Socialist Alliance conference

Went to the four-day Socialist Alliance conference held at the University of Sydney. I hadn’t been to an SA event before. Quote: “One day everyone will embrace socialism. Solidarity comrades!”

The book stall.

My impressions:
* They view themselves as a “say what we really think” group. “We get to say what we like.” Members of Parliament often say to them: “You say all the things I want to say but can’t.” They strive for influence, rather than political seats. But they stand candidates for elections because it gets the public talking and thinking about them.
* They influence bigger parties and support factions of bigger parties and go to demonstrations.
* They tend to be smart, interested in international affairs, study social theories, and refer to history a lot. “We might not succeed now, but we stand on the shoulders of others, as future generations will stand on our shoulders … ” “It’s not about power – it’s about empowering all people.”
*They stand up for minority groups and the disabled. No minority is too small or obscure.
*They’re very big on learning Spanish and Latin American countries (Bolivia, Venezuela) with socialist governments. They had a Spanish insert in the NSW issue of Green Left Weekly. here was a long speech one evening by a Spanish bloke who edited the insert and his translator.
*They were very supportive of the speakers. Many got standing ovations.

Highlights:
“We are small and weak and our opponents are strong, but the root of their weaknesses is the capitalist crisis.
“Workers have suffered big losses on their 9 per cent super – super should be guaranteed. Instead, it has been used to help the risky capitalist regime, as a plaything by companies.
“The Labor governments are serving bourgeois agendas to kick the crap out of the working class.
“Some groups don’t want to do anything to embarrass a Labor Government during an election year. We’re not one of them.
“The socialist message is advancing into the upper levels of goverment. A federal election is happening this year.
“This is going to be a climate change election. For climate change, there needs to be a massive public expansion of funded monitors. We have rational and real alternatives.”
You can read about those here.

*    *    *    *

The Freedom Fighters singing.

Sam Wainwright, a councillor from Hilton, Western Australia, is the only Socialist Alliance councillor in Australia and he talked about how to run an election campaign. He’s a wharfie and Maritime Union member. He recommended starting a blog, being on twitter, Facebook, and handing out flyers stating “What you stand for” and putting a contact mobile phone number on everything. He went into details of his campaigns, you can read about them on his blog. He says on his blog: “Most candidates for council try to appeal to the middle ground and keep their political affiliations quiet. I don’t believe in that approach. I think it’s better to be upfront … [I’m] a staunch socialist, unionist and environmentalist. It’s a victory for all those like me who believe [in] … making a place in the community for people who are too often left out, such as indigenous Australians or people with disabilities.”

*    *    *    *
A bloke who works with WA mining unions said:
“The WA mining companies are gearing up for a boom for the next few years. The cost of living has exploded.
“Mine workers are worked to the absolute limit of endurances. They don’t sleep for 24-36 hours – they are flown up there in time to do an evening’s shift. Arrive in time to do night shift; fly back after day shift. They go through three marriages cause they’re always away, drinking, ageing and end up working as slaves to paying off maintenance. And as soon as they arrive home they have a ‘list’ of chores to do. They’re always going on about ‘The List’ …
“The cost of living in WA is aimed at mining employees on $130,000 who can buy a $1 million house. It’s impossible for single mums to afford a house.”

*    *    *    *
GLBTIQ – they call it LGBTI. “Lesbian” is put first before “Gay” and they don’t include “Queer”. Changed all references from “transgender” to “transpeople” and added “Intersex” in all the LGBTI policies. “Gender varied” was a new term that was used a lot as it “makes things so much easier”.
A policy item that was greatly debated was about sex testing in sport, based on the Caster Semenya sex testing case.

*    *    *    *

Climate change banner.

Other stuff:
*Every third sentence includes the word “comrade”.
*R. goes into politics classes at uni with pamphlets and tells students about various causes and invites them to come to the latest rally. “I’m a rabble rouser.”
*A couple of the oldies might have done too much dope — dunno if they campaigned for decriminalisation of marijuana, not worth it cause it’s fried their brains. Some amendment suggestions went on forever and just petered out.
*Watched the Freedom Fighters singing Let’s get out of Gaza.
*There was no Coca-Cola.

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