Profile - Laurie Aarons (1917-2005)
Laurie grew up in Sydney and was raised by his father following his parent’s separation. He was interested in communism and was a fan of Marxist literature. His family had strong communist roots. Laurie became a member of the Young Communist League at the age of 15, the third generation of his family to join the Communist Party, his grandparents having been founding members of the Melbourne Branch in 1921.
Laurie followed his father Sam into the boot making trade and became active in the union. He spent over thirty years in the CPA and served as an organiser from the early 1940s before becoming Secretary of the Newcastle/Hunter Valley Branch (1951) and General Secretary (1966-76). During the late 1960s he was instrumental in developing the Party’s road to socialism. He remained loyal to the Soviet Union following the anti-Stalinist and anti-Soviet sentiment that grew in the Party and he clashed with pro-Chinese members including Ted Hill. However, Laurie’s sentiments changed following the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and as leader of the CPA, he openly condemned the invasion and advocated for socialist democracy. This angered Moscow, who unsuccessfully sought to oust him from the CPA leadership in 1970.
During Laurie’s 30 years in the Party he was involved in many campaigns and policy development. He helped establish relations with other communist parties, especially in China and Indonesia and took a leading role in protesting the mass killings of Indonesian communists in the 1960s. He helped craft the Party’s anti-Vietnam War campaigns and diverted CPA resources to support Timor-Leste’s resistance to Indonesian occupation.
Laurie remained committed to socialism in his later years and he was instrumental in establishing the Left Book Club, which published many of his books.
Laurie Aarons died at the age of 87 on 7 February 2005.
Symon, P 2005, Laurie Aarons (1917-2005), Labour Australia, accessed <http://labouraustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/aarons-laurie-23499>
Aarons, M n.d., Laurie Aarons 1917-2005, SEARCH Foundation, accessed <https://www.search.org.au/laurie_aarons>