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.