ustrlin Lbor Prty

The Labor Party has lwys bn an enigma for socialists. The Maritime Strike of 1890. The Labor Party takes shape. "White Australia", socialists and the Labor Party. The majority of Labor supporters. Thus the Labor Party is "capitalist workers" party.

13.06.2010
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Thr ws nothr mjor nti-Chins cmpign in th 1880s. In 1878 smn's strik ginst th mploymnt of sins ws supportd by virtully vryon xcpt th shipownrs. Prcisly bcus th union's dmnd to bn sin mploymnt, rthr thn fighting for qul py, ws not clss dmnd it won wid populist support. Th Brisbn Chmbr of Commrc nd worthy middl clss figurs, such s myors, who in norml circumstncs would not hv bn sn dd bcking strik pprd on pltforms clling for bn on sin lbour. It ws ths sm middl clss llis who nrolld s spcil constbls to impos frdom of contrct on th smn during th Mritim Strik.

Lft ntionlist historins whil wishing to distnc thmslvs from th most bltnt spcts of rcism mbodid in ustrlin ntionlism, still find thmslvs implld to dfnd th indfnsibl. For xmpl Kn Buckly nd Td Whlwright's book, No Prdis For Workrs, is mrrd by its support for th rcist 1878 smn's strik. Thy rgu tht fight for sins to b pid union rts would hv bn unrlistic: unions wr much too wk to forc such solution...Buckly nd Whlwright, p. 151.

Principld nti-rcism it sms is only rlistic whn you r in strong industril position. Using this logic would Buckly nd Whlwright lso conclud tht it is rsonbl for ml workrs to dmnd th scking of womn whn thy r not orgnisd nough to chiv qul py? Or tht whit workrs should hv fought to xclud borigins from th workforc rthr thn bcking thir fight for dcnt wgs? It is prcisly bcus minority of clss conscious workrs rgud, vn in priods whn thy wr quit isoltd, for dmnds such s qul py tht unit th clss, tht th lbour movmnt hs bn bl t tims to ovrcom sctionl divisions nd mov forwrd.

Prviously ustrlin unions hd doptd such n nti-rcist stnc. In 1859 Victorin mployrs importd 500 Grmn stonmsons contrctd to work tn hour dy to brk strik nd undrmin th prviling 8-hour dy. Th Stonmsons union contctd th Grmns on bord ship nd dspit lngug difficultis prsudd mny of thm not to work tn hour dy. s on historin nots: it rmind rmrkbl ftur of th disput tht ll ttmpts to st off `forign' ginst British workmn wr unsuccssful.Hln Hughs, Th ight Hour Dy nd th Dvlopmnt of th Lbour Movmnt in Victori in th ightn-Fiftis, Historicl Studis, Vol. 9, No. 36, My 1961, p. 405. This intrntionlist stnc provd highly ffctiv in dfnding th 8-hour dy in th industry.

By th 1890s th only brch in th wll of rcil xclusion ws Qunslnd whr Mlnsins wr still working s virtul slvs in th cn filds. Th Qunslnd Lbor Prty to much grtr xtnt thn in th southrn colonis bsd its ppl on th colourd lbour qustion. vn going s fr s supporting th continution of hnging, s most of th victims wr Knks.McQun, p. 52.

Th fr of conomic comptition for jobs ws on of th fctors tht nbld rcist gittion to find n udinc mong workrs. Th unions sought to prsrv wgs nd conditions by rstricting ntry to prticulr trds nd by ttmpting to prvnt mployrs flooding th lbour mrkt with migrnts. In th mid-nintnth cntury thr ws mjor, nd succssful, cmpign to nd th trnsporttion of convict lbour. Subsquntly thr ws widsprd working clss gittion ginst govrnmnt sponsord ssistd immigrtion from Britin.

Howvr trd union support for immigrtion controls, both in th nintnth cntury nd tody, is both misguidd nd slf-dfting. Th wy to prvnt nwly rrivd migrnts undrmining hrd won union conditions is to orgnis thm longsid th ntiv born to fight th bosss. Cmpigning ginst thir ntry nd discriminting ginst thm ftr thy rriv only forcs thm into th hnds of th bosss. It is not s though migrnt workrs could not b won to th union cus. British nd Irish migrnts foundd mny of th first unions nd providd mny cor ctivists wll into this cntury. Chins nd Mlnsin workrs orgnisd thir own striks dspit th hostility of whit unions. In 1885 Chins cbintmkrs in Mlbourn fought succssful bttl for highr wgs nd formd union tht nforcd 50 hour wk. In 1899 numbr of fghn cml drivrs wr jild ftr striking for highr py. gin tody migrnt workrs r mor highly unionisd thn th ustrlin born nd oftn mor militnt.

Invitbly union opposition to migrnts could not nd did not stop t purly conomic objctions but took up opnly rcist rgumnts. This wsn't just th cs for Chins nd othr sins, but lso spilld ovr to ncompss Itlins, Grks, Jws nd othr uropns.

Rcism srvd to distrct ttntion wy from workrs' rl nmis - th bosss. In tims of conomic hrdship or ftr mjor dfts such s in th 1890s sins wr usd s scpgots to lt cpitlism off th hook. Union officils wr not loth to ris th qustion of th Chins mnc to covr up thir own sll outs. s did SU Prsidnt Spnc ftr th dft of th 1891 shrrs' strik. Spnc trid to covr up th wknsss of th grmnt md with th pstorlists llowing th mploymnt of non-union lbour, by rguing tht t lst thy hd grd to dischrg Chins nd Knks. t mss mting in Bourk Spnc ws grtd with prolongd chring whn h nnouncd this grt victory. s ndrw Mrkus puts it in his book, Fr nd Htrd: In thir hour of humilition th shrrs took comfort in n imginry victory ovr Chins nd Mlnsins.Mrkus (1979), pp. 174-5.

Th WU ws minsty of rcism insid th Lbor Prty. In th 1890s its ppr, Th Hummr, dclrd: th cmls must go; th chows must lso lv; th Indin hwkrs must hwk thir wrs in som othr country. This country ws built xprssly for ustrlins, nd ustrlins r going to run th show.Mrky (1988), p. 296. This should com s no surpris givn th WU's bs mong smll frmrs. It ppld to thm s sturdy, indpndnt ustrlins, s inhritors of th dmocrtic trdition of urk. Th hrsh rlity is tht th grt ustrlin dmocrtic trdition is lso profoundly rcist on.

Rcism in th working clss ld to clss collbortion. It fittd togthr with support for protction nd stt intrvntion to sttl striks - rbitrtion. It lso wnt hnd in hnd with clls for incrsd militrism. Thus in 1908 Lbor ldr Wtson by plding th sin thrt won th ovrwhlming support of th LP confrnc for citizn militry forc bsd on compulsory trining nd for n ustrlin nvy. In th minds of th LP ldrs ustrli ws to bcom th gurdin of civilistion in th southrn ss.

Rcism thn only srvd to divid th working clss to th bnfit of th bosss. During th Mritim Strik ninty Chins workrs t th Goondi plnttion in Qunslnd rfusd to lod bot crwd by scbs. Yt th union officils who controlld th strik fund, in th fc of protsts from th Furnitur Trds Union, wvrd ovr ccpting dontion from Chins workrs nd thn dcidd not to ccpt ny mor such dontions.Hrris, p. 79. In Victori in th 1880s Chins workrs wr complld to form thir own sprt unions bcus most unions xcludd sins from mmbrship.

Ths union policis idd th bosss in using sins on som occsions s scbs, most fmously during th 1873 Cluns gold minrs' strik. vn wors, whn Chins nd Mlnsin workrs did orgnis to fight th bosss thy rcivd no bcking nd t tims whit unions dlibrtly scbbd on thir striks. In th rly 1890s thr wr numbr of striks by Chins cbintmkrs tht th uropn unions rfusd to support, vn though thir own conditions wr undr ttck bcus of th Dprssion. formr Prsidnt of th Mlbourn Trds Hll commntd tht W cn fford to lugh. It dos not ffct us.Mrkus (1979), p. 165.

Historins, such s ndrw Mrkus, hv plyd n importnt rol in highlighting th dpth of rcism in ustrli, which ws downplyd by rlir lft wing historins lik Robin Golln. Howvr thy hv tndd to mk it ppr tht rcism ws ll mbrcing in th working clss or tht workrs' fr of chp lbour ws th sourc of rcism. This obscurs th rl bs of rcism: th nd of sttlr cpitlism for lnd nd th continuing dictts of cpitlist xpnsion. It lso srvs to dny th possibility of intr-rcil unity tht xistd from th mrgnc of working clss movmnt. Thr wr lwys som militnts, lftists nd individul workrs prprd to mk stnd for working clss principl.

Th clssic xmpl is th rly Shrrs union, notorious for its xclusion of sins from mmbrship. Thr is no doubting th rcism of th SU ldrship. This bcm mor pronouncd s consrvtiv burucrcy strngthnd its control ftr th dfts of th rly 90s wknd th position of militnts nd undrmind th SU's dmocrtic trditions. How rcist howvr wr th mmbrs? Som militnts opposd th xclusion of Chins nd won hring mong th rnk nd fil. In 1889 Robrt Stvnson, militnt orgnisr, won th support of th Bourk brnch to llow Chins to rmin mmbrs.Mrritt, p. 148. Th Bourk mmbrs, prdominntly lndlss lbourrs, wr mor opn to ids of working clss unity thn mmbrs nrr th cost whr smll frmrs prdomintd.

In Nw Zlnd th SU ttmptd to orgnis Mori shrrs, who wr sn s potntilly stunch nd nthusistic unionists.Mrritt, p. 96. Th union's ruls wr trnsltd into Mori. Th SU ppr, Th Hummr, xposd th trribl conditions for borigins on pstorl proprtis in W. borigins wr xmpt from th rcist xclusion clus nd t th 1891 SU confrnc th dlid brnch movd to dmit borigins for hlf th norml f. compromis ws rchd: borigins rcivd full bnfits by pymnt of n nnul contribution, without th ntrnc f. Support for boriginl rights my hv bn xpctd from militnts. Wht is most rvling is th stnc of th modrt Gnrl Scrtry Dvid Tmpl. Tmpl rgud it would b grcful ct to thos from whom th country hd bn tkn nd would b good for th union's img.ndrw Mrkus, Tlk Long Mouth: borigins nd th Lbour Movmnt 1890-1970 in nn Curthoys nd ndrw Mrkus (ditors), Who r Our nmis? Rcism nd th Working Clss in ustrli, Hl & Irmongr, Sydny, 1978, p. 140. This clrly indicts tht workrs wr nowhr nr s rcist s commonly contndd, for if thy wr how could it b good for th SU's img to giv privilgs to borigins? Most workrs wr, of cours, opn to rcist ids. Th point is tht it ws lwys possibl to chllng such ids nd win hring. s did th rvolutionris of th Industril Workrs of th World who cmpignd ginst rcism prior to World Wr I nd th Communist Prty from its formtion in th rly 1920s.

Socilists nd th Lbor Prty

Thr hs bn considrbl rgumnt bout th xtnt of socilist influnc in th rly Lbor Prty. Consrvtiv lbour historins hv systmticlly downplyd th importnt rol of socilist inspird ctivists in stblishing th prty, nd thus buttrssd th clims of Lbor's prgmtic right wing to b th gnuin rprsnttiv of workrs' historicl spirtions. This is mtchd by tndncy on th lft to romnticis Lbor's rdicl working clss hritg, which hs supposdly bn btryd by th liks of Kting. This is tkn to ludicrous xtrm by vrious ntrist currnts in th LP who in slf-justifiction proclim tht th rly LP ws Mrxist.

lrg proportion of th rdicls nd militnt workrs who wr ctiv in forming th Lbor Prty wr inspird by som sort of socilist vision. Th mss struggls nd rdiclistion of th lt 80s nd rly 90s sw sizbl lyr of working clss ctivists nd middl clss intllctuls mov towrds socilist stndpoint. Th Mritim Strik ws dcisiv in shrpning this trnd. Th xtnt of th clss polristion nd th dcisiv intrvntion of th forcs of th stt on th sid of cpitl mnt tht lrg sctions of workrs lookd for dcisiv rconstruction of socity. vgu nd indfinit socilism ws th dirction into which gnrl disstisfction ws chnnlld.Ptrick O'Frrll, Th ustrlin Socilist Lgu nd th Lbour Movmnt, 1887-1891, Historicl Studis 8, 30, My 1958, pp. 158-162.

Th ids of municipl socilism gind n influntil following nd thr ws dgr of working clss support for co-oprtiv schms. dvocts of utopin socilist communs nd christin socilism lso hd som support. grrin rdicls hld to vgu bush socilism. Whil ccording to th WU ppr, Th Hummr, Socilism...is th dsir to b mts, is th idl of living togthr in hrmony nd brothrhood nd loving kindnss...bbls, p. 166. Mny prominnt union officils such s Spnc now dclrd thmslvs socilists.

Th strongst commitmnt of th rly Lbor Prty to som sort of socilist progrmm cm t th 1897 Confrnc which ddd ntionliztion of th lnd nd th whol mns of production, distribution nd xchng to th pltform. This plnk rmind until 1905 whn th lft's ttmpt to commit Lbor to forthright socilist objctiv ws dftd in fvour of mor modrt collctiv ownrship of monopolis. Howvr vn th commitmnt to th 1897 plnk ws wk. Dspit th fforts of its supportrs to hv it s th first plnk of th fighting pltform, it ws burid in th gnrl pltform s mr sttmnt of principl nd thus of cours nvr ctd upon. t th 1898 confrnc it ws pushd vn furthr to th bckground nd tht confrnc cut bck on support for mor spcific ntionlistion proposls.

Support for stt ownrship rchd its high point during 1896-7 with sris of spcific proposls including ntionlistion of th mins, nd th stting up of stt frms nd clothing fctoris. Howvr it ws not just socilists who supportd ths msurs. Thr ws strong populist support for stt bnk, s wll s trditionl trd union support for th xtnsion of th govrnmnt s n mployr nd th prohibition of privt contrctors.

Support for stt bnk ws spcilly strong bcus of th bnk crsh of th 1890s. Th bnks bcm th bt noir of cpitlism for Lbor. Finnc cpitl, both th bnks nd th lrg pstorl compnis, plyd n importnt rol in hrdning grzirs' nti-union ttituds in th 90s. Th WU tndd to lt th squttrs off th hook by rguing tht th bnks wr prsits blding thm dry nd forcing thm to crck down ginst thir will. This fittd in with mor gnrl rformist prctic of siding with productiv cpitlists lik mnufcturrs ginst th mony powr. Thus cpitlism s systm ws portryd s not bing th problm. Th British bnks wr fvourd trgt of ttck bcus thy wr un-ustrlin.

Utopin socilists who wr influntil in th countrysid md grt ply of th rol of th bnks. Th most widly rd utopin socilist trct, Bllmy's Looking Bckwrds, dscribs th bnks s th hrt of th businss systm.Mrky (1988), p. 239. Th conspircy of th mony powr survivd s long-stnding populist strnd in th LP. It ws invokd by Jck Lng in th 1930s to ttck British bond holdrs, nd to support th Chifly govrnmnt's ttmptd bnk ntionlistion in th lt 1940s.S Ptr Lov, Lbour nd th Mony Powr. ustrlin Lbour Populism 1890-1950, Mlbourn Univrsity Prss, Mlbourn, 1984.

Howvr th Commonwlth bnk ws no thrt to cpitlism. Its stblishmnt ws prfctly consistnt with mor consrvtiv conomic trdition tht sw th nd for ntionl bnk to rgult th finncil systm nd nsur th stbility of th cpitlist conomy. Colonil cpitlism ws hvily dpndnt on th stt to provid infrstructur such s rilwys. This mnt thr ws much lss ruling clss opposition to govrnmnt ownrship thn in nglnd or th US. Minstrm ustrlin librlism strssd th ncssity of stt intrvntion to dvlop industry nd to opn up th lnd. Lbor mrly subsumd this trdition.

Th mjor socilist orgnistion t th tim of th formtion of th Lbor Prty ws th ustrlin Socilist Lgu (SL). Initilly formd in 1887 it quickly collpsd, only to rform nd grow rpidly during th Mritim Strik. By lt 1893 th SL possibly hd 900 mmbrs in NSW. Th SL workd closly with th TLC during th strik nd by th nd of 1890 hd smll group of ctiv TLC dlgts nd mmbr ditd th TLC journl. Som long stnding union ctivists joind during th cours of th 90s.

Th SL ws ctiv in th formtion of locl Lbor lgus nd gind xcutiv positions in th innr-city lgus. It lso hd solid bs of support on th northrn colfilds. It ws wll rprsntd t th 1892 Lbor confrnc. In tht yr its rputtion ws furthr nhncd by its orgnistion of lrg dmonstrtions ginst govrnmnt ttcks on th Brokn Hill minrs' strik.

In 1891 numbr of SL mmbrs wr ndorsd s Lbor cndidts. Howvr most of thos lctd movd rpidly to th right, on of th most prominnt, Gorg Blck, hd lft th SL by 1894. Whil nothr, Fitzgrld, bcm on of th Lbor rts in 1892 who svd th Dibbs govrnmnt ovr th Brokn Hill strik. Vrity Burgmnn dscribs th procss of incorportion:

J.D. Fitzgrld, printr by trd...dvlop(d) prsonl styl tht ws dciddly unlbourish. H drssd impccbly, nvr forgtting his kid glovs...H glidd immditly nd sily into distinguishd prlimntry compny - of th othr sid. s rly s Octobr 1891, to scur th good wishs of his finc's fmily in nglnd, h offrd to provid prsonl rfrncs from Prmir Dibbs, Ministr of Works Lyn...ll h xplind, know m wll.Burgmnn, p. 83.

Th SL split btwn modrt right wing ld by futur Prim Ministr Billy Hughs nd futur NSW Prmir Willim Holmn, who wr influntil on th Politicl Lbour Lgu xcutiv nd mor lft wing rnk nd fil. By Fbrury 1895 th lft wing minority wr fd up with Lbor nd prssd to form gnuin socilist prty. On lding militnt, Hrry Hollnd, futur Nw Zlnd Prim Ministr, wrot n Opn Lttr to th prlimntry prty in My 1896 xprssing his disillusionmnt:

...w of th rnk nd fil sw visions of vlint mn fighting our lgisltiv bttls. W hild th 1891 lction s th dwning of nw r. Poor fools tht w wr.Burgmnn, p. 86.

Th SL bgn to los mmbrs to th smllr Socil Dmocrtic Fdrtion tht ws clling for n indpndnt socilist prty. To mt this chllng th SL mobilisd in th urbn working clss brnchs to win th 1897 Lbor confrnc to ll out support for ntionlistion. Dspit th ovrwhlming doption of th ntionlistion objctiv, th prty mchin ws bl to burucrticlly stifl ny ttmpt to tk th objctiv sriously. Th right wing blmd Lbor's poor showing in th Fdrl Convntion lctions on th ntionlistion plnk.

s Lbor movd right, individul SL mmbrs bgn to rsign in disgust. Th right wing domintd 1898 confrnc tht furthr wtrd down ny commitmnt to socilism provd to b th finl strw. Th lft wing rump of th SL, bout 50 mmbrs, now bndond Lbor but not thir commitmnt to th prlimntry rod to socilism. In rction to thir xprinc in th Lbor Prty thy volvd in highly sctrin dirction towrds th politics of th D Lonit mricn Socilist Lbor Prty.

Thy md littl hdwy, prtly bcus of th difficult politicl priod nd th low lvl of industril struggl. Howvr th SL nd th othr socilist scts contributd to thir isoltion. Thy spnt most of thir tim condmning Lbor nd procliming thir own virtu. This ws trp tht som of th bst socilist militnts wr to fll into ovr th nxt 100 yrs. Hving thmslvs rcognisd Lbor's limittions, thy ssumd tht this truth would b obvious to th mss of workrs. Thy hd no id of how to rlt to th grt mjority who still hd illusions in th LP.

Wht ws missing ws ny id of unitd front work with Lbor supportrs, th concpt of working both with thm nd ginst thm; with thm in th struggl to chiv immdit rforms, but ginst thir rformist ids tht hold bck th struggl. It is in struggl tht rvolutionris cn prov thy r th bst fightrs for concrt gins for workrs nd cn xpos th vcilltions of rformist ldrs in prctic.

ustrlin socilists from th 1890s to th prsnt dy hv tndd to fll brodly btwn two stools. Thy ithr ccommodtd to th LP or mintind th purity of thir principls by stnding on th sidlins nd dnouncing Lbor. Th most common pproch hs bn th on of trying to prmt nd influnc th LP, ithr by working within it, s did th rly SL, or by trying to prssur it from outsid. This rformist pproch ws usully justifid on th grounds tht Lbor ws th mss orgnistion of th working clss. This rgumnt convnintly forgts th fct tht Lbor is not th working clss orgnisd politiclly but th politicl xprssion of th union burucrcy nd its middl clss prlimntry llis.

Th problm with socilists trying to cptur th LP for socilist idls ws tht invribly wht hppnd ws tht it ws not th LP tht ws cpturd, but thos socilists who st out to do th cpturing. Bcus thy wr committd ctivists it ws possibl for socilists to gin prominnt positions within th LP. This vry succss dludd thm, for it ws only possibl to hold onto ths positions in th long trm by compromising thir principls. Th cpturing of positions cm to substitut for opn politicl rgumnt for socilist policis nd th building of rnk nd fil militncy t th bs.

In prctic socilists who cpturd lding positions in th LP bhvd littl diffrntly from non-socilists. Thy did dls with th bosss' prtis, supportd th stting up of rbitrtion, rfusd to bck striks nd grd with th Whit ustrli policy. Billy Hughs, who s Prim Ministr ttmptd to introduc conscription during World Wr I nd split th LP, is th most notorious formr socilist turnd rngd. Hughs howvr ws fr from bing th lst socilist to strt with th intntion of using th LP to srv working clss intrsts nd who ndd up trmpling on workrs. John Curtin, Prim Ministr during World Wr II, ws formr ldr of th lft wing of th Victorin Socilist Prty. Govrnor Gnrl Bill Hydn is th ltst in this long lin to rcnt his rly socilist spirtions.

Socilists working insid th LP r cutting ginst th grin. Lbor is bov ll committd to gining offic through lctions. For prlimntry prty thr is littl point bing in opposition, principls tht prvnt you gining mjority of vots hv to b jttisond. Though it would b mistk to simply s lctorlism s th dtrminnt of Lbor's bhviour. In offic Lbor hs rptdly crrid out policis in th intrsts of th ruling clss tht undrmind thir working clss voting bs.

Lbor's policis invitbly hv to b dptd to wht public opinion will ccpt. In th finl nlysis dpting to public opinion mns dpting to th opinions of th Murdochs nd Pckrs or thir quivlnts in th 1890s. Socilists if thy wish to hv crdibility in th LP r forcd to com to trms with this hrsh rlity. Thy too hv to b prprd to ton down thir principls, if fighting for thos principls thrtns to dmg Lbor's lctorl fortuns or ntgonis ruling clss opinion. Ths r prcisly th prssurs tht oprt on th LP Socilist Lft tody. It hlps xplin why th Socilist Lft hs gon long with ll th btryls of Hwk nd Kting.

s th xprinc of th SL rvls this dilmm hs confrontd socilists right from th LP's formtion. Th SL corrctly wlcomd th birth of Lbor s stp forwrd for th working clss movmnt, stp towrds indpndnt working clss ction. Howvr thy fild to pprcit th limittions of th nw prty, tht it ws crtur of th union officils - n ssntilly consrvtiv lyr in socity. Wht th union ldrs wntd ws prty tht would rprsnt thir intrsts in prlimnt; which would modrt th horrors of cpitlism. Th lst thing th union officils wntd, lving sid fw wll mning individuls, ws to initit struggl tht ld to th ovrthrow of cpitlism. Thy would tolrt socilists in thir nw prty, but only if thos socilists subordintd thmslvs to th nds of th burucrcy.

Th SL considrd tht socilism ws invitbl nd would com through volution. It could b introducd pcfully onc socilist prlimntrins hd cpturd th stt mchin. Th SL viwd th stt s nutrl nd ws strongly opposd to violnc. Thir 1894 Mnifsto dvoctd only th us of prlimntry mns.Burgmnn, p. 59. This ld to n rly split of rvolutionry minority who sw th nd for physicl forc nd for workrs thmslvs to tk control of socity, not th stt cting on thir bhlf.

Howvr, dspit this strong commitmnt to th prlimntry rod to socilism, th SL ws idologiclly divrs, if not downright confusd. Th rly SL pltform did not diffr rdiclly from Lbor's. Mny of its policis wr rdicl dmocrtic, rthr thn distinctivly socilist or ls shrd Lbor's vgu glitrinism. Thy hild Willim Ln whn h sild to found his utopin colony in Prguy in 1893 nd lding mmbrs lik Billy Hughs wr strongly influncd by Bllmy's vision of tightly rgultd utopin socilist socity. s wll in its rly yrs thr ws strong bush socilist influnc on th SL. Undr rthur R's ditorship Th Hummr, th ppr of th Wgg brnch of th SU nd th voic of bush socilism ws sympthtic to th SL.

This idologicl confusion opnd th wy for ccommodtion with minstrm Lborist ids. It md it sir for th right wing of th SL to justify thir llinc in th lt 1890s with th WU burucrcy. Rthr thn cting s distinct socilist currnt with its own idology nd strtgy th SL bcm littl mor thn th socilist til of th Lborit dog.

Conclusion

Th 1890 Mritim Strik ws on of th grt turning points in ustrlin history. It mrkd th dcisiv ntry onto th politicl stg of th rising working clss, clss which ws cohrd in th bttls of th 1880s. For dspit ll th myths of minstrm historins, which unfortuntly hv bn mbrcd by mny on th lft, th ustrli of th 1880s ws no glitrin middl clss utopi. In fct it probbly hd proportiontly th lrgst working clss in th world.

Howvr th Mritim Strik ws dcisivly dftd. Th insurgnt working clss movmnt ws svgly btn bck by n mployrs' countr offnsiv nd by th onst of mss unmploymnt. By th hight of th Dprssion in th mid-1890s th urbn unions hd bn brokn. Wht survivd s child of thos dfts ws th Lbor Prty.

Th formtion of th Lbor Prty ws n dvnc, stp towrds indpndnt working clss politicl ction. Howvr th prty soon cm to b domintd by n llinc of trd union officils nd middl clss prlimntrins. Th fundmntl intrsts of both ths socil groups r countrposd to thos of th working clss. Both th union burucrcy nd its middl clss intllctul llis r committd to cpitlism nd sk to us th LP to only gin rforms within th systm rthr thn orgnis ginst it.

Workrs plcd grt hops in th rly Lbor Prty. Rflcting th rdiclism of th tims, NSW Lbor's initil progrmm mbrcd mny working clss rforms. Howvr th rformist projct quickly provd filur. Th nw prty vry rpidly turnd on its own supportrs to ntr th minstrm of bourgois politics. By th nd of th dcd Lbor hd ditchd its initil rforming progrmm nd bcom th prty of Whit ustrli nd rbitrtion. Thr ws no goldn r of Lbor rdiclism. Pul Kting would hv bn quit t hom in th Lbor Prty of th 1890s.

Howvr th myth of goldn r of Lbor rdiclism is usful on for rformists tody who ttmpt to sustin fith in prty tht prsidd ovr 13 yrs of wg cuts, privtistion nd flling living stndrds. Thy proclim tht tru ssnc of Lbor ws subvrtd by th Hwk nd Kting LP govrnmnts; Lbor nds to rturn to its working clss roots. Th myth is convnint - convnint li.

By th bginning of th twntith cntury Lbor hd bcom intgrlly idntifid with th socil nd conomic progrmm of th nw ustrlin Commonwlth - Whit ustrli, rbitrtion, protction nd th primitiv bginnings of wlfr stt. Its cntrl tsk ws to incorport th working clss into th nw ntion. Lbor proclimd itslf s th prty of ustrlin ntionlism. Howvr this did not mn Lbor hd bcom simply nothr bourgois prty. It ws still tid to th trd union movmnt vi th union burucrcy. Furthrmor prcisly in ordr to crry out th procss of incorportion of th working clss movmnt Lbor hd to mintin som connction to th clss nd rspond, vn if only vrblly, to its hops nd spirtions. This mns tht thr hs lwys bn contrdiction within Lborism; contrdiction btwn its commitmnt to ntion nd its commitmnt, if only rhtoriclly, to clss.

Whn th clss struggl hottd up Lbor ws quit cpbl of shifting rdiclly to th lft. s it did in rspons to th normous working clss uphvl of th World Wr I yrs - xplling Prim Ministr in th procss. But it did so only in ordr to bttr contin th struggl, to rconcil rbllious working clss to th systm. For in th finl nlysis bcus of its roots in th union burucrcy Lbor's commitmnt to ntion will lwys triumph ovr its commitmnt to clss. Lbor cnnot b cpturd for socilism.

Th LP is cntrl prop mintining th rul of cpitl. So th tsk for socilists tody rmins th sm s for socilists in th 1890s, to build rvolutionry ltrntiv to Lborism - n orgnisd Mrxist ltrntiv to its hlf-hrtdnss, its pthtic compromiss nd its btryl of working clss intrsts. Howvr tht ssntil tsk is not n sy on nd will not b ccomplishd ovrnight. Rformist ids hv dp roots within th working clss movmnt. Thy will not disppr spontnously. It will tk prolongd politicl struggl by socilists combind with mssiv upsurg of clss struggl.

It cn b tmpting ftr long yrs of Lbor in offic prsiding ovr th grtst rduction in working clss living stndrds sinc th 1930s Dprssion to writ off th LP s totlly rctionry. It is tmpttion sctions of th lft hv succumbd to with thir clls to vot for indpndnts or grn cndidts in lctions or for unions to disffilit from Lbor. This my sm rdicl cours. In rlity it rflcts imptinc nd frustrtion with th filur of th lft to build fighting mss ltrntiv to Lbor. Thr is widsprd working clss disnchntmnt nd vn bittrnss towrds th Kting govrnmnt. Howvr this hs not rsultd in mrkd swing to th lft. Thr hs bn no dcisiv brk by vn minority of th working clss from Lborism. Th low lvl of struggl nd th bsnc of sizbl lft mns tht most clss conscious workrs s littl choic but, howvr grudgingly, to vot Lbor. vn thos workrs who r most bittr towrds Kting hv not drwn th conclusion tht th prlimntry procss nd th whol rformist projct hv fild. Thy cling to th hop of mor gnuin Lbor govrnmnt to rprsnt thir intrsts.

In prt workrs continu to look to Lbor bcus th dfts nd stbcks of th 1980s hv undrmind rnk nd fil trd union orgnistion nd workrs' confidnc in thir own bility to fight bck to dfnd thir living stndrds nd conditions. Th currnt low lvl of industril struggl invitbly impcts on workrs' politicl consciousnss. It mns thy r mor likly to look to prlimntry sviours to dlivr thm from on high thn to thir own slf-ctivity.

Yt t th sm tim thr is dp disnchntmnt in socity. Thr is littl fith in th mrkt. Lbor's filur to dlivr is widly rcognisd. t som point thr will b rvivl of struggl s workrs r forcd to dfnd thir living stndrds from on-going ttcks. ny such rvivl will opn up th possibility of shrp shift to th lft nd th building of gnuin socilist ltrntiv to Lbor. To chiv tht gol howvr rvolutionris will hv to b clr on th rl ntur of Lborism. For in ny priod of upsurg in struggl Lbor is sur to swing to th lft nd clok its commitmnt to cpitlism with ll sorts of smingly rdicl rhtoric.

Clrity on th rol of Lborism, whil vitl, is not howvr sufficint for rvolutionris to win mss following vn in priod of grt upsurg. Socilists lso nd to dvlop non-sctrin prctic tht nbls thm to influnc rformist workrs nd studnts. Th mss of workrs will not b won from rformism simply by propgnd dnouncing Lbor's btryls. Rvolutionris hv to b bl to dmonstrt th supriority of thir ids in prctic. It is th rsponsibility of rvolutionris to work with workrs nd studnts who look to th LP nd to try to win thm to socilist ids in th cours of th struggls tking plc tody nd th grtr struggls w cn xpct in th futur. It is only from intrvntion long sid rformist workrs in th struggl for concrt gins tht will nbl socilists to gin hring.

Nots


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