Bookseller's Marxist Catholic heritage

Founder of the anti-Vietnam War movement in Australia. Lifelong member of the Labor Party and Trotskyist. Bookseller. Bibliophile. Historian. Union agitator. Anti-censorship battler. Bohemian. Irish Catholic. Polemicist.

Even Charles Dickens would have had trouble inventing a character as remarkable as Bob Gould, the Sydney bookseller. Add to that list, a founder of Labor for Refugees, as a contingent of Afghan refugees at his funeral last week bore witness.

There were Labor rebels of Irish descent on both sides of Gould's family. His mother, Ethel, was the daughter of Dick O'Halloran, who ran as an anti-conscription Labor candidate in the NSW state election of 1917.

His father, Steve Gould, after fighting in both Gallipoli and on the Western Front, where he lost an arm. Steve described himself as a Marxist Catholic. This family background must have shaped Bob's politics but he gave as much - if not more - credit to the Christian Brothers at St Patrick's, Strathfield, for inculcating in him a critical and social democratic cast of mind.

Gould was blooded in the Great Labor Split of 1955, lining up with the anti-Groupers in the Labor Party against the forces loyal to B.A. Santamaria. By this time, he was a member of both the Labor and Communist parties. Khrushchev's secret speech on Stalin's crimes in 1956 quickly disillusioned him about the Labor Party and he left it to join the local Trotskyist group.

He opened the Third World Bookshop in Goulburn Street Sydney in 1967 to feed the growing appetite among young people for countercultural music, posters and literature. Gould remained immersed in Labor politics. He combined with Paul Keating at a NSW Labor Party conference to have the expulsion of Jack Lang lifted.

FULL OBITUARY: Trotskyist never gave up quest for socialist society (Sydney Morning Herald)


Bob Santamaria and Bob Gould: A reminiscence of the great Labor split (OzLeft)

Goulds Book Arcade, Newtown

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