  Even in the United States people, are looking to the socialism of Bernie Sanders as an alternative to the racism and unemployment of global capitalism.

Solidarity is a Revolutionary Socialist organization. We believe those that work to produce the wealth in this world should control it, that the immense productive capacity available today should serve human need not corporate greed. We stand against all forms of oppression and are internationalist. We believe that the working class – whether white or blue collar – has a unique strategic power to win a better world. Most importantly, we believe the seeds of revolution will grow out of real action today.

To this end we aim to build strong and united Left struggles against the exploiting, greedy, war-mongering bigots that run this world. We want to fight alongside Greens, other radicals and the ALP left, to advance the situation of the working class, students and the oppressed. We are involved in a concerted fight against our government’s inhumane brutality towards asylum-seekers, to defend Medicare from the Liberals’ attacks and to stop corporate restructuring that turns universities into degree factories.

We need real struggle, we need revolutionary organization and we need serious revolutionary theory and discussion. If you let SAlt put you off revolutionary politics altogether the only winners will be the elites we need to overthrow.

Adam Adelpour, Solidarity Student Club

Taking Honi with a Grain of SAlt

An edited version of a letter by Socialist Alternative member Eleanor Morley appeared in the print edition this week. Her full, unedited letter may be found here.

Tread carefully around youth politics

Dear Honi,

While it may be fun to make fun of the “salty” nature of our favourite Marxists, I don’t believe that the problems outlined in Liam Donohoe’s feature article are unique to Socialist Alternative, but a shared experience for those of us who gave up their youth in support of a political organisation.

I joined the youth branch of a political party at a very young age and like many others who join political parties in our younger and more vulnerable years, I joined because I wanted to make a difference. I’m not sure if it was residual excitement from the year six politics module in HSIE or something but I was really hopeful about my future in politics. I was excited by the prospect of being able to participate in the political process, of rebelling from my middle-class private school educated background and by the idea finding friends who shared my political views – I was young and naive, what can I say?

And at first it was like that. The people in the party were all so charming and they welcomed and included me. They made me feel like I had a purpose in the party and that I was important. They made me feel like I had a say and I was quick to want to please my new friends. Of course, this would all end quickly.

It doesn’t surprise me to hear of Liam’s experiences. I had the same experience as a foot soldier dealing with a stratified organisation and trying to reconcile hypocritical policy positions as he did, but I also saw much worse. I remember being bribed and emotionally blackmailed. I remember being complicit in backstabbings and the dirty deals of factional warlords. I remember being manipulated. I remember, essentially, being used as a pawn in a game I did not understand.

All politics, but youth politics especially, preys on the young and vulnerable and that’s exactly what happened to my 15-year-old self. They use us because we’re innocent. We’re not stupid, but we still have that idealism – the assumption that everyone is good at heart. We trust our party elders to look after us but ultimately, our trust is abused.

I’m not saying that all people in politics are evil. Some people are absolutely lovely, but there’s enough of the bad ones in politics to make it a dangerous place. There is a culture in youth politics that rewards amorality

To those who are thinking of joining, I’d tread carefully around youth politics. We’ve done it and saw the worst of it, don’t repeat our mistakes.

A 17-Year-Old , Political Drop Out

EU v USU continues

Dear Honi,

The EU v USU conflict is one of the great tales of our time- though not quite as entertaining as the UK’s own conflict with the EU. Although I don’t have a position on this, I’d like to clarify some points raised by two letters in last week’s issue.

Kerrod Gream mentioned that other religious societies are watching the EU’s boss fight with the USU closely. One society, the Catholic Society, apparently has a similar “BELIEVE IN CHRIST THE LORD” policy to the aforementioned EU and is similarly involved in an “it’s complicated” relationship with the USU. Gream notes that there’s a double standard- the USU supports left-wing autonomous collectives (which were left unnamed, but include Wom*n’s Collective and ACAR) that are similarly exclusionary.

I’m sure that Gream is well aware that the autonomous collectives aren’t affiliated with the USU as religious societies are. These collectives are departments of the SRC, representing the interests of minority groups on campus. Even if the USU supports such collectives it’s more like how I might appreciate cheesecake- with a thumbs up and from a safe distance. The USU is all about inclusion– from providing discounted ACCESS card prices, to including current board directors in the USU elections. Their concern about exclusionary policies that lock-out students from society participation is deeply rooted in the USU’s mission statement.

Furthermore, anonymous writer “Supporter of Christian-Atheist Relations” brought up the Atheist Society. I’m surprised to hear that it’s apparently still a thing! Last I’d heard, the outgoing exec had dissolved the society. They are, however, right that societies will want representatives who “ascribe to their values and ideals”. It’s a sentiment I’m sure that’s shared by the autonomous collectives Kerrod Gream mentioned, who have a particularly left wing set of ideals and values.

Brendan J O’Shea, Arts V

Gold, frankincense and more comment

Dear Honi,

In response to Michael Sun’s article, “Gold, frankincense and more” (Semester 1, week 3) and the claim that the University’s Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre was “largely inaccessible”

The Multifaith Chaplaincy Centre located in Merewether Level 2 is generously provided by the University to facilitate the work of university authorised chaplains of all faiths for their work amongst all Sydney Uni students and staff.

Chaplains serve the campus by encouraging a culture of mutual respect, support and engagement with questions of life and faith. If you would like to talk to a chaplain at any time just drop in.

Caroline Andrews, Multifaith Chaplains Convenor

Let them stay

Dear Honi,

Liam Donohoe’s piece on the transient #LetThemStay movement (“Let [her] stay”, Semester One, 2016, Week Two) said precisely what all public commentators should have been arguing. He noted the significant danger in ceding ground to the far right by suggesting that some asylum seekers are more worthy of protection than others. While children in detention face particular risks to their healthy development, Donohoe’s argument reminds us that we must not let our legitimate concern for their welfare compromise our opposition to the indefinite and inhumane detention of any fellow human being. When leveraging sympathetic imagery and narrative in an attempt to build a broader coalition, asylum seeker advocates must take greater care to employ these subjects as representative of the whole war rather than as the (only) battle itself.

Benjamin G. Veness


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We’re serious.