1-5 April 2021
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The politics of early Australian communism

History of the Communist Party of Australia

About this session

The Communist Party of Australia (CPA) which was formed in October 1920 emerged out of a large and influential far left milieu. Australian socialists played a leading role in defeating two attempts to impose conscription during World War I, a general strike had rocked NSW in 1917 and the immediate post-war years saw significant industrial unrest. The large far left at the time was largely influenced by some form of syndicalism, particularly hope in the formation of One Big Union, as the strategy for revolution. The politics of the Bolsheviks and Third International, which started to arrive in Australia from late 1919 onwards, significantly challenged the existing politics of the far left. Most existing histories of the CPA ignore this formative period, either skipping over the political debates which wracked the far left at the time or applying an anachronistic lens informed by the party's later Stalinism to their original politics. This talk will seek to unearth the genuine politics of the early CPA based on the early writings of the party and its founders.

Recommended Reading

100 years since the founding of Australia's Communist Partyin Red Flagby Mick Armstrong
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