[Marxism] Barry Sheppard Report on Marxism 2013 Conference

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Apr 24 06:55:13 MDT 2013


Report on Marxism 2013 Conference and Steps Toward Unification of 
Revolutionary Socialist Groups in Australia

By Barry Sheppard

I attended a public socialist educational conference in Melbourne, 
Australia, over the Easter weekend, organized by Socialist Alternative. 
The conference, called Marxism 2013, featured three full days of classes 
and special talks, Friday March 29 through Sunday. Interwoven with the 
educational conference was an underlying theme of unifying revolutionary 
socialist groups in the country.

These two aspects of the weekend were evident at a Thursday night rally 
preceding the conference itself, “Uniting the Left to Resist Austerity, 
War and Crisis.”

The rally aspect of the evening was expressed in greetings by Gerry 
Rivera of the Philippine Labor Party who is leading a major strike of 
airline workers in Manila; leading working class militant Bob Carnegie 
who is being prosecuted for leading a successful strike by Australian 
construction workers; and Brian Jones from the U.S. International 
Socialist Organization.

The second aspect was emphasized by Vashti Kenway of Socialist 
Alternative (who also was in charge of the organization of the 
conference), Kim Bullimore of the Revolutionary Socialist Party, and 
Peter Boyle of Socialist Alliance. When Kim Bullimore announced that the 
RSP had formally dissolved earlier that day and unified with Socialist 
Alternative, there was thunderous applause.

I’ll take up the educational conference first, and deal with the unity 
process below.

My overall impression of the conference was quite positive. There were 
about 1,140 people who came to some sessions, and 715 who attended the 
whole weekend. The composition of the participants was overwhelmingly 
young, and appeared to be nearly evenly split between men and women. It 
should be kept in mind that the population of Australia is about 23 million.

The conference was well organized by Socialist Alternative. It seemed to 
me that the whole membership had assignments. Some were in yellow T 
shirts to signify they were there to help the participants in all sorts 
of ways, from finding classrooms, toilets, food, registration to ironing 
out the glitches that are bound to occur in such a large gathering. 
Others had green T shirts – they were there to answer questions about 
Socialist Alternative, what it stands for, how it is organized, and how 
to join. The other Socialist Alternative members had assignments from 
giving classes to organizing cleanup.

The great majority of the participants were not in any organization. The 
broader participants also joined in to help make the event a seamless, 
well-oiled and disciplined but relaxed and enjoyable event, with plenty 
of time for socializing and informal discussion.

 From the classes I attended, the young Socialist Alternative members 
who gave the classes or spoke from the floor in the discussion period 
are quite well read. There was a big bookstore, with all the classics, 
all kinds of history, books by figures like Noam Chomsky and others in 
the broader left, books and pamphlets of Socialist Alliance, Socialist 
Alternative and the RSP, down to books by Tony Cliff, James Cannon, 
Farrell Dobbs and even the two volumes of my political memoir of the 
U.S. Socialist Workers Party. Over the course of the weekend, the 
bookstore sold some $20,000 worth of literature.

Many other groups set up book tables in a big room devoted to that.

I’ll sum up: I felt like I was back 40 years ago at one of the SWP’s 
Oberlin conferences with their youth and enthusiasm. Mentally and 
spiritually, that is – I was still in my jet-lagged old man’s body.

There were two “big” talks, one by radical journalist John Pilger, and 
the other by former Black Panther Party member Billy X Jennings. Pilger, 
now in England, was originally from Australia. Jennings is currently the 
organizer of archives of the BBP, and set up a display of BBP material 
from these archives during the conference.

For most sessions, there were six different classes to go to. Classes 
also overlapped the “big” talks. During the day, each day, there were 
five different time slots, and some special events in the evening. I 
counted 80 different classes, talks and panel discussions.

These were grouped around themes with multiple classes on each. One was 
Marxism for beginners, for people new to Marxism. Others were: 
organizing workers today; education under capitalism, including the role 
of teachers; The Russian Revolution, legacies and debates; Anarchism 
versus Marxism; LGBTI and women’s oppression; Revolutionary upsurges in 
Russia in 1905, Algeria 1954-62, and Italy in the 1920s; Marxist 
philosophy; Socialist parties of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries; 
Marxist economics; Australian radical history; and “issues and 
controversies.”

Among “issues and controversies” was a class led by Socialist 
Alternative leader Corey Oakley, on “What sort of organization do 
socialists need?” which touched on principles for left unity in 
Australia which I’ll discuss below. Another was led by two members of 
Socialist Alliance on “Socialists and electoral interventions.” The two 
were Sue Bolton and Sam Wainwright, both of whom are elected members of 
local town councils.

In addition to those I’ve already mentioned, there were international 
guests from Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Palestine, New Zealand and 
the Philippines. Farooq Tariq of the newly merged Awami Workers Party in 
Pakistan, was prevented by the Australian government from entering the 
country.

I attended two of the classes on anarchism, both of which were led by 
young women members of Socialist Alternative. I was impressed by them in 
two ways. The first was their comradely tone toward anarchists, 
explaining where anarchists and Marxists have similar views. Just as in 
the U.S., there is renewed interest among radicalizing youth in 
Australia in anarchism, including among the hundreds of unaffiliated you 
at the conference. This comradely tone is important in winning such 
youth to Marxism.

The second was their firm but pedagogical arguments in favor of Marxism 
– and were quite overwhelming in refuting the anarchist position while 
maintaining a friendly tone. They were well read in the subject, much 
more so than I, and I learned a lot.

There are many varieties of anarchism, and some were represented at the 
conference. One individual just came to denounce the “authoritarianism” 
of all socialist organizations and the conference itself. But there was 
another group, who identified themselves as “communist anarchists.” 
These explained their agreement with much of Marxism, while disagreeing 
with “Leninism” in any form, in a friendly way, and expressing agreement 
with the speakers’ criticisms of other forms of anarchism. Some in the 
audience expressed agreement not exactly with classical anarchism, but 
with current theories of social transformation without taking state 
power. These and other forms of anarchism were well countered by the 
speakers.

One of the classes on Marxist philosophy was given by a 26 year old 
Socialist Alternative man, Daniel Lopez, on “Marxist dialectics from 
Marx to Lukacs.” Since I was staying with him, I attended his class, 
which was controversial with some comrades from the different 
tendencies, but I thought was quite good. He is very inquisitive, and he 
wanted to learn as much as he could from me about the “historic” 
American SWP. We talked late into the evening, in spite of my jet lag, 
lubricated by some wine, about this and many other topics, including, of 
course, philosophy and Lukacs. He was amazed to learn that one of the 
first recruits Peter Camejo and I made to the Boston Young Socialist 
Alliance in 1959 was a refugee from the Kremlin’s smashing of the 1956 
Hungarian revolution. This fellow was in the army at the time of the 
revolution, and was elected to his unit’s soviet during the revolution – 
and had taken classes in Hungary with Lukacs at university!

Of course I can’t go over all the classes since I could only go to a 
few. Perhaps these examples will give a flavor.

I gave a class on U.S. politics today, and Brian Jones gave one on 
racism in the U.S.

There were other happenings. There were two art shows, one by Aboriginal 
artists, and another by an artist who does “hyper-realist” sculptures 
that he places on streets throughout the city, currently focusing on 
Australia’s role in the war against Afghanistan. A spoken word artist 
gave a reading of revolutionary early Soviet poet Mayakovsky. A member 
of Socialist Alternative, Katie Wood, gave a tour of an exhibit she has 
assembled at the University of Melbourne of an archive of left political 
history in Melbourne. There was a one-man show by Brian Jones of the 
play “Marx in Soho” by Howard Zinn, to wide acclaim. There was an 
evening session with famed Aboriginal activist Gary Foley, and a panel 
with Palestinian-American author Toufic Haddad.

An interesting sidelight was how childcare was organized. These were not 
just baby-sitting sessions, but talks were given at the children’s level 
of a political nature. When the children got tired of being in these 
classes, at one point they staged a rebellion, and by motion and vote 
decided to move outside and play soccer or work on a big collaborative 
painting.

The final session was Sunday night, in a big cafeteria and bar at the 
conference venue, with some wrap up short speeches, radical songs from a 
group who could sing, and finally “The Internationale” by all, whether 
we could sing or not.

The next day, there was a meeting by the representatives of 
organizations from the Asian-Pacific region, including from the 
Philippines. In addition to Gerry Rivera, there was a woman 
representative from the southern Phillippines region where there has 
been a struggle for national rights, from a strong organization that is 
now a section of the Fourth International. The FI also has a yearly 
school in Manilla. Other countries represented were Sri Lanka, Thailand, 
Indonesia, and New Zealand. I was there as an observer. It was agreed to 
build closer cooperation in the region.

Finally, there was a barbeque that night for all the international 
guests. I got into more discussions, with wine of course, about the 
American SWP, my book, my impression of the conference, and so forth.

The unity process

This was made more serious and urgent by the present organizational 
debacle of the British SWP, which was on everyone’s minds, and the 
subject of much informal discussion. It emphasized taking seriously the 
question, “What kind of organization do we want to build?”

There are three organizations involved: Socialist Alternative, Socialist 
Alliance and the Revolutionary Socialist Party.

Socialist Alternative grew out of the expulsion of a small group of 
people from the Australian ISO in 1995. The issues centred around an 
assessment of the political situation in Australia at the time and how 
socialists should respond in order to build their organisations. It was 
therefore in the tradition of the British Socialist Workers Party led by 
Tony Cliff. It grew mainly among students, and had an orientation to the 
campuses. In the 2000s, it became the largest socialist group on the 
campuses. It was primarily based in Melbourne, and then branched out to 
other cities.

Over time, members graduated and obtained jobs. Given the history of the 
organization, these were mainly in white collar unions, but a few got 
blue collar jobs. The fusion with the RSP resulted in the addition of a 
number of blue collar workers in the Maritime Union of Australia 
(longshore and seamen), Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, 
and National Union of Workers (warehouse and call centers).

The level of union struggles in Australia is comparable to that in the 
U.S., although the union movement in terms of numbers is not as weak. 
The union work of Socialist Alternative members is correspondingly 
modest, but they are active in their unions and have made gains. Many 
have become “delegates,” something like “committeemen” or stewards in 
the U.S.

There is a national union coordinator, who works with the different 
fractions. About 40 percent of Socialist Alternative members are in unions.

The other two groups resulted from a split in the Democratic Socialist 
Party in the late 2000s. The DSP’s predecessor name was the Socialist 
Workers Party, which had been the section of the Fourth International 
until it left the FI in 1985. In contrast to Socialist Alternative, the 
DSP supported Trotsky’s view that the Soviet Union (and later similar 
states) was a “bureaucratically degenerated workers state” and should be 
defended against capitalist imperialism, while calling for the 
revolutionary overthrow of the Stalinist bureaucracy.

The split in the DSP concerned how to orient to an earlier attempt at 
regroupment, the Socialist Alliance, which began as an alliance (not 
fusion) between the DSP, ISO, and smaller groups in the early 2000s. The 
ISO and other groups left in 2005, but the Socialist Alliance continued 
as an evolving process, which I won’t go into. The orientation to 
building the Socialist Alliance as a broader socialist group than the 
DSP finally resulted in the majority of the DSP dissolving into the 
Socialist Alliance in 2010.

A minority of the DSP had come to the conclusion earlier that the 
Socialist Alliance project was at a dead end. This minority formed the 
Revolutionary Socialist Party after the DSP split over the question in 2008.

Representatives from all three groups said that they never would have 
predicted one year ago that they would all be speaking at a common 
conference such as Marxism 2013.

So these are the players in the current efforts at unity.

These efforts were sparked last September, when a former RSP member (and 
previously DSP member) and Venezuela solidarity activist Jorge Jorquera, 
joined Socialist Alternative.

Since Jorge did not come from the “state capitalist” tradition of 
Socialist Alternative, and given the scarce attention paid to the 
Venezuelan process by those who were in the Tony Cliff tradition 
internationally, this development appeared to represent new openness on 
the part of Socialist Alternative to forces from other traditions that 
came out of the Left Opposition.

Both Socialist Alliance and the Revolutionary Socialist Party took note, 
and opened discussions with Socialist Alternative in the next months.

The discussion with the RSP moved rapidly forward. The RSP had already 
been sounding out Socialist Alternative before Jorge Jorquera had 
joined. By December, the two sides had come to agreement on unity based 
on a common statement of principles and constitution. I’m attaching the 
statement of principles below. The reader can see that it encompasses 
what could be characterized as what all currents that came from the 
broader Trotskyist movement agree on. At the same time, no one is 
required to give up their specific views that go beyond the statement, 
and other differences.

In the months leading up to Marxism 2013, the members of the RSP in fact 
became members of the Socialist Alternative branches in their cities. 
This resulted in breaking down misconceptions and barriers.

On the Thursday before the conference began that evening, the RSP held 
its final formal meeting, which I attended. The members discussed their 
experiences working with the Socialist Alternative members the preceding 
months. One thing they all reported was the high level of activity of 
Socialist Alternative members, as well as their high political and 
theoretical level. RSP members were impressed by how much their new 
comrades read. This reinforced my own observations.

At this meeting, there was a unanimous vote to dissolve the RSP, and for 
its former members to officially apply to join Socialist Alternative as 
individuals. The RSP did not join as a tendency or faction or caucus, 
and would cease meeting separately.

At its December convention, Socialist Alternative voted to set aside 
five spots on their new national committee for RSP members, actually 
giving them over-representation. The RSP elected those five at their 
final meeting.

 From their new constitution, other written documents and oral 
discussions, including a class given by Socialist Alternative leader 
Corey Oakley, “What sort of organization do socialists need?” the 
following is an outline of the organizational principles of the unified 
group:

1)   It seeks to build a cadre organization of dedicated and experienced 
members, and educates new recruits in this direction;

2)   It is an organization of activists in mass movements as well as in 
building Socialist Alternative itself;

3)   Related to that, the active membership participates in democratic 
discussion and decision making. The model of a passive membership 
following orders from a leadership is rejected.

4)   It is democratic centralist. However, in Oakley’s words in an 
article in the Socialist Alternative theoretical journal Marxist Left 
Review, “We do not hold – as some on the left do – that ‘democratic 
centralism’ dictates that after a decision has been taken minorities 
have no right to express their view. The right of minorities to dissent, 
publicly if they feel necessary, has been made explicit in our new 
Constitution ….”

(I would add that while the historic American SWP held this principle, 
it was honored more in the breech than in practice, and we should have 
done this regularly.)

5)   “For democratic debate to be real in a socialist organization there 
needs to be an atmosphere of honest open discussion, in which members 
feel free to air differences and thrash out political debate without 
fear of reprisals or stigma….As this fusion and the broader process of 
regroupment proceeds over the course of this year, we are determined 
to…create an organization that revolutionaries from different 
backgrounds can feel at home in and make their own.”

6)   Over time, differences from the past will be clarified, and 
possibly overcome. This was made clear to me concerning Venezuela, in a 
class given by Roberto Jorquera, a former member of the RSP, during the 
conference. He neither gave a rah-rah view that the workers and their 
allies have already won state power and are constructing socialism, nor 
the view that basically there is no revolutionary process occurring in 
Venezuela. Instead, he gave a realistic picture of a sharp class 
struggle occurring, with still capitalist control of much of the state 
apparatus and media on the one side, and mobilized masses on the other 
who have already made major advances in winning universal health care 
and education, reduction in poverty and other gains including imposing 
workers control in some areas of the economy, under Chavez’ leadership. 
This class struggle is playing out in all levels of society, including 
in Chavez’ own party, in the factories, in the elections, in capitalist 
sabotage in the economy and the state bureaucracy, etc. The outcome is 
not foreordained. Comrades present from all three organizations were in 
broad agreement with the reporter.

7)   The unified organization takes seriously the history of the 
socialist movement. Oakley quoted from a talk the US socialist James 
Cannon made in 1966 about the importance of historical consciousness in 
the socialist movement:

The second reason that I would give for the durability of this party of 
ours [the U.S. Socialist Workers Party] is the fact that we did not 
pretend to have a new revelation. We were not these “men from nowhere” 
whom you see running around the campuses and other places today saying, 
“We’ve got to start from scratch. Everything that happened in the past 
is out the window.” On the contrary, we solemnly based ourselves on the 
continuity of the revolutionary movement. On being expelled from the 
Communist Party, we did not become anti-communist. On the contrary, we 
said we are the true representatives of the best traditions of the 
Communist Party …Before that, some of us had about ten years of 
experience in the IWW and Socialist Party, and in various class struggle 
activities around the country. We said we were the heirs of the IWW and 
Socialist Party – all that was good and valid and revolutionary in them. 
We honor the Knights of Labor and the Haymarket martyrs. We’re not 
Johnny-come-latelys at all. We’re continuators.

Oakley concludes, “this should not mean – as it has tended to in the 
past – that a party has to be constituted on the basis of total 
agreement about a particular historical narrative in which the true 
revolutionary path can be traced in detail from Marx and Engles through 
the twists and turns of the twentieth century up until today, with all 
who deviated from it condemned as renegades and betrayers. But it is not 
necessary to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The history of the 
Marxist movement is a vast reservoir of experience without which we 
would be immeasurably weakened. We want an organization that is 
committed to integrating the lessons of history into our project for 
today.         “

8)   The unified Socialist Alternative “is not so grand as to presume 
that we are the ‘nucleus’ for a future mass party, which will be 
constructed by a combination of forces that exist today and other much 
more variegated that have not yet come onto the scene. But the fact is 
that the more we do today to unite and build the forces of revolutionary 
socialism, the better we will be able not only to intervene in the vital 
struggles of today, but out of those struggles contribute to the 
construction of a revolutionary working class movement that can tear 
apart the hateful system of greed and exploitation we live under, and 
start to build a new world.”

The whole of Oakley’s article can be found in the latest Marxist Left 
Review, available online at 
http://www.marxistleftreview.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=84:what-kind-of-organisation-do-socialists-need&catid=42:number-5-summer-2013&Itemid=81

The process with Socialist Alliance has moved more slowly. Early this 
year the Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance agreed that the 
latter would become a sponsor of the Marxism 2013 conference, and would 
have speakers at it.

The two groups also agreed to build a common contingent in the upcoming 
May Day demonstrations, and to hold joint meetings in various cities on 
the theme of socialist unity in the next months.

Socialist Alternative has also endorsed and will participate in a public 
meeting called by Socialist Alliance on the question of Leninism, to be 
held in June. A featured speaker will be Paul Leblanc of the U.S. ISO, 
who has written extensively on the subject.

Some 70 Socialist Alliance members attended the conference and 
participated in it, including many informal discussions and socializing 
that occurred, where members of each group got to better know each other 
as people and comrades. After the conference, a number of Socialist 
Alliance members told me that their overall impression of the conference 
was positive, and that they were more optimistic about fusion than they 
were before.

Following the conference, I was able to talk with Peter Boyle, a central 
leader of Socialist Alliance. He outlined areas of concern that his 
organization will be discussing with Socialist Alternative in the months 
ahead.

Socialist Alliance hopes to work out a common programmatic statement 
with Socialist Alternative that goes beyond the Statement of Principles. 
It was agreed that Socialist Alliance would prepare a first draft to 
initiate this discussion.

Boyle also indicated to me that he hoped this process would also have an 
important educational function in Socialist Alliance itself, in raising 
the programmatic level of Socialist Alliance members who never were in 
the DSP.

Boyle thought the main points to work through in the coming discussions 
are the different priorities and areas of work of the two organizations.

One of these is the environmental movement, which Socialist Alliance 
sees as more of a priority than Socialist Alternative has.

Another is socialist election campaigns, which Socialist Alliance 
emphasizes, while Socialist Alternative has not run such campaigns. 
There is no difference in principle about this. In my discussions, I 
found that Socialist Alternative comrades were not at all enthusiastic 
about running for small regional councils, as Socialist Alliance does. 
At the same time, Socialist Alternative members indicated they would 
vote for Socialist Alliance candidates. Socialist Alliance has proposed 
a joint election campaign with Socialist Alternative for Senator from 
Victoria province.

Another electoral issue is how to relate to candidates of the Green 
Party (which is more of an establishment party in Australia than in the 
United States).

An issue where there are political differences is women’s liberation. 
These also exist within Socialist Alternative. I found it interesting 
that the article by U.S. ISO leader Sharon Smith (which I agree with) 
correcting some past positions of the ISO on women’s liberation was 
controversial with some members of Socialist Alternative. I think this 
can be clarified over time through discussion and should not be held up 
as a barrier to unification.

If agreement can be reached on how to deal with these questions and 
Socialist Alliance joins the unity process, it would bring into a fused 
organization important assets and cadres. One of these is Green Left 
Weekly. Peter Boyle explained that having a weekly paper in any fused 
organization would be a priority for them.

I have written articles for both Direct Action, which was the newspaper 
of the RSP, now merged into Socialist Alternative, and for GLW.

By agreement with both, my weekly column “Letter from the U.S.” will now 
be sent to both GLW and Socialist Alternative.

Appendix

Socialist Alternative’s 2012 National Conference voted to adopt a new 
Statement of Principles. The Principles will provide the foundation for 
the organization’s broader political positions and analyses, and will 
guide the organization’s political practice.

STATEMENT OF GENERAL PRINCIPLES

1. Socialist Alternative is a revolutionary Marxist organization. We 
stand for the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of a world 
socialist system.

2. By socialism we mean a system in which society is democratically 
controlled by the working class and the productive resources of society 
are channeled to abolishing class divisions. Only socialism can rid the 
world of poverty and inequality, stop imperialist wars, end oppression 
and exploitation, save the environment from destruction and provide the 
conditions for the full realization of human creative potential. A 
system under the democratic control of the working class is the only 
basis for establishing a classless, prosperous, sustainable society 
based on the principle “from each according to their ability, to each 
according to their need.”

3. Stalinism is not socialism. We agree with Trotsky’s characterization 
of Stalin as the “gravedigger” of the Russian Revolution. The political 
character of the regime established by the Stalinist bureaucracy in 
Russia most closely resembled that placed in power in capitalist 
countries by victorious fascist movements – an atomized population ruled 
over by a ruthless bureaucratic dictatorship masquerading behind social 
demagogy. We stand in the tradition of the revolutionaries who resisted 
Stalinism, and we fight today to reclaim the democratic, revolutionary 
politics of Marx, Engels, Luxemburg, Lenin, Trotsky and others from 
Stalinist distortion.

4. Socialism cannot be won by reform of the current system or by taking 
over the existing state. Only the revolutionary overthrow of the 
existing order and the smashing of the capitalist state apparatus can 
defeat the capitalist class and permanently end its rule. A successful 
revolution will involve workers taking control of their workplaces, 
dismantling existing state institutions (parliaments, courts, the armed 
forces and police) and replacing them with an entirely new state based 
on genuinely democratic control by the working class.

5. The emancipation of the working class must be the act of the working 
class itself. Socialism cannot come about by the actions of a minority. 
The struggle for socialism is the struggle of the great mass of workers 
to control their lives and their society, what Marx called “a movement 
of the immense majority in the interests of the immense majority”.

6. For workers to be won to the need for revolution, and for the working 
class to be cohered organizationally and politically into a force 
capable of defeating the centralized might of the capitalist state, a 
revolutionary party is necessary. Such an organization has to cohere in 
its ranks the decisive elements among the most class-conscious and 
militant workers. Laying the basis for such a party is the key strategic 
task for socialists in Australia today.

7. It is not enough for a revolutionary party to organize the vanguard 
of the class. For capitalism to be overthrown, the majority of the 
working class must be won to revolutionary action and the socialist 
cause.  It is not enough to simply denounce the non-revolutionary 
organizations and political currents in the workers’ movement. 
Revolutionaries have to engage reformist organizations via the method of 
the united front in order to test the possibility for united action in 
practice and demonstrate to all workers in a non-sectarian way the 
superiority of revolutionary ideas and practice. We support all demands 
and movements that tend to improve the position and self confidence of 
workers and of other oppressed sections of the population.

8. Socialists support trade unions as the basic defensive organizations 
of the working class. We stand for democratic, militant, class struggle 
unionism and reject class collaborationism. We also stand for political 
trade unionism – the union movement should champion every struggle 
against injustice.

9. Capitalist exploitation of the working class and the natural world 
has created a situation where the profit system threatens the 
habitability of the planet. We oppose attempts to halt climate change 
and environmental destruction through measures that place the burden on 
working class people and the poor. We instead demand fundamental social 
and political change that directly challenges the interests of the 
ruling class. The environmental crisis can only be solved under 
socialism, where the interests of people and the planet are not 
counterposed.

10. Socialists are internationalists. We reject Australian patriotism 
and nationalism and fight for international working class solidarity. 
The struggle against capitalism is an international struggle: socialism 
cannot be built in a single country.

11. The imperialist phase of capitalism has ushered in an era of 
military conflict that has no precedent in human history. The core 
element of imperialism is the conflict between imperial powers, or 
blocks of capital, which attempt by military, diplomatic and commercial 
means to divide and redivide the world in their own interests. In the 
conflicts between imperial powers (open or by proxy), revolutionaries do 
not take sides, least of all with our own ruling classes. Nor do we call 
for the resolution of inter-imperialist conflict by the “peaceful” 
methods of international diplomacy. Instead we fight for international 
working class solidarity and unity, and embrace Lenin’s revolutionary 
call to “turn the imperialist war between nations into a civil war 
between classes”. In the case of wars waged or diplomatic pressure 
exerted by military threat by the imperial powers against colonies and 
non-imperialist nations, we oppose the imperial power and defend the 
right of national self-determination.

12. Australia is an imperialist power in its own right. Through its own 
economic and military strength, and in alliance with US imperialism, 
Australian capitalism seeks to politically and militarily dominate its 
region and project power more broadly. This gives revolutionaries in 
Australia a special obligation to stand in solidarity with struggles of 
workers and the oppressed in our region against Australian imperialist 
intervention and control.

13. We recognize Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the 
first people of Australia. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never 
ceded and condemn the crimes of genocide and dispossession committed by 
European colonists and the Australian state. We support the struggle for 
land rights, sovereignty and economic and social justice for Indigenous 
people.

14. We oppose all immigration controls and support open borders. We 
fight to free all refugees from detention and for the right of asylum 
seekers to reach Australia. We oppose racism towards migrants. In 
particular we reject racism towards Muslims, whose right to religious 
and political freedom is routinely attacked on the spurious grounds of 
“fighting terrorism”.

15. We oppose all oppression on the basis of sex, gender or sexuality. 
We oppose all forms of discrimination against women and all forms of 
social inequality between men and women. The struggle for freedom from 
exploitation and freedom from all forms of oppression includes the 
liberation of lesbians, gay men, bisexual, transgender and intersex 
people. We fight for an end to all legal and social discrimination 
against LGBTI people and all forms of sexist discrimination. We support 
full reproductive freedom for all women.

16. All these forms of oppression, and others like the oppression of the 
young, the disabled and the elderly, are used to divide the working 
class and to spare capital the expense of providing for the needs of all 
members of society. Combating them is an essential part of building a 
united working class struggle that can win a socialist society. Only a 
socialist revolution can bring about the genuine liberation of the 
oppressed and the ability of every human being to realize their full 
potential.






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