18-10-2015 – Thanks once again to Wikileaks, the draft text of the notorious Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been released into the public domain. The draft text contains a vigorous assault on the general conditions and standard of living of working people throughout the Asia-Pacific, as well as yet more potential destruction of civil liberties and pathways to yet more desecration of the natural environment. The TPP has been in discussion for six years, led by the world’s foremost imperialist power – the US. The TPP contains a litany of attacks on working people, courtesy of “free trade”. The TPP, if fully enacted, could:
- Undermine the ability of governments to spend money on public health services.
- Undermine any environmental protections put in place.
- Increase the off-shoring of jobs by reducing barriers to relocating workplaces overseas.
- Further empower internet service providers to police content posted by users.
- Dramatically increase the cost of pharmaceuticals and essential medicines.
- Reduce the ability to put in place regulations of the financial and banking sector.
- Reduce the quality of food safety standards of imported food.
- Allow corporations to effectively sue governments for restraint of trade.
All of these things, and much more, are possible under this mega free trade deal. However, this is not just another free trade deal as such. The countries that make up the TPP give the game away. The TPP is an agreement between the governments of the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – all countries of the “Pacific Rim”. All countries that is, except China. How can there be a Pacific Rim without China? When it is the target. The US “pivot to Asia” is the military wing of the escalating confrontation with China, whereas the TPP is the economic wing. An economic war, combined with a propaganda war can only presage a shooting war.
Why does Washington, and therefore Canberra, recklessly pursue war with China? It’s not so much China which is their concern – it’s Red China, i.e. socialist China. Virtually to a man and woman, bourgeois academics, the corporate media and social democrats label China as “capitalist”. The US and Western ruling classes are happy to go along with this charade, in order to disorient “their own” working classes. But it’s certainly not the way they act. They are aware, much as they don’t like to admit it publicly, that Red China is indeed Red, and that Red China’s powerhouse economy is propelling it to the status of world’s number one superpower. China’s incredible economic growth over a 30 year period has left the entire capitalist West in its wake. And even during the “global” financial crisis, China’s economy continued to grow at least three times the rate of the capitalist West, despite a marginal slowdown. You wouldn’t know this if you read the West’s media – they try to paint the Chinese economy as if it is on the verge of collapse. They wish!
The US rulers are desperate. They know that the longer they allow Red China to continue to power along, with its gigantic socialist state led economy lifting its own people out of poverty AND effectively preventing a capitalist world from sliding deeper into recession, the less chance they will have to reassert what dominance they may once have had. China recently establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was another example of the increasing rise of Chinese superiority along with waning US influence over the globe. In order to stop, or even slow down, this process, the US rulers may be prepared to resort to full scale war. This time, the US realises that it cannot wage a war (even economic, let alone a shooting war) against China alone. So it ropes in its lackey allies into a “free trade” agreement, while goading other toady countries to claim islands in the South and East China Seas. It also sails its navy through both these seas, claiming to stand for “navigational rights”. These hostile military moves are couple with an intense anti-China propaganda campaign, whether over spurious claims for Tibetans and Uighurs, “labour rights”, “human rights”, or just straightforward anti-communism.
Working people here and internationally need to not only resist the anti-China moves of their respective rulers, but to act in solidarity with Red China. This does not mean agreeing with all policies of the central government in Beijing. However, it does mean defending China against all economic, military and propaganda provocations. It is needless to say that a shooting war with China may very easily escalate into a global conflagration, which will cause immense suffering.
Many progressive minded Australians have pointed out the potential damage to the interests of working people that the TPP can do if fully implemented. Others decry the loss of decision making power for the Australian parliament that the TPP engenders, and state that we must act to ensure it is safeguarded. But since when has the Australian parliament safeguarded the interests of working people? If anything, this parliament has become ever more beholden to the very corporations we are concerned about even before the TPP came into being! In addition, “our” politicians are already in the process of abolishing democratic rights and civil liberties, privatising health care, education, public transport, water and electricity even without the TPP. Hence, all politicians, whether Labor, Liberal, Green or National, need to be positioned such that it becomes politically impossible for them to extend any support whatsoever for the TPP.
It should be noted that the demand “Stop the TPP” falls short of the mark. It implies that capitalism can be regulated to such an extent that it will provide a human existence for all – but this is a fantasy. In order to actually stop the TPP, or stop any of its effects, we have to take action which will directly counter the system. We can do this by demanding not the regulation of the capitalist system, but that which working people are entitled to. Such things include, but are not limited to: permanent jobs for all workers, a 35 hour work week, publicly funded health care, education and basic services. If the top end of town respond by saying this is impossible under our system, we should reply that we, the workers, will replace it with a system which will. We can do this while defending Red China against the barrage of “our own” imperialism. The struggle for a socially just society can only succeed by allying ourselves with, not against, Red China. The TPP is an attempt to reassert the predominance of global capitalism, with all of the horrors this incurs for working people. It is our task to ensure this attempt fails. For socialism in our time!
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