Topic: Australia

A Marxist critique of the Australian Greens

Over the course of nearly 40 years, the Greens have been transformed from a tiny environmentalist organisation into a sizeable and serious party perceived to be to the left of the ALP. This article will look at the origins of the Greens and the class basis of their politics; examine the demographics of their voters and membership, and comment on their organisational and political dimensions before looking at their current political trajectory.

The Northern Territory Intervention and the liberal defence of racism

The idea that Aboriginal inequality is caused by the racist attitudes of ordinary people is widespread. Yet it was not working-class attitudes to Aborigines that drove the Australian government’s 2007 intervention into Northern Territory Aboriginal communities. Instead, elements of the middle class played a crucial role.

The origins of Socialist Alternative: summing up the debate

The need for a socialist workers’ party that could rebuild rank and file union organisation and mount sustained resistance to every ruling class attack could not be more sharply posed. This is a task that Socialist Alternative has dedicated itself to over the last fifteen years. While we are still far from being the mass party we need to be – a party that could intervene in and attempt to lead every struggle by workers and the oppressed – we have, despite the generally difficult political climate, made modest steps forward and are now the largest organisation on the revolutionary left in Australia. This article is an attempt to sum up the lessons of the debates in the International Socialist Tendency (IST) about the assessment of the political situation and perspectives for building revolutionary organisations that led to the formation of Socialist Alternative in 1995.

Islamophobia, secularism and the left

The rise of Islamophobia in the West needs a clear and principled response from the left. Mick Armstrong takes a critical look at the traditions of "secularism" and the failure of even some in the socialist left to oppose anti-Muslim racism.

Does the Australian working class have the power to change society?

Tom Bramble, using a wealth of data, refutes arguments which claim that the Australian working class no longer has the power to challenge capitalist rule.

The ALP: what class of party?

The Labor Party is in crisis. Its branch structures continue to fracture, its active membership continues to shrink, its working class vote continues to decline and year after year the party shifts further to the right. Can it in any sense still be regarded as some form of workers’ party? Ben Hillier argues that the answer is a qualified “yes".

The campaign for equal marriage rights

Louise O’Shea, an activist in Equal Love, argues that by years of steady campaigning,organisations committed to same-sex marriage rights have brought the issue from the margins onto the political agenda. She shows how it became a prominent election issue and is putting pressure on the ALP.

Australian imperialism and the rise of China

Tom Bramble looks at the rise of China and considers the conflicts for Australian imperialism: pulled between making the most of China’s booming growth and remaining loyal to the US, which sees China as a potential threat to their imperialist domination.

Jim Cairns: the tragedy of looking to parliament for fundamental change

Jim Cairns was a sincere socialist. He was one of the most prominent campaigners against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s. Mick Armstrong shows that, despite being far to the left of any of today’s politicians, Labor or Green, Cairns could not use parliament to bring about fundamental change as he hoped.

Who is to blame for racism in Australia?

Tess Lee Ack takes on the common assumption that racism among workers drives government policies and shows who actually promotes it.

Labor, Greens and independents in government

Diane Fieldes looks at the dismal experience of the Gillard government. She argues that the formation of a minority Labor government with the backing of the Greens and populist independents did not create an opportunity for the left as many thought it would in 2010.

The rise and fall of the ALP left in Victoria and NSW

Corey Oakley looks at the rise and fall of the post-war ALP left in Victoria and NSW in the post-war period, and examines the reasons why the once radical Labor left degenerated to the sorry state it is in today.

Is there a labour aristocracy in Australia?

Tom Bramble debunks the theory that there is an aristocracy of labour in Australia.

Disturbing the peace: riots and the working class

Mick Armstrong argues that socialists should recognise riots as an important part of working class struggle and shows the role they have often played in Australia.

Still fighting for equal pay

Cecilia Judge and Adam Bottomley outline how Australian Services Union members won what has been described as the most significant victory for gender pay equity since the 1970s.

Fighting anti-union laws: the Clarrie O'Shea strikes

Katie Wood looks at the 1969 Clarrie O'Shea strike.

Five hundred lashes and double irons: the origins of Australian capitalism

Ben Hillier and Tom O'Lincoln chart the origins and development of capitalism in Australia.

The impact of women's changing role in the workplace

Diane Fieldes looks at the impact on the family of women's increased participation in the paid workforce.

The neoliberal transformation of higher education

Rebecca Barrigos explains how both the rise of the modern higher education system and the erosion of free education under the impact of neoliberalism have served capitalism.

Australian imperialism in the Cold War

Tom O'Lincoln argues that Australia's interventions in Asia after World War II were the hallmark of a developing imperialist country determined to dominate the surrounding region.

Why the Australian state supports Israel so stridently

Vashti Kenway looks at why Australia is so close to Israel.

Coercion, consent and Australian policing

Roz Ward argues that "community policing" is just another form of coercion which does nothing to halt the brutalit of state police forces.

Forgotten women rebels of Eureka

Sandra Bloodworth reviews a new book by Clare Wright, Forgotten Rebels of Eureka. The historical material in Wright’s book not only confronts the masculinist narrative of Eureka which has dominated Australian historiography, but also confirms some key Marxist arguments about women and social struggles.

Australian capitalism in the neoliberal age

With a wealth of empirical data, Tom Bramble explains how neoliberal policies at the centre of both major parties’ agendas have served the capitalist class well.

Student unions: a history of attacks and resistance

Rebecca Barrigos looks at the frequent government attacks on student unions since the 1970s.

Year one of the Abbott government

Louise O’Shea explains why the Abbott government is the most unpopular first term government in Australian history.

'The Southern Tree of Liberty' explained

Terry Irving’s book The Southern Tree of Liberty celebrates working people, their grievances, their organisations and the struggle for democracy before 1856 as revealed by working class newspapers, many never consulted by historians before.

The hidden history of Islamophobia

Vashti Kenway argues that Australia has a long history of discrimination against Muslims, culminating in the rabid Islamophobia promoted by both Liberal and Labor governments to justify Australia’s involvement in a series of wars in the Middle East.

How World War One led to class war

Mick Armstrong explores how World War I led to enormous class struggles in Australia, and led to a split in the Labor party, a general strike and a political radicalisation that shaped the next decades of working class politics.

Why you should read 'This Earth of Mankind'

Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s historical novel Bumi Manusia (This Earth of Mankind) was published by Penguin in 1983.  Max Lane, argues it should be read by anyone wanting to understand the history of Indonesia in the late twentieth century.

Australian unions and the fight for equal pay for women

Katie Wood draws together a rich history of working class struggle for equal pay for women. Unlike some historians who present equal pay as a "feminist" issue won by women's mobilisations against men's resistance, she shows that it has been a union issue since the nineteenth century.

Radical Chinese labour in Australian history

Liam Ward has assembled a remarkable history of struggle by Chinese workers in Australia which has mostly been ignored or misrepresented.

Indonesian independence and Australian imperialism

Sam Pietsch looks at the response of Australian governments, both Liberal and Labor, to the challenge of Indonesian independence in what they regard as their "backyard".

Ordering Australian capitalism: property, fetishism, debt and social order

Ben Hillier shows how the economic ordering of Australian capitalism helps consolidate bourgeois hegemony.

Cape York: a history of Aboriginal dispossession and resistance

Rebecca Barrigos brings together research by social and oral historians who have recorded a terrible history of Aboriginal oppression in Weipa, Aurukun and Mapoon on Cape York Peninsula.

How we stopped Pauline Hanson last time

Tess Lee Ack analyses the phenomenon of Pauline Hanson in the 1990s: her support base, how media promotion boosted her profile, and how she was stopped the last time around.

Mining Australian capitalism: industry in the global division of labour

Ben Hillier outlines the role of the mining industry in the development of the Australian economy, situating the latter in the global division of labour, and outlines the challenges facing the Australian ruling class in the twenty-first century.

British Labour, Australian Labor: splits and insurgencies

In the context of the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, Tom Bramble compares the history of splits and struggles in the Australian Labor Party with those of its British counterpart.

Understanding Hansonism

Ben Reid offers a detailed study of where and why support for Pauline Hanson is strongest.

When the Australian ruling class embraced fascism

Rather than a welcoming, multicultural society, Australia has a menacing history of serious fascist organisations involving figures treated with respect in our history books, as Louise O'Shea explains.

Barbed wire in the shadows: Australia’s concentration camps

Vashti Kenway challenges the idea that the camps on Manus Island and Nauru are a departure from the norm in Australia, examining the use of concentration camps in Australia from the earliest days of invasion.

Our unions in crisis: how did it come to this?

Tom Bramble, drawing on decades of research and active involvement in the labour movement, argues that 35 years of passivity and class collaboration rather than an emphasis on militant, class struggle unionism is the core reason our unions are in crisis.

Why Queensland is different

Rebecca Barrigos digs into the history of economic development, ruling class strategies and the labour movement of Queensland to explain why the state has its own distinct political traditions.

Police state: The politics of law and order

Tom Bramble analyses the factors driving the terrifying growth of the police state in Australia.

The political economy of immigration to Australia

Jordan Humphreys explores the nature of immigration to Australia. By highlighting its importance to ruling class strategies for economic growth he explains how and why the numbers and origins of immigrants have changed over time.

The SWAG years: Revolutionary organising in 1970s Australia

Tess Lee Ack draws together anecdotes and lessons from her involvement in the founding years of international socialism of 1970s Australia, from which Socialist Alternative was formed in 1995.

Review: Genocide in the Kimberley

Alexis Vassiley reviews an excellent new book describing the brutal policing of Indigenous peoples in the Kimberley in the late 19th century.

Review: The making of the Australian working class

Diane Fieldes reviews a fascinating new work that documents the early formation of working class consciousness in Australia.

Revisiting the roots of anti-Chinese racism

Australia and the US have initiated a new cold war with China. In this timely piece, Liam Ward explores the sordid history of anti-Chinese racism in Australia.

The 2019 federal election: Why did Labor lose and what next?

Tom Bramble surveys the election results and puts forward an explanation for Labor's surprising defeat that rests on the party's long-term shift to the right.

Launching Victorian Socialists: An anti-capitalist electoral alliance

Liz Walsh reflects on the experience of launching the Victorian Socialists.

William Ferguson: The life of an Aboriginal rebel

Gavin Stanbrook and Diane Fieldes celebrate the life of a pioneering Indigenous activist and trade unionist.

Review: How labour introduced neoliberalism

Stephanie Price reviews this excellent new book which documents in great detail the means by which unions and the ALP sold a corporatist version of neoliberalism to the working class.

Is the world economy on the verge of a new recession?

Tom Bramble draws a snapshot of a stuttering world economy facing multiple constraints on future growth.

New movement, new debates: The contested politics of climate change 

Sarah Garnham assesses the new climate movement and makes a case for a revolutionary perspective.

Fuelled by coal: Piercing the mirage of a sustainable capitalist Australia

Catarina Da Silva looks at the economic roots of Australia's bipartisan support for the fossil fuels industry, arguing that a timely transition is impossible within capitalism.

The making of Labor

Mick Armstrong reviews The Making of the Labor Party in New South Wales 1880-1900 , a text which challenges the standard assumptions of most labour historians about the origins of the ALP.

Dinky-di domination: Australian imperialism and the South Pacific

David Glanz documents the sordid history of Australian imperialism in the South Pacific.

The Industrial Workers of the World in Australia

In this fascinating piece, Mick Armstrong explores the politics of the heroic Industrial Workers of the World, Australia's first mass revolutionary working class movement.

The utopian fantasy of post-fordism

Tom Bramble assesses and rejects the argument that the end of 'fordism' means the end of working class power.

Australian perceptions of Japan: The history of a racist phobia

Phil Griffiths explores the origins and ongoing realities of anti-Japanese bigotry in Australia.

The new Australian militarism

Tom O'Lincoln surveys the history of Australian imperialism, arguing that Australia has independent reasons for maintaining the US alliance, which it uses to dominate and exploit peoples across our region.

Australia 1917: From world war to class war

Mick Armstrong looks at the impact of World War I on the class struggle in Australia.

Vietnam: How we won last time

Anne Picot provides a history of the Australian anti-war movement of the 1960s.

Gulf War: Lessons of the movement

David Glanz summarises the debates in the movement against the first Gulf War.

The Australian economy in the 1980s

Tony Belcher examines the Australian economy during the 1980s, arguing that the Australian capitalism was in a weak position going forward.

The rise and fall of Gough Whitlam

Tom O'Lincoln recounts the rise and fall of Australia's last reforming government, finding that the myths of Whitlam's radical policies do not reflect the more pragmatic reality.

The Accord and the state of working class organisation

Tom Bramble reviews the weakened state of workers' organisations in Australia after a decade of the Accord.

The NSW BLF: The battle to tame the concrete jungle

Mick Armstrong recounts the rise and fall of the NSW Builders Labourers’ Federation, and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the radical left that turned the union into one of the most impressive examples of socialist unionism in history.

NTEU Fightback: Rank and file rebellion in a most unlikely union

Diane Fieldes and Jordan Humphreys look at how rank and file higher education workers rebelled against attempts by both university managements and their own union to impose job losses and attacks on their wages and conditions in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Review: Resistance to the Accord

Jack Crawford reviews Liz Ross’ new book about workers’ resistance to the Prices and Incomes Accord.

Review: Occupation and resistance in West Papua

Sam Pietsch reviews an account of the struggle for independence in West Papua, and the history of Indonesia’s occupation.

Pandemic politics: 2020 in hindsight, and a perspective on 2021

Omar Hassan analyses the economic, political and social dynamics unleashed by the pandemic.

Between syndicalism and reformism: Founding the Communist Party of Australia

Mick Armstrong surveys the many debates that emerged during the founding of the CPA, drawing out lessons for contemporary revolutionaries.

Reds at the blackboard: Militancy in the teacher unions

Tess Lee Ack revisits some highlights of militant struggles by teacher unions in Australia.

From rising tide to Govett's Leap: The socialist life of Gordon Childe

Terry Irving looks at the life of Vere Gordon Childe, and explores the reasons for his suicide.

Capitalism, colonialism and class: A Marxist explanation of Indigenous oppression today

Jordan Humphreys offers a Marxist explanation of Indigenous oppression today.

Review: Gordon Childe and the fatal lure of politics

Liz Ross reviews Terry Irving's new book on the life and thought of Vere Gordon Childe.

Review: Radical Australian trade unionism

Diane Fieldes reviews Sam Oldham's book about radical Australian trade unionism in the 1970s.

Review: The making of Australia's security state

Emma Norton reviews Brian Toohey's book about the making of Australia’s security state.

Diverging destinies in a global crisis

Omar Hassan assesses the uneven social and political impact of the pandemic, and presents some explanations for the faster than expected economic recovery.

Aboriginal unionists in the 1890s shearers' strikes: A forgotten history

Jordan Humphreys excavates the history of the early workers' movement and finds substantial evidence for Aboriginal involvement in the famous shearers' strikes and that the AWU made real efforts to support their struggles.

Review: Remembering the 1946 Pilbara Aboriginal Pastoral Workers' Strike

Nick Everett reviews a recent book documenting an inspiring history of Indigenous class struggle.

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