What is Victorian Socialists all about?
We are a socialist party in Victoria who have come together because we want a socialist voice in our parliaments, and think that if we organise together we can get one.
We are a new party - we only formed in 2018 - but we have already shown that in the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne there are plenty of people fed up with the status quo who want to vote socialist. In our first electoral campaigns (the state election in 2018 and the federal election in 2019) we got around or above 4% of the vote in the areas we contested.
That’s a lot less than we’d like, but it’s a good start. It compares well with how the Greens went in their first electoral attempts. We got many more votes than Fiona Patten, who was elected above us only because she did dodgy preference deals with far-right micro parties that we, alone among any parties who contested that election, refused to do. We think that with hard work and honest campaigning we can win over enough people to get one or more socialists in parliament at the next state election and start to build the kind of movement we need to shake up politics in this country.
What do Victorian Socialists stand for?
A radical reorganisation of society. And the first element of that is redistribution of wealth and power. Australia is a first world nation. But the lords and monarchs of the middle ages would blush at the inequality of our society.
According to a 2020 UNSW study, the wealth of the top 20% of Australians is 90 times that of the bottom 20%. The average wealth of the top 20% is $3,255,000. For the bottom 20% it’s $36,000.
But that inequality - stark though it is - between the bottom fifth and the top fifth of Australian society - only scratches the surface. The real truth about how divided by class our society is can only be understood when you look at the real rich - the ultra wealthy - and compare their situation to the average person.
Data from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index shows the wealth of Australian billionaires increased by 56% between January 10, 2020, and January 2021. The 10 richest billionaires increased their wealth by over $68 billion.
Meanwhile, a third of young people lost their job in 2020, and wages continue to stagnate for those workers still lucky enough to have jobs. Young workers today have never been less likely to be able to buy a house.
There is more than enough to go around in Australia. The problem is it doesn’t go around. The wealth of society is hoarded by a tiny minority who control not just the riches, but also the politics and the politicians of this country.
Victorian Socialist candidates, if elected, will fight for a radical redistribution of wealth and power. Give us 100 days in office, and we will give you 100 ways we will fight to take power from the elite and return it to those who created the wealth in the first place.
How does Victorian Socialists think it can change politics?
There’s a narrative - a false narrative - that has built up over the past 30 years. It’s that the divide in our society is between a socially progressive elite and a socially reactionary but economically social-democratic working class. This narrative is most energetically championed by the Murdoch press (though they ignore the “social democratic concerns of workers” half of the equation), but its biggest enablers are actually the people who the tabloids hound on a daily basis - Labor and the Greens.
Labor thinks it has to go along with every reactionary Liberal policy on social issues to hold onto what’s left of its blue collar working class base. The Greens think the working class is a write off, and pin their hopes for political success on the liberal middle class who increasingly populate the inner city.
On paper, the Greens are much better than Labor. The ALP actually votes for reactionary Liberal policies on refugees, military spending, and all the rest. In government, it carries out these policies even when they are electorally unpopular - just think of the allegedly “left” PM Julia Gillard who refused to support same-sex marriage! The Greens, by contrast, have decent, if not perfect, policies on workers rights and unions, as well as their vastly better (when compared to the ALP) policies on climate, refugees, war, etc.
But the Greens aren’t serious about representing workers. Their policies say one thing, their practice says another. Greens campaign money flows overwhelmingly to the gentrified inner city seats where they think they can knock off Labor. Greens political operatives will openly tell you that they think “demographic changes are on their side” in these areas - by which they mean the fact that working class migrant communities are being driven out of the inner north and west and replaced with middle class university educated whites.
At the same time the Greens are completely uninterested in the electorates where Victoria’s multicultural working class is concentrated. Those seats are Labor heartlands, but that doesn’t mean Labor is loved there. In places like Broadmeadows, people hate the ALP. They still vote Labor, because no one they have ever known has voted Tory, but if a serious alternative was on offer, they would switch in a second.
But for the Greens, these are not “their people”. They aren’t interested.
Well, Victorian Socialists are. When we ran our first campaign in 2018 we were told we wouldn’t get a vote far beyond Richmond. The people who told us that shut up when results started coming in, giving us over 10% on our first outing in the central Broadmeadows booths.
Our argument is that you can build a political force in Melbourne politics that can both win over the left-liberal vote in the inner city, and also get the support of workers in the outer northern and western suburbs - the working class heart of the city.
We think it is possible to build a political movement that can fight racism and class-exploitation at the same time. A movement that understands that genuinely progressive politics has always started by organising working class communities to fight for their own interests.
The rise of the faux-populism of the Trumpist right, which taps into justifiable hostility to an elite liberal establishment who bend the knee to socially progressive causes while at the same time propping up the system that ensures the continuation of systemic racism and oppression, poses a challenge for the left. Can we provide an alternative that fights for working class interests and stands against the ruling class elite, while at the same time being uncompromising champions of every other downtrodden and oppressed community?
We don’t know if we can do it, but we know no one else will. So we are going to put our heart and soul into trying. If you agree it is worth trying, join Victorian Socialists today.