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|Socialist Equality Party
|A socialist program of action for the working class!
|The coming global socialist revolution will solve every problem, comrade!
Upper House: Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland
Lower House: none
|not yet available
|2019 — 2013 — 2010 (as the Socialist Equality Party, prior to their deregistration. See below for more details.) — all these are on Cate Speaks
Policies & Commentary
Now, you might be wondering why a party that’s previously been in good standing with the AEC would suddenly be de-registered, and it has to do with changes to our electoral system made by the current government under the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Party Registration Integrity) Bill 2021. What they did was to increase the membership threshold for party registration from 500 to 1500 people, which is not, on the face of it, an unreasonable thing to ask in a country of nearly 26 million people. However, they also imposed – for no good reason that I can see – a tight deadline of three months in which currently registered parties had to gain the additional 1000 signatures. This, at a time when there were still many restrictions on public gatherings and such due to covid. Realistically, the deadline should probably have been simply the deadline for the next federal election. (This is a matter in which the usually excellent Antony Green is uncharacteristically silent in his blog post on the subject.) Unable to get the numbers together in the allotted time, the Socialist Equality Party has instead resorted to running as independents, although they are more than happy to identify themselves by party affiliation.
The Australian branch of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), who are, as every school child knows, the World Party of Socialist Revolution founded by Leon Trotsky. Its aim is to unite the international working class, on the basis of a socialist and internationalist program, to put an end to the capitalist system and establish socialism on a world scale. As Cate noted is previous years, this is a party that tends to be longer on rhetoric than actual policy positions1To paraphrase Stoppard: “We’re more of the love, blood and rhetoric school. Now, can do you love and rhetoric without the blood, or blood and rhetoric without the love, or all three, concurrently or consecutively, but we cannot do you love and blood without the rhetoric. The rhetoric is compulsory.”, although they do seem to have improved a little in that regard. After all, they have a socialist program of action for the working class! Unfortunately, they a lot of what they have to say just go to prove David Simon right: Marxist thought is better at diagnosing the problems of capitalism than solving them.
They come out hard on Covid-19, arguing that our goal should be elimination rather than “covid normal”. I haven’t checked all of them yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they were the most pro-vax party in this election, because this is a hardcore strategy that mentions absolutely nothing about the economic impacts it would have, not even mitigation for lost wages.
The next section goes on to warn about the dangers of impending nuclear war, although it gets lost in conspiracy theory pretty quickly. The villain, inevitably, is the US government, which “deliberately goaded Putin into a reactionary and reckless war” and that the chief responsibility for this war rests squarely with the US and its allies that are funneling mountains of arms into Ukraine. On the one hand, the SEP and the ICFI oppose the Russian invasion of Ukraine, not from the standpoint of supporting the NATO puppet Zelensky, but because it is sowing divisions between Ukrainian and Russian workers. I mean, that’s a point of view, but it’s a disturbingly bloodless one. How about opposing the war due to its pointless and tragic destruction of lives? Unsurprisingly, they also oppose the AUKUS pact.
“Oppose the agenda of austerity” is the title of the next section (which is both grammatically confusing and the only actual call to action in the section). But the paragraphs that follow, although they make salient points about our current situation, do not suggest how exactly the Socialist Equality Party intends to address the problems it calls out.
Their Climate Change section is, politely, unfortunately revealing: None of the other parties, including the Greens, has a solution. Their policies are limited to what is possible within the framework of the profit system and the national state, and are therefore piecemeal, parochial and based on the market. I’ll say it again: limited to what is possible. Instead, we should apparently indulge in a fantasy about how if we had a single world government that was scientifically literate, the problems of climate change could be solved.
Moving on to Defend democratic rights and free Julian Assange, the SEP tells us that under various pretexts, Coalition and Labor have collaborated in undermining basic democratic rights and legal norms and erecting the scaffolding of a police state that will be used against the working class. But the proposed solution is that the entire repressive apparatus of the capitalist state, its security forces and battery of anti-democratic laws must be abolished, which, again, is a fantasy not a policy.
So, What does the Socialist Equality Party propose? Glad you asked. They actually have a fairly coherent and reasonable set of immediate policy goals, which are at the very bottom of the page, either because this is some sort of metaphor for foundations, or because whoever’s in charge of the website is not across the latest research about attention spans and the internet. Cheap shots aside, here’s what they have to say:
We advance the following demands to meet the pressing needs of working people:
- An immediate rise in all pay to compensate for past erosion and wages pegged against inflation.
- A full-time, permanent job on decent wages and conditions for all who are able to work. A living wage to all those unable to work. End the poverty-level pensions for the elderly and disabled.
- Mandatory public health measures in every workplace to help stamp out COVID, including the provision of free N95 masks and PCR tests. Workers not management must decide what is safe. Reinstitute contact tracing, expand isolation and treatment and lockdown of areas of high infection to stop the spread of the virus.
- A vast expansion of public works to provide jobs and repair the damage done by decades of funding cuts to the public health and education systems. Tens of billions must be allocated to upgrading and staffing schools and hospitals and building new ones to provide free, high quality health care and education to all.
- Upgrade and extend public transport. Reliable high-speed telecommunications for all, including rural and remote areas.
- A vast expansion of public housing is needed to end homelessness as part of a broader program to provide affordable housing for all.
- Take the military out of civilian affairs. Establish a fully funded and staffed national disaster agency to take the necessary steps to prepare for floods and fires, prevent them if possible, and respond immediately if need be. Full income support for those impacted and adequate financial assistance to help them reconstruct their lives.
And honestly, there’s nothing there I object to very much – I wouldn’t go quite so hard on Covid as they propose, but given Australia’s status as an island nation, elimination is theoretically possible, although I’m not sure that shifting decision making from one group lacking the necessary medical expertise to another group with the same lack is a great idea. Neither am I sure that taking the military out of disaster response is a great idea – for one thing, it seems to pretty much already be the policy of the current government, and for another, I’d rather our military was out there saving lives than taking them. It is curious that there is literally nothing in this section about climate change, nor any attempt to address it (other than implicitly – increased public transport usually equals decreased pollution, after all). Given how impassioned they seemed about it just a few paragraphs further up this page, it’s odd that it doesn’t even rate a mention here.
At the end of the day, the Socialist Equality Party has some good ideas, but frames them in such a way that they’re almost impossible to take seriously. Their mindset is conspiratorial to the point of paranoia, and their open contempt for incremental solutions makes their proposals for exactly that seem a little hypocritical. I’ll put them ahead of the loony right, but only just.
Just a reminder that Maz and I lack the necessary Eurovision knowledge to choose the songs that Catherine liked to include, but we’d love to see what you suggest in the comments below 🙂