Demand the Unconditional Release of Julian Assange!

Image from Politico Europe

Demand the Unconditional Release of Julian Assange!

24-02-2020 – Julian Assange should be feted as an international hero. The founder of Wikileaks, he put his immense talent not into enriching himself with material goods, but with exposing the manifest crimes of governments worldwide, not least the war crimes of US imperialism. Instead, Julian Assange is facing the barely believable prospect of 175 years in a US jail.[1] It should be needless to say that Julian Assange is not a US citizen, and he has never set foot on US soil. Yet the US government, with assistance from its vassals in the UK and Australia, claim the right to detain and likely torture, an Australian citizen. It should be something from a spy novel, but it is all too real.

Basic and elementary rights at stake

Almost every single democratic right working people supposedly enjoy under the rule of capital is at stake. The right to free speech, the right to a free press, the right to political opinion, the right to political communication, the right to publish information, the right not to be spied upon by “your own” government – all of these and more are gravely threatened. In fact, one could argue that these rights are in the process of being eliminated. For decades, Australian people have held on to a belief that, for all its faults, we are not headed down the dystopian political road of our apparent benefactor, the USA. Yet the most recent example of official restrictions on democratic rights should destroy such illusions. A Federal Court ruled that the Australian Federal Police raids on the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) were legal, threw out the case, and ordered the ABC to pay court costs.[2] The ABC had reported a story about the unlawful execution and other misconduct by Australian special forces during the ongoing war on Afghanistan. “National Security” according to the judge, overrode basic democratic rights such as the right to know. Just as Julian Assange is now in grave danger due to exposing the crimes of US imperialism, simple democratic rights are now in grave danger if or when the crimes of Australian imperialism become known.

Working people need to learn, if they have not already, that capitalism in crisis must aggressively stamp out elementary democratic rights if it is to survive. In times of economic expansion or boom, capitalism has few concerns about allowing working people democratic liberties and can even pose as a defender of them. Once capitalism goes into economic decline, however, an opposite effect takes place. During times of economic crisis for capitalism – which is more or less the case since 2008 – the ruling class can no longer take the risk that workers will not use bourgeois democratic rights to organise an insurrection to overthrow the rule of the banks and the stock exchange. It is not only the right to form political parties and build Unions that suddenly becomes a concern for the establishment. The right to be informed of the very acts of the governments taxes pay for has to go.

Working class political leadership is key

One of Julian Assange’s most marked aphorisms is that populations are generally opposed to wars. They have to be lied into it. And if people can be lied into a war, they can be “truthed” into peace. While we acknowledge the peerless courage and bravery of Julian Assange for selflessly standing up to the might of the US Empire, we should note that it is not enough to expose capitalist imperialism – it has to be brought down. No exposure of its litany of crimes will embarrass it or cause it to change course. Telling the truth is indeed a revolutionary act, but in itself it is insufficient. Also, while we stand in awe at the valour and fortitude of individuals like Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, whistleblowing can only achieve so much. In fact, unless it is linked to a palpable solution, whistle-blowing on its own can in fact reinforce a sense of political demoralisation.

Fueling this political demoralisation is the dire lack of political leadership of the working class. To our knowledge, not one Australian Trade Union official has made a clear statement defending Julian Assange, let alone seeking to mobilise Union members to defend the basic democratic rights organisations such as Wikileaks uphold. Unions need basic democratic rights in order to operate. Yet there is deafening silence from these very well-paid officials. This includes Julian’s own Union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). This is unfortunately another example of Union bureaucracy attempts to ensure Australian workers remain loyal to US/AUST imperialism.

Following the capitulatory line of the conservative Union officials have been several of Australia’s left parties. After hailing Julian Assange in 2009-10 as a visionary, these left parties soon abandoned him and the Wikileaks project after the imperialist wars on Libya and Syria began. Ruthlessly non-partisan as far as governments go, Julian Assange exposed the Democrats drive to the NATO destruction of Libya, and the enabling role of Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton. He then followed with a similar exposure of their role in arming and funding the barbarian death squads sent into Syria in order to effect arguably history’s most extensive proxy regime change war. For this, these left parties, and the liberal milieu which form their constituency, universally turned against Julian Assange – even as they had backed him for exposing the crimes of the US war on Iraq from 2003.

As a result, only handfuls of activists today stand in defence of Julian Assange. Those that do are critical, but they need to be joined by the only force capable of setting him free – the workers. Unleashing working-class power, however, requires the leadership of a Marxist vanguard party which can lead the struggle for socialism internationally as well as domestically. Such a party would help lead the efforts to free Julian Assange, in the process of building consistent opposition to all facets of US/AUST imperialism. The right to political expression is linked to the dire need for working people to oppose every imperialist war and regime change operation enacted by Washington. And imperialist war itself can only be ended by workers sweeping away the rule of capital. FREE JULIAN ASSANGE!

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/11/20/prosecution-julian-assange-calls-publics-defense-free-speech (19-02-2020)

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/feb/17/federal-police-raid-on-abc-over-afghan-files-ruled-valid (19-02-2020)

Climate Crisis: Fight for Public Ownership!

All electricity infrastructure needs to be in public hands, and not “supplied” for a profit. Image from EnergyMagazine.com.au

Climate Crisis: Fight for Public Ownership!

22-02-2020 – First came the fires, then came the floods. After the bushfire infernos which swept this country in December and January, Australia is now being viewed as the “canary in the coal mine” of global warming. As the driest continent on Earth, it is looking likely that Australia will experience some of the worst climate calamities due to the ever-approaching collapse of the ecology required for human (and much animal) habitation. The climate records keep being broken. In 141 years of climate records, this last January was the hottest on record, with an average 1.14 degree increase on the 20th century average. Describing an obvious worsening, the ten warmest Januarys on record have all occurred since 2002. To underline it still further, this latest broken record was “achieved” with no El Nino.[1]

Federal and State governments light the fuse

Fuelling the carbon emissions chiefly responsible for the climate catastrophe, we find Federal and State governments approving fossil fuel expansion like it is going out of fashion. The Adani mega coal mine in central Queensland ludicrously remains approved, with its 60 million tonne predicted annual coal output.[2] The Labor Party Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk has been a relentless champion of the Adani coal mine, in the face of overwhelming public opposition. Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his New South Wales counterpart Gladys Berejiklian just announced a plan to “reduce” emissions – by unleashing more gas. The 2 billion dollar deal could be dependent on the approval of the Narrabri gas project, which entails the drilling of 900 (!) coal seam gas wells, including in the Piliga state forest.[3] By now, it is common knowledge that coal seam gas releases methane, a gas many times more potent in terms of greenhouse gas emissions over a shorter period of time than carbon. To top it off, plans for new exploration and likely drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight were given the tick of approval by the Federal Government “regulator” last December.[4]

The clear separation between the governments sparing rhetoric about reducing emissions, and enabling big capital to expand fossil fuel extraction and burning despite the climate emergency is not lost on anyone. Even the satirical The Juice Media spelled out the reality with precision, when they warned in a short video that it is obvious that it is not the government’s job to protect the people, but to protect the giant corporations from the people.[5] This is the bare reality of capitalism – the private ownership of the means of production by a handful of billionaires, which is then protected by the state with all its law enforcement agencies. Irrespective of the damage inflicted on those who must labour for a living and the desecration of the natural environment, the capitalist state deploys the public service bureaucracy, the courts, the police and the armed forces against those who appeal for reason.

Climate Action means Public Ownership

As the most developed form of class exploitation – of which the destruction of the environment is a by product, capitalism is of course immune from reason. In fact, reason itself has a different meaning to the two great classes which the private profit system creates. The exploitation of natural resources to increase the rate of return on capital investment is entirely reasonable from the point of view of capital, but wholly irrational from the point of view of labour. This is one reason why the understandable cries for “climate action” fall flat unless they are accompanied by a demand for public ownership – of the mines, the land, infrastructure and transport. Working people as a class must own and control the basic means of production, and run them in the interests of all, not the corporate elite. It is only the working class which has the material interest in ensuring that energy production in particular, is not conducted for private profit, but to ensure a better life for all.

It is accepted by all in the climate movement that energy production must switch to zero carbon sources. This must include nuclear power, which has by far the greatest potential to replace coal and gas as a baseload source of power. The sheer urgency of the climate crisis demands that the old “anti-nuclear” diversion must be left in the past. More than this, public ownership of energy (and the means of transport and basic industry) must be linked to the demand for a workers’ government. If it was somehow possible to force the capitalist government to nationalise energy, it would still run it as a for-profit business – in order to assist the corporate magnates. In other words, climate action must be given a clear pro-working class character, for it to even begin to achieve its demands. In this vein, calls for climate action must be accompanied by the demand for a six-hour day. If won a six-hour day could eliminate unemployment, if not seriously undermine it. Not only is the right to work a necessity for workers, full employment is an urgent necessity if the full decarbonisation of society – implying a restructuring of the entire economy – is to occur.

The climate movement in Australia so far has organised some impressively sized mobilisations. But for it to achieve serious gains it must become a pro-working class climate movement. This means it must force a split with Labor Party fronts such as GetUp! and School Strike 4 Climate. Many honest school students and workers do not yet grasp that such fronts attempt to steer the climate movement back towards the politicians (even if they dislike some of them) and thus back into capitalism itself. Only the power of the working class and its attempts to build its own state has a chance at winning climate action – and much else besides. To begin, we suggest workers demand:

1. A six hour day

2. Public ownership of energy, infrastructure, banks.

3. A workers’ government

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.engadget.com/2020/02/13/january-2020-hottest-on-record/ (16-02-2020)

[2] http://statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/coordinator-general/assessments-and-approvals/coordinated-projects/completed-projects/carmichael-coal-mine-and-rail-project.html (16-02-2020)

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jan/31/australian-prime-minister-scott-morrison-strikes-2bn-deal-with-gladys-berejiklian-nsw-to-boost-gas-supply (16-02-2020)

[4] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-18/equinor-receives-environmental-approval-to-drill-in-bight/11811534 (16-02-2020)

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BmbvTvFQ3g (16-02-2020)

What’s Wrong with “Socialism In One Country” in China?

President Xi dines with President Trump at Mar-a-Lago. Diplomacy or Collaboration? Image from http://www.qz.com

What’s Wrong with “Socialism In One Country”  in China?

16-02-2020: The US Empire’s war on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) rages on many fronts. Although the outbreak of the novel coronavirus presents countless opportunities for anti-Chinese racism[1], Washington has yet to use it in a significant way against China as a whole. The rampant and multi-pronged war against the PRC continues in other ways, however. Bans on contracts for Huawei telecommunications equipment[2], the funding of anti-communist rioters in Hong Kong[3], relentless provocations by Western navies in the South China Sea[4], and fake campaigns for the “human rights” of Uyghurs[5] in the west of the PRC are just some of the very real efforts to delegitimise the PRC in the eyes of the workers of the West. False propaganda, covert funding for “opposition” groups, and open military provocations softens up the public for what could be a catastrophic war against the world’s largest socialist state.

In this atmosphere, some leftists who rightfully see an urgent need to defend the PRC against imperialist assaults, look to adopt the central pillars of “Marxism-Leninism”, seeing them as a key reason for the rise of modern China vis-à-vis the decline and deterioration of the United States of America (USA), at least as far as its unipolar world power outlook is concerned. Chief among these are the twin policies of “Socialism in One Country” and “Peaceful Coexistence”. Both these positions feed in and reinforce each other, ultimately in a negative fashion in terms of the interests of the workers of the world. However, to some leftists who are open to “Marxism-Leninism”, the PRC’s defence of their country and the seeking of co-operation with world imperialism (chiefly led by the US), appear to be sensible and rational, or even “the best they can do” under the circumstances. As we intend to show, however, these sentiments are misguided, even if motivated by good intentions.

  1. “Socialism in One Country” means no class struggle

The theory of “Socialism in One Country” (SIOC) was unilaterally announced by Joseph Stalin towards the end of 1924, who had remained the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, despite V.I. Lenin’s desperate attempts to have him removed from this post before he passed away due to illness.[6] Such was the authority of Lenin, Stalin had to wait some eight months before daring to declare SIOC, as it ultimately represented class collaboration within the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), as well as class collaboration internationally. Its natural corollary is “peaceful coexistence”, whereby the USSR sought to stave off hostility towards it from the imperialist powers – principally at that time, Great Britain, France, Germany and the United States of America.

SIOC is allegedly where a workers’ state consolidates the power it has conquered over the capitalists via revolution, while supposedly waiting for more favourable conditions for socialism to develop internationally. In reality, SIOC attempts to hold in check the enormous and relentless forces of class struggle, and even attempts to hold imperialism to one position. Needless to say, as class struggle is the motor force of all class divided societies, this is an impossibility. Any attempt to do so by the political leadership of a workers’ state – such as the PRC – involves political compromises of a huge scale at best, and open betrayal of workers’ interests at worst.

For example, in April 2017, US war provocations against the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or “North Korea”) were at extremely dangerous levels. Despite this, President Xi Jinping flew to dine with US President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate,[7] a 126-room mansion in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump and Xi Jinping reportedly ate chocolate cake together, while the PRC news agency Xinhua took out a full page advertisement in the New York Times, hailing the meeting as “a vital moment for the two nations, the Asia-Pacific region and the globe as a whole”.[8] The political leadership of a workers’ state – even the world’s most powerful one – would need to somehow deal with the political leadership of an imperialist state. Trade agreements, non-aggression pacts, all kinds of diplomacy would be required, to avoid imperialist war, amongst other things.

However, the political task of the leadership of a workers’ state is to aid and assist the class struggle internally and internationally. The Communist Party of China (CPC), rigidly adhering to “Socialism in One Country”, does not seek to unleash class struggle anywhere. Instead of appealing to US workers, Xinhua’s advertisement appealed to the US as a whole, rich and poor alike. At the same time, the DPRK was being threatened with a nuclear strike from Washington, while the PRC leader wined and dined with the US President! Later that year, the PRC voted with the US in the United Nations Security Council to impose even more crippling sanctions on the DPRK.[9] “Socialism In One Country” therefore not only means collaboration with imperialism in general, but also collaboration with imperialism against a smaller workers’ states.

It is true that the political leadership of DPRK workers’ state also practices “Socialism In One Country” and “Peaceful Coexistence” (with imperialism). Both the PRC and the DPRK should be uniting as one against US imperialism and promoting socialism in every possible way to workers of the Asia-Pacific and internationally. Yet this course, which would appear natural, would necessarily lead to the end of “Socialism In One Country”, and thus an end to the positions and (relative privileges) of the essentially nationalist bureaucracies of these states. In a similar way, a conservative trade Union official in the capitalist West cannot allow their workers to engage in ongoing class struggle. If such a struggle won significant victories, the Union official’s privileges (over the top salary, comfortable retirement etc.) would be undermined. Similarly, if significant class struggle erupted within a workers’ state – the PRC or the DPRK – the positions of the leading officials and respective bureaucrats would be seriously questioned. All classes together – the opposite of socialism – is the result.

  1. “Socialism in One Country” means socialism nowhere else

 

During 2019, right-wing anti-Communist Blackshirts rampaged throughout Hong Kong, over farcical demands for “democracy”. In reality, they were using extreme violence in a vain attempt to split Hong Kong from the PRC, and even calling on US President Trump to “liberate” them, while waving US flags.[10] The Hong Kong police were stretched to the limit in an attempt to contain the violence, which, under any definition, amounted to terrorism. Some of the NGOs based in Hong Kong backing the violence have been funded by the West, including the notorious US National Endowment for Democracy (NED).[11] As the violence dragged on, less and less support, and even outright opposition, emerged from pro-PRC Hong Kong residents. At times, the very health and safety of Hong Kong residents who did not back the pro-US demonstrations was under threat.

 

Hong Kong was returned to the PRC in 1997, after around 100 years of British colonialism. Yet at the time, the PRC leadership agreed to maintain capitalism in Hong Kong until 2047. It adopted the “One Country, Two Systems” policy, i.e. socialism in the PRC, capitalism in Hong Kong. “Socialism In One Country” sometimes doesn’t even mean socialism in your own country! Of course, the PRC leadership is attempting to integrate Hong Kong with the PRC, to some extent. The spectacular Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, the world’s longest sea-spanning bridge and tunnel system,[12] is an example. Yet there is little or no attempt to win Hong Kong workers to the perspective of class struggle socialism. In fact, waging a class struggle against the fascistic Blackshirts in Hong Kong would have been the only way to politically defeat them. Their facile calls for “democracy” and their ties to the US government would have been exposed thoroughly. Yet the PRC leadership in Beijing, and its Carrie Lam led administration in Hong Kong did nothing of the sort. They simply attempted to “restore order”, and even made concessions. Very light sentences, or even just a community service order, were handed to those who were actually arrested for serious offences including rioting, assaulting police, and possession of weapons and explosives.[13]

 

The PRC’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI or New Silk Road) has been dubbed “China’s Marshall Plan”. In fact, it is far more extensive than the plan of the post-World War II US government to rebuild capitalism in Europe after the destruction the war wrought. Western critics of the BRI question where the trillion-dollar funding is coming from.[14] Yet the vast network of railways, ports and infrastructure built by the BRI in co-operation with the 70 odd countries which have signed on, will dramatically aid trade and economic development for all involved. It will even economically assist some European countries, as well as Asian and African countries. No leftist would think of standing in the way or linking with the right-wing to complain about such development. At the same time, the BRI does not seek to aid a path towards socialism in the countries it is co-operating with. The interaction with other countries is with their political leaderships, not with the workers of such countries. Diplomacy trumps the CPC’s “Marxism”.

  1. “Socialism in One Country” breeds nationalism and inaction

“Socialism in One Country” was originally the expression of the defeat of the revolutionary situations which developed in Europe, principally Germany, after World War I. The program of Marxism is the extension of workers’ power until it is completed internationally. If the political and physical/military conditions do not yet allow for this, the task of Marxists is to foster the political conditions in preparation. Stalinism/Maoism (which can mean many things but is assumed to be “Marxism-Leninism”) breaks with this essential condition and uses petty-bourgeois class collaboration to foster nationalism, in order to “protect” the building of socialism in one country. Ultimately, class-collaboration – the strongest tenet of nationalism – internally and internationally, does not at all protect a workers’ state surrounded by imperialism on almost all sides. For example, the class collaboration of conservative Union officials (saturated with nationalism) in the West is not in the class interests of their own members. A class struggle for socialism certainly is, however. In a similar way, the nationalism of the political leadership of the CPC does not ultimately protect the PRC workers’ state. Only the extension of socialism internationally, especially into imperialist centres such as the US, Europe, Japan and Australia, can permanently eliminate the threat of imperialist war.

This would require political activity and political education of workers, however. And this is the last thing that the CPC leadership desires. Instead, it delivers platitudes about building a “harmonious socialist society”, peaceful development, the “strength of the nation” and suchlike. “Socialism In One Country” implies that all workers in a workers’ state need to do is to build up the “nation”, and somehow, as if by osmosis, other countries around the world will one day arrive at socialism. All one has to do is protect the “home” nation, and wait. Needless to say, this breeds passivity, inaction, and even indifference to politics amongst workers. If the political leadership of the PRC workers’ state barely comments on major international political developments – even including imperialist wars against Libya and Syria, for example – why should PRC workers be concerned? It will all sort itself out eventually, once they adopt their own version of “Socialism In One Country”.

Such sophistry is a glaring departure from Marxism, to say the least. In fact, “Socialism In One Country” in practice only seeks to come to terms with imperialism, to allow it to plunder whole slabs of the planet, while small corners (or large corners in the case of the PRC) should be out of bounds. Yet the class struggle cannot be stopped still by temporary deals with the Pentagon. It goes on regardless and will turn against the working class if its political leadership does not lead a struggle to end capitalist power wherever it exists. What is required is genuine Leninism, as apposed to the class-collaboration of “Marxism-Leninism”. To be sure, workers need to defend the PRC workers’ state against internal counter-revolution, and against imperialist assault externally. This is best aided by the forging of Marxist vanguard parties, who stand with the PRC while illuminating the path to socialism.

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/wuhan-virus-coronavirus-italy-racism-12373002 (05-02-2020)

[2] https://www.news.com.au/technology/gadgets/mobile-phones/huawei-banned-from-australian-5g-network/news-story/d1d6ec001747ba51e7c5c8738021f7ee (05-02-2020)

[3] https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/11/article/us-ngos-local-tycoon-funding-hk-protests-report/ (05-02-2020)

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/apr/20/australian-warships-challenged-by-chinese-navy-in-south-china-sea (05-02-2020)

[5] https://www.workers.org/2019/12/44963/ (05-02-2020)

[6] https://www.marxists.org/archive/weisbord/conquest44.htm (08-02-2020)

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/06/trump-china-meeting-xi-jinping-mar-a-lago (08-02-2020)

[8] Ibid, 7.

[9] https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2125548/united-nations-agrees-more-sanctions-north-korea-world (08-02-2020)

[10] https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/hong-kong-protest-donald-trump-liberate-city-china-11884704 (08-02-2020)

[11] https://www.mintpressnews.com/hong-kong-protests/259202/ (08-02-2020)

[12] https://www.chinadiscovery.com/greater-bay-area-tours/hong-kong-zhuhai-macau-bridge.html (08-02-2020)

[13] https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3029636/lenient-sentencing-rioters-could-only-prolong-protests-and-lead (08-02-2020)

[14] https://www.cnbc.com/advertorial/2018/03/06/where-is-the-funding-for-a-26-trillion-initiative-coming-from.html (08-02-2020)