The victory of SYRIZA in the Greek elections shows that it is possible for a radical leftist party to win governmental power in an advanced capitalist country in today's world. Ongoing development of the Venezuelan revolution (and similar processes in other parts of Latin America) also provide empirical proof that the socialist left can inspire masses of people to struggle against capitalist tyranny and for a socialist transformation.
In Australia – a country yet to feel the full brunt of the global economic crisis – the class struggle is at a much lower ebb. Nevertheless, even within these borders, the case for socialist change is overwhelming. Moreover, it remains an urgent necessity to build a stronger political vehicle that can both advocate for socialism and help lead the preparatory struggles that can put such a change on the agenda.
If capitalism could be defeated simply by moral arguments, it would have ceased to exist long ago. The primary challenge facing the left today is to build popular organisations – and particularly a socialist political party – that can inspire and give political clarity to progressive movements for change.
While the political vehicle needed to lead a successful struggle for socialist change in this country will be much bigger and broader than today's Socialist Alliance, building the Socialist Alliance as a non-sectarian, revolutionary party is the best means to work for such change today.
State of the Alliance
Conference reaffirms the importance of working towards building greater political cohesion and membership activism in the Alliance. While we have made some progress in identifying and strengthening some key areas of importance for building the party, there is a still a way to go. Conference acknowledges the need for thorough, democratic debate at all levels of the party with a united aim of building the strongest possible force for socialism in Australia, and encourages all members to be a part of such discussions through leadership bodies and our discussion bulletin Alliance Voices.
Progress has been made in developing a programmatic document for the Alliance. We've also produced a membership information booklet for new members. Updating our introductory document(s) remains a project for the coming year.
The Alliance and Resistance will begin organising a large, public socialist ideas joint conference for 2016. The purpose of the conference is to promote the Socialist Alliance, to amplify the case for socialist change in Australia and to create a forum for political education of our membership and the broader radical public.
This conference delegates to the incoming NE the decision about when to hold the next decision-making conference of the Alliance.
While we continue to make progress in this area, recruiting and training new young socialists is the single most important party-building challenge facing the Socialist Alliance.
We continue to prioritise political work on campus as a means to reach out to young people.
The Socialist Alliance re-affirms its commitment to training youth and branch organisers and tasks the incoming National Executive with the extension of our current organisers school to create a full programme for training organisers which aims to be in place by early 2016.
Green Left Weekly
The Green Left Weekly project (including hard-copy paper, website, GLTV, social media presence, etc) remains the most important means for us to get our ideas out to wide layers of progressive minded people. Campaigning with Green Left Weekly is a critical means of training our activists and the project as a whole is instrumental in reaching out to and drawing new people in to our movement.
The hard copy publication is the foundation of the Green Left Weekly project upon which other elements are built.
This conference places a high priority on organising a campaign to increase the participation of Socialist Alliance members in distributing the paper in street campaign stalls, on campus, within the social movements and among individual contacts. The campaign will include a public case within the paper and online about the importance of the GLW project and a political and organisational campaign within branches to increase members' participation in GLW distribution as well as boosting the overall total sold.
The campaign will run from for six weeks in July and August. Branches need to make this campaign a priority.
During the Green Left Weekly participation campaign branches should be encouraged to increase participation rates through organising sales blitzes, the appointment of Green Left Weekly sales committees where possible that seek to involve newer and younger members and conducting educationals on Green Left Weekly sales and campaigning.
This conference also urges all SA members who do not currently have a solidarity subscription to take out such a subscription and foreshadows a subscription drive in the later part of 2015.
This conference places a high priority on promoting GLW's online presence in order for it to remain relevant in today’s media landscape. While an online paper cannot replace the hard copy, our online presence is important. This conference tasks the incoming NE to provide assistance to GLW in upgrading the GLW website and improving its capabilities in line with other online publications.
Financing our movement
Convincing our members and supporters to fund the Alliance and its activities is an ongoing task for the Alliance. Raising consciousness about the need to take serious responsibility for funding our collective political work is an essential part of training and developing socialist activists and is a critical prerequisite of maintaining our political independence.
Branches need to pay ongoing attention to raising Activist Centre pledges to support our political work and to fundraising campaigns and events to support Green Left Weekly.
Education in socialist ideas
This conference notes that progress has been made in developing a new Introduction to Marxism book for use in introductory education classes which is due to be printed soon.
The next priority publication for the national education committee is development of a new Feminism and Socialism document and associated class series.
Branches will seek to take new members through the three introductory educational class series as soon as practicable after they join Socialist Alliance. These are: Introduction to Socialism, Feminism and Socialism, and Introduction to Marxism. Branch leaderships are to explain to new members the importance that Socialist Alliance places on theoretical education as a guide to our practical work.
Further development of our educational materials is an ongoing project. The education committee is tasked with centralising education in the sense of collating education materials from branches. These range from small lists of discussion points to full speeches and PowerPoints. While preparing educationals is an excellent tool for educating and integrating new members, having a centralised education list would reduce the work double up and give branches a greater idea of what is being taught in other branches.
The National Executive should also be tasked with improving the operation of the national education committee, seeking additional members to work on it, and having discussions over who from our branches and even outside the party can assist with new publications. As internal education of our members is a central priority for the party, the work of the education committee needs to receive significant backup and direction from the National Executive, with special effort made to seek broader party input. The committee needs to be more than a literature drafting body. It should reach out to branches to investigate their educational needs, to survey what branches can contribute to party-wide education, and more.
Election campaigns & electoral strategy
Socialist Alliance continues to see participation in elections as an important arena in the class struggle and an important part of our work. Contesting elections is one means of getting a hearing for our ideas and is an important means of contrasting socialist solutions to the policies of the ALP, the Greens and the populist right.
This conference resolves to participate in the forthcoming federal elections under a banner of taxing the corporate rich to fund social services, renewable energy and other environmental measures. Conference encourages branches and state organisations to preselect lower house and senate candidates respectively where we have the resources to run campaigns.
Our most significant electoral successes to date have been at local government level. Participation in local government in Moreland and Fremantle has been a valuable experience for the Socialist Alliance, encouraging community activism and raising the profile and policies of the Alliance. Conference resolves to defend and extend our involvement in local government.
All branches of the Socialist Alliance are to discuss any electoral plans with the National Executive far in advance of an election.
The National Executive to develop a national electoral strategy.
This conference establishes a national Policy Committee, comprising no fewer than 3 Socialist Alliance members, who shall be elected by a national conference at least every two years. In between conferences, the Policy Committee shall operate as a sub-committee of the National Executive, and shall report to the NE regularly on its work.
The policy committee will be responsible for reviewing and proposing amendments to existing Alliance policy and drafting new policy where required. It is tasked with developing a template for Alliance policy and for compiling policy into a policy platform (including a “pocket edition” for broader distribution).
Communications & Social Media
The conference also tasks the National Executive with determining the best medium(s) for national communication. The National Executive will take account that experience shows that social media discussion groups are proving more useful than email lists for day-to-day activist organising. Younger people, especially now, barely use email lists for discussion. This applies in Socialist Alliance and elsewhere. A new, closed National Facebook group could enhance and democratise the day-to-day sharing of information between branches in order to facilitate: the most rapid sharing of valuable information regarding our collective intervention in the social movements; the sharing of best-practice information on branch building; rapid national responses to current events; enhanced day-to-day communication between branches to encourage the best national coordination of our branch and campaign work. Alliance Voices will still play its role as the party bulletin, home to substantive contributions.
The minutes of National Executive meetings be distributed to branch executives / coordinating committees.
Conference notes the insecure nature of online social media networks including email groups, Facebook and websites. Conference requires the National Executive to develop guidelines for the use of Socialist Alliance online systems. This should include, but is not limited to, the type and nature of the contents going online. The intention of the guidelines will be to protect Socialist Alliance security and to prevent Socialist Alliance from being brought into public disrepute.