Socialists gather in Sydney

Socialists from across Australia gathered in Sydney last weekend for a conference promoting Marxism and radical change in Australia and around the world. Over 360 people attended speeches and discussions on range of topics, from Marxist philosophy to fighting back against racism and the far right, and the crisis in Europe. It was the first such even that Socialist Alternative has held in Sydney and was a resounding success.

Participants heard from Thanasis Kourkoulas, a Greek socialist active in the left of SYRIZA about the situation there, just hours before voting opened on the historic referendum on the Greek bailout. The political importance of a “no” vote in the referendum for was highlighted when Red Flag correspondent Colleen Bolger asked what the impact of a “no” vote against the terms of the memorandum would be. “It would release the most radical forces … [across Europe] the optimism would come back”.

Gowan Ditchburn, a socialist from New Zealand who attended the conference said “I found it a great experience… days of solid debate and discussion with a large number of comrades with a wide range of experience.”

“Choosing which session was the most interesting is like choosing which was my favourite book… The one on racism and the fighting the far right gave detail to the current situation in Australia today. The institutionalised Islamophobia occurring right next door against the Muslim students’ conference and the horrid, racist barriers put before them – that even a socialist group didn’t have to face – was disgusting.” Learning what had happened from one of the guest speakers, attendees at Socialism voiced their disgust on mass at the punitive approach of University authorities to a group of Muslims meeting next door, and expressed their solidarity with members of the UTS Muslim Society.

In another session socialist union activists took centre stage, sharing their experiences in organising to rebuild union activism after decades on the back foot. Socialist Alternative’s Industrial Organiser Jerome Small summed up his thoughts on the discussion: “The dead end politics of class compromise has lead us only into retreat and defeat over the past several decades. Conferences like Socialism are important to continue the project of building a fighting socialist political alternative, and sharing our experiences in putting that politics to practical use – organising everywhere from warehouses to hospitals to the fast food industry.”

It only needs to be added that what is true of the unions is true of struggles everywhere: arming ourselves with the politics that put struggle before compromise is the only way that we can win. Conferences like Socialism 2015 are all around the world a step in that direction.

Photo credit: Rouzbeh Abadan