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Eric John Aarons (1919–2019)

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Eric John Aarons (1919-2019) political activist

Born: 16 March 1919, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales, son of Sam Aarons and Dorian Lilian nee Thomas, school teacher. Married: Betty Dent, 22 December 1942 (separated). One son; long term de facto relationships with Esther Taylor, later Beverley Symons and Peta Salmon. Died: 18 January 2019, Sydney, NSW.

  • Educated Middle Park Central School, Melbourne High, Sydney Boys' High School, Sydney University (B.Sc, 1942).
  • First job working in father’s boot shop following relocation to Sydney from Melbourne.
  • 1938, joined Young Communist League, Communist Party of Australia (Sydney University branch).
  • 1940, Secretary of University Labour Club. As a student also influenced by Trotskyites–Jack Wishart and Wally Mohr.
  • Graduated with first class honours and employed at Timbrol chemical plant. Attempted to radicalise plant workers and encouraged them to join People’s Army, burying rifles and ammunition near Nepean River to rebuff Japanese invasion.
  • Researcher at Sydney Technological Museum, then worked at Taubmans Paint. Early 1970s, casual schoolteacher, NSW Department of Education.
  • From 1945, CPA ‘professional revolutionary’, tutor Marx School, and broadcaster.
  • 1947, appointed leader of South Coast/Wollongong CPA.
  • 1948, during wharf strike arrested in Sydney Domain for ‘unlawful assembly’ and ‘indecent language’.
  • Active in 1949 miners’ strike.
  • 1951-54, participated in CPA Chinese study mission, also visiting Russia and Eastern Bloc. On return taught at Arcadia and established CPA study centre at Minto.
  • 1959, CPA Newcastle/North Coast organiser/secretary.
  • 1961-2, elected to Political Committee, CPA. 
  • 1963, appointed to CPA Secretariat and moved back to Sydney.
  • 1964, represented CPA in visit to New Zealand.
  • 1965, represented CPA at 13th Congress of Communist Party of Chile, travelling via Moscow and Mexico.
  • 1967, Assistant editor, Australian Left Review.
  • 1974-76, Editor Tribune.
  • 1976-1982 CPA General Secretary. From 1967 a major figure in CPA’s adoption of Euro-communist line.
  • 1978-80, represented CPA at Yugoslav and North Korean party congresses.
  • 1982, retired from full-time work. 1983, delegate to China.
  • Supported dissolution of CPA, 1991 and established SEARCH Foundation.
  • Talented sculptor, working in wood and stone. 1972, first exhibition and major retrospective, Casula Powerhouse Art Centre, 1999.
  • Enthusiastic bushwalker. Author of Philosophy for an Exploding World. (1972) and autobiographical reminiscences What’s Left (1993) and What’s Right (2003).

John Playford, Doctrinal and strategic problems of the Communist Party of Australia, 1945-1962, PhD thesis, ANU, 1962, Good Weekend, 4 Nov. 1995; E. Aarons, What’s Left (1993); press release, 1 April 2003 re launch of What’s Right.

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Citation details

'Aarons, Eric John (1919–2019)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 July 2024.

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