Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Vanguard December 2012

Next issue February 2013

The Vanguard team is taking a short break over the New Year. The next issue will be published early in February 2012.

Important news comment, statements and analysis of local and international events will continue to be posted on for the information of subscribers and supporters.

Our thanks to all those who have supported Vanguard throughout the year with their subscriptions, contributed articles, comments, suggestions and donations. Your encouragement is greatly appreciated.

We wish all our comrades and friends a safe and happy New Year.

Truce for Gaza, but all out war still threatens

Vanguard December 2012 p. 1
by Bill F.

The brutal shelling and aerial bombing of Gaza by the Israeli military has slaughtered hundreds of civilians and reduced much of the fragile infrastructure to rubble. This abuse of overwhelming military might should be condemned as a flagrant war crime.

Israel also suffered some casualties, and its people too experienced fear and panic.

But what were the political motives behind this latest sudden flare up in knife-edge Palestine/Israel? After all, there have often been periods of extra tension, especially when there are clashes between settlers and Palestinian villagers. Here are some key factors to consider.

Firstly, the US and Israel had just completed joint military exercises, presumably aimed at Iran, the major concern of US imperialism in the region. With US assistance, Israel had also just completed installation of its ‘Iron Dome’ anti-missile system, which it needs to be operational before launching any attack on Iran.

Both US imperialism and the reactionary Israeli state had incentives to ‘test-drive’ Israel’s military systems on the people of Gaza. This greatly suited the criminal Netanyahu regime, which called a snap election, hoping to distract the people of Israel from the high cost of living and issues of corruption, and be able to ride back into power on a wave of fear and jingoism.

For the Palestinian people, nothing much had really changed. As more and more settlements expanded into the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the blockade of West Bank villages and the Gaza Strip squeezed out hopes for peace, there were many calls for unity between the factions, especially between Hamas and Fatah, led by President Mahmoud Abbas.

When Abbas stated on Israeli television that he would not necessarily insist on the ‘right of return’ for exiled Palestinians, this sent a signal to Netanyahu regime that there would be no armed resistance from Fatah.

Israel was thus able to test its new military systems, rehearse its mass call up of reservists, assassinate a number of resistance fighters, and destroy once more key infrastructure in Gaza. With a terrified population, but few Israeli casualties, Netanyahu will be looking forward to re-election early next year.

Now there is a truce.

The US and Egypt have played some role in this, neither really wanting an all out war over Gaza. The US, in particular, is focussed on Iran and is already meddling in the unstable situation in adjoining Syria, and seeing growing unrest in its client state Jordan. Obama still promotes the long dead ‘two state solution’ and the US, along with Australia, still opposes every United Nations resolution that recognises the rights of the Palestinian people.

Long live the heroic resistance of the Palestinian people!

Gas field shows major leak

Vanguard December 2012 p. 2
by Jim H.
According to the report of a study by researchers at Southern Cross University, testing inside the Tara gas field, near Condamine on Queensland's Western Downs, found some greenhouse gas levels over three times higher than nearby districts.
This concerns Australia's biggest coal seam gas field, where vast amounts of methane carbon dioxide and other gases appear to be leaking through the soil and bubbling up through rivers.
Contrary claims made by the gas industry, led by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association are undercut with this revelation.
The study has potential national consequences. A recent energy white paper in Canberra, forecast a massive expansion of Australian coal seam gas drilling, and called for environmental objections to be removed to make large-scale gas extraction easier.
In NSW, the Planning Assessment Commission is currently considering a proposal by AGL to drill 66 new coal seam gas wells in western Sydney. "The concentrations here are higher than any measured in gas fields anywhere else that I can think of, including in Russia," said Damien Maher, a biochemist who helped conduct the tests. "The extent of these enriched concentrations is significant."
The coal seam gas industry has previously maintained that gas leakage in Australia is "negligible", and the default assumption has been that about 0.12% of gas leaks out of wells during production. Uncontrolled leaks up through rock fissures and soil, of the type measured by the Southern Cross University team, were assumed to be nil, and are unaccounted for under the federal emissions trading scheme.
The results of the study back up the position of people who have been battling coal seam fracking, who have all along held that the evidence available shows significant cracking of the rock structure, leakages and changing of the soil.  
All projects for new fields must be stopped and fields in operation closed down, so long as they continue to pose a threat to land and people.

It's been going on too long! Time to nationalise GMH!

Vanguard December 2012
by Ned K.
(Above: Labor prime Minister ben Chifley with the first Holden car)

On Friday 2 November General Motor’s fully owned Holden subsidiary announced the loss of 170 jobs at its Elizabeth plant in the northern working class suburbs of Adelaide.

This follows the sacking of over 200 workers earlier this year and yet another government hand out of $275 million. Holden management blame the economic slump and competition from imported cars, and this is echoed by both state and federal governments.

While it is true that the boom – bust cycles of capitalism and overproduction inevitably result in profits before jobs, General Motors in Australia have been scaling back production in Australia since the 1970s and decimating the car component industry in Australia along the way.

Taxpayer dollars

The Chifley ALP Government in the 1940s gave General Motors Holden £2.5 million Australian pounds to fund the first Holden car. General Motors parent corporation did not put in a penny, according to Laurence Harnett in his book Big Wheels Little Wheels.

Not much has changed since then. Millions of tax payers’ dollars have gone to General Motors over the years, but General Motors Holden has remained 100% US owned.

“When the General Talks, You Better Listen To Him”, a song by Midnight Oil, describes the subservience of successive Australian and state governments toward this US multinational company.

In fact, the subservience towards General Motors is a microcosm of subservience by governments in Australia to US imperialism, present governments included.

Nationalise General Motors Holden

The only short term solution is for the people to demand that the government nationalise Holden before it disappears completely. It can be done if the people’s voice is loud enough.

When Rudd was Prime Minster he had a plan of sorts to have an electric car built at the Holden Elizabeth plant. So the politicians know that car workers, from top engineers to the production line workers themselves, have the skills, knowledge and will to build vehicles here for Australian conditions.

They don’t need ‘the General’ to do it. In fact, to build a modern car in Australia, ‘the General’ is the main obstacle. Nationalising GMH would be an important, but small step towards an independent Australia and signal the primary role of workers in this struggle for independence.

Overproduction crisis mows down car workers

Vanguard December 2012 p. 3
by Bill F.

(Above: Ford workers get their scrap of paper: "You're sacked!")

Ford workers at the Broadmeadows and Geelong plants in Victoria are the latest to get the flick as the global capitalist crisis of overproduction slices through the manufacturing industry in Australia.

In November, 212 car workers were shown the door, another 118 took so-called ‘voluntary’ redundancy packages, while a further 110 were redeployed into other jobs. That’s the loss of 440 production line jobs at Ford within 5 months!

The local boss of Ford Australia, Bob Gaziano, hastened to say that the jobs of the remaining 2900 were secure, but nobody believes that, and perhaps he should be worried about his own job. And it won’t be the working class that threatens his immediate future, but the corporate owners/bosses in the United States who will decide how long Ford continues to operate in Australia.

These sackings come on top of the loss of 300 Toyota jobs in April and 170 GMH jobs last month. As well as the loss of direct car manufacturing jobs, there have been a spate of bankruptcies and sackings in the automotive parts industry, as well as cutbacks in the number of workers in car dealerships and the car trade business. CMI Industrial dismissed 117 workers in July, while parts maker APV Automotive tossed out another 170 in August.


Car workers are well aware of the fact that their industry is dominated by a handful of powerful multinational corporations operating in their own international ‘globalised’ economies. They invest where the profits are greater and cut back where the profits are less.

These monopolies have no loyalty to the workers whose ‘loyalty’ they insist and rely upon. They prefer cheap labour, non-union workers in countries with fewer labour laws and inferior working conditions, fewer environmental regulations, less government ‘red tape’ standing in the way of their profit-making. They export the jobs of workers in the western industrialised countries to places where the level of exploitation is greater and easier to maintain.

In countries such as Germany, Italy, Belgium, Britain, Canada and the United States, in the last few years there have been many strikes and sit-ins by workers defending their jobs. Now they are being joined by car workers in Japan, South Korea, China, and India as they too find they have to take a stand against speed-ups and intensified work-loads as the various companies scramble to sell more cars than their competitors. In the end, the old problem of capitalist overproduction catches up with all of them.

What solutions?

Certainly, the capitalist system has none. The federal government has handed over more than $1 billion in assistance to the car industry in the last financial year, on top of the many billions pumped in over the decades. Not loans to be re-paid with interest, not shares to return to taxpayers some of the profits, but outright freebie handouts! Nothing in return, not even secure jobs for Australian workers!

At the same time, government policies have pandered to international monopoly capital and dismantled industry protections (unlike the US and Europe) leading to a flood of imported cars dominating car sales – 86% of the local market.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union has proposed that all federal, state and local government agencies source their fleet car purchases from the Australian-based vehicle makers. This is one small step that could and should happen, although the imminent TPP free trade deal would probably knock it off anyway.

The best solution is to nationalise the car industry and use the economies of scale to produce a range of fuel efficient vehicles and electric cars, and public transport rolling stock and vehicles suited to Australian conditions. That can only happen when the interests of US imperialism no longer dominate our politics and economy. In the meantime, workers will fight to defend their livlihoods.

Eureka Rebellion - an Historical Perspective

Vanguard December 2012 p. 3

The Eureka Stockade is remembered and celebrated in November – December of each year by many Australians.

It is timely to re-print the comments of Ted Hill, former leader of the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) which can be found in the chapter “Origins of Communism in Australia” in the book Communism In Australia –Reflections and Reminiscences.

“With the discovery of gold in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley and in Victoria... new capital was accumulated. Already English loans were extended on a comparatively large scale. The surge of people from all over the world to the goldfields provided a labour force adequate for agricultural pursuits and also for what manufacture there was.

“Oppression within the colony engendered opposition. The enforcement of miners’ licence fees on gold prospectors caused bitter resentment. On December 3, 1854, the miners at Ballarat, who had shown a spirit of rebellion and set up their own defensive Eureka Stockade, were suddenly stormed by colonial troops on the orders of Governor Hotham.

“The miners resisted heroically but were ill-prepared to deal with the soldiers. The Eureka Stockade was the high point in rebellion against systematic oppression by the colonial authorities...

“Marx regarded the Eureka rebellion as part of the radical movement that was sweeping the capitalist world and which had reached a high point in the dramatic European revolutions of 1848. Eureka became one of the symbols of Australian radicalism.

“The Eureka miners were not workers in the sense of men working for an employer. Essentially they were petty producers. From them emerged some capitalists, but the great majority became workers.”

Hill points out that in terms of the development of the working class movement in Australia, the Eureka Stockade took place in an international environment which saw the publication of the Manifesto of the Communist Party in 1848 by Marx and Engels, the winning of the 8 hour day by stonemasons in Australia in 1856, and an Australian presence in 1871 at a meeting of the International Workingmen’s Association. Many of the miners were influenced by British Chartist and Irish and Italian republican radical and socialist views.

Inspiration for struggles today

The Eureka Stockade, as well as a landmark struggle for an independent Australia, was also an inspiration for workers in future decades in their numerous struggles against capital and in the struggle of ideas for socialism in Australia.

As Hill says, “The growth of socialist ideas in Australia is tortuous indeed. Splits, confusion, acrimony and personal rivalry, all featured. Still the number of “socialist” adherents and interest in socialism grew”.

Fast forward to Eureka celebrations in 2012, and that interest in socialism among the people in Australia is still growing as the social system of capitalism fails to provide the basic needs of millions of people throughout the world.

Phoney taxes for Capital and austerity for the people

Vanguard December 2012 p. 4
by Max O.

The ALP Federal Government's tax and budget expenditure deceit is now unfolding in full view of the Australian people.

Gillard's 'True Believer' pretensions in regards to the Carbon Tax and the Minerals Resource Rent Tax have given absolutely nothing to the environment and workers. The Prime Minister has truly reached the mantle of the 'True Deceiver'.

Corporate taxes that don't cost a cent

The Carbon Tax was never going to achieve the goal of reducing carbon emissions. The corporate polluters, the electricity generators and smelters, now receive generous subsidies to carry on polluting and pass on the cost to the households. They in turn receive some compensation with bonuses and minor tax cuts to enable them to consume electricity at the same rate before the carbon tax.

At the same time households are suffering from price gouging by the electricity corporations.

And before you could say the words, "climate change" the Gillard government has backed away from using the revenue from the carbon tax to pay out and close down the worst polluting power stations, because, would you believe, it is too expensive!

This great step forward to carry out significant reductions in carbon emissions has come to nought, and the government is only pretending to do something about climate change.

Mineral Resources Rent Tax

Next we have the success story of the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT); well it was a success for Julia Gillard in her ambition to achieve the office of Prime Minister!

After the hue and cry by the mainly foreign mining monopolies over Kevin Rudd's relatively mild Super Profits Mining Tax (SPRT), Gillard snatched the prime ministership away from him and implemented BHP/Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata's orders for weakest tax of all, the Minerals Resource Rent Tax.

It has become a Clayton's tax, where the mining corporations end up paying little or no tax at all – going from a mining tax rate of 40% (for the SPRT) to an effective tax rate of 22.5% (for the MRRT) and which only affects iron ore and coal mining operations generating annual profits over $75 million. On top of this, there are all the deductions that the mining corporations demanded and received to further reduce this tax.

This starts off with all state governments' mining royalties being deducted from the MRRT. Another example is the opportunity for these mining giants to write-off exploration and investment costs.

Therefore the costs of any new project can be deducted from another project that is making a profit. As companies carry out exploration and start up new projects on a continual basis, they could avoid paying the MRRT for years.

Treasurer Swan boasted that the MRRT would raise $10.6 billion over four years and that in the first year $3.7 billion in revenue would be collected. However, this was reduced to $2 billion in the mid-year budget update.

A month later, we learn that the mining giants smugly informed the Tax office they would pay zero MRRT for the first quarter of the new financial year! Smart punters are betting that MRRT revenues for the next three quarters are going to amount to zeros as well.

This is galling, even considering that while ore and coal prices have fluctuated up and down, profits are still enormous. In August, Xstrata reported a $1.95 billion, Rio Tinto $5 billion and BHP Billiton $15 billion in half-year profits.

Budget cuts on social expenditure

While there are gains for the mining giants you can guarantee there will be pain for ordinary families. The Gillard government is intent on delivering at least $4 billion in cuts in the budget if their 'fiscally responsible' small surplus is to be achieved next year.

First for the chop was the Single Parent allowance. From next year people will be moved from the single parent payment to the dole (Newstart) once their youngest child turns eight, cutting between $65 and $115 per week from 100,000 single parents. This will save the government $728 million over four years.

Next came the Baby Bonus, with 87,000 families targeted with a cut from $5000 to $3000 for the second and subsequent children, saving the $500 million over four years. While the Baby Bonus was poorly designed, these savings would be better targeted as family payments to parents struggling on low incomes.

The future holds out more cuts to social expenditure and whether the Gonski Report (increased educational funding) and the National Disability Insurance Scheme ever get a Guernsey, don't hold your breath.

Now the deception has come home to roost, and the ordinary people suffer for it. These phoney taxes for the powerful, mainly foreign corporations were never going cost them a cent. They were just smoke and mirrors to create the illusion that the Gillard/ALP government was making the big end of town contribute to the tax system like everybody else.

Unfortunately what awaits ordinary Australians is a new wave of austerity because the Gillard/ALP federal government refuses to make the rich pay. Hold onto your seats for Australia's rough ride into the capitalist induced economic crisis and the pain it will inflict on the working class.

No "fair go" for the working class

Vanguard December 2012 p. 4
by Bill F.

People used to talk of Australia as a place where working people had a ‘fair go’, where the disparity between rich and poor was supposedly nowhere near as great as in Europe or America, and where ordinary working people could make a decent living.

Those days have well and truly passed by, as the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveals.

In its survey of household income for the year 2009-10, the ABS revealed that the richest 20% of households receives 47% of all wages and salaries paid in Australia, while the poorest 20% receives a mere 2.5%.

If that’s not shocking enough, the rich also got a further leg-up with non-means-tested taxpayer funded benefits, such as the child care rebate and the private health insurance rebate. According to the ABS, the richest 20% received 12% of total social assistance; the next 20% received 11%, while the poorest and most deserving 20% received only 30% of these social benefits.

That this is happening under a Labor government should be an eye-opener for those who still look to the Labor government to give workers a ‘fair go’. It brings to mind the words of Frederick Engels, who wrote about the role of the state machine in Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1894). “As the state arose from the need to hold class antagonisms in check, but as it arose, at the same time, in the midst of the conflict of these classes, it is, as a rule, the state of the most powerful, economically dominant class, which, through the medium of the state, becomes also the politically dominant class, and thus acquires new means of holding down and exploiting the oppressed class.”

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney commented on the rising income inequality in Australia, saying “While some people are doing well, the rise in insecure work… such as casual, contract and labour hire… means workers are under more pressure than ever and are more vulnerable if their work dries up… These workers on the periphery of the economy often do not know how many hours they will work from week to week, and can become stuck in a churn between unemployment and low-paid temporary work”.

In its quarterly Wages Report, the ACTU noted that the level of the Newstart unemployment benefit had fallen over ten years, from nearly 25% of average full-time wages to well under 20%, and from about 47% of the national minimum wage down closer to 42%.

Whether working full-time, part-time, or on the dole, this system always takes back anything workers were able to win in the good times. Even the treadmill is turning faster!

Austerity hits single parents

Vanguard December 2012 p. 5
by Alice M.

The Federal Labor government has lined up single parents in the front row of harsh austerity attacks.  In the May 2012 Federal Budget the government announced it planned to save $700 million by forcing over 100,000 more single parents (over 90% are women) off the Parenting Payment.

From 1st January 2013, over 100,000 single parent families, already struggling on the low Parenting Payment allowance will be forced on to the even lower and unliveable Newstart, and will have their present parenting allowances cut back between $60 and $100 per week.  This will force many more single parent families into deeper poverty. Well done Julia, for yet again kicking your sisters in the teeth. 

Simply, this is about shifting more of people’s taxes to the big business end of town, under the guise of so called “budget surplus”. Never mind that big corporations and wealthy big business moguls are raking in super profits and getting away with paying next to nothing in taxation.

The Melbourne Institute poverty line data (December 2011) shows that a single parent with one child receiving maximum Parenting Payment, Rent Assistance, Family Tax Benefits (A & B) would have a total weekly income of $521.93. This is only about$20 per week above poverty line of $500.56.  Forcing single parents on to Newstart will throw them into deeper poverty.

For Gillard, Swan and their wealthy corporate mates, $100 a week might be small pocket change for a parking meter. But for the great majority of single parent families who are already struggling, it will be a big cut to the daily necessities of having food on the table, being able to pay for housing, gas and electricity, clothes, school fees (now in most public schools), school camp fees for kids, and much more.

Gillard ignored the recommendations of her own Parliamentary Inquiries that strongly advised the government to delay the passage of the new Bill that forces single parents with children over 8 years off the Single Parenting Payment on to Newstart, until further investigation into Newstart is completed. Instead, the Labor government brought the Bill forward and rushed it through before the community knew about it and could be mobilised.

This move by the government has nothing to do with encouraging and assisting single parents to enter the workforce. It will only throw more single parents into deeper poverty, unable to afford the costly training of privatised TAFE system and higher education, unaffordable child care, inflexible and single-family-unfriendly work places and few secure jobs.

If Gillard was genuinely committed to bringing equal opportunities to women her government would tax the mega profits of the rich corporations and mining moguls, instead of unleashing their neo-liberal agenda that attacks single parents and their families.

Single parents struggling to make ends meet don’t want to be dependent solely on welfare and charity; they want to be treated with dignity and respect.  Single parents want:

  • Liveable and dignified single parent family allowance
  • Free training and education
  • Free child care
  • Affordable and decent housing
  • Decent and secure jobs that respect family needs of single parents
  • Affordable education for their children
Make the profit-bloated mining corporations and banks pay now!

Australia Post workers resisting attacks

Vanguard December 2012 p. 5
by Alice M.

Australia Post workers and their union the CWU (Postal) are angry.  At the same time as Australia Post announces a 16.6% increase in profits in the last financial year, it intensifies attacks on the jobs and conditions of postal workers.

It sends out a warning to its workers to expect “wage restraint” (that usually means less than the rate of inflation), and hacks back the essential public service provided to the community for more than 100 years.   

The main reason for the windfall in the increase of Australia Post’s profits is the measly 1% annual wage increase that was meted out to Australia Post workers in 2010.

This is where most of Australia Post’s 16.6% rise in profits came from. Australia Post made $281 million in the after tax profits, and after paying the Federal government dividend of almost $214million. Ahmed Farouh, the ex-CEO of NAB and current CEO of Australia Post pocketed $2.78 million salary, including $874,000 in bonuses.  Most Australia Post executives earn over $1million. 

More casual, part-time jobs

Community services cut

The increase in profits also comes at a time of cut backs in retail and delivery services to the community.

For the 33,000 Australia Post workers nationally who are the sole creators of these profits, it comes with a stronger push by Australia Post for wider casualisation and part-time work, and fewer permanent workers.

For the community, it means cuts to services, closure and privatisation of more suburban and rural post offices and contracting out the rapidly growing parcel delivery services at lower rates of pay and inferior working conditions and entitlements for contract workers. 

While the volume of letters is shrinking, replaced by emails and electronic transactions, the volumes of domestic and international parcels have increased exponentially over past two years. 

Preparing for privatisation?

Australia Post management and the Federal government have no interest in continuing to provide an efficient national public service to the community. The Government wants to maximise Australia Post’s dividends in its chase for a surplus budget to be used only to benefit big business.

Both want to turn this public community service into big business, not unlike the big four banks.  This will only gut one of the last few remaining national, publicly owned infrastructure services. 

Waiting on the sidelines are big foreign corporations and financial institutions ready to pounce on the most lucrative operations of Australia Post.  The TPPA will clear the way for privatisation of Australia Post.

Squeezing and bullying

Australia Post workers are squeezed hard.  Australia Post has an unrivalled reputation for the largest numbers of work related injuries in a national public instrumentality. All sorts of tricks are used to deny injured workers their rights to workers’ compensation. This includes pressuring workers to attend their own company paid doctors for medical assessments.

In its latest scheming to cut jobs in retail shops, Australia Post concocted a time and motion system to measure individual workers’ productivity. The fake model is designed by top managers, lolling around in their skyscraper glass offices, demanding  counter staff should only take 41 seconds per transaction to process bills, down from present 70.  This is a cynically designed excuse to axe jobs.  

Australia Post retail workers and their union have settled in for a prolonged fight to protect jobs and prevent closure of retail shops. For workers and the union the battles with Australia Post never stop.

During the 2010 EBA, the previous national union leadership tricked many postal workers into believing that they would receive a 3% increase annually. The Victorian branch of the union saw through the deceit and the lies of the old leadership and strongly campaigned against accepting the insulting wage increase that in reality was only 1% per year. Alerted by their union, workers in Victoria overwhelmingly voted against the agreement.

After two and a half years the bitter truth of the paltry 1% increase has been exposed, and postal workers are angry.

Australia Post workers, their union and the community have common interests in the fight to defend a public service and its loyal workers. It is part of a growing people’s movement to build Australia as a society that provides efficient community and public services that work in the interests of the people, and respects and looks after workers.

Lenin's works continue to inspire and guide us

Vanguard December 2012 p. 6
by Duncan B.

During the years of the struggle for socialism in Russia, Lenin wrote many works that continue to inspire and guide us today.

The Communist Party of Australia (M-L) urges its members and supporters to study Lenin’s works. Study of Lenin’s works helps us to understand the principles of Communist Party organisation, the nature of the capitalist state and imperialism, and the correct tactics of revolutionary struggle.

Below, we refer briefly to just some of the most important of Lenin’s many works.

Where to Begin? (1901), and What is to be Done? (1902)

In these works Lenin advanced his ideas as to the form a revolutionary party should take, bearing in mind the atmosphere of repression that existed in Tsarist Russia.

Lenin discussed in What Is To Be Done? the need for a form of party organisation which could resist the activities of the Tsar’s secret police. Lenin concluded that an organisation of professional revolutionaries was best suited for the conditions in Russia at that time. While conditions in Australia are not the same as in Tsarist Russia, the CPA (M-L) seeks to use the principles elaborated by Lenin to develop forms of party organisation that are suited to Australian conditions.

Lenin also advocated the need for an all-Russian revolutionary newspaper. Lenin saw the role of such a newspaper as not being limited solely to the dissemination of ideas, to political education and the enlistment of political allies, important as these may be. He wrote in Where To Begin? “A newspaper is not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, it is also a collective organiser.”

Lenin likened the revolutionary newspaper “to the scaffolding around a building under construction, which marks the contours of the structure and facilitates communication between the builders, enabling them to distribute the work and to view the common results achieved by their common labour.”

For nearly 50 years, Vanguard has strived to fulfil the role of a revolutionary newspaper as described by Lenin, and has supplemented this through the website and the blog at, as well the re-appearance of the theoretical journal Australian Communist.

Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916)

Lenin studied imperialism in depth before the First World War. He listed the main features of imperialism and gave a definition of imperialism that holds true today.

Lenin defined imperialism thus “Imperialism is capitalism in that stage of development in which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital has established itself; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun; in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed”.

An understanding of Lenin’s theory of imperialism helps us to understand the nature, function, and contradictions within imperialism. It equips us with the knowledge to improve our political work in rousing the people to challenge and defeat US imperialist domination of Australia.

The State and Revolution (1917) and The State (1919)

When we look around the world, we see many different forms of the state at various times in different countries – monarchies; parliamentary democracies; fascist dictatorships and every form in between.

Whatever form the state takes, even the most “democratic”, the reality is that armed force is the basis of that state – armed force which can be used against the oppressed class.

As Lenin succinctly put it in The State, “The forms of domination of the state may vary: capital manifests its power in one way where one form exists, and in another way where another form exists – but essentially the power is in the hands of capital, whether there are voting qualifications or not, or whether the republic is a democratic one or not – in fact the more democratic it is the cruder and more cynical is the rule of capitalism.”

Lenin wrote in The State And Revolution, “Imperialism – the era of bank capital, the era of gigantic capitalist monopolies, the era of the development of monopoly capitalism into state-monopoly capitalism – has demonstrated with particular force an extraordinary strengthening of the “state machine” and an unprecedented growth of its bureaucratic and military apparatus, in connection with the intensification of repressive measures against the proletariat in both the monarchical and in the freest, republican countries.” Understanding the nature of the capitalist state enables us to organise accordingly and eventually overthrow capitalism.

Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder (1921)

Lenin’s “Left-Wing” Communism, an Infantile Disorder is an important aid to help Communists to avoid “left” errors. Lenin wrote Left-Wing Communism to counter “leftist” trends developing in the Communist Parties in Germany, Britain and other countries.

Lenin criticised the “Lefts” over two issues that are very relevant in Australia today – working in reactionary trade unions, and participation in bourgeois parliaments. Lenin condemned the “Lefts” ideas in no uncertain terms. He wrote, “If you want to help “the masses” and to win the sympathy and support of “the masses”, you must not fear difficulties, you must not fear the pinpricks, chicanery, insults and persecution on the part of the “leaders”… but must imperatively work wherever the masses are to be found. You must be capable of every sacrifice, of overcoming the greatest obstacles in order to carry on agitation and propaganda systematically, perseveringly, persistently and patiently, precisely in those institutions, societies and associations – even the most ultra-reactionary – in which proletarian or semi-proletarian masses are to be found. And the trade unions and workers’ cooperatives (the latter sometimes, at least) are precisely organisations where the masses are to be found.”

He wrote, “Everyone will agree that an army which does not train itself to wield all arms, and methods of warfare that the enemy may possess, behaves in an unwise or even a criminal manner. But this applies to politics even more than it does to war.” Pursuit of “leftist” ideas isolates the Communist Party from the masses and leads to defeat of the revolution.

Lenin wrote extensively on many other subjects. It is well worth studying Lenin’s writings on philosophy, revolutionary strategy and tactics and the many other topics he wrote on, so that we are better equipped to build an independent socialist Australia.

"What happened to Australia's sovereignty?"

Vanguard December 2012 p. 7
by Alice M.

(Above: the Australian naval base HMAS Stirling in Western Australia incorporated in US war plans).
The Australian government’s compliance to US enmeshing Australia in its imperialist war preparations in the Asia-Pacific has angered many people.

More voices are raised condemning the Australian government’s subservience to the US, and calling for an independent foreign policy and national sovereignty.    

On the eve of AUSMIN talks in West Australia, the recently formed national Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN), representing peace organisations, churches, unions and community groups released a statement expressing concerns that “the AUSMIN talks between Defence Minister Stephen Smith and the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton will consolidate agreements regarding the use of Australian territory for US foreign policy behind the backs of Australians”.

In Western Australia before and during the AUSMIN talks several community and peace groups staged a series of protests and distributed leaflets condemning the escalation of US military activities in Australia and the Australian government’s acquiescence to US.

A leaflet distributed by IPAN (West Australia) stated, “While AUSMIN delegates Hillary Clinton and Julia Gillard are engaged in preparing for war, IPAN is promoting peace.  Don’t let US forces get the nod!  We want to live in Australia with an independent foreign policy, under which our country is free to choose what is truly in our best interests.”

Jo Valentine, member of IPAN, a long time fighter for peace and former WA Senator, echoed concerns of many Australians in a letter to West Australian newspapers. She wrote:

“I am utterly dismayed that our Government is prepared to embroil Australia further in the United States’ war planning, which is what the AUSMIN talks are all about.

“What has happened to Australian sovereignty? It’s gone missing in action, while U.S. forces get the nod.

“I feel sickened by this toadying to the American military.  It’s not in our best interest, and never has been, to fight in wars decided by other nations.  We have a long sad history of doing that from Sudan, Boer war, World Wars 1 and 2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq wars 1 & 2, Afghanistan... what will the Americans want next?

“How many more dead or severely damaged (physically, psychologically, emotionally) servicemen/women is the government prepared to suffer in order to please the Americans? And in doing so, we risk our own relatively good relations with countries in our region – our trading partners.

“It’s not in my name that our government makes these plans and promises in support of future wars.

“It’s not in my name that our government offers Australian facilities to the deadliest war machine on the planet.

“It’s not in my name that our government buys military hardware which suits the American military command, but which does nothing for the defence of our nation. 

“It’s not in my name that our government encourages young Australians to be trained for killing, when most of them would prefer to be trained for building communities, instead of destroying them.

“Let’s put our efforts towards goodwill and justice and working together with nations in our region to mitigate the effects of climate change.”

A broad and united people’s movement for Australian independence from the US is growing. 

US military marches into Australia

Vanguard December 2012 p. 7
by Bill F.

At the annual Australia-US Ministerial talks (AUSMIN) in Perth last month, Prime Minister Gillard and Defence Minister Stephen Smith compliantly welcomed the expansion of US military bases into Australia.

The talks, with high-flying US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, basically involved our servile government ticking off the US wish-list of items that will turn Australia into a launching pad for future US military adventures across Asia, the Pacific region and the Indian Ocean. 

AUSMIN commences the implementation of Obama’s 2011 announcement that the US would shift its focus to the Asia-Pacific region, aiming to have 60% of its global military in the region.

A new US military radar and space telescope base will be established, allegedly to monitor “space debris in our part of the world”, as Stephen Smith put it at his news conference. The real purpose of the base, however, will be to keep tabs on Chinese and Korean missile tests, space launches and satellites. Targeting ‘space junk’ is merely a cover for targeting China, in the ramped up confrontation policies of US imperialism.

Nobody knows if China will repay the favour by targeting the new base when it is built, but the reckless grovelling of the Gillard government opens Australia to a much more dangerous future.

Also discussed at the meetings was the US desire to have its warships and crews rotate through Australian ports, especially the HMAS Stirling Naval base in Western Australia.

Another ‘suggestion’ by Clinton and Panetta was a proposal for joint Australian-Indian naval exercises, which would free up the US navy to concentrate on the Pacific. Nothing concrete was announced however, and this reveals the ‘bit by bit’ process of military engagement which is designed to allay alarm within Australia. But, it hasn’t really worked.     

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has joined many others, including Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser, in expressing alarm at the manner in which Australia has surrendered to US foreign policy and military planning.

In his presentation of the Keith Murdoch Oration at the State Library of Victoria, he stated, “After playing the deputy sheriff, John Howard had us dancing to the tune of the US in Iraq and Afghanistan…Our sense of independence has flagged and as it flagged, we have rolled back into an easy accommodation with the foreign policy objectives of the US… More latterly, our respect for the foreign policy objectives of the US has superimposed itself on what should otherwise be the foreign policy objectives of Australia.”

Keating, and others such as Hugh White, are genuinely dismayed at the subservience of the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments. They tend to see it simply as weakness by our governments rather than revealing the extent of US political, economic, military and cultural domination of Australia, in other words, imperialism.

They are part of a rapidly growing movement of the people that wants Australia to assert and defend its independence and sovereignty. This movement also includes the patriotic working class and those resisting and opposing imperialist war and exploitation. Many are angry with the Labor government, but are determined to organise and rally the people against the US war machine.