Flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Iran: Workers or Separatists?

16-02-2019 – When is a workers’ movement not actually a workers’ movement? When is a Union not actually a Union? A good indicator is when such “movements” spring up in a country directly targeted for regime change by the rapacious US Empire – the same one which pulled out all stops to overthrow an allied country using indescribable violence. We of course reference Syria, and its ally Iran. The Syrian Arab Republic remains, and for now has effectively defeated the US masters of war and its allies. This was achieved with the vital assistance of Russia, the Lebanese Hezbollah, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Furious at having been blocked in what is usually a straight forward case of imperial overthrow, the US state now dramatically ramps up its vast array of tools for regime change in Iran. To say that a US led war on Iran – the gateway between the Middle East and Asia – would be a catastrophe would be an understatement.

“Independent” Unions

The US state department is very well schooled in manipulating well-intentioned but misguided progressive youth and left-leaning workers into serving as foot soldiers for its regime change wars. Assisted by all manner of NGOs, “liberal” corporate media and ostensibly “left” parties, the US Empire effectively reversed the anti-war sentiment that came about through the war on Iraq in 2003. Although “successful” in Libya, they were blocked in Syria – which has only increased their desperation and consequent appetite for regime change in Iran. Of course the US state has been desperate for regime change in Iran since the Iranian people toppled the US backed Shah in 1979, and expelled all US “advisors”. But in 2019, the US state can ill afford to allow liberals to lie idle.

A useful method for the imperialists is to falsely claim to support the struggle of workers and Unions in a country they also label their number one enemy. As if the political operatives of world capitalism are the slightest bit concerned about the welfare of the working class!  Yet they do, and unfortunately they draw in progressive minded folk and some left parties who should know a lot better.

The “independent” Union set up is a classical case. “Independent” Unions in Iran can only be dependent on external backing, in a similar way in which “independent” Unions in China or Vietnam or Cuba are higly likely to be a conduit for US state interference. This is not to deny specific issues for workers that exist for workers in those countries, but the price of the loss of independence from imperialism – the restoration of capitalism in China, Vietnam or Cuba – would set workers back 100 years. Iran, despite operating a capitalist economy, is independent of US, and therefore world, imperialism. Despite Iran’s market economy, there is extensive state direction, and the loss of this would send Iranian workers back to a stage before 1979. This is why workers in Iran and internationally must stridently defend Iran against all facets of US domination.

Falling at the first obligation

Some Australian left parties stumble at the primary obligation of anyone claiming to be a socialist or Marxist – clear opposition to US imperialism. The Socialist Alliance (SA), through its newspaper Green Left Weekly(GLW), recently published an extraordinary attack on the Iranian government, at the precise time when it is enduring enormous hardship as a result of, amongst other things, US sanctions. In a piece dated February 1, Minna Langeberg claims that “although US sanctions have worsened the economic situation, they are not the cause: the cause is a religious fascist regime in a deep crisis of legitimacy.”[1] The mind boggles!!

To label Iran as “fascist”, at the same time as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton are gunning for the overthrow of Iran, clearly marks where the Socialist Alliance stands. Whether they are aware of it or not, SA is unfortunately repeating its notorious role backing US led regime change in Syria. Regime change right now, in Iran, can only benefit the US ruling class. One cannot wish US imperialism out of existence. The only possibility that a political movement for a new government in Iran now could garner support from workers internationally would be one that: 1) Clearly maintained that it opposed the imperialism of the US and their allies in the UK, France etc, with the backing of Israel, and did so to a greater extent than the current Iranian government 2) Clearly stated that it stood for the defence of Iran and Syria and the region against Saudi Arabian and Zionist Israel, to a greater extent than the current Iranian government 3) Clearly stated that is was for the complete liberation of women through working class emancipation. 4) Clearly maintained the equality of all religions and minorities within Iran to a greater extent than the current Iranian government 5) Clearly stated that the economy should be more publicly owned than is currently the case 6) Clearly maintained that it backs the workers throughout Iran, not just in a couple of areas known for anti-government sentiment, and so on.

If such a political movement existed in Iran today, or even one with even some or even one of the above characteristics, leftists internationally would have to seriously assess it. But there are no indications the current “movement” of protests in Iran expresses serious anti-imperialism. This is even despite the fact that it claims it stands for “workers” and “unions” and subjectively opposes the “crony capitalism” of the Iranian government. Sure, there are workers demonstrating against the economic hardships largely caused by US sanctions. Some Iranians certainly blame the government, even while recognising the impact of US sanctions. But in a country whose population has now surpassed 82 million people[2], such demonstrations and rallies have to be closely analysed.

Khuzestan and separatism

GLW’s article by Minna Langeberg hinges on two supposed labour struggles breaking out in Iran. Langeberg writes “..two simultaneous waves of labour protests stand out, both in the southwest province of Khuzestan: the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company protests, and the National Steel Company protests in Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan.”[3] So of all the alleged labour unrest and “Union struggle” in Iran, the two most important all happen in one province in the south of Iran?  Some explanation for this is required here, yet none is offered by GLW.

The south-western province of Khuzestan hosts the majority of Iran’s oil production. It also is home to around 1.5 million Ahwazi Arabs, reportedly making up around 2% of Iran’s population.[4] Generally, Ahwazi Arabs claim that they are marginalized and excluded from Iranian society and government, as a minority in a majority Persian country. Khuzestan’s capital Ahvaz is hard hit by unemployment, but that is unfortunately widespread across Iran. Doubtless there are some grievances that need to be addressed, but whether the Ahwazi Arabs generally favour separatism from Iran is not clear. There are certainly some Ahwazi organisations, including armed ones, which stridently advocate a separation from Iran. One is the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), which may sound legitimate. However, this group, in seeking separation from Iran, has bombed government buildings and pipelines in the region which have killed civilians.[5]  In other words, regardless of the justness of whatever cause they claim, they are a terrorist organisation with no regard for innocent life.

Another recent example of the absent lack of concern for the butchering of innocents by Ahwaz separatists was the September 22 terrorist attack on a military parade in Ahvaz. The parade was marking the anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq-Iran war, in which then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein apparently believed the Ahwazi Arabs would welcome the entry of the forces of fellow Arabs. They did not, and Iranian forces had to wage a battle to retake the city a couple of years later at a high cost of life.  What occurred at that parade only last year, was that four gunmen disguised as soldiers opened fire and indiscriminately shot dead fleeing soldiers and civilians. At least 24 people died, including a four year old child.[6] Around 70 were injured.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Denmark, the Netherlands all aid “jihadist separatists”

Two groups claimed responsibility for the attack: ISIS and the Ahwaz National Resistance. It is unlikely that ISIS was behind it – they claim responsibility for many attacks they have nothing to do with. The claim of the Ahwaz National Resistance is much more likely. What kind of “resistance” movement would openly claim responsibility for an attack which clearly extinguished innocent lives? Iran’s Supreme Leader the Ayatollah Ali Khamanei did not mince his words in response: “This cowardly attack was the work of those very individuals who are rescued by the Americans whenever they are in trouble in Iraq and Syria  and who are funded by the Saudis and the (United) Arab Emirates.”[7] It has long been suspected that the Saudi Arabian royal family, along with the UAE government, fund and arm the Ahwaz separatists, as a way of undermining and destablising Iran. In this case, it seems likely it was direct payback for the role Iran has played in Syria, helping to defeat the foreign backed jihadists seeking ultra-violent regime change. Without endorsing the Iranian government per se, working people can only support the actions of the Iranian military in Syria, which contributed to the defeat of the US and its proxy forces.

While the Saudi and Emirati governments fund and arm the ultra-violent terrorist Ahwazi groups, the governments of Denmark and the Netherlands give them safe haven on their soil. In response to the September 22 atrocity, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi stated that it was not acceptable for European Union countries to refrain from blacklisting known members of terrorist groups as long as they do not commit a crime on European soil. He said the Iranian government had warned Denmark and the Netherlands about the presence of the terrorists and called for their arrest and trial.[8] The hypocrisy is galling. One could only imagine the response if Iran had hosted known terrorists on its soil, whose fellow members then went on a shooting rampage in the US, or a European country. Yet the reverse happens, but the imperialist powers get away scot-free.

Workers must defend Iran, and condemn Western armed terrorism

Unfortunately the Socialist Alliance is joined by the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in blindly backing the Ahwaz separatists, who skillfully manipulate progressives under the cover of backing “independent” workers’ “Unions”. In an article in the CPA’s The Guardian newspaper dated December 12, 2018, the author attempts to draw a wall between the open US state aim of regime change in Iran, and the workers’ protests in Khuzestan.[9] Yet they are one and the same! How do we know this? One reason is because none other than John Bolton – currently heading up US backed regime change in Venezuela and Iran – has openly advocated backing Iran’s ethnic minorities as a means of destabilising the country.[10]

Not only has John Bolton advocated the stoking of ethnic tensions in Iran as part of regime change efforts, his links to the notorious terrorist group the Mujaheddin E Khalq (MEK) are well known. The MEK fought with the invading Iraqi government during the Iraq-Iran war, and as such are despised as traitors by almost all Iranians. They are exiled because of this, but it has not stopped John Bolton declaring to MEK supporters that he will celebrate with them in Tehran “before 2019”.[11] This is a senior US official, openly preparing not only regime change in Iran, but choosing known ultra-violent terrorists as the new leaders! In addition, MEK cult leader Maryam Rajavi has publicly supported the Ahwazi separatists.[12]

Due to Iran’s necessary building of conventional missiles as defence, not to speak of a united and well-armed military, external US led regime change on Iran is unlikely – though not impossible. Much more likely is internal US led regime change – which utilises all manner of anti-government yahoos, up to and including ultra-violent terrorists and criminal jihadists. Without endorsing the political positions of the Iranian government, workers internationally have a vital interest, at this time, in defending Iran against internal and external regime change. Imperialism must be opposed regardless of its modus operandi.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

[1] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/iranian-workers-protests-confront-regime-crisis (16-02-19)

[2] http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/iran-population/ (16-02-19)

[3] Ibid, 1.

[4] https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/the-phantom-emirate-of-al-ahwaz (17-02-19)

[5] https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/ahwazis-dont-give-anniversary-annexed-arab-province-looms-iran (17-02-19)

[6] https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/9/25/iran-says-jihadist-separatists-behind-ahvaz-attack (17-02-19)

[7] Ibid, 6.

[8] https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2018/09/iran-criticises-the-netherlands-for-sheltering-terrorists-after-parade-attack/ (17-02-19)

[9] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2018/1852/06-rally.html (17-02-19)

[10] https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-khuzestan-poverty-separatism-bloody-war-memories/29515269.html (17-02-19)

[11] https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2018/6/8/boltons-mek-ties-make-him-more-lobbyist-than-statesman (17-02-19)

[12] https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/ahwazis-dont-give-anniversary-annexed-arab-province-looms-iran (17-02-19)

Iran: Workers or Separatists?

Flag of Sudan. The Sudanese flag features the Pan-Arabic red, white and black bars. Image from Flagpedia.net.

Sudan: US Fuels Deadly Subversion

10-02-2019:  In the horn of Africa, some Sudanese people move onto the streets to protest against the price of bread. The demonstrations soon force a response from the government, which moves to prevent them from spreading. The demonstrators call for the overthrow of the state. For the left internationally, on the surface it appears to be a straight forward case – we back the people who are demanding bread – or do we?  In Africa in 2019, things are not at all what they seem.

After the experience of Libya, Syria, Ukraine and now Venezuela, working people need to be alert to any suspected regime change effort by the US Empire. And in Sudan currently, all the hallmarks of yet another attempt to overthrow yet another “regime” which is independent of Washington are there. How can we determine this? One giveaway is the fact that the demand for cheaper bread almost immediately became a call for regime change. This is usually a tell-tale sign that imperialism is fomenting yet another hybrid war for the overturn of a state. Another sign is that the protestors immediately moved to burn down offices of the ruling National Congress Party, headed by President Omar Al-Bashir[1], and set fire to some government vehicles. Suffice to say that demanding cheaper bread at the same time as knee-jerk pyromania is more than a little suspicious.

Sudan pivots to Russia, Syria

Another sign that the current protests in Sudan are not the genuine article is the fact that they broke out immediately after Al-Bashir met with Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus on December 16. What is more, President Bashir was flown from the Sudanese capital Khartoum to Damascus in Russian military aircraft.[2] This visit made Bashir the first Arabic leader of a country to visit Al-Assad in eight years – during the time of the West’s proxy war for regime change against Syria. Al-Bashir’s visit to President Assad seemed to be intended to mark a public display of reality in Syria – the war for regime change waged by the US government is over, and Syria will, for now, remain independent. It also seemed to be an intentional display of the re-alignment of Bashir’s government away from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, and towards Russia and Syria. Workers can be thankful for small mercies such as this. The Sudanese government’s participation in the Saudi led war on Yemen is almost unforgivable. Bashir’s government reportedly sent four attack aircraft and up to 10 000 troops to take part in the attempted suppression of the Houthis defending Yemen.[3] The war on Yemen was a spin-off of the failed regime change war against Syria, and Al-Bashir’s participation in this war against fellow Arabs should be condemned, despite an apparent need now to defend Sudan against US led regime change.

Bashir’s tilt away from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and towards Syria and Russia is to be welcomed, if only to counter the nefarious ends of US imperialist pressure on Sudan. Despite the US government recently lifting crippling sanctions on Sudan, President Bashir claims – not without foundation – that the US seeks the balkanisation of Sudan into five parts. Bashir stated that Sudan sought Russian made S-300 anti-missile protection systems and SU-35s (advanced Russian fighter jets) in order to protect themselves from a US onslaught seeking to shatter the country.[4] In contrast to the decision to assist the war on Yemen, this decision is a rational one. The US was transparently behind the moves to separate South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, when it backed the “Christian” south against the “Muslim” north.[5] What is more, this campaign, which inevitably led to further war, was backed by Hollywood celebrities including Don Cheadle, Mark Wahlberg and the notorious US imperialist adjunct George Clooney.[6] George Clooney would go on to make moves to produce a film glorifying the Al-Qaeda outfit “The White Helmets” in Syria, which made fake videos falsely portraying them as “rescuers”.[7] Even with Hollywood’s backing, the US Empire and their Al-Qaeda proxies were defeated in Syria with the assistance of Russian air power – particularly the SU-35. Hence, Bashir’s desire for a stock of these jets for Sudan.

New Silk Road

As is now customary, US ruling class designs in Africa are consistently overhauled in an attempt to ward off the assistance offered by Red China. Any means which can disrupt trade, investment, healthcare or infrastructure development assistance offered by the world’s largest socialist power to African countries, will be considered or carried out by Washington. This includes all measures up to and including the stoking of fratricidal wars. All of this is under the watchful eye of AFRICOM – the US Empire’s strategic command for the African continent. And AFRICOM takes a dim view of China’s New Silk Road (One Belt One Road – OBOR), which seeks to link Africa and Asia to Europe through mutually beneficial construction of roads, ports and railways. Heaven forbid that African countries should accept development assistance from the predominantly planned and collectivised Chinese economy! Given that Sudan is a strategic hub of the African section of the New Silk Road, it follows that Sudan is thus a prime target for a hybrid political/psychological/diplomatic war.

To give just one example, in 2017 it was announced that China would build a railway connecting the strategic Port Sudan on the edge of the Red Sea to the Chadian capital N’Djamena. This will allow surrounding Eastern African countries such as Cameroon and Nigeria a link to the sea port at Port Sudan – a link to Europe and Asia.[8] The US ruling class, from their point of view, simply cannot stand by and allow any African country to develop, or at the least, not through Washington. China, with its economy operating on a fundamentally different basis to predatory imperialism, has nothing to fear and everything to gain from the rise of African countries out of Third World status. The US economy, based on private profit – cannot tolerate any competition whatsoever. The Chinese economy, which does not operate primarily on private profit, but according to its Five Year Plans, welcomes trading partners, cultural exchanges, and friendly political alliances. Hence – the US covert war for regime change in many parts of Africa. Today Sudan, tomorrow Nigeria, and on and on it goes.

US admits one of their own behind the “protests”

Sometimes the hand of the US deep state reveals itself, and in this case, its involvement in the regime change protests in Sudan. The “Voice of America” – US state department propaganda pumped around the world – admitted in a recent article that Rudwan Dawod helped organise the recent protests in Sudan.[9] Mr Dawod, the article states, is a Sudanese-American politician. He lives sometimes in Oregon in the US, and sometimes in Khartoum. He heads up the transparently dubious “Sudan of the Future” campaign, and when in Khartoum he is employed by “Sudan Sunrise” – an openly US funded NGO.[10] Mr Dawod has previously been arrested by Sudanese authorities, apparently on suspicion of spying for both the US and South Sudan. Given his employment by a US backed NGO, such suspicions have more than reasonable grounds. US backed NGOs are planted around the globe, endlessly plotting regime change on behalf of their benefactors, in Russia, China and Iran. The addition of Sudan to this list would surprise no one.

No one, that is, apart from the imperial left in Australia. Leading from behind on this score, is the Communist Party of Australia (CPA). The CPA should be well aware of the role of Red China in Africa, and the desperate measures of the US Empire and its de facto permanent AFRICOM occupation force. However, the CPA gives carte blanche endorsement to the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), and blindly assumes that the actions of this party align with its name. Over a century has passed since Karl Marx wrote that just as we do not judge an individual on what he thinks of himself, we also do not judge political parties on the basis of what they claim to be. If the Sudanese Communist Party claims to be “communist” while calling for the overthrow of the Sudanese “regime” at the same time as US backed NGOs operating in Sudan are helping to organise this, it follows that, at least on this issue, the Sudanese Communist Party is barely left-wing, let alone “communist”.  By retailing the Sudanese Communist Party’s calls for what can only at this stage be US backed regime change,[11] the CPA adds to its membership ledger of the imperial left.

Always eager to be the first in line to call for regime change in a country targeted by US imperialism, the Socialist Alliance (SA) has leapt into the fray. Seemingly SA has drawn no lessons from its strident backing of the US led wars for regime change against Libya and Syria, and has even deepened the errors. Its newspaper Green Left Weekly is replete with articles urging the overthrow of Sudan, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the contrived protests in Sudan do not appear to have gained anything other than token support across the East African country, which has a population of 40 million people. The photos of the “mass rallies” in Sudan are the classical narrow angle photo, which only shows a section of a small crowd, falsely implying a huge attendance. Even aside from this, basic Marxists should know just by the title of the declaration of the opposition parties, that this is an orchestrated pro-Western coup, with some backing from domestic conservative forces. The “Declaration of Freedom and Change”[12] sounds wonderful for the well paid technical staff of the Sudanese Professionals Association, but will do nothing for poor and working class Sudanese. In fact, US backed regime change in Sudan, which blocked off development assistance offered by China, will be disastrous for them.

“Freedom and Change” cannot be won through the US Empire

This is not to deny socio-economic and political problems for the working class of Sudan. Similar issues exist in all countries, but especially in African countries which are still prevented from developing as one consequence of the history of European colonialism. If US and European imperialism did not exist at all, if there was no military, political, financial or diplomatic interference in Sudan, or in Africa as a whole, from the ruling classes of the United Kingdom (former colonial ruler) and the United States, there is a small possibility that workers internationally could come behind political movements in Sudan – even ones aimed at forming a new government. But this fantasy world does not exist. Imperialism – the expansionary needs of financial capital from the First World “great” powers – has created the political problems in Africa, and it will remain until it is overthrown – principally by workers in “their own” centres.

IF there was political movement in Sudan which was clearly leading a struggle for socialism, for workers’ power, and IF this movement was led by parties or a party which made its call for a workers’ government in Sudan and throughout Africa, and IF this movement made it crystal clear that it opposed the interference of US imperialism in toto, THEN workers internationally could look at engaging with such a movement in a supportive manner.  IF any of these characteristics were present, or anything even leaning in such a direction, it MAY be worth looking at a position of critical support for such a movement. Marxism, as Lenin stressed repeatedly, is the concrete analysis of concrete conditions. Leftists have to analyse each set of circumstances on a case by case basis.

The contrived political protests in Sudan today do not meet ANY of even the most basic pre-conditions that would lead to the beginnings of critical support. Not only does the US state department admit that one of its citizens was organising the protests, part of the Sudanese “opposition” admits it has met with high level US consular staff. For example, the opposition Sudan Call alliance met with US Ambassador Steven Koutsis, at their request, in London in September 2018, to “discuss their position on the peace talks and democratic process”.[13] After the experience of the regime wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and attempts at regime change in Ukraine and Iran, amongst others, one can imagine how the US state department views a “democratic process” !!

Working people in Sudan have an interest in opposing, not backing, US imperialist plans for their country. While maintaining their political independence, state and non-state development assistance offered on good terms from socialist China should be welcomed, and even leveraged against the aims of AFRICOM. Socialists internationally should seek to expose the role of the US Empire in Africa, while extending efforts to forge genuine Marxist vanguard parties – the key element of true internationalism.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/sudan-bread-price-protests-rebellion-government-khartoum-a8697986.html (03-02-19)

[2] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20181219-why-did-sudans-president-visit-bashar-al-assad-in-syria/ (03-02-19)

[3] https://southfront.org/sudanese-forces-in-yemeni-war/ (05-02-19)

[4] https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/25/543483/Sudan-US-sanctions-Bashir (05-02-19)

[5] https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/07/us-played-key-role-in-southern-sudans-long-journey-to-independence/241660/ (05-02-19)

[6] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14050504 (05-02-19)

[7] http://www.handsoffsyriasydney.com/articles/white-helmets-black-hearts/ (05-02-19)

[8] https://www.globalresearch.ca/sudan-is-indispensable-to-chinas-silk-road-vision-for-africa/5619886 (06-02-19)

[9] https://www.voanews.com/a/sudanese-american-politician-who-organized-protests-goes-missing/4749567.html (06-02-19)

[10] http://en.rfi.fr/africa/20120814-US-concerned-over-re-arrest-of-aid-worker-in-Sudan (06-02-19)

[11] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2019/1854/04-sudanese.html (09-02-19)

[12] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/can-sudanese-people-bring-down-dictator (09-02-19)

[13] http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article66325 (10-02-19)

Sudan: US Fuels Deadly Subversion

Demonstration outside the White House against the US backed coup in Venezuela. Image from http://www.globalresearch.ca

USA/AUST: HANDS OFF VENEZUELA!
Workers to Power in Latin America
Statement of the Workers League

30-01-2019 – The Workers League condemns US and Australian imperialism for their open attempt at regime change in Venezuela, with their recognition of Juan Guaido’s self-declaration as President. Fresh from three years of accusing the Russian government – without a shred of evidence – of “meddling” in the US Presidential election of 2016, now both conservative and liberal wings of the US and Australian ruling classes brazenly attempt to subvert the 2018 election of President Nicolas Maduro, and install their own puppet, potentially (yet again) threatening the world with catastrophic war.

Most Venezuelans had reportedly never heard of Juan Guaido before he was elected the head of Venezuela’s national assembly. Now the whole world has, which looks on incredulously. Seemingly not even being aware of trying to appear to be rational, Washington and Canberra have been joined by the ruling cabals in London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid, who have repeated in unison that the Venezuelan government has “eight days” to call new elections – during which they will recognise Juan Guaido as interim leader of the country. To say this is an imperialist obliteration of national sovereignty would be stating the obvious. Not even the most outlandish spy novelist could write such fiction, yet this is reality.

The wounded beast of imperialism lashes out

Venezuela is the new target for regime change for Washington, after US imperialism arguably suffered its first defeat since the liberation of Vietnam in 1975 with its atrocious proxy war of regime change against the Syrian Arab Republic. The US was backed in this unspeakably barbaric war which hired the mercenaries of ISIS through the ruling classes of, inter alia, Britain, France, Canada, Australia and their allies in Saudi Arabia and Israel. Opposing this war was the Venezuelan government under both Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, along with the material assistance of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. Unable to publicly admit being behind ISIS, Washington has, for the moment, realised political and military defeat in Syria – even though they still operate US troops illegally on the ground. Smarting from being blocked primarily by Russia, the US masters of war now pick what they see as an easier target – Venezuela.

The same imperialist forces – utilising the nefarious NATO – also conducted regime change against Libya in 2011. Again the Venezuelan government under Chavez voiced strong opposition. However, on that occasion Russia abstained, and Libya – a nation with the then highest standard of living in Africa – was destroyed. Since that time, no state or government has been able to be restored, and black slavery – a practice ended by the republic led by Colonel Gaddafi – has returned. Many of the same Western funded cutthroats were then transported to Syria to repeat the dose.

The end of  “Socialism of the 21st Century”

Washington sees Venezuela now as an easier target due to the fact that the right-wing now has almost the same amount of support as does the “Bolivarian Revolution” – the process begun by President Hugo Chavez in 1998 and continued by Nicolas Maduro since 2013. How has this situation come about? Workers must be told the truth. For all of its gains for working people and the poor, the Bolivarian process was not socialist, even despite the self-described intentions of its protagonists. The Bolivarian “revolution” was actually an attempt to reform capitalism, primarily using the mechanism of cross-class elections. Time and time again, throughout history, the working class has learnt the lesson that capitalism cannot be voted out of power – it must be overthrown. Yet the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) had no intention of studying, let alone abiding by, these crucial lessons previously learnt by workers the world over. The theory of “Socialism of the 21st Century” – where supposedly workers no longer need to construct their own state, but only be elected into power – is now dead in the water. If US imperialism has its way, Venezuela will not only have its false “Socialism of the 21st Century” exterminated, it will return to a stage worse than when the Bolivarian “revolution” began.

Despite this, workers in Venezuela and internationally cannot afford to allow the Venezuelan government to be overthrown by Washington. While many huge steps forward need to be taken by workers in Venezuela, a major defeat could re-energise the US Empire, and even embolden it to trigger the wider war which some elements of its ruling class see as the only hope to counter the rise of Red China, and the independence of Russia. This is why workers internationally should demand that China – as the world’s pre-eminent socialist power – step up to the plate and offer a lead by materially blocking US moves to overthrow Venezuela. This is also why workers internationally should welcome the mooted moves by Russia and Iran to militarily intervene to defend Venezuela from black reaction.

Forward to real socialism

The immediate task, therefore, is not only to defend the sovereignty of Venezuela, as necessary as that is. It is also urgent to lead workers to power in Venezuela, and throughout Latin America. For US imperialism cannot in the least be halted by capitalist republics, no matter how “democratic”. Classes must be arrayed against one another, rather than fruitless attempts to unite the “people”. While workers must not obstruct the Venezuelan military forces where they take measures to ward off the US Empire, at the same time there must be left-wing political opposition built to the PSUV – a party which is conservative, bureaucratic and corrupt even according to its own supporters. Committees for workers’ power in every workplace, school and university need to be established wherever possible. The most class conscious of these elements should forge the Marxist vanguard party needed to win the best elements away from Chavismo and for a real revolution. US/AUST: HANDS OFF VENEZUELA!

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

 

USA/AUST: Hands Off Venezuela!

Invasion Day 2019: Which Way to Justice?

26-01-2019 – As we move deeper into the 21st century, the general condition of the Aboriginal people, the original inhabitants and custodians of the continent which was later named Australia, remains precarious. A terrible reminder was the news that there were five Aboriginal youth suicides in the first weeks of the New Year, and a sixth was being treated in hospital after another attempt. Three were in Western Australia, in Perth, Port Hedland and Warmun, and one each from Adelaide and Townsville. Aboriginal children attempt suicide at five times the rate of non-indigenous children, and crushing poverty remains the largest driver of such tragic outcomes.[1] Homelessness, lack of healthcare, education and basic infrastructure for remote indigenous communities remains a critical problem, which no Australian government has even bothered to seriously address. Where Aboriginal people live in large urban areas, the systematic discrimination they face in housing, education and employment is a constant reminder of an oppression not faced by non-indigenous people and migrants who have made Australia their home.

In recent years, there has been a push to change the date of the marking of January 26 as Australia’s national day, due to the offensive nature of celebrating the founding of the nation on the very day which, in 1788, marked the beginning of a war by British colonialists against the Aboriginal people.  The movement to “Change the Date” had gained significant support amongst Australian people, with one poll showing that a slight majority – 56% would favour changing the date of Australia Day – provided there was a day which could be marked as Australia’s national day. The same poll had an overwhelming 84% of respondents stating it was important that Australia did have some day of commemoration and celebration.[2] As if to deliberately wind back this sentiment, Liberal Party Prime Minister Scott Morrison has weighed in on the side of reaction, with an edict that local councils must hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26. In addition, he has attempted to ban the wearing of thongs and board shorts at such ceremonies.[3] Apart from the clothing, this move is yet another express insult to indigenous people, and an attempt to derail the generally progressive steps behind the “Change the Date” movement. Labor Party Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has unsurprisingly joined with the Liberal Party in stating that January 26 will remain Australia Day with Labor on the government benches in Canberra.[4]

Abolish Australia Day?

Last year, the indigenous group Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR), put forward the demand “Abolish Australia Day”, counterposed to the demand “Change the Date”. WAR plays a tremendous organisational role, facilitating and enabling rallies and other events which drive the movement for Indigenous rights forward. However, we would argue that the tactics of WAR on this issue are mistaken, could lead to the groundswell of support behind “Change the Date” being nobbled, and risks alienating and turning away large numbers of people who would otherwise enthusiastically march side by side with Indigenous people. Without such mass support, the struggle for indigenous rights could become more difficult, and battles which could have been won may need to be fought again.

In one sense WAR are correct to imply that changing the date of Australia’s national day will not change the adverse material circumstances facing indigenous people. In one sense it will allow Australian nationalism to take place on another day of the year. But a mass movement which successfully changed the date of Australia’s national day would also be likely to enable a strengthening of the movement for justice for Aboriginal people, which would thereby engender more momentum behind the more far-reaching demands that are also necessary – such as a Treaty and genuine land rights. For example, a move by the Aboriginal rights movement now to abolish the result of the 1967 referendum would scarcely garner any support – and it is unlikely that any would argue that doing so would advance the Aboriginal justice movement today. In 1967, a referendum was passed which proposed to include Aboriginal people in the census, and to allow the federal government to make laws for Aboriginal people.[5] The passing of this referendum was imperfect, and not overly radical, in that it did not enact full equality between Aboriginal and non-indigenous people. However, it was a major boost for the further development of the Aboriginal rights movement – Aboriginals were officially recognised as people!  Arguably, it later enabled the movement for Aboriginal land rights to launch on the back of this victory.

Aboriginal nationalism versus white nationalism?

It is understandable that WAR spurn Australian identity, and even Australian citizenship, given the genocidal intent of the actual war which was waged against indigenous people by the colonial setter state, and continues in the form of systemic racism. WAR thus adopt Aboriginal nationalism as their credo, in opposition to Australian nationalism, or even white nationalism. Yet a separatist Aboriginal nationalism necessarily excludes the most important potential ally of the indigenous people – non-indigenous and migrant workers, who, while not experiencing the oppression of Aboriginal people, are nonetheless oppressed by the capitalism upheld by the very same colonial settler state. Non-indigenous and migrant workers have no option but to accept the Australian nationality, because it is imposed upon them. But this does not mean that they will automatically go on to adopt Australian nationalism or white nationalism. The development of working class politics – of which the Aboriginal struggle for justice is a component part – is the key to countering the development of harmful Australian or white nationalism. The degree to which working people of all resident nationalities struggle together with pro-working class indigenous people will condition the degree to which white nationalism can decisively be buried. More to the point, sustained efforts towards the overthrow of the system of production for private profit, and the initiation of socialism through the construction of working class state power, is what will finally defeat poisonous Australian and white nationalism.

Australian capitalism was founded on the dispossession of the Aboriginal people. Of this there is no doubt. WAR would no doubt agree with this fundamental proposition. However, WAR does not then go on to advocate the supersession of capitalism with socialism. WAR talks of combatting white nationalism, and allying with refugees, asylum seekers, homeless people, disabled people, Queers, Transgender people and non-white migrants to do so. But they fall short of seeking to ally themselves with the multiracial working class for the purpose of combatting the oppression of themselves and other oppressed sectors of society. Building progressive political movements – including the Aboriginal rights movement, as needed as they are, will only go so far. What is required for the ending the double oppression of indigenous people and the class oppression of non-indigenous people is the building of a multiracial vanguard workers’ party which leads a successful struggle for a workers’ republic.

In a Facebook post, WAR refer to the recent Nazi rally at St Kilda beach in Melbourne, in which ultra-right wing groups targeted African-Australians for racial harassment. They claim that the “white Nazi rallies are only able to happen because white liberalism paved the way”.[6] In this, WAR is only half correct. Liberalism, both black and white, paves the way for the potential rise of fascism. Nazism and/or fascism can only come about where the left has yet to form a workers’ party of sizeable influence, in response to the ongoing assaults against all of the oppressed by “free market” casino capitalism. If working people see no political alternative being offered to the virtually complete unanimity of the major parties, some workers will turn to the far right. Some will even embrace Nazism out of sheer desperation. Given the significant depression of the Western capitalist economies in Europe, the US and Australia since 2008, the problem of the absence of serious Marxist parties has reached a critical point. The growth of Nazism and the far right is one expression; the emergence of the “Yellow Vest” movement is another.

Prison abolition?

In addition to the “Abolish Australia Day” demand, WAR also put forward other demands working people can support. These include “Stop Black Deaths in Custody”, “Stop Taking Our Kids” and “Aboriginal Sovereignty NOT Constitutional Recognition”. At the same time, they also put forward the demand to “Shut Down Prisons”.[7] The demand for prison abolition is problematic, however. There is no disputing that the prisons are used to oppress indigenous people. One glance at statistics indicating the grossly disproportionate rate of Aboriginal incarceration in Australia will demonstrate this in spades. Over the last 10 years, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people jailed has risen 88%, with indigenous people now thirteen (13) times more likely to end up in prison. Aboriginal women now make up a staggering 34% of all female prisoners, which represents a 148% increase since 1991.[8] These figures are some of the highest in the world.

Workers must be clear, though, that these are the prisons of the capitalist (Australian) state. They are the same prisons which are used to imprison impoverished non-indigenous working people who have gone astray largely due to the difficulties of living in a society of extreme inequality. Yet the catastrophically high indigenous incarceration rates indicate how the capitalist state uses racial oppression to keep working people divided, to prevent them from joining together to rise against their state. Prisons, like the courts, the police, the armed forces, the intelligence agencies and the civil service bureaucracy are the key apparatus of the class rule of capital, wielded against working people. Calling for the abolition (or “shut down”) of prisons is in practice a demand for the capitalist state to abolish itself. Working people know that injustices abound in prisons, but they instinctively sense that in the struggle to overthrow capital’s enslavement of wage earners, some prisons may well be necessary. The state itself can only be “abolished” in a global classless society of super-abundance – the higher stage of socialism. To reach that stage, the working class must first replace the capitalist state with its own workers’ state. Such a state will likely have a need for its own prisons, as well as its own courts, its own armed forces and so on. Yet these key sections of a workers’ state will only be used to hold down the remnants of the old order – those who, for example, imprisoned Aboriginal people wholesale.

Critical support for “Change the Date”

In the face of the reactionary determination of Liberal PM Scott Morrison and Labor Party “Opposition” leader Bill Shorten to enforce January 26 as Australia’s national day, we argue that workers should give critical support for the demand to “Change the Date”. This of course does not preclude raising and fighting for more far reaching demands such as: a Treaty, a program of public works specifically offering employment for Aboriginal people, the fullest possible autonomy for Aboriginal communities who desire it, and the full provision of government services (water, electricity, housing, healthcare etc.) for those who do not. The “Change the Date” demand, ergo, does not even contradict WAR’s demand for “Aboriginal Sovereignty NOT Constitutional Recognition”. We can swing behind “Change the Date” while at the same time recognising that it does not go far enough.

Marxists maintain that nations emerged as a form of human community specific to the rise and consolidation of commodity-capitalist social relations. While there is no doubt that the Australian nation was and is founded on the brutal and horrific crimes of dispossession and war against the indigenous people, it does not follow that Aboriginal (or cultural) nationalism will therefore aid their emancipation. Nations are also an aggregation of irreconcilable classes, and the two major classes which are decisive are labour and capital. It is the rule of capital – private production based on private ownership of the means of production – which is the source of the oppression of both the Aboriginal people AND the working class. Aboriginal people can thus only be liberated alongside workers brought to political power.

This does not mean a simple merging of the Aboriginal struggle into the working class struggle for socialism. It does, however, mean a struggle to form a multiracial Leninist vanguard party, combined of the most class conscious workers, pro-working class Aboriginals and migrants of all backgrounds. Such a party will then champion Aboriginal rights as a component part of the international battle against the capitalist imperialism which threatens humanity itself. The revolutionary integration of the Aboriginal rights struggle with the workers’ cause will illuminate the path to reparative justice.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2019/01/15/indigenous-youth-suicide-crisis-point (20-01-19)

[2] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-18/australia-day-debate-more-than-half-dont-mind-changing-the-date/9337500 (20-01-19)

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jan/13/scott-morrison-forces-councils-to-hold-citizenship-ceremonies-on-australia-day (20-01-19)

[4] https://www.pedestrian.tv/news/bill-shorten-australia-day-january-26/ (20-01-19)

[5] https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australian-1967-referendum (20-01-19)

[6] https://www.facebook.com/events/2199768573624040/?active_tab=discussion (20-01-19)

[7] Ibid, 6.

[8] http://caama.com.au/news/2018/law-council-of-australia (20-01-19)

Invasion Day 2019: Which Way to Justice?

Map highlighting West Papua. Image from RNZ

West Papua: Corporate Media Enlisted to Spread False Claims, Fake News

30-12-18 – As far as false flags go, this one was a whopper. In an “exclusive” posted in The Saturday Paper on December 22, John Martinkus and Mark Davis make the outlandish claim that the Indonesian military used white phosphorus munitions against West Papuan villagers in the region of Nduga.[1] White phosphorus is an internationally banned chemical weapon, due to the immense damage it causes to humans in a battlefield. It ignites spontaneously in contact with oxygen, and burns human flesh incessantly, causing unbearable pain and often death. The very mention of white phosphorus condemns those who use it against supposed adversaries. However, in this case, the mention of white phosphorus is calculated to cause maximum outrage, up to and including demands for Western intervention – as if that would do anything but make things worse.

Embedded regime change media

Given the recent background of John Martinkus and Mark Davis, and The Saturday Paper, and SBS, in stridently backing the US led war of regime change against the Syrian Arab Republic, it’s not difficult to see how they have transferred their skills in fake news. And the deadly irony is that the side they were paid propagandists for – US imperialism and its ISIS and Al-Qaeda death squad proxies – repeatedly used white phosphorus against Syrian civilians and anyone suspected of defending their government and armed forces against arguably the dirtiest war in history. A little over a month ago, it was reported that the US military used banned white phosphorus bombs in the Deir Ez-Zor province of Syria for the fourth time in two months.[2] It is not as if the US denies using banned white phosphorus munitions – a crime of colossal proportion. In 2017, the US military claimed that white phosphorus rounds were used for “screening” in a way that “considers civilians”.[3] Needless to say, the US military would probably also claim that its entire war for the overthrow of the Syrian state was because it was concerned for civilians!

Unfortunately the US was actively assisted in this atrocious war by other imperialist powers such as the United Kingdom (UK), France, Canada and Australia. And the region of Deir Ez-Zor is very close to home for the Australian ruling class. In 2016, the Australian military admitted that its warplanes had been involved in bombing in Deir Ez-Zor which not only slaughtered up to 82 Syrian soldiers,[4] but actively assisted ISIS alongside the US military. This was during a period where the US was back-pedalling due to the military success of Russia’s air strikes against ISIS, which were requested by the Syrian government.

2016 was the year in which John Martinkus openly propagandised for US imperialism, again ironically in the same The Saturday Paper. At that time there was a slew of Western corporate media slanders against the actions of the Russian military in Syria, with fabricated claims that Russia was bombing civilians instead of bombing ISIS, especially in and around the ancient city of Aleppo. John Martinkus’ article at that time was a part of this unprincipled barrage, and even claimed that the Syrian government also took part in supposedly raining death upon Syrian civilians.[5] For his part, Mark Davis also joined in as a mercenary journalist for hire, posting a video about the mythical “Syrian uprising”.[6]

If these reporters were consistent, or were even half remorseful about their role in working for imperialist interests against Syria, and in practice for the terrorist death squads armed by the West, they might have written a story about how the US used white phosphorus during its war on Syria, and still does. But no – now they have turned their hand to put together fabricated claims that the Indonesian military used white phosphorus against West Papuan separatists. In Syria, the aim was to call for further Western intervention to accelerate the destruction of the entire Syrian nation, potentially triggering a global nuclear war. Now, the aim appears to be a call for Western intervention into West Papua, on the basis of unproven and fake claims against the Indonesian armed forces. It seems the material benefits of fanning the flames of the nefarious ends of imperialism are too much to resist.

What did happen in Nduga?

In amongst the blanket of lies about white phosphorus, even compromised guns for hire feel compelled to report some of what actually occurred. The firing of some kind of gas projectiles into the Nduga region by the Indonesian military was in response to the slaughter of at least 31 workers who were constructing the Trans West Papua highway. The Saturday Paper’s “exclusive” admits that these killings were murders. These murders were apparently carried out after requests for the road workers to destroy a video of a flag raising ceremony in the region on December 1 – the day that West Papuans mark as their declaration of independence from Dutch colonialism in 1963. The armed Papuans apparently chased the workers back to their accommodation, and murdered 24 of them. 8 escaped to the home of a nearby politician, the armed Papuans again chased them to that place, and murdered 7 more.[7]

The Indonesian military (TNI) expressly denied using white phosphorus, and credibly pointed out that such munitions cannot be fired from a helicopter, but would be have to be fired from a jet fighter or a bomber, from a distances of tens or hundreds of kilometres away. A statement provided to the ABC by the Papua Military Command went on to say that the TNI does not operate jet fighters, let alone bombers.[8] On the other hand, the West Papuan armed groups make the likely claim that the road workers are in fact Indonesian military, and not civilians. Moreover, they claim that the Trans Papua Highway will be used for military purposes, and will not benefit civilians.[9] The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB) has claimed responsibility for the attack which took 31 lives.[10] Needless to say, once a dispute reaches the point of armed conflict, a political resolution becomes more and more difficult to attain.

Independence for West Papua?

There appears to be a divide between some of the armed separatist West Papuan groups and a political wing. Benny Wenda, the exiled chair of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), stated in response to the incidents in Nduga that his organisation does not want bloodshed, but does want Indonesia to come to the international table so there can be an agreement about a referendum.[11] At the same time, Victor Yiemo, international spokesperson for the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), stated that the TPN-PB is “our military and are fighting for our freedom and we support them”.[12]

What stance should working people take on the issue of independence for West Papua? Many on the left misinterpret the leader of the Russian Revolution, V.I. Lenin, on the issue of national liberation. While it is the case that Lenin and the Bolshevik party often advocated for the right of nations to self-determination, up to and including the right to separate – this was not always automatic. And more to the point, it was only advocated by the Bolsheviks in order to strengthen the struggle for socialism against capitalist imperialism. In the case of the nations within the Tsarist “prison-house of nations”, it was specifically put forward in order to gain working class support for the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a multi-national workers’ state. This later became a reality with the founding of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922. However, this was only possible after the working-class seizure of state power which was the spectacular success of the October Revolution of 1917.

In acknowledging the right of nations to self-determination, it does not follow that Marxists will therefore automatically advocate the exercise of such a right. In addition, while Marxists do not of course insist that a national liberation movement must necessarily have international socialist politics driving it before offering support, the politics of the leadership of such a movement must be analysed and assessed. It therefore becomes not so much a case of whether or not to demand, and fight for, independence. It is much more a case of independence with which politics?

More to the point, what is the political character of the leadership of the various groups pushing for independence for West Papua?  There is no doubt a historic injustice has been perpetrated against the people of West Papua, and thus a strong case could be put forward for independence. Yet if the current political leadership of such a movement is prepared to allow blatant false flags (such as the claim of being bombed with white phosphorus) in cahoots with Australian journalists with a track record of working directly for imperialism in perhaps the dirtiest war in history, such a leadership must at the very least be questioned. Imperialism itself repeatedly used blatant false flags – claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians, without a shred of evidence, to prosecute a war which slaughtered at least 500 000 innocent people. Is the political leadership of the West Papuan independence movement at all concerned that its movement could be associated with such forces?

United Nations – a double edged sword

Taking the cause of West Papuan independence to the United Nations (UN), or appealing to it to intervene on behalf of West Papua, has some advantages, but many disadvantages. On the one hand, it may be possible to score moral victories, in terms of votes in the General Assembly in favour. For example, the UN General Assembly has voted for many years for the lifting of the economic blockade on Cuba. Repeatedly, the only countries to vote against usually include the US and Israel. These indicative votes in favour of a basic issue of justice of course cannot be enforced, but help to establish a certain political justification. On the other hand, the UN is a body which is controlled by the various imperialist powers, and led by the largest imperialist of all – the US. Therefore, appeals to the United Nations (UN) recognises the existing power structure and builds illusions in the very system which holds the world in its death grip. It doesn’t point a way forward to liberation from this system – in West Papua or elsewhere.

The ULMWP is apparently campaigning throughout 2019 for a UN vote on West Papua, and are asking Australian to lobby the federal government to support it.[13] This is the same UN which oversaw the discredited “Act of Free Choice” decades ago, and rubber stamped the Indonesian take-over of West Papua soon after.  Some also lobby to expand the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP), which includes current Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.[14] Ironically, closer to home, Jeremy Corbyn is on record as opposing independence for Scotland. But the supreme danger in terms of working people swinging behind such moves is that it reinforces the central myth of corporate class rule – that, despite everything, bodies such as the UN, the Australian and UK Parliaments are “our” politicians and “our” leaders. Little could be further from the truth. These bodies are marionettes whose strings are pulled by the real rulers of the world – the holders of finance and industrial capital, accumulated daily by the endless toil of working people throughout the globe.

Neither can working people make apologetics for the Indonesian government or its military (TNI) with its role in West Papua. The only way to combat this politically though, is to reach out to Indonesian workers in West Papua and throughout Indonesia, in a struggle against capitalist rule in South West and South East Asia, and indeed throughout Australasia and the Pacific. This would impair the unhealthy dynamic of “Indonesia versus West Papua”, and also the even more unhealthy “Muslim versus Christian” by-product. Under this political context, the demand for West Papuan independence could be backed by working people in the region, and could spur on the much needed socialist revolutions in the imperialist centres. Key to this drive will be the formation of workers’ vanguard parties in West Papua, Indonesia, Australia and the Pacific. West Papua can only be liberated by the actions of workers united across Australasia.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2018/12/22/exclusive-chemical-weapons-dropped-papua/15453972007326 (27-12-18)

[2] https://www.mintpressnews.com/us-uses-banned-white-phosphorus-bombs-in-syrian-city-for-the-fourth-time-in-two-months/251537/ (27-12-18)

[3] https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201706091054502594-us-coalition-white-phosphorus-raqqa/ (27-12-18)

[4] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-18/australian-jets-involved-in-botched-air-strike-on-syrian-army/7855610 (27-12-18)

[5] https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2016/10/01/syrian-city-aleppo-under-siege/14752440003804 (27-12-18)

[6] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/dateline/story/syrias-uprising  (27-12-18)

 

[7] Ibid, 1.

[8] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-23/indonesia-military-denies-using-chemical-weapons-in-west-papua/10664402 (27-12-18)

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/05/west-papua-fears-of-spiralling-violence-after-attack-leaves-up-to-31-dead (27-12-18)

[10] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s2h8nHc1KA&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0mv9fNQ1anWtMi1Xco-mos6f_ZcJujcJVmeQdjC6vhvkobrwj3CKJ1mPM (27-12-18)

[11] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/06/west-papua-independence-leader-urges-calm-after-killings (27-12-18)

[12] Ibid, 11.

[13] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/west-papua-liberation-movement-calls-un-support-independence-referendum-2019 (28-12-18)

[14] https://www.ipwp.org/ipwp-news/historic-meeting-with-leader-of-the-opposition-rt-jeremy-corbyn-london/ (28-12-18)

West Papua: Corporate Media Enlisted to Spread False Claims, Fake News

Yellow Vest protestors, with one holding a placard calling for the resignation of President Macron. Image from the Daily Sabah

Yellow Vest Rebellion Shakes Neo-Con Rule

18-12-2018 – “Act Five” of the Gilet Jaunes (Yellow Vest) demonstrations continued across France this past weekend. While the numbers were down compared to round four the week before – perhaps due to police violence against the demonstrators, tens of thousands across France again rallied in the face of the armed fist of the state. Some reports say that 3 000 rallied in Paris, while there were 66 000 across the country – compared with 125 000 a week ago.[1] In typical French fashion, anti-government protests, when they erupt, continue for weeks on end. Whether it can keep its momentum remains to be seen.

The brave protestors have already won one of their main demands – the abolition of the fuel tax increase on petrol and diesel, which had been imposed by the government as a “green tax”. At the same time, French President Emmanuel Macron refused to abolish the scrapping of a “wealth tax”, which has earnt him derision as the “president for the rich”.[2] If the Yellow Vest movement continues across France, and inspires similar actions across Europe, the French President will struggle to retain his post.

More than cost of fuel concerns

Yet the Yellow Vest movement is not just about President Macron, and not just about a concern about high fuel prices. The leaderless movement has nonetheless circulated a list of demands, with the vast majority about the high cost of living, heavy workloads for little or no gain, and general unease about an unjust order which favours the rich at the expense of the poor and the “middle class”.[3] In other words, the Yellow Vest rebellion is an uprising against capitalism, but without saying so openly. The lack of pro-working class leadership somewhat restricts the goals of the movement, but at the same time this distance from the official “left” is what has allowed its launch and growth so far. From a distance it seems that in France, like Australia, what passes for the left is seen as too reformist, and the Union bureaucracy too concerned for the contents of their own pockets. In such conditions, revolt against neo-conservative government rule, had to take place outside of the “left”.

Some have claimed that amongst the Yellow Vests are right-wing or even fascist elements, attempting to drive it down their avenues. While the Yellow Vests have so far eschewed association with any political party or movement, left or right, the direction so far is much more left wing insofar as it is demonstrating against the immense inequality of a profits first system. Moreover, it possibly portends even a revolution to redress these rightful grievances, and many others, built up over several decades. It is a revolt against the elite which is not only enriching itself at the expense of the poor, but threatening the very existence of human civilisation. In addition, in stark contrast to the right-wing populism which has perhaps understandably produced Brexit in the United Kingdom, Trump in the US, and Bolsonaro in Brazil, the Yellow Vests do not have an anti-immigrant or a racist anti-European Union (EU) position per se.[4]

In fact, the Yellow Vest’s stance towards the EU does call for a “Frexit” – a pull-out from the EU. According to some demands which have been circulating in their name, the Frexit is called for to “regain economic, monetary and political sovereignty”.[5] Here there is perhaps a lack of class awareness, for if France was to exit the EU, French workers would still be subject to the oppression of “their own” ruling class. Nevertheless, the content does not indicate the arrant racism which compelled some Britons to vote for Brexit. The EU is an imperialist trading bloc, which seeks to drive down the living and working conditions of all European workers to benefit the wealthiest European ruling classes, particularly the French and German. Workers need a left-wing opposition to the EU, which the Yellow Vests provide.

Perhaps the most progressive Yellow Vest demand of all is the call for France to cease its participation in foreign wars of aggression, and for an exit from NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation).[6] French imperialism took part in arguably the dirtiest war in history – the arming and funding of terrorist death squads to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic from 2011 to 2018. Much of what passes for the “left” internationally backed this atrocious war of regime change against Syria, so in this sense alone the Yellow Vests are leagues ahead of liberal war-mongering. As for NATO, it is no exaggeration to say that it is threatening the world with global nuclear war. NATO was always an imperialist anti-Russian pact, whether in the form of the former Soviet Union, or modern Russia. Driven by the US Empire, it is an imperialist alliance pushing humanity to the brink of a catastrophic war. The Yellow Vest demand for a French exit from NATO fills part of the anti-war gap which flowed from the liberal non-opposition to the NATO wars against Libya and Syria. This should be complemented by similar demands to leave NATO by workers in NATO countries, and demands internationally for its abolition.

Similarly, the Yellow Vest demand for the repatriation of all French soldiers from “Francafique” – former French colonies in Africa, to cease interfering in the African countries, and for equal relations between them and France[7], is virtually a demand for the final end of French colonialism. Algeria was only the most well-known French African colony, after its battles for independence. But “Francafique” includes Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Benin, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Gambia, Chad and Cameroon. Direct military occupation by France is not entirely a thing of the past, to which the Yellow Vests draw attention.

Environment

The Yellow Vests were criticised in some quarters for ignoring environmental issues such as global warming, given that their central demand (which they subsequently won) was for the abolition of a fuel tax increase. But in fact, the Yellow Vests were well aware of the acute danger of climate disruption and agreed that measures must be taken to deal with it. Their only precondition was that the poor, working class and sections of the middle class should not be made to pay for it – while the rich elite get off scot-free. In Australia, while there was no open revolt on the streets, many people rejected the former Labor Party federal government’s “carbon tax” for similar reasons – despite right-wingers also opposing it on the basis of climate denial.

The Yellow Vest manifesto does contain significant pro-environment measures. For example, it calls for a ban on the production of plastic bottles, a call to weaken the power of Big Pharma (large scale pharmaceutical companies), and demands a ban on GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) crops, carcinogenic (cancer causing) pesticides, endocrine disruptors (cancer causing chemicals) and monocrops (the large scale growing of one crop over vast fields).[8] It should be recognised that under a socialist system, with the profit motive absent, GMOs could potentially be used to increase crop yield to feed more people. Under private production for private profit, however, GMOs in the hands of corporate agribusiness contain critical danger. The Yellow Vests are on point here, as was the President of Syria – a target of imperialism, when he banned the use of GMOs in that country in 2012.[9]

Perhaps the most remarkable environmental demand of the Yellow Vests is the call for all products to be made to last 10 years, and for spare parts to be available for them during that time.[10] They explicitly call for the end of “planned obsolescence” – a hallmark of late capitalism. “Planned obsolescence” is of course where the manufacturing corporations deliberately manufacture products with a short lifespan, sometimes as little as 12 months. At a certain point, capital realised that making good quality products which had a long life span actually prevented the masses from purchasing new ones. Thus the “throw away” society was born, with people more or less encouraged to dispose of old things rather than have them repaired. And indeed, repairs became uneconomical or even impossible to come by. The throw-away society is just one aspect of the inherently anti-environmental practice of the profit system.

For state protection of the vulnerable

The Yellow Vest manifesto contains significant demands for the welfare and well-being of the masses. For example, it calls for an increase of 40% of the basic pension and social welfare. It calls for an increase in hiring in the public sector to re-establish public services. It demands a public housing program to house the 5 million homeless, and severe penalties for mayors that leave people on the streets.[11] This is recognition of how the capitalist system has abandoned and turned against the working class over the last 30 years.

This drive is often referred to as “neoliberalism”, but this is a misnomer. “Neoliberalism” is not a policy choice, but the current phase of capitalism. From their perspective, the crisis in the rate of the profitability of capital has driven demands to release whole areas where previously the state organised and ran public services. Education, public housing, healthcare, legal aid, public transport, infrastructure – all of these areas and more had previously been undertaken by the capitalist state in order to assure the profitability of private capital. It did this by running sections of the economy where the capitalists could not obtain an adequate rate of return, and thus had no interest. Now, capital no longer makes an adequate profit from the industries it traditionally invested in. This is the basic reason for the relentless wave of privatisation.

Confuting demands

Despite the progressive overall direction of the Yellow Vest manifesto, at the same time it contains demands which aid the oppressive system they rebel against. For example, it calls for the “prevention of migratory flows which cannot be accommodated or integrated”.[12] This does not come across as an extreme anti-immigration position, but appears to bend in that direction. Mass migration to Europe in recent times has largely come about due to the wars imperialism has waged in the Middle East and Northern Africa – a fact recognised by other Yellow Vest demands. Yet it is a dangerous path to go down to play into the central divide and rule tactic the ruling classes use against workers. Capital says to unwitting workers, your enemies are “foreigners” – not the obscenely rich corporations. It should be recognised that there are some issues with the large numbers of migrants flowing into Europe in some areas. Yet these issues are minor in comparison with the error of throwing in your lot with the elite classes, which is the inevitable result of falling for an anti-migrant line.

In addition, the demand for the “quadrupling of the budget for law and order” could easily go in the opposite direction to that which is intended. The full demand does demand access to judicial procedures for all[13], which trends in a progressive direction. Under the rule of capital, the poor and working classes generally cannot afford to either defend a legal case, or bring one before a court of law. This is yet another injustice of the rule of finance capital. However, calling for a four-fold increase of the budget for law and order could very well mean four times the amount of riot police the Yellow Vests will face on the streets! The Yellow Vests appear to be somewhat unaware of the class nature of the capitalist state.

The treacherous role of the Trade Union bureaucracy was displayed in a statement released by six Union confederations on December 6. It denounced “all forms of violence”, did not ask anyone to join the Yellow Vest demonstrations, and effectively called for “negotiations”.[14] The conservative officials risk being seen as at one with the government itself, which again increases the risk of workers turning away from Unions altogether, into the hands of the far right.

Despite the reformism of the hidebound Union officials, and despite the at times contradictory demands of the Yellow Vest manifesto, it is in the interests of workers internationally to join and/or come behind a general uprising against capitalist class rule. If a Marxist vanguard was to form, it could give crucial leadership to a movement which has thus far remained leaderless by necessity – given the reformism of the “left” and the conservatism of the Union officials. Clarity of the political role of capital and the role of the working class in fighting for its liberation is at a premium. The rule of the rich must end.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

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

[1] https://www.dw.com/en/fifth-round-of-yellow-vest-protests-in-france-with-3000-in-paris/a-46754716 (18-12-18)

[2] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/12/05/macron-mulls-bringing-back-ultra-rich-tax-halt-yellow-vest-protests/ (18-12-18)

[3] https://www.sott.net/article/402396-What-do-the-protesters-in-France-want-Check-out-the-official-Yellow-Vest-manifesto (18-12-18)

[4] http://newsjunkiepost.com/2018/12/07/are-the-gilets-jaunes-todays-sans-culottes/ (19-12-18)

[5] https://www.sott.net/article/402396-What-do-the-protesters-in-France-want-Check-out-the-official-Yellow-Vest-manifesto (19-12-18)

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/assad-bans-gmos-in-food-to-preserve-the-health-of-human-beings/article4620664/ (22-12-18)

[10] Ibid, 5.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] https://redflag.org.au/node/6640 (23-12-18)

Yellow Vest Rebellion Shakes Neo-Con Rule

Image from @stopadani on twitter

Stop Adani Now – the Planet is Burning!

08-12-2018 – Queensland is literally on fire. 140 bushfires, some of which are described as “firestorms” have torched areas of Central Queensland this last fortnight. Some people who have evacuated have spent a week away from their homes, unable to return. The rabid intensity of these fires is a window to the dire portent of cataclysmic global warming which is only just beginning. Climate denialists no longer have an audience, if they ever did, in the face of chaotic and dangerous “weather” sweeping the globe.

In the face of this reality, the obscenity of the Adani coal mine slated for the Galilee Basin is a stark reminder of the archaic political system which allows, and even encourages, its own destruction. In the face of coal mines being green lighted and Pacific Islands being swallowed up by the sea, last week saw a “School Strike 4 Climate” where primary and secondary students around the country walked out of school to protest the glaring lack of action by politicians.[1] The Stop Adani campaign continues, following on from Adani’s recent claim that its mega coal mine will go ahead. It will apparently now be self-funded, after a string of domestic and international banks refused to provide finance.[2]

Break with the system to stop Adani

All of the urgent student actions and all of the actions against the Adani monstrosity need to continue. They are desperately needed and allow those most aware of potentially civilisation ending ecological collapse to step into activism. At the same time, the political leadership of the official Stop Adani campaign and the School Strike for Climate steer the actions on a course which is 180 degrees in the wrong direction. They seek to simply lobby the very politicians who know very well who they are serving, which is certainly not “the people” or those without wealth. These politicians are “not listening” because they are trained operatives defending that which produced Adani – the capitalist system of production for private profit. The parliament itself is set up as a foil for working people – it sustains the massive illusion that there are representative bodies that are responsive to their needs.

The official Stop Adani campaign is focusing on lobbying the Labor Party, especially in the lead up to the coming federal election. The Labor Party (ALP) is as committed to capitalist environmental desecration as the profit-gouging corporations themselves. If the Labor Party wanted to, it could Stop Adani tomorrow, as it holds government in Queensland. Instead, federal ALP leader Bill Shorten recently stated that the Adani coal mine would not affect carbon emissions !![3] It should be clear that the Labor Party is prepared to lose an election rather than oppose the Adani coal mine. This highlights the futility of not only lobbying the ALP, but the parliament and every pillar of the rule of capital. To really stop Adani, the political leadership of the campaign will have to break with the entire apparatus of the system.

Yet breaking with the system is not the intention of the political leadership of the Stop Adani campaign, and the campaign against global warming in general. On the contrary, their intention is to drive working people back towards the system, towards parliament, towards “our politicians”. This is the deadliest illusion of them all. Politicians who are paid apparatchiks of the rule of the banks are not “ours” in the slightest way. They are hired guns of an alien class – the elite billionaires whose wealth accumulates on the backs of the labour of workers. There may be some politicians who, in words, sound more liberal, and more progressive than others. Yet they are just as much guns for hire as conservatives.

There are a myriad of NGOs (Non-Government Organisations) who are very well funded, whose prime aim is to steer the Stop Adani and climate change movements back towards the supposedly liberal politicians, into parliament, and indeed, right back into the very source of environmental destruction – capitalism itself. This appears as a contradiction only to those who have yet to side with the workers in their struggle for emancipation. Stop Adani, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), SEED (a branch of AYCC), 350.org, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and GetUp!  are the primary NGOs who bend over backwards to limit the campaign to stop Adani within the strict bounds of appealing to corporate Australia, and the parliament as its puppet, to “be reasonable”. But there is no reasoning with those who build their careers and accumulate obscene profits at the expense of the lives of workers.

PRC lights the way

The idea that socialism in power can counteract dangerous climate change is anathema to liberal minded NGOs. Yet this is precisely what is happening in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In the PRC, working class power arrived with the victory of the 1949 revolution. There have been many changes since that time, but today the PRC government is the major power in the world which is making serious efforts to counteract fast approaching global warming. The PRC is phasing out coal, implementing electric bus transport in cities, and heavily investing in solar and wind power.[4] For serious efforts to move away from coal, however, the PRC is now the fastest expanding nuclear power producer.[5]  Rather than the fantasy of “100% renewable energy”, what is required is the correct mix of all zero carbon energy sources. That is, perhaps until nuclear fusion is developed, at which point all other zero carbon energy sources will probably be eclipsed. And, lo and behold, it is the PRC which is leading the way here also.[6]

While China’s socialism is far from perfect, the graphic lesson is that only a workers’ state can take resolute measures towards holding humanity back from the abyss of climate catastrophe. Rather than a fool’s gallery of elite politicians and their plush parliaments, the Stop Adani campaign must look to working people and its potential collective power to stop both coal and capitalism in its tracks.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.smh.com.au/education/school-students-on-mass-strike-to-protest-climate-change-inaction-20181129-p50j4c.html (05-12-18)

[2] https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/pm/adani-carmichael-coal-mine-to-proceed-scaled-back-self-funded/10568600 (05-12-18)

[3] http://www.greencareer.net.au/news/shorten-coy-on-adani-emissions (05-12-18)

[4] https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/after-airpocalypse-5-ways-china-becoming-global-climate-leader (06-12-18)

[5] https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/how-china-has-become-the-worlds-fastest-expanding-nuclear-power-producer (06-12-18)

[6] https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-china-blog-43792655 (06-12.18)

Stop Adani Now – the Planet is Burning!

A view of Crimean Bridge across the Kerch Strait closed for the passage of civil vessels after three Ukrainian Navy vessels illegally crossed the Russian border into Russia’s territorial waters. (Alexei PavlishakTASS via Getty Images)

Nazi Backed Coup Govt Drives Ukraine to War – Again

02-12-2018 – In a world which was not upside down, open military provocations against a neighbouring country which threaten catastrophic war near the European landmass would be universally condemned. When the targeted country happens to be Russia, however, any provocation, however hostile, is justified. Defying basic logic, such taunting can even be twisted to be presented as a “Russian attack”.[1] Such is the world of the Western corporate media, official mouthpieces for the behemoth of US imperialism.

What actually occurred was an open and reckless provocation by the Kiev based Ukrainian government against Russia, acting as a cat’s paw for US/EU/NATO imperialism. Three ships were ordered to deliberately enter Russian territorial waters by crossing the Kerch Strait, without the required notification to Russian maritime authorities. How do we know this? Because the Ukrainian sailors have already admitted as such.[2] Not only that, the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), have also admitted that it had two agents aboard the Ukrainian naval ships which were detained by Russia for ignoring warnings to cease their dangerous manoeuvres.[3] Throwing away even a semblance of an independent mask, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko then publicly appealed for NATO ships to patrol the Sea of Azov to “provide security”[4].

Martial law?

Continuing the charade, Poroshenko then declared martial law – inside Ukraine – supposedly to deter hostile acts from Russia. As others have pointed out, declaring martial law within Ukraine, for something that happened out at sea, is highly suspicious.[5]  Yet more dubious actions have followed. On November 30, Poroshenko banned Russian males between the ages of 16 and 60 from entering Ukraine. He claimed that this was to prevent Russians forming private armies which, he claimed, act as directed by the Russian Federation.[6] He outrageously claimed that these “armies” aim to finish what started in 2014.

Working people need to be clear. What actually occurred in 2014 in Ukraine was a US/EU/NATO backed fascist coup against an elected government. It was this fascist coup in February 2014 which brought Poroshenko and his cronies into “government”. While the Poroshenko government just barely stops short of being an organised fascist movement, his government relies on support from literal pro-Nazi Ukrainian fascists who are viscerally anti-Russian, anti-socialist and pro-US. In response to this fascist backed coup, Ukrainian areas in the East bravely declared independence in opposition to the Kiev based fascist coup government. They formed the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic. Given their refusal to submit to NATO armed fascism, they deserve the support of workers worldwide.

Once again on Crimea

Ever since 2014, the Western corporate press has repeated a falsehood over and over and over again – that Russia “annexed” Crimea. Such language harks back to pre-World War I rhetoric, and provides an ominous presage to World War III. What occurred was that Crimeans voted by an undisputable majority – over 95%[7] – to secede from Ukraine and to join the Russian Federation. Crimea is overwhelmingly ethnically and linguistically Russian, but even that was only part of the reason why a reunion with Russia was the almost universal choice. Crimeans voted to join Russia because the alternative was to live under the rule of NATO armed fascists.  Barely a word of this essential truth ever appears in the corporate media of the US Empire and its vassal states. No amount of desperate fairy-tale retelling of events by Washington, London, Paris and Canberra can unmake this fact.

For the imperialists, war is the only way out of the economic and political crisis which is almost entirely of their own making. The collapse of “free enterprise” capitalism in the US, Europe, Japan and Australia, and the subsequent vicious attacks on the workers which result, means that the Western elites must have a scapegoat and a target, lest they face open revolt at home. Russia is the easy target, what with a century of anti-Soviet propaganda already hammered into the psyche of a suffering Western working class. Hence, Russophobia makes a dramatic return, and is then ramped up to hysterical levels. As we have mentioned previously, the Russophobia of today contains a combination of racism and anti-communism, even despite the overthrow of socialism in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991-2.

This is why it is in the vital interests of the word’s workers to defend Russia against US imperialism, despite the capitalism restored in Russia since that time. This is why also it was necessary to stand by Russia as it effectively defeated the ISIS mercenary death squads in Syria. In fact, the US led war for regime change in Syria was in part a proxy war against Russia. In the same way, the NATO backing of fascists in Ukraine is in some ways an even larger proxy war against neighbouring Russia. While the foreign policy of the Russian state can sometimes be highly questionable, e.g. maintaining good relations with dubious states such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, at the same time the Russian state is one of the only entities which is currently preventing Wall Street from launching a catastrophic war which could potentially incinerate hundreds of millions of people. In fact, Russia today effectively takes on the responsibility – which it did not ask for – of holding the US/EU/NATO juggernaut in check.

The Russian state today, with its strategic military strength, will need to be a temporary ally in the struggle for socialism of the world’s working people, insofar as it acts to stay the hand of a marauding and dangerous US imperialism. At the same time, pro-socialist workers within Russia need to recruit to their own banner, in the course of linking with other pro-working class forces internationally, in the struggle to prevent the US Empire from launching World War III. Australian left parties especially, need to utterly reject all facets of Russophobia, and act to combat its dissemination amongst working people.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

 

[1] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-26/whats-next-after-russia-and-ukraine-tensions-rise/10554870 (27-11-18)

[2] https://thesaker.is/ukrainian-sailors-confirm-that-they-deliberately-entered-russian-waters/ (01-12-18)

[3] http://tass.com/world/1032816 (01-12-18)

[4] https://www.euractiv.com/section/defence-and-security/news/putin-defends-seizure-of-ukrainian-ships-poroshenko-invites-nato-in-azov-sea/ (01-12-18)

[5] http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2018/11/ukraine-provokes-russia-to-what-end.html (01-12-18)

[6] https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/ukraine-bans-russian-men-between-16-and-60-from-entering-country.html (01-12-18)

[7] https://www.rt.com/news/crimea-vote-join-russia-210/ (02-12-18)

Nazi Backed Coup Govt Drives Ukraine to War – Again

Papua New Guinean indigenous dancers welcome delegates to the APEC summit in Port Moresby. Image from Sputnik International

APEC 2018: US Threatens New Pacific War

24-11-2018 – Asia Pacific Economic Co-Operation (APEC) meetings are usually straight forward affairs, full of feel good rhetoric about “free” trade and co-operation. This year it is a different story, with no traditional joint communique able to be cobbled together amongst the 21 member states.[1] The corporate media offer the vapid analysis that this was due to tensions between the governments of the United States of America (US) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In reality, this year’s APEC summit was one in which the US rulers threatened, yet again, to launch a catastrophic war against Red China.  If triggered, such a war could annihilate millions of innocent human beings. As usual, Washington is backed to the hilt by vassal Canberra politicians, recklessly endangering the entire Asia-Pacific.

Manus Island military base?

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the development of the Lombrum naval base, along with the US military at the APEC summit. The Lombrum naval base is on Manus Island, and has not been used as a US base since World War II. The Manus Island  Papua New Guinea (PNG) governor, Charlie Benjamin, stated that the naval base is only in the interests of the US and Australia, not PNG locals.[2] It is the cruelest of ironies, that the base could be expanded on Manus Island, which the Australian government has made notorious by using it as a location for the inhuman torture of refugees and those seeking a safe place to live. To be both a base for the illegal and unjust detention of innocents, as well as a staging post for the potential launching of US led imperialist war, condemns the systems which allow it. The Australian ruling class has already allowed the US to use Darwin as a rotating training ground for thousands of its marines, but Manus Island would be a beach head significantly closer to their target – mainland China.

The language from PRC President Xi Jinping was conciliatory and offered cautious warnings, whereas the language from US Vice President Mike Pence was almost inflammatory. President Xi defended the trillion dollar One Belt One Road (New Silk Road) infrastructure development project as one which has no hidden political agendas, and which targets no one. Vice President Pence, on the other hand, claimed that the US offers its partners no coercion, no drowning countries in a sea of debt, and no compromises on their independence.[3] The US spokesperson retailed bald faced lies when referring obliquely to China’s mutual assistance projects it undertakes throughout Eurasia and the Asia-Pacific. The fact is that the US, mired in a capitalist economic crisis of its making, is not in a position to offer the development assistance that China’s huge state led economy can. The US rulers know that the longer they sit back, the more they will be overtaken by the PRC. Unable to countenance coming second to anyone, let alone an Asian country which 70 years ago was mired in Third World conditions, Washington’s only chance to prevent being overtaken is to launch a cataclysmic war – regardless of the costs.

Socialism versus capitalism

Mainstream media reports of China and the US refer to “rivalry” and “tensions” between two superpowers, where they sometimes admit that the US is past the peak of its power, whereas China is rising. What they cannot say is that China versus the US today is a case of socialism versus capitalism. Yes, the socialism in China is distorted, imperfect, and sometimes politically misled internally and internationally by the Communist Party of China (CPC). Despite this, China’s rapid advance over the last 30 years clearly demonstrates the superiority of the socialist mode of production, based predominantly on public ownership of the means of production, vis-à-vis the capitalist mode of production based on private ownership of the means of production by a tiny handful of obscenely wealthy elites, as in the West. While world capitalism entered the “Third Slump” in 2008 and has barely recovered, China’s economy powers along, outstripping the West even despite not being able to yet match Western labour productivity overall.

China ended the “century of humiliation” at the hands of the colonial powers in 1949, with the final victory of its socialist revolution. Today, China’s stupendous economic growth is driven by the workers’ state which emerged out of this victory, in which hundreds of millions of workers and peasants overturned feudal and capitalist rule. In the PRC, the banks, transport infrastructure, telecommunications, electricity, shipping, defence industries, space industries, robotics, aircraft and train manufacturing, media, cinema and computer chip manufacturing, amongst other things, are all state owned or majority state owned. And they are all supervised and controlled by the government to ensure they stay within the limits of the five year plan. This has led to stunning breakthroughs by Chinese made technology, with, for example, China leading the way in the production of supercomputers,[4] and being the first country to effect a soft landing on the dark side of the moon.[5]

The capitalist economies of the US, Europe, Japan and Australia, on the other hand, remain mired in effective recession. In Australia, wages in terms of purchasing power have never been lower in history. All governments routinely slash public spending on healthcare, education, public transport, pensions, aged care etc., and funnel it directly to the private sector. This has little effect, the rate of profit continues to fall, and working people suffer the consequences. Poverty and homelessness is skyrocketing in Australia and also the United Kingdom (UK). These governments then try to divert the backlash – onto China!

Working people should not fear China but defend it, in the process of struggling to achieve socialism on these shores. Infrastructure development, decent public transport, banks which provide a low cost service, affordable housing, indeed – a better life – all this and more awaits if workers can prevent Washington and Canberra from launching a calamitous war in the Pacific.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://postcourier.com.pg/happens-undeliverable-apec-2018-png-communique/ (24-11-18)

[2] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-21/manus-governor-slams-australia-over-naval-base-plans/10515910 (24-11-18)

[3] https://mothership.sg/2018/11/chinese-president-xi-jinping-us-vice-president-mike-pence-2018-apec-summit/ (24-11-18)

[4] https://www.datacenterknowledge.com/supercomputers/world-s-10-fastest-supercomputers-pictures (24-11-18)

[5] https://bgr.com/2018/08/16/china-moon-rovers-dark-side-launch-2018/ (24-11-18)

APEC 2018: US Threatens New Pacific War

Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro at a rally in Rio De Janeiro. Image from The Guardian

Brazil: “Trump of the Tropics” Assisted into Power

17-11-2018 – Fascism has arrived in Brazil. Or so we are told. Jair Bolsonaro, who won the Presidential candidacy of the Social Liberal Party (PSL) after only joining that party at the beginning of the year, won the second round of Presidential elections on the 29th of October. The ultra-right Bolsonaro secured 55.1% of the vote[1], over the Workers Party (PT) candidate Fernando Haddad. Bolsonaro has made a string of ultra-conservative and fascist-like statements, from openly supporting military dictatorship, the use of torture by the authorities, to overtly sexist, racist and homophobic comments. Bolsonaro even once stated that former Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet “should have killed more people”.[2]

Working people should be clear. Fascism has not “arrived” with the election of Bolsonaro. An ultra-right wing, ultra-conservative has won electoral power, which has created conditions which may lead to fascism – the mobilisation of dissatisfied and despairing workers and small business people combined with the forces of capitalist state power enabling the physical crushing and dispersal of Unions, socialist parties and anyone suspected of being left-wing. Ironically, labelling Bolsonaro “fascist” may even spur his popularity even further, and backfire still further on politically progressive forces.

PT betrayals

The sad truth is that the ultra-right “Trump of the Tropics” was handed power by the “left” – principally the PT, but also by other left parties trailing in its wake. Thirteen years of betrayals by the PT in government,, from 2003 to 2016, first under President Luis Inacio Da Silva (known as “Lula”), and then under President Dilma Rousseff, where the PT moved so far to the right so as to be almost indistinguishable from actual conservatives – led directly to the working class switching their allegiances even further to the right. It mirrored the combination of political circumstances that led to the US working class ultimately opting for Trumpism, convinced that something, anything, that appears to be outside standard establishment politics – is worth a try. The working class as a whole, which by no means endorses or agrees with all ultra-conservative political positions, was willing to turn a blind eye to the excesses of Bolsonaro, convinced that nothing could be worse than the PT governed status quo.

In the same way that Obama and Clinton paved the way for Trump, Lula and Dilma paved the way for Bolsonaro. Also, in both cases, the capitalist left (the Democrats in the US, the PT in Brazil) was aided and assisted by the extra-parliamentary left parties, who ultimately could not break from “lesser evilism”, and thus remained as activist adjuncts to the “left” in government. No matter how right wing the Democrats and the PT became, these left parties in practice played the role of establishing an effective permanent popular front. A popular front is usually where ostensibly pro-working class organisations and parties link themselves to a “progressive” capitalist party, in a “broad front” against the right. But what this automatically entails is the working class chaining itself directly to the “left” wing of the ruling class, completely disempowering it. The popular front can raise no demands whatsoever that are not acceptable to the capitalist class as a whole – and thus the working class as a whole understandably sees it – and mistakenly the “left” – as no different to the entire system which makes their lives harder to endure.

It’s true that the PT in government carried out some minor reforms. The Progama Bolsa Familia (PBF) was introduced by Lula in 2003, and gave cash transfers to poorer families in return for ensuring children attended schools and were vaccinated. It led to a reported 28% reduction in poverty overall.[3] Between 2003 and 2010, the years of the Lula presidency, the Brazilian minimum wage steadily increased, and in fact quadrupled.[4]  There was also the creation of 14 million formal sector jobs, which led to an impressive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 7.5% by the time Lula left office[5], when he handed over to Dilma Rousseff. These redistributive practices, and the resulting surge in apparent economic growth, led to Brazil joining the US Empire challenging BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) economic and political bloc.

PT corruption

However, these measures did little to counter the overall fiscally conservative economic policies of the PT government. There may have been a hope, when the PT was first elected in 2003, that it might be immune to the widespread corruption of the Brazilian capitalist political system, which pre-dated the election of the PT by decades. But it wasn’t long before the PT, and Lula himself, was implicated in overtly corrupt practices. In 2006, the PT was investigated by federal police for spending 1.7 million reais (the Brazilian currency) on a “proof of corruption” file against a political rival to the PT running for governor of Sao Paulo. Lula denied any involvement on his part, but the then PT president was forced to resign.[6]

While Lula left office in 2010 still retaining some personal popularity, the corruption scandal which engulfed the PT in 2013 probably ended any chance of the PT rehabilitating itself in the eyes of the masses. The Lava Jato (“car wash”) scandal involved large sums of money being paid to several political parties – including the PT – through the state owned oil company Petrobras. Huge demonstrations erupted in 2015 against the ongoing corruption of the PT administration, and against Dilma Rousseff as leader. Although some of this opposition included middle class opposition to some of the PT’s mild redistribution of some state funds, large parts consisted of workers fed up with corruption in combination with other austerity measures.[7] As in many parts of the world, the working class is usually “tolerates” a certain level of corruption amongst politicians, but at a certain point a tipping point is reached. The PT themselves presided over this period when Brazilians said “Enough!”

It was the PT in power when extensive protests over increases in public transport fares broke out in 2013.[8] It was the PT in power when deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon – the “lungs of the earth” – virtually reached the “point of no return”.[9] It was during the time of the PT in power when Brazil’s prisoners revolted over the relentless overcrowding of prisons.[10] It was the PT government that did little to address concentrated land ownership in Brazil, and even favoured corporate agribusiness against landless peasant farmers, a reported 200 000 of whom still have no plot of land to till.[11] In fact, it was the Dilma led PT government which classified roadblocks and land occupations – protest measures used by landless peasant farmers – as “terrorist” crimes.[12]

It was the Lula led PT government which sent Brazilian troops to occupy Haiti in 2004, and where they remained for 13 years. Reportedly the Brazilian troops as part of the United Nations Mission for the Stabilisation of Haiti (Minustah), took part in the terrorisation of the poor and students in the favelas of Haiti, in which some Haitians perished.[13] These practices were repeated against poor Brazilians who rose in revolt against the millions spent by the PT led governments hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

Very early in the Lula PT government, from around 2004, the PT’s open attacks on the pension system aroused bitter indignation from Brazil’s workers. The age of eligibility for the age pension was jacked up to 60 for men and 55 for women. Today this may sound modest, but in fact the eligibility age for the pension at the time exceeded average life expectancy, which then stood at 59.[14] There was a wave of workers’ strikes in response. In short, the PT led a capitalist government in Brazil from 2003 to 2016, whose actions engendered bitter hostility and enmity from Brazil’s vast working class.

Identity politics repels workers

Much is made of Bolsonaro’s seemingly open embrace of racism, sexism and homophobia. Make no mistake, the working class movement for socialism cannot be successful unless it combats racism, sexism and homophobia in the process of its struggles against capitalism. The problem, however, is that today, the liberal left harps on about these issues in isolation from a political offensive against the ravages of the free market system. The liberal left also excuse the capitalist left – the PT in the case of Brazil – from their targeting. They assume that the words of capitalist parties such as the PT means that the PT actually genuinely opposes racism, sexism and homophobia. While the rhetoric of the PT may rail against these things, the PT does not attempt to confront the system of private production for private profit – which produces the racism, sexism and homophobia in the first place.

In the 1960s and 1970s, at least in the West, there was a working class upsurge against the imperialist war on Vietnam waged by the US government. This led to the famed ‘radicalisation’ of politics at that time, with many working class people identifying with socialism. This partially enabled other sectors to politically radicalise, as they were given momentum by the vast anti-war movement – but also by an extensive trade union and workers’ movement. This was the time of the “second wave” of feminism, which made strides towards women’s liberation. It was the time of expansive anti-racist movements, with the civil rights movement involving African-Americans in the US. And it was the time of the initial breaking through of movements for lesbian and gay liberation. These were vital political steps forward, and they had great political impact because they were linked to large scale progressive working class movements such as the anti-Vietnam war movement and a strong trade union movement.

Fast forward to today, and we unfortunately find that the Union movement is probably at its weakest point in a century. And unfortunately there is scarcely an anti-war movement at the very time when the world is threatened by a new cold war. In fact, much of the Western left actually came behind the imperialist wars on Libya and Syria. So when workers see the liberal left engaging in loud campaigns against racism, sexism and homophobia – but are almost silent during imperialist wars AND during years of ruling class attacks on living standards – understandably some workers come to view the left as being of very little help. In fact, some workers can come to see the “left” as part of the problem.

In addition, workers do not take kindly to being lectured on racism, sexism and homophobia – especially from a left which has offered them no assistance in dealing with things such as the skyrocketing cost of living. Workers especially resent being lectured if it is implied that they themselves are racist, sexist and homophobic. With a “left” continually moralising about these issues, and also being tied to the capitalist left – it is understandable that some workers will reject the “left” altogether, and look to the right, even the fascist far right. Workers are not inherently racist, sexist or homophobic, and they can be won to fight against such scourges, but only when connected to a struggle for their own (class) interests.

Liberalism cannot fight fascism

If indeed Bolsonaro does start a fascist movement in Brazil and in Latin America, one thing is certain – the liberalism that produced Bolsonaro will never be able to defeat him. Liberalism is not counterposed to fascism, and has little interest in fighting it. One could argue that fascism is the end product of liberalism.[15] Liberals see people as individual voters for a strong state, whereas fascism simply dispenses with formalities and unites everyone – against the left – to form a strong state. Under a fascist state some liberal politicians may miss out on jobs *as politicians*, but that is about it. In reality, their connections with big business means that they will scarcely miss out altogether.

Potential fascism in Brazil can thus only be fought if the working class makes a complete political break with the capitalist left – the PT – and also the liberal left which united into an electoral popular front with the PT, which includes PSOL (Party of Socialism and Freedom) and the PCB (Brazilian Communist Party). This is the only way to start reaching the workers and young people who turned to Bolsonaro after seeing and experiencing the betrayals of the PT in government. A genuine Marxist party, speaking to workers’ direct needs, will be required to lead both Brazil and Latin America away from an abyss.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2018/oct/28/brazil-election-2018-second-round-of-voting-closes-as-bolsonaro-eyes-the-presidency-live (10-11-18)

[2] https://jacobinmag.com/2018/10/jair-bolsonaro-quotes-brazil-election (10-11-18)

[3] https://www.centreforpublicimpact.org/case-study/bolsa-familia-in-brazil/ (10-11-18)

[4] https://countryeconomy.com/national-minimum-wage/brazil (10-11-18)

[5] https://chi.org.za/wp/blog/2018/05/10/a-high-road-scenario-creating-our-lula-moment/ (10-11-18)

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/sep/22/brazil.mainsection (11-11-18)

[7] https://www.opendemocracy.net/alfredo-saadfilho/debacle-of-workers%E2%80%99-party-in-brazil (11-11-18)

[8] https://www.marxist.com/struggle-against-fare-increase-puts-brazil-on-the-path-of-protest-movements-aroudn-the-world.htm (11-11-18)

[9] https://www.ibtimes.co.uk/it-too-late-save-amazon-rainforest-scientists-say-it-reaching-point-no-return-1663575 (11-11-18)

[10] https://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2017/01/30/brazil-prison-violence-overcrowding (11-11-18)

[11] http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/02/rousseffs-brazil-no-country-for-the-landless/ (11-11-18)

[12] https://ediciones-ineditos.com/2018/10/29/the-proletariat-of-brazil-was-defeated-by-democracy-not-dictatorship/?fbclid=IwAR2wHzVB-Xz3cKqyeZLP9U1LTCePVSGQ5vo1gXz-LY6FJLO1EKhFQqo0HTM (11-11-18)

[13] https://www.brasildefato.com.br/2017/09/05/brazil-withdraws-troops-after-13-year-occupation-of-haiti/ (11-11-18)

[14] https://www.icl-fi.org/english/wv/archives/oldsite/2004/Brazil-818.html (17-11-18)

[15] https://www.globalresearch.ca/why-fascism-won-in-brazil/5659649 (17-11-18)

Brazil: “Trump of the Tropics” Assisted into Power