Revisiting the DLP “Perspective”

The Constitution of the Democratic Labour Party contains three main sections: Perspective, Objectives, and Principles. Let’s take a look at the Perspective part, articles 5 to 10 of the DLP’s Constitution, and unpack a bit of what’s contained in this DLP treasure chest. It is from such a perspective our objectives and principles follow, and ultimately our policies and understanding of politics.

 

5. The Democratic Labour Party shall promote the political, social and economic order of the decentralist nation-community as a preferred alternative to the authoritarian rigidities of socialist-centralist control and the libertarian extremes of the capitalist global market.

When the DLP was founded back in 1955, the  presence of Communism was rife throughout the world. Mao Zedong controlled China and the Soviet Union was dominating Eastern Europe, imposing its socialist policies wherever it could. At home, the Communist Party of Australia wielded significant influence on trade unions and social movements. On the other hand, the DLP also recognised the extremes of the capitalist global market, a system which reduced the dignity of the working person by putting economics above people, reducing people to nothing more than a mere resource used in the pursuit of profit.

The DLP has always seen both these extremes as dangerous threats to the family unit and to the “fundamental and inalienable rights of each person embodied in the common law, statute and tradition – to life, to the essential liberties of conscience, to equality and natural justice, to ownership of property and to a livelihood that enhances the dignity, status and security of the person”.

It is from such a perspective that the DLP positioned itself as a “centrist” Party, disassociated from the extremes of both “left” and “right”, as best positioned to provide what is best for families, workers, communities, the nation, life.

 

6. The Democratic Labour Party shall embrace principles which are distributist, or decentralist, in basic tenet and which call for practical social justice, the widest possible distribution of political, social and economic power and a decentralised society.

This statement has its foundation on the principle of subsidiarity. This principle holds that no larger unit (whether social, economic, or political) should perform a function which can be performed by a smaller unit. Thus, any activity of production (the most important part of any economy!) ought to be performed by the smallest possible unit. Smaller units, families if possible, ought to be in control of the means of production, rather than the large units typical of modern economies. This leads into the economic philosophy of Distributism, which is explained on our Distributism page.

The essence of subsidiarity is concisely inherent in the Chinese maxim ‘Give someone a fish and you feed him for a day; teach the person to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’.

 

7. Democratic Labour Party policy shall be formulated to favour the smaller unit of responsibility and decision-making, rather than the larger, in government, business and community affairs.

Follows from the above points. It is the principle that local people should make local decisions.

 

8. In social policy the Democratic Labour Party shall recognise that rights and responsibilities that rest with individuals, families and the local community ought not to be relegated to larger social agencies or the state.

As an example, this would mean that as much as possible, welfare should be administered through families and communities rather than government. Obviously, this would go together with a policy framework which seeks to strengthen families and communities.

 

9. In economic policy the Democratic Labour Party shall acknowledge that the smaller unit in industry, commerce and the farming sector deserves protection from unfair competition or takeover by larger, more capitalised concerns.

For example, protection from a Woolworths/Coles-like duopoly over the market or cheap low-quality imports (such as the dumping of Brazilian oranges in Australia putting our own farmers out of business).

 

10. The Democratic Labour Party shall insist that functions of federal government should be exercised without encroachment on the rightful responsibilities of state and local administrations, or the communities they serve.

Federal government shouldn’t take over matters of which the decision-making and responsibilities should be with state and local governments. For example, in recent years we have seen the areas of education policy and health policy become more and more centralised within Federal Government. This also exists as a statement expressing the DLP’s support for the sovereignty of the States in the Commonwealth of Australia.