MIA: History: Australia

Wilfred Burchett


Australian History


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Social Democracy in Australia

From the 1880s, with Social Democracy on the rise in Europe and the new mass unionism spreading across the world, a number of small Marxist groups became active in Australia, helped by the strong and independent character of the working class of the settler community and continuously stimulated by new arrivals. The Australian Socialist League, mainly in Sydney, the Victorian Socialist Party, the I.W.W. and the Socialist Labor Party were among the most active parties.

“Bloody Sunday”

Report of the Fremantle Wharf Lumpersí strike of April-May 1919

Vida Goldstein

The Woman Movement

The Woman Movements in Australia and New Zealand were the first to achieve female suffrage and were active in abstinence, health, peace, anti-poverty, free speech, anti-conscription and trade union struggles.

Communist Party of Australia

The Communist Party of Australia was founded in October 1920 with participation of the “Trades Hall Reds” in Sydney, the supporters of the Andrade Bookshop and the Victorian Labor College in Melbourne and Russian Emigrés. It failed in its bid to remain inside the Labor Party and became marginalised until the “Third Period” of ultra-militancy and the Great Depression, when they led the Unemployed Workers Movement and the Shop Stewards Movement. When Hitler invaded Europe, the CPA adopted a pro-War line, and it came out of the War a very large party, in control of the trade unions.

ASIO Surveillance photo April 1958: 18th Congress CPA


Poetry Militant, by Bernard O’Dowd 1909
Value of Literature to a Young Nation, by Bernard O’Dowd 1918
Breakers of men: torturing the IWW twelve, IWW Prisoners Release Committee, 1920
How Labour Governs, Vere Gordon Childe, 1923
The Future of Australian Literature, Vance Palmer, 1935
Dawn to Dusk, Ernest Lane, 1939
Are Women Paid Men’s Rates?, Council of Action for Equal Pay, 1942
Marxism and the individual, Hewlett Johnson, 1943
The First Hundred Years of Strikes in Australia. 1820-1920, JP Walker, 1945
Why Arena? September 1963.


Archives of Australian Marxists
Guido Baracchi (1887-1975)
Wilfred Burchett (1911-1983)
Vere Gordon Childe (1892-1957)
Lance Sharkey (1898-1967)
Gilbert Giles Roper (1905-1974)
Eugene Kamenka (1928-1995)
Bob Gould (1937-2011)
Lynn Beaton (1946-2016)

The Communists and the War, D. Lovegrove, October 1942
The Switch of Allegiance
The Second Switch
Second Front


Guido Baracchi

Victorian Labor College

The Victorian Labor College, founded by militant unionists and Marxists in 1912, played a central role in the founding of the CPA in 1920, being the focus of the Melbourne group which attending the founding Conference in October 1920, including David Andrade, W P Earsman and Guido Baracchi.

John Anderson


Sydney Libertarians

The “Sydney Libertarians” had a loosely shared perspective, and an original and rigorous social theory in post-war Australia. Drawing on Australian philosopher John Anderson and elements of Marx, Sorel, Pareto, Reich, Max Nomad and classical anarchism, they were strongest in the late 1950s-early 1960s.



History of the Labour Movement, in 12 parts

This history of socialism and the workers' movement was written by Ted Tripp and Cris GAffney in 1986, and read by Chris Gaffney, and covers the rise of capitalism, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution and the rise of Stalinism.

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Archive maintained by Andy Blunden.