Measuring progress

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Bernie Rosen joined the Communist Party in 1943, and among other activities, was full-time electoral campaign manager for Brian Crispan in 1968. He left the Party in 1970 because there was too much time wasted in internal disputes. Bernie has been placing back issues of Green Left Weekly in letterboxes since 1991 and joined the Socialist Alliance in 2001.

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It is much easier to assess progress in Venezuela than in Australia because the conditions are much more suited to radical change.

During my lifetime I have witnessed the extension of socialism from the Soviet Union, to Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea, and unfortunately one's expectations did not materialise for further progress along the path to socialism.

The collapse of the former Soviet system can be traced to an absence of democracy and an inefficient administration of the economy, a shortage of consumer goods and the renegacy of the Soviet leaders.

From 1991, the paid ideologues of the ruling capitalist class were saying that communism had collapsed.

Being ourselves Marxist, on the concept of socialism and communism, it is quite clear they are wrong.

Many contemporary Marxists never visualized that after 74 years of Soviet power they would revert back to capitalism. It came as a shock to those of us who had not read Trotsky s The Revolution Betrayed, the collapse of socialism in the countries where it had been in existence can teach us some useful lessons concerning what to avoid and what is still suitable for a modern socialist state.

The main themes of my contribution is what constitutes progress in today's Australian conditions.

Over the last 69 years I have seen enthusiastic comrades enter the Communist Party and the Democratic Socialist Party full of enthusiasm. But after working hard for a few years they can see socialism as a long way off and they abandon their membership and cease their activity. This exit of members can be reduced.

Our efforts to secure the withdrawal of Australians troops from Afghanistan is of prime importance, the consistent campaign to secure the repatriation of the Palestinian refugees to Israel is steadily progressing. I can remember when the daily papers refused to depict Israel in an unfavorable light. Israel a protector of United States' imperialism in the Middle East was regarded as sacrosanct. It is not the case today although there is still a long way to go.

To increase our membership to 1000 is still a goal to b reached. Closer cooperation with other socialist parties for common objectives is still an important item on our agenda.

A sustained campaign for free medical, dental, optical and audio services for all pensioners and people on small incomes is essential. Also accomodation for the homeless and the construction of housing commission homes for all those who need them. Where possible, we should try and increase union membership.

In order to increase our electoral support it is essential for our candidate to be known in the electorate over a relatively long period of time. The average person who is not involved or interested in politics may want to know more about the person who canvassed a petition for patients who go to the Burwood Medical Centre on a rainy day and need a shelter at the taxi rank in Deane St, Burwood. This can lead to extra readers of Green Left.

In the more recent period progress has been made towards amendments to marriage legislation that would not have been possible 10 years ago. Many of our comrades have taken a leading role in bringing this about.

We should campaign for the restoration of Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank to public ownership and control.

I am sure that other comrades have other issues that need urgent attention beside the ones to which I have outlined. I contend that success for those policies constitute realisable progress for present day Australian conditions.

There success will be an important step forward that will eventually lead to the attainment of additional medical policies on the path to socialism.

In order to end my contribution on an optimistic note, the pro-capitalist parties in the election to the Duma in Russia lost many seats but the Communist Party increased its representation from 57 seats to 92 seats. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.