Lenin Goes to Canberra? (Trot Guide 2010)


Maybe not.

But with a Federal election due any day now, I thought it was about time I again surveyed the local Trotskyist* scene, and thus ascertain: Who looks forward to this historical opportunity to seize state power by way of the ballot box?

To begin with, the latest addition to the Guide: the Revolutionary Socialist Party.

Oddly, given her impeccable** feminist and Marxist credentials, the communist Van Thanh Rudd has thrown down the gauntlet at the feet of the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and will be drawing her into the elaborate performance piece Rudd has given the provisional title of Lalor Election 2010. Otherwise, in early 2010, the RSP announced that Hamish Chitts would be going into battle against The Rudd Formerly Known as the Australian Prime Minister in the seat of Griffith (see : RSP federal election campaign: No racism! No war! For a working people’s government!, Kathy Newnam, Direct Action, No.22, May 2010).

The RSP’s evil Siamese twin is the Socialist Alliance. It will be fielding a range of candidates this year — about two dozen, in fact.

Socialist Alternative (SAlt) is not standing any candidates at the election — and I don’t remember it, or its precursors within the iSt, having done so at any electoral contest in the past — but does urge anyone who cares to put the Tories last on the ballot:

In the coming elections Socialist Alternative advocates giving a first preference vote to either Labor, the Greens or others who are genuinely left-wing, like socialist candidates, and putting the Liberals last. However what really matters is not what we do in our five minutes in the polling booths, but what we do day in and day out to build a fighting movement that can begin to turn the tide in our favour.

The other groupuscule most closely allied to SAlt is Solidarity. As far as I can tell, it’s position is more-or-less the same as SAlt’s: vote for leftist and/or Green candidates where possible, but put the Liberals (Coalition) last. This also appears to be the position of the Socialist Party (SP), who have the rare distinction, along with the SA, of having experienced some success at the ballot box.

Along with SAlt, Solidarity, and the SP, the other explicitly Trotskyist party in Australia is the Socialist Equality Party. Federally-registered, it regularly participates in bourgeoisie elections, and regularly comes last.

The two main non-Trotskyist Marxist parties are the Communist Party of Australia and the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist). In early 2009, the CPA was the primary (and perhaps sole) initiator of the Communist Alliance, which has since fielded one candidate, Bob Briton. Briton was very happy at his success in the SA seat of Lee (Great result for Communist Party in Lee says candidate, March 24, 2010). The CPA’s cousin in the CPA (M-L), meanwhile, do not appear to stand their own candidates, tho’ former members have assumed high office (see : Stalin! FARK! Avakian! Mao! Rage! Muzak!, January 30, 2008).


The Freedom Socialist Party was once a member of the Socialist Alliance, but left several years ago. They will almost certainly not be standing a candidate, but will presumably advocate voting for somebody else. The Progressive Labour Party, on the other hand, was once registered, and contested elections under its own steam, but is now seemingly defunct (or perhaps merely resting). According to Trotskyist Platform, “If You Support Socialism then You Must Defend North Korea!”, but If You Support Socialism then Who Must You Vote for in the Upcoming Election?

Given the above, a more significant ‘progressive’ challenge to the ALP will likely come from the Greens. In Melbourne, widely considered to be The Seat Most Likely, law-talking guy Adam Bandt will square off against former union hack Cath Bowtell — an ”inner-urban progressive family woman”, presumably. A member of the Socialist Left faction, despite making all the right noises, Bowtell’s job has not been made any easier by party policy on gay marriage (against) and on locking up asylum seekers in foreign countries (for).

See also : What happened to the Left? (February 27, 2010) | The Long Strange Posthumous Life of Leon Trotsky (September 1, 2009).

Bonus Blob Avakian!

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2023 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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8 Responses to Lenin Goes to Canberra? (Trot Guide 2010)

  1. butcher says:

    vote 1 Comrade Gillard? 😉

  2. Sandstone Sandgroper LM says:

    I’ll prolly end up giving my primary to the SA just for the lols. I don’t see them having a chance at winning the seat but it will make them feel better. Better they get it than the Greens, damned good for nothing long hairs. =)

  3. Kieran says:

    In important election news, I note that Joe Toscano’s latest effort probably won’t appear on the ballot. Seems he’s a few hundred memberships short of the 500 required for registration.

  4. Gabs says:

    Someone write a lol-worthy anti-election poster and email it around. I cbf, and i don’t think i’m funny enough either.

  5. Anona says:

    I won’t be voting. I advocate others not to vote as well. After all, no matter who you vote for, a politician will get in. And, it just encourages the bastards.

  6. @ndy says:


    Uncle Joe’s been running for the Senate, under various rubrics, for the last 30 years or so. Like the Marxist parties (and many others), he views election time as a good opportunity to gain some greater degree of publicity for his cause. And it does: he’s been featured in the media fairly regularly at election time, if only as being among the more strange and interesting characters competing for votes (or at least attention); I can remember first encountering his name in the papers during the 1990 Federal election.

    The party project ‘Rule by the People’ has been basically stagnating since it was launched in November 2004; it reached its peak of popularity several years ago, having 121 members now and the same number in December 2008. At the current rate of recruitment, it will be several decades, if not a century or two, before the party reaches its target membership (550). Otherwise, Uncle Joe’s most recent tilts have been in the seat of Higgins and for Mayor of Melbourne (under the title ‘Shifting the Burden’). In Higgins he scored 510 votes (0.8%) while he (and his running mate) got 815 votes or 1.5% (from a formal vote tally of 57,962) as Lord Mayor. His latest thing appears to be calling on the Government to introduce a People’s Bank, something Proudhon suggested would be a neat idea some 150 years ago. Aside from this, Joe will again, presumably, have a crack at the Senate, and again be featured by The Age‘s gossip columnists.

  7. In your critique of socialist organisations, you’re counting CPA and CPA ML as two that deserve recognition. Generally speaking, because they are both so ridiciulously small and have no membership or power, it would be apt to just ignore them entirely. Why pay attention to organisations with only 2 or 3 members?

    Surely, by increasing the threshold to relevancy, you would be left to only analyse the behaviour of some of those organisations.

    Also, your classification of what a socialist organisation is is based on label — ie, if they call themselves socialist, then they are socialist, and they deserve to be included into this analysis. Wouldn’t it make more sense just to disregard the pseudo-socialist organisations, like the Socialist Equality Party, as they have nothing to do with actual socialism?

  8. @ndy says:

    G’day Mikhail,

    To begin with, it’s not really a critique, more an examination of the position of various Leninist political associations towards the 2010 Federal election; I include the CPA and the CPA (ML) because they are both real, and have significant histories. In addition, the CPA — as the Communist Alliance — actually stood candidates. Also, while I’m obviously unaware of their exact or even proximate memberships, both the CPA and CPA (ML) have memberships larger than two or three individuals. (In fact, the two smallest groups I list are probably the FSP and TP.) With regards power… I dunno. It’s a difficult question inre these groups, as none are in a position to boast of having much authority or influence, and I would need to develop first a methodology and then accumulate some evidence… it’s a whole other question, I think. And if I were to confine myself to examining the perspectives of organisations which might have had some significant influence on the outcome of the election, I would have ignored all of these parties, not just the CPA and CPA (ML).

    Finally, yes: my classificatory system is based on self-definition. Mostly. Actually, I routinely lump ‘socialist’ groups together under the category ‘Trot’, simply for convenience. Beyond that, while I’m happy to discuss the relationship of these parties to the ‘real’ meaning and significance of ‘socialism’, the accusation ‘pseudo-socialist’ is normally one applied by groups like the SEP to other ‘socialist’ groupings.


    Australia’s political coup and the role of the ex-left
    Laura Tiernan and Nick Beams
    July 26, 2010

    The response of the middle-class pseudo-left groups to the coup which removed Australian Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and installed Julia Gillard has highlighted the class interests they serve.

    Whatever their differences, the common basis of these groups—Socialist Alternative, Socialist Alliance, Solidarity and the Socialist Party—is their organic hostility to the political independence of the working class. All of them seek to subordinate the working class to the Labor Party and the trade union bureaucracy and thereby to the capitalist state itself. That is why they have worked to cover up the political significance of the coup and its implications for the working class…

    At the same time, the former Maoists who have assembled under the banner of first The Last Superpower and then Strange Times have denounced other ‘socialists’ and ‘socialist’ groups for being pseudo-left… It’s an old story, is what I’m saying.

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