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1-5 April 2021
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Communist industrial organising during the Great Depression

melbourne
sydney

About this session

During the Great Depression, the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) built itself up from a small group on the fringes of the labour movement, to a major player in several key trade unions. Through the Militant Minority Movement, it planted roots in important industrial sectors, and it led defiant struggles by the unemployed. But, at the same time as it encouraged working-class militancy, a new Stalinist leadership wrecked the party, transforming it from a revolutionary organisation into a tool of Moscow. This talk will address the contradictions of the CPA in the inter-war years. It concentrates not on the Communists’ well-known organising in the Unemployed Workers’ Movement, but their less- examined efforts in workplaces and unions.

Recommended Reading

Into the Mainstream: The Decline of Australian Communism (Chapter 2)by Tom O'Lincoln
How Stalinism was consolidated in the CPAin Green Left Weeklyby John Percy
CPA growth during the Great Depressionin Green Left Weeklyby John Percy
The CPA and the unionsin Green Left Weeklyby John Percy
The Wonthaggi Coal Strike, 1934 in Labour History, no. 27 (1974)by Peter Cochrane
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