Labor’s Conflict: Big Business, Workers and the Politics of Class by Tom Bramble and Rick Kuhn, A Review

in Historical Materialism
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The Australian Labor Party (alp) has, until recent years, exercised almost unchallenged hegemony over Australian Left and working-class politics. Tom Bramble and Rick Kuhn have ambitiously crafted the first Marxist history of the party in over 50 years, deploying an analysis of its material constitution as a ‘capitalist workers’ party’ to underpin arguments for a revolutionary socialist alternative. From its emergence in class struggles of the late nineteenth century, to its early electoral successes, to multiple internal crises and splits, and its more recent role in driving neoliberal restructuring, the party’s contradictory character is analysed with clarity. However, despite containing much suggestive material, key issues – including the party’s unparalleled success despite its betrayals, failures and crises; radical challenges from within and without the party; the nature of its appeal to reformist consciousness; the shape of Marxist and Left debates about the alp; and the party’s centrality to a wider sphere of politics in capitalist society – remain thinly theorised, thereby inadvertently weakening the authors’ case for a revolutionary alternative.

Labor’s Conflict: Big Business, Workers and the Politics of Class by Tom Bramble and Rick Kuhn, A Review

in Historical Materialism

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References

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1

Kirk 2011p. 54.

2

Howes 2010; Hawker 2013.

3

Dyrenfurth and Soutphommasane (eds.) 2010.

4

Manne and McKnight (eds.) 2010.

5

Cavalier 2010.

6

Bramble 2008.

8

Rudd 2009.

10

Lavelle 2004pp. 86–7.

11

Robinson 2008.

12

Griffiths 1998.

14

Catley and McFarlane 1975p. 265.

15

Kuhn 1982.

16

McQueen 1970; McQueen 1986.

18

Humphrys and Tietze 2013.

19

Colletti 1975; Teeple 1984; Thomas 1994.

20

Marx 1975.

21

See for example Archer 2010.

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