Labor and Vietnam: a Reappraisal
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Arguing from a Marxist perspective, this paper maintains that the shift in the Australian Labor Party's (ALP) Vietnam War policy in favour of withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam was largely brought about by pressure from the Anti-Vietnam War Movement (AVWM) and changing public opinion, rather than being a response to a similar shift by the United States government, as some have argued. The impact of the AVWM on Labor is often understated. This impact is indicated not just by the policy shifts, but also the anti-war rhetoric and the willingness of Federal Parliamentary Labor Party (FPLP) members to support direct action. The latter is a particularly neglected aspect of commentary on Labor and Vietnam. Labor's actions here are consistent with its historic susceptibility to the influence of radical social movements, particularly when in opposition. In this case, by making concessions to the AVWM, Labor stood to gain electorally, and was better placed to control the movement.
© 2006 Ashley David Lavelle and Australian Society for the Study of Labour History. This it is not the final form that appears in the journal Labour History. Please refer to the journal link for access to the definitive, published version.