Peter Boyle

The 23rd Congress of the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), a Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance in Australia, reaffirmed its commitment to broader left regroupment.

There are two starkly different election processes underway right now, but most readers will probably have only been reading about one of them: the US presidential elections, which Forbes magazine estimates will likely cost as much as US$3.3 billion all up! In Cuba, just 145 kilometres from the coast of Florida, a very different election process is taking place.

The unforgettable tabloid headline “Greenie granny goaled” accompanied a picture of a smiling, backpack-toting Betty Downie being led away by two policemen from the Franklin River blockade sums up the fighting spirit of this wonderful activist. Betty died, aged 95, in a retirement home in Launceston on December 5, 2007.

When I switched on the TV on the day after the federal election, this message hit me: the election is over, now we can get on with Christmas shopping!

Dear Green Left Weekly reader,

What a relief to finally see the back of John Howard and his despised Coalition government!

“Now that Labor has decisively won the federal election, it is urgent that Australian troops be withdrawn from Iraq as soon as possible”, Jim McIlroy, the Socialist Alliance candidate for Kevin Rudd’s seat of Griffith, said after the announcement that Labor had defeated the Howard government. McIlroy also called for an end to Australian support for the war in Afghanistan. “All Australian forces should be brought home by Christmas.

The Socialist Alliance "Howard Overboard" election night party in Green Left Weekly's offices in Sydney spontaneously spilled into the streets when John Howard conceded defeat. Jubilant activists celebrated with chants, whistles and pots and pans in a lap around the block which drew out people from their homes. A right-wing government that has plagued Australia since 1996 has been defeated and we have much to celebrate.

I became a grandfather last week. The much-anticipated first grandchild arrived at 11.42pm. That’s worse than it sounds because she was born in Perth and I live in Sydney — two hours ahead. I groggily answered the phone but my eldest daughter’s excited voice woke me up quickly and the memory of the birth of my younger daughter just 11 years ago came rushing back.

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.

The idea that we build something much better than capitalism had been around for generations but, 90 years ago in Russia, for the first time an alliance of workers and peasants made a revolution that was to frame the course of history ever since.

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