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Six:   The establishment

My first duty as a local member was to attend a communist funeral.   Elsie Wakefield had died, aged 78, two days before the election; and her mortal remains were to be cremated at Northern Suburbs Crematorium on the following Monday.

      She was of the same generation as my mother:   the children of the turn of the century, who had been young adults in the aftermath of the Great War, when so much had changed and much more seemed possible.   For her, and for many of her contemporaries, communism offered a way ahead out of economic and intellectual chaos towards a just and logical world order.   The cultural torpor of Australia had repelled people of genuine talent, who felt the need for progress across the whole spectrum of human experience.   Some of them found kindred spritis in the party of the extreme left.   It was all about a bright future, not a dead past.   But as the years rolled on, the world moved in other directions, through more wars and political convulsions, leaving Australia as a social backwater.   Progressive ideas were mitigated by   frustration; and flawed human nature played its role in dispiutes, denunciations and schisms.   When I was a young adult, The Communist Party in Australia had shrunk and fragmented into a few small groups of diehards.

        Some of the youthful communists became middle aged


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