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A glimpse of what could be: The NSW BLF, the most radical and innovative union the world has ever seen
By John Tully
Fifty years ago, a group of dedicated left-wing activists wrested control of the NSW Builders Labourers’ Federation (BLF) from the corrupt gangster types who had used it to feather their own nests. The militants, who included Jack Mundey, Joe Owens and Bob Pringle, rebuilt the union into a radically democratic, socially progressive and environmentally-aware organisation the likes of which Australia—and the world—had never seen. Today, we live in dark times for trade unionism. Only around 7% of workers in private industry are organised and unionists face ruthless attacks by the bosses and the state. The achievements of the NSW BLF, however, give us a glimpse of the liberating potential of the working class and are a beacon for the future.
Adopted by the 11th Socialist Alliance national conference, June 5-8, 2015
June 21, 2015 -- Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Humanity has reached a critical crossroad. Capitalism cannot advance society as a whole. Already, large sections of the world live in poverty, repression and endless war but in addition the irrational and insatiable drive for profits by a highly monopolised and globalised capitalism is driving towards irreversible and catastrophic climate change.
Capitalist governments – and the giant corporations they work for – are refusing to act on the desperate warnings of the great majority of the world's leading scientists to avert the climate crisis.
Gemma Weedall presents Australian politics report. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.
Australian politics and campaigns perspectives resolutions adopted by the 11th national conference of Socialist Alliance
By Alex Bainbridge, Sydney
June 20, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The campaign against closure of Aboriginal communities and mobilisations against unconventional gas in eastern Australia are some examples of growing campaigns that are successfully challenging the agenda of capitalist governments in Australia, according to the 11th national conference of the Socialist Alliance.
The Australian politics resolution adopted by the conference highlighted these and other campaigns — such as the successful campaign against the East West Link in Melbourne and the campaign to free the refugees — as important examples of resistance in Australia today.
By Michael Cooke
For the record then, I have no patience with the position that "we" should only or mainly be concerned with what is "ours’" any more than I can condone reactions to such a view that require Arabs to read Arab books, use Arab methods and the like. As C.L.R James used to say, Beethoven belongs as much to the West as he does to Germans, since his music is now part of the human heritage.
Partly because of empire, all cultures are involved in one another; none is single and pure, all are hybrid, heterogeneous, extraordinary, differentiated, and unmonolithic. This I believe, is as true of the contemporary Untied States [or Australia] as it is of the modern Arab world … Edward Said
A Short History of Social Democracy: From Socialist Origins to Neoliberal Theocracy
By John Rainford
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”.
See also "Australia & New Zealand: The imperialist reality behind ANZAC myth". For more on World War I, click HERE
Film by John Rainford and Peter Ewer
April 24, 2015 -- Green Left TV/Green Left Weekly//Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC's ill-fated Gallipoli campaign approaches, this timely short film cuts through the myth making, and shows with damning facts how lives were used as fodder as strategic and tactical blunders led to the slaughter of so many.
It reveals the context behind the Gallipoli campaign - a war fought because the world had been cut up into colonies by the major powers who were now battling for the spoils.
The film shows exactly why the terrible ANZAC Cove campaign should never be forgotten — and the crimes of the warmongers responsible never forgiven.
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.
April 9, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following letter, signed by 30 academics, municipal councillors, trade union officials, journalists, solidarity organisation convenors and political party leaders from around Australia, was initiated by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign in Melbourne. It will be handed over the US consulates in Melbourne and Sydney on April 10. If you would like to add your name please email Denis Rogatyuk at email@example.com.
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President Barack Obama
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr President,
We, the undersigned individuals and organisations, reject your March 9, 2015, declaration deeming Venezuela as an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”.
We also oppose the sanctions your administration has placed on a number of Venezuelan state officials and call for the immediate repeal of your Executive Order on Venezuela.
The reality is that Venezuela today is not at war with any nation, nor does it have military bases outside its borders. In fact, Venezuela is helping to mediate an end to the war in Colombia and has constantly championed peace in the region.
By Dave Holmes
March 24, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Melbourne-based Australians for Kurdistan committee has launched a campaign calling for the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to be removed from the Australian government’s list of terrorist organisations.
Socialist Alliance activists march on May Day in Sydney last year. Photo by Peter Boyle.
By Susan Price
February 14, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- What lessons can we learn from the recent victory of SYRIZA for building the anti-austerity movement and a political alternative to neoliberalism here in Australia? Australian Greens senator Lee Rhiannon, in her recent article in New Matilda [see https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/58246], writes that the left in Australia should wake up and take notice of what is happening in Europe. I couldn’t agree more.
Rhiannon writes that the European developments give those on the progressive side of politics encouragement and build our hopes, and then asks the reasonable question, “But do they have any direct application?” To that we can answer, yes. Not because we can or want to create a carbon copy of SYRIZA, but because there are some general lessons that can be applied here.
Sri Lanka’s newly elected president Maithripala Sirisena. Photograph: Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images.
For more coverage of Sri Lanka, click HERE.
By the Tamil Refugee Council
Melbourne, January 9, 2015 --The Tamil Refugee Council urges the Australian government to use the change of leadership in Sri Lanka to push for a resolution to the country’s most pressing issue – the long-standing oppression and persecution of Tamils.
Vigil in Sydney on January 8, 2015, for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo Paris massacre.
Statement by Australian Socialist Alliance national co-conveners on the Paris massacre
Sydney, January 9, 2015 -- The Socialist Alliance Australia condemns the massacre of journalists, cartoonists and others at and around the offices of the Paris-based publication Charlie Hebdo. However offensive anyone may have found some of the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo, this act of brutal violence is not justified.
Socialist Alliance condemns the conservative religious fundamentalist sects which promote and carry out such acts of violence. These sects are deadly enemies of democracy, justice and progress and their violent and sectarian actions weaken the real struggles for a just, equitable, democratic and sustainable future.
The Socialist Alliance also warns against and condemns any attempts by Western politicians, governments, corporate media and others to use this latest incident to whip up racist Islamophobia which is already virulent in the rich countries of the world.
This latest act of brutality does not justify the “clash of civilisations” hysteria that is widely used by racists to justify ongoing and new imperial wars, anti-refugee and anti-immigrant policies and laws, and anti-democratic “security” laws.
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.
Gemma Weedall addresses Socialism 2014 in Malaysia.
By Gemma Weedall
November 20, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- Climate change is the biggest and most urgent threat facing humanity today. We are seeing global temperatures rise at an unprecedented rate, with 13 of the 14 warmest years on record having occurred in the past 14 years.
In fact, if you are under 37 years of age, you have never seen a year of below average temperature.
Last year in Australia, over 150 weather records were broken, including experiencing our hottest day, week, month and year on record. It is likely that these records will not be long-standing, with all signs indicating they will be broken again this coming summer.
There are predictions that at current rates of emissions increases, the Arctic will be ice free in summer as soon as four years from now, but in the best case scenario, in about 20 years.
This represents a dangerous tipping point that will take us into uncharted territory from which we may not be able to return.
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.”
Socialist Alliance: 'No Australian military involvement in Iraq'; 'End Australian partnership with NATO'
September 4, 2014 -- Socialist Alliance, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following statements were adopted by the Socialist Alliance national executive on September 4, 2014, in response to the Australian government's decision to join the US and other imperialist states in a new military intervention in Iraq.
* * *
1. The US wars on Iraq (1991 and 2003) killed hundreds of thousands and completely wrecked the country. The US promoted sectarian divisions in order to retain control. It created the conditions for the rise of the "Islamic State" and is thus responsible for the current crisis.
2. Australia was an enthusiastic junior partner in both US wars on Iraq and thus shares responsibility for the terrible suffering inflicted on the Iraqi people as well as the current situation.
3. There is a humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria due to the Islamic State’s ethnic cleansing and general terror campaign. Approximately 1.5 million refugees are living in camps in Rojava (the Kurdish liberated zone in northern Syria), Turkey and the Federal Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
a. Australia should give large-scale assistance to these refugees. This should be delivered by non-military means.
b. Australia should massively increase its refugee intake from Iraq and Syria.
c. No asylum seekers already here should be forcibly returned to Iraq or Syria.
Ukraine government troops mass for an offensive in the east in April.
Ukraine army blocks access to Malaysia Airlines crash site
STOP PRESS, July 29, 2014: Roger Annis reports that there has been “constant and heavy shelling” by the Ukraine army during the past two days on the towns and villages in Donetsk region surrounding the crash site of MH17. The site was turned over to international investigators four days ago by Donetsk self-defence fighters, but the investigators have not been able to access it due to military operations of the Ukraine army. "Self-defence fighters say the army controls the area surrounding the site. There are no observers present." Read more HERE.
By Tony Iltis
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.
Statement by Socialist Alliance (Australia)
June 19, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The US, Australia and other partners-in-crime in the war on Iraq must not be allowed to use the latest developments in that country to increase their military intervention in the region. The Socialist Alliance adds its voice to others in Australia rejecting Prime Minister Tony Abbott's all-the-way-with-the-USA commitment made to US President Barack Obama over Iraq.
The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a monstrous war crime. Millions of people have died or been displaced as a consequence of that invasion and the subsequent occupation. The leaders of governments that ordered that invasion and occupation – chief among them former US President George W. Bush, former British PM Tony Blair and former Australian PM John Howard – need to be brought to account as war criminals.
The invasion of Iraq did not bring democracy but simply replaced one brutal regime with another more pliant to Western imperial interests. The invaders cared nothing for the people of Iraq and region and acted to advance the selfish interests of the powerful corporations they serve.