Labour History

The “French Turn” in the Antipodes: Early Trotskyists and the Australian Labor Party, 1937–55

Labour History (2014), 107, (1), 129–148.

Abstract

Mass social-democratic parties such as the Australian Labor Party have long been the major obstacle to small revolutionary organisations winning mass influence. This paper explores how the Australian Trotskyists of the 1940s attempted to overcome this through the tactic of entry. In the 1930s the “French Turn” by Leon Trotsky’s supporters in France and in the United States provided successful models of short-term entry. In Australia, however, entry was posed as a buffer against wartime illegality. The Communist League split in 1941, with the Labor Socialist Group (LSG) led by Nick Origlass embarking on a deep entry into the ALP, most actively in Victoria in the post-war period. When the Progressive Labour Party split from Labor after the smashing of the 1949 Coal Strike, LSG supporters joined it. Aside from this brief interlude, the strategy of long-term entry led not to strengthening the revolutionary forces but their liquidation into Laborism.

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Footnotes

*The authors would like to thank the two anonymous referees ofLabour Historyfor their comments and suggestions. Google Scholar

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Details

Author details

Sebesta, John

Fullarton, Douglas

Morrell, Stephen

Smith, Lyn