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.
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