Articles by Mick Armstrong

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.

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.

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.

Socialist trade union strategy in the Bolshevik era

In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution, the newly formed Communist International  attempted to develop a revolutionary approach to union work in the West. Mick Armstrong looks at the application of that strategy in Australia and Britain.

A critique of the writings of Murray Smith on broad left parties

Mick Armstrong offers a critical assessment of Murray Smith’s approach to broad left parties – one of the key debates on the socialist left internationally over the last fifteen years.

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.

The broad left party question after Syriza

Mick Armstrong revisits the question of broad left parties to draw some conclusions after the experience of Syriza in Greece.

Nestor Makhno: the failure of anarchism

Mick Armstrong dismantles the romanticism surrounding Makhno in some anarchist circles today with a study of his activity during the Russian Civil War.

Learning from disaster: The Workers' Party and the left in Brazil

Mick Armstrong critically assesses the experience of the Workers' Party, concluding that a far more independent approach was required by revolutionaries who participated.

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.

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.

Nestor Makhno: the failure of anarchism (old)

Mick Armstrong dismantles the romanticism surrounding Makhno with a study of his activity during the Russian Civil War.

Australia 1917: From world war to class war

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

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.

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