What’s Wrong with “Safe Access Zones” ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

What’s Wrong with “Safe Access Zones” ?

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

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

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

“Unionists” oppose refugee rights

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

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

Pro-refugee or anti-Trump?

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

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

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

Rohingyas used to derail the New Silk Road

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

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

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

For an anti-imperialist refugee rights movement

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

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

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

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image from Australian Refugee Action Network

 

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

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

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

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

Dire threat to journalism and political expression

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

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

Just who is “interfering” ?

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

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

Socialism vs Capitalism

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

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

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

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

Halt the war drive through workers’ power

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

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

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

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66   NUNDAH  QLD   4012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Release Julian Assange!

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

Elementary rights at stake

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

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

Left parties, Union officials abandon Wikileaks

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

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

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

The case of Peter Greste

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

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

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

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

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

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

For working class led mass action to free Assange

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

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

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

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66
NUNDAH QLD  4012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Release Julian Assange!

Iran: ‘Regime Change’ is War

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

Spillover from attempted regime change in Syria

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

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

Iran targeted since 1979

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

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

Left parties walk both sides of the street

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defend Iran against war/regime change

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

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

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

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

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH QLD 4012

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iran: ‘Regime Change’ is War

70 Years of Injustice: Freedom for Palestine!

15-05-2018 – 70 years ago today, the Catastrophe (Al Nakba) rained down upon Palestine. The birth of the Zionist state of Israel was erected on the forcible expulsion of at least 750 000 Palestinians, many forced into exile to escape death squads, typified by the Irgun’s massacre of at 254 people, mainly women and children, in the village of Deir Yassin.[1] It was April 9, 1948, and the annihilation of this village set the scene for what was to come. For the next 70 years, the Zionist Israeli state has continued to regard Palestinians as unpeople, against which can be carried out theft, murder, imprisonment and daily denial of basic humanity. The stealing of the very land on which people live is one of the most devastating acts colonialism can practice – and yet it continues to this day, with the borders of Gaza and the West Bank shrinking further and further. It goes without saying that there cannot be peace in the Middle East until there is justice for Palestine.

The Zionist Israeli state has existed for 70 years as it has the open political, diplomatic and military support of the imperialist powers – specifically that of the United States of America (US). Yet for the last seven years, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been simmering in the shadow of the US led war on neighbouring Syria – both in proxy and open form. This war for regime change involved the Israeli state bombing Syria whenever it felt like it. It also involved direct collusion between Israeli armed forces and those of ISIS and Al Nusra, even to the extent of free medical treatment for these wounded mercenary barbarians.[2] Israel still occupies the Golan Heights area of Syria, and its role in the war for regime change was not hidden, as it lined up with the governments of the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Kingdom (UK), France, Australia and others. Despite this, much of the Palestinian solidarity movement worldwide fell silent, despite their stated opposition to “Israel”. Many pro-Palestine activists even sided with the regime change war on Syria, despite the strengthening of Israeli state forces which would have resulted if the Syrian Arab Republic had have been overthrown by US backed genocidal terrorists.

The apparent anomaly for some Palestinian solidarity activists – loudly opposing the actions of Israel in relation to Palestine, but not in relation to Syria, is periodically revealed. Roger Waters, the famous guitarist from the band Pink Floyd, has long supported the Palestinian cause. In a recent concert, apparently someone wanted to come on stage and make an announcement about Douma, where the Western governments openly lied, claiming a false chemical weapons attack from the Syrian government. Waters did not allow this, and said that the organisation he supports, the White Helmets, are a “fake organisation that is creating propaganda for jihadists and terrorists”.[3] He went on to strongly argue against calling on Western governments to bomb Syria in response. We can only hope that the Palestinian solidarity movement itself would defend Syria, or would at least speak out against the sinister workings of US and British imperialism, such as the “White Helmets” fraud.

Iran and World War III scenario

The Palestinian solidarity movement in Australia is heavily dominated by what became known as the “imperial left” – the “socialist” parties which followed the Liberal

Thousands of Palestinians march along the Gaza-Israel border on 30.03.2018, calling for the ‘Right to Return’. Image from http://www.middleeastmonitor.com

National Party (LNP), the Labor Party (ALP) and the Greens in strenuously backing the US imperialist wars on Libya and Syria, from 2011 onwards. Much of the Western Palestinian solidarity movement appeared oblivious to the fact that the war on Syria very nearly came to a nuclear war between Russia defending Syria, and the US and Israel almost destroying it. Needless to say, a nuclear war over Syria would probably destroy Palestine, the imperial left notwithstanding. Now, this World War III scenario is on the cards again – this time with the US threatening another of the imperial left’s favourite whipping boys – the Islamic Republic of Iran. US President Donald Trump unilaterally “withdrew” (or openly violated) the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) on May 9,[4] and vowed to impose even tougher sanctions on Iran. US plans for regime change in Iran have not abated since 1979, and it is feared that the US will strike before 2019 – the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

The Israeli “Defence” Forces, usually routinely used against Palestinians, wasted no time in taking advantage of US President Trump’s tearing up of the JCPOA. Within one hour, Israeli warplanes struck Iranian targets in Syria, south of the capital Damascus, reportedly killing 15, including 8 Iranians. In response, the Iranian forces fired 20 rockets at the Golan Heights, and area of Syria still occupied by Israel. The Western media twisted and distorted these events to make out that Iran was the aggressor, and Israel was “defending itself”.[5] The Western Palestinian solidarity movement has decried these false claims by Israel and the Western imperialist powers for decades – when it is directed against Palestine. Yet when it comes to a clear regime change operation against Syria or Iran – non-imperialist allies of Palestine – not a sound emanates from them.

There is also a gaping vacuum from the Western Palestinian solidarity movement when Palestine receives material and political support from Hezbollah, in neighbouring Lebanon. Hezbollah risked life and limb to defend neighbouring Syria against the atrocious US/Israeli/Saudi led regime change war, sending armed detachments to battle against the head-chopping lunatics attempting to overthrow Syria. In the process, they defended Palestine, along with the Russian and Iranian forces, in the process of defending Syria. No doubt Hezbollah’s actions in defending Syria were a huge factor in the recent parliamentary elections in Lebanon, where Hezbollah doubled the amount of seats it held, with big losses for the pro-US and pro-Saudi Said Hariri governing bloc.[6] The Western Palestinian solidarity movement beseeches us to support Palestine, but itself offers not an ounce of support to its immediate neighbours – Hezbollah, Syria, Iran – who give material aid to Palestine. It is a mess of contradictions.

Again, the Western Palestinian solidarity movement will be tested. Will they oppose yet another US led imperialist war (on Iran), where they failed, or at least abstained, in Syria? The signs so far are not good, as the imperial left’s bitter opposition to Iran in practice means it forswears any of the desperately needed assistance provided to Palestine by the Iranian government. There are even some liberals who defend Iran on the basis of its long standing anti-imperialist stance vis-à-vis the US Empire, who blanch at hailing Israel or the other main US ally in the region – Saudi Arabia. There is an urgent need for working people with a basic anti-imperialist stance to join the Palestinian solidarity movement to counter, and overcome, the predominance of the imperial left. This needs to be a part of an anti-imperialist anti-war movement in general – given the US Empire’s similar threats to Russia and China.

BDS claims false victories

With a few exceptions, there is a cross-over between the imperial left and the liberal BDS movement – which calls for “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” against Israel, which is somehow supposed to free Palestine. As we have mentioned previously, the main problem with the BDS movement is that it attempts to gain the support of the imperialist powers, rather than working to undermine them. The US, British, French and Australian ruling classes know very well why they politically and financially maintain the Israeli state, and they cannot be convinced to do otherwise, no matter how compelling the argument. Falling short of inveigling the imperialist powers themselves into a “Down with Israel” campaign, the BDS movement latches on to any expression of anti-Israel sentiment, as proof of the “success” of BDS.

BDS supporters lauded Oscar winning actress Natalie Portman’s decision not to attend a ceremony in Israel which awards the million dollar Genesis Prize, reportedly over “distressing” recent events in Israel. BDS supporters immediately claimed this decision as a victory for BDS, but Natalie Portman’s own words soon put paid to this contention. Portman, who was born in Jerusalem, but moved to the US at age three, stated on Instagram: “I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear to be endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony…..Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation”.[7]

This pointedly reveals another of the shortcomings of BDS. The BDS movement in practice boycotts 8.54 million Israelis, rather than the Zionist Israeli state, which is responsible for the terrible oppression of the Palestinians. Israel is only 75% Jewish, and only around 15% of these are Ultra-Orthodox. A much smaller percentage is willing to commit violence against Palestinians and Arabs. Indeed, 20% of Israelis are Arabs themselves.[8] Well over half of the population, perhaps more, are therefore not Zionists. However, it is acknowledged that Zionism – the ideology for a Jewish only state and/or homeland – does have strong influence throughout the country. It would seem axiomatic that to defeat Zionist ideology, one would necessarily have to enlist non-Zionist Israelis – the majority of the country. BDS does not have such a perspective, as it is ultimately an outgrowth of the Palestinian nationalism which has led to the current impasse.

When is nationalism progressive?

Some leftists and Marxist inspired Palestinian solidarity activists attempt to justify their backing of Palestinian nationalism by referring to Lenin’s work on the right of nations to self-determination. It is the case that Lenin and the Bolsheviks sometimes supported the “nationalism” of a small state when it was in conflict with a larger, dominating force. We would argue that the Marxist backing of the nationalism of small states goes only so far, and only under strict limits. It is only the direct content of the nationalism of a small state which is directed against imperialism, that can be supported by the working class internationally. Any step further than this, seeps over into petty-bourgeois nationalism, which then works against the prospects of its liberation. For example, the nationalism which currently defends Syria and Iran, in the immediate political context, is used against the dire encroachments of US led imperialism, with the Zionist state of Israel as an adjunct. The US/Israeli plans for Syria and Iran are clearly catastrophic regime change, and thus the nationalism of Syria and Iran in response directly counters imperialism.

Palestinian nationalism, on the other hand, generally does not work in a clear anti-imperialist direction, despite being its victim. Palestinian nationalism, in the hands of Fatah, Hamas or indeed BDS, continually seeks recognition from capitalist imperialism, instead of rousing workers against it. The nationalist Fatah and the Islamist Hamas do so more consciously, whereas the BDS movement does so less consciously. This is largely due to the fact that Fatah, Hamas and BDS seek to install their own Palestinian capitalist nation-state. The approach is one which effectively says to imperialism: “you have your capitalist state over there, we will have ours over here, and we will peacefully co-exist.”

Of course, there can be no peaceful co-existence with imperialism. One look at Libya, Syria, Russia and China today will demonstrate that the US Empire cannot even allow independence, let alone extended periods of peaceful co-existence. Finance capital must expand or die, and internationally this means unending wars for the re-division of the planet. More to the point, capitalism in Palestine will not be able to solve the dire problems affecting working people. Poverty, inequality, unemployment, underdevelopment, lack of infrastructure – which affects workers in Israel and Palestine – cannot be addressed without the overthrow of the system of production for private profit. Only socialism – the public ownership of the means of production, politically led by workers holding state power, can hope to address these urgent issues.

Anti-capitalist political action pre-supposes the linking of Palestinian and Israeli workers in common struggle. As far away as this perspective appears, common working class struggle against capitalism in the region is the only way to break the seemingly insurmountable antagonism between Palestinians and Israelis. Key to this is the forging of a Marxist vanguard party, which would seek to unite Israeli and Palestinian workers in a struggle for an Arab-Hebrew socialist state, which could be a basis for uniting workers across the Middle East and further abroad. Linking in with the defence of Iran, Syria, Russia and China against faltering but still dangerous Western imperialism, a socialist revolution in Palestine/Israel could be a focal point for desperately needed workers struggle in Europe, Japan, the US and Australia. A world of threatening imperialist war can only be ended when those who labour are in power.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E:workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.deiryassin.org/mas.html  (08-05-18)

[2] https://www.mintpressnews.com/israel-reconfirms-commitment-to-treating-wounded-syrian-al-nusra-fighters/226714/ (08-05-18)

[3] https://www.jpost.com/International/Roger-Waters-slams-Syria-intervention-attacks-White-Helmets-as-fake-549894 (08-05-18)

[4] https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/live-updates-trump-to-decide-fate-of-iran-nuclear-deal-1.6070574 (09-05-18)

[5] http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/49400.htm (12-05-18)

[6] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-08/hezbollah-stronger-in-lebanon-parliament-after-elections/9737264 (12-05-18)

[7] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-portman/natalie-portman-says-to-skip-israeli-ceremony-due-to-netanyahu-speech-idUSKBN1HS05C (09-05-18)

[8] https://www.indexmundi.com/israel/demographics_profile.html (09-05-18)

70 Years of Injustice: Freedom for Palestine!

‘Change the Rules’ or Elect the Labor Party?

05-05-2018 – It is not a grand statement to make to acknowledge that wages and conditions for workers in Australia have never been at the state they are now. Outright wage theft is rampant, from small business to large scale private and public sectors. The right to strike, an elementary condition without which the line between the modern workers and slavery is blurred, is all but non-existent. Up to 40% of the workforce is not employed on a permanent basis – they are either in casual, temporary or contract arrangements. Enterprise bargaining is failing to deliver much but derisory pay “increases”, many of which are below inflation. Construction workers and their Unions face ongoing government attacks on their right to organise, with massive and crippling fines being imposed even for stopping work if there is a serious health and safety issue. The average pay gap between working men and women is being maintained, pushing many women of near retirement age into precarious housing situations. Penalty rates, a hard won gain from over a century of Union struggles, are being whittled away in industry after industry.

‘Change the Rules’ ?

One response from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is the ‘Change the Rules’ campaign. On the surface, ACTU Secretary Sally McManus appears to be a “breath of fresh air”, in contrast to previous ACTU stale officialdom. The demands and issues she highlights are urgent and need addressing, and her calls for action sound militant. But there is little or no action following the speeches to the National Press Club and the like. The overall political approach soon reveals itself. The ‘Change the Rules’ campaign is ultimately a re-elect the Australian Labor Party (ALP) campaign, being ramped up in a Federal Election year. No matter how much McManus and other top Union officials avoid directly stating it – this is an arm of ALP’s efforts to unseat the Liberal National Coalition government led by Malcolm Turnbull, and install the almost invisible “opposition” ALP leader Bill Shorten. Needless to say, an elected ALP Federal Government will barely change the dire situation for working people.

What McManus and other officials studiously avoid admitting is that the very rules that do need changing were almost entirely put in place by the ALP when it was last in government! The ‘rules’ largely referred to include the (grossly misnamed) Fair Work Act (FWA), the anti-construction Union Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), and the secondary boycott bans in sections 45D and E of the Trade Practices Act. The Fair Work Act was put in place by the Rudd and Gillard ALP governments, which also retained the ABCC and failed to even attempt to get rid of the bans on secondary boycotts – solidarity actions across workplaces. Predictably, there has been no commitment from the ALP that ANY of these anti-worker laws will be repealed, or even amended. It barely needs repeating that the ALP, no less than the Liberal Party, governs for the capitalist class, despite the occasional but fraudulent “pro-worker” lip service. It is a dangerous dead-end to go through the pretence, yet again, that the ALP will do much else other than force workers to swallow more privatisation and public spending cuts. Governing for capital, the ALP makes no apology for whole industries closing, large corporations paying no tax, high unemployment, increasing homelessness and widening inequality.

Lack of Union organisation

Prime responsibility for this situation lies with politically conservative Union officials, who, with a few exceptions, have allowed Union organisation to sink to its lowest ebb. From Sally McManus down, these are the very same careerists who are now claiming that the rules are stacked against them! In a recent speech to the National Press Club, McManus rightly points out that wage theft is continuing across many industries, from celebrity chef restaurants, to 7-11 convenience stores, to Caltex, to Woolworths and more. She then states that wage theft has become a business model but the laws have been too weak to stop them.[1] To put it bluntly, this puts the cart before the horse.  Official industrial relations laws, like wages themselves, come about as a result of the balance of class forces. As long as conservative Union officials fail to organise and mobilise workers to defend their rights on the ground, a thousand laws can be written that benefit employers. Or, more than likely, the absence of Union led struggle emboldens employers – leading them to conclude that there is nothing that can stop them disregarding the remnants of the laws that are on the books. Wage theft – the underpayment of wages to the tune of thousands, or millions of dollars – is one direct result.

Well-heeled Union officials are now comparing the situation for casual labour in Australia to the United Kingdom (UK). In the UK, employees can apply for the benefits of permanent employment (sick leave, annual leave etc) after a period of only three months. Whereas in Australia, there is currently no limit to the amount of time workers can remain on casual or temporary arrangements. In some areas of the public sector, this time limit has been set at two years – but even this is difficult to enforce. Two million workers, or around 40% of the workforce, remain in casual or temporary work.[2] This is a huge proportion. Casual and insecure work has a drastic effect on workers, who cannot begin to plan their lives. But much more than this is the effect it has in the workplace itself. Casual workers can barely question their employer on any issue, such as health and safety, pay and conditions, or anything much at all – as they can be replaced at a moment’s notice. From the employers’ point of view, casual work is the perfect anti-Union measure. This casualisation has been ongoing for more than two decades, yet many Union officials have turned a blind eye, leaving workers to suffer the consequences.

The right to withdraw your labour – without which little there is little differentiation from slavery – is all but illegal in Australia. Under current industrial law, striking is only permitted during an enterprise bargaining period, and even then it is subjected to severe conditions, such as the balloting of members and sufficient notice being given to the employer. And even then, a strike can be ruled illegal, and workers can be ordered back to work, if the action is deemed likely to cause “significant damage” to a part of the economy. In January this year, Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) members were ordered by the Orwellian named Fair Work Commission to abandon a 24 hour strike, as well as planned bans on overtime.[3] This was after train drivers were regularly being forced to work 13 out of 14 days in a row, and being directly rostered to do overtime without their consent. The response of the RTBU officials was to accept the decision of the “independent umpire” !! That was a precise opportunity for the officials to defy the alleged “umpire”, go through with the strike, and call on other Unions and all workers for support.

The only response from the ACTU was that this was a demonstration that the rules are broken, and the rules have to be changed. Yet the only way the “rules” are going to be re-written is by Union led industrial action to challenge the legitimacy of the laws – the laws have to be openly defied, and the state must be challenged to see what they will do in response. “Bad laws have to be broken” – this was the message originally put forward by McManus – but it has scarcely been followed with any action. And only now, with a Federal Election in the offing, does a “Change the Rules” campaign – complete with fancy logo – appear. The blurb of the “Change the Rules” campaign gives the game away – it calls for a government to back working people, not big business. This is code for a return of the Labor Party to federal government.

Capital in Crisis

The ongoing wage theft, the theft of penalty rates, outlawing strike action, lowest wages in history: all of these are a result of the direct crisis that the private profit system is undergoing specifically in Australia, Europe, the United States and Japan. Stagnating economic growth and extremely low rate of return on investment means that investment simply doesn’t happen. The more difficult the conditions for private capital to operate, the more it demands the capitalist state funnel more public funds towards it. In Australia, Liberal and Labor governments oblige, in the form of relentless cuts to government spending, as well as the privatisation of healthcare, education, aged care, public transport, legal aid, the provision of welfare services and any other area where it can politically get away with it. The floundering profit system, especially since the financial crisis of 2008, is the real reason that the “rules” have been changed to give employers unparalleled advantage. Calling for a change of the rules without challenging the political rule of big capital dooms working people to continually beg for things they themselves could achieve.

The threat of war

It should be noted that the fragile and desperate crisis of the profitability of Western capital has its reflection in the reckless and criminally dangerous wars that Canberra flings itself into, which threaten the world with nuclear holocaust. Canberra, Washington, Paris and London recently brought the world to the brink of nuclear war with Russia over a blatantly staged and fake chemical weapons incident in Syria. This followed the blaming of Russia, without a shred of evidence, for the alleged poisoning of a retired double agent in London. The Liberal and Labor parties do not hesitate to ramp up deliberate provocations against the People’s Republic of China, with both gunning for extremely risky provocations with the Australian and US militaries in the South China Sea. After the US came close to a nuclear strike on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or “North Korea”) last year, the Australian government will now reportedly send military aircraft to “monitor” the DPRK’s adherence to punitive sanctions.[4] Both Liberal and Labor parties have not hesitated to back the actions of NATO, constantly mobilising troops right throughout Eastern Europe. Whether it is Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran, China, Russia, the DPRK, the Ukraine or elsewhere, the Australian ruling class risks world war through its war alliance with Washington.

These are directly Union issues, but conservative Union officials have their careers guaranteed by the profit system – if they can contain and restrict the insurgent workers within certain boundaries. This means they are tied to the foreign policy of the “Australian” corporate magnates. Their silence on potential nuclear war is the flip side of their plaintive pleas to “change the rules” with regard to industrial law within Australian shores. Economic crisis in the West can ultimately only be solved by them through recourse to imperialist war, which is one reason Canberra pushes so hard for it. Workers must therefore oppose the entire political outlook of the Australian corporate elite, from working rights on the job, right through to its reckless threat to human civilisation through unthinkable war.

This pre-supposes a struggle for a pro-working class leadership of the Unions. The need is urgent for rank and file committees of workers within the Unions, which exclude the well-paid organisers and officials. Within these committees, leftists need to push an explicitly anti-capitalist line. Marxists need to push for socialist measures within these groups, directly bringing working class politics into the Unions on all issues facing working people – from the threat of catastrophic climate change to the need to oppose imperialism’s drive to World War III. This will entail a bitter but necessary struggle against the Laborite Union leaders, and a whole host of Union organisers and staff who shepherd their own careers. Working people are suffering, and we cannot wait until the day sell-out Union officials decide to seriously organise the working class. For this is a day that will never come.

A pro-worker and class struggle leadership of the Unions would strive to organise workers around demands for a six-hour day, or a 30 hour week. This would address the huge issue of high unemployment, as well as the threat to jobs through automation. Such a demand could seriously galvanise a Union movement in dire need of rejuvenation, after decades of decline. Legions of the unemployed could be mobilised to help the Unions achieve this, which could strongly increase the fighting spirit of working people, and giving impetus towards a drive for a living wage for all of those relying on welfare, such as students and pensioners. This could then spur demands for full public funding of healthcare, education and public transport and other services which have endured savage cuts.

The struggle for a pro-worker leadership of the Unions is necessarily bound up with the struggle to forge a Leninist vanguard party. There are a whole host of left parties who recognise the dire limitations of the conservative Union bureaucrats, and the obstacle of the Labor Party directly on many Union officials, but fear to break politically from them. Some grumble about the lack of action, while others excuse the right-wing politics which accompanies the huge salaries of some officials, which are sometimes double or triple the wages of the workers they are supposed to represent. Rather, what is required is a workers’ party which fights for a workers’ government. Only with workers in power will the numberless crimes of capitalism be able to be curtailed. Then the workers will not only ‘change the rules’, but write them.

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

 

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.actu.org.au/media/1033746/180320-national-press-club-speech-sally-mcmanus-march-21-2018.pdf (05-05-18)

[2] https://www.australianunions.org.au/casual_workers_factsheet (05-05-18)

[3] https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/fair-work-commission-orders-nsw-rail-workers-to-abandon-24hour-strike-20180125-h0o1s1.html (06-05-18)

[4] https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/australianz/australia-to-send-military-aircraft-to-monitor-north-korean-ships (06-05-18)

No to World Nuclear War! US/UK/FRA: Hands Off Syria!

14-04-2018 – There is no longer any pretence, if there ever was. After failing for seven years to bring down the Syrian Arab Republic by arming and funding barbaric mercenaries and letting them loose inside Syria, the governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France are now openly using their respective state military forces to attempt to salvage what has been, for them, a lost war. The US President Donald Trump announced air strikes have reportedly already been largely shot down by Syrian Arab Army air defences, though some appear to have hit the capital Damascus.

This comes after weeks of openly provocative, and barely comprehensible, actions by London, Paris and Washington. The alleged poisoning of a former Russian double agent in London was blamed on the Russian government without a shred of proof being put forward, and no confirmation of the current whereabouts of Sergei and Yulia Skripal being offered. Their false case, a blatant and dangerous war provocation, collapsed for lack of evidence.[1] Directly linked, now an even more obviously false flag chemical weapons “attack” in the town of Douma in Syria has been blamed on the Syrian government and their ally Russia. Russian military general staff have stated that these fake attacks have been carried out by the White Helmets, who are notorious for aiding and assisting terrorist groups in Syria.[2] The “White Helmets” are Al Qaeda linked, and, like ISIS and all other terrorist groups operating in Syria, are funded by Western governments, especially the UK. The French government, alongside the US and Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel and others, have acted to support these terrorist forces, in their vain attempts to overthrow Syria, as a stepping stone to wars on Iran, and ultimately Russia.

Reports say that the White Helmets had been pressured by the Western governments for some months to stage yet another false flag chemical weapons attack, in order to enable another turn in the US/Israeli led war on Syria. A sign that the false flag “poisoning” of the Skripals in London was linked to the false flag chemical weapons stunt in Douma, are indications that British Special Forces have been captured in Douma by Syrian and Russian troops – a claim the UK government denies.[3] What credibility the UK government would have after publicly accusing the Russian government of espionage on UK soil without any putative proof, and after refusing repeatedly to display what evidence they had, is anyone’s guess.

Canberra, as always, has played the part of loyal lieutenant to Washington and London, expelling some Russian diplomatic staff, following the lead from other NATO countries. These extremely dangerous games constantly bring the world to the brink of full scale nuclear war. It is less than 12 months since US President Donald Trump almost triggered nuclear war against the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – “North Korea”). This was foiled by heroic resistance yet again from the DPRK, and also desperate moves by Republic of Korea (South Korea) President Moon Jae-In, culminating in a relatively friendly Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Rebuffed there, the imperialist powers revert to another of their war fronts.

Working people of the world must be clear – the threat of nuclear war remains, and the threat is only emanating from imperialism – the ruling classes of the US, UK, France, Germany, Australia and their allies. Standing in the way of Western imperialism unleashing a nuclear war which could terminate human life on planet Earth, are the non-imperialist powers and their allies – Russia, China, Syria, Iran, the DPRK and so on. While workers can and should retain their own political critiques of the governments of the non-imperialist bloc, they must stand with this bloc against NATO-led imperialism in the interests of preserving the chance for future generations to live and prosper. This is scarcely an exaggeration.

Workers internationally, and especially Australia, must also be aware that the prospect of imperialist launched global nuclear war against Russia and China are not only an expression of systemic meltdown, but a direct link to it. The capitalist private profit system tanked in 2008, and has barely recovered. Poverty, unemployment and homelessness are rapidly increasing. There are ongoing funding cuts to education and health care. Aged care has been privatised, along with child care, making both prohibitively expensive. Those who remain in work currently endure the lowest wages, in terms of purchasing power, in Australian history. They are often pushed to the limit of human endurance, through undoable workloads, compromising elementary health and safety.

Working people should also note that not one Australian Union official has spoken out against these war threats, giving the game away as to exactly whose foreign policy they actually serve. Conservative Union officials have been followed by almost every ostensible left party, which in one way or another have fallen in behind the imperialist wars on Libya and Syria. Some have lined up with “their own” ruling class by falling silent in the face of barely concealed threats of war against China and Russia.

There is a crying need for political leadership in these dark and foreboding times. There are handfuls of activists who have been actively opposing the war threats against Syria, Russia, China and the DPRK, but they must be joined by a serious anti-war movement. Yet it must be an anti-imperialist anti-war movement, one which must squarely take aim at the source of the threats of war – Washington, London, Paris, Canberra. It needs to be joined by a workers movement released from the stifling conservatism of its leaders, restraining workers from defending themselves against unscrupulous employers and war-mongering politicians alike. Bound up with this task is the formation of a Marxist vanguard – a workers party which fights for a workers government. Imperialist war against Syria, or anyone else, will be impossibility with workers in power. NO WAR ON SYRIA!

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD   4012

 

[1] http://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/03/no-patients-have-experienced-symptoms-of-nerve-agent-poisoning-in-salisbury.html (14-04-2018)

[2] http://tass.com/defense/999108 (14-04-2018)

[3] https://www.activistpost.com/2018/04/reports-claim-syria-russia-capture-british-troops-in-douma-uk-govt-denies.html (14-04-2018)

The aftermath of an Israeli air strike on the Mezzeh air base near Damascus in Syria. Image from Press TV

 

No to World Nuclear War! US/UK/FRA: Hands Off Syria!

No Boycott of the World Cup!  Hands Off Russia!

27-03-2018 – Once again, the world teeters on the brink of nuclear war. The trigger for this situation is barely believable. Western governments, without a shred of evidence, are blaming Russia for the alleged poisoning of a double agent in the United Kingdom several weeks ago. The governments of the UK, France, Germany and the United States of America, without any proof being provided, jointly found Russia “guilty”. The lies behind this obvious falsehood are brazen, and they are lies told by London, Washington, Paris and Berlin with utter contempt for human life, and the future of human civilisation on planet Earth. The word irrational barely describes the actions of the world’s pre-eminent imperialist powers.  Now Canberra has joined this transparent and limitlessly reactionary crusade, by expelling two Russian diplomats,[1] and has hinted at a possible boycott by the Australian Socceroos of the World Cup. Although Foreign Minister Julie Bishop appears to have backed away from a full boycott, “further options” are apparently still being considered.[2]

Ironically, Australia narrowly qualified for the football World Cup by only just squeezing past Syria. If Syria had defeated Australia and qualified, arguably poetic justice would have been served. The Australian government joined with the governments of the US, Saudi Arabia, the UK, France, Israel and others in a vicious attempt to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic using their own military in support of the ultra-barbaric ISIS and Al Qaeda mercenaries, whom they also sustained with their own funds. Thankfully, this atrocious attempt at regime change in Syria was thwarted by the heroic resistance of the Syrian armed forces, who were aided by military support from Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and some Palestinian militias. Primarily it was Russian military power which turned the tide. Invited into Syria by the Syrian government, superior Russian air power almost single-handedly destroyed ISIS, and effectively defeated what US, British and French imperialism assumed would be a fait accompli.

Smarting from being defeated on the battlefield, the UK cooked up an obviously fabricated incident which could be blamed on Russia directly in the lead up to the Russian Presidential Elections. No recent photos of Sergei Skripal have been produced, no statement of where he is now, no indication of what hospital he may be in – nothing. The immediacy with which the Western powers said “Russia did it” – before any investigation could even be started – gives the game away. It was a crude attempt to de-legitimise the Russian presidential elections, which Vladimir Putin was always going to win, and win easily. It was also an attempt to undermine the prestige Russia will gain by hosting the World Cup later in June – the world’s largest sporting event. In the end, the blatant lies and baseless allegations hurled towards Russia probably resulted in an increased vote for Putin!  As it turned out, Putin received over 76% of those votes which were cast.[3] It barely needs repeating that no Western politician – in an era where capitalism is in universal political and economic crisis – could conceive of anything even approaching 70% support. This is one more reason for the impetuous acts of the West.

Hysterical Russophobia

Western corporate media, playing the mouthpiece role of the depraved governments they serve, are once again stoking hysterical Russophobia, on a level which defies description. Without any probative evidence, they have blamed Russia for invading Ukraine, shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, “annexing Crimea”, bombing civilians in Syria, meddling in the 2016 US Presidential Election, delivering mass cyber virus attacks, doping their Olympic athletes and much more. When the Western governments are asked to provide the proof they have for these wild allegations, they invariably reply that it cannot be released for national security reasons. In the case of the alleged poisoning of the double agent Sergei Skripal, they have refused point blank, several times, to provide samples of the nerve agent allegedly found – a basic requirement of chemical weapons conventions. The fact that leading British politicians have yet to follow the most basic due legal process which arguably underpins Western civilisation – that one is innocent until proven guilty – exposes their entire system as having reached an impasse. Apart from being ugly and unsightly, it is yet another marker of the irreversible decline of the era of “liberal democracy”.

Liberal democracy was always capitalism, and it is capitalism which is seeking a way out of its long slump. It is prepared to risk world nuclear war rather than agree to coexist with other nations. Yet as throughout history, force alone is not enough to wage fratricidal war. Especially in modern times, where the majority of the population have access to instant news, intensive and pervasive propaganda is needed – as is the crushing of any dissenting views. In addition, the imperialist powers (the UK, France, the US, Germany, et al) cannot wage war in 2018 without dramatic racism, alongside a relentless demonisation and dehumanisation of the “enemy” – which is supposed to be Russia. This is the real purpose of Russophobia – the preparation of the world’s working people for the horrors of war. This is so that working people will either support, or at least not oppose, unspeakable crimes against the human ethos.

A climate is created in which anything Russian becomes suspect, in which any questioning of the anti-Russian narrative becomes treason. Mass hysteria is conjured into existence, where critical thinking often is simply bypassed. As one rightfully concerned commentator noted, the current political atmosphere that prevails in the West traces the course of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. The ideology and the targets differ, but the trajectory is exactly the same.[4] The lack of opposition to government lies, perhaps out of fear, but more due to an almost complete absence of working class leadership, enables the accrual of the forces of darkness. This was how Germany, with all its thousands of years of culture, with its towering intelligentsia and prodigious achievements in science, engineering and the arts, under similar conditions, fell under the control of fascism, with barely a scuffle in the street. The world is in danger, and the alarm must sound.

Hypersonic Weapons

On March 1, President Vladimir Putin addressed the Russian Federal Assembly and unveiled some of the achievements of Russian military technology in the ballistic missile sphere. Russia now has hypersonic missiles, which makes most US anti-ballistic missile defence essentially useless. Russia’s Zircon anti-shipping missile, already in use, is more or less uninterceptable – not even the US navy could really defend itself. But now, the Kinzhal (Dagger) missile exceeds it. With a range of 2000 kilometres, the Kinzhal effectively makes any surface naval fleet of destroyers obsolete. Russian ballistic missile technology, which is now capable of practically unlimited range, and launching missiles with 20 warheads each travelling at around 20 times the speed of sound, is a reality. It is a game changer – it will likely take decades before the US or any Western government has a chance of matching it. Some frightened Western commentators have claimed that this means that Russia now has military parity with the West, but this is false. Russian military technology is now several planes ahead of the West, and it will likely take the West decades to catch up.[5]

Putin was also clear on the reasons why Russia has undertaken the development of these frightening weapons. In 2002, the US government, under the George W Bush administration, unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and never again engaged with the Russians on this topic. This was despite Russia making repeated attempts to warn the US government of its entirely legitimate concerns over US missile “defence” installations in Europe and elsewhere. For sixteen years under Bush and Obama, the US has relentlessly provoked Russia by expanding NATO, backing Georgia in a war in 2008, aiding a fascist-backed Nazi coup in Ukraine and almost destroying Syria. In response, Russia has had little option but to develop an effective deterrent. It mirrors the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or “North Korea”), where the DPRK had no option but to develop nuclear weapons after being labelled part of the “Axis of Evil” by George W Bush in 2003. In both cases the US elite are now reaping what they have sown.

Left parties fold under the wave of Russophobia

No leftist makes any claim that the Russian government is aiming to once again lead the world’s workers in a struggle for international socialism. However, insofar as the Russian government defends itself against precipitous US/NATO provocations, Russia must be defended in the name of human survival. In reality, Russia’s nuclear and hypersonic weapons – developed due to the hostile aggression of US imperialism and their vassal states – are currently a guarantor against a nuclear holocaust. This does not mean at all that this situation will remain in place. The dire economic situation of the profit and private property system in the West ultimately means that war is its only way out. The US ruling class attempted this in Syria for seven years, but were ultimately blocked by Russia’s military power. As we go to press, the Syrian Arab Army has liberated all of Eastern Ghouta, which had been held hostage by Western and Saudi armed and funded death squads since 2011.[6]

Reeling from this defeat, the wounded beast of the US Empire screeches and attempts to lash out at the force which comprehensively out-manoeuvred it in Syria. Wave after wave of Russophobia bombards workers around the world, often with comical and pathetic attempts to prove Russian malfeasance. Russophobia contains a toxic mix of racism and anti-communism despite the restoration of capitalism in Russia over 25 years ago. Unfortunately, many Australian left parties fall prey to the sheer intensity of imperialist propaganda, even if they can see through it on other issues. Socialist Alternative are perhaps the most stridently anti-Russian, explicitly stating that “old” anti-imperialism targeting only the West is no longer adequate. Their moral equivalence between the US and Russia in practice means targeting only Russia, while letting the US off the hook.[7] Solidarity are even less restrained in their fanciful claims of Russian “imperialism”.[8] The Socialist Alliance rallies behind “anti-corruption” candidate Alexei Navalny,[9] while remaining blind to Navalny’s own documented record of convictions for corruption, opposition to government funding for poorer regions of Russia, and using direct funding from the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to establish his ironically named “Democratic Alternative”.[10] The Trotskyist Platform’s inherent disdain of Russia leads it to vilify anyone or any group which defends Russia from immensely dangerous imperialist provocations, for alleged acquiescence of “fascism”.[11] All of these left parties therefore make the error of stunting opposition to NATO.

While it is the case that the Communist Party of Australia (CPA)[12], the Socialist Equality Party[13] and the Spartacist League[14] have a position of opposing war provocations against Russia on paper, their chronic abstention from political activity effectively renders their words a dead letter. Predictably, there has not been one Union official who has uttered a word of dissent against a pack of lies on a par or even greater than the infamous “weapons of mass destruction” fabrications which led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The conservative Union bureaucracy works ceaselessly to shepherd workers behind the foreign policy of Australia’s ruling elite, who willingly play an auxiliary role to the US Empire.

No War on Russia!

There is some opposition to the war drive against Russia, which has been active with consistent opposition to the regime change wars in Libya and Syria. Groups such as Hands Off Syria, anti-imperialist individuals involved in DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) solidarity work, dissident CPA members and genuine anti-war activists have been a lone voice in a sea of political paralysis. These courageous individuals largely remain scattered throughout the country, and need to be joined by a working class led mass anti-war movement. This is a political as well as a practical struggle, which could best be assisted by the formation of a serious workers’ revolutionary party. Marxism’s basic precept is that humanity marches forward, or falls backwards, in direct proportion to the state of the leadership, organisation, and politicisation of the working class in line with its own interests. For humanity to survive in this period, workers of the world need to unite to prevent nuclear war. HANDS OFF RUSSIA!

WORKERS   LEAGUE

E:workersleague@redfireonline.com
www.redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66
NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-27/russian-ambassador-says-diplomats-being-expelled-are-not-spies/9593800 (27-03-18)

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-27/socceroos-world-cup-participation-in-doubt-russia-stoush/9592344 (27-03-18)

[3] https://sputniknews.com/russia/201803181062667521-presidential-elections-2018-preliminary-results/ (27-03-18)

[4] https://thesaker.is/what-happened-to-the-west-i-was-born-in/ (28-03-18)

[5] http://www.unz.com/article/the-implications-of-russias-new-weapons/ (30-03-18)

[6] https://www.rt.com/news/422867-syria-ghouta-cities-liberated/ (01-04-18)

[7] https://redflag.org.au/node/5559 (01-04-18)

[8] http://www.solidarity.net.au/imperialism/imperialist-rivalry-and-putins-russia/ (01-04-18)

[9] http://www.links.org.au/putin-russia-elections-left (01-04-18)

[10] https://www.liberationnews.org/alexei-navalny-agent-of-big-money/ (01-04-18)

[11] http://www.trotskyistplatform.com/defend-syria-against-u-s-australian-imperialism-and-their-proxies-australias-left-in-multi-sided-disarray-over-syria-issue/ (01-04-18)

[12] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2018/1816/11-stoking.html (02-04-18)

[13] http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/03/28/pers-m28.html (02-04-18)

[14] http://www.icl-fi.org/english/asp/223/crimea.html (02-04-18)

Map showing the location of venues for the 2018 World Cup, hosted by Russia. Image from Sky Sports

No Boycott of the World Cup! Hands Off Russia!

Hands Off Russia! No to Nuclear War

18-03-2018 – Lies, lies and more lies. Lies which could ignite a world war. It is a cliché that truth is the first casualty of war, but the lies spewing forth from the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and Germany over the circumstances of the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia go beyond the standard lies we come to expect from Western politicians. These lies test the rational discourse necessary to operate a society on a basis which is even half civil. Capitalism has long since ceased to be civil, if it ever was. And now it pushes humanity towards the brink of the unthinkable – a mutually destructive nuclear holocaust. The prime movers towards this unthinkable are none other than the ruling classes of the supposedly “advanced” West. Russia is but the scapegoat.

Gulf of Tonkin like incident

Former UK parliamentarian for the Labour and Respect parties George Galloway has poignantly stated that the response by the Western governments to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English town of Salisbury is eerily reminiscent of the lead-up to the unforgivable US/UK/AUST invasion of Iraq in 2003. Then, partially on the basis of a UK government “dodgy dossier” which claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction which were able to be deployed within 45 minutes, the US and its Western allies carried out an unprovoked invasion, slaughtering up to 1 million innocent Iraqis. He also stated that the blaming of Russia for the poisoning of Skripal will go down in history as one of the great hoaxes, a “Gulf of Tonkin” incident.[1] The Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred in 1964, where the US destroyer USS Maddox exchanged shots with North Vietnamese torpedo boats. Two days later, the US government claimed the Maddox came under fire again. Although most historians now agree this second attack never happened, the pretext was set, and within 12 months 180 000 US troops were on the ground in Vietnam. The war dragged on for years, and slaughtered 3 million Vietnamese and changed 20th century history. This time, the West’s target is not a small country in Asia, but the world’s largest country by landmass – Russia.

As usual, the Australian government has already given an assurance that it will back the provocateurs, as it has done in every real and potential imperialist war for decades. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has stated that “there is no other plausible explanation” that the Russian government ordered the attack, or allowed others to use its chemical agent stockpiles for the attack.[2] Predictably, Bishop stated that the Australian government would back moves by the UK to send weapons inspectors to Russia. That is, in the same manner as in the lead up to the Iraq war in 2003, the West proposes to send chemical weapons inspectors into Russia, when not a shred of evidence to support their wild allegations has been put forward. Arguably 90% of the world’s population strongly opposed the US led war on Iraq in 2003, because they did not believe attempted government justifications for war. Where is world opinion now?

Mother of all distractions

As others have noted, Sergei Skripal was a double agent, and thus had a lot of enemies. He was tried and convicted of handing over the names of 300 Russian agents to foreign powers, and sentenced to 13 years in prison.[3] In 2010, he was able to escape to the UK as part of a spy swap deal. Given the relatively light sentence for treason that Russian courts handed him in 2004, the Russian government seemingly did not recognise him as a major threat. Russia has consistently denied any involvement in the poisoning of Skripal, and has repeatedly asked for samples of the alleged nerve agent used, as provided for in the conventions of the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The British government refused these requests by Russia point blank, while issuing absurd ultimatums to Russia. The discourse from the UK government and its assistant corporate media is childish and pathetic, but there is some basis for their warped behaviour.

The UK, and the imperialist West generally, needed a distraction from the upcoming Russian presidential elections. In these elections, it is almost assured that President Vladimir Putin will win, and win hands down, especially considering his approval rating hovers around the 80% mark. This astronomically high figure can be largely attributed to the fact that Putin and his backers pulled Russia back from the brink of complete social, economic and political catastrophe which followed the capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union in 1991-2. During the 1990s, Russian life expectancy plummeted, leading to Russia’s population shrinking. Economic output more than halved. Alcoholism skyrocketed, as despair set in. From around 1999, Russia with Putin at the helm, started to claw back some of the state owned enterprises which had been privatised during the 90s. Ironically, Putin’s government, despite remaining capitalist, used nationalisation and not privatisation to re-boot the Russian economy. In the process, Putin had to take on and defeat some of Russia’s known oligarchs who had grown rich on the basis of massive and almost unfettered corruption – such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky.[4]

The concept of a Russian leader being overwhelmingly popular, and being endorsed heartily by its citizens, is simply too much for the West to bear. Add to this the fact that the soccer World Cup will in a few months be held in Russia, which will inevitably add at least some prestige to the Russian government on the world stage – and you have a scenario which is tailor made for a Western manufactured “false flag,” of which there have been many over the last several years. Western politicians are arguably universally loathed by working people themselves, due to decades of government funding cuts, austerity, joblessness, homelessness and relentless attacks on living standards. While working people internationally cannot completely endorse the domestic or international politics of the Russian government, working people do have an interest in defending Russia against hysterical attacks from the ruling classes of “their own” countries. In defending itself against the dangerously provocative actions of NATO and Western imperialism, the Russian government takes measures which safeguard the international working class – if only temporarily.

Western defeat in Syria

As the Western governments make lamentable attempts to blame Russia for everything, while presenting no proof, the final stages of the liberation of Syria from the hordes of Western armed ISIS and Al Qaeda mercenaries is taking place. In days past, the Syrian Arab Army announced it had retaken 70% of the areas controlled by terrorist groups in Eastern Ghouta.[5] This follows years of occupation by US/UK armed barbarians holding Syrian civilians hostage, starving them, and shooting at them if they tried to escape. Russia was key to the defeat of the US and the UK in Syria (which was backed by Canberra), which created, funded and trained unhinged cutthroats in an effort to effect regime change. If the West had have succeeded in overthrowing the Syrian Arab Republic, Iran would almost certainly be next on the list, likely followed by Russia itself. In defending itself against this barely concealed aggression, Russia performed a service for humanity which is barely recognised. This is similar to the virtual non-recognition of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi led fascism in the Second World War.

Russia almost single-handedly destroyed the West’s creation – ISIS. The practice of Wall Street employing a barbarian proxy army, who could carry out regime change while the US, UK, French and Australian governments claimed “plausible deniability” was derailed by Russia, in a masterful act of military and political brokering. Russia checkmated the West by taking on all terrorists active in Syria, and inviting the West to help them do so. The West could not join such a campaign – exposing them as the ultimate sponsors. In response the West attempts to whip up a pathological hatred of Russia, which arguably eclipses standard Russophobia. The government of the West are creating an atmosphere of thinly veiled racism against Russians, and an almost unbound dehumanisation of Russians, not just the Russian government or its leader – although there is plenty of that. The dehumanisation of an entire people is meant to sanitise the most horrific depredations against them – including the destruction of millions of innocents through nuclear war. The worlds’ working people must be alert to what is occurring.

Consistently evidence free narrative

The US Empire, backed by its allies in London, Paris, Berlin and Canberra cannot act using force alone. Heavy and sustained propaganda must be used to fool the working people internationally, lest they take political action to force an end to insane war provocations. On every issue where the West has attempted to point the finger of blame squarely at Russia, at the Russian government, and at Putin himself, there has consistently been a distinct lack of any probative proof.

The Russian government was blamed for shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 – with no proof. The Russian government was blamed for invading and “annexing” Crimea – with no proof. The Russian government was blamed for meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election – with no proof. The Russian government was blamed for invading Ukraine – with no proof. The Russian government was blamed for a state sponsored doping program of its Olympic athletes – with no proof. And on and on it goes. The West and their allies don’t need proof – this is not the way the New McCarthyism works. All that is needed is smear and innuendo, baseless allegations from the “authorities” with no substantial evidence. The relentless repetition of what is essentially slander is rained down upon working people in the West. It is assisted by liberals, bought and paid for academics, principle free journalists, conservative Trade Union bureaucracies and some left parties. Genuine anti-war activists are thus faced with an enormous task.

Russian “imperialism”

Unfortunately, some left parties buy into the plainly absurd theory that Russia today is “imperialist”. Such claims are laughable, but it allows them to tail after NATO and the US into war after war, even while they claim they are anti-war. For one thing, Russia today is halting imperialist wars, rather than prosecuting them. Arguably Russia should have intervened in some way to block NATO’s obliteration of Green Libya. But since then, Russia drew a line in the sand in Syria, and skilfully brought the imperialist war machine to a screeching halt. If Russia actually was imperialist, it would not be tactically blocking the advance of NATO, it would be joining in its abominable wars. It has not done this, and neither did it sponsor even one terrorist sent into Syria, in stark contrast to the governments of the US, UK and France. Ironically, the governments of the US, France and Germany have now joined the UK in holding Russia responsible for an alleged murder plot (of the Skripals) on British soil. This very act rebuffs those left parties claiming Russian “imperialism”, and demonstrates precisely just who the imperialists are.

The debate on Russian “imperialism”, such that there is one, requires a separate study. Suffice to say that Russia – a middle ranking capitalist economy at best – cannot be imperialist even if that was the desire of its rulers. An imperialist economy is one totally dominated by finance or bank capital – which necessitates an expansionary foreign policy – either through economic subordination or through outright war. But the only thing which is expanding in relation to Russia is NATO. NATO’s relentless expansion to the East, taking in countries of the former Soviet bloc, in violation of express affirmations that it would not do so, mean that Russia must take more countermeasures.[6] These countermeasures are then painted as “Russian aggression”. One look at a map of Europe will show NATO countries which now include Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey – all lie on the border with, or in the immediate vicinity of, Russia. Russian encirclement by NATO countries strongly suggest that Russia is a target of the imperialists – rather than being one itself.

As if to further underscore the case, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently announced that US, British and French Special Forces are on the ground in Syria, and their governments no longer deny it.[7] That is, military forces of the West who were not at any stage invited into Syria, as Russia was. Syria remains a flashpoint for a potential reckless mistake which could spark a world war. Working people internationally need to stand foursquare in the defence of Russia should such a conflict break out. At the same time, workers need to understand that the threat of war will remain as long as the real imperialism, led by Washington, exists. All efforts must go not only into ending the threat of war, but of ending the profit system which creates these threats in the first place. HANDS OFF RUSSIA!

WORKERS LEAGUE

Sergei Skripal (behind bars) and his daughter Yulia. http://www.abc.net.au

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201803141062501430-skripal-poisoning-responsibility-mystery-investigation/ (18-03-2018)

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-18/australia-meets-with-russia-over-ex-spy-poisoning/9560102 (18-03-2018)

[3] https://meduza.io/en/feature/2018/03/06/a-hundred-grand-and-hundreds-of-betrayed-agents (18-03-2018)

[4] https://qz.com/161135/how-russias-once-richest-man-hid-his-last-170-million-from-vladimir-putin/ (18-03-2018)

[5] https://sana.sy/en/?p=130716 (18-03-2018)

[6] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/putin-says-russia-planning-countermeasuresto-nato-expansion/2016/11/21/83f5673c-afe1-11e6-ab37-1b3940a0d30a_story.html?utm_term=.caab842cc6e3 (18-03-2018)

[7] https://www.rt.com/news/421582-lavrov-foreign-special-forces-syria/ (18-03-2018)

Hands Off Russia! No to Nuclear War