Palestine: Eurovision Marred by 71 Years of Al Nakba

Palestine: Eurovision Marred by 71 Years of Al Nakba

20-05-2019:  This year, the annual Eurovision song contest coincides with the 71st anniversary of Al Nakba (The Catastrophe), when 750 000 Palestinians were expelled from their lands in 1948 to enable the violent founding of the colonial setter state which became Israel. The awarding of Eurovision to Israel took place after the Israeli entrant Netta Barzilai won the contest in 2018. Yet the suffering of Palestinians living in the occupied territories of West Bank and Gaza continues.

Just a few weeks before the Eurovision song contest took place in Tel Aviv, the Western media dishonestly claimed that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) were carrying out missile strikes on Gaza “in response” to rocket attacks from Hamas, the Islamic Palestinian resistance organisation. In fact, the IDF has relentlessly been pounding Gaza for months without response from Hamas. IDF strikes have reportedly caused the death of 20 Palestinians so far this year, many while taking part in the weekly Friday protests against the suffocating blockade of Gaza.[1] In other words, the IDF repeatedly strikes Gaza, causing fatalities – and the Palestinians continue their protests regardless. When Hamas finally relents, and fires off rounds of rockets into Israel – most of which are shot down by the “Iron Dome” Israeli defence system – the Western media hypocritically paint Palestine as the aggressor. They routinely claim that the Israeli state is only “responding” to the rocket attacks,[2] when in fact it has goaded and provoked Palestine until they can take no more.

BDS calls for a boycott of Eurovision

For some time, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has called for a boycott of this year’s Eurovision song contest purely because it is taking place in Israel. While BDS campaigners are correct to highlight the grinding oppression of Palestinians carried out by the Israeli state, calling for a boycott of Israel with regards to Eurovision begs a few questions. For example, in which other European country should the Eurovision song contest take place? In the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands or Denmark?  Or how about Australia, now that Australia is a competitor in Eurovision? The governments of the UK, France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Australia all took part in the criminal proxy imperialist war on Syria, carrying out air strikes “against” ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria.[3] In reality, they were aiding and abetting the barbaric death squads armed and funded by the US[4] and Israel.[5]

In an instant, it is plain to see that the Israeli state is not the only European state which carries out war crimes against innocent people. Yet many BDS advocates were virtually silent during the entire imperialist war on Syria, even when Israel’s role in it became known – and after Israel’s repeated missile strikes on Syria. As recently as April this year, the IDF reportedly struck the Syrian town of Masyaf in the province of Hama, wounding 6 soldiers.[6] For all of the bluster from BDS advocates, they tend to operate as if Palestine exists in a vortex, unrelated to the Middle East and world politics. No one is louder in their condemnation of “Israel”, and yet no one is more silent than when Israel bombs anyone else apart from Palestinians, e.g. next door neighbor Syria.

With a few exceptions, another glaring incongruity BDS advocates display is their hostility to the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Zionist Israeli state regards Iran as a bitter enemy, and most BDS advocates echo this position, no matter how many times they throw up their hands in horror at “Israel”. Iran is also currently being threatened, yet again, by Washington without all out nuclear war. Despite Iran’s assistance to Palestinian resistance groups, many BDS advocates are the first ones to call for “regime change”, i.e. imperialist war by another name, in Iran. They don’t appear to be aware of a contradiction.

Imperialist backing of the Zionist Israeli state

BDS advocates are also largely silent on the real source of the Zionist Israeli state’s lifeline – US imperialism. Whole rallies and demonstrations can take place organised by BDS supporters, and not once is the Pentagon or the US state named. However, without military and financial backing from the US state, the Israeli state would arguably collapse within six months. Yet BDS does not call for a boycott of the US, only “Israel”. Before Marxists can advise workers to take part in any international campaign, it must first demonstrate that it stands in opposition to the interests of US imperialism. Unfortunately, BDS does not pass this first marker. Instead, BDS attempts to work with and alongside imperialist governments, by lobbying them to apply sanctions (the “S” in BDS) on Israel.

In practice, BDS attempts to paint “Israel” as a state which is wrong in a moral sense. However, there are no morals which workers and capitalists share in common, and certainly no morals which oppressed Palestinians share with the US state department. We do not at all deny that the state of Israel came into being through a murderous expulsion and ongoing occupation of the original inhabitants. Yet this is what also occurred for the colonial settler states of Australia, New Zealand and even the United States itself. If they were consistent, BDS advocates would call for a boycott of all colonial settler states.

While we would defend BDS advocates against repression from the right, at the same time we urge them to strive for consistency in a world threatened by US imperialism. We recognise that the suffering of the Palestinians is unbearable. But to defend Palestine, working people around the world must oppose the very real threat that the economic crisis of world capitalism produces – unending imperialist wars launched by Washington and all of its allies. To definitively defend Palestine, BDS advocates must also defend Iran, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Algeria, Sudan, Russia, China and the DPRK against the nefarious ends of the Pentagon. International socialism, through a series of workers’ revolutions in the imperialist centres, is ultimately the only guarantee against world war. Likewise, Palestinian liberation is bound up with the overthrow of capitalism in its region, which necessitates the joint efforts of Israeli and Palestinian workers. Ridding workers of capitalism and imperialist war is a single task, in Palestine no less than in Australia. BDS advocates must decide where they stand.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E:workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

 

 

[1] https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/israel-continually-strikes-gaza-and-hamas-hasnt-fired-back/ (20-05-2019)

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-48160098 (20-05-2019)

[3] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161206-denmarks-decision-to-withdraw-from-airstrikes-on-syria-and-iraq/ (20-05-2019)

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/03/us-isis-syria-iraq (20-05-2019)

[5] https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-chief-acknowledges-long-claimed-weapons-supply-to-syrian-rebels/ (20-05-2019)

[6] https://www.israelhayom.com/2019/04/14/syria-says-israeli-airstrike-on-military-position-wounds-6/ (20-05-2019)

Liberalism at a Dead End: ALP Loses the “Unlosable” Election

Liberalism at a Dead End: ALP Loses the “Unlosable” Election

19-05-2019 – It’s a cliché to put forward the “Don’t mourn, organise” aphorism after a significant defeat for workers. After the victory of the Coalition (Liberal Party, National Party, Liberal National Party in Queensland – collectively the L/NP) in the 2019 Federal Elections, the working class will certainly need to double down on its organising efforts. But some crucial political lessons will need to be learnt before embarking on much needed organising.

At the time of writing, with around 75% of the vote counted, the L/NP are two seats short of forming a majority government.[1] They will either govern in their own right, or form a minority government with the formal or informal backing of some independents. For the Australian Labor Party (ALP), this was a classic case of losing an unlosable election. Yet again the ALP’s “small target” strategy cost them. That is, the ALP were promising very little, if anything, which was substantially different, let alone more progressive, than the L/NP. The one progressive aspect the ALP were promising was the extremely conditional (and likely false) pledge that they would restore penalty rates which have been taken away from some workers. The ALP was perhaps expecting to limp home into government without doing much at all, because voters would naturally want to get rid of the L/NP. Even within the sphere of bourgeois politics though, unless the majority of voters are offered something substantial by the liberal side, they will stick with the status quo, or even move to the right.

Catastrophe of “Change the Rules”

Working people must be clear. If the ALP had won the Federal Election, the working class would still be subjected to intense attack on all fronts – from low wages, near starvation aged pensions and unemployment assistance, privatisation of health care, cuts to education, worsening public transport and so on. The pace and severity of the attacks may have been slightly lower than under an L/NP government, but that is all. This is because the major parties are the twin parties of Australian capitalism, which is a component part of Wall Street led imperialism. The system of production for private profit is in acute crisis in Australia, Europe, the US and Japan. This is what is driving the relentless austerity, the ongoing danger of US led imperialist wars, not to speak of the imminent danger of potentially irreversible ecological collapse – of which global warming is but one aspect.

For two years, the top officials of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) have been running the “Change the Rules” campaign. This was always code for “Vote Labor”. In fact, at a late stage the careerist officials of the ACTU changed the rules themselves – from “Change the Rules” to “Change the Government to Change the Rules”.[2] It became an explicit “Vote Labor” campaign. But in fact, the politically compromised ACTU officials advised not only a vote for the ALP, but also preferenced the Greens above the ALP in some states for the Senate. In other seats, the ACTU produced how-to-vote cards which preferenced the racist Katter’s Australian Party and the right-wing Democratic Labor Party.[3] After selectively mobilising workers for two years on the vague promise that industrial relations laws could be changed by electing the ALP, the conservative officials of the ACTU, from Sally McManus down, ended up playing preference exchanges with right-wing parties!  And now that the L/NP has been re-elected, the Union movement has been brought back to ground zero.

The fraud of “Vote Climate”

The nightmare of staggering carbon emissions from the Adani mega coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland triggered a wide campaign against it throughout the country. Yet the “Stop Adani” campaign was always led by operatives of GetUp! – an NGO which repeatedly denies its links to the Labor Party, yet inevitably assists them.[4] This was why the Stop Adani campaign stopped short of doing what was actually needed to Stop Adani – a mass action effort independent of the parliament, the government and its state. The complete opposite occurred – Stop Adani was directed entirely towards lobbying the ALP, lobbying the parliament, and lobbying the government. That is, the leadership of “Stop Adani” was committed to the political forces of capital which began Adani – and indeed all new coal developments in the country. The overwhelming majority support for halting the Great Barrier Reef destroying Adani mine could have stopped Adani – but for the leadership of Stop Adani.

In any case, an ALP government was hardly going to Stop Adani. Yet an ALP or ALP/Greens government was also the aim of the “Student Strike 4 Climate” (SS4C) actions which preceded the elections, and were geared towards them. Again, however, the student strike for climate was organised by GetUp! and “Baby GetUp!” the AYCC (Australian Youth Climate Coalition).[5] Hence, they organised student strikes – outside L/NP electorate offices!  This could scarcely have been a more blatant vote catching exercise. This is light years away from organsing against the profit system which is the prime culprit of environmental vandalism.

The leaderships of some Unions even boasted about linking with GetUp!, despite it being the face of the liberal elite. The conservative officials of the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU) hailed its virtual affiliation to GetUp! in its attempt to gain a much needed boost to Newstart (unemployment benefits).[6] To do this, it had to trample on AUWU members who so much as questioned the political compromises required for such an unholy alliance. Ironically, either internal Union democracy, or internal movement democracy, is the very thing which GetUp! and their backers cannot tolerate.

Much more needs to be analysed about this election. But the crucial lesson for workers is that all forms of liberalism – whether in the form of GetUp!, the conservative Union officials, the NGO led “environmental” movement, the ALP and others – offer no way forward. The working class can only advance by making a political break with all the liberal agents of capitalist class rule. Socialism is needed, but the pre-requisite is a Marxist vanguard party composed of the most class-conscious workers. The Workers League seeks to take the first steps on this path, and calls on all who agree to take part.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://tallyroom.aec.gov.au/HouseDefault-24310.htm (19-05-2019)

[2] https://www.actu.org.au/actu-media/media-releases/2019/change-the-government-change-the-rules-nationwide-door-knock (19-05-2019)

[3] https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/actu-puts-greens-ahead-of-labor-on-how-to-vote-cards-in-higgins-20190516-p51o2h.html (19-05-2019)

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/23/getup-warned-by-electoral-commission-it-may-be-associated-entity-of-labor (19-05-2019)

[5] https://redfireonline.com/2019/03/13/for-real-climate-action-expropriate-capital/ (19-05-2019)

[6] https://unemployedworkersunion.com/join-get-up-auwus-joint-newstart-campaign/ (19-05-2019)

Federal Elections 2019: No Options for Working People

Ballot Boxes of the type used in Australian Federal Elections. Despite the appearance of “one person one vote” there can be no “democracy” across antagonistic classes. Image from http://www.riteon.org.au

Federal Elections 2019: No Options for Working People  –  For a Workers’ Government!

04-05-2019 – The Australian Federal Elections will take place on May 18. As was the case for previous elections, the cast of candidates are largely uninspiring from a working class point of view. In fact, of all the parties and candidates running, no one is taking a consistent and across-the-board position of defending the interests of working people, domestically and internationally. This goes for the mainstream parliamentary parties as much as for self-described left parties. It is another indicator that the system of private production and private profit, and its attendant political process, is a dead end for the working people of Australia and the region.

The fraud of “Change the Rules”

For two years, the conservative officials heading up the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) have pushed the “Change the Rules” mantra. From the off, this has always been code for “vote Labor”. Yet the very industrial relations laws that the “Change the Rules” campaign ostensibly seeks to change were largely installed by the Labor Party when they last sat on the government benches in Canberra. The Orwellian named “Fair Work Australia” was implemented by the Labor Party, which was essentially “Work Choices Lite”.[1] That is, the Labor Party has hardly bothered to “Change the Rules” from the first days of the John Howard Liberal Party government. They have no intention of doing so if elected this time. Vague promises from the Australian Labor Party (ALP) that they will restore penalty rates are a classical hot air election promise. It is put forward in order to entice workers to vote Labor, but once in government, they will give any old excuse as to why they are unable to carry it out.[2]

The ACTU are now, after 25 years of forcing Enterprise Bargaining on workers, saying that Enterprise Bargaining is not working, and we need to move back to industry wide agreements. Industry wide agreements would be an advance for workers, but the ACTU and their top officials were responsible for Enterprise Bargaining in the first place. The class-collaborationist Union officials also make a show about opposing the widespread casualisation of the workforce – when in practice the ALP as much as the Liberal Party has put this in place. The ALP has no real intention of changing any rules relating to the use of casual and temporary staff for private and public sector workplaces.

Conservative and nationalist Union officials are pushing “Change the Rules”, which, in the direct lead up to the election, has morphed into “Change the Government to Change the Rules”.[3] It’s a replay of the “Your Rights At Work –Worth Fighting For” campaign of 2006, which in the lead up to the Federal Election of 2007 became “Your Rights at Work – Worth Voting For”.[4] That is, vote for the Labor Party, put them in government, and they will change the rules for you. Little could be more false. The Labor Party is the alternate party of Australian capitalism, and the ALP is keenly aware of the difficulties of capital obtaining an adequate rate of return on profitable investment. This is why in all fundamentals the Labor Party is a struck match away from the Liberal Party (Liberal National Party in Queensland). Yet workers are being inveigled, despite the similarity, to just vote ALP and hope for the best. This is a deliberate deception.

Ruling class limits participation

Workers need to be aware that these elections are run for and by the Australian ruling class. As such, they are not “ours”, as much as the government is not filled with “our politicians”. Every attempt is made to prevent participation in the elections by pro-working class and/or small parties and independents. A new law was passed in March which doubled the deposit fee to $2000 just to run in the Lower House.[5]  The incumbent major parties obtain massive public funding for their campaigns, on top of six and seven figure donations from big business. These “donations” to the Liberal and Labor parties run into the millions of dollars, and some come from the largest corporations in the country. The officials of some Unions also divert Union member’s money into donations for the ALP.[6] Money politics may not be on the scale of what happens in the United States of America, but something very similar is happening here. Billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer’s right-wing populist United Australia Party has spent $50 million on electoral advertising.[7] The parliamentary set up is set against working people – but this is its purpose.

It is not only the financial cost which benefits the two major capitalist parties. The very electoral process is designed to do this also. The size of the electorates often number up to 100 000 people. A meeting of this number of people is not possible, and thus cannot convene to keep their elected member accountable. Certainly a whole state – who Senators are elected to “represent” – cannot meet to discuss how their Senators have been performing. Moreover, there is no right to recall a politician once they have been elected. This, on top of the astronomical salaries paid to politicians, and permanent over-the-top superannuation payments once they leave parliament, ensures loyalty to the profit system. It is not so much a system of salaries as a form of “official” corruption.

The right to elect means little without the right to recall – which is why the ruling class does not allow it. The preferential voting system also benefits the major parties. It ensures that preferences which inevitably flow to the major parties inflate its overall count. To cast a valid vote, and to run in the elections, individuals and parties must allocate preferences – which means in practice your votes flow to the major parties which represent big capital against those who labour for a living. Dirty horse-trading occurs between the various political parties for each other’s preferences, and there are even some who charge “consultancy fees” to organise preferences to help minor parties get elected,[8] i.e., who profit from backdoor preference deals. Even if this did not occur, the main effect of the preference system is to advantage the twin parties (arguably one party) which administer the rule of the stock market.

“Official” politics is repellent

There are approximately 60 registered political parties in Australia, both inside and outside the state and federal parliaments.[9] Along with a number of independents, these parties will attempt to attract the votes of the Australian electorate. Marxists, however, recognise the working class as the only class in today’s society which has a material interest in raising the living standards of all on the basis of equality. This is due to the fact that the working class has no material interest in the system of private production for private profit. On the contrary, its interests are bound up with the social ownership and social use through labour, of the means of production – the land, banks, factories, mines and so on. Humanity steps forwards, or falls back, according to the living and working conditions of this class. Yet not one of the parties or independents running in the Australian Federal Election takes elementary and consistent positions, domestically and internationally, which defend the interests of working people.

The major parties – Labor and Liberal, are unquestionably parties of capital. Progressive minded people may suspect that the Australian Greens are not overtly pro-capitalist, but this view is mistaken. The Greens’ focus on parliament prevents them from offering a systemic alternative. Billionaire Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party uses populist rhetoric, such as raising the old age pension by $150 a week, but Mr Palmer also refuses to pay workers he sacked from his nickel refinery in Townsville their entitlements – despite swimming in cash. Katters Australian Party was forced to sack the racist Fraser Anning, who went on to form his own even more racist Conservative National Party. Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party correctly criticises the racism of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, but allies with them on “law and order”.

The bickering and fighting of the parliamentary parties and MPs are understandably a huge turn off for many working people and the downtrodden. They see it as irrelevant to their life outcomes – and to a large extent they are correct. For this is the field of bourgeois politics, i.e. the system which is set up to deceive working people into believing that they live in a (liberal) democracy, which is supposedly a huge achievement for humankind. In reality, the politicians and parliament are a stage on which the corporate magnates dangle willing marionettes. The real decisions about investment, what will be produced and how, are made in corporate boardrooms by CEOs and other managers on obscene salaries. The government’s “public service” is linked to private industry by a thousand threads.

Left parties inconsistent

Self-described left parties running in the Federal Election also do not live up to a basic standard which working people deserve. The Socialist Equality Party (SEP), which publishes the World Socialist Web Site, does highlight some urgent issues which need addressing, such as increasing poverty and unemployment. Yet the SEP are known as strike-breakers for their total opposition to Trade Unions. While it is true that the Unions are almost universally led by conservative pro-capitalist officials, Union members are nothing like that. Unions themselves need to be defended by all workers regardless of the sell-out officials. But the SEP dismiss Unions in toto, which places them on the side of the employers. In a like manner, the SEP dismiss workers’ states (e.g. China, Vietnam, the DPRK) in toto, which places them on the side of the US state department. This is despite the SEP holding nominal positions against the imperialist wars on Libya and Syria.

The Socialist Alliance and the Victorian Socialists are also running candidates, with the Socialist Alliance teaming up with the Socialist Alternative and a number of supporters. Domestically, the Socialist Alliance and the Victorian Socialists put forward positions which align with working class interests – such as the call for more public housing, better public transport, a rise in welfare payments, and the blocking of the environmental catastrophe of the Adani mega coal mine in Central Queensland. However, it is relatively easy to put forward left-wing positions on home soil. The test for the left comes as soon as the international sphere is broached.

Unfortunately, the Socialist Alliance and the Socialist Alternative (the mainstay of the Victorian Socialists) broke irrevocably with working class internationalism by being the loudest advocates of the US led imperialist wars on Libya and Syria. For close to ten years, both of these “left” parties openly called for regime change in Libya and Syria – which was precisely the aim of the US state department, aided by London, Paris, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Canberra. Thankfully they were defeated in Syria by a combination of Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and Russian armed forces – with lesser backing from China. These “state department socialists” were only continuing in Syria their hostility to the anti-imperialist and non-imperialist bloc – Russia, China, Iran, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and so on. More recently, these “left” parties have again demonstrated their fealty to the Pentagon by cheering on US backed regime change efforts in Sudan and Algeria. Needless to say, if a left party calls for free healthcare at home, but shills for imperialist war abroad, their left credentials are null and void.

In Queensland, some critical support could be offered to independent Senate candidate Wayne Wharton, a long-time militant Aboriginal activist. He is advocating a treaty with the Indigenous people, but also supportable positions on Aged Care, the Murray-Darling water crisis, and a livable income for welfare recipients. However the preferential voting system militates against backing progressive independents. This election, Senate voters have to number at least 6 parties above the line, and at least 12 parties below the line. This is a means of forcing preferences (or votes) towards the major parties. In the lower house, preferences are compulsory, meaning that some votes will necessarily flow towards right-wing and fascistic small parties. On principle, no votes or preferences should flow to anti-working class parties. A political break with all of them is a dire necessity.

There are a plethora of drastic political problems which urgently need addressing. Some of these include: unemployment, poverty, unaffordable housing, unaffordable education, failing public transport, and the imminent threat of catastrophic climate change. All parties should be loudly calling for the release of Julian Assange, a whistle-blowing journalist. The increasing surveillance of spy agencies online and elsewhere is a symptom of a system aware that its people are looking for urgent change. Then there is the growing threat of nuclear war against China and Russia, led by Washington but backed by Canberra. Yet none of these issues can be addressed through the “election” process carried out by the corporate elite. This is why the Workers League is calling on workers to fulfill their legal obligation on election day, but to cast a blank ballot in protest against the system which upholds their oppression. What is urgently needed is a workers’ party which fights for a workers’ government. Join us!

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

 

[1] http://directaction.org.au/issue13/fair_work_australia_is_work_choices_lite (04-05-2019)

[2] https://www.smh.com.au/federal-election-2019/bill-shorten-s-penalty-rates-pledge-under-threat-20190417-p51exr.html (04-05-2019)

[3] https://www.actu.org.au/actu-media/media-releases/2019/change-the-government-change-the-rules-nationwide-protests (04-05-2019)

[4] https://www.actu.org.au/actu-media/speeches-and-opinion/greg-combet-your-rights-at-work-worth-voting-for (04-05-2019)

[5] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-09/zali-steggall-helen-haines-independents-australian-politics/10786984 (04-05-2019)

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/ng-interactive/2019/feb/01/political-donations-2017-18-search-all-the-declarations-by-australian-parties (04-05-2019)

[7] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/clive-palmer-says-he-s-spent-50-million-on-election-ads (04-05-2019)

[8] https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/hire-me-and-get-into-parliament-the-preference-whisperer-s-message-20181214-p50mdh.html (05-05-2019)

[9] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_political_parties_in_Australia (05-05-2019)

Free Julian Assange! Defend Basic Democratic Rights!

Free Julian Assange! Defend Basic Democratic Rights!

03-05-2019 – On April 11, Julian Assange – the founder of Wikileaks – was arrested inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London by British Police, and dragged away to Belmarsh Prison. He awaits likely extradition to the United States of America, where he is likely to face a kangaroo court which could imprison him for life. He has committed no crime whatsoever. On the contrary, as a whistleblowing journalist, he has only revealed crimes carried out by governments the world over, most especially the one headquartered in Washington – which administers US imperialism.

Even according to bourgeois law, which upholds the “rights” of a tiny exploiting capitalist class against the working people who create their obscene private wealth, Julian Assange’s arrest is a blatant violation. For one thing, Julian Assange is not a citizen of the US and has never travelled to the US. Even according to the “law”, the US cannot put on trial, let alone jail and likely torture, someone who has never been a citizen. How the Ecuadorian government can revoke the citizenship, overnight, of someone it has previously granted citizenship, is a mystery. And how the British government can enter the embassy of a foreign country, arrest one of the people inside, drag them out and then extradite them to a country to which they have never visited, is an abomination. The fact that this is happening exposes the high crimes of these governments – and reinforces the fact that Julian Assange is telling the truth.

Julian Assange is an Australian citizen, born and raised in Queensland. The fact that the Australian Federal Government barely lifted a finger to assist him over the past eight years sends a chilling message. If you hold an Australian passport, it may or may not protect you. You will only be offered genuine support and assistance if in need if you remain onside politically. That is, if you raise no questions about the imperialist wars waged around the world by the US Empire – with the assistance of the Australian regime. If you write or publish any information which exposes or otherwise criticises the actions of the US government, or any of its allies, your rights as a citizen could be extinguished.

Basic democratic rights at stake

There can be no more fundamental democratic right than the right to publish information, or write an article. Yet this right is precisely what is potentially abolished with the arrest and likely imprisonment of Julian Assange. US radio host Don Debar has stated that the arrest of Julian Assange has demonstrated that press freedom does not exist in the US or the EU (European Union).[1] US Democratic Party Presidential nominee Tulsi Gabbard tweeted that if we allow our governments to control us through fear, we are no longer free.[2] Speaking of Julian Assange, former British MP George Galloway wrote: “If we allow him to be incarcerated for publishing the truth, then we might as well check in behind those bars ourselves, for we will never be truly free again.”[3] Again and again, Julian Assange and Wikileaks has demonstrated that, in reality, there is no freedom under the rule of the US Empire. Chelsea Manning, another incredibly brave whistleblower, is currently again in prison for refusing to testify against Julian Assange.[4] That is, Ms Manning has volunteered to return to prison, in which solitary confinement may again be used against her, so that more blatantly illegal criminal charges may not be laid against another person. If anything, the values of Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, on their own, condemn the global rule of Wall Street.

Liberals abandon Wikileaks

Make no mistake, there would now be a mass movement to free Julian Assange if the entirety of the liberal political spectrum had not turned against Julian Assange and Wikileaks from around 2011. When Julian Assange was exposing the crimes of the US Empire during the time of the Republican George W Bush administration, he was lauded as an international hero. The moment he began exposing the Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton Democratic administration – for similar war crimes – he was dropped like a sack of spuds by most liberals throughout the Western world. In Australia, almost all ostensibly left parties washed their hands of Wikileaks when it exposed the US imperialist wars on Libya and Syria – which they backed. Their totally irrational Russophobia drove them into a right-wing critique of the Trump administration, one where they virtually demanded a nuclear war against Russia. Julian Assange, for his part, emphasised over and over that he was not a supporter of the Russian government or Donald Trump. Liberals and compromised “socialists”, therefore, bear heavy responsibility for not only the imprisonment of Julian Assange, but the current imperial overreach of Washington and Canberra.

This is the basis for the smear campaign by such liberals and self-proclaimed “socialists” against Julian Assange today. What they are attempting to do by smearing the character of Julian Assange is to excuse themselves for siding with the Pentagon against all of humanity. Australian journalist Caitlin Johnstone has performed an excellent debunking of all of the attempted smears against the character of Julian Assange, which essentially exposes the 29 of them as baseless slander.[5] Ms Johnstone demonstrates how the imprisonment of Julian Assange for the exercising of the most basic liberal democratic value – a supposedly free press – is, for liberals and the fair weather “left”, psychologically confronting.

The dark reality is that the further the capitalist system descends into economic crisis, the less can it allow the trappings of the extremely limited democratic rights previously tolerated. This economic crisis, afflicting the US, Europe and Australia, then drives the reckless imperialist war threats against Russia, China, Iran, the DPRK, Venezuela and so on. It will end only when the workers are able to erect their own state and their own government, as part of an international serious of revolutions across the globe. It is urgent that working people mobilise to free Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning.

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

[1] https://www.presstv.com/DetailFr/2019/04/11/593186/UK-arrest-Assange-press-freedom-expert-view (30-04-2019)

[2] https://defend.wikileaks.org/2019/04/13/press-freedom-human-rights-orgs-condemn-julian-assanges-arrest/ (30-04-2019)

[3] http://fmimalta.com/truth-itself-is-behind-bars-in-julian-assanges-cell-by-george-galloway/ (30-04-2019)

[4] https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/chelsea-manning-sent-to-jail-for-refusing-to-testify-in-wikileaks-case-20190309-p512wl.html (30-04-2019)

[5] https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/debunking-all-the-assange-smears-a549fd677cac  (30-04-2019)

 

West Papua: Independence Movement Spreads More False Claims

Map showing the location of the Nduga Regency in Papua.

West Papua: Independence Movement Spreads More False Claims

26-04-2019 – When a political movement distributes distorted facts and false claims, its legitimacy is necessarily brought into question. In the case of the independence movement in West Papua, this is a shame, for there may be a genuine case for the achievement of independence, which could potentially resolve historic injustices. Yet today, the current leadership of the West Papuan independence movement appears to have few qualms in using unverified reports, false claims and the backing of compromised allies to push their cause.

“Front Line Defenders”: the Empire’s press agents

The “Front Line Defenders” are a classic example of a corporate funded NGO, with practices not at all in consonance with their claimed raison d’etre. It is claimed that a team from Front Line Defenders visited West Papua, which went on to claim that around 32 000 people have been displaced by Indonesian military operations in the Nduga area.[1] The Free West Papua web site also claimed that bombs had been dropped and hospitals had been torched. However, the Front Line Defenders website does not mention West Papua, and details are hard to come by elsewhere.

What can be garnered from the Front Line Defenders website is that its board of directors are replete with CEOs and wealthy stock market brokers.[2] Quite obviously not short of a quid, one wonders what they might have in common with impoverished West Papuans. Moreover, their campaigns are transparently part of the imperialist human rights racket – where “human rights” are only a concern in countries which are targeted by the US Empire for regime change, or at the very least, politico-military-diplomatic intrigue with the aim of destablisation. Hence, Russia, China, Venezuela, Iran and even Indonesia are subjected to the corporate backed Front Line Defenders’ hackneyed claims of “human rights abuse”. Needless to say, the US Empire is never accosted for the same treatment.

For its part, the Indonesian military rubbishes the claims of 32 000 people being displaced in the Nduga region. Colonel Mohammed Aidi stated that there is no population data available for Nduga, implying that the numbers of claimed displaced people are impossible to verify.[3] The armed West Papuan groups claimed that the Indonesian military had damaged 34 schools, which the military denies. Colonel Aidi did state that six soldiers had perished in gun battles which were instigated by the armed Papuans. Further, the armed Papuan groups claim that bombs had been dropped from helicopters.

Who can be believed in this situation of claim and counter-claim? Going by previous history, it is more likely that the Indonesian military version is closer to the truth. This does not imply the slightest political support. Yet if recent events are anything to go by, it is likely that the claims by the armed Papuan groups are falsifications. In December last year, armed Papuan fighters slaughtered 31 Indonesian road workers who were constructing the Trans-Papua highway. Understandably, there was a military response to this. But then the armed Papuan groups enlisted corporate journalists to make the completely unfounded claim that the Indonesian military had used white phosphorus munitions against them.[4] Given that at least one of the journalists assisted the US Empire in its war for regime change against Syria, and where there are credible reports of the US military itself using white phosphorus against civilians in Syria[5], it is reasonable to assume that, once again, the armed Papuan groups and their supporters are making fabricated claims.

Some left parties fall over themselves to endorse the West Papuan independence movement, without pausing for a moment to check on its bona fides. The Socialist Alliance is just one of them, and they repeated the unverifiable claims of the “Front Line Defenders” in its newspaper Green Left Weekly.[6] They reprinted the claims direct from the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP), who likewise reprinted the allegations which were seemingly made verbally by the “Front Line Defenders”.[7]  The point needs to be made, though, that an independence movement which relies on “NGOs” which overtly or covertly work in the interests of imperialism, especially its mendacious “human rights” arm, is one which is on shaky political ground.

Benny Wenda: fighter or fugitive?

The chairperson of the ULMWP, and de facto leader of the West Papuan independence movement, is Benny Wenda. Mr Wenda no longer lives in West Papua – he lives in Oxford in the United Kingdom (UK), where he has been made a citizen. Supporters retail stories that Mr Wenda is living in a forced exile for his peaceful political activities, and cannot return to his homeland. The truth is somewhat at variance with this classical tale of an exiled activist. On December 7 in 2000, Benny Wenda apparently incited a group of around 50 people to attack a police station at Abepura, alongside two shops, which were torched. In the attack, a police officer was killed, and a security guard from the adjoining shopping complex was found dead.[8] While on trial for this, Mr Wenda escaped across the border to Papua New Guinea, and then fled to the UK.

The Indonesian government, somewhat understandably chasing someone wanted for the slaying of a police officer and potentially another person, attempted to have an INTERPOL red notice applied to Benny Wenda. INTERPOL red notices are usually applied by the 200 odd member countries, who agree to extradite the wanted person. Within 12 months, however, the INTERPOL red notice against Mr Wenda was lifted.[9] In short, it is not that Benny Wenda cannot return to the West Papuan provinces of Indonesia, out of fear that the Indonesian authorities will not allow him political liberties.  It is more that he is a fugitive, who has fled the country in order to avoid standing trial for murder. This fact is unknown to many West Papuan independence supporters, or swept under the carpet by those supporters who are aware.

While in the UK, Mr Wenda has used its protection to garner international support for the cause of West Papuan independence. Nothing wrong with this, one might object. Except, Mr Wenda is enlisting the highest political offices of capital to do so. He founded the International Parliamentarians for West Papua, which was initiated in the Houses of the British Parliament, and was also set up in the European Parliament in Brussels.[10] That is, the leader of the West Papuan independence movement is already subordinating the politics of the movement he leads to the class interests of British and European imperialism. Again, without endorsing Indonesian administration of the West Papuan provinces, if independence was achieved with the European ruling classes as sponsors, it may end up being worse than Indonesian rule. For whatever its faults, the Republic of Indonesia is not imperialist.

Genocide in West Papua ?

Genocide is one of the most emotive laden terms in the English language. By its nature the elimination of a people or nation, in whole or in part, invokes virtually universal condemnation. Estimates of the number of Papuans who have needlessly lost their lives at the hands of Indonesian armed forces vary widely, from an alleged 100 000 to possibly 500 000 since the 1950s. Again, these numbers are difficult to verify. However, West Papuan independence supporters today often claim that Papuans are suffering an ongoing genocide, which continues to this day. This implies that the Indonesian military is systematically mowing Papuans down with sub-machine guns, or engaging in regular massacres of Papuans going about their daily lives. In this sense, this is patently untrue, and this is not the situation in West Papua today.

What Papuans are referring to as “genocide” has much more to do with the significant transmigration of Indonesians into West Papua from Java, Bali, Sulawesi, Madura and other highly populated islands. With Indonesia’s population topping 200 million, one could say there is significant overpopulation on the main islands, and thus some form of transmigration program was necessary. One could argue that the transmigration program has become too extensive. In 1971, the non-Papuan population of West Papua stood at only 4%, but had reached 50% by 2004. Now, it is reported to be 51% non-Papuan and 49% Papuan.[11] Some Papuans fear they will thus be displaced over time, becoming a small minority in their own land.

Some West Papuans thus interpret their situation much more as a cultural “genocide”, as opposed to one which involves unchecked military force. To some extent, West Papuans can claim that a certain marginalisation of them is occurring, at their expense, and to the benefit of the Indonesian transmigrants. For example, employment for Papuans is reportedly difficult to come by, especially if they have been dislocated from their traditional means of living, sometimes as subsistence farmers.[12] However, there are many reasons for this, and this may not be intentional on the part of the Indonesian government. Much of the urban and city commercial activity has been run by Indonesians who have settled there. They have higher education and business experience, whereas the indigenous Papuans, who inhabit mostly the highland areas of Papua, generally have not had contact with this type of work. Perhaps understandably as a result, Indonesian run business and government sectors prefer those who are already trained for this type of activity. However, conscious exclusion of Papuans from employment is difficult to prove.

What is more, the development which the Indonesian government is constructing in West Papua does benefit Papuans along with the Indonesian transmigrants. Some Papuans view this development as benefitting ONLY Indonesian transmigrants. Yet it would be difficult to deny, for example, that the Trans-Papua highway will not assist the economic development of West Papua. In addition, while the delivery of education to all areas of Papua remains a challenge, especially in the remote highlands, primary, secondary and tertiary education is provided at little cost to students.[13] Further, Indonesia has recently rolled out a system of health insurance which reportedly “dwarfs Obamacare”.[14] While complete funding for this healthcare system remains patchy, it is also in place in West Papua.

“Leninist” Self-Determination

The most articulate, yet still mistaken, “Marxist” case for the independence of West Papua is put forward by the Spartacist League (SL). The SL call for the independence of West Papua while giving no political support to bourgeois nationalist forces – but then proceed to do precisely that.[15] SL is apparently unaware of the fugitive status of Benny Wenda, referring to him as an “exiled independence leader”, as do all bourgeois – and petty bourgeois – nationalists. In addition, they state that “West Papua is a cause celebre for bourgeois liberals, including the capitalist Greens in this country.”[16]  But isn’t there something strange about “Leninists” saluting the flag alongside bourgeois liberals?

In reality, Lenin and the Bolsheviks in their time did not automatically politically advocate every single movement for self-determination or for independence generally. They analysed the concrete circumstances of each situation, and then ONLY backed self-determination if it advanced the struggle of the working class for socialism in that nation and internationally. Lenin and the Bolsheviks would have scoffed at very suggestion of backing a petty-bourgeois or bourgeois nationalist struggle which had no connection – and even worked against – the achievement of socialism.

Like it or not, the character of the political leadership of the West Papuan independence movement today is light years away from socialism. Not only does the leadership put forward factual distortions and falsifications, the armed wing provokes the Indonesian authorities by slaughtering their personnel. When the Indonesian armed forces naturally respond to such an attack, they cry out and run to the Western corporate press. They enjoy the benefits of economic development (roads, education, healthcare) which Indonesia brings, and which is available for all Papuans, and then claim discrimination.

It would be a different matter if the West Papuan independence leadership proclaimed: we fight for West Papuan independence as part of our struggle for socialism and greater equality throughout Indonesia and the Asia-Pacific, and we are willing to stand with working people in our country and internationally against the perils of capitalism across the globe. Even something leaning in a left-wing direction could be the basis for a reassessment. Until and unless such a moment arrives, workers should leave the advocacy of West Papuan independence to the drawing room conversations of the chattering classes.

WORKERS   LEAGUE

http://www.redfireonline.com
E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.freewestpapua.org/2019/04/01/human-rights-investigators-bombs-dropped-hospitals-torched-and-thousands-displaced-in-nduga/ (22-04-2019)

[2] https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/board-directors (22-04-2019)

[3] https://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/386236/32-000-people-flee-violence-in-papua-rights-group (23-04-2019)

[4] https://redfireonline.com/2018/12/30/west-papua-corporate-media-enlisted-to-spread-false-claims-fake-news/ (23-04-2019)

[5] https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/us-using-banned-white-phosphorous-syria-says-moscow (23-04-2019)

[6] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/west-papua-destruction-and-displacement-nduga (23-04-2019)

[7] https://www.ulmwp.org/human-rights-investigation-ndgua (23-04-2019)

[8] https://web.archive.org/web/20141215023432/http:/www.thejakartapost.com/news/2002/10/31/papuan-separatist-leader-breaks-out-jail.html (23-04-2019)

[9] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatnews/9458223/Benny-Wenda-removed-from-Interpol-wanted-list.html (23-04-2019)

[10] https://www.ipwp.org/background/ (23-04-2019)

[11] http://www.7dayadventurer.com/2016/02/25/transmigration-to-irian-jayapapua-melanesian-marginalisation/ (25-04-2019)

[12] https://awasmifee.potager.org/?page_id=71 (25-04-2019)

[13] https://freewestpapua-indonesia.com/Freewestpapua/free-west-papua-afirmasi-pendidikan-tinggi-bagi-putra-putri-asli-papua?lang=gb (25-04-2019)

[14] https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2142640/indonesias-health-scheme-dwarfs-obamacare-there-problem (25-04-2019)

[15] https://www.icl-fi.org/english/asp/236/papua.html (26-04-2019)

[16] Ibid, 15.

Algeria: US Foments Destabilisation in Africa

Algeria: US Foments Destabilisation in Africa

17-04-2019 – Algeria was one of the foremost countries of the wave of anti-colonialist liberation struggles which followed the Second World War, winning its independence from France in 1962. Today, there are both hidden and barely hidden attempts to bring Algeria back within the vice-like grip of Western imperialism. The US Empire, desperate after being defeated in Syria, and following ham-fisted failed attempts at regime change in Venezuela, is responding by doubling their bets. Anywhere they can see even half a chance at fostering and fomenting internal regime change where an independent country exists, Wall Street in all probability has contingency plans ready to roll.

To the uninitiated, waves of protest in Algeria calling on an octogenarian leader to refrain from running in the Presidential election for a fifth time appear to be self-justified. Yet in Africa, and politics in general in 2019, things are not at all what they seem. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held a joint press conference with Algerian Deputy Prime Minister Ramtane Lamamra last month. Lavrov pointedly warned of external interference and destabilisation in Algeria.[1] This was a veiled reference to the US state department, delivered with trademark Lavrov diplomacy. Russia and Algeria have been strong allies since the time of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and Algeria also signed a Strategic Partnership agreement with Russia in April 2001.[2] More recently, in 2014 Algeria rejected a US demand to set up a military base on their soil.[3] Since then, Algeria has been one of the very few Arab countries to vigorously defend the Syrian Arab Republic against the US/Israeli/Saudi backed jihadist death squads which besieged them, as Algeria itself is susceptible to similar attacks,[4] some as spillover from the NATO destruction of Green Libya in 2011.

Algeria tilts towards Russia, against NATO

Given the aftermath of NATO’s annihilation of Libya, in cahoots with Al Qaeda linked death squads they armed, Algeria has found it necessary to align itself with the Russia/Syria/Anti-NATO bloc. This is the real reason for the current round of staged protests calling for “regime change” in Algeria. There are always some domestic pro-US layers of society in all countries, from liberal students to agents of small or large business classes. In this case, such elements are betraying Algeria’s independence under a grossly distorted banner of “freedom and democracy”. To be sure, working people in Algeria have no stake per se in the capitalist system operated by the Algerian political leaders. However, allowing Algeria to be fully open to US/NATO plunder via US backed regime change would be consonant with a return to occupation by French imperialism, i.e. it would return Algeria to a situation before its independence in 1962. To that extent, workers in Algeria and internationally need to militarily side with Algeria/Russia/Syria against the US Empire, while retaining their own organisational and political independence.

Russia, in the form of the then USSR, has backed Algerian independence since the first hours of its declaration in 1962. Yet today the alliance between Algeria and Russia to a large extent hinges on Algeria’s backing of Russia’s actions in Syria, where it is still combatting the residues of the unhinged US backed ISIS death squads. Russia also appreciates the Algerian government’s role in what they term the “pacification” of Libya and Mali.[5] That is, Algeria taking measures to prevent the further spread of the remnants of the Al Qaeda elements used by Washington to overthrow Colonel Gaddafi in Libya. These actions by Algeria are in the interests of working people across North Africa despite the politics of the Algerian government.

Further, it is not just in a tactical security bloc against US backed jihadism in North Africa where Algerian-Russian co-operation is apparent. Energy supplies are vital also. Algeria and Russia are top gas exporters, with Algeria producing 130 billion cubic metres of gas annually. 14% of this amount is exported to Europe.[6] Russian gas exports to Europe are also extensive, so co-operation with Algeria in this sphere is mutually beneficial. Washington, of course, views such trade and co-operation with Europe as an obstruction, and political impertinence – despite the US not being able to supply gas itself.

Algeria signs onto the New Silk Road

As if to further underscore declining US economic power across the globe, in 2018 Algeria became one of the 90 countries to have signed onto Red China’s One Belt One Road (also known as the New Silk Road or the Belt and Road Initiative – BRI). Algeria signed onto the BRI in Beijing itself, while attending the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.[7] Under the BRI, China’s booming socialist economy commits billions of dollars to infrastructure development in countries along the old Silk Road. Algeria will be a part of the Maritime Silk Road, which connects China, Europe, India, East Africa and the Red Sea states. Washington is furious at this, but is unable to prevent it. What is more, the People’s Republic of China has remained Algeria’s largest trading partner since 2013. 2017 figures have China accounting for $8.3 billion of Algeria’s $45.95 billion worth of imports.[8]

The People’s Republic of China (PRC), like the USSR at that time (and now Russia), has extensive ties with Algeria due to its assistance for its struggle for national liberation. This is not lost on the current Algerian leadership, regardless of their politics. As Guy Burton wrote:

“China’s connections to Algeria go back even further. In 1958 China was the first non-Arab country to recognize the National Liberation Front and provide it with arms and funds in its struggle for independence. Following independence in 1962, China provided soft loans and other forms of assistance, including medical missions to the new government. When China eventually joined the UN in 1971, Algeria was one of the co-sponsors that proposed the resolution. Today, Algeria has one of the largest Chinese communities in Africa and the Middle East, at around 70,000.”[9]

Such ties, forged in bonds against colonialist and imperialist struggle decades ago, are not easily forgotten. The US can fume as much as it likes, but it cannot match anything like the camaraderie and mutual backing offered by both China and Russia – in political and economic terms. The economic crisis of the capitalist US economy, however, drives it further and further into reckless military adventures, and/or, constant preparation for them. This is why Africa today is subjected to US military intervention, the arming and funding of proxy jihadist death squads, and constant backing for compromised opposition groups within African states. The aim is chaos, destabilisation and disruption, and even open war, in order to undermine friendly relations with Russia and China. Washington will consider using any means, from using its own troops, to arming and funding Al Qaeda linked barbarians, to covert or overt backing of internal regime change “revolutions” – such as the one in Algeria today.

AFRICOM – footprint of the US Empire

AFRICOM (Africa Command) was established in 2007 as a counterpart to the US Empire’s CENTCOM (Central Command) and SOUTHCOM (Southern Command). It currently shares its headquarters with EUCOM (European Command) in Stuttgart, Germany. Some US Senators have recently openly questioned why, after 10 years of “operations”, the US does not have its AFRICOM headquarters stationed in Africa.[10] It takes some galling arrogance, even from the standards of US imperialism, to assume that they have a right to permanent bases in countries overseas, and base entire military commands based on sections of the globe. Yet this is the reality of Africa today.

Even some US citizens were surprised to learn, after US troops were ambushed in Niger in October 2017, that US troops are crawling over many countries in Africa.[11] The reaction was one of “what are they doing there?”. To put it bluntly, they are there as an imperial occupying force – albeit one that is not advertised as such. There is some evidence that the main task of US troops across Africa is the fostering and fomenting of coups against African countries which demonstrate even half a shred of independence from the US behemoth. Today Algeria and Sudan, tomorrow Cameroon and Nigeria, and on and on it goes.

Many African countries have baulked at allowing a permanent US military base to be set up on their soil. One of the core responsibilities of AFRICOM is supposedly “stability operations” – but what is meant by this is clearly demonstrated in Algeria and Sudan in recent times. That is, not stability, but thinly veiled destabilisation, to bring down any government or any ruler not willing to play by the rules of Washington. To facilitate this, the Pentagon operates what are euphemistically termed “Cooperative Security Locations” or “Lily Pads”. Lily Pads are weapons and vehicle depots which include airfields for military aircraft as well as drones. Lily Pads have been constructed in Algeria (despite its refusal to host a US base), Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cabo Verde, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome and Principe and Togo.[12] It doesn’t take too much understanding of geopolitics to realise that this is an imperial occupation, which can only serve Washington to the detriment of hundreds of millions of Africans.

Left parties toe Washington’s line

Seemingly oblivious to the US Empire’s troops across Africa, or perhaps because of it, some Australian left parties have been eager to put their hands up to man the megaphone for the US state department. First cab off the rank was the Socialist Alliance (SA), as an extension of its role of propagandist for US led regime change war against Syria. In Syria, SA pumped for US/Saudi/Israeli armed jihadists who were leading a mythical “revolution”, alongside secular forces which did not exist. Similarly in Algeria, SA falls for a corresponding assortment. Sam Wainwright in SA newspaper Green Left Weekly claims that the Algerian opposition marches have “included Islamists, people with a democratic secular outlook, the Kabylie independence movement (a Berber speaking part of the country) and the Algerian Socialist Workers Party (PST).”[13]

For a start, the PST is linked to the French NPA (New Anti-Capitalist Party). The NPA was notorious for calling on French imperialism to arm jihadist death squads to effect regime change in Libya and Syria. French imperialism certainly did this, and parties such as the NPA in France and SA in Australia, cheered on these atrociously dirty wars – arguably the dirtiest in history. Islamists were at the heart of the “uprisings” in Libya and Syria, and SA again hails their participation in regime change operations in Algeria. Some Berber independence groups also backed US led regime change in Syria, and “democratic and secular” opposition to the Syrian government was a fantasy.

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and its “World Socialist Web Site” (WSWS), to their credit, did not back US led regime change in Syria. However, in Algeria they switch sides and fall into line with Washington. The SEP loudly criticised parties such as SA for spruiking for US led regime change in Syria. Yet they don’t notice the irony of adopting the same position – regime change backed by imperialist powers – as SA in Algeria!  Will Morrow claims in the WSWS that the “…ongoing movement of the Algerian working class against the military backed regime is part of a renewed eruption of working class struggle around the world.”[14] One could only believe this if it was possible to ignore the swathe of US operated “Lily Pads” across Africa, US troops swarming across many African nations, Algeria’s alliance with Russia in security and gas exports, Algeria signing onto Beijing’s New Silk Road and major trade with Red China. One would have to have to be wearing blinkers to ignore Washington’s concern about all African countries’ dealings with both Russia and China. For all rational observers, Algeria’s “uprising” is anything but pure.

To be sure, to lift Algeria and Africa finally clear of the devastating legacy of Western colonialism, socialism – the class rule of the workers – will have to emerge victorious. The current Algerian government will ultimately stand in the way of such progress. However, right now, working people in Africa and internationally have a vital interest in militarily siding with Algeria, Syria, Russia and China against the nefarious ends of US imperialism. At the very least, workers should demand that the US withdraw AFRICOM and all US troops from African soil. The sovereignty of Algeria and all African countries must be guarded, and defended in a temporary bloc alongside the non-imperialist (and anti-NATO) states. US backed coups, in such a scenario, will have little or no chance of “success”.

Workers  League
E: workersleague@redfireonline.com
http://www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://dailynewssegypt.com/2019/03/19/russia-warns-of-external-interference-in-algeria-lavrov/ (10-04-19)

[2] https://jamestown.org/program/the-broader-regional-meaning-of-russian-foreign-minister-lavrovs-maghreb-tour/ (10-04-19)

[3] https://www.sott.net/article/278889-Defeat-for-the-empire-Algeria-rejects-US-demand-for-military-base (10-04-19)

[4] https://www.globalresearch.ca/algeria-on-the-edge-of-a-soft-coup/5528762 (10-04-19)

[5] https://africandailyvoice.com/en/2019/01/24/algeria-syria-and-yemen-at-the-heart-of-sergei-lavrovs-visit-to-algiers/ (13-04-19)

[6] http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-01/25/c_137771977.htm (13-04-19)

[7] https://africandailyvoice.com/en/2018/09/05/algeria-joins-the-new-silk-roads/ (13-04-19)

[8] http://northafricapost.com/25232-algeria-joins-belt-and-road-initiative.html (13-04-19)

[9] https://thediplomat.com/2019/03/what-protests-in-algeria-and-sudan-mean-for-china/ (13-04-19)

[10] https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2018/03/13/senators-consider-putting-africom-headquarters-staff-in-africa/ (13-04-19)

[11] https://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2018/04/28/605662771/the-military-doesnt-advertise-it-but-u-s-troops-are-all-over-africa (13-04-19)

[12] https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2018/02/26/africom-giant-waste-money.html (13-04-19)

[13] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/algeria-turning-point-people-rise (13-04-19)

[14] https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/04/06/alge-a06.html (13-04-19)

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)