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social democracy

Malaysia: Two-party system – and a ‘third force’?

Socialist Party of Malaysia MP Jeyakumar Devaraj addresses a rally against the free trade agreement between Malaysia and the United States.

By Jeyakumar Devaraj

February 11, 2010 -- Aliran Monthly -- Malaysia has only known one ruling coalition in the past 52 years since independence. But the result of the March 2008 election has led to rising hope among many Malaysians that an enormous change might be around the corner – a two-party system under which the people are free to choose between two coalitions, which are both capable of governing the country.

The purpose of this paper is to locate the institution of a two-coalition system against a wider historical perspective.

The concept that every person has an equal right to select the government irrespective of his or her social status, wealth, education, religious affiliation or beliefs is a revolutionary idea. And it is relatively new.

The record of the Australian Labor Party: high hopes and big disappointments

Gough Whitlam campaigning in 1972.

[This talk was presented at the A Century of Struggle Laborism and the radical alternative: Lessons for today conference, held in Melbourne, Australia, on May 30, 2009. It was organised by Socialist Alliance and sponsored by Green Left Weekly, Australia’s leading socialist newspaper. To read other talks presented at the conference, click HERE.]

By Jeremy Smith

Why have we scheduled this talk? First, I want to mark part of the historical memory of the working class in a modest way. Second, it helps pull apart the myths of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and Laborism. Third, it addresses a century-long debate which goes back to the Victorian Socialist Party (VSP) and the Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World, IWW); a debate which remains unresolved. The high hopes held for Labor when it has been elected and the bitterest of disappointments felt after its failure to deliver leave for us lessons too easily forgotten. We need to remind ourselves of those lessons.

The ALP and the fight for socialism

This resolution was adopted by the Democratic Socialist Perspective, then called the Socialist Workers' Party, at its eleventh national congress, held in Canberra in January 1986.

Resolution sections

  1. The formation of the ALP

  2. A party of the trade union bureaucracy

  3. A liberal bourgeois party

  4. Parliamentarism

  5. The ALP in office -- a capitalist government

  6. When and why capitalism favors Labor governments

  7. Why the ruling class prefers conservative party governments

  8. Reforms and reformism

  9. The further cooption of the labor movement during the postwar capitalist boom

  10. Recent changes in the ALP

  11. The Labor left

  12. The false perspective of reforming the ALP

  13. Preparing defeats

  14. An anti-capitalist political alternative

  15. The working class and progressive movements of labor's allies

  16. Support for all progressive breaks with Labor reformism

  17. The role of Marxist organisation

  18. A revolutionary transitional approach to the problem of the ALP

  19. The need for tactical flexibility

  20. Building a revolutionary current in the ALP

  21. United front campaigns

  22. Critical support

  23. Lesser evilism

  24. Our attitude to ALP governments

  25. Governmental initiative

  26. Socialist electoral campaigns

  27. United front electoral campaigns

  28. Trade unions are the decisive arena

  29. New opportunities

 


 

A history of the Australian Labor Party, 1890-1967

By Peter Conrick

Conrick's History of the Australian Labor Party originally appeared in Direct Action (the precursor to Green Left Weekly), newspaper of the Socialist Workers League of Australia, between December 21, 1972, and June 14, 1973, and was published as a pamphlet by the Socialist Workers Party in 1979. The SWP is now the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP). This digital version was created by Ozleft. The pamphlet reflected the DSP's attitude towards the ALP at that time, however significant changes were introduced to this viewpoint in the 1980s. This document should be read in conjuction with The ALP and the Fight for Socialism. See also The ALP, the Nuclear Disarmament Party and the 1984 elections.

For a deeper analytical treatment of the social origins of social democracy in general and the ALP in particular, please consult Jonathan Strauss' series of Links articles on the concept of the labour aristocracy.

The labour aristocracy and opportunism in the history of Australian working-class politics

By Jonathan Strauss

The theory of the labour aristocracy argues that opportunism in the working class has a material basis. Such class-collaborationist politics express the interests of a relatively privileged stratum of workers who receive benefits supported by monopoly superprofits. Karl Marx and, especially, Frederick Engels, first developed this theory. It is most closely associated with V.I. Lenin, however, for whom it became “the pivot of the tactics in the labour movement that are dictated by the objective conditions of the imperialist era”.[1]

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