- - ustrlin Lbor Prty

ustrlin Lbor Prty

ustrlin Lbor Prty


Workers' Prdis?
The Maritime Strike of 1890
The Labor Party takes shape
White ustrli
Socialists and the Labor Party


The Labor Party has lwys bn an enigma for socialists. On th on hnd it is prty bsd on th trd unions nd obtins its vots prdominntly from workrs. Yt in offic, s th xprinc of th Kting nd Hwk govrnmnts confirms, it is just s committd to mintining th rul of cpitl s th Librls. Nonthlss dspit ll th btryls nd compromiss, dspit th outright ttcks LP govrnmnts hv lunchd on workrs, th mjority of workrs vn ftr thirtn yrs of Hwk nd Kting still, lbit grudgingly, look to Lbor s thir prty.

How r socilists to undrstnd nd orint to this phnomnon of Lborism? Firstly w hv to discrd on of th lingring illusions tht still comforts mny Lbor supportr. It is th myth tht Kting nd Hwk do not rprsnt th tru spirit of Lborism; tht somwhr in th dim mists of tim thr xistd truly rdicl Lbor Prty tht fought to dfnd working clss intrsts.

It is not so. Th prty tht ws stblishd by th NSW Trds nd Lbour Council, TLC, in 1891, hd by th nd of tht dcd com to clrly rsmbl th LP of th 1990s. It hd bcom prty committd to th ntionl intrst rthr thn to rform; prty thoroughly ddictd to th dvlopmnt of ustrlin cpitlism. Lborism hd rpidly triumphd ovr th hops nd spirtions of thos militnt nd oftn socilist-inclind workrs who hd fought to crt th nw prty. By th tim of Fdrtion Lbor's initil rforming progrmm hd bn rplcd by commitmnt to Whit ustrli nd compulsory rbitrtion to curb striks.

The majority of Labor supporters are workers. Howvr s th Russin rvolutionry Lnin put it:

...whthr or not prty is rlly politicl prty of th workrs dos not dpnd solly on mmbrship of workrs, but lso upon th mn [nd womn] tht ld it, nd th contnt of its ctions nd its politicl tctics. Only this lttr dtrmins whthr w rlly hv bfor us politicl prty of th proltrit. Rgrdd from this, th only corrct point of viw, th Lbour Prty is thoroughly bourgois prty, bcus, lthough md up of workrs, it is ld by rctionris, nd th wors kind of rctionris t tht, who ct quit in th spirit of th bourgoisi. It is n orgnistion of th bourgoisi, which xists to systmticlly dup th workrs.Quotd in Tony Cliff nd Donny Gluckstin, Th Lbour Prty - Mrxist History, Bookmrks, London, 1988, pp. 1-2.

Thus the Labor Party is capitalist workers party. It dfnds th intrsts of cpitlism (prticulrly whn in govrnmnt) but rlis for support on th vots of workrs. This support riss from th ntur of working clss consciousnss. Krl Mrx discussd how on th on hnd th prviling ids r th ids of th ruling clss. H lso rgud tht on th othr hnd th prssur of th systm invitbly gnrts struggl nd through this rsistnc to cpitlist ids dvlops. Ovr th pst cntury thr hs lwys bn minority of rctionry workrs who uncriticlly ccpt cpitlist politics. Thr is nothr smll minority of rvolutionry socilists who unquivoclly rjct thm. Th bulk of th working clss howvr is rformist, combining ccptnc of th bsic tnts of th systm with lmnts of protst ginst it. It is this contrdictory consciousnss of both support for nd rsistnc to cpitlism tht provids mss bs for th LP.

Th ky lmnt of ruling clss idology is th id of th ntion uniting ll popl within it. Th ky lmnt in th struggl ginst cpitlism is clss consciousnss. Lbor tris to combin th two by chnnlling working clss spirtions through th institutions of th ntionl stt, such s prlimnt.

Th LP is th politicl xprssion of th trd union burucrcy, iming to influnc prlimnt. Th trd union burucrcy mdits btwn workrs nd mployrs. So dos th LP, but t on rmov from th dirct struggl t th point of production. In ddition LP ldrs r oftn clld upon to run th ship of stt. Lik ny mditing lmnt btwn th clsss, Lbor dpnds in th finl nlysis on th blnc btwn th contnding clsss. ny mningful nlysis of th LP, thrfor, must viw its history s dtrmind bov ll by th chnging blnc of clss forcs. In this pmphlt I look t th origins nd formtiv yrs of this contrdictory phnomnon of Lborism. Th 1880s nd 90s wr trumtic yrs for ustrlin cpitlism nd for th formtion of th ustrlin working clss. Th outcom of th tumultuous bttls of thos yrs ws dcisiv in shping th LP.

Th struggl for socilism cn b fought nd won only by th working clss. This will only hppn if guidd by rvolutionry prty, n ltrntiv to Lbor's rformism. Hopfully n undrstnding of th formtion of th LP cn ply rol in orinting socilists to th pproch ncssry tody for building rvolutionry prty tht will rplc th LP s th dominnt forc in th lbour movmnt. For our tsk is not just to undrstnd Lborism but to swp wy both it nd th systm tht th Ktings nd Hwks hv for so long proppd up.

Workrs' Prdis?

Th stndrd historicl viw of ustrli in th yrs following th gold rushs of th 1850s up until th onst of th svg dprssion of th 1890s, is on of unbridld prosprity - virtul prdis for workrs. It ws viw shrd by mny contmporry obsrvrs. Th gloris of Mrvllous Mlbourn, th Pris of th South, wr widly proclimd. With its wid sttly strts, lgnt mnsions, burgoning trd nd fvrish building industry Mrvllous Mlbourn ws uphld s th pitom of colonil dvncmnt. Hr in th Nw World it smd, nw brd of slf-md mn (sic) ws constructing n glitrin socity fr from th povrty, dspir nd dgrdtion of ristocrtic nd clss-riddn urop.

In this mor thn fvourbl conomic climt it is rgud tht it ws possibl for workrs to tk dvntg of chronic shortg of lbour to chiv privilgd position nd dgr of trd union orgnistion unprllld lswhr in th world. This working clss prosprity ws supposdly rflctd not only in comprtivly high wgs nd short working hours, but in high lvls of hom ownrship nd rltiv s of upwrd socil mobility into middl clss occuptions.

ccording to consrvtiv nd right wing lbour historins this producd modrt, rspctbl lbour movmnt in tun with th dominnt middl clss opinion of th tims - librl ntionlism; working clss immun to rvolutionry socilist ids; lbour movmnt mor concrnd to prsrv its shr of privilg from th supposd thrt of chp sin lbour (thus th ovrwhlming support for Whit ustrli) thn in clss struggl. Clss politics r portryd s bing irrlvnt in this middl clss utopi.Bd Nirn's Civilising Cpitlism. Th Bginnings of th ustrlin Lbor Prty, Mlbourn Univrsity Prss, Mlbourn, 1989 is clssic sttmnt of this viwpoint.

On lding lft wing historin, Humphry McQun, gos so fr s to rgu tht thr ws no gnuin working clss in ustrli in this priod, only ptty bourgoisi of smll producrs nd rtisns. Thus h rgus:

Th Lbor Prtis tht mrgd ftr 1890 wr in vry wy th logicl xtnsion of th ptit-bourgois mntlity nd subordintd orgniztions which prcdd thm. Thr ws no turning point. Thr ws mrly consolidtion; confirmtion of ll tht hd gon bfor.Humphry McQun, Nw Britnni, Pnguin, Mlbourn, 1970, p. 20.

Whil fw historins would go to this ludicrous xtrm, thy r pron to mphsis th mutul intrsts of smll mployrs nd thir workrs. Fctoris nd construction sits wr gnrlly smll nd tchnology ws primitiv. Mngmnt is portryd s informl nd s shring mny of th rdicl dmocrtic trditions of th rtisn workforc, in opposition to th consrvtiv squttocrcy. In Mlbourn, in prticulr, it is rgud smll bosss nd workrs wr llid in support of high triffs (protction) to stimult industril dvlopmnt.

n rlir gnrtion of lft intllctuls influncd by th Communist Prty viwd ths dvlopmnts in much mor fvourbl light thn McQun. For th liks of Brin Fitzptrick, Robin Golln, Russl Wrd nd In Turnr, th lst hlf of th nintnth cntury ws on of unprllld dvnc for lft nd dmocrtic forcs.Brin Fitzptrick, Short History of th ustrlin Lbor Movmnt, McMilln, Mlbourn, 1968; Robin Golln, Rdicl nd Working Clss Politics. Study of strn ustrli, 1850-1910, Mlbourn Univrsity Prss, Mlbourn, 1967; Russl Wrd, Th ustrlin Lgnd, Oxford Univrsity Prss, Mlbourn, 1966; In Turnr, Industril Lbour nd Politics. Th Dynmics of th Lbour Movmnt in strn ustrli 1900-1921, Hl & Irmongr, Sydny, 1979. Thy sw th working clss militncy of th 1880s nd th formtion of th Lbor Prty in th 1890s s continution of th dmocrtic populist movmnts of th prvious dcds. Th struggls ginst th trnsporttion of convicts, th urk Stockd, th fight to unlock th lnd nd th 1890 Mritim Strik r ll subsumd into th glorious trdition of ustrlin rdiclism nd glitrinism.

For th old Stlinist-influncd lft history ws on our sid. ustrlin ntionlism, fr from bing fundmntlly rcist nd pro-imprilist, ws sn s hving progrssiv dynmic, which must b ppropritd by th lft. So for Golln th rdicl ntionlists' concpt of th ntion ws ssntilly clss viw.Golln, p. 114. This intrprttion of ustrlin history dov-tild ntly with th Communist Prty's populr front pproch from th mid-1930s. Th supposd triumphs of populist ntionlism lst cntury providd n ttrctiv rtionl for th subordintion of working clss orgnistions to populist llincs with supposdly progrssiv middl clss forcs in th hr nd now.

Thr is no doubting th rpid growth of ustrlin cpitlism undr th stimulus of xpnding British dmnd for ustrlin rw mtrils, spcilly wool. Btwn 1861 nd 1900 ntionl product grw four-fold.Turnr, p. 2. Th rt of growth ws mong th most rpid in th world. This xpnsion ws lrgly finncd by th inflow of British cpitl for rurl industry nd to finnc mssiv govrnmnt works progrms to provid th infrstructur - rilwys, rods, ports, buildings - ncssry for th continud xpnsion of th xport orintd rurl conomy.

Howvr th lmost xiomtic ssumption tht th working clss bnfitd substntilly from conomic xpnsion is bsd on dubious sttisticl vidnc. Th wg rts compild by th Sttisticl Rgistr rly lrgly on trd union stndrd rts for th job.This sction is bsd on Rymond Mrky, Th Mking of th Lbor Prty in Nw South Wls 1880-1900, NSW Uni Prss, Sydny, 1988, pp. 20-22 who provids dtild critiqu of th sttisticl vidnc in Nol Butlin's influntil publictions, Invstmnt in ustrlin conomic Dvlopmnt 1861-1900, NU Prss, Cnbrr, 1964 nd ustrlin Domstic Product, Cmbridg, 1962. Howvr union mmbrship only rchd 20% of th workforc for brif priod round 1890. Mny unorgnisd workrs r unlikly to hv obtind stndrd rts nd probbly not vn ll union mmbrs. s wll, hourly rts tll you littl bout nnul incoms t tim whn most workrs, vn skilld workrs, wr in csul mploymnt.

Furthrmor, vn ccpting tht wgs nd living stndrds wr somwht highr thn th pplling conditions njoyd by unskilld workrs in Britin, this hrdly mks ustrlin workrs privilgd ristocrcy of lbour. ustrlin lif xpctncy, whil grtr thn in Britin, ws only 47 yrs for mn nd 51 for womn, nd undoubtdly lowr mong th working clss. Hom ownrship ws high by intrntionl stndrds, but nowhr s common mong urbn workrs s is commonly portryd. In 1891 30% of ll Sydny houss nd 41% of Mlbourn's wr ownr occupid nd undoubtdly th rt ws much lowr for workrs.Kn Buckly nd Td Whlwright, No Prdis for Workrs. Cpitlism nd th Common Popl in ustrli 1788-1914, Oxford Univrsity Prss, Mlbourn, 1988, pp. 158-161.

In ny cs during th 1880's wg rts wr coming undr sustind prssur from th bosss. This ws n importnt fctor in th growth nd incrsing militncy of th lbour movmnt. Whil thr my hv bn lbour shortgs in th countrysid, in th citis, spcilly Sydny, tmporry unmploymnt nd undrmploymnt sm to hv bn common. This ws spcilly so in much of th trnsport, building nd mnufcturing industris whr mploymnt ws ssonl. Thr wr high gnrl lvls of unmploymnt in Sydny during th short-livd rcssions of 1878-9 nd 1886-7. Du to th bsnc of socil scurity bnfits (othr thn thos providd by unions) vn short priods of unmploymnt or sicknss could b disstrous.

Working conditions for unskilld workrs wr horrndous. Thy lbourd in smll workshops with dngrous mchinry nd poor vntiltion nd snittion. Conditions in Sydny wr notorious. By 1891 only on clothing fctory hd ctully bn built in Sydny. Th rmindr wr convrtd shds or lofts.Mrky (1988), p. 43. Swtd industris wr widsprd; pic work, sub-contrcting nd outwork wr rif, nd combind with xtrmly long hours. Whil th 8-hour dy ws n importnt trd union rllying cll going bck to th 1850s, outsid Victori it ws only scurd by limitd numbrs of workrs.

Thn thr wr th slums. mjor rport on slum housing in Sydny in 1875-6 indictd tht conditions wr ctully wors thn in London. Workrs livd two or thr to room in th worst rs. Swg ws just thrown into th strts. Unlik London, th Sydny uthoritis hd no powr to clos down buildings for hlth rsons.Shirly Fitzgrld, Rising Dmp. Sydny 1870-90, Oxford Univrsity Prss, Mlbourn, 1987, pp. 62-64. So whil th ovrll colonil dth rt ws low, th dth rt in Sydny ws similr to British citis. For th 1880s infnt mortlity rts wr highr in Sydny thn in London.Fitzgrld, pp. 96-100. Th poor living conditions - th nrrow lns, closd courtyrds, dfctiv dring nd vntiltion - brd diss. Thr wr rgulr pidmics of typhoid, influnz nd vn n outbrk of plgu.

In Sydny csul lbour prdomintd. Much work ws ssonl nd dpndnt on th rurl conomy. vn th fw lrgr fctoris, such s shipbuilding nd rpir, wr subjct to ssonl dmnd nd hd n unstbl workforc. Thr ws considrbl disloction of working clss fmilis s ml workrs wnt to th bush or s for work. bout 30% of womn wr in th workforc but thy wr mployd on vry low wgs. s lt s 1891 hundrd of boys gd 8-14 workd from 5 m to 7 pm in brickyrds ch crrying six or svn tons of cly dy.Fitzgrld, pp. 141, 145-46.

Of cours this ws not th pictur prsntd by rspctbl opinion t th tim. For most bourgois commnttors povrty did not xist in ustrli or t lst ws confind to nwly rrivd migrnts yt to find thir ft. Th Sydny Morning Hrld dclrd t th hight of th 1890 Mritim Strik:

Littl ws it thn supposd possibl tht in th hppy ustrlin colonis our working clsss - th most fortunt, th bst pid, nd th most prosprous body of workrs in th world - would b summond by thir ldrs to tk prt in ruinous wr ginst socity dstitut of ny rtionl purpos.Golln, p. 134.

s th popultion of Sydny trbld to lmost 400,000 btwn 1870 nd 1890, th city physiclly dtriortd s th provision of mnitis did not kp pc. Fr ntrpris rn rmpnt nd thr wr fw rstrictions on unscrupulous dvloprs. Hlth dtriortd.

Whil thr wr som limitd opportunitis for upwrd socil mobility for minority of skilld workrs in NSW in th 1860s nd 1870s, for th mss of th proltrit th prospct of scping from thir clss ws nvr n option. Whil th id of stting up your own smll frm (or to lssr xtnt prospcting for gold) still hld n ttrction, nd ws n importnt idologicl dvic for scuring working clss loylty to th systm, th ctul prospct of workrs doing so ws bcoming incrsingly dim during th 1880s.

Th lck of skilld work bing gnrtd by th Sydny conomy rinforcd this. Th numbr of wg rnrs incrsd rltiv to th numbr of mployrs, rflcting proltrinistion of th workforc. Thr ws littl vidnc of lbour shortgs, with th possibl xcption of th building trds. Sydny vn possssd its own workhous, th Bnvolnt sylum, for th dstitut.

Mlbourn, which grw from 125,000 in 1861 to 473,000 in 1891 (40% of Victori's popultion) ws lrgr, mor prosprous nd mor industril city thn Sydny. Its mor rpidly xpnding conomy did offr grtr opportunitis for socil dvncmnt, spcilly in th turbulnt pionring dys of th rly 1860s. By th 1880s som formr rtisns hd bcom substntil cpitlists. Howvr th incrsing scl nd cpitl intnsiv structur of industry mnt tht th prospcts for such succss bing rptd wr stdily diminishing. s wll, by th rly 1880s swting, spcilly of fml picworkrs, hd bcom mjor politicl issu. Housing ws mor modrn in Mlbourn nd thr wr fwr slums. Howvr s Grm Dvison puts it: by 1880, th innr cor of working-clss suburbs hd bcom rgion synonymous in public stimtion with dirt, diss nd povrty.Grm Dvison, Th Ris nd Fll of Mrvllous Mlbourn, Mlbourn Univrsity Prss, Mlbourn, 1978, p. 150.

Finlly, th stndrd pictur most historins portry of rough nd rdy glitrinism ws fr from bing shrd by ll clsss of ustrlin socity. n dvrtising blurb for nw housing in Sydny's bttr suburbs strkly rvls th ttituds of th rich: Howvr stimbl in thir own sphrs of lif my b th butchr, th bkr nd th cndlstick-mkr, w do not wish, with ll our bostd dmocrcy, to hv thm lbowing our comfortbl cottg or mor ornt vill with thir misrbl shntis. Fitzgrld, p. 42.

Th Workrs ris

Th NSW Lbor Prty ws both th first formd nd th most influntil. By th nd of th 1890s th NSW prty hd st th pttrn which Lbor ws to follow fdrlly nd in ll th othr stts. It ws hr tht Lbor's cor policis - Whit ustrli nd compulsory rbitrtion - wr pionrd nd codifid. Thrfor it is of prim importnc to undrstnd th dvlopmnt of cpitlism nd th clss struggl tht gv ris to nd conditiond th dvlopmnt of Lbor in tht colony.

Th scond hlf of th nintnth cntury sw rpid xpnsion of th working clss nd th grdul contrction of th slf-mployd proportion of th workforc. By 1892 ovr two thirds of th NSW workforc wr wg rnrs. Hnd in hnd with this proltrinistion, cm th mrgnc of nw urbn finncil nd industril cpitlist clss tht chllngd th trditionl prdominnc of th pstorlists. This shift towrds industril cpitlism ws not suddn, but it cclrtd towrds th nd of th cntury. mploymnt in gricultur nd pstorl industris dclind shrply. By 1891 Sydny hd 35% of NSW's popultion nd urbn workrs formd th lrgst componnt of th working clss.Mrky (1988), pp. 28-29. Its unions, prticulrly of skilld workrs, domintd th lbour movmnt.

Howvr mnufcturing industry, which mployd 37,000 workrs, consistd lrgly of lbour intnsiv smll plnts. Ninty pr cnt of fctoris hd lss thn 30 workrs, though thy incrsd in siz in th 1880s. Th mtl industry ws of grtst siz nd cpitl intnsity. Skilld workrs wr concntrtd in th building nd mtl trds. Togthr with th printrs thy wr usully th highst pid. t th othr xtrm, food nd clothing mployd minly smi-skilld or unskilld workrs. Th fml proportion of th workforc grw from 15.7% to 19% btwn 1881 nd 1891.Mrky (1988), pp. 29-33. Mny of th nw jobs for womn wr in mnufcturing, though thr wr still lrg numbrs of young, usully Irish or Irish-ustrlin womn, mployd s domstic srvnts (40-50% of ll womn in pid mploymnt).Buckly nd Whlwright, p. 144. Chp fml nd juvnil lbour wr importnt for rly cpitl ccumultion. Outwork nd sub-contrcting wr widsprd nd profits xtrordinrily high.

Tn or twlv hour working dys wr common. Th 8-hour dy ws minly limitd to th building nd mtl trds nd not ncssrily uniform vn thr. Thr wr lrg numbr of struggls ovr th issu. Th Bkrs wr unsuccssful in 1884, but finlly imposd it in som shops ftr long strik in 1890. In 1886 th Brickmkrs won it ftr nothr long strik. Succss, howvr, ws oftn only tmporry. Th mill ownrs, for xmpl, rpuditd n 8-hour grmnt in 1890. Th chivmnt of ight hours ws oftn t th xpns of rducd wgs, loss of ml brks, or n intnsifiction of work.

Crft unions ttmptd to mintin control ovr th lbour supply vi th pprnticship systm. Howvr colonil pprnticships wr oftn shortr thn in Britin nd nvr s rigidly nforcd. Th wg diffrntil btwn skilld nd unskilld ws lso lss thn in Britin. Furthrmor, th position of som trds ws bing undrmind by d-skilling. Bootmking ws brokn down into sris of spcilisd jobs. Socil mobility ws most mrkd mong nginrs nd printrs but smll businsss wr inscur nd during rcssions thir ownrs wr oftn forcd bck into th pid workforc.

Prior to th 1880s th wool industry ws xtrmly profitbl du to high world mrkt prics. In NSW shp numbrs incrsd from 6 million in 1862 to pproximtly 60 million in 1892.John Mrritt, Th Mking of th WU, Oxford Univrsity Prss, Mlbourn, 1985, p. 5. During th 1880s howvr th industry ws hit by crisis. Flling wool prics wr n importnt fctor; but lso pstorl xpnsion in th 1880s ws into drir lnd in th wst, which ncssittd highr cpitl costs. Th crisis cm to hd in 1891-2 s wool prics slumpd drsticlly.Mrky (1988), pp. 58-59.

Thr wr t lst 25,000 shrrs in th 1880s, s wll s lrg numbrs of unskilld shd hnds. Mor consrvtiv smll lndholdrs rning xtr csh to kp thir slctions going possibly comprisd 35% of th workforc. In th st whr thy wr concntrtd most brnchs of th Shrrs Union, th SU, hd smll fluctuting mmbrships. Howvr, in th wst, whr opportunitis for smll holdings wr limitd, th mor militnt, itinrnt, lndlss bush workrs prdomintd, s thy did in Qunslnd.Mrky (1988), pp. 61-62.

Thr ws mor of lbour shortg in th wst, nd grzirs could fford fwr dlys bcus of indbtdnss nd th dngr of grss sds imprgnting th flc. So hr, whr union mmbrship ws highst, th SU formd in 1886-7 could oftn gin its dmnds quickly with th thrt of strik ction. Th militnt mood ws fulld by svr fins imposd for improprly shorn shp, hrsh disciplin nd th xtrmly rduous work. ftr n unsuccssful ttmpt by pstorlists to rduc wg rts in 1885-86, th nw union mngd to forc up stndrd rts by ovr 14%. Wgs bcm significnt fctor in rising costs just whn wool prics wr flling. This lrgly xplins th growing rsistnc to th union.

Col mining ld to th first lrg concntrtions of workrs in NSW. Th Nwcstl colfilds wr th lrgst, supplying British shipping nd th locl mrkt. s col ws ssntil for mny industris, th conomy ws snsitiv to strik ction in th mins. Col minrs thus hld strtgic brgining position nd wr oftn sought s llis by othr unions. Th industry ws highly suscptibl to conomic downturns nd wg rts vrid normously bcus of fluctutions in th pic rt. Whil th 1870s wr priod of rsonbl prosprity, chronic unmploymnt subsquntly chrctrisd th industry.

Th work ws notorious for its dngr nd shr drudgry. Fibrosis nd silicosis wr common occuptionl disss. During th 1880s th nnul dth rt of 3.4 pr thousnd xcdd th notorious British mins. Th vr prsnt dngr ws ky fctor wlding strong sns of colfilds community. Locl communitis wr dpndnt on th minrs nd gv thm widsprd support during striks. strong clss idntity prvdd th community nd ws rinforcd by th fct tht most min ownrs wr outsidrs, living in Sydny or London. Th minrs' union ws th rlist mss union of th unskilld. mployrs lso orgnisd rly in opposition to th union.

Mtl mining mployd lrg migrtory workforc tht fluctutd btwn 11,000 nd 18,500 in th 1880s. Mining ws on th lrgst scl t Brokn Hill tht commncd in 1885 with mssiv invstmnt of British cpitl. Its popultion grw from 6,000 in 1887 to 26,700 in 1899. Its workforc ws th third lrgst in NSW ftr th rilwys nd th col mins. In 1889-90 th minrs' union, th M, won importnt concssions including closd shop, 46 hour wk nd n nd to pic work. ftr 1889 profits bgn to dclin s silvr prics fll 15% btwn 1889 nd 1892.

By th lt 1880s or rly 1890s th col mins, th mtl mins nd th pstorl industry fcd crisis of dclining profitbility, xcss cpcity nd dclining rturns. Th bosss rspondd by stiffning thir rsistnc to th unions. t th sm tim workrs in ll thr industris xprincd dclin from pst opportunitis. On th colfilds this provokd bittr 13 wk strik of ll Nwcstl district minrs in 1888. Dspit lck of funds nd indqut support from th NSW TLC, only nrrow mjority of 200 out of 3,500 votd to ccpt th bosss' nw grmnt.

Th trnsport industry hd som of th lrgst concntrtions of cpitl nd lbour, out of which mrgd ky unions. In Sydny, th mritim unions wr th lrgst of ll. Dspit rduction in th siz of crws in th lt 1880s, du to nw tchnology nd th shipownrs driv to lowr costs, th industry rmind highly lbour intnsiv. In 1891 thr wr 3,000 smn in NSW, 600 stwrds nd cooks nd ovr 3,000 whrfis. From th mid-80s th mritim unions won improvd wgs nd conditions. In Jun 1890 th Sydny whrf lbourrs won closd shop, n 8-hour dy nd py incrss. Undr ths prssurs th shipownrs bcm incrsingly frustrtd nd spt of nw dmnds from workrs providd th finl imptus for unitd bosss' opposition to th unions.Mrky (1988), pp. 90-94 nd G.R.Hnning, Stmships nd th 1890 Mritim Strik, Historicl Studis, Vol. 15, No. 60, pril 1973, p. 587.

s workrs mobilisd nd mployrs prcivd thrt to thir uthority in th workplc, nd in som css vn to th institution of privt proprty itslf, th stt's rprssiv ntur rvld itslf in n opn nd sustind fshion. Th Mstrs nd Srvnts ct ws usd ginst unions by intrprting striks s brch of contrct. In 1884 striking bkrs' ldrs wr jild. Striking shrrs lso fll foul of th ct. Smn wr subjct to spcil disciplinry provisions undr th Mrchnt Shipping ct tht md striking t s tntmount to mutiny. ftr n 1885 strik thr smn wr jild for two wks for disordrly conduct nd qustioning th cptin's ordrs.

British common lw chrgs of conspircy nd intimidtion wr lso usd ginst workrs. In th 1870's minrs wr chrgd with conspircy nd during n 1886 strik svn minrs wr jild for intimidtion of scbs. s violnt striks bcm much mor common in th lt 1880s nd 1890s th stt furthr mobilisd. Th prcdnt of govrnmnt intrvntion in striks ws wll stblishd prior to th mjor bttls of th 1890s, prticulrly on th colfilds, whr troops nd cnnon wr snt during striks in 1880, 1885 nd 1888.

During th 1870s trd unionism ws concntrtd in thr rs: th urbn crfts, som of which hd bn orgnisd sinc th 1840s nd which fostrd smll numbr of smi-skilld unions, such s th buildrs' lbourrs; th northrn col minrs; nd mritim unions of whrfis nd smn. Howvr from bout th mid-80s union orgnistion sprd rpidly. Thrts to stblishd wgs nd conditions combind with th grtr concntrtion of lbour spurrd th formtion of unions of smi-skilld nd unskilld workrs such s col lumprs, rilworkrs, mtl minrs, shrrs nd clothing workrs. Th mmbrship of oldr skilld unions lso xpndd, th nginrs' union, th S, grw from ntionl mmbrship of 800 in 1881 to 2,500 in 1891.Buckly nd Whlwright, p. 174.

Th rpid, xcitd, if somwht unstbl, dvlopmnt of unskilld urbn unions ws lrgly rsult of xmpl lswhr. xisting unions oftn dirctly influncd th formtion of nw ons. Th Smn's Union inspird th Cooks, whil th ldrs of th Mtl Minrs, Spnc nd Tmpl, built th Shrrs' Union. Th Shrrs in turn ncourgd th orgnistion of drivrs. Th fifty or so unions with 30,000 mmbrs in 1885 grw by 1891 to ovr on hundrd with bout 60,000. This rprsntd bout 21.5% of th totl workforc, probbly th highst lvl of unionistion in th world.Mrky (1988), pp. 139-140.

Nvrthlss, union covrg vrid widly. Womn workrs wr vry poorly orgnisd. Th first srious ttmpt to orgnis womn in Sydny occurrd btwn 1889 nd 1893. On th inititiv of th TLC thr womn's unions, th Tilorsss, th Lundrsss nd th Fml mploys Union with combind mmbrship of thr or four hundrd wr stblishd.W. Nicol, Womn nd th trd union movmnt in Nw South Wls: 1890-1900, Lbour History 36, My 1979, pp. 21-28. Mny mnufcturing unions wr wk. For xmpl in 1891 th Stormn's Union hd only 200 mmbrs out of potntil 2,000. Mmbrship of skilld unions howvr ws high nd consolidtd mrkdly during 1889-91. Th nginrs nd Ironmouldrs nd som building unions, such s th Stonmsons, hd lmost totl covrg. Othr crft unions such s th Bkrs hd lss stbl mmbrships, whil crft unions in th clothing trds wr in srious dclin s th introduction of mchinry rplcd skilld workrs with smi-skilld.Mrky (1988), pp. 139-140.

In Mlbourn similr pttrn of clss mobilistion occurrd if t slowr pc, du to mor prosprous conditions. By th mid-80s th old protctionist llinc btwn smll mnufcturrs nd thir rtisns nd lbourrs ws bginning to brk down s industry bcm mor cpitl intnsiv. Th rgus nwsppr obsrvd in 1885:

In ll trds it would ppr s if w wr drifting to th union s th dominnt powr on th on hnd, nd th lrg millownr with mchinry, cpitl nd crdit bhind him s th othr, th working mn bcom cst nd th mployrs spcilizd clss, whil individulity is crushd out in th conflict.Dvison, p. 43.

Similrly W Murphy, th Mlbourn Trds Hll scrtry, xplind th slow dvlopmnt of unionism in th 1860s comprd to th 80s:

Workshops nd fctoris on smll scl wr to b obsrvd springing up in ll dirctions in which mployr nd workmn wr ctutd by sntimnts which bgot of th grtst cordility...Thos mployrs, for th most prt, hd sprung from th working clss thmslvs, nd th utmost fmilirity prvild btwn thm nd thir mploys, whil th lbour mrkt could not supply in xcss of th dmnd. Whil this stt of ffirs lstd, notwithstnding svrl ttmpts of vrious brnchs of lbour to ssocit, vry littl progrss ws md. It ws not until mployrs bcm cpitlists, nd th smll tnmnt usd s workshop ws rplcd by mssiv brick or ston mnufctory...mchinry, nd numbr of inspctors, formn nd pprntics, tht th...hithrto contntd workmn could b t ll imprssd with th disprity which thy hlpd to crt btwn thir mployrs nd thmslvs.Dvison, p. 43.

Whil Murphy no doubt ovrstts how contntd workrs wr in th 1860s, th myth of dying g of lost opportunity ws n importnt fctor fostring th dvlopmnt of clss consciousnss in th 80s. Rsntmnt bout dclining opportunitis ws probbly grtst mong migrnt workrs ttrctd to ustrli by storis of limitlss possibilitis. Migrnts wr to ply vry prominnt rol in th lbour movmnt.

s in Sydny, Mlbourn sw n incrs in th numbr of fml outworkrs nd in 1885 thr ws mjor cmpign ginst swting. Throughout th 1880's rnts in th innr city ros whil wgs stgntd. Collingwood nd Fitzroy wr notorious for povrty nd lrrikinism, product of th conomic turmoil of thir dominnt industris, th clothing nd boot trd. It ws in ths swtd trds of th innr city whr clss consciousnss slowly mturd.

In 1880 thr wr only two unions mong Mlbourn fctory mploys. By th nd of th dcd thr wr 48, including tilorsss, cochbuildrs, furnitur mkrs, mtl mouldrs nd nginrs. Th Oprtiv Bootmkrs Socity foundd in 1879, xmplifid nw, ggrssiv styl of unionism. Whil its forml ims, such s th prsrvtion of th pprnticship systm, wr s consrvtiv s mny of th old crft socitis, undr th ldrship of Willim Trnwith, it bcm pc sttr in industril orgnistion.

Th rcssion of th lt 1870s nd th continud stgntion of th oldr industris ld th bosss to brk wg grmnts nd xploit to th full th opnings for swting ndmic in th picwork systm. This ld unions to mobilis. In 1882 th tilorsss struck ginst thir Flindrs Ln mployrs scuring much improvd wgs nd conditions. Struggl sprd from this most xploitd sction by dgrs to th bttr pid. In lt 1884 th bootmkrs wr lockd out for thr wks in bittr bttl. Whil th struggl ndd in compromis tht includd th limiting of outwork, it provd to b n importnt turning point.

Militnt orgnistion nxt sprd to furnitur workrs nd vntully to mtlworkrs. s th bosss wr crying out for lbour t th hight of th boom, substntil wg gins wr md nd closd shop lmost chivd. Th building boom of th lt 80s nbld numbr of wll orgnisd or fvourbly situtd construction trds, lik th bricklyrs nd plstrrs, to mk significnt gins.

Lbour historins tnd to drw shrp contrst btwn trditionl crft unions nd nwr unions of th unskilld nd smi-skilld tht mrgd in th 80s. Thy usully drw clos prlll to Britin, whr th lbour upsurg t th nd of th cntury sw th dvlopmnt of militnt mss orgnistions, th nw unionism, in shrp contrst to th nrrow trditionl crft unions.

Howvr ths prllls with Britin cn b ovrplyd. For strt, in ustrli mss orgnistions of wtrfront workrs prdtd th 80s, nor wr numbr of th mss unions, lik th Shrrs, industril unions tht orgnisd ll workrs in n industry. Th Shrrs ws n occuptionl union of th most skilld sction, bhving in mny rspcts lik crft union by ttmpting to rstrict ntry to shring.

Mss unions such s th Whrf Lbourrs, Mtl Minrs, Rilworkrs nd Shrrs copid th crft unions by mintining high bnfit pymnts for ccidnts, funrls nd so on. Th Whrf Lbourrs' vry high ntrnc f to sustin funrl bnfits provd disstrous during th 1890 Mritim Strik, by mking it difficult to nrol lrg numbrs of nw mmbrs. Nor wr th nw unions ncssrily mor militnt thn th crft unions. Th M, th mtl minrs' union, ws numriclly domintd by its consrvtiv Victorin mmbrs, who wr oftn shrholdrs in smll gold mining compnis. Th WU bcm notorious for its modrtion nd rspctbility nd its strong dvoccy of compulsory rbitrtion. On th NSW rilwys th mss union, th mlgmtd Rilwy nd Trmwy Srvic ssocition, doptd quit dfrntil ttitud. Rl union strngth ly with th lit Locomotiv ngin Drivrs nd in th workshops mong th S nd othr crft unions.

It ws mong th nw mss unions tht cntrlisd union burucrcy first bgn to mrg. Bcus of thir smll mmbrship nd oftn loclisd r of oprtion vry fw of th crft unions hd full tim officils. vn th NSW TLC did not mploy full-tim scrtry until th lt 1890s. Whil som of th mss unions copid th opn dmocrtic structurs of th crft unions, th M nd th SU/WU strtd with full tim profssionl ldrship. Th WU ws tightly controlld from th cntr nd spnt high proportion of its incom on slris, offic rnt nd quipmnt. In th cours of th 1890s th WU bcm vr mor cntrlisd with dirct lction of officils bing rplcd by thir ppointmnt by tiny, full-timr domintd confrncs.Ry Mrky, Trd Union Dmocrcy nd th Lbor Prty in Nw South Wls, 1880-1914, Historicl Studis, Vol. 22, No. 86, pril 1986.

Nor wr crft unions s rluctnt to rsort to industril ction s is oftn supposd. Whil thy prfrrd to rly on ngotitions nd sw strik ction s lst rsort, by th lt 80s thy wr incrsingly involvd in industril conflict. Thy tndd to pick off firms on by on with slctiv striks or scondry boycotts ginst th supply of goods to rclcitrnt mployr. Th ustrlin crft unions wr much mor dmocrtic nd dptbl thn thir highly burucrtisd British quivlnts. In th bsnc of lyr of full-tim officils thy wr dpndnt on high lvl of rnk nd fil prticiption to mintin th union. s wll numbr of crft unions idd th dvlopmnt of smi-skilld unions in thir industry or vn opnd mmbrship to thm.

Most industril disputs in NSW in th 80s wr rltd to union ttmpts to control lbour supply. Thy concrnd union rcognition, th closd shop, pprnticships, nd th us of lss skilld lbour. Th unions tht chivd significnt wg gins wr fw, nd limitd to thos in rs of lbour shortg. In th lt 80s living stndrds wr flling s th bosss wnt on th offnsiv. Nvrthlss th unions mintind high dgr of confidnc nd ssrtivnss, fulld by th rlir high xpcttions of th boom, th rr, but spctculr succsss of groups lik th Brokn Hill minrs nd mritim workrs, nd th lrgly dfnsiv chivmnts of th urbn crfts nd col minrs. Clss conflict nd consciousnss hightnd s th gp btwn ths xpcttions nd chngd circumstncs widnd.

Ths chngs wr clrst mong urbn skilld unions, prhps bcus thy hd th highst xpcttions nd lowr lvl of clss consciousnss prior to th 80s. Som, such s th Printrs, rspondd to industril chng by rtrting furthr into crft consrvtism. (Though Qunslnd printrs wr militnt nd bckd th ustrlin Lbour Fdrtion's socilist progrmm nd in 1891 objctd to th Lbor plnk clling for whit univrsl ml suffrg. In 1888 thy fought thr months strik for closd shop nd th following yr librlisd thir mmbrship policy nd grw rpidly). But othrs, such s th Stonmsons, dvlopd n xtrm clss bittrnss prcisly bcus thir position ws so svrly undrmind. Th orgnisd lbour movmnt bgn to rprsnt clss rthr thn crft lit. vn th cutious SU ldrship ws prssurd by th militncy of its wstrn mmbrship.

This procss ws rflctd in th dvlopmnt of th lngug of clss. Rfrncs to th working clss rplcd trdsmn nd lbourrs. Thr ws much tlk of bttls of Cpitl vrsus Lbour. nothr sign of th rising mood of clss consciousnss ws th normous finncil support (31,000 pounds) risd in solidrity with th 1889 London dock strikrs. Thr ws incrsing co-oprtion btwn unions nd th Trds nd Lbour Council mrgd s th rcognisd working clss ldrship in NSW.

Th Sydny TLC ws formd in 1871, but not until 1883 did it bgin to grdully build its influnc. Its strongst support cm from th mtl trds, Stonmsons, Bkrs, Printrs nd Shipwrights. t th bginning of 1890 th TLC hd 30 ffilits with 20,000 mmbrs. In Jun 1891 it rprsntd ovr 40,000 workrs nd incrsingly xtndd its uthority ovr th lrgst nd most rpid xpnsion of unionism vr xprincd.Mrky (1988), p153-157.

sris of Intrcolonil Trds Union Congrsss wr hld in n ttmpt to dvlop ustrli-wid union orgnistion. This culmintd in somwht grndios proposl to form cntrlisd ustrlsin Lbour Fdrtion, LF, to unify th working clss t both industril nd politicl lvls. Qunslnd doptd n LF structur in 1889. Whil th LF id ws symbol of hightnd working clss consciousnss, Shrrs' ldr, W G Spnc, nvisgd it s highly cntrlisd body with strict disciplin ovr sctionl militncy.

Th dvlopmnt of cntrlisd union ldrship ws contrdictory blssing. On th on hnd it ws mnifsttion of working clss mobilistion. Howvr on th othr hnd it contind th sds of consrvtiv burucrtic brgining systm tht would rstrin this clss mobilistion, through ttmpts to disciplin its mor unruly constitunts. Union officils form lyr distinct from thir mmbrs. Thy r not subjct to th immdit prssurs of cpitlist xploittion in th workplc. Thy xist s brgining gnts ttmpting to obtin th bst dl thy cn within th frmwork of th xisting systm. Invitbly thy r involvd in mking ll sorts of compromiss with th bosss. Thy prfr ngotition to struggl. Thy s strong union orgnistion s mns to strngthn thm in ngotitions, not s mns to chllng th vry xistnc of cpitlism. Whn thy turn to politicl ction it is s bck up or substitut for wknd brgining position.

From th mid-80s union officils bgn to xprss concrn bout th rising militncy of th rnk nd fil. Mlbourn Trds Hll ldr Trnwith complind tht it ws vry difficult indd in som trds to tk ny ction tht in th slightst dgr smd to fvour th mployr...without bing suspctd of slling thos with whom you r connctd. Th prvious yr th Mlbourn THC Scrtry, W Murphy, hd grt difficulty kping th lid on wtrfront strik. Whil t th 1889 Intrcolonil Trd Union Congrss on dlgt complind of disprging criticism of union ldrs by th rnk nd fil.Jn O'Connor, 1890 - Turning Point in Lbour History. rply to Mrs Philipp, Historicl Studis, Vol. 4, No. 16, My 1951, pp. 360-361.

To summris: from th mid-80s mny workrs in NSW xprincd dclin in working nd living conditions. Th crisis in th pstorl industry ld to prssur on shrrs' wgs, though th formtion of th SU tmporrily rvrsd this prssur. In col mining irrgulrity of mploymnt nd fluctutions in wg rts wr much mor common thn in th 1870s. Th nw mtl mins t Brokn Hill wr prticulrly hzrdous nd mngmnt tough nd ggrssiv.

In Sydny th r-orgnistion of industry with th growth of mnufcturing involvd n xpnsion of th low wg, unskilld workforc. Th rltivly prosprous position of mny skilld workrs ws rodd. Th position of smi-skilld nd unskilld workrs lso dtriortd bcus of th dclin in unskilld mploymnt in construction work nd rurl industry. Th r-orgnistion of production nd tchnologicl chng lso undrmind conditions in rs such s th wtrfront. Thr ws rpid growth of vry low pid fml workrs.

From th mid-80s th working clss mobilisd in rspons to ths dvlopmnts. Union orgnistion xpndd drmticlly ccompnid by incrsd militncy nd clss consciousnss. Whil th nw unions of th smi-skilld nd unskilld wr importnt, urbn skilld unions plyd ky lding rol. Th rosion of thir mmbrs' lit position oftn mnt tht thy flt th grtst impct of socil nd conomic chng. Clss conflict shrply intnsifid undr ths circumstncs, prticulrly sinc ky mployrs such s th pstorlists, col ownrs nd Brokn Hill mins wr suffring conomic dclin. It ws ths bosss who wr to ld mjor countr-ttck on th unions in th 1890s. mjor tst of strngth ws invitbl.

Th Mritim Strik of 1890

ll th clss tnsions cm to hd in th grt Mritim Strik of 1890 nd in th subsqunt Qunslnd shrrs' strik of 1891. Th immdit issu tht provokd th Mritim Strik ws th right of mrin officrs to ffilit to th Mlbourn THC. Howvr it ws rpidly gnrlisd into monumntl bttl btwn cpitl nd lbour, into opn clss wr. Th outcom of th strik ws dcisiv, both for th immdit dvlopmnt of th clss struggl nd for th formtion of th Lbor Prty.

Th strik ws phnomnlly lrg by nintnth cntury stndrds, involving th lrgst nd most powrful unions: th minrs, th mritim unions nd th shrrs, in ll 50,000 ustrlin workrs nd prhps 10,000 Nw Zlndrs struck. Th closing of workrs' rnks xtndd wll byond thos workrs dirctly on strik. similr unprcdntd closing of rnks occurrd on th bosss' sid.

Th strik provokd n normous nd spontnous nthusism mong Sydny's workrs. On 6 Sptmbr 1890 thr ws hug procssion of strikrs. Th mritim unions wr joind by long list of workrs - tilors, pintrs, butchrs, bootmkrs - th list wnt on nd on, forming solid body on nd hlf mils long. Th rout from Circulr Quy ws tightly pckd with strik supportrs. vn th Sydny Morning Hrld ws forcd to dmit: it smd s though ll Sydny wr out to prticipt in or gz upon th spctcl of lbour dfying cpitl.Fitzgrld, p. 10.

Most urbn unions rmind t work but only ftr strnuous fforts on th prt of th officils. s th TLC Prsidnt ltr dclrd, in th rly stgs of th strik on-third of th fforts of th Lbour Dfnc Committ wr spnt stopping two thirds of th diffrnt socitis from striking.Buckly nd Whlwright, p. 182. Thr is considrbl vidnc of rnk nd fil unionists' dsir to join in nd thy providd solid finncil support for th strikrs vi slf-imposd lvis. Th TLC's fforts to kp gs nd othr vitl srvics in oprtion provokd widsprd rnk nd fil criticism.

Th prliminry to th strik ws mting of shipownrs t lbury in ugust 1890, whr thy dcidd on joint policy of rsistnc to th unions. Th mrin officrs wr dmnding highr wgs nd to improv thir brgining position sought ffilition with th Lbour Councils. Th fct tht th officrs' dmnds cm on top of dmnds from ll sctions of th industry stiffnd th shipownrs' rsolv. Furthrmor, th ffilition with Lbour Councils by officrs nd gntlmn smd to shipownrs to compltly undrmin thir uthority bord ship.

Whil thr ws som rluctnc by smn nd whrfis to support th officrs, who rgrdd thmslvs s bov ordinry silors, whn th crunch cm thy solidly wlkd out in support of union principl. Minrs rspondd immditly to th cll for shutdown of th supply of col to shipping. Thr wr srious clshs s fling mountd. In Mlbourn nd othr strik cntrs unionists stormd ships workd by scbs. In dlid thr wr svrl dys of rioting on th whrvs ftr scb drw rvolvr on picktrs nd polic rlsd th scb nd rrstd thr strikrs. In Sydny, th storm cntr of th strik, thr ws upror nd ston throwing whn businssmn nd pstorlists ostnttiously drov tn crts lodd with wool from th rilyrds to th whrvs. Th Riot ct ws rd, mountd trooprs chrgd protsting strikrs nd numbr wr rrstd nd imprisond. In Townsvill th crw of th rchr wr jild for month ftr thy wlkd off thir ship. Whil in Mlbourn Colonl Tom Pric gv his notorious ordr to th troops:

You will ch b supplid with 40 rounds of mmunition nd ldn bullts, nd if th ordr is givn to fir, don't lt m s on rifl pointd up in th ir. Fir low nd ly thm out.Jo Hrris, Th Bittr Fight. Pictoril History of th ustrlin Lbor Movmnt, Univrsity of Qunslnd Prss, Brisbn, 1970, p. 79.

Such opn us of stt powr in support of th bosss ld mny workrs to rlis tht th stt ws not nutrl. Most clrly t tims of crisis it is n instrumnt of clss powr.

Whn th bosss brought in scbs to work pits in th Illwrr district, thr ws strong rsistnc. numbr of minrs wr proscutd for ssult nd intimidtion. Minrs' wivs ly in front of locomotiv to prvnt it huling trinlod of scbs to th pits. t Mt Kmbl womn mrchd from dybrk to nightfll ovr mountinous trrin to rch th pit fc nd th following morning stormd th pit to gt t th blcklgs. Womn in mining rs rgulrly stond blcklgs, bt thm in th bush nd trrd nd fthrd thm. In dlid womn joind mn s thy stormd brricds on th whrvs. In Sydny nd Nwcstl womn nd childrn wr involvd in sris of riotous ttcks on scbs. In on incidnt four scbs wr chsd through th cntr of Sydny nd pltd with bricks nd stons. prss rport told how:

...th crowd smd to incrs itslf in mirculous fshion, nd th whol of th lowr nd of Gorg Strt ws filld by surging mss of mn, womn nd childrn, stimtd from 4000 to 5000 prsons. For tim ths smd lmost to los thir rson, nd md frful nois, ylling, hooting nd shouting s if thy wr md.Bruc Scts, Gndrd Houshold nd Community Politics: th 1890 Mritim Strik in ustrli nd Nw Zlnd in Jim Hgn nd ndrw Wlls (ditors) Th Mritim Strik: Cntnnil Rtrospctiv, Univrsity of Wollongong Lbour History Rsrch Group, Wollongong, 1992, p. 50.

mong th cpitlists n incrsingly vicious nd bttr orgnisd ldrship hd mrgd. Brokn Hill min ownrs rushd to lock out th minrs bfor thy could strik. Th spcific issus tht originlly motivtd th bosss' ttck quickly brodnd into th ovrriding dmnd for frdom of contrct - th undrmining of union powr by th us of scb lbour. Th middl clss of smll trdrs nd profssionls ws frightnd from its prvious rltiv nutrlity nd dislik of lrg businss intrsts, by th dimnsions of th conflict nd th fr of violnc nd socil brk down. Th middl clss swlld th rnks of spcil constbls nrolld to mintin lw nd ordr. Th govrnmnt mobilisd solidly bhind this ctch cry. Mny shrrs nd som urbn strikrs suffrd imprisonmnt, fins nd forfitur of wgs. 3000 spcil constbls wr ppointd in NSW nd rtillry ws disptchd to Nwcstl.

On month ftr th strt of th strik it ws pprnt th unions wr losing. In Mlbourn th rly onst of th Dprssion mnt thr ws considrbl body of unmployd from whom th bosss rcruitd strikbrkrs. Costl shipping sild with mkshift crws, but only thnks to th Mrin nginrs - th only union to rt on th strik.

In dsprtion th Lbour Dfnc Committ clld out th shrrs. Th SU ws forcd into disply of solidrity. Th SU hd not hd nough strngth to stblish closd shop on its own, so it hd prviously sought th ssistnc of othr unions. rly in 1890 Brisbn mritim unions blockd shipmnt of non-union wool from th gint Jondryn sttion. Th Drling Downs pstorlists wr forcd to gr to mploy only union shrrs. Spurrd on by this fmous victory W G Spnc, th SU prsidnt, rrngd for similr blockd in NSW. It ws this llinc tht now forcd rluctnt Spnc to cll out th shrrs.

Th rspons to th SU's cll ws unvn, prtly bcus of th hlf-hrtd pproch of th ldrship. stlmt rsultd but th SU's wknss ws xposd. Fcing dft th Sydny unions offrd to compromis. Howvr th mployrs stlld on rqusts for ngotitions nd during Octobr nd Novmbr th strik collpsd, though th lst strikrs did not rturn to work until Jnury 1891. Th bosss gind th right to mploy non-union lbour whr prviously th closd shop hd oprtd.

Th union movmnt hd suffrd srious dft. Th point ws rmmd hom by mployrs ovr th nxt fw yrs s thy movd ginst py nd conditions. Whil th unions hd not bn dstroyd, mployrs' confidnc nd rsolv wr strngthnd, nd unmploymnt ws lrdy wkning th unskilld unions. Th wtrfront unions wr worst ffctd nd brly xistd for most of th 1890s. Th Shrrs' Union mintind wgs only by ccpting non-unionists in NSW shds.

Yt th filur of th Mritim Strik ws not, in itslf, s conclusiv s is commonly portryd. Workrs' nthusism ws fr from dimmd by th dft. Whil th strik ws in progrss whrfis in Port Piri, South ustrli, scurd th ight hour dy nd totl union mmbrship in South ustrli trbld btwn July 1890 nd pril 1891. Th Sydny TLC rchd its pk ffilition mor thn yr ftr th strik. In Qunslnd thr ws drmtic growth of unions following th 1891 shrrs' strik. It ws th subsqunt disstrous impct of th conomic slump combind with sris of furthr crushing dfts tht dvsttd th union movmnt for th rst of th dcd.

Dspit th 1890 dft Qunslnd shrrs th following yr fought hrd ginst grzirs intnt to rssrt thir uthority. Th grzirs disvowd th closd shop nd dmndd wg rductions. During th long strik, bginning in Jnury nd xtnding until Jun, thousnds of ngry shrrs, som rmd, mssd in cmps t Brcldin, Clrmont nd othr cntrs. In thir cmps thy pryd:

My th Lord bov - snd down dov

With wings s shrp s rzors -

To cut th throts of bloody scbs -

Who cut down poor mn's wgs.

Thr wr clshs with scbs, th stting of shd nd grss firs nd n ttmpt to dril troop trin. Th Qunslnd govrnmnt rctd drmticlly by dploying troops nd rtillry nd swring in 1,100 spcil constbls. Mny unionists wr rrstd nd nrly ll th xcutiv of th Shrrs nd Lbourrs unions wr jild for thr yrs for conspircy.

strik committ domintd by militnt ctivists took ovr th running of th strik t Brcldin. In th fc of opposition from th modrt Brisbn ldr of th ustrlin Lbour Fdrtion, lbrt Hinchcliff, thy issud gnrl cll out of ll bush workrs on 24 Mrch. Thy clrly sw th strik s n ll out clss bttl. s H J Jckson, th scrtry of th strik committ, wrot:

W wr chllngd into this by th combind forcs of cpitlism throughout ustrli nd hv ccptd, thrby bringing prssur by mns of gnrl cll out...W r dtrmind to fight this to th bittr nd.R.J. nd R.. Sullivn, Th Pstorl Striks, 1891 nd 1894, in D J Murphy (ditor), Th Big Striks. Qunslnd 1889-1965, Univrsity of Qunslnd Prss, Brisbn, 1983, p. 89.

Th govrnmnt, courts nd pstorlists opnly colludd to brk th shrrs. ftr som months th strik collpsd, s th unions rn out of mony to fd th 8,000 strikrs nd flt th full forc of th upholdrs of lw nd ordr. Th pstorlists imposd frdom of contrct nd wg cuts. Ruling clss justic ws pitomisd by Judg Hrding who opnly rbukd polic for not shooting down unrmd strikrs.

Th mployrs' offnsiv ws soon gnrlisd. In 1892 Brokn Hill min ownrs rngd on thir 1889 grmnt with th union, cutting wgs nd r-introducing contrct work. Dspit th minrs' bittr rsistnc, mssiv dmonstrtions in Sydny ginst polic ttcks on th minrs nd widsprd finncil support from othr unions, th strik's dft ffctivly crushd Brrir unionism until th lt 1890s. During th Dprssion th mritim unions wr powrlss to combt gnrl ssult on wgs nd conditions bcus of unmploymnt nd th mployrs' rcruitmnt of rdily vilbl scb lbour. bout third of th Stwrds nd Cooks Union mmbrs nd most whrfis fild to rgin mploymnt ftr th 1890 strik. Whrfis' hours wr lngthnd. In 1893 smn's strik fild to prvnt 30% wg cut.

In 1894 NSW pstorlists rngd on thir grmnt, rducing wgs nd blcklisting union ctivists. Th SU lost th nsuing strik ftr vn mor violnt bttls with scbs, including th burning of th strik brking stmr Rodny, thn in 1891. Throughout this priod sris of smllr scl rvrss occurrd in urbn unionism, which dspit th glmour ssocitd with th bush unions, ws th ky sction of th working clss. Th nw unskilld unions rpidly disintgrtd nd vn crft unions wr svrly hurt, som disppring. In 1893 th Stonmsons wr crushd, nvr to rcovr, during dsprt strik to dfnd wgs. s its constitunts collpsd round it, th NSW TLC dclind drsticlly ftr 1892. In 1896 to 1898 it lmost dispprd.

Th Lbor Prty tks shp

Our grtst pril coms from th intrusion...of th lbour struggl into th fild of politics...On chrctristic of socil strif of this kind is its xtrm bittrnss nd violnc. Nothing is mor crtin thn tht if it is bgun th most xtrm nd violnt mn will control th sitution.Nol bbls, Th ustrlin Lbor Movmnt 1850-1907, ustrlsin Book Socity, Sydny, 1976, p. 208.

So wrnd th Sydny Morning Hrld ginst th formtion of Lbor Prty in n ditoril on 6 Octobr 1890. Whil it did not quit hv th ctclysmic impct forcst by th mor rbid sctions of th ruling clss, th stblishmnt of th Lbor Prty in 1891 by th NSW TLC rprsntd fundmntl dvlopmnt tht shpd th working clss movmnt, for good nd ill, ovr th nxt hundrd yrs.

Trd union politicl ction howvr did not in ny sns just commnc in 1891. Unions hd inititd or prticiptd in numrous rdicl cmpigns going right bck to th struggl to nd th trnsporttion of convicts in th 1840s. In th 1840s nd 50s thr wr ttmpts to stblish working clss politicl orgnistions. In Mlbourn th Oprtiv Rform ssocition cmpignd ginst trnsporttion, th Mstrs nd Srvnts ct, unmploymnt nd for th 8-hour dy nd lctorl rform nd t tims rn working clss cndidts for prlimnt. Howvr during th rltiv prosprity of th 1870s nd rly 80s th unions gnrlly tndd to s thmslvs s prssur group lobbying govrnmnts on qustions tht ffctd thm. Though on svrl occsions thy ndorsd thir own lction cndidts. In 1874 following tough industril conflicts with city mployrs, which fild to win widsprd 8-hour dy, th NSW TLC succssfully stood ngus Cmron for th st of Wst Sydny.Nirn, p. 14.

Qunslnd brifly ld th lrgr colonis in th movmnt towrds indpndnt politicl ction with th formtion in 1889 of th ustrlin Lbour Fdrtion. Undr th influnc of th rdicl journlist nd utopin socilist Willim Ln, th LF for short priod doptd qusi-socilist objctiv. Howvr th Mritim nd Shrrs striks provd to b grtr routs in Qunslnd. Th numbr of rgistrd unions collpsd from 54 with 21,379 mmbrs in 1891 to only 7 with 240 mmbrs in 1895.D.J. Murphy, Th Trd Unions in Th Big Striks, p. 35. Qunslnd unions turnd to prlimntry ction quit clrly s substitut for struggl. s mting of th Townsvill Lbourrs Union rsolvd: ...ll workrs should go on th lctorl roll thn thy could prvnt striks nd govrn th clsss.R.J. Sullivn, Th Mritim Strik, 1890 in Th Big Striks, p. 77. So whil Lbor ws xtrordinrily succssful in Qunslnd, brifly forming th world's first Lbor govrnmnt in 1899, th dft of th striks cmntd th scndncy of prgmtic grdulism in th lbour movmnt.

Th rly Victorin lbour movmnt ws notbly mor consrvtiv thn in NSW nd Qunslnd. For svrl dcds Victorin unions wr prt of cross clss llinc of smll mnufcturrs nd smll frmrs (slctors) in opposition to th fr trdr consrvtism of pstorlists nd mrchnts. Th cntrl policis of this librl llinc wr incrsd triffs (protction) for mnufcturing industry nd opning up th lnd for smll frmrs. Th unions sw protction s mns of crting mor jobs. Whil th dvloping industril cpitlists wntd to limit forign comptition, rstrict th powr of th squttrs nd divrsify th rurl conomy by crting mor smll frmrs nd thus incrs domstic dmnd for mnufcturd goods.

Victorin unions hd t tims bn militnt. From th rlist yrs of sttlmnt thr hd bn striks. Th first rcordd dmonstrtion in Mlbourn ws by striking bkrs in 1840, numbr of whom wr jild or find for conspircy to ris th rt of wgs.Rcordr, No. 72, Octobr, 1974. Mlbourn stonmsons succssfully inititd th struggl for th 8-hour dy in 1856. Howvr th grtr prosprity of th Victorin conomy in th 1870s nd 1880s incrsd th cutious consrvtism of th THC. Th unions lookd to thir mployrs s llis in th dvlopmnt of industry.

Th closnss of th THC to librlism dlyd th formtion of n indpndnt Lbor Prty. In My 1891 th THC sponsord th formtion of Progrssiv Politicl Lgu. In th 1892 lctions th Lgu obtind substntil vots in th innr city working clss lctorts. Thir strongst support cm from wtrfront workrs rdiclisd by th Mritim Strik nd from th hvy nginring rs, whr 5,000 mtl workrs lost thir jobs t th strt of th Dprssion nd thos still in work hd to tk humiliting rductions in conditions. Howvr Lbor cndidts lctd in Victori in th 1890s did not oprt s gnuinly indpndnt prty, but ffctivly s wing of th protctionists. It took dcd of svr dprssion nd significnt furthr shrpning of clss consciousnss bfor gnuin Lbor Prty ws stblishd.

Officil wg rts rvl wg cuts of 20-35% for most jobs in Mlbourn during th Dprssion. Howvr t its hight in 1893-4 mny workrs took ffctiv cuts of 60%. Th birth rt fll drmticlly nd btwn 1892 nd 1895 Mlbourn's popultion dclind by 56,000 (wll ovr 10%).Dvison, p. 14. By 1893 most unions wr suspndd or in disrry. Up to th nd of 1891 th unions brvly ttmptd to mintin thir ssrtiv militncy. Thy wr thn forcd to rtrt nd mk limitd concssions. By dgrs ths concssions ssumd mor fundmntl chrctr nd in th worst yrs, 1892-94, th unions offrd scrcly ny rsistnc nd continud only s socil clubs. Thn in 1895-8 thy grdully bgn to rgroup undr nwr ldrs nd round mor militnt policis.

Th dvlopmnt of th Furnishing Trds Socity nd th Bootmkrs illustrts this trnd. Th Dprssion immditly nd svgly hit th furnitur trd. mployrs sought to cut wgs nd undrmin union shop committs. Initilly th union rplid with thrts of strik ction, th formtion of nw shop committs nd rcruitmnt driv. But s th crisis dpnd workrs strtd to brk rnks in th fc of thrts of dismissl. Whil th officils opposd wg cuts thy hld off strik ction. To kp thir dwindling mmbrship togthr thy orgnisd hrmony nights, though thr ws prcious littl to b convivil bout. From 1892 it ws vn wors. Th union ccptd disstrous rductions nd only mt rrly. Industrilly btn nd dmorlisd thy turnd s substitut to prlimntry ction, lobbying th govrnmnt for rcist nti-Chins fctory lgisltion.

Th Bootmkrs Union first flt th prssur of th Dprssion in 1890 whn th bosss mnouvrd to undrmin wgs. Th union ttmptd to shor up thir dfncs with vigorous rcruiting driv. But by 1891 th bosss hd th whip hnd nd th thrt to sck union rps nd rcruits cowd most workrs. rly in 1892 th mployrs imposd 10% wg cut. Dspit thir wknd position th union clld strik to rpl this frontl ttck, but only minority cm out nd thy wr quickly rplcd by scbs. By 1894 in th most bittr phs of th struggl nw mchinry bgn to undrmin th whol wg structur of th industry. To obtin mploymnt workrs hd to submit to th most dgrding conditions: to rnounc thir union nd swr llginc to thir boss.

In NSW, just s in Victori, unions hd prticiptd in vrious populist llincs such s th rdicl Dmocrtic llinc of 1884-5. Howvr th comprtiv wknss of mnufcturing industry nd th grtr importnc of xport orintd rurl industris mnt union support for protction ws wkr thn in Victori. Som unions such s th Minrs nd Shrrs tndd to support fr trd. Howvr thr ws lso minority sntimnt in th NSW lbour movmnt criticl of bourgois politics in both its protctionist nd fr trdr guiss nd in fvour of indpndnt working clss politics. By th lt 1880s th TLC hd bgun to mov wy from populist llincs.

Howvr vn in Jnury 1890 whn th TLC ovrwhlmingly doptd proposl for stnding Lbor cndidts t th nxt lctions, support from its ffilitd unions ws t bst lukwrm. Mny officils still flt th TLC should sty out of politics. vn on of th strongst Lbor supportrs, Spnc, th hd of th Shrrs Union, strssd tht thy hd nothing to do with politicl qustions, only so fr s thy ffctd lbour. Thy would wtch tht lgisltion ws not unduly pointd towrds th powr of cpitl, but did not wish to intrfr with th quilibrium of cpitl.Mrky (1988), p. 174.

It ws th dft of th Mritim Strik tht ws dcisiv in turning union officildom towrds politicl ction. On th on hnd th strik hd furthr inflmd th clss pssions, militncy nd nthusism tht hd bn building up in th 1880s. NSW TLC Prsidnt Brnnn blivd tht th militncy of workrs ws dvloping byond th control of union officils. H told th Royl Commission on Striks tht whn th nxt outbrk occurrd it would b prfctly impossibl for ny ldrs to control it, bcus thy hv not th sm powr now tht thy hd t th incption of th lst strik. Whil for som yrs ftr 1890 it ws uslss for nti-Lbor cndidts to try to hold mtings in working clss lctorts lik Crlton in Mlbourn. Thy wr disruptd by crowds of workrs chnting in chorus: Fir low nd ly `m out, Fir low nd ly `m out...O'Connor, pp. 362-364.

mss bs of thousnds nd thousnds of working clss ctivists now xistd for Lbor Prty. But most dcisivly from th officils' viwpoint th strik hd dmonstrtd tht industril ction ws indqut s wy to dvnc thir intrsts. It ws tru tht industril ction, in nd of itslf, ws not sufficint to dft th normous mobilistion of th powr of th bosss nd thir stt xhibitd in th Mritim Strik. Politics wr vitl. But th qustion thn bcoms wht typ of politics. s Tony Cliff nd Donny Gluckstin put it in thir history of th British Lbour Prty:

It ws on thing to undrstnd th nd to chllng cpitlism politiclly, but it ws possibl to drw ithr rvolutionry or rformist conclusions. On possibl dirction ws to us th fight for rforms, including plcing dmnds on prlimnt, s mns of mobilising th working clss nd through this xprinc prpring th finl, rvolutionry struggl for socilism. But th rformist ttitud to prlimnt ws mns of dmobilising th clss, sking it to rly on ldrs who void confronttion nd work within th systm. Thir ngotiting skills substitut for mss ctivity.Cliff nd Gluckstin, p. 10.

Th smll siz of xplicitly socilist orgnistions in ustrli in th 1890s combind with thir politicl wknss mnt tht th first ltrntiv ws nvr sriously rgud. Th rformist ltrntiv triumphd by dfult.

Th lt 1880s nd rly 1890s hd producd th corrct combintion of circumstncs for rformism: workrs' struggls hd built up orgnistion but dfts hd pushd it into burucrtic chnnls. Thus on lsson drwn by th Union Dfnc Committ ws th nd for som cntrl powr to control th mchinry of Unionism throughout th whol of ustrli.bbls, p. 151. Ldrs hd bn risd to prominnc by th fight but now thy bgn to substitut for th movmnt of th mss. Th Lbor Prty ws thn not th child of th upsurg of th 1880s nd rly 1890s but of its dft.

For unfortuntly, but invitbly givn thir socil position, th union officils did not mov to stblish rvolutionry socilist prty which would orgnis to ovrthrow cpitlism. Instd thy stblishd prty tht would sk to rprsnt union intrsts within th frmwork of bourgois prlimnt. s th Dfnc Committ concludd its post-mortm of th Mritim Strik:

Onc th workr dtrmins...tht th vry bsis of modrn industry is ntgonistic to his wlfr...h must st bout th work of rform whr it sms tht rform cn lon b obtind - tht is in Prlimnt.bbls, p. 151.

Initilly th vision of prlimntry ction could b vry rdicl on. Th vot ws to b usd to nd th whol systm of wg xploittion. s Vrity Burgmnn writs:

D.M. Chrlston, on of th thr Lbor mn lctd to th South ustrlin Lgisltiv Council in My 1891, dclrd tht, in slcting lbour rprsnttivs with th im of ffcting rform through prlimnt, unionism hd glorious work to chiv: th complt mnciption of Lbor, th scuring to it th full rsults of its toil. Thn, Chrlston prdictd, our fir lnd will indd b th Lnd of Promis flowing with milk nd hony, nd th cry of wnt will no mor b hrd in our strts.Vrity Burgmnn, In Our Tim. Socilism nd th Ris of Lbor, 1885-1905, lln nd Unwin, Sydny, 1985, p. 15.

Nor did th NSW unions immditly forsk industril ction for prlimntry rformism. Initilly t lst prlimntry ction ws prcivd s mns of iding th industril struggl, mns of prvnting stt intrvntion ginst striks. s th Dfnc Committ put it, whilst w must go on vr incrsing our cpcity for fighting s w hv fought bfor, th tim hs now com whn Trds-unionists must us th Prlimntry mchin tht hs in th pst usd thm.bbls, p. 151. Though with th subsqunt collps of th movmnt s th Dprssion dpnd, prlimntry ction cm mor nd mor to substitut for th struggls of rnk nd fil workrs.

Initilly th TLC hd clss orintd viw of prlimntry ction. It would b workrs rprsnting workrs, not middl clss profssionl rformrs. s th TLC journl, th ustrlin Workmn, put it:

...th clss of mn who rciv wht is gnrlly trmd finishd duction r, s rul, of th clss who hv lwys njoyd th sunny sid of lif...W must snd mn in from th rnks of lbour, who hv md study of modrn politicl conomy, nd possss intllignc with prdominnc of honsty of purpos who rlly fl th trribl nd lmost unbrbl crulty of our prsnt iniquitous wg slvry systm.Mrky (1988), p. 175.

Th initil 16-plnk pltform only prtilly rflctd ths lofty ims. Howvr, lthough it ws fr from bing socilist documnt, it ws t lst cntrd on sris of bsic rforms. This md it rdiclly diffrnt from Lbor's first fdrl pltform which ws bsd on Whit ustrli nd virtully jttisond ll mntion of rform. Thr ws n rry of bsic trd union dmnds such s Fctory ct to limint swting nd th 8-hour dy. Othr plnks clld for Ntionl Bnk, ritully ndorsd Hnry Gorg's smingly rdicl singl tx on lnd nd risd th rcist dmnd for th stmping of ll Chins-md furnitur. It concludd with vgu ny msur which will scur for th wg-rnr fir nd quitbl rturn for his or hr lbor.bbls, p. 212.

Th nw Lbor Prty md rmrkbly rpid progrss. Lbour lctorl Lgus sprng up ll ovr Sydny nd in country rs nd in th ugust 1891 NSW lctions Lbor won 35 of th 141 sts. Thr ws normous working clss nthusism for th nw prty. Lbor's 16 Sydny sts wr concntrtd in rs of strong working clss industril orgnistion: rilwy workrs in Nwtown nd Rdfrn, wtrsid unions nd urbn crfts in Blmin nd Wst Sydny. nothr six sts wr in mining rs.

vn in rurl NSW nd Qunslnd th first rs to lct Lbor mmbrs wr thos bst orgnisd industrilly. Nvrthlss in country rs lctorl lws tht xcludd mny itinrnt workrs from th vot ccntutd th importnc of Lbor winning th smll frmr vot. NSW Lbor's 13 rurl sts wr minly in rs of SU (ltr WU) influnc, nd this ws fr from bing pur working clss vot. similr pttrn mrgd in Qunslnd whr Lbor lso ws disproportiontly strong in country rs nd fll undr WU domintion for dcds.

Dspit th TLC's dclrd intntions, th nw MPs wr fr from bing xclusivly unionists. Thy includd ight businssmn, mining spcultor, thr journlists, commrcil trvllr nd doctor. Ths middl clss MPs did not shr th TLC's vision of clss prty. vn Socilist Lgu MP, Gorg Blck, proclimd:

W hv bn told tht w hv com into th Hous to rprsnt clss. Wll, tht my b; but tht clss is th clss of ll clsss. It is clss which is s wid s humnity...Mrky (1988), p. 179.

Lbor cndidts wr pldgd to ccpt cucus disciplin nd bid by th prty pltform. Th cucus pldg**Ironiclly th pldg, n importnt rly victory of th Lbor lft ws subsquntly turnd ginst thm. Originlly intndd to prvnt right wing MP's doing dls with th opnly bosss' prtis, it ws incrsingly usd to imprison th lft. It ws usd on numrous occsions to prvnt lft wing MP's voting ginst th nti-working clss policis of th Hwk nd Kting govrnmnts nd stt Lbor govrnmnts. Sntor Gorg Gorgs ws disciplind for rfusing to support th drgistrtion of th BLF nd Victorin hrd lft MP's who thrtnd to dfy th Cin govrnmnt on th sm issu wr intimidtd. In NSW Gorg Ptrsn ws xplld for opposing th Unsworth govrnmnt's svg ttcks on workrs' compnstion. ws to bcom on of th grtst cuss for dissnsion mong MPs nd rpidly ld to th first split. s it hld th blnc of powr, Lbor intndd to occupy th cross bnchs nd cting s disciplind unit offr support for concssions from th fr-trdrs nd protctionists. Howvr ftr initilly supporting Prks' librl fr-trd govrnmnt, 18 mmbrs brok wy to support th protctionists.

Th TLC ttmptd to disciplin th prty but quickly lost control of th cntrl committ. Tnsions btwn th unions nd th prlimntry prty flrd ovr th filur of th MPs to implmnt th prty pltform or to id unions s thy cm incrsingly undr ttck. It cm to hd ovr th prlimntrin's rol in th 1892 Brokn Hill minrs' strik. ftr th govrnmnt jild strik ldrs thr wr mss dmonstrtions in Sydny orgnisd by th unions nd th Socilist Lgu. Howvr whn th opposition movd to cnsur th govrnmnt's hndling of th strik, lvn pro-protctionist Lbor MPs votd with th govrnmnt to nrrowly dft th motion nd prsrv th protctionists in offic.

Th Dprssion nd th mployrs' offnsiv profoundly wknd th urbn unions nd th TLC's influnc in th prty furthr dclind. Futur Prmir, Holmn, nothr Socilist Lgu mmbr, dclrd on bhlf of th cntrl committ tht Lbor hs officilly nothing to do with unionism.Nirn, p. 134. Profssionl politicins incrsingly hd com to domint.

t th 1894 lctions Lbor ws split. Th cntrl committ which mintind control of most brnchs rn solidrity cndidts committd to th pldg. Whil group of MPs rn s indpndnt Lbor with WU bcking. Lbor's prlimntry strngth ws drsticlly cut, howvr th 15 solidrity cndidts rturnd formd mor cohsiv unit nd dspit th split nd working clss disillusionmnt with mny MPs, th ovrll Lbor vot only dclind mrginlly.

Th WU incrsingly bgn to strngthn its position. Dspit th collps of urbn unions it ws bl to mintin strong burucrtic structur tht nbld it to domint th wk country Lbor Lgus nd control n importnt clustr of rurl sts. Whil th WU survivd th dfts of th 90s it did so in svrly wknd stt industrilly. ftr th dft of movs to dmocrtis th union in 1892 nd 1893 nw gnrtion of officils who hd littl fith in rnk nd fil slf-ctivity bcm ntrnchd. By th lt 1890's rlinc on prlimnt rthr thn industril ction hd bcom n rticl of fith for WU officils.Mrritt, pp. 271-279. In My 1895 th WU burucrts nd th prty cntrl committ ptchd up dl grnting importnt concssions to th WU. By th nd of th 90s th WU hd lrgly bsorbd its formr rivls on th cntrl committ nd thos urbn union ldrs still prominnt in th prty rlid on WU ptrong. Ry Mrky dscribd th politicl ffct:

Th prty which ws consolidtd undr WU nd profssionl urbn politicins' ldrship ws committd to modrt prlimntry strtgy quit rmovd from th form of orgniztion nvisgd by th clss-conscious lmnts of th urbn working clss which inititd politicl orgniztion.Mrky (1988), p. 190.

In prlimnt Lbor incrsingly plyd th gm of bourgois politics, whil outsid rflcting th collps of th urbn unions nd th dft of th socilists th brnchs wr in dclin. strong xcutiv substitutd for wk locl Lgus which tndd to just surfc t lction tim. Lbor ws consolidtd in th bsnc of significnt, orgnisd working clss prsnc. ftr 1900 th urbn unions rformd nd r-ntrd th prty, but by thn its bsic chrctr hd bn stblishd. In ny cs th unions rformd on quit burucrtic bsis with considrbly lss room for rnk nd fil dmocrcy thn th unions of th lt 1880s. Th mphsis ws on rbitrtion not rnk nd fil inititiv nd militncy. Oftn th inititiv for rforming unions ws tkn by Lbor politicins or th now much mor burucrtisd TLC. For xmpl in 1899 futur LP ldr Billy Hughs, who hd nvr workd on th whrvs, ntrnchd himslf in th ldrship of th nw cntrlisd, ntionl whrfis union.

Whil Lbor ws nvr rvolutionry it ws progrssiv in comprison to th rivl protctionist nd fr trdr blocs tht hd domintd politics. It owd its xistnc to working clss orgnistion, but rthr thn lding confronttion with cpitl, it dmndd tht workrs b givn plc within xisting socity. It ws contrdictory phnomnon, bourgois workrs' prty. It ws bourgois in its progrmm, its idology nd ldrship nd thus fully committd to cpitlism. Howvr s it ws bsd on th orgnisd working clss, it ws not just nothr prty of rction. This rmind th cs vn in th lt 1890s whn th influnc of th urbn unions ovr th prty ws miniml. Whil th influnc of middl clss politicins nd smll frmrs grw significntly in this priod, thy did not trnsform Lbor into stright forwrd bourgois prty. Lbor did not dcisivly brk with its origins in th union movmnt. vn tht pculir niml, th WU, dspit its significnt smll frmr mmbrship, rmind trd union s its ltr history confirmd.

Th crtion of mss rformist prty ws clrly stp forwrd in th conditions of th rly 1890s. It mnt tht to som xtnt workrs wr idntifying s clss. Th contxt of politics ws trnsformd. Th dbt btwn rform nd rvolution could now b tstd in prctic. lso th trd union ldrs now lookd to thir own rsourcs nd orgnistion, instd of tiling th opnly cpitlist prtis.

Howvr thr wr lso costs. lctorl succss ws bing sort without corrsponding politicl dvnc mong th mss of workrs. In fct from th rly 1890s th working clss movmnt ws on th rtrt. Consquntly lctorl succss could only b chivd by scrificing th socilist idls of th Lbor lft. nd th lft itslf, bing thoroughly committd to prlimntry strtgy, ws unbl to mount n ffctiv chllng to th rightwrd drift.

Dspit its imprssiv numbr of MP's Lbor chivd fw concrt gins for workrs. On of th ky rforms th TLC hd xpctd to obtin from prlimntry rprsnttion ws mjor improvmnt in industril lgisltion, in prticulr Fctory cts to rgult hlth nd sfty conditions nd rstrict hours of work. But not until 1896 ws limitd Fctory ct obtind in rturn for Lbor bcking Rid's fr trd govrnmnt. For ll thir prlimntry mnouvring NSW Lbor did not chiv s dvncd industril lgisltion s hd bn obtind in Victori nd South ustrli prior to Lbor's formtion.

Th most importnt concrn of workrs in th 1890s ws unmploymnt. How did Lbor msur up? It did nxt to nothing. Lbour Buru ws formlly stblishd in NSW but it orgnisd strikbrkrs. Only occsionl gsturs in th form of fw rlif works wr xtrctd from th Rid govrnmnt. s unmploymnt worsnd in 1893-4 nd disstisfction with Lbor grw thr wr lrg rgulr unmployd dmos nd indpndnt unmployd orgnistions formd undr strong socilist influnc. In Mlbourn th unmployd took to th strts in mss dmonstrtions in 1890. By 1892 th movmnt hd bcom incrsingly rdicl nd bnds of unmployd mn nd sizbl numbrs of womn fought to prvnt biliffs rmoving furnitur from houss nd to stop victions. By lt 1892 howvr, in th fc of svg polic rprssion nd dnuncitions of th unmployd's militncy by Lbor politicins nd union officils th movmnt ws in rtrt.Bruc Scts Struggl for Survivl: Unmploymnt nd th Unmployd gittion in Lt Nintnth-Cntury Mlbourn, ustrlin Historicl Studis, Vol. 24, No. 94, pril 1990.

Whn it coms to socil wlfr lgisltion Lbor's rcord is hrdly bttr. Littl ws obtind with on imprssiv sounding xcption, th introduction of gd pnsions in 1900. This ws nctd by th Lyn govrnmnt in rturn for Lbor support nd pssd with only limitd opposition in th consrvtiv uppr hous. Th lck of uppr hous opposition points to th limittions of th nw pnsion. It ws fr from gnrous, msly tn shillings wk, lss thn qurtr of th vrg wkly wg. It ws limitd to th dsrving poor nd usd s mns of socil control. Pnsionrs wr rquird to prov thy hd bn sobr nd rspctbl for fiv yrs nd fr of convictions for twlv.Mrky (1988), p. 261.

Th finl Lbor chivmnt ws th introduction of rbitrtion to rgult industril rltions. rbitrtion hs bn on of th most distinctiv fturs of ustrlin politicl lif nd on of th triumphs of right wing Lborism. Prior to th 1890s th unions did not support compulsory stt rbitrtion, though on occsion thy hd prticiptd in voluntry concilition nd rbitrtion. Collctiv brgining ws th prfrrd mthod. Both th militnts nd som trditionl crft unions in NSW vigorously opposd stt intrvntion in union-mployr rltions.

vn in th immdit ftrmth of th Mritim Strik, dspit th nthusism of Lbor politicins for rbitrtion, it still rcivd only minority union support in NSW. Th Shrrs Union, subsquntly th minsty of lglism, ws still hsitnt to hnd ovr its right to strik to th courts. Dspit th lukwrm ttitud of most unions by th mid-90s th prlimntry prty hd doptd rbitrtion s n rticl of fith. Th WU with its industril strngth undrmind in th dpths of th Dprssion mbrcd th courts. In Victori thr ws brodr support for rbitrtion, but in Sydny it tndd to b only th most consrvtiv crft unions, such s th Printrs, which unrsrvdly bckd it. Dfinitly thr ws no groundswll of rnk nd fil support. Socilist opponnts of rbitrtion wr bckd by trditionl crft unions lik th nginrs.

In th fc of rnk nd fil opposition it ws not until 1899 tht NSW Lbor officilly mbrcd rbitrtion. Whil Lbor ldr Holmn hild it s th substitution of th mthods of rson, rbitrtion, common sns, nd judgmnt for th mthods of brut forc, it ws only rluctntly ccptd by most unions bcus of thir wknd industril position.H.V. vtt, Willim Holmn: ustrlin Lbour Ldr, ngus & Robrtson, Sydny, 1979, p. 95. In 1901 th Lyn govrnmnt with Lbor bcking introducd n rbitrtion ct.

Initilly Lbor rgud tht th courts would b mor ffctiv mns of obtining conomic justic thn industril struggl. Th stt ws to intrvn to rdrss th blnc in fvour of th workrs. Whn in prctic th courts tndd to fvour th bosss rthr thn th workrs, Lbor incrsingly xtolld industril pc nforcd by th stt s th suprm socil good to which workrs should scrific thir conomic intrsts. Thus Holmn proclimd in 1900 tht it is vry much mor importnt tht th dcisions of court should b blivd to b just thn tht thy should b just.

mployrs by th nd of th dcd wr mor willing to ccpt rbitrtion s th unions grdully rvivd s th conomy pickd up. ll out confronttion no longr smd such n ttrctiv option for th mor fr sing sctions of cpitl. Thy hopd to co-opt th unions by nmshing thm in th structurs of th stt. s wll, sctions of mnufcturing cpitl could s n dvntg in forging n llinc with th lbor burucrcy: mployr support for rbitrtion in xchng for LP nd union support for protction. Th nw ttitud of th mployrs ws highlightd in spch by shipping mgnt nd protctionist MP Sir Mlcolm Mcchrn:

Thr ws tim whn I ws uttrly opposd, not only to unionism, but to concilition nd rbitrtion...Th unionism to which I hd bn ccustomd during th grt striks...ws of mor rrognt nd stnd-nd-dlivr typ thn th unionism of to-dy. I hop tht th nwr unionism which hs nbld thos of us who r mployrs to mt our mn with plsur nd discuss mttrs in concilitory spirit, my continu.Buckly nd Whlwright, p. 218.

By th nd of th 90s thn, Lbor hd bn shorn of its originl rdiclism. Its initil commitmnt to working clss rform hd bn rplcd by commitmnt to Whit ustrli nd rbitrtion. It now sought to win vots not s clss prty, but s th prty of th ustrlin popl. Th blnc hd shiftd from rform to ntion. In prt this shift cn b xplind by th vry logic of rformism. Sking to do things for workrs rthr thn mobilising thir strngth to fight cpitlism, rformists r pulld towrds th stt, which pprs to hv th cpcity to introduc chng nd rgult cpitlist socity. But strtgy of cpturing th stt invitbly lds to cpitultion to ntionlism. ll stts r by dfinition ntionl stts. If you wish to mk us of th stt thn you r implld to dfnd your stt ginst rivl stts, your ntion ginst rivl ntions. Rformists r bound to scrific intrntionl working clss unity for sordid ntionlism.

Th dfts of th 1890s nd th consqunt dmobilistion of th working clss hstnd th cpitultion of Lbor to th minstrm rcist vrsion of ustrlin ntionlism. Thr ws littl rnk nd fil prssur on th prty to hold bck from n xtrm ccommodtion with cpitlism. Not only tht, but dftd working clss ws mor pry to rctionry ids thn th vibrnt nd confidnt movmnt of th lt 80s nd rly 90s. Thus th spc ws opnd up for th llinc of right wing MPs nd union burucrts to rpidly scur thir domintion of th prty.

Whit ustrli

Th cultivtion of n ustrlin sntimnt bsd upon th mintnnc of rcil purity, nd th dvlopmnt in ustrli of n nlightnd nd slf-rlint community.

This sttmnt of th principl of Whit ustrli ws nshrind s th opning clus of th LP's first Fdrl Objctiv in 1905. By th tim of Fdrtion Lbor hd mrgd s th chmpion of Whit ustrli. Indd th Lbor cus ws oftn idntifid s th dfnc of th whit rc. Whn Lbor won n 1892 by-lction in Bundbrg, whr thr ws considrbl Knk prsnc on th sugr filds, th union ppr, Th Workr, hild th victory s Bundbrg gos whit.Golln, p. 147. This populist chmpioning of Whit ustrli ws wy for Lbor to pos s th prty of ustrlin ntionlism. It nbld it to win support mong th rcist middl clsss.

Th initil NSW Lbor pltform did not cll for Whit ustrli, though it did ris th rcist dmnd for stmping of furnitur md by Chins workrs. Howvr th logic of rformism pushd Lbor in ntionlist nd rcist dirction. Th combintion of th dfts, nd consqunt dmorlistion nd dmobilistion of th working clss movmnt in th 1890s, nd th consolidtion of consrvtiv burucrtic domintion of th prty cclrtd th rtrt from progrmm of rform. It ld to th incrsing prdominnc of ntionlist idology. Givn th intgrl connction btwn ustrlin ntionlism nd rcism, it ws not surprising tht Whit ustrli bcm th lding plnk of th Lbor pltform rthr thn working clss dmnds such s th 8-hour dy.

Th LP ws criticl of th 1901 Immigrtion Rstriction Bill for not opnly nshrining Whit ustrli. Instd th consrvtiv prtis, undr prssur from th British who wr worrid bout th rction of thir Jpns llis, hid bhind dicttion tst in uropn lngug to br non-uropns. This gv Lbor room to ngg in populist grndstnding to ppl to th rcist vot by moving n mndmnt clling for th xclusion of ny boriginl ntiv of si or fric.Golln, pp. 195-6.

Th Whit ustrli policy ws to rmin in forc for ovr 60 yrs nd throughout this priod th LP rmind on of its most frvnt supportrs. It ws not until th mid 1960s tht th first tnttiv librlistion of Whit ustrli took plc undr Hrold Holt's Librl govrnmnt. Th LP ws slowr to bck wy from forthright discrimintion. Th ctul words Whit ustrli wr rmovd from th LP pltform for cosmtic rsons in 1965. Howvr th 1971 pltform still clld for th voidnc of th difficult socil nd conomic problms which my follow from n influx of popls hving diffrnt stndrds of living, trditions nd cultur.

Unfortuntly it ws not just th Lbor right tht supportd Whit ustrli. Most lft wingrs nd vn slf-proclimd socilists t th turn of th cntury bckd th xclusion of sins. For xmpl lding rdicl journlist Hnry Boot rgud tht if votrs blivd in blck lbour nd lprosy thy should vot for th govrnmnt cndidts.ndrw Mrkus, Fr nd Htrd. Purifying ustrli nd Cliforni, 1850-1901, Hl & Irmongr, Sydny, 1979, p. 218. Th lding lft wing orgnistion, th ustrlin Socilist Lgu, dmndd: Th xclusion of rcs whos prsnc undr prsnt comptitiv conditions might lowr th stndrd of living of ustrlin workrs.Burgmnn, p. 101. Th Lbor lft ttmptd to justify thir stnd s not bing rcist, not bing ginst sins, but s dfnding living stndrds from comptition from chp sin lbour. Othrs who knw bttr cpitultd to rcism for rsons of lctorl xpdincy.

Howvr fr of comptition for jobs ws not th min rson for th intnsity of rcism. Lbor ldr J C Wtson opnly bsd his objction to non-uropns on th possibility of rcil contmintion. Th qustion is whthr w would dsir tht our sistrs or our brothrs should b mrrid into ny of ths rcs to which w objct, h proclimd during th 1901 prlimntry dbt on Whit ustrli.bbls, p. 234.

No dqut xplntion of th strngth of rcism is possibl without n undrstnding of th origins of ustrlin cpitlism s whit colonil sttlr stt. ustrli ws stblishd s n outpost of British imprilism in si. To scur th continnt th whit sttlrs first hd to dispossss th borigins of thir lnd. policy of brutl xtrmintion ws crrid out to mk wy for th shp of th wlthy squttrs. Wool ws xtrmly profitbl for ustrli's first cpitlists nd thr ws no wy fw hthn svgs wr going to b llowd to stnd in thir wy. virulnt rcist idology dvlopd to justify this gnocid. Th ids of imprilism, of th civilising mission of th whit rc, which hd bn usd to justify slvry in th mrics, th looting of Indi nd Chin, wr now dptd to ustrlin conditions to snctify th driving of borigins from thir lnd.For n ovrviw of th position of borigins in ustrlin socity s Mick rmstrong, borigins: Problms of Rc nd Clss in Tom O'Lincoln nd Rick Kuhn (ditors) Clss nd Clss Conflict in ustrli, Longmn, Mlbourn, 1996.

Hving scurd th continnt th whit colonists soon turnd thir ttntion to th surrounding rgion. s rly s 1829 thy dmndd th nnxtion of Nw Zlnd. In 1883 th Qunslnd govrnmnt sizd Nw Guin, vn though th British hd xprssd littl intrst in th islnd. Bing n isoltd minority fr from th cntr of th mpir th colonists livd in constnt fr of th surrounding sin hords. So colonil govrnmnts constntly prssd th British to incrs thir involvmnt in th rgion nd to siz th surrounding islnds to scur ustrli's dfncs.

Whil militry considrtions wr th initil motivtion for colonil xpnsion, th lur of quick profits soon ttrctd ustrli's most rpcious cpitlists to th surrounding islnds. Trding compnis such s Burns Philp opnd up shipping in th Pcific. Thir trd includd not just copr nd sugr, but humn skins. Burns Philp spcilisd in blckbirding Mlnsins s indnturd (slv) lbour for th Qunslnd sugr filds. gin notions of rcil supriority wr ssntil to justify ths dvlopmnts. s n ditoril in th Fiji Tims in 1873 put it:

...tru to th instincts of th nglo-Sxon rc w hv com...to bring svg rc within th pl, nd to prtk of th bnfits of our civiliztion; lt us hop to bring thm bnth th swy of th British sptr, nd thus to opn up mor fully nw nd profitbl fild for British ntrpris.Quotd in McQun, p. 61.

Th vry conomic, gogrphic nd socil position of th sttlrs implld thm to n xtrm imprilist position. Thy wr mor imprilist thn th imprilists. So thr nvr hs bn nything progrssiv or nti-imprilist bout ustrlin ntionlism. Its origins r rcist nd rctionry, just lik th ntionlism of th whits in South fric, th Zionists in Isrl, th Frnch in lgri nd Thiti nd of othr colonil sttlr stts. Rcism ws th most importnt singl componnt in th formtion of ustrlin ntionlism. Th id of rcil purity ws th linchpin round which ntionl consciousnss cohrd.

With th mov wy from its initil rformist progrm nd its dpning mbrc of th ids of ntion, Lbor invitbly, givn th cntrlity of rcism to ustrlin ntionlism, bcm virulntly rcist. Th middl clss politicins nd union burucrts who hd cmntd thir control ovr th prty by th lt 1890s did not wnt Lbor to b nrrow workrs' prty, but to ppl to ll clsss, to ppl to th popl. But wht units popl s opposd to clss is ntionlism, so Lbor posd s th prty of ustrlin ntionlism. This populism mnt tking on bord ll th rctionry ids, lik rcism, ntild in th ntionlism of whit colonil sttlr stt.

Th first svg flr up of nti-sin rcism occurrd during th 1850s gold rushs, whn tns of thousnds of Chins wr ttrctd to th diggings. Initilly stblishmnt opinion wlcomd th Chins s potntil lbour forc. Howvr this rly tolrtion fdd rpidly s Chins migrtion cclrtd t tim whn gold yilds slumpd drsticlly nd comptition for th vilbl ground intnsifid. Smll mployrs cm to s Chins businsss s mjor thrt. Th nthusism of lrg mployrs lso wnd whn th Chins turnd out not to b th chp nd plibl lbour sourc thy xpctd, but on occsions wnt on strik for highr py. Consquntly brod populist llinc mbrcing slf-mployd diggrs, urbn rtisns, smll businss ownrs nd librl cpitlists dvlopd ginst th Chins.

Thr ws nothr mjor nti-Chins cmpign in th 1880s. In 1878 smn's strik ginst th mploymnt of sins ws supportd by virtully vryon xcpt th shipownrs. Prcisly bcus th union's dmnd to bn sin mploymnt, rthr thn fighting for qul py, ws not clss dmnd it won wid populist support. Th Brisbn Chmbr of Commrc nd worthy middl clss figurs, such s myors, who in norml circumstncs would not hv bn sn dd bcking strik pprd on pltforms clling for bn on sin lbour. It ws ths sm middl clss llis who nrolld s spcil constbls to impos frdom of contrct on th smn during th Mritim Strik.

Lft ntionlist historins whil wishing to distnc thmslvs from th most bltnt spcts of rcism mbodid in ustrlin ntionlism, still find thmslvs implld to dfnd th indfnsibl. For xmpl Kn Buckly nd Td Whlwright's book, No Prdis For Workrs, is mrrd by its support for th rcist 1878 smn's strik. Thy rgu tht fight for sins to b pid union rts would hv bn unrlistic: unions wr much too wk to forc such solution...Buckly nd Whlwright, p. 151.

Principld nti-rcism it sms is only rlistic whn you r in strong industril position. Using this logic would Buckly nd Whlwright lso conclud tht it is rsonbl for ml workrs to dmnd th scking of womn whn thy r not orgnisd nough to chiv qul py? Or tht whit workrs should hv fought to xclud borigins from th workforc rthr thn bcking thir fight for dcnt wgs? It is prcisly bcus minority of clss conscious workrs rgud, vn in priods whn thy wr quit isoltd, for dmnds such s qul py tht unit th clss, tht th lbour movmnt hs bn bl t tims to ovrcom sctionl divisions nd mov forwrd.

Prviously ustrlin unions hd doptd such n nti-rcist stnc. In 1859 Victorin mployrs importd 500 Grmn stonmsons contrctd to work tn hour dy to brk strik nd undrmin th prviling 8-hour dy. Th Stonmsons union contctd th Grmns on bord ship nd dspit lngug difficultis prsudd mny of thm not to work tn hour dy. s on historin nots: it rmind rmrkbl ftur of th disput tht ll ttmpts to st off `forign' ginst British workmn wr unsuccssful.Hln Hughs, Th ight Hour Dy nd th Dvlopmnt of th Lbour Movmnt in Victori in th ightn-Fiftis, Historicl Studis, Vol. 9, No. 36, My 1961, p. 405. This intrntionlist stnc provd highly ffctiv in dfnding th 8-hour dy in th industry.

By th 1890s th only brch in th wll of rcil xclusion ws Qunslnd whr Mlnsins wr still working s virtul slvs in th cn filds. Th Qunslnd Lbor Prty to much grtr xtnt thn in th southrn colonis bsd its ppl on th colourd lbour qustion. vn going s fr s supporting th continution of hnging, s most of th victims wr Knks.McQun, p. 52.

Th fr of conomic comptition for jobs ws on of th fctors tht nbld rcist gittion to find n udinc mong workrs. Th unions sought to prsrv wgs nd conditions by rstricting ntry to prticulr trds nd by ttmpting to prvnt mployrs flooding th lbour mrkt with migrnts. In th mid-nintnth cntury thr ws mjor, nd succssful, cmpign to nd th trnsporttion of convict lbour. Subsquntly thr ws widsprd working clss gittion ginst govrnmnt sponsord ssistd immigrtion from Britin.

Howvr trd union support for immigrtion controls, both in th nintnth cntury nd tody, is both misguidd nd slf-dfting. Th wy to prvnt nwly rrivd migrnts undrmining hrd won union conditions is to orgnis thm longsid th ntiv born to fight th bosss. Cmpigning ginst thir ntry nd discriminting ginst thm ftr thy rriv only forcs thm into th hnds of th bosss. It is not s though migrnt workrs could not b won to th union cus. British nd Irish migrnts foundd mny of th first unions nd providd mny cor ctivists wll into this cntury. Chins nd Mlnsin workrs orgnisd thir own striks dspit th hostility of whit unions. In 1885 Chins cbintmkrs in Mlbourn fought succssful bttl for highr wgs nd formd union tht nforcd 50 hour wk. In 1899 numbr of fghn cml drivrs wr jild ftr striking for highr py. gin tody migrnt workrs r mor highly unionisd thn th ustrlin born nd oftn mor militnt.

Invitbly union opposition to migrnts could not nd did not stop t purly conomic objctions but took up opnly rcist rgumnts. This wsn't just th cs for Chins nd othr sins, but lso spilld ovr to ncompss Itlins, Grks, Jws nd othr uropns.

Rcism srvd to distrct ttntion wy from workrs' rl nmis - th bosss. In tims of conomic hrdship or ftr mjor dfts such s in th 1890s sins wr usd s scpgots to lt cpitlism off th hook. Union officils wr not loth to ris th qustion of th Chins mnc to covr up thir own sll outs. s did SU Prsidnt Spnc ftr th dft of th 1891 shrrs' strik. Spnc trid to covr up th wknsss of th grmnt md with th pstorlists llowing th mploymnt of non-union lbour, by rguing tht t lst thy hd grd to dischrg Chins nd Knks. t mss mting in Bourk Spnc ws grtd with prolongd chring whn h nnouncd this grt victory. s ndrw Mrkus puts it in his book, Fr nd Htrd: In thir hour of humilition th shrrs took comfort in n imginry victory ovr Chins nd Mlnsins.Mrkus (1979), pp. 174-5.

Th WU ws minsty of rcism insid th Lbor Prty. In th 1890s its ppr, Th Hummr, dclrd: th cmls must go; th chows must lso lv; th Indin hwkrs must hwk thir wrs in som othr country. This country ws built xprssly for ustrlins, nd ustrlins r going to run th show.Mrky (1988), p. 296. This should com s no surpris givn th WU's bs mong smll frmrs. It ppld to thm s sturdy, indpndnt ustrlins, s inhritors of th dmocrtic trdition of urk. Th hrsh rlity is tht th grt ustrlin dmocrtic trdition is lso profoundly rcist on.

Rcism in th working clss ld to clss collbortion. It fittd togthr with support for protction nd stt intrvntion to sttl striks - rbitrtion. It lso wnt hnd in hnd with clls for incrsd militrism. Thus in 1908 Lbor ldr Wtson by plding th sin thrt won th ovrwhlming support of th LP confrnc for citizn militry forc bsd on compulsory trining nd for n ustrlin nvy. In th minds of th LP ldrs ustrli ws to bcom th gurdin of civilistion in th southrn ss.

Rcism thn only srvd to divid th working clss to th bnfit of th bosss. During th Mritim Strik ninty Chins workrs t th Goondi plnttion in Qunslnd rfusd to lod bot crwd by scbs. Yt th union officils who controlld th strik fund, in th fc of protsts from th Furnitur Trds Union, wvrd ovr ccpting dontion from Chins workrs nd thn dcidd not to ccpt ny mor such dontions.Hrris, p. 79. In Victori in th 1880s Chins workrs wr complld to form thir own sprt unions bcus most unions xcludd sins from mmbrship.

Ths union policis idd th bosss in using sins on som occsions s scbs, most fmously during th 1873 Cluns gold minrs' strik. vn wors, whn Chins nd Mlnsin workrs did orgnis to fight th bosss thy rcivd no bcking nd t tims whit unions dlibrtly scbbd on thir striks. In th rly 1890s thr wr numbr of striks by Chins cbintmkrs tht th uropn unions rfusd to support, vn though thir own conditions wr undr ttck bcus of th Dprssion. formr Prsidnt of th Mlbourn Trds Hll commntd tht W cn fford to lugh. It dos not ffct us.Mrkus (1979), p. 165.

Historins, such s ndrw Mrkus, hv plyd n importnt rol in highlighting th dpth of rcism in ustrli, which ws downplyd by rlir lft wing historins lik Robin Golln. Howvr thy hv tndd to mk it ppr tht rcism ws ll mbrcing in th working clss or tht workrs' fr of chp lbour ws th sourc of rcism. This obscurs th rl bs of rcism: th nd of sttlr cpitlism for lnd nd th continuing dictts of cpitlist xpnsion. It lso srvs to dny th possibility of intr-rcil unity tht xistd from th mrgnc of working clss movmnt. Thr wr lwys som militnts, lftists nd individul workrs prprd to mk stnd for working clss principl.

Th clssic xmpl is th rly Shrrs union, notorious for its xclusion of sins from mmbrship. Thr is no doubting th rcism of th SU ldrship. This bcm mor pronouncd s consrvtiv burucrcy strngthnd its control ftr th dfts of th rly 90s wknd th position of militnts nd undrmind th SU's dmocrtic trditions. How rcist howvr wr th mmbrs? Som militnts opposd th xclusion of Chins nd won hring mong th rnk nd fil. In 1889 Robrt Stvnson, militnt orgnisr, won th support of th Bourk brnch to llow Chins to rmin mmbrs.Mrritt, p. 148. Th Bourk mmbrs, prdominntly lndlss lbourrs, wr mor opn to ids of working clss unity thn mmbrs nrr th cost whr smll frmrs prdomintd.

In Nw Zlnd th SU ttmptd to orgnis Mori shrrs, who wr sn s potntilly stunch nd nthusistic unionists.Mrritt, p. 96. Th union's ruls wr trnsltd into Mori. Th SU ppr, Th Hummr, xposd th trribl conditions for borigins on pstorl proprtis in W. borigins wr xmpt from th rcist xclusion clus nd t th 1891 SU confrnc th dlid brnch movd to dmit borigins for hlf th norml f. compromis ws rchd: borigins rcivd full bnfits by pymnt of n nnul contribution, without th ntrnc f. Support for boriginl rights my hv bn xpctd from militnts. Wht is most rvling is th stnc of th modrt Gnrl Scrtry Dvid Tmpl. Tmpl rgud it would b grcful ct to thos from whom th country hd bn tkn nd would b good for th union's img.ndrw Mrkus, Tlk Long Mouth: borigins nd th Lbour Movmnt 1890-1970 in nn Curthoys nd ndrw Mrkus (ditors), Who r Our nmis? Rcism nd th Working Clss in ustrli, Hl & Irmongr, Sydny, 1978, p. 140. This clrly indicts tht workrs wr nowhr nr s rcist s commonly contndd, for if thy wr how could it b good for th SU's img to giv privilgs to borigins? Most workrs wr, of cours, opn to rcist ids. Th point is tht it ws lwys possibl to chllng such ids nd win hring. s did th rvolutionris of th Industril Workrs of th World who cmpignd ginst rcism prior to World Wr I nd th Communist Prty from its formtion in th rly 1920s.

Socilists nd th Lbor Prty

Thr hs bn considrbl rgumnt bout th xtnt of socilist influnc in th rly Lbor Prty. Consrvtiv lbour historins hv systmticlly downplyd th importnt rol of socilist inspird ctivists in stblishing th prty, nd thus buttrssd th clims of Lbor's prgmtic right wing to b th gnuin rprsnttiv of workrs' historicl spirtions. This is mtchd by tndncy on th lft to romnticis Lbor's rdicl working clss hritg, which hs supposdly bn btryd by th liks of Kting. This is tkn to ludicrous xtrm by vrious ntrist currnts in th LP who in slf-justifiction proclim tht th rly LP ws Mrxist.

lrg proportion of th rdicls nd militnt workrs who wr ctiv in forming th Lbor Prty wr inspird by som sort of socilist vision. Th mss struggls nd rdiclistion of th lt 80s nd rly 90s sw sizbl lyr of working clss ctivists nd middl clss intllctuls mov towrds socilist stndpoint. Th Mritim Strik ws dcisiv in shrpning this trnd. Th xtnt of th clss polristion nd th dcisiv intrvntion of th forcs of th stt on th sid of cpitl mnt tht lrg sctions of workrs lookd for dcisiv rconstruction of socity. vgu nd indfinit socilism ws th dirction into which gnrl disstisfction ws chnnlld.Ptrick O'Frrll, Th ustrlin Socilist Lgu nd th Lbour Movmnt, 1887-1891, Historicl Studis 8, 30, My 1958, pp. 158-162.

Th ids of municipl socilism gind n influntil following nd thr ws dgr of working clss support for co-oprtiv schms. dvocts of utopin socilist communs nd christin socilism lso hd som support. grrin rdicls hld to vgu bush socilism. Whil ccording to th WU ppr, Th Hummr, Socilism...is th dsir to b mts, is th idl of living togthr in hrmony nd brothrhood nd loving kindnss...bbls, p. 166. Mny prominnt union officils such s Spnc now dclrd thmslvs socilists.

Th strongst commitmnt of th rly Lbor Prty to som sort of socilist progrmm cm t th 1897 Confrnc which ddd ntionliztion of th lnd nd th whol mns of production, distribution nd xchng to th pltform. This plnk rmind until 1905 whn th lft's ttmpt to commit Lbor to forthright socilist objctiv ws dftd in fvour of mor modrt collctiv ownrship of monopolis. Howvr vn th commitmnt to th 1897 plnk ws wk. Dspit th fforts of its supportrs to hv it s th first plnk of th fighting pltform, it ws burid in th gnrl pltform s mr sttmnt of principl nd thus of cours nvr ctd upon. t th 1898 confrnc it ws pushd vn furthr to th bckground nd tht confrnc cut bck on support for mor spcific ntionlistion proposls.

Support for stt ownrship rchd its high point during 1896-7 with sris of spcific proposls including ntionlistion of th mins, nd th stting up of stt frms nd clothing fctoris. Howvr it ws not just socilists who supportd ths msurs. Thr ws strong populist support for stt bnk, s wll s trditionl trd union support for th xtnsion of th govrnmnt s n mployr nd th prohibition of privt contrctors.

Support for stt bnk ws spcilly strong bcus of th bnk crsh of th 1890s. Th bnks bcm th bt noir of cpitlism for Lbor. Finnc cpitl, both th bnks nd th lrg pstorl compnis, plyd n importnt rol in hrdning grzirs' nti-union ttituds in th 90s. Th WU tndd to lt th squttrs off th hook by rguing tht th bnks wr prsits blding thm dry nd forcing thm to crck down ginst thir will. This fittd in with mor gnrl rformist prctic of siding with productiv cpitlists lik mnufcturrs ginst th mony powr. Thus cpitlism s systm ws portryd s not bing th problm. Th British bnks wr fvourd trgt of ttck bcus thy wr un-ustrlin.

Utopin socilists who wr influntil in th countrysid md grt ply of th rol of th bnks. Th most widly rd utopin socilist trct, Bllmy's Looking Bckwrds, dscribs th bnks s th hrt of th businss systm.Mrky (1988), p. 239. Th conspircy of th mony powr survivd s long-stnding populist strnd in th LP. It ws invokd by Jck Lng in th 1930s to ttck British bond holdrs, nd to support th Chifly govrnmnt's ttmptd bnk ntionlistion in th lt 1940s.S Ptr Lov, Lbour nd th Mony Powr. ustrlin Lbour Populism 1890-1950, Mlbourn Univrsity Prss, Mlbourn, 1984.

Howvr th Commonwlth bnk ws no thrt to cpitlism. Its stblishmnt ws prfctly consistnt with mor consrvtiv conomic trdition tht sw th nd for ntionl bnk to rgult th finncil systm nd nsur th stbility of th cpitlist conomy. Colonil cpitlism ws hvily dpndnt on th stt to provid infrstructur such s rilwys. This mnt thr ws much lss ruling clss opposition to govrnmnt ownrship thn in nglnd or th US. Minstrm ustrlin librlism strssd th ncssity of stt intrvntion to dvlop industry nd to opn up th lnd. Lbor mrly subsumd this trdition.

Th mjor socilist orgnistion t th tim of th formtion of th Lbor Prty ws th ustrlin Socilist Lgu (SL). Initilly formd in 1887 it quickly collpsd, only to rform nd grow rpidly during th Mritim Strik. By lt 1893 th SL possibly hd 900 mmbrs in NSW. Th SL workd closly with th TLC during th strik nd by th nd of 1890 hd smll group of ctiv TLC dlgts nd mmbr ditd th TLC journl. Som long stnding union ctivists joind during th cours of th 90s.

Th SL ws ctiv in th formtion of locl Lbor lgus nd gind xcutiv positions in th innr-city lgus. It lso hd solid bs of support on th northrn colfilds. It ws wll rprsntd t th 1892 Lbor confrnc. In tht yr its rputtion ws furthr nhncd by its orgnistion of lrg dmonstrtions ginst govrnmnt ttcks on th Brokn Hill minrs' strik.

In 1891 numbr of SL mmbrs wr ndorsd s Lbor cndidts. Howvr most of thos lctd movd rpidly to th right, on of th most prominnt, Gorg Blck, hd lft th SL by 1894. Whil nothr, Fitzgrld, bcm on of th Lbor rts in 1892 who svd th Dibbs govrnmnt ovr th Brokn Hill strik. Vrity Burgmnn dscribs th procss of incorportion:

J.D. Fitzgrld, printr by trd...dvlop(d) prsonl styl tht ws dciddly unlbourish. H drssd impccbly, nvr forgtting his kid glovs...H glidd immditly nd sily into distinguishd prlimntry compny - of th othr sid. s rly s Octobr 1891, to scur th good wishs of his finc's fmily in nglnd, h offrd to provid prsonl rfrncs from Prmir Dibbs, Ministr of Works Lyn...ll h xplind, know m wll.Burgmnn, p. 83.

Th SL split btwn modrt right wing ld by futur Prim Ministr Billy Hughs nd futur NSW Prmir Willim Holmn, who wr influntil on th Politicl Lbour Lgu xcutiv nd mor lft wing rnk nd fil. By Fbrury 1895 th lft wing minority wr fd up with Lbor nd prssd to form gnuin socilist prty. On lding militnt, Hrry Hollnd, futur Nw Zlnd Prim Ministr, wrot n Opn Lttr to th prlimntry prty in My 1896 xprssing his disillusionmnt:

...w of th rnk nd fil sw visions of vlint mn fighting our lgisltiv bttls. W hild th 1891 lction s th dwning of nw r. Poor fools tht w wr.Burgmnn, p. 86.

Th SL bgn to los mmbrs to th smllr Socil Dmocrtic Fdrtion tht ws clling for n indpndnt socilist prty. To mt this chllng th SL mobilisd in th urbn working clss brnchs to win th 1897 Lbor confrnc to ll out support for ntionlistion. Dspit th ovrwhlming doption of th ntionlistion objctiv, th prty mchin ws bl to burucrticlly stifl ny ttmpt to tk th objctiv sriously. Th right wing blmd Lbor's poor showing in th Fdrl Convntion lctions on th ntionlistion plnk.

s Lbor movd right, individul SL mmbrs bgn to rsign in disgust. Th right wing domintd 1898 confrnc tht furthr wtrd down ny commitmnt to socilism provd to b th finl strw. Th lft wing rump of th SL, bout 50 mmbrs, now bndond Lbor but not thir commitmnt to th prlimntry rod to socilism. In rction to thir xprinc in th Lbor Prty thy volvd in highly sctrin dirction towrds th politics of th D Lonit mricn Socilist Lbor Prty.

Thy md littl hdwy, prtly bcus of th difficult politicl priod nd th low lvl of industril struggl. Howvr th SL nd th othr socilist scts contributd to thir isoltion. Thy spnt most of thir tim condmning Lbor nd procliming thir own virtu. This ws trp tht som of th bst socilist militnts wr to fll into ovr th nxt 100 yrs. Hving thmslvs rcognisd Lbor's limittions, thy ssumd tht this truth would b obvious to th mss of workrs. Thy hd no id of how to rlt to th grt mjority who still hd illusions in th LP.

Wht ws missing ws ny id of unitd front work with Lbor supportrs, th concpt of working both with thm nd ginst thm; with thm in th struggl to chiv immdit rforms, but ginst thir rformist ids tht hold bck th struggl. It is in struggl tht rvolutionris cn prov thy r th bst fightrs for concrt gins for workrs nd cn xpos th vcilltions of rformist ldrs in prctic.

ustrlin socilists from th 1890s to th prsnt dy hv tndd to fll brodly btwn two stools. Thy ithr ccommodtd to th LP or mintind th purity of thir principls by stnding on th sidlins nd dnouncing Lbor. Th most common pproch hs bn th on of trying to prmt nd influnc th LP, ithr by working within it, s did th rly SL, or by trying to prssur it from outsid. This rformist pproch ws usully justifid on th grounds tht Lbor ws th mss orgnistion of th working clss. This rgumnt convnintly forgts th fct tht Lbor is not th working clss orgnisd politiclly but th politicl xprssion of th union burucrcy nd its middl clss prlimntry llis.

Th problm with socilists trying to cptur th LP for socilist idls ws tht invribly wht hppnd ws tht it ws not th LP tht ws cpturd, but thos socilists who st out to do th cpturing. Bcus thy wr committd ctivists it ws possibl for socilists to gin prominnt positions within th LP. This vry succss dludd thm, for it ws only possibl to hold onto ths positions in th long trm by compromising thir principls. Th cpturing of positions cm to substitut for opn politicl rgumnt for socilist policis nd th building of rnk nd fil militncy t th bs.

In prctic socilists who cpturd lding positions in th LP bhvd littl diffrntly from non-socilists. Thy did dls with th bosss' prtis, supportd th stting up of rbitrtion, rfusd to bck striks nd grd with th Whit ustrli policy. Billy Hughs, who s Prim Ministr ttmptd to introduc conscription during World Wr I nd split th LP, is th most notorious formr socilist turnd rngd. Hughs howvr ws fr from bing th lst socilist to strt with th intntion of using th LP to srv working clss intrsts nd who ndd up trmpling on workrs. John Curtin, Prim Ministr during World Wr II, ws formr ldr of th lft wing of th Victorin Socilist Prty. Govrnor Gnrl Bill Hydn is th ltst in this long lin to rcnt his rly socilist spirtions.

Socilists working insid th LP r cutting ginst th grin. Lbor is bov ll committd to gining offic through lctions. For prlimntry prty thr is littl point bing in opposition, principls tht prvnt you gining mjority of vots hv to b jttisond. Though it would b mistk to simply s lctorlism s th dtrminnt of Lbor's bhviour. In offic Lbor hs rptdly crrid out policis in th intrsts of th ruling clss tht undrmind thir working clss voting bs.

Lbor's policis invitbly hv to b dptd to wht public opinion will ccpt. In th finl nlysis dpting to public opinion mns dpting to th opinions of th Murdochs nd Pckrs or thir quivlnts in th 1890s. Socilists if thy wish to hv crdibility in th LP r forcd to com to trms with this hrsh rlity. Thy too hv to b prprd to ton down thir principls, if fighting for thos principls thrtns to dmg Lbor's lctorl fortuns or ntgonis ruling clss opinion. Ths r prcisly th prssurs tht oprt on th LP Socilist Lft tody. It hlps xplin why th Socilist Lft hs gon long with ll th btryls of Hwk nd Kting.

s th xprinc of th SL rvls this dilmm hs confrontd socilists right from th LP's formtion. Th SL corrctly wlcomd th birth of Lbor s stp forwrd for th working clss movmnt, stp towrds indpndnt working clss ction. Howvr thy fild to pprcit th limittions of th nw prty, tht it ws crtur of th union officils - n ssntilly consrvtiv lyr in socity. Wht th union ldrs wntd ws prty tht would rprsnt thir intrsts in prlimnt; which would modrt th horrors of cpitlism. Th lst thing th union officils wntd, lving sid fw wll mning individuls, ws to initit struggl tht ld to th ovrthrow of cpitlism. Thy would tolrt socilists in thir nw prty, but only if thos socilists subordintd thmslvs to th nds of th burucrcy.

Th SL considrd tht socilism ws invitbl nd would com through volution. It could b introducd pcfully onc socilist prlimntrins hd cpturd th stt mchin. Th SL viwd th stt s nutrl nd ws strongly opposd to violnc. Thir 1894 Mnifsto dvoctd only th us of prlimntry mns.Burgmnn, p. 59. This ld to n rly split of rvolutionry minority who sw th nd for physicl forc nd for workrs thmslvs to tk control of socity, not th stt cting on thir bhlf.

Howvr, dspit this strong commitmnt to th prlimntry rod to socilism, th SL ws idologiclly divrs, if not downright confusd. Th rly SL pltform did not diffr rdiclly from Lbor's. Mny of its policis wr rdicl dmocrtic, rthr thn distinctivly socilist or ls shrd Lbor's vgu glitrinism. Thy hild Willim Ln whn h sild to found his utopin colony in Prguy in 1893 nd lding mmbrs lik Billy Hughs wr strongly influncd by Bllmy's vision of tightly rgultd utopin socilist socity. s wll in its rly yrs thr ws strong bush socilist influnc on th SL. Undr rthur R's ditorship Th Hummr, th ppr of th Wgg brnch of th SU nd th voic of bush socilism ws sympthtic to th SL.

This idologicl confusion opnd th wy for ccommodtion with minstrm Lborist ids. It md it sir for th right wing of th SL to justify thir llinc in th lt 1890s with th WU burucrcy. Rthr thn cting s distinct socilist currnt with its own idology nd strtgy th SL bcm littl mor thn th socilist til of th Lborit dog.


Th 1890 Mritim Strik ws on of th grt turning points in ustrlin history. It mrkd th dcisiv ntry onto th politicl stg of th rising working clss, clss which ws cohrd in th bttls of th 1880s. For dspit ll th myths of minstrm historins, which unfortuntly hv bn mbrcd by mny on th lft, th ustrli of th 1880s ws no glitrin middl clss utopi. In fct it probbly hd proportiontly th lrgst working clss in th world.

Howvr th Mritim Strik ws dcisivly dftd. Th insurgnt working clss movmnt ws svgly btn bck by n mployrs' countr offnsiv nd by th onst of mss unmploymnt. By th hight of th Dprssion in th mid-1890s th urbn unions hd bn brokn. Wht survivd s child of thos dfts ws th Lbor Prty.

Th formtion of th Lbor Prty ws n dvnc, stp towrds indpndnt working clss politicl ction. Howvr th prty soon cm to b domintd by n llinc of trd union officils nd middl clss prlimntrins. Th fundmntl intrsts of both ths socil groups r countrposd to thos of th working clss. Both th union burucrcy nd its middl clss intllctul llis r committd to cpitlism nd sk to us th LP to only gin rforms within th systm rthr thn orgnis ginst it.

Workrs plcd grt hops in th rly Lbor Prty. Rflcting th rdiclism of th tims, NSW Lbor's initil progrmm mbrcd mny working clss rforms. Howvr th rformist projct quickly provd filur. Th nw prty vry rpidly turnd on its own supportrs to ntr th minstrm of bourgois politics. By th nd of th dcd Lbor hd ditchd its initil rforming progrmm nd bcom th prty of Whit ustrli nd rbitrtion. Thr ws no goldn r of Lbor rdiclism. Pul Kting would hv bn quit t hom in th Lbor Prty of th 1890s.

Howvr th myth of goldn r of Lbor rdiclism is usful on for rformists tody who ttmpt to sustin fith in prty tht prsidd ovr 13 yrs of wg cuts, privtistion nd flling living stndrds. Thy proclim tht tru ssnc of Lbor ws subvrtd by th Hwk nd Kting LP govrnmnts; Lbor nds to rturn to its working clss roots. Th myth is convnint - convnint li.

By th bginning of th twntith cntury Lbor hd bcom intgrlly idntifid with th socil nd conomic progrmm of th nw ustrlin Commonwlth - Whit ustrli, rbitrtion, protction nd th primitiv bginnings of wlfr stt. Its cntrl tsk ws to incorport th working clss into th nw ntion. Lbor proclimd itslf s th prty of ustrlin ntionlism. Howvr this did not mn Lbor hd bcom simply nothr bourgois prty. It ws still tid to th trd union movmnt vi th union burucrcy. Furthrmor prcisly in ordr to crry out th procss of incorportion of th working clss movmnt Lbor hd to mintin som connction to th clss nd rspond, vn if only vrblly, to its hops nd spirtions. This mns tht thr hs lwys bn contrdiction within Lborism; contrdiction btwn its commitmnt to ntion nd its commitmnt, if only rhtoriclly, to clss.

Whn th clss struggl hottd up Lbor ws quit cpbl of shifting rdiclly to th lft. s it did in rspons to th normous working clss uphvl of th World Wr I yrs - xplling Prim Ministr in th procss. But it did so only in ordr to bttr contin th struggl, to rconcil rbllious working clss to th systm. For in th finl nlysis bcus of its roots in th union burucrcy Lbor's commitmnt to ntion will lwys triumph ovr its commitmnt to clss. Lbor cnnot b cpturd for socilism.

Th LP is cntrl prop mintining th rul of cpitl. So th tsk for socilists tody rmins th sm s for socilists in th 1890s, to build rvolutionry ltrntiv to Lborism - n orgnisd Mrxist ltrntiv to its hlf-hrtdnss, its pthtic compromiss nd its btryl of working clss intrsts. Howvr tht ssntil tsk is not n sy on nd will not b ccomplishd ovrnight. Rformist ids hv dp roots within th working clss movmnt. Thy will not disppr spontnously. It will tk prolongd politicl struggl by socilists combind with mssiv upsurg of clss struggl.

It cn b tmpting ftr long yrs of Lbor in offic prsiding ovr th grtst rduction in working clss living stndrds sinc th 1930s Dprssion to writ off th LP s totlly rctionry. It is tmpttion sctions of th lft hv succumbd to with thir clls to vot for indpndnts or grn cndidts in lctions or for unions to disffilit from Lbor. This my sm rdicl cours. In rlity it rflcts imptinc nd frustrtion with th filur of th lft to build fighting mss ltrntiv to Lbor. Thr is widsprd working clss disnchntmnt nd vn bittrnss towrds th Kting govrnmnt. Howvr this hs not rsultd in mrkd swing to th lft. Thr hs bn no dcisiv brk by vn minority of th working clss from Lborism. Th low lvl of struggl nd th bsnc of sizbl lft mns tht most clss conscious workrs s littl choic but, howvr grudgingly, to vot Lbor. vn thos workrs who r most bittr towrds Kting hv not drwn th conclusion tht th prlimntry procss nd th whol rformist projct hv fild. Thy cling to th hop of mor gnuin Lbor govrnmnt to rprsnt thir intrsts.

In prt workrs continu to look to Lbor bcus th dfts nd stbcks of th 1980s hv undrmind rnk nd fil trd union orgnistion nd workrs' confidnc in thir own bility to fight bck to dfnd thir living stndrds nd conditions. Th currnt low lvl of industril struggl invitbly impcts on workrs' politicl consciousnss. It mns thy r mor likly to look to prlimntry sviours to dlivr thm from on high thn to thir own slf-ctivity.

Yt t th sm tim thr is dp disnchntmnt in socity. Thr is littl fith in th mrkt. Lbor's filur to dlivr is widly rcognisd. t som point thr will b rvivl of struggl s workrs r forcd to dfnd thir living stndrds from on-going ttcks. ny such rvivl will opn up th possibility of shrp shift to th lft nd th building of gnuin socilist ltrntiv to Lbor. To chiv tht gol howvr rvolutionris will hv to b clr on th rl ntur of Lborism. For in ny priod of upsurg in struggl Lbor is sur to swing to th lft nd clok its commitmnt to cpitlism with ll sorts of smingly rdicl rhtoric.

Clrity on th rol of Lborism, whil vitl, is not howvr sufficint for rvolutionris to win mss following vn in priod of grt upsurg. Socilists lso nd to dvlop non-sctrin prctic tht nbls thm to influnc rformist workrs nd studnts. Th mss of workrs will not b won from rformism simply by propgnd dnouncing Lbor's btryls. Rvolutionris hv to b bl to dmonstrt th supriority of thir ids in prctic. It is th rsponsibility of rvolutionris to work with workrs nd studnts who look to th LP nd to try to win thm to socilist ids in th cours of th struggls tking plc tody nd th grtr struggls w cn xpct in th futur. It is only from intrvntion long sid rformist workrs in th struggl for concrt gins tht will nbl socilists to gin hring.


© , 2012