Socialist Alliance shares a number of policies with the Greens. We preference the Greens and, in seats where we are not standing, we actively encourage people to vote for them too.
So, given that they are a larger organisation and already have modest parliamentary representation, why do we stand? More particularly, why do we think that voting for Socialist Alliance, where you can, is a stronger and more decisive contribution to the struggle to confront the climate crisis and create a better world for all?
Some of the policies we are proposing that no other party is actively campaigning on include: land rights; net zero emissions within 10 years, bringing strategic monopolised sectors of the economy into democratic public ownership, restricting residential rent increases to the consumer price index, 30,000 new public housing dwellings in four years and; sustainable transport solutions as a better alternative to both Roe 8 and building an Outer Harbour.
Participating in elections enables us to get our ideas out and by engaging in public debates we hope to shift the discussion — and the Greens with it — a bit more to the left.
There is no possibility of a “wasted vote” because the preferential voting system means that if we get knocked out, your vote passes on at full value to the Greens and then Labor.
It would be a waste not to use the voting system to make the strongest demand for real change.
But it’s not just our immediate policies that put us to the left of the Greens. We are anti-capitalists. It is simply not possible to create a just and truly democratic society, in peace with the planet, as long as the vast majority of the decisions that affect our lives and the future of life on Earth are made, not in parliament, but in corporate boardrooms.
Furthermore, capitalism cannot go green. It is relentlessly driven to pursue endless growth on a finite planet and to maximise profits by pushing the true cost of producing goods and services onto society and the environment.
We have to break this model of economic and social organisation if we are to achieve a lasting redistribution of wealth, turn the ecological crisis around and make society fundamentally more democratic.
This is not to say that every single small or medium enterprise needs to be nationalised almost overnight, as happened in the former Soviet Union. That would be very disruptive and inefficient.
But the strategic monopolised sectors of the economy have to be brought into democratic public ownership. That includes the Big Four banks, mining and the major utilities.
We don’t have the illusion that we are anywhere near achieving such a transformation in Australia, but we think it is important to be honest about the fact that such a shift is necessary to create a better world for all.
Runaway global warming represents an existential threat to human civilisation and much of life on Earth. Yet Labor and the Coalition remain committed to opening up new fossil fuel reserves. They have their foot on the pedal of climate catastrophe and the coming WA state election will not resolve anything.
Breaking the vice-like grip that this fossil fuel mafia has over society so we can take steps towards creating a better future will not be easy. This corporate cabal will furiously resist it every step of the way, as they already do.
Overcoming that resistance will require mass struggle — mobilised communities on the streets and in workplaces.
The engine room of progressive social change has always been people power, not parliament. There has not been a single progressive transformation in society that wasn’t based on a mass movement.
Of course, leaders inside parliament can help inspire or catalyse that change, but it can’t happen without a movement. Through all our activity, including our election campaigns, Socialist Alliance seeks to encourage that kind of action.
There are certainly those inside the Greens that agree with this perspective. However, the Greens as a whole do not. Many key Greens figures believe in the possibility of a green capitalism. They see the Greens as needing to be politically just a little bit left of Labor, and even dream of one day being a junior partner in a Labor government.
In some countries, Green parties have moved to the left and helped create the kind of force in politics we need here. However, in others, like Germany, they have become quite right-wing and support the neoliberal status quo.
We don’t think the Greens in Australia can straddle both camps forever; they will have to choose one way or the other.
We are sober about our small size and don’t pretend to have all the answers. The political force for change that we desperately need will be bigger and have deeper roots in grassroots struggle than either the Greens or the Socialist Alliance.
Our efforts today are directed towards trying to find a way to contribute to the emergence of such a force for change.
If you are serious about fighting for social justice and ecology then your vote and voice is made stronger and louder by voting for Socialist Alliance. However, even more important is becoming active in building movements for change the day after the election.
[Sam Wainwright is the Socialist Alliance candidate for Fremantle. Socialist Alliance is also fielding Marianne Mackay and Dirk Kelly for South Metropolitan.]