In Australia

by

V.I. Lenin


Introduction

Lenin published this short article in June 1913. Although it is brief and its prediction about the liberal labor party making way for a socialist labor party has not eventuated 90 years on, the article has influenced Marxist discussion on the Australian Labor Party.

For example, it is cited in the Democratic Socialist Party’s 1988 pamphlet, Labor and the Fight for Socialism, and it was included in a pamphlet, How Lenin studied Marx, published by the Communist Party of Australia’s International Bookshop, in Melbourne, in 1944.

Today it is only available in Lenin’s Collected Works, and so far the digital versions of the collected works available on the web don’t include it.


The parliamentary elections took place in Australia recently.The Labor Party, which had the majority in the Lower House, having forty-five seats out of seventy-five, suffered defeat. Now it has only thirty-six seats out of seventy-five. The majority has passed to the Liberals, but this majority is very unstable, because in the Upper House, thirty out of the thirty-six are occupied by Labor.What a peculiar capitalist country this is in which Labor predominates in the Upper House and recently predominated in the Lower House and yet the Capitalist system does not suffer any danger.An English correspondent of a German newsppaper recently explained this circumstance, wich is very often misrepresented by bourgeois writers.

The Australian Labor Party does not even claim to be a Socialist Party. As a matter of fact it is a liberal-bourgeois party, and the so-called Liberals in Australia are really Conservatives.

This strange and incorrect use of terms in naming parties is not unique. In America, for example, the slave-owners of yesterday are called Democrats, and in France, the petty-bourgeois anti-socialists are called “Radical Socialists”. In order to explain the real significance of parties one must examine, not their labels, but their class character and the historical conditions of each separate country.

Australia is a young British colony.

Capitalism in Australia is still quite young. The country is only just beginning to take shape as an independent State. The workers, for the most part, are emigrants from England. They left England at the time when Liberal-Labor politics held almost unchallenged sway there and when the majority of the English workers were Liberals. Even up to now the majority of the skilled factory workers in England are Liberals and semi-Liberals. This is the result of the exceptionally favorable, monopolist position England occupied in the second half of the nineteenth century. Only now are the masses of the workers beginning to turn toward Socialism.

And while in England the so-called “Labor Party” represents an alliance betwen the socialist trade unions and the extreme opportunist Indendent Labor Party, in Australia, the Labor Party represents the purely non-socialist trade unionist workers.

The leaders of the Australian Labor Party are trade union officials, an element which everywhere represents a most moderate and “capital-serving” element, and in Australia it is altogether peaceful, and purely liberal.

The ties between the separate States of Australia in united Australia are still very weak. The Labor Party has to concern itself with developing and strengthening the country and creating a central government.

In Australia the Labor Party has done what in other countries was done by the Liberals, namely, introducing a uniform customs tariff for the whole country, a uniform Education Act, a uniform land tax and uniform Factory Acts.

Naturally, when Australia is finally developed and consolidated as an independent capitalist State the conditions of the workers will change, as also will the Liberal Labor Party which will make way for a Socialist Labor Party. Australia serves to illustrate the conditions under which exceptions to the rule are possible. The rule is: A socialist Labor Party in a capitalist country. The exception is: A Liberal Labor Party which only arises for a short time as a result of the conditions which are abnormal for capitalism.

Those liberals in Europe and in Russia who try to “preach” to the people that class war is unnecessary by pointing to Australia, only deceive themselves and others. It is ridiculous to think of applying Australian conditions (an undeveloped young country, populated by Liberal English workers) to countries in which a state and developed capitalism have been long established.

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