Hong Kong: Towards Capitalism or Socialism?

Flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)

Hong Kong: Towards Capitalism or Socialism?

25-08-2019 – As the staged provocations in Hong Kong enter their 12th week, it is becoming more obvious that the Blackshirt separatists have the (unofficial) backing of the US state department. It is likely that the violent pro-capitalist demonstrators have been given an assurance that they will continue to receive covert support if they do not let up with their efforts to destabilise Hong Kong. The aim appears to be to provoke a military response from Beijing, which, if it occurred, would again give the Western world the chance to manufacture another 1989 Tiananmen Square type propaganda coup.[1] One of the reasons that Julian Assange is now in prison facing possible extradition to the US is the fact that Wikileaks revealed that in 1989 in Beijing, there was no “massacre” in Tiananmen Square – it was manufactured by the West’s corporate media.[2]

This has not prevented Washington convincing almost half of humanity – or at least those who reside in the first world – that moves for “democracy” in China will be crushed by a “totalitarian communist government”. But as the People’s Republic of China moves to surpass the West economically, scientifically and technologically, more and more people are beginning to welcome the rise of the world’s largest socialist state. This is alarming for Washington, London, Canberra and other acolytes, as they need “their own” people in a state of fear and loathing of China, in order to shoehorn them back behind their capitalism – despite the fact that it is driving masses of working people further into poverty. Hence, the orchestrated attempted colour revolution in Hong Kong today, using black shirted pro-US separatists and/or revanchist pro-UK colonial footmen – and women.

Democracy?

The Western corporate media endlessly drone that “pro-democracy” protests are occurring weekly in Hong Kong. Hardly. Democracy in the abstract is a totally meaningless concept, unless it is connected with the political aims of a particular class. The politics and the class character of all movements must be analysed carefully – but the West’s paid scribes have no interest in doing so. This is because the class character of the separatist rioters in Hong Kong is clearly pro-capitalist and anti-socialist. The separatists sometimes claim left cover even while agitating for capitalism. For example, the separatists claim that Hong Trade Unions are supporting their movement. But there are two Trade Union bodies in Hong Kong. One is the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (HKFTU) – which has strongly opposed the often violent protests. It is the largest body of Unions, and 251 of its affiliated Unions have campaigned against the separatists’ call for a general strike.[3] On the other hand, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) has backed the anti-China protests, but they represent a much smaller body of workers, and only have 61 affiliated Unions.[4] They have joined with the bogus “Civil Human Rights Front” which co-ordinates the anti-Beijing demonstrations. However, it is no exaggeration to describe the HKCTU as “CIA Unions”, for there is evidence that they receive funding from the notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED),[5] the public relations arm of the CIA.

NED funding of “democracy activists” gives the game away wholesale. The US imperialist state is never interested in “democracy” or “human rights”, even in the most nebulous sense. They are about protecting and maintaining the interests of US based capital, regardless of the human cost anywhere on the planet. Aside from yellow “Unions”, the NED admits to spending $400 000 in funding for “democracy” advocates just in the year 2018.[6] There is little doubt that this has ended up in the hands of the right-wing “Civil Human Rights Front” directing the ugly and often violent anti-China demonstrations. What’s more, the dangerous targeting of those suspected of backing the Hong Kong police or China, even the elderly, is a sure sign that the separatists’ aims are not pure.

Central leaders of the separatists have been caught openly colluding with the US state department, who are essentially their benefactors. Joshua Wong and Nathan Law were photographed literally meeting with US embassy staff at the height of the protests.[7] Soon after, Nathan Law revealed that he was leaving Hong Kong, to study at the prestigious Yale University in the US.[8] Joshua Wong was the noted head of the “Demosisto” party which launched in 2016 in Hong Kong, when Mr Wong was then 19 years of age, and with little or no political experience. Given that Mr Wong was at that time too young to run for office in Hong Kong, it is apparent that the Western corporate media did not wish to admit that the Demosisto “party” was patently another front funded by the NED.[9]

“Independence” – code for capitalism

The other fraudulent claim about the separatist protests is that they are a legitimate move for independence. As in so many other “independence” claims – such as the one in Tibet – in reality the call for independence is a rallying cry for counter-revolution. In other words, those in favour of “independence” in Tibet or Hong Kong are in fact protagonists for capitalism, who aim to break away from the socialism the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has created. In Hong Kong, this is masked by the yet more fraudulent call for “universal suffrage”. Here the call is for separate electoral and political laws to mainland China – to which Hong Kong is in the process of being integrated. Hong Kong certainly did have separate political reality to mainland China when operated by British imperialism until the handover in 1997. During this time, there were no elections, no elected government, no right to a minimum wage, no right to decent housing or healthcare and definitively no freedom of the press or freedom of speech.[10] This was capitalism, British imperial style. And yet some of the separatists today wave the Union Jack!

If it ever were to occur, an “independent” Hong Kong would be entirely dependent on the US and the UK – precisely what the right wing separatists desire. But it is a pipe dream that the PRC will give up on Hong Kong, especially after the completion of the high-speed rail link from West Kowloon to Shenzhen and Guangzhou, which opened on September 23, 2018. It links Hong Kong with 44 mainland China rail stations, and is part of the largest high speed rail link in the world.[11] For a road link, try the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai Bridge, the longest sea-spanning bridge in the world, built at a cost of 20 billion dollars.[12] Together, the high speed rail link and the mega-bridge will permanently connect Hong Kong to mainland China, irrespective of the reactionary desires of Hong Kong separatists and their imperial backers. The deep state operatives of the US and the UK know this, which is why they pin their hopes on triggering anti-socialist political unrest, which they hope will politically destabilise Hong Kong, and then spread into mainland China.

Who holds power in the PRC?

In referring to the PRC’s socialism, we do not infer that there are no concerns or political problems for Chinese workers. The PRC is socialist to the extent that there is a predominantly nationalised and planned economy, which is underpinned by a workers state which was the vital gain of the 1949 socialist revolution. The PRC is socialist insofar as the key state apparatus – the police, the courts, the civil service, the armed forces – uphold and defend the working class rule which emerged out of the victorious revolution led by the Communist Party of China (CPC). Workers in China hold state power and economic power – yet political power remains elusive. For now, political power is exercised by a conservative and nationalist caste, inside and outside the CPC. This caste blocks workers from exerting political decision making power, in relation to domestic and international matters.

At the same time, Chinese workers benefit from the gains of socialism in China, and not only economically. Additionally, workers internationally benefit from the gargantuan economic power of the PRC, which even props up and drives economic growth in its trading partners – including Australia. Without trade from China, Australia’s capitalist recession would be much worse than it is now. Workers in South East Asia also benefit from the planned extension of further trade and integration with the PRC – which results in the US state department frantically attempting to fund “opposition” parties in Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar, amongst others. What drives the huge economic growth in China – which has averaged 9% per year, every year, for 30 years – is the fact that the major means of production in China are state owned or majority state owned. They do not have to run at a profit. The PRC government can use them to build the economy by providing employment for workers – something for which no capitalist enterprise could ever exist.

The CPC is politically based on distortions of “Marxism-Leninism”, the twin pillars of which are the mistaken theories of “socialism in one country” and “peaceful coexistence”. Yet the very disturbances we see in Hong Kong over the last three months are another reminder of the falsity of these theories, which have little in common with Marxism or Leninism. Under the theory of “socialism in one country”, it is posited that a workers state can arrive at an agreement with imperialism that they should be left alone, to build “their own” socialism, while the imperialists continue building capitalism in their country.

Marx and Lenin, had they lived, would have scoffed at the very suggestion that imperialism could be trusted at any time, let alone be trusted to leave you alone for years or decades. Capitalism must expand or die, and it cannot expand sufficiently within the borders of “their own” countries. Capitalism cannot expand within its own borders, mainly because it cannot raise the standard of living of “its own” workers beyond a certain level. Competition for an adequate rate of profit means they must drive down wages, not raise them. Hence they constantly seek new fields of capital plunder overseas. If any government resists, they must be subverted, undermined or overthrown – via imperialism.

Defend the PRC

The imperialists know that they cannot overthrow the PRC directly, due to its huge population, and also because the PRC retains a necessary nuclear defence. As remote as the possibility seems, imperialism must try regardless. Funding and backing pro-capitalist dissidents in Hong Kong is just one strategy they employ – making a mockery of the theory of “peaceful coexistence”. The imperialists will not, and cannot, think of peacefully existing with a socialist state. In fact, as we know, ANY state – not just a workers state, which does not sufficiently bow to the will of Washington, can expect to be targeted for regime change sooner or later. The vast and relentless funding of “democracy” activists in Hong Kong by the governments of the US and the UK will not stop until real workers power is extended from the mainland. Standing in the way of this, however, is the distorted “Marxism-Leninism” of the CPC.

Despite this, workers in China and Hong Kong and internationally, have a vital stake in defending the PRC against the reactionary intrigues of Western imperialism. The Western media is currently in a frenzy, whipping up anti-China hysteria to an extremely dangerous level. It is becoming clear that Washington, London and Canberra are preparing us for a catastrophic war with Red China. The only disagreement amongst the capitalist ruling classes is when to begin. To do this though, they need to saturate the working class with any and all anti-socialist propaganda they can muster. If this is carried on at fever pitch for a number of years, there may be little working class resistance to the launch of what could be “mutually assured destruction”.

Workers in Australia and internationally need to insure that imperialist propaganda, and their preparations for war, fall flat. This should be done by exposing the hypocrisy of the US flag waving separatists in Hong Kong, defending the PRC against “our own” ruling class, and by striving to forge working class parties based on genuine Leninism – true internationalism. The defence of the PRC workers state must be linked to our struggles for our own workers state, as the first step towards a classless socialist society.

WORKERS   LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://chinarising.puntopress.com/2019/07/24/tiananmen-redux-west-pushing-baba-beijing-to-send-pla-into-hong-kong-china-rising-radio-sinoland-190724/ (17-08-2019)

[2] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8555142/Wikileaks-no-bloodshed-inside-Tiananmen-Square-cables-claim.html (17-08-2019)

[3] http://www.fightbacknews.org/2019/8/17/hong-kong-protests-are-attack-socialism?fbclid=IwAR2tVik0YpoOqgXaBdOsfYW8ljNjbDXuaCavox0XTIv1eb57srN8aE7SFcA (21-08-2019)

[4] Ibid, 3.

[5] https://www.mintpressnews.com/hong-kong-protests/259202/ (21-08-2019)

[6] https://www.ned.org/region/asia/hong-kong-china-2018/?fbclid=IwAR1PzFM6XJXl_aQPilORsVyep2F3Vjsx-pahxdCzIR3mWFo5sl3h0fqpv6Y (21-08-2019)

[7] https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-08-08/U-S-organization-accused-of-funding-violent-HK-protesters-IZmV4qHTWg/index.html (21-08-2019)

[8] https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-08-16/Leader-of-violent-protests-leaves-HK-for-U-S–Jd91H7TJLi/index.html (21-08-2019)

[9] https://journal-neo.org/2016/04/18/hong-kong-gets-new-us-backed-party/ (21-08-2019)

[10] https://www.workers.org/2019/08/16/whats-behind-hong-kong-protests/ (21-08-2019)

[11] https://multimedia.scmp.com/native/infographics/article/2172120/high-speed-rail/ (24-08-2019)

[12] https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/hong-kong-zhuhai-macau-bridge-travel-tips/index.html (24-08-2019)

Algeria: US Foments Destabilisation in Africa

Algeria: US Foments Destabilisation in Africa

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

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

Algeria tilts towards Russia, against NATO

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

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

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

Algeria signs onto the New Silk Road

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

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

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

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

AFRICOM – footprint of the US Empire

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

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

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

Left parties toe Washington’s line

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Map highlighting West Papua. Image from RNZ

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

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

Embedded regime change media

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

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

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

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

What did happen in Nduga?

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

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

Independence for West Papua?

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

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

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

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

United Nations – a double edged sword

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

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

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

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

[7] Ibid, 1.

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

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

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

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

[12] Ibid, 11.

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

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

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)