Topic: Australian History

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

'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.

How World War One led to class war

World War I began with only tiny numbers opposing Australia’s involvement, but by 1916 a mass anti-conscription campaign split the Labor party. By Mick Armstrong.

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.

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.

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.