Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Why we have a beef with capitalism…

Written by: Alan Jackson on 12 June 2024

 



(Above: Meat Industry Employees Union, 2007 Queensland Labour Day March. Photo by  David Jackmanson is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)

Do you remember the last time you saw the iridescent wings of a Christmas beetle bring in the summer? As much as I try to conjure the image or even the thought of the last time, I fall flat. In the younger years of my life, I remember them flying into my house in abundance. There were so many it was a normalised but appreciated event. 

Now their abundance has turned into its opposite, now I no longer see these harbingers of the summertime. What is the cause of this? Why is it that these beautiful, fluorescent scarabs have stopped showing? 

There’s a multitude of reasons with one root cause being the catalyst. What is this mysterious big bad? Capitalism! More particularly Capitalism and its destructive effects on nature and the exploitative agriculture practises it promotes in its procurement of profit. 

What other social, political and environmental effects does this haemorrhaging cause? 

What is one of the main drivers of deforestation in Australia? 

Looking through a report by Greenpeace, we will see that one of the worst contributors is cattle. Is this to say that cows are prancing on their cloven hooves holding our country at gunpoint? Absolutely not, that would be ridiculous. Although they are ‘cows’, the forces responsible are the multibillionaires and monopolies running this country to ruin for profit. 

Whether this is a conscious decision is irrelevant. The mere fact that they operate and exist in a Capitalist system forces them to exploit both land and people alike. 

Look at the main finds from the Greenpeace report. Some key findings from the get-go are “Australia… is the second largest beef exporter in the world behind Brazil. Beef cattle farming covers about 50% of Australia’s landmass, which explains the disproportionate impact of the industry on Australia’s forests and natural ecosystems.” (1.) 

In addition, “Approximately 30% of Australian beef is consumed domestically”. (2.) 

The report also tells us what companies are the main contributors. Those companies being Retailers – Aldi, Coles, Hungry Jacks, McDonalds, Metcash, Woolworths and Processors - JBS, Teys, Tyson and ComGroup Supplies. 

Those that are foreign multinationals, or tied to foreign capital, include:
Aldi -German
McDonalds – US
JBS – Brazilian (3.)
Tyson- US (4.)
Hungry Jacks – Australian/US (5.)
Teys – Australian/US (6.)

Startlingly put, Australia is undergoing a sustained, mostly hidden deforestation crisis of a globally concerning scale. WWF names eastern Australia among 24 global deforestation fronts, alongside places like the Amazon, the Congo and Borneo. This is because currently an MCG-sized area of forest and bushland is bulldozed every two minutes. This is killing tens of millions of native animals each year, while harming the land, polluting rivers and damaging the Great Barrier Reef. Australian deforestation also contributes considerably to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.” (7.) 

Many operations are centred in Queensland, the state I am from, that faces terrible bushfires yearly with one of the recent most devastating being the fires earlier this year and the bushfires of the 2019-20 black summer. For more see Vanguard Article – ‘For a United Front Against Fossil Fuels and Feral Species.’ (November 2023). 

The last devastating finding I’ll add is “This deforestation is occurring without state or Federal Government controls. In Queensland this is largely, but not exclusively, due to a loophole in the Vegetation Management Act 1999 that makes large areas of land previously cleared as exempt “Category X” land, even if the forest has regenerated to a healthy state and is home to threatened species. Meanwhile researchers have demonstrated that over the course of nearly 20 years the Federal Government has only assessed less than 10% of all deforestation under the national environment law.” (8.) 

Our reliance on the cattle industry results in us producing far more beef than needed for self-sustainability and leads to an overconsumption of beef socially pushed as a result. This puts us into the upper echelons of worldwide heart diseases, cardiac arrests and obesity worldwide. 

With our reliance on the cattle industry the myth of the Australian small farmer is invoked, the masses are appealed to in order to create a fake caricature of a true-blue Aussie farmer struggling on their farm instead of the reality of Corporations paying Migrants peanuts for labour due to their easily exploitable circumstance. 

A recent case was the horrible mistreatment of Chinese meatworkers in Australia’s Visa factories with one specific worker in mind bearing the scars, Wang. “The abattoir clock had ticked into overtime when Chinese meatworker Wang pressed his foot on a button to lower a platform to better cut into a cow carcass. Instead of gliding down, the platform shuddered to a stop and caused a tank of near-boiling water to spill over him. The next day, Wang turned up for work as usual: he did not want to disappoint his employer because soon he would become eligible for permanent residency in Australia. Months later, though, his body still in pain from the workplace accident, Wang found himself without a job anyway, his hope of a better life in Australia in ruins.” (9.) 

If you’re hoping for a happy ending there is none. “Wang is now back in China but is keen to speak out about his experience at Teys Australia’s Biloela abattoir in Queensland. He wants to tell Australians how vulnerable the migrant workers are who come to Australia to do jobs the rest of us shun.” (6.) Wang goes on to say “If you are Australian local people, you don’t have to worry about this. You have equal position with the factory like anyone else. We are poor people. We have no power when we talk with factory.” (10.) Links for more stories on the Migrant Workers plight for the right to work safely in Australia can be found below. (11.)

What stopped the Christmas Beetles? Insecticides, more particularly Imidacloprid and other terrible toxins known to cause ‘Insect Armageddon’ used to protect cotton. Who would’ve thought, inextricably linked to our terrible cattle practices are our cotton practices and with that our agricultural and industrial practices as well. 

This all comes down to Capitalism and its need for profit. With this need for profit, it will put all else before profit even the very thing that is making them profit whether they know it or not. 

Cattle can’t graze a land that is destroyed. The capitalists don’t care. Capitalists only think of profit in the quickest way possible. There is no time to grow trees that our children will see prosper under capitalism. We fell those trees so we can be comfortable, and our children can figure it out for themselves. This is not right. What is needed in Australia is the defeat of Capitalism and Imperialist domination. Economic freedom, self-sustainability, independence and Socialism is the only way we can be free of this turmoil. 

 

Sources – 
(1.)  Greenpeace Australia – Deforestation Crises on Their Watch 2024 (Page 8)
(2.) ibid
(3.) JBS is the Australian subsidiary of JBS S.A., a Brazilian company that is the largest meat processing enterprise in the world. The company has been regularly criticised for sourcing meat from farms that contribute to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. JBS was initially established as a slaughtering business by José Batista Sobrinho, a rancher in Anápolis, Brazil, in 1953. His sons Joesley Batista and Wesley Batista share a controlling 42% stake in JBS through J&F Investimentos which, in 2017, agreed to pay US$3.2 billion in fines, for leniency from the Brazilian government "over 25 years after admitting to giving roughly $150 million—mostly in bribes—to Brazilian politicians. The Batista brothers escaped jail as part of the deal. In May 2021, it temporarily stood down 7000 Australian workers and up to 3,000 workers in Canada and the United States while it dealt with a cyber attack, eventually paying a ransom of $US11 million in Bitcoin.
In 2022, the ABC revealed how financial support from the Brazilian government, obtained as a result of bribery and corruption, had enabled JBS to purchase Australian Meat Holdings, the country's biggest beef processor, in 2007, and the following year to purchase Tasman Group, which owned abattoirs in Tasmania and Victoria plus a feedlot in NSW. The ABC said “if you buy Primo ham, Huon salmon, McDonald's burgers or meat from Coles, Woolworths or Aldi, you're likely eating JBS products.”
JBS Australia poor record on workers’ safety: Australia: Meat company JBS repeatedly fails to protect workers from injuries; convicted at least six times over serious safety breaches - Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (business-humanrights.org)
(4.) Tyson Foods, Inc. is an American multinational corporation based in Springdale, Arkansas that operates in the food industry. The company is the world's second-largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork after JBS S.A. Tyson Foods has been involved in a number of controversies related to the environment, animal welfare, and the welfare of their own employees. It has paid hundreds of millions of dollars to US competitors to settle price-fixing claims against it.
(5.) Hungry Jack’s is an Australian fast food franchise of the US Burger King Corporation. When Burger King tried to open up in Australia, it found that its name was already registered to a takeaway outlet in Adelaide, so Canadian-Australian businessman Jack Cowan, who had introduced KFC to Australia, entered a franchising arrangement with Burger King to operate their business under his name.
(6.) Originally established by four Teys brothers – all butchers – in Brisbane, it has since 2011 been in a 50-50 partnership with Cargill, the largest privately held company in the United States in terms of revenue.
(7.) (Ibid Page 9)
(8.) Ibid. (Page 6)
(9.) Ibid (page 6)

 

 



European elections and dissolution: the fire of crisis consumes French bourgeois democracy

Written by: La Cause Du Peuple on 12 June 2024

 

Much has been made in the Australian capitalist media of the “swing to the right” in the French elections to the European Parliament.  They concentrate on the votes won by RN, the right wing National Rally, but not on the staggering rejection of the parliamentary charade as witnessed by the number of abstentions from voting. We reprint this translation from the website of La Cause Du Peuple in the interest of a better understanding of French and European sentiment -eds.

European elections and dissolution: the fire of crisis consumes French bourgeois democracy
June 10

The ‘European elections’ circus has played out its final act in France. The results are clear: like all the elections since Macron took over the presidency, the rejection of the electoral system (abstention, blank votes, invalid votes) is the big winner with 25 million votes. This is the historical tendency of the broadest and deepest masses in France: to reject the bourgeois state, its government, its system. That is the main lesson.

Bourgeois commentators dwell on the ‘historic turnout over the last 30 years’. They consciously forget that the European elections in France in 2019, 2014 and the 2000s had a ‘European’ character, i.e. the bourgeoisie incited the masses to go and vote in relation to the ‘European parliament’, this powerless instrument where 705 actors (MEPs) play tasteless parts for the benefit of the struggle and collusion between the imperialist powers of Europe and all the monopolies and their lobbies.

2024 was different: after the election of 2022 and the great year of revolt of 2023, in a situation of economic, social and political crisis, the European elections were used by the bourgeois parties, led by the RN and the presidential party, as a rehearsal for the confrontations to come at national level. That's why Prime Minister Attal debated with the RN. That's why Jordan Bardella, who received 7.7 million votes (15% of the electorate), i.e. 1 million less than Le Pen in 2022, immediately called for the dissolution of the National Assembly.

The results speak for themselves: the RN's victory means that its electoral base voted. It's not a meteoric rise. Bardella's popularity is only high because all the parties around him have collapsed. Macron's party has lost 1.5 million voters compared to 2019.

In 2017, Macron opened a period of political crisis in the French bourgeoisie by consolidating a new bourgeois party on the smoking ruins of the PS (Socialist Party - eds.). In his first five years, through his prime minister Édouard Philippe, he managed to bring LR (Les Republicaines-eds) to its knees. He took the king's share of the spoils and became the ideal standard-bearer for the French imperialist bourgeoisie. In 2022, alone against Le Pen, he was re-elected. Today, he is declaring the dissolution of the National Assembly.

The bourgeoisie as a class fights in parliamentary fractions: the interests of French imperialism are defended in common by the presidential party and the RN. These are two parties of the bourgeoisie. There isn't a fireman on one side and an arsonist on the other: they are both arsonists in the service of a reactionary state.

The bourgeois media and politicians are hungover today: how could Macron dissolve the government? What for? According to them, there is nothing logical about it. For the most Machiavellian, it would be a ‘political stunt’, a ‘risky gamble’. For the naive, Macron has simply ‘put the ball back in the people's court’ after the ‘shock’ of the European elections... which shocked nobody because the polls had said it all before the ballot box!

They ignore the reality of the class struggle in France and the process of reactionarisation of the bourgeois state. The bourgeoisie wants to stave off the crisis at all costs, and is prepared to accept any recomposition, any party in power, any regime, in order to maintain itself as the dominant class in the face of its inevitable decline and overthrow by the proletariat.

So to claim that Macron dissolved the National Assembly, one of the exceptional powers of the French president, ‘lightly’, is an outright lie. The only people who sincerely believe it are the outgoing MPs, from both left and right, who are slapping their legs and blinded by the loss of their privileges.

Le Monde revealed on 10 June that a cell had been working at the Élysée for several months on the dissolution. So it was a prepared plan. In France, the President, even with a minority in the Assembly, retains immense power. That's what the French bourgeoisie decided when it chose De Gaulle in the last century. Macron has thrown out the projects of the end of the five years (such as the thawing of the electorate in Kanaky (New Caledonia), which led to the great revolt of recent weeks, but also the end of life or the plans to reform unemployment) to get to the bottom of the crisis.

The early parliamentary elections he has called are not a campaign: with 20 days to prepare them, he is taking everyone by surprise, even the RN, which was calling for them in its speeches. It's a real electoral farce, pure and simple. After 2 years of circus in the Assembly, where the masses were able to understand what ‘parliamentary cretinism’ actually meant, dissolving it is no loss for Macron. If he wins the election with a coalition, he closes a period of recomposition and opposition and can prepare for 2027, which is the real next deadline. If he loses and the RN gets into government, it will move forward with the same reactionary plans, only more assertive, and it too will fail to avert the crisis: just as Meloni is failing at the moment in Italy. Reactionarisation will progress and the French imperialist bourgeoisie will contemplate, as it already does, its possibilities of stripping bourgeois democracy of its trappings during a crisis of regime.

As for the trumpets and bugles of the Left, they are miserable. They think that an opportunistic, unprincipled electoral alliance will bring the broad masses, the 25 million who have turned their backs on the bourgeois chambers and the polling booths, to vote for them. They want to make these ‘disappointed’ and ‘disinterested’ people feel guilty en masse. It's all a waste. In the decomposition of imperialism in which we live, the proletariat has only one policy: boycott the elections, prepare seriously for revolution.

 

 

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Can laws control cyber crime and disinformation?

disinformationWritten by: (Contributed) on 10 June 2024

 

(Above: a screenshot from the home page of Israeli company STOIC,offering to create automated disinformation)

Draft legislation about fraudulent use of the internet and social media due to be introduced into the legislative process in Canberra over the next few weeks is long overdue. Australians have been targeted by on-line criminal elements and their associates for decades.

Other, related fraudulent use of on-line provision, such as Israeli firm STOIC’s work in spreading disinformation through fake social media accounts, has raised serious concerns about security-related matters and general interference inside political systems and espionage.

Draft legislation scheduled to be tabled in Canberra within weeks is set to bring the giants of the internet and social media to account and ensure they are legally liable for fraudulent and criminal activities, with compensation. The binding codes will impose strict obligations upon those who control provision. The draft legislation has followed revelations that Australians lost $2.74 billion last year in various criminal scams. (1) Social media giants including Meta, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp will also be required to establish disputes resolution procedures for victims of scams to enable accountability. (2)

The rapid escalation of the problem remains evidence that criminal elements and their associates have been quick to seize upon opportunities opened with on-line provision. In 2020 it was officially reported that Australians had lost an estimated $851 million in scams, rising to $1.8 billion in 2021 and $3.1 billion in 2022. (3)

Australians appear to have been targeted by criminal elements and their associates based off-shore largely in Asia. (4) Recent revelations about sophisticated cyber-crime facilities on the Myanmar-Thai border where computer-based workers were 'being taught about Australian culture and social media uses of Facebook, WhatsApp and dating sites', leave little to the imagination. (5)

Recent disclosures from the German police, however, have shown how Australians have been targeted by other, European criminal groups. One criminal syndicate monitored by the German police found 34,000 Australians had been defrauded more than $200 million; a decision taken by Canberra-based Australian Securities and Investments Commission leaders continued to regard the information as 'for intelligence purposes only'. (6) Victims, therefore, were not officially notified by Australian government departments. Whether the failure to disclose information by ASIC was undertaken to not compromise those 'the regulator was looking at … individuals … based in Australia … who are believed to have assisted the scammers', or for other motives, has not been divulged. (7)

It is, however, the other, related problem of shadowy players accessing personal information for profiling which remains a serious concern.

Revelations the Andrews government in Victoria used vast amounts of personal data to run a secretive program for election purposes has raised a number of concerns with far-reaching implications. (8) The Melbourne-based administration appears to have been extensively involved in intelligence-gathering about voter opinions in the six weeks prior to the November, 2022, state elections. Questions appear to have arisen about the security of large amounts of data collected and whether it could be re-used for other, non-disclosed purposes.

Disclosures surrounding a shadowy, intelligence-type organisation based in Tel Aviv, STOIC, have, however, raised serious concerns about social media being programmed to mould public opinion about the present Israeli-Gaza war. Consisting of more than five hundred Facebook and 32 Instagram accounts in the US and Canada linked to more than two thousand further profiles, the social media facilities were praising 'Israel's military actions and criticism of radical Islam and campus anti-semitism'. (9)

The STOIC organisation appears to have actively targeted political parties, ministries and municipalities together with advocacy groups, public relations campaigns and lobbyists with the specific intention of moulding public opinion in favour of the Israeli government. (10)

While the official media release from Meta regarding their closing of the STOIC websites could find links with the Israeli government, the use of proprietary companies and business fronts is common throughout the so-called 'intelligence-community'. (11) The standard practice is used to distance governments and their intelligence organisations from controversy should embarrassing disclosures occur.

While the subject did receive some limited media coverage in western and Israeli media outlets, there was no official comment from either STOIC or the Netanyahu administration in Tel Aviv; diplomatic silence would appear the order of the day for those concerned.

It was noted, nevertheless, that STOIC was 'a political marketing and business intelligence firm … using their products nefariously to manipulate various political conversations on-line'. (12) It was also noted, furthermore, that the company provided 'models for tasks generating comments, articles, social media profiles, and debugging code for bots and websites … with fears about … covert social media campaigns'. (13) 

STOIC is also believed to have contracted out its services to support the Hindutva fascist BJP party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (14) The US-Canada operation was ordered and financed by the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. (15)

Covert operations, invariably, have a long history linked to intelligence agencies and diplomacy; studies of the US intelligence services conducted by former agents concluded, long ago, that, 'the CIA's primary task is not to co-ordinate the efforts of US intelligence or even to produce finished national intelligence for the policy-makers. Its job is, for better or worse, to conduct the government's covert foreign policy'. (16)

 

The use of on-line provision would appear to have broadened the scope of intelligence-gathering for covert foreign policy and provided spooks with the ability to pry into the daily lives of the mass of the world's population. Intelligence agents now how little use for opening and reading correspondence to and from those assessed as 'people of interest'. Technological developments have led to past practices being superseded and others revolutionised with on-line facilities. (17)    

Information emerging from reliable sources has revealed the US National Security Agency (NSA) sought to use the internet from its earliest days of operation and that 'the NSA's attention shifted to finding ways to exploit the global reach of Google, Microsoft, Venizon and other US technical powers … including … monitoring cell-phones'. (18)

The tracking of mobile telephones and interception of calls has become standard practice with Australian government departments. A marathon fraud court-case in the NSW Supreme Court, for example, included 'some 130 hours of conversations between the six accused men, captured during tapped phone calls or by strategically placed listening devices … as part of their national investigation into the alleged payroll fraud'. (19)  

Problems, however, arise with the shadowy links between on-line criminal activity and that of official government departments and their intelligence agencies. They would appear blurred, to state the very least. The genuine concern for defence and security considerations and downright political muck-raking, likewise, is also blurred in the eyes of some actors, whether with officially sanctioned state or non-legitimate non-state categories.

Whether forthcoming legislation to deal with the problem is effective, therefore, remains to be seen.

In light of Australia's alliance with the US and their allies, including Israel, and the Five Eyes, it would appear unlikely, however, that any moves will be taken to disturb or interfere with existing 'US interests' and their intelligence-gathering:

                                          We need an independent foreign policy!


1.     See: Fines over social media scams, The Weekend Australian, 25-26 May 2024.
2.     Ibid.
3.     AI helping hackers to scam better, Australian, 3 June 2024.
4.     Fighting Asian scammers, Australian, 30 May 2024; and, Billions stolen as Big Tech enables deepfake scams, Editorial, The Weekend Australian, 25-26 May 2024.
5.     Editorial, Weekend Australian, ibid., 25-26 May 2024.
6.     ASIC says hands were tied on scams, Australian, 5 June 2024.
7.     Ibid.
8.     Data security 'assured', Andrews team told, The Weekend Australian, 1-2 June 2024.
9.     Fake accounts of Israel tech firm deleted, Australian, 31 May 2024.
10.   Ibid.
11.   The CIA and the cult of intelligence, Victor Marchetti and John D, Marks, (London, 1976), pp. 162-181.
12.   Meta and AI say they disrupted influence operations linked to Israeli company, NBC News, 31 May 2024.
13.   Open AI says it disrupted covert influence operation by Israeli firm STOIC, The Times of Israel, 4 June 2024.
14.   Who’s behind the Israeli startup blacklisted by Meta and OpenAI?, Calcalist.com June 3, 2024
15.   Israeli influence operation highlights global disinformation industry, Cyberscoop.com, June 5, 2004
16.   The CIA and the cult of intelligence, op.cit., page 132.
17.   Ibid., page 121.
18.   The intelligence coup of the century, The Washington Post, 11 February 2020.
19.   Juror in $13m fraud case arrested, Australian, 6 June 2024.

 

PNG: Wealth for Foreign Exploiters – Sweet FA and Destruction for the People

Written by: J. Clarke on 9 Jue 2024


 


Above: Opposition to sea bed mining in PNG. Photo Civicus.org

While the eyes of the world are focussed on the devastating tragedy of the Enga Province landslide in Papua New Guinea (PNG), it is timely to reflect on the environmental and development issues that foreign investment has brought to the country.

PNG is a country abundantly rich in natural resources. The Indigenous people have utilised these resources for their essential needs sustainably since their arrival in ancient times (estimated to be some 50,000 years ago and agricultural practices commencing around 7000BC).

On the other hand, with the arrival of Europeans and the accompanying colonisation, the exploitation of resources for profit rather than needs intensified with little regard to sustainability. In modern times, exploitation has intensified even more dramatically, resulting in severe damage to the environment.

What caused the devastating Enga landslide in which so many lives were lost? There are multiple reasons. Firstly, PNG is located on an earthquake zone, which creates the conditions prerequisite for landslides. In a nutshell the ground is loosened and water penetrates, creating something akin to a massive sponge. A deluge of rain can make the “sponge” release its contents, with devastating consequences for those living nearby.

The other reasons are man-made. You guessed it! - Deforestation by foreign companies acting to extract as much timber as possible in the shortest time for maximal profits, with little or no subsequent remediation work. There is no substantial vegetation remaining to hold the soil in place, so when a landslide occurs, its damaging effects are amplified.

Add to this, the effects of climate change – more storms, more intense rainfall, therefore more frequent and severe landslides.

Not much can be done about the natural causes (earthquakes) however the last two causes are preventable if a sustainable approach is taken. This will never happen under capitalism, but the people of PNG are valiantly opposing the activities of the foreign plunderers.

The volume of logging has consistently exceeded the target limits. The government appears to be doing very little to curb this. The people, with the assistance of NGOs, are putting pressure on the government to act. In response, logging companies threaten activists with litigation. This is despite the activists exposing not only the over-logging, but money laundering practises by the industry as well1.

An appallingly unscrupulous practice used by foreign companies to obtain access to land for logging is to illegally con traditional holders of customary land into handing the land over to them. As a result, a significant percentage of customary land has become permanently inaccessible to the traditional landholders. This land-grabbing is facilitated by corrupt government officials and others in PNG for selfish gains. (Corruption is rife in PNG, and it is estimated that up to 50% of the government annual budget goes missing as a result. Consequently it is a walk in the park for foreign companies to get what they want.) Such lands are then rubber-stamped as “Special Agriculture and Business Leases” under the Land Act. The categorisation as “agriculture and business” is a con in itself. Essentially it means all out logging.

The government copped a lot of flak from traditional landholders about this illegal land-grabbing practice and in 2014 the government promised to return the lands stolen in this way to their original owners. However, there has been limited progress in this direction. Further, compensation to traditional landholders for being deprived of the use of their land and the destruction of forests on these lands is yet to be agreed to.

Here’s another example of ruthless business practices which are enabled by corrupt government officials. A Malaysian company (actually a logging company) applied to set up the “Wasu Cattle Farm Project” and got the nod. Local people report that they have not sighted any cattle but that there is an awful lot of logging going on!

It is not only the forests that are being intensely exploited by foreign companies. PNG is rich in mineral resources and oil and gas – both on land and sea.

A case in point is the proposed Frieda mine project for the extraction of gold and copper. If it goes ahead, it will be the largest mining project in the history of PNG. The project will operate along the mighty Sepik River. The river traverses some 1100km and is one of the few remaining untouched large rivers on the planet. It provides sustenance, both spiritual and material, to the tens of thousands of people who live in traditional communities along its length.

The mine threatens all this and the people know that it will end their traditional way of life. They have seen it in other communities in PNG. Promises of benefits are made (schools, hospitals etc) but they end up losing everything, including their independence, spiritual life, links to their ancestors and sense of belonging.

The people of the Sepik want to avoid another Bougainville, but the communities are not taking this lying down and are currently organising to oppose the mine. Death threats have been received but people have stated that this river is so important to them that they will die for it.

The foreign corporations are not limiting themselves to mining the land, but also have in mind to mine the sea bed for minerals such as gold, copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese. Sea bed mining has not taken place anywhere in the world yet, due to insufficient knowledge of the environmental, social and economic consequences and the lack of laws to govern its practice.

The PNG government has placed a moratorium on sea bed mining until 2029. However, coastal people living in the vicinity of the proposed sea bed mining area have grave concerns that the government will not live up to its promise. The PNG government has its own vested interests in the project proceeding. The people living here practice their traditional way of life and rely on the sea as their main food source. They are already organising against this project2.

The people of PNG face the same enemy as other Indigenous populations the world over, threatening their traditional existence and the destruction of the lands which they have nurtured over the eons.

Whether it is in PNG, West Papua, Palestine or the First Nations people of Australia there is common ground for the struggle against imperialism and colonialism.

Oppressed people of the world unite!

The CPA (ML) supports the struggle of the people of PNG for justice.
The CPA (ML) supports the struggle of the people of West Papua for independence.

 

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Benny Wenda: West Papua’s path to liberation

Written by: Benny Wenda on 7 June 2024

 

(Above: In March 2024, a shocking video emerged of Indonesian soldiers torturing a West Papuan man confined in a barrel of freezing water. He was repeatedly kicked, punched and stabbed. )

Our near neighbours, the heroic and long-suffering peoples of West Papua, are continuing their fight for liberation from the Indonesian colonising regime. Their struggle has our ongoing support. We are posting a statement from May by their leader Benny Wenda – eds.

 

President Wenda: The United Liberation Movement for West Papua Agenda is West Papua’s path to liberation 
May 14, 2024 

On behalf of the ULMWP and the people of West Papua, I call on all our supporters to renew your support for West Papua and stand behind our agenda for independence: 

A) A visit to West Papua by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; 

B) ULMWP Full membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG);

C) An internationally-supervised self-determination referendum. 

The ULMWP has a clear agenda for liberation, and our solidarity groups have a vital role to play in helping us fulfil it. Our agenda has been democratically endorsed by the people of West Papua through the 2023 ULMWP Congress, the first people’s mandate the ULMWP has ever received. When you fight for our agenda, you are fighting for the West Papuan people.

Our solidarity groups, artists, musicians, filmmakers, journalists, lawyers, rugby players and other sportspeople, NGOs, Churches, academics, individuals and families, can help by rallying their representatives in Parliament to support a visit to West Papua by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. As part of our new campaign for a UN visit, we have held meetings in the UK, EU, Dutch and Scottish Parliaments, and launched the Brussels Declaration directly accusing Indonesia of refusing the UN access. The call for a UN visit has gone up across the world, demanded by over 100 UN member states, including all member states of the Pacific Islands Forum, Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States, and the EU Commission.   

Since Indonesia first invited the High Commissioner into West Papua in 2018, over 100,000 Papuan civilians have been displaced by genocidal military operations. At least 1200 Papuans have died, killed by Indonesian soldiers or left to starve in the bush. Many of my people have been tortured or arbitrarily arrested. Indonesia gets away with its crimes with impunity partly because they hide West Papua from the world, banning journalists, NGOs, and international bodies like the UN. To force Indonesia to open West Papua to the world, we need to create even greater public pressure. Solidarity groups can be the voice of the voiceless people. Where we cannot speak, you must speak for us.  

We also need our friends in Melanesia to lobby their leaders and Parliamentarians to do more to support ULMWP full membership of the MSG. The ULMWP gaining full membership is an essential step on the road to peace and justice in the Pacific. Only as full members will we be able to sit across the table from Indonesia and peacefully discuss the status of West Papua on an equal footing. With the war criminal Prabowo Subianto soon to take office as Indonesian President, West Papua needs full membership to defend itself and expose Indonesia’s crimes. Full membership is our guarantee of safety from annihilation. 
Full membership would prove we are a responsible state-in-waiting, ready to manage our own affairs. Like our brothers and sisters in the FLNKS, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), or the Polisario in Western Sahara, we are a political organisation with a cabinet, constitution, and governing structure on the ground. We are ready to take control when our independence arrives.  

The ULMWP is not an NGO: we are not asking Indonesia for internal dialogue, to improve their democracy, or take better care of our forest. West Papua is not an internal matter. We state clearly that all violations of our human rights and environment are rooted in the fundamental and continual violation of our self-determination. Self-determination is the start and the end of our journey. Merdeka is the only answer to our situation.  

To Indonesia, we say that you have nothing to fear from West Papuan independence. We are not fighting to destroy Indonesian sovereignty but simply to reclaim the sovereignty that was stolen in 1961. Our sovereign state was declared that year and recognised by nations including Netherlands, UK, and Australia. It was taken from us and we are fighting to win it back. 

To our people back home, activists, women’s groups, church groups, Indonesian solidarity groups, the Alliance of Papuan Students and KNPB, I ask that you rally behind the ULMWP and the Congress resolutions. We need unity if we are going to defeat our enemy and reclaim our sovereign state. 

Thank you to everyone who has stood behind us in our anti-imperial struggle. Please continue to unite behind us, support our agenda, and support our independence. 

Wa wa wa. Papua Merdeka! 

Benny Wenda
President
ULMWP 

Sunday, June 2, 2024

We swim in a toxic sea of capitalism. But we needn’t drown: Humphrey McQueen’s powerful new pamphlet on Capital launched

Written by: Lindy Nolan on 3 June 2024

 

Marking our party’s 60th anniversary, Vanguard invited Marxist historian Humphrey McQueen to Sydney to lead a discussion of his new pamphlet, on Karl Marx’s ‘Capital’. 

The pamphlet’s cover ‘invites job reps and community activists to share insights from Capital into how we are exploited, how nature is plundered and how to put an end to both.’
Veteran comrade Lindy Nolan introduced the discussion.

We’re on Gadigal land, never surrendered, paying respects to all First Peoples for their sacrifices and ongoing resistance. May they grow in unity and strength.

Humphrey! Humphrey McQueen. I doubt there’s an Australian alive who’s studied Capital more deeply, or given more practical guidance from it. But thanking him means thanking Peter Curtis, for connecting us with this rebel with no phone or internet. Humphrey’s in person, so I’ll be relatively brief.

We swim in a toxic sea of capitalism. But we needn’t drown. 

To chart a way forward, we seek truth from facts, not from wishful thinking.

The struggle for communism in the world – and in Australia – is littered with mistakes, rich with lessons. And with inspiring victories. Vanguard and the CPA(ML) are 60 this year. We’ve just reprinted the party’s first book, also from 1964. 

Hogtied to capitalism

Emerging from the most bitter split in our movement’s history, a split destroying lifelong friendships and even families, EF Hill’s Looking Backward: Looking Forward, Revolutionary Socialist Politics against Trade Union and Parliamentary Politics, analysed collective errors, based on deep study of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao. The key was it analysed Australia. 

Hill proved that, despite working class support, Labor was a capitalist party. The left labelled him “sectarian”. 

Workers rightly hate when the left cannibalises itself.  We were all guilty, for the stakes were high, liberation or exploitation, destruction and endless wars for profit. But real sectarianism is separation from the people.

All of Australia’s left grouplets are growing now, but none of us is capable yet of leading a revolution. 

In 1964, Hill also challenged trade union politics, because while trade unions at their best teach workers that if you don’t fight you’ve already lost, and teach them to organise as a class – touch one, touch all – at best unions only win crumbs from the capitalist feast. Now more than ever, unions are hogtied to capitalism. Dialectically, new laws enforcing permanency, applied to those few unions like the NSW Teacher Federation whose members still elect its organisers and officers, now demand, once elected for over two years, members won’t be able to remove them.

Betraying workers for the new US boss

After WW2, the communist party here was over 20,000 strong.  Hill’s book also showed how the anti-Marxist, class-struggle-denying ideology of US “communist” leader Earl Browder gripped the Australian party, paving the way for our new best buddy to shove British imperialism aside, betraying the workers and allies who could have fought this new master.

We’re now little more than a US imperialist puppet. It holds the commanding heights of our economy, our military is a wing of US forces, its culture poisons Australian minds. 

It dominates through division and conquest, deception and force. What ever-diminishing peoples’ rights we still have, were won and defended in hard struggle.  

In 1964 Hill showed Australia was a capitalist dictatorship, with parliament its “democratic” window-dressing.

Examples are endless. 94% of Australians opposed the war in Iraq. Howard joined the US invasion. This week 30% of the NSW prison population is Aboriginal. If the laws, courts, police, military, jails are independent, above classes, why are the biggest criminals living in unimaginable luxury instead of in jail?

The ruling class chooses violence

Resistance is growing. Palestine opens ever more eyes to reality, of who rules, who benefits. Who in their right minds would choose violence, invasion, destruction of the planet? The capitalist class, over and over again. 

Mao Zedong said communists must be like fish in a sea of people, because it’s the masses who create revolutionary change, not small groups of likeminded people isolated in left blocs. We listen, take the ideas of the masses, collectively concentrate them into theory, take them back to the people to be tested in practice, in an ongoing spiral of learning for revolutionary change. Underpinning this, constantly enriched in struggle, are 170 years of Marxist theory. The voice of peoples’ needs demand action from Humphrey McQueen’s new pamphlet.

Marx said there’s no crisis capitalism can’t recover from, until workers and oppressed peoples organise to defeat it. US imperialism and its hangers on will never willingly surrender. If threatened, they will choose violence. 

Right now we need to listen, to study, to organise, to build the peoples’ forces in struggle, build a party steeped in humility serving them, like fish in as sea of people. Our party strives and organises to be one day worthy of the Australian working class and its allies. 

We’re glad Humphrey is a friend of our party.

Today we’ll listen and ask and collectively learn from each other.

My party had the good fortune to marginally contribute to the first version of this profound pamphlet for workers and community activists, then an extraordinarily skinny summary of Marx’s monumental three volumes.

This second bread and butter version launched today is far richer, collectively created from 14 years of group study in Canberra. Humphrey says The Communist Manifesto is poetry that begs to be read aloud. His new pamphlet is an epic poem, for understanding, for organisation, for liberation, for survival.

As Rosa Luxemburg wrote, the choice is simple socialism or barbarism.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

US company to design Osborne submarine shipyard

Written by: Nick G. on 31 May 2024

 

US company Kellogg Brown Root (KBR) has been selected to provide concept design services for the new nuclear powered submarine construction yard at Osborne in South Australia. 

Profits from the deal will further enrich the pockets of wealthy US shareholders.

KBR has previously won massive US contracts for supporting the US military in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. 

However, its “Controversy” listing on Wikipedia is one of the longest of any multinational company, including price-fixing, bribery, negligence in relation to employee safety, sexual assault and abuse allegations, and a human trafficking lawsuit. 

As recently as September 2022, 800 Filipino workers were stranded at the remote US military base on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean due to an employment dispute with KBR. They alleged it had underpaid wages and denied holiday leave entitlements.

If the old saying is true that you can know a person by the company he or she keeps, we now know a bit more about the Australian ruling class and its subservience to US imperialism.

Withdraw from AUKUS!
Oppose KBR’s contract! 

.............

Update:


On Jue 6 2024, it was announced that KBR had been given an Australian government contract to "monitor space above Australia."

The announcement stated: "KBR’s Iron Stallion technology can find, watch, track and report on the movement of objects in space and now forms an integral component of the Australian government’s space domain awareness. Iron Stallion is a command and control technology that is being used by the Department of Defence to support Australia’s need for advanced space-based surveillance capabilities. It has proved its effectiveness in the US and in the UK."


The militarisation of space is a direct consequence of imperialism's striving for "full spectrum domination".  In the US, the Space Force sits alongside the Army, Navy and Airforce as part of the US military.