The far left in Australia had significant effects on post-war politics, culture and society. The Communist Party of Australia (CPA) ended World War II with some 20,000 members, and despite the harsh and vitriolic Cold War climate of the 1950s, seeded or provided impetus for the re-emergence of other movements. Radicals subscribing to ideologies beyond the Soviet orbit – Maoists, Trotskyists, anarchists and others – also created parties and organisations and led movements. All of these different far left parties and movements changed and shifted during time, responding to one political crisis or another, but they remained steadfastly devoted to a better world.

This collection, bringing together 14 chapters from leading and emerging figures in the Australian and international historical profession, for the first time charts some of these significant moments and interventions, revealing the Australian far left’s often forgotten contribution to the nation’s history.

chapter |18 pages


The history of the far left in Australia since 1945

part 1|78 pages

Organisational histories

chapter 3|18 pages

Breaking with Moscow

The Communist Party of Australia’s new road to socialism

chapter 4|20 pages

‘The “White Australia” policy must go’

The Communist Party of Australia and immigration restriction

part 2|54 pages

The 1950s and 1960s: In and out of the Cold War

chapter 5|20 pages

The far left and the fight for Aboriginal rights

99The formation of the Council for Aboriginal Rights, 1951

chapter 6|16 pages

How far left?

Negotiating radicalism in Australian anti-nuclear politics in the 1960s

chapter 7|17 pages

“1968” in Australia

The student movement and the New Left

part 3|78 pages

The 1960s and 1970s: The valences of liberation

chapter 8|19 pages

Changing consciousness, changing lifestyles

153Australian women’s liberation, the left and the politics of ‘personal solutions’

chapter 9|20 pages

Black Power and white solidarity

The Action Conference on Racism and Education, Brisbane 1972

chapter 10|19 pages

The Australian left and gay liberation

From 1945 to 2000s

chapter 11|19 pages

Beating BHP

The Wollongong Jobs for Women Campaign 1980–1991

part 4|55 pages

Mainstreaming the far left

chapter 12|19 pages

Halcyon days?

231The Amalgamated Metal Workers’ Union and the Accord

chapter 13|18 pages

Reading and contesting Germaine Greer and Dennis Altman

The 1970s and beyond

chapter 14|17 pages

The cultural front

Left cultural activism in the post-war era