Australian Socialist League, 1889.

Australian Socialist League in Melbourne

by J.A Andrews

Source: "Reason in Revolt", Source documents of Australian Radicalism.
First Published: in the Australian Radical. January 26, 1889.
Reprinted: in “What is Communism? And other Anarchist Essays by J. A. Andrews,” ed. Bob James. Northcote, Vic. [1984?] p. 79.
Transcribed: by Kevin Goins, 2007;
Proofed: and corrected by Nicole McKenzie.

On the 13th Comrade Petrie gave a paper on the Revolution, which was heartily welcomed by all who heard it, although there were some slight differences of opinion on the subject. He pointed out clearly and impressively the desperate condition we are in, and called upon the workers to realise it and revolt, showing that in no other way could they get their rights. The same night a discussion took place without result, upon the constitution of the new body. Comrade McMillan was appointed treasurer for the time being, and the whole business was adjourned till the 20th.

On that day we assembled (in somewhat smaller numbers, indeed, on account of there being no paper or discourse) and for a long time got pretty well bewildered, owing to sundry misconceptions which had arisen. It seems that the organisation had several origins, as Petrie and I had first thought of establishing a Communist-Anarchist group, Comrade Fleming had thought of a Melbourne branch of the Anarchists' Club which meets at Albert Park, Comrade Rosa was contemplating a Social-Democratic Federation, and so on, before we instinctively came together to join our efforts on the basis of a society for the free discussion of social reform problems. Consequently there was some confusion created. However, though this was intensified by the unfortunate personal matters which had come to a head, we succeeded in obtaining unanimity on this point: that our first object was, being convinced of the necessity of social reform, the free and open discussion of all questions pertaining to it. Secondly, that although, being of different beliefs, we could not unite for any special propaganda (except by free discussion) other than on the comparatively limited ground which is common to us all, yet whenever it is found, on occasion, that we could all agree upon anything to be done in that direction, it would also be a part of our purpose. These points are therefore our constitution. A resolution had previously been passed favoring the name of the “Australian Socialists' League – Melbourne Branch”, but after the last resolution it was considered doubtful whether we had any name at all; it was pointed out, however, that this was a matter which could be settled hereafter. It was also pointed out that if we were the Melbourne branch of the Australian Socialist League we were simply allied on an equal footing with the Sydney body, and not dependant on or governed by it, which was an apprehension some held as grounds for objecting to the designation. The members of different sects explained mutually that they came in as individuals, and not as in any way compromising their opinions, which they would propagate by discussion within the group, and in their own way anywhere else as they choose, as much as or more than before; which is the best thing that can be wished.