Theory & History

Why is there so much unemployment?

Australia has been much luckier than most countries in the current international recession. While unemployment has certainly increased, it has not risen as much as in most of the world and, at 5.4%, it is still lower than it was throughout the 1990s. Partly this is because some unemployment is disguised as underemployment (people not being able to work as many paid hours as they would like), or because the official statistics don’t count people who have given up looking for work. Mainly, however, it reflects the particularly fortunate position of Australian capitalism, which has raked in huge fortunes over the past two decades by selling vast quantities of raw materials to countries in Asia, particularly China.

Why are there so many socialist groups?

“Why can’t the left get together? Why are there so many different socialist groups?” Sometimes these questions are just an attempt to belittle the socialist left by right-wingers (who nevertheless think it perfectly normal that there should be many pro-capitalist parties). But it is also a serious question from unaffiliated leftists.

Women's oppression: Socialist Alternative's conciliation with labour opportunism

In a March 19 article on the website of the Socialist Alternative (SAlt) group, the largest Australian organisation claiming to be Marxist, titled “Why men don’t benefit from women’s oppression”, SAlt member Kate Jeffreys repeats a gross distortion of the Marxist analysis of the oppression of women under capitalism. In arguing, correctly, that it is the capitalist class that is the cause and chief beneficiary of women’s oppression, Jeffreys also claims working-class men do not benefit in any way from capitalism’s sexist oppression of working-class women, despite the fact that working-class men have higher wages than working-class women, are more unionised and have more valued skills. They also don’t do anywhere near their fair share of unpaid housework and hardly ever suffer sexual harassment and assault.

US-Australia alliance: an axis of evil

When the visit of US President Barack Obama was announced last month, an official White House statement said he “is looking forward to commemorating the 70th anniversary of Australia-US relations”. Far from being a cause of celebration, the anniversary represents 70 years of cooperation in attacks, invasions and occupations in the pursuit of economic dominance and profit for a handful of obscenely rich people in both countries — a 70-year axis of evil pitting working people from Australia and the US against working people resisting imperialist exploitation.

The billions that come and go and come and go

An Australian Associated Press report a few months ago unintentionally pointed out one of the absurdities of modern capitalism. This is that a good part of the so-called wealth of capitalist societies doesn’t really exist. According to the report (as printed in the October 1 Sydney Morning Herald), the outbreak of the international economic crisis in 2008 caused personal wealth (excluding housing and self-owned businesses) in Australia to drop by 27%. It quoted the multinational Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as saying that Australian personal wealth fell by more than $600 billion from the year before. And — shed a tear for them — 32,790 households stopped being millionaires (leaving only 49,452).

The revolutionary origins of International Women's Day

International Women’s Day began at a time of political and social upheaval more than 100 years ago, on February 28, 1908, when socialist women in the US organised demonstrations and meetings all over the country demanding women workers’ political and economic rights and called it “Women’s Day”. In 1909, 2000 people attended a Women’s Day rally in Manhattan.

What is needed to win socialism?

Marx and Engels’ establishment of the scientific basis of socialism was indispensable to the struggle for a better world because the fight against capitalism must be a conscious one in a way that capitalism’s fight against feudalism was not.

Invictus drops the ball on South African history

Written by Anthony Peckman
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman
Runtime: 133 minutes
In cinemas now

How socialism became a science

From its very beginning, capitalism has always created resistance in those it exploits and oppresses. Well before capitalism had overrun the rest of the world, in Western Europe, where it originated, it was engendering opposition, at times quite fierce: sabotage of capitalist property, illegal workers’ associations, local rebellions. These indications that something was wrong led thoughtful people to seek solutions to the social evils they saw around them such the increasing dispossession of peasants, mass unemployment and petty crime.

Remembering the Warsaw Ghetto uprising: a tribute to Marek Edelman

By Linda Waldron

On October 2, Marek Edelman died in Warsaw at the age of 90. He had been the last surviving commander of the resistance forces during the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising against the Nazi occupation. Born in Poland, Edelman became a member of the youth organisation of the socialist General Jewish Labour Union, commonly known as the “Bund”, in the late 1930s.