Solidarity (Australia)

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Founded 2008
Ideology Marxism,
International Socialism,

Solidarity is a Trotskyist organisation in Australia, formed in 2008 from a merger between groups emerging from the International Socialist tradition: the International Socialist Organisation (ISO), Socialist Action Group and Solidarity. The group is a member of the International Socialist Tendency[1] and has branches in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and Perth.[2] Solidarity argues they are "committed to building social movements and the wider left" and "throwing [themselves] into struggles for social justice."[3] They publish a monthly magazine, Solidarity.[4]

Campaign activity[edit]

Refugee rights[edit]

Solidarity is involved in the refugee rights campaign, and active in organisations such as the Refugee Action Coalition in Sydney that organise demonstrations, meetings and work in trade unions to end mandatory detention and offshore processing. Solidarity is opposed to any form of refugee detention[5] and supports open borders.[6] Solidarity endorsed the 2011 World Refugee Day demonstrations.[7] Ian Rintoul of Solidarity is a spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. Rintoul controversially described Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard as a "racist" in response to the announcement of the Malaysia solution.[8]

Solidarity has argued that the refugee campaign must engage with supporters and members of the Australian Labor Party and organisations such as Labor4Refugees.[9]

Along with Mark Goudkamp, Sunil Menon, Peter Murphy and John Morris, Ian Rintoul's house was raided by the Australian Federal Police in 2004 in relation to allegations of aiding refugees to obtain "false passports" to avoid deportation.[10] The charges were later dropped due to lack of evidence.[11]

Solidarity student members are involved in campus-based refugee campaign groups, including the Sydney Uni Anti-Racism Collective, the UTS Anti-Racism Club and the Melbourne University Campus Refugee Rights Collective.

Education cuts[edit]

In 2012, Solidarity student members at the University of Sydney actively participated in a mass campaign against proposed staff cuts, playing a central role in initiating the Education Action Group.[citation needed] At its highpoint, the campaign mobilised 1500 students and staff on campus. Solidarity students argued for an escalation of the campaign through walk-outs, student occupations, a blockade of a University Senate meeting and proposed a student strike. As a result of the campaign, the number of proposed academic redundancies was eventually reduced from 100 to 55.[citation needed]

In the months leading up to the announcement of the major cuts, Solidarity members were involved in successful campaigns to prevent staff redundancies and course cuts in the School of Political Economy and the School of Geosciences.[citation needed] The group has also been involved in a campaign to prevent rent-increases at the Sydney University Village (SUV), the campus student housing provider.

In 2005-2007, members the pre-fusion Solidarity - then involved in a broad-left student grouping called 'Keep Left' - had participated in the campaign to prevent the implementation of Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) at Sydney University.[citation needed]

Northern Territory Intervention[edit]

Solidarity is involved in campaigns to end the Northern Territory Intervention. Solidarity members were involved in a split from the Aboriginal Rights Coalition to the Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney, after a debate over Aboriginal control and identity politics. Solidarity argued that the campaign needed "open, democratic campaign meetings" of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal activists.[12] The Aboriginal Rights Coalition has now folded.[13][14] The Stop the Intervention Collective has been involved in campaigning against income management, and calling for jobs with justice for Aboriginal people.[15]

Solidarity member Paddy Gibson is a spokesperson for the Stop the Intervention Collective and a researcher with the Jumbunna Institute of Learning at UTS.[16][17]

Solidarity has taken the position that the Northern Territory intervention is not primarily driven by a drive for uranium mining in the Northern Territory, but by a government policy of "assimilation", arguing in a debate in Green Left Weekly[18] that the Intervention "is part of a neoliberal, assimilationist ideology that says the only communities that are 'viable' are those that can establish links with the 'real economy'... mining companies gain no greater rights through the “hub towns” policy or the intervention."

Climate action[edit]

Solidarity has been active in the climate change movement[19][20] and groups such as the Sydney University Climate Action Collective.

Solidarity is opposed to Labor's carbon tax plan. In a factsheet about the carbon tax package released in August, "The truth about the carbon tax", Solidarity argues "the carbon tax package will not cut emissions" and has "given Tony Abbott an enormous free kick" and that there is an "alternative approach taxing the polluters to fund government investment in renewable energy.".[21]

Solidarity has come under some criticism for its arguments against the carbon tax, and their argument that production, rather than lifestyle change, should be the focus of the movement.[22] They initiated and signed a letter in response to comments by Australian Labor Party Member of Parliament Kelvin Thompson that population was responsible for climate change, arguing that "the planning and environmental disasters of our cities are due to government neglect, not population."[23]

They have critiqued the Climate Camp protests' focus on coal exports and the model of consensus decision-making used at the camps.[24]


International socialism[edit]

Solidarity is part of the international socialist tradition and the International Socialist Tendency. The tendency originated with the ideas of Tony Cliff, who split from orthodox Trotskyism by developing a state capitalist critique of the Soviet union. Cliff also developed an analysis of the post war boom called the permanent arms economy and the theory of deflected permanent revolution which took some issue with Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution in relation the revolutions in China in 1949 and Cuba in 1959, which Cliff argued were not socialist revolutions. Cliff formed what was to become the British Socialist Workers Party and similar organisations spread throughout the world.

The first international socialist (IS) group in Australia was the Socialist Workers' Action Group that formed in 1978. That group later became the International Socialists and then the International Socialist Organisation, one of the groups that merged to form Solidarity.

Involvement in campaigns[edit]

Members of Solidarity and its founding organisations have been involved with several political movements and industrial actions and disputes in Australian history.[25][26]

This includes the campaign to end the Vietnam war,[27] the Right to March campaign in Brisbane,[28] the campaign to end uranium mining at Jabiluka,[29][30] the campaign to end the first Gulf war,[31][32] the anti-capitalist movement and the S11 protests[33][34] the campaign against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars,[35] the refugee campaign under the Howard Government[35] and the campaign against higher university fees and later Voluntary student unionism.[35]


United front as strategy[edit]

Solidarity believes that socialists should unite with broader forces beyond the far left in campaigns for social change and subscribe to an interpretation of Leon Trotsky's idea of the "united front". They hold that the united front is a strategy informing basic assumptions about relating to reformist forces, not an organisational tactic that can be selectively applied. [36] The late Bob Gould, described the "common orientation as ... electoral support for the Greens and then Labor under the preferential system and a broader united front tactic towards the ranks of the Greens, the trade unions and the Labor Party," in an article describing the formation of Solidarity.[37]


The forged group chose the name "Solidarity" as a representation of their politics. Solidarity stands for the wider solidarity that they believe needs to be seen in uniting those fighting for reforms around different issues into a united fightback against the capitalist system.

Solidarity believes that capitalism is a system where production exists for profit and not human need, and that through environmental degradation and climate change capitalism has become a threat to the planet. Solidarity believes that the working class, through its power to take strike action and change production, has the power to change the whole of society.

They identify with the ideas of classical Marxism which sees society as divided by opposing class interests, that of the ruling and the working class. They argue that workers are exploited by the capitalist class in the pursuit of profit and have no democratic control over society though they produce all its wealth. They believe the capitalist system is subject to the ongoing tendency towards crisis, witnessed most recently in the Global Financial Crisis and the associated debt crisis throughout the Eurozone.

They believe workers across the world have an interest in fighting together, and can only be successful in winning socialism if it is a worldwide struggle. They oppose all forms of immigration controls and anything that divides workers from one country against those in another.

They believe that the ruling class is well-organised and control the state, media, judiciary and military, so the movements need to be just as organised. They believe that a socialist party is needed to succeed in a revolutionary situation, and are attempting to lay the basis for such a party in the struggles of today. They see revolutionary organisation as central to strengthening movements for social change, organising people within it and aiding it in developing the ideas and strategies to win.

Socialism from below[edit]

They believe that socialism cannot be introduced through parliament or through a coup, but through mass democratic movements of the working class. While they believe elections matter and call for a vote for the Greens followed by Labor, they do not believe the make up of parliament is what brings change.

Solidarity reject the idea that the USSR or China ever represented socialism, and agree with Tony Cliff's theory of 'state capitalism' which sees these societies as driven by the same dynamics as capitalism.


Solidarity opposes nationalism, racism and all forms of homophobia and sexism. They stand for self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Solidarity claims to stand up for Muslims and Middle Eastern people against the rise in anti-Muslim racism[38][39] they see as associated with the War on Terror.

Australian nationalism[edit]

Solidarity believes the Australian state is imperialist in its own right, and oppose Australian military intervention in East Timor, Fiji and other countries in the Asia-Pacific region. They believe the Australian state was founded on the violent dispossession of Aboriginal Australians. In response to the controversy surrounding the Roy Hill EMA, Solidarity published an open letter calling on the union movement to welcome workers employed on 457 visas into the country.

Notable members[edit]

  • Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for Refugee Action Coalition
  • Mark Goudkamp, Refugee Action Coalition activist[citation needed]
  • Paddy Gibson, anti-Intervention activist, researcher at UTS Jumbunna Institute and associate producer of John Pilger documentary 'Utopia'[40][41]
  • Phil Griffiths, academic and author[42][43]
  • Jean Parker, anti-war and anti-Intervention activist[citation needed]
  • Chris Breen, climate change and union activist[44]
  • David Glanz, S11 spokesperson and journalist[citation needed]
  • Jasmine Ali, anti-Intervention and climate activist[citation needed]
  • Anita Creasy, 2013 President, National Union of Students Western Australia
  • James Supple, Editor of Solidarity publication

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Forging Unity For the Struggle Ahead", Socialist Worker, 13 February 2008. Retrieved: 14 July 2009.
  2. ^ "Upcoming Solidarity Meetings " Solidarity. Retrieved: 26 July 2010.
  3. ^ "About Us" "Solidarity". Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  4. ^ "Solidarity forever?". Labor Tribune. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  5. ^ Rintoul, Ian. "No need for any refugee detention at all". No need for any refugee detention at all. Solidarity. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  6. ^ Supple, James. "Racism, Immigration and border controls". Racism, immigration and border controls. Solidarity. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "44 organisations endorse World Refugee Day". Refugee Advocacy Network. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  8. ^ "Refugee advocate labels Gillard a racist". ABC. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  9. ^ Goudkamp, Mark. "Refugee movement must relate to Labor". Solidarity. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  10. ^ "Refugee-rights activists charged". Green Left Weekly. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  11. ^ "Victory for Drop the charges campaign". RAC Qld. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  12. ^ Rintoul, Ian. "New Sydney committee campaigns against the Intervention". Solidarity. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  13. ^ "Against the split in the Aboriginal rights campaign" Green Left Weekly, 5 July 2008. Retrieved: 17 September 2010.
  14. ^ "Aboriginal rights campaign split" Green Left Weekly, 12 July 2008. Retrieved: 17 September 2010.
  15. ^ "Stop the intervention". Stop the intervention. Stop the intervention. 
  16. ^ Gibson, Paddy. "Return to the ration days" (pdf). Jumbunna. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  17. ^ Robinson, Natasha (27 November 2009). "Court win paves way for camp upgrades". Court win paves way for court upgrades. The Australian. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  18. ^ Gibson, Paddy. "Mining and NT Intervention". Mining and NT Intervention. Green Left Weekly. Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  19. ^ "Building a climate movement that can win (June 2009 National Committee plenum)" Democratic Socialist Perspective, 2009. Retrieved: 14 September 2010.
  20. ^ "The Governor becomes a far-Left activist", Herald Sun, 6 February 2010. Retrieved: 26 August 2010.
  21. ^ "A step backwards for climate action: The truth about the carbon tax". Solidarity. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  22. ^ Manning, Paddy (3 April 2010). "Climate is not a class issue". Climate is not a class issue. Sydney Morning Herald. 
  23. ^ "Population is not to blame for climate change". Population is not to blame for climate change. Green Left Weekly. 
  24. ^ "Learning from Climate Camp". Learning from Climate Camp. The Change Agency. 
  25. ^ "Marching down Marx Street: The International Socialists in Australia, 1972-92.", Tom O'Lincoln's Red Sites, 1992. Retrieved: 26 August 2010.
  26. ^ "International Socialists (1975 - )", Reason in Revolt: Source Documents of Australian Radicalism. Retrieved: 26 August 2010.
  27. ^
  28. ^ "How Bjelke's protest ban was beaten", Socialist Worker, 7 September 2007. Retrieved: 26 August 2010.
  29. ^ "Jabiluka campaign debates perspectives and plans national day of action", Green Left Weekly, 18 November 1998. Retrieved: 26 August 2010.
  30. ^ "Socialist", Reason in Revolt: Source Documents of Australian Radicalism. Retrieved: 26 August 2010.
  31. ^ "Where to now for anti-war activists?", Reason in Revolt: Source Documents of Australian Radicalism, 15 March 1991. Retrieved: 26 August 2010.
  32. ^ "Students United Against War (1991)", Reason in Revolt: Source Documents of Australian Radicalism. Retrieved: 26 August 2010.
  33. ^ "Whose Streets? Our Streets! Activist Perspectives on the Australian Anti-Capitalist Movement", by Tom Bramble and John Minns. Retrieved: 26 August 2010.
  34. ^ "World Economic Forum has police bracing for biggest operation in years", Lateline, 6 September 2000. Retrieved: 26 August 2010.
  35. ^ a b c
  36. ^ "Socialists and the united front" Solidarity, April 2010. Retrieved: 14 September 2010.
  37. ^ Gould, Bob. "Socialist unification in Australia". Retrieved 23 September 2011. 
  38. ^ "About" Solidarity. Retrieved: 17 September 2010.
  39. ^ "Anti-Muslim racism at play in Camden" Solidarity, June 2008. Retrieved: 17 September 2010.1
  40. ^ "Why the Stop Bush, Make Howard History protest was a success" Labor Tribune, 2007. Retrieved: 17 September 2010.
  41. ^ "Shut racism down — online and on the streets" Green Left Weekly, 6 February 2010. Retrieved: 17 September 2010.
  42. ^ "Who’s who on this site" Marxist Interventions. Retrieved: 17 September 2010.
  43. ^ "Home" Australian history: Towards a Marxist analysis, 7 June 2003. Retrieved: 17 September 2010.
  44. ^ "After the Firestorm: Bushfires and Climate Change" Friends of the Earth Melbourne, 2010. Retrieved: 14 September 2010.