I heard Green Party co-leader, Russel Norman on Radio NZ this morning, angrily denouncing Solid Energy for infiltrating a spy into the Save Happy Valley environmental protest group.
Russel called for the sacking of Solid Energy’s management and repeated this call on a post on the Green Party’s FrogBlog.
I find this a little bit rich, coming from Russel. From the mid ’80s to the the early ’90s, Russel was a committed member of Australia’s largest Marxist-Leninist organisation, the Democratic Socialist Party.
The DSP and its former incarnation, the Socialist Workers Party are notorious in Australia for their relentless infiltration and manipulation of other organisations.
I quote 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.
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.
I quote him from the Marxism Mailing List Archive
“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 (DSP leader, New Zeal) 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.
Murray Addison was Secretary of the NSW Greens in 1991. In 2000 he attended the DSPs Marxism 2000 conference in Australia. In 2001 he was Treasurer for the Mt Albert branch (Auckland) of the Alliance Party. The NZ Alliance Party, was from its formation in 1991/2 to its near destruction a decade later, a sister party of the DSP.
Interestingly, Russel Norman left the DSP in the early ’90s (though continuing to write for its paper Green Left Weekly until the late’90s). In the mid ’90s he travelled to NZ specifically to study the Alliance Party for his Phd. His interest was more than academic. He became active in the Alliance and at one point edited its Auckland newsletter, until leaving with the Greens when they went out on their own in 1997.
Of course their is no evidence that Russel has done any infiltrating himself. However for several years he was active in an organisation that practised manipulation of other organisations as a matter of course.
Maybe its a case of “let he who is without sin cast the first stone“?
I’m sure Russel wouldn’t want to be labelled a hypocrite.