Democratic Socialist Party

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Democratic Socialist Party

Line of March connection

The end of Line of March was described by former member Ethan Young;

In 1989-90 LOM decided to make a move from a cadre group to a looser association. In spirit it was something like the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia dissolving into the Socialist Alliance [and in fact some DSPers were present at the last national meeting, as well as Peter Camejo].
The transition didn't take. When people work for years in a group with tight discipline and orders from above [or as we liked to euphemize, "the center"], shifting gears is very hard. The successor group lasted a year before members decided to concentrate on the lives they left behind - jobs, finishing school, new families. Most went into careers in social services, nonprofits or unions.[1]


The DSP and its former incarnation, the Socialist Workers Party are notorious in Australia for their relentless infiltration and manipulation of other organisations.

From A History of the DSP by Alvaro Recoba;

Practicing the Trotskyist method of fusion or infiltration, the DSP has constantly moved its cadre force into and out of issues and movements as it judges the worth of that particular issue or movement to the benefit of the DSP.
There are numerous examples, one being their attempts to take over the Nuclear Disarmament Party of Australia (NDP), which whilst being unsuccessful, lead to the complete loss of confidence in the NDP by the Australian people and its quick demise as a force for change. More recently they attempted to infiltrate the Greens Party, but again were unsuccessful and in response the Greens movement adopted a resolution banning members of the DSP from membership of the Greens.[2]

The Greens

DSP National Executive member, Lisa McDonald outlined DSP influence in the Australian Greens in this address to the January 1996 Socialist Activists and Educational Conference in Sydney.

The DSP threw its resources and energies into building the local Green parties, played a key role in the formation of the Victorian Green Alliance, the South Australian Green Alliance, the Queensland Green Alliance, the ACT Green Democratic Alliance, the NSW Green Alliance and around half a dozen local Green parties in NSW, including in the working-class areas of western Sydney where the Greens’ base was weakest. All of these groups, registered as separate parties with the federal and/or state electoral commissions (some in the name of DSP members), and operating with total autonomy in policy and campaigns, were united simply by an explicit commitment to the four principles of the German Greens.

Steve Painter was a DSP activist from the mid ’80s until his resignation in 1989. He then moved into NSW green politics and was in a unique position to observe the DSP infiltration of and eventual expulsion from the Australian Greens in 1989/91.

Painter on the Marxism Mailing List Archive;[3]

“As the Greens organisation developed into more of a party and less of an alliance or coalition, the continued presence of the DSP became more problematic. Could a DSP member genuinely serve as an office-bearer or candidate for The Greens? Of those remaining actively involved, more began to think not. At this time, the DSP changed the name of its weekly newspaper from “Direct Action” to “Green Left” and let it be known that they were prepared to “dissolve” their organisation and work through the Greens as their primary political vehicle.
“It is not clear to me how bona fide the intention to dissolve was. Jim Percy had a concept of joining ‘the swamp’ and then, over time, ‘draining the swamp’. It seemed quite reckless to gamble with the name of their newspaper in the way they did. To gamble with the organisation seemed hard to believe. There would have been some society or other organisational structure remaining that would influence ex-DSP members’ activities, I am sure.

“With pressure to exclude the DSP coming from some key figures, mostly from other states, a delegated national meeting was held at the Sydney Earth Exchange in mid-1991 to discuss a possible national organisation. Agreement with proscription of other political parties was a prerequisite for attendance, although some DSP turned up anyway. Whilst being an excruciating meeting, held in a hot, noisy room, the main outcome was that further national meetings would require participating organisations to implement proscription.
“Shortly afterwards was the infamous NSW Greens ‘stack, where 12 DSP members turned up at a regular administrative meeting (when one or two, at best, might usually attend) and proceeded to decide organisational changes to their benefit, including shoring up their access to The Greens registration.
‘Ownership of the NSW Greens turned on the colour of the Registered Officer, the person recognised by the Electoral Act as the party representative able to endorse candidates. Previously, an election for RO had been tied, so it was held jointly between Murray Addison and Paul Fitzgerald. Addison, I believe, was a secret member of the DSP at this point. When the stack was played out and Addison revealed his allegiance, the non-DSP wrote to the Electoral Commission requesting that Addison be removed as RO since he served another party which was acting destructively. After a week or two of uncertainty, Addison was removed.


  1. Re: [Marxism Line of March from [Ethan Young]Date, Wed, 15 Sep 2010]
  2. [, An Outline History of a Chameleon Party A History of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia. Alvaro Recoba]
  3. DSP, greens and Greens from [Steve Painter and Rose McCannDate, Thu, 24 Oct 2002]