Socialist Equality Party (Australia)

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Socialist Equality Party
National Secretary Nick Beams
Assistant National Secretary James Cogan
Founded 1933 (1933) (as Workers Party)[1]
1941 (1941) (as Labour Socialist Group)[2]
1972 (1972) (as Socialist Labour League)[3]
2010 (2010) (as Socialist Equality Party)
Headquarters Socialist Equality Party, PO Box 574, Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012
Youth wing International Students for Social Equality
Ideology Trotskyism
International affiliation International Committee of the Fourth International
Website
Official website

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) is a trotskyist political party in Australia. The SEP was established in 2010 as the successor party to the Socialist Labour League, which was founded in 1972 as the Australian section of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). The SEP is a registered political party with the Australian Electoral Commission,[4] and participates in elections at all levels of government.

Party Secretary Nick Beams is a member of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS), the online news and information center of the ICFI.[5] Peter Symonds, national editor of the WSWS, is also a member of the party.[5]

History[edit]

Background and foundation as Workers Party[edit]

The Communist Party of Australia (CPA) was founded in 1920 in response to the founding of the Third International in 1919.[6] Lenin and Trotsky, ideological models of the SEP, supported the development of a “united front” between communist and social democratic parties, such as the Australian Labor Party (ALP), to oppose the rise of fascism.[7] At the Fourth Congress of the Third International the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) decided that Communists should participate in the Labor Party, because of a peculiar rule which allowed other organizations to affiliate to the ALP.[7]

"The Australian Labour Party is even more outspokenly a trade union party than its British counterpart, with an equally petty-bourgeois, reformist set of leaders. Nevertheless, the masses in their bulk continue to cling to the Labour Party. Does this mean to say that if the working masses are to be won for Communism, we should work within this mass party? The Communist International answers the question in the affirmative. The joining of the Labour Party opens wide perspectives for the development of the Communist Party, and provides a possibility for Communist sympathisers in the Labour Party to find practical application for their revolutionary desires."

—Letter from the ECCI, suggesting a practical application of the united front tactic in Australia.[7]

The Fourth Congress would be the last congress at which internal opponents of Stalin, such as Trotsky's Left Opposition, would be able to openly discuss party tactics.[7] In Australia, in 1924 CPA members were purged from the ALP.[7] CPA membership declined and relations with the Comintern worsened. No Australian delegate attended the Fifth Congress of the Communist International in 1924.[7] The Stalinist persecution of trotskyists soon came to Australia however, when, following the publication of the ECCI’s Open Letter in the Workers’ Weekly on December 6, 1929, the CPA Congress, held at the end of the month, denounced the current leadership (which was critical of the Stalinist line of the Fourth International) and installed a new central committee that declared its “unswerving loyalty” to the Stalinist line.[7] The Comintern, still skeptical, sent Harry M. Wicks (known by the pseudonym Herbert Moore) from the United States to reorganize the CPA. Over the next year Wicks (who, it was later discovered, was a long time spy and agent for the FBI[7]) took control of the party, rewriting its program and constitution and reorganizing the leadership through a series of purges of members of the Left Opposition.[7]

By 1932, The Militant, the newspaper of the Communist League of America (CLA), the first non-Russian trotskyist organization, was being published in Australia.[1] In 1933, Trotsky called for the founding of the Fourth International.[8] In 1933 the Australian branch of the International Left Opposition founded the trotskyist Workers Party.[1] The Workers Party went into direct confrontation with the CPA over WWII, which trotskyists characterized as an "imperial war" while the CPA Stalinists supported the war.[1]

End of World War II and refoundation as Labour Socialist Group[edit]

In 1941, the CPA and Workers Party were banned by the Australian government, and Australian trotskyists reorganized as the Labour Socialist Group (LSG), led by Nick Origlass.[2][9] At its annual conference on Easter in 1952, The LSG adopted entrism sui generis, a renewed united front strategy proposed by the secretary of the Fourth International, Michel Pablo.[2] However, the ALP refused Origlass and other leading trotskyists attempts to join the party. The ALP demanded the dissolution of the party newspaper, The Socialist, to accept their membership.[2] The Socialist was liquidated in August 1952, and SLG members were accepted into the ALP.[2]

Refoundation as Socialist Labour League[edit]

Inspired by the British Socialist Labour League, Nick Beams and other young Australian radicals founded the Socialist Labour League (SLL) in 1972. [3][10] Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the SLL supported strikes against the Fraser (Liberal) and Hawke (ALP) governments.[11] The party's newspaper, Workers News, was circulated in all major cities.[11]

In its 1992 perspectives resolution, the SLL drew a balance sheet of the response of the petty-bourgeois “left” tendencies to the demise of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Communist Party of Australia in 1991, arguing that "As long as the working class was dominated by and subordinated to the vast apparatuses of Stalinism and Laborism, they were happy to define themselves as ‘socialists’ and even as ‘Marxists’ or ‘revolutionaries’. They formed part and parcel of the petty-bourgeois buffer, created by the ruling class in the aftermath of the war, to suffocate the working class.”[12][13]

"The very name ‘Socialist Equality’ makes clear the connection between socialism and the most basic strivings of the working class for a just society, based on social equality and the right of all people to a decent and productive life."

—SEP Statement of Principles, adopted unanimously at January 21–25, 2010 founding congress.[14]

Refoundation as Socialist Equality Party[edit]

The Socialist Labour League was officially refounded as the Socialist Equality party in 2010, with its founding congress held in Sydney on 21–25 January 2010, where it unanimously adopted a statement of principles.[15]

Popular support and electoral results[edit]

In elections, the party's strongest state has historically been New South Wales. Demographically, the party is stronger with younger voters.[16]

House of Representatives[edit]

House of Representatives
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
±
2010 11,160 0.09[a]
0 / 150

Notes:

  1. ^ In 2010 SEP was only on the ballot in New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia.

Senate[edit]

In the 2013 federal election the party will increase the number of states in fields Senate candidates for to five, compared to two in the previous election.[5]

Senate
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
±
2010 13,945 0.11[a]
0 / 76

Notes:

  1. ^ In 2010 SEP was only on the ballot in New South Wales and Victoria.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party, Part 4". World Socialist Web Site. 3 March 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party, Part 5". World Socialist Web Site. 4 March 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party, Part 1". World Socialist Web Site. 27 February 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "Current Register of Political Parties". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c "SEP announces candidates for 2013 Australian election". World Socialist Web Site. 11 May 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Communist Party of Australia, Manifesto to the Workers of Australia, December 24, 1920, viewed February 15, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party, Part 3". World Socialist Web Site. 2 March 2010. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  8. ^ It is Necessary to Build Communist Parties and an International Anew’, The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany, op. cit., p. 431.
  9. ^ Red Hot: The Life and Times of Nick Origlass, op. cit., p. 103
  10. ^ "The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party, Part 7". World Socialist Web Site. 6 March 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party, Part 8". World Socialist Web Site. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  12. ^ A Socialist Strategy for the Working Class, Socialist Labour League, Marrickville, Australia, 1992, pp. 45–46
  13. ^ Industrial relations and the trade unions under Labor: from Whitlam to Rudd, op. cit., p. 17
  14. ^ From the Socialist Labour League to the Socialist Equality Party, Labour Press Books, Bankstown, Australia, 1996, p. 2.
  15. ^ "Statement of Principles". World Socialist Web Site. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  16. ^ a b "Socialist Equality Party calls for radical change". Reportage Online. 20 August 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 

External links[edit]