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Issue #1905      March 2, 2020

WHY ARE YOU A COMMUNIST?

In celebration of International Women’s Day, The Workers’ Weekly Guardian asked several women, varying in age, from around the country, why they joined the party. Here are their stories.

SILVIA, 85

I believe that women have particular issues – such as health – that require focusing on and the Communist Party has always been attentive to those issues. However, the Party acknowledges that we’re all workers together. Despite the great advances we’re made as a society, there are still old customs and attitudes perpetrated by men that have to be fought against. In this regard I’ve been very lucky because I grew up with a communist father and my husband is also a communist and they both had and have the attitude that all the work has to be done by everybody in order to make things better for the majority.

LILLY, 26

I first started exploring the idea of communism at university (as many of us do) when I began to realise the short comings of liberal ideologies, particularly liberal feminism. The more I learned the more evident it became that the main success of liberal feminism was to glorify a small percentage of women who had joined the capitalist class, whilst hiding the economic forces that kept the majority of women oppressed. I came to realise not only that many of my beliefs about how to bring about change were wrong, but that the cause of the problems I wanted to fight against was much bigger than just the patriarchy. Becoming a communist pushed me to continually learn about the material reality of our world and to learn about how we can bring about real change. It’s forced me to come out of my shell, to meet new people, and grow as a person.

Being a communist and being part of the Communist Party of Australia helps me fight the alienation of living under late stage capitalism, and it gives me the conviction that we can build a better world for women and all members of the working class.

ELIZABETH, 60

Long before I joined the Party, I had a sense the system wasn’t working for people. My reaction to this realisation manifested in activism, starting from my very early teens. Later, once I entered the workforce, I immediately engaged with unions, eventually becoming active as a delegate and getting more involved in the leadership of my union. I am still involved with my union.

I joined the Party after travelling to Cuba. A couple of things happened there, firstly I experienced a system I thought was healthy; a better world I always thought should be possible but had never experienced. Not because it was perfect but because it was responsive. The people seemed more empowered and it was especially obvious in women, children and young people. There was an atmosphere of inclusion and an absence of alienation. At the time I was on a brigade, so I got to visit schools, hospitals, workplaces as well as meet people from the government and the unions. It was a talk by a representative from the Communist Youth in Cuba that firmed up my decision to seek out the Party on return to Australia. Strangely now I can’t remember what it was she said but I left her talk and told my comrades on the brigade of my intention to join the Party on my return. Most of them tried to redirect me to the Greens but I didn’t feel swayed in any other direction once I had made the decision.

I read once that Fidel said of his early days as a revolutionary that once he read Marx, he realised he had been wandering around in a forest without a map. I would go one step further than that. I think even if you have read Marx it is like wandering around in a forest if you don’t have a Communist Party. For me that is the Communist Party of Australia.

CASEY, 34

From a young age, I wanted to make the world a better place. As a teenager, I joined World Vision, reassuring myself that at least I was “doing something.” It was surprising to see shoppers suspiciously eye me or explain to me why what I was doing was ineffective. I somewhat agreed but was continuously shocked by general apathy. I decided that if I became a journalist, I could help privileged people become more aware of poverty, and “philanthropically” bring everyone out of it. I was naive. Obviously, I had no understanding of the way capitalism functioned, and only started to when I came across an organisation called the Zeitgeist Movement. I was very passionate about it and worked tirelessly on building a community of people around Australia.

I was somewhat successful, but eternally unsatisfied, which no doubt, lead to burn out. I needed to take a step back to really think and learn. I opened my mind to exploring revolutions through history, initially through an anarchist lens, but eventually lead to discovering Marxism-Leninism.

I was amazed to discover the achievements of the USSR, Cuba, the DPRK, and more, and appalled by the propaganda I had been fed my whole life. I was ashamed of my “white saviour” complex and came to realise the people of the world were empowered in themselves. I learnt how the deepening of the contradictions in capitalism leads to class struggle and revolution.

Since then, my knowledge has exponentially grown. By practicing dialectical materialism as a grounding philosophy in life, and taking advice from past and present revolutionary thinkers, including those within the CPA, I am more able to use my time and energy wisely and continue the struggle for the working class, this time more deliberately and more informed.

ROMINA, 64

I grew up in a family who were political and very active in the community. My earliest memories of my political awareness go back to when I was barely six or seven years of age, hearing about class struggle and inequality, how the distribution of wealth is unfair, and lack of basic rights for women.

There has been some progress in the last twenty-five years around the world – although it has been slow and uneven.

Many countries have narrowed the gender gap in education, and some have even reached gender parity in school enrolment.

This is all good news.

And yet we are still a long way from achieving equality between men and women, boys and girls.

For too many women, especially in the less-developed countries, not enough has changed.

Violence against women continues to blight lives in all countries of the world.

The world needs full equality in order for humanity to prosper, and I believe the capitalist system is incapable of changing the climate emergency, ending the devastating wars of aggression which are effecting the lives of so many such as poverty, homelessness, violence against women, and so many other inequalities. I believe the answer to all this is a system that would support and will ensure an economy that will work for all which includes women. I believe that system is Communism.

FAIZA, 35

The short and universally applicable answer to this question is that we wish to build a better world, that we see capitalism has far outrun its date-of-use and is the cause of human impoverishment, war and ecological destruction.

Of course, it is not that simple and straight a path in practice for everyone. There are three key steps, in my opinion, often overlapping.

One is the grasping of socialist ideas and understanding the systemic problems of capitalism.

Second is the desire to be politically involved for socialist change.

Finally, the third is finding the correct political platform.

I as an individual had already taken the first two steps when I arrived in Australia as a skilled migrant. So, I knew I wanted to join a Marxist party that wants to build socialism, and what follows is a look at what I found agreeable about the CPA and disagreeable about other socialist groups.

I was looking at publications in the Australian left group publications, including the CPA’s Guardian, mainly to understand the local issues. However, on international issues, I was more knowledgeable, I found other socialist groups taking incorrect positions; positions that were favourable to US imperialism. It was a bit later that I learnt of their Trotskyite trend of rejecting the achievements of socialist countries like China and Cuba.

The CPA’s analysis is in contrast to that and I found their analysis to be correct.

Democratic centralism is essential in my opinion, and I’ve found this principle practised within the CPA.

The CPA’s anti-sectarian approach, by forming united fronts, working with other organisations towards common goals, while maintaining its unique identity and agenda. Unlike other organisations I participated in previously, where I saw juvenile attacks or hostility towards other organisations where disagreements arose, the CPA rose above, highlighting its political maturity to me.

The CPA is part of the biggest working-class international fraternity (IMCWP), which only highlights in one instance our strong dedication to internationalism, to the international working-class.

I was a political novice when I joined the CPA, yet I was welcomed by the party. This is because the CPA understands that political education involves both study and practice. It doesn’t expect new members to come fully armed with all the knowledge.

However, it expects its members, new and old, to involve themselves in political activity and fully participate in educational discussions.

These are the reasons why I joined the CPA.

Next article – National Climate Action Report – Freemantle, WA

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