Stop the Adani Death Mine! Mobilise Mass Opposition!

Stop the Adani Death Mine! Mobilise Mass Opposition!

02-06-2017 – Abomination. There is barely another word to describe the proposed mega-coal Carmichael mine proposed to be built by the Adani Corporation in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. If built and operated for the proposed 60 years, it may well contribute to the end of world efforts to limit global average temperature rises to less than 2 degrees Celsius. The carbon contained in the Galilee Basin’s coal reserves alone – 250 000 square kilometres of thermal coal – contain roughly the same amount of carbon contained in all of ExxonMobil’s holdings, the world’s largest company.[1] The development of the Adani “mine of death” would mean six open cut pits and numerous underground mines. The coal would be transported 200 kilometres to a terminal at Abbot Point, right next to the Great Barrier Reef. Australia’s carbon emissions would more than double.[2]

There is a high probability that the Adani mine will definitively finish off the Great Barrier Reef. To this point already, reef specialist Professor Terry Hughes revealed that coral bleaching – the literal dying off of the coral itself – now covered 93% of the Reef.[3] As the intensification of global warming warms the oceans, the sea itself becomes more acidic, killing off or threatening to kill off whole ecosystems – from coral to fish to large predators, i.e., whole food chains. One of the natural wonders of the world, the strangulation of the reef should be yet another urgent bell-weather of the desperate situation climactic collapse ensures. As Jeff Sparrow writes, however, any sense that an occurrence so grotesque as the annihilation of a natural wonder would somehow spur politicians to finally do something, should now be put to rest.[4] The politicians that currently exist here will scarcely do anything to even seriously limit environmental desecration.

Labor Party complicit

In fact, politicians here are doing everything they can to enable this hellish future. Take the Queensland Labor Party government. It has fallen over itself to get the diabolical Adani coal mine up and running, irrespective of the climate science, not to speak of its own members. First it offered a 320 million dollar “royalties holiday” to Adani, making a mockery of the entire concept of royalties.[5] After some outrage, the Labor Party and Adani later came to an agreement, the details of which are not fully known, but it is suspected that a flat 5 million dollars will be paid. For a 21 billion dollar mine, this is of course risible. In addition, in a move which flabbergasted even seasoned environmental activists, the Labor Party approved a measure which allows Adani to only monitor and report on the amount of water it extracts from the Great Artesian Basin, from now until the permit expires in 2077![6] Needless to say, this could have massive impacts on the water available for agriculture and other purposes. It is estimated that this would mean Adani would extract 9.5 billion litres of water for each year the mine was operational.[7] And on the driest continent on earth, Adani would not have to pay one cent for this water!

Some die-hard Labor party members state that despite the (virtually criminal) actions of the Queensland Labor party, “federal” Labor has opposed the mine. In fact, federal Labor under Bill Shorten worked with the Liberal Party to ensure that Native Title for the Aboriginal people would not even be considered when assessing approval for Adani’s mine building. This bill has been delayed in parliament, and the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council, representatives of the traditional owners, remains steadfast in its opposition to the construction of the mine.[8]

Add to this Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to New Delhi to Adani executives and his offer of a 1 billion dollar unconditional loan from Australian taxpayers to pay for the rail line needed to transport the coal.[9] As if this wasn’t enough, it is mooted that these funds will be allocated from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility![10] The level of direct and indirect corruption is staggering, but such corruption is business as usual for the capitalist system. In fact, the amount of corruption just for this project is just a slim percentage of the overall racket of virtually tax-free mining in Australia.

Red China closes coal mines while Australia opens them

Australia’s giant Pacific neighbour, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is trending in the opposite direction with regard to coal fired energy use. It should be noted that for a country which is still in many parts developing its economy, despite its huge advances, it is more difficult to do without coal as an energy source. Nevertheless, Red China is arguably leading the world push towards switching from carbon intensive energy sources to carbon free ones. Just this year, Beijing closed its last large coal-fired power station.[11] Moreover, as part of the drive towards using zero carbon energy sources, the PRC will close around half of its operating coal mines.[12] Some renewable energy advocates point to China in leading the way in the production of solar panels and wind turbines. But for serious capacity in terms of zero carbon energy, the PRC is building nuclear reactors. 46% of the new reactors currently being constructed are in mainland China.[13]

There is one reason why the PRC leads the world in both economic growth and in the drive towards sourcing energy from zero carbon sources. The Chinese economy, primarily, does not operate on the basis of production for profit. The socialist state led development they are capable of has only come about since the working people were able to overthrow feudal and foreign capitalist plunder, which triumphed in 1949. In the PRC today, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of the “commanding heights” of the economy remain state owned or majority state owned. They are often owned and controlled by gigantic state owned enterprises (SOEs) which simply do not have to turn a profit, and often run at profit rates below 1%, which would not be possible under the “capitalism” of which some critics accuse it. Decisions can be made in the interests of the environment and workers’ rights in the PRC, whereas in the capitalist West such motives barely rate a mention.

NGOs, Greens, Labor loyal Union leaders block action

Socialism versus capitalism as a pathway to address climate meltdown, however, is the furthest away from the agenda of the three main bodies which are combining to stifle mass action to stop the Adani leviathan. Peak environmental “NGOs”, the Australian Greens, and some Union leaders, who remain loyal to the Labor Party and/or the capitalist system, represent the obstacle to the action which has the possibility of preventing the erection of climate destroying mega-coal mines. NGOs such as GetUp!, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), and 350 Australia are active online in opposing the Adani mega-coal mine. However, these peak bodies are all about controlling the campaign against Adani, and controlling it to align with their politics – which ultimately means lobbying the very corporations and governments enabling it. For example, 350.org were the main organisers of large scale public meetings about the Adani mega-mine, but they were only “public” for those who could afford the $15 dollar entry fee!

The Australian Greens, despite their commendable words against the Adani inferno, are almost solely campaigning in electoral terms. After winning a Brisbane City Council seat in the Woolloongabba ward for the first time, the Greens are attempting to capitalise on the sentiment against Adani to win the state seat of South Brisbane from the Labor Party’s Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.[14] To be clear, if the Australian Greens win parliamentary seats as a result of a principled position against climate destroying developments, then working people should not begrudge them. But it is something else entirely to subordinate the politics of such a movement to electoral machinations of any party, even one which is, at least verbally, taking a side against the encroachments of capital.

There has been scant, if any, opposition to Adani from any of Queensland’s Union leaders. In fact, there has even been support. The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union’s (CFMEU) Stephen Smyth and the Australian Workers Union’s (AWU) Ben Swan, for example, have gone on record as complaining that the Adani mega-mine has come up against too much “green tape” from the state government![15] No doubt these self-serving Union leaders were eyeing the mythical “10 000” jobs the state government claimed would be the result of the Adani mega-mine. In fact, Adani’s own figures state that only 1464 jobs will be created over the lifetime of the mine.[16] In any case, one wit responded to State Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s claims that jobs will be created by saying: “Detention centres create jobs, wars create jobs – what’s your point?”

Union leaders should be leading a campaign for jobs through raising and fighting for demands such as a shorter working week with no loss in pay, rather than building a cosy alliance with exploitative corporations themselves. Then they would be free to help lead mass based campaigns, which could gather backing from working people, and could be joined by others justly concerned about the potentially catastrophic future vastly increased carbon emissions will mean for those who come after us. They could also sideline wealthy corporate NGOs and prevent them from shepherding all opposition into harmless lobbying exercises. Political parties such as the Greens would be welcome to take part, but not in terms of reducing the entire campaign to an electoral front.

There is huge potential for such a campaign, as there is overwhelming sentiment amongst the majority of working people that this disaster of a mine should not go ahead, and there definitely should not be billions of dollars of taxpayers funds handed over to a dubious corporation to build it. Yet the potential for the desperately needed campaign of mass mobilisation is crippled by the political outlook of the mines’ opponents. Well-funded NGOs, parties such as the Greens, and conservative Union leaders do not have a perspective which can see outside the parameters of the system of private production for private profit. This is not a matter of expecting such forces to consent to a workers’ revolution. But long before the conditions for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism come into being, the methods of class-based struggle are the only ones which can win a serious battle such as this one.

The Adani mega-mine is symptomatic of the normal workings of capitalist exploitation of the natural world. It is for this reason that the political forces which complain about the excess of this system without opposing the system itself, e.g. GetUp!, 350.org, AYCC, must be challenged by working people for leadership of this campaign. Working people also need to position their silent or complicit Union leaders, which should at least be helping to facilitate a movement of class-based mass opposition, centred on mass mobilisations. Working and oppressed people desperately need a victory. Here is one campaign, which, given correct leadership, has a huge chance of succeeding.

At the same time, working people should be aware that even if the Adani monstrosity is stopped, runaway climate collapse is still on the cards. To begin to deal with this emergency, let alone the other dire emergencies such as economic stagnation, joblessness, homelessness, and the threat of war, the capitalist system will have to be overthrown and replaced with socialism, run by working people. Key to this task is the forging of a genuine workers party, the assembling of the most class conscious working people into a politically leading force. There is nothing to lose, but a world to win.

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO Box 66  NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2013/june/1370181600/bill-mckibben/how-australian-coal-causing-global-damage (02-06-17)

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/05/17/the-damning-report-that-says-adanis-carmichael-mine-is-a-slow-t_a_22094639/ (02-06-17)

[3] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bleaching-hits-93-percent-of-the-great-barrier-reef/ (02-06-17)

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/07/its-either-adani-or-the-great-barrier-reef-are-we-willing-to-fight-for-a-wonder-of-the-world (02-06-17)

[5] http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-government/adani-says-carmichael-megamine-viable-without-royalties-holiday/news-story/c40786658dc12c935777729349addd26 (02-06-17)

[6] http://www.smh.com.au/environment/barbaric-adanis-giant-coal-mine-granted-unlimited-water-licence-for-60-years-20170404-gvd41y.html (02-06-17)

[7] https://www.marineconservation.org.au/pages/adani-carmichael-coal-mine-rail-project-factsheet-.html (02-06-17)

[8] http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/govt-fails-to-pass-native-title-bill-major-setback-for-adani/ (02-06-17)

[9] http://www.afr.com/news/politics/adani-firms-on-1bn-loan-as-turnbull-promises-to-fix-native-title-problems-20170411-gvisan (02-06-17)

[10] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-29/conflict-of-interest-concerns-over-adani-rail-loan/8564368 (02-06-17)

[11] http://www.smh.com.au/world/beijing-closes-last-big-coalfired-power-station-in-push-for-clean-energy-20170320-gv20hx.html (02-06-17)

[12] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-energy-coal-idUSKCN0VV0U5 (02-06-17)

[13] http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/current-and-future-generation/plans-for-new-reactors-worldwide.aspx (02-06-17)

[14] http://larissa-waters.greensmps.org.au/articles/queensland-labor-and-adani-join-forces-queensland-taxpayers-get-screwed-over (02-06-17)

[15] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/unions-slam-new-rules-for-adani-acland-mines/news-story/4e74aacda44ef2d710ff0d0525865477 (02-06-17)

[16] https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2017/05/truth-adani-jobs/ (02-06-17)

The Adani Corporation has begun fencing off land in the Galilee Basin. Image from http://www.southasiatimes.com.au

Change the Date! For Aboriginal Liberation through Workers Unity!

26-12-2017 – 229 years after the first British colonialists landed in Sydney Cove, what became the Australian nation state still “celebrates” the beginning of a genocide against the original inhabitants, who had tended this continent for upwards of 50 000 years. A war of near extermination was carried out by the colonialists for 150 years against the Aboriginal people, first with guns and unimaginable cruelty, then by horrific governmental oppression. The Australian nation, such as it is, could not have been founded without these barbaric practices, which were both official and unofficial policy. It is a perverse affront that January 26th, the day the settler-colonialists arrived in 1788, is still marked as Australia’s national day.

The physical war of extermination of Aboriginal people may have ended, but the oppression of Australia’s indigenous peoples remains as entrenched as it has ever been. A few statistics will illustrate this. Figures from recent years indicate that the suicide rate of indigenous people is four times higher than that of the non-indigenous population.[1]  The unemployment rate for indigenous people is three times that of those who are not descended from the traditional owners.[2] Most revealingly, Aboriginal people are fifteen times more likely to be thrown in prison than those who have no Aboriginal lineage.[3] In a very real sense, Aboriginal people remain prisoners in their own land.

To even begin to redress the historic and present crimes being inflicted upon the indigenous people, at the very least Australia’s national day must be changed to a date, any date, which does not mark the beginning of a colonialist war. While the changing of Australia’s national day would be a progressive reform, by no means would it mean the end of the oppression of the Aboriginal people. The oppression of the Aboriginal people is bound up with the capitalist mode of production, which was established over the top of them, and all other working people who ended up here. The capitalist socio-economic system requires deep divisions within the working class, to prevent them from uniting to liberate themselves and other repressed layers. Working people are also oppressed by the capitalist private profit system, though to a lesser extent than Aboriginal people. Liberation for Aboriginal people is thus linked to workers’ liberation, which can only be realised through a united struggle for a workers’ republic, i.e. for socialism.

International socialism is an ally

Aboriginal political resistance, therefore, falls into error if it inadvertently tilts against socialism. Such a political direction aids Australian (and international) capitalism – the source of their subjugation.  The Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) play a tremendous organisational role in leading a fight for justice for indigenous people. On occasion, however, WAR can adopt positions which, we suggest, are harmful both for the liberation of Aboriginal people and working people generally. For example, in Issue #7 of The Black Rising, WAR’s publication, an article appears criticising Australia’s compulsory voting laws. It is a valid concern that Aboriginal people today are being directed to vote for the very establishment which was, and is, responsible for their colonisation, and it is correct to raise a discussion of alternatives. However in doing so, WAR fall into the arms of the very establishment they wish to disown. They write:

“The Australian government, like North Korea, (emphasis added – WL) enforces compulsory voting laws meaning that the federal government expects us Aboriginal people to vote in its elections. Australia expects us to help choose the next leader of the government which invaded our ancestors only 228 years ago. We are required to vote for a person to represent the very same government who refuses, to this day, to sign a treaty and formally acknowledge Aboriginal sovereignty and title. We are expected to participate in this colonial structure and perform the civic duties of a good citizen while the federal government mines and pollutes our land, deregisters, desecrates and builds over our artefacts and sacred sites.”[4]

We do not, of course, dispute that the Australian government refuses to sign a treaty, refuses to recognise Aboriginal sovereignty, presides over an order which blocks the advance of Aboriginal people, and much more. Yet by simultaneously criticising North Korea – whose real name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), WAR line up with the Liberal Party, the Labor Party, billionaire magnates and virtually the entire Australian ruling class. These elements of private capital, and their underlings, also virulently oppose the DPRK, from the standpoint of preventing the advance of socialism. For whatever distortions that may exist in the DPRK, the fact is that they defend their system of socialism, and have done so against the might of US imperialism for 60 years. Workers remain in power in the DPRK, preventing the US and Australian ruling classes from forcing capitalism back onto the entire Korean peninsula, and by extension, into China and Vietnam. The DPRK is thus an opponent, not an ally, of global capitalism – and is therefore an ally of workers and the oppressed in all lands. This includes working people in Australia, and, especially, Aboriginal people.

For defending socialism, the DPRK is almost universally demonised in the West. It is frequently vilified by the corporate media, often without a shred of evidence, or even basic facts. Regrettably, WAR has also chimed in with the false allegations constantly directed at the DPRK. For it is not true that the DPRK “enforces compulsory voting”. Here is Article 66 of Chapter V of the Constitution of the DPRK:

All citizens who have reached the age of 17 have the right to elect and to be elected, irrespective of sex, race, occupation, length of residence, property status, education, party affiliation, political views or religious belief.
Citizens serving in the armed forces also have the right to elect and to be elected.
A person who has been disenfranchised by a Court decision and a person legally certified insane do not have the right to elect or to be elected.[5]

That is, DPRK citizens have the right to elect their representatives, and to stand for election themselves, enshrined in their constitution. Needless to say, they have this right regardless of how much money or property they may possess. In practice, in the Australian capitalist political system, millions of dollars are required to run an effective campaign against the major parties. The almost total turnout for elections in the DPRK, combined with relentless Western propaganda, may give the unenlightened the impression that voting is compulsory in the DPRK, yet this is not the case. DPRK citizens overwhelmingly support their government for several reasons, one of which is that the DPRK remains a workers state. Thus the DPRK, as it is currently formed, aligns with the class interests of Korean workers. It is not only a defence against the ever-present threat of a US invasion which leads most Koreans in the North to collectively back their nation. It is also the constitutionally guaranteed free healthcare, education, and even housing, plus – guaranteed employment. It is likely that none of this would remain if the US was able to overthrow the DPRK.

Moreover, the Korean people are the indigenous people of their land – their history stretches back at least 5000 years. When the US and Australia launched a war on Korea in 1950, essentially to prevent socialism prevailing on all of Korea, and also to undermine the recently victorious Chinese socialist revolution, 4 million Koreans perished. Out of this unprecedented brutality emerged an independent socialist Korea in the north, and an occupied, capitalist Korea in the south. The DPRK thus gives more weight to the claim that the only way for an indigenous people, or for any working people, to free themselves from capitalist rule is to struggle for your own workers republic. Therefore, we would suggest that WAR should ally themselves with, or at least not oppose, the workers movement.

For a united Aboriginal, “ethnic” and Australian born workers party

The Aboriginal people suffer intolerable discrimination in Australia, “Australia Day” being but one manifestation. The Aboriginal struggle against this dire situation is thus always progressive. However the politics of the leadership of this struggle is another matter, especially if it develops in isolation from a strong workers movement, and a united workers party. In fact, separated from a workers movement, and particularly the Union movement, it is often the case that the politics of certain leaders of the Aboriginal struggle can veer towards conservative, liberal, and/or anti-socialist ideas. WAR’s condemnation of the DPRK is but one example.

To be sure, WAR are not at all responsible for the situation they find themselves in. The main culprit for the abandonment of the struggle for Aboriginal rights is the leadership of the Australian Union movement, from the ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) down to the highly paid top officials of various Unions around the country. There is some rhetoric from Union officials about supporting Aboriginal rights, but little to no action. In many instances, Aboriginal rights do not even appear on the radar of most well-heeled Union officials. Under these circumstances, it is understandable that the leaders of the Aboriginal rights movement look to other means, or other political ideologies.

However, history has yet to provide a systemic opponent of capitalism other than socialism. WAR and similar groups are in a sense correct to demand special attention to the struggle of Aboriginal people, for the suffering of the Aboriginal people is unique and does require a tailored approach. We agree that the struggle for justice for Aboriginal people cannot simply be swept into a generalised workers movement, as if it was only a component part of a movement towards socialism. What is required is a workers’ vanguard party, which can champion Aboriginal rights, and the rights of all other oppressed peoples, in a mighty mass movement which aims to end the rule of capital.
The class character of the workers vanguard party should not be in doubt – only the combined working class has the power to challenge the rule of capital. Yet the various social movements should not be competitors for the leadership of the workers. Rather, the best elements of them should be integrated into the vanguard party. This includes the most class conscious elements of the movement for Aboriginal rights. There cannot be a separate workers party for white Australian workers, and another party for Aboriginal workers. WAR and similar groups are in a sense correct to demand that the Aboriginal struggle should not be subsumed within a general struggle for the rights of all minority ethnicities, and migrant groups – for the indigenous people are neither migrants nor “ethnic”. Yet neither should they be totally separated from them when struggling against a common foe.

The workers vanguard party should thus be multiracial and multi-ethnic. It should combine pro-worker Aboriginal people, Australian born “white” workers, and pro-worker migrants of various national backgrounds. Such a party will strive to win the movement for Aboriginal rights to the theory and practice of Marxism, the program for workers emancipation. The Aboriginal rights movement will not be asked to forsake any of its culture or its history for the pursuit of socialism. On the contrary, the workers party will demand the inclusion of all Aboriginal particulars, alongside the special needs of all oppressed strata which rely on the working class for their existence. The combined and integrated struggle of all working people, through their vanguard party, is the guarantor for the successful combination with the Aboriginal struggle for elementary justice. The Aboriginal struggle and the workers struggle will either go forward together, or fall back separately. FOR ABORIGINAL LIBERATION THROUGH WORKERS UNITY!

 

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO BOX 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-natsisps-strat-toc~mental-natsisps-strat-1~mental-natsisps-strat-1-ab (05-01-17)

[2] http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features20Nov+2013 (06-01-17)

[3] http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-editorial/aboriginal-prison-rates-shame-our-nation-20160408-go1y5o.html (07-01-17)

 

[4] https://theblackrising.com/2016/12/04/australias-compulsory-voting-laws-no-room-for-dissent/ (08-01-17)

 

[5] http://www.kfausa.org/chapter-v-fundamental-rights-and-duties-of-citizens/ (09-01-17)

 

Which strategy for Aboriginal Liberation?

By Paul Nave

 

In the wake of the horrific footage of youth detainees being abused by guards at the Don Dale detention centre, aired by the 4 Corners television program, Aboriginal activists and their supporters took to the streets to protest yet another indicator of the oppression Australia’s indigenous people face on a daily basis. While one of the detainees was white, the overwhelming majority of youth in detention in the Northern Territory and in other states, are Aboriginal. Indigenous and Aboriginal men and women also make up a wholly disproportionate segment of the total prison population, a fact which has not been altered for decades.

Some of the protest actions were led and organised by the Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) – a group that formed during the protests against the G20 Summit held in Brisbane in November 2014. We admire the defiance and the militancy of the WAR activists, their commitment to their struggle and their refusal to be co-opted into the mainstream of the Australian political establishment. They are also correct to back the Malcolm X style struggle for black/indigenous people’s dignity, rather than the pacifist liberalism of the ilk of Martin Luther King. However, in our view the political program of WAR is mistaken in that it remains on the path of Aboriginal or cultural/indigenous nationalism. If Aboriginal nationalism becomes the dominant strategy adopted, in our view the struggle for the liberation of Aboriginal people will not occur, and could become co-opted into the capitalist political parliamentary system they rightly reject. Aboriginal oppression is bound up with implantation of Australian capitalism, the operation of which adversely affects Aboriginal people more than others. However, the overcoming of this oppression means linking with all others seeking liberation from oppression – especially the working class.

Aboriginal Nationalism?

WAR declare that their program is that of Aboriginal nationalism. The first issue of Black Nations Rising, their publication states clearly:
Aboriginal nationalism (emphasis in original) is a philosophy….Separatism is integral to the worldview of Aboriginal nationalism. As Aboriginal nationalists, we identify with our respective tribal groups and the pan-Aboriginal nation. We are separate to ‘Australia’ – a colonial state built upon the theft of Aboriginal land and the genocide of Aboriginal people.[1]

Despite our strong political disagreements on other issues, the Spartacist League first noted the existence of Aboriginal nationalism amongst WAR activists, and alerted workers to it. They correctly note:

“One of the key demands of WAR is self-determination for Aboriginal people. For Marxists, self-determination means the right to national independence. The cohering of nations is fundamentally a material process, not an idealist one. What is decisive is contiguous mutual economic exchange continued over a more or less lengthy period of time, which develops into a coherent political economy. It was the development of capitalism which drove the formation of the nation-state in its modern sense. The possibility of the independent development of Indigenous people into a modern nation was severed by the British colonisers, who almost obliterated the Aboriginal people leaving the shattered remnants of different tribes who continue to be viciously oppressed today.”[2]

It is incontrovertible that the Australian colonial capitalist state was built on the theft of Aboriginal land and the genocide of Aboriginal people. This fact is the basis on which the oppression of Aboriginal people remains today. But the claim to an Aboriginal nation is another thing entirely. Marxists recognise the formation of nations as requiring elements such as a common language, territory, economic exchange and a culture. Nations form over time, historically, until all such factors are satisfied. Needless to say, these factors have not been present in the past, or now. WAR claim a pan-Aboriginal nation, but seemingly through a process of resisting the existing capitalist state which accords with the Australian nation.

Non-Aboriginal people of course do not experience the oppression of the indigenous people, and thus must respect the right of Aboriginal people to lead political movements which counter such oppression. However, non-indigenous people who wish to end Aboriginal oppression and join political movements to address this, must have the right to disagree with the political perspective being put forward. Aboriginal people do not necessarily come up with the correct political program to end their oppression in the same way in which workers also do not automatically propose the correct political program to end their oppression. There needs to be friendly and comradely political discussion and debate as to which strategy and tactics to adopt. To disagree with one’s political strategy does not amount to “disrespect” – it’s simply a political disagreement, a part of the struggle.

As socialists we warn against the political programs of Aboriginal or Black or cultural or indigenous nationalism, not because we don’t respect Aboriginal activists, but because we hold the view that the liberation of Aboriginal people is bound up with the struggle against capitalism, and is therefore bound up with the struggle to end the oppression of workers, through the strategic goal of socialist revolution. It should be noted in addition, that the oppression of women will also not be ended except through joining with workers in a common struggle to overthrow the rule of capital. Aboriginal people make up approximately 2% of the Australian population, but even if the proportion was substantially larger, there would still be a need to link up with, and fight alongside, the working class. Without the mobilisation of the working class, the Aboriginal rights movement cannot effectively be protected from capitalist state repression, let alone win complete liberation.
Lack of Union backing

One of the reasons why Aboriginal groups such as WAR adopt stances such as Aboriginal nationalism, is the almost total lack of Union backing for the struggle of Aboriginal people against their oppression by capitalist Australia. While it is true that there are a lot of fine words, and even some material support for Aboriginal actions, in the main the conservative Union bureaucrats sitting atop most Unions refuse to mobilise workers behind the cause to which they give verbal adherence. The rallies called by WAR in response to the exposure of the Don Dale abuses were dotted with a few Union T-shirts, but generally there were no organised Union contingents. Overpaid Union officials are long on the rhetoric of support for Aboriginal rights, and sport the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags on some wares from their Union wardrobes, but very short of organising workers behind this show. For example, in response to the Royal Commission announced by Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as a result of the Don Dale exposé, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Secretary Dave Oliver penned an open letter to PM Turnbull, which welcomed the Royal Commission, only asking for the terms to be expanded.[3] That is, no organising or attempting to activate workers in support of Aboriginal rights, but a letter to the PM! There have been exceptions, but generally speaking, the Union officials leave the Aboriginal rights movement to fight its own battles – an impossible task. This, combined with the glaring failure of liberal “reconciliation” can lead to some groups such as WAR to adopt the view that they are on their own. This feeds the sentiment towards separatism, and the militant sounding but politically compromising Aboriginal nationalism.

 

Careerist Union officials are well schooled in shepherding workers back into support for the Australian political establishment. They seek to integrate Unions and workers closer to the Australian capitalist state, and hence back “official” channels of the capitalist state investigating itself – such as Royal Commissions. It is hardly a secret that governments often launch Royal Commissions as a pressure relief valve, to give the impression that the powers that be are actually accountable. In practice, they draw out the process for years on end, while those suffering and some activists wait interminably for an outcome. Invariably, such inquiries become little more than a whitewash. Recommendations found by the Commission have no power to be enforced, and rarely are. Such was the result of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in custody, which released its recommendations in 1991. What is vital is that Unions are organised independently of all aspects of the capitalist state – from its politicians to its courts to its parliaments, and its “Royal Commissions”. Workers must be shown that they themselves have power collectively – a power far greater than any parliament or institution of the old world, and one which has the potential to usher in the new world of socialism.

WAR and the left
Since the formation of WAR, there has been tension between it and some left parties when it comes to working together in joint actions. WAR has in the past demanded that the left groups selling newspapers at WAR organised events to donate all of the monetary proceeds to them or whichever cause they are taking action over. Recently, in a post on Facebook, WAR appears to ban the Socialist Alternative and the Socialist Alliance from any future events organised by WAR.[4] This post was then “liked” by some individuals from other left parties.

We are obviously not a part of any discussions that may have taken place between WAR and the two SA groups. We understand that WAR, as organisers and leaders of certain actions, have the right to lead these actions, and run the public events in general. It is of course recognised that in a broader sense, Aboriginal people have the right to lead the struggle against their own oppression, and should be respected as such. However, we do not believe it is reasonable to attempt to prevent left parties from distributing, or selling, their own publications at such public events. To ask for permission from WAR to run a campaign stall at a WAR organised event is understandable. More than this though, WAR cannot expect to control the actions of every single person which attends their public events, especially the members of left groups.

If there has been flagrant disregard for Aboriginal people and Aboriginal leaders at such events by some left parties, they should of course be reproached for it. However, there is a difference between this and an attempt to effectively censor the politics of left groups which are supporting Aboriginal rights actions. To attempt to prevent the distribution of Socialist Alternative’s Red Flag, or Socialist Alliance’s Green Left Weekly at WAR organised events appears to be direct targeting of left groups for their political views. It also does not appear fair given that presumably, WAR’s publication Black Nations Rising is being distributed unhindered. It may not be the intention, but it appears to be an attempt to censor the politics of socialist groups, in favour of the politics of WAR. By all means WAR has the right to put forward and argue for its politics, but as with all political views, it must compete with other perspectives. WAR cannot expect to retain a monopoly on the politics of every individual or group attending actions which they have organised. They must seek to convince others within the Aboriginal community and the non-indigenous but supportive community which demonstrably support their cause.

 

It is possible to respect, and give solidarity to, Aboriginal political groups, while disagreeing with their political outlook. The political outlook of WAR, by the own words, is separatism and indigenous nationalism. Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance can speak for themselves, but generally socialists do not agree that indigenous nationalism will lead to Aboriginal liberation in any meaningful way. In fact, because it turns away from the working class – the only class with the power to win Aboriginal liberation – the politics of Aboriginal nationalism can tend to alternate between a stand-alone militant defiance – which can be relatively easily crushed by the capitalist state apparatus – and liberal lobbying, such as appeals to the very politicians and parliament enabling their oppression. The two approaches are ultimately ineffective, and neither points a way forward. Both are effectively appeals to the powers that be, rather than an attempt to mobilise indigenous people, workers and their supporters in class based struggle against the powers that be.
The Aboriginal people suffer horrific racial oppression under Australian capitalism – this is not in dispute. It is also acknowledged that their struggle against this oppression can never be reactionary. However, it does not necessarily follow that the politics of the Aboriginal activists leading this struggle will always be revolutionary, or always progressive. Backward political positions can be inadvertently practiced, due to a number of societal and political factors, not the least of which is the almost total lack of working class mobilisation in support, due largely to conservative Union officials consciously preventing active workers’ support for indigenous people. Another factor is that some left parties do not challenge the politics of Aboriginal activists where they disagree, out of “respect” and “solidarity”. Such is for example, the program of Aboriginal nationalism. Aboriginal people do not form a nation, as they have not developed over time, a common language, common culture, common territory and common economic exchange. The possibility for this was eliminated by the invading British colonialists, which established an Australian capitalist state which also oppresses, though to a lesser extent, Australian workers.

An Australian nation has been formed, over time, comprised of Aboriginal people, descendants of British colonial rule and a myriad of migrants from numerous other nations. Aboriginal people unfortunately remain the most oppressed group within this nation, a historical wrong which needs urgent address. This however cannot be done without the overthrow of capitalist rule in the Australian nation, and in the Asia-Pacific region.  The Australian nation is also a junior imperialist power, which oppresses the peoples of the Asia-Pacific, and, via partnership with US imperialism, the people of the world. This is one reason why the declaring of, and the fight for, a separatist Aboriginal nation is not progressive, but reactionary. It automatically excludes those who can assist the struggle for the liberation, rather than joining with them to overthrow the rule of capital.

Left parties and individuals which acquiesce to groups such as WAR when advocating political doctrines such as Aboriginal nationalism, are doing so out of a mistaken conception of “respect” and “solidarity”.  The crucial element is to reach out to supporters of indigenous people in their capacity as workers, in order to mobilise industrial strength behind the cause. If this were to occur, it is likely that despairing ideas such as Aboriginal nationalism would not have a material basis on which to arise. However, the main obstacle is the self-serving Union officialdom, which view their own comfortable careers way above any token support for Aboriginal rights. The struggle to replace class-collaborationist Union leaders with a class-struggle leadership is bound up with the struggle to forge a revolutionary workers party, based above all on the theory and practice of Leninism. Such a party would champion the rights of Aboriginal people as part of a struggle to replace the system perpetuating the oppression of Aboriginal people and the domination of working people – that of social production for private profit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] https://issuu.com/blacknationsrising/docs/black_nations_rising_issue_1__online (31-07-16)

[2] http://www.icl-fi.org/english/asp/226/aboriginal.html (31-07-16)

[3] http://www.actu.org.au/actu-media/media-releases/2016/letter-to-malcolm-turnbull-on-royal-commission-into-nt-youth-detention (03-08-16)

[4] https://www.facebook.com/WARcollective/posts/1071999899562235 (03-08-16)

Shut down Don Dale! Release the Aboriginal, Youth and Refugee Detainees!

29-03-2016 – In scenes reminiscent of the notorious Abu Graib prison during the US/UK/AUST imperialist war on Iraq from 2003, the ABC’s 4 Corners program last Monday night broadcast horrific images of Northern Territory “correctional” guards torturing youth detainees at the equally notorious Don Dale Youth Detention Centre. Although one of the detainees shown being shackled and hooded to a chair was white (Dylon Voller), the overwhelming majority of inmates are indigenous. Aboriginal people represent but 3% of the national population, but fill out 28% of the prison population.[1] Pushing the bounds of reality, a staggering 97% of youth detainees in the Northern Territory are of Aboriginal heritage.[2]

The images shown by the 4 Corners report show detainees being tear gassed, beaten, stripped naked, hog tied and hooded, causing untold psychological and physical trauma, in actions which are clearly criminal, according to any definition of the term. Some indigenous leaders are now calling for the Northern Territory government to be sacked or dissolved, saying the gross mistreatment of youth in detention should result in a forfeit of a right to govern.[3] The Federal Government’s response has been to call a Royal Commission, in a well-worn path of attempting to divert mounting anger into long drawn-out and ultimately fruitless channels. The last Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in custody in 1987, as is widely known, handed down 330 recommendations – virtually all of which have never been implemented. It was a classic whitewash, as will be the latest one. Ultimately, there will be no change when the capitalist state investigates itself – in the same way that police cannot independently investigate police.

Both the Federal Government and the Northern Territory government cannot now claim to be shocked as to the latest events to be revealed. For at least 5 years, the abuse of detainees at Don Dale has been known to all levels of government, regardless of which parliamentary party sat on the benches of government. In fact, repeated incidents of abuse at Don Dale were reported between 2010 and 2012, when it was not a Liberal National Coalition government, but one formed by the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens. All parties, both Federal and Northern Territory governments, the police and the “corrective services” management knew of gross maltreatment of those supposedly in their care, yet did nothing.

The fact that Aboriginal and non-indigenous youth have carried out petty crimes and crimes against property and end up in detention, is ultimately an end result of the vicious cycle of poverty, underdevelopment and unemployment. There literally is little future in a society which offers them no or low-paying jobs, an unaffordable cost of living, disintegrating public services and crumbling public infrastructure. Amongst this dire outlook, the marginalisation of Aboriginal people and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds is yet another damning indictment of a society which subordinates almost all human endeavour to the accumulation of capital into the hands of a numerically insignificant but obscenely wealthy minority.

There are striking parallels between the torture meted out to the detainees at Don Dale and that imposed on innocent human beings seeking asylum and a safe place to live in Australia. Australia has the ignominious distinction to now be known worldwide for clearly illegal and inhumane treatment of refugees who are more often than not fleeing the very wars which Canberra has waged alongside Washington in the Middle East and elsewhere. In both cases, at Don Dale and refugee detention centres either on the mainland or off-shore in Nauru and Manus Island, the unfortunate people are treated as less than human, as something to be denied humanity, dignity and physical and mental health. The further the system of private profit declines, the worse the treatment of its victims.

The repression is creeping into society as a whole. Catch a train or walk down a city centre, and you are likely to cross the path or be accosted by heavily armed police, or public transport guards who have the power to detain, beat and/or prosecute you. It is in public, not just behind the walls of detention centres, that indigenous people, youth, people of colour, Muslims or anyone deemed to be an “other”, can be targeted for state sponsored repression. The increase of repression and the falling rate of profit are directly linked. The ruling classes are aware that their system is on the ropes, and are preparing to prevent a large scale fight back. This is precisely what working people and their supporters need to organise.

Despite the horrors we see almost on a daily basis, there is no need for despair. The crisis presents an opportunity to fight, push through, and win the deep changes for which working people are crying out. Political strategy is crucial. While indigenous people suffer the worst effects of oppression in capitalist Australia, their oppression is linked to the oppression of working people. Thus it is imperative that Indigenous activists and their supporters look towards efforts to win over people as workers and draw them in to political action which engages in a class struggle against the source of both Aboriginal and worker misfortune – the ruling class and its state apparatus.

The main block to mobilising people as workers is the ideologically pro-capitalist Union bureaucracy, which seeks to restrict industrial action to that which is acceptable to the corporate magnates. The battle to replace the conservative careerists at the head of almost all Unions with a leadership committed to the needs of workers and the oppressed is bound up with the struggle to forge a multi-racial revolutionary workers’ party. Such a party would seek to assist all efforts to end indigenous disadvantage with the same vigour as it would defend the interests of working people.

While every effort should be made to end the horror of Don Dale, those struggling for justice would do well to recognise that indigenous oppression is common only to those countries where capital rules. Countries which have established workers’ rule – China, the DPRK, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba – do not and cannot oppress their own indigenous people. Indeed, through the mechanism of their respective workers’ states, often the indigenous people are heading up and leading these countries’ path towards socialism. Release the Aboriginal, youth and refugee detainees!

Workers League
PO Box 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/law/aboriginal-prison-rates (27-07-2016)

[2] http://www.sbs.com.au/news/thefeed/article/2016/07/26/facts-about-indigenous-youth-detention-australia (27-07-2016)

[3] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-07-26/indigenous-leaders-call-for-nt-government-to-be-sacked/7662150 (27-07-2016)

Black Lives Matter – in the USA, Australia and Libya!

23-07-2016 – The deadly intimidation towards African-Americans residing in the United States of America continues unabated. Police in the US routinely extinguish their lives without fear of being held to account. Alton Sterling and Philando Castille follow Mike Brown and Tamir Rice as only the most well-known US citizens to have been blown away by cops. Latino Americans and a small minority of white Americans are also taken out without cause, but the overwhelming majority are African-Americans, suffering the brunt of a racist society founded on slavery. The website Killed by Police tracks the fatalities committed by cops in the US. It lists 96 fatalities in May this year, followed by 100 in June.[1] That is, close to two hundred in two months – with African-Americans predominating.

The daily discrimination perpetrated against African-Americans in the US takes on a plethora of forms. African-Americans suffer higher levels of unemployment, vast inequalities in financial wealth as opposed to white Americans, higher rates of poverty, lack of access to higher education, disproportionately higher levels of incarceration and much more. Approximately one quarter of African-Americans live below the poverty line in the US, compared to less than 10 per cent of white Americans. African-American males have a 1 in 4 chance of being imprisoned, compared with white American males having a 1 in 23 chance of being imprisoned.[2]

US society is falling apart at the seams, but it is important to trace this latest unravelling to the devastating impact of the “Global” Financial Crisis which began in 2008. The “normal” functioning of capitalism in the US proceeds with extreme racism against African-Americans at the best of times, but when the profit system falls into crisis, working people and the most oppressed are made to pay for it. It is for this reason that there has been a spike in the number and extent of brutal police killings of African-Americans in the last couple of years. Capitalism means the breakdown of society. In the US, this means even more extreme racial oppression domestically, combined with even more US led wars of regime change internationally. The two are interlinked, and actions in response should reflect this reality.

The theme of “Black Lives Matter” is also directly applicable to the Australian context. Here, the Aboriginal people, who had been custodians of this continent for at least 40 000 years before British colonisation, continue to endure racial oppression no less significant than that which occurs in the US. After almost being wiped out in a genocidal war of occupation which lasted for 150 years, the Aboriginal people miraculously survived, with parts of their ancient culture intact. Yet the establishment of Australian capitalism has prevented Aboriginal people from basic participation in society as equals. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that modern Australian society was founded on the dispossession and brutalisation of its indigenous people. To seriously acknowledge this would call into question the very basis of the “Commonwealth of Australia”.

A brief glance at recent figures indicates the depth and extent of Aboriginal disadvantage in Australia. Aboriginal people die ten years earlier than non-indigenous people in Australia, and they are 15 times more likely to be imprisoned. The indigenous infant mortality rate is double that of non-indigenous people. Only 60% of Aboriginal students finish year 12, and only 47.5% of indigenous people in Australia are employed.[3] Aboriginal deaths in custody continue to occur, 25 years after the Federal Government’s Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. In fact, since that commission, a further 330 indigenous people have perished in custody.[4] Essentially there has been no reduction, and no progress on the basic right of Aboriginal people to be treated as others are treated in custody, or in society.

If the US ruling class has no regard for Black Lives domestically, it certainly doesn’t in its prosecution of its wars for Empire. During the US led war of regime change against the former government of Libya in 2011, the US, with the assistance of Saudi Arabia, armed and funded mercenary Islamic fundamentalists in order to overthrow the imperfect but nonetheless anti-imperialist government led by Colonel Gaddafi.[5] The US had in fact never ceased it’s funding of Islamic fundamentalists since it’s arming of the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 80s. Due to the fact that these mercenaries in Libya had little domestic support, they were unable to overthrow the Gaddafi led government. So in stepped the US and its NATO allies with a lethal bombing campaign which brought about a horrific end to Libya as it was known.

The armed Islamic fundamentalists were referred to by the corporate media as “rebels”, and many liberals were unable to break from this spurious imperialist pretext. Some left parties even lauded them as “revolutionaries” and cheered them on even as their atrocities became known. Many of these atrocities were carried out against Black Africans, who are mainly concentrated in the south of Libya. These Black Africans were seen by the “rebels” as supporters of the Libyan government, and thus were targeted for slaughter.[6] As leading Hands Off Syria academic Jay Tharappel has pointed out, despite the massacres of Black Libyans, the “rebels” were politically backed by some left parties, who fell into line with the US as it went to war. These parties in Australia include the Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, Solidarity and the Communist Party of Australia. Despite their silence on the extermination of Black Libyans, most of these groups now throw their support behind Black Lives Matter.

The hideous racial oppression of Black people in the US and Australia, and the prosecution of imperialist wars overseas – from Libya to Syria to Ukraine to the potential wars against Russia and China – are thus all linked. Capitalism needs racism to survive, both to divide their domestic working classes against themselves, and to gain at least their passive acquiescence to racist imperialist wars against the Third World, and any country which even hints in the direction of political independence from the US Empire. Canberra plays its own role as an imperialist power in the Asia Pacific, as well as a foot soldier for the largest US wars of conquest. Fighting the oppression of African-Americans in the US, and the Aboriginal people in Australia requires a simultaneous struggle against all facets of imperialism.

In a sense, the police patrolling the streets are the domestic embodiment of imperialism. In essence, police are mercenaries, hired by the ruling class to protect the private property of the ‘captains of industry’. To do this, they must suppress the workers, who create every dollar of capitalist profit through their labour. The harshest repression, however, is meted out to those with black skin, either in the US or Australia. Police officers are virtually licenced to harass, threaten, beat, incarcerate or kill those they see as black, with impunity. To end this requires the overturn of the entire system of capitalist exploitation and violence, through workers’ revolution and the victory of socialism. This requires the formation of a multi-racial workers’ party, which can champion the liberation of black people through leading class struggle. While Black people experience the worst effects of capitalist repression, it is only by allying with the working class that enough social power can be mobilised to undermine, and eventually overthrow, the ultimate source of oppression – private capital.

FOR BLACK LIBERATION THROUGH WORKERS’ REVOLUTION!

Workers League

PO BOX 66   NUNDAH   QLD   4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://killedbypolice.net/ (16-07-16)

[2] http://minorityrights.org/minorities/african-americans/ (16-07-16)

[3] http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/closing-the-gap-five-numbers-that-should-shame-australia-20160210-gmqlbl.html (16-07-16)

[4] http://www.amnesty.org.au/indigenous-rights/comments/41572/ (16-07-16)

[5] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/americas-secret-plan-to-arm-libyas-rebels-2234227.html (17-07-16)

[6] https://humanrightsinvestigations.org/2011/07/07/libya-ethnic-cleansing/ (17-7-16)

Change the Name! Change the Date!

26-01-16 – As we surge deeper into the 21st Century, the Australian political establishment has not yet dealt with its 18th Century history – the founding of white Australia by the invading British colonialists and the resulting genocidal war against the Aboriginal people. This war lasted 150 years and formed the basis of “Australia” as we know it today. The exact numbers of Aboriginal people who perished in this war as well as from the deadly impacts of colonisation are not known, but some estimates are as high as one million. January 26, 1788, and the landing of the first colonialists in what is now New South Wales, was essentially the first shot fired in a horrific slaughter which scarcely speaks its name. Yet January 26 is the day which the Australian capitalist class marks as “Australia Day”. Australia is one of the only countries in the world to have its national day marking a hostile invasion. Zionist Israel is another.

It is miraculous that some Aboriginal people survived, and continued to survive to this day. From children stolen by government forces, to being expelled from ancestral lands, to being herded into missions, to being unjustly incarcerated, to deaths in custody, the abuses from Australia’s rulers have continued, almost unabated. The theft and removal of Aboriginal children from their families was government policy for 60 years.[1] Between 1990 and 2008, an average of 14 Aboriginal people died in custody each year.[2] Despite every injustice imaginable being perpetrated against the oldest living culture on earth, the Australian rulers insist that the day which marked the start of all of the injustices be marked, even celebrated, as the national day. This grotesque practice cannot be anymore insulting to the Aboriginal people, and to all those with a shred of humanity. Working people should join with Aboriginal people in placing the simple demand that, at the very least, “Australia Day” must be moved to another day – any of the other 364 days of the year would suffice.

In 2008, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered an “apology” to the stolen generations. At the time it united many indigenous people and their supporters. Now, many have turned against it, as it became obvious that in essence it was lip service with nothing material behind it. In fact, Rudd went on immediately to continue the former Howard government’s military intervention in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities, rule out any form of compensation, and refuse to countenance moving Australia’s national day from January 26. In a similar way, the “Recognise” campaign – a move to recognise Aboriginal people within Australia’s national constitution – appears to be another attempt to forever sideline the movement for basic rights to somehow offset the oppression of Australia’s traditional owners. The Recognise campaign has been tasked to Reconciliation Australia – a body with an even handed sounding name, but with sinister backers. Its website proudly announces that its “supporters” include: the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (!), and corporate vandals such as BHP Biliton, Lend Lease, QANTAS, Rio Tinto, Woodside and the Commonwealth Bank.[3] With backers such as these, a who’s who of the capitalist elite, Reconciliation Australia is hardly going to break any establishment norms. With the appalling disparity in life outcomes between indigenous and non-indigenous people in this country, be it in health, education or employment, “Constitutional Recognition” will do little but justify continued inaction on an intolerable situation. As renowned Aboriginal rights advocate Chris Graham wrote: “Constitutional Recognition is a poor man’s treaty. It is another national apology, without compensation.”[4]

Ironically, perhaps the only way to properly “recognise” Aboriginal people as the original inhabitants and custodians of the land is with the concluding of a national treaty, or a series of treaties. The act of concluding such treaties places the current Australian government, the modern day representative of the colonial power which established it, in the position of acknowledging that what we now know as Australia could not have been founded without the violent dispossession of the original owners. It is not automatic, but it would establish a precedent which would go far beyond the Mabo and Wik High Court decisions.

The Aboriginal people themselves, despite their often heroic political resistance which is demonstrated around the country, will be hard pressed to win such a demand on their own. The indigenous people must be joined by the organised Australian working class, the body which, if sufficiently organised and politically led, has the power to lend significant weight to all battles against the millionaire class. The Trade Unions have the resources, and the interest, to assist the Aboriginal people win their liberation as part of the struggle in leading workers against the onslaught of capital. On occasion in the past, some Unions have assisted the Aboriginal struggle. For example, it was marching Unionists in August 1996 which came to the aid of Aboriginal fellow demonstrators marching on the Federal Parliament. It was the MUA which primarily came to the defence of Palm Island hero Lex Wotton, who was charged with “riot” for justifiably rising up against yet another black death in custody. Yet these instances have been few and far between, not least due to the conservative and self-serving Union officials which preside over almost all Unions today.

While workers should give scant regard to the constitution of a capitalist state with regard to indigenous peoples (e.g. Australia), it is another story entirely when it comes to the constitution of socialist state. Indeed, socialist states in our region accord equal status and even special support for the maintenance and development of the culture of indigenous peoples, regardless of how small their numbers may be. For example, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam recognises 53 indigenous peoples within Vietnam, and its constitution states that all indigenous peoples (referred to as “ethnicities”) have the right to speak and write in their language, and to promote their culture.[5] The People’s Republic of China unites 55 indigenous peoples outside the majority Han people. Under its constitution, all minority nationalities are entitled to appropriate representation on the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the highest organ of state power in the world’s most populous nation.[6] The recognition and promotion of indigenous peoples and cultures in these cases has only been possible out of the waging of a successful workers’ revolution which has established a socialist republic. A socialist republic – the collective rule of the working class – has no material interest in the suppression of indigenous peoples. In fact, they are needed as equal partners. Not so for Australian capitalism, which has been built and maintained via the continual denial of their prior custodianship of the land. The oppression of the indigenous peoples can thus be finally ended by the overthrow of capitalist rule and the establishment of indigenous/non-indigenous workers’ power.

FOR A SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF AUSTRALIA!

Workers League

PO BOX 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

W: http://www.redfireonline.com

[1] http://www.australianstogether.org.au/stories/detail/the-stolen-generations (09-01-22016)

[2] http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/1301.0~2012~Main%20Features~Deaths%20in%20custody~73

[3] https://www.reconciliation.org.au/ (13-01-2016)

[4] http://chrisgrahamatlarge.com/2013/04/01/a-poor-mans-treaty-the-con-in-constitutional-reform/ (13-01-2016)

[5] http://vietnamnews.vn/politics-laws/250222/the-constitution-of-the-socialist-republic-of-viet-nam.html (16-01-2016)

[6] http://www.npc.gov.cn/englishnpc/Constitution/2007-11/15/content_1372965.htm (16-01-2016)