Category Archives: Anti-Capitalism

Issue 19

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  1. As Capitalist Rulers Beat on the Unions and Poor: Opposing Racism & “Aussie First” Economic Nationalism Key to Defending Working Class People’s Rights
  2. Tens of Thousands Protest in Australia on the Day of Land Theft & Genocide Rally Attacked by Ruthless Police
  3. A Hard Right, Racist Bigot Enters the White House Capitalist “Democracy” is a Sham Unleash Industrial Action to Demand Jobs for All Only Workers United with All of the Oppressed Can Bring about Real Change
  4. Expand the Union Action in Defence of Public Housing in Sirius: Fight for a Massive Increase in Public Housing throughout the Country! Still a Chance to Prevent the Destruction of Public Housing in Millers Point and The Rocks
  5. Trotskyist Platform May Day (International Workers Day Statement We Need Militant Class Struggle to Win Secure Jobs for All Workers
  6. Workplace Safety Now Better in China Than in Australia Australian Rulers Union Busting Drive against the CFMEU Union
    Threatens Construction Workers Lives
  7. Good News: China’s Arrest of Crown Executives Endangers Packer’s Barangaroo Project James Packer’s Crown Versus Millers Point Public Housing
  8. Free All the Victims of Australia’s Racist Torture! Jail the Cops and Prison Guards Who Killed David Dungay, Ms Dhu, Rebecca Maher, Wayne Morrison, TJ Hickey, Mulrunji & the Many Other Victims of the Racist, Rich People’s State!
  9. Long Live China’s 1949 Anticapitalist Revolution! Protect the Great Benefits for Workers & the Rural Masses Won through the Revolution: Stop Imperialist Funding for Those NGOs that Seek to Overthrow Socialistic Rule in China
  10. Defend the Dominance of Socialistic, State-Ownership in China’s Economy! China: Pro-Worker and Pro-Private Sector Forces Lock Horns
  11. Racist Atrocities in Kalgoorlie
  12. Force Profitable Companies to Increase Hiring – Make Them Wear the Resulting Lower Profits Stop Billionaire Bosses from Retrenching Workers! No to Slave Wage Internships and Work for the Dole! For Fully Paid, Permanent Jobs for All!

Stop Billionaire Bosses from Retrenching Workers!

Force Profitable Companies to Increase Hiring –
Make Them Wear the Resulting Lower Profits

No to Slave Wage Internships and Work for the Dole!
For Fully Paid, Permanent Jobs for All!

Above: Marseille, France, 31 March 2016. Workers at a strike rally to oppose the French “Socialist Party” government’s planned labour reforms. The reforms will make it easier for bosses to sack workers and allows for capitalists to make workers do long overtime hours at the standard pay rate. Whoever administers capitalist states, no matter how “left-wing” they claim to be, will necessarily act against the interests of working class people.

2 July 2016 – Today, on federal Election Day, the Liberals, ALP, Greens and others were frantically seeking your vote. They were in furious competition with each other. Yet all these parties uphold the same capitalist order. There are some differences between the parties. The ALP’s base is mostly the working class and small-l liberal intellectuals while the Liberal party is dominated by actual capitalist bigwigs and upper middle-class yuppies. However, the ALP sells out its working class base by advocating a program to basically keep the current, terribly unfair, status quo. The Liberals, for their part, seek to make the rich even richer by gouging even more from the poor. One key issue that highlights the truth that none of these parliamentary parties deserve any support from working class people is the fact that all the parliamentary parties uphold the “right” of greedy bosses to retrench workers at will. Even when big business owners are making huge profits they do not hesitate to lay off workers if that can allow them to make still bigger profits. Yet all the current parliamentary parties protect the big end of town by variously shifting the blame for unemployment onto refugees, guest workers, overseas producers or all of the above.

Despite this, many leftists actually spent today campaigning for either Greens or ALP candidates. In other words they backed either the small-l liberal or social democratic party vying to run racist Australian capitalism. Even the Socialist Alternative group, who between elections makes valid attacks on the ALP and Greens, ended up advocating a vote for these parties even while admitting that they provide no road forward for the masses and stressing that it is a socialist alternative that needs to be built. To give such support to the Greens or to the ALP when it is running on a platform of largely maintaining the status quo – no matter how much such support is accompanied by talk of “building a socialist alternative” – can only breed defeatism amongst the masses. For it is telling working class people that they must support one of the pro-capitalist agendas. This is, after all, also what the capitalist media and politicians themselves – and indeed the education system too – tells the masses: that they must “choose” to accept one of the alternate visions of capitalist rule on offer.  Furthermore, by giving electoral support to one of the pro-capitalist parties – no matter how critically – the Left groups that do this are pushing the people that they influence to accept that the agenda of these parties is worth at least some level of support. However, for the class struggle to take off – and class struggle is the only effective means to defend the interests of the exploited and oppressed – the masses need to understand exactly the opposite. For the masses to choose the road of class struggle they need to be convinced that no pro-capitalist program – even if it is not as openly reactionary as that of the Liberals – is worthy of any support and, instead, the working class must rely entirely on its own power united with all other oppressed groups.

At the same time that most other Left groups were going about advocating support for the ALP or the Greens – and in some cases spending today literally handing out election material for these parties – the Sydney Branch of the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU) and ourselves in Trotskyist Platform (TP) were busy doing something very different. The AUWU and TP held an election day rally in the multiracial, working class Sydney suburb of Auburn calling to “Stop Billionaire Bosses From Retrenching Workers!” and to “Force Profitable Companies to Increase Hiring – Make Them Wear the Resulting Lower Profits.” The action also demanded, “No to Slave Wage Internships and Work For the Dole – For Fully Paid, Permanent Jobs For All.”

The thrust of the rally was summarised in the conclusion of the callout for the action:

… we don’t have to accept the `choice’ that this election offers. Let’s get united and build actions on the streets and in our workplaces. That is how working class people and our allies won whatever rights that we have today. What better way to start to get organised to resist the new government that will be installed to run the bosses system than by rallying to fight for the right of permanent, fully paid jobs for all workers on Election Day itself.

Among those addressing the rally was a representative of the Sydney Branch of the AUWU, Samuel Russell. He spoke powerfully about the irrationality of unemployment under the capitalist system noting that while there are so many people willing to work without jobs there also so many jobs that need to be done that are not being done: including maintenance and building of infrastructure, caring for people who need care, etc. He also strongly criticised all the current parliamentary parties – the Liberals, ALP and Greens – for their attacks on the unemployed. Russell stressed that the fruit of workers’ labour and what working class people actually need are tantalizingly and visibly within reach if only we can get organised to reach out for this juicy, low hanging fruit and fight for it.

Also addressing the demonstration were representatives of Trotskyist Platform (TP): rally M.C. Samuel Kim, TP chairwoman Sarah Fitzenmeyer and editor of The Spark (the journal of TP) Yuri Gromov. Below are their speeches, which have been edited for publication.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee: The two people bidding to head the government administering Australian capitalism. The only choice for working class people is to reject all the would-be administrators of this incredibly unfair system and to instead unite with all the oppressed in militant class struggle.

Rally M.C., Samuel Kim, introductory speech:

Let me initiate this rally with some news about how workers have been unfairly sacked due to greed. For example, one latest round of sackings was from the ANZ bank. The ANZ Bank is the 8th largest corporation in Australia by revenue. They announced a profit of 7.2 billion dollars for last year. But despite being one of the richest and most profitable companies in Australia, six weeks ago, the ANZ bank announced that they would be cutting 200 jobs of people working in back office operations. No, these jobs are NOT being off-shored but they are simply being cut to boost profits for bank bosses and billionaire shareholders. In addition, in the last 16 months, ANZ has slashed nearly one and a half thousand jobs.

It seems the wealthy bank owners just keep wanting even more money at the expense of ordinary workers. You see, the terrible axing of workers’ jobs amounts to a small 2% increase in profit. Yet still, the company bigwigs for the sake of 2% higher profits is prepared to make one and a half thousand of its employees suffer poverty and unemployment. Indeed, in the last year, the four big banks, of which all four are in the top ten most profitable companies in Australia, have together shed over 4,200 jobs – that’s after they made a combined profit in just half a year of nearly 15 billion dollars!

It is not just the banks that are guilty. All big business owners are guilty. Mining magnate Clive Palmer was found to have siphoned off 20 million dollars of his Queensland Nickel company for his political campaigning and then said he had no money to pay 800 retrenched workers their due entitlements. 74 million dollars is how much he owes workers. This figure is almost nothing compared to his current fortune of nearly $600 million. Clive should be forced to run the company at a loss when it’s made a profit over all these years and Clive should pay workers from his own bank account, brimming over with the wealth which was created by the very workers he took so much from.

But what Clive Palmer has done is just the tip of the iceberg. Everywhere around this country, business owners have ripped so much money from their workers and then sacked these workers. They often perform these mass sackings when one division of the firm makes a slight loss. Although, in many cases, their overall company is still making massive profits they want to make even more so they slash the workforce and make those remaining work faster.

We need to stop these billionaire bosses from retrenching workers. We call for a resistance of the working class to stop job losses. After all, the magnificent riches that capitalists have acquired have all been created by workers. So even when corporations are running at a loss for a while, they should be forced to retain their staff and the shortfall be paid out of the personal wealth of the business owners.

However, all the parties and so-called independents sitting in parliament, without exception, uphold the supposed “right” of business to sack their workers whenever they want to maximise their profits. At today’s elections, all these parties are vying for your vote by promising to be the ones that can deliver jobs. Yet, these parties ignore the main cause of unemployment and that is the capitalist rich and the bosses’ drive for profit while these rich people ignore the public and community.

It is not just their refusal to stop billionaires slashing jobs. Parliamentary parties are responsible for laws that restrict workplace industrial action. In other words these parties are restricting the very method that has the most power to compel business owners to retain jobs. We all know that the Liberals want to bring yet more severe laws against struggle by construction workers by reintroducing the ABCC. However, in 2012, it was the Labor-Greens de facto coalition government that brought in the Fair Work Building and Construction authority under which 108 construction worker officials are today before the courts.

As they make it harder for workers to speak out to improve their conditions at work, the current Liberal and Labor parliamentarians seek to, in various ways, shift the blame on to others or distract us from real concerns. The Liberals and ALP have blamed refugees, these powerless refugees. It was the ALP’s Keating in the 90s that introduced mandatory detention, literally imprisonment of children, and Labor’s Kevin Rudd a few years ago introduced blanket offshore detention for every single refugee arriving by sea. The Greens also join with the ALP in blaming 457 Visa guest workers or imported goods for local workers not getting jobs. Blaming foreign workers and ignoring billionaire bosses, we say, do not save jobs at all. Not one bit! Instead, these slogans serves to distract the masses from the real cause of unemployment: the greed of the wealthy business owners and the crumbling character of their capitalist system. Furthermore, the nationalist slogans of Labor, the Greens and the Liberals whip up dangerous growth in far right fascist forces and potential hate crimes. Instead of irrationally blaming powerless foreigners and ignoring what rich billionaires are doing, we should be uniting with these potentially radical, underpaid workers and we should blame the billionaires.

The current parliamentary parties that administer this system seek to blame the unemployed and poor for their own plight. Their policies are based on the savage idea that the unemployed need to be pressured through draconian measures to seek work. The Liberal government is currently rolling out compulsory “income management” where unemployed people are being allowed to only freely use 20% of their welfare income. This follows on from the racist policy of the Howard government which was then continued by Labor and the Labor-Greens government to forcibly “income manage” welfare payments to Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory. In probably the cruellest measure against unemployed and poor people, the former Labor and Greens government slashed payments to low income single parents. This has driven tens of thousands of single mothers and their children into further terrible poverty.

So this is the nature of the parliamentary, capitalist beast. Whatever party or independent is in government, they are part of this system that hurts the working class. They allow greedy bosses to cut jobs at will, make it harder for workers to take industrial action to resist such cuts and, when workers become unemployed, we get blamed for it and are hit with punitive measures. We should not be voting for any of these parties or independents at today’s elections. The only way we can fight to defend workers’ rights and jobs is through united mass struggle especially workplace strike action and mass struggle on the streets. To help build such struggle is why we are demonstrating here today. We are fighting for the right to have jobs for all workers through action that forces company owners to retain jobs and increase hiring at the expense of their profits.

If the capitalist bosses oppose our demands and whip up lies against us, we should say: If capitalist bigwigs are not capable of running the economy in a way that guarantees fully paid, secure jobs for all workers, then the economy should not be in their hands. It should be ripped out of their hands and placed into the collective hands of the people who actually generate the wealth of society: the working class people.

Top Left, April 2015: Workers retrenched from Fortescue Metals Group’s (FMG) Cloudbreak mine in the Pilbara gather their luggage at Perth Airport. Evident are the green, clear plastic bags that the workers were insultingly made to immediately pack their belongings into and clear out when the company axed their jobs. The company cried poor as its excuse for sacking the workers but in that financial year still made a profit of $435 million! However, its greedy owner, the filthy rich slime bag Andrew Forrest, wanted even more profit. So he cruelly got rid of hundreds of the workers who made him his fortune and made the remaining workers toil longer hours for the same pay. Only months after sacking hundreds of his workers, Forrest bought a $21 million mansion (Top Right) in the Perth seaside suburb of Cottesloe just metres away from another mansion that he owns. Lower Right: Forrest also owns a $53 million private jet!

Sarah Fitzenmeyer (Trotskyist Platform chairwoman): 

In Australia nearly three-quarters of a million people are officially unemployed. Hundreds of thousands more people are actually unemployed.

Additionally, over a million people are forced to work less hours than they want to.

35% of the workforce are either casual or on short term contract with virtually no job security.

Capitalist businesses spit out workers whenever their filthy profits might take a fall.  The dole is a pathetic slap in the face to workers who have toiled for the profits of others – it is hardly enough to survive on let alone pay a mortgage.

Under capitalism this country will go nowhere forwards… it is a society that I don’t want my children growing up into… it is a society that doesn’t care about anything except the making of money for the few who make up the ruling class. A society based upon the profit motive for the very few doesn’t sound like a system that creates equality for all.

Most oppressed groups suffer most from unemployment and casualization of work. Due to discrimination, women have higher unemployment and a greater proportion of women work as casuals. Aboriginal people have a much higher rate of unemployment due to intense racist discrimination. People with Asian, African or Muslim names often don’t get to the interview stage of job applications when their prospective employers read their names on their CVs.

Those of us who are lucky enough to have a permanent job can be thrown out of work if our boss decides that cutting our job is what is needed to maximise profit. Furthermore, the threat of unemployment is used to undermine workers’ demands for better wages and conditions.

Therefore, the struggle for jobs and the struggle against this brutal class system is in the interests of the entire working class and especially for women, Aboriginal people and other coloured people who are hardest hit by unemployment and discrimination.

All the current parliamentary parties from the openly pro-boss Liberals, Palmer United, Family First and Nick Xenophon group to the ALP and Greens uphold the bosses’ “right” to retrench workers whenever that helps them boost profits.

Furthermore, all these parties have brought in laws to criminalise militant industrial action – the working class’ main weapon to fight back against the job slashing bosses. Everyone knows about the Coalition’s drive to introduce ever more stricter, anti-strike laws. Yet, in the time of the previous Labor-Greens government, authorities were also carrying out legal action against trade unions left, right and centre.

The backing of bosses who slash jobs combined with the criminalising of workers’ resistance is part of all the current parliamentary parties backing of the capitalist system in general. A system which means brutal racist oppression of Aboriginal people, predatory wars against the peoples of the ex-colonial countries, cruel incarceration of refugees …and the list of oppressive travesties goes on.

At today’s election we should not be backing any of the parties that back this exploitative and racist system. That means no vote either directly or by preferences to any of the current parliamentary parties.

They won’t and they can’t ever give us what the masses of this country so desperately need.

It is the capitalists who run this country while parliamentarians are simply the administrators of this capitalist system in its current form. No elected politician in Australia’s bourgeois parliament can or will start to massively redistribute the sickening amount of wealth that the very few have, let alone start to redress the systematic oppression of Aboriginal people.  I am furious that I bring up children in a country that has so many gaping infected wounds that must be addressed.  It angers me that the oldest living culture on earth still suffers the worst systematic oppression…  and once you open up your eyes and actually see how capitalism works you know that these wounds certainly won’t be healed under a capitalist state. For it is the capitalists like Gina Reinhardt and Andrew Forrest whom the capitalist state serves and it is they who steal and get fat from Australia’s many natural resources.

Elections do not represent the will of the people. Elections are shaped heavily by a media that is capitalist-owned. The richer you are the more ads you can pay for and the more lies you can spread.

In any case whoever wins elections only administers a state – that is a police force, courts, bureaucracy and army – that has been built up to serve the interests of the big business owners. Thus, no matter who wins elections, it is the interests of the capitalists who will be served. In France, the Socialist Party came to office promising redistribution of wealth. Now it has brought in John Howard style, anti-worker laws that greatly increased the work week, provoking angry strikes and demonstrations by workers. In Greece, the even more left-talking Syriza party was elected to office but now institutes a capitalist austerity program more severe than the conservatives.

Government elections in capitalist countries serve to breed illusions in the working class and oppressed that change can come through parliament. This demobilises them and diverts them from the only path that can help us defend our rights – the path of class struggle. It is only through mass struggle including, importantly, industrial action that workers and the downtrodden have won all the rights that we have today. Even when progressive measures have been introduced in parliament, the state merely certifies what was already won through struggle in the streets or the workplace. At other times capitalist parliaments have granted reforms when the ruling class was scared into trying to pacify radicalising masses with a crumb or two or when they have been weakened by defeats in the international arena and sought to shore up their rule.

I am both enlightened and at the same time burdened by my knowledge that here in Australia we live under a capitalist “democracy.”  Once you understand how this capitalist system works, you are compelled to expose its brutal mechanisms in order to prepare the future workers’ uprising that will fundamentally destroy this capitalist state and create a society that is based upon equality and not upon the profit motive. A workers state would ensure that every person mattered, that every person had a part to play in the creation of a society…  A massive redistribution of wealth would lead to a society where no one ever needed to go without.   Everyone would play a valuable part in building a society that cared about how we were going to start to right the wrongs of over 200 years of white colonisation.

Once you understand how the capitalist system works, why everything bad that is happening in this country makes sense.  And once you see the blatant exploitation of workers’ labour you can only believe in one thing and that thing is a revolution.  A revolution that is possible with the united might of the working class, Aboriginal people and anyone who hopes that one day a better society can exist.

No matter who wins the election today, it certainly won’t help advance towards the revolution that is needed to make this country right.  Only the might of a united working class alongside the first peoples of this land will ever bring about the revolution that is so desperately needed.

Today, it is class struggle that we need to stop the capitalist bosses when they try to sack workers. We should also demand a reduction in the full-time work week with no loss in pay in order to spread the available work around. What all these demands are doing is fighting to force the bosses to maintain a larger workforce than they want to and thus forcing them to wear the resulting lower profits.

As an example of how gains are won through class struggle: two years ago at the Ausreo manufacturing site in Western Sydney workers, members of the AMWU manufacturing workers union, picketed the site for 10 weeks after the bullying bosses locked out the workers and refused to negotiate a pay rise. However, the workers remained defiant on the picket line and, thus, forced the company to grant them a real wage increase.

To make this the norm rather than the exception we need a political struggle within the workers movement to root out one of the key things holding back militant workers’ struggle – We must get rid of the illusion that salvation may come through elections and the parliament. To contribute to this struggle is what today’s demonstration aims to do.

The other key barrier to workers struggle is economic nationalism within our union movement. Consider this: nine days ago leaders of two of the biggest unions – the AMWU and the Australian Workers Union – held a rally for jobs. However, in total contrast to today’s rally for jobs the slogans were not to demand that the bosses be forced to increase hiring and be forced to wear the resulting lower profits. Instead, demands were made to help the bosses make more profits: through calling for infrastructure projects to use only steel and other products made by Australian corporations. But such protectionism does not save jobs. For just as demands are made here that local corporations be favoured, demands will then also be made abroad that local corporations there are favoured ahead of Australian ones. In the end all that happens is that workers are divided across national lines and the bosses are laughing all the way to the bank – because divided workers are less able to resist the bosses who exploit them. So we say down with divisive economic nationalism. Let’s truly respect the slogan that is often chanted – the workers united will never be defeated – by rejecting all demands that call for favouring one lot of workers over another.  Let the workers of the world unite.

So, sisters and brothers, we actually do need a party of the exploited and oppressed. But not one like the ALP which seeks to win elections to run the bosses’ state. What we need, instead, is a party that places its trust entirely in the class struggle. It fights to break illusions that change can from within the parliament through the capitalist state organs. Such a party fights to build the strongest unity of workers across national, racial and gender lines in the struggle to win jobs and improved pay and conditions for all workers everywhere. It does this, in part, by mobilising the working class to support antiracist struggles, the struggles of people oppressed by Australian imperialism abroad and the cause of women’s liberation. When the capitalists scream that moves to force them to maintain a larger workforce will cause an economic collapse, this revolutionary workers’ party will explain to workers that this only proves the need for the working class to seize the means of production from the capitalists and create, by any means necessary, a workers state.

In a workers state, every person will have the right to work in secure, fully paid jobs. The talents of humans will no longer be wasted and every person will have their most basic human rights satisfied – the right to a decent means of existence and the right to contribute to society through their labour and creativity. All the current parliamentary parties in practice spit on that right. Don’t campaign or vote for any of them. Let’s instead organise mass struggles to resist the anti-working class program of whichever party is elected today to administer the racist, rich people’s system.

A society where every person is respected and every person is as valuable as their neighbour is possible.  A better society based on so much more than making money for the few.  The capitalist system is so putrid in so many ways we must all do all that we can to fight for a fundamentally different society.  Once you understand how capitalism works you can also understand how it can be destroyed.  The united working class alongside Aboriginal people and all others that are oppressed can bring this rotten system to its knees and kill it, hailing in a society that I want to bring up my kids in.

The Western Sydney suburb of Auburn. In heavily multi-racial, working class areas like Fairfield, Auburn and Villawood a sizeable proportion of the population deliberately cast informal votes in elections because those individuals understand that none of the current parliamentary parties serve their interests.

Rally M.C., Samuel Kim, mid-rally remarks: 

I would just like to add that in my parent’s country, South Korea, 1.5 years ago they actually banned a party with relative size similar to the Greens, called the Unified Progressive Party… they had about 10-15% of the vote and stood as the 3rd largest party. They stated this party was too radical and tried to start a revolution/insurrection. In reality, the party was unfortunately, not revolutionary. However, it was very critical of billionaires and of the pro-billionaire president. This banning of a leftist party comes from a so-called “democratic society”. I’ll assure you, if any political party in capitalist Australia in parliament was too critical of the rich, they would deregister or ban the party and horribly spread lies to defend billionaires just like in capitalist South Korea.

Before I hand over to our next speaker, I want to give yet another example of a corporate boss sacking workers. Last year, the company owned by the slimy Australian billionaire, Andrew Forrest, slashed hundreds of jobs. The company owned by this supposed philanthropist is the iron ore mining company, Fortescue Metals Group. In many cases when the workers were sacked, they were herded into a recreation room and made to immediately pack their belongings into clear plastic bags. The company wanted to get rid of the workers as soon as possible. The remaining workers now have to work longer hours for the same pay. Andrew Forrest cried poor, citing a drop in iron ore prices. However, the company earlier this year announced a still massive profit of over 400 million dollars! Meanwhile, Andrew Forrest still has a personal fortune of 3.3 billion dollars! And this despicably greedy billionaire cries poor when throwing onto the scrapheap the very workers whose toil made him his fortune!

One reason why we are holding this rally in Auburn is that there is a high percentage of people here who vote informal. In the nearest polling booth in the church in East Auburn, 20% cast an informal vote. This is people who turned up to avoid a fine and then voted informal. Now right-wingers, small-l liberals and social democrats patronisingly say there’s a language barrier or that there is a low level of education here… But, actually, people have a healthy scepticism towards all the mainstream parties as, time after time, people have been sold lies and empty promises. The informal vote has been markedly increasing. In the election 18 years ago, the informal vote for the seat of Blaxland was just over 5%. But at the last elections it was nearly 14%. In this working class area, because of discrimination against women workers by bosses, female workforce participation is one of the lowest in the country and many face racist discrimination in employment – so people rightly feel disenfranchised. In contrast, in wealthier seats like North Sydney, the informal vote is nearly three times less – you see, the upper class knows that the system serves them and that they have a stake in it.

To the good working class people of Auburn, we say well done to those who are savvy enough to understand that the system does not serve you and that you have no stake in choosing which gang will administer this capitalist system.

Let us ignore those pretentious, pseudo-enlightened snobs who sneer and patronise you.

It is good that some slaves do not elect their own master. So we call for us slaves to arise. We call for mass action – including and especially militant working class industrial action. We don’t have the media, we don’t have the money, the parliamentary machine does not serve us, we only have our bodies to utilise in our resistance against the bosses. Our power comes through mass action, through the fact that it is the toil of our working class that makes the ruling class its profits and, most crucially, our power comes through our unity across racial, national and gender lines. That is what today is all about! It is about the fight for the right to secure fully paid jobs for all workers won through our own struggle united with all the downtrodden.

Karl Marx outlined the program for united workers struggle leading to the overturn of capitalism and the creation of a communist society based on collective ownership of the means of production. In such a society not only would jobs for all be guaranteed but each would give to society according to their ability and would receive back according to their needs.

Yuri Gromov (editor of Trotskyist Platform journal, The Spark):

IBM – whose workers over many decades have played no small part in helping create our modern digital world – IBM last year made a massive profit of 13 billion dollars – a billion more than the year before. So why – after utilising all the sweat and labour – all of the abilities and effort of its workforce to generate such enormous profits and, what’s more, after being awarded a renewed, nearly half a billion dollar contract by the Department of Human Services, why then has IBM a few months ago started slashing hundreds of jobs in Australia? After helping create such massive profits, you’d think that the least a big company like IBM could give its workers would be a guaranteed job. But, instead, they throw their workers onto the scrapheap of redundancy, out onto the demeaning dole lines at Centrelink where some of the 2000 former IBM workers already sacked over the last three years in Australia must already have endured the experience of being treated like bludgers by brash young bureaucrats just because – no thanks to IBM – they now rely upon a paltry dole payment that’s nearly impossible to actually live on. These job cuts are not about offshoring – IBM, true to form, is also slashing tens of thousands of jobs internationally. IBM’s biggest shareholder is America’s Berkshire Hathaway which is owned by Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest people with a net worth of 66 billion US dollars! Buffett is a small-l liberal who supports Obama and claims to be concerned about the poor. He would probably fund the Greens if he lived here. However, as IBM’s record demonstrates, he is also a greedy corporate thug whose small-l liberal concerns for human rights amount to so much trite waffle because workers for Warren Buffet, just as for every other capitalist, amount to mere figures on the company ledger, labour costs to write off and quickly forget about.

Australian billionaires are just as bad or worse like, for instance, that smug, absolutely appalling racist Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest of Fortescue Metals FMG, one of whose laid off workers in the Pilbara was last year quoted in WA Today saying, ““They [FMG] seriously don’t give a f__k about the people that have made the company successful.”

But smaller bosses are no better. In February, the Australian-owned Lion Group announced that it was making 39 workers at its Launceston brewery in Tasmania redundant. Yet a week later it announced a rise in its underlying profit to almost $700 million. So whether foreign owned or locally owned, whether huge or small, whether owned by right-wingers or small-l liberals,  all the capitalist bosses have no hesitation in slashing jobs and throwing dozens or hundreds or thousands or even tens and hundreds of thousands of working people into a life of uncertainty: uncertainty about how they are going to support themselves and their families, uncertainty about how they will pay their bills and where their next meal will come from, uncertainty about how they will pay their mortgage or rent and the bleak possibility of joining the 100,000 people who are homeless on the cold winter streets of Australia today. All this misery is the lot of so many sacked workers – not through any fault of their own but simply because they are human collateral damage in the ruling class’ reckless pursuit of ever bigger profits.

This is the normal, everyday kind of rule that our parliamentary democracy holds fast to. This is what all the millions of Australians have been effectively coming out to vote in support of today. Today, the dice is rolled once again to decide which party will continue to enforce the right of the rich to hold the lives of working class people balanced precariously on a tightrope, a tightrope called personal profit under which yawns the desolate abyss of unemployment. In Australia’s kind of democracy the dice is loaded so that the rich are always going to win whichever party in the end forms government. All the current parliamentary parties uphold a capitalist constitution that places the nominal rights of a few to private property and private profit so far above the right of thousands and ultimately millions of workers to a living wage. In fact, all the parties make a virtue out of punishing the unemployed. Just two weeks ago, the ALP – in whom so many working class people so tragically place their precious trust – announced a policy where people on social security benefits who have defaulted on paying the fines which the Coalition government imposed on job seekers who fail to turn up to all those pointless job agency interviews and activities – the ALP has had the bright idea that they’ll help out these unemployed people pay off their fines by slashing their benefits accordingly. Yet another punitive measure against the poor and unemployed dressed up as “income management.”

Do these people who are so desperate for your vote really have no shame: they uphold the bosses’ supposed “right” to slash jobs while punishing the victims of this very job slashing. No, we should not be giving our vote to any of these parties at today’s elections.

In the polling booth at multiracial, working class Villawood East, over 26% of people at the last federal election did, in fact, only turn up to vote to avoid being fined and then cast an informal vote. When you take into account those who simply risked a fine to not show up at all, that was well over one in three people in this part of western Sydney who refused to vote for any candidate. This effect has actually nearly doubled since the 2004 elections. So, we say, well done to a growing number of those working class people in areas like Villawood, Fairfield and here in Auburn who are clever enough to understand that they should not be supporting any of the current lot. However, it is important that this healthy distrust of the system does not lead to despondency.

It is time to test the strength, to rattle the shackles that bind the working class to the will of their capitalist masters. It is time to flex the physical and intellectual muscles of the Australian working class on the street, in the workplace and on the picket line struggles for rights at work. This struggle will hold no illusions at all in the goodwill of either the Liberal Party or the ALP.  For they are simply the right and left wing props of the capitalist order, a pair of tired old second hand car salesmen who’ve set up their seedy dealerships on opposite corners of the street of capital so they can lure innocent passer-by’s into buying their dubious democratic bombs. But buyers beware: you can be sure that your vote will count for nothing, even if you place your mistaken trust in relative newcomers to this democratic hustle like the Greens who notoriously sold refugees down the river in a deal with the ALP in 2010 and have been quick to flag this same policy as a non-core promise ready to be negotiated out this time around too. None of these parties will guarantee jobs for all.

So let us fight for the right to work, for the right of our children to a high quality free education, for our families’ right to the best free health care available, for the right of the homeless to a safe and secure roof over their heads, the rights of the so long embattled and yet still so proud and powerful Aboriginal people, the rights of our LGBTI communities and not least of all the rights of the ordinary men, women and children so cruelly imprisoned in the Nazi hellhole immigration detention centres of Christmas Island, Nauru and Manus Island. Once so many other sections of society have united around us the fight to stop job slashing by the bosses will be so much more powerful.

Don’t Get Conned into Voting for Any of the Anti-Working Class Parliamentary Parties 
They All Uphold the “Right” of the Greedy Bosses to Retrench Workers at Will  
Let’s Get Organised to Stand Up to the Bosses and Win the Right to Secure Jobs for All
Force Profitable Companies to Increase Hiring and Let Them Cop the Resulting Lower Profits
No to Slave Wage Internships and Work for the Dole 
For Fully Paid, Permanent Jobs for All

It is time to show once again that – unlike the Liberals or the ALP or the rest of them – working class men and women in this country are nobody’s lackeys. It is time for the organized working class to flex its industrial muscle. It is time for workers to trust in our own collective power. Only then will all the other oppressed layers of society see that it is working class women and men who are ready to lead the masses away from a cruel and unfair system towards a society where everyone’s needs are met and everyone’s abilities are valued.  A society that can realise the principle of: from each according to their ability to each according to their need.

This famous formula dating back to the 1870s from the pen of the great German philosopher Karl Marx – the founder of the modern communist movement – still remains the best way to describe the communist future that my comrades and I struggle in our own modest way to help bring about. If a bunch of people found themselves alone and thrust together on this green and blue planet and determined that they would try to pull together for the sake of their mutual survival then surely they wouldn’t find any better advice than to follow this creed: from each according to their ability to each according to their need.

Marx wished that these words and the idea they encapsulate which is almost childlike in its innocent simplicity would be inscribed on the banner of the working women and men of the world. A banner to be unfurled as they rose to their historical calling and wrenched the reins of industry and government into their strong and able working hands and away from the greedy paws of the ruling capitalists.

Rally M.C., Samuel Kim, concluding remarks:

In closing let me summarise our message to both people at this rally and the good working class people of multiracial Auburn passing by.

The insecure, temporary jobs that more and more workers are forced into are not good enough. Unemployment is not good. No to Work for the Dole! No to low-waged internships!

The reason there is unemployment is because of the capitalist system and because of the greed of the big business owners whom this system serves. These bosses do not hesitate to slash jobs if that is what it takes to maximise profits. This is what Clive Palmer, Andrew Forrest, Warren Buffett, the owners of the big banks, BHP, Rio Tinto and countless other exploiters have been doing over the last 18 months. All those who blame 457 Visa guest workers, refugees, migrants or international workers for causing unemployment are not only whipping up poisonous nationalism but are acting to get the real people responsible for unemployment – these capitalist exploiters – off the hook.

All the current parliamentary parties and independents do exactly this when in office. They seek to blame others for unemployment or they ignore the real contributors to unemployment in capitalism because they uphold the capitalist system. They all uphold the right of the corporate bosses to sack workers whenever they need to increase their profits. Meanwhile, whether it is the right-wing Liberals in government, the ALP or the ALP and Greens in coalition, all these parties have overseen measures punishing the unemployed and the poor for their own plight.

That is part of why we should not be voting for any of these parties at today’s elections. Many people in multiracial, working class Auburn and neighbouring suburbs already understand this. That is why the informal vote is very high here. However, we need to be more than disenchanted with the current system – we need to fight against it. And we have the power! Our power is not through elections. Working class people have never won anything significant through the ballot box. Our power is our unity in mass struggle – through industrial action at the workplace and mass action on the streets. That is how we won every right that we still have today – from annual leave and sick leave to workplace safety regulations and greater access to education, these were the concessions capitalists threw to us when they got a little bit scared. Today, we badly need to unleash this power to stop the greedy bosses slashing jobs. We need to force profitable companies to increase hiring and make them wear lower profits.

We are here to fight for the right to secure fully paid jobs. Permanent jobs and that no one should be sacked.

Today is a small but important step in building a movement to fight for this perspective. If we can unleash such a movement against job slashing backed by the unions then when the capitalist bosses complain that they cannot hire more workers without inducing an economic collapse we will say to them: Since you cannot guarantee a livelihood to all workers without causing economic collapse, we are going to rip the economy out of your hands and place it into our collective hands in a system based on working class rule.

China: Pro-Worker and Pro-Private Sector Forces Lock Horns

Defend the Dominance of Socialistic, State-Ownership in China’s Economy!

Above, a common site in China: youth wearing the communist hammer and sickle emblem. Mass support for communism in China has thus far constrained capitalist restorationist tendencies within sections of the ruling bureaucracy. Photo: Trotskyist Platform

2 December 2016 – Last week, Fidel Castro passed away at age 90. Fidel led the 1959 Revolution that would end up overthrowing capitalism in Cuba and bringing terrific improvements to the lives of the Cuban masses. In response to his death, Chinese president, Xi Jinping lauded Fidel’s achievements. Here are some excerpts of Xi Jinping’s message of condolences to Raul Castro, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba:

Fidel Castro, founder of the Communist Party of Cuba and Cuba’s socialist cause, is a great leader of the Cuban people. He has devoted all his life to Cuban people’s great cause of struggling for national liberation, safeguarding state sovereignty and building socialism.

He has made immortal historic contributions to the Cuban people and to the world socialism development.

The Cuban and Latin American people lost an excellent son, and the Chinese people lost a close comrade and sincere friend. His glorious image and great achievements will go down in history.

I believe that under the strong leadership of Comrade Raul Castro, the Communist Party of Cuba, the Cuban government and its people will carry on the unfinished lifework of Comrade Fidel Castro, turn sorrow into strength and keep making new achievements in the cause of socialist construction.

Xinhua, 26 November 2016

President Xi’s fulsome praise for Fidel and Cuba’s socialistic path reflects the fact that China itself is under socialistic rule. While Cuba’s revolution came in 1959 and was the first – and to date – only decisively anti-capitalist revolution in the Western Hemisphere, China’s anti-capitalist revolution came ten years earlier. It brought the long suffering toiling masses to power in the world’s most populous country and freed China from over a hundred years of humiliating, colonial servitude at the hands of Western and Japanese imperial overlords.

However, the Australian media did their best to hide the substance of the Chinese president’s letter of condolence over the death of Fidel. They reported very briefly that Xi had sent his condolences but made sure they did not report on Xi’s praise for Cuba’s socialist system. Why? Because to do so would highlight the continued socialistic character of the Peoples Republic of China. The mainstream Western media don’t want to do this. In fact, they sometimes even try to make you believe that China has simply “gone capitalist.” To admit otherwise poses a very inconvenient fact for the capitalist media: the fact that the country with the world’s fastest growing economy that has managed to lift hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty – i.e. China – has done so while based on a socialistic system. To admit this blows sky high out of the water the main anti-communist argument that people in the capitalist world are taught from the time they go to school and start watching documentaries: socialism may sound like a fair system but it just does not work in practice.

Top, Harlem, U.S.A, 1960: Fidel Castro meets American black revolutionary leader Malcolm X. Fidel led the 1959 Revolution that would end up overthrowing capitalism in Cuba and bring terrific improvements to the lives of the Cuban masses. When he visited New York for a UN meeting the year after the revolution, he was ostracised by the American establishment. However, in an act of solidarity with the oppressed black peoples of the U.S., Castro then chose to stay at a hotel in the black neighbourhood of Harlem reinforcing his hero status with supporters of black liberation and anti-imperialism. When Castro passed away in November 2016, Red China’s leader Xi Jinping hailed Castro’s “immortal historic contributions to the Cuban people and to the world socialism development.” However, Xi did not attend the funeral for Castro, only sending his vice president Li Yuanchao, seen at the Bottom laying a wreath for Castro at the Jose Marti Memorial in Havana, Cuba. Xi’s choice not to attend Castro’s memorial was no doubt an attempt to placate the far-right, U.S. president elect Donald Trump. Fat good that did the Peoples Republic of China! Trump and Co. wasted no time in attacking China. They even broke with decades of diplomatic protocol by provocatively giving legitimacy to the renegade, capitalist Chinese province of Taiwan. The policy of severely downgrading solidarity with the international struggle for socialism in the name of “peaceful co-existence” with imperialism that is practiced by China’s leaders – as was also practiced by the post-1924 leaders of the former Soviet Union and largely by Castro too after the initial period following the Cuban revolution – harms not only the global socialist struggle but socialistic rule in China itself.

Of course, the capitalist media do very often contradict their own, sometimes used, “gone capitalist” narrative about China. They, indeed, start talking about “communist China” whenever they manage to find an area that they can attack the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) over and exaggerate a problem – like pollution – or when they misrepresent events to accuse the PRC of “human rights violations.” The lying capitalists, actually, know very well that the PRC is not a capitalist entity but a socialistic state. That is why the capitalist-owned media look for any opportunity possible to demonise China, why the U.S. and Australian regimes support anti-PRC NGOs and dissidents within China and why investment from PRC state-owned companies are especially scrutinised by Australian government authorities. Most notably, it is why the Australian military is openly being built up to join the U.S.-led crusade against China even though the PRC is this country’s biggest export market and the main reason the Australian economy has not yet fallen into a new, deep recession.

Just like the Cuban Revolution, the 1949 Chinese Revolution led to tremendous improvements for the masses in life expectancy, literacy, health care and the position of women. Socialistic rule has lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese people out of the dire poverty of its pre-1949 days with a speed and depth that is completely unprecedented in human history. However, like in, Cuba these accomplishments are not guaranteed because socialistic rule itself remains fragile in China. It is fragile because at the moment the richest and most powerful countries in the world are under capitalist rule. As the counterrevolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union in 1991-92 showed, even a socialistic state that is a superpower can be destroyed by sustained capitalist military, economic and political pressure.

Furthermore, the ability of the Chinese workers state to withstand external capitalist pressure is weakened by its own bureaucratic deformations – by the fact that the administration of socialistic rule is restricted to a narrow, somewhat privileged bureaucratic layer rather than being run by democratic mass organisations of working class people. This structural deformity arose from the nature of the Chinese Revolution itself. This great revolution was made largely by tens of millions of tenant farmers led by idealistic students, teachers and other intellectuals. Awakened and led by Mao’s Communist Party of China, the tenant famers fought with immense heroism to make the revolution.  However, tenant farmers, while brutally exploited by the landlords, were still infused with the individualistic strivings that one day they would produce enough to free themselves from landlord domination and make a good income from selling their produce on the market – perhaps even becoming landlords themselves. Therefore, unlike wage workers who are united by their collective labour at the workplace and thus – when under revolutionary political guidance – could self-organise through democratically elected workers councils, the individual tenant farmers could only be fully united from above. This requirement and the practicalities of waging a long, guerrilla war meant that the victorious revolutionary forces and the ensuing workers state that they created had a bureaucratic – rather than a workers’ democratic structure.

In the late 1970s, the Chinese leadership, unable to use the driving and motivating influence of workers’ democracy to push forward production, turned to market reforms to further stimulate economic activity. These reforms would come to include the creation of a capitalist, private sector. In the complicated transition from capitalism to genuine socialism it can be useful to allow a limited private sector. This is especially the case given that before the 1949 Revolution, China was an extremely poor and backward country where the capitalism that existed was intermingled with elements of feudalism. However, the introduction of a private sector and market reforms to China necessarily brought with it greater inequality, increased corruption, some degree of unemployment and a reduction in solidarity between people. Moreover, the new class of, at first small, capitalists created by the reforms used their influence and wealth to lobby for greater and greater openings for the private sector. This influence was amplified because many of these new capitalists had family or other personal ties to the administrative/party bureaucracy. Today, the degree of private sector operation in China is much in excess of what is needed or desirable for the Chinese workers state. To be sure, the private sector bosses do not control the key sectors of the economy which remain under socialistic state ownership and they do not hold state power. However, the danger that the capitalists that do exist in China could organise a capitalist counterrevolution is a very real one. We only have to look at what happened in the former USSR. It was there that market reforms in the mid-1980s, dubbed perestroika (restructuring), created a class of petty capitalists and speculators. Then Soviet leader Gorbachev did not initially intend these reforms to actually lead to a capitalist takeover and at first that is not what perestroika meant. However, the layer of capitalists that Gorbachev’s perestroika created, with backing from a section of the middle-class professionals and student intellectuals – who expected that they would be amongst those who would strike it rich if capitalism was restored – became a powerful lobby force for further perestroika. They shoved Gorbachev and Co. further and further to the right. Each new set of perestroika reforms that Gorbachev implemented strengthened the economic weight and political influence of the new capitalists and whetted the appetite of pro-capitalist students and professionals. Eventually, with the crucial backing of Western imperialism, the new capitalists and their middle class allies were strong enough to grab back state power in the ex-USSR. The forces that made this counterrevolution were actually small in number. Most Soviet workers and collective farmers were not sympathetic to the counterrevolutionary course and many were downright suspicious of the pro-capitalists. However, in the absence of decisive levels of actual struggle to defend the Soviet workers state, the counterrevolutionaries triumphed.

Today, in China, the capitalists do not yet feel strong enough to openly call for capitalist restoration. They leave that to a rather small layer of Western-funded dissidents and NGOs. Indeed some of China’s capitalists even, rather disingenuously, sing the praises of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC). They hope that this will save them from having their businesses shutdown – as has happened to many of their capitalist compatriots. But what these Chinese capitalists do a lot of is to use their wealth and political influence – through bodies like the private sector All China Federation of Industry and Commerce – to push for ever greater openings for the capitalist economic sector. They are assisted in this lobbying by a whole swathe of academics, economists, lawyers and journalists sympathetic to capitalism or at least to a greater role for the capitalist sector. This lobbying is indeed powerful especially when one considers that the relative weight of China’s capitalist class is far in excess of that of the capitalists in the former USSR at the time of the counterrevolution there. Fortunately, however, the resistance of the Chinese working class and staunch subjective communists to pro-capitalist measures – like privatisation – is also far greater than existed in the last period of the USSR. However, it is far from guaranteed that the political consciousness of the working class will always be sufficient to ensure that their resistance can hold back capitalist restorationist forces. The struggle in China between insurgent pro-capitalist forces and those resisting them is a finely balanced battle.

Moscow, August 1991: Western-backed capitalist counterrevolutionaries led by Boris Yeltsin make their grab for power in the former USSR. The social layers driving the counterrevolution were the small-scale capitalists and speculators bred by then Soviet leader Gorbachev’s pro-market, perestroika reforms as well as the pro-capitalist students and professionals whose appetites for making it big time in a future “free market” society were whetted by pro-market reforms. In today’s China, capitalists are bigger than they were in the USSR at the time of counterrevolution there. This shows the danger that socialistic rule in China is under today.

See-Sawing Contest

In the mid and late 2000s, the insurgent pro-capitalist forces in China were pushed back to some extent. China’s political climate in that period was shaped by increased activity of leftist tendencies within the CPC, the manifest weakness of capitalism worldwide as seen in the Great Recession and – most crucially – militant workers struggles for improved wages and conditions and against the few attempts made at privatisation during this period. The period from 2008 to 2011 in particular was the most left-wing period in China in over three decades. This period saw the nationalisation/confiscation of not only many formerly privately owned coal mines but nationalisations across a range of sectors from steel to milk processing to solar cell manufacturing.

However, from about 2012 the political climate in China swung back to the right – at least on economic issues. China’s capitalist class and the host of economists, academics, lawyers and even CPC politicians loyal to them re-asserted themselves. This was reflected in some of the agenda of China’s new number two leader (ranking below president Xi), premier Li Keqiang. Li implemented special measures and tax incentives to help new private businesses. He also pushed for allowing private enterprises access to several areas like oil/gas, infrastructure construction, health care etc which had previously been restricted almost exclusively to publicly owned enterprises. Although the strength of pro-socialist forces is such that no CPC leader openly calls for privatisation of any of China’s major state-owned enterprises, the CPC leadership – including both premier Li and president Xi – have pushed for the sell-off of minority stakes in state-owned enterprises to private investors.

Developments over recent years in China have, of course, not all been in one direction. President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign has genuinely reduced corruption even though there is a suspicion that it has also been used against Xi’s political rivals – including those from the left of the CPC. Importantly, the anti-corruption campaign has protected the assets of state-owned enterprises from being squandered by corrupt state enterprise managers handing contracts to bribe-paying, private business bosses. In a small number of cases, the CPC’s drive against corruption and privilege in government officials has spilled over into healthy moves against opulence in the broader Chinese society. In early 2014, authorities in major Chinese cities ordered the closure of high-end clubs and expensive restaurants in public parks, scenic spots and cultural sites because these venues could not be accessible and affordable to the masses. Those high-end clubs and restaurants that were not closed were ordered to lower their prices and change their menus to turn them into places affordable by the masses. Meanwhile, formerly members-only clubs that were allowed to stay open were ordered to turn into open access venues. Alongside the anti-corruption, anti-opulence campaign, the ruling Communist Party of China has toughened its membership rules to ensure that all party members believe in the party’s stated ideology. On the one hand, this drive for ideological consistency has been, in part, used to silence leftist critics of pro-market reforms within the party. Nevertheless, it has also had positive effects. It has weeded out some ambitious professionals with little solid sympathy for communism who joined the party for merely career reasons and it has deterred capitalist businessmen from joining the party purely to enhance their connections with government. The most important positive developments in PRC politics in recent years is the continuation – and in some cases the deepening – of some of the progressive policies of the previous Hu Jintao government. This includes the moves back to universal public health care, a massive campaign to build and renovate affordable public housing, an increase in social security and pension payments and the enforcement of the drive to improve workplace safety. Most crucially, the new Xi Jinping government has re-committed to the previous Chinese government’s drive to bring every single resident in China above the national poverty line by 2020; and has moved to achieve this goal with renewed vigour.

Furthermore, many of the right-wing economic measures proposed have not been implemented much. Nevertheless, there has been a change in the political discourse from a few years ago. The suspicion of private business bosses that was sometimes seen from CPC officials and Chinese media during the Hu Jintao period, itself a reflection of healthy hostility to capitalists amongst the Chinese working class, is now more and more replaced with praise of their “innovative” capacities and their “entrepreneurship.” Sensing the mood, in March on live TV, China’s then finance minister, Lou Jiwei, ranted against the PRC’s 2008 labour law for being too pro-worker saying that it was contributing to unreasonable wage rises and making it too hard for bosses to sack workers. Although the strongly pro-worker law was not amended, Lou Jiwei’s attack on it represented a clear drive by the most pro-market wing of the Chinese bureaucracy to curb wage rises and slash employment regulations imposed on bosses.

Rightist elements of the CPC leadership – and the academic/economist circles backing them – are also using moves to cut over-capacity in China’s steel and coal sectors as a way to weaken the influence of socialistic state enterprises – state-owned enterprises being dominant in these sectors. Additionally, they are trying to use these cuts as a way to change the culture of PRC state enterprises. They want to prod these socialistic enterprises to retreat from their previous reluctance to lay-off workers and push them into operating more according to “market principles” (i.e. solely according to the profit motive). There is, indeed, over-capacity in China’s steel and coal sectors – the latter because China is moving intensively away from coal and onto renewable energy sources like hydro, wind and solar. However, not only should these cuts to overall capacity be done in a way that guarantees equivalent paying jobs for all workers moved out of these sectors but it should be done by forcibly closing the, often, poor safety and high polluting private enterprises that are part of these sectors. That would not only ensure that the tens of millions of workers remaining in these sectors have the best possible working conditions but would also make a huge boost to workplace safety in the dangerous coal sector in particular. Yet, thus far, the cuts to overcapacity seem to be roughly in proportion to the relative weights of socialistic and private enterprises in these sectors.

However, these recent pro-market measures have met with mass resistance. In March, thousands upon thousands of coal mine workers employed by state-owned Longmay Group marched through the northeastern Chinese city of Shuangyashan to protest against wage arrears resulting from the provincial government holding back support to the struggling company in order to push it into slashing the size of its workforce. A large number of similar workers’ protests and strikes have taken place throughout China in state enterprises facing similar predicaments. Meanwhile, Chinese people used social media to bitterly attack then finance minister Lou Jiwei’s criticism of China’s pro-worker labour laws. A comment made by Weibo (China’s popular social media platform) user, Se Kong Se Kong, typified the reaction to the ex-finance minister’s tirade:

Have him investigated ….

He’s no good if he’s speaking on behalf of the capitalists!

Financial Times, 10 March 2016.

All this protest and defiance from Chinese workers and leftists has had an impact. For instance, two weeks ago, rightist Lou Jiwei, was unceremoniously dumped as China’s finance minister two years before his term was due to end (he has since been given a much lower-ranking post). This was, no doubt, at least partially related to his anti-working class comments attacking China’s Labour Law and to the spirited mass opposition to his tirade. It was also reportedly connected to his pro-“free market” opposition to large state investment in infrastructure and fixed assets by local governments. Meanwhile, the huge Shuangyashan city protest by Longmay Group workers led the Heilongjiang provincial government to back down within hours of the workers’ action. The provincial government and its Governor, Lu Hao, apologised to the workers and arranged to fund the struggling state-owned company so that it could pay the workers the wages owed to them. More broadly, the PRC government has responded to workers’ concerns by stepping up efforts to ensure that workers laid off from steel and coal enterprises will be re-hired in state infrastructure projects, state-owned farms and state forestry projects immediately after – or in some cases even before – losing their previous jobs. Meanwhile, some state-owned firms cutting capacity in the steel and coal sectors have started up operations – even loss making ones – in often very different industries in order to avoid laying off workers. State owned coal companies in China’s main coal producing province, Shanxi, have set up pharmacies, solar power stations, restaurants, supermarkets and vegetable and fruit planting to move their workers into. One state-owned coal company, Qianhe Coal Industry, that had to cut its capacity, started organising its workers into production of food products – including tofu and potato noodles – in order to pacify its workforce. It is now even going to move its operations entirely from coal producing to the food products industry – even though its new area of operation is not currently profitable (Quartz, 31 March 2016).

Such moves by state-owned enterprises are significant as they undercut the agenda of rightists within the CPC and Chinese and Western “experts” who all hoped that downsizing in China’s state-owned coal and steel enterprises would help wean China’s state-owned enterprises away from their devotion to preserving workers’ jobs and push them onto the profit first path. For his part, premier Li has been forced into a partial back down in two key areas by the workers protest and leftist agitation. Firstly, Li and the rightist advisors and economists influencing him, were pushing for more unprofitable state-owned enterprises – dubbed “zombie industries” – to be forced into bankruptcy and, thus, into retrenching their workers. Although this plan is partially still going ahead, last month the PRC government announced a scheme whereby those holding the debts of enterprises would be able to swap them for equity. In other words, the mainly state-owned banks owed money by indebted companies will end up taking stakes in these companies allowing the companies to wipe out their debts and continue operation. The companies that will mainly benefit are state-owned enterprises as struggling private companies usually simply shut down and retrench all their workers when in financial trouble rather than maintaining major unpayable debts for long periods. For those private companies that are indebted the scheme will facilitate them to be effectively part-nationalised, since state-owned banks will end up owning significant equity stakes in them. Secondly, Li has, in practice, been forced to retreat from his promise to refrain from using large-scale state investment to stimulate the economy. The angry protests by state enterprise employees threatened with unemployment forced premier Li to boost state spending on infrastructure and development projects in order to create jobs for displaced former coal and steel sector workers to be moved into. For example, three months ago, the Chinese government announced an over $A300 billion plan to fund 130 projects in the north-eastern region of China – the part of the country with a disproportionately large concentration of enterprises in the steel and coal sectors.

The PRC government’s return to emphasis on state investment is driven not only by the imperative to respond to workers’ concerns but also, in part, by pure economic reality. The fact is that with the world capitalist economy – and thus demand for Chinese exports – in the doldrums and with profit-driven, Chinese private sector bosses less willing to make productive investments in the real economy because their ability to make profits has been curtailed by rising workers’ wages in China and the 2008 pro-worker Labour Law, the PRC government needs state-owned enterprises to drive growth. To put it simply: capitalism doesn’t work but socialism does and thus the PRC government, regardless of the political leanings of some of its key personnel, must once again rely on the socialistic state sector to shore up the economy. That is why despite all the special tax concessions and other incentives given to private enterprises, Chinese private investment in fixed assets grew by less than 3% in the first ten months of this year while investment by the state sector surged by over 20%.

A similar story can be seen if we look at the issue of administrative measures imposed on the housing market. During the period of Hu Jintao’s presidency from 2002 to 2012, Chinese governments imposed a series of measures to reduce housing speculation in key areas in order to make house prices more affordable to the masses and to ensure that housing construction was geared towards the needs of low and middle income earners. These measures included requirements for developers to meet certain minimum proportions of smaller housing, restrictions on the number of houses that people could own and regulations that made banks charge higher interest rates – and require higher down payments – for those buying second homes as opposed to those buying first ones. As part of these measures many major Chinese cities banned people from owning more than two homes. However, private sector housing developers and pro-“free market” economists, journalists and other “experts” complained bitterly that the measures were “distorting the market” and undermining the “healthy development of housing supply.” These voices obtained a bigger hearing from Chinese leaders in the post-Hu period and as a result in the 2013 to 2015 period some of the administrative restrictions on speculation were relaxed. However, that led to a rebound in speculation and opulent purchases of multiple house by the wealthy. Though this squeezed many lower-income people out of the private housing market, fortunately China has massively built public rental housing to enable lower income people to still get stable accommodation. In the last few months, however, the Chinese government has again returned to anti-market, administrative measures to curtail housing speculation and restrict the wealthy from buying up multiple houses.

The clearest sign that the political winds blowing to the Right in China are starting to recede was seen last month at a high profile meeting of government leaders and state enterprise heads about the direction of state-owned enterprises. The main theme of the meeting was president Xi Jinping’s insistence that it is imperative to: “unswervingly uphold the party’s leadership in state-owned enterprises, and fully play the role of party organs in leadership and political affairs (South China Morning Post, 12 October 2016). Xi insisted that any “weakening, fading, blurring or marginalisation” of party leadership in state firms would not be tolerated.” The meeting vowed to turn around the situation whereby the party’s presence in state-owned enterprises had started to gradually fade into the background over recent decades as these public sector companies became influenced by Western corporations. At the conference, which was notably held when pro-private sector prime minister Li Keqiang was away on an overseas trip, Xi also insisted that China’s state-owned enterprises are an important material and political basis for socialism and called to make these public enterprises stronger, bigger and better (Xinhua, 11 October 2016). This was a clear statement in defence of state-owned enterprises from China’s top leader and a slap in the face to others within and around the CPC trying to weaken them. Furthermore, by insisting on strengthening Communist Party control of state-owned enterprises Xi also contradicted statements by some Chinese leaders – including, to some extent, his own previous statements – calling to turn these state-owned enterprises into more profit-driven corporations. Thus, Xi’s speech at the conference ordered that state-owned enterprises should become important forces to implement decisions of the CPC Central Committee as well as to enhance overall national power, economic and social development and people’s wellbeing. This means that, at least according to the speech, the PRC state-enterprises would re-commit to maximising employment and protecting working conditions as a goal in itself, rebuffing the drive by some within the PRC bureaucracy to push the public sector enterprises into slashing their workforces. Notably, the Xinhua article on the state-owned enterprise work conference reported that Xi stressed the importance of protecting state owned enterprise workers’ rights to know, participate, express and supervise within the enterprises. He added that important matters concerning the immediate interests of workers must be submitted to workers’ congresses for deliberation and the system to ensure workers’ representation as the directors and supervisors of state-owned enterprises should also be improved.

An important positive consequence of this PRC government drive to increase Communist Party control of state-owned enterprises is that it will undercut their own plan to allow private investors to take minority stakes in state-owned enterprises. After all, if Communists are to be running these enterprises and if they are not going to subordinated to the profit motive but also be directed to meet national and social goals – like maximising employment, improving workplace safety, developing poorer parts of the country and spearheading the development of new industries– then what money-grubbing, capitalist investor in their right mind would want to put their money into them! This is especially the case when one considers that the rate of profit return on PRC state-owned enterprises is already only around half that of capitalist enterprises. These public sector enterprises – despite the often monopoly position they hold in Chinese markets – are simply not geared to the blind drive for profits and that is a good thing! Consequently, premier Li Keqiang’s “mixed ownership reform” – to bring private investment into state-owned enterprises – has often not led to the intended consequences. The most touted example of a “mixed-ownership reform” in recent years was Chinese state-owned oil refining giant Sinopec’s decision to sell-off a 30% stake in its distribution and marketing business to “private” investors. However, in the end it was other state-owned companies that bought up nearly two-thirds of this stake. A similar story occurred when China’s main oil producer, state-owned Petrochina, decided to sell-off half of its Central Asian pipelines. The announcement caused considerable excitement amongst Chinese capitalists and pro-“free market” economists and amongst Western “experts” and business journals. Yet, in the end, the entire stake simply went to another PRC state-owned company!

Profile of China’s Pro-Capitalist Advocates

Like the Western-funded NGOs seeking to undermine socialistic rule in China, locally emerged pro-capitalist voices in China shroud their agenda with calls for “democracy.” Billionaire venture capitalist Wang Gongquan (Left) is among China’s best known “pro-democracy” dissidents. He wants a Western-style (i.e. bourgeois) “democracy” so that the wealthy will be able to use their financial resources and connections to dominate the political agenda. A fan of Wang is Chinese property tycoon Ren Zhiqiang (Right), himself a very prominent “pro-democracy” advocate who opposes the Communist Party censoring publications that call for Western-style “democracy.” Ren is also an ardent critic of the PRC government’s administrative measures that restrict the rich from dominating the housing market. Showing his contempt for the poor, Ren once said that commercial residential housing is meant to be for the rich not the poor.

Smash the Political Influence of the Capitalist Class!

Despite what appears to be the first signs of a possible tilt back to the left in China in recent months, as long as there is a capitalist class in the PRC able to wield some political influence then the danger of capitalist counterrevolution is acute. Especially when capitalists within China have family, personal and cultural ties to the ethnic Chinese capitalists who rule Taiwan and Singapore, enjoy economic dominance in Hong Kong and Macao and also form a component of the capitalist ruling classes in places like Malaysia and the Philippines. Moreover, the U.S., British, Japanese, Australian and other imperialist ruling classes are working feverishly to undermine socialistic rule in China.

The response of China’s ruling bureaucracy to the threat of counterrevolution is not to organise for a struggle to outright smash the capitalist threat. Instead, they seek a balance – a truce – between, on the one hand, socialistic rule in China and, on the other, the out of power capitalists within China and the capitalist classes that rule most of the rest of the world. However, such a strategy is in the long run untenable. Socialism and capitalism cannot, ultimately, co-exist. We should remember that from the mid-1920s onwards – when the leadership of the former Soviet workers state started to move away from the truly revolutionary internationalist perspective that guided the 1917 socialist revolution – the USSR’s leaders tried a variant of the policy currently pursued by Beijing. And look what happened there!

The force that has a clear interest in waging a struggle against the capitalists to the end is the Chinese working class. Time and again, as China’s capitalists looked to be set to gain the economic weight, momentum and popular acceptance necessary to make an open bid for power, struggles of the Chinese working class and agitation by leftist elements within the CPC have intervened to push the capitalists back. Today, these forces must resist any sell-offs of minority stakes in state-owned enterprises to private investors. They must breathe life into the workers’ congresses in these enterprises and use them as a force to defend working conditions for workers and to ensure that the state-owned enterprises stay committed to overall social goals and maximising employment rather than to the blind drive to maximise profit. The Chinese working class and leftists must also defend the 2008 Labour Law against any attempt to weaken its pro-worker provisions and must, instead, fight for the strengthening of these laws. They should build workers’ committees – drawing into them staunchly pro-communist officials, police and Peoples Liberation Army soldiers – to investigate enterprises and ensure strict enforcement of the Labour Law’s pro-worker provisions. Such committees would fight for a policy whereby any private business that violates the Labour Law or any safety regulation is immediately confiscated by the PRC state and turned into a publicly owned enterprise. All these struggles should be part of a fight to smash the political influence of the capitalists and restrict the private sector to the level that is actually needed in the transition stage to socialism. Of course, the capitalists, their allies within the upper middle class and their imperialist backers would furiously oppose such a struggle. In the resulting decisive clash between the politically conscious working class and pro-capitalist forces the tightrope balancing act played by the current ruling bureaucracy would be shaken out of existence. The different elements of the bureaucracy would be flung onto two opposing sides. Those types, like pro-capitalist ex-finance minister, Lou Jiwei, who are closest to the capitalists would fall squarely on the capitalist their side. On the other hand, more subjectively communist elements and those closest to the masses would end up on the side of the working class (as would, inevitably, some careerist elements who see the inevitability of a workers’ victory). Thus, a workers struggle to smash the capitalists’ political influence and curb their economic power would not only fortify the PRC workers state but would also lead to the political administration of the PRC passing from the wavering hands of the bureaucracy and on to the control of the councils of workers and their allies that had just organised the defeat of the insurgent capitalists. The genuine communists who would guide such a struggle by the pro-socialist working class would understand that such a victory cannot be truly secure while the capitalists hold state power in nearly all the most powerful countries in the world. That is why they would link the struggle to defeat the insurgent capitalists within China to a perspective of solidarity with the workers and oppressed all around the globe in their struggles against their capitalist rulers.

The biggest impediment to such an outcome is that, currently, the international factors weighing on the class contest in China are almost entirely on the side of the insurgent capitalists. We workers and leftists in the imperialist countries need to change this and change this fast! The workers movement here should oppose political attacks on the PRC workers state from Australia’s capitalist regime (including those made under the pretext of “human rights”) and must oppose the anti-PRC Chinese exile organisations. We must build solidarity actions with progressive actions by the PRC workers state such as the implementation of pro-worker labour laws and the massive increase of public housing. The Australian working class and its allies must also stand against the U.S./Australian capitalist rulers’ military build up against China and must oppose their anti-PRC provocations in the South China Sea as the capitalist powers want all this military pressure to add to the all-round political squeeze that they are subjecting the PRC workers state to.

The incoming Trump regime in the U.S. has promised a still more aggressive posture towards China as well as a massive military build up. Today, as a blatant provocation against Red China, president-elect Trump broke with diplomatic protocol and held a phone call with the president of Taiwan, the part of China that the defeated capitalists seized when they were booted out of power by the 1949 anti-capitalist revolution. This is the first known contact between a U.S. president or president-elect and a leader of the rogue province of Taiwan since the United States broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan 37 years ago. The U.S. backs and massively arms Taiwan but adopted the diplomatic position of not recognising Taiwan as a way to way to maintain diplomatic and, hence, trade relations with the PRC while simultaneously undertaking its anti-PRC machinations. Trump’s phone call with the Taiwanese leader and their discussion about how to boost Taiwan’s military strength – inevitably against the PRC – is a signal that U.S. imperialism is going to unleash a more openly confrontational policy against socialistic China. Genuine communists living in the U.S. and its imperialist allies like Australia have got our work cut out. Let’s get to it!

James Packer’s Crown Versus Millers Point Public Housing

Good News:  China’s Arrest of Crown Executives Endangers Packer’s Barangaroo Project

Above Left, Australia, 2016: Police harass a homeless Aboriginal family in Sydney’s Belmore Park. In Australia, the legal system targets the working class and people on the lowest income. Aboriginal people are hit with severe racist, anti-working class repression with many Aboriginal people being killed in state custody. By contrast, in socialistic China, where the overall rate of imprisonment is much lower than Australia, the system is toughest on rich capitalists and corrupt government officials. Above Right: Xu Ming, one of many billionaires jailed in China. In December 2015, this capitalist exploiter, who was once one of China’s richest people, died in state custody at age 44. James Packer is used to Australia’s system where his exorbitant wealth and economic power buys great political influence. However, his assumption that things would be the same in the Peoples Republic of China have started to bring him a rude shock.

18 November 2016 – Greedy billionaire, James Packer, has been riding high. He was expecting to make an absolute fortune from his Crown Resorts casino and luxury hotel complex which will be built in the Sydney CBD’s, Barangaroo site. However, he was brought back down to earth a bit last month when authorities of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) detained 18 of his wealthy executives. Among the high-flying Crown executives that the PRC has arrested are at least three Australian ones including Crown’s boss of VIP operations, Jason O’Connor. Those arrested are alleged to have been involved in organising the very activities that Packer’s high rollers’ casino will in good part depend on: luring high rollers from China to gamble at his casinos and other wealthier Chinese to hold their money in overseas casino accounts. Luring Chinese people to do this is illegal under PRC law. Packer and his executives knew all this. But they were so greedy that they could not help themselves and thought they would get away with it anyway. After all, in capitalist Australia, Packer and his ilk always get away with whatever they want! However, China is a very different story. In socialistic China, the “right” of business tycoons and other rich individuals to ride roughshod over everyone else and make a mockery of state laws is severely “repressed.” The PRC, understandably, does not want wealthy individuals depositing money in overseas casino accounts as that could be used to circumvent its strict capital controls which restrict the “rights” of the rich to freely move money about internationally. China also does not want corrupt businessmen and officials to use overseas casinos to launder dirty money or avoid taxes.

If Crown’s efforts to lure Chinese high rollers and wealthy individuals are severely curtailed, it could spell doom for Packer’s Barangaroo complex. Although the proportion of high rollers in China is tiny, China has such a huge population (60 times that of Australia) that these high rollers are, numerically, a big number. Furthermore, since gambling is outright banned in mainland China and PRC authorities have been cracking down on wealthy mainlanders travelling to Macao to gamble, Chinese high rollers now need to travel abroad to gamble. Similarly, other wealthy Chinese individuals need to deal with casinos located overseas in order to secretly move or launder money. That is why Packer was counting on luring Chinese high rollers to Barangaroo as a main income source for his casino.

One of the many positive aspects of the China arrests for working class people in Australia is that it could help the struggle to save public housing in Sydney’s Millers Point area which is right adjacent to the waterside Barangaroo site. Several of the Millers Point tenants who have been staunchest in resisting the NSW government’s drive to sell off public housing in the area are convinced that part of what is driving the government’s moves is Packer’s, very nearby, casino/hotel project. Their suspicions sound more than plausible. Certainly, it is beyond question that mainstream politicians of all stripes and states are servile to Packer. As the The Saturday Paper (12 April 2014) put it when describing the way that Packer received official backing for his Barangaroo plan:

State and federal laws and regulations have flexed or melted away in the project’s path. Ordinary rules don’t seem to apply to James Packer.

Thus, after the cabinet of corrupt then premier Barry O’Farrell openly announced its backing of the Packer plan, it appointed to head the “independent” detailed assessment of the project, David Murray, an ex-banker and a Liberal party supporter who has such close ties to Packer that he attended Packer’s first wedding! This “assessment” ended up being even more farcical than expected. The “independent” panel chose to seek their commercial advice about Crown’s proposal from Deloitte which has had a financial relationship with Crown. Meanwhile, it was uncovered that even before the “independent” panel had made its “assessment,” the NSW Premier’s department prepared it with statements to help it defend the Crown proposal from any negative media questioning! After bowing to a notably low tax rate for the planned casino, the state government then further facilitated Packer’s interests by ramming through a 2013 amendment to the Casino Control Act specifically to support Packer’s Barangaroo project. This special change to the Act had the support of not just the governing conservative Coalition but also the ALP and the Shooters Party. Even Fred Nile, supposedly a vehement opponent of gambling, campaigned strongly in favour of it. These amendments to the Act are so slavish to Packer that they ensure that Crown must be paid compensation if any future regulatory changes – like tax increases – hurt its profits. The Act even stipulates that the Independent Licensing and Gaming Authority (ILGA) cannot make any changes’s to a Barangaroo casino license without approval from Packer’s Crown! Not that the ILGA is prepared to stand up to Packer anyway. When, the following year, this “independent” authority conducted its probity check on Crown’s suitability to hold a casino license, the ILGA took only three months to pass Crown which, in the own words of the ILGA chief Micheil Brodie, “probably rates as one of the fastest assessments of a casino applicant in history”. Meanwhile, not only has Packer’s complex been infamously excluded from Sydney’s controversial lockout laws, it was granted a special exemption from workplace health and safety laws restricting smoking in indoor workplaces. As Australian Institute of Architects NSW president, Shaun Carter, put it after Crown’s casino/luxury hotel complex was granted final planning approval this June:

In Sydney you can end up in the Land and Environment Court over a dormer window. But at Barangaroo, you can double your size and replace a public park with a casino with no trouble at all.
http://architectureau.com/articles/approval-of-crown-barangaroo-tower-disappointing-institute-says/

The Reality of Capitalist “Democracies”

James Packer’s massive, $105 million luxury yacht and his $66 million private jet. Like other capitalist tycoons, Packer uses his immense wealth and economic power to gain political influence. Packer is great mates with former prime minister Tony Abbott [Above Right], current prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and most other top politicians.

 In this capitalist society money buys influence. Filthy rich tycoons are able to swing political and bureaucratic decision making through giving hefty donations to political parties, through buying expensive newspaper advertisements (such as the full page ones that Packer’s Crown made promoting its Barangaroo plans) and by having membership in business lobby groups. It is well known that some of the ultra-rich also openly buy out politicians and government officials through open bribery or through purchasing them other favours – like liaisons with high-priced prostitutes. More common, however, are the softer – and yet more insidious – forms of buying influence that almost all capitalist bigwigs engage in.  These include inviting politicians and bureaucrats to corporate boxes to watch the cricket or inviting them to exclusive parties and cruises on their luxury yachts. The ultra-rich capitalists also buy political influence through more subtle means – for example, through funding the arts. On 12 November 2013, the very eve of the day that the NSW parliament voted on amendments to facilitate his Barangaroo project, Packer ostentatiously announced a $60 million donation to various Sydney arts, theatre, opera and orchestra institutions by both his Crown Group and himself personally. This was intended to put pressure on any politicians who may have been considering voting down the amendment with the prospect of gaining the opprobrium of the arts community. Meanwhile, any politicians concerned that open support for Packer’s unpopular Baranagroo project could damage their image would now be re-assured that Packer’s donation would make him be seen by the public in better light. Furthermore, although $60 million is barely pocket money for a person who has a $5 billion fortune (“earned” by his and famous late father and grandfather’s ripping off of the labour of workers), it represents a lot of money to underfunded arts institutions. Imagine a talented young artist asking to get funding from a head of one these Packer-donated institutions for a project satirising the Banagaroo complex. It’s a sure bet that they won’t get very far!

We cannot, of course, forget the lobbyists – a big factor in modern-day capitalist “democracies.” It is only the super-rich who can afford to hire skilled lobbyists. Packer, for example, employed former ALP heavies Mark Arbib and Karl Bitar to use their connections to ensure that the ALP backed the casino. In general, business bosses like to employ former – and, if they can get away with it, even current – politicians and high-level bureaucrats to be on their boards in order to use the connections of these individuals to gain them extra influence in the machinery of state. Thus, amongst the board of directors of Packer’s Crown is former Minister of Communications in the Howard government, Helen Coonan. For his part, Crown CEO Rowen Craigie was a General Manager for Gaming at the Victorian TAB and held senior economic policy positions in Treasury and the Department of Industry in Victoria. Another Crown director, former Qantas boss, Geoff Dixon, was head of the Australian government’s main tourism authority, Tourism Australia, from 2009-2015: that is, throughout the crucial period when Packer was seeking government backing for his Barangaroo project. Big-time capitalists use a similar method to help ensure media support. Thus, the executive deputy chairman of Crown, John Alexander, is a director of Seven West Media – the owner of Channel 7 and its offshoots as well as Yahoo7. He is also a former editor in chief of both The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review. Even more effective in ensuring media support is simple, direct ownership. Packer, himself, directly owns a $28 million stake in the entity that owns Channel 10. So, don’t expect this broadcaster to run any hard-hitting documentaries against Crown’s Barangaroo project anytime soon! Very helpful, too, for capitalist billionaires are the “mates” connections that they develop with media moguls and media high-fliers. James Packer is very close friends with influential, right-wing 2GB shock-jock, Alan Jones, with the 45% owner of Macquarie Media Limited (which owns both 2GB and 2UE) John Singleton and with Lachlan Murdoch, a director of News Corporation (owner of The Australian and The Daily Telegraph newspapers, a host of regional and interstate papers and 50% of Foxtel) who is, of course, the son of its chairman and controlling shareholder, Rupert Murdoch. Then there are the myriad of connections arising from Packer and his father’s former ownership of Channel 9.

Such “mates” connections also cement ties between capitalist bigwigs and the politicians that administer their state. James Packer, for instance, is such close friends with former Liberal prime minister, John Howard, and ex-treasurer, Peter Costello, that they both, once again, attended his first wedding. Packer also played golf with Stephen Conroy when the latter was Communications Minister in the last ALP federal government. Packer is good mates too with Bob Katter and former Victorian premier, Jeff Kennett. Meanwhile, recent ex-Trade Minister, Andrew Robb, had worked for Packer’s PBL company from 1997-2001. What gives individual big capitalists political clout is not only their personal wealth and connections but their control of large chunks of the economy. Capitalist politicians and high-level bureaucrats are always on the lookout for lucrative positions in the private sector to move into once their careers in government or the public service are over. Thus, big business owners can lure these politicians and bureaucrats into doing their bidding precisely because these schmucks hope that this would open up a future career for them hired either directly as executives of or as consultants for their corporations (the way that former Labor powerbrokers Graham Richardson, Karl Bitar and Mark Arbib and prominent Liberal socialite, Ann Peacock, did in getting positions in Packer companies) or by other companies looking to establish links with these corporations. Even less cynical government politicians who actually believe (wrongly!) that they are to some degree representing the people are pulled into the orbit of those with considerable weight in the economy. For in an economic system dominated by private “enterprise,” they are reliant on these firms for providing jobs and for paying taxes into state coffers. The threat of big corporate bosses to withdraw from a major project can be enough to pull government politicians into line.

For those politicians and bureaucrats that still refuse to bow down to a big capitalist’s interests, the latter have nastier means at their disposal. Just as tycoons can build up a loyal politician’s or bureaucrat’s career, the way that the Pratt family industrial capitalists – who are currently second on Australia’s rich list – were the benefactors ensuring ALP Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s rise (the late Richard Pratt used to let Shorten use his extravagant mansion for fundraising events when Shorten first campaigned for a parliamentary seat and even made his private jet available for Shorten’s use), they can also leverage their wealth to topple the careers of those who are not loyal enough. Look, for instance, at what happened to former ALP prime minister Kevin Rudd in mid-2010. Now, Rudd was an ardent supporter of the capitalist order and, thus, hardly one to make a strong stand against capitalist bigwigs. However, in 2010 he was planning to implement a Resources Super Profits Tax that would have mildly increased the amounts of tax that big mining bosses pay. That was too much for mining tycoons like Gina Rinehart, Andrew Forrest and Clive Palmer who are not prepared to share even a fraction of their fortunes with anyone. They – and other mining capitalists – went on a massive advertising campaign against the tax that saw them spend $22 million in just six weeks. Meanwhile, their friends in the Murdoch and other media outlets backed the campaign against the new tax. All this contributed to a steep fall in popularity for Rudd and enabled his internal ALP rivals to replace him as prime minister. Dancing completely to the tune of Australia’s mining billionaires, the new Gillard government then immediately watered down the tax to such a great degree that it hardly collected any money at all! Of course, the mining tycoons’ opposition to the Resource Super Profits Tax was not the only reason that Rudd was toppled. Rudd is an arrogant individual and was not liked much by his fellow ALP politicians. However, the decisive factor in his demise then was the slump in his opinion poll numbers caused by the massive advertising and media campaign against the Resources Super Profits Tax – a campaign conducted at the behest of the filthy rich mining bosses. The Packers, too, are well aware of the power that they have to bring down politicians or top-level public servants who, even in the slightest, get in their way. And they’re quite prepared to use it! In 1993 when James Packer and his late father, Kerry, first put in a bid for a Sydney casino, James Packer famously rang a Minister in the then NSW Liberal government and said: “the old man told me to ring… this is the message: If we don’t win the casino, you guys are f_cked”.

The truth is that in capitalist “democracies” the much vaunted principle of “one person, one vote” is a farce. For it is the small number of ultra-rich capitalists who have the wealth, control of the economy and connections to influence decision making and shape mainstream public opinion. James Packer with his $5 billion fortune seems to have more influence than at least half of the 5 million or so registered voters in NSW combined. So $5 billion is equal to at least 2.5 million votes.  On average that means: two billion dollars = one million votes. Now that’s much more like the true equation describing capitalist “democracy.”

To be sure, the capitalist state does not serve one particular bourgeois capitalist. Rather, in the words of the Communist Manifesto:  “the executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” However, the relative weight of a handful of tycoons in Australia is so great that the state almost always backs their particular interests.

Save Millers Point Public Housing!
Defend China’s Crackdown on Packer’s Greedy Executives!

Sydney, 19 March 2016: Opponents of the sell-off of public housing in the inner-city Millers Point area, including members of the MUA, CFMEU and ETU trade unions, march in protest. China’s arrest of 18 wealthy executives of James Packer’s Crown empire, including three Australian high-fliers, could undermine Packer’s Barangaroo Casino plan – thus aiding the campaign to save public housing in the Millers Point and Rocks area.

So Packer certainly had more than enough influence to instigate a sell-off of public housing in Millers Point if he wanted to. Would he want to? Yes would be a very good bet on the right answer to that question. Clearing out Miller’s Point public housing would allow the area to be turned into luxury dwellings that can be used by his casino patrons looking for longer-stay, nearby accommodation outside the hotel and for his executives overseeing the casino/hotel complex. All that would help with Packer’s project. Furthermore, even if a re-developed Millers Point site ends up not being directly used, in its majority, by patrons and executives of Crown’s Barangaroo complex, the planned complex is nevertheless driving wealthy speculators to try and grab hold of this land. Such speculators have no doubt been lobbying the government for the sell-off of public housing in the area too. The boost in property prices driven by Packer’s Barangaroo project also gives the NSW government itself more incentive to sell-off the Millers Point public housing as it means they can get higher prices at auctions than they otherwise would.

However, if the Peoples Republic of China follows through with its crackdown on Crown’s efforts to lure high rollers and other wealthy Chinese to deposit money in Crown casinos then the whole game would change. Packer’s Barangaroo project could be pushed into deep water. And if part of the economic forces that are driving the government’s sell-off of Millers Point public housing are stopped then the government will be more prepared to back down if faced with significant opposition from our side. That is why it is in the interest of the fight for public housing that we stand by the PRC’s crackdown. Furthermore, although we do not favour bans on gambling in Australia, it can only be a good thing more generally if Packer’s Barangaroo project goes splat. The whole philosophy behind the project is offensive to us egalitarians: that is, that scenic, beautiful-looking public space could be turned into a members only, high-rollers casino that only the very wealthy can afford to join and a six-star hotel that only the rich can afford to stay in.

Whether the PRC follows through and prosecutes the rich Crown executives is still a live bet. You can certainly bet that James Packer would be using his economic and political muscle to push the Australian government into pressuring the PRC state as relentlessly as possible.  However, the determination of PRC authorities to crack down on Crown’s activities was shown when the suspects were first detained. They were detained in meticulously planned and coordinated overnight raids in several cities. PRC authorities also carefully waited for a time when Crown’s Australian-based VIP international boss, Jason O’Connor, was on a trip to China to launch the raids. Under China’s legal system, suspects are first detained and questioned and then only after lengthy investigation formally arrested if police believe that there is strong evidence of wrong-doing. The fact that the three Australian crown executives were formally arrested today – five weeks after being initially detained – show that Chinese authorities believe that there is clear evidence that they have committed illegal acts.

In standing by the PRC’s crackdown on Packer’s seemingly illegal actions in China, we should be ready for a barrage of condemnation of the crackdown from the big business-owned Australian media and ruling class politicians. That’s what happened the last time the PRC prosecuted corruption from a major Australia-owned multinational. In 2009, China arrested several high-flying executives from part-Australian owned, mining giant Rio Tinto for corrupt activities. Some of these corrupt activities involved making bribes to get PRC state-owned steel companies to pay higher prices for Rio’s iron ore than they would otherwise have paid. Especially as the trial of the Rio Tinto executives took place, then Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, National Party heavy and now deputy PM Barnaby Joyce and the mainstream media hysterically denounced the PRC’s legal procedures. It did little good. The PRC ended up handing the senior Rio executives lengthy jail sentences – including ten years for Australian Stern Hu. Rio Tinto like BHP, Packer’s Crown, Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue may be above the law here. However, in Red China, where enterprises under socialistic state ownership play the dominant role in the economy rather than corporations owned by tycoons, the state does not in general kowtow to the demands of capitalist bigwigs.

One of the things that the Australian mainstream media and politicians may throw out to defend Packer’s arrested henchmen is the claim that the arrests are arbitrary and over the top. However, it has now emerged that PRC authorities actually issued a stern warning to Crown last year that it was engaging in illegal activities. Australian Crown bosses then responded by trying to fly under the radar of PRC authorities by making short business trips to China instead of spending long stays there. They also started formally marketing their casinos to Chinese people as trips to “resorts” rather than casinos as a way to try and deceive PRC authorities.

Another bit of propaganda that Australian media and politicians may assert in support of Packer is the notion that Crown and Australians have been unfairly singled out by Chinese authorities. However, the PRC has already targeted other overseas casino operators. Last year, thirteen executives of two South Korean casino operators, Paradise and Grand Korea, were jailed for similar crimes to what the arrested Crown executives are apparently alleged to be involved in. Meanwhile, in a massive raid a few months ago, police in the south east Chinese province of Guangdong arrested almost 800 local people for economic crimes including “organizing illegal gambling activities overseas.” Furthermore, in the actual Crown arrests, alongside the three Australian nationals, one Malaysian national and 14 local Chinese nationals were also arrested. Furthermore, eight other Chinese people not working for Crown, some of them likely high rollers, were also detained in the October raids.

If the Australian mainstream media try to give the impression that only overseas businesses and their employees have been targeted in China that too can be easily re-butted. These Crown arrests are, in fact, part of a massive anti-corruption campaign that has been running in China for over two years. Although in some cases there is suspicion that Chinese president Xi Jinping has used the campaign to undermine factional rivals within the Communist Party of China, the campaign has truly clamped down on corruption. Hundreds of high-ranking politicians and businessmen have been prosecuted. Furthermore, perhaps the best aspect of the anti-corruption campaign is that it has to some, albeit small, degree also drifted into a campaign against the opulence of the rich. Thus, in early 2014, Communist Party of China authorities in major Chinese cities ordered the closure of high-end clubs and expensive restaurants near public parks, scenic spots and cultural sites because these venues could not be accessible and affordable to the masses.  It is worth noting here that Sydney’s Barangaroo area is definitely such a scenic spot. In other words, if PRC law were applied here, there would be no Crown Barangroo project (even without the casino)!  By the way, in the PRC’s anti-opulence drive, those formerly high-end clubs and restaurants located near public spots that were allowed to stay open were ordered to lower their prices and change their menus to turn them into places affordable to the masses. So, if the PRC law were applied here, Packer at best would see his Barangaroo project being turned into a centre with free entry nightclubs serving cheap drinks, affordable buffet restaurants for the masses enjoying the waterside parks and a three-star hotel providing clean and cheap accommodation for working class tourists from Australia, China and other Asian and overseas countries looking for an affordable place to stay in the heart of the city.

Perhaps the most likely argument that the Australian ruling class and its media will use to oppose any PRC prosecution of Packer’s henchmen is to claim that the PRC’s legal system is “cruel” and “harsh.” However, actually, Australia’s rate of imprisonment is nearly 30% higher than China’s. What is true is that the PRC does jail business tycoons at a much higher rate than Australia. So the difference between Australia’s current legal system and the PRC’s is a matter of who is targeted by the state. In Australia, the state jails disproportionately target Aboriginal people, people from Middle Eastern and Asian derived ethnic communities and the poor. In contrast, in the PRC workers state – despite suffering from plenty of bureaucratic deformations and the distortions caused by capitalist intrusion – it is wealthy private sector businessmen and the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who are bribed by them who are disproportionately jailed. Australia’s capitalist ruling class, of course, finds such a system “harsh” and “cruel.” However, from the point of view of the working classes of both China and Australia such a system is exactly what is needed. We should defend it! And we should defend the crackdown on Packer’s and his executives’ illegal activities in China. Let’s weaken the economic forces driving the push out of public housing tenants from Millers Point! Stop the social cleansing of working class people from Sydney CBD! It is rail workers, bus drivers, ferry drivers and their ground staff, cleaners, warehouse workers, chefs, liquor and hospitality workers, construction workers, maintenance workers, fire brigade employees, ambulance staff, sales assistants, IT support staff and other workers who together make the Sydney CBD run. Yet the overwhelming majority of these workers cannot afford to live in the area. Let’s turn this around! Let’s turn the public space that was seized for Packer’s Barangaroo project into a big public housing block for working class people! Let’s fight for a massive increase in public housing throughout Australia! Fittingly, that is exactly what the PRC is doing – having provided around 40 million new public housing dwellings over the last six years.

China’s crackdown on Crown is not only good for the Millers Point public housing struggle, it is also more broadly in the interests of the working class. James Packer is such a powerful – and in Australia seemingly untouchable – capitalist that many here are resigned to him getting his way on everything. The fact that his executives could be called to account in the Peoples Republic of China should be used to give Australian workers confidence that the filthy rich bosses of this and other corporate giants are not invincible. Every fighter against oppression and every Australian trade union activist worth their salt ought to be seizing on this setback for Packer’s Crown to challenge, right here, the greedy exploitation by all the billionaires and the corporations that they own: including the likes of Crown, BHP, Rio Tinto, Visy, Seven West, Westfarmers, Woolworths and the banks. They should be saying to their proud and strong working class base: China is cracking down on corporate greed and corruption – we need to start to do that here too!

Opposing Racism & “Aussie First” Economic Nationalism

Above: June 2016, in the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine, workers at the Bitzer refrigeration firm are on the picket line and on the verge of victory. After a hard fought nine week strike workers won a pay rise, the guarantee of permanency for casuals after six months’ service and control over what hours they work. The Australian working class is very multiracial. Unity of workers across racial and ethnic lines is key to victory in the class struggle.  

As Capitalist Rulers Beat on the Unions and Poor:

Opposing Racism & “Aussie First” Economic Nationalism Key to Defending Working Class People’s Rights

29 January 2017: Thousands upon thousands of the most economically deprived people in Australia have been driven to despair over the last few months. Many are on the verge of suicide. These people have been sent debt letters by Centrelink telling them that they owe large amounts of money. Many of the letters were erroneously sent. The Liberal-National Turnbull government’s scheme to recover supposed “excess” payments to social security recipients through a computer program matching Centrelink with tax data is full of flaws. The system seems to be wilfully designed to incorrectly flag several types of valid welfare payments as “overpayments.” However, it is not just the errors in the program that are the problem. The whole purpose of the program is the problem: to gouge ever more from the most impoverished people in the country to allow, in part, the right-wing government to implement large tax cuts for rich business owners.

This hated “debt recovery” scheme is symbolic of what the government led by the supposedly “moderate” Liberal, Malcolm Turnbull, has been doing to working class people.  In November, the Turnbull government, with support in the Senate from the fascistic One Nation party, the Nick Xenophon team and right-wing “independents” like Derryn Hinch, put through legislation to resurrect the Howard-era Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). The ABCC is a set of rules and government bodies targeting unions in the construction industry. Its resurrection is yet another sign that the capitalist rulers are ramping up for a full-scale attack on the CFMEU construction workers union. They want to attack one of the most militant unions in the country as a way of pulling the teeth out of the entire union movement.

The Turnbull government has been emboldened by its win in last July’s election. However, even though the Coalition are more openly anti-working class in its agenda than the ALP, even an ALP victory last July would have been no good for the masses. Thus although the ALP opposed the ABCC, it had brought in the previous set of anti-union laws targeting the CFMEU – a regime under which over a hundred union officials were facing legal persecution last year. It is true that the ALP has joined with the Greens to oppose the Turnbull government’s plan for a massive cut in company tax. Yet in September, it was the ALP’s support that enabled the Coalition to get through its Omnibus Bill of budget cuts that hurt working class people the most while the following month the ALP voted up tax cuts that were exclusively given to the richest one-third of taxpayers. The Omnibus Bill measures that financed the tax cuts for the rich include the slashing of the Energy Supplement for new welfare recipients, high interest charges that will further grind down welfare recipients with a debt, delays to the receipt of the Carers Allowance for many new carers and a more severe repayment through taxation schedule for ex-students with a tuition fee debt. Meanwhile, although the ALP has demanded that the Coalition suspend its Centrelink “debt recovery” scheme, the ALP took to the elections its own scheme to punish welfare recipients with a debt. Under the Labor proposal, welfare recipients who had outstanding fines from government agencies would have their fines automatically deducted from their payments in yet another compulsory “income management” scheme subjugating the poor.

The fact is that the determination to rip ever more from the pockets of the masses comes not just from the ideological nature of the current parliamentary parties but from their adherence to a capitalist order which requires increasing exploitation of workers as a condition for its very existence. This is especially so because the world capitalist economy is in a fragile state right now. The Australian economy is somewhat held up from a major collapse by exports to China’s booming economy. Yet China’s continued economic successes – not withstanding the regular but always unrealised predictions made by wishful mainstream Western “experts” that her economy is about to implode – come from the fact that the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) is not under capitalist rule. Although the PRC’s leadership has allowed a dangerous level of capitalist intrusion into her economy, China’s economy remains held together by a powerful backbone of socialistic state-owned enterprises. However, let’s look at the condition of the major capitalist economies of the world. Big European economies like those of France, Italy, Germany and Austria have barely recovered from the worst of the 2008-9 Great Recession. The U.S. recovery is a fragile house of cards based on cheap credit and the capitalist Japanese economy continues its long term drift in the doldrums. Meanwhile, large non-Western, capitalist countries like Russia and Brazil are still mired in recession. It is in this context that the Coalition election slogan of “jobs and growth” has turned out to be a load of crock. If the unemployment rate has remained steady in Australia rather than ballooning up since the election it is only because so many people who want to work full-time are being forced to accept part-time work. Since the election, over 33,000 full-time jobs have been lost. As for “growth” the latest figures show that the economy actually shrank in the three months since the elections. With the economy in such a state, the capitalist rulers propose the only “solution” that they always advocate for any problem: increase the rate of exploitation of workers.

Brisbane, April 2016: Construction workers march against the reintroduction of the ABCC anti-union authority. The capitalist exploiting class is attacking the militant CFMEU construction workers union as a way of weakening the entire union movement.

With both the Coalition and the ALP not even promising much good for the masses and with both stating their intention to implement budget cuts that would hurt the poor, the post-election period was always going to be a challenging one for the masses. Under the system of capitalist “democracy” elections serve to “legitimise” capitalist governments by giving the impression that they have a “mandate” because they and their agenda have been “chosen by the people.” Therefore, in an immediate post-election period, governments claiming the authority of a “mandate” are often able to implement severe attacks against the masses. But that is only if working class people believe the hoax that election victories are a “mandate”! It is the duty of those within the workers movement who understand that elections in capitalist countries are not fair reflections of the will of the masses to explain this to others. They must expose how capitalist elections are overwhelmingly shaped by the reality that it is the ultra-rich capitalists who own the mass media and book publishing houses and uniquely have the wealth to fund political parties, employ lobbyists and full-time staffers to shape public opinion, buy political advertising, hire forum venues and establish sympathetic NGO’s to subtly promote views coinciding with their interests. In other words, it is the capitalist tycoons who are able to, disproportionately to their numbers, shape “public opinion” and election results. The reality of democracy in capitalist countries is not one person one vote but, in reality, something more like one million dollars buys one million votes. Furthermore, no matter which party wins the elections, they will be administering a state machine – including at its core the police, courts, military and bureaucracy  – that has been built up to enforce the interests of the capitalist class and is tied to this ruling class by a thousand threads. If those vanguard layers of the workers movement who understand this are able to patiently and humbly explain this to the broader masses and in the process win others to also play a vanguard role in spreading such ideas then the working class will be in a much better position to resist the attacks it is facing today.

Today’s onslaught on working class people’s rights is of such severity that there really should be a working class fightback right now. So let’s clear the confusion that is blocking that fightback by destroying the illusion that capitalist elections give a government a “legitimate” “mandate”! Let’s fight to unleash working class industrial power! Let’s unleash mass action uniting the working class with all the other downtrodden – including brutally oppressed Aboriginal people, people from other embattled coloured ethnic communities, the unemployed and low-income single mothers. Fight to defeat the ABCC and all other anti-strike and anti-union laws! Smash all attacks on welfare and all punitive measures against the unemployed! Let’s put the blame where it should be for unemployment: on the capitalist bosses. Let’s stop billionaire bosses retrenching workers! Force capitalist bosses to increase hiring at the expense of their fat profits! Oppose the moves to make education and health care increasingly “user pays.” For free public education at all levels from pre-school to TAFE and university! Let’s also fight for completely free public medical and dental care. Against the bi-partisan sell-offs of public housing we need to demand a massive increase in public housing. There needs to be a struggle to oppose racist state terror against Aboriginal people and the stealing of Aboriginal people’s children. We also need to demand asylum for refugees and full rights of citizens for everyone residing here or currently locked up in the Manus Island and Nauru camps. Let’s demand the closure of all the onshore and offshore detention centres!

It Is the Capitalist System That Is at the Root of the Problem & Not the “Two-Party System”

Reflecting widespread disenchantment with the status quo of insecure jobs, decaying social services and unaffordable housing, voters punished the Liberals and ALP at last July’s elections. Instead, they gave their vote to independents and smaller parties. Some on the Left have hailed this as a positive development as it undercuts the “major parties” and the “two-party system.” It may indeed show a weakening of the “two-party system” but that in itself is not a step forward. As the support of many of the Senate cross-benchers to the ABCC showed, all the elected independents and minor party parliamentarians are pro-capitalist and anti-working class. The fact is that having more than two pro-capitalist parties in parliament does not make life any better for the masses. Indeed, in many European countries there have long been three, four or even more significant parties in parliament but that has not stopped these parliaments from legislating for capitalist austerity, imperialist wars abroad and racist attacks on non-white minorities and refugees. You see the problem is not the two party system as such – it is the capitalist system whether capitalist interests are represented by one or two or three or four or five or any number of major parties.

That the masses are unhappy with the current rulers is inevitable under capitalism. The task of conscious partisans of the exploited and oppressed is to ensure that this anger is directed in the correct direction. The election results signalled that, unfortunately, this is not what is happening right now. One of the most notable aspects of the July election results is the growth in support for Pauline Hanson’s extreme racist One Nation party which now has several seats in the Senate. Like Donald Trump, Hanson’s claims to be “anti-establishment” are completely bogus. A former smaller-scale capitalist business owner who exploited workers, a better description of Hanson and her One Nation Party is that they are ultra-establishment. Hanson supports anti-union laws and disgustingly brands those doing it hard as “welfare bludgers.” Indeed, not only does One Nation support Treasurer Scott Morrison’s legislation making young jobseekers wait four weeks before getting the dole but its leader Pauline Hanson has called for the waiting period – i.e. the starving period – to be made even longer. Meanwhile, One Nation’s defining feature – racist scapegoating of Aboriginal people and non-white “ethnic” communities – serves the capitalist establishment by getting the masses to turn on themselves and divert their attention away from struggling against their exploiters: the greedy capitalists.

Sinister: White supremacist terrorist Michael Holt pleaded guilty to several firearm offences after having been found to have a huge stash of weapons in three properties. The Nazi talked openly to friends of his plans to open fire on crowded public places – his most recent plot being to shoot up Westfield at Tuggerah in the NSW Central Coast. The growth of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, racist attacks on Aboriginal people, refugees and the rights of the Muslim community by Liberal and ALP governments alike and economic nationalism that is rife throughout the political spectrum are energising the growth of fascist terrorists.

It is notable how much airtime and sympathetic – or at least “understanding” – coverage the mainstream media have been giving to Pauline Hanson even compared to when she first entered parliament two decades ago. It is also noteworthy how many more other politicians have been going out of their way to show their respect for her and her disgusting racist rants. This reflects the further rightward shift of the ruling class. They see an increasing need for the division caused by fascistic forces to help protect their rule. Hanson’s One Nation party allows the mainstream of the capitalist ruling class to ensure that society is flooded with extreme racist views while not themselves taking responsibility for spreading this hatred – lest that upset trade ties with Asia or Australia’s bogus image of being a “human rights defender” (that they use to justify predatory imperialist interventions abroad).

Hanson spews venomous bigotry against Aboriginal people. In her book released soon after she first entered parliament, Hanson made outrageous claims that Aboriginal women ate their babies, claiming that she wanted to “demonstrate the savagery of Aboriginal society.” Although she shifts her main target depending on which type of racism is most in vogue, her agenda is to spread hatred against all people of colour. When she first entered parliament she ranted that, “Australia was in danger of being swamped by Asians.” Now she makes similar claims about Muslims while continuing to stand by her attacks on Asian communities.  The first time round, when Hanson made her drive against Asians, Asian people were often spat on and abused at train stations and threatened and bashed on the streets. Today, One Nation’s bigotry is again inciting racist terror on the streets. Its electoral gains and the ascent of far-right bigot Donald Trump has emboldened violent racists. Various violent fascist groups in Australia like the Party for Freedom, True Blue Crew, and Australian Settlers Rebellion have been falling over themselves to declare support for One Nation and have been congregating at One Nation public events. There have been at least two white supremacist murders in the period since One Nation made its comeback into federal parliament: the murder of 14-year-old Aboriginal youth, Elijah Doughty, in Kalgoorlie and the murder of Indian-origin bus driver, Manmeet Alisher in Brisbane. How many more racist murders there have been and the much larger number of racist bashings is unknown.

Working-Class Based Opposition to One Nation’s Racist Agenda versus “Take Down Capitalism” Instead

n response to One Nation’s resurgence, people of colour activists and other anti-racists have rightly protested outside some One Nation events and media appearances. However, a leftist Facebook site calling itself the “Communists of Australia” posted a statement that poured cold water on the idea of protesting against One Nation. This 15 September 2016 posting read:

Australian far-right politician Pauline Hanson is back in the parliament after 20 years. The message is the same racist message as before. Capitalism throws up these fascists from time to time. Some will respond by attacking the figurehead. That is OK if they want to do it. But the best way to defeat fascists is to take down capitalism itself. Target the boss instead of the stooge.

We will respond to this assertion not necessarily because of the weight of the group making it but because this stance represents a viewpoint held by a section of the nominally “Marxist-Leninist” left. In itself, the statement that, “the best way to defeat fascists is to take down capitalism itself,” is of course incontestable. However, the struggle against capitalism will not be advanced by merely proclaiming its necessity, although that must certainly be done as well. The revolution against capitalism will mainly be built by conscious pro-socialists supporting struggles waged against the various injustices and oppressions caused by this system and fighting to direct these struggles onto an anti-capitalist strategy.  It follows that in addition to participating in workers’ struggles for economic gains and in struggles against government racist measures, we must also join with those protesting against the extreme racism of One Nation while fighting to turn this anti-racist resistance into a pro-working class, anti-racist resistance. This is different to the perspective of not only the “Communists of Australia” but in a different way also to that of most of the left social democratic groups – like Socialist Alternative. These latter groups – to their credit – are heavily involved in building anti-racist rallies against One Nation and have raised slogans at such actions that correctly link One Nation’s rise to the racist policies of the major parties (even though they tend to soft-pedal on criticism of the ALP’s racist policies). However, the slogans that these groups build the anti-One Nation rallies on and the slogans that they raise at the events shy away from linking the anti-racist struggle to the class-struggle of the working class. They choose such a strategy because they hope that this will allow small-l liberals and middle-class antiracists, who may not be pro-working class, to be more comfortable about attending the actions. However, a huge price of making the events as amenable as possible for such elements is that it holds back the movement from becoming a force that opposes the capitalist ruling class – the class whose attacks on jobs and social services fuels support for One Nation and whose racist policies legitimise such fascistic outfits. In other words, the strategy of the reformist left groups, while helping to attract well-meaning, anti-racist university students to rallies, retards the movement from turning to the direction that can actually lead it towards its goal. Moreover, it makes it harder to attract the powerful workers movement into joining these struggles. In contrast, Trotskyist Platform (TP) has been participating in anti-Far Right actions with slogans that not only oppose the government’s/ALP’s racist attacks on Aboriginal people, refugees and Muslims – which other Left groups also do to some extent – but with slogans that directly appeal to the interests that the workers movement has in strengthening its unity through combating racism. Our slogans also seek to connect healthy hatred of One Nation’s racism with opposition to the mainstream, “Aussie first” economic nationalism that helps legitimise the extreme racists. We call for class struggle opposition to the bosses’ job-slashing and casualisation that is the cause of the unemployment and insecurity that is helping fuel fascism’s rise.

Sydney, 18 July 2016: Trotskyist Platform signs at a 200-strong protest against Pauline Hanson’s appearance on the ABC Q & A program. We oppose any attempt to channel understandable fear of the Far-Right into support for the ALP and The Greens. Instead, Trotskyist Platform calls for workers’ action to swat down the fascists swarming around Hanson’s One Nation, for determined resistance against the bi-partisan racist war on refugees and Aboriginal people and for a class struggle fight for jobs for all in sharp opposition to nationalist calls for “Jobs for Aussies Workers First.”

Even though the reformist left groups that are currently leading the anti-One Nation protests shy away from an openly pro-working class strategy, this is no excuse for the so-called “Communists of Australia” to downplay the need to participate in anti-One Nation actions. To reject intervention in this way means to turn one’s back on the possibility that a movement burning with hatred at far-right racism can – or at least its most pro-working class elements can – be steered onto an anti-capitalist strategy. Worst of all it means turning one’s back on the desperate concerns of people from the various coloured “ethnic” communities – the people who are suffering the direct brunt of the redneck violence and abuse that One Nation’s racist hate speech fuels – and refusing to walk them onto a path that connects their passion to fight against far-right racists to an all-sided struggle against the capitalist system that breeds racism.

It is simply wrong to reject struggles against fascist and fascistic forces on the supposed grounds that it diverts from a direct struggle against capitalism. Workers from various embattled “ethnic” communities form an important part of the working class – the class that is central to the fight against capitalism. Many work in the most exploited jobs and, thus, have the most to gain from anti-capitalist class struggle. Some are even today amongst the most militant trade unionists. Yet the vilification that they cop from the likes of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the violence being incited – and sometimes directly carried out – by outright fascist groups intimidates coloured workers and thus undermines their ability to participate in the struggles of the workers movement. Opposing the far-right racists is thus an important part of the struggle to unleash the full combative potential of “ethnic” workers and, therefore, of the workers movement as a whole. It is, thus, incorrect to suggest that struggles against far-right forces somehow takes away from the necessary struggle against capitalism. In fact, the very opposite is true provided that struggles against the Far-Right are waged on a pro-working class agenda that refuses to be diverted into the dead end of “lesser evil” support for liberal or social democratic-led capitalism.

That is why, in contrast to the likes of the “Communists of Australia,” we communists in TP stand for spirited, working class centred, anti-racist protests outside One Nation events. Let’s demoralise One Nation supporters and discourage new ones from joining by showing them how much resistance they will face. Most importantly, we fight for actions uniting trade union contingents with Aboriginal people, coloured “ethnic” communities and other anti-racists to drive off the streets the outright fascist groups that have been congregating at One Nation events.  When the workers movement mobilises in this way to stop violent fascist forces, it not only enhances their unity but also strengthens their trust in their own power, develops their fighting organisation and experience and increases their willingness and ability to unleash their might in direct physical action. In other words, acting to crush fascist outfits – who are still overall unpopular – helps prepare the working class for the future, more difficult task of overturning capitalist state power. This is partly why Lenin’s Bolsheviks, who would go on to lead the 1917 socialist revolution in Russia, devoted so much effort to mobilising to crush the violent far-right groups that existed in Russia in their time – like the notorious Black Hundreds. By downplaying the importance of similar tasks today, the avowedly “Marxist-Leninist” Communists of Australia group are actually turning their back on an important aspect of real Marxist-Leninism.

The biggest reason why it is wrong to claim that struggles against far right racists are counterposed to a direct struggle against capitalism is that workers unity is absolutely essential to any struggle against capitalism and such unity cannot be built without fiercely counteracting the dividing effect of racism – whether it be the extreme racism of the Far Right or the patronising racism of the mainstream of the ruling class. In white supremacist Australia, racism and economic nationalism are, indeed, the biggest factors tearing apart workers’ unity. Indeed, the racism and economic nationalism engendered by capitalist society can be so strong that even some avowed socialists recoil from directly standing up to it. Those leftists who say that there is no need to attack One Nation, with the excuse that the dominant capitalist bosses should be attacked instead, are misusing Marxist theory to rationalise a reluctance to challenge extreme racist ideas. This is an opportunist capitulation to backward racist notions amongst their co-workers, acquaintances and those considered potential allies of their parties.

Migrants’ Trade Union in South Korea established in 2007. During their struggle to register the union and to resist bosses, five senior officials were deported by the right-wing capitalist government. However, following support by other unions, in 2015 the South Korean courts backed down and accepted that even “illegal workers” had the right to join a union. Unions in Australia must fight to bring 457 Visa workers and “illegal immigrants” into our unions and must struggle to win for them the full rights of citizens so that these workers can much better fight for their rights.

Protectionism Hurts the Struggle to Save Workers’ Jobs

The germination of openly racist forces in Australia has been bred in a noxious political climate created by the major parties’ – and the mainstream media’s – attacks on refugees, Aboriginal people and various different coloured “ethnic” communities. In particular, the mainstream of the ruling class has infused society with anti-Muslim hysteria through the repression and coded racist messages associated with its “War on Radical Islamic Terrorism.” Direct Australian imperialist intervention in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq further intensifies the chauvinist climate at home. Meanwhile, the Australian fascistic groups sprouting into the open have been pollinated by their rapidly breeding counterparts in other parts of the capitalist world. Most significant has been the ascendancy of racist, ultra-protectionist Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency. There has also been the Brexit vote in Britain – in which racist hostility to immigrants and protectionism were the main factors – and the growing influence of extreme right-wing parties throughout Europe from France, Netherlands and Austria to Hungary, Ukraine and Russia. With the current social democratic leaderships of the workers’ movements refusing to mobilise a militant class struggle fight for workers’ jobs, far-right forces have been able to promote restrictions on immigration and extreme nationalism as an “answer” to unemployment and deteriorating social services. Since economic insecurity remains rife in a capitalist world that is still caught in the vortex of the late noughties Great Recession, many in the middle class and some backward workers have bought into such illusory “solutions.” What has arguably most legitimised the Hard Right and their agenda is that social democratic politicians – including supposedly “anti-establishment” ones like America’s Bernie Sanders and British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn – have been standing on similar economic nationalist platforms as the Far Right. Bernie Sanders has even on several occasions praised Donald Trump for his opposition to trade deals from a protectionist standpoint – even promising to work with Trump if he seriously implements such an agenda.

In the wake of this growing influence of national-chauvinist ideologies and the increasing weight of fascistic forces in all the capitalist powers it has hardly been just One Nation and its satellites that have been spewing racist filth and extreme protectionism. Barely a week after Trump’s election win, immigration minister Peter Dutton criticised former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, who was from Dutton’s own Liberal Party, for allowing in some migrant groups in the 1970s. Dutton blamed their descendants for social problems. This was part of a cosy interview he did with extreme racist media commentator Andrew Bolt who attacked “allowing in” people from Middle Eastern and African nations or cultural groups. Later, Dutton singled out Lebanese Muslims as a community that he believes should have been excluded. Lebanese Muslim Association president Samier Dandan responded aptly:

Let us not beat around the bush here, what Mr Dutton said was racist, what he implied was racist, and the lack of outrage in Parliament reflects on the racism underscoring much of how we talk about minorities in Australia.

This statement reflects widespread outrage at Dutton’s stance within Lebanese and other migrant communities. Yet Turnbull stood by his openly racist minister.

The Labor Opposition did criticise Dutton’s comments – albeit very mildly. However, the ALP itself has been spreading poisonous nationalism. In November, Bill Shorten ranted that temporary overseas workers are “taking the jobs” of Australians. He made this xenophobic claim as part of announcing Labor’s plan to place more restrictions on guest workers entering on the 457 Visa program. Shorten’s comments came within a week of Trump’s election win. He was aping Trump’s “America First” protectionism. Claiming that Australia must learn from Trump’s victory, Shorten raved that, “we make no apology for saying Labor’s approach to the Australian economy is buy Australian, build Australian, employ Australians.” Although Shorten would deny it, by claiming that foreign workers were “taking the jobs” of Australians, Shorten is inciting racist hostility to migrants. After all, the primary cause of racist attitudes are ignorant notions that other races present a threat to the majority ethnic group’s economic security. Arch-racist Pauline Hanson knows this, which is why she was quick to hail the ALP leader’s comments. Indeed, the ALP’s renewed protectionist push reflects not only a buy into the Trump approach and, of course, its own lifelong embrace of economic nationalism but an attempt to appeal to supporters of the newly resurgent minor parties. The distinguishing feature of the newly elected  – or re-elected – minor parties and independents is rabid protectionism. This is the case whether it be One Nation, Jacqui Lambie or the group led by multi-millionaire, property investor Nick Xenophon.

Apart from fuelling racism, claims that foreign guest workers are “taking the jobs” of Australians are simply not true. The number of 457 Visa workers in Australia is just 94,890. This makes up a tiny 0.8% of the workforce! Furthermore, even if this number were all stopped from entering it would not increase employment for Australians. Other countries would likely respond by placing restrictions on Australian expatriates working overseas. These Australian citizens would then be forced to come back here and try to engage in, supposedly, “taking the jobs” of Australians already residing here. Indeed, the number of Australian citizens working in Britain alone approaches the entire total number of 457 Visa workers in Australia. When you add the 65,000 Australians working on temporary work visas in the U.S. (out of a total Australian population of 200,000 there) and the tens of thousands of Australians resident on temporary work visas in each of the UAE, Hong Kong, Thailand and China and tens of thousands more in other parts of Asia and the world, one can see that the number of Australians working abroad as guest workers far exceeds the number of 457 Visa workers in Australia. In other words, mutual restrictions on temporary workers in Australia and other countries would lead – if one accepts the warped logic of the ALP, One Nation and Co. – to a net taking away of the jobs of Australian workers.

Odisha, India, 2 September 2016: Indian trade unionists overturn a scab mini-bus as part of enforcing a nation-wide general strike against government opposition to their wage demands and planned anti-worker changes to labour laws. Protectionism harms the building of unity between Australian workers and their working class sisters and brothers overseas.

Yet, regardless of the relative amounts of 457 Visa workers in Australia and Australians working as guest workers abroad, the whole notion that temporary workers or immigrants are “taking the jobs” of Australians is false to the core. A 457 Visa worker employed here not only works but spends money and pays taxes: both of which create jobs. In the end, the entry of guest workers just like immigration in general is employment neutral – it neither leads to more or less unemployment. The actual – and indeed sole – cause of unemployment is the relentless drive for profits of capitalist business owners. This means that capitalist bosses often would rather employ less workers and produce less than put the resources into training additional workers. Depending on market conditions, corporate bigwigs may find it more profitable to cut production and jobs because that enables them to increase prices since they have a lower number of goods or services to sell.  Then there is, of course, the unceasing campaign of bosses to boost profits by cutting jobs and pressuring those left behind to work dangerously faster. All this means that greedy business owners will slash jobs even when they are making filthy high profits – if that can help them make even larger profits. Meanwhile, companies that have ripped hundreds of millions in profits out of the toil of their workers do not hesitate to throw these workers onto the scrapheap if they make a slight loss for even one year. Over the last couple of years, fabulously wealthy Australian-owned mining giants and big banks have slashed thousands upon thousands of jobs in search of even more billions of dollars in profits. So have the greedy owners of profitable IT giants, breweries and hundreds of other businesses.

Under the capitalist system, there is always a certain – rather high – level of unemployment below which unemployment will not drop. This is because as more workers are hired and unemployment falls bosses are less able to make workers accept lower wages and less able to make their standard threat (which may be spoken or unspoken) to bully workers: “if you don’t like the [miserable] conditions that I am giving you there are plenty more without a job that I can hire.” This reduced ability to keep wages low and conditions poor when unemployment falls makes capitalist bosses recoil from hiring any more workers. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the number of immigrants or the number of guest workers. Even if there is zero immigration, no guest workers and a very low population there will always be this certain unemployment rate under the capitalist economic system. The only way that this level of unemployment can be reduced is if class struggle by the organised working class is powerful enough to force capitalists to maintain a larger workforce than that which enables them to make the greatest profits.

This base level of unemployment within capitalism occurs at the best of times – even when capitalist economies are at the highest booms that they can reach. As capitalist economies move out of this high point in their economic cycle, unemployment rises. And when the capitalist system is wracked by its periodic crises of over-production or other states of chaos, rich business owners throw their workers out of their jobs like there is no tomorrow. Unemployment rises rapidly and again this has nothing to do with the number of guest workers or immigrants. Thus, the highest unemployment rate Australia has ever had was in the height of the Great Depression in 1932 when the official unemployment rate was around 30%. This was a time when the population was barely more than a quarter of what it is now, when there were no guest workers and when the racist White Australia Policy still existed. Similarly, consider the most severe unemployment in Australia in the last few decades. This occurred in 1993, during the early 1990s recession, when official unemployment was nearly twice the rate that it is now. Yet not only was this three years before the 457 Visa program was even introduced, it was at the end of a five year period of falling immigration levels.  In that period of extremely high unemployment, the net migration into Australia was only 34,000 per year – which is about five time less than it is currently. In summary, when immigration was five times less than it is today and no guest workers were arriving, unemployment was twice as high.  This once again confirms that the entry of immigrants and guest workers has nothing to do with creating unemployment and if anything one could argue the opposite.

Although Marxists do not advise the capitalist rulers on how many or how few guest workers should be brought to work in this country, we do resolutely oppose all attempts to turn guest workers into scapegoats for unemployment and oppose all the other divisive rhetoric – and associated laws – that counterpose the interests of local workers to those of guest or foreign workers. We do so because any attempt to set up local workers as rivals of guest workers diverts workers from fighting to stop the real cause of unemployment – the capitalist bosses and their decaying system. It also divides local workers from their important allies – guest and international workers. This, in turn, weakens the ability of the working class to struggle against the capitalist exploiters and demand jobs for all. Such class struggle, which in the end would culminate in the replacement of capitalist rule with working class rule, is the only effective way to defend workers’ jobs. Put simply, calls to put “Australian workers first” in hiring actually harms the fight to protect the jobs of local workers – and, of course, the jobs of international workers too.

This does not mean that local workers’ fears are not real that bosses will try and make 457 Visa workers a lower paid workforce and use their extra exploitation of these workers to drive down the conditions of all workers. After all, this is part of the reason why big business owners are in favour of the 457 Visa program and why the capitalists’ open representatives in the Liberal Party favour the scheme. Yet the response of the workers movement to this should not be to make demands calling for local workers to be favoured against guest workers but rather to fight to improve the working conditions of guest workers themselves. In other words, the workers movement must use the same approach to guest workers as the approach that it ought to use towards specially vulnerable groups amongst local workers: like casual workers, apprentices, youth workers and workers on probation. Especially severe exploitation of all these latter sections of our class can also be used to drive down the conditions of all workers – but that does not mean we should call for kicking these workers out of their jobs. Rather, we should fight to uplift their conditions, legal rights and job security – in particular, by fighting for permanency for all these workers and for their wages and conditions to be brought up to that of the rest of the working class. Similarly, in order to prevent greedy Aussie bosses super-exploiting vulnerable 457 Visa workers, local workers should demand that guest workers be given additional protections such as a requirement that they be paid at the highest pay rate going for those doing their type of work in Australia. Most importantly, the Australian workers movement must demand that all 457 Visa workers be given the rights of citizenship. This will stop bosses threatening guest workers by pointing to the current reality where they will be booted out of the country if they lose their job. By fighting in this way to defend the rights of guest workers, local workers will not only undercut attempts by the bosses to undermine general working conditions but will be able to attract guest workers into our unions and unite with them in struggles to demand improved working conditions and more jobs for all workers. Our guest worker sisters and brothers can in this way bring much to the trade union movement here. Many of these workers have experience in intense class struggles abroad. Furthermore, because they often suffer intense racist discrimination here, many guest workers may well have less sympathy for the capitalist order than local workers do. Therefore, when freed from the threat of deportation and when uplifted by the hand of solidarity by local workers, guest workers could become a militant component of the trade union movement in this country. They would become a key part of a united working class fight to win fully paid, secure jobs for all workers through stopping capitalist bosses from retrenching workers and forcing profitable companies to increase hiring at the expense of their own profits.

Class struggle can save workers’ jobs. Sacked Carlton & United Breweries maintenance workers picket Melbourne’s Abbotsford brewery. Even though their struggle was endangered by Laborite union leaders’ refusal to mobilise a full shutdown of the brewery, the sacked workers eventually won back their jobs after a seven-month-long struggle.

Workers of All Countries Unite!

It is not only the fascistic One Nation, the right-wing Coalition and the social democratic ALP that have been pushing “Australia First” nationalism. So too in a big way have the middle class, “progressive” Greens. Soon after Bill Shorten launched his “Australia First” push in November, the Greens campaigned for new legal measures restricting 457 Visa workers and the use of imported steel on construction sites. The Greens lower house member, Adam Bandt, openly proclaimed the measures as an attempt to compete on protectionism with not only the Nick Xenophon Team but with One Nation. Bandt stated, “We’ll see whether Pauline Hanson is serious about looking after local jobs or whether she just talks protectionist in Queensland to win votes then backs the elites when she’s in Canberra” (The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 November 2016).

Yet, even after promoting such rabid economic nationalism, the Greens still manage to attack the ALP for inciting racism with their attacks on 457 Visa workers:

For years, the Greens have been urging we protect our sovereignty without racist rhetoric. Now Labor has embraced the Greens’ policies but with Pauline Hanson’s rhetoric.

Do Bill Shorten and Labor genuinely want to help create jobs for locals by fixing our migration and employment laws or is this just dog-whistling in a post-Trump attempt to chase the One Nation vote?

http://sarah-hanson-young.greensmps.org.au/articles/labor-putting-pauline-hanson-first-greens-test-labor-trade-and-jobs

There is, indeed, no doubt that the ALP is churning out Pauline Hanson-like racist rhetoric and dog whistling. However, the irony is that by promoting “Aussie First” migration and employment policies, the Greens – like the ALP – are only pouring fuel into the engine of fascistic units like One Nation who are, after all, always the most consistent nationalists. The Greens economic nationalist policies are fuelling One Nation’s rise no matter how clean and liberal the rhetoric that they present these policies with.

As harmful as the Greens’ hard line protectionism is, this poisonous ideology spreads deepest into the workers movement when it is being poured by those within it; that is, by the ALP parliamentary and union leaders. Economic nationalism pushed by our union leaders in particular does the most harm as they have more authority amongst workers than ALP parliamentary politicians. But not only are most Laborite union officials pushing protectionism – they are doing so with increasing vigour. The more that these officials – unwilling to defy anti-strike laws – recoil from a class struggle fight against bosses slashing jobs, the more that they promote “Australian workers first” policies as an illusory “solution” to joblessness. The Laborite, current union leaders slogans include not only calls to keep out guest workers but demands to favour Australian companies over overseas producers. Yet just like calls to favour local workers in hiring, calls to favour locally made products are an illusory strategy to “save Australian jobs.” For any restrictions Australia places on overseas produced items would be met by countries abroad placing similar restrictions on Australian-made products. In the end all that such demands do is to divide workers of different nations by setting them against their sisters and brothers abroad. Meanwhile, the capitalist bosses in all the different countries are left laughing all the way to the bank – laughing because their own workforces, instead of fighting against these bosses who exploit them, are set against their actual allies, workers overseas.

Even the most left-wing union leaderships in Australia are strongly pro-protectionist. Take the Sydney branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). To the credit of the members and leaders of this union, the MUA Sydney Branch amongst all unions in NSW have done the most to support anti-racist causes like Aboriginal rights and refugee rights.  However, the union has also long used the divisive nationalist slogan, “Australian crew on Australian ships” as part of a campaign to stop overseas workers working on ships on Australian coastal routes. This campaign was put into overdrive when workers on the MV Portland were disgustingly sacked on January 13 last year. After the workers who worked on this Alcoa alumina cargo ship had found out the ship was to be taken to Singapore where they were to be replaced by overseas seafarers on much lower pay, the local crew refused to sail the ship to Singapore and took industrial action by docking the ship in the far south-west Victorian port of Portland. The greedy Alcoa bosses eventually organised dozens of security guards to raid the ship at 1am at night and heavy the workers off the ship. This sacking of the MV Portland workers by Alcoa and their use of physical thuggery to break industrial action was indeed despicable. It was despicable because all smashing of industrial action and all sackings of workers, especially by a multi-billion dollar behemoth like Alcoa, is despicable, no matter what the reason! The sackings deserved to be opposed by industrial action. However, instead of focussing solely on the sacking of workers by Alcoa, the MUA leaders chose to focus on the issue of Australian workers being replaced by overseas workers. They ran a campaign called “sacked for being an Australian” complete with rallies, media publicity and canvassing of politicians. The campaign addressed not only the events around the MV Portland but the broader issue of overseas crew working on Australian coastal routes. It won the support of  the ACTU and Bill Shorten and other politicians. At a rally outside Malcolm Turnbull’s office, union officials wore “Sacked for Being An Aussie” t-shirts, questioned the competency of overseas seafarers and the validity of their Australian visas and spoke favourably about how the campaign against foreign crew on Australian coastal routes had even won the support of right-wing radio shock jocks from 2GB and the like. Yet the only reason that those staunchly anti-union shock jocks were supporting the movement was because it appealed to Australian nationalism and stoked hostility to overseas workers from the “Third World.” Those anti-working class, multi-millionaire shock jocks love workers being divided. The fact is that the “Sacked for Being An Aussie” slogan is something that a far right political party could come up with!

A far most honest t-shirt expressing the plight of the MV Portland workers would say something like, “Sacked for being a more decently paid worker by a greedy company seeking to make more profit.” Unions should of course oppose all sackings of workers – including when bosses seek to cut wage costs by hiring new workers on lower pay. Where workers are being replaced by overseas workers on lower pay our unions should not make the issue about local workers being replaced by overseas ones. That is not the point. It is about workers being sacked because of greedy capitalists trying to drive down wages … full stop! Our unions should simply demand that sacked workers get their jobs back and, instead of shouting divisive slogans against the hiring of overseas crew, should demand that all workers on Australian routes be paid – the much higher – local wage rates. However, the MUA leadership has chosen, instead, to appeal to xenophobic Australian nationalism and hopes to win support from broader elements – like “independent” politicians and right-wing media commentators – on this basis. In doing so they are in the long run shooting the union in the foot. For the very Australian nationalism that they are churning up today will tomorrow be hurled back against the union – including by the very same right wing shock jocks who today claim to back the union campaign – when the union launches any major strike to defend workers’ interests. These shock jocks and other Australian nationalists will scream that the union is “harming Australia’s national interests” and “putting at risk Australian jobs and Australian industry.” Furthermore, by turning the issue into an Australian workers versus overseas workers issue, our union leaders are undermining the potential for international solidarity action in support of the sacked workers. Consider, for example, how an alternative strategy for the struggle would look like: The union refuses to make this a question of Australian workers versus overseas workers. Instead it demands through industrial action not only the reinstatement of all sacked workers but, as a way to build international solidarity and undercut Alcoa’s efforts to play one lot of workers off against another, demands that a portion of the proposed overseas crew also be hired. It, of course, insists that this overseas crew is hired on the better Australian wages and conditions with the resulting lower workload per worker, resulting from a now larger workforce, being used to reduce working hours with no loss in pay. The right wing shock jocks and politicians, of course, then refuse to support the union campaign. However, the union’s internationalist stance meets with a very enthusiastic response from Alcoa workers throughout the multinational corporation’s operations in nine other countries. These workers then launch protest industrial action in support of the MUA demands. Now that’s a strategy worth fighting for! A strategy befitting the very good work that the MUA is doing in other arenas to oppose racism and support other progressive causes like defence of public housing in Millers Point.

Yet protectionist ideology is so overwhelming within the workers movement in Australia – and indeed most of the richer capitalist countries – that even most of the Far Left embraces it. Thus, the newspaper of Socialist Alliance, the Green Left Weekly, supported the MUA leadership’s “Australian workers first” strategy on the MV Portland sackings while trying to ignore some of the most blatantly national chauvinist aspects of the campaign. However, Socialist Alliance are hardly alone on the Left in pandering to economic nationalism. So too does Socialist Alternative (SAlt) and – in an even more blatant way – the Communist Party of Australia (CPA). Both these groups hailed the largest economic nationalist rally in Australia in recent times: the 10,000 strong “Local Workers First” rally in Perth in July 2012. To be sure, they sought to distance themselves from the most jingoistic aspects of the rally. Yet, no matter in how cleansed a form they presented it, as the rally’s main banner slogan “WA Kids Miss Out When Miners Use Overseas Workers” made all too clear, this was a poisonous campaign that pitted local workers against their overseas comrades.

Left, Melbourne, August 2015: Union-led rallies against the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (CHAFTA) have been based on the divisive nationalist agenda of giving greater support to local bosses in trade and purchasing over overseas producers. The rallies have also been shot through with irrational fear mongering about China as seen by this sign (Centre) at the Sydney 31 July 2015 anti-CHAFTA protest. The national-chauvinist essence of this protest was indeed so strong that the fascist Party For Freedom felt comfortable enough to participate and brandish its openly racist slogans (Right). Down with all economic nationalism – workers of all countries unite!

Just like the Greens, those far left groups that think that it is possible to have a “clean” version of protectionism that does not dog whistle to racism are deluding themselves. Any policy that calls for putting the interests of (mainly white) Australian workers over (overwhelmingly coloured) lower paid workers from “Third World” countries will inevitably appeal to and reinforce White Australia xenophobic attitudes as well as “First World” arrogance. This will be the case regardless of whether those making such calls intend this to happen or not.

Yet even if it were hypothetically possible to promote protectionist policies without inciting racism it would still be harmful to the struggle for working class people’s interests. For it would still divert workers away from the struggle that is actually needed – the one against the job-slashing exploiters – and would still pit local workers against their natural allies: the working class people of the world. Marxists have long understood the danger that could arise if workers end up being divided along national lines. That is why Marx and Engels chose to make the slogan, “Workers of All Countries Unite!” as the central slogan of their famous Communist Manifesto. This slogan does not only mean that workers in one country should collect money to support a strike by workers in another country or take industrial action in solidarity with an overseas workers’ struggle. All that, of course, is a very important part of it. But to “unite” means much more: it means to fight as one. That, naturally, means rejecting any calls for workers in one’s own country to be prioritised over workers abroad. Indeed, the Communist Manifesto even emphasised that fighting for the common interests of the international proletarian working class – as opposed to standing for one’s own national working class in competition with those of working classes abroad – is indeed the number one difference between communists and other tendencies in the workers movement:

The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality…

Those nominal Marxists who spit on this central message of the Communist Manifesto by making calls to favour Australian workers in hiring over their sisters and brothers abroad have no right to call themselves “communists.”

Indeed, those leftists and trade union officials that promote “Australian workers first” demands are not only violating the key principle of Marxism, they are in fact violating the spirit of trade unionism itself. The essence of trade unionism is the idea that only if workers stand united as one can they effectively fight for their rights. Trade unions – and, indeed, workers’ unity at a workplace – are built on the understanding that if one group of workers – say, senior workers – ask for the boss to favour them in employment and conditions over other workers and the other sections of workers – including, say, a bloc of younger workers – who, in turn, respond by making their own selfish demands all that will happen is that workers will be divided and weakened in their ability to win concessions from the boss and all workers will end up losing out. If, in the above scenario, one replaces the senior workers making demands to be prioritised with Australian workers and those groups responding to these demands as the workers of other countries, then one can see how “Australian workers first” demands not only fly in the face of basic trade union principles but damages the interests of all workers.

A man comforts Ilies Soufiane, fifteen-year-old son of Azzeddine Soufiane, one of the six people murdered when far-right terrorist, Alexandre Bissonnette (Right), opened fire on a Quebec City mosque. The heinous white supremacist was notorious for online rants against refugees and supporters of women’s liberation. He was also a proud supporter of Donald Trump and far-right French politician, Marine Le Pen. The 29 January 2017 massacre came just two days after Donald Trump’s notorious ban on U.S. entry for nationals of seven Muslim majority countries. The official racism of capitalist politicians is encouraging extreme right-wing terrorist attacks.

Is “Globalisation” Really the Problem?

The most seemingly left-sounding argument that pro-protectionist leftists and social democrats use to justify their demands is to claim that giving jobs to Australian workers instead of foreign workers saves those non-local workers from being badly exploited. Of course it is true that 457 Visa workers and workers in poorer countries are often exploited more starkly than local workers. However, to say that these workers should have their livelihoods taken from them to save them from being exploited is the very height of cynicism. Will that not make them suffer even more? Will that not compel many of these workers to accept other even lower paying jobs?  Mexican workers themselves answered these questions when they angrily protested outside Ford dealerships in Mexico against Trump’s plan (which is similar to Bernie Sanders’ plan) to make auto companies move their production from Mexico to the U.S. Their protest actions on the day of Trump’s inauguration especially targeted Ford after the company pulled out of a car assembly plant that it was building in Mexico’s Villa de Reyes in the wake of Trump’s election.

To the extent that social democratic protectionism is not consciously a selfish, nationalist agenda to favour workers in one’s own country at the expense of their counterparts abroad, it is the core part of an ideology that sees the main problem of the world as “globalisation.” Now, “globalisation” means different things to different people. The term is generally used in the economic sense to refer to growing trade as well as investment by capitalists in other countries; and in particular to investment by capitalists of richer countries in business operations in poorer countries. Leftist supporters of protectionism, when seeking to mask the nationalist essence of their politics, focus on opposing “economic globalisation” which they say hurts the working class and poor of all countries. Now, certainly in the ex-colonial countries, which are still subjugated by imperialism, opposition to “globalisation” represents a very understandable resistance to the imperialist exploitation of the masses in these countries by the capitalist bigwigs of the richer countries. However, anti-“globalisation” sentiment in the imperialist countries – like the U.S., Australia, Britain, Germany etc – usually reflects a “First World” chauvinist desire to keep the privileged position of these countries by ensuring that jobs and trade advantages do not flow to the poorer countries. The “leftist” cover for such sentiment is the cynical – as we have shown above – claim that ensuring that economic activity is kept centred in the wealthier countries saves the “Third World” masses from being unscrupulously exploited.  This opposition to “economic globalisation” from social democrats ends up being quite similar to that of the Far Right. For example, fascistic U.S. president Trump rails against U.S. jobs being lost to Mexico and against Mexico supposedly hammering the U.S. in trade. The racist Far Right, of course, add to the reformist Left’s stand against “economic globalisation” opposition to the movement of people and opposition to “cultural globalisation” – in other words, they add open xenophobic nationalism to economic nationalism.

The working class in the imperialist countries like Australia should solidarise with the concerns of the masses of the so-called “Third World” about “economic globalisation.” They should do this by very militantly standing against the raping of the poorer countries by capitalists of the richer countries. This should be the case whether that imperialist theft takes the form of exploitation of labour, plundering of natural resources, reaping of exorbitant interest payments from indebted poorer countries or through forcing producers in these poorer countries to sell their produce at ultra-low prices through tyrannical imperialist control of world markets. That means we should oppose Australian capitalists looting exorbitant wealth out of the likes of East Timor, PNG, Fiji and the Solomon Islands and to some extent also from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Sri Lanka; just as we should stand against U.S. imperialists raping the likes of Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Nigeria, Egypt, India, Malaysia and Thailand.

Miami Airport: One of the huge protests in the U.S. against Trump’s 27 January 2017 executive order suspending entry by nationals from seven Muslim majority countries and all refugees. People from coloured & migrant-derived communities have been prominent at the demonstrations.

However, Leninists understand that whether there’s more “globalisation” or less, capitalism will bring misery to the masses. Therefore, the Left and workers movement – while standing resolutely with the masses of the neo-colonial and semi-colonial countries against imperialist exploitation – should be neither for more or less “economic globalisation.” This does not mean we should be indifferent to the case where capitalists in richer countries close down factories in these countries in order to set up ones using a lower paid workforce in poorer countries. Capitalist bosses use the threat of such offshoring to bully workers in their base countries into accepting poorer wages and conditions. This is, after all, why mainstream conservatives and liberals tend to support economic globalisation. We should of course stand against all workers losing their jobs – importantly including when the bosses are to hire other workers on lower pay. However, the slogans we must fight on should not be the divisive and deliberate pandering to nationalism of “save Aussie jobs from being exported” but, instead, demands of “no job losses,” “jobs for all workers” and “the best and equal conditions for all workers.” In cases of mooted offshoring, we should not in the least object to the plant opening up in the poorer country. We should welcome more jobs for our working class sisters and brothers abroad. Only we demand no loss of jobs for the already employed workers in the richer home country of the business and demand a massive uplifting in wages for any workers hired in the poorer country.

At the same time we should understand that the impact of companies slashing jobs to move operations to poorer countries abroad is full of myths. One myth is that companies are moving in a big way to China. Although that may have been true in the past it is now largely out of date news. China’s socialistic economy has pulled its people so far out of the dire poverty of its pre-1949 capitalist days and wages are rising so quickly there and workers’ rights have been so boosted by Red China’s 2008 pro-worker Labour Law that many Western factory owners are actually leaving China. Some are moving their plants to lower wage countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mexico and Thailand. However, others are even slowly picking up shop to move or return to wealthier countries like the U.S.  In the five years to March 2016, almost 100,000 factory jobs have moved back from China to the U.S. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of job losses in Australia have nothing to do with being “exported overseas.” Indeed, many types of jobs cannot be sent overseas by their very nature including most jobs in construction, commuter and cargo transport, infrastructure, mining, maintenance, home service/repair, medical and aged care, childcare, teaching, utilities, warehousing, post, hospitality, food service, tourism, retail and the public service.

So, when part Australian-owned mining giant Rio Tinto slashed nearly 700 jobs last year – those jobs were not sent overseas at all. It was simply that the greedy company owners who were already making a profit of some $2.3 billion dollars in just half a year wanted to make even more profit by cutting their wage costs. Similarly, the over 4,000 jobs axed by the four big banks last year were not “exported.” The bank bosses simply cut these jobs in order to boost the already exorbitant profits of these corporations by downsizing less profitable divisions. The same goes for the 500 jobs slashed by retail giant Woolworths last July. And the over 18,000 federal public service jobs that have been axed over the last three and a half years have certainly not been off-shored – the jobs have simply been eradicated to help the government finance tax cuts for wealthy business owners. So all this gets us to the crux of the matter about “globalisation.” Although we should oppose companies slashing jobs in order to move operations to lower-wage countries and should stand with the “Third World” masses in opposing imperialist exploitation of their countries; and although the workers movement should neither call for more or less “globalisation” under capitalism: we must expose the myth that “globalisation” is the major cause of unemployment. For this myth is obscuring the truth that the principle cause of workers losing their jobs is the drive of the owners of profitable businesses to make even more profits by pruning their workforce in order to cut “labour costs.” In other words, belief in the myth that “globalisation” is the main cause of unemployment is diverting workers from a fight to force capitalists to maintain larger workforces – which is the real way to struggle against unemployment. Furthermore, this myth about globalisation, which is consciously promoted by sections of the mainstream media in order to impede class struggle, is propelling the growth of dangerous far right, racist forces.

Even when a corporation cites overseas competition as an excuse for job cuts such cuts are only “necessary” because those bosses insist on maximising profits.  Consider Australia’s biggest steel manufacturer, Bluescope Steel. The steel industry and Bluescope in particular have been at the centre of protectionist calls to buy Australian-made steel and restrict competition from imports. In October 2015, Bluescope arm-twisted unions into a deal that saw 500 jobs axed and wages frozen for three years which the company said was essential to keep its Port Kembla operations going. Yet, the company, which is owned by rich investors through several wealth management firms, was even then making over $136 million in profit! Its latest annual profit was in fact over $353 million. In other words, if we do the maths and assume generously that Bluescope’s average annual wages bill per worker is between $80,000 to $100,000, we will find that if Bluescope had not slashed those 500 jobs and even if those workers contributed zero to total revenue (which would of course not be the case), the company would still only have most lost some 11% to 14% of its current profit.  Here we see very starkly exposed how protectionism covers up the truth that job shedding is not ultimately caused by competition from imports or from a lack of “buying Australian” but from the drive of greedy company owners to make even more profits than they are making today.

Chicago: One of many large protests that erupted throughout the U.S. following the election victory of hard-right candidate, Donald Trump. This movement, driven by understandable hostility to Trump’s extreme racism, misogyny and homophobia, must be broken from influence of – and illusions in – the capitalist Democratic Party so that it can become a powerful force against the capitalist system – the root cause of racism, the subjugation of women and unemployment.

Those Who Understand the Harm Done to the Workers Movement by Economic Nationalism Must Fight Against It By Organising Themselves into an Internationalist Workers Party

Today, protectionism – whether pushed in the name of “anti-globalisation” or open economic nationalism – is rapidly escalating all across the capitalist world. It is being pushed by those from right across the political spectrum from outright fascists, to far-right leaders like Trump and Pauline Hanson to mainstream Laborite social democrats to Greens to so-called “anti-establishment” progressive liberals and social democrats (like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn) to reformist far left groups to pseudo- “Marxist Leninists.” This economic nationalism is undermining class struggle resistance to job slashing. That in turn leads to higher unemployment and hence leaves the masses even more prone to accepting protectionist slogans. Protectionism is, on the one hand, being incited by national chauvinism and racism and, on the other, is itself further igniting national chauvinism and racism. In this way the raging wildfire of economic nationalism is continually spreading and getting hotter. It will end up in setting off a trade war. We know that trade wars can in turn ignite a shooting war. Notwithstanding pseudo-Marxist attempts to resurrect a version of Kautsky’s theory of a united imperialism – which Lenin so fiercely attacked – by explaining the world as consisting of just a single imperialist bloc led by the U.S., we are actually in a world of inter-imperialist rivalries. Massive U.S. spying on Germany revealed a couple of years ago and prickly relations between new U.S. president Trump and some West European imperialist leaders amid a backdrop of impending trade frictions and a possible re-alignment in U.S. alliances with other capitalist powers all point to increasing rivalries between imperial powers. To be sure, competing imperialist powers are somewhat held together by their common enmity to socialistic rule in China. However, the long term trend of the capitalist “order” and heightened economic nationalism is towards inter-imperialist conflict – especially when capitalism dives into severe economic crises. Let us not forget that last century the imperialist powers plunged humanity into two catastrophic world wars (although the socialistic USSR’s role in WWII was to wage a progressive class war of a workers state against Nazi-led, German imperialism). This time all the capitalist rivals will have access to nuclear weapons at the start of a war!

Even right now protectionism is doing immense harm to the masses. Economic nationalism in Australia is literally strangling workers’ resistance to job slashing and casualisation. It is also hurting union membership numbers. For if the fight to save jobs is focussed on calling for policies to help Australian corporations compete against overseas rivals then that takes away a sizeable part of the reason for workers to join our unions. Workers could help Australian corporations by joining the bosses lobbying efforts to government for “Buy Australian” policies – they don’t need a union to do that. After all, the purpose of our unions is to unite workers to stand up against the bosses. Economic nationalism has, indeed, so diverted the workers movement from fighting the capitalist exploiters and so poisoned workers’ class consciousness that most job slashing by bosses is today met with little resistance.  About the only time that most Laborite union leaders are taking any stand against job losses is if they can demonstrate a connection between these layoffs and off-shoring or competition from imports. Yet, as we have shown above, their answer to such job cuts is simply more protectionism which, far from saving jobs, divides and diverts the working class and, thus, ultimately harms the fight to save workers jobs. Furthermore, the majority of job slashing by bosses has little to do with either competition from imports or offshoring.

Top, Great Shot: Leader of the U.S. fascist “Alt-Right” movement, Richard Spencer, is given a small taste of what he deserves by an anti-racist while giving a media interview on the day of Trump’s inauguration. At a meeting of his National Policy Institute which celebrated Trump’s election victory and was full of race-hate messages against blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Jews, Spencer invoked unmistakable Nazi rhetoric and concluded with a toast, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” This was met with a Nazi salute by several in the audience (Bottom Right). The new U.S. president has brought such fascists into his administration – making former leader of the Alt-Right Breitbart News, Steve Bannon, his Chief Strategist (Bottom Left). Trump’s election has emboldened outright fascists worldwide leading to a marked rise in violent attacks on people of colour from the U.S. to Canada to Britain to Australia.

A rare example of a recent union struggle against job slashing was seen in the struggle of Carlton & United Breweries maintenance workers at Melbourne’s largest brewery in Abbotsford. There, the bosses outrageously retrenched 55 maintenance workers last June and told them to re-apply for their jobs through a new non-union contract involving a 65% pay-cut and a loss of most of their hard-won conditions. However, after a seven-month long struggle involving sacked workers picketing the brewery and stopworks by production workers, the sacked workers won back their jobs with most of the previous pay rates and conditions and a guarantee of no forced redundancies for at least three years. Although the struggle was endangered by Laborite union leaders refusing to mobilise a shutdown of the brewery – through a no-cross picket line and an ongoing strike by production workers – the December victory does show that class struggle can stop job slashing.

Worker activists need to outline a class struggle program to win jobs for all if we are to turn back the tide of protectionist ideology that is engulfing the workers movement. Working class people, understandably worried about finding and keeping jobs in these uncertain times, will be hypnotised by the false salvation promised by economic nationalist policies if they are not presented with a viable alternative. However, a class struggle movement will only be powerful enough to force bosses to retain a larger workforce than their profit imperative requires if it is able to unleash the full power of the workers movement. This requires a program to defy the whole swath of anti-strike laws that have been instituted by Liberal and ALP governments alike – abiding by which makes it very hard to win any struggle. Of course, defying these laws up the ante and would be met with threats of repression by the capitalist enemy and hysterical denunciations from their media. However, if our trade unions in turn crank up the struggle with indefinite strikes backed by solid picket lines and secondary solidarity strikes then we can hurt the bosses’ profits so much that they may be scared to actually use their anti-union laws. We need to turn our union movement into one that understands this and is prepared to fight for such a militant, class struggle perspective. Such a movement requires a leadership that does not restrict its outlook to what is possible within the capitalist system – which is what the current social democratic leadership does. For if the working class starts to look like winning victories in forcing capitalists to maintain larger workforces than they want to, the capitalists will scream that this will make the system collapse and will threaten to withdraw their capital. We must respond that: if you capitalists are not capable of running your businesses and the economy in such a way that providing jobs for all will not cause collapse then we will need to strip you of the means of production and place it into our, the working class peoples, hands under a state where it is we who have the power.

However, to even begin to mobilise such a struggle we need to counter economic nationalist ideology within the workers movement. For economic nationalism and its divisive and diversionary effects has become the number one obstacle to a working class fight back against capitalist attacks. Currently, the proportion of worker and other Left activists who do understand the harm done by protectionist ideology is relatively small. This makes it triply important that those that do understand stand up and energetically take on this political battle. Unfortunately, however, even amongst these layers many shy away from this crucial ideological struggle. Some do so because they are uncertain about their own impulse to oppose protectionism – given that they are constantly bombarded by economic nationalist appeals from Laborite union officials and from their co-workers. Others worry about being “vanguardist” if they “tell workers what to think.” The problem with this notion is that workers are constantly being told “what to think” by the mainstream media, by pro-capitalist politicians and by the current, Laborite union leaders. To not counter the false ideologies of economic nationalism and White Australia chauvinism that these forces are flooding the workers movement with is to be complicit in drowning the class struggle. It means leaving the working class under the “vanguardship” of Laborite social democracy – and that spells defeat for the working class and all the downtrodden. It is therefore the duty of those who understand the harm done by protectionist ideology to resolutely oppose it. This, of course, necessitates strengthening one’s own ideological commitment to opposing economic nationalism, co-ordinating with like-minded activists to amplify their common political struggle and winning others to this perspective in order to strengthen the forces waging the battle against protectionist ideology. Yet a group of like-minded worker activists who coordinate in a struggle for a revolutionary class struggle perspective and against economic nationalism, who consciously seek to improve their ideological training  and who seek out new activists to wage this political struggle is nothing other than a budding revolutionary, internationalist “vanguard” of the workers movement. Such a class struggle, would-be leadership of our unions would be linked to a party that would also include the most active revolutionary elements from all the most downtrodden sections of society. The prospects for a badly needed working class fight back depend on the building of such a revolutionary workers party. So do efforts to pull humanity to the safe haven of socialism as we, increasingly rapidly, near the cliff that will drop down to the hell of fascism and world war.

December 2013: Protest in East Timor’s capital, Dili against the Australian rulers’ theft of its oil and gas wealth. As a result of Australian imperialist plunder, enforced by repeated Australian military intervention to ensure a more compliant government there, East Timor (Timor Leste) has the highest rate in the world of children under five who are underweight due to malnourishment. Contrary to nationalist myths that Australia is a victim of foreign control, Australia is an imperialist country where the rich capitalists here not only exploit workers at home but rip-off even more cruelly the masses of South Pacific and developing Asian countries.

Trotskyist Platform May Day 2017 Statement – For an Internationalist Struggle

Greedy Aussie Bosses Like to Blame Overseas Producers for Their Job Slashing. Don’t Buy Their Lies! Force Them to Retain Their Workforces & Accept Lower Profits!

1 May 2017 – Over the last five years, Australia’s biggest steel corporation, Bluescope Steel, has retrenched 2,000 workers. They said that they had no choice because of competition from overseas steel producers. They cried poor. What a load of horse manure! Three months ago, Bluescope Steel announced a profit, for just half a year, of over 600 million dollars! Meanwhile, the company share’s price is six times what it was just five years ago. That means, with- out doing any work for it, the company’s rich owners have increased their wealth held in it by six times while cruelly throwing out of work 2,000 of the workers who made them this fortune.

So who owns this corporate giant? Mainly, very rich local Australians who own shares in it through secretive bank nominee arrangements and through wealth management firms. Among the big shareholders are its executives. Filthy rich, Aussie CEO, Paul O’Malley owns nearly nine million dollars of shares. Another director is Daniel Grollo with an approaching half a million dollar holding. He is also the owner of developer Grocon – notorious for its obsession with suing the CFMEU union in the bosses’ courts and for its callous disregard for the safety of workers and bystanders. These Bluescope Steel executives sure do make sure that they are lavishly looked after … to put it mildly! In the previous financial year, when they threw out of work 500 workers, CEO O’Malley was given a $7.5 million pay package! That was actually $3 million more than the previous year. It’s almost like they get a bonus for sacking workers!

So Bluescope did not lay off thousands of workers ultimately because of competition from overseas. It’s simply that the owners and executives of this company wanted to make even more of a killing than they were already making. It’s the same reason why sly billionaire Andrew Forrest, a couple of years ago, cried poor that his Fortescue Metals Group “only” made a 400 million dollar profit and used that as a pretext to throw onto the scrapheap hundreds of the workers that made him his fortune. It is the same reason why the bosses of the big banks, IBM and Toll Group have been slashing jobs in the recent period left, right and centre. For these capitalist bigwigs, having three luxury holiday homes and two spare Porsches are not enough. They want more and are prepared to crush the lives of workers to get it.

A year and a half ago, Bluescope bosses held a gun to workers’ heads saying that if they did not accept job cuts and a pay freeze, they would stop steelmaking and 4,500 jobs in the Illawara would be lost. The pro-ALP leaders of the AWU trade union buckled and recommended that workers bow to these demands. They should have, instead, insisted that any attempt to shut down production would result in workers occupying the plants and the big shareholders would, thus, lose all their investments. Bluescope’s mates in the NSW Liberal government, meanwhile, granted them $60 million. Now, three million dollars of that had to go straight away to cover the CEO’s pay rise (no wage freeze for him!) and the rest has gone into boosting the owners’ huge profits. Yet, while handing over sacks of money to job-slashing millionaires, the government cries it is short of funds and must slash public housing in the Illawara and Millers Point!

Bluescope’s argument that it needed to cut jobs and freeze wages was a bunch of lies! In the year before they were still making over $136 million in profit and in the year of the big sackings they made over $353 million. In other words, if we assume that Bluescope’s average annual wages bill per worker is around $90,000, we will find that if Bluescope had not slashed those 500 jobs and even if those workers contributed zero to total revenue (which would, of course, not be the case), the company would still only have lost some 13% of its current profit.

So next time a capitalist boss tells you that they need to cut jobs because of overseas competition you know what to do! Workers interests lie not in trying to make big business owners more profits but in actually forcing them to accept lower profits by compelling them to retain and, in fact, increase their workforces. The way we can force them to do this is through the methods that have won working class people all the rights that we have: industrial action and mass struggle. Of course, the capitalists will scream that forcing them to hire more workers at the expense of their profits will “kill investment” and make their operations “unfeasible”. To this we will respond: if it is unfeasible for you capitalists to run the economy in a way that provides for and utilises the labour and skills of all workers then we working class people will rip the ownership of the economy out of your hands and put it into our able collective hands.

Every Day Should Be International Workers Day!

The dominance of Laborite politics within our unions means that, currently, the struggle for jobs is not focussed on forcing bosses to increase hiring. Instead, our union leaders are pushing for measures to help local bosses do better against overseas rivals. However, such protectionism never works. Just as the workers movement here can call on the government to take measures to favour local firms, workers movements abroad can do the same. The only net result is that the workers of different countries are left divided leaving the bosses everywhere laughing all the way to their respective banks. Note that when Bluescope sacked hundreds of workers and froze wages, it screamed about “unfair” competition and “dumping” from overseas as an excuse. As we have shown that was just a diversion! Protectionist demands to favour local bosses simply plays into the hands of the capitalist exploiters. Of course, sometimes capitalists sing the tune of “free trade” too so that they can use the existence of competition to justify cutting wages and jobs. That is why we should be neither advocating protectionist measures nor free trade, just uniting workers to fight against the capitalists. What we must do, however, is to oppose protectionist appeals – as they serve to divert workers from fighting against their exploiters.

The capitalists and the various political parties that serve them are always blaming someone else for the, job slashing. Most recently, Liberal prime minister Turnbull, aping Donald Trump and extreme racist bigot Pauline Hanson, sought to blame guest workers. Ranting “Australians first,” he put additional restrictions on the entry of guest workers. The ALP and many union leaders have responded by saying the changes do not go far enough. Meanwhile, even while calling out the government and ALP for dog whistling to racism, the Greens propose their own additional “local workers first” measures which will, even when presented in a “nice”, liberal way, feed into poisonous nationalism too. The truth, however, is that guest workers can hardly be blamed for unemployment when they make up an absolutely tiny 0.7% of the workforce! Like all immigrants, a guest worker employed here not only works but spends money and pays taxes: both of which create jobs. It is true that bosses can especially exploit vulnerable guest workers and use that added level of exploitation to drive down the conditions for all workers. However, we should respond to this not with divisive slogans to “keep out guest workers” but by demanding equal wages and extra protections for guest workers and, most importantly, by demanding that our guest worker comrades have the rights of citizens so that bosses cannot threaten them with deportation if they resist.

To be as powerful a force as possible, local workers must unite as one with our guest worker and overseas worker comrades; and must unite as one across racial and ethnic lines. However, we can only build such a genuine unity if we positively mobilise against every method used by the exploiting class to divide and divert the masses with racism and nationalism. The workers movement must oppose Turnbull’s insulting scheme to force new citizenship applicants to accept “Australian values” (as if migrants have a much greater propensity to commit violence against women than existing citizens), must demand freedom for refugees and full citizenship rights for everyone who lives here and must stand by Aboriginal people in their struggle against their ongoing brutal racist oppression.

As the 100th Anniversary of the World’s First Socialist Revolution Draws Near Never Forget Its Lessons

If we can orient our unions onto the path of forcing capitalists to retain more workers than is most profitable for them, we can make headway in the struggle for jobs for all. However, we would eventually come up against the very essence of the capitalist system whose existence depends on big business owners being able to maximise profits. That is why our struggle must culminate in the working class seizure of the means of production from the capitalist class. Nearly 100 years ago, the working class and allied toiling peoples proved for all time that this is possible when they made the October 1917 Socialist Revolution in Russia. That revolution brought great gains for the masses – not least guaranteed jobs for all and a significantly improved social position for women. If the resulting workers state later became deformed and eventually in 1991-92 destroyed, it was because our side was not strong enough to defeat the revolution’s external and internal threats. However, the world’s most populous country remains under socialistic rule – despite being weakened by capitalist inroads and bureaucratic deformation. The continued dominance of socialistic state-owned enterprises in the Chinese economy has allowed that country to spectacularly bring hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. Even in North Korea where socialistic rule has been quite deformed under immense hostile capitalist pressure, the masses continue to endure the hardships caused by sanctions to defend their workers state against incessant U.S./Australian imperialist threats in the same way that striking workers on a picket line will accept the hardships of struggle in order to fight for a better future. The North Korean masses have indeed been on the picket line in this way for over 70 years! They and those Chinese, Cuban, Vietnamese and Laotian people standing by socialistic rule in their countries need our support. This is part of our fight to complete the work that the October 1917 Revolution began – to bring the working class to power throughout the world.

Let’s never forget what made the October Revolution possible. One key factor was that the working class was led by a party that fought tooth and nail to defeat every attempt of the capitalist enemy to divide its ranks with racism and national-chauvinism. We, too, here need to build a workers party that will in Lenin’s words “declare war to the death on dominant nation chauvinism.” A key part of the fight to ensure that such a program guides the workers movement today – especially in this time of rising protectionism worldwide – is to oppose “Aussie First” economic nationalism and to ensure that the fight to defend jobs is a fight against the capitalist bosses and their relentless drive to minimise labour “costs.”

Workplace Safety Now Better in China than in Australia

Australian Rulers’ Union Busting Drive against the CFMEU Union Threatens Construction Workers’ Lives

22 November 2016: Remember the days when hardly a fortnight would go by without the Australian media reporting a major work accident in China that killed dozens of workers? To be sure, China is the world’s most populous country – with about 60 times the population of Australia – so everything both bad and good necessarily happens on a huge scale. Furthermore, the mainstream Western media have always been looking for any means to paint a bad picture of the socialistic Peoples Republic of China (PRC). Nevertheless, it is true that China did have poor workplace safety. The country is industrialising and developing so fast that there was a period when the technological level and safety systems simply did not keep up – leading to dangerous workplace environments. Furthermore, the late 1980s, 1990s and first couple of years of this century was a period when China’s private sector expanded in influence relative to the state-owned sector which, nevertheless, to this day still dominates the pillars of the PRC’s economy. But it is in the private sector where workplace safety is at its worst including in the foreign-invested industries owned by Hong Kong, Taiwanese, American, Singaporean, Japanese and Australian bosses.

Workplace Safety Now Better in China than in Australia
Despite technological improvements that improve workplace safety and despite the shift in employment in Australia from heavy industry and manufacturing to less hazardous jobs in the service and IT/digital sectors, reduction in workplace deaths have been relatively modest here. In contrast, socialistic China has dramatically improved workplace safety over the last fifteen years.

Thankfully, all this is becoming in significant part old news. Through a combination of nationalisation of formerly privately owned mines, the closure of smaller, unsafe private-sector mines, a 2008 pro-worker industrial relations law, increased government emphasis on workplace safety and spirited repression of greedy bosses responsible for workplace accidents, the Peoples Republic of China has dramatically reduced deaths from workplace accidents over the last 15 years. China’s workplace safety issue is still serious and, as a gigantic country with often large-size operations, when China does have work accidents they are often on a huge scale. Yet, the PRC’s achievements in improving workplace safety are so dramatic and the failure of greedy Aussie bosses to provide a safe workplace here so harmful that it is now safer to be a worker in China than it is to be one in Australia.

So what are the hard facts on this comparison of workplace safety in Australia and the PRC. There are some complications in comparing statistics because each country lists workplace deaths in different ways. In particular, in China, a death in a traffic accident has long been listed as a ‘workplace death.’ The inclusion of traffic accidents Continue reading Workplace Safety Now Better in China than in Australia

Women Workers Key to Building a Working Class Fightback

Smash the Cutback to Sunday Penalty Rates through Class Struggle Action

Above: Health Services Union members protest against the NSW government’s attempt to privatise healthcare by stealth by outsourcing hospital services to private businesses. Women workers – suffering both exploitation as workers and male chauvinism – are key to the working class struggle for liberation.

International Women’s Day 2017 comes at a time of heightened attacks on women – especially working class women. That is not only because a hard-core misogynist and racist, Donald Trump, has become the president of the most powerful country in the world. Working class women in Australia have to cop lower wages than men. Unaffordable childcare restricts women’s full participation in economic and social life. Meanwhile, many low income single mothers continue to be ground down by the former Gillard ALP government’s cruel cut to the single parenting payment four years ago. As always, the fate of women’s rights goes hand in hand with workers’ rights and the rights of all the oppressed including Aboriginal people, LGBTI people, coloured “ethnic” people and the unemployed. Alongside attacks on women’s social position, we are seeing the right-wing Turnbull government attack our trade unions – targeting especially the CFMEU construction workers union – and undercut weekend penalty rates for hundreds of thousands of low-paid workers. Meanwhile, all the current parliamentary parties – Pauline Hanson’s fascistic One Nation, the Liberal/National coalition, the Nick Xenophon Team, the ALP and The Greens – are all in various way inciting poisonous nationalism that inevitably targets coloured migrant-derived communities by variously blaming refugees, guest workers or overseas producers for the unemployment and insecurity caused by the capitalist system itself. 

Russia, International Women’s Day, 1917: Mainly female textile workers go on strike for bread sparking a general strike and the toppling of the Tsar. The resulting revolutionary period that was opened up culminated half a year later in the October Socialist Revolution. The banner reads “Glory to the Women Fighters for Freedom!”
Russia, International Women’s Day, 1917: Mainly female textile workers go on strike for bread sparking a general strike and the toppling of the Tsar. The resulting revolutionary period that was opened up culminated half a year later in the October Socialist Revolution. The banner reads “Glory to the Women Fighters for Freedom!”

Women’s rights are so closely bound to the overall state of the class struggle between capitalist business owners and the working class because women’s oppression is actually built on the foundations of class-divided societies. Under capitalism’s social structure a large proportion of women are denied economic independence. With women denied the opportunity to participate equally in economic and political life, male chauvinist attitudes are spawned that “justify” and perpetuate this reality. That is why we must fight for women’s full economic independence through demanding jobs for all and for equal pay between men and women workers. We must also call for free abortion on demand and freely available access to all forms of contraception. To allow women the greatest chance to participate in economic life, we must fight for free 24-hour childcare, for free school lunches at all public schools and for after-school sports, music and cultural activities provided for free by the state alongside free transport from school to these activities. All these demands, however, clash head on with the current system because the capitalists who control the economy are not going to want to sacrifice their profits to make these social programs and full employment possible. Thus, while we can make headway in women’s emancipation through winning concessions through struggle under capitalism, we will only fully open the door to women’s complete liberation when the capitalist system is replaced by a socialist one.

However, women are not just victims of capitalism and will not simply be a major beneficiary of socialism. Working class women, who have the most to gain by ripping up this current system, will also be the key drivers of the struggle to overthrow capitalism. The most powerful example of this occurred on International Women’s Day in 1917 in Russia. It was then that in the Russian capital of Petrograd tens of thousands of mainly women textile workers walked off the job to demand bread. Their struggle sparked off a general strike and a revolt against the tsarist monarchy. The resulting revolutionary period that was opened up culminated half a year later in the October Socialist Revolution. Exactly one hundred years later and this struggle remains the shining path for the fight for women’s emancipation and for the liberation of the masses more generally.

Today, women workers alongside coloured “ethnic” and youth workers are not only amongst the workers most targeted by the slashing of Sunday penalty rates but are crucial to any fightback against this vicious attack.

In February, the “Fair Work” Commission announced its despicable decision to slash Sunday penalty rates between 25% and 50% for hospitality, restaurant, fast food, retail and pharmacy workers. The decision also cuts these workers’ public holiday pay by up to 25%. This will mean a loss of up to $6,000 per year for some workers. The Fair Work Commission’s decision, done with the backing of the Turnbull government, will hurt some of the lowest paid workers in the country. Many of these workers are already on perilous incomes, not only because their pay rates are low but because many are in insecure, casual jobs where they are forced to work less hours than they want to due to the bosses and the bosses’ capitalist system making inadequate work available. The loss of penalty rates will thus mean a huge proportion of their income will be lost. For many of these workers, the loss of penalty rates could be the difference between scraping enough to pay their rent and simply not being able to make ends meet.

Thus far, the pro-ALP leaders of our trade unions have been relying on petitions and parliament to oppose this cruel attack. However, we should not rely on a future ALP government to reverse the cuts. Although the ALP Opposition is now calling for the government to legislate against the Fair Work Commission decision, before the election ALP leader Bill Shorten announced that a future ALP government would not try to reverse a cut to penalty rates if the Fair Work commission ruled in favour of it. So, what exactly would the ALP do if it ended up being the current gang of politicians in government running the rich bosses’ state? What we can expect from the openly anti-working class, Liberal-National government, of course, goes without saying!

What we need is the mobilisation of the power of the working class in mass action – especially including industrial action – to smash the attack on the weekend and holiday pay of hospitality, restaurant, fast food, retail and pharmacy workers. This should not just be the task of the workers directly affected. This slashing of penalty rates is an attack on the entire working class. If the bosses get away with it they will be targeting penalty and shift rates of other workers. Many of those targeted by the recent attack toil in small workplaces where ruthless “small business owners” are able to get away with bullying them. That is why we need workers in larger, more heavily unionised workplaces to also flex their industrial muscle to help crush this attack on penalty rates. Such a mobilisation will also help cement ties between different components of the working class. For example if militant construction workers and maritime workers unleashed their power behind the hospitality, restaurant, fast food, retail and pharmacy workers targeted by this recent attack, they will likely see more of these lower paid workers joining their picket lines when they face impending full frontal attacks from the capitalist rulers.

CFMEU national secretary Michael O’Connor has stated the union’s opposition to the slashing of penalty rates and insisted that the CFMEU would “not stand by and watch” as the Government introduced cuts to pensions, family supplements and attempted to regain welfare overpayments. O’Connor continued that:

“The CFMEU stands ready to fight.

“This war on battlers must end.

“The war on the fair go must stop.

“Where the fightback takes place — wherever there is a ­picket, a rally, a campaign, whatever it is — you will see us there standing shoulder to shoulder with those under attack.”

These statements now need to be followed by actual industrial action by the CFMEU and other unions to smash the attacks on penalty rates, pensions and welfare payments.

If we can defeat this attack on penalty rates through industrial and other mass action, the union movement will win thousands of new workers – especially younger workers – to joining our ranks. We will also become more united and confident to challenge other attacks that we face including the Liberals ABCC – as well as the anti-strike provisions of Labor’s 2009 Fair Work Act – cuts to public housing and draconian cuts to social welfare for the poor.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision proves once again that the industrial courts in Australia – like all the courts here – are not “independent umpires.” Rather, they form part of a capitalist state – which includes also the police, the military, prisons and the bureaucracy – that was created and is maintained for enforcing the interests of the capitalist exploiting class over the working class. Even when the FWC, on a rare occasion, makes a decision less harmful to workers’ interests then that is not because of any inherent sense of justice in the system but merely reflects those cases where workers have won the struggle on the ground in the industrial and political battlefield and the FWC is forced to accept this reality in order to maintain its credibility. That is why we should not bow to the authority of these courts even if the rules under which it operates are changed. The only law that the workers movement should be bound to respect are our decisions on what is in the interests of the working class and oppressed.

The excuse of the greedy business owners and their FWC for slashing Sunday and holiday penalty rates is that this helps bosses hire more workers. To this we must say: No – we are not going to let you gouge the incomes of already exploited workers even more as the price we must pay to let you supposedly hire more workers. Instead, we are going to force you to hire more at the expense of your already bloated profits. We demand that profitable businesses be banned from cutting the size of their workforce and that profitable firms be forced to increase hiring in proportion to their profits. If the greedy business owners complain that this will make their operations impractical then we say that this only proves that the economy should not be in the hands of these capitalists but should be brought into the socialist, collective hands of working class people.

A Soviet poster advising the woman worker to take up her rifle!
A Soviet poster advising the woman worker to take up her rifle!

Unleash the Full Power of Lower Paid, Youth, Women & Coloured “Ethnic” Workers

The FWC’s penalty rate cut will especially hurt people from the most oppressed sections of the working class – including lower paid workers, women workers, youth workers and workers from coloured “ethnic” backgrounds. These workers are crucial to the overall cause of the working class. All the obstacles that stand in the way of these workers being able to unleash their full fighting strength – like male chauvinism, skilled worker arrogance towards unskilled workers and racism – must be knocked down. Indeed, one thing that this widely hated attack on penalty rates has done is that, in the face of bi-partisan attacks on refugees and Aboriginal people, the growth in support for the extreme racist One Nation party and everyone from the Coalition to the ALP to the Greens trying to emulate the economic nationalism of hard-right, U.S. president Donald Trump, it has highlighted the truth that the cause of Australian workers’ hardships is not in the least refugees, guest workers or overseas producers but the Aussie capitalist exploiters – and the governments and state institutions that enforce their interests. We need to build a leadership of the workers movement that is committed to explaining this basic truth to the masses. One that will face down the lies of the bosses media and pro-capitalist political parties that try to divide the exploited masses with nationalism and racism. This is part of the struggle to reorient our unions away from trust in the “Australia-First”, ALP and the institutions of Australia’s capitalist state and onto a program of militant class struggle against the greedy Aussie capitalists.

Let’s smash the Australian ruling class’ attacks on hospitality, restaurant, fast food, retail and pharmacy workers! Let’s unite all workers in this country – and win crucial international solidarity action by uniting as one with our working class sisters and brothers abroad – to fight for this goal! Let’s unleash the industrial muscle of the united working class! Let’s win this battle so that we can begin to roll back the over three decades of setbacks that the workers movement has suffered!

As a Hard Right, Racist Bigot Enters the White House – OPPOSE ECONOMIC NATIONALISM & PROTECTIONISM

UNLEASH INDUSTRIAL ACTION TO DEMAND JOBS FOR ALL! CAPITALIST “DEMOCRACY” IS A SHAM: ONLY WORKERS UNITED WITH ALL OF THE OPRESSED CAN BRING ABOUT REAL CHANGE

Above: The Handover or Phony Hope Shakes the Hand of Blatant Bigotry. A moment that ought to finally dispel anyone’s lingering illusion that capitalist democracy can ever be reformed into a system that operates in the interests of the working class. Obama prepares to calmly hand the administration of the U.S. capitalist state over to Trump just as George W. Bush did for him eight years earlier. The teetering edifice of the capitalist state requires both left and right pillars to keep it from completely collapsing beneath the dead weight of its own contradictions.

November 9 – Hard right-wing candidate Donald Trump – a billionaire capitalist exploiter and extreme racist and misogynist – will become the next president of the U.S.A. In yesterday’s election, he defeated the candidate supported by the mainstream of the American capitalist class, Hillary Clinton.

Like most far-right demagogues (including Hitler), Trump poses as a “rebel” and “anti-establishment” figure. Actually, he is a tycoon who is very much part of the capitalist ruling class and a key part of his economic program is big tax cuts for the rich. His main beef with the mainstream of the racist establishment is that they are not openly racist and economically nationalist enough for his liking. His blatant racism serves to protect the capitalist establishment by dividing the masses and diverting their economic frustrations and insecurity onto minorities and other groups in society who are made into scapegoats for the mass inequalities that capitalism inevitably creates. Similarly, his protectionism diverts anger about job losses onto overseas workers, thus shielding the capitalist exploiters in the U.S. from any blame and making the masses think that they have a common interest with their own exploiters in protecting American business.

Eight years ago when Obama was first elected, Trotskyist Platform actually predicted that the inevitable failure of a small-l liberal led regime to improve the lives of the masses could well lead to the eventual takeover of hard right forces in America (and, indeed, in his language Obama was the most liberal-sounding U.S. president in decades). Here is an excerpt from the article we wrote upon Obama first taking office:

That the Obama electoral triumph, if anything, dulled workers’ class consciousness means that even the present shift away from the conservative right wing is fragile. Without an understanding that it is the capitalist profiteers who are responsible for unemployment, recession and decay the masses will be vulnerable to right wing demagogy when they see that the new Administration is no more able to satisfy their aspirations than the previous one. The conservatives are waiting in the wing. And they will be able to mobilise right wing activists from amongst the all too many bigoted elements who were horrified that a black person should become President. Hence, there is a real danger that the rise of the liberal Obama could turn out to be just a prelude to a right-wing regime more frightening than Bush’s – perhaps led by a Sarah Palin-like figure. While the left rest on their illusory laurels, the frighteningly fascist right are now surely mobilising their forces, stirred up like a wasps’ nest ready to strike!

Only by mobilising their own power to squeeze concessions out of the exploiters can the working class begin to address the needs of the American masses and stop the re-emergence of the right. The working class can through industrial action force companies to avoid shedding jobs. And its power can be mobilised in a campaign to demand free health care for all. In all such struggles of the American workers movement, black workers will be at the forefront. These workers will join together the multiracial workers’ movement with the ghetto poor in the fight for black liberation.

Although Trump’s views and agenda are certainly fascistic, fascism has not yet triumphed in the U.S (nor does it currently hold sway in any other country). Fascism is not just a government of people with a really right-wing agenda but involves the mass mobilisation of the middle class and some of the unemployed (and even politically backward workers) to violently smash all workers’ organisations  – like independent trade unions and left-wing parties – and institute a capitalist regime which dispenses with the formalities of parliamentary “democracy.” Such a regime can only be instituted by physically defeating an inevitable degree of resistance from the politically conscious, working class masses. Nevertheless, Trump’s triumph will greatly encourage fascist outfits in the U.S. and will spur the development of fascist militias. American blacks, First Peoples, Hispanics, Asians, gays, women seeking abortion and leftists will face ever more violent attacks.

Regardless of Trump’s particular policies, the normal workings of the capitalist boom and bust cycles mean that in some four to twelve months there will be an economic downturn in the U.S.A and a consequent rise in the unemployment rate. Given the chaotic state of major capitalist economies, this could turn out to be another serious global economic crisis. In that context, mass struggle led by conscious working class and anti-racist forces could weaken the right-wing regime and undermine support for it. However, in the absence of such struggle, the increased economic insecurity could further fuel the flames of fascism.

Trump’s ascendancy will also embolden far-right and fascist forces here in Australia. Hard-right Liberal politician Cory Bernardi as well as the LNP MP George Christensen openly backed Trump. And Trump’s victory was hailed by the fascistic senator Pauline Hanson of One Nation infamy. Indeed, at a fascist rally in the northern Melbourne suburb of Eltham last weekend against a refugee centre, some of the fascist scum were wearing Trump T-shirts.

Trump’s rise will not only boost organised far-right forces but will also incite violent tendencies amongst garden-variety rednecks in Australia. The latter are people who may not be politically active in an extreme right-wing movement but are, nevertheless, simply filled with racial hatred. A couple of months ago, one such redneck murdered 14-year-old Aboriginal youth, Elijah Doughty, near the Western Australia town of Kalgoorlie. Then late last month, Indian-origin bus driver, Manmeet Alisher was cruelly murdered by being set alight with a fire bomb by a man of white Anglo-Saxon appearance, Anthony O’Donohue. O’Donohue, formerly an accountant, was known to harbour fascistic, crackpot conspiracy theories against trade unions. Although the media and cops have done their best to cover up the racist nature of this Brisbane murder the victim’s family are sure that it was motivated by racism. Several people with origins from the Indian subcontinent have told Trotskyist Platform comrades the same thing. They pointed out that the Indian man was specifically singled out. One man of Indian background, in explaining how Manmeet’s killing was a racist murder, told us that while living in the same multi-cultural Brisbane suburb where the murder took place, Moorooka, he had been attacked by racists and once had to literally run for his life to escape from a white racist who was threatening him.

All this underscores the need to build, here in Australia just as much as in other capitalist countries, a mass mobilisation of trade unionists, Aboriginal people, non-white “ethnic” people and all anti-racists to drive the fascist filth off the streets. This is an urgent necessity of self-defence for all the intended victims of the fascists. Although self-defence action against fascist groups will not directly stop the daily and incessant racist attacks and abuse from the innumerable garden-variety rednecks scattered throughout this country, by landing blows against organised fascists we can send a message to the garden-variety racists out there that they had better pull their heads in. These racists must learn that the organised and united multiracial working class has both the will and the power to stand up and defend anyone who is vulnerable to their racist, cowardly attacks.

On October 28, Indian-born Brisbane bus driver Manmeet Alisher (Left) was murdered by Anthony O'Donohue (Above). The killer boarded the bus and heinously set the driver alight in what was manifestly a racist attack. The attack by the white terrorist also caused the bus to burn down, threatening the lives of many passengers when the bus was stopped in the multiracial suburb of Morooka. O'Donohue was known to hold fascistic views - including anti-union conspiracy theories. The election of hard right wing racist, Donald Trump, to the U.S. presidency and the ensuing emboldening of far right Australian politicians like Pauline Hanson (Far Right - posing for a photo with notorious Sydney Nazi, Ross “Skull” May) will incite further white supremacist terror. Mass moblisations of trade unionists and all the intended victims of the fascists must drive violent racist filth off the streets – such as happened in Brisbane on 2 May 2014 (Below). On that day a large contingent of unionised construction workers joined tother with anarchists, Trotskyist Platform supporters and other leftists and anti-racists to shut down an attempted march by the fascist Australia First Party.
On October 28, Indian-born Brisbane bus driver Manmeet Alisher (Bottom Left) was murdered by Anthony O’Donohue (Top Centre). The killer boarded the bus and heinously set the driver alight in what was manifestly a racist attack. The attack by the white terrorist also caused the bus to burn down, threatening the lives of many passengers when the bus (pictured Top Left)was stopped in the multiracial suburb of Morooka. O’Donohue was known to hold fascistic views – including anti-union conspiracy theories. The election of hard right wing racist, Donald Trump, to the U.S. presidency and the ensuing emboldening of far right Australian politicians like Pauline Hanson (Top Far Right – posing for a photo with notorious Sydney Nazi, Ross “Skull” May) will incite further white supremacist terror. Mass moblisations of trade unionists and all the intended victims of the fascists must drive violent racist filth off the streets – such as happened in Brisbane on 2 May 2014 (Bottom Right). On that day a large contingent of unionised construction workers joined tother with anarchists, Trotskyist Platform supporters and other leftists and anti-racists to shut down an attempted march by the fascist Australia First Party.

No to Divisive Protectionism: For a Class Struggle Program of Jobs For All!

Trump’s victory will also encourage various forces here to more rabidly push for protectionism. In fact, economic nationalism was one of Trump’s main points of attraction for the U.S. masses, especially in the Mid-West rust belt. To be sure, when the media reports that working class people in the Mid-West were supporting Trump this can be a bit misleading since, in actual fact, Trump still did not do that well in cities. What they mean by “working class” is people with a lower income rather than in terms of their actual relationship to the means of production. Trump’s support came not so much from currently employed industrial workers as it did  from laid-off workers now trying to hustle a living as self-employed contractors or small businessmen or those now in insecure, non-union casual jobs or, perhaps, still unemployed or forced into early retirement. Unionised workers who are brought together at the point of production and united together in unions are, overall, less susceptible to right-wing demagogy than isolated self-employed and unemployed people. And, though it is true that even a portion of unionised workers did vote for Trump, analysis of exit polls actually revealed that the higher the income, the more likely you were to vote for Trump.

We need to firmly oppose economic nationalism here not only because it fuels racism but also because it directly undermines the fight to build actual struggle against the greedy bosses at home. However, we can only successfully oppose protectionism if we counterpose to it a class struggle program of jobs for all – that is, by highlighting the demand that profitable enterprises be forced to increase hiring at the cost of their own profits and then linking this demand to the fight for the ultimate confiscation of the means of production from the capitalist class by the working class. Trotskyist Platform has been emphasising opposition against any form of protectionism and promoting a class struggle program of jobs for all but we will intensify this work by fighting to build more actions promoting this essential perspective.

Unfortunately, much of the Left either themselves embrace economic nationalism – while trying to rid it of it of its openly racist aspects – or just try their best to ignore it. However, any leftist force that capitulates to economic nationalism is an obstacle to the fight for workers’ rights whether it happens to call itself socialist, Trotskyist, Marxist-Leninist, anarchist or any other kind of ist. The protectionist ideology of the pro-Democrats, American union bureaucracy has pushed a section of American unionised workers – and many laid off industrial workers – into the arms of far-right populism. The economic nationalist slogans of the current, pro-ALP Australian union leadership should also not be allowed to push Australian workers into the filthy arms of Hanson’s One Nation and its ilk who, after all, are the most consistent nationalists of all. Challenging the economic nationalist ideology that is currently dominant in the Australian workers movement is key to unleashing a class struggle fightback to defend our unions, protect workers rights and win jobs for everyone.

Implications for the Leninist Program on International Questions

On international policy, Trump has not disguised the fact that he is going to push an even more openly hostile stance towards socialistic China. He wants to draw capitalist Russia into this task by building an alliance with Russia that would bring the world’s two most powerful military powers into a capitalist super alliance. Part of the aim of this perspective is also to weaken the U.S.A’s European NATO allies cum imperialist economic rivals. Additionally, there is ideological affinity between the hard right wing in the U.S. and the Putin government. Putin, as well as being a hero to right-wing , “Third Way” (i.e. “neither socialism nor capitalism”) conspiracy theory types is also a hero to fascist groups throughout the West (the Australian Defence League here, for example, has openly hailed him) as well as to more mainstream right-wing forces (like racist, Islamophobic senator Jacqui Lambi) because of his government’s hard line anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim policies as well as his homophobia.

However, whether Trump and the Far Right’s proclivities for an alliance with Russia will be implemented remains to be seen. Trump’s regime will be, in effect, an alliance of hard line right wingers like himself and more mainstream figures from the right wing of the Republican Party. The latter are less inclined to an alliance with Russia as they believe the U.S. is strong enough not to share its spoils with any emerging power and do not want to allow a new player into the imperialist club.  Furthermore, Putin himself would probably play hard to get with Trump since he knows the U.S is a weakening empire. He would also not want Russia to play second fiddle to the U.S. too much and would hold out for as many concessions as possible. Furthermore, the Russian bourgeoisie may be hesitant to be pulled in too brazenly into an anti-China alliance since, despite their hostility to socialism (the Russian government from Putin down were, after all, active in the counterrevolution that destroyed the USSR and brought capitalist class rule back to Russia) they stand to make a fortune from selling oil and natural gas to neighbouring China which has few of these resources itself.

Nevertheless, a U.S.-Russia capitalist super alliance is certainly quite possible and if it does transpire this may affect the position that communist internationalists should take towards events in Syria. Whatever effect a Trump presidency has on U.S.-Russia relations, one thing is pretty certain: the Trump ascendancy will see an intensification of open U.S. hostility to the Chinese workers state. So, despite the bureaucratic deformations and capitalist incursions into China – and we must remember that nearly 60% of her economy is controlled and nearly all of her economy’s commanding heights (that is, the heavy industries, finance, transport, telecommunications etc) are fully owned by the Chinese workers state, a bigger slice of the economic pie than that enjoyed by the Soviet Russian state during Lenin’s time – authentic socialists need to be ready to intensify our struggle to defend socialistic China against imperialist attack and imperialist-backed, anti-communist NGOs.

We live in scary times. The ascendancy of Trump to the U.S. presidency will – in the absence of mass resistance – incite in both the U.S.A and Australia a further escalation of racist attacks on coloured ethnic minorities, Muslims and First Peoples communities. However, we should be aware that the rising of fascistic forces is a sign of the utter decay of capitalism which in its death throes is releasing such noxious fumes. But the system will not die by itself. It needs to be overthrown by the conscious working class-led masses united with all of the oppressed. It is our job to advance the struggle for such a socialist revolution. This is a time when every major capitalist country is seeing the rise of sinister far-right forces: from the U.S.A to Australia to most of Europe to Russia and the Ukraine. In Indonesia a violent racist movement has erupted and targeted the governor of Jakarta purely for his being a member of an ethnic and religious minority. In India a sinister fascistic mass murderer is the prime minister.  In fact, the one great socialistic power in the world, Red China, looks rather good by comparison. It is the one large nation where far-right racist forces based on the majority ethnic community are not on the march.

Why, in Australia, must the flower of Aboriginal youth fall victim to murderous, racist rednecks or become prey for a relentlessly systematic kind of brutal “justice” that continues to send young Aboriginal men and women to languish in jail cells or detention centres for years on end or worse? They are victims of the essentially immoral 200 year-old Australian capitalist racket. As are the brave children, women and men who have been held hostage in the Nauru, Manus Island and Christmas Island hellholes. Can anyone seriously argue that if these asylum seekers came from, say, England or Denmark instead of mainly from the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East that they would be treated in the same heartless manner? In fact, the Australian capitalist state’s border control policy provides tacit official sanction to every act of racist violence and xenophobia perpetrated out there on the streets of Australia.

A mighty, radical shift is needed. Any deluded notion of a middle ground that social democrats might be clinging onto is fast falling away beneath their feet and the pieces being greedily gobbled up by the awaiting, wide open fascistic jaws of your Donald Trumps and Pauline Hansons. Now is not the time for sitting on fences. The fence has already collapsed under the combined weight of too many fat, middle class rumps. Increasingly, humanity is faced with a choice between fascism and communism. Behind fascism stands the capitalist, property-rich ruling class which is willing to unleash its nazi dogs as a last resort to protect its ill gotten gains and its global control of immense human and industrial resources. Behind the prospect of communism stands the organised, international working class which is willing and able to seize control of the world’s business from the tiny minority of capitalist owners in the name of all the people and then commence work towards a collective, humane and socialistic organisation of society. A handful of countries have already – bravely and with sometimes seemingly intolerable sacrifice – embarked on the road to a communist future despite the perpetual harrassment  and often bloody resistance put up by the imperialist powers. We workers of Australia must offer our sincere respect, our immense gratitude and, most of all, a comradely – critical if necessary but always helping – hand to these frontier workers states because our futures are inextricably linked. Let’s work hard to advance the struggle for communism here too! Let’s promote a class struggle fight for jobs for all workers! Let’s fight to unite the working class masses right around the world by uncompromisingly standing against both racism and economic nationalism! You’d have to be blind now not to see capitalist democracy for what it really is – a filthy, rich man’s game. But the riches of the world have always really belonged to the working many and not to the exploiting few. The exploiters can choke on the racism, hatred and division they sow. The fruit of our labour is of a different sort altogether. Already the workers of the world have begun to unite in order to form a community of kindness which can embrace all of our common humanity without exception. From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs. Friends, the time to mobilise and to strike back is now.

Long Live China’s 1949 Anticapitalist Revolution!

PROTECT THE GREAT BENEFITS FOR WORKERS & THE RURAL MASSES WON THROUGH THE REVOLUTION:
STOP IMPERIALIST FUNDING FOR THOSE NGOs THAT SEEK TO OVERTHROW SOCIALISTIC RULE IN CHINA

6th September 2016: Determined supporters of socialistic rule in China rallied this evening on the steps at the entrance to Sydney Town Hall. In this demonstration called at short notice, participants hailed the gains of China’s 1949 anticapitalist revolution and opposed the U.S. and Australian-backed anti-communist Chinese exile groups seeking to promote capitalist restoration in China.

The 1949 Chinese Revolution was one of the most momentous events in humanity’s entire history. The long-suffering Chinese masses overthrew their exploiters and took power. Tens of millions of downtrodden people participated in this heroic struggle. They achieved victory after a bitter three year civil war. On one side of the war stood the oppressed tenant farmers, workers, working-class women and idealistic students. They were organized by the Communist Party of China (CPC) which was led by Mao Ze Dong. On the other side were the brutal landlords and capitalists. These oppressor classes were served by the Kuomintang (KMT) government of Chiang Kai-Shek. The KMT was heavily armed, trained and advised by the U.S. regime. But still they lost to the Communist-led revolutionaries.

The 1949 anti-capitalist revolution freed the peasants from the tyranny of the landlords, made headway in liberating workers from capitalist exploitation and freed the Chinese people from humiliating subjugation by imperial powers. The revolution greatly uplifted women’s status from the horrific reality they faced under the previous Kuomintang regime – when many women were subjected to forced marriage and the barbaric practice of Continue reading Long Live China’s 1949 Anticapitalist Revolution!