US vs China: Workers Must Defend Their Side

US vs China: Workers Must Defend Their Side

26-09-2019 – Anti-China hysteria has been set at fever pitch. The attempt to besmirch Liberal Party Member of Parliament Gladys Liu as an agent of the Communist Party of China (CPC) eventually ran out of steam, as the case collapsed for lack of evidence. Gladys Liu’s conservative and pro-capitalist politics can be confirmed not the least by the fact that she has backed the anti-communist Hong Kong riots publicly, saying she admired the “passion and commitment”[1] of the largely US and UK government funded separatists.[2]  Regardless of Ms Liu’s past membership of groups associated with the Chinese government, she also admitted organising an overtly homophobic and transphobic WeChat social media campaign against equal marriage rights for same sex couples, and the “Safe Schools” program during the 2016 election campaign.[3] Yet Ms Liu’s ultra-conservatism, and membership of the Liberal Party, was not enough to shield her from a New Cold War witch-hunt.

Day after day, workers in Australia are beset by a corporate media (especially the government owned ABC) slur against virtually anything to do with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Lurid tales of the PRC allegedly repressing ethnic minorities, overtly monitoring their people with social credit systems and facial recognition cameras and supposed debt-trap lending to Pacific nations, are retailed ad nauseum. All of these stories distort the truth beyond recognition, yet they still appear. Capitalist states must have an adversary, or create one, lest its own workers turn their justifiable grievances against their own rulers. This becomes even more urgent when capitalism enters economic crisis, and even more urgent again when a large country in its region is literally running laps around it.

Socialism in the PRC, capitalism in Australia

China’s rise as an economic power is noted by all classes, but it is causing serious concern for Australia’s ruling elite. They, like their patrons in the USA, are well aware that they must “do something” before being overtaken by the PRC economically, politically, financially and diplomatically. Australia’s capitalist economy is now stumbling along, effectively in recession. Many of the key economic indicators for Australia are at their worst point ever, and Australia is plummeting down the rankings of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) countries. Australia now ranks 18th (out of 36, 36 being the lowest) for total numbers of unemployed, 21st in youth unemployment, 18th in economic growth, 20th in terms of lack of wage growth, 19th in terms of gross national savings, and 28th in terms of unequal wealth distribution (the Gini coefficient).[4] In short, Australia is following the USA, Europe and Japan in a long recession, which shows no sign of ending, and is plainly getting worse.

Compare this bleak outlook to the situation of the PRC. In 2018, despite economic growth “slowing” to its lowest point in 28 years, it still had a growth rate of 6.6% – compared to Australia’s average 1.5%, which is now 1.4%. The PRC’s economic output for last year was 1.4 trillion, which surpassed the total output of Australia for 2017, at 1.32 trillion.[5] Yet it is not just sheer economic data which is damning for the capitalist West. In January this year, the PRC became the first country in history to carry out a soft landing on the dark side of the moon,[6] demonstrating its scientific and technological advances. This is also reflected in the top 500 world supercomputer ratings. PRC based companies in 2019 claimed 219 of the fastest and most powerful supercomputers, compared to the USA’s 119.[7] In terms of high speed rail, the PRC has built and installed more than 25 000 kilometres of dedicated lines since 2008, which represents more than the total operating in the rest of the world.[8] Australia, on the other hand, has no high speed rail, and is unlikely to obtain any in the foreseeable future.

More figures demonstrating the contrast would be easy to find. It should be clear though, that in economic terms the PRC is moving forward, and Australia is moving backwards. This is because socialism in the PRC is the dominant mode of production, whereas in Australia we are stuck with capitalism – for now. The PRC has never had a recession, because the strategic means of production are all state owned or majority state owned, and the government runs five year economic plans. The PRC’s state ownership of the banks is a key factor in fireproofing their economy from the shocks of the recessions of the capitalist world. Economically, the PRC runs a socialist system – despite the inroads of free enterprise allowed by the CPC. There is much to criticise politically from a working class point of view – but mainly in terms of the lack of decision making power. Despite political limitations, the state and the economy of the PRC is still delivering gains for its workers, 70 years after its socialist revolution.

Neutrality?

One might assume that in an atmosphere of New Cold War red-baiting raised to unprecedented levels, a priority for Australian left parties would be to defend the PRC against what is essentially war propaganda from the liberal intelligentsia right up to the highest political offices of Canberra and Washington. Unfortunately, what prevails amongst most of them has recently been a rash of attempted neutrality, or a position of “we are against both sides”.  Yet even accounting for some justifiable left criticisms of the PRC and the CPC, the US vs China is a very real case of capitalism versus socialism. In this battle, working people internationally have a vital stake in the defence of socialism (even in the distorted form of the PRC) against capitalism (largely represented by Anglo-US imperialism). The shortcomings of socialism in the PRC (lack of workers’ decision making power, disallowance of non-CPC yet pro-socialist organisations) can only be addressed while defending the PRC against internal and external overthrow. Paraphrasing Leon Trotsky, those who will not defend past gains will not be able to win new ones. Therefore, workers defence of the PRC is bound up with any further advances for world socialism.

Alas, some Australian left parties not only refuse to defend the PRC, but in practice join with imperialist propaganda against China, albeit with “left” overtones. The newly formed Australian Communist Party (ACP), in a review of the Netflix documentary American Factory, goes overboard with denunciations of alleged “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics”[9]. The China based Fuyao Glass took over a defunct General Motors plant in Ohio, and began employing American workers. This in itself is indicative of the state of US capitalism versus the prosperity of the Chinese economy. The ACP review goes on to denounce the practices of Fuyao management, who allegedly attempt to prevent workers in America from forming a Union, and mistreat them by threatening them with the sack if they do. The American workers struggle to understand why the Chinese workers generally accept what management expects of them, even if they receive poor treatment.

The ACP infer that the actions of one Chinese owned company operating in the United States is symptomatic of what occurs in the PRC, and that it is as bad, or worse, than what occurs in the US. The nature of work in the PRC compared to the US is a huge discussion – but the ACP dismiss this as their superficial analysis of the PRC is that it is “capitalist”, where most industry is allegedly privately owned. This is a long way from reality. Suffice to say that Unions in a workers state which is attempting to build socialism play a very different role to Unions in a capitalist state which is a mainstay of world imperialism. The role of Unions in a workers’ state is not that of total opposition to their own government or to their own building of socialism. It is to protect workers interests while also assisting and defending the basis of their independence from world imperialism – the socialist state. Unions in a capitalist state, on the other hand, need to oppose both their own government and “their own” capitalist state – which is the basis of their oppression. This is anathema to the ACP, however, who overlook the vast differences between the PRC and the US, and dismiss both as “capitalist”.

In real world politics, it is impossible to be “neutral” or to imagine that one is against both the US and China. As long as imperialism exists, taking a position of “neither the US nor China” means in practice siding with imperialism, despite intentions. The US Empire can skilfully use “defence of workers’ rights” to aid their political, economic and military campaign against Red China. This fools some workers in the capitalist West, and even some self-described “Communist” parties. The ACP is the first cab of the rank on this score. One does not have to look very far to discover that, in fact, American Factory was produced by none other than the former President and First Lady of the United States, the Obamas!![10] The recent former Commander in Chief of the US Empire did not just endorse American Factory, but helped to produce it. By your friends ye shall know thee, as the saying goes. The ACP finds itself in very unsavoury company indeed.

China as “imperialist” ?

A graphic demonstration of how it is impossible to remain neutral in a Cold War is proffered by Socialist Alternative (SAlt). In an editorial of Red Flag, they declare that the new Cold War is being fought by “two reactionary imperialist states” where there is “no good side” ![11] The falsity of this position is immediately brought into stark relief, as in the same editorial, they grandstand about “standing with Hong Kong and the Uyghurs”.[12]  It should hardly need explaining that right now, Hong Kong and Xinjiang are the key crystallisations of counter-revolutionary CIA backed intrigue against Red China. Imperialist backed rioters in Hong Kong have wreaked havoc for the last three months, terrorising bystanders going about their daily lives, who might disagree with them.[13]  The far Western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XAUR) has also been targeted by the Pentagon, over transparently false claims that the PRC government is preventing Uyghur Muslims from practicing their religion. The outrageous claim that the PRC is detaining one million Uyghurs in detention camps has been exposed as a furphy.[14]

The irony is strong. SAlt claim to oppose both US (real imperialism) and Chinese “imperialism”, but in practice go on to openly and loudly assist key US imperialist political assaults on the PRC. SAlt’s forerunners in the International Socialist Organisation proclaimed “neither Washington nor Moscow” in the 1980s when the Soviet Union was still in place. In practice, this position always meant support for Washington against Moscow, by way of reserving the strongest opposition to “totalitarian” socialism through covert endorsement of “democratic” imperialism. In the same way, today’s effective slogan of “neither Washington nor Beijing” means in practice political support for Washington against Beijing. In reality, this means siding with capitalism against socialism – clearly the wrong position for workers.

Not to be outdone, the Socialist Alliance (SAll) also chime in with the China bashing, under the guise of “a plague on both your houses”. Echoing SAlt, SAll write that “In the conflict between the US and China, we should not support either side.”[15] But this is immediately exposed as false, as SAll shout to the heavens about the need to support “democracy” (!) in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang. These three regions are targeted for destabilisation, chaos and – the US state department hopes – the spreading of anti-government action throughout China, leading to regime change. The more the PRC necessarily builds up its military defences – vital for defence against an external imperialist assault – the more the US state department depends on the funding of internal pro-capitalist (“democracy”) dissidents within China. The capitalism allowed in Hong Kong has meant a substantial section of right-wing youth are able to be recruited as counter-revolutionary rioters. The separatists still remain wholly in the minority, however.

The imperial left are wrong – workers have a vital stake in the conflict between the real imperialism of the US and the rising socialism of the PRC. Regardless of justifiable left-wing criticism of the CPC, workers internationally must act to defend the PRC workers’ state, whether deformed or not. This means calling for unconditional military defence of the PRC against internal and external political, diplomatic, economic and military moves against Beijing. It is vital that socialism be defended and extended from the workers’ states to the centres of Western imperialism – the US, Europe, Japan and Australia.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH QLD 4012

[1] https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/gladys-liu-paranoia-and-the-chinese-communist-party-20190912-p52qhz (22-09-2019)

[2] https://www.workers.org/2019/08/16/whats-behind-hong-kong-protests/ (22-09-2019)

[3] https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/completely-abhorrent-julia-banks-slams-former-liberal-colleague-liu-20190416-p51ek1.html (22-09-2019)

[4] https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/australias-economy-has-deteriorated-under-the-coalition,12644 (22-09-2019)

[5] https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/2188404/china-says-last-years-gdp-growth-was-worth-more-australias (22-09-2019)

[6] https://www.space.com/42883-china-first-landing-moon-far-side.html (22-09-2019)

[7] https://venturebeat.com/2019/06/17/top500-china-has-219-of-the-worlds-fastest-supercomputers/ (22-09-2019)

[8] https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2019/07/08/chinas-experience-with-high-speed-rail-offers-lessons-for-other-countries (22-09-2019)

[9] https://www.auscp.org.au/militant-monthly/2019/9/17/capitalism-with-chinese-characteristics-key-lessons-from-american-factory?fbclid=IwAR2XbjHqDMiALF2v_A9n4b5MoMmApdvoYdrCTE4jWzo-1spu025rvXXOYps (25-09-2019)

[10] https://qz.com/quartzy/1700915/american-factory-makes-barack-and-michelle-obama-2020-oscar-contenders/ (25-09-2019)

[11] https://redflag.org.au/node/6876 (25-09-2019)

[12] Ibid, 11.

[13] http://socioecohistory.x10host.com/2019/09/08/hk-protesters-rioters-besiege-innocent-bystander-on-street-beat-him-and-smash-his-car/ (25-09-2019)

[14] https://thegrayzone.com/2018/08/23/un-did-not-report-china-internment-camps-uighur-muslims/ (25-09-2019)

[15] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/china-scare-campaign-ignores-greater-threat (26-09-2019)

Climate Mayhem: Capitalism Must Fall!

Climate Mayhem: Capitalism Must Fall!

20-09-2019 –  The planet is burning alive. On September 10, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast were on fire, as were parts of northern New South Wales.[1] Summer is still three months off, but the “bushfire season” starts earlier and lasts longer each year now. It is nothing like a “bushfire season”, or a “storm season”. It is clear that global warming tipping points are being approached, if not surpassed. Australia and the world face a climate meltdown which is already underway. World governments have been warned for 40 years that without serious moves to avert carbon emissions, ecological collapse is immanent. With the partial exception of some socialist states such as Cuba and China, they have done little or nothing. In the case of the Queensland government, by approving the Adani mega coal mine,[2] they are virtually cranking the gas burner up to high, and disconnecting emergency sprinkler systems.

Strike for Climate

Like never before, student and worker strikes for a safe climate are desperately needed. Yet every strike has a political leadership, which attempts to direct it in line with their material interests. The September 20 Strike for Climate is no exception. Its political leadership, unfortunately, are not the young students themselves, even as they defy school authorities to attend. Behind the scenes, the strike is organised and led by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), in essence an arm of GetUp! – who in practice are the foot soldiers of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). The political demands have been watered down so as to assist the ALP back onto the parliamentary benches in Canberra. GetUp! and the AYCC work for the ALP, no matter how strenuously they deny it in public. The demands of no new coal mines, renewable energy by 2030, and re-training for workers in fossil fuel industry  – should not be opposed per se (even though “renewable energy” is largely a furphy). However, they are so moderate that they make a mockery of pretensions to radical climate action.

In addition, the Strike for Climate is a double lobbying act. It is timed to occur just days before the United Nations (UN) “Emergency Climate Summit”. So working people in Australia are being asked to not only lobby parliaments on these shores, but to lobby the “world parliament” of the UN. Pleading for crumbs from the global and local political arms of capitalist imperialism is not only fruitless – it entrenches submission to the profit system responsible for ecological collapse in the first place. The Climate Strike organisers even boast about how many for profit businesses have now backed the “strike” in some way, even by allowing their workers leave to attend.[3] To say this is class collaboration is vastly understating things. Conservative Union officials, masters at encouraging class collaboration amongst workers, are not to be outdone. Many have endorsed the Climate Strike, and some have even asked employers themselves to join in. To say the least, if workers march alongside employers, the “cause” is false.

Climate is a class issue

Even if climate collapse affects everyone – meaning both labour and capital – the subordination of the workers to direct agents of capital in the name of “climate action” is the highest political crime. The struggle for a safe climate cannot be separated from the overall struggle for human liberation. In the current period, human liberation is entirely bound up with the workers movement for socialism. Global warming induced bushfires burning closer and closer are linked to the lowest wages in history, wage theft, unemployment, homelessness and crushing poverty. Extreme weather events are also linked to US imperialism’s drive to nuclear war against China and Russia, and endless regime change wars against smaller states. The 700 odd businesses endorsing the climate strike are also responsible for the catastrophic decline in living standards, as they drive down the wages of their own workers – no matter how “enlightened” they may be. Marching with them for the “climate” is an illusion of colossal scale.

The Climate Strike is yet another attempt to subject the workers to the ideological forms of bourgeois democracy – as if there can be any “democracy” between workers and business owners. Unquestionably, there must be many strikes for a safe climate, but these can only raise class awareness if pro-working class elements are able to depose liberal leadership, and forge their own path. To save the earth and humanity, all those bound up with private capital – AYCC, GetUp!, the conservative Union officials, business owners themselves – must be ruthlessly driven out of the climate movement. If nothing else, these are the same forces that aid and assist the Pentagon’s drive towards imperialist war. If they are not on the side of workers in war, they cannot be allies for “climate”. The climate movement must be based on a pro-working class axis, which can then gather behind it other strata of society which are not antagonistic to the workers’ interests – e.g. left-wing students, pensioners, retirees, unemployed youth and so on. Vital demands which could assist this include:

  • For a 30 hour work week – a six hour day.
  • For the formation of workers’ councils, comprised of elected workers from all industries.
  • The workers’ councils to organise not only strikes but workers’ occupations of key industries – the banks, mines, railways, transport, telecommunications.
  • The workers’ councils to elect regional and national representatives – the basis of a workers’ government.
  • The workers’ government to declare the abolition of the private ownership of the means of production, and the constitution of a single economic plan.

The most advanced workers must forge a vanguard party to lead this process. There is no time to waste – there is no disagreement about that. To save civilisation, capitalism must go, and socialism must emerge.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/queensland/2019/09/10/queensland-bushfires-peregian/ (11-09-2019)

[2] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-22/adani-approvals-removal-environment-department/11138140?pfmredir=sm (11-09-2019)

[3] https://www.mybusiness.com.au/management/6198-notbusinessasusual-businesses-urge-support-for-climate-strike (14-09-2019)

 

West Papua: Separatists Incite Violence

A local government building in Manokwari was set ablaze by separatist Papuans. Image from http://www.theguardian.com

West Papua: Separatists Incite Violence

04-09-2019 – The desecration of a national flag, destruction of shops, torching of government buildings. Are we talking about Hong Kong? Try West Papua. In the former, Western governments materially aid separatists[1], while in the latter Western governments diplomatically aid separatists – for now. Separatism in itself, under certain circumstances, may be the correct political move for an oppressed class or nation. Likewise, a movement for independence – up to, and including, the right to form a separate state, may, under specific conditions, resolve political issues in favour of working people. Independence, if achieved against the interests of domestic and international capital, may clear the way for an advance of a workers’ struggle for liberation. In West Papua today, however, a much different situation transpires.

Student disrespect

Just before August 17 – Indonesia’s national day – a post on WhatsApp by a youth organisation displayed a defaced Indonesian flag lying in a gutter near a University dormitory in Java.[2] In response, Indonesian soldiers descended on the University dormitory and accused Papuan students of disrespecting the national flag. During this incident, some soldiers apparently used racist insults, calling them “monkeys”.[3] Reports of this incident triggered protests across Indonesia and throughout West Papua. While racist insults are of course unacceptable, a heated emotional response to the national flag being desecrated on the eve of the national day is understandable. After all, Indonesia’s national day marks the proclamation of Indonesian independence from Dutch colonialism (August 17, 1945), which had ruled Indonesia for 350 years.[4] While nationalists exist in Indonesia as in other countries, animated reaction against Papuan students disrespecting the Indonesian national flag, while being hosted at a Javan University, was likely.

The separatist or independence protests that ensued as a result appeared to have a clear target – Indonesian government built infrastructure, government buildings, and Indonesian commercial activity. Despite the Papuan students using these services, alongside Indonesians themselves, the separatists displayed scant regard for them, or for the danger posed to human life in the process. Like Hong Kong, the protests were in effect violent riots. In Manokwari, the capital of the West Papua province, the local government building was torched and reduced to ashes.[5] The separatists pulled down power poles and set fire to vehicles.[6] A market in Fakfak was set ablaze, as was a prison in Sorong – leading to the escape of 250 prisoners.[7] Also in Sorong, the airport was vandalised and many shops were looted.[8]

Liberation?

The demand “Free West Papua!” sounds alluring and enticing, and is redolent of a struggle for justice and right. In reality, the slogan is devoid of political content, not to speak of class content. More than 200 years ago, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels railed against anarchist opposition in the First International, which called for “freedom” in the abstract, regardless of the development of society in an economic or political sense. “Freedom” in itself is a meaningless term in politics, unless it is referred to in concrete terms and to a certain class it seeks to liberate. West Papuan separatists appear to see “freedom” in terms of being released from integration with Indonesia, or specifically, from non-Papuan Indonesians. While there is some nationalism and racism directed against Papuans from ultra-nationalist groups within Indonesia, this is not reflective of Indonesia as a whole. At the same time, there are eerie elements of Papuan disapproval of Indonesians on the basis of their ethnicity. This does not endow the West Papuan independence struggle – under its current leadership – with wholesome aims.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo stated that he understood why Papuans were offended, and asked that both sides forgive each other as “fellow countrymen”.[9] The governor of East Java, Khofifah Indar Parawansa, apologised for the behaviour of the Indonesian nationalist mobs, and said it does not “represent the…people of East Java”.[10] These are scarcely the words of government leaders who are allegedly carrying out systemic discrimination against Papuans. The extent to which the Indonesian government always enacts fair treatment of Papuans is of course up for debate. However, the intent of the Indonesian government appears to be consistent – it is attempting to integrate Papuans into the whole of Indonesia. In 2001, the Indonesian government granted Papua a status of “Special Autonomy”. This may well be rejected by separatist Papuans, but “liberation” has to have a more positive political program than simply rejecting Indonesia.

A liberation movement also needs a basic honesty, so that all can clearly see that the cause is just. Yet in the hands of the current political leadership, a lack of honesty is the major drawback for the West Papuan independence movement. Time and again, the West Papuan separatist leaders have fabricated blatant untruths in their attempt to whip up false hysteria against “Indonesia”. In December last year, Papuan separatists made the fatuous claim that the Indonesian military used white phosphorus munitions against independence supporters. They allied themselves with reporters who openly sided with US imperialism against Syria, where the US government accused the Syrian government – without evidence –  of using chemical weapons, while at the same time admitting they had themselves used white phosphorus munitions against civilians in Syria.[11] Around April this year, Papuan separatists were backed by Western NGOs in claiming – without a shred of evidence – that 32 000 people had been displaced in the Nduga region in West Papua, and that 34 schools had been damaged by the Indonesian military.[12] No verification was provided. But this doesn’t stop Papuan separatists from trying it on again.

Instigators of violence

Papuan independence supporters raised their hands in horror at the Indonesian government blocking the internet in response to the outbreaks of violence wrought by the crowds they had incited. The Indonesian government claimed that this move was made in order to stop Papuan separatists sharing fake videos to further incite more violence. There were some reports that the Papuan students were circulating a video allegedly showing a student being killed by Indonesian soldiers, which was entirely fake. Without offering the Indonesian government any political support, they appear to be telling the truth here. Why? Because the West Papuan separatists have a history of retailing bald faced lies to artificially pump up support for their movement. It is not beyond belief that the violent riots which occurred in the last week of August were fuelled by the separatists spreading a fake video online. Given that this then lead to a government building being burnt to the ground, an airport vandalised, shops looted, markets set on fire, power poles being felled and more – it is in turn not unreasonable for the Indonesian government to “throttle” or even block the internet in an attempt to prevent further violence.

The political violence instigated by the separatists only follows on from the instigation of military conflict by armed West Papuan militia. Time and again, the armed West Papuan groups provoke violent conflict with the Indonesian military only to claim “oppression” when the inevitable retaliation ensues. It is similar to the situation in Syria, where US/UK armed death squads would attack Syrian government positions, and then claim that the Syrian response to overt violence against them was evidence of an “oppressive regime”.  In December last year, armed Papuan militia slaughtered 31 Indonesian road workers constructing the Trans Papua Highway through the Nduga region.[13] Understandably, the Indonesian security forces had to move in to, at least, recover their bodies and secure the area. Hence, the Indonesian government claims that the military build up in parts of West Papua occurs only in response to the violent attacks from the separatists – are not without foundation.

Rejecting development

At the time, Sebby Sambom of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) claimed that the group deliberately attacked the road workers building the Trans Papua Highway because they reject all infrastructure development programs in West Papua.[14] !  This statement is revealing. The West Papuan separatists appear to be aware that the infrastructure development programs paid for and installed by the Indonesian government will benefit Papuans and non-Papuans alike, and will lead to increased economic activity, contributing to a higher standard of living for all. If this occurs, political support for separatist independence would be likely to dissipate. So to keep alive their aim of separatism, 31 innocent Indonesian workers had to die – and with no apology. Is it any wonder that the separatist Papuans do not attract sympathetic Indonesians to their cause?

The question of the economic and industrial development of West Papua is important. Without offering political support to the Indonesian government, the fact remains that the Indonesian government is ramping up its efforts to connect West Papua, parts of which are still inaccessible due to mountainous and jungle covered territory. The Trans Papua highway is a part of this, but there are also moves to extend electricity coverage to more areas of West Papua. In fact, the Indonesian state owned electricity company PLN recently signed a cooperation agreement with the Indonesian military and some Universities, where the aim is to provide electricity to 99% of the villages across West Papua in 2019.[15] Is this the type of development which is rejected by the armed West Papuan groups – connecting villages to electricity, which have never seen it before? West Papuan independence advocates can arguably claim that the Trans Papua highway will only benefit Indonesians, as most Papuans do not own cars or commercial vehicles. However, it is not plausible to suggest that the electrification of nearly all of West Papua will not benefit Papuans, especially those from the highland areas which are currently in darkness.

Transmigration

The critical issue which is driving some Papuans towards nationalist and pro-independence views is the desire to end the transmigration of Austronesians to Papua from other parts of Indonesia. The transmigration is significant, with Austronesians now making up around 51% of the population to the approximately 49% Melanesian indigenous population. However, there remain huge regional variances within the Papuan provinces. While Austronesian and other transmigrants now outnumber Papuans in urban and coastal areas, Papuans are still the overwhelming majority in the highland interior.[16] To some extent, fears of being pushed out of their own land MAY be understandable IF there was systematic and blatant exclusion of Papuans by the Indonesian government and those who tend to dominate commercial activity. However, it is apparent that the Indonesian government is attempting to integrate them into the “Unitary State” of Indonesia, through granting regional autonomy, spending vast sums on transport and electricity infrastructure, and, where possible,  providing healthcare and education for all residents.

Doubtless, there may be many blemishes on the record of the Indonesian government while attempting to implement their aims. Despite this, the Indonesian government  cannot stand by and allow armed Papuan groups to engage in wanton killings of non-Papuan residents. Nor can it stand by and allow Papuan separatists to engage in terroristic violence such as provoking gunfights with police and the military OR the incitement of crowds to commit riotous acts such as setting ablaze government buildings, markets, shops or transport facilities.

It is true that Marxists MAY sometimes give critical support to a movement for national liberation IF it is directed against imperialism.  However, the current West Papuan “liberation” movement is oriented in the opposite direction. It aims to enlist imperialism to help achieve its aims, both because it knows it cannot defeat the Indonesian military on its own, and because it does not aim to convince Indonesians, let alone Indonesian workers, of the justness of its cause. So there are appeals to the United Nations, to British and Australian parliamentarians, and so on. The British ruling class has partially come to the party, by offering fugitive independence figure Benny Wenda “asylum” in London.[17] The nationalism of a small state often means, in turn, recognising the nationalism of the largest states, as a quid-pro-quo. Working people, from Indonesia, Papua, the UK and Australia – on the other hand – have a material interest in politically combatting the nationalism of small and large states, in their combined struggle for liberation from capitalist imperialism. Papuan separatists, and their supporters, need to decide where they stand.

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E:workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

[1] https://www.workers.org/2019/08/16/whats-behind-hong-kong-protests/ (26-08-2019)

[2] https://globalvoices.org/2019/08/25/indonesia-sends-in-troops-and-cuts-internet-as-west-papua-protesters-denounce-racist-treatment-of-students/ (28-08-2019)

[3] Ibid, 2.

[4] http://www.bali3000.com/article/IndependenceDayofRepublicofIndonesia.asp (28-08-2019)

[5] https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/explained/article/3023640/explained-riots-indonesias-papua-region (28-08-2019)

[6] https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6337270/jakarta-to-hold-probe-after-papuan-protest/digital-subscription/ (28-08-2019)

[7] https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/indonesia-papua-riots-unrest-history-problems-development-11836300 (28-08-2019)

[8] https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Papua-violence-shows-Indonesia-s-fragile-grip-on-eastern-provinces (28-08-2019)

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/20/indonesian-president-calls-for-calm-after-violent-protests-in-west-papua (28-08-2019)

[10] Ibid, 9.

[11] https://redfireonline.com/2018/12/30/west-papua-corporate-media-enlisted-to-spread-false-claims-fake-news/ (29-08-2019)

[12] https://redfireonline.com/2019/04/27/west-papua-independence-movement-spreads-more-false-claims/ (29-08-2019)

[13] https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2176302/indonesia-probing-reports-rebels-executed-31-construction (30-08-2019)

[14] https://indonesiaexpat.biz/news/free-papua-movement-kills-workers/ (30-08-2019)

[15] https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/30/pln-signs-deal-to-expand-electricity-in-two-provinces-in-papua.html (01-09-2019)

[16] https://www.globalresearch.ca/indonesias-west-papua-settlers-dominate-coastal-regions-highlands-still-overwhelmingly-papuan/5569676 (01-09-2019)

[17] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-49009326 (01-09-2019)