The Guardian August 29, 2001


Statement by Central Committee of Communist Party of Australia
Building the People's Movement
A response to the Socialist Alliance

The ruthless global drive of capital to maximise profits while 
destroying jobs, seizing public assets, crushing unions and destroying the 
environment has produced a worldwide wave of public anger and a global 
fightback. This fightback has seen loose coalitions of people, workers, 
students, intellectuals, small business people, farmers, struggling in many 
ways, in particular by taking to the streets, to oppose capitalism's anti-
people policies. The latest actions in Genoa brought tens of thousands 
together to demonstrate against the G8 meeting.

At its Ninth Congress in April this year, the Communist Party attempted to 
reflect the essence of this movement. The "Political Resolution" adopted 
begins by stating: "The worldwide struggle between the people and the 
transnational corporations is intensifying.

"The situation in Australia and internationally is marked by this struggle, 
at the centre of which is the struggle between the capitalist class and the 
working class."

Every aspect of life on the planet is falling prey to imperialism. Workers, 
small farmers, agricultural workers and an immense range of social strata, 
interest groups and NGOs are being forced to confront the big transnational 
corporations as they intensify their exploitation of the world's people and 
resources.

This growing movement against corporate globalisation has found expression 
in Australia with increasing numbers of people rejecting the policies being 
implemented by both Liberal and right-wing Labor governments.

Last year, a wide spectrum of forces took part in the S11 demonstrations in 
Melbourne, vigorously raising their voices against the participants in the 
meeting of the World Economic Forum.

The people's movement against corporate globalisation is indeed the 
broadest contemporary movement objectively confronting the power of 
capital.

Left and progressive unity

In Australia, the Communist Party believes the best way to strengthen this 
people's movement is to draw together all the left and progressive parties, 
trade unions, community organisations and individuals or elements of these 
organisations into a popular anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly democratic 
front.

We see this front as transcending any one party. A front of this nature 
presupposes agreements, either formal or informal, on issues held in common 
and not only at grass-roots level. It needs to involve and find agreement 
at the leadership level of organisations as well.

It is a coalition of this nature which can mobilise thousands and tens of 
thousands of workers and people from other social groups who are opposed to 
the corporate agenda of privatisation, the attacks on the living and 
working conditions of all working people, whether in the cities or the 
country.

Some in this democratic front will campaign on the environment, others will 
defend public education and the public health system, others will defend 
jobs and the industrial rights of the trade union movement. Country people 
will fight for adequate services and against the fleecing of small farmers 
by the processing companies, the banks and the huge supermarket chains.

A place in the anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly democratic front has to be 
found for all these streams of opposition to what is being done to the 
working people, the poor, the unemployed, the homeless, the farmers, 
pensioners, indigenous people, migrants and others.

In our opinion it is vitally important to build such a movement. Only such 
a broad coalition of left and progressive forces can change the direction 
of politics in Australia. In building a democratic front, care must be 
taken not to exclude any potential supportive party, organisation or 
individual, even though different opinions and policies will inevitably 
exist on various questions. This movement, which is in embryonic form in 
Australia, is not the property of any one party or group and to claim 
otherwise, or any attempt by any political party to "capture" it for its 
own purposes, cannot be accepted.

A narrowly-based left alliance

In Australia, on 17 February 2001 eight left groups and parties formed the 
Socialist Alliance. The eight founding members are the Freedom Socialist 
Party, Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), the International Socialist 
Organisation (ISO), Socialist Democracy, Worker-Communist Party of Iraq (in 
Australia), Workers Power, Workers Liberty, and Workers League. The 
Socialist Alternative organisation seems to have subsequently joined.

The alliance is an organisation of left parties and individuals brought 
together around a common platform for the forthcoming Federal election. The 
alliance states that "membership is open to any individual who broadly 
agrees with the aims and objectives of the alliance and agrees to 
participate in the non-sectarian, co-operative spirit of the Alliance".

While the Socialist Alliance may build a level of unity, mainly among some 
of the left forces and raise consciousness about some of the pressing 
issues of the day, the structure of the Socialist Alliance and its 
political perspective are not sufficient to build the lasting movement 
needed to bring about fundamental change in Australia.

We consider the Socialist Alliance to be narrowly-based, pre-empting the 
necessarily painstaking process of developing a genuine, soundly-based left 
and progressive alliance. Such "jumping the gun" is typical of a sectarian 
approach. The Alliance includes left and ultra-left groups but excludes 
progressive groups. Its attitude to alliances and coalition building is 
flawed, focussing on capturing instead of building the movement.

Before the initial meeting of the Socialist Alliance, the DSP and the ISO 
had already determined many of the basic platform positions and the 
organisation's name. The DSP and the ISO have double the representation on 
the Alliance's National Committee compared to other affiliated 
organisations.

In fact, the Socialist Alliance is not a coalition but a centralised 
pseudo-party under the control of the two largest participating 
organisations, the DSP and the ISO. Other organisations are expected to 
submit to this agenda rather than joining on the basis of equality.

Why the CPA did not join

The Communist Party of Australia has decided not to participate in the 
Socialist Alliance, together with a number of other left and progressive 
parties and organisations which were either not invited to join or have 
decided not to. These include the Socialist Party, the Progressive Labour 
Party, the CPA (M-L), the Maritime Unionist Socialist Activities 
Association (MUSAA), the Marxist Workers' Party and The Greens.

There are also those on the left of the ALP who are willing to break with 
that party's right-wing economic rationalist policies and are potential 
allies and participants in the anti-corporate struggle.

There are also many small farmers and small business people who are being 
impoverished and bankrupted by the GST and the exploitation by the big 
companies, processors and supermarkets. These groups are already involved 
in their own struggles against the policies of the economic rationalists.

In an open letter on the Socialist Alliance, the Socialist Party said:

"We support a united front or coalition of left parties and individuals  
not a centralised party dominated by the ISO and DSP... We want to expand 
election co-operation to the Greens, independent activists, trade unions, 
etc. Unfortunately the current plan for the organisation of the Socialist 
Alliance is too centralised and therefore under the domination of the ISO 
and DSP.

"If other real forces were involved in the Socialist Alliance, such as 
community groups, trade unions, significant numbers of youth etc, it would 
be a different matter......"

The CPA agrees with this evaluation and, importantly, the call for a united 
front that includes trade union and community forces and other political 
parties and organisations.

Principles of unity and co-operation

We believe there are some principles which should be accepted by all 
organisations prepared to work together and to eventually establish a 
representative coalition or alliance.

These principles include mutual respect and honesty and consultation at 
every step of the unity-building process. Agreements must be reached by 
consensus, with voting resorted to only as a last resort and limited to 
procedural matters.

Where agreement is not reached, this issue should be put aside with each 
organisation free to express its views using its own facilities. Once 
agreements are reached all organisations must help to popularise and put 
them into practice.

Discussion and agreement at leadership level must be backed up and deepened 
by co-operation at all levels of the organisations involved.

Ideological differences should not stand in the way of co-operation on 
issues held in common. It is logical to expect that there will be a contest 
of ideas between co-operating organisations but such a contest should be 
stated in a manner that does not undermine the unity achieved but 
contributes to clarity and to strengthening the developing unity.

Of course, each organisation is free to publish its views and carry out 
activities in support of its own policies that are not the subject of 
agreements. In this way the autonomy of each organisation is protected.

Through the process of joint struggle, trust will be built between 
organisations and individuals and this will be the binding force that 
strengthens the coalition and makes it a viable and lasting organisation. 
Unity and agreement should grow as a process but they cannot be ordained by 
certain organisations through their domination over others.

We believe there are already many policy issues which find widespread 
agreement but it is not the purpose of this statement to list them.

Winning government

It is becoming clearer to many that the capitalist system is unable to 
satisfy the needs of the working people. In fact, capitalist policies are 
impoverishing the people and taking away many of our rights won in 
struggles over many years.

It is for this reason the CPA advocates action to bring an end to the 
corporate control of our economy and political system. Replacing capitalism 
with socialism is our ultimate goal. This political perspective is not yet 
held by the overwhelming majority who are joining in the struggles against 
the corporations.

A united left and progressive movement must have as its first major goal 
the breaking of the two-party system and the formation of a government of a 
new type. We see the winning of government by an anti-imperialist, anti-
monopoly democratic front as a first step in the protracted and historical 
struggle to wrest power from the capitalist ruling class.

State and Federal elections over the past 10 to 15 years show an increasing 
number of voters no longer voting for either of the mainstream political 
parties. The real need is to build a strong and acceptable alternative 
which is capable of uniting in action the various forces opposed to the 
economic rationalist policies of the big corporations and the governments 
which do their bidding. It is our opinion that no single party alone has, 
at this time, the strength or popular support to present the alternative 
that people are seeking.

A left and progressive alliance could create this necessary alternative. It 
would be committed to changing the political and economic direction of 
Australian politics and give priority to meeting the needs and interests of 
the working people, pensioners, farmers, indigenous people, shopkeepers, 
educators, young people, women and migrants. The alliance would accept the 
responsibility of establishing a new type of government and severely 
restricting the rampage of the corporations.

Such a government would not yet be a socialist government, but of necessity 
would be closely linked with the people's mass movement and struggles. To 
be effective it would challenge the rights and privileges of the 
corporations in the battle to implement the policies of the left and 
progressive democratic front.

A major goal would be to substantially curb the power of the big 
corporations, while expanding the democratic rights of the people, 
especially the working class and the trade union movement.

Shortcuts in building such a left and progressive force cannot provide 
solutions to the immense and very real problems that the working class and 
progressive forces in society face today.

For all these reasons we do not believe that the hastily established 
Socialist Alliance meets either the possibilities or requirements of the 
times.

The Communist Party of Australia will continue its efforts to build a 
genuine left and progressive alliance.

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