It’s not unreasonable to assume that at some point in your life, you’ll get into some confrontation with someone of the far left. Whether it’s in some formal debate or at family dinner with the weird hippy aunt you’ll probably meet a communist at one point or another and-given their personality- they’ll probably want to talk politics. Now you could stay quiet and let them babble on or you could challenge them on their ideas, but chances are you’ll want to pipe up. However, arguing with nothing but PragurU talking points will only make you look like an idiot if your opponent has any idea about what they’re talking about. Easiest way to not look like an arsehole is to know their position better than they know yours. Even if this situation does not emerge, there are still things you can learn from and communists that could be useful.
So, what is your contemporary communist like? Most active communist organisations in Australia are Trotskyist or close to that (And so that’s who’s going to be focussed on), Socialist Alliance is the most significant group having a some very minor influence in local government in WA and Victoria. A big proportion of their members come from academia or university campuses. Unsurprisingly they’re hyper concerned with Social Justice and equity e.c.t. Just about all their university members come from the humanities department, with very few outside that area even talking to them. This heavy university bias does have the advantage of very high media output for the small size of their groups, with multiple semi-regular newsletters of honestly quite good production quality. However, from what I’ve seen there are far more inner-city hipsters larping as revolutionaries than there are actual blue-collar workers.
The bedrock of Marxist thought is -on paper- the working class, it is an identity greater than religion, ethnicity, or nationality. There are two and only two classes, the Proletariat (Workers) and the Bourgeoisie. If the proletariat are to achieve liberation, they must develop Class Consciousness, putting aside their petty squabbles and overthrowing the Bourgeoisie and seizing the means of production. To develop class consciousness, it’s essential to alienate the workers from their masters, having an ethnically diverse working class is meant to help with this. If black and white both share in the same struggle, then preconceptions of being the same as their masters will disappear and the revolution will be one step closer. This is probably why modern Marxists are so keen to support mass immigration despite its inevitable consequences for the worker.
Ultimately the goal of all this is a Dictatorship of the Proletariat, where a post-revolutionary government takes over and nationalises all industry. In practise this is difficult to do and leads to a sort of Perpetual Transition phase to true communism that ultimately is never reached. This form of communism is what was seen in the USSR, China e.c.t. Many branches of communism believe in World Revolution that is, communism will be never be safe unless all the world’s working classes are united without any major capitalist states opposing them, then and only then will the revolution be secured (This is the predominant viewpoint of most communist/Marxist groups in Australia today). The irony is that in this transitional stage, all that comes about is another ruling class that makes less miserable for the working class, a ruling class that pretends like they’re the average person.
Despite all their talk, their actions show nothing but near total contempt for the average worker. The Socialist Alternative rep I spoke to mentioned how they consider it a waste of time to engage in charity action, and that they should instead focus on their political activism. Truly valuable political activism for a party that has 0 seats in government and is virtually unknown outside university campuses. It’s telling that people so concerned with the plight of the worker have never lifted a finger to help them, protesting with 50 people doesn’t help the bloke recently put out of a job. Perhaps the most reprehensible thing I’ve heard a contemporary communist group doing is going to the Centrelink line shortly after Covid-19 layoffs first started and selling their newspaper to those recently out of a job. One of their representatives responded to the post calling them out by expressing with the usual smug satisfaction that “Socialist Alternative care about unemployed students and workers, what a world.”. If that doesn’t tell you about the calibre of these people, I don’t know what will.
They’re not a substantial political force in this country. They’re idealism makes them alienatingly unapproachable, they’re hypocrisy makes the stomach turn, and the nature of their closed in circlejerk makes them incapable of ever being relatable to your average person. However, there are things we can learn from them.
- Give back to the community, get involved in volunteer/charity work (Even if it’s small scale)
- Increase media output (Newsletters, videos, images, anything)
- Avoid being so esoteric and unapproachable that no average person has any interest in what you have to say. Change isn’t fuelled by 40 people in a discord talking amongst themselves
- Do what you can to get new members