Corbyn and Labour: Parliamentary “Socialism” or Class Struggle?

18-05-2017 – On the face of it, it’s an impressive list. In the United Kingdom, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s platform for the June 8 elections include sweet sounding promises, as far as working people are concerned. Renationalising the railways, a 10 pound minimum wage, abolishing University tuition fees, free school meals, ending “zero hours” contracts, the right to trade union representation and much more. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has reportedly led to thousands of people joining the Labour Party; it has drawn in young people previously not involved with politics, and has even put a semblance of an anti-war agenda back into “mainstream” politics.

Yet Jeremy Corbyn is far from the “real deal”. He has been a Labour Party MP in the UK for around 30 years. Many have commented that he has spent his life campaigning against what his own party enforces. And there are glaring inconsistencies in a reliable left wing, much less “socialist”, agenda. For example, Corbyn has previously instructed Labour dominated councils in the UK to refrain from passing “no cuts” budgets.[1] That is, despite all his words against “austerity”, Corbyn directs Labour Councils to pass austerity budgets.  Also, for all of his former leadership of the Stop the War Coalition, when it came to the crunch, Corbyn allowed Labour MPs a “conscience” vote on whether or not to bomb Syria! [2]

We will leave it to the socialist parties and workers’ organisations in the UK to determine which is the best path for them, based as we are in Australia. However, we make the general point that continually trying to replace the leadership of the Labour Party with someone more “left” or even more “socialist” has failed time and time again. Tony Blair was replaced with Gordon Brown. Gordon Brown was replaced with Ed Miliband. Ed Miliband was replaced with Jeremy Corbyn. Has the result improved for working people? Overall, things may have even become worse.

Reducing huge political issues to individuals is a huge problem. It becomes not about classes but personalities. For his part, and for all of his activism, and for all of his stated policies, Jeremy Corbyn is committed to the Labour Party, i.e. the system of capitalism and Britain’s role in US led imperialism. This will remain the case no matter how many people join the Labour Party, and no matter how many votes the Labour party receives. The Labour Party strengthens the parliament, and thus strengthens capitalism as a system, despite any “socialist” rhetoric.

In the UK, and here in Australia, what is desperately needed is working class struggle – the ultimate product of which is the replacement of the capitalist system with a socialist one. Yet this struggle for socialism cannot begin until working people break from social-democracy, whether that is in the form of the Labour Party in the UK, or the Labor Party in Oz. This requires most political efforts to be directed towards building a workers’ party completely devoted to the overthrow of the rule of capital.

Of course we can recognise that Jeremy Corbyn is potentially drawing in thousands new people, and thousands of young people, into political action, and into some vague support for “socialism” – in reality, social-democracy. In itself, this can only be welcomed by working people. Yet it is an entirely different thing for the left to then go onto to urge workers to join, vote and campaign for the Labour Party. For one thing, this process does not distinguish oneself from the pro-Tony Blair right wing of the Labour Party. Secondly, this delays the urgent task of attempting to win working people to the only thing which can win lasting gains for them – class struggle, up to and including the seizure of political power by the workers. In fact, it pushes this task off into a day which will never come.

It is a deception of the highest order to claim, as some on the left do, that by urging workers to vote and/or join the Labour/Labor Party, they are working with people to bring them closer to socialist conclusions. On the contrary, joining the Corbyn “movement”, and urging other workers to join and be a part of the Labour Party takes people further away from socialism, no matter how radical their rhetoric. In fact, it is not radical at all. Strengthening the “left” wing of the entire edifice of corporate rule strengthens corporate rule itself. More people in the Labour Party means more people campaigning for the Labour Party. This is hardly going to approach the serious change working people need.

Humanity is running out of time.  The possibility of nuclear war and the inevitability of uncontrollable climate change are bearing down on all of us. The left’s basic answer is that these problems, and many more, can only begin to be addressed with the triumph of socialism. Yet the left needs to emphasise that socialism begins with a successful struggle for state power, that is, the victory over the former ruling class and the founding of a workers’ republic. It will entail the seizure of the major means of production, communication, electricity, banking, finance, transport, at the least. A series of elected workers councils will then administer a nationalised, planned economy, which will aim to eliminate the scourge of unemployment, poverty, homelessness and underdevelopment. Those who used to be first, will be last, and those who were formerly last, will come first. A Labour Party is part of the old world. Only a workers vanguard party has a chance of leading us to the new. Our task is to build it.

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO  BOX   66    NUNDAH  QLD   4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2015/12/jeremy-corbyn-warns-labour-councils-not-set-no-cuts-budgets (13-05-17)

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/nov/30/syria-airstrikes-jeremy-corbyn-gives-labour-mps-free-vote

(14-05-17)

Corbyn and Labour: Parliamentary “Socialism” or Class Struggle?

For Palestinian Liberation! Israel/US/AUS: Hands Off the Middle East!

 

15-05-2017 – 69 years. For 69 years, ever since the 15th of May 1948, or Al Nakba (the catastrophe), the Palestinian people have endured expulsion from their land, murder, slaughter, imprisonment, starvation, blockade and more at the hands of the Israeli state. For almost all of those decades, the Israeli state has executed these crimes with the material and political support of the strongest imperialist powers, principally the US state. Today the situation is little different, and is arguably worse. Aside from the routine shootings of Palestinians by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF), and even by Zionist settlers, the Palestinian economy lies in tatters, and has barely recovered from the war on Gaza by the Israeli state in 2006. As of last year, only 10.7 % of the 11 000 housing units totally destroyed in the 2006 war have been rebuilt, and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) losses in Gaza since then have been greater than 50%.[1]

The oppression of Palestine is central to the question of the Middle East, and for that matter the world. However, for the last six years, the question of Palestine cannot but be viewed through lens of the US led war for regime change in neighbouring Syria. This imperialist war, unprecedented in history for both its level of barbarity and its accompanying corporate media and Western government lies, has also defined the Palestinian solidarity movement during that time. The Palestinian solidarity movement seems to have been split into three sections: 1. Those who have come behind the US led war on Syria, which unfortunately includes some left parties. 2. Those who oppose the US led war to destroy the Syrian state and 3. Those who defend Palestine against the Israeli state’s crimes, but who are genuinely confused and do not wish to take a side in the Empire’s war on Syria. Unfortunately, those in category 3 have, for the most part, gone along with those in category 1, even if they have their doubts about those fighting to bring down the Syrian government.

Israeli state co-operation with ISIS and Al Qaeda death squads in Syria

Palestinian solidarity activists know better than most how extensive the remorseless inhumanity of the Israeli state is towards the Palestinian people, and play a useful role in making working people aware of this. Yet some of them have not seen fit to make working people aware of the Israeli states’ role in the war for regime change in Syria. If their aim is to condemn the Israeli government, why not make working people aware of Israel’s role in assisting ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and other genocidal lunatics, in their efforts to overthrow Syria? Story after story recounts that Israeli hospitals treat injured Al Nusra death squad members, and how Israeli ambulances cross through Palestinian territory, and into Syrian territory to evacuate injured terrorists.[2] Why not expose the ISIS-Israeli state axis?

For that matter, why wouldn’t one report on the fact that Israel has launched missile strikes on Syria on multiple occasions during the war for regime change? The latest one was on 23rd of April this year.[3] Why not outline how the Israeli state has attacked Syrian Army positions, as well as Hezbollah fighters? Because to do so would undermine their claim that they stand in total opposition to the Israeli state, and would highlight their silence in the face of these attacks.

If one would assume that Palestinian solidarity activists would expose the role of Israel in assisting ISIS, we might expect that Australian Palestine solidarity activists would also expose the Australian military for doing the same thing. Yet, when the Australian government admitted that it assisted the US in the bombing of Syria on September 19, 2016[4], there was deathly silence. These strikes clearly assisted ISIS to temporarily move in on Deir Ez-zor. Yet the only protests in Australia came not from the Palestinian solidarity collectives, but the groups around the various Hands Off Syria branches.

BDS: A mistaken tactic based on a mistaken strategy

The silence of the majority of Australian Palestinian solidarity activists with regard to the US led war on Syria was arguably aided by their adoption of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. In the main, Palestinian solidarity activists posit BDS as axiomatic if one wishes to defend Palestine. However, there is much that is mistaken with BDS, for all of its laudable intentions. For one thing, the BDS campaign appeals to the very imperialist powers which have been waging war against the Palestinian people for decades on end. It aims to “pressure” the governments of Australia, the US, UK and others to impose sanctions on Israel for its gross mistreatment of Palestinians. Even if this was possible, this tactic of appealing to the governments which are ultimately responsible for the oppression of the Palestinians arguably prevented them from condemning, in this case, Australian military assistance to ISIS to undermine the Syrian state. For if on the one hand, you are lobbying the Australian government to condemn and impose sanctions on Israel, it would be counter-intuitive to simultaneously demonstrate against the Australian government for bombing Syria on the other hand.

With regard to Palestinian liberation, either the Australian ruling class is your friend, or it is something you help organise workers to oppose. BDS tries to walk both sides of the street. As this is not possible, it tends to side with the most powerful side, despite its intentions. Let us look at the “boycott” part. This refers to a consumer boycott. In almost every other campaign against war and/or national oppression, and much else, the left usually warns that consumer boycotts are ineffective, because working people cannot boycott the capitalist system if they want to survive – they have to organise to overthrow it. Yet we are told that BDS is an exception – Israel is supposedly so unique, that in this case, the left should call for consumer boycotts of Israeli products. Yet, with the Western capitalist economies in a dire state of crisis, working people have even less disposable income than before. The messaging is also skewed. The “victory” in this case, may be, if it comes off, a corporation deciding not to invest in Israeli businesses. Aside from the possible loss of jobs for Palestinians and Israelis in Israel, this corporation may simply decide to buy other shares on the stock market. The corporation becomes something to work with, rather than something to campaign against.

Similarly with “divestment”. Divestment implies all kinds of efforts to convince a corporation, which runs on the basis of private production for private profit, to divest, or invest elsewhere – somewhere other than Israel. The efforts seem to be intended to weaken everything Israeli, so that it will be unable to carry out repression against the Palestinians. Yet “Israel” is not a single unit. It has come about through the terrible suffering of others, but it has become a nation, which survives through the hideous repression of several different peoples within. As a nation it is far from homogenous, with around 20% of the population being Palestinian Arabs, around 25% being non-Jewish[5], along with migrants and refugees from Africa and other countries, as well as a large domestic working class. This working class includes some who oppose Israeli state militarism, as well as those who in 2011 embarked on “Occupy” style social justice protests in Tel Aviv, which protested gross inequality within Israel.[6]

Needless to say, a BDS movement, if “successful”, would target all of these potential allies, rather than reaching out to them. Worse than this, it tends to drive the Israeli working class deeper into the hands of the Zionist state, which in some sense is a natural reaction to an external siege. What is desperately needed is to break the Israeli working class from Zionism, as difficult as that may seem, and link them with the Palestinian working class in order to overthrow capitalism in the region. It is a sobering fact, but Palestinian national rights cannot be solved on the basis of a nationalism which remains entirely within the imperialist framework. The Palestinian solidarity movement must learn that support for Palestinian nationalism, on its own, is not enough to win justice for Palestine.

The BDS movement, backed by some left parties, not only does not challenge the capitalist division of the world into competing nation states, but goes cap in hand towards it. Think of the agencies it appeals to: Boycott – individual consumers going shopping, Divestment – corporations plundering the world, and Sanctions – the governments of the very First World states enforcing world poverty. At no point does it question the very forces pushing the world to the brink of world war and/or climactic destruction – capitalist corporations and the governments that serve them. In fact the BDS founder has emphasised the need to reach out to the “liberal mainstream”.[7] That is, the mainstream which accepts the system as a system, but only attempts to push for changes of policy within it.

Working people can liberate Palestine, and end the threat of war

While we should defend BDS campaigners against any repression from the Zionist state, or any Western state backing Israeli militarism, we need to seek to unleash the power of those the BDS campaign passes by – the working class. We recognise this is easier said than done, but it is only the working people who collectively have the power to liberate Palestine, end war in the Middle East, and stave off the threat of world war. The largest obstacle to mobilising the working people in Australia remains the self-serving Union leaders, which, almost without exception, are tied by a thousand threads not only to the capitalist system, but also the foreign policy of Australian imperialism. The left parties which have come behind the US led war for regime change in Syria, unfortunately are another link in the chain to these careerist bureaucrats. But they can be challenged.

Attempting to campaign for justice for Palestine, in 2017, without mentioning the US led war to destroy Syria, is akin to trying to save a French village in 100 AD without mentioning the Roman Empire. For Australian Palestinian solidarity activists, it is vital to attempt to mobilise opposition to the junior imperialist role Australia plays in these atrocious wars, from Syria, to Iraq, to Afghanistan. If Syria is overthrown by Washington, with the assistance of Canberra, Palestine will stand little chance of surviving. The US clearly seeks to isolate Russia by taking out Syria, making Iran an easier target. Russia is the ultimate target of regime change in Europe, while China is the ultimate target of regime change in Asia. The US seeks not only to dominate Eurasia, but the planet.  As the US is also the principal sponsor of the Zionist Israeli state, targeting only “Israel” is only targeting one of its agents.

Our tasks in relation to the liberation of Palestine should be twofold. Firstly, we need a political shift away from the dead end of ceaselessly supporting Palestinian nationalism. National rights for Palestine, as well as basic living and working conditions for its people, cannot be addressed by fighting for a “free” i.e. capitalist, Palestine. BDS plays into this strategy, despite the good intentions of its adherents. What is required is to link the working classes of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and others in a struggle for socialism in the Middle East. This will require the forging of genuinely international workers’ parties. We hold no illusions as to the difficulty of this task, but the nationalist only strategy has produced what we have today, which obviously is not acceptable.

Secondly, and most immediately for those on Australian shores, we need to make all attempts possible to break working people from the foreign policy of Australian imperialism, tied as it is to the wild depredations of the US Empire. Even if your own priority is justice for Palestine, we need to seek to mobilise working people and their Unions in opposition to Australian support for the Western imperial project in the Middle East and Europe by demanding the complete withdrawal of all Australian troops and hardware from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. We also need to demand that the US and Australia cease all military, diplomatic and political co-operation and protection of the Zionist Israeli state, as well as any co-operation or arming of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has been waging an appalling war on the popular resistance forces in Yemen.

Working people need not fear sell-out Union leaders, or the Western governments threatening to unleash even more worldwide carnage. With remarkable heroism, the Palestinian people have been resisting such forces of repression for 69 years. We have an obligation to at least match them. Working people the world over have the power to bring about an end to the system of capitalist-imperialism, before it brings about an end to us. ISRAEL/US/AUS: HANDS OFF THE MIDDLE EAST!

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO  BOX  66   NUNDAH   QLD   4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2016/09/15/income-stagnation-and-worsening-living-standards-continue-for-palestinian-families (09-05-17)

[2] http://theduran.com/how-the-us-israel-al-qaeda-and-isis-work-together-in-the-war-against-syria/ (09-05-17)

[3] http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/04/23/israeli-attack-syrian-military-camp-kills-three (09-05-17)

[4] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-18/australian-jets-involved-in-botched-air-strike-on-syrian-army/7855610 (09-05-17)

[5] http://arabisraeliconflict.info/arab-israel-facts/fact-2-arab-israeli-citizens (09-05-17)

[6] http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/from-the-protest-tents-of-tel-aviv-to-occupying-wall-street-1.389760 (09-05-17)

[7] http://mondoweiss.net/2017/05/servile-barghouti-daughter/ (10-05-17)

Protests in Gaza in solidarity with the hunger strikers imprisoned by the Israeli state. Photo from Reuters via http://www.telesurtv.net

For Palestinian Liberation! Israel/US/AUS: Hands Off the Middle East!

No to Nuclear War! Hands Off the DPRK, China, Syria, Russia!

04-05-2017 – The world teeters on the edge of a nuclear war. The US Empire, currently with the Trump Administration at the helm, reels off threat after threat of regime change towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and towards the Syrian Arab Republic. If Trump was actually crazy enough to attempt either of these, China would be forced to defend itself in the event of a regime change strike on the DPRK, whereas Russia would be forced to defend itself in the event of a regime change war on Syria. China and Russia are nuclear armed states, but their arsenals pale in size before that of the US behemoth. Needless to say, there can scarcely be any winners in a nuclear war.

As usual, Canberra has signed the Australian military up to every one of the current theatres of war the US threatens to unleash. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had the temerity to state that “The North Korean Government should invest in the welfare of its long suffering citizens, rather than weapons of mass destruction”.[1] This level of hypocrisy can only be reached by those defending an unjust system. It is the Australian Government which, for 30 years or more, has been ripping out investment in the welfare of Australian citizens, with casual indifference to the suffering it causes. Decades of funding cuts to education, healthcare, unemployment and disability services, aged care, pensions, public transport, legal aid, and so on ad nauseum, have not slowed down, but have accelerated. The government has slashed public sector employment, and is idly sitting by while thousands upon thousands of jobs are being eliminated as private industry downsizes or closes down.

Meanwhile, the government of the DPRK, on the other hand, has maintained its form of a socialist system which guarantees its citizens employment, healthcare and education at no cost, housing at no cost, while doing away with the need for personal income tax.[2] DPRK citizens have enjoyed completely free heathcare since 1960, and completely free education since 1959. Women in the DPRK can retire on a full pension at age 55, while men can retire on a full pension at age 60.[3] Just who is it that is not investing in the welfare of its citizens?

Moreover, the government of the DPRK has clearly stated, on many occasions, that it will only use the weapons it has if it is attacked first. The 7th Congress of the Korean Workers Party in 2016 confirmed its stance of “no first use” of its nuclear weapons.[4] China has declared its “no first use” policy of its nuclear weapons program in 1964, and has maintained that ever since.[5] No matter how strong the barrage of Western corporate media demonises the DPRK, and for that matter China, it will not change these facts.

Facts mean little to an empire fighting to maintain its declining claim to be world number one, however. The war for regime change against Syria has arguably been accompanied by levels of government and mainstream media lies which have been unprecedented in history. The latest attempt to blame the Syrian government for using chemical weapons was pathetic. The fact that the French foreign minister jumped to conclusions about the alleged incident in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria seems to indicate French government involvement in the incident itself.[6] Regardless of one’s opinions about the Russian government, the fact is that the Russian military campaign to defeat ISIS, at the invitation of the Syrian government, had turned the tide against the US backed mercenaries, and may have already prevented a wider war from breaking out.

Working people should be aware that the threats of nuclear war stem from one side – the system of capitalist-imperialism, headed by the rulers of the United States. It is the US and their allies, which include the governments of Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Israel and others – who threaten to unleash apocalyptic war. The governments of China and Russia, for different reasons, have no interest and no need for such a catastrophic conflict. Temporarily at least, the interests of those governments resisting the US Empire – China, Russia, Iran, the DPRK, Syria etc. – and the interests of the working people of the world are coinciding.

No matter how grim the situation appears, we can be confident that the overwhelming majority of working people strongly oppose a world war, and will be prepared to take action to prevent it. The attempted war for regime change against Syria for the last six years has largely sorted out those who are really opposed to war, and those who make apologies for it. Working people need to demand that their Unions at least assist the building of a serious anti-imperialist anti-war movement. Their leaders, and the leaders of moderate parliamentary and extra-parliamentary groups will have to be pushed aside if they choose their careers over the survival of our children. NO TO  NUCLEAR WAR!     HANDS OFF THE DPRK, CHINA, SYRIA, RUSSIA!

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO BOX 66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-22/north-korea-accuses-australia-of-blindly-following-the-us/8464252 (04-05-17)

[2] http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Asia-and-Oceania/Korea-Democratic-People-s-Republic-of-DPRK-TAXATION.html (04-05-17)

[3] http://www.korea-dpr.com/economic.html (04-05-17)

[4] http://apjjf.org/2016/14/Suh.html (04-05-17)

[5] https://cpianalysis.org/2017/04/03/china-and-nuclear-weapons-implications-of-a-no-first-use-doctrine/ (04-05-17)

[6] http://www.syriatimes.sy/index.php/news/local/30361-syria-condemns-frantic-campaign-of-misleading-and-lying-launched-by-french-foreign-minister-on-khan-sheikhoun-crime (04-05-17)

A tomahawk cruise missile, similar to the ones fired at Syria by the US recently. Image from http://www.presstv.ir

No to Nuclear War! Hands Off the DPRK, China, Syria, Russia!

Jobs Not Casinos! Housing not Hotels! Public not Private!

22-04-2017 – The Queens Wharf Mega Casino and luxury hotel “development”, in the middle of Brisbane city, has begun its seven year construction period. Nine hectares of previously public land is fenced off, with the demolition of previously state owned buildings set to begin. All of this is to make way for not only 2500 poker machines, but an unlimited number of traditional and electronic gaming machines, which has recently been approved by the Queensland government.[1] The Echo business consortium will also build 2000 apartments and 1100 luxury hotel rooms with four, five and six star ratings, from the Ritz-Carlton and Rosewood brand names.[2] The plans include a bridge, which may not happen as it has not yet been funded, from South Bank across the river into the casino floor. Family entertainment indeed!

Working people generally should not attempt to take a moral position of opposition to gambling per se – as we know that billionaire developers represent an alien class and so have an alien perspective of what is and what is not moral. However, working people do have a right to demand decent working and living conditions, and fight for them in opposition to the government which, in this case, clearly represents the billionaires. The fact that these governments are approving the building of a casino and luxury apartments entirely reveals the depth of the economic crisis of the system of private production for private profit. There is a severe recession, because virtually no new value is being created. Whole industries, for example the auto industry, are closing down. Little or no manufacturing is occurring. Unemployment is rife, especially amongst youth. Wage growth for those still in work is the lowest it has ever been in history. What government public spending exists is more and more geared towards providing business opportunities for the private sector – such as the Queens Wharf Casino.

The Right To The City organisation is correct to frame the discussion as “Instead of a Casino”. Instead of luxury apartments and exclusive motel rooms which few working people can afford, what is desperately needed is a state run program of building ample public housing. The building of quality but affordable public housing could not only house the homeless, but will help exert downward pressure on the astronomically high cost of housing. Instead of a casino, there could be a state run program of public works, to upgrade and expand an affordable public transport system – given that Brisbane’s public transport is one of the most expensive in the world, and the passenger rail problems are legion. Instead of a casino, public money could be spent on replacing the millions of dollars of funding ripped out from under schools and hospitals by successive Labor and Liberal federal governments.

Union leadership is key

The only Union action that we know of on the issue of the casino was a rally led by the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) on November 30 last year. The rally was not against the casino, but was calling for construction related jobs for the casino to be given to local workers, rather than 457 visa workers![3] There are two points to be made here. One, Union leaderships should not be encouraging competition against “foreign” workers by lining up with “local” employers. This nationalism encourages racism and xenophobia, which is poison for a workers movement. Two, rather than going cap-in-hand to the employers and pleading for jobs, Union leaderships should be demanding jobs through such demands as: a shorter working week with no loss in pay.  A national campaign for a 30 hour week, or a six-hour day, has the potential to turn around the widespread demoralisation amongst working people. Workers can see society going backwards, and are prepared to fight, but they see no one leading a fightback. Nationalist and conservative Union leaders need to be pushed aside if they will not even organise a struggle to prevent workers from falling into an abyss.

Working people must be aware, if they are not already, that the huge number of problems in society, domestically and internationally, are all linked to the crisis of the capitalist mode of production. The construction of a casino is linked to the thousands of homeless people sleeping on the streets each night. Public space being privatised is linked to increasing harassment on public transport by security services. Banks raking in record profits is linked to schools and hospitals being starved of funds. Youth being offered a future of joblessness, poverty and stress is linked to the ever increasing salaries of politicians who sleep on parliamentary benches. The wholesale destruction of the Great Barrier Reef is linked to the threat of nuclear war launched by the Western powers against anyone who dares to stand up to them.

Unfortunately, a “community” campaign against the Queens Wharf casino is unlikely to stall the ceaseless operations of capital. Everyone, all in together, means power is ceded to those currently holding it. What is required is the intervention of the working class. The obstacle to mobilising this class is the careerist leadership of most Unions, who collaborate with the government, its state, and the corporations it serves. The struggle for class leadership of the Unions is bound up with the struggle for a workers party. To be worthy of the name, a workers party must fight for a workers government, the first step towards the overthrow of the rule of capital, and the initiation of the socialist order.

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO BOX 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://realmoneycasinos.com.au/queensland-approves-crack-cocaine-of-gambling-at-queens-wharf-6502/ (14-04-17)

[2] http://www.smh.com.au/business/echo-consortium-to-build-2000-apartments-for-2b-queens-wharf-complex-20150721-giguyx.html (14-04-17)

[3] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/industrial-relations/unionists-march-to-back-jobs-for-locals-on-queens-wharf/news-story/f796cc35bd1a52af04d946b712114ff2 (14-04-17)

No To War on Syria! US/AUS Troops: Out Now! Saudi/Israeli/UK/FRA: Hands Off!

08-04-2017 – In days just past, the US launched 59 cruise missiles from warships aimed at the Syrian air base of Al-Shayrat, outside of Homs. The claimed trigger is a claimed chemical attack on civilians in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the province of Idlib, which the Western corporate media immediately, and without a shred of proof, blamed on the Syrian government headed by President Bashar Al-Assad. Let it first be said that there is a long history of imperialist wars being started by false flag incidents. Perhaps the most evident was the Gulf of Tonkin incident which led to the US and their allies waging war against Vietnam and slaughtering 3 million people in the process. Another prominent one was the infamous claim in 2003 that the Iraqi government then headed by Saddam Hussein held “weapons of mass destruction”, which could be deployed with 45 minutes. The US and their allies massacred around 1 million Iraqis, on the basis of what was confirmed to be a pack of lies.

For six years, the US state and their allies – Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United Kingdom, France, Qatar, Turkey, Australia and others – have waged perhaps the most vicious proxy war in world history against the Syrian state. It is a matter of historical record that the Al Qaeda and ISIS death squads have been armed and funded by the Western powers hell-bent on regime change in Syria.[1] Around 500 000 Syrians have lost their lives in the most brutal fashion, for daring to stand independently of the US Empire. All the while, the corporate media funnelled us wild stories about “moderate rebels” being engaged in “civil war” in Syria. It was all lies, and the lies continue with the latest absurd claim that Syria, while it was in the process of defeating the Western backed barbarians, and with an international conference discussing Syria about to convene, all of a sudden decided to gas its own people. This fantastic narrative is easily disabused.[2]
What we know is that the US led proxy war on Syria, using mercenary lunatics, was defeated. It was defeated by the resistance of the Syrian Arab Army, with the assistance of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. China also voted in support of Syria in the UN. The intervention of Russia, at the request of the Syrian government, was crucial in turning the tide of the war for regime change. Unable to accept defeat, and especially by Russia, the US has now decided that the game of outsourcing war with regard to Syria has not produced a result, so now it is time for its own military to do the job. It remains to be seen whether or not the US will be able to continue with its air strikes, given that Russia and Iran, at the least, cannot accept yet another hostile provocation to their very existence.

The Trump Administration in the US has done an about face in a matter of a week. As recently as March 30, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was indicating that only the Syrian people should decide the status of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.[3] Yet on the 6th of April, Tillerson, when asked if the US would lead a regime change effort in Syria, apparently responded “those steps are underway”.[4] These about faces have as much to do with internal US politics, as the disaster the US war machine has created in Syria and Iraq.

The moment the Trump Presidency assumed office, it was besieged by a “Fight Trump” movement, the motivations and politics of which was always extremely murky. Strongly backed by the Democrats and the elements of the US deep state, which was horrified at a US President which did not wish to continue a strategy of confrontation and war with Russia, the “Fight Trump” movement adopted reactionary pro-war positions, under the guise of combatting the “racism, sexism and homophobia” of the Trump campaign. The “Fight Trump” movement alibied the Obama/Clinton administration for exactly the same things for which they condemned Trump. Consciously or unconsciously, the “Fight Trump” movement implicitly demanded the continuation of Washington’s extreme provocations, if not outright war, against Russia. Trump, in order to disprove the constant allegation that he was working with the Russians, had to go to war simply to save his Presidency. Otherwise, an impeachment headed by the US deep state in alliance with the Democrats may well have followed.

Of course neither Trump nor the Republicans or Democrats, nor the Labor and Liberal parties on these shores, offer anything to working people. These elite parties of capital can only enact the needs of capital, whichever personnel they field. The same goes for all the parliamentary parties, which are a part of the economic crisis of capitalism, even if they imagine they are fighting it. The world crisis of capitalism is so deep that the rulers in the US, Australia, Europe and Japan have no answer but to once again plunge the world into war. Currently standing in the way of the US Empire are Russia, Iran, China, Syria and others. To that extent only, working people need to defend the anti-imperialist wing while also pushing forward for a socialist system in which those who labour govern.

What is desperately needed is an anti-war movement which is genuinely anti-imperialist, and is prepared to politically break from all wings of the system, from all corporate media, from all institutions which apologise for the system which is producing multiple crises. This movement should, at least, demand a total withdrawal of all US allied forces, including Australia, from Syria and the Middle East.

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO BOX 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] http://www.globalresearch.ca/logistics-101-where-does-isis-get-its-guns/5454726 (08-04-17)

[2] http://21stcenturywire.com/2017/04/04/reviving-the-chemical-weapons-lie-new-us-uk-calls-for-regime-change-military-attack-against-syria/ (08-04-17)

[3] http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-31/mccain-furious-rex-tillerson-saying-assad-can-stay (08-04-17)

[4] https://www.rt.com/usa/383762-tillerson-assad-syria-statement/ (08-04-17)

UK Funded “White Helmets” stage a false flag gas attack, in order to urge more war against Syria. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info

Release the Refugees! Close the Detention Centres! For Workers Leadership!

Manus Island detainees plead for release. http://www.masalai.wordpress.com

RELEASE THE REFUGEES! CLOSE THE DETENTION CENTRES!

FOR WORKERS LEADERSHIP!

09-04-2017 – The dead are many. Reza Berati, Hamid Khazaei, Kamil Hussain, Faysal Ishak Ahmed and Omid Masoumali are some of the recent innocents to have lost their lives in the off-shore hell-holes referred to as detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru. Countless others remain there, mentally and physically tormented by inhuman conditions.  Approximately 1200 are detained off-shore, as well as around 1300 in detention on the Australian mainland.[1] These are people who have, for whatever reason, fled their homelands and sought asylum in what they may have believed to be a fair country governed by at least the pretence of the rule of law. Once here, however, they endure hardships that are in many cases beyond human endurance, with little or no recourse to any legal redress.  It may always have been a myth that Australia was built on the ethos of the “fair go”, but here we can safely say that not even this applies.

Refugees and those seeking asylum in Australia – at least when they arrive by boat – are mistreated in inhuman ways for one main reason. The Australian ruling class are acutely aware that they must divide workers against themselves to prevent them from aiming their just demands for decent working and living conditions at the place they belong – at the foot of the banks, mining and other corporations, and the governments who serve them. If Australia’s rulers, backed in no small way by the parliamentary parties, did not create an “other” (refugees, migrants, “foreigners”), they may be facing mobs of angry folk with the proverbial pitchforks. This creation of an “other” that we must hate and fear also serves a subsidiary purpose when these same rulers want to sign Australia up to yet another US led war of conquest, in Africa, the Middle East, Asia or elsewhere.

In recent years, however, some in the leadership of the refugee rights movement have been used by the very same ruling oligarchs they claim to be protesting against. Wars waged by Washington, with the backing of Canberra, against Libya, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine have created untold numbers of refugees, on top of the destruction of human lives the actual conflict ensures. Refugee Action Collectives and Coalitions (RAC) around the country have unfortunately been largely led by some left parties which have been unable to politically break from the parties and organisations of the liberal wing of capital’s rule. This has, in turn, drawn them in behind imperialist wars which threaten the very future of humanity.

US backed refugee campaigns

During the last six years, the US and their Saudi, Israeli, Turkish and Qatari allies – with the backing of Canberra – waged one of the most atrocious proxy wars in history, in an attempt at “regime change” in Syria. The fact that Russia intervened at the request of the Syrian government, and with Iranian and Hezbollah’s assistance, turned the tide against the US, and prevented their proxy ISIS/Al Qaeda barbarians from overthrowing Syria, is now a matter of historical record. Unfortunately, it is also a matter of historical record that the leaderships of the RAC organisations in this country did their utmost to bring down the Syrian state, which could have potentially launched World War III. At a certain point, this was done out of a concern for refugees fleeing from Syria. To be sure, all refugees fleeing from war zones should be welcomed to safe shores such as Australia. However, at the point when the US was extending every effort to remove the Syrian Republic, encouraging refugees to flee would have served the interests of the US backed mercenaries beheading their way across the country. More Syrian refugees fleeing from Syria would have meant an easier “victory” for the ISIS/Al Qaeda sociopaths. It was a classic case of imperialism manipulating the very real concerns that the masses have for the well-being of refugees. Chief agitators for this US backed “refugee” campaign were some of the left parties which form key parts of the leaderships of the RAC groups – Socialist Alternative (SAlt), Socialist Alliance (SAll) and Solidarity (Sol).

Washington’s latest refugee cause celebre is the plight of the Rohingya people of the Rakhine region in Myanmar, formerly Burma. While it cannot be denied that there are some serious issues affecting the Rohingya people, and consequently understandable motivation to flee, it is also the case that the US state has no scruples whatsoever in exploiting the persecution of any people for their own nefarious ends. From all appearances, what the US is attempting to do is to create an “Asian Kosovo” in the Rakhine region of Myanmar[2] – that is, a pro-US enclave which can then be used as a staging post for the positioning of US military bases, as well as a geo-political beach head against the US’s chief rival in Asia – Red China. The Rohingya inhabited Rakhine region is strategically located on the coast, where the US and their allies could easily ship arms and other supplies to “rebels”, in the same manner in which Turkey was used as a training and provision supplying territory for the funnelling of abominable “freedom fighters” into Syria. US designs to completely militarily and geo-politically encircle China and Russia are gathering at pace, threatening a global conflagration, and the exploitation of the Rohingya cause by the US deep state is just one part of it. As if on cue, the RAC organisations around Australia, led by SAlt, SAll and Sol, leap into action, in some cases thrusting Rohingya speakers on to the platform of the Palm Sunday “peace” rallies.

Misguided opposition to the Trump Administration

RAC and its guiding left parties have also led those motivated by genuine disgust at the Australian government’s abuse of refugees into the politically misguided “Fight Trump” movement. While it is of course true that US President Trump opportunistically uses fear of refugees, Muslims and migrants to bolster his rule, the previous Obama/Clinton Administration carried out the same policies, but with different rhetoric. It is now well known that the Obama Administration deported more people from the US than any other Administration in history, and also more people in total than all US Presidents in the 20th Century.[3] A report from the Huffington Post, speaking in relation to recent US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, where suspected “illegal” migrants are detained and often later deported, remarked that “….the recent ICE raids under Trump were significant and alarming, but hundreds of such arrests happened every week under Obama.”[4]  The RAC organisations, led by SAlt, SAll and Sol, allow their pathological hatred of Trump to obscure their political judgement – which has led them into the camp of the Democrats, the CIA and the US Security Agencies. This camp is straining at the leash to replace or impeach Trump, or at least tame him, so that he does not carry out his election rhetoric of a rapprochement with Russia against ISIS – the creation of US deep state agencies themselves.

The Democrats/CIA are apoplectic that the Obama/Clinton position of confrontation, if not outright war, against Russia, now seems to be off the cards. It seems needless to say that a war against Russia would be a world war – a war that would drown large portions of the globe in blood. NATO has encircled Russia to an extent not seen since the hey-day of the original Cold War. RAC and their leading left parties highlight the backward immigration positions of the Trump Administration, but they are seemingly unaware of being used in the process to ramp up extreme Russophobia – today’s anti-communism. Moreover, they may well find themselves in a bind if they continue with the “Fight Trump” angst, while at the same time continuing their vitriol against China, Iran and the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic). Trump has threatened each of these countries, with either sanctions and/or invasion and war. As we have previously stated, a refugee rights movement which does not oppose imperialist war cannot be a refugee rights movement.

Who should lead the refugee rights movement?

This year marks 100 years since the triumph of the October Revolution in Russia, which led to the world’s first workers state, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). During that history making struggle, it was the Menshevik opponents of the successful Bolshevik party which always fought for an approach where the liberal bourgeoisie would lead the struggle for socialism, and it was the task of the workers parties to follow them. Granted, there is currently no revolutionary struggle amongst workers in Australia. However, we see an echo of the Mensheviks mistaken tactics reflected in political struggles here today, including within the refugee rights movement. The RAC groups, led by some left parties, argue for and enforce liberal political leadership. Consciously or unconsciously, they consistently seek to put the Labor Party, the Greens, NGOs, lawyers, do-nothing Union officials and others at the forefront. They have also shamelessly promoted spokespersons for the Syrian “opposition” , i.e. barbarous mercenaries linked to Al Qaeda, as “refugee activists” !! They want the “stars” to feature, as if prominent personalities and/or celebrities are more important than “ordinary” workers.

What this practice does is steer the politics of the refugee rights movement into a politically conservative dead end. Organisations such as GetUp!, and lobbyist NGOs may oppose the mistreatment of refugees in words, but they have no intention, and will actively seek to block, the one political strategy which can free the refugees – independent working class action. In fact, organisations such as GetUp! already see themselves as the police of the refugee rights movements, and often bully anyone who challenges their political strategy of endless appeals to the parliamentary circus. In fact, it is suspected that GetUp! has political, organisational and financial links to the ALP.

In recent years, the RAC groups have taken over Palm Sunday, which was formerly an anti-war peace rally. In doing so, the RAC groups and their leading left parties allow various church congregations and church Ministers to lead the Palm Sunday refugee rights rallies. In Brisbane, the march is even planned to end at St John’s Cathedral ! SAlt, SAll and Sol should know that over 150 years ago, Marxism began as a criticism of religion. It then moved to a political strategy for the emancipation of the working class. Left parties today, should not be leading us back into the churches. The Workers League warns of the dangers of allowing the churches to lead political struggles over any issue, including that for refugee rights. For one thing, liberal operatives of the ruling class – reactionary Union officials amongst them – know very well, and are very skilled, at using “respect” for religion, and the churches themselves, for politically crippling social movements, and thereby bolstering and fortifying the rule of capital over labour. Witness how they have promoted the Christian based Love Makes A Way organisation.

If it is not against the “morality” of the Australian ruling class to torture refugees on remote Pacific islands, they will not be swayed by pleas from churches to review the morality of their actions. Socialists are not opposed to church members and leaders taking part in important political struggles. At the same time, left parties should seek to ensure that it is the working class which leads these struggles, not liberal NGOs, self-serving Union officials or religious organisations, no matter how well-intentioned. The refugee rights movement, led by some left parties, has endlessly appealed to everyone, regardless of class, regardless of business ownership, regardless of political connections, to all “come together” and lobby the very same politicians who enable refugee abuse. This strategy has been implemented now for nearly 20 years and it is not working. It won’t work because it can’t work.

Freeing the refugees, and improving the lot of working people, is linked. It is only the independent intervention of the working class which has the possibility of extracting concessions from those in power – whether it is retaining penalty rates for workers, for example, or ending barbarous treatment of asylum seekers – the overwhelming majority of whom are working people seeking a better life. To do this requires a political break from those forces who in turn refuse to break from the operatives of the liberal intelligentsia. In order to challenge the class collaboration of most “left” parties and the majority of the Union officials, a workers’ party based on class struggle will need to be forged. Such a party would at all times fight for a workers government, in the process of aiding struggles to release refugees, restore basic Union rights, for jobs, education, healthcare and a livable society.

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO BOX 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.asyluminsight.com/statistics/#.WOH5JKIlGUk (03-04-17)

[2] http://orientalreview.org/2015/06/09/american-plan-for-a-south-asian-kosovo-in-rohingyaland-i/ (04-04-17)

[3] http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/obamas-deportation-policy-numbers/story?id=41715661 (04-04-17)

[4] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hard-truths-about-obamas-deportation-priorities_us_58b3c9e7e4b0658fc20f979e (04-04-17)

No To War! US/AUS: Hands Off the DPRK!

19-03-2017 – Speaking during a visit to South Korea (“Republic of Korea” – ROK), new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that US “strategic patience” with North Korea has ended.[1] He implied that military action against North Korea, whose real name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), remained ‘an option’. US representatives claimed that the DPRK’s growing nuclear and missile arsenal is the principle reason for Rex Tillerson’s trip to the ROK. These comments were widely interpreted to mean that the US could realistically be weighing up its chances with a pre-emptive strike against the DPRK. Referring to US President Donald Trump’s penchant for commenting on the social media forum Twitter, one Facebook commentator summed it up by writing “we are one tweet away from war”.

The notion that the US, and the world, is under imminent threat from an attack launched by the DPRK is the ultimate in fake news. Like most of the statements emanating from the corporate media mouthpieces of the Western ruling classes, the claim that “we” are under threat from the DPRK, with or without nuclear weapons, is the direct opposite of the truth. What is palpably real is that it is the US state, backed by Tokyo and Canberra, which is daily threatening the DPRK with annihilation, and that the possibility of a US attack on the DPRK is closer than ever. It is the US which is currently engaged in some of the largest war games ever staged on the border with the DPRK. The US and it’s puppet South Korean military carry out military “exercises” named “Key Resolve” and “Foal Eagle” each year, where the drills, right on the sea, land and air border with the DPRK, are barely concealed  dry runs for invasion and “decapitation” regime change.

Sometimes even the pretence of attempting to deny the aim of the US led manoeuvres is dispensed with. It was reported in The Independent  that a South Korean official told Yonhap News that this year’s Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises will “practice missions to infiltrate into the North, remove the North’s war command and demolition of its key military facilities.”[2]  It doesn’t get much clearer than this. Regime change may not be the official name, but regime change is certainly the game. And just as it was in 1950, in 2017 the gunsights are aimed not just at the northern half of the Korean peninsula, but the giant next door neighbour – the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Chinese governmental leadership, despite distancing itself from the DPRK, and even voting with the US in the UN against the DPRK, nevertheless warned the US not to provoke things beyond control. On May 8 China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi likened the US and the DPRK to two accelerating trains coming towards each other on the same track. He warned: “The question is: are the two sides ready for a head-on collision?”[3]

DPRK/China vs US

The Western corporate, and even liberal, media constantly whip up a frenzy of demonization aimed at the DPRK. It is so intense that even normally left-leaning and progressive working people can start to believe the fantastic lies told about the “paranoid peninsula”.  What working people are generally not told is that the DPRK is one of the most advanced socialist societies on the face of the planet. DPRK citizens enjoy zero unemployment, free housing, free healthcare, free education, opportunities for sport and cultural activities, and a much cleaner environment than workers in the West are exposed to. While there are undoubtedly political problems in some areas, the basics of a socialist state are in place, and they have been won through incredible sacrifice. When the US, backed by their allies including Australia, waged war from 1950 to 1953 in order to prevent a socialist revolution on the Korean peninsula, and to roll back the Chinese socialist revolution, up to 4 million Koreans and Chinese volunteers were slaughtered. The bombardment of a furious capitalist ruling class which had just lost China and was in the process of losing Korea, resulted in the annihilation of close to 30% of the North Korean population at that time.[4]

Understandably for the DPRK, they live their lives as if this happened yesterday. And, given the unceasing hostility of the US state for the six decades since, the DPRK has little option but to proceed this way. Today, the 1.4 billion people which buttress the Chinese socialist state has provided a basis to propel its economy to a position of overtaking the US as the world’s number one economy. 30 years of economic growth in China at a rate of 10%, which has “slowed” in recent years to around 7%, shows little sign of stopping. While the US cannot tolerate a capitalist rival, a socialist rival causes even more problems. Sooner or later, working people will demand a Chinese style economy – one which provides jobs, prosperity, infrastructure development and more. The arguments for free enterprise and free markets wear exceedingly thin for most workers in the West. In Australia, many workers face joblessness, casualization of work, and relentless attacks on those who have work – such as the removal of penalty rates. There is a technical recession, and every day sees less and less government spending on essential services such as public transport, energy, education, healthcare and more.

Western rulers need war

Given that the Western countries do not possess state owned enterprises which buttress a workers’ state, as in China and the DPRK – the US, Europe, Japan and Australia cannot simply order private capitalists to invest. Much needed investment in infrastructure will simply not occur unless the captains of industry receive what they regard as an adequate rate of profit. In China, on the other hand, the Communist Party led government can simply order its state owned enterprises to invest regardless of the rate of profit. Even the private sector – which is not so clear cut in China – has to line up its ventures within the framework of the Five Year Plan. The result is sustained development, and usually plentiful jobs for working people. The free marketeers in the West have no such levers. As working people there lose more and more jobs, and wages growth declines, capitalists cease to invest. A downward spiral begins, as classically analysed by Karl Marx. Almost nothing except “creative destruction” can restart production.

As if on cue, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on March 26 claimed that the DPRK has developed ballistic missile technology capable of reaching Australia.[5] The fact that the DPRK has stated countless times, for decades on end, that they will only defend themselves if attacked is immaterial for the vassal Australian political class. There is but one purpose for warnings that “we” could be hit by the DPRK – the preparation of working people to come behind, or at least not oppose, a US led pre-emptive strike and/or invasion of the northern side of the Korean peninsula. The fact that this could be catastrophic even for the US and Australian imperialists, by drawing a massive China acting in self-defence, is beside the point. The US and their vassal states may have to take that risk, in order to save their system. If things are left as they are, China will become the world’s leading force, economically, diplomatically and politically – if it is not already.

DPRK and China’s nuclear deterrent prevents war

The hysteria generated when the DPRK is forced to test a missile, or even just to launch a satellite, is entirely one-sided. The DPRK seriously began developing a nuclear deterrent when former US President George W Bush proclaimed that the DPRK, along with Iran and Iraq, was part of an “axis of evil” which needed to be eliminated. Given what has since occurred to Libya – where former leader Colonel Gaddafi gambled by agreeing with the West to relinquish nuclear or conventional weapons, and then in 2011 could not defend Libya against a regime change war which claimed his life, the DPRK’s decision to develop a nuclear deterrent makes perfect sense. Further, the US led war on Syria has added further weight to the verdict that the DPRK had little choice but to develop a nuclear deterrent – or face annihilation. As Yongho Thae, a DPRK embassy representative in London has stated, the DPRK’s actual policy is to denuclearise the Korean peninsula. In order to reach that objective, the DPRK has little option but to develop effective nuclear weapons.[6]

The People’s Republic of China also has little choice but to defend its socialist revolution through the use of nuclear weapons. Imperialism, led by the US but backed by Canberra, showed what appalling destruction it is capable of during the Korean War of 1950-53 – which was aimed as much at the newly victorious revolution in China in 1949, as it was against the socialist inspired Koreans. Red China then had no alternative but to develop nuclear weapons, and is today one of the five nuclear weapons states recognised by the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  Recently, China reportedly moved some long range nuclear capable missiles to the Heilongjiang province, which borders Russia. This was in response to US President Trump ramped up rhetoric targeting China.[7] Despite this, China, like the DPRK, stridently advocates the ridding of nuclear weapons from the world. President Xi Jinping, in a speech at the United Nations in Geneva recently, stated that “Nuclear weapons should be completely prohibited and destroyed over time to make the world free of nuclear weapons.”[8]

The equation is thus: China and the DPRK desire an end to nuclear weapons the world over. While capitalist imperialism exists, however, the threat of invasion and/or war by the US and its allies, remains ever present, and at the present time more likely. The only element which can stay the hand of US led imperialism, the only aspect which can make the US ruling class think twice about waging war, is the existence of nuclear weapons in those states which are targeted. Therefore, contrary to the “advice” working people receive from the corporate media, it is the readily deployable nuclear weapons in the DPRK and China which is currently preventing a world war. This is why working people must defend the right of socialist states, or others states independent of the West, to test, develop and prepare their own nuclear weapons stockpile. It is capitalist imperialism which threatens the world with obliteration, not the DPRK, and certainly not China.

Defence of socialism and defence against war are linked

The system of generalised commodity production using private property for the purpose of private profit is in terminal crisis. Recession plagues the US, Europe, Japan and Australia. As we have learnt previously, however, capitalism can survive any crisis provided working people are not provided with a viable alternative. War could well break out despite efforts to prevent it. If it does, working people must be clear that it is in our interests to defend the socialist and other independent states against the encroaches of US led imperialism, in whatever form it takes. For working people in the capitalist states, the outbreak of war must be combated with both a defence of the socialist states and a vital struggle for socialism in the capitalist states. In such a struggle, there will be no room for “broad” campaigns involving an assortment of moderate and wealthy liberal organisations and other operatives of the “enlightened” ruling class. The struggle against imperialist war, as well as the struggle for socialism, can only begin on the basis of the leadership of the working class, which then draws in other non-antagonistic elements – class conscious students, pensioners and so on. A split in the Union movement will likely to be necessary, due to the ongoing conservatism of most Union officials. And most especially, a workers vanguard party, which combines the most advanced leaders of the class, will be vital to provide leadership in a time of both self-defence and upsurge. We have a world to win.

US/AUS: HANDS OFF THE DPRK!

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO BOX 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2017/mar/17/us-strategic-patience-north-korea-rex-tillerson-video (25-03-17)

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/navy-seals-north-korea-kim-jong-un-assassination-training-osama-bin-laden-team-six-a7631056.html (25-03-17)

[3] http://shanghaiist.com/2017/03/08/us_nk_collison_course.php (25-03-17)

[4] http://www.globalresearch.ca/know-the-facts-north-korea-lost-close-to-30-of-its-population-as-a-result-of-us-bombings-in-the-1950s/22131 (26-03-17)

[5] https://www.businessinsider.com.au/north-koreas-ballistic-missiles-could-hit-australia-foreign-minister-julie-bishop-warns-2017-3 (27-03-17)

[6] Interview with Yongho Thae, conducted by Carlos Martinez in London in 2013.

[7] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/china-deploys-long-range-nuclear-cpable-missiles-russian-coast-us-president-donald-trump-a7548296.html (30-03-17)

[8] http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2063383/chinas-xi-calls-world-without-nuclear-weapons (30-03-17)

Hands Off Our Penalty Rates!

CAPITAL CUTS WORKERS INCOME FURTHER

HANDS OFF OUR PENALTY RATES!

11-03-2017- In late February, the grossly misnamed “Fair Work Commission” handed down its decision on the penalty rates of some of Australia’s lowest paid workers. It decided that Public Holiday and Sunday penalty rates be watered down to Saturday rates for workers in the Retail, Fast Food and Hospitality sectors.[1] The decision means some of these workers would be up to $6000 dollars a year worse off.[2] There have been all kinds of social spending cuts for the last 35 years that workers have had to endure, but this one is different. This is not like not offering a much needed pay increase – this is a pay cut. This is literally capital taking money out of workers pockets and forcing them to work longer for less pay. Worse than this is the precedent it sets. If there is no sustained backlash, it will be only a small step towards abolishing the Saturday rates of pay, and from there effectively establishing one flat pay rate no matter what time of the day or night workers toil, from Monday to Sunday.

In addition, there is little doubt that this will flow on to other industries, and into all areas of the private and public sector. Employers negotiating collective bargaining agreements, where they still exist, will simply point to other industries where weekends are treated as weekdays, and use that to lower their wage bill – regardless of the effect on workers livelihoods. The argument that most workers now work from Monday to Sunday is spurious. This is more about the falling rate of profit, and the inability of capital to restart production, which went into a downward spiral with the onset of the “global” financial crisis in 2008. In fact it was only “global” for the capitalist economies. Yet even from the point of view of the “captains of industry”, less income in the pockets of workers means less money spent on goods and services, leading to more business slowdown, and thus further job losses. We have seen this repeated throughout history, most especially during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Union Officialdom complicit

In the face of one of the largest full frontal assaults on working people in a generation – and there have been many- what has been the response of the Union leadership?  Essentially, nothing. From what can be observed by the mass of workers, there have been no meetings of Union members organised, no strikes, hardly any demonstrations, and hardly any Union officials even speaking out. This had been coming for at least the last two years, and still nothing. Some Union officials have sent emails (!) to their members, denouncing the cuts to penalty rates, and asking them to sign an online petition (!!). This type of response is risible, and can barely be taken seriously. It is no wonder that large numbers of workers see little point in joining a Union, when most officials disappear at the very time that they are needed. Unfortunately, due to the absence even of a statement in defence of workers, many workers believe that Unions are legislatively prevented from taking action.

Yet this is far from the case. With some exceptions, Union officials effectively operate as agents of capital within the workers movement. Their entire careers, for which they are paid much more money than the workers they supposedly represent, are guaranteed IF they can restrict workers from challenging the destruction course of the profit system. They do this in a number of ways – even by organising rallies which on the surface appear to be militant. For example, on March 9, rallies were held in most cities by some Unions such as the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU). The theme was “Stop the War on Workers” by – the Turnbull federal government. That is, the politics of the militant rallies, with militant unionists in some cases walking off the job – was electoral. Their basic message, even if not stated openly, vote Labor – in 2019. No pledges to undertake a nationwide industrial campaign – just electoralism.

Demand Officials Act

It should be clear that the real source of the penalty rate cuts, and all of the other attacks raining down on workers, do not just come from the Liberal Party. The Labor Party is no alternative, and works in tandem with the Liberal Party to maintain the system. The source of the penalty rate cuts is the  declining capitalist economy – but workers are far from powerless in the face of these attacks. The depth of the crisis of profitability for capital means that even a well co-ordinated struggle will face stiff opposition. Yet the possibilities for this have not even been tested. Union members, and all working people, should direct their demands to the top Union secretaries of the Union bodies in each state, and demand they immediately call meetings of members and delegates, to organise a nationwide campaign. Union members need to be able to discuss and put forward their own proposals for action.

It needs to be recognised that the struggle to force Union leaders to act in defence of workers is at the same time a struggle to forge working class political leadership. This needs to take the form of a mass, class struggle based, workers party. Hundreds of years of social democracy, and the experience of the socialist countries, have taught us that even just to defend the existing living standards of the current generation of workers, a vanguard party which fights for a workers government is the only type of organisation capable of leading a genuine resistance to the onslaught of a system in peril. Such a party can be built out of efforts to forge a general strike, and similar actions. The catalyst for action now can be the assault on penalty rates, but once in struggle, larger questions begin to be posed. HANDS OFF OUR PENALTY RATES!

_________________________________________________________

WORKERS LEAGUE
PO BOX 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-23/penalty-rates-decision-likely-to-reignite-political-debate/8293952 (11-03-2017)

[2] http://www.mamamia.com.au/penalty-rate-decision/ (11-03-2017)

“March in March” must break through “community” mobilisation

DEMAND UNIONS FIGHT FOR:

  1. A 30 HOUR WEEK WITH NO LOSS IN PAY
  2. PUBLIC HOUSING AS AN OPTION FOR ALL
  3. LIVABLE UNEMPLOYMENT, DISABILITY AND PENSION BENEFITS
  4. PUBLIC OWNERSHIP OF THE BANKS
  5. PUBLICLY PROVIDED HEALTH CARE
  6. PUBLICLY PROVIDED EDUCATION
  7. PUBLICLY OWNED ASSETS – ROADS, RAIL, PORTS, ELECTRICITY, WATER, GAS, TELECOMMUNICATIONS
  8. AFFORDABLE AND RELIABLE PUBLIC TRANSPORT

 

Crisis after crisis besets Australia, and indeed the world. Here, we have very high unemployment, record numbers of homelessness, housing unaffordability, skyrocketing costs of living and the decimation of basic democratic rights. Privatised banks rake in unprecedented profits through blind rip offs through fees extracted from working people. Increasingly privatised health care and education are placing an unbearable burden upon the majority, who cannot afford private health care – or are robbed of service if they can. Refugees continue to be tortured by government policy, and most Aboriginal people face a daily struggle to survive. Canberra continues to back the US wherever it wages predatory imperialist wars or conducts regime change operations – from Libya to Syria to Ukraine to Eastern Europe to the South China Sea. Climate distortion is already dangerous, and is claiming lives through heatwaves, bushfires, floods, droughts, storms and cyclones. And this is just for starters.

 

As backward as the Turnbull Liberal government is, it is not the cause of these multiple crises on its own. Just as Obama and Clinton in the US prepared the path for Trump and Bannon, it was Rudd and Gillard here which paved the way for Abbott and Turnbull.  And nor do the Greens provide any alternative, much less the disillusioned elements following the nationalist One Nation. All of the parliamentary parties are a component part of the capitalist system – the system of private production for private profit using social labour. No matter how many soothing words they offer, no element of the parliamentary gravy train is the least bit interested in fighting against the cause of the crisis afflicting working people – for they are part of it. The same goes for the honeyed phrases of top Union officials – some of whom make moving speeches decrying the ongoing assaults on workers. If these Union officials cared about the workers more than their overpaid positions, they would set about organising a broad scale fightback. They could do this for a start by calling meetings of members, and offering their meeting spaces for working people supportive of Unions, to organise various anti-capitalist campaigns.

 

The “March in March” organisers may have good intentions. However, their political strategy appears doomed before it is enacted. The top Union secretaries, the Labor Party, the Greens, NGOs and so on – will grasp any opportunity to promote themselves and simultaneously derail any serious class based fightback from beginning. “Community” mobilisations, consciously or unconsciously operating on a cross-class basis, strengthen the capitalist system rather than undermine it. Australians cannot be “united for a better government”. We are divided into classes, and unless we mobilise the working class, not the “people”, in a struggle for socialism, our efforts will only bolster well-paid bureaucrats. In the meantime, we must demand Unions lead the defence of working people.

 

 

Workers League

PO Box 66  Nundah QLD  4012

workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

Don’t fall for One Nation! For struggle based leadership of the Unions!

22-02-2017 – It would have seemed implausible even just a few years ago. One Nation, spitting vile racism, logic defying Islamophobia and ugly ultra-nationalism, is fast becoming a “normal” part of the Australian political system. One Nation was effectively ushered out of the political system around 15 years ago by both left-wing anti-racist protests and the political establishment itself seeking to eliminate a potential rival. In 2003, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson spent 11 weeks in jail for fraudulently obtaining electoral funding. Now, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s indication that the Federal Liberals will not follow former Liberal PM John Howards policy of preferencing One Nation last, is an indication of the re-emergence of One Nation – at least in terms of capitalist electoral politics.

In state elections, the Liberal Party is falling over themselves to either join, or work with, One Nation. With a Queensland election looming later this year, four former Queensland Liberal National Party (LNP) Members of Parliament (MP) have crossed over to sign up with One Nation.[1] This reflects a large degree of opportunism, with One Nation now apparently polling at a staggering 23% support amongst the Queensland electorate.[2] In Western Australia, with a state election due in March, the Liberal Party is now preferencing One Nation above their traditional conservative coalition partners, the Nationals.[3] It is possible that by the end of the year, there could potentially be Liberal and One Nation coalition governments in two of Australia’s states.

Some commentators have noted that 15 years ago, people would generally not admit publically that they support One Nation, but they would just vote for One Nation in the privacy of the ballot box. Now, more people are no longer embarrassed about it, as One Nation more and more becomes noted as a “regular” parliamentary party. How did this come about? Firstly, it should be noted that developments in Australian politics do not occur in a bubble sealed off from the rest of the world. Political developments here are inextricably linked to the world political and economic situation. The issues which caused the serious economic crash in the West, which began in 2008, have not been resolved, and to some extent have even become worse. This has driven a further deepening of assaults on the living and working conditions of working people, in tandem with reckless and lawless imperialist wars being waged overseas. At this late stage, capitalism can only save itself by turning against those who produce its life giving surplus value.

In Australia there has been relentless job cuts from all industries, as well as the public sector. The cost of living continues to climb, resulting in a homelessness crisis. Housing itself is now virtually unaffordable for young people and most graduates. The ongoing privatisation of essential public services has pushed electricity, gas, water and sewerage services to prices which reduce the spending power of large swathes of workers. Those still in employment are often working at a breakneck pace, enduring oppressive bullying and harassment from managers. The future for young people, let alone older workers, looks bleak. This is part of the war at home, which both reflects, and is an extension, of the wars being waged by the US – with the support of Canberra – in the Middle East and North Africa, and potential wars with Russia and China.

Rise of ISIS produces Reclaim Australia – and One Nation

Such attacks on working people had been ongoing for around 35 years, with varying degrees of intensity. Yet it was Washington’s war on Syria – backed by Canberra – which provided the pretext for the fantastic invocation of “ISIS” (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). In reality, ISIS were, and are, barbarous mercenaries hired by the governments of the US, Saudi Arabia, the UK, France, Qatar and Turkey (although Turkey has come to accept that the war of regime change in Syria has failed), with the assistance of Israel. The gruesome brutality of ISIS in Syria, especially the beheading of innocents, spurred the formation here of “Reclaim Australia”, which was under the massive illusion that ISIS was primarily a part of the Islamic religion. The fact that some ISIS mercenaries were a part of the Wahabist sect of Islam, which remains basically at war with all other strands of Islam, was ignored or not understood.

It was at this time that Pauline Hanson and One Nation re-emerged, chiming in with the less than worldly understanding of Reclaim Australia. Proclaiming “No Mosques, No Halal” and more, One Nation rocketed back into popularity, at least in the electoral sphere. Reclaim Australia, comprised at its core of Neo-Nazi groups, split into groups such as the United Patriots Front. Counter-demonstrations against Reclaim Australia were largely successful, especially in Melbourne, where the racists were outnumbered, often at least by a ratio of 5 to 1. Yet the counter-demonstrations were often led by some left parties – such as Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance, as well as some anarchists – which were some of the strongest backers of what they termed the “Syrian Revolution”. Given the context that the only forces attempting to overthrow the Syrian state were ISIS, Al Qaeda and other Western armed mercenaries, it appeared to Reclaim Australia – and those who would go on to back One Nation – that the “left” actually supported ISIS and Al Qaeda in the name of “defending Muslims”.  With some justification, these elements were repulsed by the “left” appearing to back ISIS, and thus steered themselves sharply to the right – into the arms of One Nation.

There were sections of the left, and other anti-war and anti-imperialist activists, which defended Syria against the US-led war for regime change. These elements, some of whom were involved in the Hands Off Syria group, almost led a lone hand against a predatory war of the great powers. Yet with all of the corporate media, the federal government and most of the “left” baying for the blood of President Assad, these activists could not spur a desperately needed anti-war movement. Such a movement would need to overcome not only the fraudulent “left”, but also the top echelons of the Union bureaucracy.

The support, electoral or otherwise, for One Nation is unfortunately broader than those who are prepared to mobilise under the ultra-nationalism of Reclaim Australia or the United Patriots Front. Tragically, some sections of the working class are turning to One Nation, often out of a desperate lack of political options. In the absence of a Union movement which is prepared to fight for workers needs, and a corresponding workers party, some workers feel they have no option but to turn to demagogues such as Pauline Hanson even if they personally disagree with racist discrimination against “foreigners” or against those professing the Islamic faith. It is not that they necessarily “don’t care” about humane treatment for those of “difference”. However, they can be easily led into extreme xenophobia if they believe that the protagonists are also, in some way, “fighting the system” which exploits them.

Careerist Union officials refuse to fight

Perhaps the prime reason why some workers are turning to the far-right One Nation is that they have seen, and experienced, an almost total lack of response from Union leaders to the plight of their ever-worsening living and working conditions. There are some exceptions where Unions have organised some resistance, in some workplaces, and managed to hold off the most savage reproaches of capital. Overall, however, there is total silence from top Union secretaries even after the most egregious broadside against working people in their workplaces, and/or in society in general. For example, recently it was revealed that Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour is paid 5.6 million dollars per year.[4] This is on the backs of job cuts, and over-inflated prices that people now have to pay for a postal service. Not one Union official spoke out against this indefensible public theft. In fact, even conservative PM Malcolm Turnbull politely suggested the CEO was being paid too much.

Again, in January the story broke of the unbelievable collection of thousands of dollars of fake debt from Centrelink welfare recipients – some of the most vulnerable people in the country.[5]  This time, there were some statements from the Union representing Centrelink workers – the Community and Public Sector Union. CPSU Assistant National Secretary Michael Tull mentioned that thousands of jobs had been cut from the Department of Human Services over the last five years, and that 36 million phone calls to that department had gone unanswered last year.[6] Yet, as far as we can tell, there was little or no attempt to help organise staff to resist management attempts to ram through the virtually illegal collection of unowed “debts”, let alone an attempt to organise workers in other departments to take action. Major attacks are raining down on working people repeatedly, with little or no response from Union leaders. It is such inaction which contributes to some workers concluding that Unions and the workers movement, and by extension, the left in general, does not exist or does not do anything. These factors drive some workers to what they see as the only option – One Nation.

It is not that Union officials themselves back One Nation – many of them oppose it. The problem is that Union officials and top ranking secretaries have a material interest in maintaining the system which produces the likes of One Nation – the rule of capital over labour. They may offer words in defence of workers at the hands of unscrupulous employers, and may even spend their working hours defending some workers against some of the worst excesses of some employers. Nevertheless, most Union officials, and certainly the top leaders, pay themselves very handsomely – using members’ money – for their “service”. Some officials are paid many times more than the workers they represent. These comfortable salaries, while not comparable to CEO pay, provide them generally comfortable lifestyles, generous superannuation, ability to invest in property, and more. To speak out against the faltering profit system, not to speak of helping to organise workers to fight back, potentially jeopardises their careers and their retirement nest eggs. So they opt to protect themselves, while workers suffer.

For struggle based leadership of the Unions

One Nation’s re-emergence is the product of several interlocking factors, but perhaps the most prominent is the fact that it is the product of the lack of leadership of the workers’ movement, principally by over-remunerated Union big-wigs, whose loyalty to Australian capitalism prevents them from speaking out, let alone helping to organise a mass workers’ fightback against the onslaught of a faltering system. Yet Union members, and working people in general, are not powerless victims. On the contrary, faced with the obstruction of well-heeled officials, it is by no means beyond workers to rise against do-nothing officials, sweeping them aside and forging a leadership willing to fight on all fronts for the re-establishment of basic rights and decent living standards. Chief amongst the demands that workers should raise throughout the Union movement is the demand for: a 30 hour week with no loss in pay!  The struggle for such a demand has the potential to re-ignite a long dormant Union movement, which will directly undermine working class backing of the likes of One Nation.

The workers striving towards a class struggle leadership of the Unions is at the same time an effort to form a workers’ party. Such a party will seek to mobilise all workers in their own interests, which coincide with the interests of society at large. Paraphrasing Marx, the working class cannot raise itself up, cannot liberate itself from its condition without at the same time shaking the entire foundations of capitalist exploitation to the core. The socialist objective – working people’s ownership of the major means of production, communication and exchange – must remain as the strategic goal. A workers’ government will soon demonstrate to millions of workers that their interests lie in the collective welfare of all working people. Don’t fall for One Nation!  For struggle based leadership of the Unions!

Workers League

PO BOX 66  NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] http://www.wauchopegazette.com.au/story/4441546/queensland-lnp-torn-on-one-nation-preferences-as-turnbull-rules-out-doing-a-john-howard/?cs=7 (18-02-2017)

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-11/pauline-hanson-one-nation-gains-support-in-qld-opinion-poll/8262182 (18-02-2017)

[3] http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/liberals-to-put-one-nation-ahead-of-nationals-in-unprecedented-election-deal-20170211-guaw3p.html (18-02-2017)

 

[4] http://www.afr.com/brand/chanticleer/ahmed-fahours-salary-a-symbol-of-board-weakness-20170208-gu8ks1 (19-02-2017)

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jan/17/centrelink-under-scrutiny-over-use-of-robo-debt-system-to-target-aged-pension (19-02-2017)

[6] http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/public-service/centrelinks-debt-debacle-its-going-to-get-worse-says-union-20170109-gto51j.html (19-02-2017)