The early 1990s, after the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, were a time of capitalist triumphalism. Capital’s academic hirelings proclaimed ‘the end of history’, an absurdity nevertheless repeated in popular media. Really existing capitalism had been proven to be all that was possible, declared those who benefited from it. Socialism, along with the Soviet Union, was dead.
Theory & History
Volume 1 of this history, focusing on our tendency’s origins and the early years of Resistance and the founding of our party, was published in early 2005, and I had already drafted the outlines and taken some notes for Volumes 2 and 3. But shortly after publication, a major political struggle broke out in the Democratic Socialist Party. This is not the place to recount that struggle and its aftermath, except to mention that those of us in the minority in that struggle were expelled from the DSP and, in 2013, united with Socialist Alternative just before the opening of its Marxism conference in Melbourne.
The Democratic Socialist Party, formerly the Socialist Workers Party, has a rich history. The socialist youth organisation Resistance has a slightly longer history. This book – many years on my “must do” list – is an attempt to make that history of the DSP and Resistance accessible.
Post-structuralism, the philosophical rationale of contemporary “post-modernist discourse”, presents itself as a radically new view of the world. However, in many ways it is simply a reincarnation of existentialism, which conceives of nature and society as dominated by accident and chance and stresses the meaningless of human existence.
This book by Frederick Engels explains the origins of the modem socialist movement. It is probably the most influential work expounding the basic ideas of Marxism, other than the Communist Manifesto.
As Engels himself explains in his introduction to the first English edition, published in 1892, it was drawn from three chapters of his 1878 book Anti-Dühring, a polemic against the views of Eugen Dühring, a professor at Berlin University. In his lectures and numerous writings which flooded the book market after 1869, Dühring claimed to be the originator of a “revolution in science” which superseded Marxism.
Resistance, the socialist youth organisation in political solidarity with the Democratic Socialist Party, was the organiser of the impressive high-school walkouts and protests against racism and One Nation that were held around the country in July.
The memorable year 1968 – a momentous year for the left and the newly radicalising young people of the time, and an almost historical, legendary year for the young rebels of today. A popular slogan was coined at the time: “We are the people our parents warned us about!” Well, they’re still the people your parents are warning you about, except for those parents who themselves were part of it at the time, who radicalised then, and kept their ideals and fire and hopes alive.
Leon Trotsky was one of the outstanding Marxist revolutionaries of the 20th century. A leading figure in the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party from the time of its second congress in 1903, after joining the Bolsheviks in July 1917, Trotsky rapidly became one of its central leaders. When the Bolsheviks won a majority in the Petrograd soviet (council) of workers’ and soldiers’ deputies, Trotsky was elected its president and in that capacity headed the organisation of the insurrection of November 7 (October 25 in the tsarist calendar).
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.
One of the traditions on which Direct Action built is that of the old Industrial Workers of the World, who were the first publishers of a paper with this name in Australia. The IWW was formed in Chicago in 1905, and by the outbreak of WWI was well established in Australia. The IWW – otherwise known as the Wobblies – set out to be an industrial union uniting all workers in the struggle against the bosses. But it was also a revolutionary organisation based on a dedicated membership preaching the doctrines of all-out class struggle and the fight for a new social order.