Be a part of next year's conference: MARXISM 2014
Easter Weekend 17-20 April - Melbourne, Australia:
Hosted by SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE - www.sa.org.au
Marxism 2013 presents the launch of "Revolution is for Us: The Left and Gay Liberation in Australia" with its author, Liz Ross.
"The homosexual is essential to the sexual revolution; there can be no revolution, no liberation, without us."
Australia's Gay Liberation movement arose at a time in world history when revolution was in the air and gays wanted to be part of it.
It was the Left which championed revolution, which had a theory and practice of revolution -- Marxism. But when it comes to Gay Liberation it is often asserted that the Left was backward and even hostile, that Marxism had no tradition of dealing with sexual oppression.
This book challenges those claims and shows that the Left -- and the working class -- was involved from the beginning in the earliest gay rights movements and was integral to the new Gay Liberation Movement. It also refutes the claim that the Left has no intellectual tools to explain the oppression of women and gays. Looking specifically at the Left and Gay Liberation in Australia, it uncovers a rich history -- and an inspiration for the activists of today.
Liz Ross has been active in Women's and Gay Liberation and socialist politics since the early 1970s. She is a founder member and now life member of the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives (ALGA). As a union delegate in the 1980s and 1990s she was involved in and has written extensively about workers struggles. Author of "Dedication doesn't pay the rent! The 1986 Victorian Nurses Strike", in Sandra Bloodworth and Tom O'Lincoln (eds.), Rebel Women in Australian Working Class History; Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win! Builders Labourers Fight Deregistration, 1981-94 and "Building Unions and Government Reform: the Challenge for Unions" in the Journal of Australian Political Economy. Since the early 2000s she has contributed to the debate about climate change as author of How Capitalism is Destroying the Planet, as well as conference presentations and articles. She is a regular contributor to Socialist Alternative magazine.
The Marxism 2013 conference, held in Melbourne over the Easter weekend, was the biggest and the most successful to date. Some 1,140 people came to participate in debates and discussions and to hear stories of the struggle from Australia and the world.
As always, many highlights were provided by conference guests: John Pilger (investigative journalist and documentary maker), Billy X Jennings (Black Panther Party, USA), Gary Foley (Aboriginal Tent Embassy and Panther, Australia), Brian Jones (International Socialist Organization, USA), Surya (People's Liberation Party, Indonesia), Gerry Rivera (PALEA, Philippines), Patchanee Kumnak (Thai socialist), Barry Sheppard (US socialist), Antony Loewenstein (author), Jeff Sparrow (author and editor, Overland journal), Bob Carnegie (trade unionist) and many more.
Part of the reason for the overwhelming success of the conference was the ongoing unity discussions between three of Australia's Marxist organisations. While the conference is hosted by Socialist Alternative, this year the Revolutionary Socialist Party, Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly all supported the event and provided speakers.
The conference took place in the wake of the official merger of Socialist Alternative and the Revolutionary Socialist Party -- which last week held a party congress and unanimously voted to dissolve the RSP and join SA. Kim Bullimore announced the merger in the opening night plenary session. Also speaking on opening night was Peter Boyle, national convenor of the Socialist Alliance, which is also in unity discussions with Socialist Alternative.
Marxism 2013 included the stream "Organising workers today", which proved popular with workers attempting to rebuild the traditions of militant trade unionism. Other popular streams were "Anarchism versus Marxism", and "Marxism for beginners".
For the first time, the conference also organised a "School of Rebellion" for young people and children, which was provided free for all conference attendees with children/grandchildren etc. More than 30 students enrolled over the weekend. At one point the children rebelled against the official curriculum and voted to do something else -- a sure sign that the school was successful in its aims!
Socialist Alternative would like to extend our gratitude to all of our international guests and to all who participated in the event.
Marxism 2014 will be held over the Easter weekend 17 to 20 April 2014. Put those dates in your diary now!
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