969

The September election is approaching and the Socialist Alliance needs the financial help of members and supporters to run an effective election campaign.

This is even more essential this federal election since the two big parties have made it harder for socialists and progressive, single-issue parties to stand, by doubling the fees required for candidates to nominate.

This is a slightly edited text of a presentation made by Dave Holmes at the “Organising for 21st century socialism” seminar, held in Sydney on June 9. Holmes is a leading member of the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne.

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Today I want to talk about how socialists need to work to win mass influence and how that relates to the unity process between Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative.

About 250 people, mainly from the Turkish and Kurdish communities, held a protest in Melbourne’s Federation Square on June 10 in solidarity with protesters in Taksim Square and Gezi Park, Istanbul, who have come under intense repression from the Turkish state.

The rally was organised by the Melbourne Taksim Platform, a coalition consisting of the Anatolian Cultural Centre, the Australian Alevi Council and the Australian Turkish Cultural Association. The rally was also supported by the Kurdish Association of Victoria.

Like most sectors of society, the education system in Australia is under attack. For decades, education has been underfunded, so when Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that she intended to fund the Gonski reforms, many people were temporarily relieved.

Then she said that, to pay for primary and high school education reforms, the government would cut funding to universities. Private schools won’t lose funding and, in some cases, will get more. Yet the ailing TAFE system would get nothing.

So much for an education revolution.

In the latest bid to convince desperate people not to seek safety in our country, the federal government is running an ad campaign on primetime Afghan TV directed at members of the persecuted Hazara ethnic minority.

A new website has published the biggest set of immigration detention records in Australia to date. It will provide unprecedented verification of the endemic self-harm and psychiatric crises that refugee rights campaigners have independently reported for years.

It feels like the sewers have burst, spilling a stinking mess of racism, homophobia and misogyny all over the public debate in Australia. Aboriginal football stars and a female prime minister have been among the noted victims of hateful abuse and insult.

It has shocked some people. Where did this come from? What does this say about 21st century Australia?

The exposure of the huge surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) of all phone calls in the United States, as well as the vast data mining of all electronic communications through computer servers and search engines worldwide, is one of the most important whistle-blowing events of our times.

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the surveillence Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, says these exposures by Edward Snowden, who worked for a private contractor used by the NSA, said Snowden’s exposures were even more important than the Vietnam War revelations.

Julia Gillard was greeted by a vibrant protest by students, unionists and Aboriginal activists when she spoke in Fremantle on June 12.

As Labor party faithful -- who paid up to $250 per head -- waited to hear her talk, protesters took aim at some of the worst policies of the Gillard government.

During the early days of the Gezi protests, researchers from the University of Istanbul surveyed 3000 activists in the heart of the struggle around Taksim Square.

Seventy-one percent of respondents described themselves as “pro-freedom” with no affiliation to any organisation, most of them first-time activists. Only 7.1 % said they were a member or supporter of any group.

Barricades on the streets are nothing new to Turkish people. Barricades have been put up against the authorities many times.

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