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Communist Party of Australia
[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
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.
"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.
Self-guided tour of revolutionary history: Colonial peoples at the Fourth Communist International Congress
By John Riddell
September 25, 2012 -- Johnriddell.wordpress, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The newly published proceedings of the Communist International’s Fourth Congress, Toward the United Front, makes it possible for any socialist activist or independent researcher to make the acquaintance of a wide spectrum of revolutionaries of the 1920s, both prominent and obscure. No guide or interpreter is needed.
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”.
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”.
'Primal Socialist Innocence and the Fall'?: the ALP Left in Leichhardt Municipality in the 1980s
By Tony Harris*
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.
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.
ANZACs pose in front of the Sphinx while on leave during WWI.
By Phil Shannon
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.
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.
[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.
"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.
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.
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.
* * *
By Beverley Symons
The People's Train
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.
[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.
[After working as a tram conductor in Melbourne and Adelaide he was replaced by a ticket machine in 1998 and so lost his lifetime profession. He returned to study and is now writing his PhD thesis. The thesis -- of which this article is an excerpt -- is a detailed examination of the extent to which Communist Party of Australia union activists raised political issues in their unions.
[In particular it looks at the peace movement, attitudes to the post-war migration program and the Aboriginal struggle for human rights. There was been a general perception that Communist Party union activists were nothing more than industrial militants. The thesis aims to challenge this and show that CPA members often raised political issues and sought support for them from their co-workers.]
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By Douglas Jordan
By Sylvia Hale
June 13, 2009 -- Jean Hale (nee Heathcote) was born on July 29, 1912, in Brisbane. Her grandfather, Wyndham Selfe Heathcote, was an Anglican clergyman who opposed the Boer War. His opposition to the Anglican Church's social policies and his opinions, such as this from one of his essays -– “The death of Jesus, as a social reformer using direct action, has been transmuted into the death of a God dying for the world” –- found him at loggerheads with the church and resulted in his leaving to become a Unitarian minister. His public speaking skills, which Jean inherited, were considerable. In October 1916 the Woman Voter reported that, “despite the large seating capacity of the building, thousands of people were turned away” from a debate between himself and Adela Pankhurst (the youngest member of the British suffragist family).
[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.
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.
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.]