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)

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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)

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[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!


17-06-2017 – “There’s a bomb hangin’ over our heads”….this familiar refrain from the era of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is unfortunately even more relevant today. However, today there is no Soviet Union to offset the capricious destructive power of the US Empire. This does not mean the US behemoth encounters no opposition to its plans for global plunder. In Syria, Russia – at the invitation of the Syrian government – has effectively blocked US led efforts at regime change. Iran and Hezbollah have given assistance, and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) at least voted against moves for regime change at the United Nations (UN). The US led campaign for regime change had active support from Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Australia and others.

The fact that this regime change operation was blocked, at least for now, has not stymied the US rulers’ appetites for regime change, in Syria or elsewhere. Economically, the global capitalist system is in terminal decline, and this drives ever more reckless wars of regime change, invasions, bombings, funding and arming of death squads to bring down sovereign governments, and much more. The USA, the leader of capitalist-imperialism, thus has its hands drenched in blood from current or completed or attempted regime change operations in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK – also referred to as “North Korea”), and many others. US troops are stationed in over 130 countries around the world. Canberra, heading up the vassal Australian state, politically or practically backs, or participates in, all such operations.

Ongoing threats to the DPRK

Today’s day of action has been organised to call on the Australian government to sign up to a global ban on the production and use of nuclear weapons. The governments of 130 nations have signed up to endorse this agreement.[1] Working people should certainly not oppose such an agreement, were it possible to sign and have it enforced. The objectors at this stage include the governments of the US, Australia, Russia and China. Despite constant demonization by Western governments and their media, the DPRK was an enthusiastic signee. This fact demonstrates that despite the corporate media depiction of the DPRK as a mad “rogue state”, in actuality it would prefer not to have to spend resources in the development of nuclear weapons. The only reason it does, is that it is threatened with annihilation, nuclear or otherwise, at any moment, by US imperialism and its allies. Consequently, as Mike Whitney wrote: “There’s no country in the world that needs nuclear weapons more than North Korea”.[2]

This is why there is no contradiction between the DPRK signing up to a proposed ban on nuclear weapons, and the DPRK actually developing nuclear weapons themselves. It is purely a matter of survival. The ferocity of the US Empire’s war on Korea in 1953 left an indelible mark on the whole construction of the DPRK itself. The DPRK is more aware than anyone else of the unfathomable barbarism visited upon them during that war. Around 4 million Koreans and Chinese volunteers were slaughtered, bridges and power stations were reduced to rubble, relentless volumes of napalm were dropped on civilian targets, and that was just for starters. It is estimated that Pyongyang was reduced to a population of 50 000 during the war, whereas before the war it was 500 000.[3] To DPRK citizens, these horrific memories are as clear to them as yesterday.

Despite this, the DPRK has repeatedly stated, time and time again, that it is ready to “conclude an agreement to end its nuclear programs, put them all under IAEA inspection and conclude a permanent peace treaty to replace the ‘temporary’ cease-fire of 1953.”[4] The DPRK has consistently stated that it will end its nuclear weapons program if US forces are withdrawn from the southern half of the Korean peninsula, and if the annual “military exercises” conducted on the doorstep of the DPRK, where the US military and its allies practice for a regime change invasion, cease. This entirely reasonable offer has been stated time and time again, only to be ignored by the US state.

Threats to China, Russia

US designs for regime change in the DPRK are also aimed at the neighbouring People’s Republic of China (PRC), perhaps even more so. It was largely to contain the 1949 socialist revolution in China that the US launched the war against Korea in 1950-53. Today, China’s dominant socialist economy is leaving the capitalist economies for dead, outstripping it in ongoing GDP growth, driving spectacular investment in infrastructure development, and even offering other countries the opportunity to take part, with its One Belt One Road program. The US, with a declining economy and crumbling infrastructure, is well on the way to being overtaken as world number 1. The US ruling class knows that it must take action against Red China sooner rather than later to prevent this from happening. Hence we have the irrational threats against the DPRK, and relentless provocations by the US in the South China Sea. The installation of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missiles in South Korea are also patently aimed at China, given that they will be virtually ineffective against a conventional missile strike from the DPRK.[5]  These very real threats are the precise reason why the PRC itself needs its own nuclear arsenal.

The threats of the US Empire towards Russia are no less serious. Russia, as well as China, is being encircled by a swathe of US military bases. The relentless expansion of NATO, along with military hardware and missiles being installed right up to Russia’s border in Eastern Europe, means that Russia, regardless of its wishes, must also maintain and develop its nuclear weapons stockpile. To not do so would result in extermination. For example, the forces of NATO members Canada, the United Kingdom (UK), France and Denmark, which have recently been deployed, are part of an “Enhanced Forward Presence” in the Baltic states, as well as Poland. In excess of 4000 NATO troops are building what are in effect permanent bases in these countries, menacingly pointed towards Russia.[6] At best, these developments violate an express agreement signed in 1997, that NATO would not seek to establish permanent bases in the nations closer to Russia. At worst, it greatly heightens the danger of an accident which could trigger a military, or nuclear, confrontation.

From where do the threats of war arise?

While working people should not oppose universal bans on nuclear weapons, i.e. a commitment by ALL countries, imperialist or otherwise, not to produce or stockpile nuclear weapons, we should be clear that the threat of nuclear war does not arise because some states are armed with nuclear weapons. The threat of war, nuclear or not, is present due to the day to day operation of the system of capitalist-imperialism. Leading this system is the ruling class of the United States, which is currently threatening nuclear world war via its simultaneous regime change threats against Syria and the DPRK. Any more US moves to take down the Syrian government, could activate Russia, which is doing its utmost to defend Syria and prevent such a potential nuclear war. At the same time, any more US moves to strike the DPRK, would of necessity bring in the PRC in self-defence, but also could lead to nuclear war.

This is why, despite laudable efforts to ban nuclear weapons, while US imperialism exists, anti-imperialist, socialist and independent states (e.g. China, Russia, Iran, DPRK) will need nuclear weapons to defend themselves. In fact, despite the demonization by the Western corporate media of the DPRK, the very existence of the DPRK’s weapons stockpile is actually part of what is currently preventing a nuclear war. Many attendees at today’s rallies are ironically enjoying a peace which the nuclear weapons stockpile of the DPRK (and China and Russia) ensures. It is only the nuclear deterrent existing in these states which currently prevents them, and large parts of the world, from being obliterated by the US juggernaut – inevitably with the backing of Canberra.

This situation of a delicate balance, where the nuclear weapons potential of the socialist or independent states is used as a defence against the nuclear weapons potential of US imperialism, unfortunately can’t last forever. Capital, the mainstay of the “free enterprise” system of the West, has to expand or die. It has to accumulate not only profit, but an adequate rate of profit. Once the opportunity for capital expansion has expired within the home country, it must seek others in other parts of the globe. If other countries do not allow foreign capital plunder, sooner or later the drums of war begin to beat, talk of “humanitarian intervention”, “democracy” and “human rights” grows louder and louder. The US and the NATO monster are switched on, and voila! Regime change is here again. This is one reason why war itself will not be removed until the planet is able to rid itself of capitalism.

Hands Off the DPRK, China, Syria, Russia, Iran

As it was during the First World War, the struggle to stop world war is also a struggle for the overthrow of governments prosecuting wars. This requires a politically aware working class, and a workers’ party prepared to lead this struggle. We can begin to assemble such a party now, even if the subjective conditions for it do not currently exist. Right now, it is important that working people raise and organise around such demands as Hands Off the DPRK, China, Syria, Russia and Iran – putting the political heat squarely on those who currently threaten to unleash World War III – the governments of the US, the UK, France, Saudi Arabia and their allies, including Australia. To do this, working people will need to apply pressure to their own Union leaders – many of whom are thoroughly tied into the system which provides them well-paid careers, and thus are tied into Australian government foreign policy. These positions flow from Australia being an imperialist power in its own right, albeit a minor one.

The Australian people are overwhelmingly against a world war. This does not mean, however, that a “broad” peace movement is all that is needed to somehow prevail. In fact, rather than uniting the peace movement, such as it is, what is required is for pro-worker elements to break away from those who wish to direct appeals to the very rulers who are enabling the conditions for world war. That is, the anti-imperialist elements need to break away from the pro-imperialist sections. For no matter how many words political forces such as the Australian Labor Party (ALP), the Greens and NGOs may offer against war, the fact is that they are a strong pillar of the capitalist system producing it. Many of the members of these organisations would strongly campaign against imperialist war, and such folk should be welcomed. A problem arises when representatives of the liberal side of the ruling class are openly asked by peace campaigners to be “stars”, or special guests. Doing so cripples the politics to such an extent that it the movement becomes one which is appealing to the very purveyors of war itself – the Western ruling classes. Imagine in feudal times appealing to the King’s forces to stop waging war against the next fiefdom, which were conscripting peasants by force to do so.  Every rank and file worker today would understand that that appealing to the King would be fruitless, and that the only hope would lie in a generalised peasant revolt.

Today we no longer live in such times, and we have the advantage that the modern ruling classes, the bourgeoisie, often prefer to rule by manufactured consent rather than by force. Breaking this manufactured consent cannot be done, however, while political forces hostile to independent working class action are allowed to dominate the “peace” movement – whether they be ALP or other politicians, NGOs, or conservative Union leaders. The danger of world war is real, and it emanates from the very system which “our” politicians preside over. These politicians are not “ours” in the slightest. The working class must produce its own leaders, and its own party, if we are to stand a realistic chance of preventing war through ending the rule of capital, and establishing workers rule. NO TO WORLD WAR!



PO  BOX  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012


[1] (09-06-17)

[2] (09-06-17)

[3] (09-06-17)

[4] “North Korea’s consistent message to the U.S.”, President Jimmy Carter, Washington Post.

[5] (09-06-17)


UN General Assembly votes on resolution to move toward a ban on nuclear weapons. Image from

Ban the Bomb! No to Nuclear War!

Stop the Adani Death Mine! Mobilise Mass Opposition!

02-06-2017 – Abomination. There is barely another word to describe the proposed mega-coal Carmichael mine proposed to be built by the Adani Corporation in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. If built and operated for the proposed 60 years, it may well contribute to the end of world efforts to limit global average temperature rises to less than 2 degrees Celsius. The carbon contained in the Galilee Basin’s coal reserves alone – 250 000 square kilometres of thermal coal – contain roughly the same amount of carbon contained in all of ExxonMobil’s holdings, the world’s largest company.[1] The development of the Adani “mine of death” would mean six open cut pits and numerous underground mines. The coal would be transported 200 kilometres to a terminal at Abbot Point, right next to the Great Barrier Reef. Australia’s carbon emissions would more than double.[2]

There is a high probability that the Adani mine will definitively finish off the Great Barrier Reef. To this point already, reef specialist Professor Terry Hughes revealed that coral bleaching – the literal dying off of the coral itself – now covered 93% of the Reef.[3] As the intensification of global warming warms the oceans, the sea itself becomes more acidic, killing off or threatening to kill off whole ecosystems – from coral to fish to large predators, i.e., whole food chains. One of the natural wonders of the world, the strangulation of the reef should be yet another urgent bell-weather of the desperate situation climactic collapse ensures. As Jeff Sparrow writes, however, any sense that an occurrence so grotesque as the annihilation of a natural wonder would somehow spur politicians to finally do something, should now be put to rest.[4] The politicians that currently exist here will scarcely do anything to even seriously limit environmental desecration.

Labor Party complicit

In fact, politicians here are doing everything they can to enable this hellish future. Take the Queensland Labor Party government. It has fallen over itself to get the diabolical Adani coal mine up and running, irrespective of the climate science, not to speak of its own members. First it offered a 320 million dollar “royalties holiday” to Adani, making a mockery of the entire concept of royalties.[5] After some outrage, the Labor Party and Adani later came to an agreement, the details of which are not fully known, but it is suspected that a flat 5 million dollars will be paid. For a 21 billion dollar mine, this is of course risible. In addition, in a move which flabbergasted even seasoned environmental activists, the Labor Party approved a measure which allows Adani to only monitor and report on the amount of water it extracts from the Great Artesian Basin, from now until the permit expires in 2077![6] Needless to say, this could have massive impacts on the water available for agriculture and other purposes. It is estimated that this would mean Adani would extract 9.5 billion litres of water for each year the mine was operational.[7] And on the driest continent on earth, Adani would not have to pay one cent for this water!

Some die-hard Labor party members state that despite the (virtually criminal) actions of the Queensland Labor party, “federal” Labor has opposed the mine. In fact, federal Labor under Bill Shorten worked with the Liberal Party to ensure that Native Title for the Aboriginal people would not even be considered when assessing approval for Adani’s mine building. This bill has been delayed in parliament, and the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council, representatives of the traditional owners, remains steadfast in its opposition to the construction of the mine.[8]

Add to this Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to New Delhi to Adani executives and his offer of a 1 billion dollar unconditional loan from Australian taxpayers to pay for the rail line needed to transport the coal.[9] As if this wasn’t enough, it is mooted that these funds will be allocated from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility![10] The level of direct and indirect corruption is staggering, but such corruption is business as usual for the capitalist system. In fact, the amount of corruption just for this project is just a slim percentage of the overall racket of virtually tax-free mining in Australia.

Red China closes coal mines while Australia opens them

Australia’s giant Pacific neighbour, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is trending in the opposite direction with regard to coal fired energy use. It should be noted that for a country which is still in many parts developing its economy, despite its huge advances, it is more difficult to do without coal as an energy source. Nevertheless, Red China is arguably leading the world push towards switching from carbon intensive energy sources to carbon free ones. Just this year, Beijing closed its last large coal-fired power station.[11] Moreover, as part of the drive towards using zero carbon energy sources, the PRC will close around half of its operating coal mines.[12] Some renewable energy advocates point to China in leading the way in the production of solar panels and wind turbines. But for serious capacity in terms of zero carbon energy, the PRC is building nuclear reactors. 46% of the new reactors currently being constructed are in mainland China.[13]

There is one reason why the PRC leads the world in both economic growth and in the drive towards sourcing energy from zero carbon sources. The Chinese economy, primarily, does not operate on the basis of production for profit. The socialist state led development they are capable of has only come about since the working people were able to overthrow feudal and foreign capitalist plunder, which triumphed in 1949. In the PRC today, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of the “commanding heights” of the economy remain state owned or majority state owned. They are often owned and controlled by gigantic state owned enterprises (SOEs) which simply do not have to turn a profit, and often run at profit rates below 1%, which would not be possible under the “capitalism” of which some critics accuse it. Decisions can be made in the interests of the environment and workers’ rights in the PRC, whereas in the capitalist West such motives barely rate a mention.

NGOs, Greens, Labor loyal Union leaders block action

Socialism versus capitalism as a pathway to address climate meltdown, however, is the furthest away from the agenda of the three main bodies which are combining to stifle mass action to stop the Adani leviathan. Peak environmental “NGOs”, the Australian Greens, and some Union leaders, who remain loyal to the Labor Party and/or the capitalist system, represent the obstacle to the action which has the possibility of preventing the erection of climate destroying mega-coal mines. NGOs such as GetUp!, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), and 350 Australia are active online in opposing the Adani mega-coal mine. However, these peak bodies are all about controlling the campaign against Adani, and controlling it to align with their politics – which ultimately means lobbying the very corporations and governments enabling it. For example, were the main organisers of large scale public meetings about the Adani mega-mine, but they were only “public” for those who could afford the $15 dollar entry fee!

The Australian Greens, despite their commendable words against the Adani inferno, are almost solely campaigning in electoral terms. After winning a Brisbane City Council seat in the Woolloongabba ward for the first time, the Greens are attempting to capitalise on the sentiment against Adani to win the state seat of South Brisbane from the Labor Party’s Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.[14] To be clear, if the Australian Greens win parliamentary seats as a result of a principled position against climate destroying developments, then working people should not begrudge them. But it is something else entirely to subordinate the politics of such a movement to electoral machinations of any party, even one which is, at least verbally, taking a side against the encroachments of capital.

There has been scant, if any, opposition to Adani from any of Queensland’s Union leaders. In fact, there has even been support. The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union’s (CFMEU) Stephen Smyth and the Australian Workers Union’s (AWU) Ben Swan, for example, have gone on record as complaining that the Adani mega-mine has come up against too much “green tape” from the state government![15] No doubt these self-serving Union leaders were eyeing the mythical “10 000” jobs the state government claimed would be the result of the Adani mega-mine. In fact, Adani’s own figures state that only 1464 jobs will be created over the lifetime of the mine.[16] In any case, one wit responded to State Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s claims that jobs will be created by saying: “Detention centres create jobs, wars create jobs – what’s your point?”

Union leaders should be leading a campaign for jobs through raising and fighting for demands such as a shorter working week with no loss in pay, rather than building a cosy alliance with exploitative corporations themselves. Then they would be free to help lead mass based campaigns, which could gather backing from working people, and could be joined by others justly concerned about the potentially catastrophic future vastly increased carbon emissions will mean for those who come after us. They could also sideline wealthy corporate NGOs and prevent them from shepherding all opposition into harmless lobbying exercises. Political parties such as the Greens would be welcome to take part, but not in terms of reducing the entire campaign to an electoral front.

There is huge potential for such a campaign, as there is overwhelming sentiment amongst the majority of working people that this disaster of a mine should not go ahead, and there definitely should not be billions of dollars of taxpayers funds handed over to a dubious corporation to build it. Yet the potential for the desperately needed campaign of mass mobilisation is crippled by the political outlook of the mines’ opponents. Well-funded NGOs, parties such as the Greens, and conservative Union leaders do not have a perspective which can see outside the parameters of the system of private production for private profit. This is not a matter of expecting such forces to consent to a workers’ revolution. But long before the conditions for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism come into being, the methods of class-based struggle are the only ones which can win a serious battle such as this one.

The Adani mega-mine is symptomatic of the normal workings of capitalist exploitation of the natural world. It is for this reason that the political forces which complain about the excess of this system without opposing the system itself, e.g. GetUp!,, AYCC, must be challenged by working people for leadership of this campaign. Working people also need to position their silent or complicit Union leaders, which should at least be helping to facilitate a movement of class-based mass opposition, centred on mass mobilisations. Working and oppressed people desperately need a victory. Here is one campaign, which, given correct leadership, has a huge chance of succeeding.

At the same time, working people should be aware that even if the Adani monstrosity is stopped, runaway climate collapse is still on the cards. To begin to deal with this emergency, let alone the other dire emergencies such as economic stagnation, joblessness, homelessness, and the threat of war, the capitalist system will have to be overthrown and replaced with socialism, run by working people. Key to this task is the forging of a genuine workers party, the assembling of the most class conscious working people into a politically leading force. There is nothing to lose, but a world to win.


PO Box 66  NUNDAH QLD 4012


[1] (02-06-17)

[2] (02-06-17)

[3] (02-06-17)

[4] (02-06-17)

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[11] (02-06-17)

[12] (02-06-17)

[13] (02-06-17)

[14] (02-06-17)

[15] (02-06-17)

[16] (02-06-17)

The Adani Corporation has begun fencing off land in the Galilee Basin. Image from

Stop the Adani Death Mine! Mobilise Mass Opposition!

US Hands Off Venezuela!  For a Leap Forward to Socialism!

26-05-2017 – The images are as disturbing as they are frightening. Right-wing Venezuelans, knowing they have the direct and indirect backing of the US Empire, are literally burning down Venezuela. The most recent egregious example was the setting fire to a Venezuelan government supporter, on the grounds that he was a “Chavista”.[1] Right-wing opponents of the government led by President Nicolas Maduro also recently took a public bus driver hostage, and then set his bus on fire. Hispan TV reported the bus driver as saying “Honestly, if they had known that I support the Revolution….if I had said Homeland, Socialism or Death…. they would have killed me.”[2]

There is extensive evidence of US government funding for these ultra-violent hoodlums, as well as the conservative political parties themselves. In 2015, the US government delivered $4.26 million for Venezuela through the notorious US Agency for International Development (USAID), with most of this going to numerous anti-government organisations.[3] For years, the US government has not even attempted to hide their backing of the Venezuelan opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution. In 2014, the US federal budget allowed $5 million for funding opposition activities in Venezuela as a line item.[4] If there has been anything like this amount pouring in to these groups annually, one can only imagine the cumulative total over the 19 odd years of “Chavismo” (the movement led by former President Hugo Chavez).

The right-wing opposition to the Hugo Chavez led “Bolivarian Revolution” which swept to electoral power in 1998, has often been fragmented. In recent years, however, it has coalesced around the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) – a coalition of around 50 political parties and organisations, whose main point of unity does not extend much beyond anti-Chavismo. Its main leader is Henrique Capriles Radonski – a staunchly conservative anti-socialist, who seemingly does not baulk at either receiving aid from the US state, nor being seen to organise and lead violent anti-government actions, regardless of whether or not there are casualties. Radonski has Jewish ancestry, which may explain the MUD’s links to the Israeli state, which former President Chavez claimed in 2010, was also involved in funding the right-wing opposition.[5]

Gains for workers and the oppressed

Make no mistake, the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela did win impressive gains for the Venezuelan workers and impoverished sectors. For example, Venezuelan Chavismo ensured that illiteracy had been eradicated by 2005. A National Public System was established to provide free access to health care for all Venezuelans. From 1999 to 2010, the number of doctors increased by 400%. The infant mortality rate was reduced by 49%. Since 1999, child malnutrition was reduced by 40%. Since 1998, the minimum wage was increased by over 2000%. GDP per capita increased from $4,100 in 1999 to $10,810 in 2011.[6]  And this is to name but a few. Internationally, bodies such as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and Petrocaribe were established for Latin American and Caribbean countries to forge ties for trade and energy supplies not purely on the basis of buy and sell, but on mutual benefit. It also began to lay the groundwork for Latin American and Caribbean countries to break from the suffocating imperialist domination of Wall Street and the US deep state.

Nonetheless, all of these gains and more are imperilled by the political developments in Venezuela of the last few years, which are currently reaching a crisis point. We are entitled to ask how is it that all such gains can be reversed, given that they had the mandate of numerous election victories for 15 years?  Some try to explain the misfortunes of the current Venezuelan government in terms of the falling oil revenues. Venezuela is a major oil exporter and it is the case that the Chavez led Bolivarian government used oil income to fund health, education and other social spending. It is also the case that until mid-2014, a barrel of crude oil would sell for around $110, whereas in 2015 they fell below $50 a barrel and have hovered around that mark since.[7] On its own, however, this doesn’t explain the economic malaise, which is severe. For example, inflation reportedly reached 800% in 2016, while the economy shrunk by 18.6%.[8]

“Socialism of the 21st Century”

President Maduro blames anti-Chavismo capitalists for hoarding, creating artificial scarcity, in order to deliberately create these economic problems, in an effort to bring down the elected government. No doubt, there is a lot of truth to this. Yet this just points to the question of why such capitalists have such free reign to do their worst, to almost entirely bring down the Venezuelan economy with the government seemingly powerless to prevent it. To answer this, we have to examine the political motivation of the Bolivarian Revolution, and its leader’s adherence to what they term “Socialism of the 21st Century”.  Soon after winning governmental power in 1998, and witnessing the immediate hostility of the US government and elements of the Venezuelan ruling class to any sense of redistributing wealth, former President Chavez embarked on what he believed to be “socialism”. Later, he proclaimed to be building “Socialism of the 21st Century”. Analysing this slogan, we can see that the leading Chavistas, and many of their international supporters, wanted to distance themselves from “20th Century Socialism” – by which they mainly referred to the former Soviet Union.

To learn from the mistakes the workers of Russia endured at the hands of the leaders of the Soviet Union is necessary, however the Chavistas pushed themselves away from association with “20th Century Socialism” in the wrong direction. Rather than seeking more means to expand workers’ political decision making ability while maintaining the workers’ state, the Chavistas ended up rejecting the need for a workers state altogether. Put simply, they wanted to change the world without the seizure of state power, and the establishment of a workers republic. They explicitly rejected the key Marxist tenet of aiming for the “dictatorship of the proletariat” as the first step towards the beginning of the implementation of socialism. Consequently, they also dumped the Leninist conception of the need for a workers vanguard party to lead this historic struggle.

This is not simply a debate over which set of rhetoric is best able to build socialism. Whether one refers to it as a workers state, the dictatorship of the proletariat, or workers democracy, the effect is the same. Working people are in need of a state of their own, not to reproduce the rule of a minority over a majority, as in all previous historic states, but to hold down their capitalist adversaries, whose resistance to the rule of the poor will be furious. A workers state, led by a vanguard party or parties, is also necessary to guide workers, born and raised under capitalism, towards the new values of socialist society – cooperation, mutual benefit, solidarity and internationalism. The politically class conscious workers are needed to lead the less class conscious towards these goals. The most politically class conscious elements are usually located within the leading party or parties.

For all of their declarations of socialism, in fact the Chavistas junked the most basic part of socialism. Socialism begins with the overthrow of the capitalist state, and the forging of a workers state which will, in Marx’s words, make “despotic inroads” into the ownership of capital. Capital enables capitalists to profit from the exploitation of the labour of others. At the least, a socialist government would aim to take control of the banks and the major means of production, such as ports, railways, roads, and telecommunications and so on. It would have to mobilise working people for this vital task. In Venezuela, however, the creed of “Socialism of the 21st Century” prevented ANY of these crucial tasks from being attempted. Consequently, the Maduro government is not able to prevent major economic sabotage by some capitalists, the shortage of goods, high unemployment, runaway inflation, and more.

The right-wing is very adept at capitalising on these difficulties, especially given the links of the right-wing opposition to the dark forces of the US deep state. Shortages of consumer goods, electricity blackouts, falling production – the right-wing elements, now led by MUD, can easily point the finger at what they claim is “socialism” and draw a whole swathe of workers and underemployed poor over to the agenda of the far-right. The intense irony of the situation is that it is precisely because the Maduro government is NOT socialist, that the right wing are able to gather thousands to their side – despite thousands still remaining loyal to the “Bolivarian Revolution”.

“Government of the Left”

It is a lesson which has been learnt before, but will now have to be learned all over again. It is the age-old question of reform versus revolution. No matter how radical the wording, it is a fatal illusion to believe that capitalism can be reformed into socialism, or even into a system which doles out a few larger crumbs to the masses. For all of their efforts, many of which can be applauded, in the end the Chavistas are attempting to reform capitalism. The belief that electing a “government of the left”, or someone or some party who is more “left-wing”, to administer the existing capitalist state has come undone repeatedly throughout history, often with tragic consequences. Salvador Allende in Chile in the early 1970s paid for this illusion with his own life, and the people of Chile went on to endure 17 years of US backed military dictatorship. In 2015, the people of Greece elected the SYRIZA party to head the government there, with huge hopes. It took just a few hours for the “left-wing” SYRIZA to form a coalition with the far-right ANEL party. It went on to abandon any pretence of resisting the crushing austerity measures demanded by the bankers of the European Union (EU), and rapidly agreed to measures which were even more harsh than that the previous conservatives dared to impose. The suffering of the working people of Greece is almost indescribable, with employment opportunities, health care, pensions, education and so on being decimated. The suicide rate remains at unprecedented levels. It may be the last time Greek workers will trust a “government of the left”.

The right-wing in Venezuela know exactly what they want, and they are prepared to use mass violence to achieve it. They do not have to topple the capitalist state, as they aim simply to replace the leading personnel of the capitalist state with some of their own, with the financial and political support of Wall Street. They have demonstrated a willingness to set fire to people themselves to get their way.

The left in Venezuela, and internationally, has to once again learn the lesson that it is not possible to vote for socialism. Socialism can only come about through the organisation of the workers into a class, and the organisation of the most class conscious workers into a party which is firm with its allegiance to Marxism. The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is in no way a vehicle for this task. We have no illusions about how difficult it is to raise millions of workers to the political level needed for the seizure of state power, let alone how to maintain the rule of the poor once achieved. There are no guarantees in class struggle. Yet this task cannot be begun until this is the perspective and outlook of the leading parties and organisations of working people in Venezuela.

US imperialism has specialised in regime change operations in the first years of this century. Afghanistan, Iraq, Honduras, Libya, Syria, Ukraine – all have either been overthrown or violent attempts have been made working with the most reactionary elements on the ground, up to and including fascists. To prevent yet another case, working people in Venezuela, and internationally, need to demand that the US cease all political and financial interference in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe. This struggle against wars of regime change is also a struggle to form a workers party fit to lead the struggle for socialism, and no less in Australia. US HANDS OFF VENEZUELA!


PO  BOX  66   NUNDAH QLD  4012


[1] (26-05-17)

[2] (26-05-17)

[3] (26-05-17)

[4] (26-05-17)

[5] (26-05-17)

[6] (26-05-17)

[7] (27-05-17)

[8] (27-05-17)

A man was set alight by violent right-wing Venezuelans, attempting to bring down the government. Image from

US Hands Off Venezuela! For a Leap Forward to Socialism!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


PO  BOX   66    NUNDAH  QLD   4012


[1] (13-05-17)



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

BDS: A mistaken tactic based on a mistaken strategy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


PO  BOX  66   NUNDAH   QLD   4012


[1] (09-05-17)

[2] (09-05-17)

[3] (09-05-17)

[4] (09-05-17)

[5] (09-05-17)

[6] (09-05-17)

[7] (10-05-17)

Protests in Gaza in solidarity with the hunger strikers imprisoned by the Israeli state. Photo from Reuters via

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