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Socialist Alternative (Australia)
May Day message from the Socialist Alliance, Australia
May 1, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As workers around the world take to the streets to celebrate May Day, we are sharply aware that the capitalist system has reached a point of development where it threatens the habitability of the planet on which we all live.
Last month, for the first time in 3 million years, the carbon concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere reached 399.7 parts per million (ppm) at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. In several other parts of the world that day, the reading exceeded 400 ppm.
When CO2 concentrations were last above 400 ppm it was the Pliocene era, when temperatures were 3-4 degrees Celsius and sea levels were 5-40 metres higher than they are today. Capitalism is throwing our planet into dangerous climate change.
Sadly this is no surprise. Capitalism has already devastated the lives of billions of people through exploitation, war and poverty.
"Waterside worker', by Noel Counihan, 1963.
By Chris Slee
March 18, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In his article entitled “Is there a labour aristocracy in Australia?” (published in the Socialist Alternative magazine, Marxist Left Review) Tom Bramble criticises the concept of the “labour aristocracy” on a number of grounds.
Australia: 'School of Rebellion: social justice education for children and young people' (March 29-31, 2013)
'Transitional Program': 'a program of action from today until the beginning of the socialist revolution'
The demand for shorter working hours with no loss in pay has been a key transitional demand.
By Doug Lorimer
[This is the introduction to Resistance Books' The
Transitional Program and the Struggle for Socialism. For discussion on the left about the significance of the transitional method for socialists, see "In defence of the transitional method" by Dave Holmes.]
Sue Bolton speaking at a rally for refugee rights in September. Photo by Aneleh Bulle.
By Dave Holmes
[This talk was presented on January 18, 2013 at the Socialist Alliance (Australia) national conference, held in Geelong.]
January 18, 2013 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Socialist Alliance is currently engaged in a process of discussion and clarification with Socialist Alternative, with a view to exploring the possibilities of greater cooperation and unity. How this will ultimately develop is an open question. But I think it is fair to say that on both sides today there is a much greater interest in the political positions and approach of the other.
December 13, 2012 -- Socialist Alliance -- The National Executives of the Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative agreed on December 13 to terms under which Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly will endorse and participate in the Marxism 2013 conference to be held in Melbourne, March 28-April 1, 2013.
This first significant national co-operation between our two organisations is a product of discussions that began between the two organisations on November 4, 2012, to explore the possibility of closer collaboration and unity.
Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly will be promoting Marxism 2013 as an important opportunity for all socialists and other progressive activists and thinkers to discuss how we can advance our common cause.
"If we are going to get anywhere with left unity today we are going to have to find a way to get beyond a false argument within the left about who is really 'revolutionary' and who is not, and start discussing, in a constructive way, how best a united left can engage in the struggles against the ills of capitalism."
By Peter Boyle, national co-convenor, Socialist Alliance
December 8, 2012 -- Socialist Alliance -- Once again the question of left unity is on the agenda in Australia. There have been exploratory talks between the Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative and also between the Socialist Alliance and the Communist Party of Australia (CPA). The Socialist Alliance and the CPA worked together in a Housing Action election ticket in the Sydney City Council elections earlier this year.
Audio of the talk, "Marxism and Women's Liberation", presented by US International Socialist Organization leader Sharon Smith at Socialism 2012, on June 28, 2012.
See "Left debate: Organising women against sexist violence". For more discussion of feminism, click HERE.
By Rosa Louverture
Socialist Alliance member Margarita
Windisch addresses the 2012 Melbourne Reclaim the Night rally. Transcript HERE.
December 9, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- An article that appeared on the website of the magazine of the Socialist Alternative organisation on November 22, 2012, has sparked an interesting debate across the Australian left on merits of socialists organising against violence against women.
Graphic from the North Star.
By Peter Boyle
November 4, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On November 4, a delegation of Susan Price, Sue Bolton and myself, from the Socialist Alliance had an initial meeting to discuss left unity prospects with a delegation comprising Mick Armstrong, Sandra Bloodworth and Corey Oakley from Socialist Alternative.
The meeting was cordial and constructive. A short joint statement was issued that night, which noted that “the basis exists to begin a process of discussion to clarify our respective political positions and engage in collaborative work, with the aim of establishing if unity is possible”. The statement was published on both organisations' websites.
The joint statement said: “It was acknowledged that there are real political differences between the groups, both historic and to do with immediate questions of day-to-day politics and a conception of what kind of organisation the left needs. We had only the most provisional discussion of these issues, and it is clear that we are just at the start of a lengthy process of clarification.
By Chris Slee
July 30, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The nature of the former Soviet Union was an issue which divided the left for many decades. Now that the Soviet Union no longer exists, differing analyses of its class nature should no longer be a reason for maintaining separate socialist organisations.
Nevertheless, this historical debate has relevance to current politics, since the theories developed to explain the nature of the Soviet Union were subsequently applied to other countries, including Cuba. In particular, the theory of state capitalism, of which British Socialist Workers Party leader Tony Cliff was a leading exponent, is applied to Cuba by many groups today, including Solidarity and Socialist Alternative in Australia.
Small business in Cuba.
By Marce Cameron
February 22, 2011 -- Solidarity rally in Sydney with the
Libyan people in their struggle for democracy. Photo by Pip Hinman. See an article
about this action here: http://www.greenleft.org.a
[For more coverage of Libya, click HERE.]
By Nick Fredman
March 16, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Most interested observers of the public statements and activity of the Australian organisations Socialist Alternative (SAlt) and Socialist Alliance in regard to Libya would surely conclude that the two groups are in concord: a similar analysis of the pro-imperialist nature of the regime and enthusiastic support for the struggle of the workers and oppressed against dictatorship. Which makes it quite disappointing that Corey Oakley of SAlt has launched a swingeing polemic against Socialist Alliance about Libya. [See Appendix 1 below]
Ben Courtice, Melbourne
November 2, 2010 -- In a recent seminar on trade unions and the climate movement, I observed a surprising disagreement between some of the socialists present. It was started by a comment from Melbourne University academic (and Socialist Alliance activist) Hans Baer, who suggested that the “treadmill of production and consumption” had to be challenged, that we need to challenge consumerism and the alienation of work that makes people buy things to feel better.
Liz Ross of Socialist Alternative took umbrage at this, declaring that workers should create and enjoy wonderful technological products, tearing down a straw figure that Hans was supposedly arguing to stultify the creativity of the working class.
Australian Greens MPs and federal Labor Party leaders sign the agreement to back the ALP in government.
By Ben Hillier
October 23, 2010 -- In a recent article (“A Marxist critique of the Australian Greens”, available at marxistleftreview.org) I argue that the Greens cannot be regarded as a left alternative to the Australian Labor Party. My conclusions are based on the following considerations:
1. The Australian Greens is a pro-capitalist party with no organic links to the working class – either ideologically or organisationally.
2. The Greens is an organisation 9000 strong that has several thousand unionists as members. Yet they have no activist base in the union movement. There is no union/workers’ fraction in the organisation; no Greens unionist conference; and it has no rank-and-file groups. The organisation has made no serious attempt to intervene into the workers’ movement at all. It has a number of officers from the union movement as members, but no organised current in the bureaucracy.
Greens' leader Senator Bob Brown addresses a rally demanding action on climate change.
Ben Hillier replies at http://links.org.au/node/1959
By Nick Fredman
October 13, 2010 -- Ben Hillier’s article, “A Marxist critique of the Australian Greens” (available at http://www.marxistleftreview.org/) contains some useful information and analysis on the Australian Greens, a formation that has achieved a significant breakthrough in the recent federal election. Hillier is correct, generally, in writing of the Greens’ “populist left nationalism” and “middle class ideological basis”. But he over-emphasises the sociologically middle-class nature of the Greens’ voting base (and probably membership), as part of a general confusion on class today. In a related error, he is quite wrong, and quite sectarian, to state that the Greens “do not in any sense represent an alternative to the ALP” [Australian Labor Party].
Fidel Castro addresses a huge crowd in front of the presidential palace in Havana, Cuba, in 1959.
By Chris Slee
October 4, 2010 -- This is a response to "Cuba: Stalinism isn't socialism", by John Passant, a prominent member of Socialist Alternative in Australia.
John Passant writes:
One of Marx’s unique and profound contributions to socialism is his idea that the emancipation of the working class is the act of the working class. This is the very reason Cuba isn’t socialist... Castro took power, but the working class as the working class played no role whatsoever in the overthrow of Batista. In fact they ignored Fidel’s call for a general strike in 1958.
In reality the working class played a key role in the Cuban Revolution, through general strikes, mass demonstrations and by taking over their workplaces. For details, see my pamphlet Cuba: How the workers and peasants made the revolution.
Passant mentions the failed general strike of April 1958, but ignores the successful general strike of January 1959. According to historian Hugh Thomas:
Statement initiated by Working People Association (Indonesia) and Network of Progressive Youth Burma
[If your organisation would like to sign, please email:email@example.com.]
September 16, 2010 -- We, the undersigned organisations, strongly condemn the military junta of Burma for its new decree to curb workers’ right to form trade unions and its harsh punishments against any industrial action.
The military junta of Burma -- the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) -- decreed a new regulation on August 20, 2010, at a meeting in Rangoon attended by industry employers, government ministers and Burmese military officials, including Lt-Gen Myint Swe of the ministry of defence. It stated that, whoever launches or participates in industrial protests demanding better rights or conditions will be fired and blacklisted. The reason for the decree, labour activists in Burma believe, is that the junta wants to prevent further industrial action and employers don’t want their workers taking action to demand better wages, so now they can fire those who protest and stop them from getting jobs elsewhere.
By John Passant
August 15, 2010 -- The floods in Pakistan have threatened the lives and safety of more than 20 million people. Millions have lost everything. Now hunger and disease haunt the country. Dysentery and cholera are gaining a foothold as people without homes starve and kids without Western help die.
The US gives the Pakistan government US$1 billion a year to fight "militants". It has increased its flood aid contribution from $10 million to $25 million. That’s right. Its aid figures is millions, not billions.
That’s because for US imperialism cowering the world before its might is much more important than providing aid to people affected by the floods.
By Federico Fuentes, Caracas
May 22, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- Ironically, while the left is one of the fiercest critics of biased media coverage, it can also fall into the trap of corporate media distortions, particularly if its coverage dovetails with its own fantasies. A May 14 article by Daniel Lopez published on the website of Australian group Socialist Alternative is proof of this. The article echoes the view of a May 10 article on the BBC website, which has a clear dislike of Bolivia's President Evo Morales.
The BBC article argued a “general strike” by Bolivian unions marked “the end of the honeymoon period between the left-wing Mr Morales and his power base among the country's poor”. This position fits nicely with the outlook of Socialist Alternative, which also condemns Bolivia’s first Indigenous president.