Socialism in Australia

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Socialism in Australia dates back to the earliest pioneers of the area in the late 19th century.[1] Notions of socialism in Australia have taken many different forms including the utopian nationalism of Edward Bellamy, the Marxism of parties such as the Communist Party of Australia, and the democratic socialist reformist electoral project of the early Australian Labor Party.[2]


Pre-Federation (1870-1901)[edit]

Socialist colonies[edit]

In the late 1890s, the colonies of Cosme and New Australia were founded in South America by groups of Australian socialists.

The settlement of New Australia was founded in 1893 by the supporters of the utopian socialist William Lane. Lane's socialism was inspired by Edward Bellamy's utopian text Looking Backward as well as his unorthodox personal belief that it was race rather than class warfare which prevented a socialist society from forming.[2] Due to these beliefs, New Australia was built around the values of creating "a brotherhood of English-speaking Whites" which preserved the "colour-Line" which was seen as necessary in order to achieving communism.[3] After conflict over Lane's supposed incompetent management, 58 colonists left New Australia in 1894 to found the colony of Cosme several kilometres south and the original colony was soon after dissolved.[4]

Post-Federation (1901-1990)[edit]

Contemporary era (1991-Present)[edit]

Following the collapse of the communism in Europe during the 1990s, belief in public ownership collapsed, resulting in the fall of the Communist Party of Australia and the shift of Labor Left towards non-socialist ideologies.[5] The Communist Party of Australia was dissolved and the assets of the Communist Party were thereafter directed into the SEARCH Foundation,[6] a not-for-profit company set up in 1990 "to preserve and draw on the resources of the Communist Party of Australia and its archives."[7] In 1996 the Socialist Party of Australia, a splinter party from the original CPA, changed its name to the Communist Party of Australia claiming the party was the rightful successor to the original CPA formed in 1920.[8]

Political historian Geoff Robinson describes the contemporary left as a "movement of parties and electoral campaigning."[5] There are currently three federally registered socialist parties which run in elections: Socialist Alliance, Socialist Equality Party, and the Victorian Socialists.[9] Although the Socialist Party and the Communist Party of Australia are not registered for federal elections, they have successfully contested local government elections in the City of Yarra and the City of Auburn.[10][11] There are several organisations and parties which do not run in elections, either for ideological reasons or due to practical reasons, including the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist–Leninist), Socialist Alternative, and Solidarity.

Socialist Organisations in Australia[edit]


Name Ideology
Australian Fabian Society Fabianism
Communist Party of Australia (current) Communism
Communist Party of Australia (Marxist–Leninist) Communism
Left Renewal Green politics
Progressive Labour Party Democratic socialism
SEARCH Foundation Democratic socialism
Socialist Alliance Socialism
Socialist Alternative Trotskyism
Socialist Equality Party Orthodox Trotskyism
Socialist Party Revolutionary socialism
Solidarity Marxism
Victorian Socialists Democratic socialism


Name Ideology
Communist Party of Australia
Democratic Association of Victoria Utopian socialism
Democratic Socialist Perspective Socialism
Democratic Socialism
Industrial Socialist Labor Party One Big Union
International Socialist Organisation Trotskyism
Revolutionary Socialist Party Marxism
Revolutionary socialism
Socialist Democracy Revolutionary socialism
Socialist Labor Party Socialism
World Socialist Party of Australia Impossiblism
Victorian Socialist Party Marxism


Parties and Organisations[edit]

Active, socialist.
Fall of USSR
Victorian SocialistsSocialist Party (Australia)#The SocialistsSocialist Alternative (Australia)Revolutionary Socialist Party (Australia)Socialist Alliance (Australia)Socialist Alternative (Australia)Socialist Party (Australia)Socialist Party (Australia)Socialist Alliance (Australia)Socialist Democracy (Australia)Socialist Alliance (Australia)Democratic Socialist PerspectiveSocialist Workers PartySocialist Equality Party (Australia)Socialist Equality Party (Australia)Communist Party of Australia (current)Communist Party of Australia (current)Solidarity (Australia)International Socialist Organisation (Australia)Communist Party of Australia (Marxist–Leninist)World Socialist Party of AustraliaIndustrial Socialist Labor PartyIndustrial Workers of the World#AustraliaVictorian Socialist PartySocialist Labor Party (Australia)Socialist Labor Party (Australia)SEARCH FoundationCommunist Party of AustraliaDemocratic Association of Victoria


  1. ^ Fry, E. (1982). A Hundred Years of Socialism in Australia. Australian Left Review, 1(80), 44-51.
  2. ^ a b Burgmann, Verity (1985). In Our Time: Socialism and the rise of Labor, 1885 -1905. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0868615293.
  3. ^ Cosme Monthly, June 1895
  4. ^ Australian Encyclopaedia Volume 2, p 191, Angus and Robertson Limited, 1926
  5. ^ a b Robinson, Geoff (2019). Being Left-Wing in Australia: Identity, Culture and Politics after Socialism. Australian Scholarly Publishing. ISBN 978-1-925801-79-8.
  6. ^ "SEARCH Foundation". SEARCH Foundation. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  7. ^ "SEARCH Foundation (Australia)". Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  8. ^ "CPA - About Us - An Introduction". Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Current register of political parties". Australian Electoral Commission. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  10. ^ "Socialist elected to Yarra council". Green Left Weekly. 6 September 2016.
  11. ^ Boyle, Peter (6 September 2016). "Fourth socialist elected to a local council in Australia". Green Left Weekly. Retrieved 15 July 2019.

See also[edit]