Come Saturday night, most political parties in Australia will be winding up their public campaigning until the next elections. The rank-and-file members who did their stint of letterboxing and polling booth duty will mostly retreat into inactivity, leaving "politics" once again to the professional politicians. No wonder so many people are cynical about politics — in their experience, it's about politicians doing it by themselves and largely for themselves.
Fortunately, in the week after the elections, members of at least one political party, the Socialist Alliance, will be back out on the street with a new issue of Green Left Weekly to distribute and a brace of important ongoing political campaigns.
We know that whichever of the two major parties forms government, the struggle for a serious response to global warming, for workers' rights, for peace and justice will have to go on. That's a consequence of the conservative me-too-ism, the bipartisan orthodoxy in support of the corporate-profits-first agenda. And no-one can say that if Labor's Kevin Rudd becomes the next PM that he did not warn us, over and over again, that he was a conservative.
We have all worked hard to defeat Howard but we know that the Labor Party is only a slightly lesser evil. If we want a real political alternative on all the pressing issues of our time we have to build it.
When the Socialist Alliance was formed in 2001 by a few small socialist groups banding together there was an enthusiastic response from hundreds of socialists who'd never before joined a socialist group because they despaired at the divisions in the left. GLW threw its support behind the Socialist Alliance because we saw this as a serious attempt to build a political alternative.
We knew that there were many people in the Greens also trying to build a political alternative to the shoulder-to-shoulder conservatism of the major parties and GLW gives them our support too.
However, because we recognised that politics has to be more than about trying to get into parliament, we saw the importance of a group that has effectively organised activism outside election campaigns in the trade union, environment, anti-war, Indigenous rights, same-sex marriage rights and other progressive movements. We also recognised the Socialist Alliance's willingness to draw the Greens into more extra-parliamentary action in the movements, like the mass defiance of the police-state laws imposed on Sydney during the APEC summit.
We recognized the Socialist Alliance's initiatives in bringing together a broad range of militant trade unionists to pressure the Australian Council of Trade Unions into calling mass mobilisations against Work Choices instead of confining its campaign to television advertisements and electioneering in marginal seats.
GLW has made itself a platform for the Socialist Alliance as it has for any serious attempt to build a real political alternative in Australia because that has been in our charter from our foundation 17 years ago.
We applaud the fact that for the first time several trade unions, including branches of the Electrical Trades Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union have made significant donations to the Socialist Alliance election campaign. But GLW also needs an urgent injection of donations to meet its $250,000 Fighting Fund target by the end of this year. So far we have raised $188,650 but we have only another six weeks to raise the remaining $60,000.
You can directly deposit a contribution to our fighting fund at: Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 901992. Alternatively, send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007, phone it through on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia), or donate online at http://www.greenleft.org.au/donate.php.
Please check the calendar on page 23 for any fundraising events that you may be able to support.