The Guardian November 8, 2000

80th Anniversary of the CPA

October 30 this year marked the 80th anniversary of the foundation of 
the Communist Party of Australia. It was an historic event and signalled 
the formation of a party taking Marxism as its guide.

A number of events influenced the formation of communist parties at that 
time, not only in Australia, but also in a number of other countries as 

It was shortly after the ending of World War I that was caused directly by 
capitalism and resulted in enormous loss of life and devastation. The 
experience of this war was a contributing factor in the Russian socialist 
revolution of 1917 and evolutionary upsurges in many other European 

In Australia, the modern working class was beginning to emerge with the 
foundation of a steel industry in 1912 when the BHP was established.

Labor Party governments had sided with the imperialist governments of 
Europe in the war and attempted to conscript soldiers to fight overseas.

Some utopian socialist organisations existed before the formation of the 
Communist Party of Australia and they had awakened an understanding of the 
class nature of society and opposed capitalism. But their solutions to the 
problems of the working people were inadequate.

At that time the first publication of the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin 
and some others brought scientific socialist ideas to readers.

On the one hand, the reformist, compromising policies of the Labor Party 
became apparent. On the other hand, the one-sided anti-parliamentarianism 
of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was seen to represent blind 
alleys in the struggle for the overthrow of the capitalist system and its 
replacement by a social system based on the interests and needs of the 
working people. 

The 80 years of the Communist movement in Australia have been marked by ups 
and downs and by many achievements. The movement has persisted despite the 
never-ending campaigns of the capitalist class to exorcise it from society 
and, these days, to declare that socialism has been tried and found to be a 
failure and is now dead. They only wish it were true!

Communist parties now exist in more countries than ever and in a number of 
countries; they have formed governments and are building socialist 
societies. In other countries Communist parties participate in the present 
governments  South Africa, France, Sri Lanka, Italy, Laos and Cambodia, 
for example, and lead provincial or state governments as in India.

The working class has grown enormously in the last 80 years and is by far 
the single largest class in many countries and, together with the 
peasantry, comprise the overwhelming majority of the populations of all 

Yet millions remain poor, impoverished and unemployed in a period when all 
human needs could be met by the productive capacity that exists. The 
necessity to bring an end to the capitalist system was never more apparent 
or necessary. The recently announced obscene profits of Australian banks 
show what wealth is being ripped out of the sweat and toil of the working 
people, wealth which could have been used for the overall benefit of the 
working people.

Marxist and Leninist ideas remain true and are the only reliable guide to a 
better society. It was socialist ideas and policies that rapidly 
transformed the once backward economy and lives of the Russian people. It 
was socialist ideas and policies that enabled the people of Vietnam and 
Cuba to defeat the efforts of imperialism to strangle those countries. It 
is socialist ideas and policies that could also redistribute wealth in 
Australia and reverse the present environmental degradation which is a 
direct result of capitalist rip, tear and bust economic practices.

Socialist ideas based on the collective social needs of men and women could 
eliminate war from the affairs of humanity.

That is why we commemorate the foundation of the Communist Party of 
Australia and can confidently reaffirm the Manifesto to the Workers of 
Australia which was issued by the CPA shortly after its formation in 
1920 and published by The Guardian two weeks ago. It declared "the 
capitalist system of production and distribution has outlived its 
usefulness and become reactionary and destructive of humanity..." Today's 
task is to change it!
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