Jobs for All Workers and…..Stop Adani!

The Black-Throated Finch faces extinction if the Adani mine goes ahead. http://www.abc.net.au

Jobs for All Workers and….Stop Adani!

02-06-2019 – The proposed Adani mega coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, beset from the off by a political campaign to prevent it, has now been given a new lease of life. Pumping blood back into the veins of what will arguably be Australia’s greatest environmental crime is none other than the Labor Party. In the immediate aftermath of the federal Labor Party losing the unlosable election,[1] Queensland Labor Party Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk has moved to accelerate the construction of the mine by demanding a definite timeframe[2] for the building of an ecological nightmare. Since then, Adani’s supposed plan for the preservation of the endangered black-throated finch – a smoke and mirrors archetype – has been approved by the state government, weeks after it was initially rejected.[3]

It is blatantly obvious that the Queensland Premier is reacting to the federal election loss by the Labor Party. Voters in central and north Queensland, desperate for jobs after suffering 25% unemployment in areas such as Townsville, swung to the Liberal National Party presumably on the promise that the Adani coal mine would produce at least some jobs which would stimulate the rest of the economy in those areas. Queensland voters will go to the polls in a little over 12 months, and Premier Palaszczuk holds on to a slim margin in government. In fact, the Queensland Labor Party only scraped home in the last election after Premier Palaszczuk during the campaign announced that it would block a 1 billion loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) due to a possible conflict of interest. Her partner at the time was working for Price Waterhouse Coopers, which was involved in Adani’s application for the loan.[4]

This gave the perception that the Labor Party was withdrawing support for the Adani mine – which is hugely unpopular – apart from economically devastated areas of central and north Queensland. This is little more than an illusion. The Labor Party has always been strongly pro-Adani, but has hedged its bets in public statements. For example, aside from the NAIF loan, before the Federal Election the Labor Party ensured Adani received a $400 million taxpayer funded loan, promised to build a $100 million access road, and approved a 60 year unlimited water licence. If this was not enough, the Labor Party has not ruled out extinguishing the native title of the Wangan and Jagalingou indigenous people – who have never approved even the start of the Adani mega mine.[5]

Carbon vortex

It is impossible to understate the environmental damage which will be caused by the Adani mine alone, let alone the other mines slated for construction in the Galilee Basin. The Labor government has approved the use of 12.5 billion litres of water every year from the Suttor River, which compares to 15.4 billion litres of water for all other agricultural users combined.[6] This is on top of an unlimited amount of groundwater from the Great Artesian Basin – when of course groundwater is specifically not unlimited. The Adani mine is slated to produce 60 million tonnes of coal per year, all of which will be transported through the Great Barrier Reef.[7] It is estimated that if all of the Galilee Basin coal is burnt, it will release 705 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, which represents 1.3 times Australia’s total carbon emissions.[8] For comparison, the projected carbon emissions just from the Adani mine would be three times the annual carbon emissions from New Delhi, twice those of Tokyo, six times that of Amsterdam and 20% more than New York City.[9]

The Adani corporation itself is a poster boy for the degeneracy of capitalism. It is basically a corporate criminal, which has repeatedly been charged with tax avoidance, environmental damage, and bribery of government officials – not that the Labor Party needed bribing. The Adani corporation has 26 subsidiaries in Australia, 13 of which are owned through the Cayman Islands. Adani mining poisoned a river in Zambia, and then hid this from the Australian government. In 2011, Adani sunk a coal ship off the coast of Mumbai, causing a massive oil spill. Adani made no attempt to clean up the mess for five years.[10] Socialists are aware that ALL capitalist corporations are unscrupulous, to say the least, but Adani takes the cake for its lawless and reckless behaviour.

Jobs illusion

Regardless of the unquestionable scale of the climate emergency, it is acknowledged that working people need jobs to survive as a first priority, to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. It is understandable to some extent that workers will first lend their political support to any party or part of government where they may perceive that more or better jobs will be the result. This is especially the case in regional Queensland, where youth unemployment levels are at stratospheric levels. A national youth unemployment rate of 12% compares to a 67.1% youth unemployment rate in outback Queensland, and 27.7% in Wide Bay.[11] The official, and grossly underestimated official unemployment rate in Townsville is 8.21%,[12] but it is reportedly more like 25%.

In these desperate circumstances, some workers can latch on to ANY economic development that might occur, which MAY lead to the prospect of ongoing employment. Yet the Adani mine will not produce the jobs they are seeking. Adani – and the Queensland Labor government, first trumpeted that the Adani mine will create “10 000” jobs. This was a bare-faced lie. Adani later admitted that the Carmichael mine will only create around 1500 jobs during the construction phase. Recently, National Party leader and backer of Adani, Bridget McKenzie, admitted that the Carmichael mine will only create “around about 100” ongoing jobs![13] Why? Because Adani itself has stated that the mine will automated “from pit to port”. That is, even the trucks transporting the coal will be driverless. In Queensland, coal mining only accounts for 1.1% of the workforce. Even in North Queensland, 96% of the workforce is NOT employed in an industry that is related to coal mining.[14]

The vast scale of unemployment and the climate catastrophe of global warming are linked. Both are outcomes of the current phase of the system of generalised commodity production where there is private ownership of the means of production. The profit system is at an impasse in all countries where the rule of capital has not been overthrown. To combat this, workers should seek to push their Unions into demanding a shorter working week with no loss in pay. Working hours should be reduced as far as is necessary to obtain full employment. A key demand would be for a 30 hour week – or a six hour day. In addition, workers should demand their Unions lead a struggle for a massive program of public works, to build the sorely needed public infrastructure and health care systems working people need. All workers have the right to decent and secure jobs which provide an adequate standard of living. If the capitalist system cannot provide this, then let it perish.

Stop Adani campaign crashes

The fact that the Adani coal mine is now going ahead at full steam, despite overwhelming public sentiment against it, is proof positive that corporate environmental and “activist” NGOs directly achieve the opposite of what they claim to combat. Despite two solid years of effort, and with history on its side, the official Stop Adani leadership organised barely even one mass action that could have begun a process of exerting serious political pressure. Instead, smaller and “targeted” actions were prioritised, many to coincide with the activities of the bourgeois parliament and their elections. Why was this? Even a brief look at their website reveals they are linked to the “Sunrise Project”, another corporate environmental NGO with a staff chock full of ex-company directors and business high-fliers.[15] Their aim is simply to have capitalism switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and that’s it. The plethora of injustices that the rule of the stock market imposes on working people, the unemployed and the homeless mean nothing to them – and why would it? As long as “free enterprise” continues, they can continue to haul in huge salaries as hangers on to big business, albeit one that claims to be fossil fuel free.

The notorious GetUp! also played a similar role, selectively mobilising their supporters for slick photo-ops at selected locations, while avoiding allowing people who wanted to help any say in what was being planned. GetUp!, despite public denials, is inextricably linked to the Labor Party. GetUp! targets the Liberal Party over Adani, while going soft on the Labor Party by organising pleading petitions to them, in the vain hope that Labor Party politicians will change their mind.[16] They were aided in this strategy by “baby GetUp!” – the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), who organised the “Student Strikes 4 Climate” in the lead up to the Federal Election. They explicitly had a whole campaign organised as the “climate election”.[17] They deceive some indigenous people by organising SEED[18] along the same lines.

The campaign to stop Adani did not fail (so far) because the Liberal Party won the Federal Election. It failed because the conservative leadership of the stop Adani campaign – Stop Adani/GetUp!/AYCC – directed the entire campaign into lobbying the very politicians who had already approved it. But this flows from their politics. Despite the apparent differences of opinion between the Adani corporation and Stop Adani/GetUp!/AYCC, the fact remains that all of them remain staunch partisans of the capitalist system. The only difference is that one wants to continue to use fossil fuels for energy, while the others wans to use “100% renewable energy” (yet 100% renewable energy is another illusion).

Stop Work to Stop Adani

Despite the fact that it is possible to stop the Adani mine this side of the overthrow of capitalism, effectively anti-capitalist methods will need to be used. Most especially, there will be a need for workers around the country to strike against the construction of new coal mines. Other forms of mass action to involve people, such as large demonstrations, will be crucial also, but workers will be key. The banks can sustain any number of weekend rallies against Adani – as necessary as they are. But the capitalist state does not really view a protest movement as an economic liability until workers are prepared to “down tools”. Then it becomes a matter of who exactly is in charge.

Standing in the way of this are the conservative Union officials, almost all of whom have not uttered a word of opposition to the Adani abomination. An exception is Bob Carnegie, the leader of the Queensland branch of the Maritime Union of Australia, which merged with the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU).[19] However, Mr Carnegie has at the same time actively promoted a vote for the Labor Party amongst his members – which grates against working class progress. The fact is that to have any chance of succeeding, i.e., in stopping the Adani mine, the movement will need to split, not unite, with the entirety of the pro-capitalist stop Adani political leadership. This means a political break with the corporate NGOs (Stop Adani/GetUp!/AYCC/SEED), the capitalist state and all of its parliamentary parties – the Labor Party, but also the Australian Greens. It’s true that the Greens stated opposition in words to Adani – but as parliamentarists they barely contribute to extra-parliamentary action.

There is still time to stop Adani. Overall though, working people need to draw the conclusion that to have any chance of preventing the civilisation bus careering over a cliff, the economic and political power of capital will have to be toppled. In its place workers will need to erect their own state, administered by their own government, which will socialise the means of production and collectively plan the economy to meet the needs of all those who labour. And this revolution requires the leadership of a Marxist vanguard party.

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

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

[1] https://redfireonline.com/2019/05/19/liberalism-at-a-dead-end-alp-loses-the-unlosable-election/ (01-06-2019)

[2] https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/queensland/everyone-s-had-a-gutful-queensland-premier-wants-time-frame-on-adani-20190522-p51q0r.html (01-06-2019)

[3] http://theconversation.com/adanis-finch-plan-is-approved-just-weeks-after-being-sent-back-to-the-drawing-board-118114 (01-06-2019)

[4] https://www.sbs.com.au/news/palaszczuk-vows-to-pull-queensland-government-from-adani-loan (02-06-2019)

[5] https://redflag.org.au/node/6794 (02-06-2019)

[6] https://junkee.com/adani-river-water-licence/176102 (02-06-2019)

[7] https://junkee.com/adani-ad-coal-fairfax/114375 (02-06-2019)

[8] https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/adanis-ticking-carbon-bomb/ (02-06-2019)

[9] https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/adani-coal-mine-eco-crime-heres-why/ (02-06-2019)

[10] https://adanifiles.com.au/#key-finding (02-06-2019)

[11] http://library.bsl.org.au/jspui/bitstream/1/10573/1/BSL_Unfair_Australia_Mapping_youth_unemployment_hotspots_Mar2018.pdf (02-06-2019)

[12] https://economy.id.com.au/townsville/unemployment (02-06-2019)

[13] https://theaimn.com/bridget-mckenzie-revealed-the-adani-jobs-lie-and-no-one-noticed/?fbclid=IwAR1Oy7S_kT4ChOeIHlWa1BmRJHzqLQvQgr8E6M_LnWms51Iv_3Yf6DCM7iQ (02-06-2019)

[14] Ibid, 13.

[15] https://sunriseproject.org.au/people/ (02-06-2019)

[16] https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/great-barrier-reef–3/stop-adani/stop-adani-s-dodgy-reef-destroying-mine (02-06-2019)

[17] https://www.aycc.org.au/climate_election (02-06-2019)

[18] https://www.seedmob.org.au/ (02-06-2019)

[19] https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/queensland-unionist-urges-labor-to-put-climate-action-ahead-of-coal-jobs-20190525-p51r4i.html (02-06-2019)

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

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

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

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

Catastrophe of “Change the Rules”

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

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

The fraud of “Vote Climate”

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

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

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

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

WORKERS  LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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)

Break Anti-Union Rules!

Break Anti-Union Rules!    Statement of the Workers League

20-11-2018 – The Australian labour movement has a long and proud history, which has won substantial gains for working people for over 100 years. Weekends, public holidays, four weeks annual leave, leave loading and many other basic working conditions were won through powerful and well organised Unions since the 1890s. But it is no secret that the Union movement has never been under greater attack than it is now. The capitalist financial crisis which began in 2008 has barely let up, resulting in the “captains of industry” pushing to remove hard won working conditions that many had taken for granted. The right of Union staff to enter workplaces to speak with workers is restricted and in some cases completely absent. Decent penalty rates – the right to be compensated for working weekends and public holidays –  have been removed for hospitality workers, and if there is no fightback, will inevitably be removed from other industries one by one. Employers only need argue in a court which is already stacked in their favour, that there is little reason why they should pay them when other employers are not.

Change the Rules = elect the ALP

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is currently pushing the “Change the Rules” campaign, with rallies taking place in many cities around the country throughout November. It is purported that this campaign aims to change the Industrial Relations (IR) laws, which now are heavily tilted in favour of employers, to IR laws which guarantee basic rights and entitlements for workers. But the “Change the Rules” campaign is a gigantic scam, a common ruse to elect the Australian Labor Party (ALP) to federal government. The ALP in government, however, from 2007 to 2013, barely changed the “Work Choices” legislation of the Howard Liberal government, putting in place an Orwellian named “Fair Work Australia”. The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) – a body designed almost wholly to take down the power of the building and construction Unions – remains. It has been joined by the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) – a government body which has the power to de-register Unions, and even decide who can be an official of a Union. Needless to say, the ALP has given no undertaking that it will make any move whatsoever against these anti-Union arms of the state.

The corporate employer class is already getting away with murder – in the case of the construction industry, sometimes literally. Unpaid overtime is widespread through several industries. Outright wage theft, where workers are being paid way below what they are legally entitled to, is rampant. In areas where there are different classifications and thus different pay levels, employers are often simply giving workers jobs which are above their classification, and expect them to be done without any extra pay. Health and Safety in many industries is regarded as a cost by employers, which can be ignored regardless of the dangers posed to workers, or even the public. Casualisation is now at unprecedented levels, with around 40% of the workforce in temporary or contract employment. Not only does this mean casual staff have no right to any paid leave, they are almost powerless to demand basic workplace rights, due to the very real threat of being removed from the workplace at the drop of a hat. Wages themselves, are the lowest they have ever been in Australian history, in terms of purchasing power.

Win by breaking unjust rules

The business and employing class clearly feel no compunction for blatantly breaking industrial laws, many of which were written for their benefit. In fact, many employers’ actions are lawless as a matter of routine, with reckless regard for the consequences. In response, the only chance workers and Unions have of winning back the rights that have been stripped, and holding the employers to account for the laws that they flagrantly breach, is to openly defy the laws which allow this to occur. This means taking strike action – whether or not the “rules” allow for this. If any worker or Union is taken into custody for taking strike action – then the strike in response must be expanded further and further. In fact, it will be necessary to strike for the right to take strike action. Almost all gains won by Unions in this country were won through the use of the strike weapon. No rules were ever changed by pleading with the rule writers to change them – and this is especially going to be the case for industrial laws.

Standing as a clear obstacle to this perspective is the conservative Union bureaucracy, chock full of careerist Union officials – many of whom are actually members of the ALP. With a few exceptions, the Union officials, from the ACTU down to local Union secretaries, have a material interest in herding workers within the bounds of what is acceptable to the profit system. Thus they consciously attempt to imbue workers with an outlook which is in stark contrast to their basic needs. If the business class says that penalty rates must go, or livable wages must go, or basic health and safety conditions must go, or the right to permanent employment must go – then workers must respond by saying that if this is the case, it is capitalism itself which must go!  This basic defence of working people is anathema to the Union officials, who are handsomely paid to shepherd workers behind the parliament, and/or, the Labor Party.

The truth workers need to know is that, in fact, the IR “rules” are doing precisely what they are intended to do – to ensure the flow of obscene profits to private capital, in an era of profound international crisis for the capitalist system. The “rules” ensure that workers pay the price through the destruction of manufacturing, the privatisation of public services and the disappearance of secure employment. To turn this around, what is required are the building of rank and file networks throughout all Unions which exclude officials and paid Union staffers. Within these rank and file committees, class struggle militants and socialists need to push for a complete break with the Labor Party and all arms of the employers’ state – arbitration commissions, courts, parliaments, the lot. A class struggle leadership of the Unions would fight for a shorter working week with no loss in pay, for permanent jobs for all, and for Union control of hiring and training. This is bound up with efforts to forge a genuine workers party. Such a party would fight for a socialist order which abolishes the entire system of wage slavery via the rule of workers councils and public ownership of the major means of production. BREAK ANTI-UNION RULES!

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66    NUNDAH  QLD   4012

What’s Wrong with “Safe Access Zones” ?

What’s Wrong with “Safe Access Zones” ?

28-07-2018 – The government passes new legislation which ensures women can enter reproductive health care clinics to access abortion and other services, without harassment by “pro-life” fundamentalists opposed women choosing their life outcomes. Sounds fantastic – or is it?

As with other political issues, the truth is always concrete. While those on the left uphold the right of women to choose whether or not to bear children, the particular political circumstances of the “safe zones” being legislated by the New South Wales (NSW) Australian Labor Party (ALP) government have to be studied closely. Especially as they may be soon followed in Queensland by the current ALP government.

Emma Norton from the left party Socialist Alternative, first raised the problems with “Safe Access Zones” in an article in Red Flag.[1] The author correctly notes that “Safe Access Zones” are areas where any protests are banned within 150 metres of health care clinics where abortion services are provided, and that they have been written into law in Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, and most recently in NSW. While in theory designed to protect women, they conveniently set up yet another restriction on the right to protest – a democratic right which has rapidly been eroded under the impact of the economic decline of capitalism since the “financial” crisis of 2008. Along with the right of workers to strike being effectively outlawed, the left can scarcely afford to flag wave for yet another restriction on the very limited bourgeois democratic rights working people are allowed under “liberal democracy”.

There appears to be debate in Socialist Alternative on this issue, for Daniel Lopez struck back with a comment piece arguing in favour of the “Safe Access Zones” even if they are enforced by the capitalist state. Socialists are not libertarians, he writes, and socialists do not oppose all measures enforced by a state authority.[2] While it is true that socialists do not oppose state authority per se, again the truth is concrete. Firstly, what type of state is exercising authority – a capitalist state or a workers state? Secondly, for what reason is this taking place, and how should workers analyse this? The “Safe Access Zones” are being legislated in a parliament which is one of the strongest ideological apparatus in the hands of the capitalist ruling class. What is more, “Safe Access Zones” have to be enforced by the most viciously anti-working class arms of the capitalist state – the cops. On all other issues, socialists warn workers to be wary of the police, who are ultimately paid to protect the private property of the wealthy elite classes. If now, on the issue of “Safe Access Zones” the left advises workers to trust the police “just this once” – the political line breaks down.

Despite our sharp political disagreements with Socialist Alternative on other issues, we view Emma Norton’s line as being on point. She correctly highlights the fact that the ALP including “Safe Access Zones” in its legislative efforts are a cover for that party of government’s failure to ensure free, safe abortion on demand as a part of the health care system. The Queensland ALP’s proposed legislation could be described as partial decriminalisation, as it is only allowable up to 22 weeks of gestation. What is more, Labor Party Members of Parliament (MPs) are being given a conscience vote on the issue.[3] This cop-out allows more conservative Labor Party MPs to oppose the bill, lessening its chances of being passed. The three Katter’s Australia Party (KAP) MPs have stated their opposition, and intention to oppose Liberal and Labor Party MPs to vote against as well.

On occasion, Socialist Alternative grasp the class nature of the capitalist state. The Socialist Alliance, on the other hand, we would argue, consistently struggle to understand this area of Marxist theory. Kamala Emanuel, in response to Emma Norton’s original Red Flag article, follows with a Green Left Weekly article which appears blind as to just who will enforce the no protest “Safe Access Zones”. She writes:

“Neoliberal governments have been attacking workers and our rights to organise, and we need to defend ourselves from those attacks.

But Norton’s argument against safe zones rests on the absurd notion that we cannot demand the state support our rights — in this case to access health care without harrassment. She misses the signifiance of the new law as one more step in the direction of winning abortion access in NSW, and the ripple effects it will have on securing abortion rights in other states.”[4]

“….we cannot demand the state support our rights”, writes Emanuel. But it is not just any state – in this case it is a capitalist state, armed to the teeth with cops – who are routinely used against working class and the poor and downtrodden. The “Safe Access Zone” legislation, where it has been used, means no protest, by the left or the right. But the capitalist state is not neutral – this is also in the ABCs of Marxism. For every one step taken against the right, the capitalist state will take ten steps against the left. For the left to endorse swinging cop batons “for now” or “only on this issue”, won’t cut it.

If, as Green Left Weekly hopes, this will be used as “one more step in the direction of winning abortion access”, it will also increase political demands by the right for more no protest zones – even if under the name of “Safe Access”. If the left rallies behind effective no protest zones, under the guise of the protection of women entering reproductive health care clinics, the right will have much more political capital to demand the left allow another no protest zone on other issues, and at other locations. Pretty soon, no protest zones could be in place up and down the length and breadth of the country. In fact, it could lead to no protest zones being declared across entire regions. Needless to say, this would throw back the class struggle of the workers into decades past.

The Labor Party are not saviours for the workers – their history over the last 30 years at least should attest to that. They are smart enough to dangle a small reform in front of pro-choice campaigners, to throw dust in the eyes of some, and feed whole swathes of liberals and reformists, shepherding them back into their orbit. The plot has worked. With some pro-choice campaigners now effectively campaigning for the ALP, and even directly with and for Labor Party Members of Parliament, the Labor Party is once again “rehabilitated”. Into the bargain, the Labor Party has strengthened the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state – with the approval of the “left” !!  This repressive apparatus will now be freshly oiled and operational in a time where working people will need to resist stupendous economic inequality being generated, not to speak of the threat of imperialist war.

What is more, if the left and pro-choice activists endorse “Safe Access Zones”, it means politically aligning with key parts of the capitalist state – the ALP, the Parliament and, the police. Whenever the left finds itself in this company, alarm bells should start ringing. Wherever the working class, due to a lack of political leadership, demands “safety” and “security” from the capitalist state, it hands itself over bound hand and foot to the very forces it should be confronting with its own collective strength.

Instead of demanding the armed fist of the capitalist state “protect” women, the workers should be demanding that Union officials mobilise workers to guard health care clinics, to drive anti-choice bigots away. This way, workers soon learn to rely on their class power. Relying on the armed state of the class which keeps them in subjection, not only fails to protect working class women. It politically disarms workers, driving them back once again into the arms of the government which enslaves all wage earners. Yet here we run up, once again, against the conservative Union officials, who have a material interest in restricting and curtailing the political activity of their own members, and workers in general.

The fact that abortion currently remains on the criminal code at all, is a stark reminder of the status of women due to class society. Women’s oppression under capitalism is maintained by the three pillars – the family, private property and the state. Women’s liberation therefore, can only come about through a successful workers’ struggle for its emancipation – via socialist revolution. A prerequisite for women’s liberation – and workers’ emancipation – is the forging of a Leninist vanguard party. A workers’ party which fights for a workers government must be constructed using the most advanced political elements – women and men – of our class. The unfettered right of women to free, safe abortion services will be one of the first acts of the workers in power.

 

WORKERS   LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

 

 

[1] https://redflag.org.au/node/6374 (28-07-2018)

[2] https://redflag.org.au/node/6390 (28-07-2018)

[3] https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/queensland/queensland-mps-to-be-lobbied-for-their-vote-on-abortion-laws-20180716-p4zrts.html (28-07-2018)

[4] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/abortion-access-and-free-speech (28-07-2018)

Backing “Safe Access Zones” means politically backing the parliament – one of the main institutions used against the interests of workers and women. Image from http://www.centralnews.com.au

 

Shut Down the Manus Island and Nauru Hell Holes – Once and For All!

Shut Down the Manus Island and Nauru Hell Holes – Once and For All!

20-07-2018 – Five years ago yesterday, former Australian Labor Party (ALP) Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that his government had come to an arrangement with the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG). All refugees and asylum seekers arriving by boat would be transferred to PNG, and would be settled in PNG or another third country, and would never be resettled in Australia ever again. This act of base inhumanity would also be arranged with Nauru.[1] The announcement was a shock for those who briefly thought that some progress was being made against the barbarous treatment of refugees over the previous 15 years. Yet in fact, the previous ALP Prime Minister Julia Gillard had begun the transferring of refugees to Manus Island in PNG, and Nauru, from the end of 2012. At the time the Australian Greens were in a coalition government federally with the ALP. Despite their strong words against offshore processing, the Greens nonetheless remained in the government which carried it out.

The Liberal Party governments of Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull have continued the barbarity, with the “Minister for Everything” Peter Dutton now displaying a cold ruthlessness which would make Howard era detention minister Philip Ruddock blush. Time and time again, bodies of the United Nations (UN) have condemned the Australian government for its illegal detention of refugees and asylum seekers – desperate people fleeing war and economic privation in countries ravaged by the imperialist powers themselves. Just last week, the UN working group on arbitrary detention condemned the Australian government for the practice of indefinite detention of refugees and asylum seekers. This working group is part of the UN Human Rights Council, which in bitter irony, Australia now sits.[2] Some refugees have been detained – without charge – since 2009. Words cannot describe the injustice perpetrated by Australia’s “leaders”, and neither can words describe the depth of the torment inflicted on innocents.

“Unionists” oppose refugee rights

Over 20 years, the refugee rights movement in this country has attempted, largely in vain, to gain Union backing over a critical social justice issue. If Union officials do not lead Unions in strong combat against racism, in whatever form, their ability to defend workers’ rights on any issue is seriously undermined. Yet time and time again, Union officials who may in some ways defend workers’ rights, also come down on the side of capital – whether politically led by the “Labor” or “Liberal” faction of the united party of the ruling class. To the dismay of refugee rights activists, at the Victorian state Australian Labor Party (ALP) conference in May earlier this year, a motion to discuss the closure of off-shore detention centres did not make it onto the agenda. Officials of the Construction Forestry Mining Maritime Energy Union (CFMMEU) joined with officials of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) to form a bloc which closed the conference early. This meant that not only a motion to close off-shore detention centres could not be discussed, but also urgency motions on gender inequality in superannuation, the right to strike, raising the rate of Newstart (unemployment benefits), live exports and the recognition of Palestine.[3] As important as the accompanying issues are, it appears the CFMMEU and AWU officials sought to squash any possibility of half-way humane refugee policy being put to ALP members.

Yet again this incident highlights the futility of workers attempting to achieve any progress through the ALP. In addition, it reveals once more the road block of the Labor Party in the struggle for basic social justice, let alone basic workers’ rights, e.g. the right to strike. ALP leader Bill Shorten has been at pains to emphasise that the Liberal Party government’s current refugee policy –  indefinite detention, off-shore hell holes – will continue if the ALP wins the next federal election. The Greens have been vocal in opposing off-shore detention, but they are not prepared to lead a struggle outside parliament for this, and neither are they willing to help organise workers in their Unions to this end. Their focus on parliament renders them a captive to the Labor and Liberal parties they otherwise rightly criticise.

Pro-refugee or anti-Trump?

In the United States of America (US), there were widespread protests against US President Trump’s practice of separating migrant families of those at the US/Mexico border, and detaining them in wire cages. The national and international outcry soon forced Trump to back down, and sign an executive order that families would now be detained, albeit together.[4] Yet the politics of the much needed actions, from all reports, were more about channeling electoral support back into the Democratic party of former President Obama and the outright war-monger Hilary Clinton. Many liberals leapt into action against Trump for deporting migrants, whereas for years they had not uttered a peep when Obama deported migrants. President Obama was the “deporter-in-Chief”, and there is no questioning his record. How many migrants were ejected from the US under Obama? Try 3.1 million.[5] Two years into his term, Trump pales in comparison.

Of course, Trump could be on track for something similar. Yet the silence of much of the left over Obama’s crimes against migrants mirrors the silence of much of the left over the imperialist wars waged by Obama – with the assistance of Hilary Clinton. Clinton and Obama did not just separate families – they bombed them to death, and otherwise organised the slaughter of them in the most vicious manner possible. In fact, the Obama administration ordered ten times the amount of drone strikes than his Republican predecessor George W Bush.[6] Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan were drone bombed repeatedly. It is a matter of historical record that the US state under Obama also simultaneously armed and funded terror death squads in Libya and Syria, including ISIS.[7]

There is no doubt Trump fuels racism and energises the far-right by deporting migrants and using them as scapegoats. Yet not only did the Obama administration do the same, it launched and maintained deadly imperialist wars in the Middle East and North Africa – causing huge numbers of refugees to flee to Europe, in whichever way they could. Some of them make their way south, and end up seeking refuge in Australia. Yet much of the refugee rights movement in Australia, led by the Refugee Action Coalition or Refugee Action Collective, has in practice mobilized refugee rights supporters behind the imperialist wars waged by Obama and Clinton. This has critically undermined the refugee rights movements’ ability to actually free the refugees. One would have to break with the criminal foreign policy of Australian and US imperialism, in order to have a chance at forcing a political break with the Australian ruling class policy of psychological and physical torture through the plainly illegal detention of refugees.

Rohingyas used to derail the New Silk Road

In recent times, the respective Refugee Action Collectives/Coalitions have been willing captives of the plaintive cries to “Save the Rohingya”. Imperialism is very well versed at manipulating the first world saviour complex, and the plight of the Rohingya is yet another. What appears to be a straight forward case of a third world military junta persecuting a minority is anything but. Washington could very well be planning a “south-east Asian Kosovo”,[8] whereby an international outcry of claimed persecution is used to declare a US backed “independence”. The “independence” is then totally dependent on Washington, or London, which has its claws in its former colony.

Short of an actual military intervention by the US and UK, their aims might also be saved by the creation of violent chaos in Myanmar – which would disrupt a section of the vast infrastructure development project launched by Beijing, the New Silk Road (One Belt, One Road). In the early stages of last year, the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline began operation, which runs from China’s south-western province of Yunnan to the Rakhine state in Myanmar. China’s National Petroleum Corp holds a 50.9% stake, with 49.1% being owned by the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise.[9] Washington is furious with the increased cooperation and trade between Myanmar and Red China, especially considering the millions of dollars it spent funding the National League for Democracy of Aung Sung Suu Kyi, which installed her in a power sharing arrangement with the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military).

Anything which can be done to break Myanmar-China ties is thus carried out by Washington, London, and their international army of NGOs, the “human rights” industrial complex, and, waylaid refugee rights activists. When the so-called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched armed attacks on Myanmar military and police installations, the Tatmadaw responded – as any national security force would do. Western backed NGOs and some refugee rights campaigners threw up their hands and shrieked in horror, at the alleged actions of the Myanmar military. ARSA claims it must take action to protect the Rohingya community, but ARSA does not represent Rohingyas per se. ARSA is the rebranded name of Harakat Al-Yaqin, which reportedly has a leadership council based in Saudi Arabia, and is funded by Saudi and Pakistani business linked to the Rohingya diaspora.[10] Even the compromised Amnesty International admits that ARSA has carried out massacres of Hindus in the region.[11] Despite ARSA claiming it has no links with Al Qaeda or ISIS, its origins are certainly similar.[12]

For an anti-imperialist refugee rights movement

Some of the Australian government’s actions rival the barbarism of Al Qaeda like execution squads. Take the example of the town of Biloela, which Tamil refugees Priya and Nades had made their home for the last four years.[13] The couple, fleeing the Sri Lankan government’s war against the Tamil minority, have had two daughters born in the central Queensland town. They are now in a Melbourne detention centre, with the father Nades likely to be deported to Sri Lanka, and hit with a $30 000 fee for “removal” – which he has to pay in order to re-enter Australia to see his family again. To forcibly traumatise a family with two daughters under the age of 3, who are seeking a safe place to live, condemns the government carrying out such depravity.

The top leadership of Australia’s Unions also share the responsibility for the ongoing international condemnation of the federal government’s abuse of refugees and asylum seekers. These highly paid Union officials have the power to mobilise workers behind the movement for humane refugee practices, but instead they value their careers and dollars in their own pocket. The foreign policy they imbue in their members unfortunately mirrors that of the left parties prominent in the Refugee Action Collectives/Coalitions who otherwise play a good organisational role in mobilising opposition to refugee and asylum seeker persecution. Namely, the two wings basically agree with the Australian ruling class that China, Russia and Iran are “our” enemies, and we have to band together against them.

Little could be more harmful to both the attempted prevention of imperialist war AND the refugee rights movement. Supposedly “liberal” allies, e.g. conservative Union officials, the Labor Party, the Greens, NGOs, etc., who all say they support refugees, are at the same time at one with the Liberal Party when it comes to imperialist war. This is why steering the refugee rights movement in their political direction, even inadvertently, cannot free the refugees. What is needed is a sharp political break with the essentially pro-war Union officials and parliamentary parties. “Unity” with such elements in practice means splitting the working class, incapacitating the refugee rights movement, and nobbling elementary working class defence. Key to building an anti-imperialist refugee rights movement is the forging of a Marxist vanguard party, which can champion refugee rights as a component part of the struggle for a workers’ republic.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66   NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] https://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/getfacts/seekingsafety/asylum/offshore-processing/briefing/ (09-07-2018)

[2] https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/un-body-condemns-australia-for-illegal-detention-of-asylum-seekers-and-refugees/ar-AAzJ0Vc?li=AAgfIYZ&OCID=ansmsnnews11 (09-07-2018)

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/may/28/bill-shorten-defends-shutdown-of-refugee-debate-at-victorian-labor-conference (14-07-2018)

[4] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-migrant-family-separation-border-executive-order-immigration-signs-a8408891.html (14-07-2018)

[5] https://www.businessinsider.com.au/whats-the-difference-between-trump-obama-immigration-orders-2017-2?r=US&IR=T (14-07-2018)

[6] https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2017-01-17/obamas-covert-drone-war-in-numbers-ten-times-more-strikes-than-bush (14-07-2018)

[7] https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/isis-was-state-sponsored-by-us-allies-says-former-government-intelligence-analyst-exclusive-51a9e999c437 (14-07-2018)

[8] https://orientalreview.org/2015/06/09/american-plan-for-a-south-asian-kosovo-in-rohingyaland-i/ (15-07-2018)

[9] http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-04/12/content_28886175.htm (15-07-2018)

[10] http://www.atimes.com/article/foreign-support-gives-rohingya-militants-lethal-edge/ (15-07-2018)

[11] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/05/myanmar-new-evidence-reveals-rohingya-armed-group-massacred-scores-in-rakhine-state/ (15-07-2018)

[12] https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/arsa-linked-foreign-extremist-groups-bertil-lintner.html (15-07-2018)

[13] https://www.gladstoneobserver.com.au/news/biloela-asylum-seeker-mum-tears-ahead-life-changin/3404591/ (17-07-2018)

Image from Australian Refugee Action Network

 

Repeal the “Espionage” and “Interference” Act! No War On China!

Repeal the “Espionage” and “Interference” Act! No War On China!

07-07-2018 – Chilling. There are few other words for it. The passage through federal parliament of the “National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2018” re-sets the framework, yet again, of the shredding of elementary democratic rights by the Australian government. Under the false guise of combatting “foreign interference”, the federal government is close to outlawing political opinion, political activity and journalism. The key targets are anyone who is suspected of calling attention to the danger of imperialist war, let alone opposing it. Canberra, in concert with Washington, is preparing for what could be a world war involving nuclear weapons. It is imperative that working people prepare to organise now in an attempt to avoid a global catastrophe.

Working people have been subjected to a bombardment of hysterical anti-China venom from politicians and the subservient corporate media for years. It is reaching fever pitch because the US and Australian ruling classes know their for-profit economies are in dire straits, and are being rapidly out-performed, many times over, by China’s powerhouse economic mountain. The further behind the US, Australia and Japan fall, the more shrill do the cries from these governments sound. While the US, Australia and Japan are mired in a privatised, private-profit seeking dead end, the largely nationalized and planned economy of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) strides ahead in leaps and bounds. On almost every indicator, be it GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth, infrastructure development, technological advances, the development of science, you name it – the PRC is way ahead of the capitalist West.

Dire threat to journalism and political expression

The Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill[1], passed within three days by the Labor and Liberal parties in federal parliament, seriously threatens the very act of journalism. The bill potentially means jail terms of up to 20 years for a journalist reporting a story in the public interest. Even before researching and writing a story, the very act of “receiving” information which could “harm” Australia, could be deemed a criminal act. Actually reporting and letting the public know about a potential breach of international law by the Australian government, could result in 25 years, or life, in prison. The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), the Union covering journalists, have warned that journalists could be jailed for doing their job.[2] The MEAA officials, it should be noted, have not lifted a finger to defend Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, who is still detained in London, fearing deportation to the United States. Assange is defending the civil and political rights of all, including the MEAA. But now the “foreign interference” laws could snare even the journalists that the MEAA officials seek to represent, and potentially their entire membership. They must now join with those willing to defend what remains of our rights.

The Australian Labor Party (ALP) linked GetUp!, who have also abandoned Julian Assange, are nonetheless also crying foul, correctly pointing out that legitimate political protest could be targeted under the Espionage/Interference laws. The section of the Bill which refers to “damage to public infrastructure” could mean that those intentionally blocking access to the Adani Coal Mine, in an attempt to prevent incalculable damage to the environment through carbon emissions, may be imprisoned for decades.[3] The Bill also contains a 7 year jail term for planning such a protest action. In addition, the Bill contains Orwellian redefinitions of “treason”, “treachery”, “mutiny” and “sabotage”, while creating new ones such as “foreign interference”. Any group or individual that, for example, organises a rally to “influence” government positions, without revealing supposed coordination with a foreign organisation, could be jailed for 20 years.[4] It is doubtful whether Nazi Germany would have conceived such arbitrary power.

Just who is “interfering” ?

The Espionage and Interference Bill was not given wide mainstream media coverage within Australia. But working people are constantly bombarded with anti-China hysteria, from all sides of the corporate media, from some academics, and politicians themselves. They falsely claim that “China” is attempting to “interfere” with Australia’s political system, and its “national sovereignty”. This is simply breathtaking hypocrisy from Labor and Liberal politicians, with both political parties receiving large and regular donations from Chinese owned businesses.[5] One Chinese businessman, Dr Chau Chak Wing, has hosted former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard, former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and former Labor Treasurer Wayne Swan at his luxurious estate north of Guangzhou in China.[6] If China is “interfering”, they are doing so with the express co-operation of Labor and Liberal politicians!

However, there are huge dangers in the reporting of exactly what is “Chinese interference”. For one thing, to directly link Chinese owned businesses, whether based in Australia or China, to the Chinese government, is stretching the bounds of reality. To do so also invokes both racism and anti-communism. It also stands reality on its head. The Australian military is being consistently urged by Washington to provoke China by sailing warships and jet fighters within 12 nautical miles of islands under Chinese sovereignty – so called “Freedom of Navigation” exercises. And the Australian government is obliging, absurdly claiming even the right to overflight. It is estimated that US 5 $trillion in trade sails through the South China Sea annually.[7] The aim of the US and its allies including Canberra, is to choke off this trade route to China in the event of war, starving China of provisions. It has nothing to do with “freedom” of anything. There were no “disputed” islands in the South China Sea, until the US sent its warships in there, and exerted significant pressure on the governments of Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan to claim islands from China. The government of Vietnam should be ashamed at siding with the US, which waged a genocidal war against it, to score points against China in the South China Sea. The “interference” in this case, is carried out by Washington and Canberra, not by Beijing.

Socialism vs Capitalism

For decades, working people have been told the lie that socialism equals poverty, and capitalism equals prosperity. Now that China is definitively putting that canard to rest, and in fact demonstrating that socialism can mean economic, developmental, scientific and cultural advancement, imperialism is close to panic. To prevent capitalism falling further behind, imperialism is willing to risk nuclear war with China – such is its level of desperation. It is yet another sure sign that capitalism is historically outmoded, and needs to be cast aside by working people in favour of socialism.

Yet the imperialists will try the full gamut of deceptive tactics to prevent working people from seeing what is before their eyes – China’s socialism is vastly superior to the collapsing stock market casino capitalism in the US, Europe, Japan and Australia. Imperialism’s vast propaganda machines, for which they are prepared to fund to the tune of billions of dollars, works overtime on China – but in two directions. One the one hand, the corporate media claim that China is a “communist dictatorship” where workers have no rights, and constantly suffer under extreme repression. On the other hand, the corporate media claim that China’s massive economic success, the lifting of hundreds of millions out of poverty, is due to the PRC having restored “capitalism”. According to them, workers have no rights in China, but their wealth is increasing year by year.

Unfortunately, some on the left accept this false precept. In the face of a New Cold War, which is arguably closer to nuclear conflict than at any time during the first Cold War, any faltering by the left on the question of China undermines the very struggles which may soon be upon us. No one is claiming that China today is a classless society with no state and no government – the final aim of socialism. China is only socialist to the extent that it has a predominantly collectivised economy, where the major means of production are state owned, and these are guarded by a workers’ state. To give just one example, the 102 largest State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in China are supervised by the State Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC).These SOEs are valued at around 50 trillion yuan. This is wealth NOT in the hands of private capitalists, but in the hands of the workers’ state. What is more, out of the 40 million employees of the SOEs, around 10 million are members of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), who take part in around 800 000 party committees. In addition, on SOE boards, the chair is invariably the highest ranked party member.[8] To say the least, this is hardly “capitalism” !

What may be understandable confusion about the mode of production existing in China is contributed to by the political leadership of the CPC. The CPC never makes any announcement addressing the workers of the world, heralding China’s socialist system, and urging workers internationally to join them in a struggle to rid the world of capitalism. This has to do with the ultimately national limitations of Maoism, despite the largely positive role it has played within China. A genuinely international socialist leadership, would seek ways to reach out and connect with workers across Asia and internationally. It would seek to work with neighbouring socialist states extensively, up to and including regional economic planning. But the CPC as it is currently constituted does not have this perspective. And for that matter, neither does the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), nor the Workers Party of Korea (WPK).

Halt the war drive through workers’ power

Despite the political limitations of its leadership, working people need to defend China against the gathering war drive spearheaded by Washington and Canberra. Given such semi-fascist measures as the Espionage and Interference Bill, this could be a risky path. But working people will lose a lot more by allowing such unbridled totalitarianism to go unchallenged. If the imperialists launch the war, there will scarcely be opportunities to launch a “peace” movement, calling for calm and rational negotiations between the US Empire and its targets. Working people will need to take measures into their own hands, even just to prevent people being rounded up as “collaborators”, working for the “enemy” and so on. It should be noted that the Espionage and Interference Bill does not just target Red China, although that appears to be the main perverse rationale. Incredibly, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in his introductory speech to the bill, claimed that it was not only China which was engaged in “interference” activities, but also Russia, Iran and North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – DPRK) !![9].

Working people need a struggle to repeal the Espionage and Interference Bill, and take immediate action the moment that any journalist or activist is jailed – up to and including general political strikes. Only significant mass working class pressure will have the possibility of forcing the release of those jailed, before or during the outbreak of war. A significant barrier to the type of action required are the invariably conservative and pro-capitalist Union officials, who can only maintain their well-paid careers by seeking to line up workers behind “their own” government. But any government which openly threatens to jail workers for life for questioning their actions at home, let alone opposing their predatory wars, is clearly not “our” government. It is an arm of the banks and the stock exchange, tied through a thousand threads to Wall Street and the Pentagon.

Well-heeled Union officials also seek to line workers up behind the foreign policy of Canberra and Washington, hence their complete silence in the face of prospective nuclear war against Russia, Iran, China and the DPRK. Riding on their coat tails, consciously or unconsciously, are a whole host of left parties and other groups who found themselves on the side of the governments waging the imperialist wars on Libya and Syria. The state of the working class is a question of the leadership of the working class. What is urgently needed is a genuine Leninist vanguard party, which can lead the struggle against vast inequality at home, and the linked threat of a global war launched against the non-imperialist states. The approach of dangerous times means an opportunity for workers to take the reins of power.

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO Box 66   NUNDAH  QLD   4012

[1] https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_LEGislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r6022 (06-07-2018)

[2] https://pressfreedom.org.au/espionage-and-foreign-influence-bills-5943e87e8228 (06-07-2018)

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jun/26/espionage-bill-could-make-some-protests-criminal-acts-getup-says (06-07-2018)

[4] http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/06/29/inte-j29.html (06-07-2018)

[5] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-21/china-australia-political-donations/7766654 (06-07-2018)

[6] https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/foreign-minister-julie-bishops-links-to-chinese-political-donors-20160823-gqzauy.html (06-07-2018)

[7] https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/australianz/china-challenged-australian-warships-in-south-china-sea-australian-media (06-07-2018)

[8] https://www.scmp.com/news/china/economy/article/2098755/how-communist-party-controls-chinas-state-owned-industrial-titans (08-07-2018)

[9] https://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/media/speech-introducing-the-national-security-legislation-amendment-espionage-an (08-07-2018)

Protesting the building of the Adani Coal Mine could be a criminal act under the broad sweep of the “foreign interference” laws. Image from http://www.theaimn.com

Release Julian Assange!

Release Julian Assange!

19-06-2018 – Six years. Today marks six years since Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, was effectively incarcerated inside the Ecuadorian Embassy (a small building) in London. His doctors have reported that his health is failing. He urgently needs a root canal, and treatment on a shoulder injury. His vision is deteriorating for not being able to see long distances. Being kept indoors means he has virtually no access to sunlight, with all of the negative health effects that entails. The United Nations has declared that he is arbitrarily detained. Yet he cannot leave the building containing the embassy where he is sheltering, because the British government has repeatedly stated that it will arrest him – and very likely hand him over to the custody of the US government. The US empire, whose numberless crimes Julian Assange and Wikileaks have ceaselessly exposed, is, at best, likely to try Assange for “espionage”. At worst, they will subject him to torture. He could also be starved into an early grave if he is not allowed out of the building he is confined within. His life hangs in the balance, and yet he has not given in.

Elementary rights at stake

Wikileaks has changed the world, and all but the most spiteful concede that Julian Assange has changed the world for the better. The very fact that world imperialism seeks his demise is proof positive that Assange is an agent of change, and that his continued work is a threat to the domination of the planet by the forces of capitalist darkness. Canberra is once again playing a nefarious role; by following Washington’s foreign policy willingly, instead of offering what should be straight-forward assistance to an Australian born citizen carrying an Australian passport. Australian Federal governments have changed several times since Assange was detained, but all of them effectively continue former PM Julia Gillard’s appalling label of “criminal”.[1] Needless to say, the voluminous publishing by Wikileaks has proven over and over again that the real criminals are the ones who run the system.

Not only is the physical well-being of Julian Assange at stake right now. At stake are some of the most basic civil and democratic rights, without which society would descend into a dystopian void. The right to free speech, the right to publish information, the right of journalists to report in the public interest. The right of citizens to question their governments, the right to oppose war, the right to dissent, the right to hold a political opinion which differs from the mainstream. The right to communicate with others without those communications being spied upon by the government. The right to know where your taxes are being spent. And on and on it goes. In short, almost every pretense for the basis of bourgeois democracy – which was always a fraud for working people – is being shredded to pieces. In addition to opposing planet threatening imperialist war, Julian Assange is heroically defending elementary rights.

Left parties, Union officials abandon Wikileaks

Incredibly, Julian Assange has virtually been abandoned by many left parties, and not one Union official has spoken out against the Australian government’s abominable collusion with their counterparts in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA), which has left Assange’s life hanging in the balance. It is a cliché, but the silence of the parties which became the imperial left is deafening. The Socialist Alliance, which in 2010 called large demonstrations in support of Julian Assange, have since that time kept him well out of their headlines, with only an occasional mention finding its way into their press.[2]  Socialist Alternative, who also organized large demonstrations in defence of Julian Assange in 2010, to our knowledge last mentioned Julian Assange in 2014, and then only reprinting an article from internationally renowned left-wing journalist and film maker John Pilger.[3] Solidarity, who also railed against Assange’s detention in 2010, to our knowledge last published a minor mention of Julian Assange in 2014, begrudgingly defending Assange against some feminists for false “rape” charges.[4]

The political reasons why these left parties have dropped Julian Assange like a sack of spuds are today not difficult to establish. For them, when Julian Assange’s actions opposed the US led war on Iraq, he became their hero. When, however, Julian Assange’s actions went on to oppose the US led wars on Libya and Syria, he became an embarrassment. While the parties which became known as the imperial left strongly endorsed the imperialist wars on Libya and Syria, Julian Assange continued to expose the West’s role in prosecuting them. As they moved sharply to the right, Julian Assange – along with genuine anti-war activists, remained consistent in publicly opposing the wars of Empire. Julian Assange had become too left-wing for the “left”.

More than this, Julian Assange’s work continued to expose Hilary Clinton, and her links to the criminal arming and funding of mercenary terrorists, calling Libya “Clinton’s War”. In response, Hilary Clinton blamed everyone but herself for her election loss to Donald Trump, and claimed without evidence that Julian Assange was an agent of “Russia”.[5] Defence of Russia, even against US threats of nuclear war, is impermissible for liberals. Not to speak of a defence of Red China, which Assange has also, in one way, brought to bear. In 2011, Wikileaks cables revealed that, in fact, there was no massacre of students, or anyone else, through the Peoples Republic of China’s government response to demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989.[6] A defence of Russia and China, in any way, is enough for liberals to throw up their hands and shriek in horror. The imperial left and almost all Australian Union officials are magnetically bound to the foreign policy of Australian imperialism – so Julian Assange and Wikileaks had to be given the cold shoulder. Not even the Union officials from the Union covering journalists – the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has seen fit to issue so much as a press release in defence of the basic journalistic work of Wikileaks. For them, journalism is fine as long as it tows the line of existing society. Julian Assange has shown just how corrupt this society is, so he was hung out to dry.

The case of Peter Greste

In contrast, the Socialist Equality Party (SEP), has taken the lead in organizing and calling for political action to release Julian Assange from his effective jailing in London. They have been effective in organizing the rally in Sydney on June 17, which has gained endorsements from John Pilger, prominent social justice lawyer Julian Burnside, and Terry Hicks, the father of David Hicks, the alleged “Australian Taliban”, who was also unlawfully detained by the US government. Despite our sharp political disagreements with the SEP on other issues, we applaud and support their initiative.

At the same time, the SEP’s laudable defence of Julian Assange has a fatal flaw. The SEP compares the detention of Julian Assange to the case of another Australian journalist Peter Greste, who was imprisoned in Egypt in 2013. They write:

“The Australian government committed considerable resources to winning the freedom of Al Jazeera journalist and Australian citizen Peter Greste from false imprisonment in Egypt….It must do the same, if not more, to prevent Julian Assange falling into the clutches of the Trump administration and the American courts.”[7]

This makes a critical error. Peter Greste was not an innocent Australian journalist simply doing his job who was “falsely imprisoned” in Egypt – he was willingly and knowingly working for Al Jazeera, who in turn, were aiding the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Al Jazeera, or more specifically the Qatari monarchy, was openly backing Mohamed Morsi in an effort to expand their war against secular states in both Syria and Egypt. Al Jazeera, in contrast to its role in exposing the US led war on Iraq from 2003, today fans the flames of ultra-sectarian Sunni jihadism, from Palestine to Libya to Syria, and to Egypt.[8] The Qatari monarchy’s funding and arming of Al Qaeda and ISIS mercenaries in Syria, and it’s backing of the Brotherhood in Egypt, were a part of the same genocidal war against secular Syria and Egypt, but also against what they see as the Shiite Islamic Republic of Iran – despite many religions existing side by side in these countries. Mohamed Morsi obliged, and effectively declared a jihad on Syria, telling the Arab League that “Assad must go”.[9]

The US-led war on Syria was arguably the most extensive and most damaging proxy war in history; unleashing tens of thousands of ISIS linked deranged killers, causing immeasurable loss of innocent life. Mohamed Morsi and Al Jazeera were a strong component of this war of unspeakable barbarity, yet Peter Greste knew this and became a spokesperson for it. He maintains his backing of jihadism, though couched in very cryptic terms – as no one can now, especially after their defeat by Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, come out in support of jihadist terrorism. For example, in 2017, Peter Greste claimed “….we’ve succumbed to the rhetoric around terrorism….the far greater threats are from things like nationalism and xenophobia, where we turn inwards and away from the rest of the world. I think that’s doing far more damage.”[10]

Between the lines, the message is unmistakable – jihadist terrorism and regime change is fine, resisting it (“nationalism and xenophobia”) is a no go area. Peter Greste did not suffer “false imprisonment” in Egypt. He, along with two other Al Jazeera colleagues, were imprisoned in Egypt for working for the Muslim Brotherhood, at the very time when the Muslim Brotherhood was directly involved in attempting to overthrow Syria through imperialist backed terrorism, utilising diabolical methods such as beheading innocent men, women and children. Working people have no truck with the Egyptian military, but is it any wonder that they imprisoned Qatari funded “journalists”, who were broadcasting “news” about how wonderful the Muslim Brotherhood was?  Thankfully, the US-Qatari forces that Peter Greste was not only backing, but being paid to work directly for, were soundly defeated in both Egypt and Syria.

For working class led mass action to free Assange

Julian Assange is the polar opposite of Peter Greste. Julian Assange opposes imperialist war and the workings of imperialism with every fibre of his body – literally. Peter Greste openly and unapologetically works for capitalist-imperialism, even when it creates terrorists to target Syria and Iran. Assange works directly against imperialism, Peter Greste was working directly for imperialism. This was why the Australian government extended full consular assistance to him and why they have abandoned Assange. This points to the second flaw in the SEP’s otherwise outstanding defence work. They call for the Australian government to exercise its “diplomatic power” and “legal discretion” to work to secure the “unconditional freedom” of Julian Assange. But such calls are fraught with danger for working people.

Rather than calling on the Australian government to free Julian Assange, the left should aim its demands at the working class itself, and principally on the Union officials, to mobilise using all available means, up to and including the use of strike action. The ruling class must know that this country will become ungovernable unless Julian Assange is unconditionally released from any custody. International action by supporters and defenders of free speech, the right to publish etc., will also play a strong role, but the key is to empower working people to achieve this. Calls on the government itself to do the work for you significantly disempowers of working people, and reinforces the false notion that the government is “ours” – and can be made to serve our will.

This is false to the core. The capitalist state cannot be reformed into something that it is not. It must be overthrown through workers’ insurrection. This is the case regardless of whether or not there exists the necessary political prerequisite – a Marxist vanguard party. A workers vanguard party, or anything resembling it, cannot be forged while the advanced elements of the class are encouraged to call on the government of the class enemy to “act”. Julian Assange himself provides information to expose the political system, but even he would acknowledge that it is up to us to change it. If the working class can free Julian Assange through its own efforts, there is no reason why it cannot go on to put an end to the source of all the ills that Wikileaks reveals – the rule of capital. A workers republic, overseeing a publically owned and planned economy, will be the first step towards the liberation of humanity from imperialist war, unemployment, poverty, environmental desecration and more. FREE JULIAN ASSANGE!
——————————————————————————————————————————————–

WORKERS  LEAGUE

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

PO  Box  66
NUNDAH QLD  4012

[1] https://www.news.com.au/national/julian-assange-bitter-at-gillard-government-for-abandoning-him/news-story/335342ad63251b4a9ff84c384e0c4e0f?from=public_rss (12-06-2018)

[2] https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/julian-assange-chavez-ecuador-and-wikileaks%E2%80%99-struggle-truth-and-justice (16-06-2018)

[3] https://redflag.org.au/article/it%E2%80%99s-other-oscars-and-yet-again-winner-slips-away (16-06-2018)

[4] https://www.solidarity.net.au/sexism/intersectionality-sexism-and-the-left/ (16-06-2018)

[5] http://johnpilger.com/articles/clinton-assange-and-the-war-on-truth (16-06-2016)

[6] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8555142/Wikileaks-no-bloodshed-inside-Tiananmen-Square-cables-claim.html (16-06-2018)

[7] http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/06/14/coga-j14.html (16-06-2018)

[8] https://www.meforum.org/articles/2012/the-two-faces-of-al-jazeera#_ftn41 (16-06-2018)

[9] http://www.dw.com/en/morsi-to-assad-you-wont-stay-in-power/a-16221499 (16-06-2018)

[10] https://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/act/peter-greste-australia-succumbed-to-the-rhetoric-around-terrorism-20171013-gz0ujt.html (16-06-2018)

‘Change the Rules’ or Elect the Labor Party?

05-05-2018 – It is not a grand statement to make to acknowledge that wages and conditions for workers in Australia have never been at the state they are now. Outright wage theft is rampant, from small business to large scale private and public sectors. The right to strike, an elementary condition without which the line between the modern workers and slavery is blurred, is all but non-existent. Up to 40% of the workforce is not employed on a permanent basis – they are either in casual, temporary or contract arrangements. Enterprise bargaining is failing to deliver much but derisory pay “increases”, many of which are below inflation. Construction workers and their Unions face ongoing government attacks on their right to organise, with massive and crippling fines being imposed even for stopping work if there is a serious health and safety issue. The average pay gap between working men and women is being maintained, pushing many women of near retirement age into precarious housing situations. Penalty rates, a hard won gain from over a century of Union struggles, are being whittled away in industry after industry.

‘Change the Rules’ ?

One response from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is the ‘Change the Rules’ campaign. On the surface, ACTU Secretary Sally McManus appears to be a “breath of fresh air”, in contrast to previous ACTU stale officialdom. The demands and issues she highlights are urgent and need addressing, and her calls for action sound militant. But there is little or no action following the speeches to the National Press Club and the like. The overall political approach soon reveals itself. The ‘Change the Rules’ campaign is ultimately a re-elect the Australian Labor Party (ALP) campaign, being ramped up in a Federal Election year. No matter how much McManus and other top Union officials avoid directly stating it – this is an arm of ALP’s efforts to unseat the Liberal National Coalition government led by Malcolm Turnbull, and install the almost invisible “opposition” ALP leader Bill Shorten. Needless to say, an elected ALP Federal Government will barely change the dire situation for working people.

What McManus and other officials studiously avoid admitting is that the very rules that do need changing were almost entirely put in place by the ALP when it was last in government! The ‘rules’ largely referred to include the (grossly misnamed) Fair Work Act (FWA), the anti-construction Union Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC), and the secondary boycott bans in sections 45D and E of the Trade Practices Act. The Fair Work Act was put in place by the Rudd and Gillard ALP governments, which also retained the ABCC and failed to even attempt to get rid of the bans on secondary boycotts – solidarity actions across workplaces. Predictably, there has been no commitment from the ALP that ANY of these anti-worker laws will be repealed, or even amended. It barely needs repeating that the ALP, no less than the Liberal Party, governs for the capitalist class, despite the occasional but fraudulent “pro-worker” lip service. It is a dangerous dead-end to go through the pretence, yet again, that the ALP will do much else other than force workers to swallow more privatisation and public spending cuts. Governing for capital, the ALP makes no apology for whole industries closing, large corporations paying no tax, high unemployment, increasing homelessness and widening inequality.

Lack of Union organisation

Prime responsibility for this situation lies with politically conservative Union officials, who, with a few exceptions, have allowed Union organisation to sink to its lowest ebb. From Sally McManus down, these are the very same careerists who are now claiming that the rules are stacked against them! In a recent speech to the National Press Club, McManus rightly points out that wage theft is continuing across many industries, from celebrity chef restaurants, to 7-11 convenience stores, to Caltex, to Woolworths and more. She then states that wage theft has become a business model but the laws have been too weak to stop them.[1] To put it bluntly, this puts the cart before the horse.  Official industrial relations laws, like wages themselves, come about as a result of the balance of class forces. As long as conservative Union officials fail to organise and mobilise workers to defend their rights on the ground, a thousand laws can be written that benefit employers. Or, more than likely, the absence of Union led struggle emboldens employers – leading them to conclude that there is nothing that can stop them disregarding the remnants of the laws that are on the books. Wage theft – the underpayment of wages to the tune of thousands, or millions of dollars – is one direct result.

Well-heeled Union officials are now comparing the situation for casual labour in Australia to the United Kingdom (UK). In the UK, employees can apply for the benefits of permanent employment (sick leave, annual leave etc) after a period of only three months. Whereas in Australia, there is currently no limit to the amount of time workers can remain on casual or temporary arrangements. In some areas of the public sector, this time limit has been set at two years – but even this is difficult to enforce. Two million workers, or around 40% of the workforce, remain in casual or temporary work.[2] This is a huge proportion. Casual and insecure work has a drastic effect on workers, who cannot begin to plan their lives. But much more than this is the effect it has in the workplace itself. Casual workers can barely question their employer on any issue, such as health and safety, pay and conditions, or anything much at all – as they can be replaced at a moment’s notice. From the employers’ point of view, casual work is the perfect anti-Union measure. This casualisation has been ongoing for more than two decades, yet many Union officials have turned a blind eye, leaving workers to suffer the consequences.

The right to withdraw your labour – without which little there is little differentiation from slavery – is all but illegal in Australia. Under current industrial law, striking is only permitted during an enterprise bargaining period, and even then it is subjected to severe conditions, such as the balloting of members and sufficient notice being given to the employer. And even then, a strike can be ruled illegal, and workers can be ordered back to work, if the action is deemed likely to cause “significant damage” to a part of the economy. In January this year, Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) members were ordered by the Orwellian named Fair Work Commission to abandon a 24 hour strike, as well as planned bans on overtime.[3] This was after train drivers were regularly being forced to work 13 out of 14 days in a row, and being directly rostered to do overtime without their consent. The response of the RTBU officials was to accept the decision of the “independent umpire” !! That was a precise opportunity for the officials to defy the alleged “umpire”, go through with the strike, and call on other Unions and all workers for support.

The only response from the ACTU was that this was a demonstration that the rules are broken, and the rules have to be changed. Yet the only way the “rules” are going to be re-written is by Union led industrial action to challenge the legitimacy of the laws – the laws have to be openly defied, and the state must be challenged to see what they will do in response. “Bad laws have to be broken” – this was the message originally put forward by McManus – but it has scarcely been followed with any action. And only now, with a Federal Election in the offing, does a “Change the Rules” campaign – complete with fancy logo – appear. The blurb of the “Change the Rules” campaign gives the game away – it calls for a government to back working people, not big business. This is code for a return of the Labor Party to federal government.

Capital in Crisis

The ongoing wage theft, the theft of penalty rates, outlawing strike action, lowest wages in history: all of these are a result of the direct crisis that the private profit system is undergoing specifically in Australia, Europe, the United States and Japan. Stagnating economic growth and extremely low rate of return on investment means that investment simply doesn’t happen. The more difficult the conditions for private capital to operate, the more it demands the capitalist state funnel more public funds towards it. In Australia, Liberal and Labor governments oblige, in the form of relentless cuts to government spending, as well as the privatisation of healthcare, education, aged care, public transport, legal aid, the provision of welfare services and any other area where it can politically get away with it. The floundering profit system, especially since the financial crisis of 2008, is the real reason that the “rules” have been changed to give employers unparalleled advantage. Calling for a change of the rules without challenging the political rule of big capital dooms working people to continually beg for things they themselves could achieve.

The threat of war

It should be noted that the fragile and desperate crisis of the profitability of Western capital has its reflection in the reckless and criminally dangerous wars that Canberra flings itself into, which threaten the world with nuclear holocaust. Canberra, Washington, Paris and London recently brought the world to the brink of nuclear war with Russia over a blatantly staged and fake chemical weapons incident in Syria. This followed the blaming of Russia, without a shred of evidence, for the alleged poisoning of a retired double agent in London. The Liberal and Labor parties do not hesitate to ramp up deliberate provocations against the People’s Republic of China, with both gunning for extremely risky provocations with the Australian and US militaries in the South China Sea. After the US came close to a nuclear strike on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or “North Korea”) last year, the Australian government will now reportedly send military aircraft to “monitor” the DPRK’s adherence to punitive sanctions.[4] Both Liberal and Labor parties have not hesitated to back the actions of NATO, constantly mobilising troops right throughout Eastern Europe. Whether it is Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran, China, Russia, the DPRK, the Ukraine or elsewhere, the Australian ruling class risks world war through its war alliance with Washington.

These are directly Union issues, but conservative Union officials have their careers guaranteed by the profit system – if they can contain and restrict the insurgent workers within certain boundaries. This means they are tied to the foreign policy of the “Australian” corporate magnates. Their silence on potential nuclear war is the flip side of their plaintive pleas to “change the rules” with regard to industrial law within Australian shores. Economic crisis in the West can ultimately only be solved by them through recourse to imperialist war, which is one reason Canberra pushes so hard for it. Workers must therefore oppose the entire political outlook of the Australian corporate elite, from working rights on the job, right through to its reckless threat to human civilisation through unthinkable war.

This pre-supposes a struggle for a pro-working class leadership of the Unions. The need is urgent for rank and file committees of workers within the Unions, which exclude the well-paid organisers and officials. Within these committees, leftists need to push an explicitly anti-capitalist line. Marxists need to push for socialist measures within these groups, directly bringing working class politics into the Unions on all issues facing working people – from the threat of catastrophic climate change to the need to oppose imperialism’s drive to World War III. This will entail a bitter but necessary struggle against the Laborite Union leaders, and a whole host of Union organisers and staff who shepherd their own careers. Working people are suffering, and we cannot wait until the day sell-out Union officials decide to seriously organise the working class. For this is a day that will never come.

A pro-worker and class struggle leadership of the Unions would strive to organise workers around demands for a six-hour day, or a 30 hour week. This would address the huge issue of high unemployment, as well as the threat to jobs through automation. Such a demand could seriously galvanise a Union movement in dire need of rejuvenation, after decades of decline. Legions of the unemployed could be mobilised to help the Unions achieve this, which could strongly increase the fighting spirit of working people, and giving impetus towards a drive for a living wage for all of those relying on welfare, such as students and pensioners. This could then spur demands for full public funding of healthcare, education and public transport and other services which have endured savage cuts.

The struggle for a pro-worker leadership of the Unions is necessarily bound up with the struggle to forge a Leninist vanguard party. There are a whole host of left parties who recognise the dire limitations of the conservative Union bureaucrats, and the obstacle of the Labor Party directly on many Union officials, but fear to break politically from them. Some grumble about the lack of action, while others excuse the right-wing politics which accompanies the huge salaries of some officials, which are sometimes double or triple the wages of the workers they are supposed to represent. Rather, what is required is a workers’ party which fights for a workers’ government. Only with workers in power will the numberless crimes of capitalism be able to be curtailed. Then the workers will not only ‘change the rules’, but write them.

 

WORKERS  LEAGUE

 

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E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

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[1] https://www.actu.org.au/media/1033746/180320-national-press-club-speech-sally-mcmanus-march-21-2018.pdf (05-05-18)

[2] https://www.australianunions.org.au/casual_workers_factsheet (05-05-18)

[3] https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/fair-work-commission-orders-nsw-rail-workers-to-abandon-24hour-strike-20180125-h0o1s1.html (06-05-18)

[4] https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/australianz/australia-to-send-military-aircraft-to-monitor-north-korean-ships (06-05-18)