Let the Russians Play! No to the New Cold War

LET THE RUSSIANS PLAY! NO TO THE NEW COLD WAR

09-12-17 – As if the McCarthyist hysteria could not possibly get any more deceitful, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently issued a statement banning Russia from participation at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea (“Republic of Korea” or ROK). Claiming that Russia systematically manipulated anti-doping rules during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014 and since, the IOC Executive Board effectively banned the Russian uniform, the Russian flag and the Russian anthem from the 2018 games. Amongst other measures seemingly out of the script of a 1960s era James Bond film, the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) was suspended from the IOC, ROC President Alexander Zhukov was suspended as a member of the IOC, and the Russian Minister of Sport (Vitaly Mutko) and his deputy (Yuri Nagornykh) were banned from any participation in all future Olympic Games.[1]

On hearing this, one might think that the IOC must have a mountain of substantial evidence to take such vast and sweeping steps. But, no, the IOC has based its outrageous actions on the Schmid Report – which is based on the “testimony” of a Russian who defected to the US in 2015, and is now under a US witness protection program. Grigory Rodchenkov, whose defection previously led to the McLaren Report which then led to the partial ban of Russia from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the total ban of Russia from the Paralympics, doesn’t deny that he has been involved in serious wrongdoing. Russia’s own Investigative Committee into the matter declared that it had enough evidence to show that Rodchenkov had destroyed the doping tests of Russian athletes required by world anti-doping agencies, as well as the letters asking as to their whereabouts.[2] This was done for his own financial gain – and reports have it that he now has a fancy apartment and a brand new ‘Infinity’ car in the US provided for him.

That is, the Russian government has admitted that there were serious and illegal moves on the part of Rodchenkov and a group of his contacts while they operated in sports labs in Russia. They admit this was a crime, and have moved to prosecute Rodchenkov, and have called for his extradition from the US to do so. What the Russian government has expressly denied, however, are the repeated claims by the IOC and others within the US government that Rodchenkov’s malfeasance was in any way “state sponsored” or directed from the Russian government, and certainly not ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, they have stated that the Schmid Report concurs with their own findings – guilt on the part of Rodchenkov, but no evidence at all of the deception of the world anti-doping bodies by the Russian Ministry of Sports or the Russian government.[3] The Russian government doesn’t deny that doping is a problem in elite sports in every country, including their own. But the relentless US claims of state-sponsored sports doping in Russia is nothing more than a tissue of lies.

The corruption of Olympic legitimacy

Any remnants of impartiality, fairness and sportsmanlike conduct from the bodies running the Olympics now lie in shreds, if indeed they existed in the first place. The Olympic Committees are being used as tools in the New Cold War against Russia, succumbing to political pressure originating from Washington – or perhaps being handsomely paid to act as mouthpieces. The IOC doesn’t hide that it is sponsored by some of the largest capitalist corporations in the world, almost all of them headquartered in the West, or in countries allied to the US, such as Japan and South Korea. General Electric, Toyota, Samsung, Proctor & Gamble, Bridgestone, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, Intel, and Visa are amongst them.[4] The Chinese based Alibaba is also there, which may be one reason why China has not been targeted in the Olympic aspect of the New Cold War.

The Olympics are supposed to be about sport. In a class divided society, and in a world where the US Empire is struggling to maintain its unipolar world, we would be naïve to believe that politics does not play a role. But the current level of the manipulation of the Olympic movement to serve the deadly political interests of US imperialism beggars belief. In the same way in which there is zero evidence to back the absurd claim that Russia interfered with the 2016 US presidential elections, there is zero evidence to back the lurid claim that there is a “state-sponsored” program of sports doping in Russia. It is precisely on zero evidence, though, that McCarthyism, old or new, functions. All that is needed is attempted smear and baseless allegations, repeated many times by Western governments and the corporate media arms which are effectively capitalist state media. As the saying goes, a lie repeated a thousand times eventually becomes accepted as truth. Yet working people do not always buy the snake oil.

The thoroughly corrupted officials of the Olympic movement have also maintained their ban on the Russian Paralympic Team, which was banned from participation in the Rio Paralympics. This move is beneath contempt. Disabled people face a lifetime of difficulty and hardship, enduring practical and social isolation, a lack of acceptance, and physical travails that few able-bodied people have to even contemplate, let alone deal with on a daily basis. All measures to include the physically and mentally disabled to take part in society at a level which they are able should be encouraged, not discouraged. Paralympic sport is one activity that can give some disabled people some meaning, and even some recognition, in their lives. The fact that Washington does not blink twice in causing immense hardship to the disabled people of Russia in order to maintain their rotting carcass of world “leadership” speaks volumes about who they are. It also exposes Russophobia as something particularly loathsome.

Payback for defeat in Syria

As transparently false as the claims of state backed Russian sport doping are, there are very real political reasons why this nonsensical game is wheeled out time and again. Principally, the main reason is that Russia upheld what was left of international law and intervened in Syria – at the invitation of the Syrian government – to take on and militarily defeat the regime change war waged by the US government. The US was backed in this atrocious proxy war by the governments of the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Israel, Australia, Canada, Denmark and others. Of course, this was all done in the dirtiest way possible – the direct funding and arming of genocidal mercenary terrorists flown or trucked into the Syrian Arab Republic. These barbarians, under a myriad of names – ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, the “Free Syrian Army”, the “Syrian Democratic Forces” – unleashed the most merciless horror in history upon the people of Syria, especially those who were seen to be supporting their own secular government, led by President Bashar Al-Assad. This war caused the deaths of up to 400 000 people, the overwhelmingly majority of whom where Syrian civilians or Syrian soldiers defending their country. It was arguably accompanied by the largest compendium of lies and media distortions of the truth of any war previously seen.

Currently, this war is in some parts still live. Israeli Defence Force jets still sporadically bomb parts of Syria.[5] Largely, however, the US war for regime change in Syria was defeated, and Russia’s contribution, beginning on September 30, 2015, was decisive. Russian air power, via the superbly engineered SU-24 and SU-25 jet fighters, dealt blow after blow against the Western armed ISIS forces. With the assistance of Iran – who were also invited by the Syrian government – and the fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, Washington’s regime change manoeuvres came to zilch. The Russian government expertly checkmated the US deep state by inviting the US government to take part in the war against ISIS. The US was paralysed, as it would lose too much political face by coming to the aid of ISIS – which was a CIA operation to start with. Neither did the US want Russia to gain any legitimacy by joining with them to take out their own intelligence assets. Politically exposed, the US stood down, gradually withdrawing logistical support for the ISIS Frankenstein.

Crimea goes home

The defeat of the US in Syria was arguably its first defeat in a major imperialist war since Vietnam. This burns the US deep state, and their operatives in the Democrats and the Republicans, more deeply than anything else. No one is supposed to be able to stand up to the US, let alone defeat their war plans. But it was not only the people of Syria, and Iran, and Russia, and Hezbollah that dared to defy the US. The population of Crimea did also, in response to the US led NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) installed fascist coup in Kiev in February 2014. The illegal coup, backed by fascists on the ground who literally hailed their predecessors who worked with the Nazis against the Soviet Union during World War II, presented Ukrainians with an ultimatum – succumb to NATO backed fascism, or get out.

Crimea had been “gifted” to Ukraine by then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954.[6] Yet in reality, the overwhelming majority of Crimeans are ethnically Russian, and have been for centuries. When in fact Ukraine abolished the constitution of Crimea and sent in troops in 1995, no one in the West uttered a sound.[7] Now the Western media repeats over and over that Russia “annexed” Crimea. Actually, Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to re-join Russia, in March 2014, rather than live under NATO armed fascism from Kiev. How overwhelming? By a vote of at least 96%![8] It doesn’t get any more convincing than that. Despite this, the US and Western governments repeat endlessly that Russia “annexed” Crimea. In this instance, it was not even the actions of the Russian government which stymied regime change in Ukraine. Even voting in favour of re-joining Russia, in an area considered for centuries to be Russian anyway, and in order to avoid Nazi-led fascism – is enough for the US state to claim “Russian aggression”. The mind boggles.

Just who is meddling in whose elections?

The US orchestrated banning of Russia, via the IOC, is also calculated to cause maximum damage to the prestige of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will be running as a candidate in the Russian elections of 2018. The US deep state also hopes that any showcasing that Russia will be able to do via the hosting of the 2018 (soccer) World Cup will likewise be undermined. These insidious moves expose once again the laughable claim of Russian meddling in the 2016 US Presidential Elections – the reality is entirely the other way around. Washington’s candidate in the Russian elections – Alexei Navalny – has been the recipient of funding from the notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED)[9], the US deep state body charged with subverting and overthrowing governments, and/or countries, which are independent of the US and their allies. Navalny has been found guilty of embezzlement, and is currently banned from running in the Russian elections next year, due to this criminal conviction. Cue Washington’s nefarious manipulating of the International Olympic Committee.

There is a crying need for an anti-imperialist anti-war movement, and not just because the US is hell bent on bringing Russia to heel. Working people will not be able to take the first step in defending their deteriorating living and working conditions unless they start to break from the foreign policy of Washington, backed as it is by Canberra. Unfortunately, most Australian left parties either agree with the targeting of Russia, or are silent in the face of anti-Russian hysteria. As we have mentioned previously, today’s Russophobia contains elements of both racism and anti-communism despite the overthrow of socialism in the former Soviet Union more than 25 years ago. At the very least, workers should demand that all bans on Russian participation in the Olympics be lifted, as well as all Western trade sanctions.

The US has Russia in its gunsights, and any conflict with Russia will mean the catastrophe of nuclear war. Working people need to be clear that in this eventuality, the US ruling class, and not Russia, will be at fault. While the Russian government defends a form of capitalism within its own borders, which will eventually need to be overthrown by an insurgent working class, workers internationally must avoid at all costs inadvertently conspiring with the US to take down Russia, via US backed NGOs or indeed Alexei Navalny. In the meantime, Russia must be defended against NATO and US led brinkmanship, which is inching the world closer and closer to World War III. A desperately needed campaign to normalise relations with Russia can begin by demanding:  LET THE RUSSIANS PLAY!
——————————————————————————————————————————————–

WORKERS  LEAGUE

 

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

PO  Box   66    NUNDAH  QLD  4012
[1] https://www.olympic.org/news/ioc-suspends-russian-noc-and-creates-a-path-for-clean-individual-athletes-to-compete-in-pyeongchang-2018-under-the-olympic-flag (09-12-17)

[2] http://russia-insider.com/en/ill-destroy-all-russian-olympic-sports-next-5-years-shocking-statements-runaway-wada-informant (09-12-17)

[3] http://tass.com/sport/979259 (09-12-17)

[4] https://www.olympic.org/sponsors (09-12-17)

[5] https://www.timesofisrael.com/lebanese-media-israel-bombed-hezbollah-weapons-depot-in-syria/ (09-12-17)

[6] https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/why-did-russia-give-away-crimea-sixty-years-ago (09-12-17)

[7] https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/03/28/so-who-annexed-crimea-peninsular-then.html (09-12-17)

[8] http://www.fort-russ.com/2015/02/crimea-was-it-seized-by-russia-or-did.html (09-12-17)

[9] https://www.sott.net/article/290848-Meet-Alexei-Navalny-The-US-State-Departments-inside-man-for-regime-change-in-Russia (09-12-17)

The Russian Winter Olympic team has been banned from the 2018 games, a political smear job orchestrated by Washington. Image from http://www.dailymail.co.uk

No War on DPR Korea! Lift the Sanctions

NO WAR ON DPR KOREA!

LIFT THE SANCTIONS!

STATEMENT OF THE WORKERS LEAGUE

05-12-2017 – As we go to press, the US and its puppet South Korean navy are completing yet more threatening war manoeuvres right on the border with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK – or “North Korea”). This comes on top of the most extensive US, Japanese and Republic of Korea (ROK or “South Korea”) military war games ever this year, which are carried out annually. These “exercises” are little more than a dress rehearsal for an invasion and overthrow of the DPRK – something which is barely even concealed. There is nothing “routine” about them – unless threatening a sovereign nation with annihilation can be called “routine”.

Vanishing standard of living linked to war

The world teeters on the brink of a thermonuclear war. One side, and one side only, is responsible for this indescribable calamity – the US Empire, loyally backed by servile politicians in Canberra. The ruling class of the United States is presiding over a decline preceding a collapse similar to that of the Roman Empire of ancient times. Its capitalist for-profit economy is in many areas barely functioning, and US working people are paying a heavy price. Australian workers are also suffering, as the falling rate of profit for big capital results in bare-faced assaults such as stagnant wages, high unemployment, a skyrocketing cost of living and homelessness at chronic levels. Minimal working conditions, such as the right to be paid for working on a weekend, are being abolished. Basic liberal democratic rights and civil liberties, such as habeas corpus, and the right to form an organisation, are being torn to shreds. Many young people – the “millennials” – face a future of insecurity, joblessness and poverty.

Make no mistake, all of these privations and more are directly linked to the threat of nuclear war, which is twisted in the corporate media to be because of a “threat” from the DPRK. In reality, the DPRK has done, and is doing, everything which is humanly possible to avoid a war with the United States. For over six decades, all the DPRK has ever stated is that if it is attacked, it will respond – which is the inalienable right of every human being, let alone every sovereign nation on planet earth. The DPRK has repeatedly offered to suspend the testing of nuclear weapons in exchange for an end to the yearly military “exercises” – which practice invasion – on its border. This has been ignored. The DPRK has offered to abolish its nuclear weapons program altogether, if the US will withdraw all of its nuclear weapons and its 30 odd thousand permanently stationed troops from South Korea. This has been ignored. Recently in the United Nations, the DPRK was one of the first countries to vote in favour of a resolution banning the development, testing and use of nuclear weapons. This too, has been ignored.

The unavoidable political reality is that it is the ultra-hostile position of the US government over many years which has forced the DPRK to develop and produce nuclear weapons. And as its vote in the United Nations in favour of banning the production and use of nuclear weapons shows, the DPRK would prefer, a thousand times over, not to have to divert what relatively scarce resources that are available to them to a military defence program. The economy of the DPRK may be tilted heavily towards military spending, but it is the height of hypocrisy for the strongest imperialist power in world history to repeatedly threaten the DPRK with elimination – and at the same time condemn it for “neglecting its own people”. The resources that the DPRK has assigned to military defence, which has only ever produced a deterrent against a military attack, and nothing more, are resources which have, so far, ensured the survival of the DPRK. It hardly needs to be said that the recent US led wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria are proof positive that the DPRK’s decisions on its military spending have been eminently correct.

Lift the Sanctions!

The US in recent years has specialised in waging wars of regime change against countries which provide free health care and education to its citizens. Libya and Syria, pre-US invasion, willingly spent some of its resources in this way, and so does the DPRK. In fact the DPRK goes much further, to provide free housing, universal employment, and constitutionally guaranteed holiday leave from work, amongst other things, to all of its 25 million civilians. While certain distortions exist in the DPRK – who amongst us can claim that any socio-economic system is perfect? The fact is that the form of socialism which survives in the DPRK co-habits with the enormous strength and prosperity of next-door neighbour China, which also operates a socialist economy, albeit with differing restrictions. The unending US led sanctions on the DPRK, dramatically escalated this year, are ultimately aimed at overturning the socialism which has been achieved in the DPRK and China. In addition, the threatened war on the DPRK by the US will not just be against the DPRK but against China, and also Russia. Russia, while not socialist, has also stood in the way of total US planetary domination, e.g. Syria.

The world’s working people must demand an immediate lifting of all sanctions and trade blockades on the DPRK, the immediate cessation of all US led military exercises near the DPRK (including South Korean, Japanese and Australian participation) and the removal of all US military hardware, nuclear weapons and personnel from South Korea. We must also demand the closure of the US spy bases in Australia, including Pine Gap and Nurrungar, and the removal of US troops from Darwin. Working cannot resist the attacks on their own jobs and living conditions without also resisting their international extension – the threat of nuclear war.   HANDS OFF THE DPRK!

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

P.O.  Box   66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

www.redfireonline.com

DPRK Leader Kim Jong-Un stands next to Hwasong-15, the largest missile yet produced by the DPRK. Image from the South China Morning Post.

Free Julian Assange! No to the New McCarthyism

Free Julian Assange! No to the New McCarthyism

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Ecudorian Embassy in 2012. Image from http://www.newsweek.com

29-11-2017 – If you cast your mind back a few short seven years, Wikileaks became a virtual household name by releasing a tranche of 250 000 odd classified State Department cables. Soon after, Wikileaks released the infamous “Collateral Murder” video, apparently supplied by US soldier Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, which showed the US military in 2007 blowing away Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists. Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, became a whistleblowing hero, along with Chelsea Manning. Manning was imprisoned and no doubt tortured for seven years. Julian Assange now remains held inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The British police maintain they will arrest Assange if he steps outside, and, if so, many fear the UK government would deliver Assange to the US government.

At the time, Wikileaks was a revelation in journalism, although some dispute whether the publishing of documents is actually a form of journalism. Nevertheless, the organisation displayed a “drop box” on its website, where any employee or someone working for a wealthy government or corporation could anonymously deposit cables, emails or other documentation which they believed could expose a fundamental social injustice. Wikileaks would then release the documentation, and the “leaker” would be protected. The Wikileaks organisation would then cop the barrage from what is now called the deep state. Julian Assange willingly put himself on the line, an act of unheralded bravery.

Then, all manner of left parties universally hailed Wikileaks and Julian Assange as heroes of a new age, as trailblazers whose exposure of the global capitalist elite powers could open a path to a breakthrough the socialist left had been seeking for decades. All socialists rallied behind Julian Assange, an Australian who grew up in Queensland, and praised his name to the heavens. The Socialist Alliance was the most vocal in the defence campaign, rightly calling on the Australian government to offer Julian Assange full consular assistance, rather than colluding with the US government in a vicious persecution.[1] Although Socialist Alternative at the time had not yet launched its newspaper Red Flag, they were at the time as loud as any other in defending Wikileaks for exposing US war crimes.[2] Solidarity quite correctly at the time pointed out that the release of information about the criminal activity of the imperialist powers only points to the need for “a broader fight against a system run by a privileged few who care nothing for democracy and will hurl millions into the hell of war”.[3]  These left parties were joined by many others who had vigorously opposed the war on Iraq, and others opposed to the never-ending war on Afghanistan.

Where are they now?

Fast forward to today, and it is a totally different story. Julian Assange remains an effective prisoner in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, unable to leave the building. Wikileaks continues to operate somehow, a testament to Assange and his team. Yet where are the left parties who were so outspoken in their defence, several short years ago? Where are the socialist led campaigns to free Julian Assange? They have all but vanished, and ironically imperialist war is the reason once again.

The imperialist led wars on Libya and Syria were starkly revealing as far as who, in practice, stands against US/UK/AUST plunder of the planet, and who justifies or apologises for this madness. It has recently been revealed that literal black slavery has reappeared in Libya in 2017,[4]  several years after the then Wikileaks defending left parties stridently advocated the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi’s Green Libya – which was duly carried out by NATO. Early in 2017, after Hilary Clinton – arguably the most corrupt and evil politician on earth – lost the US presidential election to Republican Donald Trump, she turned against “Russia” and Wikileaks, blaming them, and many others for her defeat. Julian Assange shot back on social media by referring to her as the “butcher of Libya”,[5] as she was US Secretary of State at the time. Clinton later bragged and joked about the lynch murder of Colonel Gaddafi. To this day, not one of the left parties which defended Wikileaks during 2010, but welcomed the NATO destruction of Libya in 2011, have uttered a word of remorse. In addition, since that time they dropped Wikileaks and Julian Assange cold.

Failed war of regime change on Syria

Soon after the brief but incredibly destructive NATO war on Libya, which left no functioning state, the West’s war for regime change in Syria ignited. The same left parties which defended Wikileaks earlier, then cheered on the elimination of Libya, again leapt into action calling for the overthrow of Syria. Julian Assange and Wikileaks saw through it all, and was summarily ex-communicated – by the left parties which formerly defended them, and by the capitalist powers waging the war. Despite the lurid claims of a “popular uprising” emerging in Syria in 2011, Wikileaks disclosed information confirming that real US state plans for the destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic – in concert with Israel and Saudi Arabia – dated back to 2006.[6] Assange explained how the conflict was prolonged by the use of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to funnel weapons in Syria – which found its way into the hands of all manner of genocidal mercenary terrorists, from Al Qaeda to Al Nusra to ISIS. Moreover, he explained how this motley collection of allies were intended to undermine the influence, if not the existence, of Iran and Hezbollah.

The war on Syria was thus arguably the dirtiest war in the history of world imperialism. It dragged on for six years, and the Syrian government is still in the throes of expelling the last of the US backed barbarians from the country. Julian Assange and the Wikileaks organisation are founded on the basis that the public has the right to know the truth about what is happening in their world. Julian Assange himself has demonstrated immense bravery for continuing to speak out against imperialist war crimes, even while he is still barred by the British Government from leaving the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The left parties which swore blind they would defend Wikileaks showed no such courage. They dropped Wikileaks like a sack of spuds once it became clear that Wikileaks would play no part in apologising for the war on Syria, and would continue their work of exposing US imperialism – regardless of whether it was headed by a George Bush or a Barack Obama.[7] Julian Assange may not be a Marxist revolutionary, but even he was far too left wing for those parties who played a large part in demobilising any prospective anti-war movement. Thankfully, the intervention of Russia in defence of Syria in 2015, turned the tables and effectively defeated the US led proxy war.

The New McCarthyism

Russia’s defeat of the scourge of ISIS, with the assistance of Iran and Hezbollah, did more than save Syria. It thoroughly exposed the role of US deep state collusion with a myriad of terrorist outfits. Russia had already been subject to NATO expansion on its European borders for years previously, but the prevention of what for the US rulers should have been a straightforward toppling of a non-compliant Middle Eastern government tipped anti-Russian hysteria over the edge. Combined with this was the US Presidential Elections of 2016, which was supposed to be a cakewalk for the Democrats and ultra-war hawk Hilary Clinton. As we know, the American people feared Clinton in the White House far more than Donald Trump, who at that time was at least promising some change of direction domestically, along with a seeming position of peace with Russia.

US politics has moved on since that time, with the Trump administration effectively abandoning almost everything it stood for during the elections. To a degree, the Democrats and the deep state operatives may have pushed Trump to be even more belligerent in terms of war than he was planning to be. Regardless, the Clinton camp has lashed out furiously at all and sundry, effectively refusing to accept the vote of the American electorate. Wikileaks was and is accused of colluding with Russia to turn the US election in favour of Donald Trump. As with all accusations of “Russian interference”, there has never been any evidence put forward whatsoever. Wikileaks did release emails of the Democratic National Committee Chairman John Podesta during the US election campaign, which revealed staggering levels of collusion of Hilary Clinton with Wall Street.[8] Russia could not have had anything to do with these arrangements if they tried.

The baseless yet relentless and slanderous allegations against Russia – a new McCarthyism – continue in the US, and have reached a level of absurdity which threatens basic public discourse. Russia’s RT news and current affairs broadcaster has now been forced to register as a “foreign agent” in the United States, years after operating there without incident.[9] Other foreign news services, which also operate in the US, such as BBC, NHK, China Daily and Al Jazeera, have not been forced to do so. More than this, the US Congress has now stripped RT America of its Congress credentials,[10] meaning that RT journalists are blocked from attending White House press conferences.  As if this was not enough, US comedian Randy Credico was recently summonsed by the US House Intelligence Committee for an interview on “Russian interference in the 2016 elections”.[11] Credico has refused, saying his radio show is covered  by the First Amendment. He has no doubt it is because he has had contact with Julian Assange, and the US government is trying to silence Wikileaks.

The system at an impasse

Wikileaks’ slogan is “We open Governments”. The work that Wikileaks does is eminently commendable, and Julian Assange and his team play a heroic role in exposing the crimes of the world’s most powerful governments. The bravery should be recognised, and the left and the Union movement should agitate and organise for the release of Julian Assange. Unions in Australia especially should take up this cause, for the Australian government is certainly not acting to protect one of its citizens for overtly political reasons. It is in the direct interest of working people internationally to have access to information on what the governments that claim to represent them are really doing.

Yet here is the rub. The capitalist system worldwide is at an impasse, and only has more war, more poverty, more unemployment and more environmental devastation to offer. The top officials of the Union movement here are tied by a thousand threads into this system, and will not break with it unless subjected to immense pressure from the rank and file. These well-heeled officials in turn carry out the foreign policy of Canberra, which is not only directed currently against Julian Assange, but against Russia, which threatens world nuclear war. The left parties which originally defended, and then abandoned, Wikileaks tail after these conservative Union officials, as they maintain the same foreign policy – the backing of the US Empire. They play their part in the new McCarthyism.

To move the seemingly immovable Union bureaucracy, a genuine revolutionary workers’ party is desperately needed. While access to uncensored information remains critical, and the work of organisations such as Wikileaks remain invaluable, the exposure of the crimes of the global elite will not end them. This requires the uprooting of the system of capitalist imperialism, which can only fall via the working class seizure of the means of production, the displacement of the rule of capital, and the founding of a workers’ government. FREE JULIAN ASSANGE!

WORKERS  LEAGUE

P.O. Box  66  NUNDAH QLD 4012

E:workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/socialist-alliance-defend-wikileaks-and-julian-assange (01-12-17)

[2] https://redflag.org.au/article/it%E2%80%99s-other-oscars-and-yet-again-winner-slips-away (01-12-17)

[3] https://www.solidarity.net.au/mag/back/2011/31/fight-to-hold-the-powerful-to-account-has-just-begun/ (01-12-17)

[4] https://www.theroot.com/how-obama-s-worst-mistake-led-to-the-libyan-slave-tra-1820879083 (02-12-17)

[5] https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/799812/wikileaks-julian-assange-hillary-clinton-us-election-russian-hacking-fbi-emails (02-12-17)

[6] http://www.mintpressnews.com/wikileaks-us-israel-and-saudi-arabia-planned-overthrow-of-syrian-govt-in-2006/221784/ (02-12-17)

[7] http://www.truth-out.org/progressivepicks/item/33180-wikileaks-reveals-how-the-us-aggressively-pursued-regime-change-in-syria-igniting-a-bloodbath (02-12-17)

[8] https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/784498891936915456?lang=en (02-12-17)

[9] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-usa-media-restrictions-rt/russias-rt-america-registers-as-foreign-agent-in-u-s-idUSKBN1DD25B (02-12-17)

[10] https://www.rt.com/usa/411361-rt-congress-credentials-withdrawal/ (02-12-17)

[11] https://www.rt.com/usa/411210-credico-assange-russia-investigation/ (02-12-17)

Queensland Elections 2017 – Little Choice for Working People

Statement of the Workers League

The Queensland Elections, due to be held on November 25, 2017, offer almost nothing to the majority of working people. The economic crisis of the capitalist profit system grinds on, while corporations and the governments that serve them continue to make working people pay. Unemployment, poverty, housing distress, and a skyrocketing cost of living are just some of the obstacles many people face on a daily basis.

The Labor Party (ALP) government of Annastacia Palaszczuk has governed with a slim majority, overcoming the widely despised Liberal National Party (LNP) government of Campbell Newman, who shredded public services, jobs and civil liberties, in 2015. While the ALP has enacted some very minor legislative reforms, the notorious Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment bill, known as the VLAD laws, are still largely in place. These laws give the government effective power to ban any organisation, at any time. The economy is dragging itself along, more or less in recession. And the ALP has openly displayed its arrogance and disdain for people and the environment, not to say the Great Barrier Reef and the possible future of humanity, by strongly backing the Adani coal mine in Central Queensland. This mine will pump out as much carbon as the entire country of New Zealand for the next 60 years – with unlimited ground water, a mining royalties holiday and much more. Palaszczuk’s opportunistic announcement that an ALP government would veto the $1 billion dollar loan from the federal government was a last minute ploy to give the impression that the Adani abomination will not go ahead. In reality, both an ALP and LNP government would barely stand in the way.

Unions have circulated material which points out that the LNP government is proposing $11.6 billion worth of funding cuts – but they are not actually using the word “cuts”. Professor John Quiggin has calculated that this would equate to the elimination of 22 500 jobs from the public service. LNP leader Tim Nicholls claims that he has “learnt his lesson” from the disastrous axing of 14 000 jobs from the public service in 2012, when he was Treasurer. Like all establishment politician promises, such words are hot air. There may also be job cuts with an ALP government, as their budget costings also flagged a hacking into the public service, albeit not as many as would be likely with the LNP in governmental power.

The Greens are hoping that this election will be the first one in Queensland history to elect a Green Member of Parliament, or perhaps several. It is true that the Greens may be the beneficiary of a Labor Party which is giving inexcusable backing to the apocalyptic Adani Carmichael coal mine. The Greens are offering, at least on paper, some benefits that would benefit working people. Such things include the placing of retail, generation and distribution of electricity into public hands, $1 public transport fares, longer leases and a cap on rents for those renting housing, and the retention of public land for schools, public parks and public housing.[1]

The Consumer Rights and No Tolls party are also offering some easing of the cost of living. Although running a handful of candidates, we agree with the abolition of all tolls on roads, and the keeping of power, water and roads publically owned and controlled. The abolition of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and free University education are also worth supporting.[2]

The Socialist Alliance is running a candidate (Kamala Emanuel) in the central Brisbane seat of McConnell. For working people, its policies on paper are largely supportable. The three main demands, if achieved, would be a step forward. The halting of the Adani coal mine, the removal of the medical procedure of abortion from the criminal code, and a vast expansion of public housing are positions that progressive minded people can agree on. The policies of taking back public assets already sold, no to privatisation and sell-offs, and job creation through public works programs would be a much needed counter to relentless cuts and outsourcing.[3]

On the right, there is the potential danger of One Nation. Although One Nation did not achieve a substantial vote in the last Western Australian elections, Queensland is unfortunately the home of One Nation, and of Pauline Hanson. Like all far-right and potentially fascist parties, One Nation combines vicious racism with populist and even left-wing sounding positions. Politically aware workers are not fooled though – One Nation, while at the moment led by backward elements, could open the door to even more right-wing attacks on Unions and working people. One Nation also regularly votes with the Liberal Party in the federal parliament, making a mockery of its claim to be for the battlers.

While One Nation appears to tack left by supporting a “people’s bank”, opposing the raising of the retirement age to 70, and opposition to the privatisation of water, gas and electricity, the undercurrent of ultra-nationalist racist bile is clear. For example, One Nation oppose the wearing of the burqa by women of the Islamic faith in public places, government buildings and schools, opposes the teaching and “infiltration” of Islam, and the building of any more Mosques with the bizarre claim that Australia is a “Christian country”. The stock standard blaming of immigration for “overloading” water, sewerage, housing and roads is laughable, but all too real.[4]

Class struggle desperately needed

The fact that the potentially fascist One Nation is poised not only to win a substantial number of seats, but form government in concert with the LNP speaks volumes about the lack of class struggle in Queensland, and Australia generally. The mere existence of the far-right, buffoonish as they might be in the persona of Pauline Hanson, should sound urgent alarms amongst the left and the workers’ movement. There is a desperate need for a genuine class struggle workers’ movement not only to head off the right wing One Nation, but simply to defend themselves. Yet the leadership of the Union movement is arguably as conservative as it ever has been – barely active, or driving workers and Unions back into the ALP and/or the parliamentary system itself. The problems of vanishing penalty rates, high unemployment, casualization of work –  where it exists – are at crisis levels. This flows on to issues such as the blatant rip-off of electricity and water prices. Yet still there is no attempt by the Queensland Council of Unions, or Union leaderships generally, to even begin to organise any kind of workers’ fightback.

These Queensland elections are a part of the show of parliament – one of the most effective ruses the ruling class uses to portray the illusion of democracy. The capitalist system only goes through the system of parliamentary charades due to the fact that it is easier for them to rule if the masses are convinced that they have some form of representation – or at least that they don’t yet know of an alternative. Parliaments, however, are set up to exclude the working class from the exercise of decision making, or political, power. A revolutionary workers’ party may decide to run in the elections run by the capitalist class, but it would do so with the aim of leading the workers beyond a parliament which does not represent them, to a workers’ government, underpinned by a workers’ state.

This internationalist workers party needs to be forged. In its absence, there is little choice on offer. In any case, there are no real solutions to be found for working people from the sham political system imposed upon them, nor from the elections they provide. Much more can be won for working people by positioning the conservative leaderships of the Unions, and building class struggle movements – culminating in a genuine workers’ party. However, there is a danger of even bigger setbacks if the outcome in these elections is an LNP, or an LNP/One Nation coalition government. Indeed, the left should be ready to organise a serious fightback should this outcome occur.

A critical vote

We therefore advise workers to cast a critical vote for non-LNP/One Nation candidates. We advise a critical vote for the Socialist Alliance where they are standing, followed by other nominally progressive candidates such as the Consumer Rights and No Tolls Party, followed by the Greens, then the ALP, then the LNP with One Nation last. We do so with no overall political endorsement of these parties, but simply as a damage limitation exercise for working people.

This critical stance is important, for on many crucial issues, all of these parties stand on the opposite class side of the barricade. For example, on vital international issues, the Greens, the ALP, the LNP and even the Socialist Alliance stand together. In effect, all of these parties stood for the US imperialist wars on Libya and Syria, whatever their attempted justifications. All of them, to a lesser or greater degree, join with the US deep state in its barely believable verbal and military provocations against Russia – which threatens the termination of Europe, if not the world. Russia’s effective prevention of US led regime change in Syria constitutes a large factor in their irrational Russophobia. All of them are deeply hostile to the overturn of capitalist rule in China, Vietnam and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or “North Korea”). Given that there still remains the imminent danger of a US instigated nuclear war against the DPRK, this is no small oversight. All of them either support or fail to oppose the US led provocations in the South China Sea, for fear of being seen to defend Red China. Foreign policy may officially be within the purview of federal politics, but there is no difference in the personnel of these parties at local, state or federal level.

We also acknowledge working people who feel there is no option at all that is an answer, and thus vote informally, or do not bother to turn up at the polling booths altogether. We understand this sentiment, and in part agree that it is not always apathy, but a reasonably considered option amongst options which offer little or nothing. The fact that the informal vote has been increasing in recent years indicates that more and more people are turned off by the whole parliamentary show.

Ultimately, no substantial problems that working people experience can be solved by voting in elections which are set up to ensure their exclusion. The real source of the unemployment, the poverty, the lack of affordable housing, the lack of public transport, the endless cuts to public services and the ongoing climate collapse is the capitalist system of private production for private profit. This private production nevertheless uses social labour, to accumulate all of the untold wealth in this drastically unequal society. What is required is the overthrow of the rule of capital, and the initiation of a socialist order. A prerequisite to begin this task is a workers’ party which fights for a workers’ government. The Workers League seeks to take the first steps on this path, and invites all those who agree to join us.

Workers League

PO Box 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

 

 

 

 

[1] https://greens.org.au/qld/initiatives (24-11-17)

[2] https://www.no-tolls.org/ (24-11-17)

[3] https://socialist-alliance.org/news/vote-1-kamala-emanuel-socialist-alliance-mcconnel (24-11-17)

[4] http://www.onenation.com.au/principles (24-11-17)

Manus Island: Evacuate Now!

Organised Labour Must Lead the Fight to Free the Refugees

01-11-2017 – As we go to press, the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Defence Force is preparing to enter the Manus Island refugee detention centre, where around 600 men remain, fearful for their safety if they are forced out.[1] Earlier this year, the PNG army fired live ammunition into the detention centre, and there have also been machete and knife attacks against the asylum seekers by some aggrieved locals. The Manus Island detention centre is being closed after a ruling from the PNG courts which found that its establishment was unconstitutional. Full responsibility for it lies with the Australian government, which has funded these hell-hole death camps on Nauru and PNG to the tune of billions of dollars.

As of today, reports indicate that electricity generators have been removed from the detention centre, which could mean that toilets and running water would cease to function. There are photos of refugees diverting rain water from building guttering into wheelie bins, so as to ensure they have some water when the cut off takes effect. This truly farcical but all too real medieval like siege is overseen by the current Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who repeatedly claim that these refugees remain the responsibility of the PNG government. Far from it. All of these refugees, who attempted to flee to Australia in fear for their lives, were unceremoniously dumped by the Australian government in what are in reality death camps, funded by private sector contracts authorised by the Australian government. To avoid mass casualties of those who have not committed any crime, the federal government must evacuate Manus Island detainees to Australia immediately.

Refugee rights at an impasse

The diabolical situation facing refugees and asylum seekers in this country is in the main the result of several interlocking factors. One is the almost criminal inaction of most Union officials. Perhaps the core reason for the unimaginable cruelty meted out to refugees and asylum seekers by the Australian government is their political need to divide the working class into an “us” and “them”. In the absence of a strong left-wing political force, this division leads to working people diverting their entirely justifiable dismay at unemployment, poverty, and the high cost of living onto refugees, almost all of whom are from countries much less wealthy than Australia, and almost all of whom are not white. This fuels and fosters extreme racism, despite the official declarations of multicultural Australia.

This racism is poison for the labour movement. The workplace is the only place in capitalist society which is truly integrated. All production depends on cooperation between workers regardless of their nationality, culture, language or religion. The Union movement simply cannot even begin to organise workers to defend themselves from the effects of the dire capitalist recession afflicting Australia, the US and Europe, unless they take action to decisively extinguish all traces of racism. While many groups and institutions in society oppose racism towards refugees from a moral, philosophical, religious or even political standpoint – such as the Greens, liberal NGOs, small businesses, church groups, social-welfare bodies – only the working class has a material interest in overcoming and defeating racist ideology and practice. This is why it is a vital necessity for the Union movement to be the leading force against the appalling abuse of refugees and asylum seekers who have made it to these shores.

Yet the question of the Union movement is the question of the leadership of the Union movement. With a few exceptions, Unions in Australia are led by conservative, well-paid officials who have little interest in risking anything to assist working people. After all, their careers can only continue if they act to restrict the workers movement to the confines of the existing system, which is based on the exploitation of wage labour. Hence, these Union officials actively inculcate working people with ideology almost identical to that of the business class. Specifically, they politically steer workers towards the very institution of the profit system – parliament – which is used to deceive working people that they have some form of “democracy”.

This is by no means done directly. Some Union officials openly back the Australian Labor Party (ALP), and urge workers in that direction. However, the ALP is itself so exposed on the question of refugee rights – it established the mandatory detention of refugees, as well as off-shore detention – that that option is often a no go. So in steps an organisation such as GetUp! – an ALP front if ever there was one. GetUp! was created in 2005, as a result of funding from some Unions. As it poses as simply an independent activist group, and initiates campaigns on popular issues – for refugee rights, against coal mining and so on – many are unaware as to its core political role. However, Liberal Party politicians are certainly aware of the overall role of GetUp! driving campaigns which easily fit into the agenda of the ALP and the Greens. They have pushed for an Australian Electoral Commission inquiry into its funding.[2] The Australian Workers Union (AWU) recently had its offices raided as a politicised action to discredit the ALP, and Opposition leader Bill Shorten specifically. While workers should resolutely condemn and oppose any raids on any Union offices, they should also seriously question why the officials of some Unions hand members money to bodies such as GetUp!

Refugee rights in the service of war

GetUp!, the labour bureaucracy and the ALP have a three way symbiotic relationship – one cannot exist without the other. GetUp! is the acceptable public face of the ALP, a Clayton’s ALP. The labour bureaucracy funds both GetUp! and the ALP, often against the express wishes of the Union members themselves. If GetUp! did not exist, the political crisis for the ALP and the labour bureaucracy would see the ALP slide further and further backwards. Some of this manoeuvring also assists the Greens, and they work together on similar campaigns. With regard to refugee rights, the rare involvement of GetUp! helps to play the role that the labour bureaucracy would themselves play if they were involved – shepherding and steering the refugee rights movement into a lobby group, begging and pleading for changes from the very politicians themselves responsible for the maltreatment of refugees.

As we have mentioned on several occasions previously, the refugee rights movement, such as it is, has a fatal flaw. It does not seek to highlight the reasons why refugees are created in the first place. Impoverished people fleeing the harsh economic conditions in the third world are one aspect. In recent years, however, a much larger proportion are fleeing the US led imperialist wars which have been waged around the world – inevitably with the backing of Canberra. Yet the activist refugee rights movement in this country is largely led by some misguided left parties which have not opposed these wars which have the potential to unleash World War III. These left parties have been some of the most vocal proponents calling for regime change in Libya and Syria – and the US/NATO juggernaut obliged. Refugees fleeing from the Middle East and North Africa were then welcomed by these refugee rights groups, the effect of which was to justify further war against sovereign countries.

It is true that these left parties were joined by others not inclined at all to socialism, but were welcomed as part of a “broad” movement. Unbeknownst to them, the labour bureaucracy via organisations such as GetUp! were ensuring that the refugee rights movement as a whole stayed well within the bounds of acceptable public discourse – nominally “anti-war”, but in practice calling for the downfall of the latest “dictator” the US had decided was the next target. In this respect, the labour bureaucracy ensured that the refugee rights movement perfectly aligned itself within the political spectrum of Australian imperialism. Despite notable exceptions from groups such as Hands Off Syria, there was little opposition to the Australian military’s role in helping the US bomb Syria under the false pretence of “fighting ISIS”.

Needless to say, with the world hurtling towards a World War III scenario, the refugee rights movement needs a clinical break from its previous practice of being manipulated by the politically savvy interests of private capital. For it was not only for the wars on Libya and Syria that the refugee rights movement was mobilised to flag wave. The US Empire is also in the throes of encircling Russia. NATO has installed 31 000 troops in Poland, has spent $3 billion on building up presence in the former Eastern bloc countries, in a “Cold War 2.0”.[3] NATO’s backing of fascists in Ukraine, sponsoring a coup, was also aimed squarely at Russia, along with the war to destroy Syria. When the former PM Tony Abbott openly blamed Russia for the shooting down of flight MH17, without a shred of evidence, the refugee rights movement – as with the liberal intelligentsia – were virtually silent. Can anyone imagine the refugees produced by a war against Russia?

Just as dangerous are the US led provocations against Red China. Furious at China’s socialist economy driving prosperity inside and outside the world’s largest country, the US ruling class knows it must act to contain China soon, or be eclipsed economically, diplomatically and politically. Too large to destroy in a one-on-one, the US deep state targets areas to break off from the People’s Republic, such as Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet and islands in the South China Sea. It also actively funds “NGOs” in the countries bordering China, including Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. It is Myanmar where the latest “humanitarian war” is being prepared, over hypocritical concern for the Rohingyas in the Rakhine state. Again, refugees will be created by the millions if a military conflict with China breaks out.

The other assault on Red China are the continual threats to its socialist neighbour, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or “North Korea”). All that the DPRK has ever stated is that if it is attacked, it will respond. Yet the US Empire, and not only President Trump, whips up such irrational demonisation of the DPRK that millions of working people regrettably do not question the wild allegations. In the last six months there has been the very real threat of nuclear war with the DPRK – a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Yet, again, we have virtual silence from the refugee rights movement, and those who in the past prided themselves on their anti-war credentials. This is unfortunately not a coincidence. The refugee rights movement, to the mistaken left parties, to the labour bureaucracy, to the ALP, to the Greens, to GetUp! – all of them fall into line, some consciously, some not – behind the aims of Australian imperialism.

For labour action to free the refugees

This is why it is impossible to free the refugees on Manus Island (and Nauru) without a complete break with Australian foreign policy. This has to also mean a political break with those forces who consciously seek to impose its hegemony – parliamentarist parties, the labour bureaucracy, GetUp! etc – as well as with the waylaid left parties pulling up the rear. What is required is a direct challenge by Union members to the ideologically pro-capitalist Union officials, in the course of a struggle for a leadership which recognises no common interest between the employers and workers. This will inevitably require the forming of rank and file Union committees, which may need to be underground. Supporting these efforts must be the most keenly class aware workers, forming the basis of a Marxist vanguard party. Such a party would seek to both drive the urgently needed political action for the refugee rights movement, as part of a struggle to revive Union and class struggle for jobs, decent healthcare and education, public transport and other measures currently being eliminated by the capitalist crisis. It would also seek to mobilise workers in strident opposition to imperialist war, if need be by forming a workers government. EVACUATE MANUS ISLAND!  BRING THE REFUGEES TO THE MAINLAND!

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

PO Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-01/manus-island-army-to-remove-600-men-from-closed-centre/9106700 (01-11-2017)

[2] http://www.aec.gov.au/Parties_and_Representatives/compliance/AEC_Advice/2010-nov-get-up.htm (01-11-2017)

[3] https://www.rt.com/op-edge/346825-nato-russia-cold-war-stoltenberg/ (01-11-17)

Refugees on Manus Island raise their arms crossed to symbolise their lack of freedom. Image from abc.net.au/news

Yes to Equal Marriage Rights….and a Workers Republic!

21-10-2017 – As partisans of the forward march of humanity, the Workers League fully supports the aims of the “Yes” campaign relating to the right of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) people to be entitled to all benefits relating to the concept of marriage. Even though the postal survey does not actually bind the current legislators to act, the survey is seen by most as a referendum on equality and acceptance of all variants of human sexuality. While the winning of the right for all those identifying somewhere on the LGBTI spectrum to marry whomsoever they choose will not end the manifestations of oppression and discrimination, any concession wrested from the elite rulers of this unequal society represents a victory worth celebrating.

LGBTI discrimination under capitalism stunts the development of human and societal relationships, while relegating those on the LGBTI spectrum to second class status. While the winning of equal marriage rights will go some way towards alleviating the deprivations endured, in itself it cannot end LGBTI oppression. This oppression is bound up with the “sacred” right to private property, without which the rule of capital would fall. In 1884, Frederick Engels, one of the founders of scientific socialism, identified the three main pillars of class society – the family, private property and the state. LGBTI oppression flows from the institution of the family, particularly the monogamous and heterosexual template, which represents class society’s smallest repressive unit. It is reinforced by the strongest arms of capitalist rule – its state, via its parliaments, police, civil service bureaucracy and the law courts. Same-sex relationships challenge the form of the family, but legal recognition of them under capitalism does not do away with the material basis which sustains and maintains homophobia. This requires a workers movement strong enough to wage a struggle for its complete liberation – the prerequisite of which is the overturn of finance capital and the founding of a workers republic.

Shady Allies

We note that the revolutionary overthrow of the rule of the banks and the stock exchange is far from the agenda of those leading the Equal Marriage Rights campaign. On the contrary, while the equal marriage rights campaign has been largely led by activists outside of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Australian Greens, it nonetheless welcomes the formation of an open front with them, which immediately shuts off the politics from developing in a radical direction. It was the ALP itself which strongly voted with the Liberals in 2004 for the discrimination against the LGBTI community, and the ALP ignored the equal marriage rights campaign for over ten years. It was only after the momentum for marriage equality, backed by years of activism, had reached the stage where the overwhelming majority of young people, and the clear majority of the Australian people, were in favour – did the ALP finally put its hand up. While it is true the Australian Greens have always held the position of supporting equal marriage rights, the Greens tend to view victory as winning an argument, or as a result of more education. This outlook conforms to their unattainable “humane capitalism” ethos.

One glance at the list of corporate endorsees of the Yes campaign is enough to trigger alarms bells in workers with even an elementary sense of class consciousness. All manner of exploitative and profit gouging corporations have willingly handed over their colourful logos to the Yes campaign. For example, after slashing thousands of jobs and raking in vast profits, QANTAS, the Commonwealth Bank and Telstra appear as sponsors. The owner of Coles, Bunnings, Officeworks and numerous other retail chains, Wesfarmers, one of the largest corporations in Australia, is also an endorsee. Australia’s workforce is 40% casual, contract or temporary, causing immense insecurity for millions of workers. Yet the Skilled company, one of the largest casual staff employers, is also an endorsee.

It doesn’t stop there. If the genocidal Salafist and Wahabist mercenaries of Al Qaeda and ISIS had, in their role as US and Saudi armed proxies, succeeded in overthrowing the Syrian government, it is likely that many LGBTI Syrians would have been summarily executed, in the same manner as they did to anyone perceived to be supporting the Syrian Arab Republic. Yet some of the most outspoken, if indirect, backers of the US/UK/AUST war on Syria – pro-war NGOs such as Amnesty International, GetUp! and the grossly misnamed Save the Children – turn out to be corporate backers of the Yes campaign.

Organised Labour must lead

It should be obvious what the limitations of such an extreme cross-class alliance leads to – an alibi for corporate power, which in practice means an alibi for the very system responsible for LGBTI repression in the first place. On the other hand, it is noted that some Unions have backed the Yes campaign, or at least put their name to it, much in the manner of the corporations they are supposed to protect workers from. Unions WA, the Victorian Trades Hall Council, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) have all added their logos to the Yes campaign.

Yet logos in themselves are not enough – especially when placed alongside corporate logos. What is needed is for the Union leaderships to champion LGBTI liberation through the efforts of working people to break from the chains of capital. This will require the formation of a Marxist vanguard party, which can position the conservative leadership of the peak Union bodies in the struggle against that which restrains LGBTI and non-LGBTI workers alike – the profit system. 2017 marks 100 years of the October Revolution in Russia, where working people, led by VI Lenin’s Bolsheviks, seized power and created the world’s first socialist state. Soon after, one of the first acts of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was the abolition of all Tsarist laws which criminalised homosexual activity and relationships – the first state defence of LGBTI people in history. For new October Revolutions!

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO  Box   66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

Catalonia: The Affluent “Revolution”

Map showing the location of Catalonia within Spain. Image from Wikipedia

15-10-2017 – When is a revolution not a revolution? Amongst other things, it is when it is led by wealthy industrialists and conservative politicians, and when it is not supported by a majority of its people. Witness Catalonia today. All manner of misguided left parties and those who take a progressive political stand generally have been taken in by this movement for separatist independence of the wealthiest region of modern day Spain. It is true that there is right wing opposition to this movement, from Spanish nationalists to the conservative Spanish government, to the imperialist dominated European Union (EU). But the fact is, this movement is not supported by a majority of Catalans, even if the majority of Catalans and Spaniards support the right to vote on the question.

Catalonian wealth

Catalonia is the wealthiest region of Spain, bar none. Andalusia in the south of Spain, for example, has less than two thirds the per capita income of Catalonia.[1] It was never really industrialised, unlike the industry which was developed in Catalonia. Many suspect that the current push for Catalonian independence has much to do with the fact that the wealthy business owners and industrialists resent having to pay taxes to the Spanish state, which then redistributes much of them to the poorer regions of Spain, such as Andalusia and Galicia. Of course, this is relative, as a capitalist state’s prime function is far from ensuring the welfare of the masses. Catalonia has 7.3 million people, and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over $300 billion, similar to that of Scotland and Singapore.[2] It goes without saying that the Catalan working class does not automatically share in this wealth, but the region itself is not short of a quid.

Under normal circumstances, the left usually comes behind a small prospective nation against a larger one, or a nation seeking national liberation against stronger imperialist powers. There is a sense of siding with the underdog, of siding with the less powerful against the mighty. However, the situation of Catalonia today is not what any self-respecting leftist would refer to as “normal”. By definition, it can’t be a “revolution” if it is led by the wealthiest sections of a society, and/or their political representatives. The affluent have never been oppressed by the poor, and never can be.

One can agree that Catalonia meets the criteria for the Marxist conception of a nation, that is, it contains: 1. a common language (Catalan), a common territory, a common economy and a common culture. And leftists usually point to Lenin’s work affirming that Marxists can support the right of a nation to self-determination – the right to self-administration up to and including the right to secede, to form their own nation.[3] However, what some left parties misunderstand is that while Marxists support the right of nations to self-determination, it does not follow automatically that Marxists will advocate the exercise of that right. Whether or not Marxists advocate the exercise of the right of nations to self-determination depends almost entirely on whether this will advance, or set back, the class struggle, both in the oppressed nation and the oppressor nations. If self-determination will clear the way for better conditions for the working class struggle to advance, for example, where national oppression is so great that it clouds over other political issues, then Marxists may decide to support it. If, on the other hand, the exercise of self-determination may lead to the setting back of the working class struggle, for example by unnecessarily boosting harmful nationalism, and cutting workers of small and large nations off from one another, then Marxists may actually campaign against the exercise of the right to self-determination. That leftists should automatically support the exercise of the right to self-determination, regardless of the concrete analysis of concrete conditions, is in flagrant contradiction to Leninism.

In 2017, and for the last five years or so, the Catalonian independence movement has been politically led by conservative nationalists, with links to the Catalan bourgeois class. How conservative? For one thing, these leaders have been, and remain, staunchly in favour of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation – the military arm of anti-Russian US led imperialism).  Former Catalonian Prime Minister Artur Mas made it explicit – Catalonia actively seeks membership of NATO.[4] NATO is arguably the most dangerous organisation in the world today, and the one most likely to be at the heart of itself igniting World War III. One could sustain a case that NATO is thus the most politically reactionary body existing. Yet NATO membership is dearly held by Catalonian independence leaders. One doesn’t have to be a Marxist to recognise something is amiss here.

This alone is enough to recoil, but there is more. The Catalonian independence movement is also pro-EU (European Union). Catalan leaders recently re-stated that a breakaway Catalonia would seek to remain a part of the EU – even despite the EU saying that it won’t recognise an independent Catalonia if not completed via the Spanish constitution.[5] The EU is an imperialist trading bloc, where the stronger imperialist powers, such as Germany and France, lord it over the poorer southern countries such as Portugal, Greece, and Spain itself. It functions to suppress the wages and working conditions of all workers across Europe to advantage European capital against its US and Japanese rivals – even if the US and Japan are mired in capitalist recession, and have been for some years. The pro-EU politics of Catalan leaders is another indication of how right-wing they are.

Democratic?

Undoubtedly there are some left-wing minded Catalans who have been drawn into the campaign for independence. A possible reason for this is that they mistakenly believe that Catalonian independence will lead to an end to the crushing unemployment and austerity measures being implemented across Spain in the wake of the capitalist financial crisis in 2008. However, a majority of Catalans have never favoured independence outright, and certainly not separatist independence. Many polls show that support amongst Catalans for independence has never reached more than around 41%. Support amongst Catalans to a unilateral declaration of independence is even smaller, at 35%. Opposition to a unilateral declaration of independence amongst Catalans stands at 60%, with a near overwhelming 67% opposition to this taking place without a debate in the Catalonian regional parliament.[6]

The left could even consider backing an independence movement if it had a majority of working class people backing it. But this is extremely doubtful in the case of Catalonia. The October 1 referendum, despite a rough-handed attempt to prevent it being carried out by the Spanish police, only had a turn-out of around 2 million votes. Of these, 90.9% supported independence, while 7.87% opposed independence.[7]  So, approximately 5.3 million Catalans did not vote at all – and it is fairly safe to say that the overwhelming majority of these folk did not turn out to vote due to the fact that they were NOT in favour of independence. Of course, this is a separate matter from having the right to vote for independence. But the left should know better than to back an independence movement which does NOT have majority support.

It is the case that the attempted repression meted out by the Spanish authorities against the holding of the referendum may push some more Catalans into supporting the push for independence. But this is by no means guaranteed. In fact, there was a response by those supporting unity with Spain, in a rally on October 8. Some reports put attendance at up to a million people, many waving Spanish flags.[8] To be sure, there was a component, perhaps even the leading elements, which were mobilising on the basis of Spanish nationalism. There was also support for the EU – which the bourgeois led Catalonian independence movement also supports. Yet there was also a clear element of a unity with Spain sentiment, which, from all reports, constitutes the majority within Catalonia. This is the case even if there are major concerns about unemployment, austerity, and so on.

In fact, the majority of Catalans who support unity with Spain are also more than aware that it was in fact the conservative politicians who have led the independence movement themselves who have carried out austerity measures. This has included eliminating public service jobs and slashing wages at the behest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2013, Catalonia’s ambulance workers were forced to take industrial action against a 9.2% wage cut.[9] These savage austerity measures have been carried out by the Catalonian government itself, which is now leading the independence movement!

Amongst the reasons why the Catalonian independence movement does not have overwhelming, or even majority support – is the question of language. It is true that Catalan was forbidden in Catalonia during the 40 odd years of Francoist rule, from the 1930s to the 1970s. Since then Catalan has been bilingual – Catalan and Spanish – while the majority of government, academic and institutional language is usually carried out in Catalan. Yet Catalonia also includes a large proportion of working people from the other regions of Spain, as well as migrants. Neither of these groups have Catalan as their first language. In fact, the Catalonian government’s own statistics show that less than a third – 31% – of Catalonian residents speak Catalan as a first language.[10] Despite this, the Catalonian independence parties want Catalan to be the only language for public affairs.

Nationalism is not the answer

What is more, even the moderate left, let alone Marxists, have to be concerned when a police chief is regarded as a hero by the nationalists. The chief of police of the Catalonian autonomous region, Josep Lluis Trapero, once gave a press conference, as head of the Mossos d’Esquadra (regional police). One reporter walked out when they discovered it was being held in the Catalan language. Trapero reportedly said in response “Okay, very well. So, goodbye”. This farewell in Spanish is now often used by Catalonian independence supporters – a measure of the lack of class awareness.[11] It hardly needs to be said that the police are the bitter class enemies of working people, whether in a small regional capitalist autonomous region, OR in a larger national capitalist state. The logic of small time nationalism – in this case upholding the police as “heroes” very easily lends itself to big power nationalism.

Some left parties say that there are both left wing and right wing Catalonian independence parties, and so the task is to assist the “left”. Yet the “left” they refer to is not socialist in the Marxist sense, even if they refer to themselves as “socialists”. The Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), reserve the use of “socialist” and “feminist” rhetoric, but overall they are similar to the Greek SYRIZA party of Alexis Tsipras – which led Greek workers into the catastrophe of imposed austerity which was far-worse than the former “social-democratic” politicians they replaced. The CUP currently holds 10 seats in the Catalan regional parliament, and is a part of the JxSi (Together for Yes) Coalition, alongside the Catalan Repulican Left (ERC) and the Catalan Democratic Party of Europe (PDeCAT).[12] The PDeCAT party is the right-wing party of Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont. So the CUP attempts to be the “left” force – while in direct coalition with the right-wing nationalists. The experience of SYRIZA in Greece in 2015 gives a clear indication of where that strategy hits the rocks.

Nationalism is never the answer to pressing political problems facing the working people. As Boris Kagarlitsky writes, whenever the nationalists hold the upper hand, the left is weak. Conversely, whenever the left is the strongest and most influential, nationalists and nationalism often fade away into irrelevance.[13] The task for the left in Catalonia and Spain and Europe today is to unite working people against the profit system. In this case, dividing workers up into smaller and smaller nations can only fuel further isolation from one another, at a time when the greatest pro-working class unity against European capitalism is needed. Austerity can only be defeated by a widespread workers’ struggle for revolutionary power, opening the gates of true socialism. Marxist vanguard parties which prioritise the struggle to win over the majority of Catalan, Spanish, European and international workers to this perspective are the key to solving this and other crucial problems of our time.
————————————————————————————————————

WORKERS  LEAGUE

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

http://www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://benjaminstudebaker.com/2017/09/22/the-left-wing-case-against-catalan-independence/ (14-10-2017)

[2] http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com.au/2017/10/catalan-independence-5-things-to-think.html (14-10-2017)

[3] https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/jan/x01.htm (14-10-2017)

[4] https://www.vilaweb.cat/noticia/4165393/20140105/catalan-pm-confirms-nato-membership-commitment-to-collective-security.html (14-10-2017)

[5] http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/10/08/could-independent-catalonia-stay-eu (14-10-2017)

[6] https://elpais.com/elpais/2017/05/24/inenglish/1495609585_875590.html (15-10-2017)

[7] https://www.sott.net/article/363392-Catalonia-heads-to-the-polls-for-independence-referendum-amid-violent-police-measures-UPDATES (15-10-2017)

[8] https://www.rt.com/news/406049-protest-against-catalan-independence/ (15-10-2017)

[9] http://www.catalannews.com/society-science/item/ambulance-workers-go-on-strike-in-catalonia-for-four-days-but-essential-services-are-guaranteed (15-10-2017)

[10] http://llengua.gencat.cat/web/.content/documents/publicacions/altres/arxius/EULP2013_angles.pdf (15-10-2017)

[11] http://www.internationalist.org/cataloniaselfdetermination1709.html (15-10-2017)

[12] https://newint.org/features/web-exclusive/2017/09/29/the-cup (15-10-2017)

[13] https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/11/catalonia-the-revolt-of-the-rich/ (15-10-2017)

Change the Rules or Change the System?

Change the Rules or Change the System?

07-10-2017 – Australian workers are enduring wave after wave of an ongoing onslaught against their wages and conditions. It is not just penalty rates either. The Union movement has arguably never faced such governmental restriction on what was previously regarded as lawful activity. The right to organise a Union, the right of Union officials to meet with members on the job, the right to speak to workers about a Union – all of these and more are in danger of being legislated out of existence. Then we have the assault from employers themselves. Some of them have already tried – successfully – to cancel previously agreed enterprise bargaining agreements, and throw workers back on award conditions – potentially meaning the loss of thousands of dollars per year in employee income.

“Ensuring Integrity” Bill

Currently before federal parliament is the outlandishly misnamed Ensuring Integrity Bill, put as an amendment to the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009. The measures contained in this bill would not be out of place in Nazi Germany. It was the Nazis who, on coming to power, outlawed Trade Unions in toto. This “Ensuring Integrity” bill does not outlaw Unions as such, but outlaws major parts of their activity. The Bill, if passed, will allow the Federal Government to directly interfere with the internal operations of Unions. The Bill would allow the government to: disqualify certain Union members from holding a Union position, prevent basic Union activity – such as stopping work over a health and safety issue or incident, to deregister Unions, to place Unions into administration and to prevent Union mergers from going ahead.[1] On top of a restriction where it is basically illegal to take industrial action at any time apart from “bargaining periods” – and then only through secret ballots – this Bill is arguably an attempt by the ruling class to see just how far they can go.
It is not enough for capital to keep wages of workers down. It is generally agreed that the rate of wage growth in Australia this year is the lowest in recorded history.[2] The dire crisis of profitability means that capital also wants to control even more about what potential struggles Unions can lead. The “Ensuring Integrity Bill” seems to be an attempt to head off a Union campaign before it even starts, by using the ability to dismiss certain Union officials if they actually start to organise workers to fight back. Failing this, the Bill could be used to simply deregister the Union, and dismantle it altogether. There is little that is different between a fascist government outlawing trade unions as per the Nazis, and a “liberal democratic” government deregistering and disbanding a union. The effect is the same – a massive blow to virtually the only organisations that stand in the way of workers being subjected to unfettered capitalist exploitation. There is an economic, political and psychological aspect to this insidious attack on all working people.

The fruits of Enterprise Bargaining

The industrial relations situation for Australian workers today is almost totally weighted in favour of the employers, especially big industry groups and the government, and almost totally against workers and their Unions. Arguably, this is the end result of the Enterprise Bargaining system brought in by the Keating Labour government from 1991. Prior to the introduction of Enterprise Bargaining, workers and their Unions were not restricted as to when, and over which issues, they could take industrial action – up to and including strike action. While going on strike was never enshrined in law, prior to the introduction of Enterprise Bargaining, Unions could go on strike and push for their demands to be met. The government and employers would have to go to court themselves in order to claim damages, for example. However, Enterprise Bargaining brought with it the notion of “protected industrial action”. This meant that workers and their Unions could legally take industrial and/or strike action – but only during a “bargaining period”, i.e. the negotiation of a new Enterprise Bargaining agreement, usually once every three years. For the rest of the three years, workers were legally prevented from withdrawing their labour – over any issue at all.

Enterprise bargaining changed the landscape of industrial relations, almost wholly to the benefit of employers over workers. While some workplaces were able to gain pay rises and conditions that were above award conditions, many others did not. The horizon of workers was especially narrowed, as they were encouraged to see themselves not as part of an entire industry, but as an individual company or area battling away, competing against all others. Employers were often encouraged to use Enterprise Bargaining to introduce all kinds of practices which assisted them, to the detriment of workers, such as “multiskilling” – the virtual elimination of specialised roles.[3] For workers, it led to a situation of profound disempowerment. Instead of working with thousands of other workers across an entire industry pushing for the best pay and conditions for all within the sector, workers only had the small confines of their enterprise. This dramatically shifted power to the employers. What is more, workers were encouraged to see themselves as bound to protect the profitability of their own enterprise – often at their own expense. Hard won conditions could be traded away with the excuse that the enterprise could no longer afford them, in order to be “competitive”.

“Change the Rules” campaign

Many workers mistakenly believe that corporations and the governments which serve them are now too powerful, and that Unions are not able to fight back because they are legislatively prevented from doing so. This sentiment reflects not the power of capital per se, but the dire lack of leadership on the side of labour, which boils down to the Trade Union leaderships around the country. Enterprise Bargaining may have begun the breakup of workers across an industry, but this has been facilitated at each step by conservative officials, who are ideologically tied to the capitalist system – and therefore the employer class itself. There are a few exceptions, but there are scarcely any Union officials willing to organise a class struggle fightback not only against anti-worker laws, but against the profit system as a whole.

What we have instead from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is the “Change the Rules” campaign. While it is welcome that there is any national campaign at all, the ACTU’s “Change the Rules” has little chance of repealing the misnamed Fair Work Act, and replacing it with pro-worker and pro-Union legislation. This is because it is ultimately an electoral campaign, rather than an industrial campaign. In its purest form, it is yet another re-elect the Australian Labor Party effort – in two years’ time! Correctly, the ACTU note that 40% of the workforce is in casual or contract employment, and thus many workers do not experience a paid holiday or a paid sick day. They note that inequality is at a 70 year high, and that wage growth is the lowest it has ever been.[4] All well and good. However, for this disastrous state of affairs, the ACTU point the finger at…the Liberal Party and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash.[5]

However, it is evident that the all sided assault on workers is coming from the entire political establishment – Labor, Liberal, One Nation, the lot. The Greens offer some cautious words of support, but are tied into the parliamentary gravy train just as much as the major parties. This is because the real source of the attacks on workers is private capital itself (the basis of the parliamentary system), which is facing an ongoing crisis of profitability, and can only react by making workers pay. The increasing application of automation to workplaces – including “robotisation” is eliminating jobs, rather than reducing working hours and increasing the standard of living. The means of production remain in the hands of private profit-seeking business. State and Federal governments are privatising more and more functions previously peformed by the public service – and handing them directly to the private sector. Yet even with this massive assistance, the private sector is not able to re-engage in the serious production of goods and services. Capitalism has reached an impasse – and it is not going back to the “mixed economy”, or the “welfare state”.

Class struggle leadership of the Unions desperately needed

When Sally McManus became head of the ACTU, some left parties welcomed the apparent change of outlook. “Bad laws have to be broken”, Ms McManus stated. But it soon became obvious that it was not going to be followed by any action – other than token online petitions, the occasional rally and a press release. Socialist Alternative correctly note that Union activism has to be rebuilt on the workplace floor, after three decades of attacks on Unions which have largely led to demobilisation, and thus demoralisation. They also note this is a political task as much as an industrial one.[6] Solidarity urge workers to heed the words of Sally McManus, and launch themselves into the struggle.[7] The Socialist Alliance laud the work of Sally McManus for heading the campaign, albeit with the plea for more to be done.[8] The Communist Party of Australia (CPA), are the most enthusiastic in signing up to the “Change the Rules” campaign, with not even one iota of a critique of the ACTU leadership. They even endorse the ACTU leadership’s diversionary calls for a “community” campaign.[9]   What all of these left parties lack is a perspective of seriously challenging, and ultimately replacing, the class collaborationist ACTU and local Union officials with leaderships dedicated to hard class struggle. We will be waiting an eternity for the ACTU and local Union officials to even contemplate such a struggle. It’s not on their agenda.

Many Unions can go for two to three years, without the officials organising even one general meeting of members. There are intense political reasons why the conservative officials avoid organising basic meetings. For one thing, they are aware that the resentment of workers over the loss of pay, worsening conditions, harassment by management at work and a host of other issues, are at a peak. But at a gathering of Union members, the officials’ control over the Union is potentially threatened. Ideas for action can be raised, proposals put forward, workers can draw strength from one another, and more. All of this confronts the no-action approach of conservative officials head-on. So the officials simply refuse to organise even the most basic method of giving Union members some form of say over the direction of the Union they pay their fees to. Whether the Union organises 24 meetings per year, or zero meetings per year, the considerable pay of the officials does not change one iota. Meanwhile, workers suffer.

Workers need to start organising as soon as they are able. Perhaps with some exceptions, rank and file groups will need to be organised within virtually all Unions. Within these rank and file groups, leftist and anti-capitalists should, wherever possible, work together to encourage workers to demand urgent action from the Union officials. Unilateral actions called by these rank and file groups will also be needed – with or without the endorsement of the Union officials. These rank and file groups should also be prepared to picket the offices of their own Unions, demanding action. Organising meetings of members without the sanction of the Union officials will be an unavoidable necessity.

At the very least, the Unions should be leading a national industrial struggle for a shorter working week with no loss in pay. A 30 hour week would be a good start. Serious, nation-wide struggles over this basic demand, which, if won, would substantially undermine unemployment and increase the amount of disposable income of workers, returning a stimulus of the economy even on the terms of the business class itself. This could then set the stage for winning permanent jobs for all workers, and would embolden workers to demand adequate health and safety, the retention of penalty rates, and more.

The reign of capital will resist furiously, which would only point to the need not for a changing of the rules, but a changing of the entire system. Working people need not only a new industrial relations act. Workers ultimately need a state and a government which they own and which defends their interests. No capitalist government, no matter how liberal, can ever fully meet the needs of all workers of all generations to come. What is needed is a workers republic – a government which rests on the organised power of workers themselves. Leading them will be the most class-conscious workers, composed in a vanguard party of activists committed to the struggle for the sweeping away of the power of private capital and the initiation of a socialist order. This system change is the only one which can “change the rules”.

 

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2017/1797/01-affront.html (07-10-2017)

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/news/factcheck/2016-06-17/fact-check-is-wage-growth-lowest-on-record/7505512 (07-10-2017)

[3] http://www.peopleculture.com.au/innovation-in-the-workplace-under-the-fair-work-act/ (10-10-17)

[4] https://www.australianunions.org.au/change_the_rules (11-10-17)

[5] https://www.actu.org.au/actu-media/media-releases/2017/actu-launches-change-the-rules-campaign-in-western-australia (11-10-17)

[6] https://redflag.org.au/node/6025 (11-10-17)

[7] https://www.solidarity.net.au/highlights/enterprise-bargaining-un-fair-work-act/ (11-10-17)

[8] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/time-change-broken-industrial-relations-system (11-10-17)

[9] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2017/1796/07-change.html (11-10-17)

Despite the efforts of some workers, penalty rates have been removed from a number of industries. Image from the Illawarra Mercury.

Hands Off the DPRK! No to Nuclear Armageddon

DPRKflag

Hands Off the DPRK! No to Nuclear Armageddon

22-09-2017 – The irony may not have been apparent to immediate observers, but in the body allegedly set up to prevent war between nations, days ago US President Donald Trump issued perhaps the greatest ever threat of war against the world. While Trump thundered against Iran and Venezuela, he openly threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea (its real name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – DPRK).[1] While the US Empire has previously used the platform of the United Nations (UN) as a basis for announcing war plans, e.g. Colin Powell’s 2003 speech about “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, this is arguably the first time in UN history that one nation has directly threatened another with elimination. The DPRK has only perhaps a handful of nuclear weapons ready to be deployed, which can only act as a deterrent. On the other side, the US has literally thousands of nuclear missiles, “locked and loaded” to use a Trumpism. Nuclear Armageddon, despite all the advances of modern technology, culture and science, is unfortunately closer than ever. Where do the interests of working people stand?

Socialism vs Capitalism

The current state of war between the US and the DPRK is due to a number of historical factors, tied in with the current geopolitical situation globally. The DPRK was founded in 1948, after a 40 year struggle against Japanese militarist occupation. In 1950 to 1953, the Korean people suffered immeasurably under a barbaric war against them led by the US, but also including the military forces of other countries including Australia. Four million lives were brutally extinguished. One could say this was the first time that the US “totally destroyed North Korea”. However, despite the staggering losses, the Koreans in the north of the peninsula, aided by Chinese volunteers, fought the US to a standstill, leading to an armistice being signed on July 27th, 1953. Despite the DPRK’s efforts, the US never signed a peace agreement, which was supposed to follow according to the armistice agreement.

Since that time, the US and the DPRK have remained technically at war. However, what the Western corporate media never tells is that the DPRK since then has built arguably the most advanced socialist system in the world. Not only does the DPRK’s socialist state provide universal and free health care, education, housing and a lifetime guarantee of employment – it does this while charging its citizens no tax at all.[2] The retirement age for men in the DPRK is 60, and for women it is 55. Eight months of fully paid maternity leave is automatically given to pregnant women. Despite fears of a “rape culture” in the capitalist West, in the DPRK women can walk the streets, or anywhere in the country, at any time of the day or night, in complete safety. Visitors to the DPRK may notice children walking around outside late at night, with some friends, also in complete safety. Crime is almost non-existent, as the state meets virtually every need, free of charge or at heavily subsidised nominal rates.

The comparison with living and working conditions for working people in the US, Europe and Australia could not be more different. The clear advantages for workers of collectively owned industry and commerce, administered through a planned economy, stand out in stark relief. Despite these gains, the political system in the DPRK is distorted, given that the immense threat of being wiped out by the US has remained for more than 60 years. Arguably, this enormous pressure has produced a system where it appears workers are not able to influence or exercise political decisions, and has contributed to a somewhat mythologised acclaim for its historical and current leaders. What drives Western capital into a frenzy, however, is the fact that due to the DPRK’s socialist system, which has produced a warm and friendly society based on solidarity, the DPRK is off limits to exploitation and plunder. In the same way, the giant next door neighbour, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is also barred to Western capital – despite the pro-market measures the PRC uses to develop its economy. Thus the bitter vitriol which the US and Australian rulers spew towards the DPRK and the PRC is ultimately the hatred of capitalism for socialism.

This is why it is in the vital interests of working people to stand with the DPRK and the PRC against the threats of nuclear war. It is not enough just to call for “peace” and “negotiations”, for this lets the system which creates and foments the crisis in the first place, directly off the hook. As Lenin analysed 100 years ago, imperialism is monopoly capitalism which has outgrown the system of national boundaries. Capital expands or it dies, and despite there being endless opportunities for infrastructure development and provision of services to “their own” people, Western capital will only do so if there is what they regard as an adequate return in the form of the rate of profit. For example, there is a dire need for a modern, up to date internet system to all rural and regional areas right across Australia. But due to a lack of customers being able to pay, capital could not be bothered. Hence, we have the decidedly second rate National Broadband Network (NBN), which covers some areas with slow speeds, and other areas not at all.

PRC’s rise and rise

The PRC’s vast economic expansion over the last 30 years has pushed the US ruling class to the brink. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the PRC, from 1978 until now, grew faster than the world’s total economic growth for 30 years.[3] Yet this is only possible because of the PRC’s overwhelmingly state owned and run socialist economy, which is protected by the workers state which emerged out of the 1949 revolution. While the PRC leadership has allowed a large degree of capitalist free enterprise which causes some political dangers, these capitalists have little or no chance of competing with China’s vast State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) which, by law, totally dominate the commanding heights of the economy. Banking, Finance, steel making, infrastructure construction, rail, roads, ports, telecommunications and more are either state owned or majority state owned. This strong collective state underpins planned economic expansion which, according to their Five Year Plans, must meet social goals such as employment and overall development – and not just a rate of return.

Similar to the DPRK, however, working people struggle to exercise political decision making, and the Communist Party of China (CPC) leadership is almost solely concerned with internal matters – rather than the extension of world socialism. Of course, these aspects do not concern the US and European ruling classes.  What concerns, and even spells danger, for them are plans such as the PRC’s vast new infrastructure development plan, the “New Silk Road” as well as initiatives such as the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). These massive economic offerings to underdeveloped, and even some developed countries with ailing capitalist economies, mean that China is assuming world economic and political leadership, regardless of whether or not this is its aim. This is occurring while the profit based economies of the US, Europe and Australia are crumbling into ruin.

Defeat in Syria

While the US Empire’s frenzied threats against the DPRK and the PRC are to a large extent driven by the challenge of socialism, there is the additional factor of the comprehensive defeat suffered by the US with their attempt at regime change in Syria. As we go to press, the Syrian Arab Army has advanced to within 6 kilometres of the last ISIS base in Raqqa,[4] despite the US backed Kurdish “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) abstaining or working with ISIS in an attempt to seize Syrian territory for themselves.[5] Overall, however, the unspeakable US strategy of arming and funding death squads in order to bring down the Syrian government – arguably the dirtiest war in history – has collapsed. Syria, with the assistance of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, have inflicted perhaps the first defeat of the US since the war on Vietnam. The Australian government is also culpable, having dispatched troops and warplanes to back the US marauding throughout Iraq and Syria. This defeat has halted – for now – US plans for the inevitable next stepping stone –  regime change in Iran.

Enraged that anyone would have the temerity to not only question, but take action to repel, the US war machine in its tracks, the US Empire is lashing out in any other direction it can. The DPRK is the next obvious target, as the US preparations for invasion and war are well practiced, and garrisons of US troops are already stationed and primed for war. 30 000 US troops are permanently based in South Korea (officially the “Republic of Korea” – ROK), and 50 000 US troops are permanently based in Japan. The annual war games on the border of the DPRK, including US, ROK and Japanese troops, have been expanded this year. This military “exercises” are nothing less than a dry run for the invasion and overthrow of the DPRK. Yet again, Canberra sends Australian troops to participate alongside the US in this reckless provocation,[6]  one that potentially pushes the world closer to the cliff of nuclear destruction.

War abroad linked to war at home

The sheer insanity of nuclear Armageddon provoked by Washington, with the backing of Canberra, has reduced many to stunned disbelief. This may be understandable, but if working people can draw the links from the war abroad to the war at home, we can begin to comprehend why degenerate politicians are prepared to flick the switch to cause the deaths of tens of millions, and take action to prevent it. The wars being prepared against China (via the DPRK) and Russia (via the Ukraine and Syria) are directly linked to the intractable crisis of the Western economic system of production for profit, which went into severe recession in 2008, and has barely recovered. This depression, known as the “Third Slump” (the first two being the Great Depression of the 1930s and the second being the onset of the recession beginning around the mid-1970s), has accelerated the ongoing assault on working people, many of whom have been barely surviving for the last thirty odd years. Australian workers, similar to workers in the US and Europe, face mass unemployment, unaffordable housing, skyrocketing bills for basic utilities, crumbling infrastructure, the privatisation of public assets and virtually non-existent wage growth. Public transport is unreliable and expensive, and only covers some areas. The privatised banks charge outrageous fees, securing billions of dollars in profit, much of which goes into paying million dollar CEO salaries. Schools and universities are turned into profit gouging racketeers, as academic standards fall further and further. Government funding for vital public services is stripped from service after service.

To top it off, basic bourgeois democratic rights and civil liberties are being shredded day by day. Para-military like fare inspectors threaten public transport users. Email, phone, internet access and other forms of communication are monitored, and, as whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden revealed, details are routinely handed over to US intelligence agencies. Western governments are aware that masses of people will inevitably rise up against the limitless inequality which capitalism generates, and the unacceptable burdens it places upon working people. One of the key methods they use to head this off is to present us with an “external threat” which is supposedly so “evil” that war – even nuclear war – must be declared. It is a classic case of projection – the system they represent is the only real evil.

Stand with the DPRK and the PRC against war

This is why it is imperative that working people internationally stand with the working people of the DPRK and the PRC against the threatened US led nuclear holocaust. While Koreans currently face annihilation, this horror is but the extension of the same attacks that working people here face at home – the job losses, the abolition of elementary rights, and the daily struggle to survive under capitalist exploitation. To a large extent, the workers of the DPRK do not endure these hardships by virtue of their socialist system. To a lesser extent, the socialist system in the PRC also shields workers there from untrammelled plunder.

Capital’s assault on humanity cannot be upheld by calls for “peace” or “negotiations”. It neither knows nor understands such concepts. It is a monster which will not stop until private capital becomes the property of all working people, for the common good. The workers of the DPRK and the PRC have already achieved this, despite the at times wayward direction of their political leaders. Working people here need the leadership of a workers vanguard party, which can lead the struggle against imperialist war through combining working people’s efforts for a decent life with the working class victories achieved in Asia. Such a revolution necessarily leads to the foundation of a workers republic. HANDS OFF THE DPRK!

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO  Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD   4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

 

[1] http://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/21/politics/kim-jong-un-on-trump-comments/index.html (22-09-17)

[2] http://exploredprk.com/news/dprk-country-free-of-taxes/ (22-09-2017)

[3] http://www.unrisd.org/80256B3C005BD6AB/%28httpAuxPages%29/2893F14F41998392C1257BC600385B21/$file/China%27s%20growth%20miracle%200808.pdf (22-09-17)

[4] https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/breaking-syrian-army-advances-within-6km-isils-last-stronghold-raqqa/ (23-09-17)

[5] https://www.veteranstoday.com/2017/09/17/russian-military-observed-no-fighting-between-isis-and-sdf-north-of-deir-ezzor-in-the-last-days/ (23-09-17)

[6] http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/08/21/australia-joins-south-korea-us-war-games (23-09-17)

Hands Off Myanmar! Western Powers Create and Fuel Chaos in Asia

Myanmar flag

The national flag of Myanmar, which was adopted in 2010.

Hands Off Myanmar! Western Powers Create and Fuel Chaos in Asia

15-09-17 – We were told there were “rebels” in Libya – but they turned out to be Al Qaeda. We were then told there were “rebels” in Syria – but they turned out to be ISIS. If we were now to believe that there are “rebels” in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, we would have very short memories indeed. And, as if on cue, Al Qaeda has now chipped in, declaring that any deaths of Rohingya Muslims will be avenged, and that the government of Myanmar will be punished.[1] The horrific imperialist game of regime change appears to be on again.

If you are thinking that all this is just a little too convenient, you are not alone. No sooner is the US Empire facing a serious defeat in Syria, it turns its attention to other countries and regions, where it has been working away behind the scenes for decades, undermining and white-anting any country perceived to be independent of them, or, worse still, engaging Red China to assist them with their trade and development. Any of the Asian nations that have the temerity to consider China a partner rather than the US, sooner or later will find chaos erupting within their borders, if not an open hybrid “humanitarian” war. The current situation in Myanmar, despite all of its unique history, is yet another case.

Aung San Suu Kyi/NLD a product of Western funding

Unlike in Syria, where the Syrian government was regarded by the US as an opponent going back to the 1950s, the National League for Democracy (NLD) government led by Aung Sung Suu Kyi was a product of US and UK backed NGOs over some decades. The “Land Destroyer” blog site reveals that the US and UK have spent tens of millions of dollars creating the NLD/Suu Kyi led government in Myanmar, filtered through liberal para-state “civil society” organisations. The notoriously misnamed “National Endowment for Democracy” (NED) is in on the act, as is the infamous Open Society Institute (OSI) of colour revolution specialist and billionaire financier George Soros. The US funded broadcaster Voice of America (VOA) beams in disguised pro-Western propaganda three times a day, while the Orwellian named Radio Free Asia (RFA) pumps Myanmar with pro-capitalist missives through a two hour “news service” every day.[2] The “Burma (the previous name of Myanmar) Campaign UK” group openly chastise the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) for a lack of funding and backing for “democracy promotion”.[3] It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. By “democracy” these apologists for US/British imperialism mean a government which will do the bidding of Washington and London, rather than exerting any shred of independence from them.

As recently as 2012, Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honour the US Congress can award.[4] To give you an idea of just how comfortable Aung San Suu Kyi was with the inner sanctum of the US Empire, she welcomed a visit from Hilary “Destroyer of Worlds” Clinton in 2015, at the peak of her powers before later being defeated by Trump in 2016.[5] So if Suu Kyi was the apple of the eye of Uncle Sam as little as a year ago, why is she now targeted by the Empire’s vassal NGOs, and is being asked to hand back her Nobel Peace Prize?

Attempts to disrupt the New Silk Road

In a word, the New Silk Road. The New Silk Road, or One Belt One Road initiative led by the People’s Republic of China, is an infrastructure and economic growth building plan, reported to be seven times larger than the US sponsored Marshall Plan for Europe after the destruction of the Second World War. 1.3 trillion dollars of projects have been announced so far, with more to come. Amongst other things, it seeks to link China’s western provinces to South East Asia, Africa, Central Asia and Europe, reviving the Silk Road trade routes of ancient times[6], but using China’s well renowned modern state owned railway and port projects. Aung San Suu Kyi was one of the 29 world leaders who attended the launch of the mega- project in Beijing in May of this year,[7] signing up Myanmar as a founding member. This appears to have been the final straw for the Wall Street. Already reeling from the rise of China, losing influence amongst South East Asia to socialist China was too much to take. As little as a few months later, a crisis emerges for the Rohingya people of the Rakhine state in Myanmar.

To be sure, the history of tensions between the Muslim people of the coastal Rakhine state in Myanmar and the majority Buddhist population goes back some years before the launch of the New Silk Road. But now outside forces, who bear no relation to the Rohingyas themselves, have an opportunity to sow chaos and disorder, which at the least, can disrupt the greater economic ties between Myanmar and China. At most, it could provide a beachhead for the entry of US troops, or their proxy forces, in yet another “humanitarian war”. This beachhead could then be a part of the real aim of the US “pivot to Asia” – the military encirclement of Red China; which is the 21st century version of “containing and rolling back communism”.

Working people need to be clear. China overturned capitalism via its victorious socialist revolution in 1949. Therefore, the Chinese economy today does not operate primarily on the basis of production for private profit. Its expanding foreign investments do not take place in order to maximise profit, but in order to secure resources for its own economic development. As a quid-pro-quo, China’s non-exploitative development projects in other countries also offer the opportunity for much need economic growth, especially in the Third World. This is because roads, ports, railways etc. – inevitably lead to increased commerce. In fact, some of the First World economies can also benefit from these projects, given that they are in a dire capitalist fuelled recession of their own. Thus, despite ties to the US, the Australian government felt compelled to send a delegation to Beijing for the launch of the New Silk Road. The comparison is stark – socialist China offers Asian, African and European countries opportunities for mutually beneficial development; while the US Empire offers nothing but plunder and war. And if it looks like you are a friendly neighbour to China – as Myanmar is – be prepared for chaos to be unleashed.

Rohingya “Army” appears

The history of the tensions of the Rohingyas and the Buddhists in Myanmar requires a separate study, and certainly does predate China’s New Silk Road mega-projects. Yet it is extremely suspicious when the so-called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) makes a spectre-like appearance, armed to the hilt, and then begins armed attacks on the Tatmadaw – the armed forces of Myanmar. Suspicions are confirmed when it becomes known that ARSA – formerly known as Harakat al Yaqin (HaY) – is being funnelled cash and weapons from Malaysia, Pakistan and..wait for it…Saudi Arabia. The Rohingya diaspora has led to large Rohingya populations being established in Malaysia and Pakistan, and the ARSA even has a leadership council based in Saudi Arabia.[8] With US state support, Saudi Arabia was one of the strongest backers of the genocidal Wahabist “rebels” in Syria, which at great cost were defeated by the Syrian government with the assistance of Russia. Now in Myanmar, we see the same playbook being rolled out again. Yet, as in Syria, the Saudi armed Rohingyan “rebels” no more represent the Rohingyan people, or Muslims, any more than Al Qaeda and ISIS “represented” Muslims in Syria.

Nor does the “Buddhist Bin Laden”, monk Ashin Wirathu, leader of the ultra-nationalist 969 group in Myanmar represent all Buddhists. The 969 group are said to have been behind a wave of sectarian anti-Muslim riots which have killed scores since 2012.[9] More than this, these “monks” were the most active in organising vigorous protests against the Myanmar government’s move to give hundreds of thousands of stateless Rohingyas citizenship. These protagonists of the “Saffron Revolution” are in fact ultra-violent, bigoted and racist in a way which would rival the Ku Klux Klan in the US.[10] Yet this is part of the support base for Aung San Suu Kyi, and are thus presented to unsuspecting Westerners as liberal pro-democracy activists! Once again, the Western media and Western funded NGOs have covered for the real aims of the US Empire – the installation of a subservient pro-Western government, regardless of who their domestic allies may be. Whether the allies be ultra-violent Buddhist nationalists in Myanmar, Nazis and fascists in Ukraine, ISIS in Syria and the Philippines, or Al Qaeda arming the Rohingyas – the corporate media will portray them as “rebels” or their actions as a “democratic uprising” !

Left parties take the bait

Unfortunately, some Australian left parties appear to have repeated their error-ridden actions from the wars on Libya and Syria, where they backed “rebels” even when it became clear that the “rebels” were in fact genocidal Al Qaeda linked mercenaries. Already the Al Qaeda link to the Rohingya “rebels” has emerged in Myanmar, but this seems to have been overlooked by the Socialist Alliance[11], Socialist Alternative[12], and Solidarity[13].  There are some indications that the Communist Party of Australia, which at best offered only lukewarm opposition to the US led wars on Libya and Syria, have followed suit.[14] Despite their anti-war credos, these organisations are lining up with the decidedly pro-war NGOs in Myanmar, as they did in Libya and Syria. The lessons haven’t been learnt. The whole raison d’etre for these para-state NGOs (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International) is not to advocate “human  rights” and “democracy”, but the very aims of the US Empire itself. In the case of Myanmar, it is currently about creating chaos in the Rakhine state, fostering armed extremism (yet again), disrupting China’s New Silk Road, bringing Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar government to heel, and extending and consolidating the military encirclement of Red China. Chaos and war on China’s southern flank can only benefit Wall Street, and, combined with the provocations in the South China Sea, the threat of nuclear war against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the backing of anti-socialist jihadists in Xinjiang, the Lamas in Tibet and the never-ending war on Afghanistan, the picture comes into sharp relief.

For an anti-imperialist anti-war movement

Workers desperately need an anti-imperialist anti-war movement, to lead a struggle against the endless machinations and regime change wars being prepared against China and Russia, and any country that even has thoughts of independence from the US Empire. In the case of Myanmar today, while not offering political support to the NLD government or its supporters, working people should defend the right of Myanmar to determine its own affairs without interference from US state and para-state actors, up to and including the right to complete trade and investment opportunities with China. After all, China is a next door neighbour. Without Western meddling, it is likely that the 135 ethnic minorities which make up Myanmar would co-exist, as they did for decades previously. Despite the grim scenarios, we should be confident that the overwhelming majority of working people here and internationally are opposed to a world war, and would be prepared to take action to prevent it. What is currently absent is the leadership of a workers vanguard party. Such a party could lead working people in a struggle to eliminate the source of imperialist war – the decaying capitalist system – by fighting for a workers’ republic, linking with the vast proletariat in Asia to aim for an internationally planned economy. HANDS OFF MYANMAR!

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-14/al-qaeda-urges-muslims-globally-to-aid-rohingya-in-myanmar/8946390 (15-09-17)

[2] http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com.au/2017/09/myanmar-gasoline-and-fire-not-good-vs.html (16-09-17)

[3] http://burmacampaign.org.uk/images/uploads/DFIDReview.pdf (16-09-17)

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/sep/20/aung-san-suu-kyi-medal (16-09-17)

[5] http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/icons-bid-for-power-aung-suu-kyi-and-hillary-clinton-are-facing-a-huge-task-10185813.html (16-09-17)

[6] http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/05/16/chinas-one-belt-one-road-plan-explained (16-09-17)

[7] http://www.globalnewlightofmyanmar.com/daw-aung-san-suu-kyi-arrives-in-beijing-to-attend-belt-and-road-forum-for-international-cooperation/ (16-09-17)

[8] http://www.atimes.com/article/foreign-support-gives-rohingya-militants-lethal-edge/ (17-09-17)

[9] http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-ff-myanmar-monk-20150524-story.html (17-09-17)

[10] https://journal-neo.org/2015/03/05/myanmar-meet-aung-san-suu-kyi-s-saffron-mobs/ (17-09-17)

[11] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/myanmar-all-out-war-rohingya (17-09-17)

 

[12] https://redflag.org.au/node/6014  (17-09-17)

 

[13] https://www.solidarity.net.au/mag/back/2017/99/new-evidence-ethnic-cleansing-rohingya-burma/ (17-09-17)

 

[14] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2017/1793/18-region-briefs.html (17-09-17)