Jobs Not Casinos! Housing not Hotels! Public not Private!

22-04-2017 – The Queens Wharf Mega Casino and luxury hotel “development”, in the middle of Brisbane city, has begun its seven year construction period. Nine hectares of previously public land is fenced off, with the demolition of previously state owned buildings set to begin. All of this is to make way for not only 2500 poker machines, but an unlimited number of traditional and electronic gaming machines, which has recently been approved by the Queensland government.[1] The Echo business consortium will also build 2000 apartments and 1100 luxury hotel rooms with four, five and six star ratings, from the Ritz-Carlton and Rosewood brand names.[2] The plans include a bridge, which may not happen as it has not yet been funded, from South Bank across the river into the casino floor. Family entertainment indeed!

Working people generally should not attempt to take a moral position of opposition to gambling per se – as we know that billionaire developers represent an alien class and so have an alien perspective of what is and what is not moral. However, working people do have a right to demand decent working and living conditions, and fight for them in opposition to the government which, in this case, clearly represents the billionaires. The fact that these governments are approving the building of a casino and luxury apartments entirely reveals the depth of the economic crisis of the system of private production for private profit. There is a severe recession, because virtually no new value is being created. Whole industries, for example the auto industry, are closing down. Little or no manufacturing is occurring. Unemployment is rife, especially amongst youth. Wage growth for those still in work is the lowest it has ever been in history. What government public spending exists is more and more geared towards providing business opportunities for the private sector – such as the Queens Wharf Casino.

The Right To The City organisation is correct to frame the discussion as “Instead of a Casino”. Instead of luxury apartments and exclusive motel rooms which few working people can afford, what is desperately needed is a state run program of building ample public housing. The building of quality but affordable public housing could not only house the homeless, but will help exert downward pressure on the astronomically high cost of housing. Instead of a casino, there could be a state run program of public works, to upgrade and expand an affordable public transport system – given that Brisbane’s public transport is one of the most expensive in the world, and the passenger rail problems are legion. Instead of a casino, public money could be spent on replacing the millions of dollars of funding ripped out from under schools and hospitals by successive Labor and Liberal federal governments.

Union leadership is key

The only Union action that we know of on the issue of the casino was a rally led by the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) on November 30 last year. The rally was not against the casino, but was calling for construction related jobs for the casino to be given to local workers, rather than 457 visa workers![3] There are two points to be made here. One, Union leaderships should not be encouraging competition against “foreign” workers by lining up with “local” employers. This nationalism encourages racism and xenophobia, which is poison for a workers movement. Two, rather than going cap-in-hand to the employers and pleading for jobs, Union leaderships should be demanding jobs through such demands as: a shorter working week with no loss in pay.  A national campaign for a 30 hour week, or a six-hour day, has the potential to turn around the widespread demoralisation amongst working people. Workers can see society going backwards, and are prepared to fight, but they see no one leading a fightback. Nationalist and conservative Union leaders need to be pushed aside if they will not even organise a struggle to prevent workers from falling into an abyss.

Working people must be aware, if they are not already, that the huge number of problems in society, domestically and internationally, are all linked to the crisis of the capitalist mode of production. The construction of a casino is linked to the thousands of homeless people sleeping on the streets each night. Public space being privatised is linked to increasing harassment on public transport by security services. Banks raking in record profits is linked to schools and hospitals being starved of funds. Youth being offered a future of joblessness, poverty and stress is linked to the ever increasing salaries of politicians who sleep on parliamentary benches. The wholesale destruction of the Great Barrier Reef is linked to the threat of nuclear war launched by the Western powers against anyone who dares to stand up to them.

Unfortunately, a “community” campaign against the Queens Wharf casino is unlikely to stall the ceaseless operations of capital. Everyone, all in together, means power is ceded to those currently holding it. What is required is the intervention of the working class. The obstacle to mobilising this class is the careerist leadership of most Unions, who collaborate with the government, its state, and the corporations it serves. The struggle for class leadership of the Unions is bound up with the struggle for a workers party. To be worthy of the name, a workers party must fight for a workers government, the first step towards the overthrow of the rule of capital, and the initiation of the socialist order.

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO BOX 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://realmoneycasinos.com.au/queensland-approves-crack-cocaine-of-gambling-at-queens-wharf-6502/ (14-04-17)

[2] http://www.smh.com.au/business/echo-consortium-to-build-2000-apartments-for-2b-queens-wharf-complex-20150721-giguyx.html (14-04-17)

[3] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/industrial-relations/unionists-march-to-back-jobs-for-locals-on-queens-wharf/news-story/f796cc35bd1a52af04d946b712114ff2 (14-04-17)

No To War on Syria! US/AUS Troops: Out Now! Saudi/Israeli/UK/FRA: Hands Off!

08-04-2017 – In days just past, the US launched 59 cruise missiles from warships aimed at the Syrian air base of Al-Shayrat, outside of Homs. The claimed trigger is a claimed chemical attack on civilians in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the province of Idlib, which the Western corporate media immediately, and without a shred of proof, blamed on the Syrian government headed by President Bashar Al-Assad. Let it first be said that there is a long history of imperialist wars being started by false flag incidents. Perhaps the most evident was the Gulf of Tonkin incident which led to the US and their allies waging war against Vietnam and slaughtering 3 million people in the process. Another prominent one was the infamous claim in 2003 that the Iraqi government then headed by Saddam Hussein held “weapons of mass destruction”, which could be deployed with 45 minutes. The US and their allies massacred around 1 million Iraqis, on the basis of what was confirmed to be a pack of lies.

For six years, the US state and their allies – Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United Kingdom, France, Qatar, Turkey, Australia and others – have waged perhaps the most vicious proxy war in world history against the Syrian state. It is a matter of historical record that the Al Qaeda and ISIS death squads have been armed and funded by the Western powers hell-bent on regime change in Syria.[1] Around 500 000 Syrians have lost their lives in the most brutal fashion, for daring to stand independently of the US Empire. All the while, the corporate media funnelled us wild stories about “moderate rebels” being engaged in “civil war” in Syria. It was all lies, and the lies continue with the latest absurd claim that Syria, while it was in the process of defeating the Western backed barbarians, and with an international conference discussing Syria about to convene, all of a sudden decided to gas its own people. This fantastic narrative is easily disabused.[2]
What we know is that the US led proxy war on Syria, using mercenary lunatics, was defeated. It was defeated by the resistance of the Syrian Arab Army, with the assistance of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. China also voted in support of Syria in the UN. The intervention of Russia, at the request of the Syrian government, was crucial in turning the tide of the war for regime change. Unable to accept defeat, and especially by Russia, the US has now decided that the game of outsourcing war with regard to Syria has not produced a result, so now it is time for its own military to do the job. It remains to be seen whether or not the US will be able to continue with its air strikes, given that Russia and Iran, at the least, cannot accept yet another hostile provocation to their very existence.

The Trump Administration in the US has done an about face in a matter of a week. As recently as March 30, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was indicating that only the Syrian people should decide the status of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.[3] Yet on the 6th of April, Tillerson, when asked if the US would lead a regime change effort in Syria, apparently responded “those steps are underway”.[4] These about faces have as much to do with internal US politics, as the disaster the US war machine has created in Syria and Iraq.

The moment the Trump Presidency assumed office, it was besieged by a “Fight Trump” movement, the motivations and politics of which was always extremely murky. Strongly backed by the Democrats and the elements of the US deep state, which was horrified at a US President which did not wish to continue a strategy of confrontation and war with Russia, the “Fight Trump” movement adopted reactionary pro-war positions, under the guise of combatting the “racism, sexism and homophobia” of the Trump campaign. The “Fight Trump” movement alibied the Obama/Clinton administration for exactly the same things for which they condemned Trump. Consciously or unconsciously, the “Fight Trump” movement implicitly demanded the continuation of Washington’s extreme provocations, if not outright war, against Russia. Trump, in order to disprove the constant allegation that he was working with the Russians, had to go to war simply to save his Presidency. Otherwise, an impeachment headed by the US deep state in alliance with the Democrats may well have followed.

Of course neither Trump nor the Republicans or Democrats, nor the Labor and Liberal parties on these shores, offer anything to working people. These elite parties of capital can only enact the needs of capital, whichever personnel they field. The same goes for all the parliamentary parties, which are a part of the economic crisis of capitalism, even if they imagine they are fighting it. The world crisis of capitalism is so deep that the rulers in the US, Australia, Europe and Japan have no answer but to once again plunge the world into war. Currently standing in the way of the US Empire are Russia, Iran, China, Syria and others. To that extent only, working people need to defend the anti-imperialist wing while also pushing forward for a socialist system in which those who labour govern.

What is desperately needed is an anti-war movement which is genuinely anti-imperialist, and is prepared to politically break from all wings of the system, from all corporate media, from all institutions which apologise for the system which is producing multiple crises. This movement should, at least, demand a total withdrawal of all US allied forces, including Australia, from Syria and the Middle East.

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO BOX 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] http://www.globalresearch.ca/logistics-101-where-does-isis-get-its-guns/5454726 (08-04-17)

[2] http://21stcenturywire.com/2017/04/04/reviving-the-chemical-weapons-lie-new-us-uk-calls-for-regime-change-military-attack-against-syria/ (08-04-17)

[3] http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-03-31/mccain-furious-rex-tillerson-saying-assad-can-stay (08-04-17)

[4] https://www.rt.com/usa/383762-tillerson-assad-syria-statement/ (08-04-17)

UK Funded “White Helmets” stage a false flag gas attack, in order to urge more war against Syria. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info

Release the Refugees! Close the Detention Centres! For Workers Leadership!

Manus Island detainees plead for release. http://www.masalai.wordpress.com

RELEASE THE REFUGEES! CLOSE THE DETENTION CENTRES!

FOR WORKERS LEADERSHIP!

09-04-2017 – The dead are many. Reza Berati, Hamid Khazaei, Kamil Hussain, Faysal Ishak Ahmed and Omid Masoumali are some of the recent innocents to have lost their lives in the off-shore hell-holes referred to as detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru. Countless others remain there, mentally and physically tormented by inhuman conditions.  Approximately 1200 are detained off-shore, as well as around 1300 in detention on the Australian mainland.[1] These are people who have, for whatever reason, fled their homelands and sought asylum in what they may have believed to be a fair country governed by at least the pretence of the rule of law. Once here, however, they endure hardships that are in many cases beyond human endurance, with little or no recourse to any legal redress.  It may always have been a myth that Australia was built on the ethos of the “fair go”, but here we can safely say that not even this applies.

Refugees and those seeking asylum in Australia – at least when they arrive by boat – are mistreated in inhuman ways for one main reason. The Australian ruling class are acutely aware that they must divide workers against themselves to prevent them from aiming their just demands for decent working and living conditions at the place they belong – at the foot of the banks, mining and other corporations, and the governments who serve them. If Australia’s rulers, backed in no small way by the parliamentary parties, did not create an “other” (refugees, migrants, “foreigners”), they may be facing mobs of angry folk with the proverbial pitchforks. This creation of an “other” that we must hate and fear also serves a subsidiary purpose when these same rulers want to sign Australia up to yet another US led war of conquest, in Africa, the Middle East, Asia or elsewhere.

In recent years, however, some in the leadership of the refugee rights movement have been used by the very same ruling oligarchs they claim to be protesting against. Wars waged by Washington, with the backing of Canberra, against Libya, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine have created untold numbers of refugees, on top of the destruction of human lives the actual conflict ensures. Refugee Action Collectives and Coalitions (RAC) around the country have unfortunately been largely led by some left parties which have been unable to politically break from the parties and organisations of the liberal wing of capital’s rule. This has, in turn, drawn them in behind imperialist wars which threaten the very future of humanity.

US backed refugee campaigns

During the last six years, the US and their Saudi, Israeli, Turkish and Qatari allies – with the backing of Canberra – waged one of the most atrocious proxy wars in history, in an attempt at “regime change” in Syria. The fact that Russia intervened at the request of the Syrian government, and with Iranian and Hezbollah’s assistance, turned the tide against the US, and prevented their proxy ISIS/Al Qaeda barbarians from overthrowing Syria, is now a matter of historical record. Unfortunately, it is also a matter of historical record that the leaderships of the RAC organisations in this country did their utmost to bring down the Syrian state, which could have potentially launched World War III. At a certain point, this was done out of a concern for refugees fleeing from Syria. To be sure, all refugees fleeing from war zones should be welcomed to safe shores such as Australia. However, at the point when the US was extending every effort to remove the Syrian Republic, encouraging refugees to flee would have served the interests of the US backed mercenaries beheading their way across the country. More Syrian refugees fleeing from Syria would have meant an easier “victory” for the ISIS/Al Qaeda sociopaths. It was a classic case of imperialism manipulating the very real concerns that the masses have for the well-being of refugees. Chief agitators for this US backed “refugee” campaign were some of the left parties which form key parts of the leaderships of the RAC groups – Socialist Alternative (SAlt), Socialist Alliance (SAll) and Solidarity (Sol).

Washington’s latest refugee cause celebre is the plight of the Rohingya people of the Rakhine region in Myanmar, formerly Burma. While it cannot be denied that there are some serious issues affecting the Rohingya people, and consequently understandable motivation to flee, it is also the case that the US state has no scruples whatsoever in exploiting the persecution of any people for their own nefarious ends. From all appearances, what the US is attempting to do is to create an “Asian Kosovo” in the Rakhine region of Myanmar[2] – that is, a pro-US enclave which can then be used as a staging post for the positioning of US military bases, as well as a geo-political beach head against the US’s chief rival in Asia – Red China. The Rohingya inhabited Rakhine region is strategically located on the coast, where the US and their allies could easily ship arms and other supplies to “rebels”, in the same manner in which Turkey was used as a training and provision supplying territory for the funnelling of abominable “freedom fighters” into Syria. US designs to completely militarily and geo-politically encircle China and Russia are gathering at pace, threatening a global conflagration, and the exploitation of the Rohingya cause by the US deep state is just one part of it. As if on cue, the RAC organisations around Australia, led by SAlt, SAll and Sol, leap into action, in some cases thrusting Rohingya speakers on to the platform of the Palm Sunday “peace” rallies.

Misguided opposition to the Trump Administration

RAC and its guiding left parties have also led those motivated by genuine disgust at the Australian government’s abuse of refugees into the politically misguided “Fight Trump” movement. While it is of course true that US President Trump opportunistically uses fear of refugees, Muslims and migrants to bolster his rule, the previous Obama/Clinton Administration carried out the same policies, but with different rhetoric. It is now well known that the Obama Administration deported more people from the US than any other Administration in history, and also more people in total than all US Presidents in the 20th Century.[3] A report from the Huffington Post, speaking in relation to recent US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, where suspected “illegal” migrants are detained and often later deported, remarked that “….the recent ICE raids under Trump were significant and alarming, but hundreds of such arrests happened every week under Obama.”[4]  The RAC organisations, led by SAlt, SAll and Sol, allow their pathological hatred of Trump to obscure their political judgement – which has led them into the camp of the Democrats, the CIA and the US Security Agencies. This camp is straining at the leash to replace or impeach Trump, or at least tame him, so that he does not carry out his election rhetoric of a rapprochement with Russia against ISIS – the creation of US deep state agencies themselves.

The Democrats/CIA are apoplectic that the Obama/Clinton position of confrontation, if not outright war, against Russia, now seems to be off the cards. It seems needless to say that a war against Russia would be a world war – a war that would drown large portions of the globe in blood. NATO has encircled Russia to an extent not seen since the hey-day of the original Cold War. RAC and their leading left parties highlight the backward immigration positions of the Trump Administration, but they are seemingly unaware of being used in the process to ramp up extreme Russophobia – today’s anti-communism. Moreover, they may well find themselves in a bind if they continue with the “Fight Trump” angst, while at the same time continuing their vitriol against China, Iran and the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic). Trump has threatened each of these countries, with either sanctions and/or invasion and war. As we have previously stated, a refugee rights movement which does not oppose imperialist war cannot be a refugee rights movement.

Who should lead the refugee rights movement?

This year marks 100 years since the triumph of the October Revolution in Russia, which led to the world’s first workers state, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). During that history making struggle, it was the Menshevik opponents of the successful Bolshevik party which always fought for an approach where the liberal bourgeoisie would lead the struggle for socialism, and it was the task of the workers parties to follow them. Granted, there is currently no revolutionary struggle amongst workers in Australia. However, we see an echo of the Mensheviks mistaken tactics reflected in political struggles here today, including within the refugee rights movement. The RAC groups, led by some left parties, argue for and enforce liberal political leadership. Consciously or unconsciously, they consistently seek to put the Labor Party, the Greens, NGOs, lawyers, do-nothing Union officials and others at the forefront. They have also shamelessly promoted spokespersons for the Syrian “opposition” , i.e. barbarous mercenaries linked to Al Qaeda, as “refugee activists” !! They want the “stars” to feature, as if prominent personalities and/or celebrities are more important than “ordinary” workers.

What this practice does is steer the politics of the refugee rights movement into a politically conservative dead end. Organisations such as GetUp!, and lobbyist NGOs may oppose the mistreatment of refugees in words, but they have no intention, and will actively seek to block, the one political strategy which can free the refugees – independent working class action. In fact, organisations such as GetUp! already see themselves as the police of the refugee rights movements, and often bully anyone who challenges their political strategy of endless appeals to the parliamentary circus. In fact, it is suspected that GetUp! has political, organisational and financial links to the ALP.

In recent years, the RAC groups have taken over Palm Sunday, which was formerly an anti-war peace rally. In doing so, the RAC groups and their leading left parties allow various church congregations and church Ministers to lead the Palm Sunday refugee rights rallies. In Brisbane, the march is even planned to end at St John’s Cathedral ! SAlt, SAll and Sol should know that over 150 years ago, Marxism began as a criticism of religion. It then moved to a political strategy for the emancipation of the working class. Left parties today, should not be leading us back into the churches. The Workers League warns of the dangers of allowing the churches to lead political struggles over any issue, including that for refugee rights. For one thing, liberal operatives of the ruling class – reactionary Union officials amongst them – know very well, and are very skilled, at using “respect” for religion, and the churches themselves, for politically crippling social movements, and thereby bolstering and fortifying the rule of capital over labour. Witness how they have promoted the Christian based Love Makes A Way organisation.

If it is not against the “morality” of the Australian ruling class to torture refugees on remote Pacific islands, they will not be swayed by pleas from churches to review the morality of their actions. Socialists are not opposed to church members and leaders taking part in important political struggles. At the same time, left parties should seek to ensure that it is the working class which leads these struggles, not liberal NGOs, self-serving Union officials or religious organisations, no matter how well-intentioned. The refugee rights movement, led by some left parties, has endlessly appealed to everyone, regardless of class, regardless of business ownership, regardless of political connections, to all “come together” and lobby the very same politicians who enable refugee abuse. This strategy has been implemented now for nearly 20 years and it is not working. It won’t work because it can’t work.

Freeing the refugees, and improving the lot of working people, is linked. It is only the independent intervention of the working class which has the possibility of extracting concessions from those in power – whether it is retaining penalty rates for workers, for example, or ending barbarous treatment of asylum seekers – the overwhelming majority of whom are working people seeking a better life. To do this requires a political break from those forces who in turn refuse to break from the operatives of the liberal intelligentsia. In order to challenge the class collaboration of most “left” parties and the majority of the Union officials, a workers’ party based on class struggle will need to be forged. Such a party would at all times fight for a workers government, in the process of aiding struggles to release refugees, restore basic Union rights, for jobs, education, healthcare and a livable society.

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO BOX 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.asyluminsight.com/statistics/#.WOH5JKIlGUk (03-04-17)

[2] http://orientalreview.org/2015/06/09/american-plan-for-a-south-asian-kosovo-in-rohingyaland-i/ (04-04-17)

[3] http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/obamas-deportation-policy-numbers/story?id=41715661 (04-04-17)

[4] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hard-truths-about-obamas-deportation-priorities_us_58b3c9e7e4b0658fc20f979e (04-04-17)