The Socialist Party held a successful National Conference on August 11. Members from across the country attended for a full day of lively discussion and debate.
Most impressively, the fighting fund appeal at the end of the day raised more than $17,000, a reflection of the enthusiasm felt by the members for the plans that the Conference outlined.
The day started with a session on world politics introduced by Kat Galea and summed up by Anthony Main. After recently attending the summer school of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) in Barcelona, they reported on the ongoing global capitalist crisis.
Kat painted a picture of a world in turmoil, characterised in part by Trump, trade war and Brexit. As the profit-driven system is plunged further into chaos the representatives of capital are squabbling amongst themselves and struggling to find a way out.
At the same time, Kat spoke about the workers and young people that are pushing back against this unfair system. The impressive feminist strikes in the Spanish state, the election victory of AMLO in Mexico and the teachers strike in the USA were just a few of the examples given.
After setting out the world backdrop, the Conference moved onto a session about the political situation in Australia, introduced by David Elliott.
David addressed what seems like a reluctance of workers and young people in Australia to engage in struggle, crucially highlighting that this is a temporary phenomenon that is already starting to change.
David explained that the lack of working class leadership and organisation, as well as 26 years of uninterrupted economic growth have played a significant role in holding back struggle.
A theme discussed throughout the session was the consciousness of workers and young people. The collapse of the Stalinist regimes and the restoration of capitalism has had an undeniable impact on the whole idea of class, but again this is beginning to change.
With neoliberal policies continuing to drive down living conditions, ordinary people are increasingly drawing the conclusion that systemic change is the only solution. David quoted a common observation that young people used to say “affordable healthcare would be nice”, whereas now they say things like “we should eat the rich”!
Jeremy Trott and Triet Nguyen spoke during the final session on building the Socialist Party. Jeremy gave a snapshot of the impressive work the party has done since the last National Conference in 2017, including campaigning for marriage equality, fighting against the Adani coal mine and our newly launched Renters Fightback campaign.
He underlined the crucial role that every member and supporter plays in building both the Socialist Party and the campaigns that we are involved in.
In summing up this session, Triet covered the vital importance of a revolutionary party as a tool to guide workers in the fight for a socialist society. All the work we do, every branch meeting and street stall attended, and every article written is a small but crucial part of building a structurally sound organisation.
An integral aspect of this task is understanding that while Australia is not yet on the verge of revolution, tensions are brewing and we are moving into a period that will be different to the 25 years we have just come through. Recession will return and bring with it even more political instability.
It is critical that socialists are prepared for the upheavals to come. We will need to intervene in the struggles that arise, but also help to build a genuine political alternative for working people.
Before closing the conference, Kirk Leonard appealed to the membership to make a pledge to our fighting fund. The money will be used to carry out our work in the coming year.
The appeal was immensely successful raising over $17,000, with more still to come in! In the socialist tradition the day was wrapped up with a heartfelt rendition of The Internationale led by Corey Snoek.
It was a great day overall and definitely helped to enthuse the members for a big year of struggle ahead. The main document that was debated and agreed by the Conference can be read HERE.
By Meredith Jacka