No Vote to Labor! No Vote to the Capitalist “progressives” and Reformists! For a Revolutionary Workers’ Party!
Australia, like the rest of the world, has changed dramatically since the last election cycle in 2019. COVID-19 has ravaged through the country with little respite, and continues to impact thousands of people. The strengthening of the anti-China counterrevolutionary war drive continues, with billions of dollars being pumped into the military as well as a renewed strengthening of imperialist alliance with Britain and the United States. Imperialists sharpen their weapons for their escalating confrontation with Russia. Amidst all this turbulence, the Australian elections come around again, posing as the eternal constant – a bastion of “stability and democracy” amongst an ever changing world.
But the rot beneath eats away these facades of the capitalist state, the cracks are ever present and ever growing. Beneath the “eternally constant” facades lies the genuinely constant foundation of capitalism. That is, its inability to stop its march into barbarism. The “lucky country” has faced its first recession in decades, with more economic turmoil to come. Unemployment, underemployment and casualisation worsen living conditions and increase economic precarity and instability for working class people. Wage growth stagnates as cost of living soars, cutting deeper and deeper into real wages. An inflated property market makes housing affordability among the worst in the world, while the looming collapse of the bubble threatens the broader economy that it plays a part in propping up. The impact of climate change is being increasingly felt in natural disaster after natural disaster, with droughts, floods and fires becoming worse and increasingly frequent.
A series of prolonged lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 pandemic occurred throughout Australia, especially Melbourne and Sydney. Organised only under the terms of the capitalist state, workers bore the brunt of the impact of these often disgracefully coordinated policies – which in many poor and working class neighbourhoods had an especially marked police character.
As trouble lays afoot for Australian capitalism, the electoral circus tent is set up to distract the working class from the devastation that lays ahead under capitalist rule. Neither the piggish Liberal/National coalition, the “progressive” posturing Greens, the pro-capitalist Labor party nor the dozens of micro parties running offer any genuine alternative for the working class. For the working class, there is no choice. No vote to any party running!
As the working class of Australia struggles to survive, the bells of war are becoming increasingly deafening. In response to the war in Ukraine, imperialists have acted decisively and furiously against Russia. In Australia, the Liberals have promised to continue sending “lethal aid” to Ukrainian forces, with the Australian Labor Party (ALP) backing if not trying to outflank the Coalition in anti-Russia posturing (see: “Russia’s War in Ukraine and NATO’s Imperialist Siege”). The Greens, while willing to pose as “anti-war” when it’s comfortable, stand completely behind the sanctions that have been financially strangling the working class of Russia. Meanwhile, there has been hue and cry at talk of a potential military pact between China and the Solomon Islands, with the PM declaring a “red line” and the ALP following with similar hysterics. At his ANZAC Day speech, the defence minister warned “prepare for war”. There is a gleam in the eyes of not just the coalition, but the ALP and the Greens as well. This is a gleam of imperialist ambitions in subduing Russia as well as perusing capitalist counterrevolution in China. If any of their ambitions were actualised, the imperialist looting of China and Russia, while offering gains for Australian capitalists, would give nothing to the working class but bloodshed and terror.
At the tail of the ALP and Greens a myriad of groups hang on opportunistically, aiding in giving a left cover to party’s bureaucrats. One of the most significant is “Victorian Socialists” (VS), an electoral party supported by Socialist Alternative (SAlt). Despite posing as a left alternative to Labor and the Greens, they are hardly anything of the sort. Proudly advertising that their preferences will go to both Labor and the Greens, VS are quick to confirm that votes to them won’t be “wasted” and shall be recycled for the dogs which they hang to the tail of. While SAlt does criticise Labor, going so far as to state “Labor offers no alternative”1, such criticisms are prefaced by calls that “Morrison’s got to go” – another reassurance that they are not breaking from Labor’s fringes any time soon. (For a more in depth analysis of the nature of SAlt and VS, see Bolshevik-Leninist’s “For a Marxist Nucleus in Australia”, specifically the section “The need of a Marxist position in the modern Australian left”)
While organised in large part by a purportedly “Revolutionary Socialist” organisation, the Victorian Socialists participate in the election with an explicitly reformist platform. These reforms are indeed more significant than Labor’s program, though never outside the bounds of capitalism. Like the ALP, these are reforms channelled entirely through electoralism, a cry stating “vote for us – through parliament we can achieve these gains”. Marxists are for all gains for the working class, including minor ones. But we do not partake in bolstering illusions that there are electoral means to winning any long lasting, genuine reforms, which at best only offer a small hint at what gains could be made if the workers overthrow capitalism. Union bureaucrats, and the ALP to which they are attached at the hip to, offer little to the working class but war hollering in preparation for their next military adventure and keeping the gears of capitalism grinding at home.
Yes, much has changed since the last election! But what has stayed the same? The fundamental bankruptcy of Australian capitalism, the fraud of an electoral system that exists to uphold the rule of the capitalist class, the deceit of the parties which make up this circus, and the necessary course of struggle against this. What is needed is the overthrow of capitalism, and that can be fought and won not by electioneering but through class struggle.