Australian Socialist Alliance conference: 'Fight austerity and racism!'

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.

"Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with these campaigns and we will continue to help build them and to promote them through the pages of Green Left Weekly", the resolution declared.

Building such campaigns is a major priority for the Socialist Alliance since grassroots organising is the most important driver of progressive social change. However, these campaigns — even when successful — are not enough if the corporate elite remain in power and their anti-people policies remain in force.

That is why the Socialist Alliance also organises to build an overarching movement against capitalist tyranny.

The conference resolution on building Socialist Alliance pointed out that capitalism would have "ceased to exist long ago" if it could be "defeated simply by moral arguments".

"The primary challenge facing the left today is to build popular organisations — and particularly a socialist political party — that can inspire and give political clarity to progressive movements for change."

"While the political vehicle needed to lead a successful struggle for socialist change in this country will be much bigger and broader than today's Socialist Alliance, building the Socialist Alliance as a non-sectarian, revolutionary party is the best means to work for such change today", the resolution argued.

The conference was held in Sydney on June 5-8. It involved delegates from the Socialist Alliance's 15 branches around Australia.

The opening night featured a special launch of the new Women of Steel book about the "Jobs for Women" campaign that defeated BHP's discriminatory hiring practices in Wollongong in the 1980s. Socialist Alliance is also supporting a project to make this story into a feature film.

Another evening feature was the "Beat Back the Abbottocracy" comedy night featuring Baloney Abbott, Carlo Sands and a unique hip hop version of the Internationale.

One important decision of the conference was the adoption of a new programmatic document. This will be published under the title Towards a Socialist Australia and will replace the earlier document adopted by the Socialist Alliance under the same name.

The new Towards a Socialist Australia outlines a case for revolutionary socialist change. The new document explicitly seeks to learn from the ongoing experiences of the international socialist movement.

One important priority for the Alliance at the moment is the recruiting and training of a new layer of young members. Resistance — the youth wing of Socialist Alliance — met on the first day of the conference and resolutions on youth and student work were also adopted by the conference.

Among the other resolutions adopted by the conference was a message of solidarity to the left-wing People's Democratic Party (HDP) that received more than 13% of the vote in Turkey's elections held while the conference was in session. Solidarity greetings were also sent to Barceloa Together and Pakistan socialist Baba Jan who was contesting an election while in jail for political organising [see also "Pakistan: No run-of-the-mill election campaign for political prisoner Baba Jan"].

Socialist Alliance also resolved to campaign in the coming federal election in Australia under a banner of "taxing the corporate rich to fund social services, renewable energy and other environmental measures". Socialist Alliance branches will soon be selecting candidates. In addition, the conference resolved to defend and expand the Alliance's representation in local government.

The conference heard greetings from the Malaysian Socialist Party, the Party of the Labouring Masses (Philippines) and the People's Democratic Party (Indonesia). Representatives of the Palestinian Peoples Party and the Indonesian Working People's Party attended and gave greetings.

[Alex Bainbridge is national co-convenor of the Socialist Alliance.]