Brisbane abortion rally
I found Sam King’s letter in the May 2009 edition of Direct Action to be slightly disingenuous. While the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and Socialist Alternative (SAlt) may well have different policies on paper regarding the political situation in Cuba and Venezuela, often in practice the RSP and SAlt act together; indeed, they act as one. For example, at a May 9 pro-choice rally in Brisbane, the RSP and SAlt (together with Solidarity) urged the rally to blockade the entrance to the Queensland state parliament to stop the anti-choice brigades “March of Little Feet” from reaching its destination. The right-wing march included so-called pro-lifers and, we assume, many of their very small and very young children, as it had done in previous years. Were the RSP and SAlt going to physically blockade very young children?
As it happened, the blockade did deter the march from approaching state parliament, so we don’t know how this was going to be carried out. Needless to say, it would not have been a good look for left-wing pro-choice supporters to be engaged in physical confrontations with a right-wing march which included children. When questioned by Socialist Alliance members at the blockade whether they regarded this as a correct tactic, RSP members appeared not to understand what we were talking about.
On this occasion of political practice, both the RSP and SAlt had the position that it is fine to censor (and, if necessary, physically beat down) right-wing views (or any views you happen to disagree with). This is highly counter-productive, and a dangerous position for the left to adopt. If the left proclaims that it is fine to physically shut down right wing opponents, that will open us up to counter proposals for right wingers (or indeed the state) to physically shut down left wing rallies and demonstrations. We on the left do not in the least agree with the right wing pro-life argument, but those with such views have the right to politically agitate and organise support for that view. In the same way, the left should have the freedom to agitate and organise support for the pro-choice position. Fighting politically does not mean eliminating your opponents physically, it means fighting (arguing, organising rallies and meetings etc) against your opponent’s political positions. Perhaps there are more similarities between the RSP and SAlt than appearances indicate.