Protestors in Lebanon block roads, preventing traffic from passing. Image from The Daily Item.

Colour Revolution Stalks Lebanon

10-11-2019 – Lebanon has the distinction of being one state where almost all domestic issues are automatically international. Any political movement which arises there is automatically intertwined with the Middle East and further afield. The protests sweeping through Lebanon over the past four weeks are no exception. While the catalyst was ostensibly a “WhatsAppTax” – a tax applied to phone app communication technology which is widely used, the demonstrations occurring have much more to do with the US Empire losing its footing after the (not at all total) pullout of troops from Syria. There is no denying that Lebanon suffers from an economic malaise similar to the decline of capitalist economies in the West. Lebanon has no potable water supply, functioning public transport, and sporadic garbage collection.[1] Nevertheless, the current protests display disturbing signs of being co-ordinated from abroad.

Veiled move against Hezbollah

Lebanon’s Islamic based national resistance movement Hezbollah played an undeniably heroic role in the US/Saudi led war for regime change on Syria. Hezbollah’s military wing actively assisted Syrian, Iranian and Russian forces in the defeat and expulsion of imperialist funded ISIS and Al Qaeda mercenaries. It is primarily for this reason that foreign forces – the prime suspect being Washington – have organised the current demonstrations in Lebanon which are effectively calling for regime change. In practice, it is a regime change operation aimed at Hezbollah, even though Hezbollah is not actually the regime!  While Hezbollah’s political wing does retain some seats in the national parliament, its primary political power does not reside there. Its popularity also stems from its role in the military defeat of the Zionist Israeli state’s attacks on Lebanon in 2006. This is of course another reason why the Pentagon would like to see them sidelined.

Hezbollah’s leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah initially voiced support for the protests, even at the same time as warning that they could be used to “create a political vacuum”. He warned rally participants that their efforts could well be hijacked by certain political actors and/or foreign forces.[2] This soon came to pass, and subsequently Nasrallah signalled that Hezbollah was withdrawing its support for the protests. Reportedly at one recent rally in Lebanon, fist fights broke out against some who were chanting against Hezbollah Leader Nasrallah, after he warned that (unspecified foreign forces) were exploiting the protests to plunge the country back into civil war.[3] Few other conclusions can be drawn from the nature of the demonstrations, when, for example, roadblocks with eerie overtones of road blocks set up by the right-wing pro-US Hong Kong separatists emerge.[4] Not only roadblocks, but human chains have also been set up by Lebanese protestors[5] – a classical colour revolution tactic, from Hong Kong to the countries of the former Soviet bloc. Needless to say, colour revolutions – “internal” regime change efforts organised and funded by imperialism – are often the last resort of Western capital, especially after its defeat in Syria.

Linked to moves against Iran, via Iraq

The staged protests in Lebanon are not only aimed at Hezbollah, but also against the Islamic Republic of Iran – and similarly for its heroic role in the defeat of US/UK/FRA/AUST imperialism in Syria. The Iranian state has supported Hezbollah for some time, although the extent to which it does remains unclear. Simply for regional security against the ongoing threat of US imperialism, Iran is justified in cultivating allies in the region. Likewise in Iraq, Iran’s security can only be guaranteed by good relations with the government of Iraq, which came about as an unintended consequence of the US led invasion and overthrow of Iraq from 2003. Given that recent demonstrations in Iraq featured the protestors banging their shoes against posters of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the formidable leader of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard elite Quds Force Qassim Soleimani, Iran’s fears appear to be confirmed.

The Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) appears to have played a treacherous role, in defiance of anything “communist” or even progressive. Despite some moves to target the banks for the declining economic situation[6], the LCP has given overall backing to the contrived movement[7], despite its rather obvious links to imperialist efforts to destabilise and even reverse the result of the war on Syria. It is extremely dangerous for any self-described party of the left to come behind the political manoeuvres of imperialist forces, even inadvertently. By doing so, the LCP demonstrate that the hammer and sickle they brandish as a party symbol is, at the least, misappropriated.

Irrespective of its defeat in Syria, US imperialism has not scaled down, but scaled up, its regime change operations in the Middle East and elsewhere. This time it is using internal (political destabilisation) rather than external (arming of barbaric mercenaries) methods. This must be opposed by working people in Lebanon, Iraq and internationally. Despite the governments of Lebanon, Iraq, Iran and Syria not approaching workers’ states, the left should call for the military defence of them against US imperialism. This includes Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard, despite the socialist view of the role of religion in history. Marxists need to continue to recruit to their own banner, while striving to derail US backed colour revolutions, and to undermine international political support for them, wherever they appear.

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box   66    NUNDAH   QLD    4012

 

[1] https://www.globalresearch.ca/lebanon-revolution-without-revolutionary-ideology/5693597 (10-11-2019)

[2] https://www.globalresearch.ca/color-revolution-lebanon/5693606 (10-11-2019)

[3] https://www.timesofisrael.com/protests-in-iraq-and-lebanon-pose-a-challenge-to-iran/ (10-11-2019)

[4] https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Lebanon-Protesters-Step-up-Roadblocks-to-Keep-Pressure-on-Govt-20191028-0003.html (10-11-2019)

[5] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/lebanon-s-protesters-keep-anti-government-revolt-alive-by-blocking-roads (10-11-2019)

[6] https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Lebanon-News/2019/Oct-13/493420-communist-party-protests-economic-situation.ashx (10-11-2019)

[7] https://peoplesdispatch.org/2019/10/21/in-lebanons-streets-there-is-no-longer-any-fear/ (10-11-2019)

Colour Revolution Stalks Lebanon

For Public Ownership of All Aged Care Facilities!

04-11-2019 – Another year, another damning report into the critical failings of Australia’s Aged Care system. An interim report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has again found that the Aged Care system displayed shocking levels of treatment of elderly residents, including excessive use of chemical restraints.[1]  The aged people of a supposedly advanced industrialised country, after a lifetime of contribution to the community through work and other areas, are being treated with cruel inhumanity. A related problem is that young people with a disability are being funnelled into Aged Care homes, because there are no other facilities available for them. An estimated 3500 people with a disability under the age of 60 live in aged care nursing homes, which are not suited to their needs.[2]

Profit system failure

It is no mystery why the appalling treatment of aged care residents has gone on for years. It has effectively been privatised, and is now run by big business for private profit. In these circumstances, the physical and mental health of Aged Care residents is at the bottom of the list of priorities, if at all. At the top of their list is the extraction of cash, usually from Aged Care residents who are pensioners, and their families who are mostly working class people with little accumulated wealth. For over a decade, doctors and nurses have warned the federal government about the critical level of understaffing in nursing homes across the country, but have been met with no response. The New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association released a statement stressing the fact that Aged Care needs to be affordable and accessible, and provided by professional and accredited staff who are remunerated accordingly.[3] Instead, what transpires are Aged Care centres that are chronically understaffed, with a shortage of qualified nurses, which leads to long waiting lists, unmet expectations and unnecessary pain and suffering.

Two years ago, for profit “health care provider” Bupa actually issued a directive to their staff to conserve continence pads in their Aged Care facilities because they were allegedly running “over budget”.[4] Unless the pads were 75% wet, Bupa staff were told not to change them. Cost cutting on essential items includes food for the residents. In recent times, the amount many Aged Care homes had been spending on food for residents had dropped to $6 per day. Some who raised the alarm over this critical underfunding commented that both prisoners and guinea pigs receive more fresh food than those in Aged Care.[5] The lack of fresh food in at least adequate proportions, apart from the base inhumanity of private profit margins, leads in turn to more health problems for residents in terms of wounds, falls, and hospital readmissions. To say this is a false economy is a vast understatement.

Public health care a basic need

As with other multiple crises affecting society, the plummeting standards of Aged Care in Australia mirror the declining state of the capitalist economy. Since 2008, the “global” financial crisis hit the West hard, and it has barely recovered. The previous sectors of the economy where capital had been making what they consider an adequate rate of return – manufacturing, industry, agriculture – have long since ceased to do so. In turn, the capitalist class demanded that the public relinquish parts of the public economy which had previously been denied them – such as Aged Care. Capital moved into Aged Care not to take care of the elderly people in their final years, but to make a quick buck. Providing the smallest amount of “care” while extracting the most amount of money, for them, is “good business”.  For working people who have worked their whole lives, raised children, built communities – this is insanity. For this issue, as for many others, working people and private capital have utterly irreconcilable interests.

At the very least, all aged care should be taken back into public ownership, and treated as part of a public health care system. For profit “providers” should be expelled from the Aged Care system without compensation. Qualified and specialist nurses, doctors and Aged Care workers should be employed until there are adequate ratios of residents to care workers and medical staff. This campaign should be led by the Unions, who should both organise and mobilise the overworked and underpaid staff currently employed. There would be more than enough public sympathy for such a militant campaign, given the horror stories that have emerged from numerous enquiries.

Standing in the way of this much needed effort are the conservative and self-serving Union officials, who have either restricted themselves to silence, or the occasional press release. Unfortunately under capitalism the labour bureaucracy has a material interest in maintaining the status quo – even an unbearable one. The top officials live the life of riley off the funds provided by Union members and their numerous connections to regional and national Union bodies, the Australian Labor Party, and state and federal parliaments. It is the parents and grandparents of current Union members and unorganised workers who languish in below standard for-profit nursing homes, not those of well-off officials.

Careerist Union officials must be positioned by workers into taking a stand for basic justice for the elderly. Even just to win decent Aged Care, let alone other public services, the working class will have to jettison the current Union misleaders, and replace them with those committed to a class struggle against the capitalist system. This is bound up with efforts to forge a Marxist vanguard party, which could provide the desperately needed leadership workers are crying out for. Such a party would stop at nothing to build a socialist world, where the health and well-being of working people would come before all else.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66    NUNDAH   QLD  4012

[1] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-31/aged-care-royal-commission-report-finds-unsafe-industry/11658328 (03-11-2019)

[2] https://synapse.org.au/information-services/young-people-in-nursing-homes.aspx (03-11-2019)

[3] https://www.nswnma.asn.au/chronic-understaffing-in-aged-care-is-causing-enormous-pain-and-suffering-for-residents-and-families/ (03-11-2019)

[4] https://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace/cost-cutting-and-understaffing-of-aged-care-homes-leads-to-rationing-and-neglect-20171010-gyxn7b.html (03-11-2019)

[5] https://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/news/my-guinea-pigs-eat-better-ama (03-11-2019)

 

For Public Ownership of All Aged Care Facilities!

26 public buses were torched by protestors. Image from SkyNews.

Chile: Nationalism No Answer to Austerity

02-11-2019 – During the last week of October, deadly riots swept Chile, ostensibly in response to the government’s increase of 30 pesos to public transport fares. While the Chilean government quickly suspended the 4% increase, it did not prevent thousands of demonstrators from flooding into the streets. Initially, the actions began by commuters jumping turnstiles and avoiding paying the increased ticket fares to ride the Metro railway in the capital Santiago – an entirely legitimate form of protest against an increase to the cost of living. However, these actions were soon eclipsed by the torching of these same railway stations by protestors, causing some trains to be burnt to shells. Reportedly, 49 subway stations were set alight, and 26 public buses were destroyed by fire.[1]

Worse was to come. Some non-public buildings were set ablaze, along with some 200 supermarkets.[2] In one of the supermarkets, three people lost their lives.[3] This was after it had been looted, along with many others. This was followed by the firebombing of a garment factory in the capital, where five people perished.[4] At one stage the subway station entrances had to be closed off, to prevent more arson. This led to commuters being stranded, unable to get home from working that day. While it is true that thousands of people also attended rallies which contained no violence, the taking of innocent lives by any movement can never be justified.

“Neoliberalism”
Working people in Chile have endured decades of extreme privatisation in many areas, from water to education. Hence the current slogan “It is not about 30 pesos, but about 30 years”. A political movement with the ability to combat this assault must be assembled – of this there is no doubt. Yet the current movement has dramatic overtones of populism – an attempt to build a cross-class movement for “all people”. Yet class realities can be brushed over so easily. A movement which obliterates class distinctions inevitably moves to the right, and inevitably becomes nationalist. For working people, nationalism is crippling, and often prevents even the first steps forward.

What became known as “neoliberalism” (or “austerity”), has been applied more extensively in Chile than elsewhere in Latin America, and perhaps the world. Yet neoliberalism is a misnomer. Neoliberalism implies that there can be a nicer, softer, even social-democratic, version of capitalism. It is spoken of as if it is a choice that governments choose to enact. Yet “neoliberalism” is not a policy, but the current phase of the capitalist system. There is no going back to the “welfare-state” capitalism of the post World War II period – in Australia or Chile. There can only be moves forward to socialism. This requires the overthrow of capitalism via the construction of a workers’ state, administered by a workers’ government.

This central conclusion, however, is one which the forces behind the current Chilean protests are yet to learn or accept. Rather, they have turned in the direction of populism, while some have committed criminal arson ending in murderous violence. Obviously workers cannot condone the needless elimination of human life, and nor can workers tolerate the destruction of vital public infrastructure such as buses and trains. Instead, workers could organise the occupation of public transport and public infrastructure, as this would immediately pose the question of just who it belongs to. Attempts to organise the operation of public transport by workers would necessitate some form of workers’ committees, which could form the basis of workers’ councils.  From here a workers government would NOT be a bridge too far.

All Chileans together?

Worlds away from this perspective is the “all for Chile” approach. While a rejection of all capitalist politicians can be a healthy development, the #ChileDesperto (Chile Awake) movement attempts to simply change politicians, without confronting capitalism. This can be seen with their demand for the resignation of President Sebastian Pinera. Yet why did this movement not arise during the Presidency of the “Socialist” Party’s Michele Bachelet? The Bachelet government maintained and even accelerated the same “neoliberalism”, regardless of the fake veneer of being politically “left”. Moreover, the #ChileDesperto movement’s other demands are eerily reminiscent of the US backed Blackshirt thugs in Hong Kong, which aims (in vain) to uphold capitalism rather than be re-integrated into socialist China. Indeed, the following demands could have been written by the right-wing pro-US Hong Kong elements:

1. The withdrawal of armed forces from all Chilean Streets

  1. Lifting of all curfews
  2. The resignation of Sebastian Pinera
  3. Legal accountability of all politicians, armed forces and police members responsible for the violation of human rights.

Note there are no class demands here. All are within the framework of the existing state – which is the guarantor of the “neoliberalism” they claim to oppose. In addition, the wanton vandalism and criminal violence against public and private property, endangering human life, has been used as a rationale by the Pinera government to deploy the armed forces. This is also the reason given for the curfews – and not entirely without justification. The ruling class will skilfully use any pretext to paint their use of military force as being to “serve and protect” or to “keep the peace”. The Chile Desperto movement, and the violent and life-threatening vandalism they do not condemn, has given them just that.

“Left” betrayal

To some extent, the seeming agnosticism towards politics of the Chile Desperto movement may be somewhat understandable – but not excusable. The Chilean government of Michele Bachelet from the misnamed Socialist Party (actually barely social-democratic) preceded the government of Sebastian Pinera. If “left” at all, perhaps no one noticed it, as the Bachelet government barely changed the policies of extreme capitalism (“neoliberalism”). A lack of political awareness – not by any means restricted to Chile – often gives social-democratic capitalist politicians the benefit of the doubt. Some can wait longer for a party supposedly more progressive to deliver. This is always a recipe for disappointment and demoralisation of the hopes that a more humane face can emerge from the horrors of “the market”. So it was with Bachelet, who turned out to be barely left at all.

The “left” had been in governmental power in Chile for much of the previous twenty years. The centrist Party for Democracy and then the (misnamed) Socialists, depite a left veneer, continued the capitalist austerity of the dark days of the Pinochet dictatorship, while not moving to substantially change it. The last Bachelet government was termed a “New Majority” and included the Communist Party of Chile (PCC). The PCC’s most visible member was Camilla Vallejo, a leader of the student movement of 2010, and dubbed “the world’s most glamorous revolutionary” by the New York Times.[5] Yet the “Communist” party of Chile betrayed the very notion of socialist principle by horse trading with Bachelet’s “Socialists” to get Vallejo elected into the parliament of a bourgeois state – the same one which was the basis for the Pinochet apparatus. In return for PCC backing, Bachelet’s “Socialists” did not challenge Vallejo’s run for Congress, which led to the PCC gaining ten seats.[6]

In parliament, Vallejo and the “Communist” Party of Chile betrayed not only the student movement, but the entire working class, by covering for the austerity of the Bachelet government. This was yet another let down by yet another “left” party which entered a capitalist government. The “Communists” came to be seen as just another set of self-interested politicians set against everyone else. Worse, the “Communists” sat in parliament and negotiated with parties of the fascistic right-wing, some containing the same personnel from the days of Pinochet. This is another example of the nationalism of so-called “Marxism-Leninism”. Under nationalist logic, all national parties are part of the nation – even fascists. Needless to say, such perfidy is the very opposite of the basic tenets of Marxism and Leninism.

There is also the “New” left in Chile in the form of the Frente Amplio, or “Broad Left”. It includes Revolucion Democratica, a centrist party modelled on the Spanish Podemos, feminists, humanists and others.[7] They have 20 seats in parliament, but as a political formation which does not claim or seek to represent the working class, their politics are one of insufferable compromise. Even on the issue of the recent demonstrations, the Frente Amplio has reportedly temporised between taking part in parliamentary votes on the reduction of public transport fares, and abstaining until the military is withdrawn from the streets. This form of populism cannot see outside of a capitalist parliament, and thus only has the “weapon” of voting, or not casting a vote, inside it. This is hardly a solution.

Break the impasse

Inequality in Chile is at staggering levels. Pensions are set below the minimum wage. Private health insurance companies reek in profits while placing tight restrictions on coverage. The public health system is short of resources, with extremely long waiting lists for operations. The public transport costs are some of the most expensive in Latin America. Water, electricity, gas and telecommunications have been privatised, which leads to ongoing and arbitrary price rises.[8] Working people in Chile have suffered for decades, and there needs to be a political break through. However, populism, nationalism and liberalism have no solutions. Given the betrayal of the parties which have claimed some form of leftism, from the social-democratic “Socialists”, to the ultimately conservative “Communists”, to the populist “Broad Left”, it will be difficult, but not impossible, to convince Chilean workers that there can be a genuine left.

Some Australian left parties have uncritically endorsed the Chilean protests. Socialist Alternative recognise the significant loss of credibility the left has endured, particularly the betrayals of the Communist Party of Chile. However, so far they omit any mention of the life-taking criminal arson, and the trashing of public transport.[9] The Socialist Alliance manage to channel liberalism, anti-communism and Russophobia at the same time by comparing the neoliberalism in Chile to the reversal of Gough Whitlam’s “legacy” by the Labor Party in Australia, “sweatshops” in China, and “oligarchy” in Russia !! [10] Already, the Socialist Alliance is attempting to steer any solidarity movement with the Chilean protests behind the anti-China and anti-Russia New Cold War of US imperialism.

A significant problem with the Chile Desperto movement in Australia has been the overt nationalism of the solidarity actions. At one action, participants to a solidarity rally were warned that only national flags of all countries would be permitted (!), and that any flag representing any political party were disallowed.[11] The Chile Desperto organisers claimed this was to show a “united front” which comes from the “people” and not from any political party. This is astonishing. A political rally where political parties are banned!  Such “neither left nor right” movements are invariably dangerous, as they tend towards the right-wing. The banning of party symbols is primarily a move against left-wing and workers’ parties, despite claims to be “for all”. The result was a sea of Chilean national flags, alongside the Mapuche indigenous people’s flag. An exception must have been made here, for the Mapuche people are not a nation.

There will be no breaking of the political impasse in Chile, or internationally, if a movement does not break with nationalism and/or populism. There is no Marxist category which is the “people”.  In Chile, as in Australia, the super wealthy rich elite all claim to be a part of the “people”. Any political alliance with them is a flagrant betrayal of the interests of the working class. The Chile Desperto movement, perhaps despite its intentions, displays the same nationalism of those they claim to stand against. What is needed is movement which proclaims that it defends the interests of the workers ONLY, in Chile, Latin America, and internationally. Opposing classes have opposing interests, in Chile as elsewhere. A workers party which fights for a workers government – not seats in parliament – is a critical pre-requisite. A genuine move towards socialism can then begin.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

[1] https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/20-killed-in-chile-protests-against-rise-in-metro-fares/1630338 (30-10-2019)

[2] https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/10/chile-protest-santiago-metro-public-transit-fare-inequality/600874/ (30-10-2019)

[3] https://www.scmp.com/news/world/americas/article/3033742/chiles-president-reverses-subway-fare-hike-triggered-worst (30-10-2019)

[4] https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/world/401476/chile-protests-five-dead-after-looters-set-fire-to-factory (30-10-2019)

[5] https://ontd-political.livejournal.com/9528154.html (02-11-2019)

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/28/chile-bachelet-communists-election (02-11-2019)

[7] https://jacobinmag.com/2019/10/chile-protests-fare-hike-pinera-demands (02-11-2019)

[8] https://www.globalresearch.ca/battle-chile/5693735 (02-11-2019)

[9] https://redflag.org.au/node/6931?fbclid=IwAR1Q7rj54ogArFN9n8lJ-l5AYTpikGjNQZiLD3iIeQznH4F3S7lGcsAeVok (02-11-2019)

[10] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/popular-revolt-drowning-chile-neoliberal-oasis (02-11-2019)

[11] https://www.facebook.com/events/2450583998597954/2453534684969552/?notif_t=admin_plan_mall_activity&notif_id=1572139302001897 (02-11-2019)

Chile: Nationalism No Answer to Austerity

Extinction Rebellion activist blocks a bridge in Brisbane with a tripod. Image from http://www.abc.net.au

XR Threaten Workers’ Democratic Rights

20-10-2019 –  The Queensland Parliament’s determination to fast track laws designed to impede climate protests are potentially a dangerous precedent. Even though they are ostensibly aimed at preventing climate blockaders from using “dangerous devices”,[1] they could quite easily be used for much more. These moves are a response to the provocations of Extinction Rebellion (XR), who have repeatedly organised actions including the deliberate disruption of peak hour traffic in order to supposedly raise awareness about the urgent need for climate action. While there is little or no debate amongst working people that urgent measures to address the potential climate collapse are desperately needed, the majority are overwhelmingly opposed to the tactics of XR. Workers keenly feel that obstructing working people going about their daily lives is not the right way to push a political issue – even one as important as climate distortion.

Class nature of the state

While it is true that Australian Labor Party (ALP) Premier Palaszczuk has provided no evidence that XR protestors have included dangerous devices such as butane gas in lock-on equipment, XR has clearly given the capitalist state the ammunition it needs to potentially pass laws criminalising all protest activity. The right to protest under capitalism is a right fought for and hard won, but as with any concession the ruling class allows the workers, it can be taken back at any time. Even conservative Union bureaucrats, who should be organising a working class intervention into the climate movement, are aware that the Queensland anti-protest laws could very easily be used against any political action taken by workers and their Unions.[2]  Such anti-protest laws are unlikely to be confined to Queensland, and could spread fast across Australia. XR, with their misguided zeal, could be responsible for the removal of the right to protest about anything, let alone the climate.

XR effectively claims that it is “neither left nor right” politically, and is therefore ambivalent on the question of capitalism and socialism. Anyone or any group claiming to be “non-political” while taking political action, inevitably comes down on the side of conservatism. At this stage of history – at least in the West – this means defending the capitalist for profit mode of production, with all of its attendant superstructure. XR do not deny it, and often openly dissuade any participant in XR actions from raising even anti-capitalism, let alone socialism. This is “off message”, according to them. This is an emergency, they say, and questions about politics and capitalism and socialism have to “wait” until later. But “later” never comes.

In Queensland history the state does have a past of removing democratic rights to protest. The National Party Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen did just that in the 1970s, banning the right to march. In practice, this gave the Queensland police the authority to smash up ANY protest action, not just marches. A heroic Civil Liberties campaign had to waged to restore the basic right to protest in Queensland. This was eventually won, but it took a determined struggle over a number of years which involved mass street fights with police, mass arrests, and eventually the intervention of Unions on the side of the protestors. At that time, protestors had to put their bodies on the line to regain what should be an elementary democratic right under capitalism. Today, XR, through their wildly misinformed and provocative actions, risk bringing the full weight of ruling class down against the entire working class, not just themselves. If this happens, the memory of XR being responsible for the removal of the very limited democratic rights workers have under the rule of capital, will be burned deep. This risks turning workers away not only from the issue of the climate emergency, but from the very idea of activism and protest itself.

Appeal to workers, not politicians

XR’s class basis is petty-bourgeois. Small time capital owners, by virtue of their class position, try to steer a path between the workers and that of big capital. In practice however, this is not politically possible. There are only two decisive classes involved in production – labour and capital – and therefore only two decisive classes in politics. The petty-bourgeois XR imagine, falsely, that they are not political per se. Yet this is exposed as soon as their anti-socialist, and therefore anti-working class, basis becomes known. The working class, NOT the petty-bourgeoisie, is the only revolutionary class under capitalism, because only it has NO material interest in the maintenance of the private ownership of the means of production. The petty-bourgeois XR wants to solve the climate crisis without touching on the question of socialised or privatised production. Since this is not possible, they fall down on the side of the corporate magnates, despite themselves.

This is the basic reason why XR appeal to the capitalist politicians to “take action” – even while recognising that these same politicians have done little or nothing for 40 years about climate distortion. But XR, as patriotic petty-bourgeois elements, have nowhere else to go. The working class, on the other hand, can rely on its own strength, its own organisation, and its own political leadership – even if this has not yet been created. Proper working class leadership would appeal to workers to mobilise and take action to win urgent demands against and in spite of the capitalist state (especially their politicians), NOT by grovelling to them. This is because ultimately the working class needs to establish its own government and its own state – in the process of overturning capitalist rule, and initiating the collectivised and planned socialist order.

To begin this struggle, the working class needs its bourgeois democratic rights NOW – they cannot afford to have them taken away by the misguided individualism of XR. Some workers have already turned against XR adventurism, such as those at Canning Town in the UK who physically turned against XR protestors who were attempting to stop peak-hour trains.[3] XR can consider themselves lucky that this is not even more widespread. Workers can be won to the necessary activism for climate and social justice, but by inspiring them, not annoying them. Working people, not politicians, can provide hope.

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

[1] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-09/extinction-rebellion-protest-brisbane-annastacia-palaszczuk-laws/11585826 (20-10-2019)

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/oct/11/queenslands-proposed-anti-protest-laws-a-slippery-slope-to-suppress-unions (20-10-2019)

[3] https://metro.co.uk/2019/10/17/angry-commuters-drag-xr-protesters-off-tube-try-glue-10933003/ (20-10-2019)

 

XR Threaten Workers’ Democratic Rights

National Flag of Iraq

Iraq: Deadly Chaos Through Subversion

13-10-2019 – It’s a familiar pattern. In a region where the US led Cold War against Iran is reaching fever pitch, protestors take to the streets of Iraq supposedly to demand an end to corruption and action on unemployment. Once again it is claimed that the “movement” is leaderless, and is composed of youths disenchanted about their future prospects. If you have seen this movie before, don’t be surprised. Sudan, Algeria, Hong Kong, Russia, China, Venezuela – all of these have sustained attempts at internal destabilisation in recent times, and all of them can invariably be traced back to one source – Washington.

In recent years, Tehran and Baghdad have been forming increasingly close ties, much to the chagrin of the US Empire. The US waged a criminal war which slaughtered at least 1 million Iraqis from 2003 on, in an attempt to undermine the Islamic Republic of Iran. Since that catastrophe, and the gradual withdrawal of US troops, Iraq and Iran have naturally forged closer ties for security and economic reasons. Now, Tehran is viewing the deadly protests as an attempt to drive a wedge between them and the Iraqi government. Iran’s state news agency IRNA publicly suspected the recent riots were the work of the governments of the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel, and were an attempt to dislodge recent co-operation between Iran, Iraq and Syria.[1] The defeat of US imperialism in its war for regime change against Syria has only diverted similar attempts to neighbouring countries, and others who refuse to bow before the waning influence of Wall Street.

Burning of government buildings, snipers on roof tops

Current Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi is at pains to point out that Iraqi people have a right to protest, and even agrees that corruption and unemployment are issues that need to be addressed. But his office is also concerned that outside forces are once again taking advantages of economic grievances to advance a totally different agenda. “Protests” where 8 members of the security forces perish, and government buildings are torched causing infernos, are plainly aimed at violent destabilisation, if not regime change. Some party buildings were also reportedly razed to the ground by the fires. Mysterious snipers on roof tops appeared, as if out of nowhere. They apparently shot at the protestors[2], and it is likely at government security forces as well. This deadly ploy played out in the Ukrainian “Maidan uprising” in 2014, where pro-US proxy forces, carried out shootings of protestors – not the Ukrainian security forces.[3] It is not unreasonable at all to suspect that a similar reoccurrence took place in Iraq over the last week.

Why would Washington be so displeased with Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi as to launch a cookie cutter colour “revolution” against him?  PM Mahdi declared the Israeli state responsible for the destruction of five warehouses of the Iraqi security forces. He opened the crossing at Al-Qaem between Iraq and Syria. He expressed a desire to purchase Russia’s advanced anti-aircraft S-400 missile system. He gave a $284 million dollar electricity deal to Siemans – a German company, rather than a US one. He also rejected the US’s “Deal of the Century” which will likely permanently end the legitimate rights of Palestinians.[4] But this is only just for starters.

Ties to Red China expand

Iraq was one of the first countries to sign up to the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) historically unprecedented Belt and Road Initiative (BRI or “New Silk Road”). The BRI is a massive network of ports, railways, roads and industrial parks which will attract trillions of dollars investment, and will link Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.[5] The US simply cannot accept being eclipsed even by an imperialist rival, let alone an upstart socialist power! The clincher was a visit by Prime Minister Mahdi to the PRC in September, which culminated in the signing of huge trade and investments deals in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on September 23.[6] In May this year, Chinese Ambassador to Iraq Zhang Tao stated that trade between Iraq and the PRC had exceeded 30 billion dollars in 2018, where China is the largest trading partner of Iraq, and Iraq is the second largest oil supplier to the PRC.[7] This staggering amount of trade, combined with the overt willingness of PM Mahdi to be a part of the New Silk Road, is reason enough in itself for the CIA to send in its operatives.

As if this wasn’t enough, in the recent trip to Beijing, the Iraqi delegation signed an “oil for reconstruction” deal. Under this deal, Chinese firms will work in Iraq in exchange for 100 000 barrels of oil per day.[8] And this deal stretches out for 20 years! The US, with its capitalist economy seemingly in terminal decline, is not in a position to cover anything near what the PRC can. And even if it somehow could, the for-profit basis of imperialist industry means it would not be considered. The PRC’s economy, despite whatever inroads of free enterprise which have been allowed, does not primarily run on the basis of production for profit. The investments that the PRC makes through the Belt and Road Initiative and other mutually beneficial bi-lateral deals it makes with countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, are primarily socialist state investments. This does not mean that there aren’t occasions where privately owned PRC firms cash in, or even mistreat those they deal with overseas. Overall, however, the PRC’s gargantuan economic success derives from its predominantly public ownership of its means of production, and thus must be defended by workers internationally.

Working people have no stake with the nefarious ends of the US Empire, whether it be dangerous and reckless war provocations against Russia and China, or the intense propaganda against states deemed to be not sufficiently pro-US. Workers also have an interest in opposing and exposing, US led regime change efforts wherever they occur, such as the current unrest in Iraq. When socialism is victorious on a world scale, the concept of regime change will be considered a relic of a violent past.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

 

 

[1] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/iran-sees-iraq-unrest-plot-undo-bilateral-ties-191008052830021.html (11-10-2019)

[2] https://www.france24.com/en/20191004-iraq-protests-abdul-mahdi-cabinet-reshuffle-violence-baghdad-curfew (11-10-2019)

[3] https://www.pri.org/stories/2014-03-14/who-were-maidan-snipers (11-10-2019)

[4] https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-iran-silent-war-transformed-iraq-uprising/5691311 (11-10-2019)

[5] https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/iraq-to-join-china-s-belt-and-road-project-11935462 (11-10-2019)

[6] https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/09/iraq-china-economy.html (11-10-2019)

[7] http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-05/06/c_138036250.htm (11-10-2019)

[8] https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/10/iraq-china-india-oil-construction.html (11-10-2019)

Iraq: Deadly Chaos Through Subversion

XR: The Faux Rebellion

 

07-10-2019:  Extinction Rebellion (XR) are hitting the streets again, with a week of action throughout major cities in Australia – their so-called “Spring Rebellion”.[1] We are in a climate crisis, they claim, and the time for action is now. Almost no one disagrees. Yet in reality XR are not leading a “rebellion” and they are not, in the final analysis, “rebels”. To be genuine rebels would mean to stand opposed to the profit system – the domination of privately owned capital over social labour and over the environment. The XR charlatans make no pretence of opposing even one corporation, let alone the system which allows corporations to freely pollute the land, sea, air and water humanity requires for life on earth. XR, and their semi-religious self-righteousness, need to be exposed.

From politics flow tactics

Those who place demands on the capitalist state, in the same manner as any politician or any liberal, or any lobby group, cannot be described as “radical” in any way. XR are making repeated demands for “the government” to “do something”. The same politicians who have overseen climate destruction despite repeated and ongoing warnings, can now, XR aver, be made to change their spots if only we – disrupt business as usual. XR whine that we have had years of marches and rallies, for no result. There has been no result so far because almost all climate politics has remained within the sphere of liberalism – plaintive cries to those in power. Despite XR adopting slightly different tactics, the politics of XR remain just as liberal, if not more, than those that have preceded them.

XR imagine that by changing the tactics of climate protest, the politics will follow, and demands will be met. XR have things precisely upside down. The politics are paramount, and if the politics are sharp enough, the tactics themselves become less important. Yet XR’s politics are woefully inadequate – even if the aim is to wrench a few small reforms from the capitalist state. XR are not anarchists per se, but they share the petty-bourgeois political approach of anarchism, which is shared with all elements of the petty-bourgeois “democracy” – the Greens, some intellectuals[2], small business owners and centrist “left” parties. Russian revolutionary leader V.I. Lenin, more than a century ago, wrote…”The philosophy of the anarchists is bourgeois philosophy turned inside out. Their individualistic theories and individualistic ideal are the very opposite of socialism.”[3]

XR’s bourgeois philosophy turned inside out is revealed as soon as one tracks the corporate and capitalist government links of its spiritual founders Gail Bradbrook and Farhana Yamin.[4] Granted, many of those attracted to XR actions do not themselves have high level links to government or the corporations they act for. XR, however, is simply appealing to the government – which under capitalism, is a “government of persons”. Whatever criticisms XR may have of all politicians for not “doing something” about climate collapse, they still firmly believe that the capitalist government is “theirs”, or indeed, “ours”. This reflects a purely petty-bourgeois outlook, which cannot see outside their class position.

Due to their class position, the petty-bourgeoisie is incapable of coming to a position of class independence from big capital. That is why they are not able to politically lead a struggle against the capitalist system. This role must be played by the working class and its special historical product – the Marxist vanguard party. But XR are not only light years away from socialism – they occupy a different universe to the working class. Hence their arrogant disregard for working class folk who may be blocked in traffic by a disruptive XR stunt. Working class people – many of whom overwhelmingly support urgent action to address the climate calamity – should not be prevented by self-appointed XR scions from driving to or from work, picking up their children from schools, or trying to go about their daily lives. Workers certainly can be won to supporting political action to address climate distortion – up to and including strikes against corporations and “their own” government – if they are given the opportunity to discuss and decide on the tactics of the movement in which they take part.

Workers must lead and decide

Yet this is precisely what XR denies the working class – or anyone else. XR explicitly deny the right of anyone who takes part in their actions to question their principles, their positions, their politics or their tactics. XR refuses, point blank, to work alongside other climate activists. Sure, they attend things such as the Climate Strike to wave their flag. But once XR is holding an action, ALL participants must subordinate themselves wholesale – in brain and body – to the high priests of XR. No one is permitted to question the framework of activity, its direction, or to question XR’s holy principles.[5]  Each one of these principles, at their core, is wholly compatible with capitalist imperialism – which is why XR expressly deny the right of socialists to question them. Anyone or any group proposing anything in politics must have their positions examined by the workers – no one is above criticism. XR is no exception.

In fact, XR must be criticised for one of its deadliest shortcomings – its support for the police of the capitalist state. Although some XR members and branches claim that they do not support the cops, it repeatedly returns to the surface. Recently XR VIC attempted to prevent XR members from calling cops “pigs” as they arrested one of their organisers.[6] XR’s strategy of mass arrests first, which supposedly leads to political change, is a galling example of their base misunderstanding of the class nature of the capitalist state. Again though, the petty-bourgeois class does not have to face the cops too often in battle, unlike workers on strike, or Aboriginal people. Largely white middle class XR leaders can cope with being arrested, held for a few days and released. This is even their aim.

At the least, workers need to reject those who claim infallibility on climate protest tactics and aims. XR must be forced to argue their positions inside the climate movement like everyone else – there should be no special exceptions. There, workers should counter the lobbying of compromised politicians by putting forward such demands as:  a 30 hour week with no loss in pay, an end to coal mining and the collective ownership of the means of production.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

PO Box  66    NUNDAH   QLD    4012

[1] https://ausrebellion.earth/get-involved/spring-rebellion (07-10-2019)

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/sep/20/we-declare-our-support-for-extinction-rebellion-an-open-letter-from-australias-academics (07-10-2019)

[3] https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1905/nov/24.htm (07-10-2019)

[4] https://redfireonline.com/2019/08/07/whats-wrong-with-extinction-rebellion/ (07-10-2019)

[5] https://rebellion.earth/the-truth/about-us/ (07-10-2019)

[6] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/xr-vic-debates-stance-police-friend-or-foe (07-10-2019)

XR: The Faux Rebellion

Part of the inferno set ablaze by separatist Papuan militia in Wamena. Image from wwwtribunnews.com

Wamena: Papuan Militia Terrorise Civilians

05-10-2019: Parts of West Papua are again in flames, after armed Papuan separatist militia launched an attack on the town of Wamena in the Papuan province of Indonesia. The death toll stands at 30, with 22 of the victims being Indonesian transmigrants, according to Indonesian national police Chief Tito Karnavian.[1] The armed Papuan militia set fire to numerous government and private buildings, leading to some Indonesians being burnt alive after becoming trapped.[2] These deadly attacks by armed Papuan separatists mark a serious turn to anti-Indonesian pogroms which cannot be justified, regardless of history. It reveals the “independence” movement, at the very least, as being politically compromised. Leftists in Australia and internationally need to carefully investigate the situation, rather than being swept into a trance by the slogan of “Free West Papua”.

Liberation movement?


Throughout history there have been many liberation movements which have fought for a just cause of emancipation from colonialism and imperialism. Over time, left parties and movements have thrown political support behind them, and have thereby stood on the side of elementary justice. The West Papuan case, however, is qualitatively different – in a negative way. A liberation movement forfeits the name if it is involved in ethnic violence, or in murderous acts against civilians or migrants. Unfortunately, armed Papuan separatists have done this repeatedly, and the attacks on Wamena in the last week of September were particularly vicious. By September 27, 1500 Indonesian residents had gathered at Wamena airport in a bid to leave. Local Air Force official Arief Sudjatmiko stated that 2500 people had registered to get aboard flights.[3] They were not fleeing the Indonesian military or security forces. They were fleeing for their lives from Papuan separatists, who were clearly targeting Indonesian transmigrant workers, such as motorbike taxi drivers, shop workers and restaurant waiters.[4] It should go without saying that socialists of any persuasion cannot endorse the wholesale slaughter of workers of any nationality – even if systematic discrimination against one group of workers is proven.

Yet even this does not appear to be the case in West Papua. While it is the case that the Indonesian transmigrants dominate the local economy in the Papuan provinces, there are policies in place to promote Papuans within the civil service.[5] There is a disparity between the coastal cities of West Papua, where transmigrants predominate in economic and commercial activity, and the relatively underdeveloped Papuan central highlands. The lack of development is not entirely the fault of the Indonesian government, but nonetheless the Indonesian government is attempting to spur development in Papua through infrastructure building, such as roads and electricity coverage. There is even an awareness that infrastructure building on its own will not solve all problems. Hence, in 2019, the Indonesian government increased spending on education by 13% across the country, including Papua.[6]  There may well be ways in which the Indonesian government is not administering the Papuan provinces using entirely just methods. For example, there are plans to have the roads built in Papua operate as toll roads.[7] A campaign to remove tolls from the roads would seem necessary. However, as in Australia, such a campaign would have to involve the working class of all nationalities, for lower living costs. It would not usually be a campaign against the road infrastructure itself – but particularly in Papua, where there are relatively few roads.

Not all Papuans are anti-migrant

There is evidence that the anti-migrant dimension of the West Papuan independence movement is not universal. For example, there appears to be peaceful co-habitation amongst indigenous Papuans and Indonesian transmigrants in certain areas. In Wamena during the separatist attacks, some indigenous Papuans helped to shield Indonesian transmigrants from the assaults. They even worked together to guard shops and buildings from the armed separatists – protecting their lives by doing so.[8] There were statements saying that the residents did not know where the armed independence marauders came from – perhaps the highlands. Wamena is the largest town in the central highlands, so it becomes the first target. Some Papuan independence militia claim that they have no issue with transmigrant workers, only those who act as informers for the government and security forces.[9]  In Wamena and elsewhere, however, this is not the case.  What cannot be denied is that the West Papuan independence movement has always had an anti-migrant basis. Romantically minded leftists in the West, who clamour to support West Papuan independence, are either not aware, or wilfully ignore, this base prejudice.

Moreover, it is the “exiled” West Papuans who are the most strident in prosecuting what is often a misleading campaign for separate independence. In the case of the Wamena attacks, Indonesian authorities, not without cause, have accused de-facto independence leader Benny Wenda and his international network of orchestrating the violence in order to make headlines days before the United Nations (UN) general assembly sits in New York.[10] Mr Wenda is no stranger to stoking deadly riots, as he is himself a fugitive for doing just that in Abepura in 2002. Benny Wenda incited a crowd of 50 to attack some shops, which resulted in two people dead.[11] While detained facing trial, he escaped from Indonesia and fled to the United Kingdom (UK). From Oxford in London, the fugitive Mr Wenda convenes a disingenuous campaign for West Papuan independence, particularly appealing to the forces of imperialism against Indonesia. To say the least, a movement which regularly incites violence against those of another ethnicity, often resulting in the slaughter of innocents, is not one to be endorsed.

Fake videos, real lies

When violent riots by Papuan separatists break out, the Indonesian government sometimes responds by “throttling” or blocking the internet. While this raises a hue and cry by unenlightened West Papuan independence supporters internationally, this action has a rational basis. Often the violent riots are begun by the spreading of fake videos online, making false claims about mistreatment from Indonesian authorities. In the case of Wamena recently, the bloodthirsty riots were set off by rumours circulated that a high school teacher had used a racist remark against students. Papua police Chief Rudolf Alberth Rodja, however, stressed that the police had investigated the alleged school and teacher, and confirmed that this incident was fabricated, and was a blatant untruth. He said that it is believed that this was hoax information deliberately distributed in order to fuel riots.[12] As Papuan separatists have a history of telling lies in order to whip up support, it is not unreasonable to accept the police account here.

For example, the Papuan separatists told the mother of all lies in December 2018, when they made the preposterous claim that the Indonesian military had used white phosphorus munitions against them in the Nduga region after a flag raising ceremony. They had the active support of corporate journalists who had made the same unsubstantiated claims against the Syrian government during the US led war for regime change.[13] That is, Papuan independence advocates willingly worked with the corporate media which repeatedly referred to ISIS and Al Qaeda as “rebels” and “revolutionaries” in Syria, in order to use the same lies against the Indonesian government. These spurious claims were soon debunked as utterly fallacious, given that the Indonesian military had never stationed artillery in West Papua, let alone million dollar jet fighters. And the only helicopters the Indonesian military has there are transport choppers, unequipped with any offensive weapons, which would be needed to fire ANY ordinance.[14]

West Papuan separatists and their entourage need to spread whoppers because the politics of their independence movement falters at the first question. Prime among the distributors of falsifications is “human rights” lawyer Veronica Koman. Despite being herself of Chinese-Indonesian ancestry, Koman is inherently anti-China and pro-imperialist. On October 1, she posted on her Twitter account a claim of solidarity with the violent Blackshirt rioters in Hong Kong, who in turn claimed solidarity with Uyghurs.[15] The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are currently targeted by the CIA for destabilisation, and, they hope, regime change. Their aim is to counter the rising socialism of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by any means – including funding those engaging in armed violence, and up to life-threatening extreme jihadism. But Koman’s anti-socialist fealty to the Pentagon is not the reason she is wanted.

Veronica Koman has been charged with serious crimes by Indonesian police. She refused three times to be questioned, who then charged her with violating the Electronic Information and Transactions Law and the Elimination of Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Law.[16] Racial and ethnic harmony is crucially important in a large multi-ethnic country such as Indonesia. However, Koman had repeatedly been stoking ethnic conflict by posting false information which aided violent riots in Surabaya. Instead of defending herself on charges of provoking deadly unrest and fuelling ethnic conflict, Koman fled to Australia. Understandably, the Indonesian government issued an Interpol red notice for her arrest,[17] but whether this will be enacted by the Australian government remains to be seen. Since fleeing as a fugitive to Australia, she has since appeared on ABC and SBS with favourable coverage, but without mentioning the criminal charges laid against her.  Unfortunately, a lack of basic honesty is de rigueur for pro-US “human rights” advocates.

Left parties blind on West Papua

Some Australian left parties blindly raise both hands when it comes to a request for volunteers for West Papuan independence. They barely lose a step before blundering into yet another international issue without checking its bona fides. Never one to miss a chance to embellish the Australian government, the Socialist Alliance chimes in with a demand that the federal government grant Veronica Koman protection and not hand her over to the Indonesian government. At the least, they display First World disrespect for the legal system of a Third World neighbour. They then pose the rhetorical comparison of West Papua to the case of East Timor.[18] If someone hasn’t told them, comparisons between East Timor – which after a long struggle won independence from Indonesia – and West Papua, are like chalk and cheese. Likewise, Socialist Alternative echoes the East Timor comparison, and swears to uphold all South Pacific struggles for  “self-determination”.[19] The Communist Party of Australia[20] and the Communist Party of Australia Marxist-Leninist[21] both reflexively hail the cross-class “people” of West Papua.

These left parties have forgotten their “Marxism”. Even if it was the case that Papuan militia did not slaughter innocent civilians, did not foster and foment ethnic violence against Indonesians, and did not spread lies and falsifications – Marxists would not automatically endorse self-determination or independence. While Marxists stand against national oppression, advocating the exercise of self-determination is dependent on a number of factors. The most important of these is whether or not it advances the struggle for socialism in that country, in the region, and internationally. Even accounting for the fact that, due to historical factors, the working class of Indonesia is more developed than that of West Papua, there is ample space for working class Papuan and Indonesian collaboration in struggles against capitalism in the region. For example, that which is facilitated by the common language of Bahasa Indonesian.

In stark contrast to liberal and petty-bourgeois nationalists, Marxists do not engage in the shadow boxing of a “good” versus a “bad” nation. What is required are methods of political struggle which advance the class consciousness of workers of all nations. “Self-determination” and/or “independence” may or may not play a role in this process. Either way, efforts to forge Marxist vanguard parties across the entirety of the Asia-Pacific remains essential.

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.newcastleherald.com.au/story/6402252/migrants-caught-up-in-papua-violence/?cs=7579 (03-10-2019)

[2] https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/protesters-burn-buildings-in-indonesias-papua-province (03-10-2019)

[3] https://www.nst.com.my/world/2019/09/525226/thousands-scramble-flee-unrest-indonesias-papua (03-10-2019)

[4] Ibid, 1.

[5] https://www.theislanderonline.com.au/story/6402252/migrants-caught-up-in-papua-violence/?cs=11679 (03-10-2019)

[6] https://papuawest.com/2018/12/12/government-to-shift-focus-from-infrastructure-to-education-in-papua/ (03-10-2019)

[7] https://news.mongabay.com/2017/10/indonesias-big-development-push-in-papua-qa-with-program-overseer-judith-j-dipodiputro/ (03-10-2019)

[8] https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/09/30/good-neighbors-papuans-help-non-natives-flee-violence-in-wamena.html (03-10-2019)

[9] http://lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/violence-papua-could-get-worse (03-10-2019)

[10] https://www.muswellbrookchronicle.com.au/story/6402252/migrants-caught-up-in-papua-violence/?cs=7281 (03-10-2019)

[11] https://redfireonline.com/2019/04/27/west-papua-independence-movement-spreads-more-false-claims/ (03-10-2019)

[12] https://www.smh.com.au/world/oceania/protests-sparked-by-hoax-racism-claims-kill-injure-dozens-20190924-p52uez.html (03-10-2019)

[13] https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2018/12/22/exclusive-chemical-weapons-dropped-papua/15453972007326 (03-10-2019)

[14] https://infowestpapua.com/2018/12/26/phosphorous-bomb-propaganda-in-west-papua-a-seriously-fake-yet-silly-issue-administered-by-australian-media/ (03-10-2019)

[15] https://twitter.com/veronicakoman (03-10-2019)

[16] https://jakartaglobe.id/context/police-issue-red-notice-to-interpol-to-track-and-capture-veronica-koman/ (03-10-2019)

[17] https://en.tempo.co/read/1250173/veronica-koman-fugitive-police-issue-red-notice-for-interpol (04-10-2019)

[18] https://socialist-alliance.org/news/west-papua-australias-new-timor-leste (04-10-2019)

[19] https://redflag.org.au/node/6895 (04-10-2019)

[20] https://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2019/1888/11-west-papua.html (04-10-2019)

[21] https://www.cpaml.org/posting1.php?id=967 (04-10-2019)

Wamena: Papuan Militia Terrorise Civilians

US vs China: Workers Must Defend Their Side

26-09-2019 – Anti-China hysteria has been set at fever pitch. The attempt to besmirch Liberal Party Member of Parliament Gladys Liu as an agent of the Communist Party of China (CPC) eventually ran out of steam, as the case collapsed for lack of evidence. Gladys Liu’s conservative and pro-capitalist politics can be confirmed not the least by the fact that she has backed the anti-communist Hong Kong riots publicly, saying she admired the “passion and commitment”[1] of the largely US and UK government funded separatists.[2]  Regardless of Ms Liu’s past membership of groups associated with the Chinese government, she also admitted organising an overtly homophobic and transphobic WeChat social media campaign against equal marriage rights for same sex couples, and the “Safe Schools” program during the 2016 election campaign.[3] Yet Ms Liu’s ultra-conservatism, and membership of the Liberal Party, was not enough to shield her from a New Cold War witch-hunt.

Day after day, workers in Australia are beset by a corporate media (especially the government owned ABC) slur against virtually anything to do with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Lurid tales of the PRC allegedly repressing ethnic minorities, overtly monitoring their people with social credit systems and facial recognition cameras and supposed debt-trap lending to Pacific nations, are retailed ad nauseum. All of these stories distort the truth beyond recognition, yet they still appear. Capitalist states must have an adversary, or create one, lest its own workers turn their justifiable grievances against their own rulers. This becomes even more urgent when capitalism enters economic crisis, and even more urgent again when a large country in its region is literally running laps around it.

Socialism in the PRC, capitalism in Australia

China’s rise as an economic power is noted by all classes, but it is causing serious concern for Australia’s ruling elite. They, like their patrons in the USA, are well aware that they must “do something” before being overtaken by the PRC economically, politically, financially and diplomatically. Australia’s capitalist economy is now stumbling along, effectively in recession. Many of the key economic indicators for Australia are at their worst point ever, and Australia is plummeting down the rankings of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) countries. Australia now ranks 18th (out of 36, 36 being the lowest) for total numbers of unemployed, 21st in youth unemployment, 18th in economic growth, 20th in terms of lack of wage growth, 19th in terms of gross national savings, and 28th in terms of unequal wealth distribution (the Gini coefficient).[4] In short, Australia is following the USA, Europe and Japan in a long recession, which shows no sign of ending, and is plainly getting worse.

Compare this bleak outlook to the situation of the PRC. In 2018, despite economic growth “slowing” to its lowest point in 28 years, it still had a growth rate of 6.6% – compared to Australia’s average 1.5%, which is now 1.4%. The PRC’s economic output for last year was 1.4 trillion, which surpassed the total output of Australia for 2017, at 1.32 trillion.[5] Yet it is not just sheer economic data which is damning for the capitalist West. In January this year, the PRC became the first country in history to carry out a soft landing on the dark side of the moon,[6] demonstrating its scientific and technological advances. This is also reflected in the top 500 world supercomputer ratings. PRC based companies in 2019 claimed 219 of the fastest and most powerful supercomputers, compared to the USA’s 119.[7] In terms of high speed rail, the PRC has built and installed more than 25 000 kilometres of dedicated lines since 2008, which represents more than the total operating in the rest of the world.[8] Australia, on the other hand, has no high speed rail, and is unlikely to obtain any in the foreseeable future.

More figures demonstrating the contrast would be easy to find. It should be clear though, that in economic terms the PRC is moving forward, and Australia is moving backwards. This is because socialism in the PRC is the dominant mode of production, whereas in Australia we are stuck with capitalism – for now. The PRC has never had a recession, because the strategic means of production are all state owned or majority state owned, and the government runs five year economic plans. The PRC’s state ownership of the banks is a key factor in fireproofing their economy from the shocks of the recessions of the capitalist world. Economically, the PRC runs a socialist system – despite the inroads of free enterprise allowed by the CPC. There is much to criticise politically from a working class point of view – but mainly in terms of the lack of decision making power. Despite political limitations, the state and the economy of the PRC is still delivering gains for its workers, 70 years after its socialist revolution.

Neutrality?

One might assume that in an atmosphere of New Cold War red-baiting raised to unprecedented levels, a priority for Australian left parties would be to defend the PRC against what is essentially war propaganda from the liberal intelligentsia right up to the highest political offices of Canberra and Washington. Unfortunately, what prevails amongst most of them has recently been a rash of attempted neutrality, or a position of “we are against both sides”.  Yet even accounting for some justifiable left criticisms of the PRC and the CPC, the US vs China is a very real case of capitalism versus socialism. In this battle, working people internationally have a vital stake in the defence of socialism (even in the distorted form of the PRC) against capitalism (largely represented by Anglo-US imperialism). The shortcomings of socialism in the PRC (lack of workers’ decision making power, disallowance of non-CPC yet pro-socialist organisations) can only be addressed while defending the PRC against internal and external overthrow. Paraphrasing Leon Trotsky, those who will not defend past gains will not be able to win new ones. Therefore, workers defence of the PRC is bound up with any further advances for world socialism.

Alas, some Australian left parties not only refuse to defend the PRC, but in practice join with imperialist propaganda against China, albeit with “left” overtones. The newly formed Australian Communist Party (ACP), in a review of the Netflix documentary American Factory, goes overboard with denunciations of alleged “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics”[9]. The China based Fuyao Glass took over a defunct General Motors plant in Ohio, and began employing American workers. This in itself is indicative of the state of US capitalism versus the prosperity of the Chinese economy. The ACP review goes on to denounce the practices of Fuyao management, who allegedly attempt to prevent workers in America from forming a Union, and mistreat them by threatening them with the sack if they do. The American workers struggle to understand why the Chinese workers generally accept what management expects of them, even if they receive poor treatment.

The ACP infer that the actions of one Chinese owned company operating in the United States is symptomatic of what occurs in the PRC, and that it is as bad, or worse, than what occurs in the US. The nature of work in the PRC compared to the US is a huge discussion – but the ACP dismiss this as their superficial analysis of the PRC is that it is “capitalist”, where most industry is allegedly privately owned. This is a long way from reality. Suffice to say that Unions in a workers state which is attempting to build socialism play a very different role to Unions in a capitalist state which is a mainstay of world imperialism. The role of Unions in a workers’ state is not that of total opposition to their own government or to their own building of socialism. It is to protect workers interests while also assisting and defending the basis of their independence from world imperialism – the socialist state. Unions in a capitalist state, on the other hand, need to oppose both their own government and “their own” capitalist state – which is the basis of their oppression. This is anathema to the ACP, however, who overlook the vast differences between the PRC and the US, and dismiss both as “capitalist”.

In real world politics, it is impossible to be “neutral” or to imagine that one is against both the US and China. As long as imperialism exists, taking a position of “neither the US nor China” means in practice siding with imperialism, despite intentions. The US Empire can skilfully use “defence of workers’ rights” to aid their political, economic and military campaign against Red China. This fools some workers in the capitalist West, and even some self-described “Communist” parties. The ACP is the first cab of the rank on this score. One does not have to look very far to discover that, in fact, American Factory was produced by none other than the former President and First Lady of the United States, the Obamas!![10] The recent former Commander in Chief of the US Empire did not just endorse American Factory, but helped to produce it. By your friends ye shall know thee, as the saying goes. The ACP finds itself in very unsavoury company indeed.

China as “imperialist” ?

A graphic demonstration of how it is impossible to remain neutral in a Cold War is proffered by Socialist Alternative (SAlt). In an editorial of Red Flag, they declare that the new Cold War is being fought by “two reactionary imperialist states” where there is “no good side” ![11] The falsity of this position is immediately brought into stark relief, as in the same editorial, they grandstand about “standing with Hong Kong and the Uyghurs”.[12]  It should hardly need explaining that right now, Hong Kong and Xinjiang are the key crystallisations of counter-revolutionary CIA backed intrigue against Red China. Imperialist backed rioters in Hong Kong have wreaked havoc for the last three months, terrorising bystanders going about their daily lives, who might disagree with them.[13]  The far Western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XAUR) has also been targeted by the Pentagon, over transparently false claims that the PRC government is preventing Uyghur Muslims from practicing their religion. The outrageous claim that the PRC is detaining one million Uyghurs in detention camps has been exposed as a furphy.[14]

The irony is strong. SAlt claim to oppose both US (real imperialism) and Chinese “imperialism”, but in practice go on to openly and loudly assist key US imperialist political assaults on the PRC. SAlt’s forerunners in the International Socialist Organisation proclaimed “neither Washington nor Moscow” in the 1980s when the Soviet Union was still in place. In practice, this position always meant support for Washington against Moscow, by way of reserving the strongest opposition to “totalitarian” socialism through covert endorsement of “democratic” imperialism. In the same way, today’s effective slogan of “neither Washington nor Beijing” means in practice political support for Washington against Beijing. In reality, this means siding with capitalism against socialism – clearly the wrong position for workers.

Not to be outdone, the Socialist Alliance (SAll) also chime in with the China bashing, under the guise of “a plague on both your houses”. Echoing SAlt, SAll write that “In the conflict between the US and China, we should not support either side.”[15] But this is immediately exposed as false, as SAll shout to the heavens about the need to support “democracy” (!) in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang. These three regions are targeted for destabilisation, chaos and – the US state department hopes – the spreading of anti-government action throughout China, leading to regime change. The more the PRC necessarily builds up its military defences – vital for defence against an external imperialist assault – the more the US state department depends on the funding of internal pro-capitalist (“democracy”) dissidents within China. The capitalism allowed in Hong Kong has meant a substantial section of right-wing youth are able to be recruited as counter-revolutionary rioters. The separatists still remain wholly in the minority, however.

The imperial left are wrong – workers have a vital stake in the conflict between the real imperialism of the US and the rising socialism of the PRC. Regardless of justifiable left-wing criticism of the CPC, workers internationally must act to defend the PRC workers’ state, whether deformed or not. This means calling for unconditional military defence of the PRC against internal and external political, diplomatic, economic and military moves against Beijing. It is vital that socialism be defended and extended from the workers’ states to the centres of Western imperialism – the US, Europe, Japan and Australia.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH QLD 4012

[1] https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/gladys-liu-paranoia-and-the-chinese-communist-party-20190912-p52qhz (22-09-2019)

[2] https://www.workers.org/2019/08/16/whats-behind-hong-kong-protests/ (22-09-2019)

[3] https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/completely-abhorrent-julia-banks-slams-former-liberal-colleague-liu-20190416-p51ek1.html (22-09-2019)

[4] https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/australias-economy-has-deteriorated-under-the-coalition,12644 (22-09-2019)

[5] https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/2188404/china-says-last-years-gdp-growth-was-worth-more-australias (22-09-2019)

[6] https://www.space.com/42883-china-first-landing-moon-far-side.html (22-09-2019)

[7] https://venturebeat.com/2019/06/17/top500-china-has-219-of-the-worlds-fastest-supercomputers/ (22-09-2019)

[8] https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2019/07/08/chinas-experience-with-high-speed-rail-offers-lessons-for-other-countries (22-09-2019)

[9] https://www.auscp.org.au/militant-monthly/2019/9/17/capitalism-with-chinese-characteristics-key-lessons-from-american-factory?fbclid=IwAR2XbjHqDMiALF2v_A9n4b5MoMmApdvoYdrCTE4jWzo-1spu025rvXXOYps (25-09-2019)

[10] https://qz.com/quartzy/1700915/american-factory-makes-barack-and-michelle-obama-2020-oscar-contenders/ (25-09-2019)

[11] https://redflag.org.au/node/6876 (25-09-2019)

[12] Ibid, 11.

[13] http://socioecohistory.x10host.com/2019/09/08/hk-protesters-rioters-besiege-innocent-bystander-on-street-beat-him-and-smash-his-car/ (25-09-2019)

[14] https://thegrayzone.com/2018/08/23/un-did-not-report-china-internment-camps-uighur-muslims/ (25-09-2019)

[15] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/china-scare-campaign-ignores-greater-threat (26-09-2019)

US vs China: Workers Must Defend Their Side

Climate Mayhem: Capitalism Must Fall!

20-09-2019 –  The planet is burning alive. On September 10, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast were on fire, as were parts of northern New South Wales.[1] Summer is still three months off, but the “bushfire season” starts earlier and lasts longer each year now. It is nothing like a “bushfire season”, or a “storm season”. It is clear that global warming tipping points are being approached, if not surpassed. Australia and the world face a climate meltdown which is already underway. World governments have been warned for 40 years that without serious moves to avert carbon emissions, ecological collapse is immanent. With the partial exception of some socialist states such as Cuba and China, they have done little or nothing. In the case of the Queensland government, by approving the Adani mega coal mine,[2] they are virtually cranking the gas burner up to high, and disconnecting emergency sprinkler systems.

Strike for Climate

Like never before, student and worker strikes for a safe climate are desperately needed. Yet every strike has a political leadership, which attempts to direct it in line with their material interests. The September 20 Strike for Climate is no exception. Its political leadership, unfortunately, are not the young students themselves, even as they defy school authorities to attend. Behind the scenes, the strike is organised and led by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), in essence an arm of GetUp! – who in practice are the foot soldiers of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). The political demands have been watered down so as to assist the ALP back onto the parliamentary benches in Canberra. GetUp! and the AYCC work for the ALP, no matter how strenuously they deny it in public. The demands of no new coal mines, renewable energy by 2030, and re-training for workers in fossil fuel industry  – should not be opposed per se (even though “renewable energy” is largely a furphy). However, they are so moderate that they make a mockery of pretensions to radical climate action.

In addition, the Strike for Climate is a double lobbying act. It is timed to occur just days before the United Nations (UN) “Emergency Climate Summit”. So working people in Australia are being asked to not only lobby parliaments on these shores, but to lobby the “world parliament” of the UN. Pleading for crumbs from the global and local political arms of capitalist imperialism is not only fruitless – it entrenches submission to the profit system responsible for ecological collapse in the first place. The Climate Strike organisers even boast about how many for profit businesses have now backed the “strike” in some way, even by allowing their workers leave to attend.[3] To say this is class collaboration is vastly understating things. Conservative Union officials, masters at encouraging class collaboration amongst workers, are not to be outdone. Many have endorsed the Climate Strike, and some have even asked employers themselves to join in. To say the least, if workers march alongside employers, the “cause” is false.

Climate is a class issue

Even if climate collapse affects everyone – meaning both labour and capital – the subordination of the workers to direct agents of capital in the name of “climate action” is the highest political crime. The struggle for a safe climate cannot be separated from the overall struggle for human liberation. In the current period, human liberation is entirely bound up with the workers movement for socialism. Global warming induced bushfires burning closer and closer are linked to the lowest wages in history, wage theft, unemployment, homelessness and crushing poverty. Extreme weather events are also linked to US imperialism’s drive to nuclear war against China and Russia, and endless regime change wars against smaller states. The 700 odd businesses endorsing the climate strike are also responsible for the catastrophic decline in living standards, as they drive down the wages of their own workers – no matter how “enlightened” they may be. Marching with them for the “climate” is an illusion of colossal scale.

The Climate Strike is yet another attempt to subject the workers to the ideological forms of bourgeois democracy – as if there can be any “democracy” between workers and business owners. Unquestionably, there must be many strikes for a safe climate, but these can only raise class awareness if pro-working class elements are able to depose liberal leadership, and forge their own path. To save the earth and humanity, all those bound up with private capital – AYCC, GetUp!, the conservative Union officials, business owners themselves – must be ruthlessly driven out of the climate movement. If nothing else, these are the same forces that aid and assist the Pentagon’s drive towards imperialist war. If they are not on the side of workers in war, they cannot be allies for “climate”. The climate movement must be based on a pro-working class axis, which can then gather behind it other strata of society which are not antagonistic to the workers’ interests – e.g. left-wing students, pensioners, retirees, unemployed youth and so on. Vital demands which could assist this include:

  • For a 30 hour work week – a six hour day.
  • For the formation of workers’ councils, comprised of elected workers from all industries.
  • The workers’ councils to organise not only strikes but workers’ occupations of key industries – the banks, mines, railways, transport, telecommunications.
  • The workers’ councils to elect regional and national representatives – the basis of a workers’ government.
  • The workers’ government to declare the abolition of the private ownership of the means of production, and the constitution of a single economic plan.

The most advanced workers must forge a vanguard party to lead this process. There is no time to waste – there is no disagreement about that. To save civilisation, capitalism must go, and socialism must emerge.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/queensland/2019/09/10/queensland-bushfires-peregian/ (11-09-2019)

[2] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-22/adani-approvals-removal-environment-department/11138140?pfmredir=sm (11-09-2019)

[3] https://www.mybusiness.com.au/management/6198-notbusinessasusual-businesses-urge-support-for-climate-strike (14-09-2019)

 

Climate Mayhem: Capitalism Must Fall!

A local government building in Manokwari was set ablaze by separatist Papuans. Image from http://www.theguardian.com

West Papua: Separatists Incite Violence

04-09-2019 – The desecration of a national flag, destruction of shops, torching of government buildings. Are we talking about Hong Kong? Try West Papua. In the former, Western governments materially aid separatists[1], while in the latter Western governments diplomatically aid separatists – for now. Separatism in itself, under certain circumstances, may be the correct political move for an oppressed class or nation. Likewise, a movement for independence – up to, and including, the right to form a separate state, may, under specific conditions, resolve political issues in favour of working people. Independence, if achieved against the interests of domestic and international capital, may clear the way for an advance of a workers’ struggle for liberation. In West Papua today, however, a much different situation transpires.

Student disrespect

Just before August 17 – Indonesia’s national day – a post on WhatsApp by a youth organisation displayed a defaced Indonesian flag lying in a gutter near a University dormitory in Java.[2] In response, Indonesian soldiers descended on the University dormitory and accused Papuan students of disrespecting the national flag. During this incident, some soldiers apparently used racist insults, calling them “monkeys”.[3] Reports of this incident triggered protests across Indonesia and throughout West Papua. While racist insults are of course unacceptable, a heated emotional response to the national flag being desecrated on the eve of the national day is understandable. After all, Indonesia’s national day marks the proclamation of Indonesian independence from Dutch colonialism (August 17, 1945), which had ruled Indonesia for 350 years.[4] While nationalists exist in Indonesia as in other countries, animated reaction against Papuan students disrespecting the Indonesian national flag, while being hosted at a Javan University, was likely.

The separatist or independence protests that ensued as a result appeared to have a clear target – Indonesian government built infrastructure, government buildings, and Indonesian commercial activity. Despite the Papuan students using these services, alongside Indonesians themselves, the separatists displayed scant regard for them, or for the danger posed to human life in the process. Like Hong Kong, the protests were in effect violent riots. In Manokwari, the capital of the West Papua province, the local government building was torched and reduced to ashes.[5] The separatists pulled down power poles and set fire to vehicles.[6] A market in Fakfak was set ablaze, as was a prison in Sorong – leading to the escape of 250 prisoners.[7] Also in Sorong, the airport was vandalised and many shops were looted.[8]

Liberation?

The demand “Free West Papua!” sounds alluring and enticing, and is redolent of a struggle for justice and right. In reality, the slogan is devoid of political content, not to speak of class content. More than 200 years ago, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels railed against anarchist opposition in the First International, which called for “freedom” in the abstract, regardless of the development of society in an economic or political sense. “Freedom” in itself is a meaningless term in politics, unless it is referred to in concrete terms and to a certain class it seeks to liberate. West Papuan separatists appear to see “freedom” in terms of being released from integration with Indonesia, or specifically, from non-Papuan Indonesians. While there is some nationalism and racism directed against Papuans from ultra-nationalist groups within Indonesia, this is not reflective of Indonesia as a whole. At the same time, there are eerie elements of Papuan disapproval of Indonesians on the basis of their ethnicity. This does not endow the West Papuan independence struggle – under its current leadership – with wholesome aims.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo stated that he understood why Papuans were offended, and asked that both sides forgive each other as “fellow countrymen”.[9] The governor of East Java, Khofifah Indar Parawansa, apologised for the behaviour of the Indonesian nationalist mobs, and said it does not “represent the…people of East Java”.[10] These are scarcely the words of government leaders who are allegedly carrying out systemic discrimination against Papuans. The extent to which the Indonesian government always enacts fair treatment of Papuans is of course up for debate. However, the intent of the Indonesian government appears to be consistent – it is attempting to integrate Papuans into the whole of Indonesia. In 2001, the Indonesian government granted Papua a status of “Special Autonomy”. This may well be rejected by separatist Papuans, but “liberation” has to have a more positive political program than simply rejecting Indonesia.

A liberation movement also needs a basic honesty, so that all can clearly see that the cause is just. Yet in the hands of the current political leadership, a lack of honesty is the major drawback for the West Papuan independence movement. Time and again, the West Papuan separatist leaders have fabricated blatant untruths in their attempt to whip up false hysteria against “Indonesia”. In December last year, Papuan separatists made the fatuous claim that the Indonesian military used white phosphorus munitions against independence supporters. They allied themselves with reporters who openly sided with US imperialism against Syria, where the US government accused the Syrian government – without evidence –  of using chemical weapons, while at the same time admitting they had themselves used white phosphorus munitions against civilians in Syria.[11] Around April this year, Papuan separatists were backed by Western NGOs in claiming – without a shred of evidence – that 32 000 people had been displaced in the Nduga region in West Papua, and that 34 schools had been damaged by the Indonesian military.[12] No verification was provided. But this doesn’t stop Papuan separatists from trying it on again.

Instigators of violence

Papuan independence supporters raised their hands in horror at the Indonesian government blocking the internet in response to the outbreaks of violence wrought by the crowds they had incited. The Indonesian government claimed that this move was made in order to stop Papuan separatists sharing fake videos to further incite more violence. There were some reports that the Papuan students were circulating a video allegedly showing a student being killed by Indonesian soldiers, which was entirely fake. Without offering the Indonesian government any political support, they appear to be telling the truth here. Why? Because the West Papuan separatists have a history of retailing bald faced lies to artificially pump up support for their movement. It is not beyond belief that the violent riots which occurred in the last week of August were fuelled by the separatists spreading a fake video online. Given that this then lead to a government building being burnt to the ground, an airport vandalised, shops looted, markets set on fire, power poles being felled and more – it is in turn not unreasonable for the Indonesian government to “throttle” or even block the internet in an attempt to prevent further violence.

The political violence instigated by the separatists only follows on from the instigation of military conflict by armed West Papuan militia. Time and again, the armed West Papuan groups provoke violent conflict with the Indonesian military only to claim “oppression” when the inevitable retaliation ensues. It is similar to the situation in Syria, where US/UK armed death squads would attack Syrian government positions, and then claim that the Syrian response to overt violence against them was evidence of an “oppressive regime”.  In December last year, armed Papuan militia slaughtered 31 Indonesian road workers constructing the Trans Papua Highway through the Nduga region.[13] Understandably, the Indonesian security forces had to move in to, at least, recover their bodies and secure the area. Hence, the Indonesian government claims that the military build up in parts of West Papua occurs only in response to the violent attacks from the separatists – are not without foundation.

Rejecting development

At the time, Sebby Sambom of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) claimed that the group deliberately attacked the road workers building the Trans Papua Highway because they reject all infrastructure development programs in West Papua.[14] !  This statement is revealing. The West Papuan separatists appear to be aware that the infrastructure development programs paid for and installed by the Indonesian government will benefit Papuans and non-Papuans alike, and will lead to increased economic activity, contributing to a higher standard of living for all. If this occurs, political support for separatist independence would be likely to dissipate. So to keep alive their aim of separatism, 31 innocent Indonesian workers had to die – and with no apology. Is it any wonder that the separatist Papuans do not attract sympathetic Indonesians to their cause?

The question of the economic and industrial development of West Papua is important. Without offering political support to the Indonesian government, the fact remains that the Indonesian government is ramping up its efforts to connect West Papua, parts of which are still inaccessible due to mountainous and jungle covered territory. The Trans Papua highway is a part of this, but there are also moves to extend electricity coverage to more areas of West Papua. In fact, the Indonesian state owned electricity company PLN recently signed a cooperation agreement with the Indonesian military and some Universities, where the aim is to provide electricity to 99% of the villages across West Papua in 2019.[15] Is this the type of development which is rejected by the armed West Papuan groups – connecting villages to electricity, which have never seen it before? West Papuan independence advocates can arguably claim that the Trans Papua highway will only benefit Indonesians, as most Papuans do not own cars or commercial vehicles. However, it is not plausible to suggest that the electrification of nearly all of West Papua will not benefit Papuans, especially those from the highland areas which are currently in darkness.

Transmigration

The critical issue which is driving some Papuans towards nationalist and pro-independence views is the desire to end the transmigration of Austronesians to Papua from other parts of Indonesia. The transmigration is significant, with Austronesians now making up around 51% of the population to the approximately 49% Melanesian indigenous population. However, there remain huge regional variances within the Papuan provinces. While Austronesian and other transmigrants now outnumber Papuans in urban and coastal areas, Papuans are still the overwhelming majority in the highland interior.[16] To some extent, fears of being pushed out of their own land MAY be understandable IF there was systematic and blatant exclusion of Papuans by the Indonesian government and those who tend to dominate commercial activity. However, it is apparent that the Indonesian government is attempting to integrate them into the “Unitary State” of Indonesia, through granting regional autonomy, spending vast sums on transport and electricity infrastructure, and, where possible,  providing healthcare and education for all residents.

Doubtless, there may be many blemishes on the record of the Indonesian government while attempting to implement their aims. Despite this, the Indonesian government  cannot stand by and allow armed Papuan groups to engage in wanton killings of non-Papuan residents. Nor can it stand by and allow Papuan separatists to engage in terroristic violence such as provoking gunfights with police and the military OR the incitement of crowds to commit riotous acts such as setting ablaze government buildings, markets, shops or transport facilities.

It is true that Marxists MAY sometimes give critical support to a movement for national liberation IF it is directed against imperialism.  However, the current West Papuan “liberation” movement is oriented in the opposite direction. It aims to enlist imperialism to help achieve its aims, both because it knows it cannot defeat the Indonesian military on its own, and because it does not aim to convince Indonesians, let alone Indonesian workers, of the justness of its cause. So there are appeals to the United Nations, to British and Australian parliamentarians, and so on. The British ruling class has partially come to the party, by offering fugitive independence figure Benny Wenda “asylum” in London.[17] The nationalism of a small state often means, in turn, recognising the nationalism of the largest states, as a quid-pro-quo. Working people, from Indonesia, Papua, the UK and Australia – on the other hand – have a material interest in politically combatting the nationalism of small and large states, in their combined struggle for liberation from capitalist imperialism. Papuan separatists, and their supporters, need to decide where they stand.

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E:workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

[1] https://www.workers.org/2019/08/16/whats-behind-hong-kong-protests/ (26-08-2019)

[2] https://globalvoices.org/2019/08/25/indonesia-sends-in-troops-and-cuts-internet-as-west-papua-protesters-denounce-racist-treatment-of-students/ (28-08-2019)

[3] Ibid, 2.

[4] http://www.bali3000.com/article/IndependenceDayofRepublicofIndonesia.asp (28-08-2019)

[5] https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/explained/article/3023640/explained-riots-indonesias-papua-region (28-08-2019)

[6] https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6337270/jakarta-to-hold-probe-after-papuan-protest/digital-subscription/ (28-08-2019)

[7] https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/indonesia-papua-riots-unrest-history-problems-development-11836300 (28-08-2019)

[8] https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Papua-violence-shows-Indonesia-s-fragile-grip-on-eastern-provinces (28-08-2019)

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/20/indonesian-president-calls-for-calm-after-violent-protests-in-west-papua (28-08-2019)

[10] Ibid, 9.

[11] https://redfireonline.com/2018/12/30/west-papua-corporate-media-enlisted-to-spread-false-claims-fake-news/ (29-08-2019)

[12] https://redfireonline.com/2019/04/27/west-papua-independence-movement-spreads-more-false-claims/ (29-08-2019)

[13] https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2176302/indonesia-probing-reports-rebels-executed-31-construction (30-08-2019)

[14] https://indonesiaexpat.biz/news/free-papua-movement-kills-workers/ (30-08-2019)

[15] https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/30/pln-signs-deal-to-expand-electricity-in-two-provinces-in-papua.html (01-09-2019)

[16] https://www.globalresearch.ca/indonesias-west-papua-settlers-dominate-coastal-regions-highlands-still-overwhelmingly-papuan/5569676 (01-09-2019)

[17] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-49009326 (01-09-2019)

West Papua: Separatists Incite Violence