Communist Party of Australia

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Issue #1757      November 16, 2016

Building the People’s Movement

The ruthless global drive of capital to maximise profits while destroying jobs, seizing public assets, crushing unions and destroying the environment has produced a worldwide wave of public anger and a global fightback. This fightback has seen loose coalitions of people, workers, students, intellectuals, small business people, farmers, struggling in many ways, in particular by taking to the streets, to oppose capitalism’s anti-people policies. The latest actions in the US brought tens of thousands together to demonstrate against the Trump administration.

At its 9th Congress, the Communist Party of Australia stated, “The worldwide struggle between the people and the transnational corporations is intensifying. The situation in Australia and internationally is marked by this struggle, at the centre of which is the struggle between the capitalist class and the working class.”

Every aspect of life on the planet is falling prey to imperialism. Workers, small farmers, agricultural workers and an immense range of social strata, interest groups and NGOs are being forced to confront the big transnational corporations as those forces intensify their exploitation of the world’s people and resources.

This growing movement against corporate globalisation has found expression in Australia with increasing numbers of people rejecting the policies being implemented by both Liberal and right-wing Labor governments.

The people’s movement against corporate globalisation is indeed the broadest contemporary movement objectively confronting the power of capital.

In Australia, the Communist Party believes the best way to strengthen this people’s movement is to draw together all the left and progressive parties, trade unions, community organisations and individuals or elements of these organisations into a popular anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly democratic front.

We see this front as transcending any one party. A front of this nature presupposes agreements, either formal or informal, on issues held in common and not only at grass-roots level. It needs to involve and find agreement at the leadership level of organisations as well.

It is a coalition of this nature which can mobilise thousands and tens of thousands of workers and people from other social groups who are opposed to the corporate agenda of privatisation, the attacks on the living and working conditions of all working people, whether in the cities or the country.

Some in this democratic front will campaign on the environment, others will defend public education and the public health system, others will defend jobs and the industrial rights of the trade union movement (see page 4). Country people will fight for adequate services and against the fleecing of small farmers by the processing companies, the banks and the huge supermarket chains.

A place in the anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly democratic front has to be found for all these streams of opposition to what is being done to the working people, the poor, the unemployed, the homeless, the farmers, pensioners, Indigenous people, migrants and others.

It is vitally important to build such a movement. Only such a broad coalition of left and progressive forces can change the direction of politics in Australia. In building a democratic front, care must be taken not to exclude any potential supportive party, organisation or individual, even though different opinions and policies will inevitably exist on various questions. This movement, which is in embryonic form in Australia, is not the property of any one party or group and to claim otherwise, or any attempt by any political party to “capture” it for its own purposes, cannot be accepted.

The CPA believe there are some principles which should be accepted by all organisations prepared to work together and to eventually establish a representative coalition or alliance.

These principles include mutual respect and honesty and consultation at every step of the unity-building process. Agreements must be reached by consensus, with voting resorted to only as a last resort and limited to procedural matters.

Where agreement is not reached, this issue should be put aside with each organisation free to express its views using its own facilities. Once agreements are reached all organisations must help to popularise and put them into practice.

Discussion and agreement at leadership level must be backed up and deepened by co-operation at all levels of the organisations involved.

Ideological differences should not stand in the way of co-operation on issues held in common. It is logical to expect that there will be a contest of ideas between co-operating organisations but such a contest should be stated in a manner that does not undermine the unity achieved but contributes to clarity and to strengthening the developing unity.

Of course, each organisation is free to publish its views and carry out activities in support of its own policies that are not the subject of agreements. In this way the autonomy of each organisation is protected.

Through the process of joint struggle, trust will be built between organisations and individuals and this will be the binding force that strengthens the coalition and makes it a viable and lasting organisation. Unity and agreement should grow as a process but they cannot be ordained by certain organisations through their domination over others.

A united left and progressive movement must have as its first major goal the breaking of the two-party system and the formation of a government of a new type. We see the winning of government by an anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly democratic front as a first step in the protracted and historical struggle to wrest power from the capitalist ruling class.

Next article – Editorial – Elections – democracy in action?

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