Category Archives: Communism

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.

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!

10 January 2015: Defenders of the Socialistic DPRK Support the DPRK Soccer Team at the Asia Cup

From the moment the DPRK soccer team arrived in Sydney for the January 2015 Asia Cup Finals, the capitalist-owned media went  all out to demonise the team as highly secretive, repressed and without support. This is part of their general propaganda war against socialistic North Korea. The aim of this campaign is to justify to the Australian masses the Australian ruling class’ participation in the relentless imperialist drive to crush the DPRK workers state through military, economic and political pressure. However, the media narrative took a blow when soccer fans coming to watch North Korea’s match against Uzbekhistan as well as Sydney public transport users  came across a contingent of supporters of the socialistic DPRK coming to support the DPRK team. The contingent – including supporters  of Trotskyist Platform, the Australia-DPRK Friendship Society and the Communist Party of Australia – chanted:  “D-P-R-K! Workers State is Here to Stay!”
From the moment the DPRK soccer team arrived in Sydney for the January 2015 Asia Cup Finals, the capitalist-owned media went all out to demonise the team as highly secretive, repressed and without support. This is part of their general propaganda war against socialistic North Korea. The aim of this campaign is to justify to the Australian masses the Australian ruling class’ participation in the relentless imperialist drive to crush the DPRK workers state through military, economic and political pressure.
However, the media narrative took a blow when soccer fans coming to watch North Korea’s match against Uzbekhistan as well as Sydney public transport users came across a contingent of supporters of the socialistic DPRK coming to support the DPRK team. The contingent – including supporters of Trotskyist Platform, the Australia-DPRK Friendship Society and the Communist Party of Australia – chanted:
“D-P-R-K! Workers State is Here to Stay!”

Down with the Right-Wing Campaign OF Lies about North Korea!

Above: Democracy in capitalist South Korea? Leftist South Korean parliamentarian Lee Seok-ki shouts as he is escorted into prison by security agents in September 2013. The Unified Progressive Party (UPP) MP was jailed for nine years on bogus charges of inciting a socialist insurrection. Later, the South Korean regime banned the UPP and kicked all its MPs out of parliament. Until it was banned, the UPP was South Korea’s third largest parliamentary party with a vote share equivalent to The Greens in Australia.

“Human Rights” Attacks on Socialistic North Korea & the Trade Union Royal Commission Here:
Both are Campaigns of Lies to “Justify” Attacks on Anyone Standing in the Way of Capitalist Exploitation

22 August 2015: This month, people around the world marked the 70th anniversary of the two most horrific terror attacks on civilians ever perpetrated in the whole of human history. Seventy years ago the U.S. regime, fully backed by the Australian ruling class, was responsible for the nuclear incineration of the people first of Hiroshima and then of Nagasaki. Yet these very same ruling classes have the hide to wage a campaign against the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) over “human rights.”

Indeed, the DPRK is probably the last country that the Western powers should be raising the issue of “human rights” about.  During the 1950-53 Korean War, the U.S. and allied militaries – including those of Australia and South Korea – killed between two to three million North Korean citizens. In the beginning of January 1951, American General Mathew Ridgway ordered the air force to hit the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, “with the goal of burning the city to the ground with incendiary bombs,” which they did in two strikes on January 3 and January 5 (“Consequences of the ‘Forgotten War,’” Bruce Cummings, printed in Le Monde Diplomatique, December 2004). Pyongyang and just about every other city in North and Central Korea was again levelled by U.S. bombing in December 1952. Those North Koreans that survived were by then literally living in caves.

Yet the capitalist powers and the big business-owned media that serve them have never shied away from gross hypocrisy and never been bound by the truth. Recall, for one, their now infamous lie that Iraq possessed nuclear weapons. Such lies are spread for a purpose. In the case of the lie about Iraq it was used to justify the 2003 U.S.–led invasion and conquest of that oil-rich country. Here, the Liberal/National Party regime’s lies demonising our trade unions are used to grease the skids for further union-busting attacks and anti-strike laws.

So why are they lying about North Korea then? Because the workers and farmers of North Korea have dared to adopt a socio-political system that is not based on capitalist exploitation. The masses of North Korea have dared to insist that they will not subordinate themselves to Western imperialism. For this “crime,” the imperial powers have slated the DPRK for destruction. Their outrageous claims about “appalling human rights abuses” in North Korea are used to justify the ongoing stiff economic sanctions on that country as well as the extreme military pressure that the U.S. and its allies exert on the DPRK. Not only are tens of thousands of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea to threaten the DPRK but U.S. aircraft and warships regularly move in and out of North Korean airspace and waters to amplify this threat. Ultimately, the imperialist powers see the “human rights” crusade against North Korea as a means of preparing the population in their own countries for a future, full-scale military assault on that country – something that has to date only been stymied by Red China’s alliance with its socialistic sister, the DPRK.

As part of the big lie campaign against the DPRK, the South Korean Consul General in Sydney – in other words the South Korean government – hosted a week of events in Australia from August 17 to August 21 titled “North Korea Human Rights Week.” These events were timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of North Korea from Japanese colonial occupation on 15 August. The Sydney Branch of the Australia-DPRK Friendship Society protested outside the Opening Ceremony of this “Human Rights Week” at Sydney City’s main cinema strip near Town Hall station. Participating in the snap protest were several Trotskyist Platform comrades as well as supporters of the Australia-DPRK Friendship Society including one member from the CPA and a representative from the Supporters of the Iranian Peoples Fadaee Gureillas. Among the placards we carried were signs that read, “Human Rights” Attacks on Socialistic North Korea Are Like the Trade Union Royal Commission Here: A Campaign of Lies Used to Justify Attacks on Organisation/s Standing In the Way of Capitalist Exploitation and “Human Rights” of imperialism = bombing Afghanistan, torture at Guantanamo, killings of Aboriginal people in custody, support for murderous regimes in Egypt, Israel, Philippines and Colombia. How dare they attack socialistic DPRK, China and Cuba over “human rights.” Some passers-by stopped to express sympathy with the protest. Among these were a woman who knew much about the South Korean regime’s jailing of trade unionists and a woman of South Korean origin whose husband was a political activist murdered by the capitalist South Korean regime.

For the brutal, anti-working class South Korean regime to be talking about “human rights” is truly the height of hypocrisy. Yet its attacks on the socialistic North are totally expected. Whilst the DPRK was founded by Korean leftists who heroically fought the Japanese imperialist occupiers and with the vital assistance of the Soviet Red Army freed the Northern part of the peninsula from colonial rule, South Korea was established by the U.S. using many local collaborators with Japanese colonial rule as their henchmen. Among these U.S. henchmen were rich industrialists and big landlords during Japanese rule who defected from the North after the new socialistic power there nationalised industry and divided big landholdings amongst the impoverished poor peasants. Thus for a long time many amongst the Korean masses viewed North Korea as the real Korea and South Korea for what it really was –  a U.S.-occupied puppet state. The South Korean regime and its U.S. patrons could only maintain their rule through the most bloody terror and the support of the occupying U.S. military forces.

14 November 2015, Seoul: Capitalist South Korea’s brutal police unleash water cannon, pepper spray and tear gas to disperse a 70,000 strong anti-government demonstration of workers and civil rights activists.
14 November 2015, Seoul: Capitalist South Korea’s brutal police unleash water cannon, pepper spray and tear gas to disperse a 70,000 strong anti-government demonstration of workers and civil rights activists.

Against the lies being spread by the South Korean regime and the U.S., British, Japanese and Australian ruling classes, we present here some important facts:

  • In the DPRK there is full employment. All workers have a right to work. This does not exist in capitalist South Korea and certainly not in capitalist Australia where greedy bosses feel that they can even get away with sacking workers in strongly unionised workplaces by text message!
  • The liberation in the latter part of World War II of the Northern part of Korea from Japanese colonial rule by the Soviet Red Army and communist-led Korean partisans led to the establishment of a workers state in North Korea. This workers state is, however, weakened by bureaucratic deformations. Thus, although the DPRK defends a pro-working class system based on collective ownership of industry, agriculture and services, the bulk of the working class is kept away from political administration which is in the hands of a relatively narrow bureaucratic layer. There is also a personality cult around leader Kim Jong Un and his late father, previous leader Kim Jong-Il and his deceased grandfather, founding head of the DPRK and former anti-colonial resistance leader, Kim Il Sung. Furthermore, those who form the administrative layer of the DPRK have special material privileges (although these pale in comparison to the extreme wealth of big business owners in capitalist countries). Yet despite these bureaucratic deformations, the existence of a workers state in the Northern part of Korea represents a significant conquest for the international working class. Furthermore, fixing the bureaucratic deformations that weaken the DPRK workers state demands relieving her of the tremendous pressure that is bearing down upon her from the imperialist powers and their South Korean ally.
  • Working in a society where workers have guaranteed jobs and are proclaimed as the ruling class means that North Korean workers enjoy a relaxed, friendly work environment. Indeed, if Aussie bosses saw how laid back North Korean workers were and how much they like to talk to each other whilst working on a production line then they would truly have a fit!
  • In contrast to the North, most South Korean workers toil in insecure casual or temporary jobs. Though the trade union movement there has waged many brave struggles for their rights in the face of fierce repression, still workers are forced to work very long hours. In fact, South Korean workers endure amongst the longest working hours in the world and the large number of workers forced to work part-time there means that the statistics, actually, hide the full extent of the reality.
  • Despite an industrialised economy, in capitalist South Korea, large numbers of homeless people sleep every day in railway subway tunnels. Many frail elderly people are forced to collect recyclables for petty cash since an aged pension barely exists in this country. In contrast, in North Korea, homelessness is non-existent and all citizens are guaranteed heavily subsidised public housing.
  • Despite being devastated in the 1950-53 Korean War, over the following two decades the DPRK built the second most advanced economy in Asia. Up until the late 1960s, the DPRK not only had much better health care, social welfare and education than South Korea but a higher average level of income. At that time, the U.S. decided to massively subsidise South Korean economic development as the U.S. rulers feared that hatred of the South Korean regime and sympathy for the North amongst the South Korean masses would lead to revolution. Thus, South Korea’s industrialisation was based on huge U.S. backing as well as cruel exploitation of its own workers.
  • Up until the collapse of the USSR in 1991-92, North Korean citizens continued to enjoy a high standard of living. However, the destruction of the USSR had a devastating effect on the DPRK. Faced with sanctions from the capitalist world, trade and technical exchanges with the former Soviet Union had been the DPRK’s economic lifeline. Furthermore, the USSR acted as a guarantor of the DPRK’s defence. Now, the DPRK had to provide for its own defence (China’s military was, especially at that time, not comparable to the USSR’s and incapable of providing the same deterrent to imperialist threats to the DPRK) at a time when the imperial powers felt more emboldened than ever. This forced the DPRK to divert a much larger proportion of its economy to defence which in turn squeezed her economy. A period of serious hardship in the country followed. However, by the start of the 21st century this started to turn around and especially over the last few years the DPRK economy has picked up. The military encirclement and the sanctions still hurt the DPRK – for example there is a shortage of fuel and spare parts for machinery and automobiles. Yet the North Korean masses are standing strong much like defiant workers who lose wages whilst on strike. Embarking on the struggle against their enemy brings hardships but they stand firm understanding that victory will open the road to a brighter future.

    The Australian capitalist regime that attacks the DPRK over “human rights” has overseen the death of over 500 Aboriginal people in state custody since 1980. Some of the more well-known cases of Aboriginal people being outright murdered by racist police or killed as a result of racist treatment while in custody include: Eddie Murray (Top Left) who was killed by police in June 1981 in Wee Waa, northern NSW, within an hour of being arrested (merely for being allegedly drunk); 17 year-old TJ Hickey (Top Right) who in February 2004 was chased by racist police in Redfern who then rammed his bicycle causing him to fly through the air and be impaled on a fence; Mulrunji Doomadgee (Bottom Left) who was barbarically beaten to death by racist police officer Chris Hurley in Palm Island in November 2004 and Julieka Dhu (Bottom Right) who while imprisoned in WA’s South Hedland watch house in August 2011 was repeatedly denied medical assistance by racist police as she cried out for help. When eventually taken to hospital on two occasions she never got to see a doctor as police lied to hospital staff that, “she was faking it.” She eventually died as a result of this torture-like denial of medical assistance 48 hours after being jailed for unpaid fines.
    The Australian capitalist regime that attacks the DPRK over “human rights” has overseen the death of over 500 Aboriginal people in state custody since 1980. Some of the more well-known cases of Aboriginal people being outright murdered by racist police or killed as a result of racist treatment while in custody include: Eddie Murray (Top Left) who was killed by police in June 1981 in Wee Waa, northern NSW, within an hour of being arrested (merely for being allegedly drunk); 17 year-old TJ Hickey (Top Right) who in February 2004 was chased by racist police in Redfern who then rammed his bicycle causing him to fly through the air and be impaled on a fence; Mulrunji Doomadgee (Bottom Left) who was barbarically beaten to death by racist police officer Chris Hurley in Palm Island in November 2004 and Julieka Dhu (Bottom Right) who while imprisoned in WA’s South Hedland watch house in August 2011 was repeatedly denied medical assistance by racist police as she cried out for help. When eventually taken to hospital on two occasions she never got to see a doctor as police lied to hospital staff that, “she was faking it.” She eventually died as a result of this torture-like denial of medical assistance 48 hours after being jailed for unpaid fines.
  • In the above sense, North Korean defectors can be compared to weak workers who sneak back to work during a strike because they are looking for short-term economic security at the expense of the long-term well-being of their fellow workers. Some of these defectors, either out of the quest for fame or because of cajoling from the South Korean and Western governments and anti-communist NGOs, have given harrowing tales of life in North Korea. Yet such tales have often been exposed as lies. These included the tales told by the most famous North Korean defector, Yeonmi Park. Her lies were so blatant that even anti-communist news agencies had to report on it. Meanwhile, hundreds of defectors disillusioned with the cut-throat life in the capitalist South with its unemployment and underemployment have, actually, defected back to the North.
  • Even despite the hardships that being squeezed by powerful capitalist powers brings, the North Korean masses manage to have their basic needs met. Contrary to the utter lies of the Western mainstream media there is no starvation in North Korea. Indeed, even statistics compiled by Western agencies hostile to the DPRK reveal this. Thus, the list of the percentage of a country’s population under the age of five who are underweight due to malnourishment estimated by the CIA – an institution thoroughly hostile to and biased against the DPRK – shows that North Korea is not only not among the top ten countries with the highest proportion of malnourished children but not even in the top 40! Indeed, not only do India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have much higher rates of malnourished children but so do other strong Western allies like Indonesia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.
  • Similarly, the UN’s World Health Organization estimates life expectancy in the DPRK at 70 years. This is not only decisively higher than in India, Pakistan and PNG but also, actually, slightly higher than in Russia (suffering as Russia is, of course, from the capitalist counter-revolution that dismantled the world’s first workers state, the Soviet Union, in 1991) as well as the Philippines.
  • Despite the external pressure it faces, the DPRK has completely free health care and education. As a result, the DPRK has one of the highest literacy rates in the world for both women and men and a highly educated population.
  • North Koreans enjoy a rich social and cultural life. Peoples’ favourite hobbies include sports, dancing and playing music. As in much of Asia, people love karaoke. A recent craze there are amusement parks which have started springing up all over the country.
  • North Korea is a sports mad country and you can often see people jogging in the streets, playing in parks or training in the country’s many sports pavilions. At the last Olympic Games in London, the DPRK finished 20th in the medal tally – punching above its weight for a country of its size.
  • Many North Koreans play musical instruments and sing. Classical Korean and classical Western music, light semi-classical Korean tunes and pop music are all popular. The most popular band in North Korea at the moment, the extremely talented, all-female Moranbong Band plays all these styles alongside Western pop pieces.

    North Korean children having fun at a playground near a housing complex. Photo: Trotskyist Platform
    North Korean children having fun at a playground near a housing complex. Photo: Trotskyist Platform
  • In South Korea (the Republic of Korea), the very tough work environment for workers and the cut-throat nature of the capitalist society in general has led to it having the second highest suicide rate in the world. To put this in perspective, the suicide rate in South Korea is more than two and a half times that of Australia’s and nearly four times that of the Peoples Republic of China.
  • Despite having the hide to attack the DPRK over “human rights,” it is South Korea that has an appalling record of crushing the human rights of workers. The Seoul regime regularly arrests and imprisons trade union activists, including several trade union leaders who were arrested only two months ago .
  • Many people are persecuted under South Korea’s draconian National Security Law. In 2010 a woman was given a two year jail term for possessing MP3 files of instrumental music that was alleged to have pro-North Korea titles!
  • Last December, the South Korean regime banned the country’s third largest party in parliament, the left-leaning Unified Progressive Party (UPP), and stripped its MPs of its parliamentary seats. The UPP was accused of organising a pro-North Korea rebellion as the party’s actually quite critical attitude to the DPRK is, however, not hard line enough for the South Korean authorities. The UPP had won over two million votes (just over 10% of the total) in the proportional representation side of the last South Korean elections in 2012.
  • Capitalist rule in South Korea was consolidated by fanatical right-wing terror. From April 1948 to May 1949, the U.S. military government and their South Korean henchmen killed over 30,000 people on South Korea’s Jeju Island after the population rose up following repeated police shootings of pro-communist activists. Even the South Korean regime’s own commission – some 60 years after the fact – accepted that at least 20,000 people jailed for participation in the Jeju uprising were later massacred shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War.
  • More broadly, at the start of the Korean War, the South Korean rulers with the connivance of the U.S and Australia killed communists and those suspected of being communist sympathisers in what was known as the Bodo League massacres. Estimates of the number of people murdered ranged from 100,000 to 1.2 million. For decades in South Korea those who even spoke of these massacres were jailed. Although today South Korea flaunts an image of “democracy” and finally acknowledges, in part, the Bodo League massacres, it remains ruled by a brutal anti-working class regime.
    In May 1980, the South Korean military and police massacred over 2,000 people in the city of Kwangju after leftist students and workers there staged a rebellion demanding an end to martial law and an increase in minimum wages.
  • The South Korean regime for decades either pressured or coerced local women to work as “comfort women” prostitutes for stationed American troops. They then stigmatised the women and left them to live in poverty. Over 120 surviving comfort women are now suing the South Korean regime.
  • The South Korean regime is far from the only hypocrite amongst those falsely attacking the DPRK over “human rights.” So are the rulers of the U.S., Britain, Australia and other Washington allies. In Vietnam, these forces killed over two million Vietnamese people in their cruel but, ultimately, futile and losing war against the heroic Vietnamese revolutionaries. Over the course of the 1991 First Gulf War attack on Iraq, the subsequent starvation-causing UN sanctions on Iraq and the 2003 invasion and occupation, the U.S., British and Australian regimes caused the death of over one and a half million Iraqi people. In 2001, they invaded Afghanistan to replace the fundamentalist cutthroats that they, themselves, had helped bring to power with a new lot of misogynist tyrants that are, however, even more slavish to them. In the process they bombed Afghanistan back to the stone-age and massacred thousands of civilians in countless “accidental” air strikes on wedding parties and civilian travel convoys. In neighbouring Pakistan, U.S. drone strikes unleashed against the wishes of Pakistan’s government kill hundreds upon hundreds of civilians. Meanwhile, four years ago, the NATO imperialists, egged on by the Australian government, violently deposed the then Libyan government. In doing so they not only killed tens of thousands of Libyan people in savage air strikes but turned that once peaceful and affluent country into a nightmarish “failed state” ruled by rival gangs of religious extremists and warlords and caused tens of thousands of Libyans to flee in dangerous boat trips to Europe.

    Workers at North Korea’s Taedongang Tile Plant. North Korea has a relaxed and friendly work environment where at least two people are stationed at assembly line node points that would, in places like Australia or Indonesia, have only one worker doing all the work. Photo: Trotskyist Platform
    Workers at North Korea’s Taedongang Tile Plant. North Korea has a relaxed and friendly work environment where at least two people are stationed at assembly line node points that would, in places like Australia or Indonesia, have only one worker doing all the work. Photo: Trotskyist Platform
  • As part of all these neo-colonial wars of conquest, the U.S. and their allies have used torture to advance their goals. There was the notorious torture of Iraqi political prisoners by the U.S. at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, NATO’s torture in Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Base and the ongoing U.S. hellhole prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.
  • The Australian capitalist ruling class has perpetrated such atrocities not only as junior partners of the U.S. but sometimes from neo-colonial interventions it has itself led. In the late 1980s, when the people of the PNG-controlled island of Bougainville rose up to resist the terrible destruction of their livelihoods by Australian mining company CRA (this company which operated the huge Panguna mine in Bougainville with callous disregard to the local people later merged with British RTZ to form Rio Tinto), the Australian regime and its PNG government henchmen orchestrated a brutal war and naval blockade against the Bougainville people. As a result 15,000 to 20,000 Bougainville people perished – all for the sake of the profits of Australian capitalist bigwigs.
  • Here at home, the Australian rulers who attack the DPRK over “human rights” continue to preside over genocidal attacks on Aboriginal people, including forcibly closing down Aboriginal communities, stripping Aboriginal children from their families and police killings of Aboriginal people in custody. Meanwhile, refugees arriving in this country are thrown into hell-hole offshore detention camps where they face beatings, torture and in some cases murder at the hands of camp guards.
  • In the U.S., racist police and white supremacists murder blacks, Asians and Hispanics at an alarming and seemingly ever increasing rate. Meanwhile, the U.S. has the largest prison population in the world – more than the entire population of Brisbane! The rate of imprisonment in the U.S. is close to four times that of Venezuela and nearly six times that of China.
People get set for a ride in one of North Korea’s many fun parks. Visiting amusement parks is one of the latest crazes in North Korea. You certainly would not know that from the mainstream Western media coverage about North Korea which seeks to do everything possible to demonise the society. Photo: Trotskyist Platform.
People get set for a ride in one of North Korea’s many fun parks. Visiting amusement parks is one of the latest crazes in North Korea. You certainly would not know that from the mainstream Western media coverage about North Korea which seeks to do everything possible to demonise the society.
Photo: Trotskyist Platform.

The truth is that the only “rights” that those waging the anti-DPRK “human rights” campaign are truly concerned about is the right of greedy corporate bigwigs to exploit the toil of working class people and the right of their mouthpieces to propagate the “virtues” of such a system. These rights do not, thankfully, exist in North Korea. And let’s keep it that way!

Defend the DPRK workers state! Down with the right-wing campaign of lies about North Korea! U.S. troops get out of South Korea and Japan! End all sanctions against North Korea! Remove the U.S. troops from Darwin and the U.S. spy facilities at Pine Gap and elsewhere in Australia which are used primarily for furthering U.S.-Australian ruling class threats against the DPRK and the Peoples Republic of China!

Apart from facilitating attacks on the socialistic DPRK, the lies about the “human rights” situation in the DPRK are used to distract the masses in South Korea, the U.S.A and Australia from the distinct lack of rights that working class people have in their own countries. So we demand: Repeal South Korea’s fascistic National Security Law! Revoke the ban on South Korea’s Unified Progressive Party! Free all imprisoned trade union activists in South Korea! Free all the refugees in Australia! Down with the police murder of Aboriginal people in state custody in Australia! End the Australian regime’s forced closure of remote Aboriginal communities! For the guaranteed right to a full-time job in Australia – just like people enjoy in North Korea!

What Strategy is needed to Counter the Violent Racist Threat?

Above: In Melbourne, April 2015, fascists (on the left of picture) participating in the ultra-Islamophobic “Reclaim Australia” rally threaten and use violence against anti-racist counter-demonstrators. Fascist forces not only have disgusting views but are people organised to commit violence against Aboriginal people, non-white ethnic communities, leftists and the workers movement. The idea that fascists can be peacefully debated is not a viewpoint based on reality.

WORKING CLASS-BASED MASS DIRECT ACTION vs LIBERAL/SOCIAL-DEMOCRATIC PACIFISM

The first “Reclaim Australia” rallies on 4 April 2015 were the biggest open mobilisations of far-right racists in Australia in a long time. With the notable exception of Melbourne, in most places where they rallied on April 4 the racist extremists outnumbered anti-racist counter-protesters. In Sydney, Australia’s largest and most multiracial city, the April 4 counter-demonstration was particularly weak. Many long-time anti-fascists did not turn up to the anti-racist counter-rally, organised mainly by the Solidarity group, because the rally leadership’s avowed strategy of ruling out any attempt to shut down the white supremacist “Reclaim Australia” mobilisation either positively turned off – or otherwise did not inspire – many staunch anti-fascists.

When the fascists again rallied in cities throughout Australia on the weekend of July 18/19, anti-racists throughout the country were more determined. A somewhat more purposeful intent shown in the building for the July 19 anti-racist counter-action in Sydney – in comparison with the strategy proclaimed for the earlier April 4 Sydney rally – saw anti-racists this time outnumber the extreme right-wing racists by two to one. However, in Queensland the far-right racist rallies again exceeded in numbers the size of the counter-demonstrations. Furthermore, again with the partial exception of Melbourne where a determined picket set up by anti-racist counter-protesters blocked some of the fascists from entering their race-hate rally’s assembly point, the rednecks were still able to hold their actions unimpeded and turn central parts of major cities into de-facto no-go zones for people with non-white skin. Moreover, the July 18/19 “Reclaim” rallies received more mainstream backing than the previous April 4 mobilisation with one sitting government MP speaking at a rally and the police even more blatantly siding with the fascists against anti-racist counter-demonstrators.

In the wake of the fascist danger shown by the 4 April 2015 – and then July 18/19 – “Reclaim” rallies there has been much debate amongst leftists and other anti-racists about how best to counter the far-right offensive. This is not a bad thing. Such debates give an opportunity to clarify the strategy that we need to defeat the threat from extreme racists. The lines of these debates focus on several related questions but a key one is whether the goal of counter-demonstrations should be to simply protest against the views of the far-right racists or, on the other hand, should they also seek to physically stop the fascist mobilisations. Amongst those advocating the former perspective – that is, a continuation of the pacifist strategy that the Sydney 4 April 2015 anti-racist rally was built on – are various small-l liberals including many supporters of the Greens as well as the left groups Socialist Alliance and Solidarity. Strongly defending this outlook is also the Communist Party of Australia (CPA). An article in the CPA’s The Guardian newspaper by Peter Mac, analysing the April 4 racist and anti-racist demonstrations, denounced the Melbourne anti-racist counter-action for being “violent” and continued that:

The likelihood of an eruption of violence was boosted by one group’s declaration that the Reclaim Australia rally provided a golden opportunity to shut it down, that `the neo-Nazis … must be swept off the streets’ and its recommendation to `drive the violent white supremacists out of stolen Aboriginal land!’
As a result during the Melbourne confrontation Reclaim Australia’s chant of `Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi. Oi’ was met with shouts of `Fuck off racists’ by some of the counter demonstrators, accompanied by spitting, punches and bloodshed on both sides.
“Lessons from Reclaim Australia protests”, The Guardian, 22 April 2015

The “one group” that the CPA is here attacking happens to be us – Trotskyist Platform. To properly understand our strategy that the CPA is condemning, one needs to read not just the couple of phrases from our leaflet plucked out by the The Guardian but, at the very least, the entire paragraph which we copy below:

It appears that the organisers of the Sydney anti-racist counter-rally want the event to simply challenge the views of `Reclaim Australia’ and expose its racist nature. That is certainly necessary. However, it is far from adequate. What distinguishes the fascists from mainstream racists is that they have a program of using violence to achieve their aim of a `pure’ whites-only society. These are the same groups that helped incite the notorious 2005 Cronulla Beach white supremacist riot. Their neo-Nazi slogans have helped to foment the wave of violent – and sometimes even murderous – attacks on Indian, Chinese, and most recently, Korean students as well as helping to incite the unceasing redneck violence against Aboriginal people. If these white supremacists get away with openly inciting racist hatred on April 4 it will encourage every garden-variety redneck watching to radicalise their racist stance. If such hate parades continue it will be inevitable that we will see here horrific incidents like that which happened in North Carolina last month when three young Muslim American students were murdered in a racist attack. Furthermore, the organised presence of violent white supremacists in the heart of Sydney – no matter if they are interspersed with less extreme racists who they have sucked into their rally – will intimidate and physically endanger the many Muslim and non-white people visiting the area. That is why the `Reclaim Australia’ action must not only be protested against – it must be shut down! The neo-Nazis pulling the strings in organising `Reclaim Australia’ must be swept off the streets. Let’s drive violent white supremacists out of stolen Aboriginal land!
“Shutdown the ‘Reclaim Australia’ Race Hate Rallies”, Trotskyist Platform leaflet, 28 March 2015

George Christensen (Centre), an MP from the federal Coalition government, spoke at the 19 July 2015 “Reclaim Australia” racist rally in Mackay. Small-l liberal figures and their social democratic promoters claim that mainstream politicians can be won over to the struggle against far-right racism. But, actually, these politicians are a big part of the reason why the extreme racist forces are growing.
George Christensen (Centre), an MP from the federal Coalition government, spoke at the 19 July 2015 “Reclaim Australia” racist rally in Mackay. Small-l liberal figures and their social democratic promoters claim that mainstream politicians can be won over to the struggle against far-right racism. But, actually, these politicians are a big part of the reason why the extreme racist forces are growing.

Unfortunately, at this point what was warned against in our leaflet is, for the moment, coming to pass. The white supremacists largely got away with being able to foment their race hate on 4 April 2015 (and indeed on July 18/19) and as a result those unorganised racist bigots sitting at home watching became more radicalised. This has contributed at least in some way to the increase in racist attacks on the streets over the last few months. The one partial exception on April 4 (and also on July 18/19) was Melbourne, where the fascists’ ability to hold their race-hate provocation was at least challenged by the large counter-rally and some of the racists were blocked from joining their counterparts at their rallying point. Yet, sounding completely like small-l liberals rather than the communists that the CPA proudly claims to be a party of, Peter Mac’s article condemns the “spitting, punches and bloodshed on both sides” thereby equating the determined and laudable anti-racist resistance of many Melbourne anti-“Reclaim” demonstrators with the thuggery of neo-Nazis attempting to crush any obstacle to advancing their violent racist objectives.

Lenin’s Strategy for Defeating Fascists

CPA comrades, as avowed supporters of Lenin’s communist program, should consider the attitude of Lenin’s Bolsheviks to the Russian far-right racists of Lenin’s time, the Black Hundreds. Ardent monarchists, the Black Hundreds were most notorious for perpetrating violent attacks on Jewish people – usually with the connivance and often even the active support of the Tsarist authorities. As well as espousing extreme anti-Semitism, these rabid Russian chauvinists also whipped up hatred against Polish people and opposed any recognition of Ukrainians as a distinct nationality. Like today’s fascists in Australia, the Black Hundreds also staged mass, “patriotic” demonstrations to denounce the influence of non-Christian, ethnic minority, leftist and liberal groups. Yet, unlike the CPA’s newspaper that condemns those taking action to physically impede fascist provocations in Melbourne, Lenin instead condemned those liberals and pacifist leftists who denounced as “reckless” the calls to organise mass, militant self-defence against the Black Hundreds. Thus, when in June 1906 the Black Hundreds perpetrated a horrific pogrom against Jewish people in the town of Belostok (sometimes spelt Bialystok) in the western part of the then Russian empire (in today’s Poland), Lenin wrote:

… there are those who, seeing these phenomena of Russian social life, think, and say, that somebody or other is `recklessly’ calling upon the people to resort to `extreme measures’! One must be, not reckless, but a poltroon, politically corrupt, to say such things in the face of events like the burning of the People’s House at Vologda (at the time of the opening of the Duma) or the pogrom in Belostok (after the Duma had been in session a month).   A single event like this will have more effect upon the people than millions of appeals. And to talk about `reckless’ appeals is just as hopelessly pedantic and as much a sin of a deadened civic conscience, as to condemn the wild cry for revenge that is going up from the battlefields of Vologda and Belostok.
“The Reaction is Taking to Arms”, V.I. Lenin, June 1906, Collected Works, Progress Publishers

The perspective of Lenin’s Bolsheviks to the Russian fascists of their time was thus very far from that of Peter Mac’s attitude to Australia’s Black Hundreds of today. Thus, while Mac speaks of the need to “persuade” Reclaim participants saying that it would be “a grave mistake to assume that Reclaim supporters are incapable of changing their minds,” Lenin’s attitude to those who were inciting and perpetrating physical attacks on ethnic communities and leftists can be summed up by the following call he made to respond to the Black Hundreds. Lenin called for revolutionaries to:

… at once find out who organises the Black Hundreds and where and how they are organised, and then, without confining themselves to propaganda (which is useful, but inadequate) they must act with armed force, beat up and kill the members of the Black-Hundred gangs, blow up their headquarters, etc., etc.
Tasks of Revolutionary Army Contingents, V.I. Lenin, October 1905, Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers

Although that particular call was written during the height of the 1905 Revolution in Russia when the physical clash between opposing forces was at white heat and thus the specific tactical methods advocated are particular to such a period, the call nevertheless expressed an overall political perspective completely relevant to “normal times”: that the fascists need to be shut down rather than merely debated.

The Capitalist Authorities Are Not Allies in the Struggle against Fascism

Sydney, 19 July 2015: Police brutalise anti-racism activists counter-demonstrating against a rally by the extreme racist “Reclaim Australia” movement. Since police serve the same capitalist ruling class whom the fascists and their race-hate ideology truly serve, they are heavily biased towards supporting the fascists in any standoff with anti-fascists.
Sydney, 19 July 2015: Police brutalise anti-racism activists counter-demonstrating against a rally by the extreme racist “Reclaim Australia” movement. Since police serve the same capitalist ruling class whom the fascists and their race-hate ideology truly serve, they are heavily biased towards supporting the fascists in any standoff with anti-fascists.

Since the CPA stance is representative of that of the whole liberal-pacifist wing of the anti-fascist movement it is worth analysing their strategy further. This strategy is outlined in a favourable assessment that Peter Mac makes of an Adelaide anti-Reclaim protest organiser:

Adelaide pastor Brad Chilcott observed with regard to the public’s impression of events: ‘Your audience is not the racists you’re shouting at, but the people watching at home. … [But] those watching at home … couldn’t tell the difference between the good guys and the bad. Then politicians have to condemn the violence on both sides, rather than [giving] an undiluted message condemning bigotry.
“Lessons from Reclaim Australia protests”, The Guardian, 22 April 2015

So we see that the strategy of the CPA and small-liberals like Chilcott is for anti-racist rallies to be tepid enough to encourage mainstream politicians to condemn bigotry. But it is precisely the policies and statements of the mainstream pro-capitalist politicians that are encouraging the bigots! Barely a week goes by without the right-wing Coalition government heaping a new insult upon Aboriginal and coloured ethnic communities. And barely a week goes by without the ALP Opposition signing onto or otherwise acquiescing to such insults.

How openly the ruling class politicians are contributing to the rise of the fascists was seen when government MP, George Christensen, actually spoke at the 19 July 2015 Reclaim demonstration in Mackay, Queensland. Furthermore, when asked about Christensen’s decision to openly support the event, foreign minister July Bishop refused to make even the faintest condemnation of Christensen or the “Reclaim” movement, deviously claiming that, “I don’t know anything about the organisation. I certainly haven’t been briefed on it.” Even before this outrage, the mainstream politicians had already openly pumped up the “Reclaim Australia” forces. Barely a month after the first set of “Reclaim” rallies, the Senate decided to hold an inquiry into halal certification (under the guise of an inquiry into food certification) thereby giving credence to the looney premise of the “Reclaim” fascists that money paid for halal certification is being used to “finance terrorism.”

Melbourne, 18 July 2015: Police viciously attack anti-racism protesters demonstrating against a rally by the far-right Reclaim Australia/United Patriots Front groups. Police did everything to facilitate the rally by the racist violence-inciting fascist groups.
Melbourne, 18 July 2015: Police viciously attack
anti-racism protesters demonstrating against a rally by the far-right Reclaim Australia/United Patriots Front groups. Police did everything to facilitate the rally by the racist violence-inciting fascist groups.

Sorry, Mr Chilcott and the CPA: the mainstream politicians are a big part of the problem and are not and cannot in the future be part of the solution! Indeed, especially after the global capitalist recession that commenced in 2008, ruling politicians around the capitalist world have brought far-right forces more and more into the mainstream. They have done this through adoption of their ideas, through sanctioning of them as “legitimate” voices to be addressed and even – in the cases of Switzerland, Latvia and Ukraine – through their inclusion in coalition governments. Here, the same trend is happening and it is driven by, more or less, the same economic reality. As the fall in the prices of iron ore and other commodities (from the exorbitant levels with which Australian mining bosses had previously been ripping off Asian neighbours with) reduces the profits of the Australian capitalist ruling class, they are seeking to make up for this by more viciously exploiting the masses. To enable them to achieve this, the ruling class is seeking to kill off the chance of working class resistance by poisoning mass sentiments with a large dose of nationalism.

Reflecting worry amongst their working class base, a very small number of ALP politicians have spoken out – albeit mostly quite meekly – against the “Reclaim” movement. Yet, even in the highly unlikely event that mainstream politicians were to do a U-turn and formally stand en masse against the fascists that would not do all that much to stop actual violent racist attacks. Any legal measures instituted against the white supremacist thugs would have to be implemented by a police force and court system that has proven itself, time after time, to favour the far-right racists against anti-racists. This was seen all too clearly over the 18/19 July 2015  weekend. In Melbourne, police went all out to ensure that the Reclaim racists and their even more extreme United Patriots Front (UPF) breakaway group could hold their racist-violence manufacturing hate rallies. This included indiscriminately unleashing pepper spray against anti-fascist protesters. Police were so gung-ho about attacking anti-fascists with pepper spray that one of their capsicum spray barrages even hit street medics treating anti-racist protesters who had previously been overcome by the spray as well as these same victims of the spray who were receiving treatment.  A widely circulated photograph showing the police high-fiving a UPF fascist (!) at the Melbourne race-hate rally, quite neatly and horribly captured the essence of the police stance.

Showing which side they are on! A policeman publicly high-fives a member of the fascist United Patriots Front during their 18 July 2015 race-hate rally in Melbourne. As a core part of the capitalist state, the police in this current system cannot be allies in the anti-fascist struggle but are, instead, a major force impeding the fight against fascism.
Showing which side they are on! A policeman publicly high-fives a member of the fascist United Patriots Front during their 18 July 2015 race-hate rally in Melbourne. As a core part of the capitalist state, the police in this current system cannot be allies in the anti-fascist struggle but are, instead, a major force impeding the fight against fascism.

Yet, an Editorial in the CPA’s The Guardian issue just after the July 18/19 events promoted the police as a force against the rise of the fascists. This Editorial stated:

Police, including NSW deputy commissioner Nick Kaldas, are worried about the proliferation of right-wing racist and white supremacist groups….
“The deputy commissioner is on the right track about incidents taking place overseas and those in Australia seeking to take advantage of them.
The Guardian, 22 July 2015

This same police force and police leadership that the CPA is praising in its Editorial just days before attacked the Sydney anti-“Reclaim” protest on July 19. Even before the official start time for the anti-fascist event was reached, the police physically and aggressively dragged anti-racist protesters away from their planned rally point so that the fascists could rally there unimpeded. The NSW police arrested five anti-racist protesters. Meanwhile, they devoted many resources to organising protective escorts for extreme white supremacist groups entering and leaving the “Reclaim” rally. One group of anarchist, anti-racist protesters was, on the other hand, roughed up by police after they left the anti-racist demonstration with at least one anti-racist being hurled by police against a telephone booth.

To be sure, the CPA Editorial did also make some very good points about how the “leadership of this wave of intolerance can be found at the very `top’ of society, including in Australia’s parliament” – correct arguments that actually undercut the perspective promoted by Brad Chilcott which was lauded in the earlier article by Peter Mac. However, to promote the police as a force against fascism not only flies in the face of police actions against anti-fascists on the 18/19 July 2015  weekend and the whole ongoing history of racist police terror against Aboriginal people but directly contradicts Lenin’s teachings on the nature of the state. Leninists understand that in a capitalist society, the state – which the police, courts, army and prisons are at the core of – consists of armed bodies of people whose job it is to enforce the rule of the capitalist class over the exploited masses. Thus, the capitalist state organs like the police serve the same class as the fascists do. The police do the daily work of maintaining capitalist rule. The fascists back that up by acting to poison working class unity and intimidating staunch anti-capitalists while the ruling class keeps them as an attack dog on a leash ready to be unleashed when serious threats to capitalist rule emerge. That is why not only have the police been siding with the fascists in the standoffs with anti-racists over the last period but in the future the capitalists’ police can never be an ally in the struggle against fascism. Defeating the growing threat from far-right extremists can only be accomplished through mass, direct action on the streets by the organised working class united with coloured ethnic communities, Aboriginal people and all the other intended victims of the fascists.

Learning Lessons from the Past

In basing their anti-fascist strategy on the hope that either mainstream capitalist politicians or the capitalist state organs themselves can be pushed into stopping the fascists, the CPA is aping the disastrous policy of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) in the period leading up to Hitler’s Nazis’ seizure of power in the early 1930s. Then, as SPD workers and youth began to courageously fight Nazi forces on the streets, the leadership of the SPD, at the time the biggest party based on the German working class, quelled this struggle. They turned the Iron Front for Resistance against Fascism, which the SPD had itself created, into an electoral machine for electing the monarchist capitalist politician Hindenburg whom they hoped would save them from Hitler. The curbing of the struggle to physically stop the fascist forces allowed the Nazis to grow stronger, take physical control of more and more streets and gain much in confidence. Meanwhile, far from saving the SPD from the Nazis, Hindenburg eventually appointed Hitler as chancellor as the mainstream of the ruling class realised that only fascism could save capitalist rule in Germany!

Unfortunately, the German Communist Party (KPD), which had by then degenerated alongside the bureaucratic degeneration (but not destruction) of the Soviet workers state, also followed a bankrupt approach, albeit from more sincere intentions. The KPD first underestimated the danger of the Nazis and, partly in reaction to the very real anti-working class treachery of the SPD, refused to organise united-front actions with the SPD to oppose the Nazi threat to both their organisations. Later, as Hitler’s forces grew stronger, KPD leaders became paralysed and came to see a Nazi triumph as inevitable.

However, Hitler could have been stopped! The murderous beheading of the German workers movement, the Holocaust of Jewish people and the brutality of the Nazi’s war on the USSR could have been prevented! What was required at the time was what the Trotskyist Left Opposition was urgently calling for: a united-front of the working class to physically stop the fascists – something which the most conscious workers felt the need for but which was counterpoised to the reformist capitulations of the SPD leaders and which the zig-zagging KPD could not bring itself to fight for. Understanding that the pacifist SPD leaders would always resist and foot drag on such a strategy and that in the long-run fascism could not be defeated without breaking the rank and file supporters of the social democracy away from their sellout leaders and winning them to allegiance to the communist party – Trotsky (following the program of Lenin’s Bolsheviks) outlined that the basis of united front struggle is not only unity in action but complete political independence of the different components of such a front including full freedom to criticise each other’s programs.

Right now, Australia is not in immediate danger of a Hitler-style takeover. However, the growing fascist forces are already doing harm to workers’ unity and are already perpetrating and inciting the preliminary test-runs of the huge future pogroms that they would like to commit. We need united-front action of the working class right now to physically crush the fascists while they are still crawling out of their eggs.

And that is the point! To tell anti-racists to confine themselves to politely explaining what is wrong with racism in the face of a movement that perpetrates and incites violence is to disarm and damage the anti-racist struggle. It is following the road of the German social democratic leaders who in the lead up to Hitler’s seizure of power were saying that so long as the Nazis do not quit the ground of legality, there is no room for an on the streets fight to physically stop them! That is why as part of the struggle to build a working class-based mass movement to sweep the racist filth off the streets, those activists who understand the need for such a perspective must explain to other anti-fascists why a strategy of seeking to pressure the capitalist authorities to act against the right-wing extremists is, as history itself proves, inevitably doomed to fail.

In September 2010 racist police used the bogus pretext of a noise complaint to brutalise Aboriginal woman, Tisha Hickey, at the end of her own 21st birthday party. The violent police attack caused bruises and cuts to her leg, arms and abdomen. Tisha is a relative of TJ Hickey, the 17 year-old Aboriginal youth who was killed by racist police in Redfern in February 2004. Since TJ’s murder, police have used violence and harassment to persecute his family and relatives for their refusal to give up the fight for justice for TJ. The official violence of the police, detention centre guards and spy agencies emboldens the violent far-right racist groups.
In September 2010 racist police used the bogus pretext of a noise complaint to brutalise Aboriginal woman, Tisha Hickey, at the end of her own 21st birthday party. The violent police attack caused bruises and cuts to her leg, arms and abdomen. Tisha is a relative of TJ Hickey, the 17 year-old Aboriginal youth who was killed by racist police in Redfern in February 2004. Since TJ’s murder, police have used violence and harassment to persecute his family and relatives for their refusal to give up the fight for justice for TJ. The official violence of the police, detention centre guards and spy agencies emboldens the violent far-right racist groups.

 

 

 

 

 

SMASH THE CUTS TO SERVICES WORKING CLASS PEOPLE NEED THE MOST!

Above: China, May 2013: Prospective tenants visit a new public rental housing complex in Shanghai. In the first nine and a half months of 2015, socialistic China had started construction of almost 7 million public housing units. The Chinese government has planned for 18 million public housing dwellings to be built or rebuilt between 2015 and 2017.

STOP THE SELL-OFF OF PUBLIC HOUSING!
MASSIVELY INCREASE PUBLIC HOUSING JUST LIKE SOCIALISTIC CHINA IS DOING!

On 16 July 2015, a speakout rally was held in the multi-racial working class Sydney suburb of Auburn to oppose the cuts by governments of all stripes to public services. The protest was held under the slogans, Smash the Cuts to Services Working Class People Need the Most! Stop the Sell-Off Public Housing. Massively Increase Public Housing – Just Like China is Doing. No to Abbott’s Squeezing of Public Hospitals and Schools. Rollback the Former ALP Government’s Cut to the Sole Parent Payment.

The demonstration was held because the capitalist big-end of town and the governments that serve them are waging all-sided attacks on the services that working class people need the most. These attacks, alongside bosses’ cuts to workers’ conditions, are making life harder and harder for working class people. Whether we are employed workers, unemployed workers, single mothers, pensioners or students, we are all feeling the pinch.

One of the crucial public services that are under attack is public housing. We need public housing because the greedy private sector developers who determine what is built in the private sector know that they can make a lot more money building expensive homes for the wealthy rather than affordable homes for the masses.

Bulli, 11 October 2014: Members of the Illawara-based Public Housing Union and pro-public housing activists from Sydney – including Millers Point residents and Trotskyist Platform supporters – protest the sell-off of yet another public housing dwelling as yuppy real estate agents conducting the sale look on.
Bulli, 11 October 2014: Members of the Illawara-based Public Housing Union and pro-public housing activists from Sydney – including Millers Point residents and Trotskyist Platform supporters – protest the sell-off of yet another public housing dwelling as yuppy real estate agents conducting the sale look on.

So we need low-rent public housing to alleviate this situation. But what are governments doing? The very opposite! From Millers Point and the Rocks in the inner city to Auburn, Bonyrigg and Claymore in western and south-western Sydney to Bellambi and Wollongong in the Illawara, the authorities are selling off or demolishing public Continue reading SMASH THE CUTS TO SERVICES WORKING CLASS PEOPLE NEED THE MOST!

Defend Socialistic China Against Military Intimidation By Capitalist Powers

Down with Capitalist Australia’s Military Build Up!
U.S., Australian Militaries: Stay Out of the South China Sea!

26 February 2016 – In October 2015, the U.S. warship, the USS Lassen destroyer (pictured above) sailed through waters, not far from mainland China, that are claimed by the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) as its territorial waters. This provocative action in the South China Sea was fully backed by the right-wing Australian government and the ALP Opposition. Moreover, yesterday’s Defence White Paper released by the Turnbull government announced a massive military buildup for the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) which the White Paper could not hide was squarely targeted at China. The government “defence” plan announced that the ADF would have its troop numbers boosted to 62,400 in five years. That means that the Australian military as a percentage of the population will be over 60% larger than the PRC’s military which, in contrast, is in the process of reducing troop numbers by 15%.

The White Paper also announced the ADF’s massive expansion of military hardware including the acquisition of 12 new submarines, 9 warships, 12 patrol vessels, 75 joint strike fighters, two fleets of drones and additional helicopters for special forces troops. Excited by this announcement, racist former defence minister in the Abbott government, Kevin Andrews called for Australia to join the U.S. in sending warships into China’s claimed territorial waters in the South China Sea. Yet it is not only hardline right-wingers like Kevin Andrews who are demanding such aggressive actions. Months earlier, Labor shadow defence minister Stephen Conroy started demanding the same thing(5). Meanwhile, Liberal defence minister, Marise Payne yesterday refused to rule out the possibility that the Australian Navy may take such incendiary action in the future. Continue reading Defend Socialistic China Against Military Intimidation By Capitalist Powers

The Transition from Socialist Revolution to Communism

We call ourselves Communists. What is a Communist? Communist is a Latin word. Communis is the Latin for “common”. Communist society is a society in which all things – the land, the factories – are owned in common and the people work in common. That is communism. – V.I. Lenin, The Tasks of the Youth Leagues

The Transition from Socialist Revolution to Communism. On the Tasks of the Workers State in the Transition to Equality and Stateless Society

“Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge” Famous Russian Civil War poster. “Whites” was the name given to the capitalist-landlord forces that sought to overthrow the young Soviet workers state. By the great Soviet designer/artist El Lissitsky, this poster was made in the Byelorussian town of Vitebsk and flyposted on its streets in 1920 at the time of the threat of invasion by the forces of bourgeois and landlord Poland. A fusion of Bolshevism’s new communist politics and Kasimir Malevich’s equally new art movement of Suprematism, it became an almost mythical symbol in the revolutionary struggle, representing as it does the Reds, surrounded by light, stabbing the heart out of the old feudalist and capitalist world surrounded by darkness.
“Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge” Famous Russian Civil War poster. “Whites” was the name given to the capitalist-landlord forces that sought to overthrow the young Soviet workers state. By the great Soviet designer/artist El Lissitsky, this poster was made in the Byelorussian town of Vitebsk and flyposted on its streets in 1920 at the time of the threat of invasion by the forces of bourgeois and landlord Poland. A fusion of Bolshevism’s new communist politics and Kasimir Malevich’s equally new art movement of Suprematism, it became an almost mythical symbol in the revolutionary struggle, representing as it does the Reds, surrounded by light, stabbing the heart out of the old feudalist and capitalist world surrounded by darkness.

Greetings Comrades. In our socialist struggle we must prepare for the future struggle and the victory of our working class. The question of the state immediately arises and is of fundamental importance in determining our strategy. So what is the state? Marxist Leninists assert that, in essence, the state is an apparatus of repression serving the interests of whichever class it is that dominates – that is, rules over – society. This power – this state machine – that arises out of the ruling class’ need to oppress their rival class places itself above society and alienates itself more and more from it. [28]

Under capitalist rule, the ruling capitalist class has built up its mighty capitalist state machine – which at its core consists of the police, courts, prisons, legal institutions, army and other bureaucratic institutions – to preserve their class rule over the working class via oppressive means. Therefore, in order to even begin the task of moving towards an egalitarian communist society, the first step for the working class is to overthrow this oppressive capitalist state. If we are to then help guide humanity to communism, we as Marxist Leninists believe it is a fundamental strategic necessity to establish a workers’ state after this overthrow of capitalism.

But what is communism? Communist society is one where the toiling classes are completely liberated from the yoke of capital, where there is full equality, no classes and, thus, no need for an oppressive state at all. The capitalist system of poverty, unemployment, wars, racism, sexism and homophobia will be no more. People will receive according to their need and give according to their ability. Economic, productive and creative achievement would be at its utmost, fullest potential. There will be no government/ state to manage/administer the affairs of the community as the individuals that compose the masses will manage their own community affairs with a self-determined and community-motivated spirit and culture.

Most groups in the Marxist and anarchist Left tend to share this vision of a future communist society. However, there is a controversy between the different tendencies of the left about how we actually get to communism.

The three main left wing tendencies are the social democrats, the anarchists and the communists (Marxist Leninists). The social democrats, even those that truly believe in fighting for socialism, act on the premise that they can reform capitalism into socialism without overturning the current capitalist state structure. The social democrats deny needing to overthrow the current capitalist state.

In Australia the left wing of social democracy is made up of nominally far-left groups like Socialist Alliance, the Communist Party of Australia, Solidarity and Socialist Alternative. These groups claim adherence to Marxism and Leninism (and even sometimes claim to be revolutionary) but in their daily activities and stances on current political issues tend to promote illusions in the current capitalist state and, specifically, the illusion that pressure can be maintained upon the institutions of the capitalist state in order to successfully force them to play a more progressive role.

In contrast to the social democrats, the best of the anarchists of the Anarcho-Communist and Anarcho-Syndicalist perspective just like Marxist Leninists understand the need to overthrow the capitalist state to open the road to communism. Over the last few years in Sydney, Australia, Trotskyist Platform has been engaged in various united front campaigns with certain militant class- conscious anarchists (who too are quite varied). These campaigns have been various on the street struggles such as campaigns against racism and for public housing rights. We have found that some of these anarchists have been very dedicated to oppressed people’s struggles and often have been very courageous. Some of the most pro-working class and determined of the anarchists have been in the vanguard of organising important anti-racist actions such as the recent anti-fascist action in Cronulla on the 10th anniversary of the horrific white supremacist riot there. Notably, both communists and the best of the anarchists share ideals of a stateless, classless, egalitarian society; we have the same ideological determination to oppose class and racial oppression, capitalism, poverty, unemployment and homelessness; we share the same hatred of the bourgeois exploiters, of the capitalist state institutions and of the far-right enemies of the working class. However, on the practical and strategic questions of how we achieve revolution and then defend it, Leninists and even the most left-wing and pro-working class of the anarchists fundamentally differ.

In the fight for the revolution Leninists insist that we need to establish a revolutionary workers’ party to bring revolutionary consciousness to the masses and lead the revolutionary struggle to a successful conclusion. Anarchists reject the idea of the workers party. Leninists also insist that after the revolution we require a workers’ state which, in the interests of the working class, will defend the revolution and facilitate the progress to communism. However, the anarchists outright reject the need for a workers’ state or a party to lead the transition from a workers’ revolution to communism. They, unfortunately and quite falsely, believe it is possible to skip to a stateless society immediately after the overturn of capitalist rule.

A Young Revolutionary Society

 

“Women Workers, Take Up Your Rifles” declares a poster from the early days of the Russian Civil War, circa 1918, calling upon working class women to join the fight against the increasingly foreign-armed enemies of the workers’ and peasants’ revolution in Russia.
“Women Workers, Take Up Your Rifles” declares a poster from the early days of the Russian Civil War, circa 1918, calling upon working class women to join the fight against the increasingly foreign-armed enemies of the workers’ and peasants’ revolution in Russia.

After the workers’ revolution, the working class will now be the new authority and power. The capitalist state– that machine designed to keep the masses down and the rich in power – will have been thoroughly dismantled and the exploiters heavily defeated. It will be the birth of a new world. But is this the end of the struggle? Do we just lay down our guard and declare that communism has been achieved? Or will we – somewhat more realistically – say that, though it is still distant, communism will eventually and inevitably be achieved without the need for a new workers’ state to ensure its progress? Many anarchists do believe this to be the case. Furthermore, can we actually wipe out the power of the capitalists – built up over many centuries – in one go? Especially when, after the socialist revolution, the capitalist rulers still in power around the world would fight tooth and nail to help their deposed capitalist brethren destroy the newly established authority of the revolution? Can we abolish the hundreds of years of capitalist thinking and cultural conditioning overnight? To all these questions, Leninists say “No” and we will explain why below.

Economic Control

The biggest triumph of the workers’ revolution will be the seizure of workplaces, factories, infrastructure, housing and land from the control of the capitalists. Indeed, this is both the beginning and the end of the revolution as more and more of the economy – starting with, most importantly, its commanding heights – becomes collectivised. We must make sure that the means of production – the engine house of any society – are run by the workers and the workers’ councils.

However, this task of seizing the means of production will be resisted not only by the capitalists but also by some petit bourgeois and reactionary layers (which could include small businessmen, supervisors, managers and some of the highly paid technical workers as well as former cops, spies and military officers who would have spent their whole adult life defending capitalist rule) and even some ordinary workers who are still close to the bosses. Therefore, the task of collectivisation cannot simply be performed by the self-activity of the entire people (even the entire non-capitalist people). It will need to be performed by the defence organs of the revolutionary workers – that is, by a workers’ state.

Dealing with the Capitalist Class and Counter Revolution

After the October 1917 workers’ revolution in Russia, the deposed capitalists and world capitalist powers joined together to organise a bloody civil war to attempt to overthrow the new socialist-based system. Right: Officers from Western imperialist powers meet with representatives of counter-revolutionary Russian leader Alexander Kolchak.
After the October 1917 workers’ revolution in Russia, the deposed capitalists and world capitalist powers joined together to organise a bloody civil war to attempt to overthrow the new socialist-based system. Right: Officers from Western imperialist powers meet with representatives of counter-revolutionary Russian leader Alexander Kolchak.

 

March 1920. Troops from the counter-revolutionary Russian White Army march forward.
March 1920. Troops from the counter-revolutionary Russian White Army march forward.

We must be on high alert after the workers’ revolution for the former exploiters will still have plenty of money, the networks, the connections, the knowledge and the expertise to inflict harm upon the fledgling, socialist society. We can have no doubt about it: these vestiges of the former ruling capitalist class will agitate for a counter-revolution.

It is exactly for this reason that, immediately after the revolution and defeat of the reactionaries, it is paramount that we are ready to defend the revolution. Precisely because they cannot exploit the working class like they used to, the layer of extremely wealthy bourgeoisie, though bruised and dispossessed of a large part of their wealth, will be itching for counter-revolution. Because the bourgeoisie internationally are very well connected the threat may very well come from abroad. Back at home, the more right wing of the middle classes, wedded as they are to the very idea of private property, as well as many of the former henchmen of the capitalists – including both the armed personnel of the former capitalist state’s police and military organs and the capitalists’ former workplace enforcers (i.e. higher up managers and foremen) – will also be seeking ways to undermine the revolution at every turn. This is why the working class must build a workers’ state to defend the revolution and suppress a resurgent and desperate capitalist class along with all of its reactionary allies.

Red Army women snipers during the Soviet Union’s struggle to defeat capitalist Nazi Germany’s invasion during World War II. It is completely unrealistic that a victorious workers’ revolution will be able to immediately build a socialist society without constructing a workers’ state to defend the toiling masses’ conquests against the deposed capitalists seeking to restore their rule and against international capitalist powers determined to destroy any example of a socialist society.
Red Army women snipers during the Soviet Union’s struggle to defeat capitalist Nazi Germany’s invasion during World War II. It is completely unrealistic that a victorious workers’ revolution will be able to immediately build a socialist society without constructing a workers’ state to defend the toiling masses’ conquests against the deposed capitalists seeking to restore their rule and against international capitalist powers determined to destroy any example of a socialist society.
From the time that they overturned capitalist rule in the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Soviet working class had to mobilise the forces of armed power to defend their liberation. In this picture, founder of the Soviet Red Army, Leon Trotsky, motivates troops in 1918 during the bloody Civil War against insurgent armies attempting to restore capitalist power.
From the time that they overturned capitalist rule in the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Soviet working class had to mobilise the forces of armed power to defend their liberation.
In this picture, founder of the Soviet Red Army, Leon Trotsky, motivates troops in 1918 during the bloody Civil War against insurgent armies attempting to restore capitalist power.

The very idea of a socialist or workers’ state often comes as a shock to many left-liberals, pacifists and anarchists. Understandably, the word “state” has negative connotations in the context of feudal and capitalist societies. The anarchists are right to regard the state in this present capitalist society as an oppressive bureaucracy and authority that brutally crushes the First Nations people, attacks striking and picketing workers and sponsors troops to fight ruthless capitalist wars abroad. It is absolutely natural that a proletarian or oppressed or exploited person has a healthy hatred of the state and authority in today’s capitalist society. However, the future workers’ state will embody the living, fighting force of the formerly oppressed and exploited masses and will, inherently, act in a way that is diametrically opposed to the actions of a state set up to serve a rich, capitalist and exploiting ruling class.

We ask the anarchists or the left-liberals: which class will be administering the workers’ state? For whose benefit will the workers’ state operate? The proletarian majority or the bourgeois minority? In fact, the socialist workers’ state will be nothing like the current capitalist state that we know all too well. In place of arresting picketers and strikers, harassing homeless people, kicking out single mothers who are behind on their rent or oppressing minorities the workers’ state will, instead, crush racists and ban hate speech, massively increase public housing, further advance the seizure of empty dwellings owned by the wealthy so that they can be used to house the homeless and needy, organise the economy to ensure full employment and, most importantly, continue socialising and collectivising the means of production. In other words, the working class will be dictating to the overthrown capitalists and their allies via the power of the workers’ state. We do not recoil from this word: the workers’ state will, indeed, be a dictatorship of the proletariat. It will be the liberator of the toiling and oppressed classes and become the primary means of defending the working class from counter-revolution, the conspiracies of the bourgeoisie and all the influence that they can still muster both at home and overseas. Perhaps most importantly of all, it will also serve to facilitate the masses’ march towards communism.

 

1966: A Vietnamese communist woman fighter marches a captured American airman through the jungle during the Vietnam war.
1966: A Vietnamese communist woman fighter marches a captured American airman through the jungle during the Vietnam war.
2014: Women soldiers in the army of the Vietnamese workers state in training. The founding personnel, traditions and culture of the Vietnamese workers state’s organs were, like those of the other workers states in China, Cuba, North Korea and Laos, formed during the heroic liberation struggle against capitalism and imperialism. An important part of these new traditions and culture included placing women’s role in society at a much higher level than where it had been during pre-revolutionary times.
2014: Women soldiers in the army of the Vietnamese workers state in training. The founding personnel, traditions and culture of the Vietnamese workers state’s organs were, like those of the other workers states in China, Cuba, North Korea and Laos, formed during the heroic liberation struggle against capitalism and imperialism. An important part of these new traditions and culture included placing women’s role in society at a much higher level than where it had been during pre-revolutionary times.

For World Socialist Revolution

When a workers’ revolution is victorious in one country, attention must soon turn to fellow workers in other lands who may not be as fortunate. They will still be suffering under the capitalist yoke or undergoing the struggle to overturn capitalism. We should, therefore, ensure that we support other socialist revolutions around the globe. The very act of defending the revolution at home will be viewed by the international bourgeoisie as an act of aggression against world capitalism and quite rightly so! Hand in hand with defence – in fact, its very corollary – is the possibility of the workers’ state engaging in strategic offensive campaigns.

When supporting international revolution, we will need to demonstrate the utmost respect for the plight and the national aspirations of peoples abroad in order not to frighten the workers of these other nations – especially if they are already living under colonial or neo-colonial oppression – into thinking that we are yet another exploitative or oppressive force. Our main means of solidarity support to struggles overseas will be propaganda and an ideological internationalist perspective. But we must not discount direct military support of international revolutions via volunteer and professional armies where required to assist the liberation of fellow working class people when they are in the midst of direct revolutionary combat with their capitalist enemies. We need a workers’ army and a workers’ state not only for the immediate defence of the revolution at home but also to assist revolutions abroad. This is not only in line with our communist ideals of internationalism but, also, essential in guaranteeing the defence of the revolution at home.

The Middle Class Masses: Friends or Foes?

Fighting to support socialist revolutions abroad can be complicated. And the fight to stop the inevitable counter-revolutionary efforts of the overthrown capitalists will be a difficult task. Nevertheless, the methods and strategies required for these tasks are quite clear cut. A much more complicated and nuanced task will be integrating the far more numerous petit bourgeoisie – the so-called middle classes – into the new socialist society. What Marxists refer to as the petit (or petty) bourgeoise is that class of the population who are generally neither exploiters of labour nor wage workers directly exploited by capitalist business owners. Included in this intermediate class are self- employed plumbers, electricians, gardeners, farmers, artists and craftspeople and self-employed grocery, small restaurant, repair shop and hairdresser owners as well as doctors, dentists, accountants and other consultants of various types with their own private practice. Their income may range from that of the very poor to that of the very comfortably well-off. Although not enduring direct exploitation of their labour by capitalists, some of these petit bourgeois layers, to a greater or lesser extent, suffer under the capitalist system – from bullying by the banks, from brutal competition with big monopolies, from the greed of big landlords and the wild economic swings and chaos of the capitalist “free market.” On the other hand, their means of deriving an income induces many petit bourgeois people to have a capitalistic and individualistic mentality. Many dream of turning their small, self-employed businesses into bigger businesses that hire and fire exploited labour. That is, they dream of becoming capitalists. Hence, the petit bourgeoisie, both as a class and as individuals, can swing wildly between the two poles of supporting the working class and supporting capitalism. Historically, the proletariat in significant part arose from the dispossessed members of this class who – out of the pure needs of survival – gathered around the lathe and anvil, the loom and production line of modern industry to form a new, proud and powerful class – the proletariat – whose destiny is, indeed, to usher in communism. [29] During the struggle against capitalist rule, the Marxist strategy is to seek to win over as many of the petit bourgeois to the side of the working class and the struggle for workers’ revolution as possible. We will, in particular, appeal to the poorest and most oppressed sections of the petit bourgeoisie while ensuring that their capitalistic and individualistic tendencies do not infect the revolutionary workers or divert them from their ultimate goal of a society based on common ownership of the means of production.

After the socialist revolution, the ruling working class will seek to maintain the support of those sections of the petit bourgeoisie that did support or, at least, accept the revolution. On the other hand, there will also be some sections of the petit bourgeoisie who will fanatically oppose the revolution, all because of their devotion to private enterprise and their personal closeness to – and even fawning worship of – the big time capitalists. Therefore, after the workers’ revolution, the counter-revolutionary efforts of these middle class layers will need to be stopped. Furthermore, to the extent that they remain self-employed people engaged in private enterprise and not employees of socialist public enterprises, even many of those petit bourgeois people who accept and even support the revolution will still be infused with a selfish, hustler-type mentality.

This outlook, though essential to surviving the cut and thrust of the daily dog eat dog environment of a capitalist economy, becomes outright dangerous to the unity of a collective economy run for everyone’s mutual benefit in a society where trust between and kindness towards one’s fellow workers is of paramount and vital importance. The petit bourgeoisie’s support for the revolution needs to be nurtured and any positive qualities individual members of this intermediary class may possess should be harnessed for the good of the new socialist society. But any tendency towards harmful profiteering, hoarding and speculating from petty bourgeois business people will need to be put under the watchful eye of the revolutionary society and, if necessary, firmly stopped in its tracks. If not checked in time, such dubious economic activity will inevitably corrode the socialist economic sector.

The socialist revolution itself will win many petit bourgeois individuals to a more collectivist, community-minded outlook and later so will the emerging socialist culture of the new revolutionary society. However, as long as those who were petit bourgeois before the revolution remain self-employed business owners afterwards, their economic reality will still push many of them back towards an individualistic, hustler-type view of the world and social relations. This problem is all the more significant because, while the workers’ revolution will forcibly seize and collectivise the means of production owned by the big capitalists, it will not forcibly collectivise the business owned by petit bourgeois self-employed people and may not even forcibly nationalise all the business owned by the smallest of the capitalists. This is not for any moral reason or principle – far from it. Rather it is to avoid a massive revolt that could threaten the hard- won revolution. Unlike the relatively few big capitalists, the smallest-scale capitalist exploiters together with the petit bourgeoise make up a relatively large proportion of the population – in Australia a bit less than 25% of the entire workforce. [30] Therefore, a young revolutionary society will consist of not only masses of revolutionary workers and a tiny number of overthrown big capitalists as well as a small number of their former state and workplace henchmen but also a large number of petit bourgeois individuals, some sympathetic, some hostile to the revolution but most still infected with an attachment to private profiteering and all the social backwardness that this brings (though there will, of course, be some petit bourgeois people who will be able to completely turn their backs on their old outlook and the best of these will even become valuable members of the revolutionary workers’ party).

This existence of a large petit bourgeois layer in a young revolutionary workers’ society was a major difficulty that the Soviet Union faced in the first decades after the October 1917 Russian Revolution. At the time of the 1917 Revolution, Russia was a backward, mainly agricultural society which, thus, had a relatively small proportion of wage workers and a larger number of self-employed peasant farmers. The peasants were, in fact, largely sympathetic to the workers–led revolution because it freed them from the burden of having to pay a large proportion of their income/produce as rent to greedy big landowners. However, at the same time, the relatively better off peasants in particular had a strong attachment to private ownership of productive land and were infused with a profiteering, individualistic outlook.

Ultimately, the petit bourgeoise can only be fully integrated into a socialist society through their gradual evolution into proud employees of socially-owned enterprises – that is, by turning them into proletarians. This will be achieved through a variety of pathways. The society will offer incentives to small self-employed producers – like cheaper credit and free equipment – to amalgamate into bigger and bigger cooperatives and eventually into large scale collectives. In other cases, large, efficient state-owned enterprises will compete with the petit bourgeois small producers while at the same time offering good wages and guaranteed and generous leave entitlements (something that many of the struggling petit bourgeois shopkeepers currently do without) to entice individual producers into becoming employees of these enterprises. The publicly owned enterprises may also offer special incentives for self- employed rivals to sell off their equipment to the public enterprises, abandon their businesses and become well-paid employees of a socialist enterprise instead.

In dealing with small-scale capitalist exploiters of labour – as opposed to those who are strictly petit bourgeois and use no hired labour at all – the revolutionary workers’ society will have to use other means at its disposal to make it ultimately more profitable for these people to abandon their businesses and, hopefully, themselves move into well-paid jobs in the socialist sector instead. Today, these small-scale capitalists often exploit their workers with even more ruthlessness than the large scale capitalist monopolies do. After the revolution they will be forced to improve the wages and conditions of their employees and this would gradually drive down their profits. In part, the wages and conditions of their workers would be improved via workers’ state law and regulations. More importantly, their employees would, as the collectivised economic sector develops, be able to find jobs with much better pay and conditions in the socialist sector. This last factor will force the small-scale capitalists to either improve their workers’ own conditions or, as is inevitable in the long-run, be themselves swept up in the tide towards the socialist economy.

Although the above carrot and stick measures would entice many petit bourgeois people to happily move into the socialist economic sector, some would be mildly or deeply resentful at being economically compelled to move away from self-ownership of their businesses. Similarly, some amongst the petit bourgeoisie, while being grateful to the revolution for freeing them from the tyranny of capitalist banks, monopolies and big landlords would be unhappy at moves to curb any profiteering/hoarding/speculative practices on their part. Therefore, all these tasks related to guiding the petit bourgeoisie with a firm but sympathetic hand cannot simply be carried out by the self-activity of the entire population as the petit bourgeoisie, themselves, compose a significant proportion of that population. The job of guiding the petit bourgeoisie will, thus, need to be carried out by a state dominated by the active working class. To be sure, a workers’ state would gradually draw in more and more of the petit bourgeois masses into the administration of the state. However, the petit bourgeois class would not have the same representation in the soviet councils as the working class, not until the petit bourgeois individuals, as they are gradually integrated into the collectivised socialist economy, themselves become active constituents of the proletarian ruling class.

 

Proletarian Democracy

Meeting in Petrograd of the Third All Russia Congress of the Soviets in January 1918 – two and a half months after the Russian Revolution. The Soviet Congress was the highest body of the workers state. It consisted of delegates of workers – and also peasants and soldiers – elected by local grassroots soviets in which the active masses exercised direct political power. The early years after the Russian Revolution saw the workers state administered through this system based on proletarian democracy. Although the system of soviet democracy was strangled by the subsequent bureaucratic degeneration of the USSR, the USSR remained a workers state until it was destroyed by capitalist counterrevolution in 1991-92.
Meeting in Petrograd of the Third All Russia Congress of the Soviets in January 1918 – two and a half months after the Russian Revolution. The Soviet Congress was the highest body of the workers state. It consisted of delegates of workers – and also peasants and soldiers – elected by local grassroots soviets in which the active masses exercised direct political power. The early years after the Russian Revolution saw the workers state administered through this system based on proletarian democracy. Although the system of soviet democracy was strangled by the subsequent bureaucratic degeneration of the USSR, the USSR remained a workers state until it was destroyed by capitalist counterrevolution in 1991-92.

The proletarian state will be a million times more progressive than the previous capitalist state where only the exploiting few were really represented and the vast majority were simply ruled over. For the first time there will be a state serving the interests of the majority – working class people – not the interests of a tiny few exploiters. Since it will be a state serving the majority of people, a workers’ state will be far less alienated from society as a whole than a capitalist state is.

The revolutionary workers will be directly administering their state via workers’ soviets – which in Australia, Aboriginal workers and Aboriginal activists are destined to play a prominent role in from the get go. These soviets will from the time of their formation prior to the revolution, include not only workers but the most downtrodden layers of the non-worker masses – including the unemployed and low-income single mothers. Over time, the soviets will draw in wider layers of the masses (such as students, pensioners and certain layers of the petty bourgeoisie who have been won over to communist ideals). These workers’ councils or soviets – bodies of organised workers elected democratically – will be the primary voices determining the tasks of the workers’ state. In a workers’ state, with the key productive centres of capitalism having been taken over by the working masses, the industries and lands that were once run at the behest and for the profit of the rich bourgeoisie will now be under the control of the proletariat and will serve the interests of all of the formerly oppressed sections of society. This is, in essence, the nature of proletarian democracy. For communists, our democracy is about engaging the masses in direct participation of political administration starting from the workplaces. This is not so much a “grassroots” approach as an entire branch, trunk and roots engagement of the working people in the running of their society. This is in complete contradiction to the way capitalist “democracy” works in a capitalist state where every few years a handful of officials, predictably drawn from the same bourgeois political class, are elected to administer the state and regulate the capitalist economy and whose number one job it is to grease the wheels of capital – a truth that is at best ignored and at worst deceitfully covered up by the social democrats.

Combating Capitalist Ideology

One of the biggest problems facing a newly formed socialist society and its goal of successfully operating a system based on proletarian democracy is that we begin our long, happy march towards communism handicapped by a certain cultural deficit. For centuries the masses have been subjected to capitalist modes of thinking: a middle class type of profiteering, hoarding, speculating and exploiting mentality. In addition, backward, reactionary and divisive religious and nationalist ideologies flourish in competitive man-vs-man capitalist societies. These backward ideologies are also consciously promoted by the exploiters to divide and divert the masses from proletarian consciousness. After hundreds of years of feudalist and capitalist thinking pervading our culture, philosophy and even our language itself, one of the major tasks of the new socialist society will be to culturally uplift society. The vanguard of the victorious working class will need to gradually nurture and promote a collectivist spirit and internationalist perspective. For, although the consciousness of the masses would have necessarily surged forward during the revolution (or else there would have been no revolution to speak of!) there will, indeed, still be many people stuck in a very backward mindset.

 

August 2008, Beijing: Plainclothes Chinese police drag away the leader of the American-based Christian Defence Coalition, Reverend Patrick Mahoney, as he leads a rally of American bigots opposed to abortion rights in China. After arresting the hardline right-wing activists, the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) police let them go. Good job, PRC workers state police – but maybe next time let these scum rot in jail for a while! The Christian Defence Coalition is an ultra-right wing Christian fundamentalist group specialising in extreme anti-abortion activities, homophobia and opposition to contraception. Mahoney had previously been a co-founder of the militant, anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue, whose members were involved in several terrorist attacks on women seeking abortion in the U.S. and doctors providing the service.
August 2008, Beijing: Plainclothes Chinese police drag away the leader of the American-based Christian Defence Coalition, Reverend Patrick Mahoney, as he leads a rally of American bigots opposed to abortion rights in China. After arresting the hardline right-wing activists, the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) police let them go. Good job, PRC workers state police – but maybe next time let these scum rot in jail for a while! The Christian Defence Coalition is an ultra-right wing Christian fundamentalist group specialising in extreme anti-abortion activities, homophobia and opposition to contraception. Mahoney had previously been a co-founder of the militant, anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue, whose members were involved in several terrorist attacks on women seeking abortion in the U.S. and doctors providing the service.
Groups like Operation Rescue and the Christian Democratic Coalition either openly celebrated the murder of abortion-providing doctor, George Tiller, or otherwise disgustingly conducted activities to brand Dr Tiller as a mass murderer on his own funeral day. The brave doctor was shot dead in May 2009 in Kansas, U.S.A by a Christian terrorist linked to Operation Rescue. Already facing the intense military, economic and political pressure of the capitalist powers, the socialistic PRC does not need to have to put up with intrusion from the ultra-right wing of imperialism represented by the likes of the Christian Democratic Coalition and Operation Rescue.
Groups like Operation Rescue and the Christian Democratic Coalition either openly celebrated the murder of abortion-providing doctor, George Tiller, or otherwise disgustingly conducted activities to brand Dr Tiller as a mass murderer on his own funeral day. The brave doctor was shot dead in May 2009 in Kansas, U.S.A by a Christian terrorist linked to Operation Rescue.
Already facing the intense military, economic and political pressure of the capitalist powers, the socialistic PRC does not need to have to put up with intrusion from the ultra-right wing of imperialism represented by the likes of the Christian Democratic Coalition and Operation Rescue.

Through the fundamental process of the socialisation of the land and industries in the new society and with more and more people engaged in truly productive and rewarding collective labour, a new communist culture will, of course, naturally begin to form in its embryonic state amongst the masses. In this way, an economic system based on collective ownership and production for the common good becomes the very springboard for creating a new communist society.

However, we quickly come to a chicken or egg type of conundrum as the successful operation of collectivised industries itself requires the existence of a collectivised spirit amongst the workers. If we had a small team operating in a collectivised enterprise and individualistic ways persisted in the workplace then this would greatly undermine operational productivity, efficiency and workplace cohesion. Therefore, the new society will need to consciously promote and propagate a collectivist spirit in the masses.

With significant layers still infected with the old capitalist ways of thinking, the population as a whole (and not even the entire non- capitalist population) will not be able to automatically carry out this important job of instilling in themselves and in society in general an effective, genuine and steadfast communist spirit. It will take a state under the control of the conscious layers of the working masses – that is, the revolutionary workers and especially the millions who actively participated in the revolution – to bring all the masses up to communist consciousness. By conducting education within the workplace and schools and through guiding the production of a progressive media and cultural space, the workers’ state will be able to encourage the masses to turn away from the ages old and cynical, individualistic dog eat dog mentality toward a friendly, sisterly and brotherly collectivist spirit that is truly fit for a communist future.

Role of the Party

Bringing the masses to communist consciousness cannot be done without a revolutionary workers’ party. For, although the workers state will be directly administered by workers’ councils of millions upon millions of revolutionary workers, all these workers will necessarily have differing levels of consciousness. We need a party that is based upon the most politically energetic and forward thinking layers of the working class. This party will be the source and inspiration for the pursuit of truth and knowledge without which the working class masses who are administering their state will be truly rudderless. Such a party – composed of the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat – will have the job of guiding the workers and bringing the masses to the most correct theoretical understanding.

After the revolution, the task of the party is to partake in revolutionary cultural education of the masses, unify the working class in industries to further economic building and organise the masses to both defend the revolution at home and carry on the fight for socialism internationally. The party must also build a communist consensus and carry out education and discussion around the new socialist society, all the while overcoming individualistic mentality in production.

The Problem of Production During the Transition Period

As well as defending the revolution and fighting to spread it internationally, guiding the petit bourgeoisie and combating capitalist ideology, a key challenge for the new society will be the need to increase production.

February 2015: NSW Police raid homeless residents camping under a viaduct in Sydney’s Wentworth Park. Police cruelly confiscated most of the homeless people’s posessions – including tents. In capitalist Australia, the police and other state organs target the most impoverished and exploited layers of the population as well as discriminated against ethnic groups. Aboriginal people in capitalist Australia are incarcerated at a rate that’s 13 times that of non-Aboriginal people, while Vietnamese and Afghan-origin people also suffer high rates of imprisonment. In contrast, the Chinese workers state’s institutions are toughest on the very rich. Chinese rich lists published by the Hurun magazine are often referred to in China as “fat pig killing lists” for those who appear on the list become targets of outrage from a population and media that hate the greedy tycoons – often prompting the Chinese authorities to investigate these capitalist exploiters. Attempting to downplay the frequent jailing of
February 2015: NSW Police raid homeless residents camping under a viaduct in Sydney’s Wentworth Park. Police cruelly confiscated most of the homeless people’s posessions – including tents. In capitalist Australia, the police and other state organs target the most impoverished and exploited layers of the population as well as discriminated against ethnic groups. Aboriginal people in capitalist Australia are incarcerated at a rate that’s 13 times that of non-Aboriginal people, while Vietnamese and Afghan-origin people also suffer high rates of imprisonment. In contrast, the Chinese workers state’s institutions are toughest on the very rich. Chinese rich lists published by the Hurun magazine are often referred to in China as “fat pig killing lists” for those who appear on the list become targets of outrage from a population and media that hate the greedy tycoons – often prompting the Chinese authorities to investigate these capitalist exploiters. Attempting to downplay the frequent jailing of capitalists soon after they feature in its magazine, Hurun has claimed that “only” 35 of the 3,000 people who have appeared on its rich lists over the last 17 years have been jailed or executed. Yet even this figure represents a rate that is nearly ten times that of the rest of the population. An independent academic study actually found that 17% of the “entrpreneurs” who appeared on China’s rich lists between 1999 and 2007 have been either jailed, investigated or executed, even though China’s overall rate of imprisonment rate is 40% lower than Australia’s and nearly six times lower than the U.S.

Higher production assists in reducing scarcity and petty human-vs-human squabbles. As long as such squabbles exist, the unity required for a communist society cannot be built. Higher economic development also increases the wellbeing, luxury, and convenience of the masses. Crucially, it also helps in securing our revolution. If still existing capitalist countries outperform the socialist state this may lead them to being able to militarily or economically undermine the revolution.

Wentworth Park 2Will the masses rise to the productive tasks required to improve the lives of the community in the new revolutionary society? Under capitalism it is typically only the technical and middle class layers who are motivated to be innovative in production as they hope this will help them climb up the capitalist ladder. For working class people under capitalism the main driving force that makes people productive in their jobs is the fear of sackings by the greedy capitalists which will leave them without a means of survival. How will the masses be motivated to be productive in a socialist society where they are guaranteed jobs and a decent livelihood?

Some people will be motivated to produce purely out of a sense of responsibility to serve the community. These will be people with a socialist ideological and working class consciousness. However, others without this same level of consciousness will require some level of material incentives to spur production. Practical examples of such incentives include extra wages for individuals who work longer hours and higher wages for people to join particular skilled professions where there may be staffing shortages due to work being, for example, more dangerous or because there are currently too few trained professionals in that particular field.

So, in this transition period between workers’ revolution and communism, there will be some inequality between different workers. Of course, this inequality is nothing like under capitalism where the main inequality is not between different workers but between all the workers and the capitalist exploiters of workers. Nevertheless, some people in the new, revolutionary society will object to even a limited degree of inequality for, after all, the revolution was made partly in the name of equality. Therefore, it will take a state – a workers’ state run by the revolutionary workers – to administer and control this unfortunate albeit socially necessary and transitory inequality.

May 2015: Billionaire real estate mogul, Wáng Ming-húa, is arrested by Chinese police for killing giant panda for their fur. In a massive raid, over three hundred members of the Peoples Armed Police raided the property mogul’s home looking for evidence.
May 2015: Billionaire real estate mogul, Wáng Ming-húa, is arrested by Chinese police for killing giant panda for their fur. In a massive raid, over three hundred members of the Peoples Armed Police raided the property mogul’s home looking for evidence.

We should, however, not be naïve. Even transitory inequality can be dangerous to a revolutionary society. For one, it could give the better paid workers a taste of privilege and thereby encourage in them capitalist restorationist tendencies. It is also potentially corrupting for the workers’ state to be defending inequality at all. Therefore, the party must play a key role in explaining to the masses the complex tasks of production in the post-revolutionary society and the vigilance required to be on guard against capitalist restoration. The workers’ party must also make extra efforts to unify the masses to ensure that the inevitable degree of division that economic inequality between workers brings is minimised as much as is possible. Furthermore, the more inequality there is in this transitory period, the more the workers’ state must be vigilant to crush signs of any capitalist restorationist tendencies.

November 2015: Xu Xiang, a billionaire owner of an investment firm, dubbed by the Western media as “China’s Warren Buffet” is arrested by Red China’s police for economic crimes. Chinese police blocked a 35 kilometre bridge for half an hour to facilitate the operation against the greedy hedge fund/private equity operator.
November 2015: Xu Xiang, a billionaire owner of an investment firm, dubbed by the Western media as “China’s Warren Buffet” is arrested by Red China’s police for economic crimes. Chinese police blocked a 35 kilometre bridge for half an hour to facilitate the operation against the greedy hedge fund/private equity operator.

As the socialist system enables more and more of the masses to upgrade their skills, and with workers now knowing that their labour and innovative ideas will be used for their own good as well as their comrades’ (rather than under capitalism where all their efforts only serve to help their capitalist exploiters get even richer) work itself will become more rewarding and pleasurable. Soon a more advanced communist society will start to remove individualistic tendencies and replace them with a communist motivated spirit where workers are proud that their labour is used to serve the community.

This then helps pave the way for the workers’ state itself to wither away as society marches towards communism.

Withering Away of the Workers State

Humanity will awaken to a new future after the socialist revolution.

The backwardness of society that has existed for over a thousand years will start to be radically challenged. But the progress to communism is not an instant task. Communism and the stateless society will need to be facilitated by the workers’ state and workers’ democratic authority.

What will be the conditions that facilitate the workers’ state to actually wither away (because there ceases to be a need for one) and a fully communist society – where there is no state – to emerge?

Firstly, not only must the resistance of the overthrown capitalists be totally defeated to the extent that they no longer attempt to undermine the revolutionary society but there must also be no threat from capitalist restorationist forces from abroad. This, in turn, presupposes that capitalist rule has been overthrown in all the richest and most powerful countries of the world.

Secondly, class differences will need to be eradicated and full equality based on abundance for all will need to be achieved to the extent that we can have the realisation of the ideal: “From each according to her ability, to each according to her need”. Achieving this ideal implies that there is growing collective wealth and that resources are so well allocated that the full productive and creative potential of individuals can be harnessed. When class differences and scarcity are eradicated then the state can wither away because there is no longer a class that needs to be suppressed.

To fully reach the stage of communism, the inequality that exists between workers in the manual work and the technical realm must also be overcome. In capitalist society, the manual workers often get lower pay and have less opportunities but with socialist rule and development, this inequality and isolation will be gradually removed through massively expanding training and education opportunities for the masses. Everyone will then, in communism, become a highly skilled technical or artistic worker while each and every worker will also do an equal share of the more monotonous and tiring tasks (the number of which will continue to be drastically reduced due to advancing technological and scientific innovations which, under communism, will benefit all workers).

Another essential requirement for reaching communism will be that the old bourgeois traditions be fully eliminated. This will allow Communism to be realised where individuals that compose the masses manage their own community affairs with a self-determined community motivated spirit and culture without the need for a guiding workers’ state.

Social democrats and other ignorant apologists for the capitalists don’t realise that the capitalist state is an oppressive and freedom-killing institution. The workers’ state is the opposite. It does, in fact, calls for its own dissolution but only at that point in time when it has succeeded in helping rid society of backward capitalist traditions and in engaging all the masses in the administration of society to such an extent there is no one left to administer. The role of the councils and the community bodies will then pass over from the administration of people to the administration of things.

This will be the ultimate stage of communist society. It is a future worth fighting for. Workers of the world unite!

November 2011, Workers at the Baida poultry plant in Laverton, Victoria on the picket line during a two-week long strike for job security and against bullying bosses.
November 2011, Workers at the Baida poultry plant in Laverton, Victoria on the picket line during a two-week long strike for job security and against bullying bosses.
Baida workers at a picnic to celebrate their victorious struggle. Even today, when workers are in collective struggle, petty rivalries and jealousies and the racial and sexual divisions and oppressions created by capitalist society are to a degree mitigated. This points to how a future communist society will allow all people to live in very warm and happy friendship with each other in a society without oppression or exploitation – and, hence, no need for a state.
Baida workers at a picnic to celebrate their victorious struggle. Even today, when workers are in collective struggle, petty rivalries and jealousies and the racial and sexual divisions and oppressions created by capitalist society are to a degree mitigated. This points to how a future communist society will allow all people to live in very warm and happy friendship with each other in a society without oppression or exploitation – and, hence, no need for a state.

Footnotes:

28.

Lenin writes in The State:

But there was a time when there was no state, when general ties, the community itself, discipline and the ordering of work were maintained by force of custom and tradition, by the authority or the respect enjoyed by the elders of the clan or by women—who in those times not only frequently enjoyed a status equal to that of men, but not infrequently enjoyed an even higher status—and when there was no special category of persons who were specialists in ruling. History shows that the state as a special apparatus for coercing people arose wherever and whenever there appeared a division of society into classes, that is, a division into groups of people some of which were permanently in a position to appropriate the labour of others, where some people exploited others.

“And this division of society into classes must always be clearly borne in mind as a fundamental fact of history. The development of all human societies for thousands of years, in all countries without exception, reveals a general conformity to law, a regularity and consistency; so that at first we had a society without classes—the original patriarchal, primitive society, in which there were no aristocrats; then we had a society based on slavery—a slaveowning society. The whole of modern, civilised Europe has passed through this stage—slavery ruled supreme two thousand years ago. The vast majority of peoples of the other parts of the world also passed through this stage. Traces of slavery survive to this day among the less developed peoples; you will find the institution of slavery in Africa, for example, at the present time. The division into slaveowners and slaves was the first important class division. The former group not only owned all the means of production—the land and the implements, however poor and primitive they may have been in those times—but also owned people. This group was known as slave-owners, while those who laboured and supplied labour for others were known as slaves.

This form was followed in history by another—feudalism. In the great majority of countries slavery in the course of its development evolved into serfdom. The fundamental division of society was now into feudal lords and peasant serfs. The form of relations between people changed. The slave- owners had regarded the slaves as their property; the law had confirmed this view and regarded the slave as a chattel completely owned by the slave-owner. As far as the peasant serf was concerned, class oppression and dependence remained, but it was not considered that the feudal lord owned the peasants as chattels, but that he was only entitled to their labour, to the obligatory performance of certain services. In practice, as you know, serfdom, especially in Russia where it survived longest of all and assumed the crudest forms, in no way differed from slavery.

Further, with the development of trade, the appearance of the world market and the development of moneycirculation, anewclassarosewithin feudal society—the capitalist class. Fromthe commodity, the exchange of commodities and the rise of the power of money, there derived the power of capital. During the eighteenth century, or rather, from the end of the eighteenth century and during the nineteenth century, revolutions took place all over the world. Feudalism was abolished in all the countries of Western Europe. Russia was the last country in which this took place. In 1861 a radical change took place in Russia as well; as a consequence of this one form of society was replaced by another—feudalism was replaced by capitalism, under which division into classes remained, as well as various traces and remnants of serfdom, but fundamentally the division into classes assumed a different form.

The owners of capital, the owners of the land and the owners of the factories in all capitalist countries constituted and still constitute an insignificant minority of the population who have complete command of the labour of the whole people, and, consequently, command, oppress and exploit the whole mass of labourers, the majority of whom are proletarians, wage-workers, who procure their livelihood in the process of production only by the sale of their own worker’s hands, their labour-power. With the transition to capitalism, the peasants, who had been disunited and downtrodden in feudal times, were converted partly (the majority) into proletarians, and partly (the minority) into wealthy peasants who themselves hired labourers and who constituted a rural bourgeoisie.

This fundamental fact—the transition of society from primitive forms of slavery to serfdom and finally to capitalism—you must always bear in mind, for only by remembering this fundamental fact, only by examining all political doctrines placed in this fundamental scheme, will you be able properly to appraise these doctrines and understand what they refer to; for each of these great periods in the history of mankind, slave-owning, feudal and capitalist, embraces scores and hundreds of centuries and presents such a mass of political forms, such a variety of political doctrines, opinions and revolutions, that this extreme diversity and immense variety (especially in connection with the political, philosophical and other doctrines of bourgeois scholars and politicians) can be understood only by firmly holding, as to a guiding thread, to this division of society into classes, this change in the forms of class rule, and from this standpoint examining all social questions— economic, political, spiritual, religious, etc.

From The State: A Lecture Delivered at the Sverdlov University. Lecture written by V.I Lenin & delivered on 11 July 1919. First published: Pravda No. 15, 18 January 1929. Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 470-488. Translated: George Hanna. Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1919/jul/11.htm

29.

The proletariat originally arose from many Some were freed serfs. Others were journeymen and apprentices – an oppressed class of artisans oppressed by the guild masters – who went into the new manufacturing and industrial enterprises in search of better pay and often simply employment as the new industries were then undercutting the guilds. Later the guild masters – who were a small-scale exploiting class – found that they too had to join the proletariat as their operations were ruined by competition from the more efficient large industries. Of course, there were classic petit bourgeois who became proletarians – tradesmen, shopkeepers, peasants. Some who joined were also former members of the landowning nobility. With the breakdown of feudalism and the bourgeois revolution these nobles no longer had serfs and peasants to provide for them and ended up having to work as exploited workers to make a living.

There are many national variations to this. In the South of the U.S.A, for example, a good part of the proletariat were/ are liberated former black slaves. In Australia, the proletariat has a particularly diverse background. Ironically, until they were granted equal pay as white workers, Aboriginal workers – that is, members of an egalitarian so-called “hunter-gatherer” society who were brutally denied access to the land that they had for millennia occupied (not “owned” as the concept of ownership was foreign to their society) – were the backbone of the rural proletariat working as stockmen, shearers, pickers, cotton chippers etc. This rural proletariat was supplemented by “Kanaks,” people from places like Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, PNG and New Caledonia who were kidnapped (“blackbirded”) by Australian slave hunters and brought to work as indentured plantation workers in Australia – especially in the sugar plantations of Queensland. Later these workers became “free” labour. Then there were the ex-convicts who became workers – that is, we can say ex-members of the lumpenproletariat. There were, of course, petit bourgeoise who were driven into the proletariat class – for example, gold prospectors once the gold rush was over. Australia’s working class – especially the industrial proletariat – is disproportionately made up of migrants and their descendants – that is, of European and later Middle Eastern migrants arriving after WWII and then coloured migrants after the formal relaxation of the White Australia Party. All these migrants came from different backgrounds. Some were workers in their original countries, others were farmers and shopkeepers. Some were former members of the exploiting class. These included people fleeing countries where the former ruling bourgeois faction has been deposed by a rival bourgeois faction – such as in Iran and Iraq. It also includes former members of the landlord and capitalist class running away from anti-capitalist revolutions in places like China, Laos and Vietnam. Former members of the deposed exploiting class in Vietnam and their henchmen are heavily concentrated as workers in the manufacturing and warehouse sectors of Sydney and Melbourne. Then there are the many henchmen of the capitalists who after WWII fled – from the Baltic states, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Russia and Croatia – the victorious Red Army or the Yugoslav Revolution. The highest ranked of these anti-communists got well-paid positions assisting ASIO but most ended up becoming ordinary workers. So there we have the Australian working class’ diverse class background: former members of an egalitarian hunter-gatherer society, former “blackbirded” slaves, petit bourgeois farmers and gold prospectors, lumpen proletarian ex-convicts, overthrown capitalist exploiters and their die-hard anti-communist henchmen fleeing socialistic revolutions.

The latter includes, in the case of some of the East European and Baltic migrant workers, former members of outright fascist armies and police forces. All this underscores that there is nothing per se morally more worthy about an individual proletarian over an individual petit-bourgeois person. That is hardly the point. The point is that by its relationship to the relations of production the proletariat as a whole uniquely has the power, interest and potential consciousness to lead the struggle against capitalism and for socialism. Furthermore, the proletariat’s position in the relations of production and its means of deriving an income give it the opportunity to break free from attachment to private property and to develop a consciousness of solidarity with fellow toilers regardless of which class the proletarian or her/his ancestors may have derived from. Ironically, to see this question from a standpoint that puts the overall struggle for the liberation of humanity at the forefront rather than an individual judgemental type analysis itself requires a proletarian outlook as opposed to the individualistic bourgeois/petty bourgeois analysis that our whole upbringing in capitalist society conditions us to examine political questions with (in a similar way that our conditioning in capitalist society drives us to, when we analyse political events, excessively focus on the personalities and policies of individual political leaders/activists rather than the conflicts between classes and the struggles/contradictions between sections of classes).

30.

In checking the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures there are grey areas in how the figures are presented and also some grey areas about where to classify certain people. Nevertheless, it is apparent that the petit bourgeois make up from 15% to 23% of the Australian workforce. (The small-scale capitalist exploiters make up 3% to 4% of the workforce.) Comrades may find how these figures can be calculated interesting: Firstly, looking at the petit bourgeois, from http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/ProductsbyTopic/A8CAED8E5F9FB2E1CA257F1F00044E8C?OpenDocument (accessed 21 March 2016), it is apparent that there are 307,100 + 951,800 self-employed people, i.e. 1,258,900 self-employed people.

Additionally. some of the people who are employees are still part of the petit-bourgeois. Unfortunately and rather strangely, the ABS when breaking down occupations lumps in employees and owner-managers of incorporated enterprises into one group rather than listing them separately. But looking at the ABS spreadsheet for the breakdown of occupations in incorporated enterprises, we find that there are 584,000 people working as business, human resource and marketing professionals. Due to the closeness of many of these employees to the bosses and the nature of their work which, rather than the production of goods and services, often involves strategizing on helping the bosses maximise profits, many should be classed as petit-bourgeois rather than proletarian. Of course, not all these employees would fit such a description – lower level employees collating market research data should be counted as part of the proletariat. So we can at a very rough guess count 60% of these employees as petit bourgeois. But given that there are, additionally, professionals in other occupation types that we are not counting as petit bourgeois who should be, then if we take all these 584,000 as petit bourgeois then that would make up for all these others. These would include highly skilled professionals working in the public sector who, because society compels the government to provide certain basic services, the government is compelled to pay high salaries in order to ensure that the services are provided. Therefore, these people are not denied the fruits of their labour – but neither are they bourgeois exploiters. In this category would include town planners, senior civil engineers working for state and local government, staff specialist doctors at hospitals etc.

So, in total, taking 584,000 of those among the employees and owner-managers of incorporated enterprises as petit bourgeois we now have to deal with the issue of double counting since some of these may have already been included in the 307,100 people working as self-employed owners of incorporated enterprises. Therefore, we should scale this number by the ratio of the people in the employees and incorporated enterprises category who are not self employed divided by the total number of people in the employees and incorporated enterprises category. This ratio is 97%, i.e. (9,585,100 + 499,900)/(9,585,100 + 806,600). That means our estimate for the number of employees that should be added to the petit bourgeois category is 97% x 584,100 = 566,577.

Another group of people given in the ABS breakdown of occupations for people listed as being either employees or owner-managers of incorporated enterprises that should be classed as petit bourgeois is a proportion of the 1,257,800 people listed as managers. Most of the managers should be classed in the category of henchmen/enforcers of the capitalists. However, some of the people classed as managers are really leading hands without the power to fire or to deny workers leave and others are managers of things rather than people. We can estimate that say 25% of people listed as managers fall in this category. So, therefore, the number of managers who can be counted as petit bourgeois is 25% x 1,257,800 = 314,450. Now, some of these people may already have been counted in the self-employed category and we would expect the proportion of managers to be higher than the 3% (i.e, 100% – 3%) average for people in the employees or owner-managers of incorporated enterprises category. So we assume that 20% are double counted, i.e, 80% of the 314,450 managers (i.e. 251,560) considered petit bourgeois rather than bourgeois henchmen should be added to the petit bourgeois category.

There is one other group that should, perhaps, be added to the petit bourgeois category. This comes about due to a certain grey area among a small percentage of the people who are small scale employers. Most of the people employing one to four people are in fact small scale capitalist exploiters who derive their income from a combination of business conducted that’s based on their own labour as well as that of their workers. These include restaurant/ café owners hiring chefs/service staff, plumbers and electricians with their own business hiring a couple of (always terribly paid) apprentices, auto repair shop owners with a couple of hired workers etc. In all these cases, the hired workers contribute much to directly producing the goods or services that are being sold. The bosses deny the workers the full fruit of their labour (and when this is not the case it is not because the boss does not intend to but because there is not enough business for the boss to get full use out of the workers). Additionally, these bosses often treat their workers arrogantly and rudely. However, there is also a category of small-scale employers where the hired workers are not directly engaged in producing the goods/services being sold. These would include architects, dentists, doctors, accountants and solicitors with their own private practice and hiring an office manager/receptionist or two. Unlike, say, with the café owner hiring a service worker, in this case making the receptionist work longer hours for the same pay will not necessarily increase the owner’s profits. The profits and often high income of the business owner depends largely on the architect/doctor etc being able to get away with charging the client/patient high fees. So, in this sense, these type of business owners are petit-bourgeois rather than small-scale capitalists. On the other hand the work that the receptionist/office manager performs is crucial to the successful operation of the business and the often massive disparity in income between the business-owning professional and the receptionist/office manager shows that there is some degree of the worker being denied the fruits of their labour and thus not being adequately paid. So these business-owning professionals are really in a grey area between being petit bourgeois and being small-scale capitalist exploiters. However, many of them are probably closer to being petit bourgeois than small scale capitalists so for classification purposes could probably be classed as petit bourgeois.

So now for our numbers, we need to estimate what percentage of all the small-scale employers are business owning professionals hiring only one or two office staff (who are the only people working in the business in addition to themselves and possibly other professionals in a partnership). A guess would be 25%. We then need to know the total number of people owning businesses with only a very small number of hired workers. This page from the ABS – http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/8165.0 (accessed 21 March 2016) – indicates that 27% of all businesses have one to four employees (note: ignore the total number of businesses from this page as many business owners own more than one business). So, knowing that there are 806,900 + 1,191,200 = 1,998,100 business owners and assuming that this 27% ratio applies roughly to business owners in addition to applying to the total number of businesses, the number of business owners hiring from one to four employees is 27% x 1,998,100 = 539,487. Then, taking our estimate of 25% as the percentage of these business owners who are in a grey area where they probably should be categorised more as petit-bourgeois than small-scale capitalists, the number of these petit-bourgeois business owners = 25% x 539,487 = 134,872.

Therefore the total number of petit bourgeois = 1,258,900 + 566,577 + 251,560 + 134,872 = 2,211,909. This represents a 2,211,909/11,583,900 ratio, i.e. 19% of the workforce.

As for the small-scale capitalist exploiters, they would make up the remaining 75% of the bosses hiring between one to four workers who cannot be classed as petit bourgeois, i.e. they number 75% x 539, 487 = 404,615. That is, they make up 404,651/11,583,900 ratio, i.e. 3.5% of the workforce.

Now the medium and large scale capitalist business owners would be the total number of business owners minus those that have no employees less those that employ from one to four workers. That would be 1,998,100 – 1,258,900 – 539,487 = 199,713. This is 199,713/11,583,900 ratio, i.e. 1.7% of the workforce. Many managers are also substantial shareholders of businesses where they are not necessarily the main owners. However, it is hard to estimate this. It is easier to simply lump in the big and medium bourgeois and their henchmen as one.

So the managers who could be counted as bourgeois henchmen or straight bourgeois are those who cannot be counted as simply petit bourgeois, i.e. we have estimated that 25% can be counted as petit bourgeois so 75% of the managers can be estimated to be bourgeois or bourgeois henchmen. Thus, 75% x 1,257,800 = 943,350. As many of these managers, however, already have been counted as owner managers – at an estimate 30% – so 70% of the mangers not considered petit bourgeois should be added to the bourgeois class and its henchmen, i.e. 70% x 943,500 = 660,450.

Now an additional group of henchmen are cops, prison guards, secret police, volunteer army soldiers, private security, prosecutors, judges and magistrates. Judges, magistrates and prosecutors together make up a very small number. So a good estimate of the total for this category of henchmen is given under the listing in the ABS spreadsheet for “Protective Service Workers,” of which there are 140,300.

Therefore, the total for the big and medium size capitalists and their armed and unarmed henchmen/enforcers is 199,713 + 660,450 + 140,300 = 1,000,463. This is a ratio of 1,000,463/11,583,900 = approx. 8.5% of the workforce.

So, in summary the estimates are: big and medium size capitalist exploiters and their henchmen form 8.5% of the workforce, small-size capitalist exploiters 3.5%, petit bourgeois 19%; proletariat and semi-proletariat (including the better paid highly skilled/educated workers) make up the rest, which is 69% of the workforce.

To put it in easy to remember terms: in Australia roughly seven in ten people in the workforce are the proletariat/ semi-proletariat, one in five are the petit-bourgeois and one in eight are the capitalist exploiters and their henchmen/ enforcers.