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Socialist Alternative (Australia)

'Broad left parties': Murray Smith replies to Socialist Alternative's Mick Armstrong

Mass rally for Greece’s opposition Syriza party in Athens in May 2014.

By Murray Smith

June 23, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Mick Armstrong of Socialist Alternative, Australia, has written an article which sets out to criticise what I have written over the last 15 or so years on broad left parties ("A critique of the writings of Murray Smith on broad left partes" (PDF), Marxist Left Review, Summer 2014). I would like to reply to some of the points that he makes.

Barry Sheppard: Three theories of the USSR

"In the US and elsewhere, including Britain, a mass anti-war movement developed against the US war in Vietnam. By 1968, the International Socialists in the US and the IS in Britain changed their line [of neutrality between the 'two imperialisms'] and came out against the US and defended Vietnam. In the US they joined the mass demonstrations to 'Bring the troops home now!'"

Read more by Barry Sheppard HERE.

By Barry Sheppard

June 6, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In this two-part article I examine the ramifications for today of the three theories of the USSR that emerged from the Left Opposition: state capitalism, bureaucratic collectivism and Leon Trotsky’s theory of the degenerated workers’ state. (Read more on the theory of state capitalism HERE.)

How we can use the Transitional Program today: a response to Socialist Alternative

 "Allen Myers denies the possibility of using the Transitional Program as a tool to advance the class struggle in Australia today. He devotes a lot of effort in arguing that nationalisation is not a transitional demand in current circumstances."

For more on the transitional method, click HERE

By Chris Slee

February 2, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Allen Myers, a member of the Australian party Socialist Alternative, has written an article in that organisation’s magazine Marxist Left Review entitled “Trotsky’s Transitional Program: its uses and abuses”.[1] Myers is also a former leading member of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, some of whose members have joined Socialist Alternative.

In defence of Socialist Alliance’s strategy of mass action: a response to Socialist Alternative

For more on the transitional method, click HERE.

By Dave Holmes

[Text of a talk given to the Geelong branch of Socialist Alliance on December 3, 2013.]

December 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The unity discussions between Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative have come to an end. In a November 3, 2013, letter on behalf of the Socialist Alternative national executive, Mick Armstrong wrote: “The overall political projects of both organisations are not sufficiently similar to carry through a sustained and productive unity that could advance the cause of the revolutionary left in Australia and the broader class struggle.”[1]

Dave Holmes: Strengthening the socialist movement today

Building effective campaigns and coalitions is extremely important. Socialist Alliance members at the Sydney national day of action on climate change, November 17. Photo by Peter Boyle.

By Dave Holmes

[The following talk was presented at the Socialist Ideas Conference held in Melbourne, November 2, 2013, organised by the Socialist Alliance.]

November 18, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Arguing for Socialism -- In Australia, as in all the imperialist countries, the capitalist class is carrying out a massive assault on all the gains won by working people in more than 150 years. Every TV news bulletin these days features reports of cutbacks, selloffs and outsourcing, attacks on workers' rights and attacks on civil liberties — as well as wars and massive misery abroad.

With social democracy firmly in the neoliberal camp and the left marginalised, the capitalist class sees its chance and is pressing home the attack as vigorously as possible.

Climate disaster

Simon Butler: Marxism and the ecological revolution (audio)

Simon Butler.

September 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Australian Socialist Alliance national executive member Simon Butler gave this speech, "Marxism and the ecological revolution", at the Marxism 2013 conference, which was held in Melbourne, Australia, over March 28-31. The conference was organised by Socialist Alternative.

In the talk Butler explores Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels' much neglected insights into the anti-ecological dynamic of capitalism, a system based on the dual exploitation of labour and nature. He also discusses the relevance of Marx's ecology for meeting today's crises and makes an argument for why 21st century socialists should also be ecosocialists.

Socialism and the workers' movement: comments on Lars Lih on the narrative of their merger

Lars Lih.

By Jonathan Strauss

[This is an edited text of a presentation made on June 9, 2013, at the “Organising for 21st century socialism” seminar, held in Sydney. Strauss is a member of the Socialist Alliance in Cairns.]

A Marxist’s place is in the feminist movement

[See also "Why socialists need feminism". For more discussion of feminism, click HERE.]

By Karen Fletcher

August 6, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Tony Cliff was characteristically blunt when he set out what was to become the International Socialist Tendency’s (IST) position on “the feminist movement” in his 1984 book, Class Struggle and Women's Liberation:

Doug Lorimer, a life-long committed revolutionary, 1953-2013

Read some of Doug Lorimer's writings HERE.

By Pat Brewer

July 27, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Doug Lorimer, a life-long committed revolutionary, died on July 21 in Sydney after a year of fighting deteriorating ill health and long-term hospitalisation.

Lorimer was born April 17, 1953 in Dundee in Scotland and migrated to Australia with his parents Connie and Bill when he was four years old to settle in the South Australian steel town of Whyalla.

Lorimer radicalised as a high school student. He first became involved in left politics through the Australian movement against the imperialist war in Vietnam, when he and his mother joined the moratorium marches in Adelaide in 1970.

Lorimer was recruited to the Socialist Youth Alliance — which later became the youth organisation Resistance — aged 16 in late 1971 in his final year in high school. He then went on to enrol in a science degree majoring in physics at Flinders University.

He dropped out of the degree during his first year as his commitment to building a revolutionary party grew. However, his interest in science never waned.

Barry Sheppard's SWP histories an 'eye-opener' for young socialist activist

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume I: The Sixties, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (Sydney), 2005, 354 pages.

The Party, The Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, Volume II: Interregnum, Decline and Collapse, 1973-1988, a Political Memoir by Barry Sheppard, Resistance Books (London), 2012, 345 pages.

[For more reviews of Barry Sheppard's books, visit HERE and SWPhistory.com.]

By Daniel Lopez

Australia: Revolutionary unity to meet the capitalist crisis -- Socialist Alliance responds to Socialist Alternative

Socialist Alliance national convenor Peter Boyle speaks at Socialist Alternative's Marxism 2013.

[A response from Socialist Alliance to "What kind of organisation do socialists need?", published in the Summer 2013 issue of Socialist Alternative's Marxist Left Review. This article first appeared in Marxist Left Review, Winter 2013 and is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

By Nick Fredman, Pip Hinman and Susan Price

Australia: History, strategy and revolutionary unity

Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

The following talk by Socialist Alternative member Jorge Jorquera was presented on June 9, 2013, part of the panel on “Socialism in practice: Bridging socialist theory and social movement struggles” with Socialist Alliance’s Dave Holmes. It was a session of the “Organising for 21st century socialism” seminar organised by Socialist Alliance and held in Sydney on June 8-9. The seminar also featured US socialist Paul Le Blanc. See also Dave Holme's contribution, "How should a united socialist party work?"

* * *

By Jorge Jorquera

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Invariably some comment on the current period is a good place to start any conversation on the left. Both Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance generally concur on the basic contours of the Australian political situation.

Paul Le Blanc: Organising for 21st century socialism -- Reflections on the history and future of Leninism

The following was presented by Paul Le Blanc to the "Organising for 21st century socialism" seminar in Sydney on June 8, 2013. The seminar was organised by the Socialist Alliance. Le Blanc also addressed meetings in Wollongong, Melbourne and Adelaide. Photo by Alex Bainbridge. A video of the presentation can be viewed at http://links.org.au/node/3396.

More by Paul Le Blanc can be found HERE.

* * *

By Paul Le Blanc

In the first portion of these remarks I want to explain, first of all, why Leninism is worth talking about not only for understanding some of what happened in history, but also for helping change the world in the here-and-now of the early twenty-first century. I want to explain what I mean by the term Leninism, then touch on several historical controversies that may shed light on how to make use of this tradition in our ongoing political work. In the second portion of my remarks, I will offer thoughts on ways to apply and contribute to the Leninist tradition in our practical efforts for the coming period.

Leninism’s meaning and value

Australia: How should a united socialist party work?

[This is a slightly edited text of a presentation made by Dave Holmes at the “Organising for 21st century socialism” seminar, held in Sydney, June 9, 2013 (pictured above, photo by Alex Bainbridge). Holmes is a leading member of the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne.]

By Dave Holmes

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Today I want to talk about how socialists need to work to win mass influence and how that relates to the unity process between Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative.

On May 21, 2013, in Melbourne we held a very well-attended joint forum where our two organisations presented their views on the unity process. There is a report of the meeting in the May 29 issue of Green Left Weekly.[1]

I want to expand on some points touched on there and to raise some others. Hopefully most of what I say is uncontroversial but in any case I want to be clear and unambiguous on what I consider some key questions of socialist activity.

World in crisis

Our world has clearly entered what is arguably its deepest ever crisis.

Long live May Day! Workers of the world unite!

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.

The problem of relative privilege in the working class

"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.

'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.]

I

In defence of the transitional method

Sue Bolton speaking at a rally for refugee rights in September. Photo by Aneleh Bulle. 

[See also "How socialists work to win mass support" and "'Transitional Program': 'a program of action from today until the beginning of the socialist revolution'".]

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.

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