Trot Guide May 2020 Update

… and they’re off!

For those of you coming in late, ‘Trot Guide’ is an overview of the current state-of-play on the Australian far-left. Thus it includes groupuscules that consider themselves Trotskyist (‘Trots’) as well as those who do not. I last reviewed the scene in April 2019 (and prior to that in September 2018). At that point, there were a number of promising developments in the political ecosystem, with the emergence of NEW! groupuscules Left Unity, the Stalin Society of Australia, Victorian Socialists and the Workers League (nee ML Group (MLG)). Sadly, Left Unity appears to have permanently stalled in May 2018 and failed to leave its home in Adelaide, while the Stalin Society has been inactive for a similar period — though local Uncle Joe fans come alive on Facebook. Meanwhile, the Workers League (by way of its publication ‘Redfire Online’) has elevated itself above the pack by denouncing the rest of the left for implicating themselves in a massive hoax perpetrated by the bosses. Thus the Coronavirus circus will go down as arguably the largest ruse ever perpetrated in history. Is Covid-19 highly infectious? Yes. Is Covid-19 highly dangerous? To a very small minority it might be, depending on a whole heap of variables… : mAd props!

As for the Victorian Socialists (VS), it performed reasonably well at the 2018 Victorian state election; in Northern Metro, where Steve Jolly ran, it was pipped at the post by preferences directed to Fiona Patten’s Reason. At the 2019 Australian federal election, VS ran three candidates: Jerome Small in Calwell, Kath Larkin in Cooper and Sue Bolton in Wills. In each case they came fourth behind the majors (Labor, Liberal, Green), gaining about 4.5%.

So far, so-so.

But in news just-to-hand, the Socialist Alliance (SAll), one of the two primary groups which formed VS, has announced it’s quitting:

While Victorian Socialists showed great potential when it was formed in early 2018 and ran two big and exciting socialist election campaigns, it has not lived up to its promise to build a more united left …

… we no longer feel that the Victorian Socialist project is capable of uniting broader layers of socialists in an alliance that has the dynamic to move beyond electoral politics.

Recent decisions have shown that Victorian Socialists is not open to allowing any groups of independents, for example, to develop its political life outside of elections …

Socialist Alternative’s preparedness to use its numbers to restrict the democratic participation of independents in the Victorian Socialists means that Socialist Alliance does not believe that our continued participation in the project can be effective …

This leaves Socialist Alternative (SAlt) in the somewhat odd position, given the history of its tradition, of having — along, of course, with other, non-aligned or independent members of VS — its own electoral vehicle. Still, VS won’t collapse, and its real challenge lies in its capacity to increase its vote at the next round of electoral contests:

Local council elections are taking place in October this year and Victorian Socialists will be standing candidates in councils across the Northern Metro. In the context of the unfolding health and economic crisis, it is more important than ever to win a series of elected Victorian Socialists representatives so they can use whatever platform we can get to give voice to resistance to attempts by government and bosses to make workers’ pay for the crisis.

As for SAll, with its nominally-independent yoof wing (‘Resistance’) having folded back into its parent party (to become ‘Resistance: Socialist Alliance’) in 2014, and largely inactive, I got worry for its long-term future. The party does still regularly produce Green Left Weekly, however, and boasts two local councillors.

NEW!

Disappointingly, Australia has not been blessed by an explosion of Maoism (Third-Worldism) blogs — the Global People’s War appears to have stalled in the Dandenongs sometime in the 1960s — and cannot even boast a Posadist venture. Still, you’ll find some older Maoists on teh intarwebs at blogs like C21st Left and Strange Times (nee Last Superpower). Happily though, there’s a spectral presence of Trots online, including:

Bolshevik-Leninist

We are a collection of individuals who see the need of a Marxist (i.e. Trotskyist) organisation in Australia. We defend the program of proletarian internationalism set by the Fourth International before it was destroyed by Pabloite liquidationism in the 1950s. As Marxists, we recognise that a workers’ revolution would entail liberation of all the oppressed of the world including workers, peasants, women, indigenous peoples, ethnic and religious minorities as well as lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.

B-L is a new project allied with Revolutionary Regroupment in Brazil.

Class-Conscious

Class-Conscious exists to promote the unity of the international working class in the struggle for socialist revolution. Closely-aligned to the views and perspectives of the SEP/ICFI (International Committee of the Fourth International), CC is not a party as such, but moar like a project.

Revolution Australia

Seemingly a placeholder for the IMT (International Marxist Tendency), fingers crossed the IMT recruit at least one local member prepared to update their site with original material.

BONUS! The Internationalist Communists Oceania (ICO) have formed! Unfortunately, their website is down at the moment, but they have Facebooks and Twitters and several of their articles may be found online, including Breaking from Stalinism (Intransigence, November 2, 2018) and several writings on libcom.

OLDE!

Still having a crack :

1. (Alliance for) Workers’ Liberty
2. Australian Communist Party — A nü/olde entry, the ACP split from the CPA in 2019 ‘after analysing the marked inadequacy of the parties of the left and deciding on a new path in the movement for socialism in Australia’.
3. Communist League
4. Communist Party of Australia
5. Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
6. Communist Workers Party of Australia — ‘Newspaper coming soon!’
7. Freedom Socialist Party
8. Progressive Labour Party [Facebook] — ‘With recent influx of new members we are re-launching during 2019 to expand our political impact. We invite all supporters to contact us on email to get involved in the re-launch.’ (Unlike the others on the list, the PLP is a non-Leninist grouping, and could be compared to the ‘Australian Workers Party’.)
9. Socialist Alliance
10. Socialist Alternative
11. Socialist Equality Party
12. Socialist Party — The Socialist Party has re-branded as ‘Socialist Action’. Previously a member of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) — which underwent a split in 2019 — SA has instead opted to join the ‘International Socialist Alternative’, which one side in the split created in February 2020.
13. Solidarity
14. Spartacist League of Australia
15. Trotskyist Platform
16. Workers League

Not still having a crack :

The Socialist — A recent derivation from The Socialist Party, ‘The Socialist’ appears to be moribund.

See also : Being Left-Wing in Australia: Identity, Culture and Politics After Socialism, Geoff Robinson, Australian Scholarly Publishers, 2019.

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 2020 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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9 Responses to Trot Guide May 2020 Update

  1. Those Beans says:

    I’ve been thinking bout Uncle Mick?

  2. @ndy says:

    Statement on the withdrawal of Socialist Alliance from Victorian Socialists [May 15, 2020]

    Victorian Socialists has thrived as a coalition of the two main socialist organisations in Victoria, Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance, along with a significant number of independent socialists who are not members of either organisation. Sadly, the Socialist Alliance yesterday issued a statement saying they were withdrawing from involvement in Victorian Socialists.

    The Victorian Socialists Executive, comprising both Socialist Alternative members and independents, met last night and agreed on a number of motions, all of which were passed unanimously.

    First, we expressed our regret that the Socialist Alliance has left the coalition. We do not claim to know what is motivating the Socialist Alliance to have made this decision, but we do recognise the important role Sue Bolton in particular has played in the past in promoting this left unity project. We consider the premise on which Victorian Socialists was founded – that whatever our political and organisational differences the socialist left should, as a minimum be able to come together to mount a common electoral challenge – remains not just valid, but, in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, urgent.

    Because of this we affirmed our determination to continue to build Victorian Socialists, and to implement the decisions made at the Governing Council last weekend, in particular those that related to increasing opportunities for member activism, and mounting a major campaign to win councillor positions at the municipal elections later this year.

    We have also called a members’ conference for Saturday June 20. This will be a major opportunity to organise our campaigning for the rest of 2020. The conference will have to take place via Zoom rather than in person, but we plan to put all possible measures in place to maximise member participation.

    We have established a Membership and Activity Committee (MAC) to provide an ongoing space for Victorian Socialists members and supporters to build the profile and projects of the party. If you’re keen to get involved, the first online meeting is on Sunday May 24 at 3pm.

    Some of the activities of MAC will include membership drives, fundraising, organising public forums (online for the time being), improving our social media, stalls and organising contingents to protests when COVID-19 restrictions relax, and helping to organise campaigning for the local council elections and discussing the politics of the campaigns.

    The current health and economic disaster sweeping the world is one of the biggest crises in the history of capitalism. It demands a vigorous response by socialists. We are confident that in the coming months Victorian Socialists will have a major role to play in building that response.

    Yours in solidarity,

    Corey Oakley

    Secretary, Victorian Socialists

  3. @ndy says:

    Uncle Mick has been thinking bout Nestor. Still not. a. fan., but has backpedalled on allegations (Armstrong, Mick 1990, “Nestor Makhno: The Failure of Anarchism”, Socialist Review, 3) of anti-Semitism at least:

    A key feature of the anti-Bolshevik rebellion in Ukraine was anti-Jewish pogroms. A common slogan was “Death to the Jews and down with the Communists”. Just about all the peasant partisan leaders, notably Hryhoriyiv, were involved in outrages in which tens of thousands of Jews were killed. One of the common charges against Makhno is that his forces also carried out anti-Semitic pogroms. This is an allegation made not just by Bolshevik sources, but also by some leading anarchists, such as Alexander Shapiro. Sections of the anarchist émigré press in the 1920s continued to carry articles charging Makhno with responsibility for anti-Jewish pogroms and he publicly debated the issue when in exile in Paris. However a detailed examination of the available evidence leads me to reject this charge. While there were some examples of anti-Semitic actions by individual Makhnovists, the official position of the movement was unambiguously clear – anybody involved in anti-Semitic activities would be shot. They ruthlessly enforced this policy, with Makhno personally often carrying out the executions.

    https://marxistleftreview.org/articles/nestor-makhno-the-failure-of-anarchism

  4. ablokeimet says:

    The Russian Anarchist was Alexander Schapiro, not Shapiro:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Schapiro

  5. solomonfaust says:

    I’ve always been curious about the actual political differences between these groups. I’ve tried asking mates in Soli and SAlt and an acquaintance in SAll but it all seemed totally byzantine. It’s also very hard to find anything online that isn’t uselessly partisan or super academic. Would be interested in your take Andy.

  6. @ndy says:

    On the face of it, the political differences are smaller than the seemingly large amount that the various grouplets have in common. But each has a history, and I think it’s only thru examining that history that their formation as distinct, even sometimes warring groups makes sense. Most obviously ultimately derive from the Fourth International and its early conversion into a ‘Trotskyist’ organisation, but leaving aside folks like Origlass (https://www.labourhistory.org.au/hummer/vol-3-no-1/red-hot) AFAIK the Trots rlly only flowered in Australia as part of the New Left of the (post-)1960s. I dunno if there’s an acct of this history that’s not either ‘uselessly partisan or super academic’ (maybe one’s waiting to be written), but certainly each group has given some acct of its own evolution. That said, Bob Gould (RIP) kept a close eye on things, esp in SYD, and while being partisan, had some interesting things to say — https://www.marxists.org/archive/gould/index.htm. ‘Marching Down Marx Street’ by Tom O’Lincoln provides what seems to be an even-handed acct of the Cliffite tradition and Reason in Revolt has a useful archive of writings inre Trotskyism Down Under (http://www.reasoninrevolt.net.au/biogs/E000384b.htm).

  7. Owen says:

    Another one –

    Internationalist Communists Oceania

    “ICO is an Australian based workers group whose members defend and organise around the positions of the Italian Communist Left”

    Mostly confined to sharing Leftcom, Libcom, and Intransigience articles on social media, they have published a few articles.

    “Breaking from Stalinism”

    https://intransigence.org/2018/11/02/breaking-from-stalinism

    “Jordan Peterson and the Australian Left”

  8. @ndy says:

    fuckyeah thanks owen

    note:

    i removed the link to the JP article ’cause it was dead
    the ico had a website but it’s down. they still have an active twatter acct but (@ICOceania)
    text below is from archived vers of site: —

    Internationalist Communists Oceania
    an Oceania based Left-Communist regroupment effort

    About

    Internationalist Communists Oceania is a Left-communist regroupment effort, with our long term goal being the abolition of class society and private property via international proletarian revolution. In other words, we want, nay need, to see a Communist society within the younger generations lifetimes if we hope to see a continuation of human existence. Our current epoch has not only taken the phrase “Socialism or Barbarism” and made it an imminent reality, but also sees the situation so dire that our options are now “Socialism or Extinction.”

    Our immediate goals are to regroup those dissuaded by the lack of organisations who uphold Marxist positions in the Oceanic area. As well as regrouping those who already hold our positions, we are also interested in aiding others in Marxist education by creating an easily accessible online space to do so.

    If you wish to become involved, we suggest reading our Points of Unity, and then getting in contact with us. We are happy to answer any questions you have about our positions and organisation.

    Points of Unity

    As communists, we see communism as the only viable solution for the survival of humanity.
    Capital is a historic social relation between the Capitalist class and the wage labouring proletariat. We denounce capital as being a product of the exploitation of man by man and therefore denounce capitalism, regardless of its apparent form of government.
    We see international revolution , carried out at the hands of the proletariat , as the only route to communism. This can only be achieved through the destruction of Capital and class itself.
    While not believing ourselves to be the party or its sole nuclei, we do advocate for the establishment of an international proletarian party to function as the nerve center of the class. In other words, we are not the party, but we are for the party.
    We understand the proletariat to be a class of migrants who have no country. In capitalism’s current decadent epoch we see the “nation”-state as having ceased to have any useful purpose. The emancipation of all nations depends on the self-organisation of the working class and international proletarian revolution.
    We regard all “actually existing socialism” as mere State-Capitalism. We see its actions and its parties—including its international organs—as instruments of the bourgeoisie
    We see all interclassist theories as alien to the interests of the proletariat and class collaboration as a symptom of of low class consciousness . These reactions are understandable in the face of the social antagonisms that plague Capitalist society. We seek to abolish all forms of oppression that we see stemming from class society.
    We understand labour unions to be organs of the capitalist state, that stifle the resistance of the proletariat* and cannot be conquered or transformed into revolutionary vessels. We are not opposed to individual rank-and-file membership. However, upon the intensification of class struggle, the unions will be a counterrevolutionary force and must be overcome. We call on our fellow workers to build their own revolutionary organs.
    Humanity must move from Capital’s existence if we hope to ever see a world in which human need and enrichment is placed before profits. For the sake of nurturing individual development and humanities success as a whole, we must see the abolition of the present state of things.

  9. red & black but mostly red says:

    Friends, Colleagues, Comrades, Fellow Union Members,

    Please see below a notification for an important rally this Saturday calling for an end to the inhumane lockdowns, which are causing immense economic, social and psychological distress to many innocent people. Under the flimsy pretext of “keeping people safe”, the ruling class has inflicted a huge attack on the working class. The SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) virus is far from the Black Plague, with a case fatality rate comparable to, or lower (around 0.1%), than a seasonal flu. Millions have been thrown out of work, and necessary health screening and treatment has been cancelled in hospitals which are half-empty due to a distinct absence of Covid-19 patients. Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association has effectively been abolished. Basic civil rights have been extinguished. There is another agenda at play, and workers must resist a totalitarianism never previously seen, before the elite of the US Empire and their acolytes drag us into yet another imperialist war.

    While we do not endorse the political program of all organisations and parties building and attending these actions, we encourage workers to attend the nearest anti-lockdown rally organised for May 30, 2020. Although various groups will raise other issues, these demonstrations will primarily be a united front held for all those who agree with one demand: Lift the Lockdowns!

    In solidarity
    Adam Baker
    (for Workers League)
    0421 408 692

    COVID-19 SCAMDEMIC!
    The People have had enough and The People are RISING!
    Join the People’s Revolution on May 30th, 1PM SHARP @ King George Square in Brisbane City, to make a stand on behalf of our future generations!
    We will obey the current restrictions and maintain social distancing, while we engage our rights and partake in a peaceful protest.

    It’s been 5 months since COVID-19 hit Australian shores and there has been less than 100 deaths in a population of 26 million. This equates to just 0.000003% of the entire population.*(1)
    The average age of these deaths was 80. *(2)
    77% of the deceased had at least one pre-existing serious underlying issue. *(2)
    Doctors from around the world are stating they have been instructed to falsify death certificates by governmental health departments and The CDC. *(3)
    The whole pandemic has been surrounded in fallacies, lies & deceit and The Australian authorities are in the thick of it.

    There has been unwanted & unwarranted lockdowns and as a result:
    – People have lost their jobs
    – People have lost their homes
    – People have lost their businesses
    – People have committed suicide and lost their lives
    – People have lost their freedoms and rights

    And now The People are seeing through the lies & deceit and will not take this bullshit any longer!
    It is extremely clear that this pandemic has been used by the corporately owned world governments, to create fear through the corporately owned Main Stream Media, to put the people into a panic and therefore persuade the general public, into accepting draconian control measures.
    It is obvious, these control measures are not aimed at protecting us, but in fact aimed at creating a new oppressed society, where total control and over-standing power is the goal.
    The authorities have stated, “Things will not return to normal until a vaccine is available”. They are going to blackmail us with a fast tracked, untested, damaging COVID-19 vaccine. They will say it is not mandatory, but if we do not accept it, we will not be allowed in the workplace, our kids will not be allowed in schools, we will not be allowed on planes and we will not be allowed to cross state borders.
    5G has been rolled out, while the major health concerns as expressed by professionals around the world, have been totally ignored.
    This is just the tip of the iceberg.
    My brothers and sisters, I promise you, if we stand by and do nothing, we will be forcefully vaccinated, we will be forcefully microchipped, we will be exposed to damaging radiation and EMF’s from unsafe 5G towers and antennae, our population will be reduced by billions through infertility and sterilisation and we will lose access to cash and instead rely solely on manipulated digital currency based on a social behaviour reward system, monitored by millions of facial recognition cameras.
    We will literally lose every single right and freedom we ever had.
    This is The People’s Revolution and it’s an exciting time to be alive!
    See everyone there.
    – King George Square, Outside Brisbane City Town Hall on May 30th 1pm SHARP-

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