May Day greetings from the Socialist Alliance: Time for a wide discussion about socialism in the 21st century

May 1, 2012 -- The Socialist Alliance in Australia sends warm comradely greetings for May Day 2012.

May Day this year takes place in tumultuous conditions: the multiple crises confronting global capitalism are deepening, while mass resistance to its brutal rule grows. Taken all together, the people’s uprisings across the Arab world, the mass demonstrations and strikes occurring in Europe, the Occupy actions in the United States and the ongoing efforts of Latin American revolutionaries to construct socialism of the 21st century pose a huge challenge to the capitalist system.

The capitalist class is desperately striving to force working people and the entire Third World to pay for the worldwide economic, social and ecological crises it has created, but the momentum towards change and the creation of a system that puts the needs of people and the environment before private profit cannot be easily stopped.

In Australia, the federal Labor Party government is itself in crisis, plagued by corruption and a growing backlash to its neoliberal economic policies and regressive social policies, which are benefitting the big corporations and the wealthy at the expense of the most disadvantaged. In Australia today, the disparities between rich and poor are widening at a rapid pace: for example, while more than 600,000 (official) unemployed people live on less than $35 a day, Australia’s Labor prime minister has just received a $2,192 a week pay rise.

Labor’s “Fair Work” laws continue to be used to undermine trade union action and workers’ rights, and the federal budget to be introduced this month will impose big spending cuts in public services. Meanwhile, in their efforts to keep working people divided and weaken resistance to their attacks, the capitalist media and political parties are fueling racism, continuing the outrageous attacks on Australia’s Indigenous people and imprisoning, vilifying and scapegoating so-called “illegal” refugees.

The Socialist Alliance is working hard in many national and local campaigns to defend and extend working people’s rights, end Australia’s involvement in imperialist wars, and to build solidarity with people’s struggles in other parts of the world. Over the last few weeks, our members have been centrally involved in organising, alongside a wide range of other groups and activists, a successful National Climate Summit, a national week of protests for asylum seeker rights, protests against police brutality and racism, and, on May 1, a 5000-strong rally against coal seam gas mining that united farmers, environmentalists and left activists.

At the May Day rallies and marches to be held around Australia later this week, the Socialist Alliance will be focusing on the demand for the right to strike. This is part of a new Right to Strike campaign launched this year by left trade unionists, including Alliance members.

The unrestricted right to strike has never been guaranteed under Australian law, and all Australian governments have sought to restrict it further. But as the global economic and environmental crises worsen, and as capital tries to force workers to pay for the crises by cutting the social wage and attacking living standards, the right to strike will be essential to defending our social services, and public health care, education and housing, and to fight off further privatisation. It will also be essential to ensuring a just transition to ecologically safe industries where workers’ rights are protected.

The Right to Strike campaign will be holding a nationalplanning and action symposium on May 14, the outcomes of which will be reported in Green Left Weekly.

At this year’s May Day actions, the Socialist Alliance will also be distributing our new draft document Towards a socialist Australia. This document was prompted by our assessment that, along with the need for all socialists to immerse themselves in the new wave of popular anti-capitalist struggles that have erupted, it is equally important that socialists take full advantage of the fact that the global capitalist economic and environmental crises have opened up a big public discussion about alternatives to capitalism to win many more people to socialist ideas and organisations.

The document aims to promote a wide discussion about socialism in the 21st century, and the Socialist Alliance is inviting other socialist and progressive groups and individuals to make their input over the next eight months, before a final draft of the document is voted on at our next national conference in January 2013. The document is available at:

The collaboration of socialists and other progressive activists and organisations within and between all countries is an ever more necessary response to the many crimes -- and crises -- of capitalist globalisation. Such cooperation and solidarity will be essential to make progress towards a society based on collective ownership, participatory democracy, social justice and ecological sustainability, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with your organisation to that end.

Long live international working class solidarity!

Long live May Day!

Yours in solidarity and struggle,

Susan Price and Peter Boyle
National co-conveners
Socialist Alliance (Australia)