Manus Island: Evacuate Now!

Organised Labour Must Lead the Fight to Free the Refugees

01-11-2017 – As we go to press, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Defence Force is preparing to enter the Manus Island refugee detention centre, where around 600 men remain, fearful for their safety if they are forced out.[1] Earlier this year, the PNG army fired live ammunition into the detention centre, and there have also been machete and knife attacks against the asylum seekers by some aggrieved locals. The Manus Island detention centre is being closed after a ruling from the PNG courts which found that its establishment was unconstitutional. Full responsibility for it lies with the Australian government, which has funded these hell-hole death camps on Nauru and PNG to the tune of billions of dollars.

As of today, reports indicate that electricity generators have been removed from the detention centre, which could mean that toilets and running water would cease to function. There are photos of refugees diverting rain water from building guttering into wheelie bins, so as to ensure they have some water when the cut off takes effect. This truly farcical but all too real medieval like siege is overseen by the current Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who repeatedly claim that these refugees remain the responsibility of the PNG government. Far from it. All of these refugees, who attempted to flee to Australia in fear for their lives, were unceremoniously dumped by the Australian government in what are in reality death camps, funded by private sector contracts authorised by the Australian government. To avoid mass casualties of those who have not committed any crime, the federal government must evacuate Manus Island detainees to Australia immediately.

Refugee rights at an impasse

The diabolical situation facing refugees and asylum seekers in this country is in the main the result of several interlocking factors. One is the almost criminal inaction of most Union officials. Perhaps the core reason for the unimaginable cruelty meted out to refugees and asylum seekers by the Australian government is their political need to divide the working class into an “us” and “them”. In the absence of a strong left-wing political force, this division leads to working people diverting their entirely justifiable dismay at unemployment, poverty, and the high cost of living onto refugees, almost all of whom are from countries much less wealthy than Australia, and almost all of whom are not white. This fuels and fosters extreme racism, despite the official declarations of multicultural Australia.

This racism is poison for the labour movement. The workplace is the only place in capitalist society which is truly integrated. All production depends on cooperation between workers regardless of their nationality, culture, language or religion. The Union movement simply cannot even begin to organise workers to defend themselves from the effects of the dire capitalist recession afflicting Australia, the US and Europe, unless they take action to decisively extinguish all traces of racism. While many groups and institutions in society oppose racism towards refugees from a moral, philosophical, religious or even political standpoint – such as the Greens, liberal NGOs, small businesses, church groups, social-welfare bodies – only the working class has a material interest in overcoming and defeating racist ideology and practice. This is why it is a vital necessity for the Union movement to be the leading force against the appalling abuse of refugees and asylum seekers who have made it to these shores.

Yet the question of the Union movement is the question of the leadership of the Union movement. With a few exceptions, Unions in Australia are led by conservative, well-paid officials who have little interest in risking anything to assist working people. After all, their careers can only continue if they act to restrict the workers movement to the confines of the existing system, which is based on the exploitation of wage labour. Hence, these Union officials actively inculcate working people with ideology almost identical to that of the business class. Specifically, they politically steer workers towards the very institution of the profit system – parliament – which is used to deceive working people that they have some form of “democracy”.

This is by no means done directly. Some Union officials openly back the Australian Labor Party (ALP), and urge workers in that direction. However, the ALP is itself so exposed on the question of refugee rights – it established the mandatory detention of refugees, as well as off-shore detention – that that option is often a no go. So in steps an organisation such as GetUp! – an ALP front if ever there was one. GetUp! was created in 2005, as a result of funding from some Unions. As it poses as simply an independent activist group, and initiates campaigns on popular issues – for refugee rights, against coal mining and so on – many are unaware as to its core political role. However, Liberal Party politicians are certainly aware of the overall role of GetUp! driving campaigns which easily fit into the agenda of the ALP and the Greens. They have pushed for an Australian Electoral Commission inquiry into its funding.[2] The Australian Workers Union (AWU) recently had its offices raided as a politicised action to discredit the ALP, and Opposition leader Bill Shorten specifically. While workers should resolutely condemn and oppose any raids on any Union offices, they should also seriously question why the officials of some Unions hand members money to bodies such as GetUp!

Refugee rights in the service of war

GetUp!, the labour bureaucracy and the ALP have a three way symbiotic relationship – one cannot exist without the other. GetUp! is the acceptable public face of the ALP, a Clayton’s ALP. The labour bureaucracy funds both GetUp! and the ALP, often against the express wishes of the Union members themselves. If GetUp! did not exist, the political crisis for the ALP and the labour bureaucracy would see the ALP slide further and further backwards. Some of this manoeuvring also assists the Greens, and they work together on similar campaigns. With regard to refugee rights, the rare involvement of GetUp! helps to play the role that the labour bureaucracy would themselves play if they were involved – shepherding and steering the refugee rights movement into a lobby group, begging and pleading for changes from the very politicians themselves responsible for the maltreatment of refugees.

As we have mentioned on several occasions previously, the refugee rights movement, such as it is, has a fatal flaw. It does not seek to highlight the reasons why refugees are created in the first place. Impoverished people fleeing the harsh economic conditions in the third world are one aspect. In recent years, however, a much larger proportion are fleeing the US led imperialist wars which have been waged around the world – inevitably with the backing of Canberra. Yet the activist refugee rights movement in this country is largely led by some misguided left parties which have not opposed these wars which have the potential to unleash World War III. These left parties have been some of the most vocal proponents calling for regime change in Libya and Syria – and the US/NATO juggernaut obliged. Refugees fleeing from the Middle East and North Africa were then welcomed by these refugee rights groups, the effect of which was to justify further war against sovereign countries.

It is true that these left parties were joined by others not inclined at all to socialism, but were welcomed as part of a “broad” movement. Unbeknownst to them, the labour bureaucracy via organisations such as GetUp! were ensuring that the refugee rights movement as a whole stayed well within the bounds of acceptable public discourse – nominally “anti-war”, but in practice calling for the downfall of the latest “dictator” the US had decided was the next target. In this respect, the labour bureaucracy ensured that the refugee rights movement perfectly aligned itself within the political spectrum of Australian imperialism. Despite notable exceptions from groups such as Hands Off Syria, there was little opposition to the Australian military’s role in helping the US bomb Syria under the false pretence of “fighting ISIS”.

Needless to say, with the world hurtling towards a World War III scenario, the refugee rights movement needs a clinical break from its previous practice of being manipulated by the politically savvy interests of private capital. For it was not only for the wars on Libya and Syria that the refugee rights movement was mobilised to flag wave. The US Empire is also in the throes of encircling Russia. NATO has installed 31 000 troops in Poland, has spent $3 billion on building up presence in the former Eastern bloc countries, in a “Cold War 2.0”.[3] NATO’s backing of fascists in Ukraine, sponsoring a coup, was also aimed squarely at Russia, along with the war to destroy Syria. When the former PM Tony Abbott openly blamed Russia for the shooting down of flight MH17, without a shred of evidence, the refugee rights movement – as with the liberal intelligentsia – were virtually silent. Can anyone imagine the refugees produced by a war against Russia?

Just as dangerous are the US led provocations against Red China. Furious at China’s socialist economy driving prosperity inside and outside the world’s largest country, the US ruling class knows it must act to contain China soon, or be eclipsed economically, diplomatically and politically. Too large to destroy in a one-on-one, the US deep state targets areas to break off from the People’s Republic, such as Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet and islands in the South China Sea. It also actively funds “NGOs” in the countries bordering China, including Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. It is Myanmar where the latest “humanitarian war” is being prepared, over hypocritical concern for the Rohingyas in the Rakhine state. Again, refugees will be created by the millions if a military conflict with China breaks out.

The other assault on Red China are the continual threats to its socialist neighbour, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or “North Korea”). All that the DPRK has ever stated is that if it is attacked, it will respond. Yet the US Empire, and not only President Trump, whips up such irrational demonisation of the DPRK that millions of working people regrettably do not question the wild allegations. In the last six months there has been the very real threat of nuclear war with the DPRK – a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Yet, again, we have virtual silence from the refugee rights movement, and those who in the past prided themselves on their anti-war credentials. This is unfortunately not a coincidence. The refugee rights movement, to the mistaken left parties, to the labour bureaucracy, to the ALP, to the Greens, to GetUp! – all of them fall into line, some consciously, some not – behind the aims of Australian imperialism.

For labour action to free the refugees

This is why it is impossible to free the refugees on Manus Island (and Nauru) without a complete break with Australian foreign policy. This has to also mean a political break with those forces who consciously seek to impose its hegemony – parliamentarist parties, the labour bureaucracy, GetUp! etc – as well as with the waylaid left parties pulling up the rear. What is required is a direct challenge by Union members to the ideologically pro-capitalist Union officials, in the course of a struggle for a leadership which recognises no common interest between the employers and workers. This will inevitably require the forming of rank and file Union committees, which may need to be underground. Supporting these efforts must be the most keenly class aware workers, forming the basis of a Marxist vanguard party. Such a party would seek to both drive the urgently needed political action for the refugee rights movement, as part of a struggle to revive Union and class struggle for jobs, decent healthcare and education, public transport and other measures currently being eliminated by the capitalist crisis. It would also seek to mobilise workers in strident opposition to imperialist war, if need be by forming a workers government. EVACUATE MANUS ISLAND!  BRING THE REFUGEES TO THE MAINLAND!



PO Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012


[1] (01-11-2017)

[2] (01-11-2017)

[3] (01-11-17)

Refugees on Manus Island raise their arms crossed to symbolise their lack of freedom. Image from

Yes to Equal Marriage Rights….and a Workers Republic!

21-10-2017 – As partisans of the forward march of humanity, the Workers League fully supports the aims of the “Yes” campaign relating to the right of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) people to be entitled to all benefits relating to the concept of marriage. Even though the postal survey does not actually bind the current legislators to act, the survey is seen by most as a referendum on equality and acceptance of all variants of human sexuality. While the winning of the right for all those identifying somewhere on the LGBTI spectrum to marry whomsoever they choose will not end the manifestations of oppression and discrimination, any concession wrested from the elite rulers of this unequal society represents a victory worth celebrating.

LGBTI discrimination under capitalism stunts the development of human and societal relationships, while relegating those on the LGBTI spectrum to second class status. While the winning of equal marriage rights will go some way towards alleviating the deprivations endured, in itself it cannot end LGBTI oppression. This oppression is bound up with the “sacred” right to private property, without which the rule of capital would fall. In 1884, Frederick Engels, one of the founders of scientific socialism, identified the three main pillars of class society – the family, private property and the state. LGBTI oppression flows from the institution of the family, particularly the monogamous and heterosexual template, which represents class society’s smallest repressive unit. It is reinforced by the strongest arms of capitalist rule – its state, via its parliaments, police, civil service bureaucracy and the law courts. Same-sex relationships challenge the form of the family, but legal recognition of them under capitalism does not do away with the material basis which sustains and maintains homophobia. This requires a workers movement strong enough to wage a struggle for its complete liberation – the prerequisite of which is the overturn of finance capital and the founding of a workers republic.

Shady Allies

We note that the revolutionary overthrow of the rule of the banks and the stock exchange is far from the agenda of those leading the Equal Marriage Rights campaign. On the contrary, while the equal marriage rights campaign has been largely led by activists outside of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Australian Greens, it nonetheless welcomes the formation of an open front with them, which immediately shuts off the politics from developing in a radical direction. It was the ALP itself which strongly voted with the Liberals in 2004 for the discrimination against the LGBTI community, and the ALP ignored the equal marriage rights campaign for over ten years. It was only after the momentum for marriage equality, backed by years of activism, had reached the stage where the overwhelming majority of young people, and the clear majority of the Australian people, were in favour – did the ALP finally put its hand up. While it is true the Australian Greens have always held the position of supporting equal marriage rights, the Greens tend to view victory as winning an argument, or as a result of more education. This outlook conforms to their unattainable “humane capitalism” ethos.

One glance at the list of corporate endorsees of the Yes campaign is enough to trigger alarms bells in workers with even an elementary sense of class consciousness. All manner of exploitative and profit gouging corporations have willingly handed over their colourful logos to the Yes campaign. For example, after slashing thousands of jobs and raking in vast profits, QANTAS, the Commonwealth Bank and Telstra appear as sponsors. The owner of Coles, Bunnings, Officeworks and numerous other retail chains, Wesfarmers, one of the largest corporations in Australia, is also an endorsee. Australia’s workforce is 40% casual, contract or temporary, causing immense insecurity for millions of workers. Yet the Skilled company, one of the largest casual staff employers, is also an endorsee.

It doesn’t stop there. If the genocidal Salafist and Wahabist mercenaries of Al Qaeda and ISIS had, in their role as US and Saudi armed proxies, succeeded in overthrowing the Syrian government, it is likely that many LGBTI Syrians would have been summarily executed, in the same manner as they did to anyone perceived to be supporting the Syrian Arab Republic. Yet some of the most outspoken, if indirect, backers of the US/UK/AUST war on Syria – pro-war NGOs such as Amnesty International, GetUp! and the grossly misnamed Save the Children – turn out to be corporate backers of the Yes campaign.

Organised Labour must lead

It should be obvious what the limitations of such an extreme cross-class alliance leads to – an alibi for corporate power, which in practice means an alibi for the very system responsible for LGBTI repression in the first place. On the other hand, it is noted that some Unions have backed the Yes campaign, or at least put their name to it, much in the manner of the corporations they are supposed to protect workers from. Unions WA, the Victorian Trades Hall Council, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) have all added their logos to the Yes campaign.

Yet logos in themselves are not enough – especially when placed alongside corporate logos. What is needed is for the Union leaderships to champion LGBTI liberation through the efforts of working people to break from the chains of capital. This will require the formation of a Marxist vanguard party, which can position the conservative leadership of the peak Union bodies in the struggle against that which restrains LGBTI and non-LGBTI workers alike – the profit system. 2017 marks 100 years of the October Revolution in Russia, where working people, led by VI Lenin’s Bolsheviks, seized power and created the world’s first socialist state. Soon after, one of the first acts of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was the abolition of all Tsarist laws which criminalised homosexual activity and relationships – the first state defence of LGBTI people in history. For new October Revolutions!


PO  Box   66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012


Catalonia: The Affluent “Revolution”

Map showing the location of Catalonia within Spain. Image from Wikipedia

15-10-2017 – When is a revolution not a revolution? Amongst other things, it is when it is led by wealthy industrialists and conservative politicians, and when it is not supported by a majority of its people. Witness Catalonia today. All manner of misguided left parties and those who take a progressive political stand generally have been taken in by this movement for separatist independence of the wealthiest region of modern day Spain. It is true that there is right wing opposition to this movement, from Spanish nationalists to the conservative Spanish government, to the imperialist dominated European Union (EU). But the fact is, this movement is not supported by a majority of Catalans, even if the majority of Catalans and Spaniards support the right to vote on the question.

Catalonian wealth

Catalonia is the wealthiest region of Spain, bar none. Andalusia in the south of Spain, for example, has less than two thirds the per capita income of Catalonia.[1] It was never really industrialised, unlike the industry which was developed in Catalonia. Many suspect that the current push for Catalonian independence has much to do with the fact that the wealthy business owners and industrialists resent having to pay taxes to the Spanish state, which then redistributes much of them to the poorer regions of Spain, such as Andalusia and Galicia. Of course, this is relative, as a capitalist state’s prime function is far from ensuring the welfare of the masses. Catalonia has 7.3 million people, and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over $300 billion, similar to that of Scotland and Singapore.[2] It goes without saying that the Catalan working class does not automatically share in this wealth, but the region itself is not short of a quid.

Under normal circumstances, the left usually comes behind a small prospective nation against a larger one, or a nation seeking national liberation against stronger imperialist powers. There is a sense of siding with the underdog, of siding with the less powerful against the mighty. However, the situation of Catalonia today is not what any self-respecting leftist would refer to as “normal”. By definition, it can’t be a “revolution” if it is led by the wealthiest sections of a society, and/or their political representatives. The affluent have never been oppressed by the poor, and never can be.

One can agree that Catalonia meets the criteria for the Marxist conception of a nation, that is, it contains: 1. a common language (Catalan), a common territory, a common economy and a common culture. And leftists usually point to Lenin’s work affirming that Marxists can support the right of a nation to self-determination – the right to self-administration up to and including the right to secede, to form their own nation.[3] However, what some left parties misunderstand is that while Marxists support the right of nations to self-determination, it does not follow automatically that Marxists will advocate the exercise of that right. Whether or not Marxists advocate the exercise of the right of nations to self-determination depends almost entirely on whether this will advance, or set back, the class struggle, both in the oppressed nation and the oppressor nations. If self-determination will clear the way for better conditions for the working class struggle to advance, for example, where national oppression is so great that it clouds over other political issues, then Marxists may decide to support it. If, on the other hand, the exercise of self-determination may lead to the setting back of the working class struggle, for example by unnecessarily boosting harmful nationalism, and cutting workers of small and large nations off from one another, then Marxists may actually campaign against the exercise of the right to self-determination. That leftists should automatically support the exercise of the right to self-determination, regardless of the concrete analysis of concrete conditions, is in flagrant contradiction to Leninism.

In 2017, and for the last five years or so, the Catalonian independence movement has been politically led by conservative nationalists, with links to the Catalan bourgeois class. How conservative? For one thing, these leaders have been, and remain, staunchly in favour of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – the military arm of anti-Russian US led imperialism).  Former Catalonian Prime Minister Artur Mas made it explicit – Catalonia actively seeks membership of NATO.[4] NATO is arguably the most dangerous organisation in the world today, and the one most likely to be at the heart of itself igniting World War III. One could sustain a case that NATO is thus the most politically reactionary body existing. Yet NATO membership is dearly held by Catalonian independence leaders. One doesn’t have to be a Marxist to recognise something is amiss here.

This alone is enough to recoil, but there is more. The Catalonian independence movement is also pro-EU (European Union). Catalan leaders recently re-stated that a breakaway Catalonia would seek to remain a part of the EU – even despite the EU saying that it won’t recognise an independent Catalonia if not completed via the Spanish constitution.[5] The EU is an imperialist trading bloc, where the stronger imperialist powers, such as Germany and France, lord it over the poorer southern countries such as Portugal, Greece, and Spain itself. It functions to suppress the wages and working conditions of all workers across Europe to advantage European capital against its US and Japanese rivals – even if the US and Japan are mired in capitalist recession, and have been for some years. The pro-EU politics of Catalan leaders is another indication of how right-wing they are.


Undoubtedly there are some left-wing minded Catalans who have been drawn into the campaign for independence. A possible reason for this is that they mistakenly believe that Catalonian independence will lead to an end to the crushing unemployment and austerity measures being implemented across Spain in the wake of the capitalist financial crisis in 2008. However, a majority of Catalans have never favoured independence outright, and certainly not separatist independence. Many polls show that support amongst Catalans for independence has never reached more than around 41%. Support amongst Catalans to a unilateral declaration of independence is even smaller, at 35%. Opposition to a unilateral declaration of independence amongst Catalans stands at 60%, with a near overwhelming 67% opposition to this taking place without a debate in the Catalonian regional parliament.[6]

The left could even consider backing an independence movement if it had a majority of working class people backing it. But this is extremely doubtful in the case of Catalonia. The October 1 referendum, despite a rough-handed attempt to prevent it being carried out by the Spanish police, only had a turn-out of around 2 million votes. Of these, 90.9% supported independence, while 7.87% opposed independence.[7]  So, approximately 5.3 million Catalans did not vote at all – and it is fairly safe to say that the overwhelming majority of these folk did not turn out to vote due to the fact that they were NOT in favour of independence. Of course, this is a separate matter from having the right to vote for independence. But the left should know better than to back an independence movement which does NOT have majority support.

It is the case that the attempted repression meted out by the Spanish authorities against the holding of the referendum may push some more Catalans into supporting the push for independence. But this is by no means guaranteed. In fact, there was a response by those supporting unity with Spain, in a rally on October 8. Some reports put attendance at up to a million people, many waving Spanish flags.[8] To be sure, there was a component, perhaps even the leading elements, which were mobilising on the basis of Spanish nationalism. There was also support for the EU – which the bourgeois led Catalonian independence movement also supports. Yet there was also a clear element of a unity with Spain sentiment, which, from all reports, constitutes the majority within Catalonia. This is the case even if there are major concerns about unemployment, austerity, and so on.

In fact, the majority of Catalans who support unity with Spain are also more than aware that it was in fact the conservative politicians who have led the independence movement themselves who have carried out austerity measures. This has included eliminating public service jobs and slashing wages at the behest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2013, Catalonia’s ambulance workers were forced to take industrial action against a 9.2% wage cut.[9] These savage austerity measures have been carried out by the Catalonian government itself, which is now leading the independence movement!

Amongst the reasons why the Catalonian independence movement does not have overwhelming, or even majority support – is the question of language. It is true that Catalan was forbidden in Catalonia during the 40 odd years of Francoist rule, from the 1930s to the 1970s. Since then Catalan has been bilingual – Catalan and Spanish – while the majority of government, academic and institutional language is usually carried out in Catalan. Yet Catalonia also includes a large proportion of working people from the other regions of Spain, as well as migrants. Neither of these groups have Catalan as their first language. In fact, the Catalonian government’s own statistics show that less than a third – 31% – of Catalonian residents speak Catalan as a first language.[10] Despite this, the Catalonian independence parties want Catalan to be the only language for public affairs.

Nationalism is not the answer

What is more, even the moderate left, let alone Marxists, have to be concerned when a police chief is regarded as a hero by the nationalists. The chief of police of the Catalonian autonomous region, Josep Lluis Trapero, once gave a press conference, as head of the Mossos d’Esquadra (regional police). One reporter walked out when they discovered it was being held in the Catalan language. Trapero reportedly said in response “Okay, very well. So, goodbye”. This farewell in Spanish is now often used by Catalonian independence supporters – a measure of the lack of class awareness.[11] It hardly needs to be said that the police are the bitter class enemies of working people, whether in a small regional capitalist autonomous region, OR in a larger national capitalist state. The logic of small time nationalism – in this case upholding the police as “heroes” very easily lends itself to big power nationalism.

Some left parties say that there are both left wing and right wing Catalonian independence parties, and so the task is to assist the “left”. Yet the “left” they refer to is not socialist in the Marxist sense, even if they refer to themselves as “socialists”. The Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), reserve the use of “socialist” and “feminist” rhetoric, but overall they are similar to the Greek SYRIZA party of Alexis Tsipras – which led Greek workers into the catastrophe of imposed austerity which was far-worse than the former “social-democratic” politicians they replaced. The CUP currently holds 10 seats in the Catalan regional parliament, and is a part of the JxSi (Together for Yes) Coalition, alongside the Catalan Repulican Left (ERC) and the Catalan Democratic Party of Europe (PDeCAT).[12] The PDeCAT party is the right-wing party of Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont. So the CUP attempts to be the “left” force – while in direct coalition with the right-wing nationalists. The experience of SYRIZA in Greece in 2015 gives a clear indication of where that strategy hits the rocks.

Nationalism is never the answer to pressing political problems facing the working people. As Boris Kagarlitsky writes, whenever the nationalists hold the upper hand, the left is weak. Conversely, whenever the left is the strongest and most influential, nationalists and nationalism often fade away into irrelevance.[13] The task for the left in Catalonia and Spain and Europe today is to unite working people against the profit system. In this case, dividing workers up into smaller and smaller nations can only fuel further isolation from one another, at a time when the greatest pro-working class unity against European capitalism is needed. Austerity can only be defeated by a widespread workers’ struggle for revolutionary power, opening the gates of true socialism. Marxist vanguard parties which prioritise the struggle to win over the majority of Catalan, Spanish, European and international workers to this perspective are the key to solving this and other crucial problems of our time.


PO Box 66   NUNDAH  QLD   4012


[1] (14-10-2017)

[2] (14-10-2017)

[3] (14-10-2017)

[4] (14-10-2017)

[5] (14-10-2017)

[6] (15-10-2017)

[7] (15-10-2017)

[8] (15-10-2017)

[9] (15-10-2017)

[10] (15-10-2017)

[11] (15-10-2017)

[12] (15-10-2017)

[13] (15-10-2017)

Change the Rules or Change the System?

07-10-2017 – Australian workers are enduring wave after wave of an ongoing onslaught against their wages and conditions. It is not just penalty rates either. The Union movement has arguably never faced such governmental restriction on what was previously regarded as lawful activity. The right to organise a Union, the right of Union officials to meet with members on the job, the right to speak to workers about a Union – all of these and more are in danger of being legislated out of existence. Then we have the assault from employers themselves. Some of them have already tried – successfully – to cancel previously agreed enterprise bargaining agreements, and throw workers back on award conditions – potentially meaning the loss of thousands of dollars per year in employee income.

“Ensuring Integrity” Bill

Currently before federal parliament is the outlandishly misnamed Ensuring Integrity Bill, put as an amendment to the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009. The measures contained in this bill would not be out of place in Nazi Germany. It was the Nazis who, on coming to power, outlawed Trade Unions in toto. This “Ensuring Integrity” bill does not outlaw Unions as such, but outlaws major parts of their activity. The Bill, if passed, will allow the Federal Government to directly interfere with the internal operations of Unions. The Bill would allow the government to: disqualify certain Union members from holding a Union position, prevent basic Union activity – such as stopping work over a health and safety issue or incident, to deregister Unions, to place Unions into administration and to prevent Union mergers from going ahead.[1] On top of a restriction where it is basically illegal to take industrial action at any time apart from “bargaining periods” – and then only through secret ballots – this Bill is arguably an attempt by the ruling class to see just how far they can go.
It is not enough for capital to keep wages of workers down. It is generally agreed that the rate of wage growth in Australia this year is the lowest in recorded history.[2] The dire crisis of profitability means that capital also wants to control even more about what potential struggles Unions can lead. The “Ensuring Integrity Bill” seems to be an attempt to head off a Union campaign before it even starts, by using the ability to dismiss certain Union officials if they actually start to organise workers to fight back. Failing this, the Bill could be used to simply deregister the Union, and dismantle it altogether. There is little that is different between a fascist government outlawing trade unions as per the Nazis, and a “liberal democratic” government deregistering and disbanding a union. The effect is the same – a massive blow to virtually the only organisations that stand in the way of workers being subjected to unfettered capitalist exploitation. There is an economic, political and psychological aspect to this insidious attack on all working people.

The fruits of Enterprise Bargaining

The industrial relations situation for Australian workers today is almost totally weighted in favour of the employers, especially big industry groups and the government, and almost totally against workers and their Unions. Arguably, this is the end result of the Enterprise Bargaining system brought in by the Keating Labour government from 1991. Prior to the introduction of Enterprise Bargaining, workers and their Unions were not restricted as to when, and over which issues, they could take industrial action – up to and including strike action. While going on strike was never enshrined in law, prior to the introduction of Enterprise Bargaining, Unions could go on strike and push for their demands to be met. The government and employers would have to go to court themselves in order to claim damages, for example. However, Enterprise Bargaining brought with it the notion of “protected industrial action”. This meant that workers and their Unions could legally take industrial and/or strike action – but only during a “bargaining period”, i.e. the negotiation of a new Enterprise Bargaining agreement, usually once every three years. For the rest of the three years, workers were legally prevented from withdrawing their labour – over any issue at all.

Enterprise bargaining changed the landscape of industrial relations, almost wholly to the benefit of employers over workers. While some workplaces were able to gain pay rises and conditions that were above award conditions, many others did not. The horizon of workers was especially narrowed, as they were encouraged to see themselves not as part of an entire industry, but as an individual company or area battling away, competing against all others. Employers were often encouraged to use Enterprise Bargaining to introduce all kinds of practices which assisted them, to the detriment of workers, such as “multiskilling” – the virtual elimination of specialised roles.[3] For workers, it led to a situation of profound disempowerment. Instead of working with thousands of other workers across an entire industry pushing for the best pay and conditions for all within the sector, workers only had the small confines of their enterprise. This dramatically shifted power to the employers. What is more, workers were encouraged to see themselves as bound to protect the profitability of their own enterprise – often at their own expense. Hard won conditions could be traded away with the excuse that the enterprise could no longer afford them, in order to be “competitive”.

“Change the Rules” campaign

Many workers mistakenly believe that corporations and the governments which serve them are now too powerful, and that Unions are not able to fight back because they are legislatively prevented from doing so. This sentiment reflects not the power of capital per se, but the dire lack of leadership on the side of labour, which boils down to the Trade Union leaderships around the country. Enterprise Bargaining may have begun the breakup of workers across an industry, but this has been facilitated at each step by conservative officials, who are ideologically tied to the capitalist system – and therefore the employer class itself. There are a few exceptions, but there are scarcely any Union officials willing to organise a class struggle fightback not only against anti-worker laws, but against the profit system as a whole.

What we have instead from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is the “Change the Rules” campaign. While it is welcome that there is any national campaign at all, the ACTU’s “Change the Rules” has little chance of repealing the misnamed Fair Work Act, and replacing it with pro-worker and pro-Union legislation. This is because it is ultimately an electoral campaign, rather than an industrial campaign. In its purest form, it is yet another re-elect the Australian Labor Party effort – in two years’ time! Correctly, the ACTU note that 40% of the workforce is in casual or contract employment, and thus many workers do not experience a paid holiday or a paid sick day. They note that inequality is at a 70 year high, and that wage growth is the lowest it has ever been.[4] All well and good. However, for this disastrous state of affairs, the ACTU point the finger at…the Liberal Party and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash.[5]

However, it is evident that the all sided assault on workers is coming from the entire political establishment – Labor, Liberal, One Nation, the lot. The Greens offer some cautious words of support, but are tied into the parliamentary gravy train just as much as the major parties. This is because the real source of the attacks on workers is private capital itself (the basis of the parliamentary system), which is facing an ongoing crisis of profitability, and can only react by making workers pay. The increasing application of automation to workplaces – including “robotisation” is eliminating jobs, rather than reducing working hours and increasing the standard of living. The means of production remain in the hands of private profit-seeking business. State and Federal governments are privatising more and more functions previously peformed by the public service – and handing them directly to the private sector. Yet even with this massive assistance, the private sector is not able to re-engage in the serious production of goods and services. Capitalism has reached an impasse – and it is not going back to the “mixed economy”, or the “welfare state”.

Class struggle leadership of the Unions desperately needed

When Sally McManus became head of the ACTU, some left parties welcomed the apparent change of outlook. “Bad laws have to be broken”, Ms McManus stated. But it soon became obvious that it was not going to be followed by any action – other than token online petitions, the occasional rally and a press release. Socialist Alternative correctly note that Union activism has to be rebuilt on the workplace floor, after three decades of attacks on Unions which have largely led to demobilisation, and thus demoralisation. They also note this is a political task as much as an industrial one.[6] Solidarity urge workers to heed the words of Sally McManus, and launch themselves into the struggle.[7] The Socialist Alliance laud the work of Sally McManus for heading the campaign, albeit with the plea for more to be done.[8] The Communist Party of Australia (CPA), are the most enthusiastic in signing up to the “Change the Rules” campaign, with not even one iota of a critique of the ACTU leadership. They even endorse the ACTU leadership’s diversionary calls for a “community” campaign.[9]   What all of these left parties lack is a perspective of seriously challenging, and ultimately replacing, the class collaborationist ACTU and local Union officials with leaderships dedicated to hard class struggle. We will be waiting an eternity for the ACTU and local Union officials to even contemplate such a struggle. It’s not on their agenda.

Many Unions can go for two to three years, without the officials organising even one general meeting of members. There are intense political reasons why the conservative officials avoid organising basic meetings. For one thing, they are aware that the resentment of workers over the loss of pay, worsening conditions, harassment by management at work and a host of other issues, are at a peak. But at a gathering of Union members, the officials’ control over the Union is potentially threatened. Ideas for action can be raised, proposals put forward, workers can draw strength from one another, and more. All of this confronts the no-action approach of conservative officials head-on. So the officials simply refuse to organise even the most basic method of giving Union members some form of say over the direction of the Union they pay their fees to. Whether the Union organises 24 meetings per year, or zero meetings per year, the considerable pay of the officials does not change one iota. Meanwhile, workers suffer.

Workers need to start organising as soon as they are able. Perhaps with some exceptions, rank and file groups will need to be organised within virtually all Unions. Within these rank and file groups, leftist and anti-capitalists should, wherever possible, work together to encourage workers to demand urgent action from the Union officials. Unilateral actions called by these rank and file groups will also be needed – with or without the endorsement of the Union officials. These rank and file groups should also be prepared to picket the offices of their own Unions, demanding action. Organising meetings of members without the sanction of the Union officials will be an unavoidable necessity.

At the very least, the Unions should be leading a national industrial struggle for a shorter working week with no loss in pay. A 30 hour week would be a good start. Serious, nation-wide struggles over this basic demand, which, if won, would substantially undermine unemployment and increase the amount of disposable income of workers, returning a stimulus of the economy even on the terms of the business class itself. This could then set the stage for winning permanent jobs for all workers, and would embolden workers to demand adequate health and safety, the retention of penalty rates, and more.

The reign of capital will resist furiously, which would only point to the need not for a changing of the rules, but a changing of the entire system. Working people need not only a new industrial relations act. Workers ultimately need a state and a government which they own and which defends their interests. No capitalist government, no matter how liberal, can ever fully meet the needs of all workers of all generations to come. What is needed is a workers republic – a government which rests on the organised power of workers themselves. Leading them will be the most class-conscious workers, composed in a vanguard party of activists committed to the struggle for the sweeping away of the power of private capital and the initiation of a socialist order. This system change is the only one which can “change the rules”.



PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012


[1] (07-10-2017)

[2] (07-10-2017)

[3] (10-10-17)

[4] (11-10-17)

[5] (11-10-17)

[6] (11-10-17)

[7] (11-10-17)

[8] (11-10-17)

[9] (11-10-17)

Despite the efforts of some workers, penalty rates have been removed from a number of industries. Image from the Illawarra Mercury.

Change the Rules or Change the System?


Hands Off the DPRK! No to Nuclear Armageddon

22-09-2017 – The irony may not have been apparent to immediate observers, but in the body allegedly set up to prevent war between nations, days ago US President Donald Trump issued perhaps the greatest ever threat of war against the world. While Trump thundered against Iran and Venezuela, he openly threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea (its real name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – DPRK).[1] While the US Empire has previously used the platform of the United Nations (UN) as a basis for announcing war plans, e.g. Colin Powell’s 2003 speech about “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, this is arguably the first time in UN history that one nation has directly threatened another with elimination. The DPRK has only perhaps a handful of nuclear weapons ready to be deployed, which can only act as a deterrent. On the other side, the US has literally thousands of nuclear missiles, “locked and loaded” to use a Trumpism. Nuclear Armageddon, despite all the advances of modern technology, culture and science, is unfortunately closer than ever. Where do the interests of working people stand?

Socialism vs Capitalism

The current state of war between the US and the DPRK is due to a number of historical factors, tied in with the current geopolitical situation globally. The DPRK was founded in 1948, after a 40 year struggle against Japanese militarist occupation. In 1950 to 1953, the Korean people suffered immeasurably under a barbaric war against them led by the US, but also including the military forces of other countries including Australia. Four million lives were brutally extinguished. One could say this was the first time that the US “totally destroyed North Korea”. However, despite the staggering losses, the Koreans in the north of the peninsula, aided by Chinese volunteers, fought the US to a standstill, leading to an armistice being signed on July 27th, 1953. Despite the DPRK’s efforts, the US never signed a peace agreement, which was supposed to follow according to the armistice agreement.

Since that time, the US and the DPRK have remained technically at war. However, what the Western corporate media never tells is that the DPRK since then has built arguably the most advanced socialist system in the world. Not only does the DPRK’s socialist state provide universal and free health care, education, housing and a lifetime guarantee of employment – it does this while charging its citizens no tax at all.[2] The retirement age for men in the DPRK is 60, and for women it is 55. Eight months of fully paid maternity leave is automatically given to pregnant women. Despite fears of a “rape culture” in the capitalist West, in the DPRK women can walk the streets, or anywhere in the country, at any time of the day or night, in complete safety. Visitors to the DPRK may notice children walking around outside late at night, with some friends, also in complete safety. Crime is almost non-existent, as the state meets virtually every need, free of charge or at heavily subsidised nominal rates.

The comparison with living and working conditions for working people in the US, Europe and Australia could not be more different. The clear advantages for workers of collectively owned industry and commerce, administered through a planned economy, stand out in stark relief. Despite these gains, the political system in the DPRK is distorted, given that the immense threat of being wiped out by the US has remained for more than 60 years. Arguably, this enormous pressure has produced a system where it appears workers are not able to influence or exercise political decisions, and has contributed to a somewhat mythologised acclaim for its historical and current leaders. What drives Western capital into a frenzy, however, is the fact that due to the DPRK’s socialist system, which has produced a warm and friendly society based on solidarity, the DPRK is off limits to exploitation and plunder. In the same way, the giant next door neighbour, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is also barred to Western capital – despite the pro-market measures the PRC uses to develop its economy. Thus the bitter vitriol which the US and Australian rulers spew towards the DPRK and the PRC is ultimately the hatred of capitalism for socialism.

This is why it is in the vital interests of working people to stand with the DPRK and the PRC against the threats of nuclear war. It is not enough just to call for “peace” and “negotiations”, for this lets the system which creates and foments the crisis in the first place, directly off the hook. As Lenin analysed 100 years ago, imperialism is monopoly capitalism which has outgrown the system of national boundaries. Capital expands or it dies, and despite there being endless opportunities for infrastructure development and provision of services to “their own” people, Western capital will only do so if there is what they regard as an adequate return in the form of the rate of profit. For example, there is a dire need for a modern, up to date internet system to all rural and regional areas right across Australia. But due to a lack of customers being able to pay, capital could not be bothered. Hence, we have the decidedly second rate National Broadband Network (NBN), which covers some areas with slow speeds, and other areas not at all.

PRC’s rise and rise

The PRC’s vast economic expansion over the last 30 years has pushed the US ruling class to the brink. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the PRC, from 1978 until now, grew faster than the world’s total economic growth for 30 years.[3] Yet this is only possible because of the PRC’s overwhelmingly state owned and run socialist economy, which is protected by the workers state which emerged out of the 1949 revolution. While the PRC leadership has allowed a large degree of capitalist free enterprise which causes some political dangers, these capitalists have little or no chance of competing with China’s vast State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) which, by law, totally dominate the commanding heights of the economy. Banking, Finance, steel making, infrastructure construction, rail, roads, ports, telecommunications and more are either state owned or majority state owned. This strong collective state underpins planned economic expansion which, according to their Five Year Plans, must meet social goals such as employment and overall development – and not just a rate of return.

Similar to the DPRK, however, working people struggle to exercise political decision making, and the Communist Party of China (CPC) leadership is almost solely concerned with internal matters – rather than the extension of world socialism. Of course, these aspects do not concern the US and European ruling classes.  What concerns, and even spells danger, for them are plans such as the PRC’s vast new infrastructure development plan, the “New Silk Road” as well as initiatives such as the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). These massive economic offerings to underdeveloped, and even some developed countries with ailing capitalist economies, mean that China is assuming world economic and political leadership, regardless of whether or not this is its aim. This is occurring while the profit based economies of the US, Europe and Australia are crumbling into ruin.

Defeat in Syria

While the US Empire’s frenzied threats against the DPRK and the PRC are to a large extent driven by the challenge of socialism, there is the additional factor of the comprehensive defeat suffered by the US with their attempt at regime change in Syria. As we go to press, the Syrian Arab Army has advanced to within 6 kilometres of the last ISIS base in Raqqa,[4] despite the US backed Kurdish “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) abstaining or working with ISIS in an attempt to seize Syrian territory for themselves.[5] Overall, however, the unspeakable US strategy of arming and funding death squads in order to bring down the Syrian government – arguably the dirtiest war in history – has collapsed. Syria, with the assistance of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, have inflicted perhaps the first defeat of the US since the war on Vietnam. The Australian government is also culpable, having dispatched troops and warplanes to back the US marauding throughout Iraq and Syria. This defeat has halted – for now – US plans for the inevitable next stepping stone –  regime change in Iran.

Enraged that anyone would have the temerity to not only question, but take action to repel, the US war machine in its tracks, the US Empire is lashing out in any other direction it can. The DPRK is the next obvious target, as the US preparations for invasion and war are well practiced, and garrisons of US troops are already stationed and primed for war. 30 000 US troops are permanently based in South Korea (officially the “Republic of Korea” – ROK), and 50 000 US troops are permanently based in Japan. The annual war games on the border of the DPRK, including US, ROK and Japanese troops, have been expanded this year. This military “exercises” are nothing less than a dry run for the invasion and overthrow of the DPRK. Yet again, Canberra sends Australian troops to participate alongside the US in this reckless provocation,[6]  one that potentially pushes the world closer to the cliff of nuclear destruction.

War abroad linked to war at home

The sheer insanity of nuclear Armageddon provoked by Washington, with the backing of Canberra, has reduced many to stunned disbelief. This may be understandable, but if working people can draw the links from the war abroad to the war at home, we can begin to comprehend why degenerate politicians are prepared to flick the switch to cause the deaths of tens of millions, and take action to prevent it. The wars being prepared against China (via the DPRK) and Russia (via the Ukraine and Syria) are directly linked to the intractable crisis of the Western economic system of production for profit, which went into severe recession in 2008, and has barely recovered. This depression, known as the “Third Slump” (the first two being the Great Depression of the 1930s and the second being the onset of the recession beginning around the mid-1970s), has accelerated the ongoing assault on working people, many of whom have been barely surviving for the last thirty odd years. Australian workers, similar to workers in the US and Europe, face mass unemployment, unaffordable housing, skyrocketing bills for basic utilities, crumbling infrastructure, the privatisation of public assets and virtually non-existent wage growth. Public transport is unreliable and expensive, and only covers some areas. The privatised banks charge outrageous fees, securing billions of dollars in profit, much of which goes into paying million dollar CEO salaries. Schools and universities are turned into profit gouging racketeers, as academic standards fall further and further. Government funding for vital public services is stripped from service after service.

To top it off, basic bourgeois democratic rights and civil liberties are being shredded day by day. Para-military like fare inspectors threaten public transport users. Email, phone, internet access and other forms of communication are monitored, and, as whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden revealed, details are routinely handed over to US intelligence agencies. Western governments are aware that masses of people will inevitably rise up against the limitless inequality which capitalism generates, and the unacceptable burdens it places upon working people. One of the key methods they use to head this off is to present us with an “external threat” which is supposedly so “evil” that war – even nuclear war – must be declared. It is a classic case of projection – the system they represent is the only real evil.

Stand with the DPRK and the PRC against war

This is why it is imperative that working people internationally stand with the working people of the DPRK and the PRC against the threatened US led nuclear holocaust. While Koreans currently face annihilation, this horror is but the extension of the same attacks that working people here face at home – the job losses, the abolition of elementary rights, and the daily struggle to survive under capitalist exploitation. To a large extent, the workers of the DPRK do not endure these hardships by virtue of their socialist system. To a lesser extent, the socialist system in the PRC also shields workers there from untrammelled plunder.

Capital’s assault on humanity cannot be upheld by calls for “peace” or “negotiations”. It neither knows nor understands such concepts. It is a monster which will not stop until private capital becomes the property of all working people, for the common good. The workers of the DPRK and the PRC have already achieved this, despite the at times wayward direction of their political leaders. Working people here need the leadership of a workers vanguard party, which can lead the struggle against imperialist war through combining working people’s efforts for a decent life with the working class victories achieved in Asia. Such a revolution necessarily leads to the foundation of a workers republic. HANDS OFF THE DPRK!


PO  Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD   4012



[1] (22-09-17)

[2] (22-09-2017)

[3]$file/China%27s%20growth%20miracle%200808.pdf (22-09-17)

[4] (23-09-17)

[5] (23-09-17)

[6] (23-09-17)

Hands Off the DPRK! No to Nuclear Armageddon

Myanmar flag

The national flag of Myanmar, which was adopted in 2010.

Hands Off Myanmar! Western Powers Create and Fuel Chaos in Asia

15-09-17 – We were told there were “rebels” in Libya – but they turned out to be Al Qaeda. We were then told there were “rebels” in Syria – but they turned out to be ISIS. If we were now to believe that there are “rebels” in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, we would have very short memories indeed. And, as if on cue, Al Qaeda has now chipped in, declaring that any deaths of Rohingya Muslims will be avenged, and that the government of Myanmar will be punished.[1] The horrific imperialist game of regime change appears to be on again.

If you are thinking that all this is just a little too convenient, you are not alone. No sooner is the US Empire facing a serious defeat in Syria, it turns its attention to other countries and regions, where it has been working away behind the scenes for decades, undermining and white-anting any country perceived to be independent of them, or, worse still, engaging Red China to assist them with their trade and development. Any of the Asian nations that have the temerity to consider China a partner rather than the US, sooner or later will find chaos erupting within their borders, if not an open hybrid “humanitarian” war. The current situation in Myanmar, despite all of its unique history, is yet another case.

Aung San Suu Kyi/NLD a product of Western funding

Unlike in Syria, where the Syrian government was regarded by the US as an opponent going back to the 1950s, the National League for Democracy (NLD) government led by Aung Sung Suu Kyi was a product of US and UK backed NGOs over some decades. The “Land Destroyer” blog site reveals that the US and UK have spent tens of millions of dollars creating the NLD/Suu Kyi led government in Myanmar, filtered through liberal para-state “civil society” organisations. The notoriously misnamed “National Endowment for Democracy” (NED) is in on the act, as is the infamous Open Society Institute (OSI) of colour revolution specialist and billionaire financier George Soros. The US funded broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) beams in disguised pro-Western propaganda three times a day, while the Orwellian named Radio Free Asia (RFA) pumps Myanmar with pro-capitalist missives through a two hour “news service” every day.[2] The “Burma (the previous name of Myanmar) Campaign UK” group openly chastise the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) for a lack of funding and backing for “democracy promotion”.[3] It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. By “democracy” these apologists for US/British imperialism mean a government which will do the bidding of Washington and London, rather than exerting any shred of independence from them.

As recently as 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honour the US Congress can award.[4] To give you an idea of just how comfortable Aung San Suu Kyi was with the inner sanctum of the US Empire, she welcomed a visit from Hilary “Destroyer of Worlds” Clinton in 2015, at the peak of her powers before later being defeated by Trump in 2016.[5] So if Suu Kyi was the apple of the eye of Uncle Sam as little as a year ago, why is she now targeted by the Empire’s vassal NGOs, and is being asked to hand back her Nobel Peace Prize?

Attempts to disrupt the New Silk Road

In a word, the New Silk Road. The New Silk Road, or One Belt One Road initiative led by the People’s Republic of China, is an infrastructure and economic growth building plan, reported to be seven times larger than the US sponsored Marshall Plan for Europe after the destruction of the Second World War. 1.3 trillion dollars of projects have been announced so far, with more to come. Amongst other things, it seeks to link China’s western provinces to South East Asia, Africa, Central Asia and Europe, reviving the Silk Road trade routes of ancient times[6], but using China’s well renowned modern state owned railway and port projects. Aung San Suu Kyi was one of the 29 world leaders who attended the launch of the mega- project in Beijing in May of this year,[7] signing up Myanmar as a founding member. This appears to have been the final straw for the Wall Street. Already reeling from the rise of China, losing influence amongst South East Asia to socialist China was too much to take. As little as a few months later, a crisis emerges for the Rohingya people of the Rakhine state in Myanmar.

To be sure, the history of tensions between the Muslim people of the coastal Rakhine state in Myanmar and the majority Buddhist population goes back some years before the launch of the New Silk Road. But now outside forces, who bear no relation to the Rohingyas themselves, have an opportunity to sow chaos and disorder, which at the least, can disrupt the greater economic ties between Myanmar and China. At most, it could provide a beachhead for the entry of US troops, or their proxy forces, in yet another “humanitarian war”. This beachhead could then be a part of the real aim of the US “pivot to Asia” – the military encirclement of Red China; which is the 21st century version of “containing and rolling back communism”.

Working people need to be clear. China overturned capitalism via its victorious socialist revolution in 1949. Therefore, the Chinese economy today does not operate primarily on the basis of production for private profit. Its expanding foreign investments do not take place in order to maximise profit, but in order to secure resources for its own economic development. As a quid-pro-quo, China’s non-exploitative development projects in other countries also offer the opportunity for much need economic growth, especially in the Third World. This is because roads, ports, railways etc. – inevitably lead to increased commerce. In fact, some of the First World economies can also benefit from these projects, given that they are in a dire capitalist fuelled recession of their own. Thus, despite ties to the US, the Australian government felt compelled to send a delegation to Beijing for the launch of the New Silk Road. The comparison is stark – socialist China offers Asian, African and European countries opportunities for mutually beneficial development; while the US Empire offers nothing but plunder and war. And if it looks like you are a friendly neighbour to China – as Myanmar is – be prepared for chaos to be unleashed.

Rohingya “Army” appears

The history of the tensions of the Rohingyas and the Buddhists in Myanmar requires a separate study, and certainly does predate China’s New Silk Road mega-projects. Yet it is extremely suspicious when the so-called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) makes a spectre-like appearance, armed to the hilt, and then begins armed attacks on the Tatmadaw – the armed forces of Myanmar. Suspicions are confirmed when it becomes known that ARSA – formerly known as Harakat al Yaqin (HaY) – is being funnelled cash and weapons from Malaysia, Pakistan and..wait for it…Saudi Arabia. The Rohingya diaspora has led to large Rohingya populations being established in Malaysia and Pakistan, and the ARSA even has a leadership council based in Saudi Arabia.[8] With US state support, Saudi Arabia was one of the strongest backers of the genocidal Wahabist “rebels” in Syria, which at great cost were defeated by the Syrian government with the assistance of Russia. Now in Myanmar, we see the same playbook being rolled out again. Yet, as in Syria, the Saudi armed Rohingyan “rebels” no more represent the Rohingyan people, or Muslims, any more than Al Qaeda and ISIS “represented” Muslims in Syria.

Nor does the “Buddhist Bin Laden”, monk Ashin Wirathu, leader of the ultra-nationalist 969 group in Myanmar represent all Buddhists. The 969 group are said to have been behind a wave of sectarian anti-Muslim riots which have killed scores since 2012.[9] More than this, these “monks” were the most active in organising vigorous protests against the Myanmar government’s move to give hundreds of thousands of stateless Rohingyas citizenship. These protagonists of the “Saffron Revolution” are in fact ultra-violent, bigoted and racist in a way which would rival the Ku Klux Klan in the US.[10] Yet this is part of the support base for Aung San Suu Kyi, and are thus presented to unsuspecting Westerners as liberal pro-democracy activists! Once again, the Western media and Western funded NGOs have covered for the real aims of the US Empire – the installation of a subservient pro-Western government, regardless of who their domestic allies may be. Whether the allies be ultra-violent Buddhist nationalists in Myanmar, Nazis and fascists in Ukraine, ISIS in Syria and the Philippines, or Al Qaeda arming the Rohingyas – the corporate media will portray them as “rebels” or their actions as a “democratic uprising” !

Left parties take the bait

Unfortunately, some Australian left parties appear to have repeated their error-ridden actions from the wars on Libya and Syria, where they backed “rebels” even when it became clear that the “rebels” were in fact genocidal Al Qaeda linked mercenaries. Already the Al Qaeda link to the Rohingya “rebels” has emerged in Myanmar, but this seems to have been overlooked by the Socialist Alliance[11], Socialist Alternative[12], and Solidarity[13].  There are some indications that the Communist Party of Australia, which at best offered only lukewarm opposition to the US led wars on Libya and Syria, have followed suit.[14] Despite their anti-war credos, these organisations are lining up with the decidedly pro-war NGOs in Myanmar, as they did in Libya and Syria. The lessons haven’t been learnt. The whole raison d’etre for these para-state NGOs (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International) is not to advocate “human  rights” and “democracy”, but the very aims of the US Empire itself. In the case of Myanmar, it is currently about creating chaos in the Rakhine state, fostering armed extremism (yet again), disrupting China’s New Silk Road, bringing Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar government to heel, and extending and consolidating the military encirclement of Red China. Chaos and war on China’s southern flank can only benefit Wall Street, and, combined with the provocations in the South China Sea, the threat of nuclear war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the backing of anti-socialist jihadists in Xinjiang, the Lamas in Tibet and the never-ending war on Afghanistan, the picture comes into sharp relief.

For an anti-imperialist anti-war movement

Workers desperately need an anti-imperialist anti-war movement, to lead a struggle against the endless machinations and regime change wars being prepared against China and Russia, and any country that even has thoughts of independence from the US Empire. In the case of Myanmar today, while not offering political support to the NLD government or its supporters, working people should defend the right of Myanmar to determine its own affairs without interference from US state and para-state actors, up to and including the right to complete trade and investment opportunities with China. After all, China is a next door neighbour. Without Western meddling, it is likely that the 135 ethnic minorities which make up Myanmar would co-exist, as they did for decades previously. Despite the grim scenarios, we should be confident that the overwhelming majority of working people here and internationally are opposed to a world war, and would be prepared to take action to prevent it. What is currently absent is the leadership of a workers vanguard party. Such a party could lead working people in a struggle to eliminate the source of imperialist war – the decaying capitalist system – by fighting for a workers’ republic, linking with the vast proletariat in Asia to aim for an internationally planned economy. HANDS OFF MYANMAR!



PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012


[1] (15-09-17)

[2] (16-09-17)

[3] (16-09-17)

[4] (16-09-17)

[5] (16-09-17)

[6] (16-09-17)

[7] (16-09-17)

[8] (17-09-17)

[9] (17-09-17)

[10] (17-09-17)

[11] (17-09-17)


[12]  (17-09-17)


[13] (17-09-17)


[14] (17-09-17)


Hands Off Myanmar! Western Powers Create and Fuel Chaos in Asia


09-09-2017 – The US led war on Syria is in the throes of defeat, and ISIS is on the verge of being eliminated from the Levant. Australian military forces have played an ignominious role, fighting with and alongside the US Empire, who in turn fight with and alongside ISIS and other proxy forces. The final embers of this dirty war are still smouldering, but that has not prevented the Australian government from once again committing Australian troops to US wars, this time in the Philippines. Once again, we see ISIS being used by the US Empire as a staging post, popping up conveniently when needed, which will once again be used as justification for an invasion force to fight “against”. Working people should not be fooled.

After “offering” to send Australian military forces to the Philippines for some weeks, the Philippines Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana finally relented yesterday. With US troops already in the Philippines,[1] allegedly “helping” the Philippine Armed Forces battle against Abu Sayyaf and ISIS militants, the “offer” from the Australian government, backed by the US war machine, is one that the Philippines government would be under enormous pressure to “accept”. Australian Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne, after meeting with Mr Lorenzana, referred to “militants” returning from the Middle East, who are “battle-hardened….well-trained [and] very determined”.[2] She should know. In effect, Australian troops in Iraq and Syria were aiding the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and others fund and arm them!

Duterte pivots away from the US

Almost from the moment Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte was elected, it seems he attempted to break the Philippines from its decades old alliance with the US Empire, tilting towards China and Russia in the process. Last October, Duterte visited President Xi Jinping in Beijing. While a guest in the Great Hall of the People, Duterte asserted: “America has lost now…I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to [President Vladimir] Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world – China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.”[3] Duterte was arguably alarmed at the previous Philippines government being strong-armed by the US into provoking Red China over a series of islands in the South China Sea, along with Taiwan.

The idea of a former US colony openly switching allegiance to China and Russia was too much for Wall Street. Duterte reportedly sought increased trade, commerce and an arms deal with Russia during the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. But the meeting had not even finished when ISIS, from out of nowhere, appeared in Mindinao, in the south of the Philippines. Duterte had to cut short his visit after martial law was declared around the area of Marawi, which was “suddenly” being besieged by armed ISIS terrorists. To say this was a convenience does not even begin to describe the manipulation.

Until that time Duterte had fired off a number of declarations which were exceedingly brave, despite his questionable domestic politics. Duterte had labelled Russian President Putin as his “favourite hero”, and had referred to Barack Obama as a “son of a bitch”. Duterte stated that America since the 1960s had interfered in other states, offering ‘help’ but in return demanding changes such as the legalisation of gay marriage.[4] Despite the nationalist and populist presentation, Duterte’s rhetoric was a distorted attempt to push back against US domination of the Philippines, and US imperialism worldwide. Despite Duterte’s conservative views on issues such as same-sex marriage and drug addiction, working people should not in the process condemn moves to contribute to the isolation the world’s most dangerous juggernaut – US imperialism.

The war on drugs

It can be recognised that drug addiction, especially in a society such as the Philippines with extensive poverty levels, is a problem which ties in health, employment, alienation, despair and other issues. In normal circumstances, leftists favour treating drug addiction as a health issue, not one of crime and punishment. It does appear that since being elected on June 30, 2016, President Duterte has embarked on one of the most unforgiving “drug wars” in recent history. It is claimed that up to 7000 addicts and dealers have lost their lives, often being blown away by police or masked assassins. However, the killing of 17 year old Kian Delos Santos appears to have moved some in the Philippines who may have otherwise supported the “tough on crime” approach.[5]

While those internationally with generally progressive views may recoil in horror at Duterte’s war on drugs, the fact is he was elected with a huge mandate to do just that. Moreover, those internationally now opposing Duterte for the drug war are often a who’s who of the “human rights” and “civil society” industry – which inevitably form the “liberal” wing of the US Empire. For example, both Human Rights Watch[6] and Amnesty International[7] have condemned Duterte’s first year in power. Yet these are the same organisations which for years alibied Al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria as “rebels” for attempting to bring down the Syrian Arab Republic using extreme violence – with the full backing of the governments of the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia. “Human Rights” indeed. While a “war on drugs” is usually a war against predominantly poor people, the left needs to be aware of the larger geopolitical motives that have brought “ISIS” to the Philippines.


The leprechaun like appearance of ISIS in the Mindanaoan area of Marawi bears all the hallmarks of a ham-fisted late US attempt at regime change in the Philippines. Despite how most of the Western left views Duterte, he maintains an overwhelming approval rating within the Philippines, which some say is as high as 75%. Duterte appears to be attempting to overcome the dependence his pro-US predecessor locked the Philippines into. Along with moves to conciliate China, and foster more trade with Russia, Duterte also was reportedly forging closer ties to Cuba in order to improve health in the country.[8]  Though opposed by anti-Duterte NGOs and Western governments, Duterte appears to retain popular support even in Mindinao, where the military now appear to be winning against the ISIS proxies. The martial law which has been imposed has apparently not alarmed the local population, who appear to approve of the government’s military campaign against the appalling violence of the ISIS mercenaries. The local Maute and Abu Sayyaf have now morphed into the ISIS incubus, further alienating the locals.

From a distance, it does appear as though Duterte represents one wing of the Philippine ruling class which genuinely desires to be free from US domination, while the other wing is more than content with a role as a US patron. These wings are perhaps replicated within the Philippine Armed Forces. This may explain why the Philippine Army has allowed US troops to intervene in the Marawi situation – or perhaps they had little choice. The Philippine defence minister in turn, may have felt that he had no option but to accept Australian military involvement – knowing that the real pressure for this was emanating from the US war machine.

Another complication when attempting to analyse the overall situation is Duterte’s relations with the New People’s Army (NPA) – the armed wing of the Maoist inspired Communist Party of the Philippines. If the NPA can ally itself with Duterte against the encroaches of the US military, perhaps it is not wise to oppose Duterte from the left. However, this alliance between the NPA and Duterte appears to be not only not ongoing, but on-again, off-again.[9]  In addition, there is some evidence to suggest that Duterte, under immense pressure, has felt forced to abandon a consistent anti-US stance. In early August, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Manilla, seemingly in order to persuade Duterte to allow the US armed forces to fight “against” ISIS. Duterte reportedly acquiesced, following on from a seemingly amicable statement to Tillerson at the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) forum, saying “I am your humble friend in South East Asia.”[10]

US encirclement of China

Regardless of the vacillations of Duterte, and despite the hypocritical and plaintive pleas of Western backed anti-Duterte NGOs, the US/AUST military presence in the Philippines is another disastrous chapter in attempted regime change abominations, flowing on from Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen. The Pentagon, not being able to accept the reality of military defeat of their ISIS Frankenstein in Syria by the air power of Russia, have again lashed out against another sovereign country attempting to assert its independence. The political decline of the US Empire has led to “humanitarian wars” now being outsourced to proxy terrorist forces, which receive weapons and funding by the millions. The Pentagon trains up unhinged fundamentalist “Islamic” extremists, and sends them into Libya, Syria, Chechnya in Russia or Xinjiang in China.[11] One of the aims is to not only continue the military encirclement of Red China, but to disrupt  the mammoth New Silk Road Eurasian infrastructure projects that only a gargantuan socialist economy such as China’s could offer. Wars, conflict and chaos in all the areas targeted for infrastructure and trade development by the New Silk Road clearly benefits the US state at the expense of China, the world’s most powerful workers state. The US cannot tolerate any rival, let alone one based on the Marxist precepts of collective ownership and a planned economy. Canberra itches, as usual, to prove it is even more loyal to the project of hybrid war against China than the US itself.

For an anti-war movement

At the very least, what working people need is a serious anti-war movement, which can contribute to a recalibration of class struggle in this country. Unfortunately, the previous six years have seen a vanishing of anti-war activity, despite many urging its reanimation. Large responsibility lies with the conservative Trade Union bureaucracy, from the national peak bodies down to local Union secretaries. To our knowledge, not one of them have spoken out against the criminal wars for regime change in Libya and Syria, let alone condemn the Australian military’s participation in them. Along with their virtual silence in the face of the decimation of jobs and wages in times of economic recession, their silence in the face of impending world war testifies to the high salaries their careers ensure. Tailing after this pro-capitalist bureaucracy we find some left parties, who also struggle to break from the foreign policy of Australian capital, and thus come behind US imperialist adventures, muttering pleas against “dictators”.

Workers here, and internationally, on the other hand, are irrevocably opposed to imperialist wars, especially ones that could lead to world war. Despite the abject murder of the peace movement by corporate funded NGOs, conservative Union officials and some left parties, there is a mass base of millions of workers and their supporters ready and willing to take action to arrest the drift to war. Politically savvy working people are already aware that the series of never-ending wars is linked to the problem of mass unemployment, unaffordable housing, skyrocketing electricity, gas and water prices, the shredding of pay and working conditions for those still in employment and the ever-worsening danger of climate collapse. While this is occurring, not one cent of taxpayer’s money should be used for Australian military hardware and soldiers marauding their way around the Philippines, under the flimsy pretext of “fighting ISIS”. The bitter experience of the war on Syria demonstrated that ISIS is the horrific creation of the US led imperialist powers themselves, and that unity of the anti-imperialist governments and workers of the world can put them to the sword.

The horror of modern day war is not the result of mad leaders such as US President Trump, or servile Australian politicians. Today, imperialist war is the ultimate result of the impasse of the falling rate of profit for the “captains of industry”, whose capitalist economy continues to spiral downwards with recessionary rates of growth. It follows that imperialist war itself cannot be abolished without the abolition of the private ownership of the means of production, and the collectivisation of industry in the hands of the workers.  Leading this struggle will require an anti-imperialist vanguard party, which can spark the nearly dormant anti-war and Union movements into action. AUSTRALIAN TROOPS: OUT OF THE PHILIPPINES!


PO Box 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

[1] (09-09-17)

[2] (09-09-17)

[3] (09-09-17)

[4] (09-09-17)

[5] (09-09-17)

[6] (09-09-17)

[7] (09-09-17)

[8] (09-09-17)

[9] (10-09-17)

[10] (10-09-17)

[11] (10-09-17)

Section of Marawi showing an ISIS flag in the street.

Hands Off the Philippines! Australian Troops: Out Now!

Left Wing Russophobia: A Perilous Disorder

23-07-2017 – World War III looms. The political left is warning about this as much as the political right is preparing for it. Even those whose careers depend on fealty to the corporate elite are noticing that the alignments of the most powerful nations are forming into camps, sometimes despite their intentions. The formation of the two sides has an eerie ring to it, for it conjures reminiscences of World War I.  On the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution in Russia, once again the question may well be posed to working people: war or revolution?

One the one hand, we have imperialism, led by the US, and joined by its allies in the United Kingdom (UK), France, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway, Israel, Saudi Arabia and others. All of these governments have come behind, or have taken part in, the appalling war of regime change levelled against Syria.  On the other hand, we have an anti-imperialist/independent bloc, trying to resist and survive despite the predations of the US juggernaut. This includes Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Bolivia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Zimbabwe and others. The two camps face off against one another, but blame cannot in any way be apportioned equally. The major provocateur is the US, and for now, the main power preventing the US from launching even more wars, is Russia. One glance at Syria today would seem to confirm this.

Given this, it would seem obvious that the task of working people and the political left would be to defend Russia against an overtly hostile US state, while seeking opportunities to build parties which can prepare working people in the capitalist world for the establishment of their own state power. In fact, in the face of a potential world war, workers seizing state power may well be an effort entirely within a framework of self-defence. One could argue that the October Revolution of 1917 itself was such an act.  It would appear logical that a defence of the anti-imperialist or independent bloc of Russia, China and Iran against the US and its allies, not the least of which is the Australian state, would be an important segment of a struggle against an outbreak of what may be a nuclear world war.

Russia as a “great power” ?

Alas, some left-wing organisations do not see this, or do not want to see this. Some of them are hidebound into a “Russia as enemy” mindset, seemingly unaware that this is also the current psyche of the US war machine and large sections of its deep state. Almost invariably, those left parties which maintain a base hostility to Russia strongly supported, in deeds if not in words, the US/Saudi/Israeli war to destroy the Syrian Arab Republic. An exception was the left group Trotskyist Platform (TP), which has been active in defending Syria against six years of imperialist war. We maintain, however, that this opposition of TP has not been consistent, and tailed off dramatically once Russia, at the invitation of the Syrian government, began air strikes against ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), Al Qaeda, and other terrorist militias. These efforts of the Russian military began on September 30, 2015. On September 16, 2016, the Australian government admitted that it had taken part in a US air strike on Deir Ez-Zor in Syria[1], killing at least 60 Syrian soldiers, and clearing the way for ISIS to move into the area immediately after. From what we can observe, TP at the time did not denounce the actions of the Australian armed forces, in writing OR by taking part in the few rallies that gathered to protest against Australian participation in the war on Syria.

Now, in a recent article on the Syrian conflict, TP claims that it always has stood for the defence of Syria against the Western led proxy war. Yet what seems to be TP’s blind opposition to “Russia” tends to undermine such claims. It is a huge contradiction for TP – maintaining an opposition to the US led regime change war on Syria, while fostering and fomenting Russophobia (the fear and hatred of all things Russian) amongst workers. Working people, however, around the world can see that it was Russia, not the US, which was, and is, serious about defeating ISIS. Indeed, more aware workers can see that the war on Syria waged by the US was as much against Russia as against Syria.

We have noted previously that it appears that TP’s actual position is that Russia is “imperialist”, but they are unwilling to state this publicly.[2] Now, TP introduce the concept of Russia as a “capitalist great power”, although how that differs to an imperialist state we are left to wonder. In their article “Russian Intervention and Syria”[3], dated May 4, 2017, TP makes what seems a tenuous claim that Russia has intervened in Syria “in order to promote it’s great power capitalist ambitions”, though it has not “threatened to become one of the direct neo-colonial overlords of Syria”.  One wonders if TP is aware that the US state department repeatedly accuses Russia of “aggression” in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Crimea etc., and would readily concur with a condemnation of Russia as a “great power”. If the US state can gather some left groups to also oppose Russia, at a time of “Russiagate”, and the attempts to remove Trump from office for supposedly being too willing to come to agreements with Russia, then the job of the US deep state becomes easier and easier.  If the left and the right join hands to condemn “Russia”, it is no wonder that working people fall prey to far right, or alt-right, groups.

Russian strikes on civilians?

In order to maintain its line of not (currently) calling for Russian troops out of Syria, TP begrudgingly admits that Russia is “playing a positive role” in Syria, albeit “inadvertently” (!).  Yet they then go on to make the jaw-dropping claim that Russia cannot be trusted not to kill Syrian civilians in the process. They write:

“…..the fact that capitalist Russia is, currently, inadvertently playing a positive role does not change the fact that its racist state forces who so brutally oppress non-European minorities and immigrants within Russia cannot in any way be trusted to take proper care to avoid hitting civilians in their air strikes on enemy forces in Syria. Thus, we can expect the numbers of civilians killed by Russian air strikes to be of the same order of magnitude as the thousands killed by the murderous U.S., Australian and other imperialists in their air strikes on Syria and Iraq.[4] (Emphasis added – WL)

We will return to the question of the treatment of immigrants and non-European minorities in Russia later. But the claim that the number of civilian casualties carelessly struck by Russian air strikes may equal the number of civilians killed by US allied war actions in Syria beggars belief. If this was to even begin to look like a reality, surely the Syrian government would at least revoke its invitation to Russia, and Iran and Hezbollah – who have risked a great deal to assist Syria’s defence, would be outraged.  This approach highlights that despite what TP claim, they tend towards placing an equals sign between US imperialism and Russian “imperialism”. It almost approaches a moral equivalence, similar in method and style to liberals who view Nazism and Communism as both equally reprehensible. TP would shriek at the comparison, but we maintain they perhaps unintentionally push themselves and their supporters politically close to the architects of the war on Syria – the US state itself.

We don’t doubt that Russia could potentially gain some commercial advantage by its actions in Syria, and indeed, they may be increasing their influence inside one of their long term allies. But this is beside the point. The major achievement of Russia in Syria has been that it has blocked regime change, and in the process, has defeated the ISIS bogey, a horrific game created by the Clintons, Obamas, the US deep state, NATO, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France and so on. F. William Engdahl, in his article “Putin is Defeating More than ISIS in Syria”, notes that by actually holding the UN Charter to its word, Russia exposes the role of the US in arming and training “moderate” terrorists in order to bring down sovereign states. He wrote that:

“[Putin]…made clear what the international law behind the UN Charter means and that Russia is scrupulously abiding by the Charter in actions in Syria. Russia, unlike the US, has been formally asked by the legitimate Syrian government to aid its war against terror.”[5]

Socialists can admit that the UN Charter and the UN itself is not written for the express purpose of defending the working class internationally. Yet, Russia’s actions in Syria have, in effect, politically defeated the atrocious schemes of the US ruling class – backed by Canberra- of creating barbaric death squads and funnelling them into any country the US state deems is too independent. In fact, one could argue that the political defeat for US imperialism in Syria is similar to the defeat of US imperialism in Vietnam, forty years ago. Those on the left, including TP, should also recognise that the Russian state, perhaps for its own reasons, has nonetheless not only prevented regime change in Syria, but has staved off a potential world war.

Why did Russia assist Syria?

What was the motivation for Russian assistance to Syria against a US led war of extermination? TP’s claim that Russia “intervened to promote its great power capitalist ambitions” appears to be a clear example of Russophobia distorting political judgement. We can agree that the Russian government does not have world socialism as its aim – quite the contrary. Yet a country does not have to be socialist to be an enemy of US imperialism. All it has to do is maintain its independence from the US Empire. Therefore, merely to survive, some countries (e.g. Russia, Iran) have to defend themselves against US state plans for yet more global plunder. Through defending themselves, such countries block the advance of US imperialism – which coincides with the immediate interests of the world’s workers. This means that in the case of Syria, working people can support the actions of the Russian government, without necessarily offering a political endorsement. The current Russian state does not share the same ultimate aim of working people – a classless, socialist society – on this point there is no debate. Yet right now, to some extent, the Russian state is an ally – at least against Wall Street and the reckless and criminal wars it unleashes.

All allies are temporary and conditional. The current Russian state only seeks to stabilise the current world order. But as the capitalist economic crisis deepens, the US war machine itches for more – the status quo cannot satisfy the US ruling class’s need for more areas of profitable investment. This means more war, and even world war. If the Russian state acts to prevent or delay this, then working people cannot currently abandon them, much less turn on them. To turn against them in the manner in which TP suggests can only lead workers politically behind the US state. To vastly exaggerate, or indeed to concoct fantasies, about Russian “aggression” or Russian “great power capitalist ambitions” – is to let US imperialism off the hook. The vast compendium of US imperialist crimes against the world is minimised and downplayed.

Syria was a Russian ally going back decades, to the times of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Yet this is not the only reason for Russian assistance to Syria in its greatest hour of need. Lenin and the Bolsheviks – who TP refer to often in their article – fought for the equality of all nations. This was a vital component of being able to unite the former nations oppressed by Tsarist monarchy into the USSR via the victorious workers revolution in 1917. Admittedly, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government today soundly reject Leninist politics. Yet today, if they are to survive themselves, let alone stabilise world capitalism, someone or something has to act to hold the US Empire – which trashes national sovereignty at will – to account.

In a recent interview, President Putin responded to a question as to whether he believed Syria’s President Assad was an “evil guy”. Putin replied:

“It’s not President Assad whom we are protecting: we are protecting the Syrian statehood. We don’t want their interior to be a situation similar to that in Libya, or that in Somalia, or in Afghanistan – in Afghanistan NATO has been present for many years, but the situation is not changing for the better. We want to preserve the Syrian statehood. On the basis of resolving this fundamental issue we would like them to move towards settling the Syrian issue through political means. Yes, probably everyone there is to blame for something, but let’s not forget that were it not for active interference from outside, this civil war probably would not have broken out.”[6]


We don’t agree that the conflict in Syria was ever a “civil war”, but the overall logic of the point stands. NATO and the US and its allies have ignored statehood of countless countries in efforts to save the profit system. The result has been more global chaos and a possible world war. Russia seems to have realised that if the US was not stopped in Syria, they themselves could easily be the next target. Far from “great power capitalist ambitions”, Russia’s actions in Syria seem to be an act of elementary self-defence.

More than this, the Russian government takes seriously the problem of foreign funded terrorism. The history of Islamic extremists attacking the Russian state would require a separate study. Nevertheless, there is evidence to suggest that many of these terrorists have received the backing of the US state, much like the abominable funding and arming of genocidal mercenaries in Syria. TP, perhaps unwittingly, refers to Russia’s “brutal oppression of non-European minorities”.  Yet what should Russia do in the face of some of these non-European minorities openly receiving aid and backing from the US state and quasi-state NGOs – or CSOs (“Civil Society Organisations”)?  US state aid to nationalist, terrorist and separatist groups often flow from the notorious US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the equally diabolical George Soros funded Open Society Institute. Much of this aid filters through to armed fundamentalist Chechen, Dagestani and similar groups in the North Caucasus.[7] US military support for Georgia was open, even before Georgia openly provoked Russia into a war in 2008.[8] In short, the US has a clear strategic aim of breaking the former Soviet Republics away from Russia, and into the fold of NATO, despite Russia’s entirely justifiable objections.

Where did some of these US backed terrorists from Chechnya end up? In Syria, fighting with and alongside ISIS and Al Qaeda in their efforts to take down, using extreme violence, the Syrian Arab Republic.[9] We do not seek to excuse all of the actions of the Russian government in the two wars fought against separatist Chechens, nor against the Georgians in 2008. Overall, however, it seems that in these cases, Russia was fighting ultra-nationalist anti-Russian and US backed forces, about which it had relatively little choice. Moreover, Russia was well aware that such terrorists who were fighting in Syria, would sooner or later return to Russia to continue their attacks against the Russian state. Russia again had little choice but to attempt to take out these terrorists in Syria, before they “came home” to do the same. Therefore, the dire necessity for Russia to defeat such US backed death squads was a major reason for their assistance to Syria – not only the defence of the concept of statehood. Unfortunately, those on the left wearing the Russophobia glasses struggle to detect this.

Syria: Russia In, Libya: Russia Out ?

It seems that TP is reluctant with their call that Russian air power should not, at the moment, leave Syria. We say this because at the same time, TP calls for Russia to get out of Libya! TP claims that Russia is inadvertently playing a positive role in Syria, but they are playing a “reactionary role” in Libya. Yet it appears that the goal of both actions is for similar reasons – the need to prevent the spread of US backed and armed fundamentalist terror militias. Such groups have actually waged war internally against Russia, and continue to receive some backing from the US state to do this. Despite this, TP complains that Russia has sent “financial, diplomatic and weapons support” to Khaliah Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).[10] Yet the Tripoli based Government of National Accord (GNA), a rival to the LNA, has received international support from none other than the United Nations (UN).[11] On other issues, TP are usually one of the most vociferous in denouncing the imperial overtures of the UN.

TP goes on to claim that Russia’s aim in Libya is aimed at “securing prized access to Libya’s oil terminals, ports and airports.”[12] We don’t deny that the Russian government had a number of weapons and oil extraction and development contracts with the pre-2011 Libyan government which was destroyed by NATO armed Al Qaeda militias. Restoring some of these contracts may be one outcome of Russia’s actions in Libya, as it may be for the French, Italian and United Arab Emirates (UAE) governments. Yet Russia has the additional aim of preventing the spread of Western-backed armed Islamic extremism. Russia takes this goal very seriously, as for them it is a matter of survival. Russia has much more actively intervened in Syria militarily, but at the invitation of the Syrian government. In Libya, the government was destroyed by NATO which was working hand in glove with Al Qaeda. Now, there is no state, and therefore no stability, in Libya.

Admittedly, the “stability” that the Russian government seeks is the establishment of a capitalist government in Libya, where Russian companies may seek investment and trade. Surely, though, this is a better outcome than an expansion of ISIS across the north of Africa, potentially linking up with other Western backed terror groups such as Boko Haram and Al Shabaab. Again, Russia is seeking to stem the tide of ISIS spreading its tentacles into other regions around the world, which ultimately threatens many other countries, not the least of which is Russia itself.  Quite rightly, Russia sees Western backed Islamic extremism as a major security threat. As a result, it fights such terrorists on its own territory and also abroad, seeking alliances with any other country which shares this goal.[13] No one is claiming that Russia’s actions are entirely altruistic, but given the circumstances, working people cannot oppose Russia’s actions in fighting Western backed terror groups in either Syria or Libya.  TP’s Russophobia compels it to find fault with Russia where there is none.

Islam in Russia

Another aspect to TP’s denunciation of Russia is the alleged “hard line anti-Muslim policies” of the Putin led government. TP doesn’t elaborate on this point, but it is thrown in with allegations of “brutal attacks” on the LGBTI community, also something not described. Is this true? Is there Islamophobia from the Russian government which rivals, or surpasses, the Islamophobia we have seen in Western countries in recent years? We have not seen evidence for this, and once again there is a danger of comparing Russia and the Western countries in a direct manner. Russia has a large Muslim population, numbering around 20 million, and has large communities which are majority Muslim, such as in Tatarstan, the North Caucuses, Dagestan, Orenburg, Chelyabinsk, Samara and others. Neighbouring Kazakhstan is majority Muslim. Islam is the second most common religion in Russia.[14] Along with Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism, Islam is recognised as a religion indigenous to Russia. Given these facts, there is simply no comparison with regard to countries such as Australia, the US and Europe, where the Islamic community are much smaller minorities, and are certainly not regarded as part of the indigenous make up.

In addition, the imperialist “war on terror” following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, has had a drastic effect on Western countries, with the targeting of entire Islamic communities, regardless if they are in anyway connected with fundamentalist groups prepared to take up arms. Almost the entire religion of Islam, especially in the wake of the war on Syria, is treated as suspect in Australia, Europe and the US. In Russia, on the other hand, it is more than obvious who and what groups are “Islamic” terrorists – the ones who have waged war against the Russian state – often with underhanded political and military support from the US state.

We would not claim that there is no discrimination against Muslims in Russia. However as previously mentioned, due to the two wars fought against Chechen separatists, and those that left Russia explicitly to fight for ISIS, armed Islamic extremists are viewed, not without a basis, as anti-Russian. Salafism, and the growth of it within Russia since the early 2000s, is what is viewed with suspicion by Russian authorities. On the other hand, the vast numbers of Muslims in Russia who followed the so-called “Soviet Imams”, or even those who now reject the Salafists, are welcomed, and indeed recognised as Russian.

In addition, the Western scare campaign against President Putin and Russia in general, vastly exaggerates the position of the Russian government on many issues, in order to set up a demon. For example, it was reported that President Putin gave a speech to the Russian Duma in which he allegedly demanded that Muslim minorities integrate into Russia, learn to speak Russian, or get out. In fact, the language that Putin actually used was much more conciliatory, only insisting that Russian be the language of education and that immigrants (some of whom are of the Islamic faith) respect Russian culture and traditions.[15] Granted, this is a reversal of what occurred in the early Soviet Union, but it is hardly the direct persecution that Western corporate critics of Russia would have us believe.  Here is another area where TP’s Russophobia pushes it into the arms of the very liberals it correctly criticises on other issues.

“Brutal oppression” of immigrants ?

Does the Russian government also have a “hard-line anti-immigrant” stance, or even engage in “brutal oppression” of immigrants as TP claims?  Even some scant research into the situation would reveal a scenario unlike what we in the West are accustomed to.  Firstly, Russia is second only to the United States in terms of the numbers of immigrants. While it is true that many Russians have emigrated seeking more opportunities overseas, over the last twenty years, there has been a significant inflow of immigrants, mainly from the former Soviet Republics. Why? If there are little or no jobs available in say, Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan, the best bet is to move to Russia and try your luck. Those that do find work are able to gain higher wages than was possible at home. This is not to say that working conditions for these workers in Russia are good, just that they are invariably much worse where they came from.[16]

Not only that, there are many refugees in Russia which have fled from wars and similar conflicts. In the 90s, Armenians and Azerbaijanis fled to Russia after the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as did Meskhetian Turks from Uzbekistan after civil conflict there. People from Tajikistan also fled into Russia after a civil war in the 90s. More recently, many eastern Ukrainians fled over the border into Russia after NATO installed a fascist coup government in Kiev in 2014. There are also many asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Angola, Ethiopia and Somalia.[17]

In response, is there a large scale anti-immigrant crackdown by the Russian government? Hardly. The Russian government is well aware that they are in need of the labour flowing in from especially the former Soviet Republics. Immigrants may face discrimination from Russians who may blame them for a lack of job opportunities for themselves, and they may face poor treatment from unscrupulous capitalist business owners where they attempt to find work. This is not good, obviously, but this is not coming from the Russian government TP is so keen to condemn. No one claims it is ideal either, but the danger is joining with the Western media machine with its torrents of unwarranted blame.

In fact, the Russian government is so keen to ensure the flow of immigrants to Russia from the former Soviet Republics, that it has abolished the need for visas for many of them. TP is quick to castigate US President Donald Trump for his anti-immigrant moves in the US, but in reality Trump’s anti-immigrant demagogy would not be welcome at all in Russia. Anti-immigrant political voices are often viewed there as an unacceptable form of nationalism.[18] So where is TP’s “brutal oppression” ?

Most dangerously on this issue, TP perhaps mistakenly pushes itself towards the pro-US opposition to the Russian government. The widely known Alexei Navalny, who has led “anti-corruption” protests against Putin, amongst other activities, has been openly funded by the notorious US National Endowment for Democracy (NED), through Navalny’s party Democratic Alternative.[19] Navalny has seized on the somewhat strong opposition to immigrant labour amongst some Russians, to demand that the Russian government reinstate visas for all immigrants, even those from former Soviet Republics.[20] TP seems to be unaware that in Russia, politics is sometimes upside down. Liberals such as Navalny, nationalists and ultra-nationalists, including some who went to fight for the fascist Ukrainian coup, are often the ones who protest in Russia against Putin! Putin and the Russian government is opposed by these often US funded groups for not being nationalist enough. In this case it is not Putin who is whipping up nationalism, as TP views it. It is the US and EU funded NGOs in Russia which do so, in order to undermine, or take down, the Russian government. Russophobia distorts the political positions of many, inside and outside Russia.

LGBTI rights in Russia

Imperialism has long learned the skill of using the façade of progressive politics to advance the wars of Empire. The rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people is a key example, and Russia has in recent years been the key target. Liberals of all stripes, up to and including the representatives of the highest level Western corporate parties, unite as one to condemn Russia for its alleged mistreatment of LGBTI citizens. TP joins with the world’s elite with allegations of the Putin government’s “brutal attacks on the LGBTI community”[21]. The Olympics have been used as a stage for such stunt protests.  But is it true? Are LGBTI inhabitants of Russia subject to state persecution?

After the liberation of the 1917 October Socialist Revolution, homosexuality was formally decriminalised by the Soviet government in 1922. Unfortunately, the Soviet Union was not joined by other successful workers’ revolutions and was left isolated. This was one factor which led to a more conservative political leadership of the new workers republic consolidating itself by the mid -1920s. By 1933, a re-introduction of “family values” brought with it a re-criminalisation of homosexuality, at least for consenting males.[22] For the next 60 years, homosexuality was effectively illegal. The Yeltsin-led counterrevolution in 1991-92 destroyed the Soviet Union, against the wishes of the majority of Soviet citizens. Ironically, in 1993 homosexuality in Russia was legalised, but until 1999 it was still regarded as a mental illness.[23]

There is homophobia in Russia, but where in the world can we say that homophobia has been eliminated? Nowhere, as the question of the oppression of homosexuality is a by-product of the oppression of women within the nuclear family, which is linked to private property. Full sexual liberation for all cannot be won until the last remnants of class society are left behind by history. It is manifest hypocrisy for liberals in the US to point fingers at Russia for repression of homosexuals, especially in view of the massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016. For leftists in Australia, where marriage for LGBTI partners has been made illegal, we can hardly hold up “our” model.

Moreover, the question of LGBTI rights in Russia has to take into account cultural factors. Of course there is an absolute line where “culture” cannot be justified to allow harm to people physically or psychologically. Nonetheless, it should be taken into account. For example, in Western countries, gay pride marches are now openly allowed, despite being suppressed during times such as the 1950s. In fact, that right had to be fought for over many years. Yet in Russia, there is a traditional divide between what is regarded as public and private. In Russia it is expected that private matters – such as sexual preferences and practices, or what goes on behind closed doors – should remain private. Russians in general are far from prudish, but publicly flaunting ones sexuality in street marches, is regarded as highly disrespectful.[24]

This is not to say the situation for LGBTI people in Russia is ideal. But people in glass houses should not throw stones. The Russian Duma passed the “gay propaganda” law in 2013. This law prohibits the expression of support for “non-traditional” relationships among those less than 18 years old, and imposes fines on those organising or attending gay pride rallies.[25]  The Russian government, however, does not prosecute LGBTI people for their sexual preference or for such activity. No one on the left that we are aware of defends such laws, but it is a quite a different thing to use this issue alongside sundry liberals, the US Democrats, and the US deep state itself, to condemn Russia during a climate of near war. Moreover, leftists who wrongly condemn the Russian government for state persecution of homosexuality are usually silent on the record of state enforced homophobia in other countries. For example, in Saudi Arabia, a major US ally, homosexuality is punishable by death, which is quite a step more than being fined for advertising “non-traditional” relationships amongst children. 12 other countries also can impose the death penalty for homosexuality, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).[26] Qatar and the UAE, it should be noted, have provided weapons and funding for the terrorist mercenaries TP opposes operating in Syria.

Working people need to be aware that the Russian government can only be an ally with regard to certain actions, and on certain issues. Its actions in Syria, which have derailed a major US-led imperialist war, can only be supported. This does not mean endorsing all other actions of the Russian government. The danger is when leftists chime in with Western ruling class propaganda against Russia, which dramatically increases potentially catastrophic consequences – such as remaining silent if the US was to launch a world war. Working people have a vital interest in combating ALL Western demonization of Russia, and directing this fire back against the US/AUST/European ruling classes themselves.

“Learn to Think”

Trotsky’s 1938 article Learn to Think has been misused both by defenders of the war on Syria, and opponents of the war on Syria. The left party Socialist Alternative, who have been the most vocal in backing the mythical “Syrian revolution”, misuse Learn to Think to justify their support for the actions of death squads in Syria accepting arms and funding from the US state in order to take down the Syrian state. TP, on the other hand, misuses Learn to Think in order to justify their line of defending Syria against Western armed terrorists and not currently calling for the withdrawal of the Russian military from Syria – while at the same time whipping up opposition to “Russia”.  Both misuses of Trotsky’s article give de facto, or actual, support to the US Empire during a conflict which is arguably a US proxy war against Russia.

Put simply, Trotsky’s Learn to Think article appears to have been written as a warning against ultra-left elements who, (paraphrasing) automatically place a minus sign where the bourgeoisie places a plus sign. We can surmise that Trotsky intended to make the point that in “ninety cases out of a hundred” workers oppose the actions of a capitalist state, but in each case there still must be an analysis of concrete circumstances.[27] The context of Trotsky’s article is what is overlooked by TP. In their article on Russian intervention, TP refers to what Trotsky allegedly advised in relation to “capitalist powers” at war. But the phrase “capitalist power” appears nowhere in Learn to Think. “Capitalist power” is TP’s euphemism for imperialist state, but the two are qualitatively different. Moreover, in Learn to Think Trotsky refers to conflict amongst imperialist states, or a case where an imperialist state might support a third state militarily or politically, against an imperialist rival. Trotsky gives the example of a rebellion in the French colony of Algeria, which hypothetically is backed by the Italian imperialists with arms for the rebels. Trotsky makes the point that even though France is a “democratic” imperialist, and Italy (at that time) a fascist imperialist, workers could not rationally oppose arms from Italy flowing through to those rebelling against French colonial rule.[28]

TP’s attempt to apply this type of situation to the war on Syria is mistaken on many fronts. Firstly, Russia is not an imperialist state, regardless of TP’s application of the labels “capitalist power” or “capitalist great power”. The US, France, and the UK especially, are the imperialist states attempting regime change in Syria – with support from Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey (not consistently) as well as junior imperialist states such as Australia and Canada. None of the actors taking steps to defend Syria against regime change are imperialist – not Russia, China (voting in the UN), Iran or Hezbollah. As previously mentioned, Russia is intervening – at the invitation of the Syrian government – to defend its ally, to defend national sovereignty, to prevent a wider war spreading further, and to protect itself from Western armed terrorists – many of whom reside within Russia’s borders. Iran is assisting perhaps because it knows it could be next, as well as assisting an ally. Hezbollah is assisting out of self-defence, and a realisation that a US backed ISIS rule in Syria would pose an immediate threat to the entire region, including Lebanon.

That is, in Syria, the US imperialist state is attempting to destroy the Syrian state in collaboration with other imperialist states. It is not a situation where there is direct conflict between imperialist states. TP of course disagrees, but it seems clear that the war on Syria is a case of all of the imperialist states lining up on one side (US, UK, France, Canada, Australia, to some extent Germany etc.), and all of the non-imperialist states (admittedly Hezbollah is not a state) lining up to oppose them – Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah. In fact, other non-imperialist states have voiced support for Syria against a dirty war – from those whose region  have really experienced a US funded dirty war – Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. Trotsky would be rolling over in his grave if he knew of Learn to Think being applied in a clash of non-imperialist states against imperialist ones. We can assume that Trotsky today would side with the non-imperialist states, even if we can debate about how anti-imperialist these non-imperialist states are in practice.

Kautsky’s theory of Ultra-imperialism ?

TP’s misreading of the war on Syria stems directly from which countries it views, correctly or incorrectly, as imperialist. After misapplying Trotsky, they go on to misapply Kautsky. In 1914, former Marxist authority within German social-democracy Karl Kautsky put forward his theory of “ultra-imperialism”. He viewed that it was possible for the various imperialist powers to form an alliance with each other, through which they would seek to profit from the world’s resources without resorting to war. V.I. Lenin, the leader of the Russian Bolsheviks, polemicized vehemently against such a view, claiming that such a view led to fooling the workers into believing that they need not struggle against “their own” capitalist class for state power, but work with them to ensure “peace”. Lenin correctly denounced Kautsky’s ultra-imperialism as an “opportunist theory in the service of monopoly capital”.[29]

While we agree that Lenin was correct at that time to denounce Kautsky, TP is mistaken to attempt to apply it today, in 2017. In their article, TP mention Lenin’s denunciation of Kautsky’s ultra-imperialism, but then goes on to claim that “modern day pseudo-socialists” replicate Kautsky’s mistaken theory today. They claim that the idea that “there is just one seamless, homogenous imperialist bloc in the world led by the USA” is false, and that “competing capitalist powers” have sought to form an alliance with the US for the moment, even if they have different interests.[30]

The world political situation in 2017 is vastly different to 1914. When Lenin denounced Kautsky in 1914, there was no anti-imperialist political movement, no concept of national liberation, no Soviet Union, no Chinese socialist revolution, no Cuban socialist revolution, or anything of the sort. The October Revolution of 1917 was not even thought of. There was no Cold War, which defined virtually 50 years after World War II. So at that time, there certainly was competition between the world’s leading imperialist states  – Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Japan, Russia and others. The US at that time was a relatively new imperialist power, but Britain was by far the leading one, with perhaps Germany very close behind. The point is that once the October Revolution broke out in 1917 in Russia, this led to a bloc of countries which later became anti-imperialist, and those which have attempted to forge their independence from imperialism. The Soviet Union formed in 1922, and after it effectively defeated fascism in World War II, a form of socialism spread throughout Eastern Europe. In 1949, hundreds of millions of Chinese workers and peasants emerged victorious. In 1950-53, socialist inspired Koreans fought the US to a stalemate, leading to the founding of the DPRK (“North Korea”). Many countries in the third world fought against their colonial occupiers and won their independence. The Cuban struggle against US domination broke through in 1959, leading to socialism being established there. And so on.

TP is aware of all this, but today do not appear to recognise the role of states which have attempted to resist the domination of US led Western imperialism, and have attempted to forge an independent path. For a country does not have to be socialist to earn enemy status in the eyes of the US Empire. If a country is simply not politically pro-US, this is reason enough to be targeted and, sooner or later, subjected to a regime change war. ANY sense of independence from Wall Street is not only frowned upon by Washington – it is viewed as the worst crime imaginable. Iran of course has been an enemy state as soon as they rose up and threw out the US “advisers” in the 1979 revolution. Venezuela under the so-called Bolivarian Revolution led by former President Hugo Chavez has earned pariah status in the eyes of the US state department. Bolivia under Evo Morales likewise, to mention but a few examples.

Despite the manifest anti-Russian hysteria we see in Western corporate media these days, Russia was not always enemy number one. This developed probably since the time Russia opposed the war on Iraq in 2003. During that time, Putin and his government have managed to somewhat pull Russia out of the catastrophic economic and political crisis which was the 1990s. Putin has taken on and defeated some oligarchs, and taken back their property into state hands. Working and living conditions for the majority of Russians have thus slightly improved over the last 15 years, though obviously they are not ideal.

We would agree with TP that there is not a strongly ideologically anti-imperialist bloc opposing US imperialism.  Indeed, the political leaderships of Russia, Iran and China are very keen to strike all kinds of deals with the US state, and are keen to co-operate with the US in any way possible. But this does not at all satisfy US imperialism. The dire health of its capitalist economic system means that the US must demand TOTAL subservience to Washington, to an even greater extent than when US capitalism was seemingly more “healthy” – the post World War II boom.

Fear and hatred of Russia, coming from the US rulers and their corporate parties and media, has reached fever pitch during the last six years, coinciding with the US led war for regime change on Syria. The US brought into being the genocidal ISIS barbarians in an effort to once again ensure that the US controlled the Middle East. Russia, sensing the danger to the region, and to itself, finally stepped in to prevent yet another US led destruction of an independent country. The US rulers were incensed that anyone would dare to confront them, and would dare to derail their plans. We agree with TP that the Russian state may not be motivated by purely anti-imperialist or purely altruistic motives. But the fact is, in protecting itself and the wider region, Russia has blocked US ruling class plans for plunder. This fact on its own explains the hysterical Russophobia demonstrated at the highest governmental levels in the US, Europe and Australia. We can expect that some elements of the working people here in Australia would fall for the virulent and non-stop anti-Russian propaganda pouring out from all manner of media, NGO, academic and business sources. Leftists who aspire to “Marxism” and “Leninism”, on the other hand, should know better.

Who is threatening to launch World War III?

Graphic highlighting the different forms of “aid” to Syria, supplied by Russia as against the US. Image from

We could go on. However, the perils of Russophobia should be apparent for those not trapped in a “Russia as enemy” psyche. It should be apparent that the political forces edging the world closer to a global conflagration are based in Washington (with the backing of Canberra), London and Paris. The political forces based in Moscow, Beijing and Tehran, on the other hand, are doing their utmost to avoid such a catastrophe. The dangers of left wing groups taking up the anti-Russian venom of the West in a time of potential war should be evident. If the left uses the actual (fake) arguments of Western imperialism itself against Russia (supposed slaughtering of civilians in Syria, alleged suppression of LGBTI people, migrants, ethnic minorities), then the left not only joins with Washington, but justifies some of the actions of the US deep state.

Thankfully, not all on the left are this misguided. Yet confronting directly the anti-Russia hysteria of today is perhaps as difficult as it was defending the idea of socialism during the height of the original Cold War. Facts, however, stand against Russophobia, a 21st century manifestation of McCarthyism. For working people, a better approach would be to defend the actions of Russia where it takes measures to repel the US/NATO monster (Syria, Eastern Europe) while pushing forward the struggle for socialism – the bringing down of capitalism from within. The future may depend on it.






[1] (06-07-17)

[2] (06-07-17)

[3] (06-07-2017)

[4] Ibid, 3.

[5] (06-07-17)

[6] (07-07-17)

[7] (07-07-17)

[8] (07-07-17)

[9] (07-07-17)

[10] Ibid, 3.

[11] (07-07-17)

[12] Ibid, 3.

[13] (07-07-17)

[14] (08-07-17)

[15] (08-07-17)

[16] (08-07-17)

[17] Ibid, 16.

[18] (08-07-17)

[19] (08-07-17)

[20] Ibid, 18.

[21] Ibid, 3.

[22] (09-07-17)

[23] (09-07-17)

[24] (09-07-17)

[25] (09-07-17)

[26] (09-07-17)

[27] (09-07-17)

[28] Ibid, 27.

[29] (10-07-17)

[30] Ibid, 3.

For Full Citizenship Rights!  Defend Refugees by Opposing War!

24-06-2017 – Imagine living in limbo for four years, only to be told that you have four months to lodge an application for asylum, or face being deported. This is what faces thousands of refugees currently in Australia, following the latest move by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. Liberal National Party (LNP) Minister Dutton has now given a deadline of October 1 to fill out a complex and involved application, for people who may be either illiterate, may not have English speaking ability, and may not be able to access any legal representation. This deadline refers to 30 500 people who arrived in Australia by boat between August 13, 2012, when the then Australian Labor Party (ALP) suspended processing of claims from “illegal maritime arrivals”, and January 1, 2014 – when those arriving were either turned back at sea or sent to offshore detention centres.[1]

These people have in some cases been waiting for four years to apply for asylum. Now they face somehow having to complete a 60 page application, full of dense legal definitions, comprising of over 100 questions. Kon Karapanagiotidis, of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, has stated that even experienced lawyers not trained in refugee law are not able to complete the applications. Experienced lawyers who are trained in refugee law can take up to eight hours to complete them. Hiring a private lawyer can cost $5000, a cost that is obviously unaffordable for asylum seekers trying to survive on welfare payments. Mr Karapanagiotidis claims that the government is trying to scare asylum seekers into completing the forms without any legal assistance, as the government is well aware that bodies that assist refugees and asylum seekers do not have the resources to even attempt this task.[2]

“Citizenship Test”

These measures contain a level of racism barely able to be conceived, but official government racism against those predominantly originating from less developed countries, does not stop there. The Federal Liberal government has proposed absurd levels of testing about so-called “Australian Values” for those applying for citizenship here. Instead of a one year waiting period, they are pushing for four years. Those applying will likely undergo strict English language tests, to a level which many Australian born residents would probably fail. On social media, some mocked and ridiculed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, suggesting “Australian values” includes: telling others where speed cameras are, destroying 200 indigenous languages and then imposing your own, English being the 5th or 6th language of some indigenous people, and scoffing a kebab while complaining about Muslim immigrants.[3]

Some of the proposed questions are deliberately targeted to inflame anti-Islam hysteria, as if there wasn’t already enough. For example, questions such as: do you support female genital mutilation? And: Under what circumstances is it permissible for someone to strike their spouse within the confines of their own home?  – are clearly hostile provocations against those whose religious beliefs may be Islamic. For centuries, people holding the Islamic religion have co-existed amongst Australian settlers, and amongst Australia’s indigenous people. All this changed after the misnamed “war on terror” began in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001. The Islamic – real or not – entity was the new bogeyman which the West conjured to replace the decades of Cold War anti-communism. Today, the atrocious wars of regime change in the Middle East by the Western powers and their allies, has once again incited extreme Islamophobia, even while the Western powers themselves arm, fund and train the terrorists they claim to be fighting.

Citizenship rights torn to shreds

While the politicians cynically try to create an “Australian” us and a threatening “them”, basic civil liberties and democratic rights for those already citizens are being incinerated in the “fight against terrorism” – in a security scare which inevitably sweeps up refugees and asylum seekers. No matter how many times these same politicians and other liberals decry “totalitarian” Russia or China, totalitarianism here in Australia is reaching unprecedented levels. The right to free speech, the right to assembly, the right to form political organisations, the right not to be arbitrarily detained, the right to private communication – all of these and more are being ripped up before our very eyes. Edward Snowden and Julian Assange have risked their lives to inform us of the extent to which we can be monitored by “our own” spy agencies. For example, the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No.1) 2014, allows the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) to collect intelligence on Australian citizens, to enable ASIS to cooperate with the ASIO without ministerial authorisation, and allows ASIO to cooperate with the private sector.[4]

Even data stored on your own personal computer is effectively no longer yours. Laws have been enacted which redefines a “computer” as a network, or one or more systems, or one or more computers.[5] The entire internet connections of everyone in the country could be described as a “network”. And police would then only require one warrant to potentially hack into, or seize, any computer anywhere in the country. All in the name of security against “terrorism”. Almost anything can, and has, been justified by raising the word “terrorism”. This ties into the question of refugee and asylum seeker rights, because it is often directly raised in terms of a refugee being a potential “terrorist”.

The Australian government has some hide accusing refugees and others of being potential “terrorists”. From practical experience over the last six years, it is this gang which has demonstrated not only that it does not “fight” terrorism, but in practice aids, assists, and works alongside actual terrorists. The Australian government politically backed NATO in its destruction of Libya, in which terrorists armed by the US and the UK were proxies using violence to bring down the former Libyan government headed by Colonel Gaddafi. In Syria, the Australian government has sent fighter jets and troops to materially aid the US, the UK, France, Saudi Arabia and Israel in their desperate attempt at regime change. To do so, the Australian military forces, working under US tutelage, cleared the way for the genocidal ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorists to slaughter untold numbers of innocents. These appalling wars caused thousands to flee as refugees, to Europe, Asia and Australia. This is one reason why working people should not accord this Australian state the right to decide who, and who is not, a citizen. We need to fight for full citizenship rights for all those who have made it to these shores. That is, the right to safe haven, as well as the right to work, medical and welfare benefits, housing, and the right to apply for citizenship if that is what is desired.

For independent politics

The atrocious detention of innocent refugees and asylum seekers is linked to the abominable wars for Empire in which the Australian state is enmeshed. This is one reason why the refugee rights movement here must fully break from the domestic and foreign policy of Canberra. Thus far, however, in the main the refugee rights movement has sought a break with the domestic policies of the federal government, but has not attempted to break with the foreign policy of the national politicians, despite their claims. Hence, while groups such as the Refugee Action Collective (RAC), and the left parties which underpin it (such as Solidarity, Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance) correctly make efforts to force the government to close the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres, at the same time they endorse, or at least fall silent, when the Australian state wages refugee-creating wars in the Middle East and North Africa. Nor do they speak out when the US Empire, currently in the persona of Donald Trump, threatens to blow the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or “North Korea”) off the face of the planet, threatening the world with nuclear war – and making potentially millions of refugees.

RAC and their constituent left parties put forward the demand “Sack Peter Dutton”. No doubt the current Immigration Minister displays virulently anti-human capacities. However, the entire ruling and political establishment are a part of the same system. This demand, essentially a demand for the ruling class to shuffle around their personnel, also ties the refugee rights movement ever closer to the Australian state. The persecution of refugees is ultimately aimed at dividing workers against themselves, let alone it being draconian and unjust. It is thus in the interests of working people to strongly oppose these practices. However, by guiding the refugee rights movement politically towards the very politicians who enable this barbarism, RAC and some left parties turn those most abhorred by these practices back into the arms of those we should be campaigning against. In short, the politics becomes dependent on the political arms of the profit system. What is needed for refugee rights, and also for defending basic living and working conditions, is independent working class politics.

This is the polar opposite of the “broad front” politics practiced by RAC and the left parties which drive it. They seek the broadest possible of fronts on the issue of refugee rights – which pushes them into forming alliances with the very forces which produce refugees in the first place. Even though the Australian Greens, for example, speak out against the abuse of refugees from the parliamentary benches, they are not about to do anything to jeopardise these cushioned seats. Rarely, there are some Australian Labor Party (ALP) politicians prepared to (timidly) oppose the detention of asylum seekers – but these are sought after as “broad” allies. NGOs such as GetUp! wage online campaigns for refugees, but their campaigns invariably target only Liberal ministers, giving the game away as to who they really work for. And while many church groups genuinely contribute valuable work towards refugee rights campaigns, in the end the limitations of their politics becomes one more conservative bloc which limits the “broad front” from taking the action which is most needed. Moreover, all of these political forces do not oppose, or actually endorse, the wars engendered by the capitalist West’s economic crisis, be it against Libya, Syria, Ukraine or the DPRK.

Defend refugees by opposing war

We need all hands on deck to win basic rights for refugees, so of course no one should be “kicked out” of actions in defence of refugee rights. At the same time, there does need to be a political split with the current leadership of the refugee rights movement, as their politics can ultimately only prevent, not enable, victory. The politics that can win is one which seeks primarily to mobilise a united front of the working class, which can then draw in students, artists, musicians, churches and even some community groups in behind. It is only the collective workers who have the power to end abuse of refugees due to their strategic class position, which drives the accumulation of wealth. Politicians, NGOs and similar elements cannot do this, as they are tied politically to the profit system.

The key obstacle to mobilising the working class is the conservative Union bureaucracy, tied also by a thousand threads to the system which provides them well-paid careers. From this materially privileged position, Union officials not only refuse to assist the refugee rights struggle, but tie their members and the workers generally into Canberra’s foreign policy – which is in turn tied into the US war machine. This war machine is currently threatening the world with nuclear war. It is not only in Syria and the DPRK where Wall Street seeks regime change – the ultimate targets are Russia and China. Working people cannot allow this catastrophic course to go unchallenged.

It is the decaying capitalist system which delivers permanent war, horrific abuse of refugees, poverty, unemployment, ecological collapse, and much more. These crises nonetheless present an opportunity for workers’ party to point the way forward to an internationally planned economy, where the prosperity of society will leave no one behind, where all will work in common and have sufficient time to develop whichever skills they possess. The Workers League holds these aims and more – join us!


PO  BOX  66   NUNDAH  QLD   4012



[1] (14-06-2017)

[2] (14-06-2017)

[3] (17-06-17)

[4] (17-06-17)

[5] (17-06-17)

The Manus Island detention centre will close, after being ruled illegal by a Papua New Guinea court. Image from


For Full Citizenship Rights! Defend Refugees by Opposing War!

For a 30 Hour Week With No Loss in Pay!

(The following is the text of a leaflet distributed at the June 20 “Stop the War on Workers” rally)

20-06-2017 – The war on workers continues unabated. Today’s actions have been called by the leaderships of some Unions primarily over the issues of:

  • The federal government strengthening the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), which is specifically designed to slash wages, conditions and safety for workers in the construction industry.
  • The forced reduction of Sunday penalty rates for retail & hospitality workers.
  • The rampant wage theft by numerous employers
  • The exploitation of “overseas” workers

Working people are enduring all of these attacks on their working, and thus living, conditions, and much more. Bullying and harassment by managers and supervisors is rife, and workers are doing millions of hours of unpaid overtime. Understaffing is widespread, resulting in unbearable workloads for the staff remaining, especially in the public sector. Nurses and teachers are stretched to the limit, and there is gross underpayment of staff in areas such as childcare. Wage growth in Australia is currently standing at the lowest level in history. Unemployment is rife, with many young people and university and school leavers unable to find work. On top of all of this, the federal government is attempting to push the retirement age out to 70 years!

Who is waging this war?

There is indeed a large scale war on workers in Australia, and in large parts of the world internationally. In order to fight back, Union members and workers generally need to be aware of just who, or what, is waging this war against us. The fact is that it is not just the Turnbull government, and not just the Liberal National Party (LNP), which is putting in place anti-worker laws. The Australian Labor Party (ALP) has barely opposed ANY of the anti-worker laws being enforced. Nor has any parliamentary party taken a consistent position of defence of working people. Of course, the attacks on workers are not just emanating from the federal and/or state parliaments. They originate from the entire class of employers, large and small. This is because the capitalist profit system is in dire crisis, and the only way out – for them – is to make workers pay for it. This is the source of who, or what, is waging this war against workers, and driving anti-worker measures such as relentless privatisation.

The Union leaders who have organised today’s rallies around the country are correct to raise the slogan “Enough is Enough”. However, the politics of these leaders is far from adequate, and can even lead to more attacks on workers. By targeting only the Turnbull government, the implication is that the election of an ALP federal or state government is the one thing that can stop the attacks on workers. But this is demonstrably false. Little can be won for workers without an organised struggle of working people and their Unions against the class of employers as a whole. This means that Union leaders need to facilitate, at the least, ongoing meetings of members and delegates, so that Union members can decide on what is to be done, and what political strategy should be used. We would suggest that given the scale of the attacks on working people, a national industrial campaign needs to be waged, involving all types of mass action, up to and including nation-wide strikes.

For a shorter working week with no loss in pay!

The attacks on workers are so numerous, and so extensive, that it is almost exhausting to list them all, let alone campaign against them. One demand which can galvanise Unions and their supporters, nationally and internationally, is the demand for a shorter working week with no loss in pay. A universal demand for a 30 hour week with no loss in pay, if put forward by the entire Union movement, and backed by a concerted campaign of ongoing mass actions, including industrial stoppages, has the potential to unify and strengthen a Union movement and a working class which is in dire need of a fightback. Workers can explain how a 30 hour work week, with no loss in pay, would lead to a vast undercutting of unemployment. It would lead to an increase in disposable income in the hands of workers, enabling them to contribute to the wider economy in dire need of a stimulus. Workers could explain that the extra money required would need to be forced from the profits of the bloated corporations and government coffers – so both of these bodies would give back to the communities from which they extract labour. Under the banner of a shorter working week with no loss in pay, the increased confidence and combativeness that Unionists and workers will gain will most likely lead to increased ability to organise to defeat other attacks such as the ABCC, the removal of penalty rates, and rampant wage theft.

Workers cannot expect the current crop of Union leaders to wage this desperately needed struggle. Invariably, today’s Union leaders are so comfortably ensconced in the system that refusing to fight is their second nature. There must be a new, class struggle leadership of the Unions which must push aside officials feathering their own nest. This task is bound up with the trial of forging a workers party which fights for a workers government. FOR A 30 HOUR WEEK WITH NO LOSS IN PAY!



PO  BOX  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012


For a 30 Hour Week With No Loss in Pay!