Mya Walmsley’s recent article “The Ballot Box or the Streets?” is a welcome contribution to the present debate among Australian anarchists regarding elections. It would be incorrect to think of it as just being about elections, however; it is part of a general discussion regarding the general strategic perspective of the nascent Australian platformist tendency. In that sense, I hope it triggers the kind of public engagement that it deserves. I at least hope I can set an adequate example. My response may be a little abstract at times, but that’s only because I want to avoid rehashing an anarchist version of the Socialist Alternative/Solidarity debate and instead respond in a way that’s productive.
What do we mean by struggle?
Mya follows a similar line to Jerome Small in responding to Tommy Lawson’s point about the uselessness of parliamentary struggle; the potential “risks” of electoral engagement are compared to similar risks manifesting themselves in union activity – activity that Tommy does not oppose. Underlying the entirety of Mya’s text is a kind of equivalency between unions and parties: it’s where the workers are, so that’s where we should be, agitating among the “base”. My disagreement here is similar to the one put forward by Sam Murray: to use the same crude framing, political and economic struggles are rather different.
I think unions and political parties are generally pretty different beasts. The nominal purpose of unions is to facilitate worker power by uniting workers of particular trades and industries across job sites, cities and even national borders. It doesn’t work based on political agreement, but on class interest. That’s precisely the reason that anarchists and other revolutionaries value them: they’re institutions created by the working-class for the advancement of the working-class.
A parliamentary political party, on the other hand, is not confined by any of this. It recruits simply on the basis of political affiliation and does not concern itself with what the recruit does for work. Its power is based entirely in the representation it can secure in parliaments. It isn’t just a cross-class body, but one that bases its strength on bourgeois institutions. The basis of the union is the worker, the basis of a party is the citizen. This is chalk and cheese.
The dreaded sin of “economism” has been raised in response to such criticisms before, but it doesn’t stick: to me the accusation just speaks to how remote we are from productive activity in workplaces that it can seriously be levelled. Nobody in the anarchist-communist movement here, as far as I know, sees the class struggle as beginning and ending at wage rises or the workplace or whatever; the exact same amount of people conceive of union struggles and the like as being “apolitical”.
I don’t mean to posit a very basic syndicalism as an alternative to interventions in parliamentary parties; the current workplace practices of our tendency aren’t much to speak of. We need to have a much clearer understanding of what we think of unions, what we think they can do and what we want them to do. Previously, when describing the purpose of unions, I specified that I was talking about their nominal purpose; in reality, the majority of trade unions in Australia are so collaborationist, law-abiding and bureaucratised that they don’t fulfil any of the aforementioned functions very much at all.
However, I am even less convinced by the idea that the engagement with the Greens is a possible way out of this hole, than I am by naïve syndicalism; I think the former digs the hole deeper. There is a tendency among some anarchists in Australia to look at “social unionism” as a way out of the mess, but I’m skeptical: I think what this can amount to in practice is less like the BLF and the Green Bans and more like an attempt to use union structures to build the kinds of activist movements we’re more comfortable operating in.
Legitimising the state
Mya is skeptical of arguments that suggest voting “legitimises the state”. I used to share this skepticism, and found it to be the weakest of the anti-electoral arguments, but recently I’ve come back around a bit. Breaking the pull of electoralism can’t be done simply by hoping some more Greens voters come to demonstrations; we need to actively break the ideology behind it too. Voting doesn’t legitimise the state in the sense that placing a ballot paper in a box turns the state from a good into a bad thing; that would be “placing immense power in the hands of the ballot box”, as Mya chides us. However, voting is a pretty crucial part of the ideology that upholds not just the state, but the bourgeois social order in general.
The state does not legitimise itself “with batons and pepper spray and economic and social deprivation”. It needs legitimacy precisely so it can defend and justify the batons, pepper spray, economic deprivation, and so on. A political regime built on naked force alone is rarely a stable one; it needs to be understood by its participants as either basically just or unavoidable. The immense repression and exploitation working-class people face on a daily basis cannot be seen for what it is. It has to be the result of a fair choice, the decision of a majority. This is not just a question of propaganda but of what the economic and political division of society engenders in the class – and how the class itself can begin to fight back.
Democratic ideology largely involves seeing voting as a moral duty – a necessary element of participation in civil society. The good citizen pays their taxes and votes and reaps in the benefits of society. That society is in fact rather miserable, and that workers at least “contribute” far more than they receive, is only secondary; the ideology maintains itself by confining perspectives to its own narrow bounds. The fundamental problems of society are portrayed as resulting from a lack of morals or from stupidity, and that they can be remedied through simply voting in good people or having better education or instituting a permanent ICAC or whatever. Democracy can be fixed with more democracy.
All of this is particularly the case in Australia, where voting is mandatory and enforced by fines. It forms part of the general social contract that instantly discredits extra-parliamentary alternatives. A simple statement like “I refuse to vote” can trigger intense reactions in a lot of circles.
I don’t believe that anarchists should be launching some kind of anti-voting, abstentionist campaign right now; I don’t think anybody in this discussion does (so Mya’s criticisms of abstentionist “strategy” seem to miss the mark). It’s simply not a productive use of our time – it would just be a form of propagandism that would achieve little. It might also attract legal repression – as the old Maoist Albert Langer found out when he was targeted on this basis for his advocacy of a specific kind of non-vote. It would be pointless. However, in the same vein, I think it would be just as pointless to advocate a vote for this or that party.
One of the basic functions of a revolutionary organisation should be to critique ideology pretty forcefully, even if it risks appearing as overly critical or wordy or abstracted from popular struggle. I don’t think this critique should only take the form of long, tedious essays – however important they are – but rather something that is embodied in our operating practices. That means, for instance, bringing out the elements of social struggles that work against bourgeois ideology; making explicit what would otherwise be implicit. I don’t believe this can be done whilst pursuing a strategy of entryism within a bourgeois party.
The Greens and class
Mya may cringe at the description of the Greens as a bourgeois party, but I can’t really think of any better term. There are two general points I’d like to make here: one, that the support base of the Greens is the middle-upper class, and two, the class nature of a party is not just about whether it has workers as members or not, but about what it aims for and what function it serves. Both points bracket my general argument that anarchists should not support the Greens.
1. Greens and the middle class
Mya describes the Greens as a left-wing, working-class split from Labor. I disagree. This isn’t a matter of interpretation but of something that can actually be displayed in demographic research. In addition to the immense surveying and polling that the political parties commission and keep private, there is a fairly substantial body of research that is publicly available. Though it’s pretty constrained by bourgeois understandings of class, some trends still come through.
A 2019 Roy Morgan survey (http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/7974-who-are-the-greens-2010-cf-2018-201905100753) demonstrated that Greens supporters are concentrated in the highest economic brackets; 31% are in the highest bracket and 24% in the second highest. This means that “a clear majority of 55% of Greens supporters are within the top two socio-economic” brackets – brackets which represent two-fifths of the population, meaning that the Greens supporters are pretty substantially more likely to be wealthy than the average person.
Wealth doesn’t correlate with class status – true. Some workers do earn a fair bit, like certain tradesmen or maritime workers. Thankfully, there is also data on the voting habits of certain professions that give us a bit more clarity. A Roy Morgan survey from 2013 (http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/party-vote-by-professions-december-2012-201306140318) demonstrates that the professions most likely to vote Green are those belonging pretty clearly to the middle class: professionals, scientists, visual artists, graphic designers, “intelligence and policy analysts”, social workers, university lecturers…
The neighbourhoods where the Greens are strong bear this out: pretty much all Greens draw their electoral representation from wealthier inner-city suburbs. It feels pretty pointless to deny this. These areas still have workers in them, true – but stating this sort of misses the point. If anarchists concentrated their activity on appealing to Greens supporters, then they’d be ignoring pretty much the entirety of Sydney’s working-class. The Sydney left is already stuck in an inner-city rut; there’s no real need to dig into it even more.
On the middle class generally
Mya places the middle-class description in quotation marks, indicating skepticism; they even state that Socialist Alternative is leaning into “the Stalinist concept of the industrial worker” in writing of the Greens as a middle-class party. What “the Stalinist concept of the industrial worker” entails is anybody’s guess, and how Socialist Alternative supports it is not indicated; Mya does not elaborate on this point and does not cite anything.
I have never really understood the desire to deny the existence of the middle-class and instead paint its members as simply either being workers or capitalists. It wasn’t a valid framework to have in the 19th century and it’s not a valid framework now. In Marx’s words, there obviously exists an intermediary layer of people “fluctuating between proletariat and bourgeoisie, and ever renewing itself as a supplementary part of bourgeois society”. That its boundaries can be fuzzy – witness the pretty sterile debates about whether teachers are proletarians – is irrelevant to the question of whether it exists or not, and to what extent it exists as separate from the main classes.
There are pretty significant differences between, say, a process worker in a food production facility, and a social worker, even if both are dependent on a wage to survive. How many of those process workers, for instance, aspire for their children to become ticketed general labourers or forklift drivers, instead of lawyers and researchers? It’s pretty clear that certain kinds of professions are higher up on the social ladder than others. This is due to differences in pay and social prestige of course, but also the particular position they serve in the production/reproduction process.
The nature of their work, their pay and their general social situation all shape the nature of their discontent too. Anyone familiar with, say, student activism, would know that there is a substantial component of students who would very much like the abolition of tuition fees and the improvement of their employment prospects, without much more than these. An equally self-interested collective struggle of textile workers is going to be substantially different. In that sense I don’t think Marx was wrong to suggest that there are people who “fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class”, and that this fight is more conservative than it is revolutionary.
2. Parties and class
Secondly – the relationship between a party and class is not as simple as looking at the class composition of the former. There are necessary connections between the composition of the party, what it advocates for, and how it operates. Even if the Greens were composed fully of unadulterated proletarians, I do not believe we should engage in entryism within it. In order for a party to be meaningfully working-class, it must actually stand for the interests of the working-class, to the de facto exclusion of all other classes. The Greens – let alone the ALP – do not do this. Their perspective on such matters would not be remedied by a political struggle to change their general line.
To use a particularly clunky but nonetheless accurate quote from Marx: “The peculiar character of social-democracy is epitomized in the fact that democratic-republican institutions are demanded as a means, not of doing away with two extremes, capital and wage labor, but of weakening their antagonism and transforming it into harmony…”
I don’t think the Greens, or the ALP for that matter, are even capable of representing the working-class under the current political system; I don’t believe that there can be meaningfully any working-class representation in bourgeois institutions. From the moment you build yourself on citizens instead of the collective working-class you abandon any meaningful notion of representation. I don’t even think I’m saying anything particularly out there here either – skepticism about “representation” seems to be a standard feature of contemporary anarchism and left communism.
Mya might actually find much of what I’ve written above actually rather irrelevant: what is relevant is that the most politically progressive workers will usually vote Green. It’s undeniably true that there are workers with faith in the Greens, just like there are workers with faith in Labor or the Coalition or even worse parties – though I do need to stress that the vast majority of workers do not have a substantial degree of enthusiasm for any side, certainly not to the point of becoming party members or activists.
In these instances we just put things plainly, like we do in every other circumstance: we state that there’s a contradiction between their own class interest and their political beliefs, and that their desires as workers are much better served outside of these parties than within them.
Pitfalls of entryism
While they do not say so explicitly, what Mya is advocating when they speak of an “engagement” or “intervention” in the Greens is a kind of entryism, not totally dissimilar to the entryism practised to one degree or another by myriad Trotskyist groups.
This is not an entryism that seeks to take over the party apparatus but one that seeks to “strategically” participate in party affairs so as to “win” party members and sympathisers over to revolutionary politics. Mya does not appear to be saying that anarchists should stand for party positions or take party jobs; they should be like rank and file militants in a union that refuse to take official positions, only that the union in question is substituted with the Greens.
We can extend the union metaphor even further to make a bit more sense of Mya’s opposition to Victorian Socialists: it is a bit like a group of revolutionaries going out on their own and setting up their own red union, instead of agitating among the rank and file of a bigger union.
I don’t put things this way so as to instantly discredit the strategy by associating it with Marxists – but I do think it needs to be emphasised how exceptional such a strategy is in the history of anarchism. This is substantially the reason why Mya’s article appeared with a disclaimer from the Red and Black Notes editorial collective, of which I am a member.
Engaging in entryism within the Greens necessarily means building up the power of the Greens, an institution we have fundamental disagreements with. It means handing out how-to-votes for Greens candidates, it means endorsing the party in public, it means taking out membership cards and paying dues, it means all this and more.
That is flatly in contradiction to our shared perspective on the most important thing being power on the streets, in the workplaces – on demonstrations, on strikes, etc. The suggestion is that we can use the party apparatus instrumentally in order to funnel people to support the former, but the fact of the matter is that we’re getting used more than we’re using them.
Like most Australian anarchists, Mya is fond of Malatesta’s quote about how we should conquer reforms like an army conquers the territory of an enemy advancing forwards. Implicit in this, though, are a few pretty basic questions: what army are we talking about? What are they advancing towards? How are they doing the conquering?
When talking with Greens members, an entryist or quasi-entryist strategy means pandering to or even encouraging beliefs we know to be baseless, under the aegis of “working with a non-revolutionary mass base”. Implicit in Mya’s statement that we “organise with the base of social democracy” by agitating against “horse-trading, sell-outs, backroom deals and compromises” is the notion that we agitate instead for principled negotiations, open deals, and so on instead. In other words: we want bourgeois parliamentarianism without all the predictable features of bourgeois parliamentarianism.
It’s pretty inevitable that a group engaging like this will wind up having weird perspectives: just look at Solidarity’s critical articles about Labor’s small target strategy, which occasionally read like tips for Labor on how it can win elections. Extra-parliamentary action is supported, but it is often not framed in terms of direct action, but as a means of forcing the party leaders to behave more progressively and to bait its supporters into coming to rallies and the like.
At this point the question is no longer about whether reforms in general are viable, as was stated in Mya’s introduction, but about whether the Greens in general are viable. We have to believe that they are in order to agitate within them. Like it is with Trotskyist groups, it becomes difficult to differentiate between what is a sincere belief, and what is a belief put forward for instrumental reasons.
On Victorian Socialists
This kind of opportunism is actually rather obvious in Socialist Alternative’s activity through Victorian Socialists and it is unavoidable in their party platform. Weaved through it are complaints about how there is a large gap between the poorest people in society and the richest, and that the richest people keep getting richer. No Socialist Alternative member believes that socialism can be accurately described as “taking the money and the power out of the hands of the super rich” – the small-to-medium rich are OK, though – “and using it to build a society that works for all of us”.
Socialist Alternative would emphatically drill its new recruits out of any such delusion. Like all good revolutionary communists, they know that socialism means working-class control of the means of production and the abolition of the political power of the capitalist class. However, in order for Victorian Socialists to be an effective electoral vehicle, it needs to happily adopt the kinds of incredibly generic, reformist slogans and demands that you’d otherwise find in the advertising material of the Greens or even the ALP.
Here I actually find it rather strange that Mya believes that the “political ideas that Victorian Socialists is putting forward are supportable”. The political ideas of Victorian Socialists are wafer-thin, and its demands are a laundry list of every popular left-wing idea. It includes demands that Socialist Alternative usually despises even being mentioned, like the decriminalisation of sex work.
It’s all propagandism, but it’s not even propagandism for revolutionary socialism. It’s propagandism for Corbynism without Corbyn, Sanderism without Sanders – a way of reaching Australian sympathisers of these political developments, that would otherwise be funnelled into the Greens or Labor. If the Trotskyists are going to run in elections, they should at least have the decency to be ultra about it! I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’d rather a Spartacist get elected in place of Jerome Small, but it would certainly be more entertaining.
To engage politically with Greens supporters and encourage them to involve themselves in activism and workplace organising – I don’t think anyone’s opposed to that, but why do we need to be within the Greens to do it? It’s not as if Greens voters are literally unreachable outside of party events, or as if they’d simply ignore us if we were non-members. Mya is advocating for a very specific kind of engagement, one that I think is situated outside of principled anarchist activity.
Mya’s opening point about revolutionary optimism deserves comment. They seem to spend less time trying to prove that conditions are fine for reformist struggle than they do on whether you should pretend like they are anyway, regardless of the truth. It’s not simply a question of perspective, as if the debate is about whether we think the glass is half full or half empty: it’s about whether you think reformism is a project that has legs. This is not a debate about pessimism or optimism, but about wishful thinking versus a concrete understanding of reality.
I do not feel like I am presuming too much to say that the value of their own present activity is a central concern for Mya, otherwise they wouldn’t have framed things in this manner. Most self-described “revolutionary activity” feels pretty Sisyphean and nearly all leftists go through crises of faith at one point or another. Behind the arrogance of a lot of sects is actually a pretty acute insecurity; the truth is that many people really aren’t certain about what it is they should be doing. That’s where the dogmatism comes in.
Nobody is immune to this. To a certain extent, all militancy feels dissatisfying. The losses feel much more common than the victories. I just don’t think the problem is resolved by wanting to look more on the bright side, even if avoiding doing so runs the risk of “isolation, sectarianism, and an over-emphasis on party building”. Rather, I feel it is more productive to both a) figure out different, more productive means of intervention, and b) foster the kind of open, critical, reflective culture where debates like this are routine instead of exceptional. Here, it is productive to discuss optimism and pessimism: in other words, our own attitude to what it is we are doing.
Since I’ve written off both entryism in the Greens and basic “rank and filism”, I feel obliged to give at least an outline of what I believe a productive strategy for anarchists might look like. I’m not particularly keen to do this, as I think formulating a cohesive strategy for a group of people is basically a fool’s errand without a level of preexisting agreement and co-ordination that does not yet exist between any of us, really. The best I can do is a sketch.
I also think strategy is often like picking between a bunch of different options that are all pretty good in their own way, so I’m hesitant to draw a line in the sand and say that this is the right path, to the exclusion of all others. Feel free to call me a centrist on that score.
I think probably the best use of our time – besides general activity in activist groups and the like, as well as basic propaganda for social anarchism – is some kind of coordinated, reflective workplace-community activity. I’m not particularly original in advocating this; I’ve been interested in groups like the original UK Solidarity, Angry Workers World, Échanges et mouvement, Wildcat, etc… for a while now because I think they do (or did) the best in bringing together more abstract theory with a sustainable kind of everyday practice.
Central to this is my belief that we shouldn’t be afraid of aiming to move to the same locations, the same workplaces, in order to work on this activity together. We should undertake a research process to identify what the most politically interesting workplaces might be and figure out how we could best prod along and understand the process of class rebellion that already exists on lower levels. This is obviously something that takes quite a bit of commitment and should never be forced on people; that would be just insane, and it would lead directly to the kind of madness present in many of the Trotskyist organisations that undertook “turns to industry” in the 1970s.
It’s pretty common for leftist groups to encourage their members to get jobs in certain fields once they graduate (most leftists have been to uni), but the jobs they pick tend not to actually be that politically interesting. Often they’re jobs that are already pretty heavily unionised, which can seem good, but can be stifling in their own ways – where the unions are stronger, the more likely it is that worker disputes get funnelled into legalistic and bureaucratic dead ends, and the harder it is for us to practically intervene. That is not (and should not be) an insurmountable problem, or a reason to write off activity in these areas altogether, but it is a sign that these industries are not the only option.
If I could recommend people read two books, it would be Steve Wright’s Storming Heaven and Angry Workers World’s Class Power on Zero Hours. Neither book is flawless, obviously, but I do think they provide a good starting point and provide some practical and theoretical tools that are pretty valuable – Class Power in particular.
Where we do intervene in unions, we should do so with a pretty clear programme of change, and a clear means of putting it into practice. We should identify the features that allow the unions to be solid, working-class institutions, like strong local branches, a willingness to break the law, regular meetings, a federal structure – and think about how we can actually affect that sort of change. I’m in the process of publishing a text by a French comrade, René Berthier, who was a founder and key activist of a group named ASRAS that operated much like this in the 60s and 70s. I hope it will give us some inspiration about possible routes forward.
This debate is one that has been going for quite a while in private forums, meetings and informal conversations, and some people might even be surprised it was even being had – I know the other Red & Black Notes editors were surprised! To a degree this is the first time the debate has been had in an open arena. Despite the fact that Mya and I are positioned at completely different ends of the spectrum on this question, they are still without question one of my closest comrades, and I’m proud to be in the same organisation as them – even if the organisation is still in the process of figuring out a clear way forward on questions like this one.
Mya writes that:
The ‘strategy’ of abstention at best sees the problems of revolutionary engagement with parliamentary elections, throws its hands up, and leaves it to bourgeoisie and reformists.
To the contrary, I think a strategy of “revolutionary engagement with parliamentary elections” would simply result in us practically abandoning proletarian politics for those of the bourgeoisie and the reformists. It’s not about leaving the field open for the bourgeoisie, but refusing to be their pawns. Anarchism as a tendency dates back to efforts of people like Bakunin and Proudhon who, quite rightly, saw the creation of unions, co-operatives and internationalist organisations as heralding the creation of a new world in embryo, one that would do away with the bourgeois one. Mya writes that the 19th century anarchist abstentionist position was put forward primarily as a refutation of “stagism”, the idea that societies would first have to become bourgeois republics before socialism could reign. This is a pretty serious reduction of these anarchists’ concerns.
For Proudhon, an important step was his disavowal of parliamentary participation and focus instead on the power of workers’ associations. For Bakunin, the major point at which he became a revolutionary socialist proper was his departure from the middle-class League of Peace and Freedom, giving up agitation within it for a total commitment to the International Workingmen’s Association. It’s a step that we’ll all inevitably have to make too, if we have not done so already. Abstention from parliamentary politics – which is not a “strategy” advocated by anyone here, as I’ve already said – has historically been an essential part of anarchism for a reason. Separation from the politics of the bourgeoisie isn’t an optional part of our doctrine; it’s the starting point for everything we do.
This might come as a surprise to readers of this who are in Socialist Alternative, but nobody in the anarchist-communist movement here is particularly interested in playing the “SAlt-bashing” game. We know more than anybody that there is a tendency among anarchists and other libertarians to base much of their political practice around not being like “the Trots” – even if it means being flatly opportunist, politically incoherent or just basically useless.
Increasingly, though, I’ve come to realise that we are vulnerable to the inverse bias – that of not wanting to appear like the aforementioned anarchist “swamp”. The risk is that we build organisations that are not operationally dissimilar to the Marxist groups we’re still pretty critical of, the frequently sectarian groups we often have to navigate around in activist circles in order to get things done.
In an 1889 article appealing for anarchists to involve themselves in the workers’ movement, Malatesta wrote that in a situation of defeatism, where revolutionaries do not feel they can do anything and that the only option is to wait, “lots of sound socialists […] throw themselves, just for something to do, into the electoral contest…”. I used to be more inspired by these words than I am now, even though in the end Malatesta was writing to get anarchists involved in strike action; I can see now that this line of thinking can instead drive a “do-anythingism” that will, in a way, provide its own path back to the electoral contest. At times, I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with clearly identifying certain political disputes as things we shouldn’t intervene in, however much we care about them. It’s no better to intervene for the sake of the organisation’s popularity than to abstain for the same reason.
The trajectory of our movement
In Black Flag, the founding of our organisation was inspired by some of our members’ discovery of specifism. To us then, it offered a framework for anarchists to begin carrying out some of the tasks we thought were not being done: coordinated activity in activist groups and student networks, the elaboration of a coherent body of theory and political “line”, systematic propaganda, the training of militants that would be well-known and influential, and so on.
Since then we’ve been in a pretty healthy process of reevaluating specifism. We still treat the texts as foundational and new members are required to have a decent understanding of it, but practical experience has led to us putting a bit more meat on the bones of our tactics than was otherwise provided in specifist documents. At the same time, we’ve identified some deficiencies within the theory itself – most importantly, a rather shoddy class analysis, on which a fair bit of specifism rests. Mya and I, as I understand, are largely in agreement on this score.
As Black Flag and the other anarchist-communist organisations grow, this process of reevaluation will no doubt continue. Eventually, I think we’ll begin to reevaluate our own existence more directly, in a productive way. My concern is that without a proper, more systematic critique of the “political organisation” phenomenon – and accordingly, the development of newer, more relevant strategies for organisation – we’ll end up as distant from the realities of class struggle as Solidarity, Socialist Alternative, the Communist Party, and all the others.
Mya and I both want our movement to break out of our shell, but without breaking from the Greens, I think we’ll be stuck there forever – we’ll be going from one swamp to another.
NB: in the above article I wrote that Socialist Alternative are willingly encouraging illusions about socialism that they know to be false. At the time of writing, I thought that to be true. Since then, I realised Red Flag editor Ben Hillier published something which seems to indicate that they may have genuinely lost their minds:
The party’s messaging is straightforward: “People before profit.” The total wealth held by the top 20 percent of Australians was ninety times greater than that held by the bottom 20 percent, according to estimates published in a 2020 joint study by the Australian Council of Social Service and the University of New South Wales. Oxfam claims that the 47 billionaires in Australia doubled their collective wealth during the pandemic to $255 billion.
Victorian Socialists’ policies would transform this state of affairs by imposing a one-off 50 percent wealth tax on personal assets over $10 million, an 80 percent wealth tax on personal assets over $40 million, and a one-off 99 percent wealth tax on all personal assets over $100 million. The party’s platform also advocates for rebuilding the welfare state, strengthening unions, supporting indigenous sovereignty, and a range of other demands that, taken together, would build a socialist Australia.