Click on the tabs below to see the talk description, as well as some recommended readings if you'd like to come a bit more prepared for the discussions.

This year the talks are divided into three 'streams', indicated by the following icons:

Theory and Debates
History and Revolutions
Capitalism Today

Sessions marked with a will be particularly useful for those new to socialist politics!
Saturday 10:00 AM

Speaker: Duncan Hart

The debate about how socialism can be brought about, whether through revolutionary means or reforms, remains one of the most contested issues for leftists. At stake in this debate is not just a matter of different roads to the same goal, but of a fundamental divergence between revolutionaries and reformists about what socialism even means.

This session will defend the revolutionary standpoint on questions such as:
  • Can the existing state be reformed, or must it be smashed in a revolution?
  • Can the emancipation of the working class come about via parliamentary reforms or through workers' control from below?
  • Can socialism be brought about without violent struggle from the ruling class?
And more! All welcome to attend and discuss.

Recommended Readings:

The Two Souls of Socialism by Hal Draper (pamphlet)
Revolution, reform and socialist strategy by Mick Armstrong in Red Flag
Socialism can only come through revolution by Chloe Rafferty in Red Flag
Why Kautsky was right (and why you should care) by Eric Blanc in Jacobin

Speaker: Liam Parry

Karl Marx is often thought of as primarily a theorist or philosopher, but as Marx himself famously stated, 'philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point is to change it'. This talk will discuss one of the main activist projects that Marx was centrally involved in, the International Workingmen's Association. This was the first truly international association of working class organisations, uniting workers around the world in the fight against capitalism. While involved in the IWA Marx dedicated almost all of his time to organisation and agitation in the workers movement, agitated for revolutionary socialist politics against both reformists and anarchists, and laid crucial foundations for radical working class parties to emerge all around the world.

Recommended Readings:

Karl Marx and the First International by Christian Høgsbjerg in Socialist Review
Notes on the history of the International by Marcello Musto in Socialism and Democracy
Chapter 9 of "Marx and Engels: Their Contribution to the Democratic Breakthrough" by August Nimtz (book)

Speaker: Luca Tavan

In October 2022, a century after Mussolini's March on Rome, Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy led a coalition of far right parties to victory in an Italian general election. To many, the ascension of a party which claims direct roots in the post-Mussolini fascist tradition seems unthinkable in a country long shaped by traditions of anti-fascist resistance.

How did it come to this? What happened to the anti-fascist Italian left? And is there still hope for resistance? This talk will aim to answer these questions.

Recommended Readings:

Fascism’s return to Italy? The meaning of the Fratelli d’Italia by Mark L. Thomas in International Socialism Journal
The Italian Road to Fascism by Luca Tavan in Red Flag
Global ruling classes welcome fascist-led government in Italy by Luca Tavan in Red Flag
A Century Since the March on Rome by Stefanie Prezioso in New Politics
Saturday 12:00 PM

Speaker: Louisa McCarthy

Mass incarceration. Racist over policing. Killer cops. Indigenous deaths in custody. From the United States to Australia, the ‘criminal justice’ system is a blight which only exists to maintain an unequal and class divided system. The police represent the monopoly on violence that the ruling class holds under capitalism. The injustice at the heart of policing and prisons has also spurred important social struggles like the global Black Lives Matter movement, which has raised the demand to ‘abolish the police’. The cops are vital to the running of the system - to really abolish the police we need to smash capitalism.

Recommended Readings:

The police serve the system by Shirley Killen in Red Flag
Defunding, disarming, deeating and abolishing the police by Daniel Taylor in Red Flag

Speaker: Tim Arnot

The Russian Revolution was history's greatest democratic experiment. Debate became a part of life in factories, soldiers' barracks, and city streets. In what Lenin called a "festival of the oppressed", the Russian masses were involved in direct decision making over economic questions - what was produced, and how was it distributed - as well as politics, in particular opposing World War I and inequality in land ownership. The driving force behind this upswing in democracy was working class organisation, showing the potential for a socialist society beyond capitalism. This session will draw out the history of the 1917 Revolution, and show what 'worker's democracy' looks like in practice.

Recommended Readings:

Russia 1917: when the people rose by Sandra Bloodworth in Red Flag
The 1917 Russian Revolution by Sandra Bloodworth (book)
Ten Days That Shook The World by John Reed (book, free PDF)

Speaker: Mick Armstrong

The world is now facing a new Cold War between China and the United States. US President Biden has followed in the footsteps of his predecessor Trump by intensifying hostilities with America's 'strategic competitor.' Countries worldwide are massively increasing their military spending and shoring up alliances. Meanwhile, Australian politicians are developing nuclear-powered submarines, employing aggressive 'diplomacy' throughout South-East Asia and contemplating when, not if, a war with China will take place. Come along to understand the important period we're in for world imperialism and how socialists should respond.

Recommended Readings:

Great power rivalry resurgent by Tom Bramble in Red Flag
The Defence Strategic Review and the New Imperialism by Ben Hillier in Red Flag
Biden's plan for the US empire by Mick Armstrong in Red Flag
Australian imperialism and the rise of China by Tom Bramble in Marxist Left Review
AUKUS and the US Alliance: Australian imperialism in the Indo-Pacific by Tom Bramble in Marxist Left Review
Saturday 2:30 PM

Speaker: Ti Parker

Capitalism has always relied on women’s oppression and a strict gender binary to prop it up. The systemic underpaying of women - the gender pay gap - in Australia saves capitalists billions. In recent years we have seen attacks on women’s rights like the overturning of Roe vs Wade in America.

What is the role of gender oppression in capitalism? Why does the system rely so much on it? This session will explore these pressing questions and uncover the rich history of socialists in the fight for women’s rights.

Recommended Readings:

Sex, Class, and Socialism by Lindsay German (book)
Why Sexism Persists by Louise O'Shea and Grace Hill in Red Flag

Speaker: Tom Bramble

For three decades after the end of World War II, the world economy boomed like never before, with most economies more than tripling in size. Living standards rose and the dole queues of the Great Depression became a distant memory as jobs became plentiful. This was a period often described as “the golden age of capitalism”. Defenders of the capitalist system argued that it demonstrated that capitalism had overcome its crisis tendencies and that good government policy could keep the good times going. But by 1975 the boom had come to an end and within a few years mass unemployment and government attacks on the working class had become the norm, the beginning of what we now know as neoliberalism. Far from overcoming crisis, capitalism was still a system that put profit before human need. This talk will explain where the long boom came from and why it ended.

Recommended Readings:

Zombie Capitalism: Global Crisis and the Relevance of Marx by Chris Harman (2009) - Chapters 7 and 8
Explaining the Crisis: A Marxist Re-appraisal by Chris Harman (1984) - Chapter 3

Speaker: Sarah Garnham

The Voice referendum has revived anti-Aboriginal racism to the mainstream of Australian politics, with an ugly 'No' campaign led by Peter Dutton, Jacinta Price and Pauline Hanson. At the same time, the Liberals have revived anti-immigrant politics as scapegoats for the cost of living crisis, attempting to blame migrants for unaffordable and inaccessible housing. This session, featuring frontline anti-racist activists, will discuss the politics of racism and resistance in Australia today.

Recommended Readings:

Dutton steps up his racist assault by Mick Armstrong in Red Flag
Markets, not migrants, broke Australia’s housing system by Omar Hassan in Red Flag
Saturday 4:30 PM

Speaker: Matt Mercer

The 1917 Russian Revolution was an explosion of democracy created by millions of ordinary Russian workers, peasants and soldiers. For the first time the exploited and oppressed population took power and held control over Russian society, in an attempt to build a society based on human need and social solidarity. However, within a few short years all semblance of working-class democracy had been crushed by a brutal Stalinist counter-revolution, from which a new bureaucratic, state-capitalist ruling class violently re-asserted everything about capitalism which the revolutionaries had fought against to begin with.

How could such a counter-revolution have occurred from within the Bolshevik Party itself, which in 1917 had been the most radical, leading force within the revolution? This question is hotly contested to this day. Both Stalinists and capitalist ideologues have argued that Lenin naturally led to Stalin. While Stalinists made this case as an attempt to legitimise the ostensibly socialist regime in Russia, outright defenders of capitalism use the revolution’s failure to argue that all revolutionary challenges to the system are inevitably doomed to result in dictatorship. This session will make the Marxist case about the true historical legacy of Lenin and the pre-Stalin Bolsheviks, as well as explain the causes of the revolution’s tragic defeat.

Recommended Readings:

Introducing Marxism by Tom Bramble - 'Defeat of the Russian Revolution' chapter
State Capitalism in Russia by Tony Cliff
How Stalinism Distorted Marxism by Daniel Taylor in Red Flag

Speaker: Sel Dowd

The resistance to the Vietnam War was a landmark movement in the 60s and 70s, that would come to define the time period and also make indelible marks in the minds and lives of those who participated. Hundreds of thousands of people were moved to attend protests and some even resisted the draft, prepared to risk jail. The tide of public opinion was turned against the war and against conscription, and the movement contributed to a wider radicalisation in society. Come along to this session to learn more about Australian resistance to the Vietnam War.

Recommended Readings:

Students in the anti-Vietnam War movement in Australia by Grace Hill in Red Flag
Vietnam: how we won last time by Anne Picot in Marxist Left Review
A people's history of the Vietnam War by Lily Campbell in Red Flag


The climate crisis continues to spiral out of control, while politicians and the rich sit on their hands. Join Brisbane student environment activists for a discussion about the challenges and strategies needed to fight for climate justice today.

Sunday 10:00 AM

Speaker: Tom Bramble

Capitalism has changed a lot since Marx's day. Do workers still have the power to collectively organise and overthrow capitalism? Or have modern economic changes like globalisation, artificial intelligence, and the gig consigned the idea of working class revolution to the past.

In this session, author of Introducing Marxism Tom Bramble will argue that both the need and potential for working class revolution remains relevant today. In fact, in some respects, the working class is more powerful than it has ever been.

Speaker: Ella Gutteridge

For almost five decades, white rule in South Africa was codified in a brutally racist, segregationist regime that systematically controlled and exploited the mass of the black workers. But the hyper-exploitation and repression bred resistance from the outset, spawning the anti-apartheid mass movement of workers and students through the 1960s and 1970s, which developed revolutionary potential in the 1980s. Come along for a discussion on the inspiring movement that toppled the apartheid regime and critically assess the African National Congress and the Communist Party’s role.

Recommended Readings:

How South African apartheid was ended by Emma Norton in Red Flag
Southern Africa after Zimbabwe by Alex Callinicos in International Socialism - from "Rationalising Apartheid" onwards
South Africa: Between reform and revolution? by Alex Callinicos in Socialist Worker Review
South African student protests, 1968 to 2016 by Heiki Becker in International Socialist Review
South Africa: Between reform and revolution by Alex Callinicos
The struggle for Africa by Mai Palmberg (Editor) (1982), chapter 9

Speaker: Jeffery Webber

Jeffery Webber is a political economist in the department of politics at York University in Toronto.

His research interests include Latin America, Marxism, the history of the Left, capitalism and nature, and imperialism, and he has authored several books in particular on Latin American politics.

Join us at this session for a discussion on crisis and resistance across Latin America today.

Recommended Readings:

Rhythms of the Left in Latin America by Jeffery Webber
Renovation in Bolivia? by Jeffery Webber in New Left Review
'Those who are poor, die poor': note on the Chilean elections by Jeffery Webber in Spectre Journal
Choosing between life and Capital in Latin America: Interview with Jeffery R. Webber in Marxist Left Review
Sunday 12:00 PM

Speaker: Sandra Bloodworth

There is a tradition of mechanical materialism which claims the mantle of Marxism and which argues that technological change and reforms will eventually bring about socialism without revolution. Marx and Engels vehemently opposed this determinism. They argued that the ideas which dominate capitalist society are the ideas of the ruling class. Workers can only in a revolutionary struggle become class conscious on a mass scale and develop new ideas appropriate for a free socialist society they will have to build.

This session will look at the uneven and contradictory ways class consciousness develops (see readings by Lenin, Lukacs and about Gramsci).

How do we assess the relationship between social, economic and political structures and the ideas people hold in a society that is constantly undergoing rapid changes, and in which “all that is solid melts into air”? (the readings on who is responsible for racism and the impact of women in the workforce are relevant).

Why does this matter? Understanding these questions can be vital if socialists are to intervene in ways which maximise the possibility of victory and convince others of socialist politics.

This is important for interpreting history from which we can learn valuable lessons. Historians who lack empathy for and understanding of how material circumstances circumscribe ideas tend to judge historical struggles by the benchmarks of today. This leads them to diminish the richness, the meanings, potential and lessons of past struggles (see Bloodworth, “militant Spirits” in the reading list).

These challenging questions make for a stimulating and thought provoking discussion.

Recommended Readings:

If you want to prepared for this session, it is recommended that you read two or three in this first list:

And also read 1-2 of these:

Speaker: Declan Kerr

Beijing’s Tiananmen Square symbolises the mass national uprising of students and workers that began in April 1989. They were protesting against the dictatorial regime and in demanding political freedom were striving to insert their voices into the political sphere. The government refused to concede, instead it lashed out and violently crushed the protests. More than 30 years later, Xi Jinping is no different from the leadership that crushed the protests. Revolution is needed in China as much now as it was then.

Recommended Readings:

Remembering Tiananmen Square by Fleur Taylor in Red Flag
Workers in the Tiananmen protests by Andrew Walter and Gong Xiaoxia (The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, No. 29, January 1993)
China - behind the massacre by David Lockwood in Marxist Left Review
May of the masses: the Tiananmen Square movement 30 years on by Charlie Hore at rs21
Tiananmen: the Rape of Peking by Michael Fathers and Andrew Higgins (book)

Featured speakers:

Revolution Conference is proud to announce the following speakers for the Sunday 12:00 PM session on the Hollywood strike:

Scott Prendergast, Writers Guild of America striker and creator and writer of So Help Me Todd (CBS, Channel 10)

Kevin Sanson is Professor of Media Studies in the School of Communication at Queensland University of Technology. He is author or co-editor of five books, including Voices of Labor: Craft, Creativity, and Conflict in Global Hollywood.

For the first time since the 1960s, actors and writers in Hollywood are striking simultaneously in one of the most prominent union disputes in years. Join this session for an update about the strike, and a discussion of what this shows about the modern working class!
Recommended readings:

Hollywood is on strike against high-tech exploitation by Alex N. Press in Jacobin
Class struggle in the dream factory by Vashti Fox in Red Flag
Sunday 2:30 PM

Speaker: Oula Shihan

“We need to recognize our privilege and practice humility, rather than assume that our experiences are everyone’s experiences”.

This is what multimillionaire warmonger Hillary Clinton tweeted in 2016, when running for president. Surely that should have been the nail in the coffin for identity politics, but this approach to politics remains in vogue, even as its proponents renounce 'girl bosses' like Clinton.

Identity politics applies to a broad range of political positions, but are unified by the idea that oppression can be analysed and therefore combatted through the recognition of the identity of a person or a group of people. With the aim of building recognition and greater representation for particular identity groups, it seeks to hegemonise the political approach to oppression among all those concerned with challenging it. From this point of view, experience of oppression is all that is needed to be able to understand and combat it. These politics have been adopted by many layers in society, from the radical left, to bourgeois institutions, to even those in the right.

Recommended Readings:

The failure of identity politics: A Marxist analysis: by Sarah Garnham in Marxist Left Review
The problem with identity politics by Louise O'Shea in Red Flag
Check your privilege, says multi-millionaire politician by Ben Norton in Red Flag

Speaker: Rebecca Barrigos

Elected to the presidency of Venezuela in 1998, Chavez’s was the first of a wave of left governments arising from mass discontent with the neoliberal economic policies dominant in Latin America throughout the 1990s. In the context of a decades-long struggle for control of the Venezuelan state during which there were radical developments in the realm of political, economic and social reform, Chávez’s regime became a symbol of the rebellion against neoliberal capitalism in Latin America, and opposition to US imperialism.

Chavez claimed to be implementing “21st century socialism” in Venezuela, but what did his regime actually represent?

Recommended Readings:

Where is Venezuela going? by Lee Sustar in IS Review
The Ebb of the Pink Tide by Mike Gonzalez (2019) - Chapters 1 and 5
The Last Day of Oppression, and the First Day of the Same: The Politics and Economics of the New Latin American Left by Jeffery Webber (2017), Pluto Press
Latin America, From Reform to Resistance: An Interview with Jeffery Webber (2016) in Salvage

Speaker: Jehiel Lomaz

The concept of ‘degrowth’ has in recent years received greater attention as a framework for developing a serious response to climate change. Theories of degrowth argue that environmental destruction is inherent to societies organised for economic growth, and that resolving ecological crisis requires the restructuring of society to implement a contraction of economic production and consumption.

Kohei Saito’s Marx in the Anthropocene: Towards the Idea of Degrowth Communism has been presented as a new and substantial contribution to a dialogue between theories of degrowth and Marxism as an ecological theory. The book develops a series of contested arguments about the inherent ecological destructiveness of capitalist society, and the relationship of Marxism to ecology. In particular, Saito argues that Marx in his later life shifted in his views on the relationship of society to nature, and on the character of capitalist development, asserting that Marx came to develop a perspective that can be described as ‘degrowth communism’. It is from this reconsideration of Marx’s thought that Saito makes a series of political arguments regarding the way forward for anti-capitalist and environmentalist movements today.
This session will present a revolutionary Marxist engagement with Saito’s work and the relationship between Marxism and the concept of degrowth. It will give a response to Saito’s reconstruction of the late Marx and draw out its political ramifications, and will assess the politics of degrowth and Saito’s degrowth communism, evaluating the extent to which it may or may not be a positive contribution to Marxism as a theory of working-class revolution.

Recommended Readings:

‘Mending the metabolic rift: Marxism, nature and society’ by James Plested in Red Flag
‘The necessity of ecosocialist degrowth’ by Paul Murphy and Jess Spear in Rupture
‘The degrowth delusion’ by Leigh Phillips in openDemocracy
‘The growth paradigm: a critique’ by Gareth Dale in International Socialism 134
‘Why the climate movement needs the working class’ by Emma Black in Red Flag
‘Marxism for the Age of Climate Emergency: On Kohei Saito’s Degrowth Communism’ by Gareth Dale in Spectre
Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World by Jason Hickel, Windmill Books 2021
Marx in the Anthropocene: Towards the Idea of Degrowth Communism by Kohei Saito, Cambridge University Press 2022
Sunday 4:30 PM

The Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin described revolutions as "festivals of the oppressed". They are mass uprisings which confront the established structures of minority rule, and provide a glimpse of what a real democracy looks like. This session will dispel myths of revolutions as being violent, or minority actions, with case studies from the last century.

Speaker: Laura Nolan

During the 1980s, governments everywhere moved to implement neoliberalism, attacking workers, privatising assets and liberalising the market. Today, neoliberalism is associated with the economic and social policies of conservatives like Thatcher and Reagan, and the deep class fractures and struggles against them.

Here in Australia, however, it was the Labor Party under Hawke and Keating, backed by the union bureaucracy, that successfully introduced neoliberalism. This session will outline the policies of the Labor government during this time, namely the impact of the Accord, and how neoliberalism was implemented smoothly with little working class upheaval.

Recommended Readings:

Trade Unionism in Australia by Tom Bramble (book) - Chapters 5 & 6
Labor's Conflict by Tom Bramble and Rick Kuhn (book) - Chapter 7