Socialist Party members from Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland met in Melbourne on October 2 & 3 for the 2009 Socialist Party National Conference.
Thirteen months since the beginning of the global financial crisis and discussions of socialism and capitalism have crept back into common conversation all over the world.
SP Councillor in Yarra, Stephen Jolly spoke at the opening session of the Conference on the world situation. Stephen took up the argument that the crisis was over, describing the totally changed period that faces capitalism as a result of massive government debt resulting from the stimulus packages coupled with huge spare capacity in the economy.
While the crisis may have slowed for now, unemployment is set to rise globally and massive attacks on public services are inevitable. The seeds of a further crisis have already been planted by the ‘solutions’ to the current crisis.
Stephen also explained that the main source of confidence for capitalists globally was the lack of militant working class leadership. Rebuilding such a leadership is the main priority for socialists world wide.
The world economy is the most important backdrop to the Australian situation. The second day of the Conference began with a discussion of the effects and the depth of the crisis in Australia. SP National Organiser Anthony Main outlined the fact that 4.2% of Australian GDP had been spent on economic stimulus, the third biggest amount spent on stimulus by any government.
While the immediate effects of the crisis seem to have been averted in Australia, Anthony told the conference that even Kevin Rudd was outlining a worsening situation for workers in the event of any ‘recovery’. In the next period we can expect rising unemployment, rising interest rates, inflation and cuts to services.
Anthony also explained that Australian working class consciousness was lagging behind events. Workers have been conditioned by the boom period and it is normal that their initial reaction to the crisis will be one of shock or disbelief. Unfortunately the trade union leaders are doing nothing to help the situation. A ‘recovery’ with worsening conditions will lead to a change in consciousness and a change in people’s attitudes to the ALP, the union leaders and to struggle.
In the following session, Melbourne Branch Organiser Mel Gregson led off a discussion on the perspectives for growth of the Socialist Party in the year ahead. The discussion focused on the three main points of recruitment, cadre development and finances. The discussion was well grounded in the perspectives that were outlined in the previous two sessions.
The final session of the Conference unanimously adopted the political and organisational resolutions and elected a new National Committee. More than $3200 was raised in a fighting fund appeal, and several comrades pledged to increase their weekly subs.
Overall the 2009 Conference was a resounding success. All participants came away with an improved understanding of the processes taking place both in Australia and internationally. An increasingly confident mood has taken hold amongst members, and the party is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities to grow and develop in 2010.
By Socialist Party reporters