Defeat Australia’s new undemocratic election laws. Hands off the name of “socialist”!
The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) unequivocally opposes key provisions of undemocratic election laws passed by the Australian parliament last month that allow election authorities and any previously registered political party to veto the use of common names of political parties, including the word “socialist.”
As a fundamental political principle, the SEP strongly opposes handing over to any capitalist state body, including the Australian Election Commission (AEC), the power to determine which parties have the fundamental democratic right. to use widely known rights and historically important names, such as socialist and communist.
We also oppose any initiative by any other political party claiming the name of socialist to attempt to establish a legal monopoly on that name. The Socialist Equality Party will not seek such a legal veto ourselves, and we call on all other parties and groups identifying themselves as “socialist” to publicly declare the same.
The election laws that the Liberal-National coalition and the Labor opposition combined to push through parliament in just over 24 hours from August 25-26, behind the backs of the people, not only attempt to deregister most of the political parties without parliamentary members. , suddenly forcing them to submit lists of 1,500 members, or three times the previous rule, by December 2.
The law also prohibits the ACS from registering a party – even if it provides the names of 1,500 members – if its name contains a word that is part of the name of a previous registered party, unless it does not. first get the “written consent” of that party. another party.
In part, this reactionary provision creates a veto right over any title already claimed, such as Liberal, Labor and Green. It is a blatant attempt to consolidate the existing parties of the political establishment in the face of the ever deepening political disaffection produced by their decades-long imposition of the diktats of the capitalist ruling elite.
However, this law also has a particular purpose in seeking to restrict and legally control the use of “socialist” and “communist” – names associated with the efforts and struggles of the working class internationally for two centuries.
Amid conditions of growing political disaffection, intensified by the failure of capitalist governments around the world to protect people from the COVID-19 disaster, this is an attempt to block, restrict or confuse discussion on the need for socialism as the only response to the subordination of public opinion. health and life to the generation of corporate profits and the accumulation of private wealth.
Both terms – socialist and communist – are part of the common heritage of mankind, their oldest roots going back thousands of years. They are not and should not become the private property of any political party.
Socialism has been widely associated with the struggles and aspirations of the working class and the struggle against the capitalist profit system since the beginning of the 19th century, when the Industrial Revolution led to the creation and growth of a vast class. workers and a workers’ movement. From the ancient Latin word sociare, which means combine or share, it has become synonymous with the fight against poverty, oppression and the gaping social inequalities intrinsically produced by the capitalist mode of production.
Communism, a term made famous by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in the publishing The Communist Manifesto in 1848, also became widely associated with working class movements which, in Engels’ words, “proclaimed the need for total social change” rather than illusory efforts to reform or modify capitalism. It is also derived from Latin, from communis, which can be translated as “of or for the community”, and has long been associated with the quest for a classless society based on egalitarianism and common ownership of the productive forces.
These terms remain of ever greater importance and interest to working people around the world, despite betrayals and political crimes perpetrated by bogus claimants to their names, such as the “Social Democratic” Australian Labor Party, various pseudo-left “socialists”. ”And the Stalinized Communist Parties which resulted from the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet Union under pressure from the world capitalist powers.
Clarifying the lessons of these betrayals and the nature of true socialism must be the subject of a democratic debate between workers and young people, free from any party name ban by the government.
The new laws are broad in their anti-democratic implications. They further allow a registered political party to oppose on behalf of another party, at any time, regardless of the date of registration of the party, thus opening the way for challenges even after registration of the party. a party.
The law does not specifically name names to be protected against use. The only exceptions to the prohibition are the words “function” (such as “the”), collective names for persons (such as “party”), the name of a country, the word “country” or a recognized geographic location. in Australia, and the word “democratic”.
According to the official explanatory memorandum to the legislation, “the word ‘democratic’ is treated as an exception, as it occupies a unique position as it is both in generalized historical use in naming conventions of political parties and to be directly linked to the intrinsic function of all Australian political parties. organizations. “
This is sheer hypocrisy – collectively invoking the name “democratic” for a parliamentary elite that is about to restrict basic democratic rights.
Without party registration, parties and their election candidates cannot identify their political affiliations on the ballots. They must nominate without any party name, or as unexplained “independents”. This denies the basic right of parties to present candidates in order to campaign across the country for their political programs, as well as the essential right of voters to know the policies of the candidates.
In the most immediate political crisis, these laws aim to quell opposition to the political establishment and its catastrophic profit-driven “live with the virus” policies that threaten hundreds, if not thousands of working class lives. In the coming months.
Above all, the legislation constitutes an incentive to derail the debate on the real socialist alternative for which the PES and its sister parties of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) fought through the World Socialist Website, including for the global eradication of COVID-19.
The SEP has launched a campaign to demand the repeal of these laws and all restrictions on the democratic right of parties and individuals to stand for election. At the same time, we appeal to all our supporters and readers: Become a SEP electoral member to help us keep our registration and defeat this attack.