Membership Guide

Membership Guide

Anti capitalist, feminist, eco-socialist & anti-racist

One way or another, the 21st Century will be decisive for the fate of human civilisation. Unless greenhouse gas emissions are curbed swiftly and drastically, scientists tell us the result will be environmental catastrophe on an almost unimaginable scale, threatening the survival of humanity and countless other species.

Alongside this developing ecological disaster, the system shows no sign of being able to escape its worst economic slump since the Great Depression. This shows that the structural crisis of capitalism has not been resolved and is deepening.

The current ecological and economic problems facing the world have happened precisely because we live in a political and economic system — capitalism — that puts profits ahead of people and the planet. To save ourselves and the planet, we need a sharp change of direction towards a system that that puts people and the environment at its centre — socialism.

Imagine a society where each individual can live a life of dignity and fulfilment, without exception; where discrimination and prejudice are wiped out; where all members of society are guaranteed a decent life and the means to contribute to society; and where the environment is protected and rehabilitated?

This is socialism — a truly humane and ecological society.

The socialism we support is based on these five principles

Solidarity and collaboration

Not dog-eat-dog competition.

Environmental sustainability & eco-socialism

Not environmental degradation and destruction that hits the poor the hardest.

Participatory democracy

Where workers and communities make decisions directly and representatives are accountable and recallable.

A social and democratic economy

Where people's needs come before corporate profits.

Equality

Between peoples, nations, religions, genders and sexualities.

The Socialist Alliance — a short history

The Socialist Alliance is an anti-capitalist party, formed in 2001 by people who saw an urgent need for greater left unity to fight attacks on the rights and living conditions of workers and the poor.

Many non-aligned socialists were attracted by the idea of left unity, and soon after its formation the Socialist Alliance grew to a point where a majority of its members were not members of any of the original eight affiliate organisations. Over successive national conferences measures were agreed upon by an overwhelming majority to take the Socialist Alliance in the direction of becoming a united socialist party, rather than simply an alliance.

Since then, the Socialist Alliance has taken significant steps in consolidating as a united party. With members in each state and territory, it is Australia’s largest far left party. In 2014, Resistance, the socialist youth organisation, became the youth wing of the Socialist Alliance.

A commitment to unity and alliance building remains a centrepiece of the Socialist Alliance’s approach, and it continues to seek out opportunities to work with other parties and individuals and to regroup with other forces to advance the movement for social change.

An activist party

Since its beginnings, Socialist Alliance members have been active in a range of campaigns, and are recognised leaders in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander movement, the labour movement, campaigns against unconventional gas mining, for refugees, for women’s rights, civil liberties and equal marriage rights.

We encourage all members to be politically active and to help build the Socialist Alliance.

We believe that a mass action approach — building large, broad, open, democratic and effective campaigns — gives people the best chance of achieving social and ecological change.

We believe that working people themselves, by acting in their workplaces, their communities, and on the streets, can develop the power to create a just and environmentally-sustainable alternative to profit-driven capitalism.

This means we work with diverse forces — some more radical, others less so. Through struggle and working together many people come to more radical conclusions, even socialist ones.

Electoral work

The Socialist Alliance is a federally registered political party, with state registration in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania and regularly participates in elections. We have two local councillors — Sam Wainwright in Fremantle, Western Australia (pictured left)  and Sue Bolton in Moreland, Melbourne, Victoria (pictured right).

The Socialist Alliance stands candidates to give a voice to working-class struggle and to meet the need for working-class political representation. We believe it is important to participate in election campaigns to win a broader hearing for socialist ideas.

Socialist Alliance representatives who are elected to political office will take no more than the wage of an average worker, and use their positions to initiate and support community campaigns, give a voice to the struggles of workers and the social movements, fight reactionary policies and promote the mass campaigns that can defeat the attacks on jobs and living standards.

Unlike other parties such as the Greens and the ALP, we don’t believe that parliament is the main vehicle for social change. Real and lasting social change only comes through ordinary people organising and being active in their work places, campuses and communities.

Over its life, Socialist Alliance has developed a range of policies, arising out of our campaigning work, and responding to the issues of the day. These policies form the basis of our electoral platforms, and guide our work. Our policies cover issues such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights, Agriculture, Coal Seam Gas, Education, Housing, Public Transport, Workers’ and Women’s Rights and can be downloaded from socialist-alliance.org/policies.

Green Left Weekly

Socialist Alliance helps to support the independent progressive newspaper, Green Left Weekly, which covers many of the issues and campaigns that Socialist Alliance members are involved in.

Our Common Cause is the weekly column of Socialist Alliance in Green Left Weekly.

Green Left Weekly is widely recognised (within and beyond Australia) as one of the most authoritative left-wing weekly English-language sources of news and political analysis in hard copy and on the web.

Green Left Weekly carries weekly news and analysis and is essential reading for members and activists engaged in broad left and green debate and discussion across Australia and internationally.

Socialist Alliance members are encouraged to take out a solidarity subscription to Green Left Weekly ($240 a year or $20 per month) to ensure the paper’s ongoing viability.

Members are encouraged to help distribute Green Left Weekly and sell subscriptions to increase its readership. Socialist Alliance members participate in regular distribution of the paper in the suburbs, at work, at special events and to friends and networks.

Membership rights and responsibilities

Any individual who broadly agrees with the aims and objectives of the Socialist Alliance and agrees to participate in the non-sectarian, co-operative spirit of the Alliance is eligible to join. New membership applications are ratified by the local branch, or by the relevant state body (in the case of applicants who live too far away from a branch).

A member is someone who will help build the Alliance, its projects and promote and participate in its democratic structures to the best of their ability.

The Socialist Alliance encourages full participation of all members as activists and leaders at local, state and national levels of the organisation and as candidates and branch officers.

We actively encourage working class women, Indigenous people, immigrants, LGBTI people, people with disabilities and young people to take on leadership roles within the Alliance.

Membership assumes a commitment to a non-sectarian, non sexist and co-operative way of working. We look to build unity, positively supporting and encouraging the notion of alliances and ensuring that any critical debates are conducted in a positive manner and without personal attacks.

Once decisions have been taken by the party’s branches and elected bodies, all members are expected to present that decision as the position of the Socialist Alliance, both in public and in dealings with other political organisations. At the same time, individual Alliance members and affiliate organisations are free to indicate their agreement or disagreement with any Alliance decision.

Read the Socialist Alliance's Constitution and Code of Conduct.

How we organise

Socialist Alliance is a democratic organisation: we discuss, debate and decide what to do based on a majority vote. We then test out our decisions in practice, and reassess if necessary.

The basic units of our party are local branches. Branches elect committees, or working groups, to help carry out the work of the branch. They also elect delegates for state and national conferences.

Our highest decision-making body is our national conference with delegates elected by local branches. All national officeholders are elected by the national conference.

The national executive (NE) is elected at the national conference and is made up of directly elected members, plus affiliate representatives where requested. The NE is responsible for carrying out the work of the Alliance between conferences, and establishes a range of national working groups and policy groups, as required.

Meetings of the national council can be convened by the NE two to three times a year. The national council is made up of the NE, the Resistance elected national leadership, the conveners of national working groups, plus elected representatives of each local branch.

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance

Members of Socialist Alliance aged 26 and under are eligible to be part of Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance - our youth wing.

Resistance has its own structures and elects its own leadership.

Resistance is a space within the Socialist Alliance for young members to organise amongst high school, university and TAFE students as well as young workers, to influence Alliance policy on youth issues and to develop political confidence and leadership experience of young Alliance activists.

Resistance organises an annual Radical Ideas conference for young activists each December.

Affiliates & Platforms/Tendencies

Progressive groups that support the socialist goals of the Alliance are encouraged to affiliate to the Socialist Alliance. Members of other parties, organisations and groups who join the Socialist Alliance may keep their identity as members of these organisations while participating fully in the development of the Alliance.

Any individual or affiliate organisation also has the right to form a political tendency for the purpose of influencing Alliance policy and activity.

Campaign working groups

Members involved in specific campaigns are encouraged to regularly meet in a working group to discuss and evaluate their work. Working groups in Socialist Alliance organise around the campaign for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander rights, for refugee rights, the campaign against fracking, cross-campus and education rights, the campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Queer rights, for trade union campaigns and international solidarity.

Links journal

Socialist Alliance members participate in maintaining and contributing to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal (links.org.au), an online international journal of socialist debate and discussion, published since 1994.

Socialist Alliance members are encouraged to read Links and to use it as an educational resource, as it carries in-depth socialist analysis and discussion on a range of international issues and publishes authors from the front line of diverse struggles around the world.

Resistance Books

Resistance Books (resistancebooks.com) is a non-profit, progressive book publisher & distributor of the classic works of Marxism, socialism & contemporary radical titles and are the preferred publishers of Socialist Alliance booklets and publishers of a range of progressive titles that are utilised in our educational programs.

Socialist ideas, discussion and debate

The Socialist Alliance encourages all members and affiliates to participate fully. This means that members may have a range of political positions within the framework of a common socialist perspective.

Alliance Voices

Alliance Voices is an all-year round public discussion website open to members to discuss and debate Alliance policy, broader politics, and to raise proposals on and to discuss the strategic direction of the Alliance. All members are eligible to submit articles for publication.

Send submissions to the editors via email: alliancevoices at socialist-alliance.org. To read the protocols for submissions visit socialist-alliance.org/protocols.

Educational classes, seminars and conferences

Local branches organise regular introductory classes on socialism and the politics of Socialist Alliance. We run a range of classes on political theory (including an introduction to Marxism) as well as Green Left Weekly reading circles at activist centres and on campus. New members are encouraged to undertake educational classes as soon as practicable after they join Socialist Alliance. These include introductory classes on socialism, feminism and Marxism.

The annual Socialist Alliance conference includes educational sessions, and Resistance organises a national educational conference for youth each year.

Socialist Alliance also organises national Marxism schools, educational workshops and public seminars and forums on topics including the environment, women’s liberation, racism, imperialism and more.

Contributing financially

The yearly membership fee that all members pay contributes to ensuring that branches can finance their activities.

In most major cities there are activist centres which progressive campaigns and organisations, including Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly, utilise as meeting and organising spaces. Socialist Alliance encourages its members to support these activist centres with regular donations and pledges.

We also encourage members and supporters to contribute to the annual Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund appeal and to subscribe to GLW.

The Socialist Alliance also conducts fund appeals amongst its members and supporters for specific campaigns, including its election campaigns. Donations up to $1500 are tax deductible.

Download the membership-guide (PDF).