Celebrating 80 years of communist struggle
by Andrew Jackson and Richard Stone Celebrations have been held around Australia during the last week to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the formation of the Communist Party in Australia. Around 60 Comrades and friends gathered at the Platon Greek Workers' Club in Adelaide on November 4 for an evening of rousing political speeches, favourite songs and poems of struggle and revolution. Marie Lean, State Secretary and Central Committee member, spoke of the significance of the establishment of the Party on October 30, 80 years ago. The formation of the Party was the outcome of experience gained by the Australian working class and growth of the labour movement during the period 1890 to 1920. During that time the organised working class experienced the disappointment of reformist Labor governments, and realised the futility of the utopian and sectarian socialist organisations that existed at that time. Referring to the Manifesto to the workers of Australia published by the party in December of that year (See Guardian October 25, 2000, for text), Marie stressed that the struggle had remained the same: that of workers to organise sufficiently to overthrow capitalism and establish a genuine socialist system. Other speakers at the function included State President Michael Perth, Alan Miller, a former editor of The Guardian, and Jim Mitchell, veteran Communist who served as resident journalist and correspondent for the party press in Moscow during the 1960s and '70s. Platon Club President Stasinos Makris, recited a poem Child of Palestine, and Chilean comrade Juan Garrido recited Revolution and Roses by poet Pablo Neruda. Music was provided in songs telling of revolutionary, independence and working class struggles from Platon Club members, Rex Mann and Port Adelaide band Wobblies Boot. In Sydney, over 120 party members and supporters packed the Abraham Mott Hall in The Rocks on Saturday 11, and enjoyed a sumptuous meal, entertainment and historic display. Party General Secretary Peter Symon addressed the gathering, and replying to those on the left who questioned the need for a revolutionary party, said we need to ask ourselves: "Are workers still being exploited?" He stressed the need to build the Party, and brandishing blank membership application forms, exhorted all those at the function who were supporters but not members, to sign up. The historic display highlighted the CPA's participation in elections, activities of the youth movement, and labour and political struggles throughout the last century, particularly through the Menzies years of illegality and the Communist Party dissolution referendum. Also on show were a large number of Party publications, and newspapers dating back to 1924 detailing the Party's participation and contribution to Australian life and culture over the last 80 years. Entertainment was provided by singer Joanna Saltis, and traditional dancing by the Salaam Group, representing the Young Lebanese Cultural League. In Brisbane, a function was held on Sunday to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the CPA and the 83rd anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. Speakers emphasised the need to reunite communists from all backgrounds and the need to pay attention to the working class movement. A number of veteran members were awarded certificates of appreciation for their contributions to the movement.