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Communist Party of Australia

Brian Manning (1932-2013): Charlie India Echo Tango calling Timor Leste

On November 3, 2013, Brian Manning -- veteran Northern Territory communist, trade unionist, campaigner against racism, long-time activist for Indigenous people's rights and solidarity campaigner with the East Timorese people (among many other causes) -- died in Darwin, aged 81. Brian won enormous respect for his commitment to human rights and his unstinting dedication to changing the system.

As a tribute to Brian, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal highlights another important chapter in his inspiring political life: his important role in the building solidarity the struggle of the East Timorese people for national self-determination. (See also "Brian Manning and the Gurindji `walk offs’".)

The following chapter appeared in the 2003 book,  A Few Rough Reds: Stories of Rank and File Organising, published by the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History. This and others chapters are available at http://roughreds.com/rrone/index.html.

[Click HERE for more on Timor Leste. For more on the Communist Party of Australia, click HERE. ]

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By Brian Manning

Brian Manning (1932-2013) and the Gurindji `walk offs’

Brian Manning addressed the Gurindji Freedom Day celebration to mark the 45th anniversary of the historic walk-off.

On November 3, 2013, Brian Manning -- veteran Northern Territory communist, trade unionist, campaigner against racism, long-time activist for Indigenous people's rights and solidarity campaigner with the East Timorese people (among many other causes) -- died in Darwin, aged 81. Brian won enormous respect for his commitment to human rights and his unstinting dedication to changing the system. As a tribute to Brian, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal highlights one important chapter in his inspiring political life: his important role in the historic struggle of the Gurindji people for their rights.

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By Terry Townsend

[The following is an excerpt from The Aboriginal Struggle & the Left (Sydney: Resistance Books, 2009.]

'Rocking the Foundations' -- the story of Australia's pioneering red-green trade union

August 14, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- An outstanding historical account of the "Green Bans" first introduced by the communist-led New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) in the 1970s in response to community demand to preserve inner-city parkland and historic buildings. One of the first women to be accepted as a builders labourer, filmmaker Pat Fiske in 1985 traced the development of a union whose social and political activities challenged the notion of what a union should be.

More on the BLF from the Green Left Weekly archives below.

Essential viewing for unionists and environmentalists

Review by Ben Courtice

[This review appeared in Green Left Weekly, March 12, 1997.]

This film, an old favourite of radical activists, charts the rise of the NSW branch of the Builders Labourers' Federation. Beginning as a corrupt bosses' union in the 1940s, by the 1970s it was a powerful force for progressive social change and is now famous for placing "green bans" on building sites that were environmentally and socially destructive.

The old, corrupt leadership of the union was voted out after a 10-year campaign by a group of rank-and-file members who then reoriented the union to establish a high level of accountability for officials.

Hugo Chavez Frias – visionary, fighter, companero (Asia-Pacific left statements) (updated Mar. 17)

[Below are statements issued by socialist and progressive organisations in the Asia-Pacific region. More will be posted as they come to hand.]

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Statement of the Socialist Alliance (Australia)

March 6, 2013 -- The Socialist Alliance in Australia expresses its deepest sympathies with the people and government of Venezuela on the death of Companero Hugo Chavez Frias on March 5. His passing is a huge loss for all peoples, across Latin America and the globe, struggling for a world free of inequality, exploitation and oppression.

It is testament to Hugo Chavez’s great leadership that, while mourning his death, we are also confident that the Bolivarian Revolution and the new movement for socialism of the 21st century that Chavez inspired will be continued by the mass of people, to whom he worked so hard to give power.

'They will make splendid allies': The Communist Party of Australia and its attitude towards migrants

European migrants to Australia aboard the ship SS Derna on their arrival in Melbourne in November 1948.

February 22, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Below are two chapters from Australian socialist Douglas Jordon's thesis on the Communist Party of Australia. They deal with the CPA's sometimes inconsistent attitude to migration and racism within the Australian working class. As such issues continue to feature heavily in Australian politics and trade union activity, something the left must always deal with, these chapters provide useful lessons and experiences for socialists today. The chapters are availabe for download as PDF files or can be read on screen below the introduction.

Douglas Jordan was politicised in England in the late 1960s. After arriving in Australia he joined the Socialist Youth Alliance/Socialist Workers League/Socialist Workers Party, in which where he remained a member for 14 years. Today he is a community activist and co-presenter of the City Limits radio program on Melbourne's 3CR.

What politics to unite Australia's left?

"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.

Australia: Communist municipal councillor connects the local to the global

Tony Oldfield.

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

Tony Oldfield interviewed by Federico Fuentes

September 22, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- As we walk into a cafe in the Sydney suburb of Newington, a young Afghan barista greets Communist Party of Australia (CPA) activist Tony Oldfield by name and asks how the recent local Auburn council elections went. After talking for a few minutes about which councillors were re-elected and which were not, the young man asks: “And how about you Tony?”

Only then does Tony point out that he too was elected.

In doing so, Oldfield became one of only four socialist local councillors in Australia at the present time.

Oldfield told Green Left Weekly that the origins of his election date back to the early 2000s, when “local Turkish community activists, leftists and some small business owners”, came together to form a community group opposed to the proposed Collex waste transfer station.

Their legal challenge against the waste dump was successful in the Land and Environment Court, but “the Carr Labor government brought in an act to parliament that overturned the court decision”.

Venezuelan communist talks about struggle for socialism

GreenLeftTV -- Venezuelan revolutionary Carolus Wimmer speaking in Perth on August 16, 2012, part of a national tour organised by the Communist Party of Australia.

By Jim McIlroy

August 14, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- Carolus Wimmer, a longstanding member of the Latin American Parliament and international relations secretary of the Communist Party of Venezuela, spoke at a Sydney forum on Latin America in revolt on August 11, part of a national speaking tour sponsored by the Communist Party of Australia. During his Australian tour, he also addressed meetings in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

At the Sydney forum, Wimmer took up the question, “What progress has been made toward socialism by the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela?” He said Latin America is still dominated by US imperialism, supported by Britain and Europe. He described the Bolivarian Revolution, which began in Venezuela in 1999, as “an anti-imperialist struggle, with the goal of anti-capitalism and socialism”.

He said:

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 & New Zealand: The imperialist reality behind ANZAC myth (updated 2013)

ANZACs pose in front of the Sphinx while on leave during WWI.

By Phil Shannon

What’s Wrong With Anzac? The Militarisation of Australian History
By Marilyn Lake & Henry Reynolds
UNSW Press, 2010, 183 pages

Green Left Weekly -- On April 25 in Australia, it is not humanly possible to escape the slouch hats, the Dawn Service, the Last Post, the khaki uniforms and the military ceremonies endlessly recycled in the establishment media. The cult of Anzac Day is pervasive, the culture of war unavoidable.

Immensely welcome, then, is What’s Wrong with Anzac? by Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds, which takes a dissenting look at the Anzac Day tradition.

The legend is that the landing by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli in 1915, despite ending in defeat, was the supreme test of manhood and nationhood, which Australia passed. Anzac Day is remorselessly promoted as Australia’s true national day and celebrated with religious fervour.

Left debates Libya: SEARCH Foundation -- `Support "no-fly" UN resolution for Libyan democratic rebellion'

Libya rebels ride a captured Gaddafi tank in Benghazi March 19, 2011. Photo by Goran Tomasevic.

The following statement was released by the Australian SEARCH Foundation. The foundation was set up as a not-for-profit company in 1990 to preserve and draw on the resources of the Communist Party of Australia (CPA), and its archives. The CPA was the most significant socialist party in Australia between its formation in 1920 and 1991, when it ceased operating.

How the Communist Party of Australia exposes the Democratic Socialist Party's 'Trotskyism'

By Doug Lorimer

[This article first appeared in the Democratic Socialist Party's internal discussion bulletin, The Activist, volume 10, number 7, August 2000.]

The Communist Party of Australia has recently published a pamphlet by David Matters entitled Putting Lenin's Clothes on Trotskyism which claims that the DSP's rejection of Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution is really a cover for its support for Trotskyism. However, the real purpose of the pamphlet is to criticise the DSP's position on the 1998 waterfront dispute.

This is made clear in the introduction to Matters' pamphlet by CPA general secretary Peter Symon:

In writing Putting Lenin's clothes on Trotskyism, David Matters has contributed to the task of clarifying ideas and maintaining the validity and truth of Marxism...

The attack on Marxism in the name of Marx, or on Lenin in the name of Lenin, is a particularly pernicious form which can easily mislead those who are not familiar with what Marx, Engels and Lenin actually said and wrote.

The pretension that Trotsky was a great Leninist is one of these misrepresentations and was refuted time and again by Lenin.

Australia: The DSP in the 1980s

[This first appeared as the introduction to Building the Revolutionary Party: Jim Percy Selected Writings 1980-87 (Resistance Books: Chippendale, 2008). Dave Holmes is now a leader of the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne. This and other writings are also available at Dave Holmes' blog, Arguing for Socialism.]

By Dave Holmes

This is the second volume of writings and speeches by Jim Percy, one of the founders of Australia's Democratic Socialist Perspective and its longtime central leader until his death in 1992. These seven items — reports given by Jim to conferences and leadership gatherings of the DSP (or SWP, Socialist Workers Party, as it was known in this period) — span the years 1980 to 1987.

The thoughts of `Chairman' Chicka Dixon; `The Fox has the last laugh'

"My thoughts on life. `The thoughts of Chairman Chicka', they could be called. I believe every woman of this planet is my sister. I believe every man on this planet is my brother. Like all Kooris [Indigenous people] I know the earth is my mother. We must learn to share with those three. If the rest of the world could adopt that philosophy of caring and sharing, there would be no wars. But most importantly, there would be no starving children." -- the late Charles "Chicka" "the Fox" Dixon, speaking at the Australian Museum, in December 2003.

Australia: Freedom fighter Chicka Dixon departs, his activist spirit lives on

Charles "Chicka" Dixon (top left with mouth covered) at the 1972 Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Canberra. Photo from http://indigenousrights.net.au.

By Peter Boyle, Sydney

March 31, 2010 -- Indigenous and trade union activist Chicka "The Fox" Dixon (1928-2010) was farewelled by more than a thousand people in a state funeral in Sydney Town Hall today. Chicka was from the Yuin people whose traditional lands stretch along the south coast of New South Wales, from the Shoalhaven down to the Victorian border.

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.

Tom Keneally's `The People's Train': Steaming along the tracks of revolution

The People's Train
By Tom Keneally,
Vintage Books, 2009

Review by Phil Shannon

October 10, 2009 -- When Artem Samsurov first came to Brisbane in 1911, the Russian exile noted that the poor did not eat horse meat like they did in his native country and he wondered whether this did indeed make it true that Australia was a “working man’s paradise”? A diet that was no stranger, however, to rabbit, and bread and lard, suggested otherwise.

Tom Keneally’s latest novel, The People’s Train, follows the political and romantic adventures of Samsurov, a fictional character closely based on Fedor (``Artem'') Sergeyev, a Bolshevik who escaped from exile in Siberia after the crushing of the 1905 revolution in Russia and who was a political activist in Brisbane for six years. [See the Australian Dictionary of Biography's entry for Fedor``Artem'' Sergeyev below this review.]

In regular trouble with the Red-persecuting Queensland police, Sergeyev returned to Russia in 1917 in time to be elected to the central committee of the Bolshevik Party and play a leading role in the Russian Revolution.

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