Written by: Central Committee, CPA (M-L) on 1 January 2020
October 30 2020 will mark 100 years since the founding of the original Communist Party of Australia.
The immediate inspiration for the formation of a Communist Party in Australia was the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia in 1917, and the subsequent creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The introduction of Marxism-Leninism to Australia through the advocacy of the Communist Party built on local conditions and traditions of struggle against injustice, British imperialism, and exploitation. The Eureka Rebellion of 1854, when the flag of Australian independence was first raised, and the great strikes of the 1890s, when the newly emerging Australian working class stood in direct conflict with capital on a large scale for the first time, gave a concrete Australian context to the theories and international experience of Marxism and Leninism.
Marxism-Leninism stood in contrast to the reformism of the trade union movement which had sought to improve the conditions of the working class through the Labor Party acting in parliament and within the limits of the capitalist system The Labor Party and the trade unions in turn also influenced the Communist Party and the ways in which it sought to build the movement for socialism. Negatively, this led it at times, to place the parliamentary electoral interests of the Labor Party above the independent class interests of the proletariat.
The great struggles in which Australian Communists participated and led are a matter of deep pride and inspiration. On building sites, on coal fields, the railways, wharves and shipping, in factories and amongst many professional and semi-professional working people, the Party’s influence through its members’ involvement in many struggles, and party publications, was everywhere in evidence. Communists led and fought to prevent evictions of the unemployed and destitute, fought fascist gangs such as the New Guard, opposed imperialist wars, and refused to load pig-iron bound for the Japanese imperialist war against China in 1938.They strengthened the Party during a brief period of illegality during WW2, stood resolutely against the anti-communism of the Menzies government, working day and night for months in cities and country building and mobilizing a broad united front that defeated the referendum to dissolve the Communist Party in 1951-2, stood up to the Petrov conspiracy and the Royal Commission into the Party in Victoria. Communists led the struggle to defeat the penal provisions of the Arbitration Act in 1969, turned the Vietnam War into a mighty crusade against US imperialism and actively supported struggles of the First Peoples, women and migrant workers.
Communists and their families were hunted, vilified and demonized by the ruling class Many lost their jobs for serving the working class in the great class struggle against capitalist exploitation and imperialist wars. The overwhelming majority of party members were workers, dedicated to serving the people. They were self-less and courageous, striving for self-discipline and humility, consciously studying Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, arming themselves with the science of revolutionary Marxism-Leninism for Australian conditions. We strive to uphold these values as communists today.
The ability of capitalism to survive the Great Depression and continue relatively unscathed into the 1950s and 1960s led some leading members of the Party to lose confidence in the people, the revolutionary movement and in the working class as the leadership of that movement. Our Party, the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist), was formed in 1964 when it proved impossible to support and work with the defeatist leadership of the original Party that was deliberately vilifying and rejecting the main revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism. Another group of members left in 1971, forming the Socialist Party of Australia (SPA).
The defeatist liquidators took things to their logical conclusion in 1991 when they dissolved the original Communist Party. In October 1996, the SPA retook for itself the name Communist Party of Australia (CPA). In early 2019 a group of members left the new CPA and declared the foundation of the Australian Communist Party (ACP).
Neither our Party, the CPA nor the ACP are the original Communist Party formed in 1920. No Party can claim that the centenary of the Communist movement in Australia and its inspiring history belongs to it alone.
Real ideological, political and organisational differences exist between those parties that can trace their history back to the original Communist Party. There are differences on the revolutionary working class organisation, the bourgeois state, parliamentarism, imperialism, mass work and the application of Marxism-Leninism to Australia's local conditions. Without ignoring these differences, our Party seeks mutual agreement that a revolutionary movement must exist to promote the independent class interests of the workers. We seek mutual rejection of the defeatist notion that socialism has been a failed experiment. We seek agreement with the view that the main class contradictions and class struggle between labour and capital, and the necessity of proletarian led revolution to resolve those contradictions in accordance with the teachings of Marx and Engels, and further elaborated by Lenin, have not disappeared, but are sharper than ever today,
Our Party honours the aspirations of the founders of the original Communist Party of Australia for an independent socialist Australian republic and continues to work towards that aim.
The greatest tribute we can pay to those who founded that Party is to work to strengthen the revolutionary movement that they began in 1920.
Fight for revolutionary anti-imperialist independence and socialism!
Celebrate 100 years of the Communist movement in Australia!