At its conference in Sydney – held August 27-29 – the new Red Ant Collective adopted a founding Statement of Principles and Perspectives.
The Statement expresses, very briefly, the political reasons why the founding members of the Collective took the decision to set it up – including why we didn’t instead simply join one or another of the existing socialist organisations in Australia.
The principal reason for establishing Red Ant is the need to re-establish an organised current of anti-imperialist Marxism in Australia. As the statement outlines, anti-imperialism means willingness to consistently defend the societies of the Global South against the rich, imperialist, exploiter societies such as Australia.
Red Ant is founded on the principle that winning the working class over to a revolutionary socialist outlook in a wealthy imperialist country like Australia will only be possible on the basis of workers also being won over to consistent opposition to Australia’s imperialist interests.
Because Australian capitalism is founded on the exploitation of the Global South, any movement for the redistribution of wealth within Australia that does not fully address imperialist exploitation as a key source of Australia’s national riches, will ultimately end up as some form or another of national chauvinism.
The long history of the Australian Labor Party and social democracy in general demonstrates this view. The statement also emphasises the crucial place of the struggle for women’s liberation and, in an Australian context, of indigenous liberation, to the movement for socialism.
The main “perspective” (as opposed to more permanent “principles”) included in the statement relates to the climate justice movement. It is widely accepted – at least among socialists – that the world’s environmental crisis cannot ever be solved under capitalism.
The statement also adds something less widely accepted about how to make progress towards that. Namely, that it is necessary for socialists, and everyone else, to campaign in the here and now for specific measures that the capitalist government can and will implement if they are subject to enough pressure.
We view this as crucial. This is firstly because there probably can be no socialism on a hot house planet of run-away climate disaster. Second, because to build a mass environmental movement among working people – which is also a precondition of socialism – it is necessary for that movement to be structured around concrete demands, and to win them. While the environmental movement has no coherent overall political strategy and has not yet given birth to a national leadership, its growth will be constrained. Red Ant will do its best, within its resources, to further discussion and movement on the question of such a strategy.
Since the decline of the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP) around two decades ago, there has not been a revolutionary socialist organisation in Australia that could play the necessary leadership role in anti-imperialist struggles and in many other areas.
Red Ant does not seek to emulate the old DSP which was a product of its time. Only half of the newly elected Red Ant Editorial Committee are ex-members of the DSP. However, by drawing lessons from that and other anti-imperialist Marxist traditions, as well as by working with others with a similar outlook, we aim to create the basis for establishing a new revolutionary party in this country.
That is a long way off. A revolutionary party won’t be possible by any small group of people making proclamations. Red Ant is a tiny “start-up” organisation. For now, we can really only advocate such a perspective – and fight towards it.
But we think that fighting, seriously, to win a new world is the most humane and also individually rewarding way to exist within the stultifying, alienating and brutal social realities of today’s capitalist world.
We have been surprised at how easily we have already started to grow. We have exciting plans for 2023 and are confident that other revolutionary minded individuals will continue to get involved.
- Red Ant Statement of Principles and Perspectives
- Red Ant membership structure
- Friends of Red Ant
Red Ant Statement of Principles and Perspectives
Red Ant is a small group of activists who share a perspective of socialism and internationalist Marxism. We believe that capitalism is a failed system and must be overthrown by a revolutionary movement based on the power of the working class. A successful revolutionary movement in a rich country like Australia must be founded on an outlook and practice of anti-imperialism.
The world is starkly polarised between a small group of rich countries and the vast majority of societies that comprise the Global South, including many poorer former socialist countries.
The rich countries continuously struggle to maintain not only their own individual country’s capacity to exploit, but the existing structures of global divide and exploitation. It is these rich countries, that economically dominate the global capitalist economy, benefit from the exploitation of the poor countries and endeavour to maintain this global status quo, which are the true imperialist societies today.
In recent years, the United States, Australia, and other imperialist states have massively escalated their hostility towards China and Russia, both of which remain vastly poorer than the rich countries and which are systematically exploited by imperialist capital. This follows a long history of imperialist hostility to many Global South societies who either rejected capitalism for socialism, or simply tried to take an independent path.
The cold war atmosphere resulting from this new wave of hostilities has seen increased militarism as well as attacks on dissenting voices. The reasons for, and effects of this escalating imperialist aggression, are critical developments that we urgently seek to understand.
We fiercely defend the Cuban and Venezuelan revolutions against organised counter-revolutionary mobilisations and oppose Australia’s imperialist aggression and warmongering against China.
Red Ant sees the liberation of women not only as a question of rights, but as central to the fight to overthrow capitalism. This is because the oppression of women is inseparably linked to private ownership over the means of production, that is, to the core structure of capitalist social relations. For this reason, we stand for the view that complete women’s liberation cannot be achieved without socialism and no victory for socialism is possible without the liberation of women.
Red Ant stands in solidarity with the struggles of indigenous peoples in Australia. Indigenous people, as the original custodians of this land, cared for country and lived in harmony with the natural environment for tens of thousands of years. The success of socialism depends on rebuilding the connection of human development with the environment, and we believe this can only be done with respect to elders past and present. We also recognise the historical genocide of indigenous people in Australia and seek to further campaigns for indigenous social justice.
Red Ant is committed to building a mass-based climate justice movement. We do not think that the capitalist system can be made to stop its environmental destruction, nor resolve the environmental crises already unfolding. Our environment can only be safeguarded and restored in a socialist society.
At the same time, we strongly reject the defeatist and disorienting idea that it is impossible to win significant environmental reforms and concessions from capitalist governments, including in Australia. It is urgent that we continue putting pressure on the government to introduce a series of concrete, immediate measures that will reduce carbon emissions and mitigate other forms of environmental destruction, such as “no new fossil fuel projects!”
We would like to do much more than we are able to at the moment. That is only possible if there are more people who share these perspectives and want to get involved in the project.
The Red Ant Structure
The highest decision-making body is the Red Ant Collective which takes decisions by simple majority vote. The conditions of membership for the collective are:
- Members agree with the Red Ant Statement of Principles and Perspectives
- Members endeavour to be involved in Red Ant activities
- Members pay monthly dues (the amount decided by the member)
The Red Ant Editorial Committee is empowered to make decisions between Red Ant Collective meetings in accordance with perspectives set by the Collective. The Red Ant Editorial Committee (EC) is elected by the Red Ant Collective and re-elected at each in-person National Conference of the Red Ant Collective or at any Red Ant Collective meeting. All elected EC members have voice, but only EC members residing in Australia have a vote on the EC.
Friends of Red Ant
People who are sympathetic and supportive of Red Ant’s politics but feel they cannot currently commit to the project of building a new group are encouraged to join Friends of Red Ant.
Friends of Red Ant:
- Are in general agreement with the spirit of Red Ant’s Statement of Principles and Perspectives
- Contribute regular dues in accordance with what they deem possible
- To the best of their ability and situation, support and attend Red Ant public events and activities
- Do not have the rights of members to participate in Red Ant’s decision-making processes