DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST ALLIANCE

 


Website of the Democratic Socialist Alliance

The Democratic Socialist Alliance (DSA) is a communist political organisation based in Britain.

The DSA suggests that revolution and communism are the only credible answer to the problems of the present.

The DSA strongly believes that it is time for Marxists to overcome the problems of the past and to unite around common action concerning the urgent tasks of the class struggle.

The DSA intends this website to carry our contribution towards overcoming the present tensions and promoting unity of Marxists.

This website tries to answer the many objections people have about the revolutionary standpoint of Marxism.

We seek responses to the ideas contained in the DSA's documents published on this site and contributions to discussion. In particular, we ask for comments on the Draft Programme for the Crisis.

To contact the DSA :

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NB Spam is deleted at the server

 

 

In Tribute to the Memory of Phil Walden

By Phil Sharpe, on behalf of the Democratic Socialist Alliance

13 March 2022

Phil Walden was a principled revolutionary Marxist and a genuine human being. He sadly died recently because of the rapid onset of what could have been a form of cancer. Phil was essentially brought up by his mother who was a good person and was committed to the realisation of the aspirations of Phil and her other children.

Phil went to Oxford University where he obtained a good honours degree in the study of history. But his major interest was in the promotion of the role of radical Marxist politics, and he was a supporter of the Socialist Alliance, the Workers Socialist League and then the Trotskyist Unity Group, World to Win, and ultimately the Democratic Socialist Alliance. In relation to these different organisations Phil was motivated to try and uphold the principles of what he considered to be genuine Marxist politics and the importance of the aim of the achievement of democratic socialism.

Phil also had a distinguished career as a journalist for a local Oxford newspaper, but his major achievement was to obtain a post-graduate PHD in the study of aspects of Marx’s politics and philosophy. However, he considered that his major objective was to try and promote the role of revolutionary Marxism in terms of his involvement in the various groups in which he participated as an active supporter. In this manner it could be said that Phil was a genuine adherent to the ideas of Marx, Engels, Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky.

However, Phil was not a dogmatist and so he considered that Karl Kautsky had also made an important contribution to the development of Marxist politics. Therefore, what is crucial to understand about Phil Walden is that he combined an adherence to principled revolutionary politics with the recognition that his standpoint had to be based on the expression of what was a creative and flexible application of the Marxist approach. In this manner he connected the lessons of his research to contemporary politics. He was aware of the difficulties involved in trying to realise the success of the socialist project. Primarily he was able to appreciate the problems involved concerning how a collection of small Marxist groups could become influential and genuinely able to act in order to promote changing society. However, this realistic awareness did not lead to demoralisation but instead the development of a principled determination to try and make a contribution towards the realisation of a socialist society.

In his personal life Phil was a person of generous spirit and was always willing to try and facilitate the realisation of the interests of his friends. For example, he provided crucial advice about what books could provide greater knowledge for his friends. However, it could be suggested that possibly the most invaluable role that Phil had was as part of what became the small Democratic Socialist Alliance. Phil was aware of the importance of the necessity for even small political groups to uphold Marxist principles. In this context he encouraged his comrades to ensure that they maintained a consistent commitment to the principles of socialism.

This development did not result in the justification of any form of sectarianism and Phil was mystified by the continual fragmentation of the forces of Marxism. He believed that it was possible to combine commitment to principles together with organisational flexibility and the rejection of sectarian rigidity. Nevertheless, he still considered that principles were primary and so he was prepared to support a small group like the Democratic Socialist Alliance because he considered that it expressed the politics that was most able to create the possibility to realise a social alternative to capitalism. In other words, the major aspect of the approach of Phil was the combination of flexibility with the necessity to try and uphold the importance of principled revolutionary politics. He will be sadly missed by his comrades.

It could be argued that this emphasis on the role of revolutionary politics represented an undermining of the possibility to achieve more practical objectives. But we would reject this type of criticism. The point is that Phil had a fulfilling life because he considered that it was important to try and achieve what he considered to be important principles and aims. In other words, the various limitations of capitalism motivated him to try and attempt to achieve the objective of socialism.

It could be suggested that this was a futile task and so he should have been concerned to develop other interests and objectives. But the point is that Phil considered that the major aim of his life was to try and promote the possibility of the realisation of socialism as the only credible and progressive alternative to the limitations of the present social system. Hence, he did not concern himself with the possibility that what he was trying to achieve might not be possible. Instead, he attempted to realise the aim of socialism because he considered that it was a historical necessity. In other words, he was not concerned about the possibility of failure because he knew that what he was trying to achieve in association with his comrades was the only principled alternative in order to develop the genuine progress of society. It could be suggested that what he was trying to achieve was an exercise in futility. Phil was aware of this problem but this did not deter him from trying to continue to make a constructive contribution to the realisation of the aims of Marxism. In other words what he was primarily concerned about was principles rather than the issues concerning their apparent lack of credibility or feasibility. In other words, he knew that capitalism was an unethical system based on the expression of exploitation and domination and so he was opposed to its continuation and instead advocated the development of a socialist system that could overcome these aspects of social reality.

Phil considered that capitalism justified a system of exploitation, thus it was necessary to oppose it and to try and achieve the socialist alternative. The fact that the success of this objective was not of primary concern to him and instead he was motivated by the aspect of the limitations of capitalism and the connected necessity to strive to realise the alternative to this system. In this context he was ready to cooperate with anyone that shared his aims and values. Hence Phil could be characterised as a person of principle, but this aspect was connected to his understanding of the necessity of flexibility and of compromise. But the problem was that the authoritarian elitism of the many socialist groups meant that his approach was marginalised and became ineffective. However, he never gave up the struggle for what he believed to be genuine socialism and he still had the optimistic view that the type of standpoint he upheld would ultimately be justified and become important. Hence Phil Walden should be remembered as an intransigent and principled advocate of democratic socialism. In this context he was aware of the limitations of the Labour party and believed that it was necessary to attempt to achieve the development of a serious alternative to this organisation. The apparent failure to realise his aims did not result in despondency but instead only convinced him to try and act in a more determined manner in order to achieve his objectives.

The comrades of Phil Walden will always remember Phil as a person of principles and so will attempt to remember this by attempting to carry on the struggle for the realisation of the success of international socialism. We will have fond memories of Phil as a person of generosity and compassion and who always had time to listen to the views and opinions of other people. Hence the struggle for a genuinely democratic type of socialism will be the basis of the attempt to uphold the legacy of Phil Walden in the most principled terms. But we will also have personal memories of the generosity and compassion of Phil and so the most effective sense in which we can uphold his memory is to try and incorporate his many virtues into our daily lives and the struggle for socialism. Therefore we can say finally we will remember Phil and the heritage he has bequeathed us in relation to the struggle to achieve a better society and humanity.

 

Documents of the Democratic Socialist Alliance

We apologise that the November 2017 and March 2018 updates to this website were unavailable for several months during 2018. This was due to a virus issue that has now been fully resolved.

Programme

Draft Programme for the Crisis

Draft Programme for the Crisis - additions

 

On the General Strike

Arguments for the general strike

 

On the History of Programme

Chapter One - Understanding Trotskyism

Chapter Two - A Critique of Alex Callinicos's Anti-Capitalist Manifesto

Chapter Three - A Reply to Ralph Miliband

Chapter Four - The Question of the Cold War

Chapter Five - The Party and Programme in the Era of Globalisation

 

Imperialism

Understanding imperialism part one

Understanding imperialism part two

Understanding imperialism part three - imperialism and the Soviet Union

Understanding imperialism part four - Marxism and the challenge of international relations

 

Important historical questions - Stalinism

The ideology of Stalin part one

The ideology of Stalin part two - the break with Bukharin

The ideology of Stalin part three - the 1930s

The ideology of Stalin part four - political economy

 

Important historical questions - Understanding the Soviet Union

Understanding the character of the Soviet Union

The historical significance of the Soviet Union

Mandel and Gorbachev on Stalinism and Perestroika

An analysis of Bukharins understanding of the transition to communism

 

Challenges to Marxism

Marxism and Ethics part one

Marxism and Ethics part two

 

The Challenges for Trotskyism

What is a revolutionary programme?

The perspectives and programmes of post war American Trotskyism

Does Ernest Mandel defend the revolutionary heritage of Trotskyism?

A critique of the perspectives of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International

Understanding the opportunist limitations of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International

A critique of the manifesto of the League for the Fifth International

 

Critique

A critique of Lenin's What is to be Done? part one

A critique of Lenin's What is to be Done? part two

A critique of the politics of Stalinism

 

Marxist Unity

Understanding Marxist Unity

General Lessons of the Recent Split within Workers Power

 

Different strategies for socialism

A Critique of Poulantzas’s Evaluation of Revolutionary Strategy

The Strategic Lessons of the Standpoint of Andre Gorz

The Strategy of Gramsci

 

Reviews

Simon Hardy and Luke Cooper : 'Beyond Capitalism' Zero Books Winchester 2012

Norman Levine: ‘Marx’s Discourse with Hegel’ Palgrave Macmillan Basingstoke 2012

Anthony Di Maggio: 'The Rise of the Tea Party' Monthly Review Press New York 2011

 

Publications of the Democratic Socialist Alliance

Manifesto of the Democratic Socialist Alliance (February 2012)
In this time of acute crisis for global capitalism, but even more for the forces of international proletarian revolution, this document is a crucial guiding and educating resource offered for study by class conscious proletarians.

In Britain, as in other countries, the proletariat is living through a period of severe austerity measures which are being imposed by the bourgeoisie in order to attempt to divide and discipline the working class. It has become apparent to those with a clear understanding that, unlike the period of the Thatcher Government, the bourgeoisie has no more carrots to offer and that it is now only stick for the working class as long as capitalism lasts.

Thus Marxism has been shown to be more relevant than ever, because there is now a greater urgency that the world working class wipes out capitalism from the face of the earth and replaces it with a truly communistic society. However, Marxism is unfortunately very isolated and we want to understand what to do about it. This document is offered as a contribution to the process of facing up to the isolation of Marxism, and the document is intended to be a spark for further debate.

Copies of the Manifesto are available at a cost of £5 plus £2 post and packing. Please send orders by email: Click here to e-mail

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 3, May 2014

Marxism and the Class Struggle, 1914 - 2014

On Historical Necessity

Kautsky's "The Road to Power"

Philosophy and the SWP

Scotland's Future

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 4, September 2014

Obituary - Comrade Steve Wallis

Understanding Revolutionary Marxism in the 21st Century

Understanding Revolutionary Marxism Appendix

Socialism and the Scottish Referendum

The Importance of Bukharin’s ‘Historical Materialism’ for understanding Proletarian Revolution

Understanding the 1928 Programme of the Comintern

Lessons of the 1935 Programme for France

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 5, January 2015

Democracy and Socialism

The Prospect of Inter-imperialist War

What Number for the International? - Resolution of the DSA

The Crisis of the Marxist Party - Resolution of the DSA

The Lessons of the 1919 Programme and the ABC of Communism

Democratic Dictatorship in 1905 and 1917

The Complex Relationship between Feminism and Marxism

The Lack of Strategic Imagination within Left Unity

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 6, May 2015

A critique of the proposed manifesto of Left Unity

Additional comments on the manifesto of Left Unity

A critique of Chris Gray's perspective for Europe

Weekly Worker and the question of the armed militia

Is socialism totalitarian - a reply to Raymond Aron

Is there a principled left wing social democratic alternative

The revolutionary left and the Labour Party

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 7, July 2015

The ethical socialism of R H Tawney part 1

The ethical socialism of R H Tawney part 2

The internationalist strategy for resolving the situation in Greece

Understanding the electoral success of the Conservatives

Understanding the significance of the Labour Party leadership contest

Can the revolutionary left make political advances?

Understanding the British general election of 2015

 


Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 8, September 2015

The values of socialism

Is post-capitalism the alternative we should aspire to realise - review of Paul Mason's 'Post Capitalism'

Should we revise the principles of national self determination - a reply to Mike MacNair

Defence of socialism from below - a reply to Mike MacNair

What is the significance of a Jeremy Corbyn victory in the Labour leadership election

The DSA welcomes the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party

Can a left wing Labour Party leader win a general election?

The 1961 programme of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 9, January 2016

Can a Labour government express 'All power to the Soviets'?

Is the class struggle finished?

A critique of the platform of Red Flag

An evaluation of the Marxism of Meszaros

Understanding the world economy

An evaluation of Alex Callinicos's theory of history

Understanding Marxist ideology

A reply to orthodoxy

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 10, March 2016 - Special issue on EU referendum

The question of the European Union referendum

DSA statement - Save the Tata steelworks

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 11, May 2016

C.L.R. James and revolutionary Leninism

Martov, the forgotten revolutionary

The conception of socialism - a reply to Hillel Ticktin

The contemporary relevance of Lenin's 'Left Wing Communism - an infantile disorder'

The economic policy of the Bolsheviks

The political lessons of the October Revolution

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 12, August 2016

Advocating a minimum economic programme

Evaluating the results of the EU referendum

Kautsky versus Lenin and Trotsky

Lessons from an economist - Strachey

Socialism and democracy

Advocating a minimum economic programme

The question of peace and socialism

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 13, December 2016

The conception of socialism - reply to Ticktin

Ticktin and the economics of socialism

What is socialism? A reply to Lebowitz

Why we still need a Marxist party

Trotsky and the issue of war and fascism

The end of Marxism and socialism?

Permanent revolution in China

Arguments for Socialism

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 14, May 2017

A reply to Hayek

The problem of nationalism - Part 1

The problem of nationalism - Part 2

Is the Labour Party finished?

The importance of the economic calculation debate

How relevant is Trotsky's work on Britain?

Was Bolshevism always elitist?

The Question of Thermidor and Bonapartism

Defending the Marxist perspective

Does Red Flag have a principled action programme?

Understanding Stalinism - Part 1

Understanding Stalinism - Part 2

What is democratic centralism?

The political character of the 2017 general election

Evaluating the feasibility of market socialism

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 15, August 2017

Is Marxism elitist?

Trotsky's analysis of the October revolution

Peace and socialism - part one

Trotsky and the programme of peace

Hope for a better world - lessons of the 2017 general election

The Labour Party and socialism - part 1

The Labour Party and socialism - part 2

The Labour Party and socialism - part 3

The Labour Party and socialism - part 4

The Labour Party and socialism - part 5

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 16, November 2017

International relations and Marxism

Christian criticisms of Marxism

Moreno and revolutionary Marxism

Mandel and socialist democracy

Is a concept of justice compatible with Marxism?

Challenges to Marxism

The strengths and limitations of Bordiga

Bordiga's thesis of 1951

Challenges for Trotskyism - revolutionary defeatism

Did Trotsky change his views about the October Revolution?

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 17, March 2018

Evaluating a political biography of Karl Marx

Christian criticisms of Marxism

Understanding conservatism

Mandel and socialist democracy

Is anarchism an alternative to Marxism?

Does Rawls establish a credible defence of liberalism?

Criticism of the defence of capitalism

Popular front and the Comintern

Understanding national identity

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 18, July 2019

The Challenge of Left Reformism

The Demoralisation of Paul Mason

Rosa Luxemburg and the National Question

Ted Grant - Revolutionary Defeatism

Ted Grant - Degenerated Workers' State

Trotsky and his Understanding of the Soviet Union

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 19, November 2019

Meszaros and the prospects for socialism

Understanding the Fourth International

The issue of the defence of the Soviet Union

Understanding the current political situation

Why has it proved to be difficult to build a revolutionary party in the UK?

A programme for socialism

Is the working class no longer an effective agency of social change?

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 20, March 2020

A critical evaluation of the Labour Party election manifesto

Understanding the results of the 2019 general election

Is Marxism authoritarian?

Was Leninism the basis of totalitarianism?

Nationalism and the class struggle

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 21, November 2020

Understanding the failure of revolutionary Marxism

Understanding the failure of the revolutionary party

Understanding the failure to realise socialism

Understanding the failure to realise socialism part 2

Understanding the class struggle

Understanding history

Understanding political economy and history

Understanding the history of post-war Britain

Understanding the Russian Revolution

Understanding the politics of Lenin

Trotskys understanding of Stalinism

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 22, February 2021

A Critical Evaluation of Tony Cliff's Interpretation of the Role of Lenin, 1914-24

Lukacs and class consciousness

Is Capitalism a Superior Economic System?

Has History Ended with the Victory of Capitalism?

Understanding the Marxist Conception of Democracy

Considering the Future Alternatives to Capitalism

Understanding the Second World War

What is the Potential Agency of Change in the Present Period?

What is the Relationship of Marxism and Morality?

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 23, July 2021

Is it possible to create a popular revolutionary party?

What is a credible perspective of changing society?

Has communism failed as a historical project?

Is Orthodox Trotskyism an explanatory theory?

Understanding the class character of the Soviet Union

What is a credible programme of revolutionary change?

Developing a credible perspective for socialism

 

Socialist Standpoint - Issue no. 24, November 2021

Understanding Trotsky's politics

Ecology and socialism

Understanding the problems involved in the development of a revolutionary party

Marxism and Stalinism

Is Marxism authoritarian - part two?

Marxism and freedom

The challenge of Adam Smith for Marxism

Was the Independent Labour Party revolutionary?

Was the Soviet Union state capitalist?