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CPI (ML) interviews DSP

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  • glparramatta
    */Interview/* */ /* *Sue Bolton* *Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), Australia* * * - Liberation, January, 2008. [The Assistant National Secretary of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 6, 2008
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      */ /*
      *Sue Bolton*
      *Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), Australia*
      * *
      - Liberation, January, 2008.
      [The Assistant National Secretary of the Democratic Socialist
      Perspective (DSP), Australia, Sue Bolton, attended the Party Congress
      right from 10-18 December. Comrade Sue did not just remain confined to
      the seats of the Congress Hall; she sought out comrades of the working
      class and peasant fronts and interviewed them; with the DTC workers of
      Delhi she shared her own experiences of being a bus driver and
      organizing transport workers; tirelessly interacting with a range of
      delegates she seemed quite at home and it was difficult to remember that
      she was a guest! In the following conversation, Sue Bolton discusses the
      challenges facing the Left movement in Australia. Interview was
      conducted by Kavita Krishnan (KK).]
      KK: Did working class issues play any role in the Howard Government’s
      defeat? In working class struggles, what has been the role of the Labour
      Party that is now in power?
      SB: The Labour Party was most unwilling to launch protests against
      anti-worker laws introduced by the Howard Government in 2005, saying
      that if they did so, Labour would be alienated. DSP as well as the
      Socialist Alliance along with some Labour members built pressure for
      mass protests and strikes, and got mass protests off the ground in two
      states (Victoria and Western Australia) in mid-June 2005, including one
      historic strike. For the first time in a long time, Labour was no longer
      in control of all the speaking platforms, and our line was ‘Don’t just
      wait for elections, we need militant actions.’ We were also able to some
      extent break the Labour Party’s monopoly on information. Even where
      Labour did control speaking platforms, we succeeded in getting strikes
      and protests off the ground. Howard wouldn’t have been kicked out
      without those strikes; the anti-workers laws were a main issue in the
      elections. Labour Governments in the past have had a history of
      pacifying working class militancy; in the days to come, workers’ issues
      will remain a key issue which the Labour Government cannot duck.
      KK: How do young people in Australia today respond to radical student
      groups like Resistance?
      SB: Times are more challenging for the student movement now than in the
      90s. The class composition of campuses and of the student movement has
      changed. Working class students and poorer students always had to work
      part-time, but now they are forced to work 20-30 hours a week, and so
      they have less time for ideas and political activism. The impact of
      post-modernist identity politics has also helped to destroy political
      movements on campus. Partly as a consequence, left student groups now
      often tend not to have a mass character and tend to become somewhat
      cliquish Left clubs instead.
      KK: I heard about ‘voluntary student-unionism’ being introduced in
      Australian universities – what kind of impact does that have on the
      student movement?
      SB: I was speaking to the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Union
      President and he described how all students on admission pay a fee that
      makes them all automatically members of the Student Union (SU). That was
      the case in Australia till a while ago. But the Howard Government had
      introduced ‘voluntary student-unionism’, which means that the payment of
      the SU membership fee is made voluntary. The aim was clearly to
      depoliticise students and make it more difficult for student groups to
      organise. Also, the SU fees not only funded the unions but also student
      services. Now the incumbent Labour Government is saying that the fees
      can go to the Student Unions as long as they are not spent on political
      activity. This means that Unions will soon run out of money. It may be
      that this move will discourage student bureaucrats who entered Unions
      mainly to control the funds, but there is no doubt that the move will
      weaken the student movement. But Resistance comrades are still active;
      in particular Resistance organised some successful walkouts in many
      cities in protest against Bush’s visit to Australia.
      KK: What has been your experience of attending our Kolkata Congress?
      SB: What has struck me strongly is the wide range of struggles that your
      party is leading. For me, this reemphasises that ideology alone cannot
      do, we’ve got to be intimately connected to class struggles. It’s been a
      reminder that international solidarity is no doubt important but being
      rooted in one’s own class struggle is even more crucial.
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