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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/The legacy of 1968

The legacy of 1968

Andy Blunden, Arthur Dent, Alison Thorne

Platypus Review 165 | April 2024

On June 24, 2023 at Trades Hall in Melbourne, Australia, the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted this panel on the legacy of 1968.[1] The speakers included Andy Blunden, Alison Thorne, and Arthur Dent. Andy Blunden is a Hegel scholar, was the first draft-card burner in Melbourne in 1966, and later joined the Workers Revolutionary Party; he writes at <>. Alison Thorne is a member of the Freedom Socialist Party and a founder of the Australian branch of Radical Women. Arthur Dent, also known as Albert Langer, is an orthodox Maoist, a former member of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Lenininst) (CPA (ML)),[2] and leader of the Red Eureka Movement in the 1970s; he writes at <>. Ryan M. of Platypus moderated the panel. An edited transcript follows.

Opening remarks

Andy Blunden: When I received my draft card in 1965, Sir Robert Gordon Menzies had won the previous seven federal elections. After I left Australia, his successors won elections in 1966 and 1969. The Right-wing Labor leader Gough Whitlam briefly interrupted LNP[3] rule in 1972–75 until Bob Hawke’s election in 1983. In France, on March 15 1968, an article in the Le Monde claimed, “What currently characterizes our public life is boredom. The French don’t participate in any way in the great convulsions shaking the world.”[4] Clashes between students and police broke out a mere five days later, but on the whole, no one was really trying for social revolution in Paris in 68. Charles de Gaulle and his successors held power until François Mitterrand’s election in 1981. The 1980s, in turn, began the era of neoliberalism led by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, and represented by Hawke and Paul Keating in Australia.

If 68 was meant to bring about socialism, it patently failed. It was a cultural revolution. At its roots, the uprisings of 68 reflected changes that were taking place in the labor process, which would continue to generate cultural change for the following fifty years and more, but it never threatened the rule of capital.

University attendance doubled from 1956 to 63 and doubled again during the following seven years, all under conservative governments. Workers at Renault in France saw their future managers in the students throwing cobblestones on Rue Saint-Jacques. The changes which emerged in 68 are fully developed in today’s society. As Marx put it, “The hand of man is the key to the anatomy of the ape.”[5]

1968 was different in different countries. In January, the Tet Offensive in Vietnam marked the beginning of the end of the U.S. occupation, while in Poland, workers went into universities and beat up protesting students. In April, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in the U.S. In May, the uprising in France was led by students alongside a separate general strike of the industrial workers. In August, the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia, and Eurocommunism arose as the communist parties turned their backs on the Soviet Union. The word “sexism” was invented in 68, and anti-war protests and student occupations spread across the UK and U.S., and students battled police in Japan and Germany.

All this took place in a binary world, but how you saw that binary differed. For those Australians who became Marxists, including the Trotskyists and the Maoists, this binary was reflected in geopolitics. For the hippies and dropouts, the binary was a cultural one. Both of these stances have left their legacy for the present moment: on the one hand, the old Marxists who never noticed that the Cold War ended in 91 and we lost; on the other hand, the old hippies who still can’t tell the difference between Agent Orange and AstraZeneca.

Binary and multiplicity are not mutually exclusive categories. Multiplicity both deploys and obscures the underlying binary; the issue is to see both simultaneously. The fragmentation of classes did not mean that the struggle of labor and capital had disappeared, nor are cultural struggles merely mediated.

The crisis of the Fordist world produced genuine mass movements. Union memberships, which have been declining, grew in the decade following 68. These were mass movements with a majoritarian consciousness, although they always represented and remained a minority. In fact, they drew their energy from that minority position. No one who has experienced those mass movements can ever be the same.

Neoliberalism, which arrived in the 1980s, made such movements nearly impossible. The new relation of class forces produced by the postmodern labor process has given us a post-industrial working class, making the tasks of the revolutionaries much more complicated. Looking back on 68, it was a simpler world, and seems that we’ve all had a simplistic view of the world — an outlook corresponding to mass movements.

How was the Marxism of the 50s and 60s inherited and transformed?[6]

Marxism has been transformed in exactly the same way that the working class — the social base of Marxism — has been transformed in the same period.

What lessons are to be learned from the New Left as another generation undertakes the building of a Left for the 21st century?

We have to purge the Left of the illusions of 1968. The binary conceptions rooted in industrial capitalism and the Cold War have to be dispelled while preserving and realizing the vision of a mass movement from that period and earlier.

How were you aware that you were doing something new compared to the Old Left? And how was this task transmitted and understood?

As a 20-something, I quite unfairly believed the entire Left was implicated in a despicable system that I rejected in toto. But when the upsurges of 68 came through, I did feel part of something larger. Whatever it was, it was surreal.

Which forms of theory and practice did you reach for in this period and why?

I embraced the Marxism of Marx and Engels, but I never figured out a viable practice to express my rejectionism. I didn’t join anything; I knew protest politics would not simply become revolutionary. I thought that party building was a rotten compromise unless it was serious preparation for revolution. Fortunately, I was just smart enough to reject terrorism and the self-isolation that it entailed.

Did the following decades vindicate your choices or were you proven to be mistaken?

I was recruited by the Trotskyists in 1973, but by the 90s, I was convinced of the futility and arrogance of Trotskyist party-building. The Marxist parties have a role to play, but the major task is building the solidarity of the working class.

How are today’s Left tasked by the unfinished work of the New Left?

The unfinished work of the New Left is to learn how to practice solidarity. After all these years, we still haven’t learned. Marxists still say, “follow us,” but the revolution is so much bigger than any party.

Does the task of social emancipation appear more or less obscure then it did in the 60s and 70s?

Social emancipation looks more realistic now than in 68, but it looks much more like a long-term project. Nothing about the present status quo looks stable, and all the alternative futures look even worse. No one can envisage a peaceful or prosperous future; it’s hard to imagine any future at all.

The key issue is that the industrial working class is gone; we have a postmodern, fragmented working class. There’s no revolution without a mass movement. Next time you’re on a plane coming into Melbourne, you can see roofs stretching as far as the eye can see. Each roof has a little group of people under it. Think of the tasks of making a revolution. In 68, things were hopping under all those roofs; until you get that, you’ve got no revolution. The question is how the work each of us chooses to do can mesh together to produce a mass movement.

Alison Thorne: I acknowledge that we meet on the lands of the Wurundjeri Willam Clan of the Kulin nation and that sovereignty has never been ceded. As a Marxist feminist, a more active stance than respect is required. I pledge my solidarity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with both elders and young warriors in the fight against First Nations oppression.

One of the enduring legacies of the era we’re discussing is a deeper appreciation, courtesy of the Tent Embassy[7] and the movement it sparked, to truly liberate First Nations is a revolutionary question. Capitalism in Australia was built on land stolen from First Nations, coupled with the exploitation of the labor of First Peoples and the working class.

The Platypus prompt asks how the Marxism inherited by the 60s activists was transformed by this era. I contend that today, there is a deeper appreciation that questions of race, gender, sexuality, and nationality can no longer be dismissed as secondary questions; they are central to the class struggle. Women, people of color, and queer people are an increasingly assertive majority of the working class.

Unlike the other panelists, I was not politically active in 68, but the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) was formed during this dynamic era and is still going strong today. The founders of the FSP were pioneers emerging from the Old Left and diving into the struggles that radicalized a generation. In Socialist Feminism and the Revolutionary Party, FSP leader Andrea Bauer writes, “Nothing can show more clearly the truth of  [James P.] Cannon’s statement . . . that the program creates the organization than the founding of the FSP, which emerged from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP)[8] in 1966 because the FSP’s political orientation was better grounded in the changing times.”[9]

The SWP, which led the union struggles during the heydays of the 1930s and the 40s, had ossified by the 60s. The McCarthy era took its toll when a wave of anti-communism swept the unions. The SWP became isolated and stuck in radical laborism: an orientation to the more privileged workers and the increasingly conservative union bureaucracy. What the SWP failed to appreciate was the dynamism being shown by the most oppressed sectors of the working class. For more than over a decade, FSP’s founders organized as a tendency inside the SWP: objectively analyzing the working class, developing groundbreaking theory on race and sex, and seeking to reorient the Party. When this failed, they were forced out and formed a new party.

Central to the theory of this new party was revolutionary integration, which explores the interdependence of black liberation and working-class emancipation in the U.S. and explains why the leadership of black workers is crucial for the whole working class. The logic of black struggle is also inherently revolutionary because capitalism depends on racism to survive. The movement must become revolutionary if it’s to win a better day for African Americans. In contrast, the SWP leadership oriented the Party to trail after black nationalism — this when African Americans are not an oppressed nation but a super-exploited race.

Revolutionary integration explains that for an oppressed nation to become integrated is a reactionary concession to the status quo, a defeat. Integration for blacks is revolutionary because American capitalism incorporates segregation in its fundamental structure and cannot survive without it. In contrast, Native Americans and the Indigenous people of this continent are oppressed nations and demands that challenge assimilation and forcible integration, such as land rights and language maintenance, are crucial to support.

The founders of FSP recognised the explosive power of the fight for women’s liberation and had long been pushing the SWP to take this seriously. In the FSP’s founding document, “Why We Left the Socialist Workers Party” (1966), the key programmatic differences are explained, including our revolutionary feminism. The FSP boldly declared,

We place the struggle for women’s emancipation on the level of a first-class theoretical and programmatic question.

As the first tendency in the history of American radicalism to formally incorporate this question into our basic program, we proclaim our resistance to the creeping paralysis of male supremacy which by now has become an ingrained practice in the entire labor and socialist movement, and a growing danger in the civil rights movement.

The leading role of women in the fight for civil rights, in the anti-war movement, in civil liberties campaigns, etc., is not accidental, but results from the special dynamic developed by women as an oppressed sex, seeking liberation for themselves and for all other victims of discrimination.[10]

Marxism should not be treated as a dogma but as a method to be applied to changing times. The creation of the FSP as the first socialist feminist party in history is a testament to this approach. Marxist feminism is an expansion of the revolutionary arsenal of Marxism. It builds on the thinking of early socialist leaders about both class exploitation and women’s subordination. Having been founded on a program oriented to the dynamism and leadership of women and people of color, the new party dove headlong into the upheavals of the 60s.

The FSP collaborated closely with the Black Panther Party and, in 69, was part of an armed defense guard for the Party. It embraced gay liberation, an upsurge that rippled across the globe. Gay liberation was supercharged by the Stonewall riots (1969), led by working-class trans women of color, butch dykes, and an assortment of working-class queer rebels.

Part of the Party’s founding program was a call to intervene with serious politics in the anti-war movement. It was clear that the capitalist class had a fundamental stake in the war, profiting from it richly. The FSP advocated independent anti-capitalist politics that connected the war to other evils of the system. FSP thought it crucial to be open socialists in the movement, to educate about imperialism and how capitalism breeds war. The Party also fought for black, Chicano, and women’s voices to be heard.

While the era’s politics was given the name “New Left,” FSP women found that, in many respects, the New Left was little different from the Old. Gloria Martin, a mother of eight, became an FSP leader. She joined the Communist Party USA’s (CPUSA) Young Communist League as a young worker and was told, “Stop challenging your subordination.” CPUSA leaders warned her, “Enough said! You will get your freedom after the revolution.”

“The woman question is a secondary question,” Gloria was told. The plain-speaking Martin, who became a party organizer and wrote Socialist Feminism, the First Decade, 1966-76 (1978), penned the important piece “Where Matters Stand with Me” (1978).[11] Opposition to the Vietnam War brought thousands onto the streets, and young women, tired of their helpmate position in the movement, began to notice that things were no different in the New Left than in the Old. Martin describes how women, fed up with sexism in the movement, formed women’s caucuses to fight the male chauvinist leaders of the New Left.

In 1967, FSP founder Clara Fraser, Martin, and other party women came together with women from Students for a Democratic Society and founded Radical Women, an autonomous Marxist feminist women’s leadership organization. It’s important to distinguish between autonomy and separatism, both of which became popular in the 60s. Autonomy is about who is working together, but separatism is about a political program that separates one’s interests from the rest of the working class — a reactionary dead end.

Radical Women (RW) was founded as an autonomous organization of women who organized around a distinct Marxist feminist program that is anything other than separatist. Writing in Socialist Feminism, Martin says,

Life proved that women would flourish amidst the special experience, novel climate and intensive training available in an all-women’s group. The program and practice of RW have addressed the position of women under capitalism and raised the consciousness of hundreds . . . . A socialist feminist mass organization like RW has been unique in encouraging women to function as a vanguard and train themselves for leadership in the broader movements for social change and eventually in the FSP.[12]

Radical Women continues to thrive, and today is an organization for women, both cis and trans, and non-binary people. Autonomous organizing was crucial to building revolutionary women's leadership because male chauvinism was so entrenched in the left, both Old and New. My own experience of politicization also vindicates the validity of autonomous organizing. Having come out as queer, I was drawn to gay liberation, rapidly leading me to Marxist feminism. As immersed in the autonomous gay movement, I grappled with the links between homosexual oppression and women’s oppression, discovering the source of both to be private property.

The explicit Marxist feminist organizing by both FSP and Radical Women was new. These politics drew from the best of the Old and New Left to create something distinct. The Party had strong women leaders. For a brief period in its early history, after male leaders failed to walk their talk, the Party was all women.

The question of unfinished work is a vital one. 1968 stood out as a year of global upheaval in a turbulent era. Masses of working-class people mobilized against the war and fought for their liberation. There were genuine revolutionary opportunities, not least the mass strikes and uprisings in France in 68, which were sabotaged by the duplicitous role of the Communist Party.

The period was tumultuous here in Australia too. The seven-year Gurindji strike[13] began in 1966 and was in full flight. A near-general strike effectively challenged the penal powers and saw Clarrie O’Shea released.[14] The anti-war movement was building momentum. Australian women were in revolt, with iconic protests such as the 1965 action by three Brisbane women angered at their exclusion from public bars — a symbol of sexist exclusion from public life.

Just last month, a statue was unveiled outside this building immortalizing Zelda D’Aprano, who, in 1969, chained herself to the door of the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission to protest women’s lack of equal pay. More than half a century later, equal pay has still not been achieved, with women earning 87 cents for every dollar men earn. Equal pay is still elusive because patriarchy, like racism, is one of the cornerstones of capitalism, and capitalism is still with us.

The global youth uprising of the 60s was deeply anti-capitalist, with a generation passionately desiring to bust out of the deadening conformity and alienation that Marx wrote about. But these masses did not topple capitalism. A revolution requires the right objective conditions and leadership with the perspective of taking power. While several small groups, including the FSP, had this perspective of building an organization that could do this, a mass revolutionary party did not exist.

The FSP argues that it’s essential to forge a revolutionary vanguard to be ready when a revolutionary upsurge occurs. Revolution requires preparation, and this involves forging a tested leadership and program that comes through clarifying ideas. A vanguard party synthesizes and learns the lessons of history. Time and again, we see that without a revolutionary party, opportunities created by revolutionary upheavals will subside without the working class taking power. A recent example is the Arab Spring.

Revolutionary regroupment is also important. Dynamic periods in history offer a rich opportunity for serious radicals to undertake comradely dialogue on probing discussion that can lead to a structural regroupment of uncompromising Marxists in a new and more powerful vanguard party. Today, the FSP is part of an international regroupment project called the Committee for Revolutionary International Regroupment. Through it, we’re working with revolutionary parties from Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, as well as our section in the U.S., and all share our international socialist feminism.

In our 1999 political resolution, From the Ashes of the Old Century, a Better World’s in Birth,[15] we explain what happened to the militancy of the 1960s and 70s, pinning the blame for the relative conservatism of movements on the failure of the 60s-era movement to go beyond militancy to insurrection. We explain how the rebels were tamed: by the end of the Vietnam War, many movement leaders had either been bought off via government careers or killed off by the police.

This generation won genuine reforms, which is more difficult today under late capitalism. In the post-war era, capitalism could afford to provide concessions to working-class sections in advanced capitalist countries to try to keep the peace. The irony is that winning a seat at the table and funding for services (for example, the women’s refuge movement) co-opted leaders, changing their relationship to the struggle as radical grassroots groups became professionalized NGOs that are so prevalent today.

At the source of all the problems that the 60s generation were fighting against, and those that plague young people today, is private property. As the world becomes more unequal, the climate warms, inter-imperialist rivalries heat up, and Right-wing populism is getting a hearing, finishing the task of getting rid of capitalism is ever more urgent. The choice posed by Rosa Luxemburg, of socialism or barbarism, is stark. Our perspective developed when the FSP was formed in the 60s: forging united fronts, bringing together working-class forces with disparate views in action to defend the class, while seeking to build a mass revolutionary party with a perspective of taking power, and we believe that perspective has never been more correct.

Arthur Dent: If you thought the pseudo-Left has a legacy from the 60s, you weren’t there. I’m delighted to discover that Andy Blunden was there because I don’t think he would sharply disagree with my position that the pseudo-Left that we have now does not have a legacy from the 60s. He accurately described that Australia had the Menzies era[16] — the most conservative period during the Cold War, which lasted right through the Vietnam War. We also had a radical, global, militant mass movement, which caused a lot of trouble, and led to social change.

I have a less pessimistic view of defeat and social change. A major reason why the radical Left that grew out of the 60s movement faded out of existence by the early 70s was that the basic demands of the mass movement had been accommodated by a major retreat by the system. There was a massive cultural revolt and a generational change, and they stopped telling people to cut their hair short and dress properly. There was a war in Vietnam, and they lost. We were celebrating the victory, even though we didn’t get to hold proper celebrations; they signed the Paris Peace Accords (1973) after the Christmas bombing of Hanoi.

By the time all the troops were out, they were leaving under Vietnamese supervision, and there would be a Vietnamese revolutionary army officer at the ports counting them as they left and releasing American prisoners in proportion. It wasn’t news when South Vietnam collapsed; they had the same clumsy evacuation as Afghanistan. But there wasn’t a sense of “we won”; there was just a sense of “the war is over.”

Vietnam was the principal thing that drew people into the 60s mass movement, especially in America and Australia, and we won. On a lot of the other issues, society moved forward. The thing that I don’t like about both the other speakers is the mood of gloom and pessimism that is pervasive at the moment.

We’re headed for another period of upheaval, and I’m delighted to see that the so-called Left is on its last legs. This, to me, is a cause for joy. I will read you a quote from Arena magazine, which I wrote to in 1985 when they were pontificating their experiences with the Maoists: “While agreeing that ‘the more forums the better’, I do not endorse Barry’s opinion that ‘the condition of the Australian Left calls for wider discussion and debate: an opening up of minds as well as ranks’. The condition of the Australian Left calls for a decent burial, with a critical stake through its heart, alongside its counterparts abroad. Then we shall see.”[17]

The leatherdykes said it earlier. Gayle Rubin said,

I did not join the women’s movement to be told how to be a good girl. . . . I did not join the women’s movement to have my status depend on my ability to bear children. . . . I fear that the women’s movement is repeating the worst errors of a century ago. The nineteenth-century feminist movement began as a radical critique of women’s role and status. But it became increasingly conservative and similarly shifted the burden of its argument onto a reconstituted femininity in the form of alleged female moral superiority. Much of the nineteenth-century movement degenerated into a variety of morality crusades, with conservative feminists pursuing what they took to be the woman’s agenda in antiprostitution, antimasturbation, antiobscenity, and antivice campaigns. It will be a historical tragedy of almost unthinkable dimensions if the revived feminist movement dissipates into a series of campaigns against recreational sex, popular music, and sexually explicit materials. But this appears to be the direction in which feminism is moving.[18]

It moved in that direction for a while, but it’s moved in different directions since. It’s moved away from the radical liberation movement that grew up with the 60s Left. The 60s Left radical liberation movement also disappeared.

The 60s started earlier in America with the Civil Rights Movement, which retained a large component of radical action for democratic rights. We had Freedom Rides in Australia just before the Vietnam movement took off. I wasn’t part of that, but I was secretary of Youth Against Apartheid when I was 14, in 1963, and I was on the state executive of the Young Labour Association. At that time, I would have considered myself a hard-Left social democrat, and I had some familiarity with Marx.

Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880) was the only classic publication we produced in Australia in the 60s because the Chinese foreign language press published practically everything Marxists should read. They didn’t get around to Socialism until 1975, just before they got overthrown. This is probably the most translated short summary of Marxism in the movement’s history. Everyone serious in the Second International would have been expected to be familiar with it. I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it. Start with the third section, which is only ten pages. It tells you the fundamental principles of historical materialism and the development of state capitalism, which Engels correctly predicted. The second section explains the general principles of philosophical materialism. The first one simultaneously praised the utopian socialists who came before the Marxist movement and pointed out that they degenerated into doctrinaire sects, which we’re all familiar with as the continued existence of the pseudo-Left.

We were in contact with some radical Aboriginal activists, but I never met anybody among them who wanted to pay tribute to their elders. It just wasn’t the 60s thing to be paying tribute to one’s elders, and it’s not something I could stomach. I read the Uluru declaration (2017), and they say things like, “We emerged from the soil and will return thither.” My picture of the Aboriginals is that they’re not part of the fauna, let alone part of the flora or vegetation. They didn’t spring from the soil. They don’t have a deep connection to land; if they do, they would need appropriate psychological treatment. They have problems of oppression that need to be dealt with in modern society, and Aboriginal activists were fighting that way. We’re having imposed on us an absolutely alien, extreme Right-wing ideology about respecting elders and treating Aborigines as a museum piece.

We wrote It Is Right to Rebel (1972)[19] about the history of the Melbourne Maoists. It’s a reasonably objective account of what happened on campus.

The hippies were part of the 60s mass movement and were inclined to drop in and out. They weren’t reaching for Marxism. The pacifists were part of it, too. There were a lot of political trends in the movement, but the main trends that reached out for Marxism were in America and Melbourne, where they were overwhelmingly Maoist; the Trots were a minor feature in both places. The Trots may have been more important in parts of Europe, but I think it was also prominently Maoist in France and Germany.

I visited Portugal shortly after the revolution there, and it was definitely a major struggle. When people talk about organizing a militant party determined to take power, that was exactly what the Portuguese Communist Party was doing; the Maoists joined the Socialist Party to stop them. Some of the Maoist leaders ended up in the Socialist Party, and one of them, José Manuel Barroso, became president of the European Union.

The revolutionaries of Portugal did not want an Eastern European country in Western Europe. The revolution in the 60s was also directed against Soviet fascism. By 1969, we were calling it fascist; in 1968, we would just have been calling it imperialist. Even the CPA agreed with that when they opposed the invasion of Czechoslovakia. The USSR threatened China; they sought an agreement with the U.S., saying, “Would you mind if we launched a preemptive nuclear strike against China?” Rather fortunately, the Nixon administration said, “Yes, we mind a lot!” and put some of their nuclear forces on alert, so the Soviets never did launch a nuclear strike against China.

The Maoists were saying that the USSR was a fascist regime from 1969. When it collapsed completely in 1991, we did not consider that a defeat. It switched to an ordinary gangster kleptocracy since then, culminating in Putin. I’m looking forward to the total elimination of that regime, and I don’t expect it to be in a proletarian revolution. They’re headed for an even more fascist regime soon. We’ve just seen the news today that there’s an insurrection going on now from the mercenaries. The FSB[20] will probably take power, but they can’t rule for long, and that regime is bound to get overthrown. Russia is bound to get a modern bourgeois democracy as exists in the rest of Europe, and I’m in favor of that; it’s a social advance for a country that backward that they have an openly tsarist and fascist autocracy that has invaded Ukraine.

Of course, the pseudo-Left here has great difficulty doing anything about it, so I congratulate the FSP, which has made a better statement than any other pseudo-Left group. The FSP quite explicitly said that Russia is fascist and Ukraine should be supported, and they need and are entitled to arms. It seems odd that they throw in, “and we’ve got to dismantle NATO.” That’s a sign of the unrealistic disconnection between reality and sloganeering in critical situations characteristic of pseudo-Left groups, which existed in the 60s but didn’t get any traction. You can’t simultaneously call for arms for Ukraine and the dismantlement of NATO.

I can understand the people from the 60s, even more than people who arrived later, had this hangup about the U.S. It was difficult to imagine that any group that lives in the belly of the beast in the U.S. is going to support the U.S. sending arms to Ukraine. They have a hangup about it in the same way that people had a hangup about the Soviet Union in the 60s and thought German revanchism was the main danger to the world.

The current war in Europe right now is between Russian fascism and Ukraine; it’s not a proxy war fought for by the U.S., but the U.S. is the arsenal. If we want to denounce the U.S., which I enjoy doing, there’s plenty to denounce them for in their absolute failure to supply stuff from the arsenal they keep boasting about. They sent 3,000 tanks to liberate the oil fields of Kuwait; they’re sending 30 tanks to help Ukraine, and they’ll be delivered towards the end of this year. There are people dying fighting Russian fascism while Western politicians are congratulating themselves for their heroic efforts.

There should be a strong Left campaign saying, “we want to end the war quickly.” People must join in and send them the arms and whatever else they need — even send them air force pilots if they haven’t got time to train them. In the same way that we were in solidarity with Vietnam when they were kicking out American imperialism, we must be in active solidarity with Ukraine, and you can’t mix that up with saying “dismantle NATO” — you’re not thinking when you do.

This is one of my two concrete proposals. The other is that there should be a study group on Pavel Maksakovsky.[21] There is a capitalist crisis looming; I will confess that I’ve been saying that for about four decades now, and therefore, I can’t claim any credibility, but many more people are saying it now. It’s hit the business pages. Neither the 60s Left nor anything since has had the foggiest clue about economics. We don’t even bother taking part when they’re discussing budgets, etc. Lenin was right when he said that none of the Second International leaders could understand Capital (1867). They couldn’t get past the first three chapters, and, as Andy Blunden mentioned in his recent paper, you must have a bit of dialectics to understand them.[22] I recommend the first 10 pages of that paper.

The Marxism we reached for from the Old Left was summarized like this: “Marxism consists of thousands of truths, but they all boil down in one sentence: it is right to rebel. For thousands of years, it had been said it was right to oppress, it was right to exploit, and it was wrong to rebel. This old verdict was only reversed with the appearance of Marxism. This is a great contribution. It was through struggle that the proletariat learned this truth and Marx drew the conclusion. From this truth, there follows resistance, struggle in the fight for socialism.”

A critical thing that the Chinese contributed to the 60s movement was the “break” with the defeat of the Russian Revolution. It was through the Russians that the Chinese got to hear about Marxism, and it was through the Cultural Revolution in China that the mass movement in the West got to hear about Marxism and Maoism. We were stuck with a conservative, reactionary Soviet Union for a few decades before it became openly fascist. Some pseudo-Left groups and Trots talked about it being a worker’s state or argued over whether it was a worker’s state or state capitalist, but nobody even mildly progressive could be slightly attracted to the Leonid Brezhnev regime in its years of stagnation.

We were stuck with the fact that it was living proof of what the Cold War had been emphasizing throughout: capitalism was vastly superior to socialism, and there were better living standards under capitalism. It was living proof that the anarchists and social democrats were right and the Marxists were hopeless, and that the Trots were right and the Stalinists were hopeless.

We were stuck with that until the salvos of the Cultural Revolution brought us some Marxism. They said, “there is a way around the problem of the degeneration of the revolution,” and the answer they came up with was permanent revolution — a concept that Trotskyists completely obscured. We had to avoid the term “permanent revolution” because the Trots had a trademark on it, so we called it “uninterrupted revolution.” Mao talked about it: “Lenin spoke of building a bourgeois state without capitalists to safeguard bourgeois right. We ourselves have built such a state, not much different from the old society: there are ranks and grades, eight grades of wages, distribution according to work, and exchange of equal values. . . . You are making the socialist revolution, and yet you don’t know where the bourgeoisie is. It is right inside the Communist Party — those in power taking the capitalist road. The capitalist roaders are still on the capitalist road.”[23] Where in the Communist Party was the leadership of the bourgeoisie? In the top leadership of the Communist Party.

"Will there be a need for a revolution a hundred years from now? Will there still be a need for a revolution a thousand years from now? There is always a need for revolution. There are always sections of the people who feel oppressed: junior officials, students, workers, peasants, and soldiers don’t like big shots oppressing them; that’s why they want a revolution. Will contradictions no longer be seen ten thousand years from now? Why not?”[24]

I conclude with the last words of the Communist Manifesto (1848):

In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.

In all these movements, they bring to the front, as the leading question in each, the property question, no matter what its degree of development at the time.

Finally, they labour everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries.

The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.

Workers of All Countries, Unite![25]

If you look at the preface, Engels explains why it wasn’t called the Socialist Manifesto.[26] Socialism was bourgeois in 1847.


Ryan M.: You all touched on the relations between the vanguard party to the new social movements of the 1960s. There were tensions between the proclamations of the old role of the vanguard party, leading the proletariat as it did in the October Revolution, and the from-below character that the 60s had. How would your understanding of Marxism explain the tension between the party and the movements in the 60s?

AB: Alison is a great organizer, but the theory that you could build a party ready to take over when the opportunity comes — my god! Could socialism arrive in such a way? The conclusion I drew from my 20-odd years as a Trotskyist is that this is arrogant, mistaken, reactionary, and illusory. That’s why I ask people to imagine the site of a city of six million people, never mind the six billion people on Earth. Do you think you can organize a little group that will step in, say, “it’s all ready to go,” and lead that? No.

We all have work to do. Depending on your particular location in society, there is a personal contribution you can make. I agree with Arthur’s slogan, “it is right to rebel.” Whether you’re a lawyer, a teacher, a factory worker, etc., there is a way of being a communist in that position. There are two things you must do: one is to fight, which is more an ethical question of how to be a communist in this period; the other thing is to learn how to solidarize, because the revolution doesn’t happen because it’s directed by a party or something. Revolution only happens by dispensing with all that. If those people come together, they do so voluntarily. If people are going to submit themselves to a common code and vision, they come to it voluntarily.

I’m fed up after decades of “follow us; we’re the revolutionary party" — “No, we are!” I have many friends who don’t belong to any party but believe in the party, and I say, “Yeah, mate, but which party do you belong to?” — “I don’t belong to any” — “Why not?” —  “None of the parties seem to be up to it.” If, after all these years of trying to build a party, the mass result is that people have left the party, you learn some lessons from that. Who the hell wants to seize power? The purpose is to overthrow power. The only party that’s seizing power is the combined masses of millions. If the party seizes power, the result is exhibited in what degenerated into Brezhnev.

Learn how to foster and develop solidarity. Alison does that very well as an activist capable of exercising solidarity. But that vision has to be extended towards making a revolution. You can’t just do solidarity in day-to-day work and then say, “it’s all for the day; I’ll take over because my party is all ready to go, and when the masses call out for it, we’ll throw it in.” No, please.

The masses aren’t following a party now; they’re even leaving the centrist parties. The party organization belongs to a past period, just as capitalists now use franchising and outsourcing; it’s a more effective way of organizing and accumulating capital. The Left also has to understand that franchising and outsourcing are a much more effective way of organizing for revolution. To think that you’re going to build an old-style Henry Ford-type company for revolution? That was out of date 100 years ago. Fordism in politics is just as outdated as it is in accumulating capital.

AT: Responding to what Andy said, there’s a misunderstanding of the question of the vanguard party. The FSP does not say that we are a vanguard party capable of making an insurrection. However, we have that orientation and a perspective of both revolutionary regroupment and the question of united fronts. United fronts are important because they can democratically bring together disparate working-class forces to unite around a key set of demands and to fight in the interests of the class. We argue for this in terms of working with others. Andy says that to seize power will take the combined masses of millions. The FSP doesn’t disagree. The question is: how are we going to get there, and how are we actually going to achieve that?

Arthur said, “it’s right to rebel.” What is the goal of rebellion? What are the demands that we’re fighting for? What are the goals? Andy’s opening statement was pessimistic regarding the period that we’re in. In the FSP, we are optimists, and we’re optimists because of our Marxism. To pessimistic people in the 21st century: you must look in the right place to become optimists. One thing that inspired us this year is the Transgender Day of Visibility rally held on March 31. It was incredible. 5,000 people were out on the streets, mostly young trans people and many trade unionists with union flags, who responded to Posie Parker visiting Australia and Nazis parading on the steps of Parliament House. It was a militant rally. Go look in those places, and people will feel more optimistic.

Arthur talked about the women’s movement and said it is repeating the worst errors of puritanism.

AD: That was Gayle Rubin.

AT: But you were quoting Gayle Rubin approvingly. Surely, those of us at an event like this are Marxists; we need to be more dialectical in our thinking. Feminism is not a monolithic blob. There’s liberal feminism, bourgeois feminism, radical feminism that sees men as the enemy, and then there’s Marxist feminism, which is intersectional and looks at the connections between patriarchy and class. We can say the same regarding the Aboriginal movement: there’s a conservative, bureaucratized, middle-caste layer, and then there’s the radical grassroots of the movement, like the black matriarchy. Incredibly powerful.

AD: I don’t believe the leatherdykes who wrote Coming to Power (1981) suggested that the women’s movement was a united bloc with no varied positions. The lesbian S/M people vary in position — a full galaxy of positions. I mentioned that they were nailing that a conscious push had been made to make the women’s movement, a powerful liberation struggle, into a conservative movement, and the same thing happened to the Left generally. I was struck by them not only out of prurient interest, but because they were the earlier ones to draw attention to the fact that what people regard as the Left today was actually reactionary and conservative.

On Alison’s question about rebelling and what to rebel for: that was a key weakness and the same weakness as not having an economic program. It was nonsense to say that you would overthrow imperialism and establish a revolutionary insurrection, if you had no idea how you would reorganize the economy. At the same time, we were following the program inherited from the 19th century, from The Class Struggles in France (1850). There, Marx succinctly stated that this socialism was in opposition to the utopian doctrinaire socialism of the sects:

This socialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations.[27]

That’s a comprehensive program, and it needs to be spelled out for any particular decade of the mass movement you live in. As far as talking about Marxism’s program, that’s the program. We’re up for the lot.

On Andy’s question about the vanguard party, I agree with the substance of his comments, but with a twist. That was the party program at Monash University. We had the most radical campus and the largest mass movement in Australia and the largest mass movement, and we organized very much on that franchise basis. It was a mass movement we were helping to organize, and we did; we weren’t in the way. I would rephrase the slogan, “join us”; the appeal of the various vanguard parties was, “join us, and you need never think again.”

The entire purpose of forming communist organizations within the mass movement was to have inner-party struggle. We would have a continuous debate about strategy and tactics, encouraging that debate wider. The way it was franchised at the peak of the movement is that we had a daily news sheet from the Labor Club, and there would be another daily news sheet from at least four or five other groups around campus, with each faculty having their own news sheets. There would be an equal number weekly or fortnightly news sheets from competing Left trends. But even the daily one run by the Labor Club ruling clique had a separate editorial team for each day of the week, and they all ran different lines, which led to inner-party struggle.

We had a slogan that if there was to be a revolution, there had to be a revolutionary party, and we invited people to a party every Friday night at Jasmine Street. It tended to be a drunken orgy, but there were also raging arguments about what line we should take on events. That’s the way you organize a mass struggle.

There was a Young Communist League. I’m proud that in 1969, we surreptitiously circulated a proposed reading guide to study some Marxist theory. But nobody wanted to study Marxist theory; they only wanted to study strategy and tactics, in the course of which it became useful to study Marxist theory. Some philosophical writings about how you look at the world and how the world is changing clarify strategy and tactics. We didn’t get much help from Mao’s writings on organizing a peasant war against Japanese imperialism, but we did get some help through inner-party struggle.

When we organized the Red Eureka Movement after the CPA (ML) collapsed into supporting Chinese fascism, there were people immediately trying to make us organize a new party. We put out two executive statements because we couldn’t agree on one. David McMullen wrote one: “Playing Tin Soldiers Is Not Important.” The other was “Party Building Is Bullshit”[28] — and it was. All these little sects were pretending to build parties, and we remarked that we didn’t even have enough people to form a cabinet if we were invited to take power. The party-building claims were nonsense.

But in a mass movement, you organize the best forces to organize as a vanguard and help propel things forward. Alison does have some of this spirit. One of my favorite sayings from Mao is “going against the tide is a Marxist principle.” I recall, in 1984, that Alison had that experience of going against the tide. It’s difficult, and people descend on you from all directions, but it is a fundamental Marxist principle to go against the tide.

The other one from Mao that sheds light on this is “it is very dangerous to study Marxism unless you have a conquering spirit” because it can crack the mind.[29] The people who did study Marxism — not as part of the theory they were reaching for because they needed to analyze tactics, struggle, and what’s happening around them, but just studied Marxist theory — became Martian academics. They spelled it wrong, but they were from Mars and had cramped minds. There’s a major distinction between Martianism and Marxism.

RM: Andy agreed with Chairman Mao’s slogan, that “it is right to rebel,” but as Alison said, “rebel towards what?” Andy raised this task of solidarity, but again, for what purpose? Is solidarity an end, or is it a means to something? What role would a party or other organization play in clarifying that end?

AB: Solidarity means helping another person under their direction. That presupposes you don’t want to see the other party defeated and extinguished, so you must find some commonality but not negotiate the aim. Solidarity means, “I see you’re fighting for so-and-so; what can I do to help?” If that ethic is universal, it’s called socialism. I have only the vaguest notion of what that means, institutionally speaking, but I do know it’s a world in which everyone will say, “how can I help?”

Back in the 1930s, my mother was a commercial artist, and, with her Communist Party friends, she organized the first union of commercial artists. The central demand of the union was the achievement of professional status and professional salaries. They achieved that demand, and that was the end of the union. As Arthur expressed at one point, Marxism has this same conundrum. If the purpose is the abolition of the working class, then you have a problem because the presumed agent of the revolution is trying to eliminate itself.

AD: It’s delightful!

AB: It’s a delightful problem, a creative issue, but it must be confronted. Arthur referred to feminism before. As it appeared in the 1960s and 70s, women’s liberation was revolutionary. It had a vision of a different world, but you weren’t going to get that different world other than by engaging women. But the masses of women weren’t motivated by a vision of the end of patriarchy, so the movement established women’s refuges, equal pay, and concrete measures that motivated women. That’s what Arthur described as becoming conservative because the revolutionary vision was gone as they achieved that. This dynamic has to be dealt with.

AD: By permanent revolution.

AB: Yeah, “permanent revolution,” that’s very nice.

Arthur and Alison both have said that I’m pessimistic. I apologize for giving that impression. We live in a fundamentally pessimistic world. As revolutionaries, we can’t be, and we aren’t. “Postmodern” means the inability to conceive concrete utopia — that’s our world. We must go against the stream, but to make a revolution, you must be with the stream — there’s another contradiction. You’ll never lead anything if you're always fighting against the stream. You must be with the Zeitgeist; there’s no revolution without a revolutionary Zeitgeist. As revolutionaries, we’re optimists and Gramscians, but we live in a pessimistic world. The collapse of the ecosystem — there’s some pessimism for you, and it’s well grounded.

AD: One thing that cheers me up is that the people who endlessly talk about the weather are characteristic of the Menzies era. That was the level of conversation then. Many people have been discussing the weather, extinction, and saving the planet — but it’s imploding. I’m cheering because the things that make one gloomy are things like the green Left and people going on about extinction, and they’re clearly irritating everybody — it’s not just me. There’s a massive backlash against people crapping on about intersectionalism and what language you should use.

RM: Has the task of social emancipation become more or less obscure since the 1960s?

AB: It’s more of a long-term project.

AD: It wasn’t a task; it was a joy. We enjoyed being troublemakers, and I still enjoy it. Secondly, the phrase “social emancipation” is designed to obscure. Nobody would write down “the task of social emancipation” if they weren’t trying consciously to obscure the issues. I state my position and say that I’m a communist. I disdain to conceal my views and aims. We openly stand for the forcible overthrow of all social conditions. That gets turned into a mumble about social emancipation.

Even in the 19th century, the people who liked to mumble about social emancipation ended up calling themselves socialists, which is why Marx and Engels couldn’t write The Socialist Manifesto. Socialism was bourgeois in 1847. There was no trans day of intersectionalism during the movement at Monash, but the secretary of the Labor Club, JillCassidy, ended up changing her name to Jules, and she was a butch dyke at the time. I don’t know whether she was transgender. She was married, and there was a threesome with the president of the NLF committee,[30] and it wasn’t an issue. Some people from the Queensland Left were puzzled about how degenerate Monash was, but it wasn’t an issue. We were busy on the overall 60s fight, and gay people were stepping forward.

AT: Those gay people went on to form an autonomous movement because we experienced homophobia and transphobia in the broader Left, the voices that dominated within the anti-war movement. Queers and women did not want to be helpmates. It was a fight for liberation. Arthur said that what drew people into the 60s mass movement was the war in Vietnam. That was one of the things, but there was a hell of a lot more. The civil rights struggle, the treatment of First Nations people, sexism.

AB: There were many different proximal causes to get involved in the revolutionary oppositional movement. What underlaid that? Why would all these different, disparate causes appear?

AT: It was an era. As Arthur said, it was a time when people were starting to rebel and raising their demands, raising the things that impacted them as working-class people.

AB: Why then? Why not 50 years before?

AT: 50 years before, smaller groups were raising these things.

AD: Are you talking about 1918?

AT: No, I’m talking about the 50s. The objective conditions of McCarthyism in the 50s and what that meant for women’s liberationists and the homophile organizations that were organizing. In the 60s, things were changing, and people were raising many demands. It is wrong to say that the movement in the 60s won, so everybody packed up and went home. For First Nations people, for women, for the queer community, the fight continued.

When we look at it here in Australia, that struggle seamlessly continued from the 60s into the 70s, which was when I got involved, when I became a Marxist feminist. I got involved in the autonomous gay movement, where I was exposed to the ideas and understood that women’s oppression, racism, homophobia, and transphobia were rooted in the class system. But we need to understand that the 80s and the era of the Accord had such an immensely negative effect, certainly on the trade union movement. Much of what we’re left with today comes from there.

AB: Alison, you said earlier that your party’s position in the 70s is just as correct now as it was then. Does that mean that nothing changed?

AT: No, that’s not what I said. I said that the project of working to build a vanguard party is as correct now as it was then.

AD: Why did Marx reject it in the 19th century? The project of the Marxists was to overthrow capitalism and abolish all social relations; your project is to build some organization.

AT: No, the FSP’s project is not to build some organization. Our project is to not have a generation sitting here, decades later, and asking why our environment has collapsed, why we’re faced with barbarism. Our project is that we’re serious about wanting to make a revolution. In your opening remarks, Andy, you were clear about your theory but said you didn't know a practice.

AB: I thought Marxism disappeared somewhere in the early 20th century, but that was 50 years before the 60s.

AT: Arthur, what brings you joy is the weakness of what you call the pseudo-Left. I'm sorry, but I have not given up. The FSP has not given up.

AB: Nor has anyone else. No one has given up.

AT: If people seriously think that what is needed in late capitalism, with fascists trying to organize, with growing inter-imperialist rivalries, and the environment in crisis, is blogs, then I’m sorry, but blogs don’t cut it.

AD: I was going to raise that issue. It’s a step forward that Platypus is organizing a bit online and is having this video through YouTube. But the revolution won’t be televised, and it won’t be on blogs; it will be a massive, real-time roleplaying game about how we propose to run the world, which will gradually transform into an active supply-chain management system that will run the world. It won’t be blogs.

I’m happy because I can see that 100 million people are using GitHub to organize large-scale cooperative projects, like the Linux kernel. Most of the internet is built by using the communist mode of production on sites like GitHub. It’s easy to organize groups that can discuss drafts of documents and exchange the drafts democratically and openly, and you can have video calls using Jitsi without registering with some service like Zoom or Skype.

What makes me happy are some things that make people in the pseudo-Left depressed. It would be depressing if you were one of these vanguard groups taking a heroic struggle for intersectionalism to notice that all the young people are laughing at you. People are voting for Trump because they’re so sick of hearing from the politically correct ideologists of the Democratic Party. People are telling us that we need a Voice to Parliament in Australia and that it’s the big issue of our times, and we’ve got to rally around this totally bankrupt Australian Labor Party (ALP) in defense of Aboriginals who would otherwise be exterminated.

AT: Who, in what you call the pseudo-Left, is saying that? Who’s saying, “rally around the Labor Party”?

AD: You’ve correctly exposed a fallacy in my argument; it’s more what we're getting from the media and the ALP than from the pseudo-Left. The pseudo-Left ostentatiously does say, “we’re not the Labor Party,” but when it comes to the crunch, I believe that we came to feel that we’re under threat from fascism — not because we’re actually under threat from fascism, but because it makes it more militant to denounce the so-called Right-wing if you call them fascists. There is an actual fascist war in Europe.

I agree. You pulled me up correctly; that’s not what the pseudo-Left does, but what it does is support political correctness. There is a whole move from corporate liberals, saying, “this is how you’re allowed to speak and write; we’ve got to have more internet censorship,” etc. There’s no way anyone who lived through the 60s could possibly find themselves in favor of shutting down free speech.

AT: Who says that in the so-called pseudo-Left?

AD: Each vanguard organization is set up to shut down free speech. I gave the slogan, “join us, and you need never think again.”

AT: Within a healthy democratic centralist organization, all members are involved in developing the political program. Regarding our political program on the question of Ukraine, we have all carefully studied and read Trotsky’s “Learn to Think” (1938).[31]

AD: How did you come up with dismantling NATO at the same time as wanting more arms for Ukraine? How would that survive a genuine internal debate?

AT: It survived genuine internal debate because we’re looking at something dialectical. We support the right of the Ukrainian people to self-determination; we do not support the Volodymyr Zelensky regime. We are standing in solidarity with and listening to Ukrainian socialists fighting to defend their homes from an imperialist aggressor in the authoritarian Putin regime. Ukrainians must have a right to get arms from anywhere. That does not mean we support U.S. imperialism; we oppose the U.S. military-industrial complex. Serious Marxists can do both. I urge people to get a copy of the resolution from our last convention, which goes into all of our nuanced thinking about the question.

Q & A

The environmental movement came out of the 60s, which was largely a middle-class movement, and developed around 1980, with work from people like André Gorz, with ecological Marxism or ecosocialism. Arthur, we live in an era of ecological crisis and climate change. Things look bad, and Arthur is bagging the so-called green Left, calling them the pseudo-Left. In Melbourne, several groups are part of that: Socialist Alliance, Solidarity, and Socialist Alternative. Arthur, are you falling into the climate-denialist camp?

AD: No, I’m a medieval technology-denialist. There is a serious climate problem that requires engineering and research and development. Given the catastrophic support for climate alarmism from the bourgeoisie, who are actively funding mass movements in this, it is more or less inevitable that the only plausible shift that we can make to deal with the climate problems is going to be nuclear power, because they’re not putting any R&D into fundamental technologies that could deliver efficient power.

Instead, the funding is being diverted for corrupt reasons into things like windmills, which are from medieval times, and solar panels, which are relatively modern; both require massive amounts of storage we don’t have. The ecosocialists are doing real damage to the necessary engineering that has to be done. More importantly, their ideology of catastrophe and doom and gloom goes back to Malthusianism, the ancient enemy of socialism and communism.

Developing productive forces makes it inevitable that we will change our social relations to correspond to them. Ecosocialism says we’re all doomed and must live a narrower and more cramped lifestyle within the limits of our environment. It is the antithesis of any kind of Left program.

Yes, I am genuinely hostile. I am comforted by the fact that this is a widespread view. You may regard the “fascists,” like Trump and so on, as being the cause of it, but it’s more the other way around; people are so disgusted with the trite they’re getting from the Democratic Party about how they should accept lower living standards that they’re turning to total demagogue populists like Trump. It’s a symptom, not the cause. People are rejecting climate alarmism, political correctness, and they will end up rejecting people like Trump, as all they’ve got to say for themselves is, “we’re against them; we’re not for lowering your living standards,” which is not going to carry them all that far.

AT: Arthur, your polemic was not against ecosocialism; it displayed a misunderstanding of ecosocialism. What you criticized was alarmism and people being urged to take individual actions. But ecosocialism states that capitalism, as a system, cannot solve the climate crisis. Young people are worried about what has been bequeathed to them; this will radicalize a new generation to take things forward and get rid of the capitalist system, so we can have the planning and the technological R&D that Arthur says we need, and I agree, but capitalism will not deliver it.

AB: There’s every reason for alarm; we don’t need any isms around this question. Since I’m pushing solidarity, what could be more definitive of solidarity than defending the commons? I don’t care what class is involved; defending the commons is that which unites. When I first heard about the climate crisis, Ted Heath and Willy Brandt were its advocates. I reacted in a typical 1968 way of dismissing it as a result — silly reasoning.

What were the lessons about students and their role in Marxist politics in the 60s, and what are their implications today?

AB: It was not so much a question of students but age; in 68, teenagers rebelled in high school and might never have gone on to be university students. There was a period in the 70s when the Left turned away from students because they had a big rise of activism among the working class. In Australia, there was what the Democratic Socialist Perspective[32] called the “turn to industry.” I also took a turn to industry, based on my own judgment; I started working in a factory. When the workers’ activism died out, the Left’s turn back to the universities was trying to scrape the barrel. If you’re going to build the party, you need some young recruits; it’s necessary, but it’s not because there’s an upsurge in students.

AT: On campuses today, you’d be hard-pressed to find many students who are not also workers. There is an overlap in that many students are insecure workers; they work in retail, the hospitality industry, as casual labor-hire workers, and in contact centers. Students are workers in training. It’s important to orient to young people as workers, whether they’re studying or not.

AD: Alison is correct. The universities were different in the 60s; they were much more a middle-class institution. There was a role of students as the detonator of a wider struggle that included many other working-class sections. The students played that detonator role because they were in a somewhat privileged position where they had the time to think and were required to think.

The policy of universities ever since has been, “yes, we’re stuck with having a tertiary-educated working class, but we’ve got to make damn sure they don’t have any time to think.” Most students are now drawn from the working class. They must work to pay for their studies and get filled with crap that gives them little time to think. I have no experience to pass on as to how one would organize on campuses.

AB: They’re not on the campuses nowadays either; they’re working in their McDonald’s or from home.

AD: The way we organize things would be quite different from how student organizing happens now, but it’s also a positive development that you now have a large working class on the internet, and they’re all playing games. What could be a more interesting game than figuring out how to overthrow the system?

AB: For a long time, the young intelligentsia and the working class had a synergy; 68 was actually the beginning of the breakup of that synergy. Arthur is correct that young intellectuals and university students did play that sparking role. But it was the beginning of an end. In Poland, the students and the workers fought each other. It’s a contradictory thing. Alison is correct; the dichotomy between young intellectuals and workers is a thing of the past.

On the Left being co-opted in the 1970s into professional non-governmental organization roles. Did the Left give enough understanding and credibility of the Right’s analysis of us and their ability to neuter the role of the Left? For example, through postmodernism in academia or clouding the issue of class so that a group like the Greens, a petty-bourgeois party, is seen as Left or pseudo-Left?

AD: I agree; the ruling class put effort into understanding us, and we didn’t develop a sufficiently high theoretical level to analyze what they were analyzing. In particular, the Whitlam era was a surprise.[33] I was expecting that it would just be a minor switch of parties that wouldn’t change the overall situation much, but it did. They recruited vast amounts of people. If you wanted to be politically active and do some good, you first had to apply for government funding because they offered it. You could get funded to do all kinds of progressive causes. The sort of people that we were organizing ended up being organized into NGOs.

It’s not true that the green movement grew out of the 60s Left; I remember the New Left Club in Monash, which was formed in opposition to the Labor Club, and was a revolutionary Marxist organization, was pushing stuff like Herbert Marcuse and the latest theories from Eastern Europe. I ran into the guy that founded it, Ron Brunton; he ended up working for a Right-wing think tank, and told me, “yes, you were right about me being bourgeois.” He said he’d studied the student newspapers in that period to check where the green stuff came from. The only green article he found was a review of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring (1962).

It just wasn’t part of the 60s. It was introduced from the outside to take people away from radical politics. Camille Pagliahas said clearly that the sorts of people who got into academic positions after the 60s were selected for their brain-deadness. There certainly weren’t radical activists recruited to become part of the campus academics. You end up with all these new forms of socialist Marxist academia that had been consciously recruited to spread postmodernist crap. I liked Paglia saying that it should just be floated out to sea. Postmodernists irritate everybody. It’s not unique to old Marxists from the 60s to find the crap coming out of academia to be crap.

I feel positive about the fact that many of those things set up to divert our movement in the 60s are falling to bits now. A ground for optimism is that mainstream politics is visibly falling apart. The next U.S. election is set to be between Trump, with black senator Tim Scott as his vice president, against Biden and Kamala Harris. It will be awful if Trump and Scott win, but it will be pretty boring if Biden wins. Slavoj Žižek said that he couldn’t imagine voting for Hillary Clinton because it would just perpetuate what was going on.[34] Mainstream politics is falling to bits, and pseudo-Left politics are falling to bits, though it’s bound to have a revival because of the state of mainstream politics. Things must fall to bits for there to be a mass movement. The precursor to the 60s was the 50s. The Menzies era paved the way for a radical left in Australia in the 60s.

I’m sure the panelists know Ken Mansell’s work “The Yeast is Red” (1994),[35] which focuses on the Melbourne student movement of the 60s and 70s. One of his arguments was that the cleavage between the Old and New Left in Australia was far less distinct and more collaborative than in France and the U.S. Does the panel agree with that argument?

AD: Ken Mansell is a curious phenomenon because he was in the Young Communist League, and that’s why he’s got copies of that internal publication Bolshevik. We formed it to be open to people like Mansell, and people in their youth went in all directions. He was also living in the bakery, which was the headquarters at the time. He would’ve experienced the fact that there was a dynamic where we weren’t sectarians; anyone active in the movement was welcome, and people were arguing out their politics. It wasn’t that kind of sectarian shit characteristic of what happened subsequently, so he would have experienced our passionate arguments. That’s the way we’ve developed. I reckon he developed in the wrong direction, and we developed in a better direction. We were not so much in favor of collaboration, but argument. You can’t develop your own ideas unless you’re willing to argue.

AB: In the period immediately before 68, before I left the country, the Communist Party people were active in the underground; they ran the folk music scene. My parents magically gave me a guitar for Christmas, so I was interested in that. So here I was, surrounded by these people, actually Communist Party members. As the movements in 68 started popping up, it was welcomed by the old generation, but that welcome wasn’t particularly reciprocated by us. I’ve said that I regarded the entire Left from before as being implicated in the whole thing, but the Communist Party members of the time supported the movement. I was in England, so I don’t know what was happening here, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the relationship was collaborative.

AD: It was different here. There was a major split in the ALP in the 50s and the Communists had a major influence in the remnants of the ALP. When I was 14, when I was secretary of Youth Against Apartheid, I was puzzled about the fact that people in the Communist Party and the Eureka Youth League, its youth organization, were more conservative than average. They were socially and politically conservative.

Some people at the South African protest meetings said that they were not in the Communist Party and that they left it. I didn’t understand what that was about, but that was in 1963, so it was just when the international communist movement split. We had the phenomenon that some people in Melbourne had split from the old Party and were quite a major force in the city, unlike in Sydney and the UK, where they were completely insignificant. They were genuinely supportive and enthusiastic about us following our own path and thinking for ourselves. It was a Melbourne phenomenon.

They ended up supporting the fascist regime in China for about 50 years or so — I’ve read recently that they’ve suddenly realized that it was fascist, but that must be a second generation. They were genuinely helpful, and they helped us get into contact with people on the wallswith the Builders Labourers Federation[36] and build some genuine worker-student unity. We had that connection with the Left, but it wasn’t from the CPA.

My other recollection of being puzzled was that before my bar mitzvah, the Zionists gave me certificates of trees in Israel and books about how to immigrate to Israel. The revisionists gave me Yiddish folk tales. I was about 13 and into shortwave listening and electronics, and one Marxist-Leninist gave me a multimeter. I didn’t realize it then, but it was part of the difference between people with a Marxist-Leninist background and other political trends.

AT: Andy, you talked about social conservatism. The Old Left was slow to embrace things like gay liberation. The FSP was unusual in being on the frontlines of that struggle from the get-go. When I got involved in the late 70s, that was really important for an autonomous LGBTIQ+ movement. We were going at it as a movement and intervening. At the Karl Marx centenary conference at University High in 1983, the movement intervened and insisted that gay liberation must be a programmatic part of the Left. We made a theoretical case for that link by pointing to works such as Engels’s The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884), which is crucial for understanding where patriarchy, homophobia, and transphobia came from.

The period from 1968 to the early 70s was an international explosion of movements and struggles. Today is also a world exploding with struggles and liberation movements: women’s uprisings in Iran and Afghanistan, women-led uprisings across Latin America for reproductive justice and against femicide, First Nations’ sovereignty, etc. We’re faced with socialism or barbarism. There is a growing far-Right and fascist movement. Given the vitality of these worldwide explosions, what is needed now to bring us to the conclusion we all want?

AB: We indeed have a world crisis to a greater and deeper extent than before, but that takes a different form in every country. I’m familiar with and hopeful for Iran; it’s a powerful and sophisticated movement. But overwhelmingly, the people of Iran aspire to be in an ordinary country and not at constant war with America. We must keep that in mind. I look forward to a popular revolution in Iran in the next year or two — not an American-inspired one. I must say to my dear revolutionary Marxist Iranian friends that it won’t be a straight transition to socialism. Likewise, we have a lot of commonalities with what we say about Ukraine. The overwhelming majority of Ukrainians want to be part of Europe, share in that prosperity, and have a normal life. That happens to entail enormous eruptions; it means a war.

That’s why the struggle for socialism is more realistic today than it was in the 60s when we had so much work ahead of us that we were blind to. Now, it’s more realistic. We’ve come this extra 60 years. We must realize that this is a long-term project. We have countries that aspire to be ordinary bourgeois capitalist countries. Revolutions are going to be happening there. Look at what we’ve got in Britain and America, for fuck’s sake. These are not countries on the verge of reaching out for socialism. We’ve got a long way to go, but I’m confident that we’re heading that way. This thing about the climate is not alarmism; there’s good cause for alarm. Things cannot go on in the old way. They will break up. I agree that capitalism has scraped the barrel of economic manipulation, microeconomics, etc. It’s exhausted its possibilities. Where it goes is an open question.

AT: It is crucial to build a vanguard party. Working in united fronts and regroupment are key components of that. To respond to Andy about what people are fighting for: yes, people aspire to have good and happy lives, but look around us in late capitalism. The housing crisis is monumental. One of my fellow union delegates with a permanent public-service job just returned from long service leave and had a 12-year rental history in her previous home, and it took 12 weeks to get a rental property. She had to live insecurely during that time. What would it be like for an insecure worker, or for somebody on benefits? Wages are flatlining and going backwards.

Look at the reality of the working class now: insecure work. It’s crazy. There’s the question of the environment, but there’s much more. Who has a bulk-billing general practitioner? Not many people. How long must people wait for a test in a public hospital? This is working-class reality in Australia. To brand that as prosperity is wrong. Some people believe in the capitalist dream and that it can bring wonderful things. Then they face the horrific reality of late capitalism. That is the reality of most of the people I know.

AD: I agree more with Andy, that it will be a long process, and we can’t identify what particular things will come together. I agree that Iran is one of the most optimistic cases. I can see why Alison is particularly enthusiastic about a revolution where the first slogan is “Women, Life, Freedom.” That reinforces the FSP’s world outlook because it’s real. It’s an actual movement, and it will have a major impact on that region.

The Arab Spring got aborted by the U.S. backing off after overthrowing the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, to the misery of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, who were all against getting rid of it because it would destabilize the region. It did destabilize the region, and the pseudo-Left was all against destabilizing the region, but none of them protested when they were allowing Putin’s lot to help Bashar al-Assad survive. The Arab Spring got crushed. It will rise again. I don’t know what’s happening in Africa, but I imagine people are getting sick of kleptocracy there.

The interesting thing about 68 is that it was only two years after 66 and three years after 65. I was politically conscious by 63. I’ve got this vivid picture that I lived in the Menzies era, and it changed, and that struck me as the normal rate of change because I was growing up in that period. We’ll see that rapid rate of change again in the next wave. I can’t predict how it will develop. No one could have predicted that in 68 there’d be the Cultural Revolution in China and the invasion of Czechoslovakia.

I was in China in May of 67, before the ping-pong team exchange between Australia and China (1971), and I was given an honorary Red Guard armband by one of the leaders of the Red Guard, Tan Houlan, the one with the pigtails. She was clear that the Cultural Revolution and our politics were against the same sorts of people, and that they fought what we fought. You couldn’t predict that they’d come together; waves come together in ways that are impossible to predict.

AB: During my period with the Trotskyists, we were reminded of the short interval from 1905, a revolution, to 1908, a reaction, to 1914, a deeper reaction, to 1917, a revolution. All these revolutions and non-revolutions changed quickly. In the 70s, 80s, and 90s, we were waiting for the rapid changes to happen. If you lived through 68, you’re ready to accept that the Zeitgeist could change in months.

AD: It hasn’t for four decades, but we know it changes suddenly. We don’t have to talk about how horrendous everything is and how terrific it is. We know it will change suddenly, rapidly, and nicely, which has happened periodically throughout history.

AT: We need to be ready; that is the point.

AD: There’s no way to be ready, but you can be historically optimistic that people will think things through. The more time you spend thinking, the better. Alan Roberts was one of the two academics who were part of the Monash movement; he was a Trot and spoke at a meeting on how things looked so good for us in 68. He said to think about the situation the Russians faced after the October Revolution, when the news was all bad, just like we’re hearing good news from Paris and worldwide about the ongoing struggles. The Russians were hearing about the defeat of the German Revolution and the British General Strike, etc. It’s an ongoing struggle, but it does come in waves. Catching the wave is a different art from whatever the so-called vanguard parties do.

AB: It requires sensitivity to what’s happening under those millions of roofs.

AD: Two things are advocated as concrete that we can prepare for. One is that there’s going to be an economic crash. What Alison described about the stagnation of living standards and the backsliding of wages is nothing compared to what happened in the Great Depression and what is likely to happen on a global basis because it now is a globalized economy. It’s a good time to study economics. Don't spend your time on windmills and solar panels.

AB: That’s a hell of a dichotomy, isn’t it?

AD: There’s a vast dichotomy. Study nuclear engineering if you want to get into energy technology. Can we study the business cycle? We’re about to be in one.

One of the most important things today’s Left can do is metabolize the lessons of past Left movements. What are the most important lessons we can take from the 60s Leftist movement?

AB: Anyone who lives through a mass movement will forever be changed. That’s what you must go for. We had that in the mid-60s mass movements, and we must retain that in a different period because the conditions that gave rise to mass movements in the 60s are forever gone. That’s the challenge. There are conditions for mass movements again, but they’re different. We must look for a mass movement, not small cogs.

What Arthur described within the safe confines of Monash University in the 60s is what you want on a much larger scale, but you must have conditions for that. You want to reproduce the kinds of conditions of a thousand newspapers collaborating and exchanging, not a thousand editions of the party organ.

AT: The most important lesson is that Marxism is a method, not a dogma. We must think. The mistake that the Trotskyist movement in the U.S. made in the 50s and early 60s was that it didn’t recognize the opportunities and changes, that the revolutionary dynamism came from black workers and women. We must continue to think and apply Marxism to our period. A vanguard party or a small nucleus seeking to build a vanguard party is a place to do that.

AD: Not getting to grips with Marxist economic theory was an unavoidable mistake. We could not have gotten people to study economics during great economic prosperity and a major Vietnam War. It would be a criminal mistake to continue not to study economic theory now.

On the positive lessons, Marx expressed them well when he broke with the Left Hegelians under the slogan of “uncloaking these sheep.”[37] He was referring to the “sheep in wolves’ clothing”; they were full of passionate denunciations of the world they lived in and ringing declarations that they would revolutionize it. Their method of revolutionizing was not exactly in building a vanguard party, but something similar. Marx describes it this way:

Once upon a time a valiant fellow had the idea that men were drowned in water only because they were possessed with the idea of gravity. If they were to knock this notion out of their heads, say by stating it to be a superstition, a religious concept, they would be sublimely proof against any danger from water. His whole life long he fought against the illusion of gravity, of whose harmful results all statistics brought him new and manifold evidence. This valiant fellow was the type of the new revolutionary philosophers in Germany.[38]

That was the lesson we had from the 60s. Our enemy was the previous Left; we were clear about that. The Trots claimed that the previous Left they were fighting was the Stalinists; this was about 20 years after the so-called Stalinists had denounced Stalin and said he was a mass murderer. The Trotskyists believed that the old communist parties were their enemy, and they were. The Maoists were of the opinion that they were the enemy, and they were fighting us in the streets in Paris. The CPA-type Left in Australia tried to clamp down on the anti-war movement; you weren’t supposed to carry red flags or burn American flags.

Marx gave us the first example in fighting against a pseudo-Left. You can’t have a real Left without demolishing the pseudo-Left. We demolished them in the 60s. Eventually, they grew up again, and we faded away.

What were the fiercest disagreements about Marx in 68? Which texts were raised? What particular aspects of Marxist thought were played down or jettisoned completely?

AB: I did my reading of Marx before I became a Trotskyist. After that, there was little reading of Marx; it was all Lenin and Trotsky. The big rereading of Marx in my lifetime was at the turn of the millennium. There was a movement that was actually reading Marx, and the subtext of that movement was that the Marxism of the 20th century was a diversion; the essential revolutionary content of Marx had been lost. That guided me. For all my respect for Lenin and Trotsky and the movements they built, I go back to Marx and his sources in Hegel.

The Russian Revolution profoundly affected Marxism’s development in an unhelpful way. The revolution itself is transformative, but the theoretical impact of the doctrine wasn’t correctly described. The idea that you take it off the shelf and apply it to the world is an idea of 20th-century Marxism that must be disposed of. The period after 68 didn’t have that element. It was very much Lenin and Trotsky.

AT: Some of the fiercest disagreements within the movements have not been things of substance. Those of us who are Marxists talk within the movements about what we get from Marxism and its importance. People new to Marxism often read Marx or something like Engels’s The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. 21st-century eyes will be freaked out by the language: terms like “savagery,” “barbarism,” and “mankind.” It’s important to study collectively to get to the essence of these texts, beyond superficial things like the comments that Marx has nothing to offer to feminism or the environmental movement.

AD: I haven’t followed much of what the pseudo-Lefthas been studying; I’ve judged them by their political activity. The New Left was basically invented. We were told that our theoretician was Marcuse, who we’d never heard of. They got really interested in many Eastern European philosophers and the young Marx. It all struck me as a diversion.

We couldn’t persuade many of the 60s activists to study Marxism, although we tried. Foreign Languages Press in Peking had cheap pamphlet copies of all the relevant works, and they were available in bookstores. The one that unfortunately was the most read was Lenin’s Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916). I agree with Andy that that did some damage. I don’t blame Lenin for it; it should be treated as a pamphlet from the First World War rather than a major theoretical guide. Bizarrely, people regarded us as an anti-imperialist movement. We welcomed that. Many people who supported us on the Vietnam War and fought against U.S. imperialism would call themselves anti-imperialists and anti-capitalists. That seemed a step towards being communists, but it actually wasn’t. You could be a strong anti-imperialist while supporting Russian fascism, for example. Alison’s group has opposed Russian fascism, but some anti-imperialist Trot groups support Russian fascism.

Like Andy, I’ve found it refreshing to return to the original Marxism, including The German Ideology (1845–46). There is a red thread running through it. It wasn’t bullshit that Lenin was a Marxist and was fighting against his day’s orthodox Marxists. Kautsky and Bernstein were the literary executives of Marx and Engels. They were overthrown by the Leninists developing Marxism — not just by learning it collectively, but by overthrowing and renewing it.

Part of Mao’s works were fighting off the 28 and a half Bolsheviks, who were trying to put a Comintern[39] line for the Chinese Communist Party. Much of Mao’s effort was establishing a line for the Chinese Revolution against their views. Our job isn’t just to collectively study Marxism but to renew it by understanding our world. You can’t get to grips with bourgeois economics without studying Marxist economics.

AB: Alison is right that reading together is essential to get started. For example, you can’t understand Hegel if you pick it up and read it. It can’t be done.

AD: I agree, but that’s because Hegel is unintelligible. People who are put off by Marx using expressions like “savagery” and “barbarism” should be told to get a life and encouraged to read it themselves rather than collectively.

AB: Collective reading is good for understanding the stuff, but it is also dangerous; I don’t like people telling me how to read a text.

Closing remarks

AB: In 1991, when Boris Yeltsin abolished the Soviet Union and the different components were invited to separate, Russia completely controlled how those borders were drawn. Yeltsin was supported by the EU and the U.S. They chose to draw the borders in such a way as to include a substantial Russian-speaking minority in Eastern Ukraine. They figured that with a substantial Russian-speaking population in Ukraine, it could never become an enemy of Russia.

Nevertheless, as Arthur said: in the election that brought Zelensky to power, he won in every region bar one. In all previous elections, there would be a Ukrainian-speaking and a Russian-speaking candidate; they were 50-50 and both corrupt. The problem is that the solution for keeping Ukraine friendly with Russia suddenly fell.

Austria had a fascist president. Italy has a fascist president. In the next election, France will probably have a fascist president. In Ukraine, they didn’t even get a seat in parliament, and yet, apparently, the existence of these people is an excuse for a neighboring superpower to invade them.

Calls for abolishing NATO are abstract. We can sit here in Australia as a tiny minority and say we’re for this or that; it doesn’t mean anything. As Alison said, the concrete question is whether the Ukrainian people have a right to determine their future. The day Russia invaded Ukraine, the Scandinavian countries that had been neutral and outside NATO for 70 years suddenly decided they’d better get into NATO.

The war in Ukraine is a proxy war by the U.S., but it is also a defensive war by the Ukrainian people. NATO may be dissolved sometime in the future. While we’re at it, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, and Latvia have a right to join a military alliance that will defend them from Russia. That’s the reality. Don’t tell them you want to abolish NATO so Russia can invade them. That’s a bit cheeky. That’s not solidarity. It’s a waste of time for Left groups to fight each other and hold one party against another. So destructive.

Solidarity forever.

AT: Indeed, solidarity forever. The biggest legacy of the 60s is Marxist feminism, a key political program for today. I recommend reading Socialist Feminism and the Revolutionary Party and the political resolution from our convention last December, where you could see the methodology of how we developed our position on Ukraine. Go to; we would love to continue the conversation with you.

AD: I liked Alison’s slogan about solidarity. That’s the correct position and the opposite of the Trot position about the transitional program. Trots are notorious for teaching you how to never win: “our theory explains that you live in an unjust, oppressive system and that no matter how hard you struggle, capitalism is going to win in the end.”

Alison’s group wouldn’t have survived this long if it weren’t different from the traditional Trot behavior that resulted in the Stalinist parties having the opposite mindset of leading struggles to heroic defeat. The problem of how to lead reformist struggles and balance trying to improve the system with trying to overthrow it is difficult and complex; it isn’t done by picking up struggles that you know you can’t win.

Every struggle that we participated in in the 60s, we participated in to win it. That involves losing some of the time too. Sometimes it was quite extreme. At one point, we got a motion through a student general meeting to set up a Monash People’s Militia. We didn’t do that to prove that we couldn’t win it. It did get established, so we partially won it. It was a further victory when the student Christian movement came up with literature saying that we were trivializing the concept of armed struggles, and we got done over by a referendum that disbanded the militia.

We were fighting. We won on Vietnam. We won on dress codes and censorship; the idea of people surrendering to politically correct language would not occur to anyone from the 60s. The vice-chancellor expressed that he was there in place of our parents. We told him and our parents to fuck off. It was a rebellious time. The rebellions were not to drum into people that they couldn’t win; they were to help people understand that they could win and run the world. They’re not capable of it yet, but they become capable of it by winning, not losing. |P

Transcribed by Andrey K.

[1] Video available online at <>.

[2] The CPA (ML) split from the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in 1964, stemming from the Sino-Soviet split. The CPA was founded in 1920, and dissolved in 1991.

[3] The Liberal–National Coalition, made up of the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Party of Australia.

[4] Pierre Viansson-Ponté, “Quand la France s’ennuie,” Le Monde, March 15, 1968.

[5] See Karl Marx, “Introduction,” in Grundrisse (1857–58), available online at <>.

[6] Blunden takes up the questions in the panel’s prompt.

[7] Established in 1972, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy is a permanent protest occupation site focused on representing the political rights of Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.

[8] Socialist Workers Party (U.S.).

[9] Andrea Bauer, Socialist Feminism and the Revolutionary Party: A Radiant Program for New Generations (2010), a resolution adopted at the FSP’s July 2010 convention, available online at <>.

[10] Richard Kirk, Clara Kaye, Frank Krasnowsky, David Dreiser, Waymon Ware, “Why We Left the Socialist Workers Party” (1966), available online at <>.

[11] Available online at <>.

[12] Gloria Martin, Socialist Feminism: The First Decade, 1966-76, second edition (Seattle: Freedom Socialist Publications, 1986), 125.

[13] Also known as the Wave Hill walk-off, it was a walk-off and strike by 200 Gurindji stockmen, house servants, and their families, taking place at the cattle station Wave Hill in Australia, starting on August 23, 1966.

[14] A member of the CPA (ML), O’Shea was the Victorian State Secretary of the Australian Tramway and Motor Omnibus Employees’ Association, and was jailed in 1969 by Sir John Kerr for contempt of the Industrial Court when he disobeyed a court order that his union pay $8,100 in fines, under the penal section of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

[15] Available online at <>.

[16] Sir Robert Menzies served as prime minister of Australia, 1939–41 and 1949–66.

[17]  Albert Langer, “A Revolutionary Politics?,” Arena 71 (1985).

[18] Gayle S. Rubin, “The Leather Menace: Comments on Politics and S/M” (1982), in Deviations: A Gayle Rubin Reader (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011), 127–28.

[19] It Is Right to Rebel, ed. Michael Hyde (New South Wales: The Diplomat, 1972), available online at <>.

[20] Federal’naya sluzhba bezopasnosti Rossiyskoy Federatsii (Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation).

[21] 1900–28, a Soviet economist and member of the Bolshevik Party, his only known work, apart from an article published in the journal Bolshevik in 1928, is The Capitalist Cycle: An Essay on the Marxist Theory of the Cycle (1929).

[22] See Andy Blunden, “Marx’s Capital: a concrete analysis of class and capital” (2023), available online at <>.

[23] Mao’s statements here appear to be dated to 1966–76. See “The Great Cultural Revolution Will Shine Forever—in Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the May 16, 1966 Circular of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China” (May 17, 1976), a joint article by the editorial boards of Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily), Hongqi (Red Flag), and Jiefangjun Bao (Liberation Army Daily), available online at <>.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Existing Opposition Parties,” in Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), available online at <>.

[26] See Engels, “Preface to the 1888 English Edition,” in Manifesto of the Communist Party.

[27] Karl Marx, “Consequences of June 13, 1849,” in The Class Struggles in France, 1848–1850 (1850), available online at <>.

[28] Both in Discussion Bulletin 7 (October 29, 1979), available online at <> and <>.

[29] See Mao Zedong, “Talk of 22 March,” in Talks at the Chengtu Conference (March 1958), available online at <>.

[30] In 1967, the Monash Labor Club committed to collecting funds for the NLF (National Liberation Front of South Vietnam), better known as the Viet Cong.

[31] Leon Trotsky, “Learn to Think: A Friendly Suggestion to Certain Ultra-Leftists,” The New International IV, no. 7 (July 1938): 206–07, available online at <>.

[32] Founded in 1972 as the Socialist Workers League, later changing its name to the Socialist Workers Party, then to the Democratic Socialist Party, and finally Democratic Socialist Perspective; it dissolved in 2010, when it merged with Socialist Alliance.

[33] Gough Whitlam of the Labor Party served as prime minister of Australia, 1972–75.

[34] See Slavoj Žižek, “Slavoj Žižek on Clinton, Trump and the Left’s Dilemma: To paraphrase Stalin: They are both worse,” In These Times, November 6, 2016, available online at <>.

[35] Ken Mansell, “The Yeast is Red: A History of The Bakery (Off-campus Centre of the Monash University Labor Club 1968–1971)” (1994), available online at <>.

[36] The BLF was an Australian trade union that existed from 1911 to 1972, and then from 1976 until 1986, when it was permanently deregistered in various Australian states by the federal Hawke Labor government and some state governments. It existed in Queensland until 2014 when it merged with the Construction, Forestry and Maritime Employees Union.

[37] Karl Marx, “Preface,” in The German Ideology (1845–46), available online at <>.

[38] Ibid.

[39] The Third International, or Communist International.