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Issue #1733      June 1, 2016

CPA National School

The Communist Party of Australia held its first National School for 2016 on the weekend of May 21-22. The schools, held twice yearly at the Party’s headquarters in Surry Hills in Sydney, have been well supported by members and friends of the CPA.

The chance to participate and meet comrades from all over the country is appreciated and, in many ways, just as valuable as the opportunity to deepen our knowledge of Marxism-Leninism and its application to the Australian political environment. While comrades with more experience are encouraged to attend and contribute, content so far has been directed towards newer members of the Party.

Party General Secretary Bob Briton gave a broad introduction to the question of class and class struggle. There was discussion of some changes forced onto workers by employers in an effort to break up solidarity of the people they exploit. Christopher Crouch from WA shared some very original insights into the influence of ideology on the way we view reality and the efforts of the capitalist ruling class to impose their world view on workers.

Craig Greer from SA addressed the ideological struggle in social media and gave practical advice on developing content, such as memes, for Facebook and Twitter. Bob Briton then presented material on the multi-lateral Trans Pacific Partnership, which seeks to prevent governments from legislating in defence of their own people or in favour of the sovereignty of their own countries. The long process of the building of corporate dictatorship was explored with a group exercise.

Party Vice-President David Matters gave a presentation on the Party’s Constitution, pointing out the way it defends democratic-centralism from destructive activities such as factionalism. He introduced what turned out to be a very lively role play concerning an industrial dispute in the construction industry. Sydney Central Branch member John Berwick gave a historical outline of two industrial disputes in which the CPA played a major role – the Queensland railway strike of 1948 and the coal strike of 1949.

In the afternoon, there was group discussion of a docudrama about the coal strike that caricatured the role of the CPA and misrepresented major events. The power of the capitalist media to shape public opinion was explored. Christopher Couch wound up proceedings with a session seeking feedback and brining the various threads of the weekend together.

A joint effort by participants was the production of a YouTube greeting to the fishing communities in Chile that have been devastated by a red tide of algae (see the article in the May 18 issue of the Guardian).

The greeting can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo9JMec4orQ

The greeting has been well received in Chile.

A feedback form was circulated among participants and many ideas on how to improve the classes were contributed. There is much enthusiasm for the next National School, which is to take place on the weekend of September 10-11. Details will be circulated closer to the time of the school.

Next article – AFP raids an attack on press freedom

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