Australian Labor Party

Social democracy's past and present dissected

A Short History of Social Democracy: From Socialist Origins to Neoliberal Theocracy
By John Rainford
Resistance Books
184 pp.

Order your copy HERE

Review by Jim McIlroy

April 27, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The rise and then fall of social democracy as a movement for fundamental social change is a modern tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. It is one of the epic stories of the 19th and 20th centuries.

This new book by Socialist Alliance member and unionist John Rainford charts the history of the doctrine from the birth of socialist thought in the 19th century. It focuses on the development of social democracy, which essentially became a project for “reforming” capitalism, expressed in parties such as the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

It examines the political forces opposed to social democracy on its left and right, its victories and its “golden years” after World War II. The book examines its surrender to “free market” neoliberalism before suggesting what might constitute “an anti-capitalist politics for the 21st century”.

Australia: ‘People are capable of running society themselves’-- socialist councillor Sue Bolton

Click for more on left electoral politics at the municipal level and for more on the Australian Socialist Alliance

April 23, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton spoke to Dave Holmes about her work as an elected socialist local councillor in Moreland, a municipality in Melbourne, Australia.

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You were elected to the Moreland City Council for Socialist Alliance in October 2012. Many of the themes and issues raised in your campaign struck a chord with a wide range of people. There was also a fair bit of accident and luck: you headed up a ballot with 24 names on it and the ALP ticket was split.

There were two main reasons why I was elected. One was that our campaign theme, “community need not developer greed”, struck a chord with residents who didn’t know either Socialist Alliance or me because many residents are directly effected by developer greed.

Social democracy and neoliberalism: victim or vanguard?

By Damien Cahill, Sydney

December 4, 2014 -- Damien Cahill: Thoughts on Politics, Economy and Culture, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Earlier this year Ed Miliband, leader of the British Labour Party, addressed a specially organised gathering of business leaders with the following words: “I would be a prime minister who champions the rights of the consumer and the rights of businesses to succeed and make profits in a competitive market at the same time.”

That such sentiments could be expressed by a Labour leader in the neoliberal era is unremarkable. Social-democratic parties have been falling over themselves during the last few decades to reassure capital that, not only have they jettisoned their socialist inheritance, they are also firmly on board with the neoliberal agenda.

For British Labour, Miliband is just the latest in a series of leaders that have driven the party to embrace neoliberalism.

Australia: How and why the Gough Whitlam government's far-reaching reforms were won

By Jim McIlroy

November 1, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- The passing of former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam at the age of 98 on October 21 provoked a wave of emotion from the community, both young and old. At a time when the federal government is trying to smash the remnants of the progressive reforms initiated during Whitlam's Australian Labor Party (ALP) government — in office from December 1972 to November 1975 — the Whitlam era seems like a period from another political universe.

A letter to the Sydney Morning Herald on October 23, 2014, summed up the mood: "The death of Gough Whitlam not only provided an opportunity for political midgets such as [present ALP federal leader] Bill Shorten and [Liberal Party-National Party coalition Prime Minister] Tony Abbott to become authorities on giants ... It also showed how these two agree on almost everything else. The contrast with the Whitlam era is complete.”

Australia: Reject 'Cold War posturing' over MH17 tragedy: No troops to Ukraine!

Statement by the Socialist Alliance (Australia)

July 24, 2014 -- Socialist Alliance -- The Socialist Alliance conveys its condolences to the families of all its victims of the suspected shooting down to Malaysian Airlines flight 17 (MH17) over war-torn eastern Ukraine but it rejects the inflammatory Cold-War-style political posturing by both Liberal PM Tony Abbott and Labor Party opposition leader Bill Shorten.

Both these politicians have shamelessly sought to exploit this terrible tragedy to step up their pro-war and imperialist propaganda and they have been urged on by the capitalist media.

If the downing of MH17 was a deliberate shooting down of a civilian airliner, then who ever was responsible would be guilty of an atrocious crime against humanity and should be punished accordingly.

However, an independent and objective international investigation into the incident needs to be allowed to take place without provoking more war or leaping to conclusions about who may be responsible.

Instead the Australian government has flagged sending soldiers as part of an "international deployment" to eastern Ukraine under the guise of securing the crash site. This comes amid reports that the US was planning to send military advisers to assist the Ukranian regime in its war against rebels in the east.

Australia: Socialist Alliance's 'Australian Political Perspectives' resolution

More than 100,000 people mobilised across Australia for “March in March” 2014, in more than 34 towns and cities, in the largest anti-government protest for nearly a decade.

Adopted by the 10th National Conference of Socialist Alliance, June 7-9, 2014

Introduction

1. Australia has escaped recession for more than two decades, despite the impact of the Asian and global financial crises on the world's economies. While Australia experienced strong economic growth in the years following the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), economic growth has now slowed to 2.8%, and is mainly driven by commodity exports, consumer spending and housing investment. With mining projects shifting from the capital investment stage into production for export, falling commodity prices, as well as increased global competition for commodity exports will likely impact on Australia's export income (and economic stability) in the years to come.

Lessons of the Australian Prices and Incomes Accord

Former ACTU heads Bill Kelty (left) and Simon Crean (right), and former Labor PM Bob Hawke attend the Prices and Income Accord 30-year anniversary. Photo by Renee Nowytarger. Source: The Australian.

June 1, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal --The 30th anniversary of the Prices and Incomes Accord, signed by the Australian Labor Party federal government and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, has just been celebrated by the former employers, union officials and ALP politicians of the period. At the time, and again today, this class-collaborationist "social contract" was lauded as a tremendous step forward for workers and "the economy". The reality for Australian workers was the opposite and the lessons should never be forgotten.

Below is a talk presented to the political school of the South African Municipal Workers Union -- in Durban in 2001 -- by Norm Dixon, at the time editor of Green Left Weekly and a national executive member of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (since merged into the Socialist Alliance). It is excerpted from the SAMWU Political Education Book, 2002-03.

The ALP left in Leichhardt municipality in the 1980s

'Primal Socialist Innocence and the Fall'?: the ALP Left in Leichhardt Municipality in the 1980s

By Tony Harris*


From the History Cooperative.

During the 1970's and the early 1980's, hundreds of people flooded into the ALP branches of the Municipality of Leichhardt. They constituted a new element of the ALP Left, influenced to one degree or another by the social movements of the late '60s and early '70s, or by the experience of the Whitlam Government. They became locked into a fierce struggle for power with local political machines, and behind them a state ALP branch, dominated by the Labor Right. But when, in the early 1980's, the moment of power arrived, this Left fell into bitter disarray, fragmenting along a spectrum that spilled out of the Party. This tale of political 'innocence' and 'fall' traces through the loss of the municipal council and state parliamentary seat and is dramatically symbolised in the fraught struggle over the future one of the most significant labour (and Labor) history sites: Mort's Dock. As such it reveals the historically contingent nature of the 'middle-classing' of the ALP during this period.

Communists in local councils: The red shire of Kearsley, 1944-47

For more articles on socialists in municipal councils, click HERE. 

May 18, 2011 -- Recent electoral victories in Australia by socialists at the municipal council level -- the Socialist Party's Stephen Jolly in Victoria and Socialist Alliance's Sam Wainwright in Western Australia -- have sparked renewed interest in the experiences of socialists who have been elected to such bodies. Below is a study of one such experience in Australia: Martin Mowbray's classic (1986) "The Red Shire of Kearsley, 1944-1947: Communists in Local Government". It is posted here for non-commercial, educational purposes.

Mowbray, Martin, "The Red Shire of Kearsley, 1944-1947: Communists in Local Government", Labour History, no. 51 (Nov., 1986), pp. 83-94. Published by the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Inc.

Download HERE in PDF format, or read it on screen below.

(See also "Red councillors during the Cold War: Communists on Sydney City Council, 1953-59".)

Australia: Murdoch press demonises Greens over support for Palestinian rights

Racist vandalism of Greens’ election campaign billboards, Sydney. Photo: Peter Boyle.

By Samah Sabawi

April 10, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- While Palestinian, Israeli and international non-violent protesters who march against Israel’s policies in the Occupied Territories are literally showered in sewage, beaten, arbitrarily arrested and sometimes killed by Israeli forces, the battle against non-violent resistance has taken its own ugly form in Australia.

Supporters of the non-violent global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement — especially members of the Greens — have been subjected to abuse in a deliberate national campaign of misinformation and slurs orchestrated against them. It has questioned their values and integrity and falsely accused them of anti-Semitism.

The war on BDS is part of a concerted effort to sabotage Palestinian and Israeli non-violent resistance against Israel’s 43-year-old illegal occupation and its 63 years of discrimination against non-Jewish Israeli citizens.

Australia: Corruption tactics — outrage management in a local government scandal

The September 13, 2009, Wollongong Against Corruption march for democracy.

By Brian Martin

November 5, 2010 — A mobilised citizenry is a threat to corrupt operations. Therefore, those involved in behaviours potentially labelled as corrupt have an interest in minimising public outrage. Five ways of doing this are to hide the activity, denigrate opponents, reinterpret actions as legitimate, use official channels to give an appearance of justice, and intimidate or bribe people involved. A local government scandal in Wollongong, Australia, illustrates all these tactics, with public hearings and media coverage providing volumes of revealing information. The implication of this analysis is that anti-corruption efforts should emphasise ways of increasing public outrage.

Introduction

Australia: The nature of the Greens: a rejoinder to Nick Fredman

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.

Australia: Swing to Greens a shift to left as neither major capitalist party wins a mandate

Newly elected Greens MP Adam Bandt with trade unionist supporters during the 2007 federal election.

By Peter Boyle

August 24, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- By denying both the ruling Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the opposition Liberal Party-National Party coalition an outright majority, in primary votes and in federal House of Representatives (lower house) and Senate (upper house), Australian electors on August 21 voted “neither of the above” for the traditional parties of government. The result after election night was a hung parliament, with several rural independent MPs and one Greens MP to decide which party will form the next government.

This followed an election campaign in which the major parties conducted an ugly race to the right, most notoriously by scapegoating the few thousand desperate refugees who attempt to get to Australia on boats.

Australia: `Sustainable population?' -- Scapegoating migrants and refugees for the capitalist system's ills

To read more on the discussion around population, click HERE.

By Graham Matthews

July 24, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- In one of her first policy changes after replacing Kevin Rudd as leader of the Australian Labor Party, Prime Minister Julia Gillard dumped Rudd’s idea of a “big Australia”. On June 26, Gillard said “Australia should not hurtle down the track towards a big population”. Instead, she called for a “sustainable population”.

Almost four weeks on, however, Labor’s policy has no details — just lots of rhetoric designed to pander to fears that immigration (particularly asylum seekers) is causing a raft of social problems.

The Greens: mainstream party or minor irritant?

Greens MP Sylvia Hale addresses a rally in solidarity with Venezuela. Photo by Aporrea.

[The following speech was delivered as the 10th Annual Juanita Nielsen Lecture, on March 23, 2010. Sylvia Hale is a Greens member of the NSW state parliament, elected to the Legislative Council (upper house) in 2003. Juanita Nielsen was a campaigner against the big business development of Kings Cross, Sydney, who disappeared in 1975, and widely suspected of having been kidnapped and murdered by crime figures associated with property developers. The address has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

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By Sylvia Hale

Australia: Red councillors during the Cold War: Communists on Sydney City Council, 1953-59

 

 Sydney Town Hall in the 1950s.

Recent electoral victories in Australia by socialists at the municipal council level -- the Socialist Party's Stephen Jolly in Victoria and Socialist Alliance's Sam Wainwright in Western Australia -- have sparked renewed interest in the experiences of other socialists who have been elected to such bodies. With permission of the Rough Reds Collective, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is publishing Beverley Symons' paper that examines the example of Communist Party of Australia members elected to the Sydney City Council in the 1950s. This article first appeared in the 2003 book A Few Rough Reds, published by the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Canberra Region Branch. The book is available online at http://www.roughreds.com.

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By Beverley Symons

As is well known, the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) was represented in an Australian parliament only once, by Fred Paterson in the Queensland state seat of Bowen from 1944-50. However, the party's electoral successes in local government have attracted little historical attention. As far as I know, the only published material outside the communist press were two articles in 1985 and 1986 examining the CPA's 1944 victory in winning five of the eight seats on the Kearsley Shire Council in the northern New South Wales coalfields.

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.

Australia: Towards a history of the Communist Party of Australia

[These articles were first published in Green Left Weekly in 1995 to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of Australia.]

By John Percy

September 27, 1995 -- Seventy-five years ago, under the impact and inspiration of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, the Communist Party of Australia was founded. It was a modest beginning, but an historic event. The CPA formed in 1920 finally dissolved in 1991, but for most of its life it was the dominant party on the left in Australia and an important force in the workers movement.

There are many proud chapters in its history -- the numerous trade union struggles led; organising the unemployed, women, Aborigines, young people; important civil liberties fights; and solidarity with international struggles, in Spain, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa and East Timor, to name a few.
The CPA's founders had a vision of socialist revolution in Australia, and this was the goal of most of its rank-and-file members over the years. The party inspired dedication and commitment from thousands of men and women, and organised the most militant, idealistic, self-sacrificing section of the Australian working class.

But it was also a history of mistakes, of betrayals, of lost opportunities.

To mark this important anniversary, Green Left Weekly will be carrying a series of articles on the history of the CPA.

Communism in Australia

By Dave Holmes

[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.]

The Industrial Workers of the World in Australia: achievements and limitations

The IWW's newspaper Direct Action campaigned opposed capitalist war in 1914.

[This talk was presented at the 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.]

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By Verity Burgmann

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