The collapse of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the disintegration of the USSR is undoubtedly the most significant development in world politics since the Second World War. In immediate terms, it has provoked widespread ideological confusion and demoralisation within the international workers’ movement, and on the other side, gloating by the capitalist rulers and their apologists.
Stalinism & the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of Australia developed a strong base in important industrial unions during the 1930s. As the depression eased, CPA members recruited from the unemployed and trained in action through the struggles of the Depression, had got jobs in industry. This working class base, which became the core of the CPA, grew and was consolidated during the 1940s.
The Communist Party of Australia experienced its most rapid growth in the years 1930-1934, going from 300 to 3000 members. The misery and desperation of the depression years, with up to one third of the work force unemployed, pushed many to look for radical solutions.
Ten years after the Russian Revolution that was the inspiration for the formation of the Communist Party of Australia, much had changed in the Soviet Union. Bureaucratism was rampant, Lenin was dead, and Stalin was rapidly pushing aside many of the old Bolshevik leaders. The first workers state had survived, but at a cost.
On October 30, 1920, the Communist Party of Australia was founded at a meeting in Sydney attended by 26 men and women. They represented the most radical of the small socialist groups, militant trade union activists and officials and former members of the Industrial Workers of the World. Their direct inspiration was the Russian Revolution of October 1917 led by Lenin’s Bolshevik party, the first example of workers overthrowing capitalism, taking power in their own hands and setting out on the path of constructing socialism.
Seventy-five years ago, under the impact and inspiration of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, the Communist Party of Australia was founded. 26 people attended the founding conference in Sydney on October 30, 1920. There were two main groupings, those from the Australian Socialist Party, and the “Trades Hall Reds” around TLC secretary Jock Garden, plus former IWW members and representatives from other small groups.
Seventy-five years ago, under the impact and inspiration of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, the Communist Party of Australia was founded. It was a modest beginning, but an historic event. The CPA formed in 1920 finally dissolved in 1991, but for most of its life it was the dominant party on the left in Australia and an important force in the workers movement. There are many proud chapters in its history – the numerous trade union struggles led; organising the unemployed, women, Aborigines, young people; important civil liberties fights; and solidarity with international struggles, in Spain, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa and East Timor, to name a few.
The crimes of rampaging capitalism today are all too visible. Susan George’s talk last night, the talks and panels today, have given us many reminders. We’re here BECAUSE we’re conscious of this. And we’re also conscious, and perhaps a little afraid, of the tremendous financial, military, ideological resources at the disposal of the ruling classes.