Magazine of the Socialist Party, Australian section of the CWI

Learning from the past and fighting for our future

A successful Revolutionary Ideas day school

It can be a daunting task to work out where to begin in our fight to change the world. That’s why events such as the Socialist Party’s Revolutionary Ideas day school are so important. On April 14, a vibrant group of mainly young people gathered in Melbourne to discuss how best to challenge capitalism.

The sessions held on the day were essentially an introduction to the ideas of the Socialist Party. Events of historical significance were discussed alongside emerging movements with the aim of drawing out lessons and applying them today.

Meredith Jacka kicked off the day explaining the ideas behind the Communist Manifesto, which was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels 170 years ago. Meredith explained that the Manifesto was written to be the guiding principles of the Communist League, which was the first attempt to build an international workers organisation.

The Manifesto explains the unique role of the working class and why they are the ones who are best placed to change society. It also explains the contradictions of capitalism. These contradictions still exist today and are the reasons behind economic crises, trade conflicts and wars.

A lively discussion followed centred around how socialists should relate to different types of social movements.

The next session on the #MeToo movement was introduced by Kat Galea. Kat talked about the recent explosion of women’s rights movements around the world.

She emphasised that while #MeToo was a positive development, it would only win lasting gains if an effort was made to involve ordinary working class women. It needs to move from social media onto the streets and into the workplaces.

Socialist feminists understand that our fight is not against the male gender, but against the profit-first system that breeds inequality. Like all movements in history, to win even the most modest improvement we need to be clear about what we are fighting for, who our allies are, and the methods of struggle we use.

Discussion centred on how the trade unions could play a more prominent role in the fight against sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace.

Continuing with the international theme of the day, special guest speaker Jaco Lam, from the Socialist Party’s sister organisation in Hong Kong, talked about combatting repression in China and Hong Kong via video link.

Jaco outlined the frightening crackdown on democracy, which he said is the most severe in 25 years. Despite calling themselves the Chinese Communist Party, the government is really a regime of billionaires and capitalists.

In China, the extent of internet censorship has even led to the words “Winnie the Pooh” being banned due to cartoon depictions of Xi Jinping as the cartoon bear!

This session was more of a Q and A forum, and Jaco did a fantastic job of answering the many questions people had about the politics and work of our organisation in this crucial part of the world.

To conclude the day’s discussions, Anthony Main gave an overview of the events of May and June 1968 in France. A mass movement of students and workers saw 10 million people on strike and capitalism on the brink of collapse.

Initially kicked off by student protests, workers quickly became involved in the events. Hundreds of workplaces were occupied and power could have been wrestled from the capitalist class if it were not for the cowardly role played by the French Communist Party.

Anthony said that despite the lost opportunity these events showed the power of the organised working class. The movement gave a glimpse of how social change could be achieved peacefully in an advanced capitalist country.

All the sessions pointed to the need to get organised. We need to start by building a revolutionary current amongst workers and students. We need to take the lessons of the past into new movements so that the stories we will be telling in 50 years will be the stories of how we won.

After a big day of discussion and debate, people relaxed over dinner and drinks. Overall, Revolutionary Ideas was a hugely successful day. In addition to the political education almost $2000 was raised for our fighting fund! Another day school will be held in Melbourne during October.

By Socialist Party reporters