No Boycott of the World Cup! Hands Off Russia!

No Boycott of the World Cup!  Hands Off Russia!

27-03-2018 – Once again, the world teeters on the brink of nuclear war. The trigger for this situation is barely believable. Western governments, without a shred of evidence, are blaming Russia for the alleged poisoning of a double agent in the United Kingdom several weeks ago. The governments of the UK, France, Germany and the United States of America, without any proof being provided, jointly found Russia “guilty”. The lies behind this obvious falsehood are brazen, and they are lies told by London, Washington, Paris and Berlin with utter contempt for human life, and the future of human civilisation on planet Earth. The word irrational barely describes the actions of the world’s pre-eminent imperialist powers.  Now Canberra has joined this transparent and limitlessly reactionary crusade, by expelling two Russian diplomats,[1] and has hinted at a possible boycott by the Australian Socceroos of the World Cup. Although Foreign Minister Julie Bishop appears to have backed away from a full boycott, “further options” are apparently still being considered.[2]

Ironically, Australia narrowly qualified for the football World Cup by only just squeezing past Syria. If Syria had defeated Australia and qualified, arguably poetic justice would have been served. The Australian government joined with the governments of the US, Saudi Arabia, the UK, France, Israel and others in a vicious attempt to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic using their own military in support of the ultra-barbaric ISIS and Al Qaeda mercenaries, whom they also sustained with their own funds. Thankfully, this atrocious attempt at regime change in Syria was thwarted by the heroic resistance of the Syrian armed forces, who were aided by military support from Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and some Palestinian militias. Primarily it was Russian military power which turned the tide. Invited into Syria by the Syrian government, superior Russian air power almost single-handedly destroyed ISIS, and effectively defeated what US, British and French imperialism assumed would be a fait accompli.

Smarting from being defeated on the battlefield, the UK cooked up an obviously fabricated incident which could be blamed on Russia directly in the lead up to the Russian Presidential Elections. No recent photos of Sergei Skripal have been produced, no statement of where he is now, no indication of what hospital he may be in – nothing. The immediacy with which the Western powers said “Russia did it” – before any investigation could even be started – gives the game away. It was a crude attempt to de-legitimise the Russian presidential elections, which Vladimir Putin was always going to win, and win easily. It was also an attempt to undermine the prestige Russia will gain by hosting the World Cup later in June – the world’s largest sporting event. In the end, the blatant lies and baseless allegations hurled towards Russia probably resulted in an increased vote for Putin!  As it turned out, Putin received over 76% of those votes which were cast.[3] It barely needs repeating that no Western politician – in an era where capitalism is in universal political and economic crisis – could conceive of anything even approaching 70% support. This is one more reason for the impetuous acts of the West.

Hysterical Russophobia

Western corporate media, playing the mouthpiece role of the depraved governments they serve, are once again stoking hysterical Russophobia, on a level which defies description. Without any probative evidence, they have blamed Russia for invading Ukraine, shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, “annexing Crimea”, bombing civilians in Syria, meddling in the 2016 US Presidential Election, delivering mass cyber virus attacks, doping their Olympic athletes and much more. When the Western governments are asked to provide the proof they have for these wild allegations, they invariably reply that it cannot be released for national security reasons. In the case of the alleged poisoning of the double agent Sergei Skripal, they have refused point blank, several times, to provide samples of the nerve agent allegedly found – a basic requirement of chemical weapons conventions. The fact that leading British politicians have yet to follow the most basic due legal process which arguably underpins Western civilisation – that one is innocent until proven guilty – exposes their entire system as having reached an impasse. Apart from being ugly and unsightly, it is yet another marker of the irreversible decline of the era of “liberal democracy”.

Liberal democracy was always capitalism, and it is capitalism which is seeking a way out of its long slump. It is prepared to risk world nuclear war rather than agree to coexist with other nations. Yet as throughout history, force alone is not enough to wage fratricidal war. Especially in modern times, where the majority of the population have access to instant news, intensive and pervasive propaganda is needed – as is the crushing of any dissenting views. In addition, the imperialist powers (the UK, France, the US, Germany, et al) cannot wage war in 2018 without dramatic racism, alongside a relentless demonisation and dehumanisation of the “enemy” – which is supposed to be Russia. This is the real purpose of Russophobia – the preparation of the world’s working people for the horrors of war. This is so that working people will either support, or at least not oppose, unspeakable crimes against the human ethos.

A climate is created in which anything Russian becomes suspect, in which any questioning of the anti-Russian narrative becomes treason. Mass hysteria is conjured into existence, where critical thinking often is simply bypassed. As one rightfully concerned commentator noted, the current political atmosphere that prevails in the West traces the course of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. The ideology and the targets differ, but the trajectory is exactly the same.[4] The lack of opposition to government lies, perhaps out of fear, but more due to an almost complete absence of working class leadership, enables the accrual of the forces of darkness. This was how Germany, with all its thousands of years of culture, with its towering intelligentsia and prodigious achievements in science, engineering and the arts, under similar conditions, fell under the control of fascism, with barely a scuffle in the street. The world is in danger, and the alarm must sound.

Hypersonic Weapons

On March 1, President Vladimir Putin addressed the Russian Federal Assembly and unveiled some of the achievements of Russian military technology in the ballistic missile sphere. Russia now has hypersonic missiles, which makes most US anti-ballistic missile defence essentially useless. Russia’s Zircon anti-shipping missile, already in use, is more or less uninterceptable – not even the US navy could really defend itself. But now, the Kinzhal (Dagger) missile exceeds it. With a range of 2000 kilometres, the Kinzhal effectively makes any surface naval fleet of destroyers obsolete. Russian ballistic missile technology, which is now capable of practically unlimited range, and launching missiles with 20 warheads each travelling at around 20 times the speed of sound, is a reality. It is a game changer – it will likely take decades before the US or any Western government has a chance of matching it. Some frightened Western commentators have claimed that this means that Russia now has military parity with the West, but this is false. Russian military technology is now several planes ahead of the West, and it will likely take the West decades to catch up.[5]

Putin was also clear on the reasons why Russia has undertaken the development of these frightening weapons. In 2002, the US government, under the George W Bush administration, unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and never again engaged with the Russians on this topic. This was despite Russia making repeated attempts to warn the US government of its entirely legitimate concerns over US missile “defence” installations in Europe and elsewhere. For sixteen years under Bush and Obama, the US has relentlessly provoked Russia by expanding NATO, backing Georgia in a war in 2008, aiding a fascist-backed Nazi coup in Ukraine and almost destroying Syria. In response, Russia has had little option but to develop an effective deterrent. It mirrors the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or “North Korea”), where the DPRK had no option but to develop nuclear weapons after being labelled part of the “Axis of Evil” by George W Bush in 2003. In both cases the US elite are now reaping what they have sown.

Left parties fold under the wave of Russophobia

No leftist makes any claim that the Russian government is aiming to once again lead the world’s workers in a struggle for international socialism. However, insofar as the Russian government defends itself against precipitous US/NATO provocations, Russia must be defended in the name of human survival. In reality, Russia’s nuclear and hypersonic weapons – developed due to the hostile aggression of US imperialism and their vassal states – are currently a guarantor against a nuclear holocaust. This does not mean at all that this situation will remain in place. The dire economic situation of the profit and private property system in the West ultimately means that war is its only way out. The US ruling class attempted this in Syria for seven years, but were ultimately blocked by Russia’s military power. As we go to press, the Syrian Arab Army has liberated all of Eastern Ghouta, which had been held hostage by Western and Saudi armed and funded death squads since 2011.[6]

Reeling from this defeat, the wounded beast of the US Empire screeches and attempts to lash out at the force which comprehensively out-manoeuvred it in Syria. Wave after wave of Russophobia bombards workers around the world, often with comical and pathetic attempts to prove Russian malfeasance. Russophobia contains a toxic mix of racism and anti-communism despite the restoration of capitalism in Russia over 25 years ago. Unfortunately, many Australian left parties fall prey to the sheer intensity of imperialist propaganda, even if they can see through it on other issues. Socialist Alternative are perhaps the most stridently anti-Russian, explicitly stating that “old” anti-imperialism targeting only the West is no longer adequate. Their moral equivalence between the US and Russia in practice means targeting only Russia, while letting the US off the hook.[7] Solidarity are even less restrained in their fanciful claims of Russian “imperialism”.[8] The Socialist Alliance rallies behind “anti-corruption” candidate Alexei Navalny,[9] while remaining blind to Navalny’s own documented record of convictions for corruption, opposition to government funding for poorer regions of Russia, and using direct funding from the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to establish his ironically named “Democratic Alternative”.[10] The Trotskyist Platform’s inherent disdain of Russia leads it to vilify anyone or any group which defends Russia from immensely dangerous imperialist provocations, for alleged acquiescence of “fascism”.[11] All of these left parties therefore make the error of stunting opposition to NATO.

While it is the case that the Communist Party of Australia (CPA)[12], the Socialist Equality Party[13] and the Spartacist League[14] have a position of opposing war provocations against Russia on paper, their chronic abstention from political activity effectively renders their words a dead letter. Predictably, there has not been one Union official who has uttered a word of dissent against a pack of lies on a par or even greater than the infamous “weapons of mass destruction” fabrications which led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The conservative Union bureaucracy works ceaselessly to shepherd workers behind the foreign policy of Australia’s ruling elite, who willingly play an auxiliary role to the US Empire.

No War on Russia!

There is some opposition to the war drive against Russia, which has been active with consistent opposition to the regime change wars in Libya and Syria. Groups such as Hands Off Syria, anti-imperialist individuals involved in DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) solidarity work, dissident CPA members and genuine anti-war activists have been a lone voice in a sea of political paralysis. These courageous individuals largely remain scattered throughout the country, and need to be joined by a working class led mass anti-war movement. This is a political as well as a practical struggle, which could best be assisted by the formation of a serious workers’ revolutionary party. Marxism’s basic precept is that humanity marches forward, or falls backwards, in direct proportion to the state of the leadership, organisation, and politicisation of the working class in line with its own interests. For humanity to survive in this period, workers of the world need to unite to prevent nuclear war. HANDS OFF RUSSIA!

WORKERS   LEAGUE

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

PO  Box  66
NUNDAH  QLD  4012

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-27/russian-ambassador-says-diplomats-being-expelled-are-not-spies/9593800 (27-03-18)

[2] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-27/socceroos-world-cup-participation-in-doubt-russia-stoush/9592344 (27-03-18)

[3] https://sputniknews.com/russia/201803181062667521-presidential-elections-2018-preliminary-results/ (27-03-18)

[4] https://thesaker.is/what-happened-to-the-west-i-was-born-in/ (28-03-18)

[5] http://www.unz.com/article/the-implications-of-russias-new-weapons/ (30-03-18)

[6] https://www.rt.com/news/422867-syria-ghouta-cities-liberated/ (01-04-18)

[7] https://redflag.org.au/node/5559 (01-04-18)

[8] http://www.solidarity.net.au/imperialism/imperialist-rivalry-and-putins-russia/ (01-04-18)

[9] http://www.links.org.au/putin-russia-elections-left (01-04-18)

[10] https://www.liberationnews.org/alexei-navalny-agent-of-big-money/ (01-04-18)

[11] http://www.trotskyistplatform.com/defend-syria-against-u-s-australian-imperialism-and-their-proxies-australias-left-in-multi-sided-disarray-over-syria-issue/ (01-04-18)

[12] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2018/1816/11-stoking.html (02-04-18)

[13] http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/03/28/pers-m28.html (02-04-18)

[14] http://www.icl-fi.org/english/asp/223/crimea.html (02-04-18)

Map showing the location of venues for the 2018 World Cup, hosted by Russia. Image from Sky Sports

Hands Off the DPRK! No to Nuclear Armageddon

DPRKflag

Hands Off the DPRK! No to Nuclear Armageddon

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

Socialism vs Capitalism

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

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

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

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

PRC’s rise and rise

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

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

Defeat in Syria

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

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

War abroad linked to war at home

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

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

Stand with the DPRK and the PRC against war

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

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

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO  Box  66  NUNDAH  QLD   4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

http://www.redfireonline.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ban the Bomb! No to Nuclear War!

BAN THE BOMB!     NO TO NUCLEAR WAR!

17-06-2017 – “There’s a bomb hangin’ over our heads”….this familiar refrain from the era of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is unfortunately even more relevant today. However, today there is no Soviet Union to offset the capricious destructive power of the US Empire. This does not mean the US behemoth encounters no opposition to its plans for global plunder. In Syria, Russia – at the invitation of the Syrian government – has effectively blocked US led efforts at regime change. Iran and Hezbollah have given assistance, and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) at least voted against moves for regime change at the United Nations (UN). The US led campaign for regime change had active support from Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Australia and others.

The fact that this regime change operation was blocked, at least for now, has not stymied the US rulers’ appetites for regime change, in Syria or elsewhere. Economically, the global capitalist system is in terminal decline, and this drives ever more reckless wars of regime change, invasions, bombings, funding and arming of death squads to bring down sovereign governments, and much more. The USA, the leader of capitalist-imperialism, thus has its hands drenched in blood from current or completed or attempted regime change operations in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK – also referred to as “North Korea”), and many others. US troops are stationed in over 130 countries around the world. Canberra, heading up the vassal Australian state, politically or practically backs, or participates in, all such operations.

Ongoing threats to the DPRK

Today’s day of action has been organised to call on the Australian government to sign up to a global ban on the production and use of nuclear weapons. The governments of 130 nations have signed up to endorse this agreement.[1] Working people should certainly not oppose such an agreement, were it possible to sign and have it enforced. The objectors at this stage include the governments of the US, Australia, Russia and China. Despite constant demonization by Western governments and their media, the DPRK was an enthusiastic signee. This fact demonstrates that despite the corporate media depiction of the DPRK as a mad “rogue state”, in actuality it would prefer not to have to spend resources in the development of nuclear weapons. The only reason it does, is that it is threatened with annihilation, nuclear or otherwise, at any moment, by US imperialism and its allies. Consequently, as Mike Whitney wrote: “There’s no country in the world that needs nuclear weapons more than North Korea”.[2]

This is why there is no contradiction between the DPRK signing up to a proposed ban on nuclear weapons, and the DPRK actually developing nuclear weapons themselves. It is purely a matter of survival. The ferocity of the US Empire’s war on Korea in 1953 left an indelible mark on the whole construction of the DPRK itself. The DPRK is more aware than anyone else of the unfathomable barbarism visited upon them during that war. Around 4 million Koreans and Chinese volunteers were slaughtered, bridges and power stations were reduced to rubble, relentless volumes of napalm were dropped on civilian targets, and that was just for starters. It is estimated that Pyongyang was reduced to a population of 50 000 during the war, whereas before the war it was 500 000.[3] To DPRK citizens, these horrific memories are as clear to them as yesterday.

Despite this, the DPRK has repeatedly stated, time and time again, that it is ready to “conclude an agreement to end its nuclear programs, put them all under IAEA inspection and conclude a permanent peace treaty to replace the ‘temporary’ cease-fire of 1953.”[4] The DPRK has consistently stated that it will end its nuclear weapons program if US forces are withdrawn from the southern half of the Korean peninsula, and if the annual “military exercises” conducted on the doorstep of the DPRK, where the US military and its allies practice for a regime change invasion, cease. This entirely reasonable offer has been stated time and time again, only to be ignored by the US state.

Threats to China, Russia

US designs for regime change in the DPRK are also aimed at the neighbouring People’s Republic of China (PRC), perhaps even more so. It was largely to contain the 1949 socialist revolution in China that the US launched the war against Korea in 1950-53. Today, China’s dominant socialist economy is leaving the capitalist economies for dead, outstripping it in ongoing GDP growth, driving spectacular investment in infrastructure development, and even offering other countries the opportunity to take part, with its One Belt One Road program. The US, with a declining economy and crumbling infrastructure, is well on the way to being overtaken as world number 1. The US ruling class knows that it must take action against Red China sooner rather than later to prevent this from happening. Hence we have the irrational threats against the DPRK, and relentless provocations by the US in the South China Sea. The installation of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missiles in South Korea are also patently aimed at China, given that they will be virtually ineffective against a conventional missile strike from the DPRK.[5]  These very real threats are the precise reason why the PRC itself needs its own nuclear arsenal.

The threats of the US Empire towards Russia are no less serious. Russia, as well as China, is being encircled by a swathe of US military bases. The relentless expansion of NATO, along with military hardware and missiles being installed right up to Russia’s border in Eastern Europe, means that Russia, regardless of its wishes, must also maintain and develop its nuclear weapons stockpile. To not do so would result in extermination. For example, the forces of NATO members Canada, the United Kingdom (UK), France and Denmark, which have recently been deployed, are part of an “Enhanced Forward Presence” in the Baltic states, as well as Poland. In excess of 4000 NATO troops are building what are in effect permanent bases in these countries, menacingly pointed towards Russia.[6] At best, these developments violate an express agreement signed in 1997, that NATO would not seek to establish permanent bases in the nations closer to Russia. At worst, it greatly heightens the danger of an accident which could trigger a military, or nuclear, confrontation.

From where do the threats of war arise?

While working people should not oppose universal bans on nuclear weapons, i.e. a commitment by ALL countries, imperialist or otherwise, not to produce or stockpile nuclear weapons, we should be clear that the threat of nuclear war does not arise because some states are armed with nuclear weapons. The threat of war, nuclear or not, is present due to the day to day operation of the system of capitalist-imperialism. Leading this system is the ruling class of the United States, which is currently threatening nuclear world war via its simultaneous regime change threats against Syria and the DPRK. Any more US moves to take down the Syrian government, could activate Russia, which is doing its utmost to defend Syria and prevent such a potential nuclear war. At the same time, any more US moves to strike the DPRK, would of necessity bring in the PRC in self-defence, but also could lead to nuclear war.

This is why, despite laudable efforts to ban nuclear weapons, while US imperialism exists, anti-imperialist, socialist and independent states (e.g. China, Russia, Iran, DPRK) will need nuclear weapons to defend themselves. In fact, despite the demonization by the Western corporate media of the DPRK, the very existence of the DPRK’s weapons stockpile is actually part of what is currently preventing a nuclear war. Many attendees at today’s rallies are ironically enjoying a peace which the nuclear weapons stockpile of the DPRK (and China and Russia) ensures. It is only the nuclear deterrent existing in these states which currently prevents them, and large parts of the world, from being obliterated by the US juggernaut – inevitably with the backing of Canberra.

This situation of a delicate balance, where the nuclear weapons potential of the socialist or independent states is used as a defence against the nuclear weapons potential of US imperialism, unfortunately can’t last forever. Capital, the mainstay of the “free enterprise” system of the West, has to expand or die. It has to accumulate not only profit, but an adequate rate of profit. Once the opportunity for capital expansion has expired within the home country, it must seek others in other parts of the globe. If other countries do not allow foreign capital plunder, sooner or later the drums of war begin to beat, talk of “humanitarian intervention”, “democracy” and “human rights” grows louder and louder. The US and the NATO monster are switched on, and voila! Regime change is here again. This is one reason why war itself will not be removed until the planet is able to rid itself of capitalism.

Hands Off the DPRK, China, Syria, Russia, Iran

As it was during the First World War, the struggle to stop world war is also a struggle for the overthrow of governments prosecuting wars. This requires a politically aware working class, and a workers’ party prepared to lead this struggle. We can begin to assemble such a party now, even if the subjective conditions for it do not currently exist. Right now, it is important that working people raise and organise around such demands as Hands Off the DPRK, China, Syria, Russia and Iran – putting the political heat squarely on those who currently threaten to unleash World War III – the governments of the US, the UK, France, Saudi Arabia and their allies, including Australia. To do this, working people will need to apply pressure to their own Union leaders – many of whom are thoroughly tied into the system which provides them well-paid careers, and thus are tied into Australian government foreign policy. These positions flow from Australia being an imperialist power in its own right, albeit a minor one.

The Australian people are overwhelmingly against a world war. This does not mean, however, that a “broad” peace movement is all that is needed to somehow prevail. In fact, rather than uniting the peace movement, such as it is, what is required is for pro-worker elements to break away from those who wish to direct appeals to the very rulers who are enabling the conditions for world war. That is, the anti-imperialist elements need to break away from the pro-imperialist sections. For no matter how many words political forces such as the Australian Labor Party (ALP), the Greens and NGOs may offer against war, the fact is that they are a strong pillar of the capitalist system producing it. Many of the members of these organisations would strongly campaign against imperialist war, and such folk should be welcomed. A problem arises when representatives of the liberal side of the ruling class are openly asked by peace campaigners to be “stars”, or special guests. Doing so cripples the politics to such an extent that it the movement becomes one which is appealing to the very purveyors of war itself – the Western ruling classes. Imagine in feudal times appealing to the King’s forces to stop waging war against the next fiefdom, which were conscripting peasants by force to do so.  Every rank and file worker today would understand that that appealing to the King would be fruitless, and that the only hope would lie in a generalised peasant revolt.

Today we no longer live in such times, and we have the advantage that the modern ruling classes, the bourgeoisie, often prefer to rule by manufactured consent rather than by force. Breaking this manufactured consent cannot be done, however, while political forces hostile to independent working class action are allowed to dominate the “peace” movement – whether they be ALP or other politicians, NGOs, or conservative Union leaders. The danger of world war is real, and it emanates from the very system which “our” politicians preside over. These politicians are not “ours” in the slightest. The working class must produce its own leaders, and its own party, if we are to stand a realistic chance of preventing war through ending the rule of capital, and establishing workers rule. NO TO WORLD WAR!

 

WORKERS LEAGUE

PO  BOX  66  NUNDAH  QLD  4012

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

www.redfireonline.com

[1] https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/nuclear-ban-treaty-progresses-despite-us-led-objections (09-06-17)

[2] https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/17/the-problem-is-washington-not-north-korea/ (09-06-17)

[3] https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/17/the-problem-is-washington-not-north-korea/ (09-06-17)

[4] “North Korea’s consistent message to the U.S.”, President Jimmy Carter, Washington Post.

[5] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-defence-analysis-idUSKBN16F0CT (09-06-17)

[6] http://www.globalresearch.ca/war-preparations-against-russia-nato-builds-infrastructure-for-permanent-military-presence-near-russias-borders/5590363

UN General Assembly votes on resolution to move toward a ban on nuclear weapons. Image from http://www.cndpindia.org

Demand Free Education – Just like in the DPRK!

24-08-2016 – The figures are staggering. $20 billion of government funding cut from the University sector, a drift towards total deregulation of fees, $100 000 degrees, and the privatisation of higher education. Combine this with a further slated 20% cut in funding, and a 100% increase in class sizes over the last generation,[1] and the labelling of tertiary education as being “Americanised” is no exaggeration. Along with the daylight robbery type fees, crowded lectures, more online courses and less contact with tutors have become the norm. Higher Education in Australia is becoming, or has become, unaffordable for all but the most privileged.

The quality of the education provided at Universities today and the fees charged proceed in inverse proportions. The worse the quality, the more fees are charged. University staff also suffer – there has been a raft of job cuts at Universities around the country, and many tutors who have some employment are only taken on for short-term contracts. Casualisation is rife, with tutors sometimes only paid for the actual student contact hours. In contrast, the remuneration for University Vice-Chancellors continues to be obscene. Figures for VC salaries from 2015 reveal that the lowest VC salary was $540,000, while seven VCs pulled a salary of over 1 million per year.[2] Universities have become commercialised degree factories, whose graduates are endorsed for uncritically accepting the privatisation of virtually everything.

The rapidly approaching full deregulation of fees will adversely affect international as well as domestic student. A HSBC report found that despite Australia having the highest education costs of any country in the world,[3] international students make up 20% of tertiary student body. These students are treated by University administrations as little more than cash cows, who are charged higher fees than domestic students. These international students have to work to pay the tuition fees in addition to their living expenses, while somehow studying full time. This leads many international students to undertake any available work, often ending up being illegally underpaid by notorious outfits such as the 7 Eleven convenience stores.

While the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has done some positive work to oppose the further drift to full fee deregulation, and to highlight the dangers of $100 000 degrees, it still ultimately retains an electoralist and parliamentarist strategy to address the almost terminal state of accessible higher education. In amongst encouragement to attend rallies, the NTEU officials talk about “helping out at election time” , “writing a letter to your MP”, and “ensuring that the government not abrogate its role in providing [higher education]”. The left party Socialist Alternative (SAlt), the largest left group organising on University campuses, also ultimately plays into a perspective of “pressuring” parliament and parliamentary parties, despite its laudable organisational role. SAlt correctly recognise that both Liberal and Labor parties back the effective privatisation of higher education, but often tailor their calls to target Liberal party ministers, which opens the door for work on the ground with Labor and Greens aligned students.

To be clear, the ongoing attacks on higher education in this country are not a result of the ideas or ideology of the major political parties, nor are they the result of the ideology of “neoliberalism”. Higher education is being privatised due to the economic crisis engulfing the capitalist world economies, mired in effective recession since 2008. In this country, the privatisation of higher education began in 1989 under the Labor Party, but has continued ever since, regardless of whether there has been a Liberal/National, Labor or Labor/Greens coalition. All of these parties are committed to maintaining the capitalist system at the expense of the suffering of working people. All “liberal democratic” governments in this country are thus in practice arms of a dictatorship of the owners of the means of production. This is why they no longer see it (if they ever did) as “their role” to provide accessible higher education, as the NTEU leadership implores.

It is only a socialist government which genuinely sees its role as providing education for all working people. It is in the material interests of a socialist government to ensure all its citizens have access to all forms of education to establish an educated workforce, but also to ensure the scientific and cultural progress of that society. There is a socialist state in the Asia-Pacific region which does provide all its citizens with free education – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK – referred to by the corporate media as “North Korea”). The DPRK has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which is only 1.3% the size of Australia’s GDP[4], yet it is able to provide education at all levels, including 12 years of schooling, and between 3 and 5 years of University education at no cost to DPRK citizens. What is more, all University graduates are guaranteed employment, as the concept of unemployment is unknown in the DPRK.

It is a far cry from what young working people in Australia face – crippling or unaffordable tuition fees, and a high likelihood of unemployment upon graduation. The contrast between capitalism and socialism could not be more stark. While we face the barrier of wholesale deregulation, however, the same methods used to secure a socialist state – class struggle – is ultimately the only way of obtaining a decent and accessible education system now. Students, as an intermediate body between school and the workforce, do not have the social power to bring the system to a halt. Only the working class, particularly on campus, but also in the public service and workplaces across the country, has the potential to ramp up the class struggle, through mass actions up to and including the withdrawal of labour.

The main obstacle to the linking of the student’s struggle for free education with workers’ power is primarily the influence of the top officials presiding over most Unions, who see their role as channelling any just demands into the capitalist state via pleading with “our” politicians. These politicians are not “ours” no matter how much snake oil they sell. Students and workers need to rely on their own strength, independently of the parliamentary system, to forge a mass movement which has the power to win. This will also require the formation of a workers’ party, which can champion the struggle for both free education and socialism.

DEMAND FREE EDUCATION!

Workers League

PO Box 66 Nundah QLD 4012

www.redfireonline.com

E: workersleague@redfireonline.com

[1] http://no100kdegrees.org.au/#!portfolio-item/100k-degrees/ (06-08-16)

[2] https://the-scan.com/2015/06/10/vice-chancellors-salary-packages-on-the-rise/ (07-08-16)

[3] http://www.about.hsbc.com.au/news-and-media/australia-the-most-expensive-country-for-education-hsbc-report (10-08-16)

[4] http://www.tradingeconomics.com/north-korea/gdp (10-08-16)