Above: The Freedom Movement marches towards Parliament House in Canberra. http://www.9web.uk
09-02-2022: Following the lead of Canada’s historic Freedom Convoy to Ottawa, Australia’s capital Canberra was beset by tens of thousands demanding an end to Covid vaccine mandates over the weekend of February 5-6. Travelling by truck, bus, car or whatever means they could, the huge crowd marched from Canberra’s Glebe Park to Old Parliament House echoing the very sentiments that millions of Canadians feel – enough is enough. As has become the norm with demonstrations that are part of the freedom movement, the mainstream media barely covered it at all. On the occasions it did, it admitted that riot police were mobilised against what was an entirely peaceful protest. The march on the Old Parliament House included two sitting federal Members of Parliament (MPs): Craig Kelly of the United Australia Party (UAP), and George Christensen of the Liberal National Party (LNP).
Red Ensign prominent
By far the most prominent flag flown in Canberra was Australia’s Red Ensign. The Red Ensign and the Blue Ensign were both used as Australia’s national flag from 1901 to 1953, when the federal parliament passed legislation making the Blue Ensign Australia’s official flag. The Red Ensign had always been, and continues to be, the flag of Australia’s merchant navy. Yet in today’s context of the freedom movement – the largest and most sustained political movement in Australia’s history – the Red Ensign (also known as the “Red Duster”) has become a symbol of rebellion and resistance against tyrannical political repression meted out by state and federal governments under the guise of a fraudulent “pandemic”. While it is true that those who fly the Red Ensign are also motivated by an intense Australian nationalism, in politics context is everything. And right now, the Red Ensign is being unfurled and flown by those who are waging a heroic battle not only to end Covid vaccine mandates, but to restore all basic rights which have been removed under the deceit of a “health emergency”.
At one of the many rallies over the weekend, anti-mandate protestors hoisted the Red Ensign and the Aboriginal flag (exposing, once again, criticism that the freedom movement is “racist”) at Government House. Crowds surrounded the flagpole, and riot police were sent in to take it down. Despite being nearly choked by one cop, one man fought them off with the help of the surrounding mass who did not react despite being physically threatened. The police soon had to give up, and retreated, to the roars of approval of the crowd. Anti-mandate protestors are entirely justified in defending themselves against police attempts to limit the impact of their demonstrations. No amount of police repression can override the fact that millions simply want their lives to go back to what existed before “Covid” began.
Nationalism as a reaction
Most understand, however, that those days are not returning unless the freedom movement can win a decisive political battle against those who have imposed “The New Normal”. Three years in, it is more than evident that “Covid” is not about healthcare. Whether or not the SARS-CoV-2 virus exists, the Covid narrative was always rhetorical cover for arguably the largest assault on the working class in history. While it is true that some small business has also been decimated by lockdowns, vaccine mandates – take the shots or lose your job – are squarely aimed at working people. In fact, vaccine mandates are about throwing as many workers into unemployment as possible. The ruling class calculates that doing so will drive down the cost of labour power, by creating a pool of unemployed who will be prepared to work for whatever wages are on offer. To drive down wages at this stage of the capitalist crisis, employers need governments who will enact unprecedented political repression. They even require politicians who understand that liberal democracy must be replaced with fascism.
In general, the freedom movement understands this very well. Yet its prescriptions for fighting this unusual form of fascism remain rudimentary and contain limitations which need to be overcome. Largely due to the utter betrayal of the so-called left and Trade Union officialdom, the freedom movement embraces an overt nationalism as a buffer against an agenda they see as being imposed by “globalists”. This nationalism can even spill over into a manifest anti-socialism, with some fantastically identifying the “global elite” as having a “socialist agenda”. Hence, there are examples of some in the freedom movement flying the flags of extremely anti-communist governments, now and during the last century. Some fly the flags of: Poland, Ukraine, Croatia, apartheid South Africa (!), Israel, Belarusian Nazi collaborators and the former South Vietnam (!). The fact that the Belarusian government never imposed lockdowns or any vaccine mandates, while the Israeli government almost forcefully vaccinated close to its entire population – seems lost to them.
While Marxists in the freedom movement cannot ignore the blatant anti-socialism that these flags display, neither can genuine leftists walk away and dismiss arguably the most significant political movement yet seen. These flags represent only a small section of the freedom movement, and the majority can be won over to a pro-working class agenda given the leadership of even a small vanguard party in formation. Whether or not they recognise it, the Covid agenda – up to and including the installation of fascism – is driven by capitalism. More specifically, it is driven by a Western led capitalism which faces its most devastating crisis ever. The rate of profit has fallen to such a point that ANY attempt to revive it must be tried. This includes a fake pandemic and a deliberately inflicted depression. The destruction of much small capital and millions of jobs in the process is regarded by the wealthiest billionaires as little more than collateral damage.
Therefore, while many in the freedom movement believe themselves to be fighting against both fascism and communism, objective reality has them in fact confronting the rule of finance capital. This is why real socialists must join and build the freedom movement shoulder to shoulder with all those who can sense that “evil” is afoot. This “evil” is in fact the rule of an infinitesimally small minority of billionaires, who can only retain power by utilising an army of agents – corporate politicians, Trade Union officials, and, in this case, almost the whole gamut of “left” parties who have prostrated themselves before Big Pharma, Big Tech and Big Media. The abject treachery of these envoys who swear blind they are “progressive” drives the nationalism of the anti-mandate freedom fighters.
For a real class struggle
Yet this nationalism is not insurmountable. As long as working people have not yet reached true class awareness, many of them will cling – quite tenaciously – to nationalism. Thus, this nationalism must be dealt with through patience and tact, while guiding workers towards tasks that can propel the movement forward. Writing during 1916 on the Easter Rebellion in Ireland, Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin stressed:
“The socialist revolution in Europe cannot be anything other than an outburst of mass struggle on the part of all and sundry oppressed and discontented elements. Inevitably, sections of the petty bourgeoisie and of the backward workers will participate in it—without such participation, mass struggle is impossible, without it no revolution is possible—and just as inevitably will they bring into the movement their prejudices, their reactionary fantasies, their weaknesses and errors. But objectively they will attack capital, and the class-conscious vanguard of the revolution, the advanced proletariat, expressing this objective truth of a variegated and discordant, motley and outwardly fragmented, mass struggle, will be able to unite and direct it, capture power, seize the banks, expropriate the trusts which all hate (though for difficult reasons!), and introduce other dictatorial measures which in their totality will amount to the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the victory of socialism, which, however, will by no means immediately “purge” itself of petty-bourgeois slag.”
Allowing for the passing of time, does this description not also somewhat accurately describe today’s freedom movement? Undoubtedly there are sections of the petty-bourgeoisie taking part, some workers who lack political education, some who have “prejudices”, and others. Is it not the case, despite this, that “objectively they attack capital” ? And that the path is wide open for a “class-conscious vanguard” to unite the “outwardly fragmented mass struggle” ? And that if the advanced proletariat is able to “direct it, capture power, seize the banks”….”overthrow the bourgeoisie” it will still have to deal with petty-bourgeois elements?
Revolutionaries today must therefore not directly combat the nationalism of the freedom movement. Indeed, in Australia, socialists should recognise that the Red Ensign is being used as a symbol against what they see as the “Australia” they once knew being captured by unaccountable international ghouls. Genuine leftists in the freedom movement need to guide it, where possible, towards the formation of such bodies as strike committees – ongoing organs organising the aims of the freedom movement. Through this process, the masses may see the need for establishing their own government, which is under their own control. “Their own” government can only be one representing labour as against capital – for the petty-bourgeois class has no independent political program of their own. This requires the forging of a genuine Leninist party, which can lead the masses through the proletariat towards not just the end of vaccine mandates, but the abolition of all manifestations of lawless repression.