New Zealand Terror Attacks: Circumstances Demand Answers

A police officer stands guard outside the Masjid Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. Image from http://www.dailysabah.com

New Zealand Terror Attacks: Circumstances Demand Answers
Statement of the Workers League

17-03-2019 – The circumstances surrounding the terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday remain murky. The corporate media claim that 50 people were shot dead, in coordinated attacks on mosques at around 1.30 in the afternoon. At the time of writing, the names, ages and occupations of those that perished have not been released. One name that has been released is that of Brenton Tarrant, a 28 year old from Australia, who had apparently written a far-right wing and fascist manifesto. The names of another three people arrested who allegedly took part have also not been released.

There are three possibilities, which we remain open to. Either: 1. This act of right-wing terror took place as it was reported by the corporate media, with no prior knowledge or involvement of the capitalist state and its security arms. 2. This act did not occur as it was reported by the corporate media, but was inflated with a torrent of false information. 3. This act of right-wing terror took place after being staged and contrived by the security agencies of the imperialist states – coordinated across Australia and New Zealand and perhaps with the US, with the gunman a willing or unwilling patsy.

The first scenario we consider unlikely. This attack was apparently planned for two years, and it seems unlikely that the police and internal security services, which have been beefed up in the wake of the “war on terror”, had no prior knowledge or involvement. The second scenario is a possibility because the corporate media is an arm of the state in capitalist societies. The third scenario is also a possibility, due to the significantly adverse geopolitical conditions in which the Anglo/US Empire finds itself.

The US Empire has just suffered a huge defeat after eight years of an atrocious war for regime change on Syria. Arguably, this was the first defeat in war for US imperialism since the liberation of Vietnam in 1975. The governments of the UK, France, Australia, Canada, Israel, Saudi Arabia and others, all took part in an effort to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic using extreme violence. This included the arming, funding and creation of ISIS, and subtle backing for Al Qaeda and numerous death squads – some of whom had been transplanted from Libya, where NATO had destroyed Green Libya in 2011. Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and the Syrian armed forces combined to defeat US imperialism where they ordinarily would have expected a reasonably quick overthrow.

The US Empire has repeatedly attempted to foment regime change in Iran in recent years, but has not been successful. While there are a number of pro-Western Iranians who agitate for the downfall of the Islamic Republic of Iran, they are very far from gaining anywhere near enough backing for “internal” regime change. The US imposes sanctions upon sanctions, but they are unable to break Iran. Iran’s stock of conventional missiles is vast, they have loyal armed forces, and the majority of Iranians are very well aware of what US imperialism is capable of.

The US Empire’s attempts at regime change in Venezuela have proven farcical, and have fallen flat. The outrageous meddling involved in officially recognising Juan Guaido, a member of a small right-wing party, as “interim president” has placed almost half of the United Nations offside. This is despite backing from the governments of Australia and the European Union. The Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela remain loyal to the government of President Maduro, even despite the economic problems plaguing the country.

The US Empire was unable to foment regime change in Sudan, or at least for now. Russia is continuing to rebuild its economy since the devastation of the 1990s, and militarily at least, it has strategic weapons which it uses not only for its own defence, but to occasionally restrain the US Empire. China’s economy is still booming, and its development of science and technology, combined with a huge manufacturing base, is enabling it to, sooner or later, overtake the US. Socialist state led development is the reason for the rise of China, and the fact that the economy is not primarily based on production for private profit. Red China’s  Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a trillion dollar trade and economic development package for Africa and Eurasia, is a stark example of its economic superiority.

Under these circumstances, the US Empire is desperate, and needs to somehow regain the political loyalty of “their own” working people. This could be one reason for its potential involvement in the preparation and staging of the Christchurch terror attacks. This could well include the utilisation of far-right wing and Nazi inspired elements such as that of Brenton Tarrant. If the police and security services were not involved, the fault still lies with the entire operation of the capitalist class system, which is reaching the point of crisis in Australia, the US and Europe. It is out of crisis that far-right, anti-immigrant sentiment is fueled – if not adequately challenged and defeated by the workers’ movement.

This is why a simple broad front of “anti-fascism” and/or “anti-Islamophobia” built in response will not address the causes of the extreme violence of one-off mass shootings or the other end of the spectrum – imperialist war. Many of those who are now expressing their horror and condemnation of the mass murder of Islamic worshippers in Christchurch were actually the most vocal in their backing of the US imperialist war against Syria – where Muslims and Christians and others were slaughtered indiscriminately. This includes the entirety of the establishment politicians now piously condemning the New Zealand attacks. This also includes many Australian left parties, who strongly backed regime change in Syria – and call for the dose to be repeated in Iran. In addition, all of these forces remain hostile to Russia and China and the DPRK (“North Korea”) – with which the US Empire is itching for catastrophic war. A broad front with such elements – even under a banner of “anti-fascism”, will forever remain politically powerless.

To cleanse society of ultra-right wing violence requires nothing less than the overthrow of capitalist imperialism – in Australia, New Zealand, the US, Europe and Japan. A strong workers’ movement must be built, which can rebuild the Union movement through replacing conservative officials with a class struggle leadership. This is linked to the painstaking endeavour of forging a Marxist vanguard party, which can lead all of the workers and the oppressed to the goal of building a collectivised, publically owned and internationally planned economy. This is the only way to eliminate racist terror, fascism, and the grim possibility of global nuclear war.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

For Real Climate Action: Expropriate Capital!

For Real Climate Action: Expropriate Capital!

15-03-2019 – The 2018 report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued yet another dire warning: the world has until 2030 to limit the rise in pre-industrial temperatures to an average of 1.5 degrees.[1] Failure to do so will risk drought, floods, hurricanes, storms and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. Vast climate distortion, with the current 1 degree average rise in global temperatures, is a current reality, with bushfires and floods now a semi-regular feature of Australian “weather”, to say nothing of the extreme conditions buffeting Asia, Europe and the Americas. The demand for ultra-urgent action to prevent the further life-threatening emission of carbon is now almost universal.

In the face of this, students are now following the lead of Greta Thunberg, a 15 year old from Sweden who has taken the initiative of walking out of school on Fridays in a bid to call global leaders to account. Or so we are told. Is it really as simple as that? Not likely. Greta Thunberg was born into wealth and privilege, and the strings behind her lead directly to some of the most powerful corporations on planet earth – which are part and parcel of the very system responsible for the potential termination of the climatic conditions necessary for human survival. The truth must be told – this is a set up.

Compromised NGOs lead climate activists to parliament

The entire game is given away by just a brief glance at the “School Strike 4 Climate”  website. First, the demands purportedly being put forward are 1. Stop Adani (coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland) 2. For no new Coal or Gas and 3. For 100% renewable energy by 2030. Immediately below is an exhortation for supporters to “host a climate change forum for school students in your electorate before the Federal Election.[2] (emphasis added) So the future of the entirety of human civilisation is tied back down to a run of the mill bourgeois election! If this wasn’t blatant and tawdry enough, the website comes replete with tips on “How to get your (!?!?) politician to take some REAL climate action”, including how to “ask for a meeting”, “tell them why you care” and “ask them to make concrete commitments” at the meeting.[3] Despite being incredibly patronising, the NGOs behind School Strike 4 Climate demonstrate that they are cynically using children who are motivated by perhaps the most progressive cause of our time, to bolster and fortify the very system entirely responsible for climate catastrophe in the first place – the rule of private finance capital.

Which NGOs are linked to the School Strike 4 Climate? The website Wrong Kind of Green has carried out an exhaustive exposure of the corporations behind Greta Thunberg and their motivations.[4] They include Avaaz, The B Team, World Resources Institute, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Purpose, TckTckTck, Rockefeller Foundation, Oxfam, Amnesty International and the World Wildlife Fund, amongst others. Al Gore, personally worth around $350 million dollars, is amongst them, as is Richard Branson – fresh from a failed attempt to join with the US Empire to violently overthrow the Venezuelan government.[5] Many have been taken in by a supposedly innocent 15 year old Greta Thunberg, staging a one-out vigil outside the Swedish parliament every Friday. But as the research of Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer shows, Greta Thunberg is linked to Al Gore to Bill Gates to Richard Branson to the “liberal” wings of the most powerful ruling classes in the history of world capitalism. It is clear they demand the impossible – a movement to arrest or reverse global warming which remains entirely within the bounds of the US Empire.

The concept that the very same politicians who have, for over one hundred years, overseen the development of catastrophic global warming, can at the same time be somehow convinced to reverse course and save the world is not only a flight of dangerous fantasy. It reveals the entire political strategy of the liberal bourgeoisie, which in this country is represented most particularly by the notorious GetUp! – founded by the very same people behind Purpose and Avaaz. GetUp! disingenuously claim that they are not linked to the Labor Party, when former and current board members have been prominent Labor Party politicians, including Bill Shorten himself.[6] It is suspected that GetUp! are the concealed hands behind the School Strike 4 Climate, given their heavy promotion of the first one on November 30, 2018.[7] Particularly disorienting is their herding of people back into the parliament, pushing the notion that the politicians there are “ours” and can be made to “listen” to us.

Working people should be crystal clear on this point – politicians from all parliamentary parties in Australia, be they Liberal, Labor, National, Greens, One Nation, Katter’s Australian Party and so on are not “ours” at all. They are politicians of the capitalist class responsible for not only the catastrophe of impending climate collapse, but the decimation of the standard of living for all workers and the oppressed. They CANNOT be allies in any political struggle, and most especially one as important as climate change. Working people need our own party, and our own state – which necessarily must be politically and organisationally independent of all federal and state parliaments. A workers’ government will have no impediments such as private profit standing in the way of rational action to address climate distortion.

Driving the illusion of “100% renewable energy”

The School Strike 4 Climate [or likely the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) behind the scenes] proffers the demands to Stop Adani and for no new coal and gas. These demands are necessary and can be backed by workers. However, the demand for 100% renewable energy – by 2030 or anytime – is a green illusion which hooks most liberals and almost the entire environmental movement. Renewable energy – by which its advocates mean primarily wind and solar power, and to a lesser extent geothermal, tidal or pumped hydro – is nowhere near a point which it could be rolled out to provide 100% of Australia’s electricity needs. Wind and solar are intermittent sources – solar power produces nothing at night, and wind power relies on strong consistent winds. They need backup, which is primarily slated to come from gas, or biomass. The lack of capacity of wind and solar means that the build out for it has to take into account building in overcapacity – which is probably completely impractical. This is an ongoing debate, but there are already comprehensive critiques compiled which supply convincing evidence that the “100% renewable energy” demand is essentially an empty claim.[8] At any rate, using current technology, there is hardly an industry which is willing to switch to 100% renewable energy right now. Industry, as well as a small household, needs baseload and peakload power. Grids set up for the intermittent power of wind and solar have yet to be built, and would involve wasted endeavour trying to devise.

As the intense carbon emissions from coal and gas rule them out as power sources into the future, the best placed replacement for baseload carbon free energy is nuclear power.[9] Yet decades of misinformation and scaremongering from many environmentalists has pushed the development of zero-carbon nuclear power off the agenda. Ironically, being anti-nuclear has arguably contributed to the use of coal, and thus the adding of dangerous emissions to the atmosphere. It is ironic that Australia exports Uranium overseas for use in fuelling zero-carbon nuclear power overseas, but there are laws which prevent the building of zero-carbon nuclear power on these shores.

Red China leads the way

What the GetUp!/Avaaz/AYCC/Al Gore/Greta Thunberg crew cannot mention, due to loyalty to the system of production for private profit, is that it is actually the People’s Republic of China (PRC) which is far and away leading the transition away from fossil fuels and towards zero carbon energy sources. The corporate NGOs lament the wholesale lack of action of any kind of transition to wind, water and solar power in Australia, while simultaneously ignoring the PRC, the world’s largest country by population, where this is actually taking place. The sheer scale of the installation of wind, water and solar power in the PRC dwarfs any of the deliberately half-hearted attempts to do so in the West. Figures from the China Electricity Council (CEC) in 2017 show that there is a marked shift towards zero carbon energy sources on the Chinese mainland. Wind, water and solar power added 51.9% of new capacity, thermal accounted for 42.9% and nuclear for 5.2%.[10]

The 5.2% for zero carbon nuclear power may sound small, but in fact Red China is again leading the way in the operation and construction of reactors. There are now more than 40 reactors operating in China, and another 18 under construction – and that is just for starters. The specialists advising the Communist Party of China (CPC), unlike the Western environmental movement, anticipates that the share of power from renewables will tail off in the longer term, to less than half of the total. In other words, they are aware of the limitations of renewables vis-à-vis the advantages of nuclear generated electricity. Moreover, if China’s rapid economic growth continues at anything like what has occurred since the 1980s, China’s power demands will double by 2040. Hence, China’s Energy Development Strategy Action Plan for 2014-2020 has set a target of 58 Gigawatts (GWe) for nuclear power, with an additional 30 GWe slated to be under construction.

The key here is “plan”. Red China is leading the way on the replacement of fossil fuels, because it has a planned economy. Not only that, China’s economy primarily does not run on the basis of production for private profit. The 1949 socialist revolution in China established a workers’ state which has not been overthrown, despite policy shifts since that time. The major means of production in China are state owned or majority state owned. This is especially the case for the strategic drivers of the economy – such as roads, railways, ports, steel production and infrastructure construction. And this is even before taking into account the fact that all of the largest banks and financial institutions are not only state-owned, but directed by leading members of the Communist Party of China (CPC). In short, China’s socialism allows it to take the lead in combatting climate distortion, whereas the West’s capitalism stands as an immediate and major block to even the first steps.

Left parties unite for climate – across classes

To be sure, workers in the PRC need more political decision making power than they currently have. Nevertheless, workers internationally need to work with, not against, the leadership on climate being shown by the PRC. Grating against this are some Australian left parties, who have fallen hook, line and sinker for the Greta Thunberg roadshow. The Socialist Alliance (SA)[11], Socialist Alternative (SAlt)[12] and Solidarity(Sol)[13] are all building the March 15 Climate Strike as if it is perfectly normal to be working directly with GetUp! and Avaaz and Al Gore and Richard Branson. There is a reason why these ostensibly left parties do not see a contradiction – they all unite as one for imperialist war. SA, SAlt and Sol uniformly joined with GetUp! in its subtle backing of the US/Saudi/UK/FRA/AUST led imperialist war for regime change on Syria. Likewise, they all combine to drive relentless calls for US backed regime change in Iran. And, despite claiming to be “anti-war”, they all spruik about “repression” in China, Russia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – which indicates they will not genuinely oppose a US led war against these or other countries independent of Wall Street.

Joining this unholy alliance are the top officials of Australian Unions – some of whom have donated Union members funds directly to GetUp! What transpires is a cross-class popular front, where the politics is wholly subordinated to the “left” wing of the ruling class – that part of the elite which can see something needs to be done about catastrophic climate change, but will stanchly resist any challenge to the capitalist system. Workers must be clear – human relations will not be rational so long as the working class has not yet abolished the private ownership of the means of production. Capital – the banks, the mines, major industries – must be expropriated from the obscenely rich and placed in the hands of society, held in trust by a workers’ republic. A pre-requisite will be the forging of a Marxist vanguard party, which could lead workers and all of the oppressed in the consolidation of a collectivised, planned economy – and hence rational action to avoid dangerous climate collapse. This should be the ultimate aim of “climate strikes”.

WORKERS   LEAGUE
E: workersleague@redfireonline.com
PO  Box  66  NUNDAH QLD  4012

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/global-warming-must-not-exceed-15c-warns-landmark-un-report (27-02-19)

[2] https://drive.google.com/file/d/18MtPGabeW5lPQ9asPRQGk26YuRB94te4/view (02-03-19)

[3] https://www.schoolstrike4climate.com/blog/tips-for-getting-your-politician-to-commit-to-real-climate-action (02-03-19)

[4] http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2019/02/24/the-manufacturing-of-greta-thunberg-a-decade-of-social-manipulation-for-the-corporate-capture-of-nature-crescendo/ (02-03-19)

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/19/maduro-government-richard-branson-rival-venezuela-concerts (02-03-19)

[6] https://www.jimball.com.au/blog/the-getup-setup-brad-norrington-the-australian/ (02-03-19)

[7] https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/climate-action-now/climate-strikes/school-strikes-for-climate-action (02-03-19)

[8] https://bravenewclimate.com/2014/06/02/critique-100pc-renewables-edm/ (02-03-19)

[9] https://nuclearforclimate.com.au/2019/02/05/the-heat-is-on-time-for-nuclear/ (02-03-19)

[10] https://reneweconomy.com.au/chinas-amazing-green-shift-solar-wind-water-power-57490/ (03-03-19)

[11] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/unions-join-students-call-strike-our-climate (03-03-19)

[12] https://redflag.org.au/index.php/node/6634 (03-03-19)

[13] https://www.solidarity.net.au/mag/current/123/editorial-strike-out-morrisons-coalition-of-climate-deniers/ (03-03-19)

 

International Working Women’s Day 2019

International Working Women’s Day 2019: Workers Must Fight for Women’s Liberation

08-03-2019 – Despite all the technological and scientific advances that drive the 21st century, women in Australia in 2019 have yet to attain full equality. Just a few examples will demonstrate this graphically. The Australian government’s own figures from 2018 reveal that the gender pay gap averages at 14.6% overall, and is up to 25% in some industries, in terms of men earning more than women. For men and women in full-time positions, women earn a staggering $27 500 less per year than men.[1] 65.3% of the Australian workforce are women, and women live on average five years longer than men. Despite this, 40% of older single retired women live in poverty, and women currently retire with 47% less superannuation than men.[2]

Homelessness and poverty are increasing, which disproportionately affects women, especially single mothers. The Federal Government’s draconian “Parents Next” program is an obscenity, which is already making living conditions for single mothers dependent on welfare even more difficult than they already are. It reinforces decades old dogma that the raising of children – mostly performed by women – is not work, and therefore should not be paid. It also punishes single mothers for not returning to the workforce – which is hard enough in an era of high unemployment, let alone attempting to do it while raising children. The program targets women by a factor of 96%, and approximately 10 000 indigenous women.[3] The “mutual obligations” under the program are simply insulting, such as having to attend compulsory “story time” sessions, where women are compelled to discuss how they became single mothers.

Domestic violence against women is at epidemic levels. Domestic or family violence against women is the largest driver of homelessness for women, with police being called to deal with an instance once every two minutes across the country. Incredibly, on average one woman per week is murdered by a partner or former partner.[4] While both men and women can be subjected to domestic and family violence, the overwhelming majority is gendered, with men the perpetrators against women.

Profit system driving the collapse

Despite this, it would be wrong to target men per se for the crimes that some men commit against women. Any real analysis of the causes of male violence against women will reveal that the cause is rooted in the oppression of women under class society, and the current dire economic malaise of the capitalist system, not only in Australia, but in the US, Europe and Japan. The capitalist economies have not recovered from the financial crisis of 2008, and living and working conditions are subsequently worsening. Men, who once had permanent jobs which would pay enough to raise a family of four, now largely struggle with a skyrocketing cost of living, bullying from managers where they have work, self-serving politicians lining their own pockets while stripping society of essential services, and CEOs who earn millions of dollars more than the value of what they can possibly produce in one year. Any violence against women is abominable, but, unable to see a reason for their seemingly inescapable predicament, some men lash out in desperation against their female partners, unable to explain their own despair.

The only solution is a society where employment and a decent standard of living is guaranteed for all, where healthcare and education are provided at little or no cost, where transport and infrastructure are built for the collective use of society. Yet capitalism in 2019 is unable to deliver on any of these, and so it turns against those who produce the wealth of society – the working class. The greater the extent of the crisis of the profitability of capital, the more misery and oppression is thrown down upon the workers and the oppressed. Unsafe working conditions are one consequence, the destruction of the natural world through ecological collapse and unending imperialist wars are others.

Revolution the only way out

The three pillars of class society remain the family, private property and the state. Of these, it is society’s smallest repressive unit – the nuclear family – which is the deepest source of women’s oppression. Yet like the capitalist state, the family cannot be “abolished” – it can only wither away as a classless society approaches. Liberation for women therefore requires the overturn of the capitalist order, and the construction of socialism – the working class holding supreme power.

While it is true that all women are oppressed by capital, women of the middle and ruling classes can simply buy their way out of the burdens of second class citizenry. The women’s liberation movement therefore seeks to liberate working class women only, as a vital component of the struggle to emancipate the working class as a whole from capitalist bondage. Feminism as such denies this essential task, and seeks only to carve out the best possible conditions for the advancement of (upper class) women within the system and its corrupt parliaments and corporate boardrooms. Despite the intentions of some of its adherents, feminism is also usually silent, or actually endorses, imperialist war – one of the crucial issues of our time. To our knowledge, no strand of feminism has consistently opposed the imperialist wars on Libya and Syria, nor the impending ones on Russia, China, Iran, the DPRK (“North Korea”), Sudan, Venezuela and so on ad nauseam. It is the primary contradiction: one cannot be silent in the face of the marauding US Empire (and its allies in London, Paris and Canberra) and claim to stand for women.

The struggle for women’s liberation cannot be simply subsumed within the working class movement, however. Rather, male and gender non-binary workers need to be won to the fight for women’s liberation. The key to this task is the forging of a Marxist vanguard party, which can lead all of the oppressed towards the egalitarian order based on common property and a planned economy.

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/culture/article/2018/11/27/these-kids-have-learned-harsh-reality-australias-gender-pay-gap (06-03-19)

[2] http://www.womeninsuper.com.au/content/the-facts-about-women-and-super/gjumzs (06-03-19)

[3] http://unemployedworkersunion.com/write-a-submission-to-the-parentsnext-senate-inquiry/ (06-03-19)

[4] http://www.domesticviolence.com.au/pages/domestic-violence-statistics.php (06-03-19)

US/EU/AUST: Hands Off Venezuela!

Flag of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

US/EU/AUST: Hands Off Venezuela!
For Workers’ Power in Latin America

23-02-2019 – Self-declared “President” of Venezuela, the right-wing Juan Guaido, has called on the actual President Nicolas Maduro to step down – or else. Or else what? The Venezuelan military remains on the side of the Venezuelan government, and the governments of Russia and China – the only powers with the material ability to counter US imperialism – have recognised Maduro as President, and have denounced what amounts to a brazen attempt at violent regime change. Juan Guaido at this stage appears to have little chance of his coup – more or less obviously in collaboration with Washington – doing anything but floundering.

Unfortunately, there are ways in which this barely concealed US led (yet another) Latin American coup can “succeed”. Juan Guaido has set a deadline of February 23 for the Maduro government to allow “humanitarian” aid into the country.[1] The arrival and stockpiling of aid packages on the Colombian border with Venezuela is a re-hash of a trick used many times by the US ruling class when attempting regime change in Latin America. Deliver the aid, entice people to collect it, and use the cover of “aid” for a stock standard invasion. This time, Juan Guaido is calling for one million of his right-wing supporters to act as chaperones for the aid,[2] who will likely act as human shields guarding the entry of US or Colombian troops. Even those with little political awareness can see the trap being laid.

Tripwire for World War III

Working people the world over must be aware that we can ill afford to allow the Venezuelan government to be overthrown by US imperialism, with its backing from the European Union (EU) and lackey medium sized imperialists such as Australia. Whatever its shortcomings, the “Bolivarian Revolution” in Venezuela over 20 years has built a form of resistance to the onslaught of Western led “globalisation”. Even though the forces of Western capital give scant regard to the sovereignty of a nation which retains a shred of independence, it is vital that this principle be defended by workers. What is more, if the US Empire is not staved off at this point, it could set off a wider war across the Americas, setting the scene for what many believed was impossible 20 years ago – World War III.

Workers must not be cowed, however. Out of crisis emerges great opportunity. And whatever military power the Venezuelan right-wing opposition can count on, it cannot be won with arms alone. A political struggle must ensue, and it is one in which Venezuelan and international workers must prevail.

US President Donald Trump in his recent State of the Union address won stormy applause from Republicans and Democrats when he claimed that “America will never be a socialist country”. With the US working class in desperation, enduring economic hardships seemingly without end, Mr Trump and the housebroken Democrats should not be so confident. All the prerequisites for a socialist revolution in the US are there – but what is missing is genuine leadership of US workers. Arguably the foremost working class leader in world history – V.I. Lenin – understood more than most that the working class will not struggle to overthrow capitalism except under the leadership of revolutionary Marxists. This applies not only to the US, but also in the EU and Australia – and it is also the case in Venezuela.

Chavismo has run its course

No matter how many times the US ruling class, and the right-wing Venezuelan opposition it collaborates with, decry “socialism” in Venezuela; the reality is that the first steps towards it have not been taken. “Chavismo” – the movement named after Hugo Chavez when elected in 1998 – was always a political project which explicitly rejected the key lessons of 20th century socialism. That is, it rejected the need for a Marxist vanguard party to lead the workers in a struggle for state power. From the distortions of Marxism which conservative and bureaucratic leadership of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe brought about, the Chavistas drew the wrong conclusion that, therefore, the need for “the dictatorship of the proletariat” – a workers’ republic representing the working class in power – is obsolete. But today reality is starkly demonstrating that what is obsolete is Chavismo itself, or “Socialism of the 21st Century”. This was always a liberal vulgarisation of socialism, and an overt break with the first tenets of Marxism.

Chavismo under Chavez, or now under Maduro, was never about confrontation, let alone a contest, with Venezuelan capitalists. It was always an attempt to placate and pacify them. Maduro has bent over backwards to keep on reasonable terms with the Venezuelan capitalists, and by extension, with US imperialism itself. One result of this was leaving the banks in the hands of their private owners, and hence an inability to control hyperinflation – now likely to be running at 1 000 000 %.[3]  Needless to say, this drives up prices, especially of vital goods like food, fuel and medicine, to a level which is unaffordable for most Venezuelans. There are many examples of Venezuelan businesses hoarding goods to make them scarce, which pushes up prices. This can then be blamed on the government. In 2017, President Maduro accused bakeries of refusing to make bread, hoarding the flour to make more profitable brownies and cookies.[4] The absence of bread hits the poor – the base of support for Maduro – the hardest.

Steve Ellner claims that the economic problems in Venezuela have a three-fold source.[5] Firstly, the nosediving oil prices, which have declined precipitously since 2014. Secondly, the impact of US sanctions on Venezuela – which have even included sanctions on Cilia Flores, the wife of President Maduro. And thirdly, the mistaken policies of the Maduro government. Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, and the oil prices never sank before 2014. US sanctions also inevitably take their toll. But it is not simply a case of the “mistaken policies” of the Maduro government. The whole approach and framework of the false theory of “Socialism of the 21st Century” is at fault. Capitalism cannot be reformed, even with the majority of electoral support, expressed many times over 20 years.

Unity of the “people” ?

So called “Socialism of the 21st Century”, as practiced by Chavez and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), is at best left-leaning social-democracy. It has never made a political break with capitalism, and hence its impending downfall – perhaps at the hands of the invading US Empire. It is not possible to “unite the people” in Venezuela, or in the US, or Australia, or any country where capitalism rules. Capitalism means the division of society into the two great classes involved in production – capital and labour. For labour to release itself from under the heel of capital, and thus liberate all of society, the working class must take power in its own name. This cannot be done in the name of Chavismo, or Bolivarianism, or “the people” – for all of these attempt to “unite” classes with irreconcilable interests. Socialism is above all the working class in power, and this can only be achieved by splitting, not uniting, with the middle and upper classes, and especially the ruling class.

Yet this is not the strategy of the PSUV in Venezuela, and nor can it be. Their approach is to mobilise their own supporters, while at the same time cutting deals and making concessions to the political right-wing and the Venezuelan capitalists. The political intent is that of a united front with the capitalist class. Not only is the bourgeoisie entirely uninterested in such an alliance, these attempts further confuse and disorient the working class, and drive them away from the most essential first step – a political break with private capital and the reformist illusions of the PSUV. A political unification with the ruling class is always a recipe for stagnation and demoralisation, as workers wait interminably for signs of things improving.

If “unity” of all people in Venezuela is a mistaken strategy, it is doubly so internationally, including here in Australia. The Socialist Alliance (SA) has largely organised political solidarity with the Venezuelan Bolivarian process for years. It is again doing so, but again with the politics of “unity”, and this time including unity with the Labor Party. In its newspaper Green Left Weekly, SA call for the Australian Labor Party (ALP) to oppose the US led coup in Venezuela. They write: “The Labor leadership must reverse its decision to recognise Juan Guaido. It must also demand the coalition government pressure the US to lift its sanctions on Venezuela and rule out any military intervention.”[6]

Here the strategy is one where SA seeks to improve the policy of the ALP, so it can work together with the ALP, supposedly against an imperialist war. Yet the ALP represents one wing of the Australian ruling class – the same ruling class represented by PM Morrison and the Liberal Party. By extension, it seeks to lead the Venezuelan solidarity movement into a united front with the very ruling class which has loyally served the US ruling class in war since Korea in the 1950s. Working people can only lose through being politically subordinated, once again, to the major political parties and thus to Australian imperialism.

The Communist Party of Australia (CPA), alongside SA, retails the line of the reformist government of Venezuela, in calling for a “peaceful political solution to the crisis based on the principles of self-determination and non-interference in the affairs of a sovereign nation.”[7] In other words, the CPA calls for “dialogue” and “negotiations”, when the actions of US imperialism have clearly indicated that it will only accept the abolition of the Venezuelan government. Workers can hardly be empowered by staid calls on their own governments, and the US government, to come to what could only be a temporary agreement.

Workers to Power

Workers in Australia should note that while joint work with SA on the question of the current defence of Venezuela can be carried out, such co-operation is NOT possible when it comes to the question of Syria, Iran or Sudan. SA calls for “Hands Off Venezuela”, but for eight years strongly opposed both the demand “Hands Off Syria” and the organisation Hands Off Syria – as they vociferously backed US led regime change against the Syrian Arab Republic[8]. Likewise for Iran[9] and Sudan[10], SA again loudly advocate US led regime change – while simultaneously opposing US led regime change in Venezuela!

The CPA, in addition, is also an organisation that working people CANNOT be allies with on the question of Iran – where they concur with the Tudeh Party of Iran that the Iranian government represents a medieval dictatorship!![11] The US state department would approve. Nor can the CPA be an ally on Sudan, where it joins with SA to once again call for political power to be usurped and handed to a US backed opposition.[12] When it comes to Venezuela today, the CPA and SA are also only half correct. Granted, they call for the defeat of the US backed coup attempt, the non-recognition of coup leader Juan Guaido, and the lifting of US sanctions on Venezuela. Yet they also politically defend President Maduro and the PSUV – a reformist (and still capitalist) government which in practice attempts to conciliate US imperialism. What is required is the mobilisation of workers in Venezuela and across Latin America to confront and defeat US imperialism – through efforts to organise workers to take state power into their own hands. A workers’ state is the key mechanism through which imperialism can be temporarily staved off until workers internationally are able to bring down “their own” capitalism.

Such an approach, however, is anathema to the PSUV in Venezuela, and also to SA and the CPA on these shores. While in Venezuela the PSUV practice a “united broad front” with the Venezuelan business class, in Australia SA and the CPA practice a “united broad front” with the ALP, i.e. the “liberal” wing of the ruling class. In both cases, workers are thus tied politically to a coalition with the bourgeoisie – a recipe for complete disaster. In order for workers to either defend themselves against capitalist austerity, or against a US led coup, workers must know exactly who their enemies are and who are their allies. To the extent that the Venezuelan government and military defend the country against US-led overthrow, workers should not stand in the way, and even assist. At the same time, not one bar of political support can be offered to the PSUV. In fact, workers in Venezuela desperately need to forge the Marxist vanguard party which can begin the task of winning the most class-conscious Chavistas to the perspective of uniting the workers, rather than the “people”.This is the missing link that workers internationally are crying out for.

WORKERS   LEAGUE
www.redfireonline.com       E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-guaido/venezuelas-guaido-says-humanitarian-aid-will-arrive-on-feb-23-idUSKCN1Q1277 (18-02-19)

[2] https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/02/18/world/social-issues-world/venezuelas-juan-guaido-calls-million-volunteers-aid-standoff-maduro/#.XGlwWbhx2Uk (18-02-19)

[3] https://www.newsweek.com/venezuela-inflation-hits-833997-course-1-million-2019-1207509 (20-02-19)

[4] https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/04/07/522912791/venezuelas-bread-wars-with-food-scarce-government-accuses-bakers-of-hoarding (20-02-19)

[5] https://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/14334 (20-02-19)

[6] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/labor-must-oppose-trump-coup-venezuela (20-02-19)

[7] https://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2019/1857/02-editorial.html (20-02-19)

[8] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/idlib-not-end-story (21-02-19)

[9] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/iranian-workers-protests-confront-regime-crisis (21-02-19)

[10] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/sudan-uprising-peoples-revolution (21-02-19)

[11] https://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2017/1806/09-greetings-tudeh.html (21-02-19)

[12] http://cpa.org.au/guardian/2019/1856/14-sudans.html (21-02-19)

Iran: Workers or Separatists?

Flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Iran: Workers or Separatists?

16-02-2019 – When is a workers’ movement not actually a workers’ movement? When is a Union not actually a Union? A good indicator is when such “movements” spring up in a country directly targeted for regime change by the rapacious US Empire – the same one which pulled out all stops to overthrow an allied country using indescribable violence. We of course reference Syria, and its ally Iran. The Syrian Arab Republic remains, and for now has effectively defeated the US masters of war and its allies. This was achieved with the vital assistance of Russia, the Lebanese Hezbollah, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Furious at having been blocked in what is usually a straight forward case of imperial overthrow, the US state now dramatically ramps up its vast array of tools for regime change in Iran. To say that a US led war on Iran – the gateway between the Middle East and Asia – would be a catastrophe would be an understatement.

“Independent” Unions

The US state department is very well schooled in manipulating well-intentioned but misguided progressive youth and left-leaning workers into serving as foot soldiers for its regime change wars. Assisted by all manner of NGOs, “liberal” corporate media and ostensibly “left” parties, the US Empire effectively reversed the anti-war sentiment that came about through the war on Iraq in 2003. Although “successful” in Libya, they were blocked in Syria – which has only increased their desperation and consequent appetite for regime change in Iran. Of course the US state has been desperate for regime change in Iran since the Iranian people toppled the US backed Shah in 1979, and expelled all US “advisors”. But in 2019, the US state can ill afford to allow liberals to lie idle.

A useful method for the imperialists is to falsely claim to support the struggle of workers and Unions in a country they also label their number one enemy. As if the political operatives of world capitalism are the slightest bit concerned about the welfare of the working class!  Yet they do, and unfortunately they draw in progressive minded folk and some left parties who should know a lot better.

The “independent” Union set up is a classical case. “Independent” Unions in Iran can only be dependent on external backing, in a similar way in which “independent” Unions in China or Vietnam or Cuba are higly likely to be a conduit for US state interference. This is not to deny specific issues for workers that exist for workers in those countries, but the price of the loss of independence from imperialism – the restoration of capitalism in China, Vietnam or Cuba – would set workers back 100 years. Iran, despite operating a capitalist economy, is independent of US, and therefore world, imperialism. Despite Iran’s market economy, there is extensive state direction, and the loss of this would send Iranian workers back to a stage before 1979. This is why workers in Iran and internationally must stridently defend Iran against all facets of US domination.

Falling at the first obligation

Some Australian left parties stumble at the primary obligation of anyone claiming to be a socialist or Marxist – clear opposition to US imperialism. The Socialist Alliance (SA), through its newspaper Green Left Weekly(GLW), recently published an extraordinary attack on the Iranian government, at the precise time when it is enduring enormous hardship as a result of, amongst other things, US sanctions. In a piece dated February 1, Minna Langeberg claims that “although US sanctions have worsened the economic situation, they are not the cause: the cause is a religious fascist regime in a deep crisis of legitimacy.”[1] The mind boggles!!

To label Iran as “fascist”, at the same time as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton are gunning for the overthrow of Iran, clearly marks where the Socialist Alliance stands. Whether they are aware of it or not, SA is unfortunately repeating its notorious role backing US led regime change in Syria. Regime change right now, in Iran, can only benefit the US ruling class. One cannot wish US imperialism out of existence. The only possibility that a political movement for a new government in Iran now could garner support from workers internationally would be one that: 1) Clearly maintained that it opposed the imperialism of the US and their allies in the UK, France etc, with the backing of Israel, and did so to a greater extent than the current Iranian government 2) Clearly stated that it stood for the defence of Iran and Syria and the region against Saudi Arabian and Zionist Israel, to a greater extent than the current Iranian government 3) Clearly stated that is was for the complete liberation of women through working class emancipation. 4) Clearly maintained the equality of all religions and minorities within Iran to a greater extent than the current Iranian government 5) Clearly stated that the economy should be more publicly owned than is currently the case 6) Clearly maintained that it backs the workers throughout Iran, not just in a couple of areas known for anti-government sentiment, and so on.

If such a political movement existed in Iran today, or even one with even some or even one of the above characteristics, leftists internationally would have to seriously assess it. But there are no indications the current “movement” of protests in Iran expresses serious anti-imperialism. This is even despite the fact that it claims it stands for “workers” and “unions” and subjectively opposes the “crony capitalism” of the Iranian government. Sure, there are workers demonstrating against the economic hardships largely caused by US sanctions. Some Iranians certainly blame the government, even while recognising the impact of US sanctions. But in a country whose population has now surpassed 82 million people[2], such demonstrations and rallies have to be closely analysed.

Khuzestan and separatism

GLW’s article by Minna Langeberg hinges on two supposed labour struggles breaking out in Iran. Langeberg writes “..two simultaneous waves of labour protests stand out, both in the southwest province of Khuzestan: the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company protests, and the National Steel Company protests in Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan.”[3] So of all the alleged labour unrest and “Union struggle” in Iran, the two most important all happen in one province in the south of Iran?  Some explanation for this is required here, yet none is offered by GLW.

The south-western province of Khuzestan hosts the majority of Iran’s oil production. It also is home to around 1.5 million Ahwazi Arabs, reportedly making up around 2% of Iran’s population.[4] Generally, Ahwazi Arabs claim that they are marginalized and excluded from Iranian society and government, as a minority in a majority Persian country. Khuzestan’s capital Ahvaz is hard hit by unemployment, but that is unfortunately widespread across Iran. Doubtless there are some grievances that need to be addressed, but whether the Ahwazi Arabs generally favour separatism from Iran is not clear. There are certainly some Ahwazi organisations, including armed ones, which stridently advocate a separation from Iran. One is the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), which may sound legitimate. However, this group, in seeking separation from Iran, has bombed government buildings and pipelines in the region which have killed civilians.[5]  In other words, regardless of the justness of whatever cause they claim, they are a terrorist organisation with no regard for innocent life.

Another recent example of the absent lack of concern for the butchering of innocents by Ahwaz separatists was the September 22 terrorist attack on a military parade in Ahvaz. The parade was marking the anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq-Iran war, in which then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein apparently believed the Ahwazi Arabs would welcome the entry of the forces of fellow Arabs. They did not, and Iranian forces had to wage a battle to retake the city a couple of years later at a high cost of life.  What occurred at that parade only last year, was that four gunmen disguised as soldiers opened fire and indiscriminately shot dead fleeing soldiers and civilians. At least 24 people died, including a four year old child.[6] Around 70 were injured.

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Denmark, the Netherlands all aid “jihadist separatists”

Two groups claimed responsibility for the attack: ISIS and the Ahwaz National Resistance. It is unlikely that ISIS was behind it – they claim responsibility for many attacks they have nothing to do with. The claim of the Ahwaz National Resistance is much more likely. What kind of “resistance” movement would openly claim responsibility for an attack which clearly extinguished innocent lives? Iran’s Supreme Leader the Ayatollah Ali Khamanei did not mince his words in response: “This cowardly attack was the work of those very individuals who are rescued by the Americans whenever they are in trouble in Iraq and Syria  and who are funded by the Saudis and the (United) Arab Emirates.”[7] It has long been suspected that the Saudi Arabian royal family, along with the UAE government, fund and arm the Ahwaz separatists, as a way of undermining and destablising Iran. In this case, it seems likely it was direct payback for the role Iran has played in Syria, helping to defeat the foreign backed jihadists seeking ultra-violent regime change. Without endorsing the Iranian government per se, working people can only support the actions of the Iranian military in Syria, which contributed to the defeat of the US and its proxy forces.

While the Saudi and Emirati governments fund and arm the ultra-violent terrorist Ahwazi groups, the governments of Denmark and the Netherlands give them safe haven on their soil. In response to the September 22 atrocity, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi stated that it was not acceptable for European Union countries to refrain from blacklisting known members of terrorist groups as long as they do not commit a crime on European soil. He said the Iranian government had warned Denmark and the Netherlands about the presence of the terrorists and called for their arrest and trial.[8] The hypocrisy is galling. One could only imagine the response if Iran had hosted known terrorists on its soil, whose fellow members then went on a shooting rampage in the US, or a European country. Yet the reverse happens, but the imperialist powers get away scot-free.

Workers must defend Iran, and condemn Western armed terrorism

Unfortunately the Socialist Alliance is joined by the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) in blindly backing the Ahwaz separatists, who skillfully manipulate progressives under the cover of backing “independent” workers’ “Unions”. In an article in the CPA’s The Guardian newspaper dated December 12, 2018, the author attempts to draw a wall between the open US state aim of regime change in Iran, and the workers’ protests in Khuzestan.[9] Yet they are one and the same! How do we know this? One reason is because none other than John Bolton – currently heading up US backed regime change in Venezuela and Iran – has openly advocated backing Iran’s ethnic minorities as a means of destabilising the country.[10]

Not only has John Bolton advocated the stoking of ethnic tensions in Iran as part of regime change efforts, his links to the notorious terrorist group the Mujaheddin E Khalq (MEK) are well known. The MEK fought with the invading Iraqi government during the Iraq-Iran war, and as such are despised as traitors by almost all Iranians. They are exiled because of this, but it has not stopped John Bolton declaring to MEK supporters that he will celebrate with them in Tehran “before 2019”.[11] This is a senior US official, openly preparing not only regime change in Iran, but choosing known ultra-violent terrorists as the new leaders! In addition, MEK cult leader Maryam Rajavi has publicly supported the Ahwazi separatists.[12]

Due to Iran’s necessary building of conventional missiles as defence, not to speak of a united and well-armed military, external US led regime change on Iran is unlikely – though not impossible. Much more likely is internal US led regime change – which utilises all manner of anti-government yahoos, up to and including ultra-violent terrorists and criminal jihadists. Without endorsing the political positions of the Iranian government, workers internationally have a vital interest, at this time, in defending Iran against internal and external regime change. Imperialism must be opposed regardless of its modus operandi.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

[1] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/iranian-workers-protests-confront-regime-crisis (16-02-19)

[2] http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/iran-population/ (16-02-19)

[3] Ibid, 1.

[4] https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/the-phantom-emirate-of-al-ahwaz (17-02-19)

[5] https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/ahwazis-dont-give-anniversary-annexed-arab-province-looms-iran (17-02-19)

[6] https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/9/25/iran-says-jihadist-separatists-behind-ahvaz-attack (17-02-19)

[7] Ibid, 6.

[8] https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2018/09/iran-criticises-the-netherlands-for-sheltering-terrorists-after-parade-attack/ (17-02-19)

[9] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2018/1852/06-rally.html (17-02-19)

[10] https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-khuzestan-poverty-separatism-bloody-war-memories/29515269.html (17-02-19)

[11] https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2018/6/8/boltons-mek-ties-make-him-more-lobbyist-than-statesman (17-02-19)

[12] https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/ahwazis-dont-give-anniversary-annexed-arab-province-looms-iran (17-02-19)

Sudan: US Fuels Deadly Subversion

Flag of Sudan. The Sudanese flag features the Pan-Arabic red, white and black bars. Image from Flagpedia.net.

Sudan: US Fuels Deadly Subversion

10-02-2019:  In the horn of Africa, some Sudanese people move onto the streets to protest against the price of bread. The demonstrations soon force a response from the government, which moves to prevent them from spreading. The demonstrators call for the overthrow of the state. For the left internationally, on the surface it appears to be a straight forward case – we back the people who are demanding bread – or do we?  In Africa in 2019, things are not at all what they seem.

After the experience of Libya, Syria, Ukraine and now Venezuela, working people need to be alert to any suspected regime change effort by the US Empire. And in Sudan currently, all the hallmarks of yet another attempt to overthrow yet another “regime” which is independent of Washington are there. How can we determine this? One giveaway is the fact that the demand for cheaper bread almost immediately became a call for regime change. This is usually a tell-tale sign that imperialism is fomenting yet another hybrid war for the overturn of a state. Another sign is that the protestors immediately moved to burn down offices of the ruling National Congress Party, headed by President Omar Al-Bashir[1], and set fire to some government vehicles. Suffice to say that demanding cheaper bread at the same time as knee-jerk pyromania is more than a little suspicious.

Sudan pivots to Russia, Syria

Another sign that the current protests in Sudan are not the genuine article is the fact that they broke out immediately after Al-Bashir met with Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus on December 16. What is more, President Bashir was flown from the Sudanese capital Khartoum to Damascus in Russian military aircraft.[2] This visit made Bashir the first Arabic leader of a country to visit Al-Assad in eight years – during the time of the West’s proxy war for regime change against Syria. Al-Bashir’s visit to President Assad seemed to be intended to mark a public display of reality in Syria – the war for regime change waged by the US government is over, and Syria will, for now, remain independent. It also seemed to be an intentional display of the re-alignment of Bashir’s government away from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, and towards Russia and Syria. Workers can be thankful for small mercies such as this. The Sudanese government’s participation in the Saudi led war on Yemen is almost unforgivable. Bashir’s government reportedly sent four attack aircraft and up to 10 000 troops to take part in the attempted suppression of the Houthis defending Yemen.[3] The war on Yemen was a spin-off of the failed regime change war against Syria, and Al-Bashir’s participation in this war against fellow Arabs should be condemned, despite an apparent need now to defend Sudan against US led regime change.

Bashir’s tilt away from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and towards Syria and Russia is to be welcomed, if only to counter the nefarious ends of US imperialist pressure on Sudan. Despite the US government recently lifting crippling sanctions on Sudan, President Bashir claims – not without foundation – that the US seeks the balkanisation of Sudan into five parts. Bashir stated that Sudan sought Russian made S-300 anti-missile protection systems and SU-35s (advanced Russian fighter jets) in order to protect themselves from a US onslaught seeking to shatter the country.[4] In contrast to the decision to assist the war on Yemen, this decision is a rational one. The US was transparently behind the moves to separate South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, when it backed the “Christian” south against the “Muslim” north.[5] What is more, this campaign, which inevitably led to further war, was backed by Hollywood celebrities including Don Cheadle, Mark Wahlberg and the notorious US imperialist adjunct George Clooney.[6] George Clooney would go on to make moves to produce a film glorifying the Al-Qaeda outfit “The White Helmets” in Syria, which made fake videos falsely portraying them as “rescuers”.[7] Even with Hollywood’s backing, the US Empire and their Al-Qaeda proxies were defeated in Syria with the assistance of Russian air power – particularly the SU-35. Hence, Bashir’s desire for a stock of these jets for Sudan.

New Silk Road

As is now customary, US ruling class designs in Africa are consistently overhauled in an attempt to ward off the assistance offered by Red China. Any means which can disrupt trade, investment, healthcare or infrastructure development assistance offered by the world’s largest socialist power to African countries, will be considered or carried out by Washington. This includes all measures up to and including the stoking of fratricidal wars. All of this is under the watchful eye of AFRICOM – the US Empire’s strategic command for the African continent. And AFRICOM takes a dim view of China’s New Silk Road (One Belt One Road – OBOR), which seeks to link Africa and Asia to Europe through mutually beneficial construction of roads, ports and railways. Heaven forbid that African countries should accept development assistance from the predominantly planned and collectivised Chinese economy! Given that Sudan is a strategic hub of the African section of the New Silk Road, it follows that Sudan is thus a prime target for a hybrid political/psychological/diplomatic war.

To give just one example, in 2017 it was announced that China would build a railway connecting the strategic Port Sudan on the edge of the Red Sea to the Chadian capital N’Djamena. This will allow surrounding Eastern African countries such as Cameroon and Nigeria a link to the sea port at Port Sudan – a link to Europe and Asia.[8] The US ruling class, from their point of view, simply cannot stand by and allow any African country to develop, or at the least, not through Washington. China, with its economy operating on a fundamentally different basis to predatory imperialism, has nothing to fear and everything to gain from the rise of African countries out of Third World status. The US economy, based on private profit – cannot tolerate any competition whatsoever. The Chinese economy, which does not operate primarily on private profit, but according to its Five Year Plans, welcomes trading partners, cultural exchanges, and friendly political alliances. Hence – the US covert war for regime change in many parts of Africa. Today Sudan, tomorrow Nigeria, and on and on it goes.

US admits one of their own behind the “protests”

Sometimes the hand of the US deep state reveals itself, and in this case, its involvement in the regime change protests in Sudan. The “Voice of America” – US state department propaganda pumped around the world – admitted in a recent article that Rudwan Dawod helped organise the recent protests in Sudan.[9] Mr Dawod, the article states, is a Sudanese-American politician. He lives sometimes in Oregon in the US, and sometimes in Khartoum. He heads up the transparently dubious “Sudan of the Future” campaign, and when in Khartoum he is employed by “Sudan Sunrise” – an openly US funded NGO.[10] Mr Dawod has previously been arrested by Sudanese authorities, apparently on suspicion of spying for both the US and South Sudan. Given his employment by a US backed NGO, such suspicions have more than reasonable grounds. US backed NGOs are planted around the globe, endlessly plotting regime change on behalf of their benefactors, in Russia, China and Iran. The addition of Sudan to this list would surprise no one.

No one, that is, apart from the imperial left in Australia. Leading from behind on this score, is the Communist Party of Australia (CPA). The CPA should be well aware of the role of Red China in Africa, and the desperate measures of the US Empire and its de facto permanent AFRICOM occupation force. However, the CPA gives carte blanche endorsement to the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), and blindly assumes that the actions of this party align with its name. Over a century has passed since Karl Marx wrote that just as we do not judge an individual on what he thinks of himself, we also do not judge political parties on the basis of what they claim to be. If the Sudanese Communist Party claims to be “communist” while calling for the overthrow of the Sudanese “regime” at the same time as US backed NGOs operating in Sudan are helping to organise this, it follows that, at least on this issue, the Sudanese Communist Party is barely left-wing, let alone “communist”.  By retailing the Sudanese Communist Party’s calls for what can only at this stage be US backed regime change,[11] the CPA adds to its membership ledger of the imperial left.

Always eager to be the first in line to call for regime change in a country targeted by US imperialism, the Socialist Alliance (SA) has leapt into the fray. Seemingly SA has drawn no lessons from its strident backing of the US led wars for regime change against Libya and Syria, and has even deepened the errors. Its newspaper Green Left Weekly is replete with articles urging the overthrow of Sudan, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the contrived protests in Sudan do not appear to have gained anything other than token support across the East African country, which has a population of 40 million people. The photos of the “mass rallies” in Sudan are the classical narrow angle photo, which only shows a section of a small crowd, falsely implying a huge attendance. Even aside from this, basic Marxists should know just by the title of the declaration of the opposition parties, that this is an orchestrated pro-Western coup, with some backing from domestic conservative forces. The “Declaration of Freedom and Change”[12] sounds wonderful for the well paid technical staff of the Sudanese Professionals Association, but will do nothing for poor and working class Sudanese. In fact, US backed regime change in Sudan, which blocked off development assistance offered by China, will be disastrous for them.

“Freedom and Change” cannot be won through the US Empire

This is not to deny socio-economic and political problems for the working class of Sudan. Similar issues exist in all countries, but especially in African countries which are still prevented from developing as one consequence of the history of European colonialism. If US and European imperialism did not exist at all, if there was no military, political, financial or diplomatic interference in Sudan, or in Africa as a whole, from the ruling classes of the United Kingdom (former colonial ruler) and the United States, there is a small possibility that workers internationally could come behind political movements in Sudan – even ones aimed at forming a new government. But this fantasy world does not exist. Imperialism – the expansionary needs of financial capital from the First World “great” powers – has created the political problems in Africa, and it will remain until it is overthrown – principally by workers in “their own” centres.

IF there was political movement in Sudan which was clearly leading a struggle for socialism, for workers’ power, and IF this movement was led by parties or a party which made its call for a workers’ government in Sudan and throughout Africa, and IF this movement made it crystal clear that it opposed the interference of US imperialism in toto, THEN workers internationally could look at engaging with such a movement in a supportive manner.  IF any of these characteristics were present, or anything even leaning in such a direction, it MAY be worth looking at a position of critical support for such a movement. Marxism, as Lenin stressed repeatedly, is the concrete analysis of concrete conditions. Leftists have to analyse each set of circumstances on a case by case basis.

The contrived political protests in Sudan today do not meet ANY of even the most basic pre-conditions that would lead to the beginnings of critical support. Not only does the US state department admit that one of its citizens was organising the protests, part of the Sudanese “opposition” admits it has met with high level US consular staff. For example, the opposition Sudan Call alliance met with US Ambassador Steven Koutsis, at their request, in London in September 2018, to “discuss their position on the peace talks and democratic process”.[13] After the experience of the regime wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and attempts at regime change in Ukraine and Iran, amongst others, one can imagine how the US state department views a “democratic process” !!

Working people in Sudan have an interest in opposing, not backing, US imperialist plans for their country. While maintaining their political independence, state and non-state development assistance offered on good terms from socialist China should be welcomed, and even leveraged against the aims of AFRICOM. Socialists internationally should seek to expose the role of the US Empire in Africa, while extending efforts to forge genuine Marxist vanguard parties – the key element of true internationalism.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/sudan-bread-price-protests-rebellion-government-khartoum-a8697986.html (03-02-19)

[2] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20181219-why-did-sudans-president-visit-bashar-al-assad-in-syria/ (03-02-19)

[3] https://southfront.org/sudanese-forces-in-yemeni-war/ (05-02-19)

[4] https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2017/11/25/543483/Sudan-US-sanctions-Bashir (05-02-19)

[5] https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/07/us-played-key-role-in-southern-sudans-long-journey-to-independence/241660/ (05-02-19)

[6] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14050504 (05-02-19)

[7] http://www.handsoffsyriasydney.com/articles/white-helmets-black-hearts/ (05-02-19)

[8] https://www.globalresearch.ca/sudan-is-indispensable-to-chinas-silk-road-vision-for-africa/5619886 (06-02-19)

[9] https://www.voanews.com/a/sudanese-american-politician-who-organized-protests-goes-missing/4749567.html (06-02-19)

[10] http://en.rfi.fr/africa/20120814-US-concerned-over-re-arrest-of-aid-worker-in-Sudan (06-02-19)

[11] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2019/1854/04-sudanese.html (09-02-19)

[12] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/can-sudanese-people-bring-down-dictator (09-02-19)

[13] http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article66325 (10-02-19)

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)

West Papua: Corporate Media Enlisted to Spread False Claims, Fake News

Map highlighting West Papua. Image from RNZ

West Papua: Corporate Media Enlisted to Spread False Claims, Fake News

30-12-18 – As far as false flags go, this one was a whopper. In an “exclusive” posted in The Saturday Paper on December 22, John Martinkus and Mark Davis make the outlandish claim that the Indonesian military used white phosphorus munitions against West Papuan villagers in the region of Nduga.[1] White phosphorus is an internationally banned chemical weapon, due to the immense damage it causes to humans in a battlefield. It ignites spontaneously in contact with oxygen, and burns human flesh incessantly, causing unbearable pain and often death. The very mention of white phosphorus condemns those who use it against supposed adversaries. However, in this case, the mention of white phosphorus is calculated to cause maximum outrage, up to and including demands for Western intervention – as if that would do anything but make things worse.

Embedded regime change media

Given the recent background of John Martinkus and Mark Davis, and The Saturday Paper, and SBS, in stridently backing the US led war of regime change against the Syrian Arab Republic, it’s not difficult to see how they have transferred their skills in fake news. And the deadly irony is that the side they were paid propagandists for – US imperialism and its ISIS and Al-Qaeda death squad proxies – repeatedly used white phosphorus against Syrian civilians and anyone suspected of defending their government and armed forces against arguably the dirtiest war in history. A little over a month ago, it was reported that the US military used banned white phosphorus bombs in the Deir Ez-Zor province of Syria for the fourth time in two months.[2] It is not as if the US denies using banned white phosphorus munitions – a crime of colossal proportion. In 2017, the US military claimed that white phosphorus rounds were used for “screening” in a way that “considers civilians”.[3] Needless to say, the US military would probably also claim that its entire war for the overthrow of the Syrian state was because it was concerned for civilians!

Unfortunately the US was actively assisted in this atrocious war by other imperialist powers such as the United Kingdom (UK), France, Canada and Australia. And the region of Deir Ez-Zor is very close to home for the Australian ruling class. In 2016, the Australian military admitted that its warplanes had been involved in bombing in Deir Ez-Zor which not only slaughtered up to 82 Syrian soldiers,[4] but actively assisted ISIS alongside the US military. This was during a period where the US was back-pedalling due to the military success of Russia’s air strikes against ISIS, which were requested by the Syrian government.

2016 was the year in which John Martinkus openly propagandised for US imperialism, again ironically in the same The Saturday Paper. At that time there was a slew of Western corporate media slanders against the actions of the Russian military in Syria, with fabricated claims that Russia was bombing civilians instead of bombing ISIS, especially in and around the ancient city of Aleppo. John Martinkus’ article at that time was a part of this unprincipled barrage, and even claimed that the Syrian government also took part in supposedly raining death upon Syrian civilians.[5] For his part, Mark Davis also joined in as a mercenary journalist for hire, posting a video about the mythical “Syrian uprising”.[6]

If these reporters were consistent, or were even half remorseful about their role in working for imperialist interests against Syria, and in practice for the terrorist death squads armed by the West, they might have written a story about how the US used white phosphorus during its war on Syria, and still does. But no – now they have turned their hand to put together fabricated claims that the Indonesian military used white phosphorus against West Papuan separatists. In Syria, the aim was to call for further Western intervention to accelerate the destruction of the entire Syrian nation, potentially triggering a global nuclear war. Now, the aim appears to be a call for Western intervention into West Papua, on the basis of unproven and fake claims against the Indonesian armed forces. It seems the material benefits of fanning the flames of the nefarious ends of imperialism are too much to resist.

What did happen in Nduga?

In amongst the blanket of lies about white phosphorus, even compromised guns for hire feel compelled to report some of what actually occurred. The firing of some kind of gas projectiles into the Nduga region by the Indonesian military was in response to the slaughter of at least 31 workers who were constructing the Trans West Papua highway. The Saturday Paper’s “exclusive” admits that these killings were murders. These murders were apparently carried out after requests for the road workers to destroy a video of a flag raising ceremony in the region on December 1 – the day that West Papuans mark as their declaration of independence from Dutch colonialism in 1963. The armed Papuans apparently chased the workers back to their accommodation, and murdered 24 of them. 8 escaped to the home of a nearby politician, the armed Papuans again chased them to that place, and murdered 7 more.[7]

The Indonesian military (TNI) expressly denied using white phosphorus, and credibly pointed out that such munitions cannot be fired from a helicopter, but would be have to be fired from a jet fighter or a bomber, from a distances of tens or hundreds of kilometres away. A statement provided to the ABC by the Papua Military Command went on to say that the TNI does not operate jet fighters, let alone bombers.[8] On the other hand, the West Papuan armed groups make the likely claim that the road workers are in fact Indonesian military, and not civilians. Moreover, they claim that the Trans Papua Highway will be used for military purposes, and will not benefit civilians.[9] The West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-PB) has claimed responsibility for the attack which took 31 lives.[10] Needless to say, once a dispute reaches the point of armed conflict, a political resolution becomes more and more difficult to attain.

Independence for West Papua?

There appears to be a divide between some of the armed separatist West Papuan groups and a political wing. Benny Wenda, the exiled chair of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), stated in response to the incidents in Nduga that his organisation does not want bloodshed, but does want Indonesia to come to the international table so there can be an agreement about a referendum.[11] At the same time, Victor Yiemo, international spokesperson for the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), stated that the TPN-PB is “our military and are fighting for our freedom and we support them”.[12]

What stance should working people take on the issue of independence for West Papua? Many on the left misinterpret the leader of the Russian Revolution, V.I. Lenin, on the issue of national liberation. While it is the case that Lenin and the Bolshevik party often advocated for the right of nations to self-determination, up to and including the right to separate – this was not always automatic. And more to the point, it was only advocated by the Bolsheviks in order to strengthen the struggle for socialism against capitalist imperialism. In the case of the nations within the Tsarist “prison-house of nations”, it was specifically put forward in order to gain working class support for the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a multi-national workers’ state. This later became a reality with the founding of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922. However, this was only possible after the working-class seizure of state power which was the spectacular success of the October Revolution of 1917.

In acknowledging the right of nations to self-determination, it does not follow that Marxists will therefore automatically advocate the exercise of such a right. In addition, while Marxists do not of course insist that a national liberation movement must necessarily have international socialist politics driving it before offering support, the politics of the leadership of such a movement must be analysed and assessed. It therefore becomes not so much a case of whether or not to demand, and fight for, independence. It is much more a case of independence with which politics?

More to the point, what is the political character of the leadership of the various groups pushing for independence for West Papua?  There is no doubt a historic injustice has been perpetrated against the people of West Papua, and thus a strong case could be put forward for independence. Yet if the current political leadership of such a movement is prepared to allow blatant false flags (such as the claim of being bombed with white phosphorus) in cahoots with Australian journalists with a track record of working directly for imperialism in perhaps the dirtiest war in history, such a leadership must at the very least be questioned. Imperialism itself repeatedly used blatant false flags – claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians, without a shred of evidence, to prosecute a war which slaughtered at least 500 000 innocent people. Is the political leadership of the West Papuan independence movement at all concerned that its movement could be associated with such forces?

United Nations – a double edged sword

Taking the cause of West Papuan independence to the United Nations (UN), or appealing to it to intervene on behalf of West Papua, has some advantages, but many disadvantages. On the one hand, it may be possible to score moral victories, in terms of votes in the General Assembly in favour. For example, the UN General Assembly has voted for many years for the lifting of the economic blockade on Cuba. Repeatedly, the only countries to vote against usually include the US and Israel. These indicative votes in favour of a basic issue of justice of course cannot be enforced, but help to establish a certain political justification. On the other hand, the UN is a body which is controlled by the various imperialist powers, and led by the largest imperialist of all – the US. Therefore, appeals to the United Nations (UN) recognises the existing power structure and builds illusions in the very system which holds the world in its death grip. It doesn’t point a way forward to liberation from this system – in West Papua or elsewhere.

The ULMWP is apparently campaigning throughout 2019 for a UN vote on West Papua, and are asking Australian to lobby the federal government to support it.[13] This is the same UN which oversaw the discredited “Act of Free Choice” decades ago, and rubber stamped the Indonesian take-over of West Papua soon after.  Some also lobby to expand the International Parliamentarians for West Papua (IPWP), which includes current Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.[14] Ironically, closer to home, Jeremy Corbyn is on record as opposing independence for Scotland. But the supreme danger in terms of working people swinging behind such moves is that it reinforces the central myth of corporate class rule – that, despite everything, bodies such as the UN, the Australian and UK Parliaments are “our” politicians and “our” leaders. Little could be further from the truth. These bodies are marionettes whose strings are pulled by the real rulers of the world – the holders of finance and industrial capital, accumulated daily by the endless toil of working people throughout the globe.

Neither can working people make apologetics for the Indonesian government or its military (TNI) with its role in West Papua. The only way to combat this politically though, is to reach out to Indonesian workers in West Papua and throughout Indonesia, in a struggle against capitalist rule in South West and South East Asia, and indeed throughout Australasia and the Pacific. This would impair the unhealthy dynamic of “Indonesia versus West Papua”, and also the even more unhealthy “Muslim versus Christian” by-product. Under this political context, the demand for West Papuan independence could be backed by working people in the region, and could spur on the much needed socialist revolutions in the imperialist centres. Key to this drive will be the formation of workers’ vanguard parties in West Papua, Indonesia, Australia and the Pacific. West Papua can only be liberated by the actions of workers united across Australasia.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2018/12/22/exclusive-chemical-weapons-dropped-papua/15453972007326 (27-12-18)

[2] https://www.mintpressnews.com/us-uses-banned-white-phosphorus-bombs-in-syrian-city-for-the-fourth-time-in-two-months/251537/ (27-12-18)

[3] https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201706091054502594-us-coalition-white-phosphorus-raqqa/ (27-12-18)

[4] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-18/australian-jets-involved-in-botched-air-strike-on-syrian-army/7855610 (27-12-18)

[5] https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2016/10/01/syrian-city-aleppo-under-siege/14752440003804 (27-12-18)

[6] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/dateline/story/syrias-uprising  (27-12-18)

 

[7] Ibid, 1.

[8] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-23/indonesia-military-denies-using-chemical-weapons-in-west-papua/10664402 (27-12-18)

[9] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/05/west-papua-fears-of-spiralling-violence-after-attack-leaves-up-to-31-dead (27-12-18)

[10] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s2h8nHc1KA&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0mv9fNQ1anWtMi1Xco-mos6f_ZcJujcJVmeQdjC6vhvkobrwj3CKJ1mPM (27-12-18)

[11] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/06/west-papua-independence-leader-urges-calm-after-killings (27-12-18)

[12] Ibid, 11.

[13] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/west-papua-liberation-movement-calls-un-support-independence-referendum-2019 (28-12-18)

[14] https://www.ipwp.org/ipwp-news/historic-meeting-with-leader-of-the-opposition-rt-jeremy-corbyn-london/ (28-12-18)

Yellow Vest Rebellion Shakes Neo-Con Rule

Yellow Vest protestors, with one holding a placard calling for the resignation of President Macron. Image from the Daily Sabah

Yellow Vest Rebellion Shakes Neo-Con Rule

18-12-2018 – “Act Five” of the Gilet Jaunes (Yellow Vest) demonstrations continued across France this past weekend. While the numbers were down compared to round four the week before – perhaps due to police violence against the demonstrators, tens of thousands across France again rallied in the face of the armed fist of the state. Some reports say that 3 000 rallied in Paris, while there were 66 000 across the country – compared with 125 000 a week ago.[1] In typical French fashion, anti-government protests, when they erupt, continue for weeks on end. Whether it can keep its momentum remains to be seen.

The brave protestors have already won one of their main demands – the abolition of the fuel tax increase on petrol and diesel, which had been imposed by the government as a “green tax”. At the same time, French President Emmanuel Macron refused to abolish the scrapping of a “wealth tax”, which has earnt him derision as the “president for the rich”.[2] If the Yellow Vest movement continues across France, and inspires similar actions across Europe, the French President will struggle to retain his post.

More than cost of fuel concerns

Yet the Yellow Vest movement is not just about President Macron, and not just about a concern about high fuel prices. The leaderless movement has nonetheless circulated a list of demands, with the vast majority about the high cost of living, heavy workloads for little or no gain, and general unease about an unjust order which favours the rich at the expense of the poor and the “middle class”.[3] In other words, the Yellow Vest rebellion is an uprising against capitalism, but without saying so openly. The lack of pro-working class leadership somewhat restricts the goals of the movement, but at the same time this distance from the official “left” is what has allowed its launch and growth so far. From a distance it seems that in France, like Australia, what passes for the left is seen as too reformist, and the Union bureaucracy too concerned for the contents of their own pockets. In such conditions, revolt against neo-conservative government rule, had to take place outside of the “left”.

Some have claimed that amongst the Yellow Vests are right-wing or even fascist elements, attempting to drive it down their avenues. While the Yellow Vests have so far eschewed association with any political party or movement, left or right, the direction so far is much more left wing insofar as it is demonstrating against the immense inequality of a profits first system. Moreover, it possibly portends even a revolution to redress these rightful grievances, and many others, built up over several decades. It is a revolt against the elite which is not only enriching itself at the expense of the poor, but threatening the very existence of human civilisation. In addition, in stark contrast to the right-wing populism which has perhaps understandably produced Brexit in the United Kingdom, Trump in the US, and Bolsonaro in Brazil, the Yellow Vests do not have an anti-immigrant or a racist anti-European Union (EU) position per se.[4]

In fact, the Yellow Vest’s stance towards the EU does call for a “Frexit” – a pull-out from the EU. According to some demands which have been circulating in their name, the Frexit is called for to “regain economic, monetary and political sovereignty”.[5] Here there is perhaps a lack of class awareness, for if France was to exit the EU, French workers would still be subject to the oppression of “their own” ruling class. Nevertheless, the content does not indicate the arrant racism which compelled some Britons to vote for Brexit. The EU is an imperialist trading bloc, which seeks to drive down the living and working conditions of all European workers to benefit the wealthiest European ruling classes, particularly the French and German. Workers need a left-wing opposition to the EU, which the Yellow Vests provide.

Perhaps the most progressive Yellow Vest demand of all is the call for France to cease its participation in foreign wars of aggression, and for an exit from NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation).[6] French imperialism took part in arguably the dirtiest war in history – the arming and funding of terrorist death squads to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic from 2011 to 2018. Much of what passes for the “left” internationally backed this atrocious war of regime change against Syria, so in this sense alone the Yellow Vests are leagues ahead of liberal war-mongering. As for NATO, it is no exaggeration to say that it is threatening the world with global nuclear war. NATO was always an imperialist anti-Russian pact, whether in the form of the former Soviet Union, or modern Russia. Driven by the US Empire, it is an imperialist alliance pushing humanity to the brink of a catastrophic war. The Yellow Vest demand for a French exit from NATO fills part of the anti-war gap which flowed from the liberal non-opposition to the NATO wars against Libya and Syria. This should be complemented by similar demands to leave NATO by workers in NATO countries, and demands internationally for its abolition.

Similarly, the Yellow Vest demand for the repatriation of all French soldiers from “Francafique” – former French colonies in Africa, to cease interfering in the African countries, and for equal relations between them and France[7], is virtually a demand for the final end of French colonialism. Algeria was only the most well-known French African colony, after its battles for independence. But “Francafique” includes Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Benin, Morocco, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Gambia, Chad and Cameroon. Direct military occupation by France is not entirely a thing of the past, to which the Yellow Vests draw attention.

Environment

The Yellow Vests were criticised in some quarters for ignoring environmental issues such as global warming, given that their central demand (which they subsequently won) was for the abolition of a fuel tax increase. But in fact, the Yellow Vests were well aware of the acute danger of climate disruption and agreed that measures must be taken to deal with it. Their only precondition was that the poor, working class and sections of the middle class should not be made to pay for it – while the rich elite get off scot-free. In Australia, while there was no open revolt on the streets, many people rejected the former Labor Party federal government’s “carbon tax” for similar reasons – despite right-wingers also opposing it on the basis of climate denial.

The Yellow Vest manifesto does contain significant pro-environment measures. For example, it calls for a ban on the production of plastic bottles, a call to weaken the power of Big Pharma (large scale pharmaceutical companies), and demands a ban on GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) crops, carcinogenic (cancer causing) pesticides, endocrine disruptors (cancer causing chemicals) and monocrops (the large scale growing of one crop over vast fields).[8] It should be recognised that under a socialist system, with the profit motive absent, GMOs could potentially be used to increase crop yield to feed more people. Under private production for private profit, however, GMOs in the hands of corporate agribusiness contain critical danger. The Yellow Vests are on point here, as was the President of Syria – a target of imperialism, when he banned the use of GMOs in that country in 2012.[9]

Perhaps the most remarkable environmental demand of the Yellow Vests is the call for all products to be made to last 10 years, and for spare parts to be available for them during that time.[10] They explicitly call for the end of “planned obsolescence” – a hallmark of late capitalism. “Planned obsolescence” is of course where the manufacturing corporations deliberately manufacture products with a short lifespan, sometimes as little as 12 months. At a certain point, capital realised that making good quality products which had a long life span actually prevented the masses from purchasing new ones. Thus the “throw away” society was born, with people more or less encouraged to dispose of old things rather than have them repaired. And indeed, repairs became uneconomical or even impossible to come by. The throw-away society is just one aspect of the inherently anti-environmental practice of the profit system.

For state protection of the vulnerable

The Yellow Vest manifesto contains significant demands for the welfare and well-being of the masses. For example, it calls for an increase of 40% of the basic pension and social welfare. It calls for an increase in hiring in the public sector to re-establish public services. It demands a public housing program to house the 5 million homeless, and severe penalties for mayors that leave people on the streets.[11] This is recognition of how the capitalist system has abandoned and turned against the working class over the last 30 years.

This drive is often referred to as “neoliberalism”, but this is a misnomer. “Neoliberalism” is not a policy choice, but the current phase of capitalism. From their perspective, the crisis in the rate of the profitability of capital has driven demands to release whole areas where previously the state organised and ran public services. Education, public housing, healthcare, legal aid, public transport, infrastructure – all of these areas and more had previously been undertaken by the capitalist state in order to assure the profitability of private capital. It did this by running sections of the economy where the capitalists could not obtain an adequate rate of return, and thus had no interest. Now, capital no longer makes an adequate profit from the industries it traditionally invested in. This is the basic reason for the relentless wave of privatisation.

Confuting demands

Despite the progressive overall direction of the Yellow Vest manifesto, at the same time it contains demands which aid the oppressive system they rebel against. For example, it calls for the “prevention of migratory flows which cannot be accommodated or integrated”.[12] This does not come across as an extreme anti-immigration position, but appears to bend in that direction. Mass migration to Europe in recent times has largely come about due to the wars imperialism has waged in the Middle East and Northern Africa – a fact recognised by other Yellow Vest demands. Yet it is a dangerous path to go down to play into the central divide and rule tactic the ruling classes use against workers. Capital says to unwitting workers, your enemies are “foreigners” – not the obscenely rich corporations. It should be recognised that there are some issues with the large numbers of migrants flowing into Europe in some areas. Yet these issues are minor in comparison with the error of throwing in your lot with the elite classes, which is the inevitable result of falling for an anti-migrant line.

In addition, the demand for the “quadrupling of the budget for law and order” could easily go in the opposite direction to that which is intended. The full demand does demand access to judicial procedures for all[13], which trends in a progressive direction. Under the rule of capital, the poor and working classes generally cannot afford to either defend a legal case, or bring one before a court of law. This is yet another injustice of the rule of finance capital. However, calling for a four-fold increase of the budget for law and order could very well mean four times the amount of riot police the Yellow Vests will face on the streets! The Yellow Vests appear to be somewhat unaware of the class nature of the capitalist state.

The treacherous role of the Trade Union bureaucracy was displayed in a statement released by six Union confederations on December 6. It denounced “all forms of violence”, did not ask anyone to join the Yellow Vest demonstrations, and effectively called for “negotiations”.[14] The conservative officials risk being seen as at one with the government itself, which again increases the risk of workers turning away from Unions altogether, into the hands of the far right.

Despite the reformism of the hidebound Union officials, and despite the at times contradictory demands of the Yellow Vest manifesto, it is in the interests of workers internationally to join and/or come behind a general uprising against capitalist class rule. If a Marxist vanguard was to form, it could give crucial leadership to a movement which has thus far remained leaderless by necessity – given the reformism of the “left” and the conservatism of the Union officials. Clarity of the political role of capital and the role of the working class in fighting for its liberation is at a premium. The rule of the rich must end.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com
PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.dw.com/en/fifth-round-of-yellow-vest-protests-in-france-with-3000-in-paris/a-46754716 (18-12-18)

[2] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/12/05/macron-mulls-bringing-back-ultra-rich-tax-halt-yellow-vest-protests/ (18-12-18)

[3] https://www.sott.net/article/402396-What-do-the-protesters-in-France-want-Check-out-the-official-Yellow-Vest-manifesto (18-12-18)

[4] http://newsjunkiepost.com/2018/12/07/are-the-gilets-jaunes-todays-sans-culottes/ (19-12-18)

[5] https://www.sott.net/article/402396-What-do-the-protesters-in-France-want-Check-out-the-official-Yellow-Vest-manifesto (19-12-18)

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/assad-bans-gmos-in-food-to-preserve-the-health-of-human-beings/article4620664/ (22-12-18)

[10] Ibid, 5.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] https://redflag.org.au/node/6640 (23-12-18)