Is the new Greens leader Adam Bandt a Marxist?
Well it certainly seems like he used to be, and he has definitely never stopped associating with them. But considering that Marxism as an ideology has led to the deaths of a hundred million people its not a label that should be applied lightly, especially to a man who now the leader of Australia’s third largest political party.
So what are the facts?
On July 16th 1994 Bandt travelled from Murdoch university (where he was the president of the student guild) to the Campus Activist Forum in Sydney, an event sponsored by “Resistance” the youth wing of the Democratic Socialist Party. The DSP was at that time the largest Marxist group in Australia (and had only recently been thwarted in their attempt to branch stack the infant Greens party after Bob Brown orchestrated their proscription). DSP is probably best known for their newspaper “Green Left Weekly” and for forming the core of what would become the Socialist Alliance. Bandt happily shared the Sydney stage with known Marxist activists like Marina Carman and Rachael Evans without any signs of discomfort.
And why wouldn’t he? As the transcript of his speech at the event (helpfully provided by Green Left Weekly) shows Adam was at that time already a member of the “Left Alliance” group. The Left Alliance had been formed in 1983 by Students aligned to the Communist Party of Australia (CPA). The same Communist Party of Australia that had stuck by Stalinism until the seventies. By the time Bandt was involved it had come to be dominated by the Democratic Socialist Party and also collaborated with the International Socialist Organisation, another Trotskyist group.
While there is no evidence he ever joined any of these groups Adam had no qualms at all about being an activist in what was an obvious Marxist front organisation. At a later event in December 1994 to plan a campaign against voluntary student unionism Bandt made a speech where he talked about the necessity of the Left Alliance taking over the National Union of Students in order to attack the then federal Labor government from the left. He was supported both by the DSP and the ISO in his proposal. The idea that he didn’t realise he was the spokesman for a front organisation being used as a cover by the two largest Marxist extremist groups in Australia is simply not credible.
This becomes especially clear when you look into an article Bandt wrote titled ”Towards an anti-capitalist, anti-social democratic, internationalist movement’ in March 4, 1995. In it Mr Bandt stated that: “the parliamentary road to socialism is non-existent” and described the Greens as a “bourgeois” party concluding that “Communists can’t fetishise alternative political parties, but should always make some kind of materially based assessment about the effectiveness of any given strategy come election time”. Note that in the context of the article when Bandt is talking about “communists” he is unambiguously including himself. In the article Mr Bandt even explicitly mentioned Trotsky as one of his inspirations.
In May 1995 Bandt was the spokesman for what he himself described as the “militant occupation” of the Perth Austudy offices. An action that was again backed by the DSP, the ISO, the Left Alliance and (ominously) more radical members of the WA Greens.
In 1996 Bandt helped organise and made a speech at a blockade of the Australian Democrats offices, accusing the decidedly left of centre Democrats Senator Lyn Allison of being insufficiently left wing.
By July 1999 Bandt was a lawyer with Slater and Gordon and gave an interview to veteran Marxist activist and then DSP member Jorge Jorquera on 3CR where he announced that “Industrial action has always been against the law” and spruiked his upcoming speech at the Green Left Weekly “Politics in the Pub” event.
By 2006 Adam was well on his way to being a Greens fixture having been preselected to stand for the seat of Melbourne in the 2007 election. Nonetheless he still hadn’t left his extremist friends behind. At a union organised event in support of Australia Post workers Adam was more than happy to share the stage with Margarita Windisch, the Socialist Alliance’s Victorian Senate candidate
And of course we should never forget that Mr Bandt is actually Dr Bandt. He achieved this distinction by virtue of a PhD thesis exploring the theories of Karl Marx that he was so eager to keep quiet that he slapped a three-year suppression order on the tome after finishing it in 2008. Amazingly he thought that openly discussing the virtues of Marxist thought across three hundred pages might hurt his political career in the Greens. Clearly he was mistaken.
The thesis was titled Work to Rule: Rethinking Marx, Pashukanis and Law, the text included chapters on The Fuhrer of the Factory: exploring labour law in the Third Reich and examining theories of “the divine violence of the general strike”. The fact that the leader of a supposedly mainstream party has such an interest in the intersection of revolutionary Marxism and the law is curious to say the least.
Perhaps you can forgive a man for youthful extremism. Perhaps you can even excuse him keeping those views later into life before discarding them for pragmatic reasons. But Bandt has never stopped associating with extremists or abandoned extremist rhetoric.
In 2017 Bandt spoke at a “Black Lives Matter” rally in the Melbourne suburb of Flemington held after the anti-Milo riots in 2017 which was organised by Jasmine Ali of the revolutionary Trotskyist group Solidarity. And just last year he was a featured speaker at the IMARC riots outside the Melbourne convention centre organised by Socialist Alternative, yet another revolutionary Trotskyist group.
Bandt has been around far left circles so long that most of the groups he associated with back in his student days have split and merged into entirely new extremist organisations (with which he now also associates). His longevity in and around Marxist politics is actually kind of impressive.
Less impressive and more worrying is the fact that Bandt still sounds like the university communist he once was. Just this year he has called for his political opponents to be put on “climate trial” for disagreeing with him and later called for people to “rise up” to overthrow the Morrison government.
For someone with a background as a revolutionary Marxist who still associates with and organises alongside revolutionary Marxists to call for their enemies to be put on trial and for the government to be overthrown should be seriously alarming. But of course it isn’t. because Journalists disproportionately vote Greens.
So is Adam Bandt a Marxist? Maybe not anymore, but he certainly used to be not that long ago, and he never stopped working with them. For someone who poses as a mainstream politician to have such open links with followers of the most murderous ideology in human history should be a scandal, but of course the real scandal is that most Australian journalists don’t mind Adam’s extremism at all. Many of them would agree with him.