After 1952, as the Cold War split developed in the Labor Party, and Communist Party leader Lance Sharkey published a pamphlet about that conflict, the CPA also paid great attention to developments in the ALP. It encouraged the development of a Labor left, which was frequently under its influence, although this influence was sometimes challenged by smaller groups of Trotskyists.
For most of its history, the CPA did not afford itself the luxury practised by most current Marxist sects of treating the Labor Party, its leadership and ranks as an undifferentiated reactionary whole. Neither did the pioneer Trotskyists in Australia, for most of their period of activity, adopt such an unscientific attitude towards the Labor Party.
A recently published book, Local Labor , by Michael Hogan, about the ALP in the inner-Sydney suburb of Glebe, notes that one group of Trotskyists, led by Joe Boxall, entered the Labor Party as early as 1937. Most socialists of the Marxist sort have taken developments in the Labor Party very seriously, and the current sectarianism of the Marxist sects towards Laborism is an aberration. It is a serious error given the still massive grip of the ALP and the unions on the working class and the left half of Australian society.
One weakness of David McKnight's chapter is that he doesn't discuss the Australian Labor League of Youth, of which the CPA won the leadership during its entry work in the Labor Party.
The ALLY, a large organisation, was the vehicle for the recruitment of hundreds, and possibly thousands, of activists to the CPA's version of the socialist movement. Many of the activists who sustained the CPA for the next 20 or 30 years were recruited from the ALLY. There is some description of this activity in Audrey Blake's autobiography, A Proletarian Life . p> В«It cannot be expected that those Social-Democratic workers who are under the influence of the ideology of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie ... will break with this ideology of their own accord, by the actions of objective causes alone. No. It is our business, the business of Communists, to help them free themselves from reformist ideology .... there is no more effective way for overcoming the doubts and hesitations of Social Democratic workers than by their participation in the proletarian united front. В»
In 1935, the Communist International made a sharp turn in its political outlook opening a period designated as the В«popular front against fascismВ». Previously it had described even social-democratic and labor parties as В«social fascistВ», arguing that they were little different from fascist parties because they supported capitalism. This line proved disastrous especially for the German Communist Party (KPD) but also for Europe as a whole. As the strength of Hitler's National Socialists grew, the communists and Social Democrats fought each other, rather than uniting. The shock of Hitler's appointment in January 1933 as Chancellor of Germany and the defeat of the German communists led to the calling of the Seventh World Congress of Comintern.
At the congress, the new Secretary of the Communist International, Georgii Dimitrov, outlined the dramatic shift. The choice of Dimitrov as Secretary was significant. Dimitrov had recently been accused by Hitler's government of trying to burn the Reichstag. В«During the trial, in several exchanges between Dimitrov and Herman Goering the Nazi leader lost his temper and shouted threats of what his men would do to Dimitrov once they had him outside the court. Dimitrov's replies were quiet, reasonable and courageous. He presented the Communist movement as the defender of the values of Western civilisation - especially of rationality and the rule of law. В»At the Congress, Dimitrov acknowledged certain mistakes by communists including an В«impermissable underestimation of the fascist danger В»and aВ« narrow sectarian attitude В». To defeat fascism it was necessary to form a united front of all workers, regardless of their political party stance.
В«The Communist International puts no conditions for unity of action except one, and that an elementary condition acceptable to all workers, viz., that the unity of action be directed against fascism, against the offensive of capital, against the threat of war, against the class enemy. That is our condition. В»p> There was also a new liberality in the application of the line which would take В«various forms in various countries, depending upon the condition and character of the workers ' organisations and their political level, upon the situation in the particular country В». Even within fascist Germany it was necessary to organise, said Dimitrov, invoking the capture of Troy: В«the attacking army ... was unable to achieve victory until, with the aid o...