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AUSTRALIAN
MARXIST
REVIEW

Journal of the Communist Party of Australia

ISSUE 68September 2018

Editorial

It is particularly necessary to arouse in all who participate in practical work, or are preparing to take up that work, discontent with the amateurism prevailing among us and an unshakable determination to rid ourselves of it.

This current edition of the AMR looks at two entwined themes, the need for engagement with the reality of Australian political circumstances and how best to organise the Communist Party to do that. As might be expected, our contributors argue for the validity of Marxist Leninist ideas in a world in which social media has become a fertile ground for the politically alienated and the disembedded ultra-left.

Issue 68 begins with General Secretary Bob Briton’s insights into the forms and content of opportunism in Australia today. He observes that while right opportunism remains the dominant and arguably most dangerous form of opportunism, with the strongest grip on the trade union movement through social democracy and “fair chew of the chop” attitudes, “left” opportunism continues to be harmful. The internet and the atomisation of society provides a suitable breeding ground for ultra-“left” ideas that divert possible Marxists down sectarian and utterly sterile paths. Making reference to Lenin’s critique of “left-wing infantilism”, Briton reveals the need to locate Communist Party praxis in the particular circumstances, and the specific struggles of our own political environment. Social media is an important tool for communication, but the material circumstances that surround us have to be the base for our engagement and not the disembedded, free-floating ultra-leftist theorising of the virtual world.

In contrast to contemporary opportunist trends, the Communist Party of Australia re-affirmed its strategic Marxist-Leninist orientation at the 13th National Congress, held in December of last year. In “Taking the Party to the People”, Michael Hooper describes the contemporary political background of the Congress; the extensive work that went into preparing for the Congress and the Central Committee’s analysis of the domestic and international situation. Ultimately, he suggests that the important lesson of the 13th Congress was the contradiction between old and new methods of work. It follows that a Party feeling confident enough to go out into the community, after a period of internal consolidation, should embrace strategies that reject opportunism in its theoretical and practical forms and replace it with Communist action in the workplace and community.

Lars Ulrich Thomsen’s Class and class analysis reaffirms the practicality and appropriateness of Marxist ideas on class to changing a world dominated by the market. He reviews the differing approaches to class analysis since the 1970s, counters the ideas of late 20th Century utopian socialism, and argues the new circumstances of the globalised economy do not make the fundamental idea of class irrelevant as the key to countering monopolies. The role of pragmatically approaching the existing conditions the party finds itself in, and drawing upon historical examples of a “smart and flexible alliance policy” is proposed as fundamental to reforging Communist praxis.

Liu Shaoqi’s How to be a Good Communist is a classic text that always repays contemporary analysis. In his review and re-situation of the book from its origins in the Chinese struggle three quarters of a century ago to contemporary Australia, Michael Hooper argues that its advice on organisation is especially useful as the nature of the Australian working class becomes fundamentally changed due to the shift from industrial to service industries and new members join the Party without a developed class consciousness.

The re-publication of Pat Gorman’s 1978 article “Party building and the role of the youth” is bittersweet. It is disappointing that his arguments on how to develop a productive (and by implication empowering) role for young people in a Marxist-Leninst party are still unresolved, but encouraging that youth are increasingly choosing the Party as the vehicle for their revolutionary aspirations. He concludes with the observation that “youth is the base of the party of the future” a truism, but one that should be constantly borne in mind as the Party grows.

Continuing the theme of engaging with youth, during the first half of the year the right-wing think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs, promoted a series of public debates in the state capitals aimed at young adults, under the title of “Capitalism vs. Socialism”. In the final article of this issue, Richard Titelius reports on the debate held in Perth and argues for the necessity of engaging in public debate and continually putting forward Communist viewpoints.

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