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...making a road by walking...

Understanding the non-authoritarian left in Australia

Economic and Social Liberation (contents)
Resources and Organising skills
Creative Politics
Growing Vegetables
Global Warming
The NSW Student Environment Activist Network (SEAN)
Refugees in Australia
Militarism and Social Justice
Poetry & Music
Books to Read
One rainy day, we shut down the World Economic Forum.

At the moment, I am really interested in the history of non-authoritarian left social movements in Australia. 

By non-authoritarian left, I mean any group that pursues social justice that does not seek to exert control over its membership, but rather seeks to create an empowering and participatory structure.

When a group can honestly and actively address problems of power imbalance in its structure, it is well on its way to empowering its membership for the long term- and changing society in the process. There are only a few group in Australia's history that have done this. I am hoping to learn about their histories. 

The Builders Labourers Federation
The Womens movement (1970's)
Friends of the Earth Australia

When there is denial of such power imbalances, authoritarianism, in-groups  or personality cults can result. I think that authoritarianism is a tragic part of the Left's history in Australia. It continues to manifest most obviously in the behaviour of Marxist-Leninist groups, such as the DSP, SA and the ISO, and to a lesser extent, Solidarity. It also is manifest in both elements of the split of the Australian Communist Party (although oddly enough, the pro-ALP split is more controlling than the pro-Stalinist split). The Australian Labor Party (perhaps due to their strict party line) and in some anarchist subcultures (where the authoritarian dynamic is enforced through peer pressure and unacknowledged assumptions rather than an explicit method of control).

As you can see, it seems that authoritarianism is well and truly entrenched in the Australian political system.

I am interested in the ways it has been overcome. 

One of the reasons I am so heavily involved in environmental movements is because I believe that their methodologies are generally less coercive than other groups.


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