The ISL in Australia

From August 22 to 26 we participated together with Alejandro Bodart in the Sydney Socialism conference, organized by Socialist Alternative of Australia, and  also in various internal activities of the organization. They were days of intense political debate with a strong participation of young comrades. In a world in crisis, revolutionary socialists continue to build international ties.

Luis Meiners and Alejandro Bodart in the conference

The conference

The event took place at the premises of the University of Sydney’s Law School. Dozens of talks were held with more than 500 participants and a variety of topics ranging from the world political situation, covering tensions between the US and China, the revolutions of Hong Kong and Sudan, to the need for building revolutionary organizations, the struggle of the LGBT movement, the growing rebellion against the ecological crisis, the rise of new right-wing formations and  talks on the lessons to be drawn from the classics of revolutionary Marxism. From Friday afternoon until Sunday night, hundreds of participants debated in the various panels.

Our party was invited by the comrades of Socialist Alternative to discuss the political situation in Latin America and the development of the revolutionary left.  It was one of the panels with the greatest attendance of the entire event. There, Alejandro Bodart developed the main elements of the political dynamics of the continent. Starting from the neoliberal reforms of the 90s, then developing the cycle of rebellions and revolutions of the early twenty-first century, the experiences of the “pink – tide” governments and their erosion in the heat of the world crisis, reaching the current situation marked by the crisis of right-wing projects, he built a broad outlook from which to discuss the tasks of revolutionaries in the present.

Socialist Alternative

Socialist Alternative is the main force of the revolutionary left in Australia. It has several hundred members and development in the cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth and Wollongong. They publish a biweekly newspaper called Red Flag and a theoretical and political magazine called Marxist Left Review. They have a strong presence on campuses, working class members, a solid cadre structure and are an active part of campaigns such as the solidarity with the struggle of Palestinian people and the boycott of the genocidal State of Israel, the defense of migrant rights and the growing international movement Rebellion Against Extinction.

Founded in the mid-1990s, the organization has its roots in the tradition linked to Trotskyist leader Tony Cliff that from the 70s formed the International Socialist Tendency, whose main party is the british Socialist Workers Party. After important debates over the assesment of the political situation in the early 1990s, a group of leaders who expressed differences with the overblown perspective imported from the british “mother party” were expelled from the International Socialist Organization (Australian section of the IST), giving rise to Socialist Alternative. In the 2000s the organization grew out of its intervention in the movement against the war in Iraq and the anti-globalization movement.

The political situation in Australia

The political dynamics of the country is strongly marked by the course of the Australian Labor Party which has been on the forefront of the neoliberal offensive in recent decades. From the eighties the ALP used it´s control over the trade union bureaucracy to confine the labor movement and lead it to a series of defeats. This not only led to a loss of rights, but also a sharp decline in union memership and working class combativity. Historically Australia had had one of the highest  percentages of union membership in the world, and today it has fallen to 13%. However, in the conference we could see that a new moment is opening up in the political situation of the country, with a youth activism that begins to grow confronting the capitalist policies.

Australia holds a key place in the Pacific region. From its origins it was an outpost for Bitish colonialism and later for US imperialism. Formally it is a parliamentary monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II of England as sovereign. Although it´s main political and military alliance is with the USA, which has important military bases in australian territory. The growing tension between the US and China has become a central debate in australian politics, and was one of the key themes of the conference. If its historical ties with US imperialism mark the international alignment of the Australian bourgeoisie, its economy has become increasingly dependent on exports to China. They consist mainly of coal and educational services and represent 40% of the countries income from international trade. The global crisis and the slowdown in China mark a horizon where the economic crisis can enter the country, generating new challenges and opportunities for revolutionaries.

International Unity of Revolutionaries

Our trip to Sydney has been a great opportunity to establish links with the comrades of Socialist Alternative, to learn more about their history and have a first hand experience of their militant activity. In addition to participating in the Conference, we had the opportunity to meet with members of the national leadership and were invited to participate in a branch meeting in Sidney.

We exchanged views on the world situation, and on Australia and Argentina in particular, and we were able to discuss the need to take steps towards the international unity of revolutionaries. We shared our views on the situation of the Trotskyist movement internationaly and discussed at length about the recent crisis of the ISO (USA) with which they had strong ties, and also about the political and organizational limits of the Unified Secretariat of the Fourth International, in whose meetings they participate as observers.

Despite coming from different traditions, we have common conclusions about the tasks of the stage. In opposition to the currents that adapt to the fashions of the moment, we share the importance of fighting in defense of the need to build revolutionary organizations. Also the need to overcome isolation and weave political and organizational ties at the international level, leaving behind the bureaucratic model of the mother party in international organizations. In this way, we explained the project we have undertaken in building the International Socialist League. We have initiated a fruitful dialogue with the comrades of Socialist Alternative, one we hope that will continue to develop. For now, we have been invited to a new conference that will be held in Melbourne in early 2020, and we have invited the comrades to participate in the Congress of the ISL to be held in mid – 2020. We continue to take concrete steps forward in the path towards the international unity of revolutionares and this trip has undoubtedly been a significant one. 

Luis Meiners