USA/AUST: Hands Off Venezuela!

Demonstration outside the White House against the US backed coup in Venezuela. Image from http://www.globalresearch.ca

USA/AUST: HANDS OFF VENEZUELA!
Workers to Power in Latin America
Statement of the Workers League

30-01-2019 – The Workers League condemns US and Australian imperialism for their open attempt at regime change in Venezuela, with their recognition of Juan Guaido’s self-declaration as President. Fresh from three years of accusing the Russian government – without a shred of evidence – of “meddling” in the US Presidential election of 2016, now both conservative and liberal wings of the US and Australian ruling classes brazenly attempt to subvert the 2018 election of President Nicolas Maduro, and install their own puppet, potentially (yet again) threatening the world with catastrophic war.

Most Venezuelans had reportedly never heard of Juan Guaido before he was elected the head of Venezuela’s national assembly. Now the whole world has, which looks on incredulously. Seemingly not even being aware of trying to appear to be rational, Washington and Canberra have been joined by the ruling cabals in London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid, who have repeated in unison that the Venezuelan government has “eight days” to call new elections – during which they will recognise Juan Guaido as interim leader of the country. To say this is an imperialist obliteration of national sovereignty would be stating the obvious. Not even the most outlandish spy novelist could write such fiction, yet this is reality.

The wounded beast of imperialism lashes out

Venezuela is the new target for regime change for Washington, after US imperialism arguably suffered its first defeat since the liberation of Vietnam in 1975 with its atrocious proxy war of regime change against the Syrian Arab Republic. The US was backed in this unspeakably barbaric war which hired the mercenaries of ISIS through the ruling classes of, inter alia, Britain, France, Canada, Australia and their allies in Saudi Arabia and Israel. Opposing this war was the Venezuelan government under both Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, along with the material assistance of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. Unable to publicly admit being behind ISIS, Washington has, for the moment, realised political and military defeat in Syria – even though they still operate US troops illegally on the ground. Smarting from being blocked primarily by Russia, the US masters of war now pick what they see as an easier target – Venezuela.

The same imperialist forces – utilising the nefarious NATO – also conducted regime change against Libya in 2011. Again the Venezuelan government under Chavez voiced strong opposition. However, on that occasion Russia abstained, and Libya – a nation with the then highest standard of living in Africa – was destroyed. Since that time, no state or government has been able to be restored, and black slavery – a practice ended by the republic led by Colonel Gaddafi – has returned. Many of the same Western funded cutthroats were then transported to Syria to repeat the dose.

The end of  “Socialism of the 21st Century”

Washington sees Venezuela now as an easier target due to the fact that the right-wing now has almost the same amount of support as does the “Bolivarian Revolution” – the process begun by President Hugo Chavez in 1998 and continued by Nicolas Maduro since 2013. How has this situation come about? Workers must be told the truth. For all of its gains for working people and the poor, the Bolivarian process was not socialist, even despite the self-described intentions of its protagonists. The Bolivarian “revolution” was actually an attempt to reform capitalism, primarily using the mechanism of cross-class elections. Time and time again, throughout history, the working class has learnt the lesson that capitalism cannot be voted out of power – it must be overthrown. Yet the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) had no intention of studying, let alone abiding by, these crucial lessons previously learnt by workers the world over. The theory of “Socialism of the 21st Century” – where supposedly workers no longer need to construct their own state, but only be elected into power – is now dead in the water. If US imperialism has its way, Venezuela will not only have its false “Socialism of the 21st Century” exterminated, it will return to a stage worse than when the Bolivarian “revolution” began.

Despite this, workers in Venezuela and internationally cannot afford to allow the Venezuelan government to be overthrown by Washington. While many huge steps forward need to be taken by workers in Venezuela, a major defeat could re-energise the US Empire, and even embolden it to trigger the wider war which some elements of its ruling class see as the only hope to counter the rise of Red China, and the independence of Russia. This is why workers internationally should demand that China – as the world’s pre-eminent socialist power – step up to the plate and offer a lead by materially blocking US moves to overthrow Venezuela. This is also why workers internationally should welcome the mooted moves by Russia and Iran to militarily intervene to defend Venezuela from black reaction.

Forward to real socialism

The immediate task, therefore, is not only to defend the sovereignty of Venezuela, as necessary as that is. It is also urgent to lead workers to power in Venezuela, and throughout Latin America. For US imperialism cannot in the least be halted by capitalist republics, no matter how “democratic”. Classes must be arrayed against one another, rather than fruitless attempts to unite the “people”. While workers must not obstruct the Venezuelan military forces where they take measures to ward off the US Empire, at the same time there must be left-wing political opposition built to the PSUV – a party which is conservative, bureaucratic and corrupt even according to its own supporters. Committees for workers’ power in every workplace, school and university need to be established wherever possible. The most class conscious of these elements should forge the Marxist vanguard party needed to win the best elements away from Chavismo and for a real revolution. US/AUST: HANDS OFF VENEZUELA!

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

 

Invasion Day 2019: Which Way to Justice?

Invasion Day 2019: Which Way to Justice?

26-01-2019 – As we move deeper into the 21st century, the general condition of the Aboriginal people, the original inhabitants and custodians of the continent which was later named Australia, remains precarious. A terrible reminder was the news that there were five Aboriginal youth suicides in the first weeks of the New Year, and a sixth was being treated in hospital after another attempt. Three were in Western Australia, in Perth, Port Hedland and Warmun, and one each from Adelaide and Townsville. Aboriginal children attempt suicide at five times the rate of non-indigenous children, and crushing poverty remains the largest driver of such tragic outcomes.[1] Homelessness, lack of healthcare, education and basic infrastructure for remote indigenous communities remains a critical problem, which no Australian government has even bothered to seriously address. Where Aboriginal people live in large urban areas, the systematic discrimination they face in housing, education and employment is a constant reminder of an oppression not faced by non-indigenous people and migrants who have made Australia their home.

In recent years, there has been a push to change the date of the marking of January 26 as Australia’s national day, due to the offensive nature of celebrating the founding of the nation on the very day which, in 1788, marked the beginning of a war by British colonialists against the Aboriginal people.  The movement to “Change the Date” had gained significant support amongst Australian people, with one poll showing that a slight majority – 56% would favour changing the date of Australia Day – provided there was a day which could be marked as Australia’s national day. The same poll had an overwhelming 84% of respondents stating it was important that Australia did have some day of commemoration and celebration.[2] As if to deliberately wind back this sentiment, Liberal Party Prime Minister Scott Morrison has weighed in on the side of reaction, with an edict that local councils must hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26. In addition, he has attempted to ban the wearing of thongs and board shorts at such ceremonies.[3] Apart from the clothing, this move is yet another express insult to indigenous people, and an attempt to derail the generally progressive steps behind the “Change the Date” movement. Labor Party Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has unsurprisingly joined with the Liberal Party in stating that January 26 will remain Australia Day with Labor on the government benches in Canberra.[4]

Abolish Australia Day?

Last year, the indigenous group Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR), put forward the demand “Abolish Australia Day”, counterposed to the demand “Change the Date”. WAR plays a tremendous organisational role, facilitating and enabling rallies and other events which drive the movement for Indigenous rights forward. However, we would argue that the tactics of WAR on this issue are mistaken, could lead to the groundswell of support behind “Change the Date” being nobbled, and risks alienating and turning away large numbers of people who would otherwise enthusiastically march side by side with Indigenous people. Without such mass support, the struggle for indigenous rights could become more difficult, and battles which could have been won may need to be fought again.

In one sense WAR are correct to imply that changing the date of Australia’s national day will not change the adverse material circumstances facing indigenous people. In one sense it will allow Australian nationalism to take place on another day of the year. But a mass movement which successfully changed the date of Australia’s national day would also be likely to enable a strengthening of the movement for justice for Aboriginal people, which would thereby engender more momentum behind the more far-reaching demands that are also necessary – such as a Treaty and genuine land rights. For example, a move by the Aboriginal rights movement now to abolish the result of the 1967 referendum would scarcely garner any support – and it is unlikely that any would argue that doing so would advance the Aboriginal justice movement today. In 1967, a referendum was passed which proposed to include Aboriginal people in the census, and to allow the federal government to make laws for Aboriginal people.[5] The passing of this referendum was imperfect, and not overly radical, in that it did not enact full equality between Aboriginal and non-indigenous people. However, it was a major boost for the further development of the Aboriginal rights movement – Aboriginals were officially recognised as people!  Arguably, it later enabled the movement for Aboriginal land rights to launch on the back of this victory.

Aboriginal nationalism versus white nationalism?

It is understandable that WAR spurn Australian identity, and even Australian citizenship, given the genocidal intent of the actual war which was waged against indigenous people by the colonial setter state, and continues in the form of systemic racism. WAR thus adopt Aboriginal nationalism as their credo, in opposition to Australian nationalism, or even white nationalism. Yet a separatist Aboriginal nationalism necessarily excludes the most important potential ally of the indigenous people – non-indigenous and migrant workers, who, while not experiencing the oppression of Aboriginal people, are nonetheless oppressed by the capitalism upheld by the very same colonial settler state. Non-indigenous and migrant workers have no option but to accept the Australian nationality, because it is imposed upon them. But this does not mean that they will automatically go on to adopt Australian nationalism or white nationalism. The development of working class politics – of which the Aboriginal struggle for justice is a component part – is the key to countering the development of harmful Australian or white nationalism. The degree to which working people of all resident nationalities struggle together with pro-working class indigenous people will condition the degree to which white nationalism can decisively be buried. More to the point, sustained efforts towards the overthrow of the system of production for private profit, and the initiation of socialism through the construction of working class state power, is what will finally defeat poisonous Australian and white nationalism.

Australian capitalism was founded on the dispossession of the Aboriginal people. Of this there is no doubt. WAR would no doubt agree with this fundamental proposition. However, WAR does not then go on to advocate the supersession of capitalism with socialism. WAR talks of combatting white nationalism, and allying with refugees, asylum seekers, homeless people, disabled people, Queers, Transgender people and non-white migrants to do so. But they fall short of seeking to ally themselves with the multiracial working class for the purpose of combatting the oppression of themselves and other oppressed sectors of society. Building progressive political movements – including the Aboriginal rights movement, as needed as they are, will only go so far. What is required for the ending the double oppression of indigenous people and the class oppression of non-indigenous people is the building of a multiracial vanguard workers’ party which leads a successful struggle for a workers’ republic.

In a Facebook post, WAR refer to the recent Nazi rally at St Kilda beach in Melbourne, in which ultra-right wing groups targeted African-Australians for racial harassment. They claim that the “white Nazi rallies are only able to happen because white liberalism paved the way”.[6] In this, WAR is only half correct. Liberalism, both black and white, paves the way for the potential rise of fascism. Nazism and/or fascism can only come about where the left has yet to form a workers’ party of sizeable influence, in response to the ongoing assaults against all of the oppressed by “free market” casino capitalism. If working people see no political alternative being offered to the virtually complete unanimity of the major parties, some workers will turn to the far right. Some will even embrace Nazism out of sheer desperation. Given the significant depression of the Western capitalist economies in Europe, the US and Australia since 2008, the problem of the absence of serious Marxist parties has reached a critical point. The growth of Nazism and the far right is one expression; the emergence of the “Yellow Vest” movement is another.

Prison abolition?

In addition to the “Abolish Australia Day” demand, WAR also put forward other demands working people can support. These include “Stop Black Deaths in Custody”, “Stop Taking Our Kids” and “Aboriginal Sovereignty NOT Constitutional Recognition”. At the same time, they also put forward the demand to “Shut Down Prisons”.[7] The demand for prison abolition is problematic, however. There is no disputing that the prisons are used to oppress indigenous people. One glance at statistics indicating the grossly disproportionate rate of Aboriginal incarceration in Australia will demonstrate this in spades. Over the last 10 years, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people jailed has risen 88%, with indigenous people now thirteen (13) times more likely to end up in prison. Aboriginal women now make up a staggering 34% of all female prisoners, which represents a 148% increase since 1991.[8] These figures are some of the highest in the world.

Workers must be clear, though, that these are the prisons of the capitalist (Australian) state. They are the same prisons which are used to imprison impoverished non-indigenous working people who have gone astray largely due to the difficulties of living in a society of extreme inequality. Yet the catastrophically high indigenous incarceration rates indicate how the capitalist state uses racial oppression to keep working people divided, to prevent them from joining together to rise against their state. Prisons, like the courts, the police, the armed forces, the intelligence agencies and the civil service bureaucracy are the key apparatus of the class rule of capital, wielded against working people. Calling for the abolition (or “shut down”) of prisons is in practice a demand for the capitalist state to abolish itself. Working people know that injustices abound in prisons, but they instinctively sense that in the struggle to overthrow capital’s enslavement of wage earners, some prisons may well be necessary. The state itself can only be “abolished” in a global classless society of super-abundance – the higher stage of socialism. To reach that stage, the working class must first replace the capitalist state with its own workers’ state. Such a state will likely have a need for its own prisons, as well as its own courts, its own armed forces and so on. Yet these key sections of a workers’ state will only be used to hold down the remnants of the old order – those who, for example, imprisoned Aboriginal people wholesale.

Critical support for “Change the Date”

In the face of the reactionary determination of Liberal PM Scott Morrison and Labor Party “Opposition” leader Bill Shorten to enforce January 26 as Australia’s national day, we argue that workers should give critical support for the demand to “Change the Date”. This of course does not preclude raising and fighting for more far reaching demands such as: a Treaty, a program of public works specifically offering employment for Aboriginal people, the fullest possible autonomy for Aboriginal communities who desire it, and the full provision of government services (water, electricity, housing, healthcare etc.) for those who do not. The “Change the Date” demand, ergo, does not even contradict WAR’s demand for “Aboriginal Sovereignty NOT Constitutional Recognition”. We can swing behind “Change the Date” while at the same time recognising that it does not go far enough.

Marxists maintain that nations emerged as a form of human community specific to the rise and consolidation of commodity-capitalist social relations. While there is no doubt that the Australian nation was and is founded on the brutal and horrific crimes of dispossession and war against the indigenous people, it does not follow that Aboriginal (or cultural) nationalism will therefore aid their emancipation. Nations are also an aggregation of irreconcilable classes, and the two major classes which are decisive are labour and capital. It is the rule of capital – private production based on private ownership of the means of production – which is the source of the oppression of both the Aboriginal people AND the working class. Aboriginal people can thus only be liberated alongside workers brought to political power.

This does not mean a simple merging of the Aboriginal struggle into the working class struggle for socialism. It does, however, mean a struggle to form a multiracial Leninist vanguard party, combined of the most class conscious workers, pro-working class Aboriginals and migrants of all backgrounds. Such a party will then champion Aboriginal rights as a component part of the international battle against the capitalist imperialism which threatens humanity itself. The revolutionary integration of the Aboriginal rights struggle with the workers’ cause will illuminate the path to reparative justice.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2019/01/15/indigenous-youth-suicide-crisis-point (20-01-19)

[2] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-18/australia-day-debate-more-than-half-dont-mind-changing-the-date/9337500 (20-01-19)

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jan/13/scott-morrison-forces-councils-to-hold-citizenship-ceremonies-on-australia-day (20-01-19)

[4] https://www.pedestrian.tv/news/bill-shorten-australia-day-january-26/ (20-01-19)

[5] https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australian-1967-referendum (20-01-19)

[6] https://www.facebook.com/events/2199768573624040/?active_tab=discussion (20-01-19)

[7] Ibid, 6.

[8] http://caama.com.au/news/2018/law-council-of-australia (20-01-19)