The Liberation of Syria – a Victory against the Empire

17-12-2016 – As we go to press, the Russian and Syrian armed forces are on the verge of the complete liberation of Aleppo from being held hostage by Western backed mercenaries. This is after five years of arguably the most criminal war waged against a sovereign country in modern history. It is an open secret that the governments of the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar have armed, funded, trained and in some cases directed tens of thousands of barbarous mercenaries from over 80 different non-Syrian countries, and let them loose. In this historically unprecedented crime, they have been backed by the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Israel and others. The leader of this Empire is centred in Washington, yet as we saw in September this year, and by its own admission, Canberra is a willing partner.[1]

Countless corporate media outlets, from CNN and ABC in the US, to the BBC in the UK, to France 24, and including the ABC and SBS in Australia, have played an ignominious role in reproducing pro-war “news” and continue to do so, even as we potentially see the end of the war on Syria in sight. This litany of lies about the war has confused many of those who opposed the war on Iraq in 2003, and has seemingly fooled a whole swathe of parties which claim to be “socialist”. Some in the Refugee Action Collective have also taken the bait. In the Western corporate media narrative, unspeakably barbaric Western backed mercenaries are called “activists” or “rebels”. The legitimate Syrian government is referred to as a “regime”. The slaughter of innocents by ISIS and Al Qaeda groups, which frequently change their names, is blamed on Russia, without a shred of evidence.

The liberation of Aleppo from ISIS and Al Qaeda should be compared to the liberation of Saigon in 1975. In fact, Syria is arguably the first major defeat for US imperialism since their defeat in Vietnam. For the US Empire, it wasn’t supposed to be this way. It was supposed to be yet another textbook case of the US arming death squads and overthrowing the state which they viewed as too independent from Washington. After Libya, the US elite perhaps believed that no one would stand in their way. In Syria, however, other powers saw that the endless US game of regime change would soon enough target them if they did not act. Russia was the most aware of this and acted accordingly. Iran joined them, and China at least gave some support in the United Nations. As Syrian Presidential and Media Advisor Dr. Bouthaina Shabaan commented, the liberation of Aleppo from US backed Al Qaeda groups will not only turn the face of the war, but change the balance of power regionally and internationally. Russia and China now lead the international scene, not the United States.[2]

Consider the position of the US ruling class at this moment. The virtually limitless propaganda about a supposed “Syrian revolution”, led by “moderates”, has been exposed for all to see. No matter which way they attempt to spin it, the whole world can simply do their own research to discover that it is the US ruling class which long ago had designs on regime change in Syria, long before 2011. The whole world can do their own research and without much difficulty, establish that it was the US Empire and their allies, which armed, funded, and in some cases fought alongside,[3] the very ISIS groups they claimed to be fighting against. The whole world can also see who was really serious in ridding the world of the scourge of ISIS, and who by far did the most about it – the Russian government. At the request of the Syrian government, Russia intervened on September 30, 2015, and decisively turned the proxy war against the US Empire. For this service to humanity, Russia has been demonised and subjected to propaganda that makes the original Cold War seem like child’s play. In fact, some sections of the US ruling class were willing to go to war with Russia over Syria. If Hilary Clinton had won the US presidential election, a third world war was a definite possibility. It could still be, despite US President elect Donald Trump potentially being able to pull the US back from a full scale war, at least with Russia.

A few short years ago, ISIS was the hot issue of the day. It allegedly threatened all of humanity with imminent destruction and “we” .i.e. Western governments, had to go to war to “protect” us from ISIS. At the same time, working people the world over had to accept the shredding of even nominal democratic rights, such as the right to not have your communication with others spied upon. In France the right to public assembly to protest against draconian labour law changes was all but abolished. Now, where is the threat from ISIS? Working people the world over can see that it is no longer there, and, regardless of your political opinion of the Russian government, it was largely Russia which eliminated ISIS. Can the US use the ISIS bogey again? Will the people of the world believe it a second time? To ask this question is to answer it.

We can be sure, however, that the US Empire will again attempt, in some form, to at least manufacture a confrontation, if not a major war, with those who they see as standing in their way. This is not primarily a result of recklessness, though there is plenty of that. Ultimately it is produced by the world capitalist economies’ prolonged economic decline, if not outright recession. Working people have an acute need obviously to avoid a catastrophic war, but also for decent paying jobs, reliable public services, and a climate which does not threaten them. Only with a socialist system will the possibility of addressing these serious social problems present themselves. To lead a struggle for this society as well as an end to imperialist wars, working people need their own party. VICTORY TO SYRIA!

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Workers League

PO Box 66 Nundah QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/australian-jets-participated-massacre-syrian-soldiers-deir-ezzor/ (17-12-16)

[2] http://sana.sy/en/?p=96389 (17-12-16)

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/aug/09/pictures-appear-to-show-british-special-forces-on-syrian-front-line (17-12-16)

Demand Public Housing and Public Space! Down with the Profit System!

15-12-16 – The image of media with cameras filming the eviction of homeless people from under the Go-Between Bridge in October tells a damning story. The fact that the Brisbane City Council was proud to broadcast its callousness speaks volumes about an administration which plays its part in creating homelessness, and then punishing those who become homeless. The local councillor for the area, the Greens’ Jonathon Sri, stated that he was not informed of the evictions beforehand.[1]  Brisbane City Council claims that all those “moved on” will be found accommodation to move into is largely suspected to be hot air. Homelessness in Brisbane, and around Australia, in recent years is increasing, and may even be at its highest level ever.

One of the major drivers of homelessness is the privatisation of public housing stock, and the drive towards so-called “social housing”. Using these means, state governments absolve themselves of any responsibility to ensure housing for all, regardless of income and employment status. “Social Housing” invariably is handed to a religious organisation or housing company, which takes it on as a money making business, rather than service provision. As opposed to a set amount of rent collected from a person who required public housing, say 10% of their income, the profit seeking outfits place upward pressure on the amount of rent collected. Tenants’ rights under “social housing” also tend to be undermined, as a church group or NGO does not have the regulated oversight of a public body.

Another key force behind homelessness is chronic unemployment and underemployment, which has been steadily rising since the world capitalist economies entered into a deep recession in 2008. The official unemployment figures are widely regarded to be vast underestimates, if not outright falsifications. While the official unemployment rate is around 5%, combined unemployment and underemployment according to some figures is 19.1%, or around 2.3 million Australians of working age.[2] The decline of manufacturing, such as the closure of the entire industry of car production, only adds to the dilemma. Some laid off waterside workers who know little else are languishing on miniscule unemployment benefits. Regional towns like Townsville, Dirranbandi and Biloela have many of their residents simply leaving because there is no work. They move to the big cities to find work, but often without luck.

Along with the privatisation of public housing comes the privatisation of public space. The Queens Wharf mega-casino monstrosity in the middle of Brisbane is another case of public land being handed to private corporations. The privatisation of public land shrinks the area not only that the public can use, but that homeless people and others can find some temporary respite. A privately owned mega-casino simply becomes another area from which the public and the poor are excluded.

Working people’s right to both housing and public space at a certain point come into collision with the profit system, i.e. the system of generalised commodity production for private profit. As the capitalist economy declines, public space and public housing are seen as more commodities that should be plundered by private capital. Capitalist governments organise for public space to be handed to private corporations, and for public housing to be degraded or handed to the private sector. Working people and the marginalised lose out automatically.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In the Asia-Pacific region, there is a prime example of a state which not only provides huge amounts of public space, but also provides free housing. This state is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – incorrectly referred to by the Western corporate media as “North Korea”. As we have mentioned previously, in our article on the “West Village” development[3], the DPRK’s capital of Pyongyang has a massive 58 square metres of green space per person[4], compared to an almost non-existent 4 square centimetres of green space per person for the city of Brisbane.[5] Pyongyang is also known for its ten metre wide footpaths, which are made for people to meet and congregate on, while allowing a pathway for those who wish to reach their destination.

Moreover, the phenomenon in Australia of housing being virtually unaffordable for many young and working people is simply unknown in the DPRK. Article 25 of the DPRK’s constitution states: “The State shall provide all of the working people with every condition for obtaining food, clothing and housing.”[6] This means that housing is provided at no cost to DPRK citizens. Understandably this means that there is no homelessness. What a contrast to capitalist Australia – with thousands homeless every night, and affordable housing virtually out of reach for vast swathes of the population!

The DPRK can only achieve such things due to the fact that it has, through an immense struggle against the worst excesses of US imperialism, abolished capitalism in the process of establishing a workers state. That is, a state which represents and places in power no class other than that of the working people. This is the first step towards the classless, socialist society which Karl Marx envisioned. Thus here in Australia, while we struggle for decent public housing and a livable amount of public space, we must keep in mind that ultimately, the only permanent guarantee of such rights is the sweeping away of the capitalist system through workers’ revolution. For this task, a workers’ party which fights for a workers’ government is indispensable. DOWN WITH THE PROFIT SYSTEM!

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Workers League

PO Box 66   Nundah  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://newmatilda.com/2016/10/22/reality-tv-when-you-move-on-the-homeless-make-sure-the-media-is-around/ (10-12-16)

[2] http://propertyupdate.com.au/real-unemployment-in-australia-is-now-9-2/ (11-12-16)

[3] https://redfireonline.com/2016/11/15/for-public-housing-green-space-and-livable-cities/ (11-12-16)

[4] Willoughby, R., 2014, North Korea – The Bradt Travel Guide.

[5] https://prezi.com/ja61waahkmhx/green-space/ (11-12-16)

[6] http://www.naenara.com.kp/en/order/pytimes/?page=Culture&no=21317 (11-12-16)

Public Space, not Privatisation! No to Mega-Casinos!

05-12-2016 – Make no mistake, Brisbane is being privatised before our very eyes. Huge slabs of public land are being sloughed off the public asset register by Labor and Liberal governments alike. The massive Queens Wharf Mega-Casino is just the latest instalment of a drive to enrich pathological corporations, at the expense of working people – the people who built this city. In the middle of Brisbane, public land will be handed to the Orwellian titled “Destination Brisbane Consortium” on a 99 year lease – in effect, permanent privatisation. The entire political establishment, from the Liberal Brisbane City Council to the Labor State Government, remain oblivious to the decimation of the heritage of the city, to the privatisation of public space, to the plight of the homeless, and to the situation of working people whose taxes they funnel to private business.

Despite our strong political disagreements with the Australian Greens on other issues, we applaud the work of Greens Councillor Jonathon Sri, who is seeking to organise a much- needed campaign against the Queens Wharf Casino. Councillor Sri’s website points out just a few of the many reasons why the Queens Wharf Casino is an affront to the working people of Brisbane, and indeed the world. For one thing, 66 000 square metres of office space formerly owned by the state government for public service staff, will be demolished to make way for the Casino development.[1] It was the former Liberal National Party (LNP) Premier Campbell Newman which began the privatisation of CBD buildings formerly owned by the state government, but this has continued under the ALP Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk.

Public servants, formerly working in a number of buildings in the CBD, will be crammed like sardines into the “Tower of Power”, the cosy deal Campbell Newman signed for a 45 storey tower at 1 William Street. Above them, will sit the Cabinet and the Ministers in much more spaciously accounted floors at the top. For the first time in Queensland’s history, the Premier and Cabinet will “work” from offices owned by the private sector!  Several government departments will be located there, while paying rent to the private sector – to the tune of $10.5 million dollars per year.[2] That is, 10 million odd dollars from the taxpayer, will be going directly into the bank accounts of the private sector – each year. None of that money will ever be spent on public amenities, public housing, schools or hospitals.

The 2 billion dollar contract handed to Echo Entertainment to build the Queens Wharf monstrosity will fill the troughs of corporate developers, and the politicians and councillors who “approve” it, but will privatise 7.8 hectares of the Brisbane CBD, which will be welcoming for those high rollers who can afford to gamble, but will likely lock out poor and working class people who cannot afford gambling and stays in 5 star resorts. Some architects have severely criticised the proposal. Richard Kirk, the President of the Australian Institute of Architects Queensland, has berated the plan which will build gaming floors over the top of public streets, plunging them into darkness.[3] The one piece of the proposal which may be genuinely accessible to the non-paying public is an alleged bridge to South Bank. But this has not been budgeted for, and so will probably not happen.

There has been no public consultation whatsoever, on anything to do with the mega-casino development. This is probably because where casinos have been built, dramatic social problems like poverty and mental illness increase. Not only that, the Queens Wharf  “development” will not even go through the already corporate developer friendly laws that usually apply to such developments. It will not be assessed against the Sustainable Planning Act of 2009, nor the Brisbane City Plan of 2014.[4] It’s a virtual green light before any nominations have even been received.

“Developments” such as these should be enough to shake, if not shatter, any faith that working people hold in governments which are beholden to the corporate elite. The cardinal lesson for working people is that capitalist governments, at whatever level, are not, and never will be, “our” governments, no matter how much we lobby them, or indeed protest against them. All capitalist governments are governments imposed on working people against their will, and are set up to prevent working people from taking part in any decision which seriously affects their living conditions. Behind capitalist governments lie the capitalist state – the police, the courts, the prisons and the armed forces – whose job it is to force working people to accept the further accumulation of private capital at their expense. The capitalist state enforces nothing less than private wealth built on public squalor.

All efforts should be extended to stop the Queens Wharf casino, the privatisation of public land, public housing and indeed public services themselves. At the same time, we need to be aware that it is only a workers’ government, at the head of a socialist state, which can truly act in the interests of the public. A socialist state begins with the seizure of state power by the organised working class, led by a workers’ party. Such a party urgently needs to be formed, and we can begin to build such a party by replacing class-collaborationist Union officials with a class struggle leadership. Then the potential to unleash the real social power of the working class can be breached. As we struggle for decent social living conditions, the socialist objective must remain foremost in our minds. Down with Queens Wharf !

Workers League

PO Box  66  Nundah  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

Ph: 0421 408 692

[1] http://jonathansri.com/casino/ (26-11-2016)

[2] http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/1-william-street-to-be-entirely-filled-by-public-servants-20150615-ghof5p.html (26-11-2016)

[3] http://www.afr.com/real-estate/commercial/architects-slam-queens-wharf-casino-site-warn-of-irreparable-damage-to-brisbane-20150805-gis5l9 (26-11-2016)

[4] http://jonathansri.com/casino/ (26-11-2016)