Table of contents
Early Australian Socialism
Australian Socialism pre-dates Marx and Engels. While it experienced a long dormant period, reports of its death have been exaggerated.
The word socialism was based on “society”, the idea that society as a whole is more important than profits and wealth. Indeed, Australian socialism was so ahead of its time in the 1800’s that Henry George, (U.S. socialist) spent time in Australia learning from Irish Australians about early socialism.
Socialism in Politics
Early socialists briefly took power in the state of Queensland in 1899, thus becoming the first socialist government in the world.
Socialism is generally much more popular in Australia than America, but there are nuances in what Australians and Americans like and don’t like about socialism.
Australian Labor Party
Some of the early Australian Labour Party (ALP) governments proclaimed a socialist agenda. Indeed, throughout most of the 20th century there was a strong socialist faction within the party. However, they invariably failed to constitute a majority of when the ALP was in government.
Under the Hawke and Keating Governments, the ALP abandoned any pretence of a socialist agenda. Indeed they embraced neo-liberal reforms and market-based policies that the party holds to this day.
Revival of Australian Socialism
The term ‘Socialism’ is again being used more often in political debate. Many candidates were no longer afraid to describe themselves as socialists. This coincided with generational change. At the same time the communist ‘bogey man’ and red baiting became a far less useful strategy for right wing candidates in the major parties. The villain of the times was not the former Soviet Union, but Climate Change.
Members from various socialist organisations united under the Socialist Alliance banner in 2001. Hence it is a well known voice of Australian Socialism.
Socialist Alliance has a strong focus on grassroots activism. However, the party stood in some seats for the first time at the 2022 federal election and has a growing membership base.
The Victorian Socialists is a democratic socialist party that was formed in 2018 out of an electoral alliance of various socialist parties, organisations, community groups and trade unionists. As at November 2020, the party had one elected representative, Jorge Jorquera, a Councillor on Maribyrnong City Council.
Prominent members of the Australian Greens have supported socialist policies over the course of the parties existence. Looking back one of the most prominent socialists within the party was Senator Lee Rhiannon. However more recently Mehreen Faruqi, and the newly elected Member for Griffith Max Chandler-Maher have taken up the Socialist cause within the party.
Australian Socialism Today
Many socialists saw the 2022 federal election as a promising sign for the movement. Government moved from the ‘Conservative’ Liberal National Party to the ‘Centrist’ Australian Labor Party. The election also saw the best ever result for the Australian Greens, with the election of four members to the House of Representatives and a record number of Senators. Micro parties Socialist Alliance and Victorian Socialists also polled well in some areas.
- Fred Paterson
- Best Socialist Countries
- Public Services Sector
- Simple Definition of Socialism
- Socialist Parties
- Socialist Podcast
- Welfare Rights