Hong Kong: US Fuels Right-Wing Sedition

A ceremony marking 16 years since the return of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn

Hong Kong: US Fuels Right-Wing Sedition

23-06-2019 – In recent months, Hong Kong has been subjected to demonstrations which ostensibly push for elementary democratic “reforms” which, if attained, will prevent the extradition of those charged with crimes to “mainland” China. The Western corporate media has, true to form, presented these protests as being “pro-democracy”.  Yet little could be further from the truth. In reality, the contrived unrest in Hong Kong is yet another attempt by US imperialism and its allies to prevent the integration of Hong Kong into the People’s Republic of China (PRC), through the backing of openly right-wing and often pro-colonial elements – some of whom seek a return to British imperial rule.

The corporate media description of the protests in Hong Kong – reportedly up to a million on the streets on June 9 – as “pro-democracy”, turns reality on its head. From 1843 until 1985, under British rule, there were NO elections of any kind. It was not until 1995 that elections of all positions in the legislative council took place.[1] Hong Kong was officially handed back to China in 1997, where the Hong Kong “Basic Law” was implemented – basically an agreement between the British government and the PRC to enable the return of Hong Kong which was seized by the British Empire during the time of the Opium Wars. Since that time, the 1949 socialist revolution in China overthrew capitalist rule, and ended China’s “century of humiliation”. Capitalism remained, however, in British administered Hong Kong.

Hong Kong “activists” funded by NED

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was set up as a front of the notorious CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) in the early eighties, after news of CIA involvement in blood soaked military coups became known. Today, the NED openly funds the misnamed Solidarity Centre and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs in Hong Kong.[2] Despite years of fact-free accusations against Russia for “meddling” in the 2016 US Presidential Election, Washington directly funds right-wing provocateurs in Hong Kong who seek to prevent Hong Kong’s re-integration into the culture it had been a part of for thousands of years. More than this, the US state department is seeking to retain capitalism in Hong Kong, as a means to undermine and prevent socialism in China from becoming even more economically and politically powerful than it is today.

The recent demonstrations in Hong Kong stem from the “Umbrella Revolution” in 2014, which was transparently backed by Washington, and it even led to the founding of a political party almost entirely backed from US shores. The “Demosisto” party in Hong Kong was launched in 2016 by 19 year old Joshua Wong, with no explanation as to why someone with almost no political experience could fund a party from out of nowhere.[3] Yet it had already been apparent that the West was financing and politically backing proxy forces in Hong Kong. In 2015, Freedom House held an event marking its 75th anniversary by honouring three generations of “democracy” activists in Hong Kong – Martin Lee, Benny Tai and Joshua Wong.[4] These “Occupy Central (Umbrella movement)” leaders were all beneficiaries of funding from those such as Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai. The Apple Daily head had slipped a cool HK $5 million the Hong Kong Democratic Party – whose founding chairman is none other than Martin Lee.[5] Can anyone imagine the outcry if Beijing created and funded an opposition party, in say, California? Or if Russia created and funded an anti-US party in Florida? Yet the opposite happens in relation to Hong Kong, but all the Western “democrats” remain silent.

Minor legal changes

The actual changes that are being proposed by Hong Kong’s legislature are relatively minor and probably should have been enacted as a matter of course years earlier. The bill is formally known as The Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019. It emerged as a result of a case where a pregnant woman was murdered in Taiwan and the perpetrator fled to Hong Kong to avoid being charged, as there is no extradition treaty between Taiwan and Hong Kong.[6] Despite being part of China, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) still has separate extradition arrangements with different countries. In effect, the protestors in Hong Kong today are protesting to prevent a murderer from facing trial. If the bill does not pass as a result of the protests, future murderers and others accused of serious crimes could flee to Hong Kong from other countries, and they would never face any form of justice. To paint these protests as benign and “pro-democracy” flies in the face of even bourgeois justice, let alone “democracy”.

To be sure, some in Hong Kong have legitimate grievances against the government, but they are more to do with the difficulties involved in finding affordable housing, work which is not exploitative and so on. Yet such issues do not aim to be addressed by the current Western backed protests – indeed they may worsen them. For all of their “democratic” rhetoric, these protests seek to retain the system of production for profit in Hong Kong, under the guise of warding off “authoritarianism” from Beijing. They do not wish to join with the rest of China in building a predominantly publicly owned and planned economy, which does not primarily run on the basis of production for profit. In fact, the publicly owned means of production on the basis of the workers’ state which emerged out of 1949 lays the basis for an economy which produces for human needs and jobs for workers as a first priority.

In reality, the current political leadership in China should abandon their pledge to retain capitalism in Hong Kong for 50 years after 1997. The fact that the West is now openly backing sedition in Hong Kong against Red China is more proof that agreements with Western governments will not ultimately be respected by imperialism. A more important goal for them is to prevent the rise of China’s gargantuan socialist state backed economy which is rapidly propelling it to the status of number one world superpower. Without endorsing all of the politics of the government in Beijing, workers internationally need to defend China and Hong Kong against the nefarious moves by US backed fronts to cut away its component parts. The interests of workers coincide with rising China, not with the fading but still dangerous US Empire.

 

Workers League

http://www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://www.liberationnews.org/what-is-happening-in-hong-kong/ (23-06-2019)

[2] https://www.ned.org/region/asia/hong-kong-china-2018/ (23-06-2019)

[3] https://journal-neo.org/2016/04/18/hong-kong-gets-new-us-backed-party/ (23-06-2019)

[4] https://freedomhouse.org/event/75th-anniversary-special-event-honoring-three-generations-hong-kong-democracy-activists (23-06-2019)

[5] https://journal-neo.org/2014/11/07/occupy-central-s-dirty-money-dirtier-leaders/ (23-06-2019)

[6] Ibid, 1.

Philippines: Liberals Cry Foul After Crushing Defeat

Supporters of President Duterte rally in Manila. Image from http://www.channelnewsasia.com

Philippines: Liberals Cry Foul After Crushing Defeat

25-05-2019 – The May 13 midterm elections in the Philippines delivered an unprecedented victory for the overwhelmingly popular President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies. At the time of writing, it is likely that allies of President Duterte will sweep all 12 Senate seats which were up for election[1], which represents a history making effort. Virtually all mid-term elections in the Philippines run against the incumbent government – but not this one. President Duterte, first elected President in 2016, is by now the most popular President in Filipino history.

Elections in the Philippines use a unique mixed-member majoritarian system, where a part of the legislature is elected through proportional representation and another part are elected from local districts. Unusually, candidates for the Senate compete against each other for a spot, even if they are members of the same party. This can lead to a situation where Senators transfer their political loyalties according to political developments. This partially explains how many elected members switched their allegiance to President Duterte’s party PDP-Laban (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng-Bayan) in 2016, creating the so-called supermajority in the House of Representatives.[2]

Defeated parties claim “fraud”

In Australia, some left parties – in defiance of their usual strident defence of “democracy” – line up with particularly unsavoury political elements in order to oppose President Duterte. The Socialist Alliance (SA), in its newspaper Green Left Weekly, retailed the claims of electoral fraud by the Partido Lakas Ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses – PLM). In the wake of their defeat, the PLM called for the dissolution of the Philippine electoral commission COMELEC and its replacement with an “independent” body. Independent from whom? The overwhelmingly popular President !  They bleated that COMELEC should be replaced by a “genuinely independent” body which is accountable to the people, not the President, which includes representatives of “grassroots people’s organisations, not the elite”.[3]

It takes some chutzpah for SA in Australia and the PLM in the Philippines to accuse President Duterte as being part of the “elite”. President Duterte’s commanding popularity amongst Filipino workers and poor masses occurs precisely because he is NOT seen as part of the elite. Certainly he is not a “trapo” (traditional politician), who for generations have been involved in direct or indirect corruption, and have come from wealthy backgrounds. President Duterte is the first President to hail from southern Mindanao, what was a poorer region in comparison to the industrialised northern Luzon region. And he is decidedly not in any way linked by any relations to wealthy Manila families such as the Aquinos. President Duterte reportedly doesn’t wear socks, and doesn’t know how to tie a necktie. He doesn’t appear to covet material wealth, and lives in a modest house. These idiosyncrasies are only just a part of why poor and working class Filipinos see him as one of their own, and back him so strongly.

It is difficult to avoid a conclusion that parties such as the PLM are claiming fraud in the elections not due to fraud occurring, but because they lost. They claim all kinds of voting irregularities to do with the vote counting machines, but the Philippines changed from a manual voting system to an automated voting system in 2007 – more than ten years ago. All of a sudden, after an election in which they rail against the supposed “tyranny” of President Duterte, they suffer a huge electoral defeat – and promptly claim “fraud”. In reality, the vast majority of Filipinos endorse and support their President who has been elected with a huge majority, and do not regard him as a “tyrant” at all.

SA in Australia, and the PLM in the Philippines, despite their claims of advocating “socialism”, line up with the real elite bourgeois opposition to President Duterte. For example, the Otso Diretso electoral ticket openly fanned the flames of chauvinistic anti-communism against Red China. Otso Diretso tenders baseless claims of Chinese “imperialism” in the South China Sea, and ludicrous declarations of a Chinese “invasion” of the Philippines. They claim that President Duterte is a stooge of Beijing – for not being willing to go to war against China !!  During the election campaign Otso Diretso members attempted to sail to the Scarborough Shoal in order to plant a Philippine flag – an act of blind anti-communist ultra-nationalism. They were not able to do so, having not gained permission from the Philippine Coast Guard. Instead they brought their flag-waving bigotry to the coastal town of Masinloc in Zambales.[4]

Fascism?

The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) join in with other left parties they usually criticise for reformism, such as SA, in denouncing President Duterte as “fascist” or using “fascistic” measures. In an article about the May 13 elections, the SEP incredibly compared the Duterte Youth to the Hitler Youth. They claim that the Duterte Youth declared in an election statement that they would “finish” those who worked with “rapist, criminal and terrorist comrades”.[5] The Duterte Youth are chasms away from being a fascist youth group who are targeting “communist” youth from a right-wing standpoint. They are certainly nationalist, and backers of President Duterte.[6] However, the armed “communist” groups in the Philippines are Maoists, rather than “communists”. This means they display no solidarity, and in fact engage in bitter enmity, with the Chinese workers’ state. In the context where it is the US state department which is provoking China in the South China Sea, and even attempting to use ISIS to destabilise President Duterte, it is the Maoists and the liberal “socialist” groups which form a right-wing bloc, rather than the Duterte Youth.

Liberals in the Philippines and internationally also use the label of “fascist” to describe President Duterte’s use of the police force in order to combat the drug problem in the Philippines. They use the universal “human rights” card in order to whip up a largely false scare campaign against President Duterte’s war on drugs. But this reeks of hypocrisy, especially when the campaign is backed by such fronts for US imperialism as Human Rights Watch (HRW).[7] HRW is the very same US state department backed organisation which prosecuted Washington and Riyadh’s barbaric war for regime change against Syria over the last 8 years. HRW repeatedly referred to Al Qaeda and ISIS elements as “rebels” fighting a supposedly just cause – when in fact they were death squads carrying out regular atrocities.

President Duterte’s war on drugs takes no prisoners, certainly. But it is a war against the drug dealers and the drug pushers, not those who become addicts as a result. And what the liberal opposition cannot dispute is that despite what seem to be harsh police measures, the majority of Filipinos recognise the problems hard drug prevalence was causing, and back Duterte’s stern measures to deal with the problem. Many Filipinos now recognise that the streets are safer at night, now that the heavy police measures have scared off many of those involved in the drug trade. Some employers are grateful, because some employees were telling them they didn’t want to go home late from work at night, for fear of being accosted by the drug pushers, some of whom were the tricycle drivers themselves.[8]

From any objective analysis, let alone a Marxist one, President Duterte’s administration cannot be described as “fascist”. Fascism means a precipitous environment where a capitalist ruling class has decided to dispense with the normal trappings of “democracy”, and forcibly disbands opposition – most especially trade Unions, socialist and left parties. Nothing of the sort is occurring in the Philippines. Liberals and fake left parties, combining with ruling class opposition to Duterte, are labeling something “fascist” out of desperation. This is because despite their hosannas to “democracy”, they are loathe to admit that in fact it is they who are in a minority, and the majority is behind the President. What is in fact occurring is that the domestic and international critics of President Duterte – such as the PLM in the Philippines, SA and SEP in Australia – oppose the Philippine government from the right.

Sinophobic and Russophobic opposition

Today’s New Cold War includes Sinophobia (fear of China) and Russophobia (fear of Russia). Both are forms of racism and anti-communism, even despite the overthrow of socialism in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) through capitalist counter-revolution in 1991-2. Reformist left parties in Australia, the Philippines and internationally are united with US backed NGOs and mainstream liberals in their bitter hostility to anything which approaches real socialism. Or, for that matter, political independence from Washington – which Moscow demonstrates in spades. This is why their political positions, despite denials, line up with the Pentagon and Wall Street. President Duterte, on the other hand, is immune from the illness of Sinophobia and Russophobia, and like many others, can see the declining economic and political power of the former “sole superpower”.

As a nationalist, Duterte is seeking what he sees as the best way forward for the Philippines. China’s gigantic socialist state backed economy is rising so rapidly that it is offering trade and investment partnerships to neighbouring and regional countries of mutual benefit. The US former hegemon is not in any position to offer anything remotely comparable, so its influence in the Pacific is waning. Duterte recognises this, and positions the Philippines to take advantage of it – and is denounced as a “Chinese agent” by the opposition. Worse than this, the liberal opposition castigate Duterte for taking measures to avoid a war with China! Hence, in the same way in which Obama and Clinton liberals in the US condemn US President Trump for avoiding a war with Russia, the liberal pro-US opposition condemn Duterte for avoiding a war with China. If there is any indicator that liberals (and fake “socialists”) in practice work for the opposite of the very values they claim, this is it.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the new parliament in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Duterte stated: “I am being criticised about the South China Sea. Am I prepared to go to war? I am not. Will we win the war? No. It will just create a massacre. I would lose my soldiers and policemen. If you attack China, its closest missile will hit Manila in seven minutes. Those fools want me to… We can’t do anything about it. That’s how it is. The United States will help???”[9] Not only is President Duterte determined to avoid a war with China (provoked by US imperialism); he is determined to ensure that the Philippines takes advantage of China’s economic largesse.

President Duterte has thus signed the Philippines up to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, or New Silk Road). At the recent Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, President Duterte inked a deal which would see China inject 12.2 billion US dollars into the Philippine economy.[10] Rather than conflict with China in the South China Sea, a deal was struck in which both the Philippines and China will cooperate to explore and utilise resources in the area. One can see how news of this would be received in Washington. In return, Washington politically and materially aids fronts posing as NGOs to in turn mount campaigns against the “tyranny” of President Duterte. Dutifully, reformist left parties follow suit.

If this wasn’t enough to cause consternation in the Oval Office of the White House, President Duterte has also tilted the Philippines towards Russia. Trade ties with Russia have been increased, with the Duterte administration actively enabling the Philippines-Russia Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation (JCTEC).[11] In addition, for the first time in history, the Philippines and Russia have engaged in military cooperation, in areas of international defence and security. Last month, Russian warships docked in Manila for a four-day friendly visit in what was the latest round of military cooperation.[12] This took place under President Duterte’s “friend to all, enemy to no one” approach to international relations. This means that while the Philippines will not ditch the traditional relationship with the US (somewhat fractious at times due to US colonial history in the Philippines); non-traditional allies will be sought and engaged. All of this sounds normal to rational people. Unfortunately, in an era of the decline of US economic and political power, Washington and their liberal allies are scarcely rational.

Defend Filipino sovereignty

There are other areas where the Duterte administration breaks new ground.  President Duterte seeks a Pan-Philippine federalism, where areas such as the Muslim south can take part as equals. To this end, the Bangsamoro region now has its regional parliament. He has sought to integrate Muslim Filipinos into the national dialogue, and win them away from extremism. President Duterte has also emphasised the freedom of religion which is guaranteed by Filipino law. The practical effect of this has somewhat undermined the authority of the Catholic Church in what has historically been a deeply Catholic country. To be able to confront the power and influence of the Catholic Church in the Philippines, without losing overall popularity, is a measure of the depth of support President Duterte commands.

Nevertheless, the aim of socialism is workers’ power in the Philippines, the Asia-Pacific and beyond. To this end, Marxists in the Philippines should remain in a temporary bloc with the Duterte Adminstration, while continuing to recruit to their own banner. This would take account of the popularity of the President, while seeking to forge the vanguard party needed to advance socialism internationally. Marxists internationally need to tread the line between defending Filipino sovereignty and striving for revolution.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

 

[1] https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/3010065/philippine-midterm-elections-unofficial-count-shows-all (25-05-2019)

[2] https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2019/05/13/1914710/fault-our-system-how-fix-elections-philippines (25-05-2019)

[3] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/philippines-election-dirtiest-decades (25-05-2019)

[4] https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/04/08/19/otso-diretso-bets-barred-from-scarborough-shoal (25-05-2019)

[5] https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/05/15/phil-m15.html (25-05-2019)

[6] https://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/03/06/17/voice-of-change-a-closer-look-at-the-duterte-youth (25-05-2019)

[7] https://www.hrw.org/tag/philippines-war-drugs (25-05-2019)

[8] https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2179753/his-silent-supporters-philippines-president-duterte-man-who-can (26-05-2019)

[9] https://eurasiafuture.com/2019/04/01/duterte-completely-rejects-war-against-china-and-calls-for-further-cooperation/ (26-05-2019)

[10] https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d3d774e79497a4d34457a6333566d54/share_p.html (26-05-2019)

[11] https://www.dti.gov.ph/exports/1071-main-content/moscow-news/11957-philippines-and-russia-follow-through-jctec-and-pv-initiatives (26-05-2019)

[12] http://www.arabnews.com/node/1478236/world (26-05-2019)

 

Federal Elections 2019: No Options for Working People

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

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

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

The fraud of “Change the Rules”

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

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

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

Ruling class limits participation

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

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

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

“Official” politics is repellent

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

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

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

Left parties inconsistent

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Julian Assange! Defend Basic Democratic Rights!

Free Julian Assange! Defend Basic Democratic Rights!

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

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

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

Basic democratic rights at stake

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

Liberals abandon Wikileaks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

West Papua: Independence Movement Spreads More False Claims

Map showing the location of the Nduga Regency in Papua.

West Papua: Independence Movement Spreads More False Claims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benny Wenda: fighter or fugitive?

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

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

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

Genocide in West Papua ?

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

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

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

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

“Leninist” Self-Determination

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

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

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

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

WORKERS   LEAGUE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[16] Ibid, 15.

Algeria: US Foments Destabilisation in Africa

Algeria: US Foments Destabilisation in Africa

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

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

Algeria tilts towards Russia, against NATO

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

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

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

Algeria signs onto the New Silk Road

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

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

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

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

AFRICOM – footprint of the US Empire

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

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

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

Left parties toe Washington’s line

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Real Climate Action: Expropriate Capital!

For Real Climate Action: Expropriate Capital!

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

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

Compromised NGOs lead climate activists to parliament

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

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

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

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

Driving the illusion of “100% renewable energy”

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

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

Red China leads the way

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

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

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

Left parties unite for climate – across classes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

International Working Women’s Day 2019

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

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

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

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

Profit system driving the collapse

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

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

Revolution the only way out

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

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

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

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

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

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

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

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

USA/AUST: Hands Off Venezuela!

Demonstration outside the White House against the US backed coup in Venezuela. Image from http://www.globalresearch.ca

USA/AUST: HANDS OFF VENEZUELA!
Workers to Power in Latin America
Statement of the Workers League

30-01-2019 – The Workers League condemns US and Australian imperialism for their open attempt at regime change in Venezuela, with their recognition of Juan Guaido’s self-declaration as President. Fresh from three years of accusing the Russian government – without a shred of evidence – of “meddling” in the US Presidential election of 2016, now both conservative and liberal wings of the US and Australian ruling classes brazenly attempt to subvert the 2018 election of President Nicolas Maduro, and install their own puppet, potentially (yet again) threatening the world with catastrophic war.

Most Venezuelans had reportedly never heard of Juan Guaido before he was elected the head of Venezuela’s national assembly. Now the whole world has, which looks on incredulously. Seemingly not even being aware of trying to appear to be rational, Washington and Canberra have been joined by the ruling cabals in London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid, who have repeated in unison that the Venezuelan government has “eight days” to call new elections – during which they will recognise Juan Guaido as interim leader of the country. To say this is an imperialist obliteration of national sovereignty would be stating the obvious. Not even the most outlandish spy novelist could write such fiction, yet this is reality.

The wounded beast of imperialism lashes out

Venezuela is the new target for regime change for Washington, after US imperialism arguably suffered its first defeat since the liberation of Vietnam in 1975 with its atrocious proxy war of regime change against the Syrian Arab Republic. The US was backed in this unspeakably barbaric war which hired the mercenaries of ISIS through the ruling classes of, inter alia, Britain, France, Canada, Australia and their allies in Saudi Arabia and Israel. Opposing this war was the Venezuelan government under both Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, along with the material assistance of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. Unable to publicly admit being behind ISIS, Washington has, for the moment, realised political and military defeat in Syria – even though they still operate US troops illegally on the ground. Smarting from being blocked primarily by Russia, the US masters of war now pick what they see as an easier target – Venezuela.

The same imperialist forces – utilising the nefarious NATO – also conducted regime change against Libya in 2011. Again the Venezuelan government under Chavez voiced strong opposition. However, on that occasion Russia abstained, and Libya – a nation with the then highest standard of living in Africa – was destroyed. Since that time, no state or government has been able to be restored, and black slavery – a practice ended by the republic led by Colonel Gaddafi – has returned. Many of the same Western funded cutthroats were then transported to Syria to repeat the dose.

The end of  “Socialism of the 21st Century”

Washington sees Venezuela now as an easier target due to the fact that the right-wing now has almost the same amount of support as does the “Bolivarian Revolution” – the process begun by President Hugo Chavez in 1998 and continued by Nicolas Maduro since 2013. How has this situation come about? Workers must be told the truth. For all of its gains for working people and the poor, the Bolivarian process was not socialist, even despite the self-described intentions of its protagonists. The Bolivarian “revolution” was actually an attempt to reform capitalism, primarily using the mechanism of cross-class elections. Time and time again, throughout history, the working class has learnt the lesson that capitalism cannot be voted out of power – it must be overthrown. Yet the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) had no intention of studying, let alone abiding by, these crucial lessons previously learnt by workers the world over. The theory of “Socialism of the 21st Century” – where supposedly workers no longer need to construct their own state, but only be elected into power – is now dead in the water. If US imperialism has its way, Venezuela will not only have its false “Socialism of the 21st Century” exterminated, it will return to a stage worse than when the Bolivarian “revolution” began.

Despite this, workers in Venezuela and internationally cannot afford to allow the Venezuelan government to be overthrown by Washington. While many huge steps forward need to be taken by workers in Venezuela, a major defeat could re-energise the US Empire, and even embolden it to trigger the wider war which some elements of its ruling class see as the only hope to counter the rise of Red China, and the independence of Russia. This is why workers internationally should demand that China – as the world’s pre-eminent socialist power – step up to the plate and offer a lead by materially blocking US moves to overthrow Venezuela. This is also why workers internationally should welcome the mooted moves by Russia and Iran to militarily intervene to defend Venezuela from black reaction.

Forward to real socialism

The immediate task, therefore, is not only to defend the sovereignty of Venezuela, as necessary as that is. It is also urgent to lead workers to power in Venezuela, and throughout Latin America. For US imperialism cannot in the least be halted by capitalist republics, no matter how “democratic”. Classes must be arrayed against one another, rather than fruitless attempts to unite the “people”. While workers must not obstruct the Venezuelan military forces where they take measures to ward off the US Empire, at the same time there must be left-wing political opposition built to the PSUV – a party which is conservative, bureaucratic and corrupt even according to its own supporters. Committees for workers’ power in every workplace, school and university need to be established wherever possible. The most class conscious of these elements should forge the Marxist vanguard party needed to win the best elements away from Chavismo and for a real revolution. US/AUST: HANDS OFF VENEZUELA!

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

 

Invasion Day 2019: Which Way to Justice?

Invasion Day 2019: Which Way to Justice?

26-01-2019 – As we move deeper into the 21st century, the general condition of the Aboriginal people, the original inhabitants and custodians of the continent which was later named Australia, remains precarious. A terrible reminder was the news that there were five Aboriginal youth suicides in the first weeks of the New Year, and a sixth was being treated in hospital after another attempt. Three were in Western Australia, in Perth, Port Hedland and Warmun, and one each from Adelaide and Townsville. Aboriginal children attempt suicide at five times the rate of non-indigenous children, and crushing poverty remains the largest driver of such tragic outcomes.[1] Homelessness, lack of healthcare, education and basic infrastructure for remote indigenous communities remains a critical problem, which no Australian government has even bothered to seriously address. Where Aboriginal people live in large urban areas, the systematic discrimination they face in housing, education and employment is a constant reminder of an oppression not faced by non-indigenous people and migrants who have made Australia their home.

In recent years, there has been a push to change the date of the marking of January 26 as Australia’s national day, due to the offensive nature of celebrating the founding of the nation on the very day which, in 1788, marked the beginning of a war by British colonialists against the Aboriginal people.  The movement to “Change the Date” had gained significant support amongst Australian people, with one poll showing that a slight majority – 56% would favour changing the date of Australia Day – provided there was a day which could be marked as Australia’s national day. The same poll had an overwhelming 84% of respondents stating it was important that Australia did have some day of commemoration and celebration.[2] As if to deliberately wind back this sentiment, Liberal Party Prime Minister Scott Morrison has weighed in on the side of reaction, with an edict that local councils must hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26. In addition, he has attempted to ban the wearing of thongs and board shorts at such ceremonies.[3] Apart from the clothing, this move is yet another express insult to indigenous people, and an attempt to derail the generally progressive steps behind the “Change the Date” movement. Labor Party Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has unsurprisingly joined with the Liberal Party in stating that January 26 will remain Australia Day with Labor on the government benches in Canberra.[4]

Abolish Australia Day?

Last year, the indigenous group Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR), put forward the demand “Abolish Australia Day”, counterposed to the demand “Change the Date”. WAR plays a tremendous organisational role, facilitating and enabling rallies and other events which drive the movement for Indigenous rights forward. However, we would argue that the tactics of WAR on this issue are mistaken, could lead to the groundswell of support behind “Change the Date” being nobbled, and risks alienating and turning away large numbers of people who would otherwise enthusiastically march side by side with Indigenous people. Without such mass support, the struggle for indigenous rights could become more difficult, and battles which could have been won may need to be fought again.

In one sense WAR are correct to imply that changing the date of Australia’s national day will not change the adverse material circumstances facing indigenous people. In one sense it will allow Australian nationalism to take place on another day of the year. But a mass movement which successfully changed the date of Australia’s national day would also be likely to enable a strengthening of the movement for justice for Aboriginal people, which would thereby engender more momentum behind the more far-reaching demands that are also necessary – such as a Treaty and genuine land rights. For example, a move by the Aboriginal rights movement now to abolish the result of the 1967 referendum would scarcely garner any support – and it is unlikely that any would argue that doing so would advance the Aboriginal justice movement today. In 1967, a referendum was passed which proposed to include Aboriginal people in the census, and to allow the federal government to make laws for Aboriginal people.[5] The passing of this referendum was imperfect, and not overly radical, in that it did not enact full equality between Aboriginal and non-indigenous people. However, it was a major boost for the further development of the Aboriginal rights movement – Aboriginals were officially recognised as people!  Arguably, it later enabled the movement for Aboriginal land rights to launch on the back of this victory.

Aboriginal nationalism versus white nationalism?

It is understandable that WAR spurn Australian identity, and even Australian citizenship, given the genocidal intent of the actual war which was waged against indigenous people by the colonial setter state, and continues in the form of systemic racism. WAR thus adopt Aboriginal nationalism as their credo, in opposition to Australian nationalism, or even white nationalism. Yet a separatist Aboriginal nationalism necessarily excludes the most important potential ally of the indigenous people – non-indigenous and migrant workers, who, while not experiencing the oppression of Aboriginal people, are nonetheless oppressed by the capitalism upheld by the very same colonial settler state. Non-indigenous and migrant workers have no option but to accept the Australian nationality, because it is imposed upon them. But this does not mean that they will automatically go on to adopt Australian nationalism or white nationalism. The development of working class politics – of which the Aboriginal struggle for justice is a component part – is the key to countering the development of harmful Australian or white nationalism. The degree to which working people of all resident nationalities struggle together with pro-working class indigenous people will condition the degree to which white nationalism can decisively be buried. More to the point, sustained efforts towards the overthrow of the system of production for private profit, and the initiation of socialism through the construction of working class state power, is what will finally defeat poisonous Australian and white nationalism.

Australian capitalism was founded on the dispossession of the Aboriginal people. Of this there is no doubt. WAR would no doubt agree with this fundamental proposition. However, WAR does not then go on to advocate the supersession of capitalism with socialism. WAR talks of combatting white nationalism, and allying with refugees, asylum seekers, homeless people, disabled people, Queers, Transgender people and non-white migrants to do so. But they fall short of seeking to ally themselves with the multiracial working class for the purpose of combatting the oppression of themselves and other oppressed sectors of society. Building progressive political movements – including the Aboriginal rights movement, as needed as they are, will only go so far. What is required for the ending the double oppression of indigenous people and the class oppression of non-indigenous people is the building of a multiracial vanguard workers’ party which leads a successful struggle for a workers’ republic.

In a Facebook post, WAR refer to the recent Nazi rally at St Kilda beach in Melbourne, in which ultra-right wing groups targeted African-Australians for racial harassment. They claim that the “white Nazi rallies are only able to happen because white liberalism paved the way”.[6] In this, WAR is only half correct. Liberalism, both black and white, paves the way for the potential rise of fascism. Nazism and/or fascism can only come about where the left has yet to form a workers’ party of sizeable influence, in response to the ongoing assaults against all of the oppressed by “free market” casino capitalism. If working people see no political alternative being offered to the virtually complete unanimity of the major parties, some workers will turn to the far right. Some will even embrace Nazism out of sheer desperation. Given the significant depression of the Western capitalist economies in Europe, the US and Australia since 2008, the problem of the absence of serious Marxist parties has reached a critical point. The growth of Nazism and the far right is one expression; the emergence of the “Yellow Vest” movement is another.

Prison abolition?

In addition to the “Abolish Australia Day” demand, WAR also put forward other demands working people can support. These include “Stop Black Deaths in Custody”, “Stop Taking Our Kids” and “Aboriginal Sovereignty NOT Constitutional Recognition”. At the same time, they also put forward the demand to “Shut Down Prisons”.[7] The demand for prison abolition is problematic, however. There is no disputing that the prisons are used to oppress indigenous people. One glance at statistics indicating the grossly disproportionate rate of Aboriginal incarceration in Australia will demonstrate this in spades. Over the last 10 years, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people jailed has risen 88%, with indigenous people now thirteen (13) times more likely to end up in prison. Aboriginal women now make up a staggering 34% of all female prisoners, which represents a 148% increase since 1991.[8] These figures are some of the highest in the world.

Workers must be clear, though, that these are the prisons of the capitalist (Australian) state. They are the same prisons which are used to imprison impoverished non-indigenous working people who have gone astray largely due to the difficulties of living in a society of extreme inequality. Yet the catastrophically high indigenous incarceration rates indicate how the capitalist state uses racial oppression to keep working people divided, to prevent them from joining together to rise against their state. Prisons, like the courts, the police, the armed forces, the intelligence agencies and the civil service bureaucracy are the key apparatus of the class rule of capital, wielded against working people. Calling for the abolition (or “shut down”) of prisons is in practice a demand for the capitalist state to abolish itself. Working people know that injustices abound in prisons, but they instinctively sense that in the struggle to overthrow capital’s enslavement of wage earners, some prisons may well be necessary. The state itself can only be “abolished” in a global classless society of super-abundance – the higher stage of socialism. To reach that stage, the working class must first replace the capitalist state with its own workers’ state. Such a state will likely have a need for its own prisons, as well as its own courts, its own armed forces and so on. Yet these key sections of a workers’ state will only be used to hold down the remnants of the old order – those who, for example, imprisoned Aboriginal people wholesale.

Critical support for “Change the Date”

In the face of the reactionary determination of Liberal PM Scott Morrison and Labor Party “Opposition” leader Bill Shorten to enforce January 26 as Australia’s national day, we argue that workers should give critical support for the demand to “Change the Date”. This of course does not preclude raising and fighting for more far reaching demands such as: a Treaty, a program of public works specifically offering employment for Aboriginal people, the fullest possible autonomy for Aboriginal communities who desire it, and the full provision of government services (water, electricity, housing, healthcare etc.) for those who do not. The “Change the Date” demand, ergo, does not even contradict WAR’s demand for “Aboriginal Sovereignty NOT Constitutional Recognition”. We can swing behind “Change the Date” while at the same time recognising that it does not go far enough.

Marxists maintain that nations emerged as a form of human community specific to the rise and consolidation of commodity-capitalist social relations. While there is no doubt that the Australian nation was and is founded on the brutal and horrific crimes of dispossession and war against the indigenous people, it does not follow that Aboriginal (or cultural) nationalism will therefore aid their emancipation. Nations are also an aggregation of irreconcilable classes, and the two major classes which are decisive are labour and capital. It is the rule of capital – private production based on private ownership of the means of production – which is the source of the oppression of both the Aboriginal people AND the working class. Aboriginal people can thus only be liberated alongside workers brought to political power.

This does not mean a simple merging of the Aboriginal struggle into the working class struggle for socialism. It does, however, mean a struggle to form a multiracial Leninist vanguard party, combined of the most class conscious workers, pro-working class Aboriginals and migrants of all backgrounds. Such a party will then champion Aboriginal rights as a component part of the international battle against the capitalist imperialism which threatens humanity itself. The revolutionary integration of the Aboriginal rights struggle with the workers’ cause will illuminate the path to reparative justice.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2019/01/15/indigenous-youth-suicide-crisis-point (20-01-19)

[2] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-18/australia-day-debate-more-than-half-dont-mind-changing-the-date/9337500 (20-01-19)

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jan/13/scott-morrison-forces-councils-to-hold-citizenship-ceremonies-on-australia-day (20-01-19)

[4] https://www.pedestrian.tv/news/bill-shorten-australia-day-january-26/ (20-01-19)

[5] https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australian-1967-referendum (20-01-19)

[6] https://www.facebook.com/events/2199768573624040/?active_tab=discussion (20-01-19)

[7] Ibid, 6.

[8] http://caama.com.au/news/2018/law-council-of-australia (20-01-19)