Thursday, 31 January 2013

Socialist Alliance 9th Conference

Further end-of-month catch up. Views are my own, etc.

The Socialist Alliance recently held its 9th national conference in Geelong Trades Hall. Geelong is one of the smaller towns and cities where the Alliance has been able to build a branch and other major left forces active today have not, like my home town of Wollongong; this was my first time in Geelong, and I was impressed by the ability of the comrades there to pull of organising such a major and successful decision-making conference. I stayed in Melbourne for most of the month, including the conference, helping with local promo, participating in politics, and organising the Resistance Camp.

Over the [second] two days, delegates discussed international and domestic politics and campaigns, Socialist Alliance's plans for this year's federal election, reflected on the achievements and challenges in building the Socialist Alliance today and the prospects for greater unity of the left in Australia.

Taking place in the context of discussions about prospects for greater unity of the left, the conference adopted proposals to strengthen the Alliance's work in building local and national campaigns and movements, including the labour, environmental and women's movements, and the importance of convincing youth and students of the need to organise for fundamental social change.

Delegates reaffirmed the need to strengthen the Alliance and to seek greater unity in action, while defending the democratic rights of affiliates and tendencies of thought within the party. The conference reaffirmed the decision to participate in the upcoming Marxism conference, and to taking further steps in exploring prospects for unity.

I participated in the pre-conference discussion with a piece about democracy, transitional demands and a mass action perspective for today, based on this earlier post. Many of the issues debated in PCD were discussed at the conference, particularly around the proposed constitutional amendments of Liam Flenady, Ben Peterson and Emma Bacon, which were partially amended on the conference floor and combined with those of Pip Hinman.

Delegates voting in a session at the Socialist Alliance national conference. (Photo: Alex Bainbridge).

I found one of the most interesting aspects of the conference discussing left unity and organising today. Hashim bin Rashid gave a very interesting talk on the process of three Pakistani left parties merging into the Awami workers party, driven by the youth of the three parties who joined after the wave of struggle around lawyers stuff. Hashim got right into the thick of things in Melbourne too - he even wrote an article for Green Left on a local protest commemoration!

Advancing on our own left unity front, the Communist Party of Australia (a former split from the old CP) and Socialist Alternative both participated in the conference with official delegations. I found the input of the Alternative comrades, while held up within the present framework and the tensions that go with it, a good step for building trust. Although a formal uniting of those organisations sends a long way off, i'm confident we can work together in a more constructive way to build a stronger alternative to the pro-capitalist parties this year.
A delegation from the national leadership of the Socialist Alternative and a representative of the Communist Party of Australia also attended the conference, and Mick Armstrong (Socialist Alternative) and Andrew Irving (CPA) both gave presentations on Australian politics today.

In particular, I was enthused by informal discussions about the party, movements and mass action between our activists, in which some comrades raised Camejo and a perspective on mass action which I found, at least on the surface level, to be basically the same as mine. In my PCD piece I raised that this is a point we need to brush up on, since it seems to me the most significant real difference in perspective on how we should organise today amongst the Australian left. Hopefully I am wrong.

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