What’s Wrong with “Safe Access Zones” ?

What’s Wrong with “Safe Access Zones” ?

28-07-2018 – The government passes new legislation which ensures women can enter reproductive health care clinics to access abortion and other services, without harassment by “pro-life” fundamentalists opposed women choosing their life outcomes. Sounds fantastic – or is it?

As with other political issues, the truth is always concrete. While those on the left uphold the right of women to choose whether or not to bear children, the particular political circumstances of the “safe zones” being legislated by the New South Wales (NSW) Australian Labor Party (ALP) government have to be studied closely. Especially as they may be soon followed in Queensland by the current ALP government.

Emma Norton from the left party Socialist Alternative, first raised the problems with “Safe Access Zones” in an article in Red Flag.[1] The author correctly notes that “Safe Access Zones” are areas where any protests are banned within 150 metres of health care clinics where abortion services are provided, and that they have been written into law in Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, and most recently in NSW. While in theory designed to protect women, they conveniently set up yet another restriction on the right to protest – a democratic right which has rapidly been eroded under the impact of the economic decline of capitalism since the “financial” crisis of 2008. Along with the right of workers to strike being effectively outlawed, the left can scarcely afford to flag wave for yet another restriction on the very limited bourgeois democratic rights working people are allowed under “liberal democracy”.

There appears to be debate in Socialist Alternative on this issue, for Daniel Lopez struck back with a comment piece arguing in favour of the “Safe Access Zones” even if they are enforced by the capitalist state. Socialists are not libertarians, he writes, and socialists do not oppose all measures enforced by a state authority.[2] While it is true that socialists do not oppose state authority per se, again the truth is concrete. Firstly, what type of state is exercising authority – a capitalist state or a workers state? Secondly, for what reason is this taking place, and how should workers analyse this? The “Safe Access Zones” are being legislated in a parliament which is one of the strongest ideological apparatus in the hands of the capitalist ruling class. What is more, “Safe Access Zones” have to be enforced by the most viciously anti-working class arms of the capitalist state – the cops. On all other issues, socialists warn workers to be wary of the police, who are ultimately paid to protect the private property of the wealthy elite classes. If now, on the issue of “Safe Access Zones” the left advises workers to trust the police “just this once” – the political line breaks down.

Despite our sharp political disagreements with Socialist Alternative on other issues, we view Emma Norton’s line as being on point. She correctly highlights the fact that the ALP including “Safe Access Zones” in its legislative efforts are a cover for that party of government’s failure to ensure free, safe abortion on demand as a part of the health care system. The Queensland ALP’s proposed legislation could be described as partial decriminalisation, as it is only allowable up to 22 weeks of gestation. What is more, Labor Party Members of Parliament (MPs) are being given a conscience vote on the issue.[3] This cop-out allows more conservative Labor Party MPs to oppose the bill, lessening its chances of being passed. The three Katter’s Australia Party (KAP) MPs have stated their opposition, and intention to oppose Liberal and Labor Party MPs to vote against as well.

On occasion, Socialist Alternative grasp the class nature of the capitalist state. The Socialist Alliance, on the other hand, we would argue, consistently struggle to understand this area of Marxist theory. Kamala Emanuel, in response to Emma Norton’s original Red Flag article, follows with a Green Left Weekly article which appears blind as to just who will enforce the no protest “Safe Access Zones”. She writes:

“Neoliberal governments have been attacking workers and our rights to organise, and we need to defend ourselves from those attacks.

But Norton’s argument against safe zones rests on the absurd notion that we cannot demand the state support our rights — in this case to access health care without harrassment. She misses the signifiance of the new law as one more step in the direction of winning abortion access in NSW, and the ripple effects it will have on securing abortion rights in other states.”[4]

“….we cannot demand the state support our rights”, writes Emanuel. But it is not just any state – in this case it is a capitalist state, armed to the teeth with cops – who are routinely used against working class and the poor and downtrodden. The “Safe Access Zone” legislation, where it has been used, means no protest, by the left or the right. But the capitalist state is not neutral – this is also in the ABCs of Marxism. For every one step taken against the right, the capitalist state will take ten steps against the left. For the left to endorse swinging cop batons “for now” or “only on this issue”, won’t cut it.

If, as Green Left Weekly hopes, this will be used as “one more step in the direction of winning abortion access”, it will also increase political demands by the right for more no protest zones – even if under the name of “Safe Access”. If the left rallies behind effective no protest zones, under the guise of the protection of women entering reproductive health care clinics, the right will have much more political capital to demand the left allow another no protest zone on other issues, and at other locations. Pretty soon, no protest zones could be in place up and down the length and breadth of the country. In fact, it could lead to no protest zones being declared across entire regions. Needless to say, this would throw back the class struggle of the workers into decades past.

The Labor Party are not saviours for the workers – their history over the last 30 years at least should attest to that. They are smart enough to dangle a small reform in front of pro-choice campaigners, to throw dust in the eyes of some, and feed whole swathes of liberals and reformists, shepherding them back into their orbit. The plot has worked. With some pro-choice campaigners now effectively campaigning for the ALP, and even directly with and for Labor Party Members of Parliament, the Labor Party is once again “rehabilitated”. Into the bargain, the Labor Party has strengthened the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state – with the approval of the “left” !!  This repressive apparatus will now be freshly oiled and operational in a time where working people will need to resist stupendous economic inequality being generated, not to speak of the threat of imperialist war.

What is more, if the left and pro-choice activists endorse “Safe Access Zones”, it means politically aligning with key parts of the capitalist state – the ALP, the Parliament and, the police. Whenever the left finds itself in this company, alarm bells should start ringing. Wherever the working class, due to a lack of political leadership, demands “safety” and “security” from the capitalist state, it hands itself over bound hand and foot to the very forces it should be confronting with its own collective strength.

Instead of demanding the armed fist of the capitalist state “protect” women, the workers should be demanding that Union officials mobilise workers to guard health care clinics, to drive anti-choice bigots away. This way, workers soon learn to rely on their class power. Relying on the armed state of the class which keeps them in subjection, not only fails to protect working class women. It politically disarms workers, driving them back once again into the arms of the government which enslaves all wage earners. Yet here we run up, once again, against the conservative Union officials, who have a material interest in restricting and curtailing the political activity of their own members, and workers in general.

The fact that abortion currently remains on the criminal code at all, is a stark reminder of the status of women due to class society. Women’s oppression under capitalism is maintained by the three pillars – the family, private property and the state. Women’s liberation therefore, can only come about through a successful workers’ struggle for its emancipation – via socialist revolution. A prerequisite for women’s liberation – and workers’ emancipation – is the forging of a Leninist vanguard party. A workers’ party which fights for a workers government must be constructed using the most advanced political elements – women and men – of our class. The unfettered right of women to free, safe abortion services will be one of the first acts of the workers in power.

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

 

[1] https://redflag.org.au/node/6374 (28-07-2018)

[2] https://redflag.org.au/node/6390 (28-07-2018)

[3] https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/queensland/queensland-mps-to-be-lobbied-for-their-vote-on-abortion-laws-20180716-p4zrts.html (28-07-2018)

[4] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/abortion-access-and-free-speech (28-07-2018)

Backing “Safe Access Zones” means politically backing the parliament – one of the main institutions used against the interests of workers and women. Image from http://www.centralnews.com.au

 

Shut Down the Manus Island and Nauru Hell Holes – Once and For All!

Shut Down the Manus Island and Nauru Hell Holes – Once and For All!

20-07-2018 – Five years ago yesterday, former Australian Labor Party (ALP) Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that his government had come to an arrangement with the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG). All refugees and asylum seekers arriving by boat would be transferred to PNG, and would be settled in PNG or another third country, and would never be resettled in Australia ever again. This act of base inhumanity would also be arranged with Nauru.[1] The announcement was a shock for those who briefly thought that some progress was being made against the barbarous treatment of refugees over the previous 15 years. Yet in fact, the previous ALP Prime Minister Julia Gillard had begun the transferring of refugees to Manus Island in PNG, and Nauru, from the end of 2012. At the time the Australian Greens were in a coalition government federally with the ALP. Despite their strong words against offshore processing, the Greens nonetheless remained in the government which carried it out.

The Liberal Party governments of Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull have continued the barbarity, with the “Minister for Everything” Peter Dutton now displaying a cold ruthlessness which would make Howard era detention minister Philip Ruddock blush. Time and time again, bodies of the United Nations (UN) have condemned the Australian government for its illegal detention of refugees and asylum seekers – desperate people fleeing war and economic privation in countries ravaged by the imperialist powers themselves. Just last week, the UN working group on arbitrary detention condemned the Australian government for the practice of indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers. This working group is part of the UN Human Rights Council, which in bitter irony, Australia now sits.[2] Some refugees have been detained – without charge – since 2009. Words cannot describe the injustice perpetrated by Australia’s “leaders”, and neither can words describe the depth of the torment inflicted on innocents.

“Unionists” oppose refugee rights

Over 20 years, the refugee rights movement in this country has attempted, largely in vain, to gain Union backing over a critical social justice issue. If Union officials do not lead Unions in strong combat against racism, in whatever form, their ability to defend workers’ rights on any issue is seriously undermined. Yet time and time again, Union officials who may in some ways defend workers’ rights, also come down on the side of capital – whether politically led by the “Labor” or “Liberal” faction of the united party of the ruling class. To the dismay of refugee rights activists, at the Victorian state Australian Labor Party (ALP) conference in May earlier this year, a motion to discuss the closure of off-shore detention centres did not make it onto the agenda. Officials of the Construction Forestry Mining Maritime Energy Union (CFMMEU) joined with officials of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) to form a bloc which closed the conference early. This meant that not only a motion to close off-shore detention centres could not be discussed, but also urgency motions on gender inequality in superannuation, the right to strike, raising the rate of Newstart (unemployment benefits), live exports and the recognition of Palestine.[3] As important as the accompanying issues are, it appears the CFMMEU and AWU officials sought to squash any possibility of half-way humane refugee policy being put to ALP members.

Yet again this incident highlights the futility of workers attempting to achieve any progress through the ALP. In addition, it reveals once more the road block of the Labor Party in the struggle for basic social justice, let alone basic workers’ rights, e.g. the right to strike. ALP leader Bill Shorten has been at pains to emphasise that the Liberal Party government’s current refugee policy –  indefinite detention, off-shore hell holes – will continue if the ALP wins the next federal election. The Greens have been vocal in opposing off-shore detention, but they are not prepared to lead a struggle outside parliament for this, and neither are they willing to help organise workers in their Unions to this end. Their focus on parliament renders them a captive to the Labor and Liberal parties they otherwise rightly criticise.

Pro-refugee or anti-Trump?

In the United States of America (US), there were widespread protests against US President Trump’s practice of separating migrant families of those at the US/Mexico border, and detaining them in wire cages. The national and international outcry soon forced Trump to back down, and sign an executive order that families would now be detained, albeit together.[4] Yet the politics of the much needed actions, from all reports, were more about channeling electoral support back into the Democratic party of former President Obama and the outright war-monger Hilary Clinton. Many liberals leapt into action against Trump for deporting migrants, whereas for years they had not uttered a peep when Obama deported migrants. President Obama was the “deporter-in-Chief”, and there is no questioning his record. How many migrants were ejected from the US under Obama? Try 3.1 million.[5] Two years into his term, Trump pales in comparison.

Of course, Trump could be on track for something similar. Yet the silence of much of the left over Obama’s crimes against migrants mirrors the silence of much of the left over the imperialist wars waged by Obama – with the assistance of Hilary Clinton. Clinton and Obama did not just separate families – they bombed them to death, and otherwise organised the slaughter of them in the most vicious manner possible. In fact, the Obama administration ordered ten times the amount of drone strikes than his Republican predecessor George W Bush.[6] Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan were drone bombed repeatedly. It is a matter of historical record that the US state under Obama also simultaneously armed and funded terror death squads in Libya and Syria, including ISIS.[7]

There is no doubt Trump fuels racism and energises the far-right by deporting migrants and using them as scapegoats. Yet not only did the Obama administration do the same, it launched and maintained deadly imperialist wars in the Middle East and North Africa – causing huge numbers of refugees to flee to Europe, in whichever way they could. Some of them make their way south, and end up seeking refuge in Australia. Yet much of the refugee rights movement in Australia, led by the Refugee Action Coalition or Refugee Action Collective, has in practice mobilized refugee rights supporters behind the imperialist wars waged by Obama and Clinton. This has critically undermined the refugee rights movements’ ability to actually free the refugees. One would have to break with the criminal foreign policy of Australian and US imperialism, in order to have a chance at forcing a political break with the Australian ruling class policy of psychological and physical torture through the plainly illegal detention of refugees.

Rohingyas used to derail the New Silk Road

In recent times, the respective Refugee Action Collectives/Coalitions have been willing captives of the plaintive cries to “Save the Rohingya”. Imperialism is very well versed at manipulating the first world saviour complex, and the plight of the Rohingya is yet another. What appears to be a straight forward case of a third world military junta persecuting a minority is anything but. Washington could very well be planning a “south-east Asian Kosovo”,[8] whereby an international outcry of claimed persecution is used to declare a US backed “independence”. The “independence” is then totally dependent on Washington, or London, which has its claws in its former colony.

Short of an actual military intervention by the US and UK, their aims might also be saved by the creation of violent chaos in Myanmar – which would disrupt a section of the vast infrastructure development project launched by Beijing, the New Silk Road (One Belt, One Road). In the early stages of last year, the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline began operation, which runs from China’s south-western province of Yunnan to the Rakhine state in Myanmar. China’s National Petroleum Corp holds a 50.9% stake, with 49.1% being owned by the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise.[9] Washington is furious with the increased cooperation and trade between Myanmar and Red China, especially considering the millions of dollars it spent funding the National League for Democracy of Aung Sung Suu Kyi, which installed her in a power sharing arrangement with the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military).

Anything which can be done to break Myanmar-China ties is thus carried out by Washington, London, and their international army of NGOs, the “human rights” industrial complex, and, waylaid refugee rights activists. When the so-called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched armed attacks on Myanmar military and police installations, the Tatmadaw responded – as any national security force would do. Western backed NGOs and some refugee rights campaigners threw up their hands and shrieked in horror, at the alleged actions of the Myanmar military. ARSA claims it must take action to protect the Rohingya community, but ARSA does not represent Rohingyas per se. ARSA is the rebranded name of Harakat Al-Yaqin, which reportedly has a leadership council based in Saudi Arabia, and is funded by Saudi and Pakistani business linked to the Rohingya diaspora.[10] Even the compromised Amnesty International admits that ARSA has carried out massacres of Hindus in the region.[11] Despite ARSA claiming it has no links with Al Qaeda or ISIS, its origins are certainly similar.[12]

For an anti-imperialist refugee rights movement

Some of the Australian government’s actions rival the barbarism of Al Qaeda like execution squads. Take the example of the town of Biloela, which Tamil refugees Priya and Nades had made their home for the last four years.[13] The couple, fleeing the Sri Lankan government’s war against the Tamil minority, have had two daughters born in the central Queensland town. They are now in a Melbourne detention centre, with the father Nades likely to be deported to Sri Lanka, and hit with a $30 000 fee for “removal” – which he has to pay in order to re-enter Australia to see his family again. To forcibly traumatise a family with two daughters under the age of 3, who are seeking a safe place to live, condemns the government carrying out such depravity.

The top leadership of Australia’s Unions also share the responsibility for the ongoing international condemnation of the federal government’s abuse of refugees and asylum seekers. These highly paid Union officials have the power to mobilise workers behind the movement for humane refugee practices, but instead they value their careers and dollars in their own pocket. The foreign policy they imbue in their members unfortunately mirrors that of the left parties prominent in the Refugee Action Collectives/Coalitions who otherwise play a good organisational role in mobilising opposition to refugee and asylum seeker persecution. Namely, the two wings basically agree with the Australian ruling class that China, Russia and Iran are “our” enemies, and we have to band together against them.

Little could be more harmful to both the attempted prevention of imperialist war AND the refugee rights movement. Supposedly “liberal” allies, e.g. conservative Union officials, the Labor Party, the Greens, NGOs, etc., who all say they support refugees, are at the same time at one with the Liberal Party when it comes to imperialist war. This is why steering the refugee rights movement in their political direction, even inadvertently, cannot free the refugees. What is needed is a sharp political break with the essentially pro-war Union officials and parliamentary parties. “Unity” with such elements in practice means splitting the working class, incapacitating the refugee rights movement, and nobbling elementary working class defence. Key to building an anti-imperialist refugee rights movement is the forging of a Marxist vanguard party, which can champion refugee rights as a component part of the struggle for a workers’ republic.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/getfacts/seekingsafety/asylum/offshore-processing/briefing/ (09-07-2018)

[2] https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/un-body-condemns-australia-for-illegal-detention-of-asylum-seekers-and-refugees/ar-AAzJ0Vc?li=AAgfIYZ&OCID=ansmsnnews11 (09-07-2018)

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/may/28/bill-shorten-defends-shutdown-of-refugee-debate-at-victorian-labor-conference (14-07-2018)

[4] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-migrant-family-separation-border-executive-order-immigration-signs-a8408891.html (14-07-2018)

[5] https://www.businessinsider.com.au/whats-the-difference-between-trump-obama-immigration-orders-2017-2?r=US&IR=T (14-07-2018)

[6] https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2017-01-17/obamas-covert-drone-war-in-numbers-ten-times-more-strikes-than-bush (14-07-2018)

[7] https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/isis-was-state-sponsored-by-us-allies-says-former-government-intelligence-analyst-exclusive-51a9e999c437 (14-07-2018)

[8] https://orientalreview.org/2015/06/09/american-plan-for-a-south-asian-kosovo-in-rohingyaland-i/ (15-07-2018)

[9] http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-04/12/content_28886175.htm (15-07-2018)

[10] http://www.atimes.com/article/foreign-support-gives-rohingya-militants-lethal-edge/ (15-07-2018)

[11] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/05/myanmar-new-evidence-reveals-rohingya-armed-group-massacred-scores-in-rakhine-state/ (15-07-2018)

[12] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/arsa-linked-foreign-extremist-groups-bertil-lintner.html (15-07-2018)

[13] https://www.gladstoneobserver.com.au/news/biloela-asylum-seeker-mum-tears-ahead-life-changin/3404591/ (17-07-2018)

Image from Australian Refugee Action Network

 

Repeal the “Espionage” and “Interference” Act! No War On China!

Repeal the “Espionage” and “Interference” Act! No War On China!

07-07-2018 – Chilling. There are few other words for it. The passage through federal parliament of the “National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2018” re-sets the framework, yet again, of the shredding of elementary democratic rights by the Australian government. Under the false guise of combatting “foreign interference”, the federal government is close to outlawing political opinion, political activity and journalism. The key targets are anyone who is suspected of calling attention to the danger of imperialist war, let alone opposing it. Canberra, in concert with Washington, is preparing for what could be a world war involving nuclear weapons. It is imperative that working people prepare to organise now in an attempt to avoid a global catastrophe.

Working people have been subjected to a bombardment of hysterical anti-China venom from politicians and the subservient corporate media for years. It is reaching fever pitch because the US and Australian ruling classes know their for-profit economies are in dire straits, and are being rapidly out-performed, many times over, by China’s powerhouse economic mountain. The further behind the US, Australia and Japan fall, the more shrill do the cries from these governments sound. While the US, Australia and Japan are mired in a privatised, private-profit seeking dead end, the largely nationalized and planned economy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) strides ahead in leaps and bounds. On almost every indicator, be it GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth, infrastructure development, technological advances, the development of science, you name it – the PRC is way ahead of the capitalist West.

Dire threat to journalism and political expression

The Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill[1], passed within three days by the Labor and Liberal parties in federal parliament, seriously threatens the very act of journalism. The bill potentially means jail terms of up to 20 years for a journalist reporting a story in the public interest. Even before researching and writing a story, the very act of “receiving” information which could “harm” Australia, could be deemed a criminal act. Actually reporting and letting the public know about a potential breach of international law by the Australian government, could result in 25 years, or life, in prison. The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the Union covering journalists, have warned that journalists could be jailed for doing their job.[2] The MEAA officials, it should be noted, have not lifted a finger to defend Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, who is still detained in London, fearing deportation to the United States. Assange is defending the civil and political rights of all, including the MEAA. But now the “foreign interference” laws could snare even the journalists that the MEAA officials seek to represent, and potentially their entire membership. They must now join with those willing to defend what remains of our rights.

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) linked GetUp!, who have also abandoned Julian Assange, are nonetheless also crying foul, correctly pointing out that legitimate political protest could be targeted under the Espionage/Interference laws. The section of the Bill which refers to “damage to public infrastructure” could mean that those intentionally blocking access to the Adani Coal Mine, in an attempt to prevent incalculable damage to the environment through carbon emissions, may be imprisoned for decades.[3] The Bill also contains a 7 year jail term for planning such a protest action. In addition, the Bill contains Orwellian redefinitions of “treason”, “treachery”, “mutiny” and “sabotage”, while creating new ones such as “foreign interference”. Any group or individual that, for example, organises a rally to “influence” government positions, without revealing supposed coordination with a foreign organisation, could be jailed for 20 years.[4] It is doubtful whether Nazi Germany would have conceived such arbitrary power.

Just who is “interfering” ?

The Espionage and Interference Bill was not given wide mainstream media coverage within Australia. But working people are constantly bombarded with anti-China hysteria, from all sides of the corporate media, from some academics, and politicians themselves. They falsely claim that “China” is attempting to “interfere” with Australia’s political system, and its “national sovereignty”. This is simply breathtaking hypocrisy from Labor and Liberal politicians, with both political parties receiving large and regular donations from Chinese owned businesses.[5] One Chinese businessman, Dr Chau Chak Wing, has hosted former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard, former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and former Labor Treasurer Wayne Swan at his luxurious estate north of Guangzhou in China.[6] If China is “interfering”, they are doing so with the express co-operation of Labor and Liberal politicians!

However, there are huge dangers in the reporting of exactly what is “Chinese interference”. For one thing, to directly link Chinese owned businesses, whether based in Australia or China, to the Chinese government, is stretching the bounds of reality. To do so also invokes both racism and anti-communism. It also stands reality on its head. The Australian military is being consistently urged by Washington to provoke China by sailing warships and jet fighters within 12 nautical miles of islands under Chinese sovereignty – so called “Freedom of Navigation” exercises. And the Australian government is obliging, absurdly claiming even the right to overflight. It is estimated that US 5 $trillion in trade sails through the South China Sea annually.[7] The aim of the US and its allies including Canberra, is to choke off this trade route to China in the event of war, starving China of provisions. It has nothing to do with “freedom” of anything. There were no “disputed” islands in the South China Sea, until the US sent its warships in there, and exerted significant pressure on the governments of Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan to claim islands from China. The government of Vietnam should be ashamed at siding with the US, which waged a genocidal war against it, to score points against China in the South China Sea. The “interference” in this case, is carried out by Washington and Canberra, not by Beijing.

Socialism vs Capitalism

For decades, working people have been told the lie that socialism equals poverty, and capitalism equals prosperity. Now that China is definitively putting that canard to rest, and in fact demonstrating that socialism can mean economic, developmental, scientific and cultural advancement, imperialism is close to panic. To prevent capitalism falling further behind, imperialism is willing to risk nuclear war with China – such is its level of desperation. It is yet another sure sign that capitalism is historically outmoded, and needs to be cast aside by working people in favour of socialism.

Yet the imperialists will try the full gamut of deceptive tactics to prevent working people from seeing what is before their eyes – China’s socialism is vastly superior to the collapsing stock market casino capitalism in the US, Europe, Japan and Australia. Imperialism’s vast propaganda machines, for which they are prepared to fund to the tune of billions of dollars, works overtime on China – but in two directions. One the one hand, the corporate media claim that China is a “communist dictatorship” where workers have no rights, and constantly suffer under extreme repression. On the other hand, the corporate media claim that China’s massive economic success, the lifting of hundreds of millions out of poverty, is due to the PRC having restored “capitalism”. According to them, workers have no rights in China, but their wealth is increasing year by year.

Unfortunately, some on the left accept this false precept. In the face of a New Cold War, which is arguably closer to nuclear conflict than at any time during the first Cold War, any faltering by the left on the question of China undermines the very struggles which may soon be upon us. No one is claiming that China today is a classless society with no state and no government – the final aim of socialism. China is only socialist to the extent that it has a predominantly collectivised economy, where the major means of production are state owned, and these are guarded by a workers’ state. To give just one example, the 102 largest State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in China are supervised by the State Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC).These SOEs are valued at around 50 trillion yuan. This is wealth NOT in the hands of private capitalists, but in the hands of the workers’ state. What is more, out of the 40 million employees of the SOEs, around 10 million are members of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), who take part in around 800 000 party committees. In addition, on SOE boards, the chair is invariably the highest ranked party member.[8] To say the least, this is hardly “capitalism” !

What may be understandable confusion about the mode of production existing in China is contributed to by the political leadership of the CPC. The CPC never makes any announcement addressing the workers of the world, heralding China’s socialist system, and urging workers internationally to join them in a struggle to rid the world of capitalism. This has to do with the ultimately national limitations of Maoism, despite the largely positive role it has played within China. A genuinely international socialist leadership, would seek ways to reach out and connect with workers across Asia and internationally. It would seek to work with neighbouring socialist states extensively, up to and including regional economic planning. But the CPC as it is currently constituted does not have this perspective. And for that matter, neither does the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), nor the Workers Party of Korea (WPK).

Halt the war drive through workers’ power

Despite the political limitations of its leadership, working people need to defend China against the gathering war drive spearheaded by Washington and Canberra. Given such semi-fascist measures as the Espionage and Interference Bill, this could be a risky path. But working people will lose a lot more by allowing such unbridled totalitarianism to go unchallenged. If the imperialists launch the war, there will scarcely be opportunities to launch a “peace” movement, calling for calm and rational negotiations between the US Empire and its targets. Working people will need to take measures into their own hands, even just to prevent people being rounded up as “collaborators”, working for the “enemy” and so on. It should be noted that the Espionage and Interference Bill does not just target Red China, although that appears to be the main perverse rationale. Incredibly, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in his introductory speech to the bill, claimed that it was not only China which was engaged in “interference” activities, but also Russia, Iran and North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – DPRK) !![9].

Working people need a struggle to repeal the Espionage and Interference Bill, and take immediate action the moment that any journalist or activist is jailed – up to and including general political strikes. Only significant mass working class pressure will have the possibility of forcing the release of those jailed, before or during the outbreak of war. A significant barrier to the type of action required are the invariably conservative and pro-capitalist Union officials, who can only maintain their well-paid careers by seeking to line up workers behind “their own” government. But any government which openly threatens to jail workers for life for questioning their actions at home, let alone opposing their predatory wars, is clearly not “our” government. It is an arm of the banks and the stock exchange, tied through a thousand threads to Wall Street and the Pentagon.

Well-heeled Union officials also seek to line workers up behind the foreign policy of Canberra and Washington, hence their complete silence in the face of prospective nuclear war against Russia, Iran, China and the DPRK. Riding on their coat tails, consciously or unconsciously, are a whole host of left parties and other groups who found themselves on the side of the governments waging the imperialist wars on Libya and Syria. The state of the working class is a question of the leadership of the working class. What is urgently needed is a genuine Leninist vanguard party, which can lead the struggle against vast inequality at home, and the linked threat of a global war launched against the non-imperialist states. The approach of dangerous times means an opportunity for workers to take the reins of power.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66   NUNDAH  QLD   4012

[1] https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_LEGislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r6022 (06-07-2018)

[2] https://pressfreedom.org.au/espionage-and-foreign-influence-bills-5943e87e8228 (06-07-2018)

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jun/26/espionage-bill-could-make-some-protests-criminal-acts-getup-says (06-07-2018)

[4] http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/06/29/inte-j29.html (06-07-2018)

[5] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-21/china-australia-political-donations/7766654 (06-07-2018)

[6] https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/foreign-minister-julie-bishops-links-to-chinese-political-donors-20160823-gqzauy.html (06-07-2018)

[7] https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/australianz/china-challenged-australian-warships-in-south-china-sea-australian-media (06-07-2018)

[8] https://www.scmp.com/news/china/economy/article/2098755/how-communist-party-controls-chinas-state-owned-industrial-titans (08-07-2018)

[9] https://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/media/speech-introducing-the-national-security-legislation-amendment-espionage-an (08-07-2018)

Protesting the building of the Adani Coal Mine could be a criminal act under the broad sweep of the “foreign interference” laws. Image from http://www.theaimn.com