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Issue #1667      December 3, 2014

Vale Alan Miller

November 1, 1928 – November 27, 2014

Alan Miller was a member of the Communist Party for almost 70 years. In that time he served as a functionary of the Party, it’s Deputy General Secretary, a member of its Central Committee Executive, the editor of its national newspaper, the Guardian and took on leading roles in the Victorian and South Australian organisations of the Party. He played a major part in re-establishing a Party in Australia on the basis of Marxism-Leninism in 1971. The CPA’s debt to comrade Alan is enormous. He passed away last Thursday after a long battle with cancer. The following is a short biography of comrade Alan written by his friend and fellow battler for social justice, Les Purkis.

Alan Miller.

Alan Charles Miller was born in North Adelaide on November 1, 1928. He was a member of the young Communist organisation, which was the Eureka Youth League (EYL) founded in December 1941. He joined the EYL in 1942 and in December 1945 he joined the Communist Party of Australia (CPA). He was 17 years of age and, although the age of joining was officially 18, he was given permission to become a member on the basis of his political activity.

Soon after joining the Party he became a journalist on The South Australian Tribune, the CPA’s State newspaper. He worked on the paper for five years until it was replaced by the Party’s national newspaper The Tribune produced in Sydney.

It was necessary for him to get a job in industry. However, he was sacked by a leading metal factory because he was a Communist. He eventually worked at the Islington Railway Workshops where he was elected Secretary of the Islington Branch of the Party and a member of the union’s Shop Committee.

In 1961 he became a functionary of the CPA and was elected a member of the SA State Committee Executive and Adelaide District Committee Secretary.

In 1971, he was a foundation member of the Socialist Party of Australia (SPA). The SPA was formed in order to continue a Marxist Leninist organisation in Australia. It was the SPA’s estimation that the Communist Party had abandoned the fundamentals of Marxism Leninism. Leading up to the formation of the SPA, along with Party Comrades Peter Symon and Joe Goss, Alan Miller contributed to the first ideological document exposing the CPA’s position. Joe Goss was Secretary of the Adelaide branch of the Amalgamated Engineering Union. Peter Symon was a waterside worker and when the SPA was formed he became General Secretary. Alan was elected SA Secretary and a member of the Central Committee Executive. He was also appointed Editor of the Party’s national newspaper which was then called SPA and published in Adelaide.

In 1978 he moved to Sydney to work for the Central Committee. In this period he was elected Deputy General Secretary and, later was again appointed Editor of the SPA’s national newspaper which was then called The Guardian and published in Sydney.

In 1985 he moved to Melbourne to work for the Party. He was elected Victorian Secretary until health problems forced him to give up full-time work. In 1991 he returned to his home city of Adelaide where he continued to be active in a suburban Branch.

He was a member of the SPA Congress held in Sydney in October 1996 which adopted the name Communist Party of Australia as the old CPA had dissolved itself.

During his political life, he represented the Australian Communist Movement at Party Congresses, theoretical gatherings and discussions with Party leaderships in France, the German Democratic Republic, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Greece, Cyprus, Israel, the Soviet Union, Mongolia, the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and New Zealand.

Alan considered Joseph Stalin an outstanding Communist and was never tired of pointing out that those who attacked Stalin were the very people who brought back capitalism in the Soviet Union.

In addition to his political writings, Alan wrote short stories, poems and sketches. He published a book of short stories. His stories and poems appeared in various journals and his sketches were performed. He also acted in plays performed by left-wing theatre companies. He won the Senior Cup for athletics at the Adelaide Technical High School and later was a member of the Western Districts Athletics Club. He took part in the 400 metres South Australian State Championship running race. He reached the final and out of six runners came fourth. He played Australian Rules football for North Adelaide Senior Colts. He was a lifelong supporter of the North Adelaide football team in the South Australian National Football League.

Alan suffered from a mental illness known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). However, this never stopped him from doing the things he wanted to do. He took comfort from the fact that the great English novelist Charles Dickens had OCD.

Alan was deeply in love and admired his Party comrade and wife, Beryl. She played a leading role in restoring and building the Communist Party of Australia. She was a Party member almost as long as Alan. Not only was she an outstanding Communist but the way she looked after Alan during his long illness was truly an example of loyalty and sacrifice.

Beryl’s daughter, Diane and her sons, Peter and Paul from her first marriage and Alan’s son, Ralph from his first marriage truly formed a strong family unit.

Alan’s father, Arthur, worked for the PMG all his life. He was politely spoken well respected by all who knew him. He fought in the First World War including at Gallipoli. His experiences in the war led him to examine the capitalist cause of war and the socialist solution. He joined the Communist Party and was influential in his sons, Alan and Alan’s older brother Frank joining. Frank joined while he was in the Navy. The boys’ mother Amy generously donated finance to the Party. Arthur and Amy were a loving couple and truly popular.

With Beryl’s children it was Peter who joined the Communist Party. His contribution as a Party member was most valuable and consistent. Peter was a wonderful family man and deeply loved by his wife Merridy and daughters Heather and Fiona and widely respected by all who knew him. In a tragic turn of events at 48 he died of melanoma.

Alan made many close friendships in his life, none closer than that with John Young. It began at Prospect Primary School. In the school band Johnny played the kettle drum and Alan the big drum. The friendship lasted a lifetime. Johnny and his wife Val and Beryl and Alan continued the friendship spending some marvellous times together until John and Val died. Other outstanding friendships were with Les and Connie Purkis, Marcia Munn, Pat Flintoff and Colin Slocombe.

Alan and Beryl.

Alan held the view that a life well spent in the cause to advance society free of exploitation, in a word, Communism, was sufficient to be happy. Alan sought no reward or honour. He held that having done the job was its own reward.

It can be truthfully said that though he argued strongly for his political opinion he always avoided personal attack.

And in honour of Alan I must mention his love of cats and dry red wine.

Next article – Successful Party School

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