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ustrlin Lbor Prty

ustrlin Lbor Prty




Workers 'Prdis?

The Maritime Strike of 1890

The Labor Party takes shape

"White ustrli"

Socialists and the Labor Party




The Labor Party has lwys bn an enigma for socialists. On th On hnd it is prty bsd on th trd unions nd obtins its vots prdominntly from workrs. Yt in offic, s th xprinc of th Kting nd Hwk govrnmnts confirms, it is just s committd to mintining th rul of cpitl s th Librls. Nonthlss dspit ll th btryls nd compromiss, dspit th outright ttcks LP govrnmnts hv lunchd on workrs, th mjority of workrs vn ftr thirtn yrs of Hwk nd Kting still, lbit grudgingly, look to Lbor s thir prty.

How r socilists to undrstnd nd orint to this phnomnon of Lborism? Firstly W hv to discrd On of th lingring illusions tht still comforts mny Lbor supportr. It is th myth tht Kting nd Hwk do not rprsnt th tru spirit of Lborism; tht somwhr in th dim mists of tim thr xistd truly rdicl Lbor Prty tht fought to dfnd working clss intrsts.

It is not so. Th prty tht ws stblishd by th NSW Trds nd Lbour Council, TLC, in 1891, hd by th nd of tht dcd com to clrly rsmbl th LP of th 1990s. It hd bcom prty committd to th "ntionl intrst" rthr thn to rform; prty thoroughly ddictd to th dvlopmnt of ustrlin cpitlism. Lborism hd rpidly triumphd ovr th hops nd spirtions of thos militnt nd oftn socilist-inclind workrs who hd fought to crt th nw prty. By th tim of Fdrtion Lbor's initil rforming progrmm hd bn rplcd by commitmnt to Whit ustrli nd compulsory rbitrtion to curb striks. p> The majority of Labor supporters are workers. Howvr s th Russin rvolutionry Lnin put it:

... whthr or not prty is rlly politicl prty of th workrs dos not dpnd solly on mmbrship of workrs, but lso upon th mn [nd womn] tht ld it, nd th contnt of its ctions nd its politicl tctics. Only this lttr dtrmins whthr W rlly hv bfor us politicl prty of th proltrit. Rgrdd from this, th only corrct point of viw, th Lbour Prty is thoroughly bourgois prty, bcus, lthough md up of workrs, it is LD by rctionris, nd th wors kind of rctionris t tht, who ct quit in th spirit of th bourgoisi. It is n orgnistion of th bourgoisi, which xists to systmticlly dup th workrs. [1]

Thus the Labor Party is "capitalist workers "party. It dfnds th intrsts of cpitlism (prticulrly whn in govrnmnt) but rlis for support on th vots of workrs. This support riss from th ntur of working clss consciousnss. Krl Mrx discussd how on th On hnd "th prviling ids r th ids of th ruling clss". H lso rgud tht on th Othr hnd th prssur of th systm invitbly gnrts struggl nd through this rsistnc to cpitlist ids dvlops. Ovr th pst cntury thr hs lwys bn minority of rctionry workrs who uncriticlly ccpt cpitlist politics. Thr is nothr smll minority of rvolutionry socilists who unquivoclly rjct thm. Th bulk of th working clss howvr is rformist, combining ccptnc of th bsic tnts of th systm with lmnts of protst ginst it. It is this contrdictory consciousnss of both support for nd rsistnc to cpitlism tht provids mss bs for th LP.

Th ky lmnt of ruling clss idology is th id of th ntion uniting ll popl within it. Th ky lmnt in th struggl ginst cpitlism is clss consciousnss. Lbor tris to combin th two by chnnlling working clss spirtions through th institutions of th ntionl stt, such s prlimnt.

Th LP is th politicl xprssion of th trd union burucrcy, iming to influnc prlimnt. Th trd union burucrcy mdits btwn workrs nd mployrs. So dos th LP, but t On rmov from th dirct struggl t th point of production. In ddition LP ldrs r oftn clld upon to run th ship of stt. Lik ny mditing lmnt btwn th clsss, Lbor dpnds in th finl nlysis on th blnc btwn th contnding clsss. ny mningful nlysis of th LP, thrfor, must viw its history s dtrmind bov ll by th chnging blnc of clss forcs. In this pmphlt I look t th origins nd formtiv yrs of this contrdictory phnomnon of Lborism. Th 1880s nd 90s wr trumtic yrs for ustr...

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