Supporters of the Venezuelan government hold pictures of former President Hugo Chavez. Image from http://www.psmag.com

US Empire Rolls the Dice on Venezuela Invasion

27-10-2018 – It’s no secret. The US ruling class, through its various fronts, has attempted to overthrow the Venezuelan government repeatedly since Hugo Chavez swept to electoral power in 1998. There was a coup attempt in 2002, an attempt to shut down the state owned PDVSA oil company in 2003, a separatist plot in the Zulia region in 2008, and violent opposition led rolling street demonstrations in 2014 and 2017.[1] This year on July 8, US President Donald Trump laid the military option on the table. According to Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, Trump had a meeting with the then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and then national security adviser HR McMaster, asking why the US could not “finish off” Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro through a military operation. Apparently Tillerson and McMaster managed to talk Trump out of that option.[2]

US government funding of Venezuelan opposition

Washington, however, continues to carry out everything but an actual military intervention to overthrow the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. While there is a substantial right-wing domestic opposition to the Venezuelan government, it would barely be able to sustain its multiple coup attempts without the financial and political backing of notorious US deep state operatives such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The NED is more or less the public face of the CIA, which poses as an aid organisation, but in fact exists to subvert and/or overthrow any government or country around the world which is perceived to be too independent from Wall Street. In Venezuela, it partners with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), to funnel funding to the opposition which repeatedly refuses to accept the results of elections within Venezuela which they lose. In 2015 alone, the US pumped $4.2 million into Venezuela through the NED and USAID.[3] The US government also funds the Broadcasting Board of Governors, to the tune of some $777.8 million[4]. This money runs the “Voice of America” news service, which for decades has beamed anti-communist propaganda into Cuba, and continues to do so throughout Latin America and Asia.

Yet it is not just faux media organisations which Washington funds and often creates. It is also entire opposition political parties. The NED, via the International Republican Institute (IRI), funds the right-wing coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), in violation of Venezuelan law. The IRI has virtually set up the opposition parties Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular.[5] It is also no coincidence that these right-wing parties are heavily supported and backed by Venezuela’s wealthy and upper classes. For years, the majority of working class and poorer Venezuelans have stood by their “Bolivarian Revolution”.

Economic crisis undermines Chavismo

For around 15 years, the Chavista movement (or “Chavismo”, named after initiating President Hugo Chavez) was unassailable and virtually could not lose an election. The Bolivarian Revolution, with the overwhelming support of the majority of Venezuelans who have little personal wealth, did win substantial gains that leftists the world over could celebrate. For the first time, many people who could not afford to get an education were able to enroll. The minimum wage was increased, by government decree, repeatedly. Free health care centres were set up in poorer neighbourhoods which had rarely seen a doctor. Housing was built for those who could least afford to buy. Venezuela’s substantial oil wealth helped to fund these progressive steps which had never previously been contemplated.[6]

Hugo Chavez and the Chavistas claimed they were for socialism, and that this was the aim of their revolution. Chavista supporters no doubt consciously accept socialism, yet in practice the Bolivarian Revolution was always based on reforming the capitalist system. Chavistas may deny it, but the Bolivarian Revolution did not take the crucial first steps towards socialism – the organisation of the working class in preparation for the seizure of state power. For this, what is indispensable is the forging of a Marxist vanguard party – composed of the most advanced pro-working class fighters. Even Chavista supporters internationally would admit that the party created by Hugo Chavez, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), was not conceived as a Marxist organisation.

The Bolivarian Revolution itself was never a socialist revolution. This is something that genuine Chavista supporters in Venezuela and internationally have to face up to. Socialism begins with the working class creating its own power, overthrowing the rule of capital, and taking control of the major means of production, at least initially. None of this has been attempted in Venezuela – in fact, quite the opposite. Despite some abandoned factories being taken over by the government here and there, the major means of production remain in private hands in Venezuela. The entire banking system remains in the hands of the wealthy elite. Far from organising working class occupations and take-overs of critical public infrastructure, the Chavistas have restricted their political work largely to elections. Because the state remains in the hands of capital, all of the gains made by the Bolivarian Revolution can therefore be taken away by a lost election.

This reality is getting closer day by day. In fact, a US backed military intervention, or even just a classical Wall Street backed “opposition” movement creating enough chaos to topple the government, is on the cards. An actual socialist revolution enables the most advanced workers to destroy the capitalist state, and erect a workers’ state in its place, as the first step towards the transition to socialism. The critical factor is that the working class uses state power to win the majority of the working people, and integrates them into ruling the new society themselves – without and against the corporations and their wealthy backers. The Bolivarian Revolution, on the other hand, attempts to rule in the name of the “people” or “Venezuelans”. In a class divided society, however, uniting antagonistic classes is an impossibility. And so, without working class control of the banks especially, there is no chance of being able to control such things as runaway inflation. This is one reason why the right-wing opposition is able to make a comeback.

Negotiations while migration crisis expands

The PSUV and Maduro constantly enter into negotiations with Venezuelan capitalists and the opposition generally, in a vain attempt to somehow make enough concessions that might lead them to refrain from sabotaging the economy and the state. A genuine socialist leadership of a workers’ state would enter into negotiations with former capitalists who have been deprived of political power – but Maduro and the Chavistas do not lead a workers’ state, and they have no intention of expropriating even some of them. Their negotiations are based on the fantasy that Venezuelan business owners would somehow value all Venezuelans above their material wealth. But the opposition’s open consorting with and through Washington and all of their agents is a clear indication that the Venezuelan “captains of industry” are only loyal to the profits they can squeeze out of Venezuelan workers and the poor.

The Venezuelan rich classes are also part of the reason why there is a migration crisis between Venezuela and Colombia, and elsewhere. The hoarding of goods by businesses that refuse to sell or supply them to poor Venezuelans causes some to pack up their belongings and seek asylum where food and goods, not to speak of work, are available. Hyper-inflation, now barely measurable, pushes prices of basic goods out of reach. Some reports state that as many as 10 to 12%, or around 3.8 million, Venezuelans now live abroad in more than 90 countries.[7] Many of them flee Venezuela on foot, and large numbers of them cross the border into Colombia. Some move further through Ecuador and into Chile.

At the same time, the hypocrisy of the Colombian government blaming Venezuela entirely for this migration crisis stands out in stark relief. 50 years of war in Colombia, with right-wing paramilitaries regularly murdering left-wing guerrillas and perceived supporters has led to millions of Colombians fleeing for their lives. Venezuela has reportedly absorbed about 30% of this migration, with an estimated 5.6 million Colombians living in Venezuela, according to 2015 figures.[8] What is more, these Colombians benefit from the same rights as all Venezuelans, and make use of the government provided health care, education and housing!

Chinese investment assists oil industry

The Venezuelan oil industry, the exports of which make up around 95% of government earnings, is now at its lowest level in 70 years. Crude oil production is currently down to around 1.4 million barres per day (mbpd), which is about half of the average 2.4 mbpd Venezuela usually produces. It had a record high of 3.4 mbpd in 1997, and a record low of 0.594 mbpd in January 2003, during the opposition “oil lockout”.[9] The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is a major recipient of Venezuelan oil, but due to the problems PDVSA is experiencing, it is struggling to send its shipments. In July, the China Development Bank approved a $250 million grant to PDVSA to boost oil production. This is on top of a $5 billion loan already approved, which exists alongside previous $50 billion oil-for-loan arrangements with the Asian economic powerhouse.[10] Workers should be clear – this assistance from the PRC stems from the predominantly socialist state led Chinese economy, of which its state owned oil production forms a part. Without the PRC’s largely collectivised and planned economy, based on public ownership of the major means of production, Red China would not be the world’s leading economic generator today.

While the economic assistance the PRC is able to grant Venezuela acts as a welcome countervailing factor to the threats of regime change emanating from the US Empire, it may not be enough to stave off the relentless sabotage the Venezuelan right wing opposition utilises, in concert with Washington. While the PRC’s assistance to Venezuela is welcome, the politics of the Communist Party of China (CPC) leadership is such that it does so in order to prop up the Venezuelan bourgeois system, rather than “socialism”. If the PRC was led by genuine Marxist internationalists, the assistance would be provided alongside political encouragement to raise the working class to power, in Venezuela and Latin America.

Defend Venezuela against regime change

The working class internationally is crying out for leadership, as capitalism drives human society ever closer to an abyss. There is scarcely any leadership coming from the left in the Western imperialist countries. The leaderships of the countries which broke from capitalism after World War II maintain their initial success in establishing the first steps towards socialism. In the PRC, the largely nationalised and planned economy guided by socialist state led development continues to outstrip the US, Europe, Japan and Australia. Yet the PRC leadership, along with their cohorts in Vietnam, Laos, the DPRK (“North Korea”) and Cuba concentrate their building of socialism within their own borders. Unfortunately, workers do not hear calls from them to join with them in a struggle to finally end global capitalist rule.

Neither, however, do such calls emanate from Chavismo. The movement led by Chavez and now Maduro has won substantial gains for the working class and the poor in Venezuela. Yet every reform made via electoral change, even one which has governmental power, can be taken away by capital as soon as the political conditions allow. The only way to not only protect the free health care, education, housing and other gains won by Chavismo, is to prepare the workers for the overthrow of corporate rule, via the destruction of the old regime based on vast inequality, and the construction of their own state. Unless the working class holds power, socialism only lives in words.

Workers in Venezuela have the task of winning over Chavistas to the perspective of a genuine struggle for the arming of their class and the rule of a workers government. Key to this is the forging of an internationalist Marxist cadre party. Workers internationally have the task of defending Venezuela against the dire threat of open imperialist intervention from the US Empire. There is a need for the military defence of the Venezuelan government against US imperialism, while preparing the political conditions for the supersession of Chavismo with a perspective of united action between the workers of Venezuela, Colombia, Latin America, the US and internationally.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66     NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/14094 (27-10-2018)

[2] https://www.iol.co.za/sundayindependent/analysis/us-set-on-regime-change-in-venezuela-15898260 (27-10-2018)

[3] https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/US-Pumped-4.2M-in-2015-to-Destabilize-Venezuelan-Government-20170408-0006.html (27-10-2018)

[4] https://www.bbg.gov/strategy-and-performance/budget-submissions/ (27-10-2018)

[5] https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/25/the-dirty-hand-of-the-national-endowment-for-democracy-in-venezuela/ (27-10-18)

[6] https://www.telesurtv.net/english/analysis/4-Gains-Maduros-Venezuela-Made-That-Mainstream-Media-Ignores-20170413-0026.html (27-10-2018)

[7] https://www.straitstimes.com/world/americas/how-the-venezuelan-migration-crisis-affects-south-america (27-10-18)

[8] https://www.telesurtv.net/english/analysis/Why-Do-Colombians-Continue-Migrating-to-Venezuela–20150910-0028.html (27-10-18)

[9] https://tradingeconomics.com/venezuela/crude-oil-production (27-10-18)

[10] https://www.dw.com/en/venezuela-secures-oil-sector-funding-from-china/a-44518822 (27-10-18)

US Empire Rolls the Dice on Venezuela Invasion

In May this year, the US government opened its embassy in Jerusalem. The same day, Israeli Defence Forces shot dead 58 Palestinians as they protested near the border with Gaza. Photo from http://www.reuters.com

USA/Australia: Hands Off Palestine!
19-10-2018 – As if the Australian government could not be any more craven to the masters of the US Empire, Liberal Party Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week publicly floated the idea that his government would follow the lead of the US Donald Trump administration and move its embassy from the Israeli capital Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This would also entail recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.[1] The opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem in May this year was birthed with the blood of 58 Palestinians who were shot dead by the Israeli Defence Force, who were apparently given orders of shoot to kill to prevent a protest march in Gaza from breaching the border. Around 2000 were also wounded, after being hit by live-fire bullets.[2] One wonders if the Australian government was hoping for a similar massacre to christen the opening of its embassy in Jerusalem.

The Beast lashes out after defeat in Syria

Some speculation has it that Prime Minister Morrison’s thought bubble was a desperate ploy to secure votes ahead of the coming by-election in the seat of Wentworth, vacated by dumped former PM Malcolm Turnbull. The Liberal Party’s candidate, Dave Sharma, is a former Ambassador to Israel. This may well have been part of the reason, but world geo-politics following the US Empire’s war on Syria plays the dominant hand. From 2011 onwards, the US Empire waged arguably the most atrocious proxy war in history upon the Syrian Arab Republic, in a not so subtle war of regime change. The plans of the US ruling class for regime change in Syria did not by any means begin in 2011, but go way back to at least the 1980s.[3] But this time, the US government, which has routinely overthrown states in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia over 70 years, was stopped in its tracks. Incredible heroism was shown by the Syrian Arab Army, and they were joined by the resistance fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian armed forces. Decisive, though, was the intervention of Russia, which followed through on a request from the Syrian government. Russia’s far superior air power dealt crippling blows to ISIS, Al Qaeda and all of the mercenary death squads which had been armed, trained, funded or otherwise assisted by, at least, the governments of the US, the UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Canada, Denmark and Australia. Recently, the Israeli government finally admitted that it too had armed the anti-government barbarians in Syria.[4]

Donald Trump was partially elected as President on the promise that the US would no longer be involved in the regime change wars, such as those in Libya and Syria. Despite fury from the CIA Democrats, Trump has more or less wound up former President Obama’s regime change plans for Syria. But the writing was well and truly on the wall in any case – Russia effectively liberated Syria from ISIS.

Nationalism is no way forward

Many supporters of Palestine, and some left parties, ply the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in their efforts to end the suffering of Palestinians. Yet PM Morrison’s actions this week should serve as a warning sign as to how misguided are nonetheless well intentioned BDS supporters. The “Sanctions” part of BDS calls on national governments to apply sanctions on Israel until some of the just demands of the Palestinians are met. Working people should not be attempting to win over the same governments that have recently committed the outrageous provocation of shifting embassies to Jerusalem, to the cause of Palestinian liberation. These governments are part and parcel of states which are class enemies of working people, and oppressed nationalities such as Palestine. They cannot be won over because they are an integral cog of capitalist imperialism. Any attempt to win them over feeds the already vast illusions that no matter what “mistakes” these governments make, at the end of the day they are “our” representatives. Little could be further from the truth.

The governments that the BDS movement wills to apply sanctions on Israel are the very same ones which uphold the Zionist Israeli state. This contradiction comes about because often the nationalism of the oppressed nation can only really be recognised by the powerful (imperialist) nations. BDS is ultimately one wing of Palestinian nationalism. Others include the nationalism of the almost universally rejected Palestinian Authority, which functions as little more than a Zionist/US deputy policing Palestinians. Another is the Islamist nationalism of Hamas, which treacherously backed the overthrow of neighbouring Syria by sectarian cutthroats armed by the West, as well as the Israeli government.

Any nationalism trapped within the framework of capitalism will not be able to solve its first tasks. Palestine can only be freed alongside the millions strong Israeli working class – the overwhelming majority of whom do not at all back the Zionist policies of predatory aggression towards the Palestinians. What is required is to unite Palestinian and Israeli workers through the struggle for a bi-national Arab/Hebrew workers state. In other words, the just cause of the national rights of the Palestinians can only be finally won through a victorious socialist revolution.

Even before such a revolution is won, working people internationally who defend Palestine can only be effective in doing so by consistently and stridently opposing all facets of imperialism – not by seeking to work with it, as per the BDS campaign. This means opposing all wars being waged or being threatened by the Zionist Israeli state’s guarantor – the US. War against Syria, Iran, Russia, China, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), Venezuela – all of these must be opposed with equal vigour – if one is to be genuine about the liberation of Palestine. Key to this outlook is the forging of Marxist vanguard parties, which seek to light the way from the horrors of war to the beacon of socialism.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  BOX  66    NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-16/australia-could-move-embassy-to-jerusalem/10379602 (17-10-18)

[2] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/jerusalem-us-embassy-opens-live-updates-israel-gaza-strip-protests-trump-kushner-latest-a8350501.html (17-10-18)

[3] https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/the-us-empire-has-been-trying-to-regime-change-syria-since-long-before-2011-40d4e6648d54 (17-08-18)

[4] https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201809051067754662-Israel-Guns-Anti-Government-Extremists-Syria/ (17-08-18)

USA/Australia: Hands Off Palestine!

Philippines: Bogus Narratives Pushed by Western Powers

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Image from http://www.casino.org

05-10-2018 – The people of the Philippines today are suffering under a tyrannical fascist dictator who terrorises and murders anyone who opposes him – or so the story goes. Who tells this story? Filipino workers enduring a loss of political rights? Filipino trade Unionists having their organisations dispersed by armed gangs? Left-wing anti-war activists?  Hardly. The portrayal of Philippine President Rodrigo (“Rody”) Duterte as a “fascist” is spun most of all by a slew of US backed NGOs, many of whom are inevitably linked to the notorious CIA front the NED (National Endowment for Democracy). Under the 1987 compromise Philippine constitution brought in after the movement against then President Ferdinand Marcos, NGOs were given outrageous entitlements, and even a tax exempt status under Section 30 of the National Internal Revenue Code. As a consequence, the number of NGOs operating in the Philippines are estimated to number up to 100 000.[1] Today, the activities of a list of them are reduced to fomenting conservative opposition to the administration of President Duterte, who was elected in 2016.

Most popular President ever

The overwhelming majority of the Filipino people, however, certainly do not share Western angst towards their President. Quite the contrary. Rodrigo Duterte is, by far, the most popular President in Philippine history, and his sky-high approval rating has remained above 80% virtually since his election. While there is a history of high approval ratings for Presidents in the Philippines, which some say results from a somewhat deferential Filipino culture, Duterte’s approval ratings have officially been significantly higher than any other government since approval ratings first were collected in the 1980s.[2]  A recent poll put Duterte’s approval rating at a staggering 88%, which is only marginally down from the 91% approval rating he gained on the assumption of the Presidency after the 2016 election.[3] What is it about Duterte in particular which produces such jolting statistics?

An answer to this question must cover several aspects. Firstly, Rodrigo Duterte is not seen as one of the “trapos” (traditional politicians) that the Filipino people have endured for decades. The former mayor of Davao is genuinely seen as a man of the people, as one of them. He is certainly an outsider, and not at all one of the millionaire Manila elite, like many of his predecessors. He reportedly doesn’t wear socks, doesn’t know how to tie a necktie, and lives in a modest house rather than a mansion. While he likes fast cars, there are few signs that he cares about making money.[4] While corruption has played a huge role in the downfall of previous Presidents from Marcos to Estrada to Arroyo, Duterte is thus far untouched by this, and, given his apparent lack of interest in living a high life, it doesn’t seem that he will be tempted into it either. In a country with a history of sell-out politicians, Duterte is largely seen as a rebel with a cause.

Defending Filipino sovereignty

Another aspect of Duterte’s popularity stems from the fact that he is the first President in the Philippines who has not been ultimately subordinate to Washington. US domination in the Philippines is pervasive given its history of colonisation by them, even taking into account US assistance against Japanese occupation during World War II. No Filipino political leader before Duterte has stood so strongly against US colonialism towards his or her country, even given some of Duterte’s later statements indicating a compromise. In October 2016, President Duterte visited Beijing to meet with the People’s Republic of China’s Premier Li Keqiang. During a speech at that time, he uttered the following extraordinary statements:

I announce my separation from the United States… I have realigned myself in your [China’s] ideological flow… I will be dependent on you for all time.” “I will not go to America any more. We will just be insulted there. So time to say goodbye my friend.” “There are three of us against the world – China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.[5]

No wonder Washington was alarmed !!  It’s the worst nightmare for a US Empire which is in decline economically, politically and diplomatically. President Duterte’s bravery and boldness, expressed with trademark irreverence, is a refreshing relief for many Filipinos, one quarter of whom live from hand to mouth. The Philippines was meant to be cornerstone of Washington’s attempts to “contain and roll back communism” in the form of Red China. Yet Duterte’s brash-sounding statements above also reflect a reality which the Filipino ruling class is realising, along with other countries in Asia – the US no longer has the economic or political resources to dominate large sections of the planet. It is being overtaken by the gargantuan state-led economic power of socialist China, which has the financial resources to offer mutually beneficial development. The People’s Republic of China (PRC), as a non-capitalist power, does not seek to exploit and plunder neighbours and other countries in the manner that we are familiar with from the US, Great Britain and France historically in the Asia-Pacific.

Filipino sovereignty is vitally important, in a country which has been dominated for over 100 years by Spanish and US colonialism. To prosecute sovereignty, President Duterte has indicated that he has an obligation to look outside the traditional power of the US and its Western adjuncts. At the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Co-Operation) summit in 2017, Duterte met several times with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia donated thousands of automatic rifles, 20 trucks and helmets to the Philippines, to assist its anti-terrorist operations in Marawi. Putin stated that Russia and the Philippines has a common enemy in the fight against terrorism. In response Duterte stated that the Philippines will remember Russia for all time.[6] One can almost hear the jaws dropping in the Pentagon.

The US in Syria suffered arguably its first defeat in war since Vietnam, once Russia somewhat belatedly intervened, at the request of the Syrian government, in 2015. Russia, with its superior military air power, outplayed the US politically. They openly called for the US to join it in a fight against the terrorist death squads in Syria. The US could not intervene on the side of its Al Qaeda and ISIS patrons, and thus was forced to sit back while Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah went on to expel the deranged mercenaries. It was a humiliating defeat for the US, the UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Israel and others including the Australian government, who had been expending resources in a desperate attempt at regime change. President Duterte, along with a whole host of other countries not involved, no doubt noticed how the Russians outfoxed the US, politically as well as militarily. Duterte is not the only leader from a developing country who can see the military rise of Russia, which complements the economic rise of China.

Defying liberals, foreigners, the church

Many progressive minded folk throw up their hands in horror when hearing of President Duterte’s war on drugs – especially as “war” is not used by Duterte as a metaphor. Yet it is not as if Filipino drug dealers were not warned. Duterte explicitly made the case that drug addiction is a major problem; other methods used in the past have not worked, so his administration will take matters into its own hands in dealing with drug king-pins. “You destroy our country, I’ll kill you…you destroy our children, I’ll kill you..” Duterte proclaimed as he began his Presidency.[7] Like this approach or loathe it, it has the support of the overwhelming majority of Filipinos.  They agree with Duterte that around 4 million drug users who remain addicts for years represent a significant social problem. Despite the wailing from US linked NGOs, thousands of drug addicts have reportedly surrendered and asked for treatment.

The case of the innocuous sounding Sister Patricia Fox, from Australia, is another issue which tends to alarm those with generally liberal political inclinations. Sister Fox is a 71 year old Catholic Nun who has headed up an order in the Philippines for the past 27 years.[8] While her work and the work of her order has primarily been based on assisting the many poor, in recent years she became involved in anti-government political actions and movements. In response the Duterte administration has sought to deport her. Yet this is not a case of a unilateral quashing of dissent, for Filipino law forbids foreigners from being involved in domestic Filipino politics. Regardless of the motivations of Sister Fox, by seeking her deportation, the Duterte administration is only applying Filipino law.

In a similar vein, there is also a law against foreigners owning outlets of the Filipino press. The “Rappler” news site has been criticised by Duterte as being US funded. And, despite repeated attempts to deny US funding, Rappler has been shown to be partially funded by the Omidyar Network, set up by Ebay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam. As if this was not obvious enough, Rappler is headed by Maria Ressa, who has spent the past 18 years as the bureau chief for the notorious CNN in both Jakarta and Manila.[9]  Applying Filipino law, there is a case against Rappler by the Duterte administration making its way through the courts.

The Catholic Church is deeply ingrained in the Philippines, and yet the popularity of President Duterte is such that he can openly question some of its public positions. For example, Duterte has stated that he will assist a movement in the Philippines which sought to legalise LBGTIQ marriage.[10] This is seemingly at odds with his tough guy image, and it is a stance which is conveniently ignored by his liberal critics.

“Communists” against Duterte

If the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) spruiks its opposition to President Duterte, this must mean that this is the view of the left – some would assume. In reality, the CPP and its off shoots such as the New People’s Army (NPA) and the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines), in practice join with the other ranks of liberal outrage – many of whom are linked to the bevy of US backed NGOs. For example, the NDFP strongly criticised President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao in May 2017,[11] drawing comparisons to the martial law period in the 1980s under Ferdinand Marcos. Yet the declaration of martial law was made to enable military operations against ISIS !!  ISIS appeared out of nowhere when President Duterte was in Russia signing trade and other agreements with President Vladimir Putin. It is not unreasonable to suggest that the US pulled the strings on the ISIS marionette in response. Moreover, President Duterte’s military operations against ISIS were overwhelmingly popular amongst Filipinos, as many of his other moves are. A sign of this was the unqualified support for the martial law declaration from world champion Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, who is also an elected senator. Pacquiao, regarded as a national hero for his boxing feats, said the country should be grateful for the strong leadership of President Duterte.[12]

The CPP/NPA has been waging a 50 year guerrilla war against the Filipino government, which flows from the Maoist theory of “protracted people’s war”. This sounds impressive, but in doing so the politics of Maoism outside the state where it achieved state power (China), means it constantly seeks allies amongst classes other than, and opposed to, the interests of the working class. It imagines that somehow, the capitalists, small proprietors and workers can put aside their class interests and form a bloc which will achieve a “national democracy”. This is of course impossible – there has never, and can never, exist a “democracy” across mutually antagonistic classes. All attempts in this direction will thus ultimately fail, and the politics of those prosecuting this strategy can never rise above base level reformism.

Rather than a fruitless struggle for cross class “democracy” in the Philippines, Marxists need to seek to organise and lead the working class in its struggle for the overthrow of capital. Rather than join the swamp of US backed opposition to Duterte, revolutionary minded workers need to recruit to their own banner while engaging in a temporary bloc with the Duterte administration against the encroachment of US imperialism and its intermediaries in NGOs and left-populist parties. The leadership of a Leninist vanguard party is the missing ingredient to the real revolution needed in the Philippines.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com
E: workersleague@redfireonline.com
PO Box  66    NUNDAH   QLD  4012

[1] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2014/04/30/philippines-the-ned-the-ngos-and-the-cia/#more-9279 (23-09-18)

[2] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-duterte/survey-shows-filipinos-more-satisfied-with-duterte-government-than-any-other-idUSKBN1F70XA (23-09-18)

[3] https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/07/13/18/duterte-approval-rating-rises-to-record-in-second-quarter-pulse-asia (23-09-18)

[4] https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2018/07/07/what-makes-the-philippines-duterte-popular/15308856006512 (23-09-18)

[5] https://www.marxist.com/filipino-president-rodrigo-duterte-leaning-towards-china-why.htm (30-09-18)

[6] https://globalnation.inquirer.net/161653/philippine-news-updates-vladimir-putin-russia-apec-marawi-siege-terrorism-russian-weapons-terrorism (30-09-2018)

[7] https://www.weeklystandard.com/christopher-caldwell/understanding-the-popularity-of-philippines-president-rodrigo-duterte (30-09-18)

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/20/patricia-fox-australian-nun-who-angered-duterte-ordered-to-leave-philippines (30-09-18)

[9] https://www.techinasia.com/rappler-funding-omidyar-network (30-09-18)

[10] https://www.sbs.com.au/topics/sexuality/agenda/article/2017/12/18/rodrigo-duterte-says-hell-support-same-sex-marriage

[11] https://www.ndfp.org/on-dutertes-declaration-of-martial-law-in-mindanao/ (01-10-18)

[12] https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/05/philippines-pacquiao-backs-dutertes-martial-law/ (01-10-18)

Myanmar: Rohingya Manipulated for the West’s Drive to War

05-09-2018 – If genuine anti-war activists have learnt anything over the last few decades, it is to be supremely skeptical the moment the US Empire and its corporate media apparatchiks start to chant in unison on the latest “human rights” violation which urgently needs attention. It usually means that a “humanitarian intervention”, read – regime change war, is on the way. So it was in Libya, so it was in Syria, and so may be in Myanmar. Some of the actors are the same, some are different, but the effect is familiar – the West poses as the defender of civilisation against Third World barbarians. The hypocrisy becomes immediately apparent to anti-imperialists, but deludes many who should know better.

One year on from the alleged genocide of Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, there has been a round of demonstrations called by some ex-pat Rohingya community groups throughout Australia, which have been backed by liberal political forces and “NGOs” such as Amnesty International. Some misguided left parties have joined the fray. And this time, these actions have the backing of none other than the Donald Trump administration of the US government !  The US government has seen fit to sanction several Myanmar military commanders for allegations of ethnic cleansing, massacres, sexual assaults and extra-judicial killings.[1] It takes one to know one. The US Empire, with its blood drenched history, is itself an exponent of the crimes of which it accuses others.

What happened in the Rakhine state in August 2017?

A report released several weeks ago in London, titled Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience, claimed that from August 25, 2017, around 24 000 Rohingya were killed, and 18 000 Rohingya women and girls were raped during the forced migration from the Rakhine state into Bangladesh.[2] The report claims, amongst other things, that 43 000 Rohingyas were shot, 36 000 were thrown into fire, and 116 000 were beaten – all at the hands of the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military). The writers of the report were from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, the Philippines and Norway. The absence of anyone from Myanmar immediately raises suspicion. And, given that for the last seven years at least, the West’s war on Syria was replete with incessant claims from the West that the Syrian government was slaughtering its own civilians wholesale, and given that this turned out to be abject lies – we are entitled to smell a rat. Generally, people do not flee from their homes and attempt to enter a neighbouring country without fearing for their lives, and it seems the estimated 700 000 Rohingya who took flight certainly were motivated by fear. But fear of what, and of whom? The West claims, over and over again, that the Rohingya were fleeing from Myanmar’s army. For them, this is a convenient narrative.

In reality, the Rohingya were fleeing from the threatened or actual extreme violence from two sources, neither of which were the armed forces of Myanmar. The first were the ultra-violent and ultra-racist Buddhist “monks”, who were the key protagonists of the “Saffron Revolution” which brought Aung Sung Suu Kyi into government. These “monks” had been whipping up lethal hatred against Rohingya Muslims for years before 2017, which is why there was already Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar. The “monks” are the key support base of Aung Sung Suu Kyi, and of her party, the National League for Democracy – which has in turn been almost wholly funded by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and billionaire regime change specialist George Soros.[3]  These openly imperialist forces knowingly do this despite the leading figure of the “monks” being Ashin Wirathu, known as the “Burmese Bin Laden”. Reportedly in response to a question over whether he was the Burmese (Burma is the previous name for the country of Myanmar) Bin Laden, Wirathu said he would not deny it.[4] Fuelling ultra-nationalism, Wirathu has incited and led what are effectively racio-religious purges of Rohingya in Myanmar for years. Yet there are no headlines about Buddhist monks driving Rohingya into the seas.

The second force the Rohingya were also fleeing was the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA. Why would a so-called liberation army containing the name “Rohingya” actually turn their guns and swords against Rohingya people themselves?  For the same reason that ISIS, with Western governmental funding, gruesomely slaughtered other Muslims (and Christians and other “apostates”) in Syria. That is, ARSA does not represent Rohingya people any more than ISIS represents Muslims. ARSA was originally Harakat Al Yaqin (the “Faith” movement), with many of its fighters having been trained in Pakistan by the notorious Lashkar E-Taiba (LET). Some Rohingya have been jihadists running with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Chechnya and the Middle East, and have now been encouraged to return to Myanmar to continue an insurgency with the aim of an Islamic state.[5] It should be stressed that only some Rohingya join terrorist groups such as ARSA, but the precarious state of the Rohingya given their mistreatment at the hands of ultra-nationalists tends to lead to a situation where young Rohingya men might be persuaded to take up arms in response.

The act which precipitated the armed response from the Tatmadaw was a series of pre-dawn armed attacks by ARSA on 30 police stations, which took the lives of some 13 police officers, and seems to have been also used to gather weapons. These pre-emptive murderous assaults took place just two days after United Nations (UN) special representative Kofi Annan issued his report on the Myanmar government’s actions towards the Rohingya.[6] Firstly, it is just too convenient for the proximity of these two actions for it to have been a coincidence. Secondly, if armed attacks by jihadists on police stations sounds familiar, it is because such attacks also took place in Syria, by Western backed terrorists looking to ignite their gruesome insurgency against the Syrian Arab Republic – which was almost universally rejected by Syrians. Just as the Syrian government had little option to respond to an armed attack by terrorists on its infrastructure, the Tatmadaw likewise had no choice but to militarily respond to a terrorist attack on their state. Thus, the Rohingya who fled were fleeing fighting between the terrorist ARSA and the Tatmadaw, NOT the Tatmadaw only, as Western misled refugee rights activists claim.

Humanitarians enlisted for war drive

During the US led war on Syria, imperialism learnt how to skillfully manipulate human sympathy for refugees for its own ends. This has now been replicated in Myanmar in the case of the Rohingya. Most first world refugee rights activists, although motivated by wholesome concerns, unfortunately end up stumping for the very force which creates refugees in the first place. Imperialism with its vast corporate media apparatus can spin the story to fit their aims, but left-leaning activists should have been aware that something was up when tabloid former 60 minutes reporter Ray Martin pops up out of nowhere to fly the flag. In April, Ray Martin visited Myanmar and returned a shallow report on the work of the Fred Hollows Foundation who were assisting Rohingya with eye operations.[7] Working people of course should not oppose aid offered for any refugees, but the propaganda point was clear – Rohingyas are suffering at the hands of the evil Myanmar government, and “we” (read: Washington and Canberra) need to “help”.

Of course, the “help” the US Empire is itching to offer is that of sending in its own troops into Myanmar, so as to eventually have troops on the border with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). If it is not able to do this, armed proxy terrorist forces such as ARSA will do for the time being. The chaos and insurgency of terrorist groups in Myanmar can also only benefit Washington, who is seeking to disrupt the growing trade and investment ties between Myanmar and Red China. Washington is furious at this, as China becomes more and more an ally to more and more countries in Asia. In the first eight months of the current financial year, trade between Myanmar and China totaled 7.42 billion in US dollars. Myanmar’s rice, peas, sesame seeds, rubber and fishery products were exchanged for machinery, plastic raw materials and electronic devices from China.[8]  Indeed, Myanmar is a part of the billion dollar New Silk Road (One Belt One Road) infrastructure development plan the Chinese government seeks to enact in order to fulfil its demand for more raw materials to fuel its booming socialist economy, AND economically aid surrounding developing countries.

While not minimising the issues the Rohingya face in Myanmar, Western liberals are almost universally unaware of the role of US and British imperialism inside the country over many decades. Their active empathy is then manipulated by the different arms of Western capital, to further ends which will in effect make things worse for the very people they aim to assist. For example, the notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a US State department entity which claims to be a private entity, is funded by corporations that could hardly be described as “progressive”, including Boeing, the Ford Motor Company, McDonalds, Exxon Mobil and Goldman Sachs. The NED has literally created putative “news outlets” in Myanmar such as The Irrawaddy, The New Era Journal and the Democratic Voice of Burma radio.[9] These US state backed outlets operating inside Myanmar strongly oppose many infrastructure projects being built with the assistance of China, even if such projects would contribute to the development of Myanmar and the alleviation of pockets of poverty. They then double as “refugee rights activists” when issues such as the situation in the Rakhine state arise. It is no coincidence that China operates a port in Sittwe in the Rakhine state, as a part of the New Silk Road project linking China, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Myanmar should not be left in a state of underdevelopment just to spite Red China.

Encirclement and lily pads

While not doubting the genuinely humanistic motives of many Western refugee rights activists, their reform oriented politics makes them vulnerable to playing the role of cat’s paw for the aims of the US Empire. For decades, the US state has aimed to land US troops on the border with Red China. Now, with the socialist state led economy of China leaving the West in its wake, imperialism is desperate to “contain and roll back communism” to use a phrase from the first Cold War. This means military encirclement of China, and the constant attempts to establish areas which can be used as a stepping stone, or lily pad, for US forces. In Myanmar, this means using any means at its disposal to create chaos, ethnic conflict and even full scale war. As in Syria, the US and the UK governments will work with and alongside Al Qaeda linked jihadists aiming for a breakaway “Islamic State” – which, if achieved, would be an ideal location for a US military installation. This is what is behind some calls for an “independent”  Rohingyan ethno-state.

Some Australian left parties have fallen hook, line and sinker for the US/UK orchestrated “Save the Rohingya” psy-op. Socialist Alternative whitewash ARSA’s links to Al Qaeda, by claiming that ARSA is little more than a “poorly armed group of Rohingyas seeking to resist displacement from their land”.[10] In reality, ARSA is well funded and armed from amongst the governments of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Pakistan. ARSA even reportedly has a leadership council based in Saudi Arabia.[11]

The Socialist Alliance appears blind even to the role of ARSA, and last year called on the Australian government (!) to “bring charges of human rights violations against senior Myanmar military officials…..” (!!)[12] The Australian government, fresh from human rights violations in wars such as those on Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, is hardly a temple of virtue on this front. Moreover, as mentioned previously, the Donald Trump administration in the US has done just this, sanctioning some Tatmadaw personnel over allegations of ethnic cleansing. When the Commander in Chief of US imperialism effectively carries out your demands, it should at least be apparent that your politics is off-beam. Meanwhile, both Solidarity[13] and the Communist Party of Australia[14] join with the US state department in condemning Myanmar for allegations of “ethnic cleansing”. One wonders if they are aware of the company they keep.

If it is genuinely the aim to assist the Rohingya’s integration into Myanmar, working people need to demand the withdrawal of US and UK government interference in its internal affairs. Myanmar must have the sovereign right to engage in trade and investment deals with whomever they choose, including Red China and its New Silk Road. While the politics of the leadership of the PRC falls way short of a struggle for international revolution, China must be defended, along with the working class internationally, against the West’s moves to ignite a predatory war. Our lives may just depend on it.

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

Map showing the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline, which began operations in early 2017. This mutually beneficial development is what the US rulers lose sleep over. Image from http://www.ramree.com

PO  Box   66    NUNDAH   QLD
http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-rohingya-usa/us-imposes-sanctions-on-myanmar-military-over-rohingya-crackdown-idUSKBN1L21KL (05-09-18)

[2] http://www.newagebd.net/article/48675/24000-rohingyas-killed-18000-raped-intl-research (05-09-18)

[3] https://journal-neo.org/2015/05/30/who-s-driving-the-rohingya-into-the-sea/ (05-09-18)

[4] https://eurasiantimes.com/ashin-wirathu/ (05-09-18)

[5] https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/geopolitics/article/2109386/myanmar-has-new-insurgency-worry-about (08-09-18)

[6] https://jamestown.org/program/myanmars-tatmadaw-making-arakan-rohingya-salvation-army/ (08-09-18)

[7] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-24/giving-life-back-to-a-people-who-have-no-hope/9682150 (08-09-18)

[8] http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-01/22/c_136914463.htm (08-09-18)

[9] https://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2014/11/us-struggles-to-keep-asia-in-dark-age.html (09-09-18)

[10] https://redflag.org.au/index.php/node/6041 (09-09-18)

[11] http://www.atimes.com/article/foreign-support-gives-rohingya-militants-lethal-edge/ (09-09-18)

[12] https://socialist-alliance.org/news/stop-killing-rohingya-no-cooperation-genocide (09-09-18)

[13] https://www.solidarity.net.au/mag/back/2017/107/australia-complicit-rohingya-ethnic-cleansing/ (09-09-18)

[14] https://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2017/1796/11-ethnic-cleansing.html (09-09-18)

 

Myanmar: Rohingya Manipulated for the West’s Drive to War

No To Racism, Xenophobia, Austerity and War!

08-09-2018 – According to federal minister Peter Dutton, citizens of Melbourne are too afraid to go out to restaurants at night in public, in fear of “African gang violence”.[1] Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull weighed in, attempting to whip up extreme racism in an effort to stave off the Labor Party in the lead up to the series of by-elections that took place on “Super Saturday”. Thankfully, voters in these electorates appeared to ignore the racist dog whistling, but neither did they sufficiently rush behind the Labor Party either. The vote for major parties fell, reflecting an ongoing trend in Australian elections going back years. At the same time, several of the MPs who were caught out by a nationalist interpretation of Section 44 of the Constitution, and found to be dual citizens – were returned to office by their constituents. Both racist and xenophobic attempts to instill over the top nationalism amongst voters failed.

Regardless, the hidden or open racism that African-Australians face continues. People born in Sudan and South Sudan account for only 0.14% of Victoria’s population,[2] yet these citizens face ongoing criminalisation by association, often being referred to as “gangs” simply for appearing in public with similar friends. As for the alleged tendency for those with Sudanese or South Sudanese background committing more crimes than others, this is abjectly false. The overwhelming majority of crimes committed in Australia are carried out by those born in Australia, at over 70%. Other ethnicities, including Sudanese and South Sudanese, usually make up a derisory 1%.[3]  Irrespective, the dire economic conditions the “free” market delivers continually results in the creation of more scapegoats by the corporate media. Channel 7’s tabloid racism about supposed “African Gangs” is a demonstration of their loyalty to a wealthy elite who live in luxury while the majority struggle to get by from day to day.

Why South Sudan?

The federal government rails against South Sudanese allegedly running rampant in Melbourne, without of course explaining why some South Sudanese have fled that country to others seeking a safe place to live. In the end, South Sudan today is a construct of yet more nefarious US Empire “creative chaos” which serves only their ends at the expense of countless lives. The US state, to which the Australian political elite are deeply enmeshed, has backed the separation of South Sudan from Sudan not for any romantic notions of “democracy” or “self-determination”, but to drive out the influence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and disrupt and eventually destroy the massive New Silk Road integrated infrastructure projects it offers on favourable terms. Even though historically the area of South Sudan was cobbled together with Sudan by British colonialism, today’s US led imperialism – with Canberra as a vassal – seeks to Balkanise many African states, in the same way in which it attempted to Balkanise Syria through the arming and funding of barbaric Al Qaeda and ISIS operatives. For example, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir’s signature black cowboy hat was given to him by none other than former US President George W Bush when he visited the White House in 2006.[4]  The aim is to undermine, and eventually sever the ties that Khartoum (the capital of Sudan) developed with the Soviet Union in the past, and now it’s increasing trade and infrastructure ties to Red China.

Oil is a factor in the US Empire’s villainous intervention into South Sudan, with one aim being to open the oil fields of South Sudan to exploitation by Western oil companies. This is easier said than done, as both Sudan and South Sudan already is reliant on the extensive Chinese holdings in their oil facilities, including pipelines. Oil is not the only interest of the US deep state, however.  With assistance from pro-US leaders such as Salva Kiir, any US presence in South Sudan could easily be used to prop up AFRICOM (the US military’s Africa command), which has worked with Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni in the process of waging US proxy wars in Africa for years. US presence through its cultivated allies such as Kiir and Museveni would be another beach head from which they could pressure the Central African Republic to the east, Ethiopia to the West, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south.[5] The US Empire would not be averse to unleashing Boko Haram or ISIS or their own troops, for which they have a track record. The loss of countless human lives and destruction through war of parts of Africa does not even register as a concern. They will pay any price – potentially even their own destruction – in an attempt to counter the economic power of China’s gigantic state owned enterprises.

Bourgeois and proletarian multiculturalism

Understandably, some South Sudanese flee this violence ultimately created historically by British colonialism, and now by US imperialism – and end up in Australia. There is a certain irony with Canberra backing all the dissolute ends of the US Empire in Africa – and ending up taking in Africans seeking a better life as a result. This is one reason why the racism of Turnbull and Dutton cannot be fought with the multiculturalism of the Labor Party or the Greens, or that of “civil society” NGOs. Turnbull and the Liberal Party say they are for multiculturalism – even at the same time as spouting racism. Bill Shorten and the Labor Party, along with the Greens and other liberals also say they are for multiculturalism and, in words, state opposition to racism. Yet they are also vociferous backers of the economic base which maintains and sustains the ultimate source of racism: “free market” capitalism, which is generating staggering inequality in Australia, the US and Europe.

Moreover, some forms of multiculturalism imagine they are devoid of any political basis, but in practice end up fueling political reaction. Despite the protestations of some on the left, a person’s ethnic or cultural background is no guarantee of progressive politics, let alone being anti-capitalist. Take the example of former Family First and now Liberal Party Senator Lucy Gichuhi, who claimed in an interview that her $200 000 salary is “not a lot of money”[6] !!  The Kenyan born African-Australian had also been a part of a politician’s travel expenses rort, as many other federal politicians have been. Any multiculturalism which includes these antics self-evidently cannot be backed by working people.

As the economic crisis becomes worse, right-wing “opposition” and racism becomes more extreme – which is one reason for the resurgence of One Nation and the racist outbursts of MPs from Katter’s Australian Party. Struggle against this racism is essential, but it can only be effective through an independent working class political basis. In other words, the bourgeois multiculturalism of the Labor Party, the Greens, NGOs, Refugee Action Coalitions, etc., must be countered with the proletarian multiculturalism of the working people linked in struggle against the baneful effects of the profit system. For example, a workers’ struggle for public ownership of electricity, gas and water to drastically reduce skyrocketing utility costs could garner huge support amongst working people. If this was combined with a Union led struggle for a shorter working week with no loss in pay, in order to undercut high unemployment, as well as lift incomes for those employed, it could spark the desperately needed fightback working people and those struggling have been waiting for. Even if there was, on its own, a large scale movement against the privatisation of education and health care, for more public housing, and decent and affordable public transport,  led by workers and their Unions, it would at largely fill the political vacuum which is currently being filled by the far-right. Racism and xenophobia increases in direct proportion to the extent of the crisis of the stock-market economy of the corporate magnates, which affects working people in the form of austerity. Or, more specifically, racism and xenophobia spikes in response to capitalist crises AND the absence of a strong, left-wing workers movement. Not to speak of the absence of a politically sharp workers’ party.

The multiculturalism of the “community” or the “society”  has no aim to end the hardships facing the masses. This is why the only multiculturalism which is worth a damn is that which emanates from actual labour. Under capitalism, it is only the workplace which is truly integrated. Labour, which has been socialised by the process of generalised commodity production, cannot take place without the co-operation of all workers. Racial, cultural, religious and other differences have to be put to one side in order to enact even the simplest of work processes, let alone more complex ones. This is one reason why it is only the working class which has a material interest in the elimination of racism and xenophobia. Racism and xenophobia not only seriously impedes the labour process, it prevents workers from uniting against the real source of economic failure.

Multiculturalists for regime change

The ruling elite, however, do not just deploy racism and xenophobia to divide workers domestically. It is also used to imbue working people in the First World with the notion that the economic, political and diplomatic plunder and exploitation of the Third World is natural and normal, and that this must occur for “our own” living standards to be upheld. Crucially, it is also used to rally workers behind, or at least not oppose, the heaviest fist of finance capital – imperialist war. Imperialist war simply cannot be waged without hefty doses of racism, regardless of the official justification. Yet many of those who advocate multiculturalism are also some of the strongest backers of the wars of Empire, albeit wrapped up in noble-sounding rhetoric around “democracy”, “human rights”, and the “need” for regime change.

For example, when NATO bombed Libya to smithereens in 2011, all bourgeois political parties voiced their approval, as well as some misguided left parties. Black slavery being restored in Libya was one result,[7] while many multiculturalists applauded the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi, the leader of green Libya, and the African state which until that time had one of the highest standards of living. Yet this pious First World saviour complex was just a precursor to what was to unfold over the next seven years, when the US Empire launched arguably the dirtiest war in the history of civilisation against the Syrian Arab Republic. From 2011 to the current day, tens of thousands of unhinged ISIS and Al Qaeda lunatics were armed, funded and assisted by the West in an effort to overthrow Syria through barely describable levels of violence. The governments aiding mercenary “Islamic” jihadists included the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and other Gulf Monarchies. NATO allies such as the UK, France, Australia, Canada, Denmark and others joined the slaughter of more than 500 000 innocent Syrians. Iran and Hezbollah intervened, and together with Russia’s superior air power, this ensured the defeat of ISIS and the reversal of the regime change war. And yet political forces which not only failed to oppose this war, but loudly backed it by denouncing the Syrian “regime”, included those who flag wave for multiculturalism. The Liberal Party, the Labor Party, the Greens, NGOs, right through to some “socialist” parties, to a man and woman, cheered on the US backed “moderates”, i.e. Al Qaeda proxies.

Dismissing the elected government, whatever its form, of a country targeted by the US Empire, contains inherent racism, even if not couched in those terms. It is not only in relation to Libya and Syria where liberal multiculturalists display their own form of xenophobia – this also occurs in relation to heavy hitting opponents of Western imperialism, specifically Russia and China. Mainstream parties, Greens, NGOs and pro-war “socialists” oppose racism in their own minds, yet practice a distorted form of it when they rally behind Washington and Canberra provoking potential nuclear war with Russia, China, Iran and the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – “North Korea”). The latent racism contained within Russophobia is generated at extreme levels, due largely to Russia’s effective defeat of US imperialism in Syria. Liberals and the pro-war left swear blind that they are not Sinophobic, and yet chime in with a hysterical and irrational corporate media and government furphy about “Chinese influence”.

For working class integration

It scarcely needs to be said that one cannot be for multiculturalism and anti-racist, while applauding imperialist war in the Asia-Pacific or internationally. In addition, the multiculturalism of the cross-class “community” can only serve the forces of capital which are not only preparing for, but waging, imperialist wars. The only multiculturalism which is worth anything is that which involves the multiracial working class waging a struggle for their liberation from the banks, the stock exchange and the mega-corporations which grind living standards into the dust. This struggle for socialism can only be waged effectively if led by an integrated Marxist vanguard party, combining the most committed and class conscious workers from all cultural, ethnic and national backgrounds. Racism and xenophobia will barely stand a chance against a revolutionary government with workers at the helm.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/victorians-scared-to-go-to-restaurants-at-night-because-of-street-gang-violence-peter-dutton-20180103-h0cvu4.html (08-08-18)

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jan/06/were-not-a-gang-the-pain-of-being-african-australian (11-08-18)

[3] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-22/african-crime-stats-overestimated-victorian-crime-agency-says/9348882 (11-08-18)

[4] http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/03/15/suda-m15.html (12-08-18)

[5] http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-plundering-of-south-sudan.html (12-08-18)

[6] https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2018/06/18/lucy-gichuhi-senate-wage/ (28-08-18)

[7] https://www.theroot.com/libyan-slavery-is-wrong-and-it-s-partly-america-s-faul-1821863389 (25-08-18)

Corporate media is enlisted to whip up a racially charged scare campaign, with little or no basis in fact. Image from http://www.policeaccountability.org.au

 

No To Racism, Xenophobia, Austerity and War!

What’s Wrong with “Safe Access Zones” ?

28-07-2018 – The government passes new legislation which ensures women can enter reproductive health care clinics to access abortion and other services, without harassment by “pro-life” fundamentalists opposed women choosing their life outcomes. Sounds fantastic – or is it?

As with other political issues, the truth is always concrete. While those on the left uphold the right of women to choose whether or not to bear children, the particular political circumstances of the “safe zones” being legislated by the New South Wales (NSW) Australian Labor Party (ALP) government have to be studied closely. Especially as they may be soon followed in Queensland by the current ALP government.

Emma Norton from the left party Socialist Alternative, first raised the problems with “Safe Access Zones” in an article in Red Flag.[1] The author correctly notes that “Safe Access Zones” are areas where any protests are banned within 150 metres of health care clinics where abortion services are provided, and that they have been written into law in Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, and most recently in NSW. While in theory designed to protect women, they conveniently set up yet another restriction on the right to protest – a democratic right which has rapidly been eroded under the impact of the economic decline of capitalism since the “financial” crisis of 2008. Along with the right of workers to strike being effectively outlawed, the left can scarcely afford to flag wave for yet another restriction on the very limited bourgeois democratic rights working people are allowed under “liberal democracy”.

There appears to be debate in Socialist Alternative on this issue, for Daniel Lopez struck back with a comment piece arguing in favour of the “Safe Access Zones” even if they are enforced by the capitalist state. Socialists are not libertarians, he writes, and socialists do not oppose all measures enforced by a state authority.[2] While it is true that socialists do not oppose state authority per se, again the truth is concrete. Firstly, what type of state is exercising authority – a capitalist state or a workers state? Secondly, for what reason is this taking place, and how should workers analyse this? The “Safe Access Zones” are being legislated in a parliament which is one of the strongest ideological apparatus in the hands of the capitalist ruling class. What is more, “Safe Access Zones” have to be enforced by the most viciously anti-working class arms of the capitalist state – the cops. On all other issues, socialists warn workers to be wary of the police, who are ultimately paid to protect the private property of the wealthy elite classes. If now, on the issue of “Safe Access Zones” the left advises workers to trust the police “just this once” – the political line breaks down.

Despite our sharp political disagreements with Socialist Alternative on other issues, we view Emma Norton’s line as being on point. She correctly highlights the fact that the ALP including “Safe Access Zones” in its legislative efforts are a cover for that party of government’s failure to ensure free, safe abortion on demand as a part of the health care system. The Queensland ALP’s proposed legislation could be described as partial decriminalisation, as it is only allowable up to 22 weeks of gestation. What is more, Labor Party Members of Parliament (MPs) are being given a conscience vote on the issue.[3] This cop-out allows more conservative Labor Party MPs to oppose the bill, lessening its chances of being passed. The three Katter’s Australia Party (KAP) MPs have stated their opposition, and intention to oppose Liberal and Labor Party MPs to vote against as well.

On occasion, Socialist Alternative grasp the class nature of the capitalist state. The Socialist Alliance, on the other hand, we would argue, consistently struggle to understand this area of Marxist theory. Kamala Emanuel, in response to Emma Norton’s original Red Flag article, follows with a Green Left Weekly article which appears blind as to just who will enforce the no protest “Safe Access Zones”. She writes:

“Neoliberal governments have been attacking workers and our rights to organise, and we need to defend ourselves from those attacks.

But Norton’s argument against safe zones rests on the absurd notion that we cannot demand the state support our rights — in this case to access health care without harrassment. She misses the signifiance of the new law as one more step in the direction of winning abortion access in NSW, and the ripple effects it will have on securing abortion rights in other states.”[4]

“….we cannot demand the state support our rights”, writes Emanuel. But it is not just any state – in this case it is a capitalist state, armed to the teeth with cops – who are routinely used against working class and the poor and downtrodden. The “Safe Access Zone” legislation, where it has been used, means no protest, by the left or the right. But the capitalist state is not neutral – this is also in the ABCs of Marxism. For every one step taken against the right, the capitalist state will take ten steps against the left. For the left to endorse swinging cop batons “for now” or “only on this issue”, won’t cut it.

If, as Green Left Weekly hopes, this will be used as “one more step in the direction of winning abortion access”, it will also increase political demands by the right for more no protest zones – even if under the name of “Safe Access”. If the left rallies behind effective no protest zones, under the guise of the protection of women entering reproductive health care clinics, the right will have much more political capital to demand the left allow another no protest zone on other issues, and at other locations. Pretty soon, no protest zones could be in place up and down the length and breadth of the country. In fact, it could lead to no protest zones being declared across entire regions. Needless to say, this would throw back the class struggle of the workers into decades past.

The Labor Party are not saviours for the workers – their history over the last 30 years at least should attest to that. They are smart enough to dangle a small reform in front of pro-choice campaigners, to throw dust in the eyes of some, and feed whole swathes of liberals and reformists, shepherding them back into their orbit. The plot has worked. With some pro-choice campaigners now effectively campaigning for the ALP, and even directly with and for Labor Party Members of Parliament, the Labor Party is once again “rehabilitated”. Into the bargain, the Labor Party has strengthened the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state – with the approval of the “left” !!  This repressive apparatus will now be freshly oiled and operational in a time where working people will need to resist stupendous economic inequality being generated, not to speak of the threat of imperialist war.

What is more, if the left and pro-choice activists endorse “Safe Access Zones”, it means politically aligning with key parts of the capitalist state – the ALP, the Parliament and, the police. Whenever the left finds itself in this company, alarm bells should start ringing. Wherever the working class, due to a lack of political leadership, demands “safety” and “security” from the capitalist state, it hands itself over bound hand and foot to the very forces it should be confronting with its own collective strength.

Instead of demanding the armed fist of the capitalist state “protect” women, the workers should be demanding that Union officials mobilise workers to guard health care clinics, to drive anti-choice bigots away. This way, workers soon learn to rely on their class power. Relying on the armed state of the class which keeps them in subjection, not only fails to protect working class women. It politically disarms workers, driving them back once again into the arms of the government which enslaves all wage earners. Yet here we run up, once again, against the conservative Union officials, who have a material interest in restricting and curtailing the political activity of their own members, and workers in general.

The fact that abortion currently remains on the criminal code at all, is a stark reminder of the status of women due to class society. Women’s oppression under capitalism is maintained by the three pillars – the family, private property and the state. Women’s liberation therefore, can only come about through a successful workers’ struggle for its emancipation – via socialist revolution. A prerequisite for women’s liberation – and workers’ emancipation – is the forging of a Leninist vanguard party. A workers’ party which fights for a workers government must be constructed using the most advanced political elements – women and men – of our class. The unfettered right of women to free, safe abortion services will be one of the first acts of the workers in power.

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

 

[1] https://redflag.org.au/node/6374 (28-07-2018)

[2] https://redflag.org.au/node/6390 (28-07-2018)

[3] https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/queensland/queensland-mps-to-be-lobbied-for-their-vote-on-abortion-laws-20180716-p4zrts.html (28-07-2018)

[4] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/abortion-access-and-free-speech (28-07-2018)

Backing “Safe Access Zones” means politically backing the parliament – one of the main institutions used against the interests of workers and women. Image from http://www.centralnews.com.au

 

What’s Wrong with “Safe Access Zones” ?

Shut Down the Manus Island and Nauru Hell Holes – Once and For All!

20-07-2018 – Five years ago yesterday, former Australian Labor Party (ALP) Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that his government had come to an arrangement with the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG). All refugees and asylum seekers arriving by boat would be transferred to PNG, and would be settled in PNG or another third country, and would never be resettled in Australia ever again. This act of base inhumanity would also be arranged with Nauru.[1] The announcement was a shock for those who briefly thought that some progress was being made against the barbarous treatment of refugees over the previous 15 years. Yet in fact, the previous ALP Prime Minister Julia Gillard had begun the transferring of refugees to Manus Island in PNG, and Nauru, from the end of 2012. At the time the Australian Greens were in a coalition government federally with the ALP. Despite their strong words against offshore processing, the Greens nonetheless remained in the government which carried it out.

The Liberal Party governments of Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull have continued the barbarity, with the “Minister for Everything” Peter Dutton now displaying a cold ruthlessness which would make Howard era detention minister Philip Ruddock blush. Time and time again, bodies of the United Nations (UN) have condemned the Australian government for its illegal detention of refugees and asylum seekers – desperate people fleeing war and economic privation in countries ravaged by the imperialist powers themselves. Just last week, the UN working group on arbitrary detention condemned the Australian government for the practice of indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers. This working group is part of the UN Human Rights Council, which in bitter irony, Australia now sits.[2] Some refugees have been detained – without charge – since 2009. Words cannot describe the injustice perpetrated by Australia’s “leaders”, and neither can words describe the depth of the torment inflicted on innocents.

“Unionists” oppose refugee rights

Over 20 years, the refugee rights movement in this country has attempted, largely in vain, to gain Union backing over a critical social justice issue. If Union officials do not lead Unions in strong combat against racism, in whatever form, their ability to defend workers’ rights on any issue is seriously undermined. Yet time and time again, Union officials who may in some ways defend workers’ rights, also come down on the side of capital – whether politically led by the “Labor” or “Liberal” faction of the united party of the ruling class. To the dismay of refugee rights activists, at the Victorian state Australian Labor Party (ALP) conference in May earlier this year, a motion to discuss the closure of off-shore detention centres did not make it onto the agenda. Officials of the Construction Forestry Mining Maritime Energy Union (CFMMEU) joined with officials of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) to form a bloc which closed the conference early. This meant that not only a motion to close off-shore detention centres could not be discussed, but also urgency motions on gender inequality in superannuation, the right to strike, raising the rate of Newstart (unemployment benefits), live exports and the recognition of Palestine.[3] As important as the accompanying issues are, it appears the CFMMEU and AWU officials sought to squash any possibility of half-way humane refugee policy being put to ALP members.

Yet again this incident highlights the futility of workers attempting to achieve any progress through the ALP. In addition, it reveals once more the road block of the Labor Party in the struggle for basic social justice, let alone basic workers’ rights, e.g. the right to strike. ALP leader Bill Shorten has been at pains to emphasise that the Liberal Party government’s current refugee policy –  indefinite detention, off-shore hell holes – will continue if the ALP wins the next federal election. The Greens have been vocal in opposing off-shore detention, but they are not prepared to lead a struggle outside parliament for this, and neither are they willing to help organise workers in their Unions to this end. Their focus on parliament renders them a captive to the Labor and Liberal parties they otherwise rightly criticise.

Pro-refugee or anti-Trump?

In the United States of America (US), there were widespread protests against US President Trump’s practice of separating migrant families of those at the US/Mexico border, and detaining them in wire cages. The national and international outcry soon forced Trump to back down, and sign an executive order that families would now be detained, albeit together.[4] Yet the politics of the much needed actions, from all reports, were more about channeling electoral support back into the Democratic party of former President Obama and the outright war-monger Hilary Clinton. Many liberals leapt into action against Trump for deporting migrants, whereas for years they had not uttered a peep when Obama deported migrants. President Obama was the “deporter-in-Chief”, and there is no questioning his record. How many migrants were ejected from the US under Obama? Try 3.1 million.[5] Two years into his term, Trump pales in comparison.

Of course, Trump could be on track for something similar. Yet the silence of much of the left over Obama’s crimes against migrants mirrors the silence of much of the left over the imperialist wars waged by Obama – with the assistance of Hilary Clinton. Clinton and Obama did not just separate families – they bombed them to death, and otherwise organised the slaughter of them in the most vicious manner possible. In fact, the Obama administration ordered ten times the amount of drone strikes than his Republican predecessor George W Bush.[6] Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan were drone bombed repeatedly. It is a matter of historical record that the US state under Obama also simultaneously armed and funded terror death squads in Libya and Syria, including ISIS.[7]

There is no doubt Trump fuels racism and energises the far-right by deporting migrants and using them as scapegoats. Yet not only did the Obama administration do the same, it launched and maintained deadly imperialist wars in the Middle East and North Africa – causing huge numbers of refugees to flee to Europe, in whichever way they could. Some of them make their way south, and end up seeking refuge in Australia. Yet much of the refugee rights movement in Australia, led by the Refugee Action Coalition or Refugee Action Collective, has in practice mobilized refugee rights supporters behind the imperialist wars waged by Obama and Clinton. This has critically undermined the refugee rights movements’ ability to actually free the refugees. One would have to break with the criminal foreign policy of Australian and US imperialism, in order to have a chance at forcing a political break with the Australian ruling class policy of psychological and physical torture through the plainly illegal detention of refugees.

Rohingyas used to derail the New Silk Road

In recent times, the respective Refugee Action Collectives/Coalitions have been willing captives of the plaintive cries to “Save the Rohingya”. Imperialism is very well versed at manipulating the first world saviour complex, and the plight of the Rohingya is yet another. What appears to be a straight forward case of a third world military junta persecuting a minority is anything but. Washington could very well be planning a “south-east Asian Kosovo”,[8] whereby an international outcry of claimed persecution is used to declare a US backed “independence”. The “independence” is then totally dependent on Washington, or London, which has its claws in its former colony.

Short of an actual military intervention by the US and UK, their aims might also be saved by the creation of violent chaos in Myanmar – which would disrupt a section of the vast infrastructure development project launched by Beijing, the New Silk Road (One Belt, One Road). In the early stages of last year, the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline began operation, which runs from China’s south-western province of Yunnan to the Rakhine state in Myanmar. China’s National Petroleum Corp holds a 50.9% stake, with 49.1% being owned by the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise.[9] Washington is furious with the increased cooperation and trade between Myanmar and Red China, especially considering the millions of dollars it spent funding the National League for Democracy of Aung Sung Suu Kyi, which installed her in a power sharing arrangement with the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military).

Anything which can be done to break Myanmar-China ties is thus carried out by Washington, London, and their international army of NGOs, the “human rights” industrial complex, and, waylaid refugee rights activists. When the so-called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched armed attacks on Myanmar military and police installations, the Tatmadaw responded – as any national security force would do. Western backed NGOs and some refugee rights campaigners threw up their hands and shrieked in horror, at the alleged actions of the Myanmar military. ARSA claims it must take action to protect the Rohingya community, but ARSA does not represent Rohingyas per se. ARSA is the rebranded name of Harakat Al-Yaqin, which reportedly has a leadership council based in Saudi Arabia, and is funded by Saudi and Pakistani business linked to the Rohingya diaspora.[10] Even the compromised Amnesty International admits that ARSA has carried out massacres of Hindus in the region.[11] Despite ARSA claiming it has no links with Al Qaeda or ISIS, its origins are certainly similar.[12]

For an anti-imperialist refugee rights movement

Some of the Australian government’s actions rival the barbarism of Al Qaeda like execution squads. Take the example of the town of Biloela, which Tamil refugees Priya and Nades had made their home for the last four years.[13] The couple, fleeing the Sri Lankan government’s war against the Tamil minority, have had two daughters born in the central Queensland town. They are now in a Melbourne detention centre, with the father Nades likely to be deported to Sri Lanka, and hit with a $30 000 fee for “removal” – which he has to pay in order to re-enter Australia to see his family again. To forcibly traumatise a family with two daughters under the age of 3, who are seeking a safe place to live, condemns the government carrying out such depravity.

The top leadership of Australia’s Unions also share the responsibility for the ongoing international condemnation of the federal government’s abuse of refugees and asylum seekers. These highly paid Union officials have the power to mobilise workers behind the movement for humane refugee practices, but instead they value their careers and dollars in their own pocket. The foreign policy they imbue in their members unfortunately mirrors that of the left parties prominent in the Refugee Action Collectives/Coalitions who otherwise play a good organisational role in mobilising opposition to refugee and asylum seeker persecution. Namely, the two wings basically agree with the Australian ruling class that China, Russia and Iran are “our” enemies, and we have to band together against them.

Little could be more harmful to both the attempted prevention of imperialist war AND the refugee rights movement. Supposedly “liberal” allies, e.g. conservative Union officials, the Labor Party, the Greens, NGOs, etc., who all say they support refugees, are at the same time at one with the Liberal Party when it comes to imperialist war. This is why steering the refugee rights movement in their political direction, even inadvertently, cannot free the refugees. What is needed is a sharp political break with the essentially pro-war Union officials and parliamentary parties. “Unity” with such elements in practice means splitting the working class, incapacitating the refugee rights movement, and nobbling elementary working class defence. Key to building an anti-imperialist refugee rights movement is the forging of a Marxist vanguard party, which can champion refugee rights as a component part of the struggle for a workers’ republic.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/getfacts/seekingsafety/asylum/offshore-processing/briefing/ (09-07-2018)

[2] https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/un-body-condemns-australia-for-illegal-detention-of-asylum-seekers-and-refugees/ar-AAzJ0Vc?li=AAgfIYZ&OCID=ansmsnnews11 (09-07-2018)

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/may/28/bill-shorten-defends-shutdown-of-refugee-debate-at-victorian-labor-conference (14-07-2018)

[4] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-migrant-family-separation-border-executive-order-immigration-signs-a8408891.html (14-07-2018)

[5] https://www.businessinsider.com.au/whats-the-difference-between-trump-obama-immigration-orders-2017-2?r=US&IR=T (14-07-2018)

[6] https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2017-01-17/obamas-covert-drone-war-in-numbers-ten-times-more-strikes-than-bush (14-07-2018)

[7] https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/isis-was-state-sponsored-by-us-allies-says-former-government-intelligence-analyst-exclusive-51a9e999c437 (14-07-2018)

[8] https://orientalreview.org/2015/06/09/american-plan-for-a-south-asian-kosovo-in-rohingyaland-i/ (15-07-2018)

[9] http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-04/12/content_28886175.htm (15-07-2018)

[10] http://www.atimes.com/article/foreign-support-gives-rohingya-militants-lethal-edge/ (15-07-2018)

[11] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/05/myanmar-new-evidence-reveals-rohingya-armed-group-massacred-scores-in-rakhine-state/ (15-07-2018)

[12] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/arsa-linked-foreign-extremist-groups-bertil-lintner.html (15-07-2018)

[13] https://www.gladstoneobserver.com.au/news/biloela-asylum-seeker-mum-tears-ahead-life-changin/3404591/ (17-07-2018)

Image from Australian Refugee Action Network

 

Shut Down the Manus Island and Nauru Hell Holes – Once and For All!

Repeal the “Espionage” and “Interference” Act! No War On China!

07-07-2018 – Chilling. There are few other words for it. The passage through federal parliament of the “National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2018” re-sets the framework, yet again, of the shredding of elementary democratic rights by the Australian government. Under the false guise of combatting “foreign interference”, the federal government is close to outlawing political opinion, political activity and journalism. The key targets are anyone who is suspected of calling attention to the danger of imperialist war, let alone opposing it. Canberra, in concert with Washington, is preparing for what could be a world war involving nuclear weapons. It is imperative that working people prepare to organise now in an attempt to avoid a global catastrophe.

Working people have been subjected to a bombardment of hysterical anti-China venom from politicians and the subservient corporate media for years. It is reaching fever pitch because the US and Australian ruling classes know their for-profit economies are in dire straits, and are being rapidly out-performed, many times over, by China’s powerhouse economic mountain. The further behind the US, Australia and Japan fall, the more shrill do the cries from these governments sound. While the US, Australia and Japan are mired in a privatised, private-profit seeking dead end, the largely nationalized and planned economy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) strides ahead in leaps and bounds. On almost every indicator, be it GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth, infrastructure development, technological advances, the development of science, you name it – the PRC is way ahead of the capitalist West.

Dire threat to journalism and political expression

The Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill[1], passed within three days by the Labor and Liberal parties in federal parliament, seriously threatens the very act of journalism. The bill potentially means jail terms of up to 20 years for a journalist reporting a story in the public interest. Even before researching and writing a story, the very act of “receiving” information which could “harm” Australia, could be deemed a criminal act. Actually reporting and letting the public know about a potential breach of international law by the Australian government, could result in 25 years, or life, in prison. The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the Union covering journalists, have warned that journalists could be jailed for doing their job.[2] The MEAA officials, it should be noted, have not lifted a finger to defend Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, who is still detained in London, fearing deportation to the United States. Assange is defending the civil and political rights of all, including the MEAA. But now the “foreign interference” laws could snare even the journalists that the MEAA officials seek to represent, and potentially their entire membership. They must now join with those willing to defend what remains of our rights.

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) linked GetUp!, who have also abandoned Julian Assange, are nonetheless also crying foul, correctly pointing out that legitimate political protest could be targeted under the Espionage/Interference laws. The section of the Bill which refers to “damage to public infrastructure” could mean that those intentionally blocking access to the Adani Coal Mine, in an attempt to prevent incalculable damage to the environment through carbon emissions, may be imprisoned for decades.[3] The Bill also contains a 7 year jail term for planning such a protest action. In addition, the Bill contains Orwellian redefinitions of “treason”, “treachery”, “mutiny” and “sabotage”, while creating new ones such as “foreign interference”. Any group or individual that, for example, organises a rally to “influence” government positions, without revealing supposed coordination with a foreign organisation, could be jailed for 20 years.[4] It is doubtful whether Nazi Germany would have conceived such arbitrary power.

Just who is “interfering” ?

The Espionage and Interference Bill was not given wide mainstream media coverage within Australia. But working people are constantly bombarded with anti-China hysteria, from all sides of the corporate media, from some academics, and politicians themselves. They falsely claim that “China” is attempting to “interfere” with Australia’s political system, and its “national sovereignty”. This is simply breathtaking hypocrisy from Labor and Liberal politicians, with both political parties receiving large and regular donations from Chinese owned businesses.[5] One Chinese businessman, Dr Chau Chak Wing, has hosted former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard, former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and former Labor Treasurer Wayne Swan at his luxurious estate north of Guangzhou in China.[6] If China is “interfering”, they are doing so with the express co-operation of Labor and Liberal politicians!

However, there are huge dangers in the reporting of exactly what is “Chinese interference”. For one thing, to directly link Chinese owned businesses, whether based in Australia or China, to the Chinese government, is stretching the bounds of reality. To do so also invokes both racism and anti-communism. It also stands reality on its head. The Australian military is being consistently urged by Washington to provoke China by sailing warships and jet fighters within 12 nautical miles of islands under Chinese sovereignty – so called “Freedom of Navigation” exercises. And the Australian government is obliging, absurdly claiming even the right to overflight. It is estimated that US 5 $trillion in trade sails through the South China Sea annually.[7] The aim of the US and its allies including Canberra, is to choke off this trade route to China in the event of war, starving China of provisions. It has nothing to do with “freedom” of anything. There were no “disputed” islands in the South China Sea, until the US sent its warships in there, and exerted significant pressure on the governments of Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan to claim islands from China. The government of Vietnam should be ashamed at siding with the US, which waged a genocidal war against it, to score points against China in the South China Sea. The “interference” in this case, is carried out by Washington and Canberra, not by Beijing.

Socialism vs Capitalism

For decades, working people have been told the lie that socialism equals poverty, and capitalism equals prosperity. Now that China is definitively putting that canard to rest, and in fact demonstrating that socialism can mean economic, developmental, scientific and cultural advancement, imperialism is close to panic. To prevent capitalism falling further behind, imperialism is willing to risk nuclear war with China – such is its level of desperation. It is yet another sure sign that capitalism is historically outmoded, and needs to be cast aside by working people in favour of socialism.

Yet the imperialists will try the full gamut of deceptive tactics to prevent working people from seeing what is before their eyes – China’s socialism is vastly superior to the collapsing stock market casino capitalism in the US, Europe, Japan and Australia. Imperialism’s vast propaganda machines, for which they are prepared to fund to the tune of billions of dollars, works overtime on China – but in two directions. One the one hand, the corporate media claim that China is a “communist dictatorship” where workers have no rights, and constantly suffer under extreme repression. On the other hand, the corporate media claim that China’s massive economic success, the lifting of hundreds of millions out of poverty, is due to the PRC having restored “capitalism”. According to them, workers have no rights in China, but their wealth is increasing year by year.

Unfortunately, some on the left accept this false precept. In the face of a New Cold War, which is arguably closer to nuclear conflict than at any time during the first Cold War, any faltering by the left on the question of China undermines the very struggles which may soon be upon us. No one is claiming that China today is a classless society with no state and no government – the final aim of socialism. China is only socialist to the extent that it has a predominantly collectivised economy, where the major means of production are state owned, and these are guarded by a workers’ state. To give just one example, the 102 largest State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in China are supervised by the State Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC).These SOEs are valued at around 50 trillion yuan. This is wealth NOT in the hands of private capitalists, but in the hands of the workers’ state. What is more, out of the 40 million employees of the SOEs, around 10 million are members of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), who take part in around 800 000 party committees. In addition, on SOE boards, the chair is invariably the highest ranked party member.[8] To say the least, this is hardly “capitalism” !

What may be understandable confusion about the mode of production existing in China is contributed to by the political leadership of the CPC. The CPC never makes any announcement addressing the workers of the world, heralding China’s socialist system, and urging workers internationally to join them in a struggle to rid the world of capitalism. This has to do with the ultimately national limitations of Maoism, despite the largely positive role it has played within China. A genuinely international socialist leadership, would seek ways to reach out and connect with workers across Asia and internationally. It would seek to work with neighbouring socialist states extensively, up to and including regional economic planning. But the CPC as it is currently constituted does not have this perspective. And for that matter, neither does the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), nor the Workers Party of Korea (WPK).

Halt the war drive through workers’ power

Despite the political limitations of its leadership, working people need to defend China against the gathering war drive spearheaded by Washington and Canberra. Given such semi-fascist measures as the Espionage and Interference Bill, this could be a risky path. But working people will lose a lot more by allowing such unbridled totalitarianism to go unchallenged. If the imperialists launch the war, there will scarcely be opportunities to launch a “peace” movement, calling for calm and rational negotiations between the US Empire and its targets. Working people will need to take measures into their own hands, even just to prevent people being rounded up as “collaborators”, working for the “enemy” and so on. It should be noted that the Espionage and Interference Bill does not just target Red China, although that appears to be the main perverse rationale. Incredibly, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in his introductory speech to the bill, claimed that it was not only China which was engaged in “interference” activities, but also Russia, Iran and North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – DPRK) !![9].

Working people need a struggle to repeal the Espionage and Interference Bill, and take immediate action the moment that any journalist or activist is jailed – up to and including general political strikes. Only significant mass working class pressure will have the possibility of forcing the release of those jailed, before or during the outbreak of war. A significant barrier to the type of action required are the invariably conservative and pro-capitalist Union officials, who can only maintain their well-paid careers by seeking to line up workers behind “their own” government. But any government which openly threatens to jail workers for life for questioning their actions at home, let alone opposing their predatory wars, is clearly not “our” government. It is an arm of the banks and the stock exchange, tied through a thousand threads to Wall Street and the Pentagon.

Well-heeled Union officials also seek to line workers up behind the foreign policy of Canberra and Washington, hence their complete silence in the face of prospective nuclear war against Russia, Iran, China and the DPRK. Riding on their coat tails, consciously or unconsciously, are a whole host of left parties and other groups who found themselves on the side of the governments waging the imperialist wars on Libya and Syria. The state of the working class is a question of the leadership of the working class. What is urgently needed is a genuine Leninist vanguard party, which can lead the struggle against vast inequality at home, and the linked threat of a global war launched against the non-imperialist states. The approach of dangerous times means an opportunity for workers to take the reins of power.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66   NUNDAH  QLD   4012

[1] https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_LEGislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r6022 (06-07-2018)

[2] https://pressfreedom.org.au/espionage-and-foreign-influence-bills-5943e87e8228 (06-07-2018)

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jun/26/espionage-bill-could-make-some-protests-criminal-acts-getup-says (06-07-2018)

[4] http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/06/29/inte-j29.html (06-07-2018)

[5] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-21/china-australia-political-donations/7766654 (06-07-2018)

[6] https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/foreign-minister-julie-bishops-links-to-chinese-political-donors-20160823-gqzauy.html (06-07-2018)

[7] https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/australianz/china-challenged-australian-warships-in-south-china-sea-australian-media (06-07-2018)

[8] https://www.scmp.com/news/china/economy/article/2098755/how-communist-party-controls-chinas-state-owned-industrial-titans (08-07-2018)

[9] https://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/media/speech-introducing-the-national-security-legislation-amendment-espionage-an (08-07-2018)

Protesting the building of the Adani Coal Mine could be a criminal act under the broad sweep of the “foreign interference” laws. Image from http://www.theaimn.com

Repeal the “Espionage” and “Interference” Act! No War On China!

Release Julian Assange!

19-06-2018 – Six years. Today marks six years since Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, was effectively incarcerated inside the Ecuadorian Embassy (a small building) in London. His doctors have reported that his health is failing. He urgently needs a root canal, and treatment on a shoulder injury. His vision is deteriorating for not being able to see long distances. Being kept indoors means he has virtually no access to sunlight, with all of the negative health effects that entails. The United Nations has declared that he is arbitrarily detained. Yet he cannot leave the building containing the embassy where he is sheltering, because the British government has repeatedly stated that it will arrest him – and very likely hand him over to the custody of the US government. The US empire, whose numberless crimes Julian Assange and Wikileaks have ceaselessly exposed, is, at best, likely to try Assange for “espionage”. At worst, they will subject him to torture. He could also be starved into an early grave if he is not allowed out of the building he is confined within. His life hangs in the balance, and yet he has not given in.

Elementary rights at stake

Wikileaks has changed the world, and all but the most spiteful concede that Julian Assange has changed the world for the better. The very fact that world imperialism seeks his demise is proof positive that Assange is an agent of change, and that his continued work is a threat to the domination of the planet by the forces of capitalist darkness. Canberra is once again playing a nefarious role; by following Washington’s foreign policy willingly, instead of offering what should be straight-forward assistance to an Australian born citizen carrying an Australian passport. Australian Federal governments have changed several times since Assange was detained, but all of them effectively continue former PM Julia Gillard’s appalling label of “criminal”.[1] Needless to say, the voluminous publishing by Wikileaks has proven over and over again that the real criminals are the ones who run the system.

Not only is the physical well-being of Julian Assange at stake right now. At stake are some of the most basic civil and democratic rights, without which society would descend into a dystopian void. The right to free speech, the right to publish information, the right of journalists to report in the public interest. The right of citizens to question their governments, the right to oppose war, the right to dissent, the right to hold a political opinion which differs from the mainstream. The right to communicate with others without those communications being spied upon by the government. The right to know where your taxes are being spent. And on and on it goes. In short, almost every pretense for the basis of bourgeois democracy – which was always a fraud for working people – is being shredded to pieces. In addition to opposing planet threatening imperialist war, Julian Assange is heroically defending elementary rights.

Left parties, Union officials abandon Wikileaks

Incredibly, Julian Assange has virtually been abandoned by many left parties, and not one Union official has spoken out against the Australian government’s abominable collusion with their counterparts in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA), which has left Assange’s life hanging in the balance. It is a cliché, but the silence of the parties which became the imperial left is deafening. The Socialist Alliance, which in 2010 called large demonstrations in support of Julian Assange, have since that time kept him well out of their headlines, with only an occasional mention finding its way into their press.[2]  Socialist Alternative, who also organized large demonstrations in defence of Julian Assange in 2010, to our knowledge last mentioned Julian Assange in 2014, and then only reprinting an article from internationally renowned left-wing journalist and film maker John Pilger.[3] Solidarity, who also railed against Assange’s detention in 2010, to our knowledge last published a minor mention of Julian Assange in 2014, begrudgingly defending Assange against some feminists for false “rape” charges.[4]

The political reasons why these left parties have dropped Julian Assange like a sack of spuds are today not difficult to establish. For them, when Julian Assange’s actions opposed the US led war on Iraq, he became their hero. When, however, Julian Assange’s actions went on to oppose the US led wars on Libya and Syria, he became an embarrassment. While the parties which became known as the imperial left strongly endorsed the imperialist wars on Libya and Syria, Julian Assange continued to expose the West’s role in prosecuting them. As they moved sharply to the right, Julian Assange – along with genuine anti-war activists, remained consistent in publicly opposing the wars of Empire. Julian Assange had become too left-wing for the “left”.

More than this, Julian Assange’s work continued to expose Hilary Clinton, and her links to the criminal arming and funding of mercenary terrorists, calling Libya “Clinton’s War”. In response, Hilary Clinton blamed everyone but herself for her election loss to Donald Trump, and claimed without evidence that Julian Assange was an agent of “Russia”.[5] Defence of Russia, even against US threats of nuclear war, is impermissible for liberals. Not to speak of a defence of Red China, which Assange has also, in one way, brought to bear. In 2011, Wikileaks cables revealed that, in fact, there was no massacre of students, or anyone else, through the Peoples Republic of China’s government response to demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989.[6] A defence of Russia and China, in any way, is enough for liberals to throw up their hands and shriek in horror. The imperial left and almost all Australian Union officials are magnetically bound to the foreign policy of Australian imperialism – so Julian Assange and Wikileaks had to be given the cold shoulder. Not even the Union officials from the Union covering journalists – the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has seen fit to issue so much as a press release in defence of the basic journalistic work of Wikileaks. For them, journalism is fine as long as it tows the line of existing society. Julian Assange has shown just how corrupt this society is, so he was hung out to dry.

The case of Peter Greste

In contrast, the Socialist Equality Party (SEP), has taken the lead in organizing and calling for political action to release Julian Assange from his effective jailing in London. They have been effective in organizing the rally in Sydney on June 17, which has gained endorsements from John Pilger, prominent social justice lawyer Julian Burnside, and Terry Hicks, the father of David Hicks, the alleged “Australian Taliban”, who was also unlawfully detained by the US government. Despite our sharp political disagreements with the SEP on other issues, we applaud and support their initiative.

At the same time, the SEP’s laudable defence of Julian Assange has a fatal flaw. The SEP compares the detention of Julian Assange to the case of another Australian journalist Peter Greste, who was imprisoned in Egypt in 2013. They write:

“The Australian government committed considerable resources to winning the freedom of Al Jazeera journalist and Australian citizen Peter Greste from false imprisonment in Egypt….It must do the same, if not more, to prevent Julian Assange falling into the clutches of the Trump administration and the American courts.”[7]

This makes a critical error. Peter Greste was not an innocent Australian journalist simply doing his job who was “falsely imprisoned” in Egypt – he was willingly and knowingly working for Al Jazeera, who in turn, were aiding the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Al Jazeera, or more specifically the Qatari monarchy, was openly backing Mohamed Morsi in an effort to expand their war against secular states in both Syria and Egypt. Al Jazeera, in contrast to its role in exposing the US led war on Iraq from 2003, today fans the flames of ultra-sectarian Sunni jihadism, from Palestine to Libya to Syria, and to Egypt.[8] The Qatari monarchy’s funding and arming of Al Qaeda and ISIS mercenaries in Syria, and it’s backing of the Brotherhood in Egypt, were a part of the same genocidal war against secular Syria and Egypt, but also against what they see as the Shiite Islamic Republic of Iran – despite many religions existing side by side in these countries. Mohamed Morsi obliged, and effectively declared a jihad on Syria, telling the Arab League that “Assad must go”.[9]

The US-led war on Syria was arguably the most extensive and most damaging proxy war in history; unleashing tens of thousands of ISIS linked deranged killers, causing immeasurable loss of innocent life. Mohamed Morsi and Al Jazeera were a strong component of this war of unspeakable barbarity, yet Peter Greste knew this and became a spokesperson for it. He maintains his backing of jihadism, though couched in very cryptic terms – as no one can now, especially after their defeat by Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, come out in support of jihadist terrorism. For example, in 2017, Peter Greste claimed “….we’ve succumbed to the rhetoric around terrorism….the far greater threats are from things like nationalism and xenophobia, where we turn inwards and away from the rest of the world. I think that’s doing far more damage.”[10]

Between the lines, the message is unmistakable – jihadist terrorism and regime change is fine, resisting it (“nationalism and xenophobia”) is a no go area. Peter Greste did not suffer “false imprisonment” in Egypt. He, along with two other Al Jazeera colleagues, were imprisoned in Egypt for working for the Muslim Brotherhood, at the very time when the Muslim Brotherhood was directly involved in attempting to overthrow Syria through imperialist backed terrorism, utilising diabolical methods such as beheading innocent men, women and children. Working people have no truck with the Egyptian military, but is it any wonder that they imprisoned Qatari funded “journalists”, who were broadcasting “news” about how wonderful the Muslim Brotherhood was?  Thankfully, the US-Qatari forces that Peter Greste was not only backing, but being paid to work directly for, were soundly defeated in both Egypt and Syria.

For working class led mass action to free Assange

Julian Assange is the polar opposite of Peter Greste. Julian Assange opposes imperialist war and the workings of imperialism with every fibre of his body – literally. Peter Greste openly and unapologetically works for capitalist-imperialism, even when it creates terrorists to target Syria and Iran. Assange works directly against imperialism, Peter Greste was working directly for imperialism. This was why the Australian government extended full consular assistance to him and why they have abandoned Assange. This points to the second flaw in the SEP’s otherwise outstanding defence work. They call for the Australian government to exercise its “diplomatic power” and “legal discretion” to work to secure the “unconditional freedom” of Julian Assange. But such calls are fraught with danger for working people.

Rather than calling on the Australian government to free Julian Assange, the left should aim its demands at the working class itself, and principally on the Union officials, to mobilise using all available means, up to and including the use of strike action. The ruling class must know that this country will become ungovernable unless Julian Assange is unconditionally released from any custody. International action by supporters and defenders of free speech, the right to publish etc., will also play a strong role, but the key is to empower working people to achieve this. Calls on the government itself to do the work for you significantly disempowers of working people, and reinforces the false notion that the government is “ours” – and can be made to serve our will.

This is false to the core. The capitalist state cannot be reformed into something that it is not. It must be overthrown through workers’ insurrection. This is the case regardless of whether or not there exists the necessary political prerequisite – a Marxist vanguard party. A workers vanguard party, or anything resembling it, cannot be forged while the advanced elements of the class are encouraged to call on the government of the class enemy to “act”. Julian Assange himself provides information to expose the political system, but even he would acknowledge that it is up to us to change it. If the working class can free Julian Assange through its own efforts, there is no reason why it cannot go on to put an end to the source of all the ills that Wikileaks reveals – the rule of capital. A workers republic, overseeing a publically owned and planned economy, will be the first step towards the liberation of humanity from imperialist war, unemployment, poverty, environmental desecration and more. FREE JULIAN ASSANGE!
——————————————————————————————————————————————–

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66
NUNDAH QLD  4012

[1] https://www.news.com.au/national/julian-assange-bitter-at-gillard-government-for-abandoning-him/news-story/335342ad63251b4a9ff84c384e0c4e0f?from=public_rss (12-06-2018)

[2] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/julian-assange-chavez-ecuador-and-wikileaks%E2%80%99-struggle-truth-and-justice (16-06-2018)

[3] https://redflag.org.au/article/it%E2%80%99s-other-oscars-and-yet-again-winner-slips-away (16-06-2018)

[4] https://www.solidarity.net.au/sexism/intersectionality-sexism-and-the-left/ (16-06-2018)

[5] http://johnpilger.com/articles/clinton-assange-and-the-war-on-truth (16-06-2016)

[6] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8555142/Wikileaks-no-bloodshed-inside-Tiananmen-Square-cables-claim.html (16-06-2018)

[7] http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/06/14/coga-j14.html (16-06-2018)

[8] https://www.meforum.org/articles/2012/the-two-faces-of-al-jazeera#_ftn41 (16-06-2018)

[9] http://www.dw.com/en/morsi-to-assad-you-wont-stay-in-power/a-16221499 (16-06-2018)

[10] https://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/act/peter-greste-australia-succumbed-to-the-rhetoric-around-terrorism-20171013-gz0ujt.html (16-06-2018)

Release Julian Assange!

Iran: ‘Regime Change’ is War

03-06-2018 – Karl Marx’s words of history repeating itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce, are once again displayed with full force. Only this time, the second replay could be a catastrophic war engulfing the world. In 2003, the government of the United States waged a criminal war for regime change in Iraq, on the basis of a pack of lies about “weapons of mass destruction”. In 2018, the US government accuses Iran of building nuclear weapons to use against the Western world. In 2003, the US government demanded unlimited access to inspect any site in Iraq at any time. In 2018, the US demands unlimited access to inspect any site in Iran at any time. The invasion of Iraq destroyed millions of innocent lives, for which not one politician in the US, Britain or Australia (the “coalition of the killing”), have been held accountable. The US is again demanding regime change in Iran, but this time faces stiff opposition.

Spillover from attempted regime change in Syria

For the last seven years, the US Empire has been hell bent on the overthrow of the Syrian Arab Republic, actively arming and funding vicious and barbaric mercenaries from over 80 non-Syrian countries, who were then smuggled across Syrian borders.[1] There they committed unspeakable atrocities, the beheading of anyone suspected of supporting the Syrian government being just a part of their repertoire. The US Empire, with many of its imperialist and regional powers in tow, including the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Israel, created and worked alongside unhinged terrorist groups such as ISIS, in arguably the largest proxy war in history. Yet this time, the US Empire was defeated – perhaps for the first time in an imperialist war since Vietnam in 1975. The Syrian government resisted the war for regime change, and was aided by Russia, Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah. The intervention of Russia in 2015, at the invitation of the Syrian government, turned the tide against the US Empire. Russia’s superior air power was used to almost totally defeat ISIS and associated death squads, a fact even a begrudged NATO apparently admitted.[2]

The US Empire’s war on Syria, backed in words and actions by Canberra, was at least partially intended to take out a Russian ally, to enable an easier stepping stone to Iran. Russia drew a red line in Syria, not only in defence of an ally, but also to defend itself. Iran saw the danger to itself if Syria was overthrown by US backed terrorists, and heroically sent armed forces into strategic positions within Syria, in concert with the Syrian government. While working people internationally can recognise political limitations of the Iranian and Russian governments, in this conflict they have a direct interest in backing the non-imperialist allies of Syria – which may have averted world war. The US still has its own troops in Syria, working with and alongside some Kurdish parties, who have treacherously (and once again) served their own interests at the expense of Syria and efforts to resist imperialist onslaught. The attempt by the US to partition Syria, through mercenary war or through uniformed troops, now has little chance of coming to pass. It can scarcely change the situation on the ground, where the despised US/Israeli/Saudi backed terrorists have been driven out from the majority of Syrian territory.

Iran targeted since 1979

What became the Islamic Republic of Iran after the revolution of 1979, has always been a target of the US deep state. The US government has never forgiven Iran for overthrowing the hated Shah, which they installed after they themselves overthrew the Iranian nationalist Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953.[3] Mossadegh moved to nationalise Iran’s considerable oil resources, cutting out British and US corporations. The 1979 revolution succeeded in not only throwing out the US stooge Pahlavi, but setting the course for Iran’s development independent of the imperialist West. While there was some repression of the left given the theocratic nature of the uprising and its aftermath, today Iran has a relatively stable body politic, with elections open to all who do not side with the West externally or internally.

In contrast to corporate media reports, while Shia Islam is the state religion in Iran, Iranians are free to practice other religions in their own ways. For example, the Jewish religion is protected, provided there is no collusion amongst practitioners with the Zionist rulers of Israel. Iran also has a population of 82 million people, with a very young median age, at around 29 years.[4] These factors alone make the prospect of a US invasion and overthrow extremely difficult, even for the power of the US Empire. But that does not stop them trying. Decades of sanctions on Iran imposed by the US have caused ongoing hardships, despite the efforts of the Iranian government to alleviate them. The most apparent are the moves of the US government against any international banks that conduct business inside Iran. This policy means that the Iranian currency, the rial, is devalued in relation to the US dollar. This then means inflation for Iranians who need to purchase food – in most cases of around 25%.[5] There have been some protests in response, but the overall view amongst Iranians appears to be an understanding that these and other hardships generally flow from the Western sanctions.

Left parties walk both sides of the street

A US led war for regime change on Iran would reach levels of catastrophe perhaps even surpassing that inflicted upon Syria. A world nuclear confrontation is not at all off the cards. Whether Russia and China will act to protect Iran in the way they protected Syria (although very limited in the case of China) remains uncertain. In any case, workers of the world have a direct interest in defending Iran against such a criminal war, irrespective of the political and/or theocratic nature of the Iranian government. An imperialist “victory” in the overthrow of Iran could reverse the defeat Washington, London, Paris, Tel Aviv and Canberra suffered in Syria. Aside from the unimaginable loss of life in Iran and the region, the struggles of working people in the imperialist centres themselves (Europe, the US, Japan, Australia) could be pushed down even further than their current low level. And this is even before the possible breakout of world nuclear war.

Unfortunately, some left parties wage an even money bet both ways, yet don’t see any conflict of interest. Over the week of the 2017-2018 New Year, certain protests appeared on the streets of Iran, which immediately gained the support of US President Donald Trump, and the soulless US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. This should have been a clue that the protests were not genuine, and should be analysed further. Yet some left parties took the bait. What is more, these left parties somehow imagine that one can hold a position of backing pro-Western “protests” in Iran, and at the same time piously declare that they oppose a US led war on Iran. Given that the US is not currently strong enough – if it ever will be – to send in its own troops into Iran, a US regime change operation will inevitably entail political support to so-called “dissidents” within Iran, in an effort to capitalize on the resulting chaos if the Iranian government is toppled. That is, a US led war on Iran AND the fomenting and political backing of “dissidents” within Iran cannot be separated.

The parties of the imperial left – those who campaigned loudly for the US/Saudi/Israeli side against Syria from 2011 to 2018 – predictably jumped on the bandwagon as soon as word emerged of protests in Iran. Always eager to back any movement in a country they bitterly oppose, Socialist Alternative hailed the new year protests in Iran as the “greatest radicalization since 1979” [!!]. This was despite acknowledging the clearly pro-US slogans of some, which included “Not Lebanon, Not Gaza….everything for Iran” and “Leave Syria and think about us”.[6] Socialist Alternative incredibly attempted to twist these slogans beyond recognition, into internationalist and anti-war demands. Not to be outdone, their estranged sister organization Solidarity tested the limits of credibility by claiming that the reactionary slogan “We are Aryans, we don’t worship Arabs”, was only “nationalist”.[7] Needless to say, if the Iranian government had not offered support for Palestine over the years, and had not assisted the Syrian government in its defensive actions against Israel and the US, Iran would be a much easier target. The Iranian government’s actions in Syria were a direct act of the defence of Iran itself.

The Socialist Alliance, eager to back a “feminist” angle where none exists, threw its support behind the “Alliance of Middle Eastern Socialists” (Anti-Syria pro-war left groups) and its statement backing the supposed movement of women daring to remove their headscarves during the anti-government actions in Iran.[8] It was soon revealed, however, that the instigator of these actions was none other than Masih Alinejad, who works for….wait for it…the Voice of America – and lives in New York. She is reportedly paid $85 000 per year by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an official outlet of the US state department. She has worked for the Voice of America’s Farsi language program OnTen since at least 2013.[9] In other words, she is paid very handsomely by the US government to foster and foment political instability in Iran. Needless to say, such outsiders receive very little support inside Iran, even if perhaps six of them can be incited to take a selfie of themselves removing a headscarf.

For their part, the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) jumped into action alongside the imperial left, who they correctly criticized for joining the US led war drive against Libya and Syria. To their credit the SEP did not join in with the cheerleading of the liberal 2009 “Green Revolution” in Iran. This was where liberal elements within Iran were backed internationally when they claimed electoral fraud, without offering a shred of evidence. However, this time around, the SEP claim that the 2017-2018 protests in Iran were a genuine working class uprising.[10] This claim is staggering, given that the protests quickly became violent,  and were joined, and in some parts led, by the terrorist and monarchist MEK (Mujahedin e Khalq), a group that is widely despised inside and outside Iran.[11]

While the SEP conducted an about face on Iran from 2009, the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) remained consistent – but on the wrong side. The CPA’s statement of January 7, 2018, holds that the “economic grievances of Iran’s protestors are genuine”. Applauding the conservative Tudeh Party, the CPA statement warns against the efforts of the “regime” (emphasis added) in using undercover agents as provocateurs within the protests. It then senses that it might be seen as backing regime change, so it adds “we strongly condemn any foreign interference in the internal affairs of Iran”. Yet liberal international backing for pro-Western anti-government protests in Iran is the very definition of “foreign interference”. Then concerned about being seen to not support the (fake) protests – which never at any stage gained anything like majority support inside Iran – it then jumps back to the other side and calls for support for Iranian “political freedom against the corrupt and the corrupt and repressive theocratic government”.[12] What might seem a confused statement of support for the Iranian “people” is actually a call for regime change in Iran – which can only benefit the US Empire.

Defend Iran against war/regime change

These mistaken left parties cannot have it both ways. While working people can agree there is a need for socialism in Iran and in the Middle East and internationally, to call for regime change now in ANY format – especially under the guise of supporting the “people” of Iran – constitutes willing or unwilling assistance to imperialism in yet another war of conquest. The CIA, the British and French imperialists, alongside Canberra, all claim to support the people of Iran against the “regime”. For the left to give ground to this language, is to make the gravest of errors. Whether it was in January this year, or with US Defence Secretary Mike Pompeo’s latest moves for even greater sanctions against Iran, the agenda is regime change – that much is loud and clear. It shouldn’t need to be said that the left needs to stand in the forefront of opposition to regime change in Iran. This means a defence of Iran from external and internal counterrevolution despite the presence of (a heavily sanctioned) capitalism in Iran.

For countries directly in the gunsights of US imperialism, e.g. Iran, there would have to be strict preconditions met before the left internationally could throw any support behind an anti-government movement. The politics of such a movement would have to be clearly independent of any Western government covert or overt backing. It would have to be MORE anti-imperialist than that of the Ayatollahs. It would have to MORE clearly side with those countries also threatened by US led war – Russia, China, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), Venezuela, Syria, Libya etc., than that of the government led by Hasan Rouhani. It would have to be even MORE anti-Zionist and MORE pro-Palestine than the Islamic Republic of Iran. The sporadic protests in Iran in January, needless to say, were light years away from such positions. If anything, they were pro-Western, anti-Syria, anti-Palestine, and had the backing of Donald Trump and the Saudi Arabian monarchy!

This is not to discount the economic difficulties for Iranian workers. Yet economic problems, in the absence of a strong left-wing workers party, can easily be manipulated to foster and foment right-wing political movements, and some are funded by the US government. One look at the current Venezuelan “opposition” will tell us this much. An Iranian workers movement seeking to address cost of living issues and unemployment would need to clearly differentiate its demands from all liberal and pro-Western demands for the downfall of Iran.

World capitalism in its death throes is promising yet more imperialist war – with Iran possibly the next in line.  Imperialism is well aware that the overthrow of Iran cannot be carried out without an internal “opposition” which is prepared to do its bidding. In Syria, such forces were mercenary terrorists. In Iran, such forces may well be pro-Western liberals. Working people should not be caught out.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH QLD 4012

 

Rally of MEK supporters, clearly flying the pre-1979 Iranian flag of the US backed Shah. Their calls to “Free Iran” are open cries for imperialist backed regime change.
Image from http://www.irannewsupdate.com

[1] http://soufangroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/TSG-Foreign-Fighters-in-Syria.pdf (26-05-18)

[2] https://www.rt.com/news/334642-russia-efficient-syria-nato/ (26-05-18)

[3] https://adst.org/2015/07/the-coup-against-irans-mohammad-mossadegh/ (26-05-18)

[4] http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/iran-population/ (26-05-18)

[5] http://www.asfar.org.uk/the-unintended-consequences-of-economic-sanctions-on-iran/ (26-05-18)

[6] https://redflag.org.au/node/6153 (26-05-18)

[7] https://www.solidarity.net.au/top/iranian-workers-revolt-poverty-inequality-holds-key-freedom/ (26-05-18)

[8] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/iran-socialist-feminists-show-solidarity-womens-struggle (26-05-18)

[9] http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/01/us-government-runs-anti-head-scarf-campaign-against-iran.html (26-05-18)

[10] http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/01/04/pers-j04.html (26-05-18)

[11] https://lobelog.com/the-iran-protests-regime-change-and-mek/ (26-05-18)

[12] https://www.facebook.com/communist.party.au/ (26-05-18)

Iran: ‘Regime Change’ is War