No To War! US/AUS: Hands Off the DPRK!

19-03-2017 – Speaking during a visit to South Korea (“Republic of Korea” – ROK), new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that US “strategic patience” with North Korea has ended.[1] He implied that military action against North Korea, whose real name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), remained ‘an option’. US representatives claimed that the DPRK’s growing nuclear and missile arsenal is the principle reason for Rex Tillerson’s trip to the ROK. These comments were widely interpreted to mean that the US could realistically be weighing up its chances with a pre-emptive strike against the DPRK. Referring to US President Donald Trump’s penchant for commenting on the social media forum Twitter, one Facebook commentator summed it up by writing “we are one tweet away from war”.

The notion that the US, and the world, is under imminent threat from an attack launched by the DPRK is the ultimate in fake news. Like most of the statements emanating from the corporate media mouthpieces of the Western ruling classes, the claim that “we” are under threat from the DPRK, with or without nuclear weapons, is the direct opposite of the truth. What is palpably real is that it is the US state, backed by Tokyo and Canberra, which is daily threatening the DPRK with annihilation, and that the possibility of a US attack on the DPRK is closer than ever. It is the US which is currently engaged in some of the largest war games ever staged on the border with the DPRK. The US and it’s puppet South Korean military carry out military “exercises” named “Key Resolve” and “Foal Eagle” each year, where the drills, right on the sea, land and air border with the DPRK, are barely concealed  dry runs for invasion and “decapitation” regime change.

Sometimes even the pretence of attempting to deny the aim of the US led manoeuvres is dispensed with. It was reported in The Independent  that a South Korean official told Yonhap News that this year’s Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises will “practice missions to infiltrate into the North, remove the North’s war command and demolition of its key military facilities.”[2]  It doesn’t get much clearer than this. Regime change may not be the official name, but regime change is certainly the game. And just as it was in 1950, in 2017 the gunsights are aimed not just at the northern half of the Korean peninsula, but the giant next door neighbour – the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Chinese governmental leadership, despite distancing itself from the DPRK, and even voting with the US in the UN against the DPRK, nevertheless warned the US not to provoke things beyond control. On May 8 China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi likened the US and the DPRK to two accelerating trains coming towards each other on the same track. He warned: “The question is: are the two sides ready for a head-on collision?”[3]

DPRK/China vs US

The Western corporate, and even liberal, media constantly whip up a frenzy of demonization aimed at the DPRK. It is so intense that even normally left-leaning and progressive working people can start to believe the fantastic lies told about the “paranoid peninsula”.  What working people are generally not told is that the DPRK is one of the most advanced socialist societies on the face of the planet. DPRK citizens enjoy zero unemployment, free housing, free healthcare, free education, opportunities for sport and cultural activities, and a much cleaner environment than workers in the West are exposed to. While there are undoubtedly political problems in some areas, the basics of a socialist state are in place, and they have been won through incredible sacrifice. When the US, backed by their allies including Australia, waged war from 1950 to 1953 in order to prevent a socialist revolution on the Korean peninsula, and to roll back the Chinese socialist revolution, up to 4 million Koreans and Chinese volunteers were slaughtered. The bombardment of a furious capitalist ruling class which had just lost China and was in the process of losing Korea, resulted in the annihilation of close to 30% of the North Korean population at that time.[4]

Understandably for the DPRK, they live their lives as if this happened yesterday. And, given the unceasing hostility of the US state for the six decades since, the DPRK has little option but to proceed this way. Today, the 1.4 billion people which buttress the Chinese socialist state has provided a basis to propel its economy to a position of overtaking the US as the world’s number one economy. 30 years of economic growth in China at a rate of 10%, which has “slowed” in recent years to around 7%, shows little sign of stopping. While the US cannot tolerate a capitalist rival, a socialist rival causes even more problems. Sooner or later, working people will demand a Chinese style economy – one which provides jobs, prosperity, infrastructure development and more. The arguments for free enterprise and free markets wear exceedingly thin for most workers in the West. In Australia, many workers face joblessness, casualization of work, and relentless attacks on those who have work – such as the removal of penalty rates. There is a technical recession, and every day sees less and less government spending on essential services such as public transport, energy, education, healthcare and more.

Western rulers need war

Given that the Western countries do not possess state owned enterprises which buttress a workers’ state, as in China and the DPRK – the US, Europe, Japan and Australia cannot simply order private capitalists to invest. Much needed investment in infrastructure will simply not occur unless the captains of industry receive what they regard as an adequate rate of profit. In China, on the other hand, the Communist Party led government can simply order its state owned enterprises to invest regardless of the rate of profit. Even the private sector – which is not so clear cut in China – has to line up its ventures within the framework of the Five Year Plan. The result is sustained development, and usually plentiful jobs for working people. The free marketeers in the West have no such levers. As working people there lose more and more jobs, and wages growth declines, capitalists cease to invest. A downward spiral begins, as classically analysed by Karl Marx. Almost nothing except “creative destruction” can restart production.

As if on cue, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on March 26 claimed that the DPRK has developed ballistic missile technology capable of reaching Australia.[5] The fact that the DPRK has stated countless times, for decades on end, that they will only defend themselves if attacked is immaterial for the vassal Australian political class. There is but one purpose for warnings that “we” could be hit by the DPRK – the preparation of working people to come behind, or at least not oppose, a US led pre-emptive strike and/or invasion of the northern side of the Korean peninsula. The fact that this could be catastrophic even for the US and Australian imperialists, by drawing a massive China acting in self-defence, is beside the point. The US and their vassal states may have to take that risk, in order to save their system. If things are left as they are, China will become the world’s leading force, economically, diplomatically and politically – if it is not already.

DPRK and China’s nuclear deterrent prevents war

The hysteria generated when the DPRK is forced to test a missile, or even just to launch a satellite, is entirely one-sided. The DPRK seriously began developing a nuclear deterrent when former US President George W Bush proclaimed that the DPRK, along with Iran and Iraq, was part of an “axis of evil” which needed to be eliminated. Given what has since occurred to Libya – where former leader Colonel Gaddafi gambled by agreeing with the West to relinquish nuclear or conventional weapons, and then in 2011 could not defend Libya against a regime change war which claimed his life, the DPRK’s decision to develop a nuclear deterrent makes perfect sense. Further, the US led war on Syria has added further weight to the verdict that the DPRK had little choice but to develop a nuclear deterrent – or face annihilation. As Yongho Thae, a DPRK embassy representative in London has stated, the DPRK’s actual policy is to denuclearise the Korean peninsula. In order to reach that objective, the DPRK has little option but to develop effective nuclear weapons.[6]

The People’s Republic of China also has little choice but to defend its socialist revolution through the use of nuclear weapons. Imperialism, led by the US but backed by Canberra, showed what appalling destruction it is capable of during the Korean War of 1950-53 – which was aimed as much at the newly victorious revolution in China in 1949, as it was against the socialist inspired Koreans. Red China then had no alternative but to develop nuclear weapons, and is today one of the five nuclear weapons states recognised by the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  Recently, China reportedly moved some long range nuclear capable missiles to the Heilongjiang province, which borders Russia. This was in response to US President Trump ramped up rhetoric targeting China.[7] Despite this, China, like the DPRK, stridently advocates the ridding of nuclear weapons from the world. President Xi Jinping, in a speech at the United Nations in Geneva recently, stated that “Nuclear weapons should be completely prohibited and destroyed over time to make the world free of nuclear weapons.”[8]

The equation is thus: China and the DPRK desire an end to nuclear weapons the world over. While capitalist imperialism exists, however, the threat of invasion and/or war by the US and its allies, remains ever present, and at the present time more likely. The only element which can stay the hand of US led imperialism, the only aspect which can make the US ruling class think twice about waging war, is the existence of nuclear weapons in those states which are targeted. Therefore, contrary to the “advice” working people receive from the corporate media, it is the readily deployable nuclear weapons in the DPRK and China which is currently preventing a world war. This is why working people must defend the right of socialist states, or others states independent of the West, to test, develop and prepare their own nuclear weapons stockpile. It is capitalist imperialism which threatens the world with obliteration, not the DPRK, and certainly not China.

Defence of socialism and defence against war are linked

The system of generalised commodity production using private property for the purpose of private profit is in terminal crisis. Recession plagues the US, Europe, Japan and Australia. As we have learnt previously, however, capitalism can survive any crisis provided working people are not provided with a viable alternative. War could well break out despite efforts to prevent it. If it does, working people must be clear that it is in our interests to defend the socialist and other independent states against the encroaches of US led imperialism, in whatever form it takes. For working people in the capitalist states, the outbreak of war must be combated with both a defence of the socialist states and a vital struggle for socialism in the capitalist states. In such a struggle, there will be no room for “broad” campaigns involving an assortment of moderate and wealthy liberal organisations and other operatives of the “enlightened” ruling class. The struggle against imperialist war, as well as the struggle for socialism, can only begin on the basis of the leadership of the working class, which then draws in other non-antagonistic elements – class conscious students, pensioners and so on. A split in the Union movement will likely to be necessary, due to the ongoing conservatism of most Union officials. And most especially, a workers vanguard party, which combines the most advanced leaders of the class, will be vital to provide leadership in a time of both self-defence and upsurge. We have a world to win.





[1] (25-03-17)

[2] (25-03-17)

[3] (25-03-17)

[4] (26-03-17)

[5] (27-03-17)

[6] Interview with Yongho Thae, conducted by Carlos Martinez in London in 2013.

[7] (30-03-17)

[8] (30-03-17)

Hands Off Our Penalty Rates!



11-03-2017- In late February, the grossly misnamed “Fair Work Commission” handed down its decision on the penalty rates of some of Australia’s lowest paid workers. It decided that Public Holiday and Sunday penalty rates be watered down to Saturday rates for workers in the Retail, Fast Food and Hospitality sectors.[1] The decision means some of these workers would be up to $6000 dollars a year worse off.[2] There have been all kinds of social spending cuts for the last 35 years that workers have had to endure, but this one is different. This is not like not offering a much needed pay increase – this is a pay cut. This is literally capital taking money out of workers pockets and forcing them to work longer for less pay. Worse than this is the precedent it sets. If there is no sustained backlash, it will be only a small step towards abolishing the Saturday rates of pay, and from there effectively establishing one flat pay rate no matter what time of the day or night workers toil, from Monday to Sunday.

In addition, there is little doubt that this will flow on to other industries, and into all areas of the private and public sector. Employers negotiating collective bargaining agreements, where they still exist, will simply point to other industries where weekends are treated as weekdays, and use that to lower their wage bill – regardless of the effect on workers livelihoods. The argument that most workers now work from Monday to Sunday is spurious. This is more about the falling rate of profit, and the inability of capital to restart production, which went into a downward spiral with the onset of the “global” financial crisis in 2008. In fact it was only “global” for the capitalist economies. Yet even from the point of view of the “captains of industry”, less income in the pockets of workers means less money spent on goods and services, leading to more business slowdown, and thus further job losses. We have seen this repeated throughout history, most especially during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Union Officialdom complicit

In the face of one of the largest full frontal assaults on working people in a generation – and there have been many- what has been the response of the Union leadership?  Essentially, nothing. From what can be observed by the mass of workers, there have been no meetings of Union members organised, no strikes, hardly any demonstrations, and hardly any Union officials even speaking out. This had been coming for at least the last two years, and still nothing. Some Union officials have sent emails (!) to their members, denouncing the cuts to penalty rates, and asking them to sign an online petition (!!). This type of response is risible, and can barely be taken seriously. It is no wonder that large numbers of workers see little point in joining a Union, when most officials disappear at the very time that they are needed. Unfortunately, due to the absence even of a statement in defence of workers, many workers believe that Unions are legislatively prevented from taking action.

Yet this is far from the case. With some exceptions, Union officials effectively operate as agents of capital within the workers movement. Their entire careers, for which they are paid much more money than the workers they supposedly represent, are guaranteed IF they can restrict workers from challenging the destruction course of the profit system. They do this in a number of ways – even by organising rallies which on the surface appear to be militant. For example, on March 9, rallies were held in most cities by some Unions such as the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU). The theme was “Stop the War on Workers” by – the Turnbull federal government. That is, the politics of the militant rallies, with militant unionists in some cases walking off the job – was electoral. Their basic message, even if not stated openly, vote Labor – in 2019. No pledges to undertake a nationwide industrial campaign – just electoralism.

Demand Officials Act

It should be clear that the real source of the penalty rate cuts, and all of the other attacks raining down on workers, do not just come from the Liberal Party. The Labor Party is no alternative, and works in tandem with the Liberal Party to maintain the system. The source of the penalty rate cuts is the  declining capitalist economy – but workers are far from powerless in the face of these attacks. The depth of the crisis of profitability for capital means that even a well co-ordinated struggle will face stiff opposition. Yet the possibilities for this have not even been tested. Union members, and all working people, should direct their demands to the top Union secretaries of the Union bodies in each state, and demand they immediately call meetings of members and delegates, to organise a nationwide campaign. Union members need to be able to discuss and put forward their own proposals for action.

It needs to be recognised that the struggle to force Union leaders to act in defence of workers is at the same time a struggle to forge working class political leadership. This needs to take the form of a mass, class struggle based, workers party. Hundreds of years of social democracy, and the experience of the socialist countries, have taught us that even just to defend the existing living standards of the current generation of workers, a vanguard party which fights for a workers government is the only type of organisation capable of leading a genuine resistance to the onslaught of a system in peril. Such a party can be built out of efforts to forge a general strike, and similar actions. The catalyst for action now can be the assault on penalty rates, but once in struggle, larger questions begin to be posed. HANDS OFF OUR PENALTY RATES!




[1] (11-03-2017)

[2] (11-03-2017)

“March in March” must break through “community” mobilisation




Crisis after crisis besets Australia, and indeed the world. Here, we have very high unemployment, record numbers of homelessness, housing unaffordability, skyrocketing costs of living and the decimation of basic democratic rights. Privatised banks rake in unprecedented profits through blind rip offs through fees extracted from working people. Increasingly privatised health care and education are placing an unbearable burden upon the majority, who cannot afford private health care – or are robbed of service if they can. Refugees continue to be tortured by government policy, and most Aboriginal people face a daily struggle to survive. Canberra continues to back the US wherever it wages predatory imperialist wars or conducts regime change operations – from Libya to Syria to Ukraine to Eastern Europe to the South China Sea. Climate distortion is already dangerous, and is claiming lives through heatwaves, bushfires, floods, droughts, storms and cyclones. And this is just for starters.


As backward as the Turnbull Liberal government is, it is not the cause of these multiple crises on its own. Just as Obama and Clinton in the US prepared the path for Trump and Bannon, it was Rudd and Gillard here which paved the way for Abbott and Turnbull.  And nor do the Greens provide any alternative, much less the disillusioned elements following the nationalist One Nation. All of the parliamentary parties are a component part of the capitalist system – the system of private production for private profit using social labour. No matter how many soothing words they offer, no element of the parliamentary gravy train is the least bit interested in fighting against the cause of the crisis afflicting working people – for they are part of it. The same goes for the honeyed phrases of top Union officials – some of whom make moving speeches decrying the ongoing assaults on workers. If these Union officials cared about the workers more than their overpaid positions, they would set about organising a broad scale fightback. They could do this for a start by calling meetings of members, and offering their meeting spaces for working people supportive of Unions, to organise various anti-capitalist campaigns.


The “March in March” organisers may have good intentions. However, their political strategy appears doomed before it is enacted. The top Union secretaries, the Labor Party, the Greens, NGOs and so on – will grasp any opportunity to promote themselves and simultaneously derail any serious class based fightback from beginning. “Community” mobilisations, consciously or unconsciously operating on a cross-class basis, strengthen the capitalist system rather than undermine it. Australians cannot be “united for a better government”. We are divided into classes, and unless we mobilise the working class, not the “people”, in a struggle for socialism, our efforts will only bolster well-paid bureaucrats. In the meantime, we must demand Unions lead the defence of working people.



Workers League

PO Box 66  Nundah QLD  4012