Beatrix Campbell Australian Tour
The SEARCH-sponsored speaking tour by British socialist feminist activist Bea Campbell has been a stunning success. SEARCH invited Bea to tour for two weeks to speak at events around the country to mark the Centenary of the Russian Revolution and its meaning and lessons for today.
Bea spoke on current issues of inequality, neoliberalism, the renewed interest in radical reforms and socialism, and what lessons the left might draw from the Russian Revolution and what happened in the 100 years since.
Bea spoke at events in Newcastle, Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. All were extremely well attended, several exceeding expectations and larger than any previous SEARCH event in some centres.
In Melbourne, 250 people packed out an event jointly sponsored by SEARCH and the Victorian Women’s Trust, under the title We Revolt at Dawn! Two Sydney events just two days apart each attracted 100 people.
While here Bea conducted several key media interviews. She was on the front page of the Newcastle Herald and was heard on in-depth ABC radio interviews. One of the main interviews was on ABC Radio National’s popular Conversations program. This can be accessed HERE
As Bea left for home, she commented on how well organised the tour was. We thank all those members who helped ensure that it ran smoothly and well.
The success of this tour showed that SEARCH should consider future such events that contribute to the wider left.
You can listen to Bea in these interviews held during the last week:
- Conversations with Sarah Kanowski. Radio National 621AM.
- Bea spoke to Green Agenda editor, Clare Ozich now up at Green Agenda here. And podcast here
Bea Campbell, UK author, playwright, filmmaker, journalist, political commentator and broadcaster, has been speaking in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Newcastle, and Sydney as part of a national tour organised by the SEARCH Foundation to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution.
It was Campbell’s fourth visit to Australia and, for nearly two decades, she spoke weekly about UK politics to Phillip Adams on RN’s Late Night Live.
Campbell was a teenager when she joined the Communist Party of Great Britain and, after leaving school, she worked as journalist for its newspaper, the Morning Star,. She recalls being “intoxicated” by the women’s liberation movement and, in 1972, co-founded the influential Red Rag: A Magazine of Women’s Liberation and Marxism.
Campbell is the author of nine books. The latest is End of Equality, “a book that joins the dots between neoliberalism and sexism, between equal pay, war zones, the veil, The Wire, the web and welfare states…a new way of thinking about where we’re at”. She stood twice as a Green Party candidate in local elections in the London Borough of Camden and for Hampstead and Kilburn in the 2010 parliamentary elections.
In a wide-ranging series of talks and panels, Campbell explored the various forms of inequality today; realistic strategies towards an egalitarian and just society; the meaning of socialism in this centenary year of the Russian Revolution; the failure, collapse and rejection of the totalitarian Soviet model of socialism; and forms of democratic socialism that are feasible in the 21st century.
“The Russian revolution was an epochal moment in human history – it had, to paraphrase the poet Yeats, a terrible beauty,” Campbell says.
“For workers everywhere, it was an inspiration because the people became the subject of history, the makers of history. That was its triumph. Its tragedy was that it was too early, too besieged, a victim of its own success. Too early in the sense that the revolution had to improve a state and a political culture in the midst of world war. Too besieged, in the sense that European monarchies and capitalist states sought to isolate and undermine the fledgling state.
“The revolution was a victim of its own success in the sense that the revolution was bold but permanently insecure. The civil society of Russia was, and remains, underdeveloped; the means of production were primitive and, ultimately, were compromised by the command economy, the means of social reproduction scarcely contemplated, and remained permanently marginal.”
Campbell said that for women, the promise of equality was experienced as exhaustion and exploitation.
“Globally, radical women quarried the history of the revolution searching for heroines – there were many, but were never able to define the priorities or the modus operandi of the revolution. The sexism of Russian socialism was one of the conditions of its undoing,” she said.
According to Campbell, a new political firmament is emerging in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis.
“The environment has emerged as an urgent issue; so have accelerating national and international inequalities. Old diplomacy is under threatby the proliferation of ‘new wars’ and the impact of the ‘new imperialism’ in new war zones. There is a renaissance of feminism which inspires new challenges to both the global neoliberal economic settlement and to progressive politics.”
In the UK, Brexit has exposed historic splits across the political spectrum, according to Campbell.
“Brexit was animated by old divisions on the right – conflicts that beset Conservative leaders for a generation have been amplified by re-invigorated racism, both explicit and subterranean. Brexit appeared to represent the triumph of xenophobia. But it may yet be its undoing – for now, Brexit is the settled will, but the unbearable weight – the management of it, the unanticipated difficulty, and the long-term implications for the practice of governance – are already sinking the Brexiteers,” Campbell said.
“Labour’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of staying schtuum but one thing is certain, Labour is IN Europe, making alliances, making plans, whilst the Conservative leadership is isolated, snared and scared. The unexpected outcome of the referendum has also thrown up flanks of resistance entirely unnoticed by the Brexiteers – in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The ‘English nationalism’ of the Brexit referendum may be the undoing of the United Kingdom as we know it.”
Campbell said that the entire Westminster commentariat has been discombobulated by the ‘Corbynistas’.
“What the commentariat regarded as symptoms of Corbyn’s unelectability – his jumpers, his cap, his allotment, his jam-making, his bike, and his honourable socialism – have proved to be the opposite. Westminster is learning to live with a leader who is an honest advocate of something we have not heard for decades – democratic socialism. For the first time in my lifetime, there is a Labour leadership wedded to gender equality, to anti-racism and anti-imperialism, to foreign policy anchored in peace and justice, and re-invigorated commitment to re-distribution and a welfare state. For the first time, all of these principles are revealed to be the popular will.
“Labour is now the biggest political party in Europe, with around 600,000 members. By the time of the next general election it may comprise a million members. What is yet to emerge, however, is a new political culture, a new activism by those thousands of members. Labour’s difficulty is that the centralisation of governance, the decline of the local state and privatisation of the utilities, has shrunk the space of politics. Will the members merely be part of an electoral machine? Or will the ‘democratic surge’ manifest itself – as it has elsewhere in Europe?”
More info on Bea Campbell: http://www.beatrixcampbell.co.uk/
Media enquiries: Carmel Shute 0412 569 356; firstname.lastname@example.org
Bea Campbell Tour:
- Newcastle: 7.30 pm Thursday 2 November: Now what? — 100 years after the Russian Revolution Carrington Room, Level 3, Hunter Unions Building, 406-408 King St., Newcastle West SEARCH Facebook
- Brisbane: 5.30 pm Monday 6 November: What’s left? 100 yrs after the Russian Revolution Chair: Howard Guille, Level 2 16 Peel St, TLC Building., South Brisbane (5:30pm – drinks; 6:30 pm Bea Campbell)
- Adelaide: 5.30 pm Wednesday 8 November: What’s left? 100 yrs after the Russian Revolution Room G04, Napier Building, the University of Adelaide, North Terrace
- Melbourne: 6.00-7.30 pm Thursday 9 November: We Revolt at Dawn: The death of patriarchy and prospects for gender equality. In conversation with Santilla Chingaipe and Karen Pickering. Upstairs at the Athenaeum, 188 Collins Street. Tickets: https://bit.ly/WeRevoltAtDawn
- Melbourne: 2.00 pm-6.30 pm Saturday 11 November: Now what? — 100 years after the Russian Revolution. Keynote address and two panels. Federation of Education Unions, 120 Clarendon Street, Southbank. https://now-what-beatrix-campbell.eventbrite.com.au
- Melbourne: 7.00 pm, Saturday 11 November: Dinner at the Golden Gate Hotel: https://bea-campbell-dinner.eventbrite.com.au
- Sydney: 2.00 pm Sunday 12 November: Feminist Forum – Why doesn’t patriarchy die? OWN Centre, Victoria St, Newtown, NSW https://why-doesnt-patriachy-die.eventbrite.com.au
- Sydney: 5.15 pm Tuesday 14 November: Now what? — 100 years on from the Russian Revolution. NSW Teachers Federation, Mary Street, Surry Hills. https://now-what-bea-campbell-sydney.eventbrite.com.au