Socialist Alliance Perspectives

Socialist Alliance Perspectives

These amended resolutions were adopted by the Socialist Alliance National Council Meeting on October 6 and 7, 2012 in Sydney. This draft will now be discussed by branches in the lead up to the 9th national conference of the Socialist Alliance, January 2013, where it will be open to further amendment before being voted on.

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  1. The international capitalist economic crisis is creating a wave of austerity across Europe and the advanced capitalist economies. Austerity measures, dictated by the international financial institutions (eg. The IMF and World Bank) or carried out by governments on behalf of corporate interests, are driving millions into poverty, cutting welfare, slashing public spending on health and education, and slashing jobs and wages. So great is the crisis that millions of young people see no future in this inhuman system.
  2. According to reports, the World Bank's Food Price Index, which tracks the price of internationally traded food commodities, was six percent higher in July 2012, compared to the same time in 2011, and one percent over the previous peak of February 2011.
  3. While the global Occupy movement has retreated for now, mass mobilisations of unionists, students and ordinary citizens have continued across Spain, Greece, Quebec and Chile in response to neoliberal attacks.
  4. Along with the radical progressive responses has also emerged a rise in the far right - a product of the political polarisation taking place. While the current context has opened space to discussion of anti-capitalist alternatives, it has also sharpened the need for unity of the left against the racist, anti migrant policies of the far right.
  5. Left wing forces have made significant gains in parts of Europe in opposition to the dictates from Brussels for austerity, for example, the rise of Syriza in Greece, the electoral support for the Fronte a Gauche (Left Front) in France and the success of the Dutch Socialist Party in the most recent elections.
  6. The significance of the In Latin American revolutionary pole is still being demonstrated by the role taken by Ecuador in its decision to grant asylum to Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.
  7. The latest round of nationalisations of strategic industry in Venezuela has seen the major steel producing company brought under public control to guarantee inputs for housing, infrastructure, and roads. This follows the nationalisation of other companies engaged in aluminium and steel production.
  8. Since its formation in Caracas in 2011, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) has now united 33 groups representing all states in the Americas apart from the United States and Canada, and is now forging diplomatic relations and cooperation with India and China.
  9. Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with the anti-capitalist and anti-austerity struggles across the globe and will continue to promote these struggles through our publications, and to deepen our solidarity with these movements.
  10. At 4.3 per cent Australia is one the fastest growing developed economies, buoyed by the resources boom. However, China's demand for steel has dropped for the first time in 34 years, and is impacting on iron ore and coal prices in Australia. Prospects for a continuation of the resources boom now rest on the 'energy' sectors - including petroleum, gas and oil.
  11. The significant number of major mining projects already under construction or in production mean that the Australian resources sector is likely to continue to profit in the short to medium term. However, widespread global economic downturn and reduced demand for energy, could cause the situation to change drastically.
  12. While Australia has enjoyed a long period of higher than average economic growth, many Australian households are now more deeply in debt than before.
  13. According to the September, 2012 Australian Parliamentary Library Statistics report, the 1Australian household debt ratio stood at 149.7% of annual gross disposable income. In 1976, this ratio was approximately 25% . This means that Australian households are very vulnerable to any future rises in unemployment, interest rates or reductions to wages.
  14. However, job cuts and wage cuts are precisely what the ruling class is intent on imposing, especially as the global economic situation further deteriorates.
  15. The Liberal-National state governments elected in WA, Victoria, NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory have already launched a new wave of jobs and social service cuts. If Tony Abbott leads the Liberal-National coalition to a federal victory in 2013, these attacks will further intensify.
  16. ALP federal and state government have loyally served the corporate rich and worked against the interests of working people. To make matters worse they have united with the LNP to increase the racist scapegoating of refugees and asylum seekers and reintroduced the Howard-era policy of offshore detention of refugees. This policy builds on the fear and insecurity being felt by working people.
  17. ALP governments have stepped up attacks on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and extended the racist NT Intervention across the country.
  18. The federal ALP government has failed to reverse the attacks on working people and unions introduced by the Howard government, and have preserved much of the anti-worker laws intact so that the situation for workers and unions is no better than in the first years of the Howard government, when the Workplace Relations Act was introduced.
  19. Widespread disaffection with the ALP has translated in both a shift to the Greens and at the same time driven more workers to support the LNP and new right-wing populist parties, such as Bob Katter's Australian Party.
  20. The militant wing of the labour movement was more or less demobilised after the campaign against the former Howard government's Work Choices laws ended with the election of the Rudd and then Gillard ALP governments. There has been a retreat into the ranks of the ALP by some militant union leaders.
  21. The Victoria nurses dispute, the Baiada poultry dispute and the Grocon dispute each challenged the restrictions of the Fair Work Act, however, the weakness of the Australian labour movement has meant that no lasting challenge to Labor's industrial relations laws has been mounted.
  22. The softening of the union response to Gillard's attacks, reaffirms that the predominant political relationship on the ground between the union bureaucracy and the ALP government remains a willingness to carry out Labor's political agenda.
  23. The threat of an Abbott government, and the attacks on jobs, public health, education and welfare being carried out by state governments both ALP and Liberal urgently requires the organisation of a serious resistance to this new wave of neoliberal austerity. Mass campaigns strengthened by cross-union, statewide strike action are needed to defeat these attacks.
  24. Socialist Alliance recognises that the forces must be gathered together to lead a militant fight back against these attacks and therefore seeks to build the broadest possible unity in struggle against these attacks.
  25. Socialist Alliance will continue to seek to work with and strengthen the militant pole of the trade union movement and encourage its members to seek work in areas where they can join and become active unionists on the job, build effective rank and file activism within their unions, and argue for their unions to support progressive campaigns - for example, against racism, for civil and democratic rights and for international solidarity.

A united left can set a lead for a real fightback

  1. A more united socialist left is needed to build a stronger pole of leadership for the desperately needed fight back against the new wave of austerity and to win more of the working class and other oppressed sectors to the struggle to end the class dictatorship of capital.
  2. Socialist Alliance will continue to seek broad unity of the left both within and outside its ranks. Left unity is a necessary step to building the largest progressive alternative possible and is crucial to convincing the mass of working people to break with the ALP. Our recent correspondence with Socialist Alternative is consistent with this approach.
  3. The Socialist Alliance notes the success of the recent electoral alliance in Sydney between our party, the Communist Party of Australia and independent left activists as part of the Housing Action ticket for the City of Sydney Council election. The Socialist Alliance congratulates the CPA and Tony Oldfield on his election to the Auburn City Council in the September 2012 Council election. Socialist Alliance will continue to support and encourage such alliances, including those regional progressive alliances such as Community Voice in Wollongong and Left Unity in Adelaide. The Socialist Alliance sees no contradiction between seeking broader left unity on the one hand and the need to continue to win new members to our party.
  4. The Socialist Alliance will continue to support the work of Sam Wainwright in his role on Fremantle City Council. Sam, in conjunction with Anthony Main and Steve Jolly in Melbourne, have consistently championed the interests of the working class and other oppressed groups and helped empower and mobilise progressive movements.
  5. The Socialist Alliance continues to encourage and organise its members to be active in a wide range of social movements. Socialist Alliance members play important roles in building these movements, in championing the need for democracy and arguing for strategies that mobilise the largest numbers of people in campaigns for progressive change.

The 2013 federal election

  1. The Socialist Alliance resolves to adopt as a key focus for its next federal election campaign the demand around the call to nationalise the mining industry and the banks (ie to bring them under public ownership for the public good) - using this demand to promote a socialist program to bring this industry under community and workers control so that it can be run for the common good in a way that respects Aboriginal rights, the environment (including need to urgently respond to the climate change crisis) and social justice. This is one a way of explaining our socialist ideas in a popular and concrete way.
  2. State bodies should consider running Socialist Alliance tickets in the Senate and local branches should consider running Socialist Alliance in selected lower house seat/s, taking into account any possibilities for participating in broader left or progressive tickets. We should also welcome other groups and progressive candidates to support and participate in this campaign.

Socialist Alliance's approach to the Greens and the ALP

  1. The Socialist Alliance recognises that the largest part of the electoral space to the left of Labor is being filled by the Greens.
  2. After two years into their term in the Lower House of Federal parliament, the Greens face a choice between maintaining a principled role or become the left wing of Laborism.
  3. On refugee rights, the Greens have so far withstood pressure to capitulate on offshore processing. However, the same cannot be said for their support for the introduction of a price on carbon, and an ETS - part of a deal with the ALP to fund investment in renewables. The resulting demobilisation of the climate movement which took place as a direct consequence of this deal has been felt all the more strongly given that the ALP has since reneged on the Renewable Energy Target, and has now lowered the carbon floor price 2with the support of Greens' leader Christine Milne.
  4. After police provoked violent confrontations at a protest by Muslims in Sydney in September 2012, the Greens were quick to take the side of sections of the Australian media and the police and condemn the protestors.
  5. An internal struggle within the Greens between its left wing and more conservative sections was illustrated at the most recent Greens national conference where a motion to knock out inheritance tax from their platform was adopted, and over the reaction by sections of the Greens leadership to the stance taken by some Marrickville Greens councillors in defending the BDS campaign.
  6. The Socialist Alliance seeks the greatest possible political collaboration with the Greens, but also understands that it has an important responsibility to present a socialist perspective at elections and to present clear alternative policies and critiques when the Greens adopt neoliberal policies, or are in government presiding over neoliberal attacks and privatisations, as they are in Tasmania at present.
  7. The Socialist Alliance also looks to collaborate with all ALP members who resist the neo-liberal policies of Labor in government, its racist treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and refugees, its attacks on democratic rights and its support for imperialist wars, and seeks to win those members to a more progressive, alternative political project.
  8. The global economic and environmental crises continues the drive for imperialist economic, political and military intervention across the globe, for control over the world's key resources and markets. The Australian government is complicit in these interventions, pursues its own regional imperialist interests in the Asia-Pacific. It has strengthened its alliance with the US - providing renewed US military access to Australian territory for spy bases, hosting military units and holding joint exercises with the US military. Socialist Alliance notes that a new national network of campaigners has been formed to campaign against the presence of US marines and US intelligence gathering and internet monitoring facilities in Australia.
  9. The Federal ALP government has turned its back on its international obligations and reintroduced offshore processing and detention of asylum seekers, and is still seeking to revive the Malaysian people swap deal. Its policies have led to hundreds (probably thousands) perishing at sea, and hundreds more facing trauma in detention. Socialist Alliance will continue to support local and national campaign initiatives for the rights of refugees, and commits to increase its efforts in the face of opinion polls showing that 67% of Australians now support offshore processing.
  10. The global climate and ecological crisis has reached a new level, with widespread melting of the Greenland ice sheet this northern summer, and an increase in extreme weather events caused by ocean warming, such as the widespread flooding experienced in parts of the globe.
  11. The global carbon commodity market, in the form of Emissions Trading Schemes, does nothing to decrease emissions and only brings humanity and the planet closer to runaway climate change. In Australia, the increase in investment in coal and gas extraction projects has been a direct consequence of the introduction of carbon pricing.
  12. Deep cuts in global emissions are required if humanity is to hold the increase in global temperature below two degrees, however the average temperature of the planet has already increased by just under 0.8 degrees, causing many scientists to rethink this target, given the damage caused already by temperature rise. Scientists estimate that another 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide can be released into the atmosphere by the middle of this century and still keep temperature rises below two degrees. However, it is also estimated that five times that amount is contained in coal and oil and gas reserves held by fossil fuel companies and petroleum-based economies.
  13. Socialist Alliance recognises that campaigns against the expansion of coal and unconventional gas exploration, extraction and export and in favour of renewable energy production can challenge to the profits-before-people-and-planet agenda of the Australian capitalist class. These struggles have the potential to generate alliances between farmers, environmentalists, unionists and urban communities, breaking down divisions between country and city. They also provide an opportunity for socialist politics to reach beyond the urban centres, and to challenge conservative, populist politics in the bush.
  14. The Socialist Alliance is committed to building networks with parties in our region and internationally on the basis of mutual respect and non intervention in internal affairs.
  15. The Socialist Alliance European Office (and the work of former SA National Convenor Dick Nichols in Spain) continues to benefit our international collaboration and our coverage of European politics in GLW and Links. Socialist Alliance will continue to support the functioning of the SA European Office, and to further develop our ties with parties in our region, including (where resources permit) attendance at conferences and through organising exchange visits.

1 The household debt ratio measures household liabilities, i.e. housing and other personal debt, as a proportion of annual household gross disposable income. The 1976 figure comes from Australian House Prices — Again by Steve Keen.

2 Lateline Interview: Greens leader discusses alliance with Labor.

CHRISTINE MILNE: OK, let me start with the carbon floor price. I've had a long negotiation with Greg Combet on that for several months. We both reached an agreement and a conclusion that it was actually the right thing to do, that it means that now the carbon price in Australia is on the same trajectory as the European price and I think it'll be a much better outcome and the minister does as well.

So that was a collaboration between us to actually work that through.