The collapse of the social democratic project, the Keynesian mixed economy if you like, has not led to the birth of a new left wing movement, unshackled from the chains of the past.

While neoliberalism has crashed and burned, the ugly fact remains that in most liberal western democracies the parties that were once the defenders of the social democratic project now worship at the altar of the free market.

In New Zealand we are in the position that none of the parliamentary parties are offering any alternative to neoliberalism. The arguments are about emphasis and not substance.

At present there is a lot of discussion as to whether Phil Goff can lead Labour to electoral victory next year. Such is the infantile level of debate in the mainstream media that we are expected to believe that this is somehow important.

Whether its Phil Goff or David Cunliffe leading Labour, its still a right wing Labour Party pursuing the corporate neoliberal agenda. Simply changing the personnel doesn't alter that fact.

As a progressive force the Labour Party died a long time ago but unfortunately it has yet to be buried. Poo! The carcass is well and truly rotting.

But the historic crisis is that while the old has died the new has yet to be born.

This crisis is acutely evident but it is further sharpened at the time of general elections. The stark and unpalatable truth is that whichever party ends up in power, the forces of capital always win. We've lost before the game even begins.

In Australia, with a general election just three weeks or so away, the Australian left are grappling with such problems.

As is the situation here, Australia will end up with a Government that will remain committed to pursuing the corporate neoliberal agenda , whether it be dressed up in the garb of the Labor Party (ALP) or of the Liberal-National Coalition. Julia Gillard or Tony Abbot. Tweedledee or Tweedledum. Dumb or Dumber.

This is what confronts the Australian left.

The Socialist Alliance, formed in 2001 when several socialist groups decided to combine forces, is campaigning for people to vote Socialist Alliance, the Greens and other progressive candidates.

The Socialist Alliance slogan is Vote Socialist and Greens — Put Abbott last' .

The slogan is designed to highlight the failure of the union bureaucracy to back the progressive electoral platform because of its continued support for the ALP. The dismal strategy of the union bureaucracy is to campaign for Gillard in order to stop Abbott.

And union officials are predictably trying to stifle criticism of the ALP.

Peter Boyle, the national convener of the Socialist Alliance says that a strong and politically independent working-class movement is essential to stop the swing to the right.

He says that there must be sustained work put in to break the union movement from the ALP.

The Victorian Electrical Trade Union (ETU) leadership, recently ended its affiliation to the ALP after 86% of its members voted for making the break. Socialist Alliance says that this is a small victory for the left and says that many other rank and file union members are not happy that their unions remain tied to the ALP.

Peter Boyle recently told Green Left Weekly: 'I have no doubt that if the ranks of other unions were given the choice to vote on breaking free from the ALP, they would vote the same way as the Victorian ETU members.'

While election campaigning is important, Socialist Alliance is also conscious that election campaigning is not enough and the fight to create a new and independent left movement must be taken within communities and workplaces.

The struggle to build a new and unified left movement, to bring forth the birth of the new from the ashes of the old, lies with building a movement from the ground up.


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