The Red Contingent

Red contingent in May Day 1982 - 2[Publisher’s Notes: These photos were taken from the May Day March Brisbane circa 1983 by Ian Rintoul from the International Socialists. The photos reflect the state and composition of the Left in Brisbane in the early 1980s after the big democratic rights struggleredcontingent 2s of the late 1970s (Right to march, Women’s campaigns for the right to choose). Note the contingent comprised of a strong Latin American section organised by the Committee in
Solidarity with Central American and the Caribbean (CISCAC), a significant Communist Party of Australia grouping and the militant International Socialists bringing up the rear.

The Red Contingent and the Unite in opposition to the State & FederaWERC - May 1st Clubl Governments (behind it) banners were carried by a small group of independent Marxists. This group joined forces with Friends of the Earth and the Learning Exchange to establish the West End Resource Centre. This was the venue for the May 1st Club at 75B Vulture Street, West End, involving a number of forums and musical events including a forum on 7 November [1982],under the theme: ‘Relocate the 1982 Commonwealth Games’’.

These events coincided with the rise of the revolutionary Left in Latin America particularly theFarabundo Martí National Liberation Front [FMLN ] in El Salvador which received support from CISCAC in Brisbane that organised a U.S. Hands Off El Salvador at the Roma Street Forum, on 8 October 1982. Earlier the  Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in Nicaragua had overthrwn US backed Somoza military dictatorship in 1978-9.

Compare the diminished size and influence of the Red Contingent of the early 1980s with that of 1978 when the Red Contingent (including the Campaign against Nuclear Power) numbered 12,000 outnumbering the 8,000 trade unionists who marched that year.

Ian Curr, Jan 2015]

May Day March Brisbane circa 1983

redcontingent copy

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