VANGUARD - Expressing the viewpoint of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
For National Independence and Socialism •


Book Review: Class in Australia

The concept of CLASS, the existence of classes and the struggle of classes is central to Marxism-Leninism. It is essential for Marxist-Leninist parties to analyse the class structure in the society of their country. Mao Zedong carefully analysed the classes in Chinese society in his 1926 article Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society. This is an excellent example of class analysis.

It is also necessary to review the analysis of classes as the situation changes. Mao Zedong did this in his 1940 article On Policy. Mao analysed the various classes and strata in Chinese society to determine who could be allies and who would be enemies in the war against Japan. In Australia we need to consider the effects of the large-scale de-industrialisation that has taken place in recent years, and the effects of COVID on each class. 

A new book Class in Australia (Edited by Steven Threadgold & Jessica Gerrard, Monash University Publishing, $40) contains twelve essays and two interviews on the subject of class in Australia. Class in Australia “brings together a range of new and original research for a timely examination of class relations, labour exploitation, and the changing formations of work in contemporary Australian society.”

Topics covered by the various contributors include the evolution of classes in Australia from its origins as a convict settlement, the place of workers in precarious employment and the emergence of a middle class among Indigenous Australians.

Some bourgeois ideologists and politicians have tried to deny the existence of classes in Australia. John Howard’s “battlers” and Morrison’s “quiet Australians” are examples of this. This book strongly argues against the claims that classes do not exist in Australia.

Many of the essays in Class in Australia are not written from a Marxist perspective and are couched in academic and sociological terminology, but I consider that Class in Australia is definitely worth reading by anyone interested in the question of classes in Australia.