Thursday, September 27, 2012

Class Struggle Steps Up

Vanguard October 2012 p. 1
Alice M.

The military style attacks on construction workers and their union, the CFMEU, in Melbourne in early September, has shown the true nature of Australian capitalist state as an apparatus for the suppression of the the working class and the people.

The big developers, property owners and peak big business outfits colluded and mobilised all branches of their state apparatus  to attack construction workers and their unions. The bourgeois media, the legal apparatus (employers’ lawyers and the courts), parliament and the police were wheeled out in a synchronised attack. 

In one voice the media widely and loudly spread outright lies viciously demonising construction workers, their unions and leaders. Construction workers and unions were linked to so-called “criminal underground” activities of motor cycle clubs.

Liberal and Labor governments joined the anti-worker and anti-union chorus. Labor less aggressively, mealy-mouthing condemnation of Grocon’s provocative actions and the violence of the police against the workers.

The anti-worker and anti-union laws of WorkChoices/FairWork and the ABCC were created in parliament by both Liberal and Labor governments. The courts breathed life into these laws and the police implemented them against the workers, sending strong messages of threats and intimidation to all unions and working people gearing up for struggle. 

More than 500 police with guns and capsicum spray,  nearly a hundred riot police, armed to the teeth in riot gear, more than dozen riot-equipped mounted police and a large dog squad, set upon peacefully protesting construction workers. The construction workers  and their union, the CFMEU, were simply demanding the right to elect their union OH&S delegates, and the right to wear union signage on the job. 

Construction and mining are dangerous industries with a high number of industrial accidents, injuries and fatalities. Improvement to health and safety has been one of the outstanding achievements by construction and mining unions and constantly has to be defended. Given the slightest chance, the bosses will take short cuts in health and safety issues.

The big business attacks on building workers and their unions in Melbourne target the entire working class in Australia. They have to be seen as part of a bigger national picture. The ruling class is making preparations to stop outbreaks of working class struggle.

The people are under growing pressures from the rising cost of living. Utilities, transport, housing, rents, child care, education, health are increasing. Almost 50% of workers have no job security, and youth unemployment is growing. Cuts to social and welfare services are throwing more on the brink of poverty. There’s frustration with parliament, parliamentary parties and politicians not looking after the interests of ordinary people, but instead looking after big corporations.

Workers are growing frustrated with industrial laws of WorkChoices/FairWork, Right of Entry,  the ABCC and its state versions, restrictions on union representation and laws that paralyse workers from taking industrial action for decent wages and conditions. There’s impatience with limitations on effectiveness of unions, failure to dismantle WorkChoices and FairWork, and the costly swamp of legal maneouverings.

These growing frustrations in the working class are leading more frequently to “illegal” actions in defiance of FairWork and the courts orders. Nurses, teachers, mining and warehouse workers are just some who have recently defied FairWork and court orders. The ruling class is aware of the growing discontent and makes preparations to crack down on wider outbreaks of struggle.

There’s only one course of action workers and unions need to take in preparation for future attacks. The real strength lies in uniting, educating, organising and mobilising the whole of the working class and its allies. It is the only way to hold back these attacks and win some breathing space before the bigger battles ahead.

Inspiring legacy left by Aboriginal women

Vanguard October 2012 p. 2
Nick G.

The Aboriginal community in South Australia has lost two senior women leaders who passed away within a short time of each other in Coober Pedy.

Eileen Unkari Crombie died on July 18, aged 77, followed by Eileen Kampakuta Brown (above)on August 11, aged 80.

Worried about the loss of traditional Aboriginal culture, especially for the younger women, both women were instrumental in establishing the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, the Senior Aboriginal Women’s Council of Coober Pedy in the late 1980s. As Eileen Brown said, “We know that our Aboriginal culture is very important, not just for Aṉangu, but for our beautiful country, Australia”.

It was at a weekly Kungka meeting in 1998 that the Eileens learned of the Howard government plans to build a nuclear waste dump within the Woomera Prohibited Area, not far from Coober Pedy.

For Eileen Brown, it brought back fearful memories.  As a young woman she was affected by fall-out from the British atom bomb test at Emu Junction on October 15, 1953.

“Westward we noticed the smoke when the sun was going down.  We were all watching the sun going down funny.  We thought the farmers were burning stumps, cleaning them up…We could see the light clear.  Smelling a different smell…We got up in the morning from the tent…

“Everyone had red eyes.  Right here the smoke caught us, it came over us.  Us lot…We tried to open our eyes in the morning but we couldn’t open them.  We had red eyes and tongues and our coughing was getting worse.”

Eileen Crombie described the Kungkas’ reaction to the news of the nuclear waste dump.

“We went wild.  Straight out we said wanti -  leave it. We were all saying it must be deadly poison if they want to bring it all the way over here, and we were frightened properly.”

Frightened or not, the Kungkas determined to oppose the dump. They formed a new group for that very purpose – Irati Wanti (“The poison – leave it!”) and campaigned vigorously with allies and friends in the environmental and trade union movements for the next six years. They travelled interstate and overseas to fight the government and were ultimately successful. In recognition of their efforts, the Kungkas won the prestigious international Goldman Prize in 2003 as “environmental heroes”.

In the same year, Eileen Brown was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the community “through the preservation, revival and teaching of traditional Aṉangu culture and as an advocate for Indigenous communities in Central Australia”.

Eileen Unkari Crombie and Eileen Kampakuta Brown leave an inspiring legacy of respect for one’s birth right and of struggle against oppressive and unjust decision-making.

Worrying loss of work opportunities

Vanguard October 2012 p. 2
Jim H.

In July the official rate of unemployment stood at 5.2%. Many with expertise in this field point out that the real number out of work is twice that number.

Even so, too many Australians can’t get work. Over the quarter, 27,000 jobs were shed. At the same time, fewer people were reported as looking for work. Some of this can be explained by the more vigorous measures taken by Centrelink to cut people off. It also indicates that more Australians are dependent on being supported by others lucky enough to be working.

It hits younger people the hardest. They find that they have to stay under the care of their parents for longer. Women are also badly done by and relegated to the kitchen more easily than has been the case for many years.

The pattern has continued since July. The most recent data shows that the number of people actually working is declining, falling by 8,800 in August. Many of the lost jobs were casual and part time. These losses are relatively modest at present, but their significance is that they go hand in hand with the deepening of the systemic economic crisis. As this deepens further, more jobs stand to go. The current round of job losses has been concentrated in manufacturing, retail and construction.

Malcolm Turnbull and politicians

Vanguard October 2012 p. 3

Malcolm Turnbull’s salvo against politicians in Australia has been timely. Not that there is anything new here.  Most Australians know that politicians have been a crooked lot for years.

It’s just that in recent times this has become worse. Not too surprising given the reality that this sorry lot find they are operating in more difficult and less predictable conditions than they have experienced for many years. There is less room for subtlety.

Turnbull’s targeted ‘cynical politics,” lamenting on the observation that there is a “deficit of trust,” as they go about in an environment where “… incentives to be untruthful and purposely mislead are so great, and the adverse consequences of such behaviour are so modest.” This is a fancy way of saying that they are a bunch of protected con artists.

He also pointed out the habit of avoiding issues that are important to the Australian people, through bipartisan diversion, spin and misrepresentation by Labor and the Coalition. As a consequence, Australians do not trust politicians and parliament.

“If you love your country…, and care deeply about our nation’s future, there is nothing more certain to arouse your fury and invite your contempt than listening to an entire House of Representatives question time,” Mr Turnbull said.

Turnbull has shown an extremely rare degree of honesty. He calls it like he sees it. Where we must disagree is in the belief of the possibility of turning this around through appeal or a change of parliamentary rules. Turnbull remains in the grip of his class status and does not understand that the problem has a material basis. It is inherent in the social relations that produce the class outlook of capitalism.

Parliament itself is an institution of capitalism that works to serve capitalism. By and large, those who are enmeshed in it accept capitalism and embrace all that it stands for, like service of self. Big business allows politicians to serve in parliament so long as they render service in furthering the interests of big business. If they fail, they are hounded out.

Politicians take up a lifestyle where they rub shoulders with the rich and powerful. They do not associate with ordinary people. It has an effect. So does the illusion that the real business of the day is carried out in parliament and not in the boardrooms and other institutions. Capitalism is corrupt and it entangles its servants with this corruption.

Politics of the collective

Contrast this with the daily activity and cooperation of millions of wage earners. This is what makes the wheels go around. Add the tens of thousands of volunteers, carrying out a thousand and one services.

Out this emerges politics of a different kind. This politics is cooperative, and exists to serve the collective need of the majority, and because of this is truly democratic. This politics has faith in people. Parliamentary politics fears people, and takes on deception and deceit as the normal way of operating.

When the alternative politics of the people involves conscious collective action to defend and extend the interests of the majority, it is raised to a higher level. Only by emphasising conscious action of the majority outside parliament can the real issues be taken on in earnest. Only on this basis can corrupted politicians be put out of business. Only on this basis can an alternative future be built.

Present circumstances provide great opportunities to make significant headway. Every effort must be put into raising the conscious action of the people, the achievement of greater clarity about the way forward, and developing new and appropriate organisational forms. 

Communists and their organisation play an important role in this, so long as they are imbued with the spirit of service to the people, clear-sightedness and the courage to act as the situation demands.

Betty Oke, champion of the people - a tribute

Vanguard October 2012 p. 4
Alice M.

On September 6, Betty Oke, a long-time member of the CPA (M-L) who dedicated her life and work to the interests of ordinary people and building the Communist Party, passed away at the age of 93.

For nearly 80 years Betty worked tirelessly in many workplace and community struggles. She never wavered in her commitment and confidence in the working class, the Communist Party and the power of people’s mass movements for an anti-imperialist revolutionary change.

In some of the more difficult periods in the history of the Communist Party and working class struggles, Betty never abandoned her commitment to the CPA (M-L) and the working class movement. Her contribution to ordinary people and the revolutionary struggle for Australian independence and socialism was enormous. She was a truly inspirational daughter of Australia’s working class.

It was during the 1930s great depression that Betty as a teenager was thrown into the upheavals of revolutionary class struggle. And she never left that struggle. Passionate and riling against exploitation, oppression and the march of fascism, Betty joined the Communist Party in the late 1930s, where she met her late husband Rick. Both became deeply immersed in the many working class political and trade union struggles.

Betty and Rick had many responsibilities in their work in the CPA (M-L) and were among its leading members. They kept deep connections with ordinary people, always involved in and led many grass roots struggles in their communities and workplaces. Betty was particularly active in local community struggles, her children’s schools, environment issues and community services.

For several years Betty was one of 3 vice-chairpersons in the CPA (M-L). She never imposed her views on the people with whom she was involved in struggles, and always respected other points of view. It was Betty’s study of Marx, Lenin, Engels and Mao and the collective of the CPA (M-L) that guided and enriched her practical work in building a revolutionary movement in Australian conditions. It was the study of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao and Ted Hill and the collective analysis by the CPA (M-L) of Australian conditions and practice that guided and enriched Betty’s work and helped her in difficult situations.

Betty regularly wrote for Vanguard and in the last few years of her life she was frustrated that she was not able to contribute more. Betty was a kind, generous person who respected and genuinely cared for the lives of ordinary people.

She led many struggles and played a pivotal role in winning an important community struggle to save the Mullum Mullum Creek (below)  from environmental vandalism by the Myer-Coles monopoly. Betty, nominated by the local community, received the Order of Australia for her immense contribution to protecting the environment and stopping the plunder of big business. She embodied mass work and the mass line in all her work as a communist.

Comrades and friends
More than 200 people came to pay their respects to Betty at the celebration of her life. Warm tributes were made by her friends from many social, political and environmental struggles, her dancing club and the over 55s retirees.

The following tribute to Betty was given on behalf of her friends and comrades in the CPA (M-L):

“Firstly I’d like to thank Betty’s family for inviting me to pay respects to her enormous contribution to make the world a better place for people and the environment.

“Betty loved life, her family and the ordinary people, and she worked hard to make the world a better place. Betty was immensely proud of her family, her three daughters and their husbands and partners, and all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was a loving mother and grandmother who cared deeply and wanted the best for her family.

“Betty was courageous, feisty and deeply passionate about social justice, the rights of working people, democratic rights, the environment, equality and a peaceful and decent world.  Her life-long and selfless commitment of nearly 80 years for a world free of suffering, exploitation, oppression, racism and wars continues to inspire many today. For Betty, her convictions were not abstract or academic ideas, but grounded in the real world. She always listened to others and respected different points of view, always striving to learn more. She read widely and always kept herself informed and engaged with what was happening in the local community, Australia and the world.
“Betty had an unshakeable confidence in the wisdom and strength of ordinary working people. She deeply believed that when the people are united, presented with facts and the truth, their judgement and capacity to change the world for a better place is unstoppable.

“It was the suffering, hardship and injustices of the depression of 1930s that grounded Betty in the real world of workers’ struggle. Her experiences during the depression,  the rise of fascism in Europe and the devastation of the Second World War led Betty, like tens of thousands of others in Australia, to join the Communist Party, where she met her husband Rick with whom she shared deep and rich involvement in struggles for a better world. During the Second World War Betty worked in the munitions factory in Footscray, where she was a very active union delegate, organising and empowering workers to improve their working conditions and instilling in them an understanding of the world and their part in it. With thousands of others during the Second World War, Betty was deeply involved in the struggles against fascism, racism and the devastation of wars. Betty worked tirelessly in the broadly based campaign for democratic rights during the Cold War, and against Australian involvement in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“It was her deep involvement with ordinary people at the grass roots of struggle that gave Betty her deepest satisfaction and an eternally optimistic outlook on the future for working people. Betty knew that’s where real change would come from. She fought to protect the environment, for decent community, social and health services and proper funding of education for all children. She led many community campaigns and was widely respected by many. Betty never placed her personal interests above the interests of ordinary people.  Her life and work embodied that famous saying “serve the people”. 

“It was in these circumstances that Betty met her partner Neil. They were both active in the pensioners’ rights and local community campaigns and struck a close friendship and partnership on that famous protest bus trip to Canberra.

“Betty had an understanding of the many contradictions in life and society and applied this dialectical approach to work out many problems in struggle and campaigns and in her day to day dealings with people. This enabled her to work out the essence, or the main issue, in struggle and unite with many.

“The cold war of McCarthyism in the 1950s was a shameful period in our history. Progressive people, liberal thinkers, peace activists, trade unionists, progressive church leaders, academics, lawyers, judges and communists were demonised and vilified by the media and the government.  Extraordinary lies were spread about many good people, some people lost their jobs, children and families were victimised, ostracised and discriminated against. This period took its toll on many decent people and their families. Betty was not intimidated and did not waver in the slightest in the face of extraordinary difficulties during these attacks on democratic rights. It only strengthened her conviction, making her more determined to fight for people’s democratic rights and to change the world.

“Betty’s life will not be forgotten and is an inspiration to all of us.”

For peace, and against Australian military involvement in Afghanistan

Vanguard October 2012 p. 5
Alex M.

The military base at Swan Island, near Queenscliff, Victoria, will be the site for a concerted campaign directed against Australian involvement in Afghanistan.

The campaign, organised by the group Swan Island Peace Convergence, is scheduled for September 23rd to 27th inclusive. The aim is to blockade the base, not only to protest the continuing Australian military involvement in Afghanistan, but to also draw attention to the darker nature of some the Island’s occupants.

This year marks the second such attempt at a blockade of the base. As pointed out on the website , the aim is to non-violently protest Australia’s role in supporting the US imperialist presence in Afghanistan.

Moreover, part of Swan Island is an Australian Defence Force Special Forces facility (primarily used by the SAS) and, since the 1950s, the base has hosted the spooks of the Australian Security Intelligence Service (ASIS). (There is much more on the clandestine nature of the base on Swan Island; follow the links on the website). Presently SAS troops are deployed in Afghanistan and many will serve there after 2014, as part of a Special Forces contingent.

According to Rev. Simon Moyle, one of the organisers of the blockade, the planned withdrawal of Australian troops from Afghanistan in 2014 will not end the Australian military presence in the country: “The Australian Government wants the public to think that our involvement in Afghanistan ends with the withdrawal of Australian troops by 2014. This is not true. Gillard has said that Australian Special Forces will continue their deadly occupation of Afghanistan until the end of the decade at least. We’re saying that if they want to do that, they’ll have to go through us.”

Moyle witnessed at first hand the damage that the US led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has brought in its train, visiting the country last year. He is critical of how Australian governments automatically follow US foreign policy. Highlighting the subservience that lies at the very heart of the ANZUS alliance, Moyle states that: “Australia’s alliance with the U.S. has dragged us into two disastrous wars in the last decade and is fuelling rising tension in the Asia Pacific. Australia needs to end the ANZUS alliance and develop cooperative relationships in our region”.

Another member of the Swan Island Peace Convergence, Jess Morrison, makes the obvious link between imperialist occupation and the rise of fundamentalism and armed resistance: “The last decade of Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan has fuelled fundamentalism and armed resistance. We listen to the voices of Afghan people who have had enough guns and bombs, of foreign soldiers breaking down their doors, and of war destabilising their country. We believe that all troops, including the SAS troops trained here in Swan Island, need to come home now and allow Afghans to start rebuilding their own country.”

The Swan Island Peace Convergence is a necessary step in not only resisting Australian involvement in imperialist aggression, but in building mass struggles for global peace. As such it deserves our wholehearted support.

Victoria's TAFE attack turns into a butchering

Vanguard October 2012 p. 5
Jim H.

The massive assault on the TAFE system in Victoria looms larger than ever before. This was made clear by the leaking of a government confidential document to the ABC.

For those who may have doubted the real intention; to gut skills training and opportunity for the majority of the working people, in line with turning the Australian economy from making what we need, into a quarry for mineral resources and a springboard for investment by mainly American, British and other major global corporations into our region.

Big business is holding the reigns and demanding that a greater share of government resources be turned over to them.

In the future intended by big business, there will be no largely self-sufficient economy, with the broad range and depth of industries that is required for a high standard of living and a fair society. With this future, there is no need to train Australians in the range of skills that are necessary for an economy and society that is balanced and able to stand up independently on its own two feet. Proper education is being made a privilege for a few.

The overall affect will be to make Australia more dependent on foreign investors and the importation of more of our needs from overseas. The TAFE cuts serve this. While this is presently most intense in Victoria, a similar pattern is emerging around the country.

Australians   want a different future

It is not the future that Australians want and need. What we need is an Australia that is under our own control, that we own, that is able to make things, to innovate and build a strong foundation for the future. We need a society that is based on caring for each other. To do this priority must be given investing sufficiently on developing the necessary skills. Expenditure on education must be raised, and this is definitely something worth fighting for.

The Bailieu government is a key representative of the dominant big business interests. It cares little for the type of economy and society that most Australians wish to have. Their true mindset is exposed by the leak.
Contents of the leak

The leaked document summarises millions of dollars of cuts, closures and sell offs. On the chopping block are Swinburne University’s Lilydale and Prahran campuses. Others under serious threat are Bendigo’s Castlemaine Campus, the Central Gippsland Yallourn site, Kangan’s Moreland campus and NMIT’s Ararat campus. Victoria University is likely to close its Sunbury site.

TAFEs have been forced to abandon many courses. Swinburne will have to raise fees in the region of 22 - 26% in the short term, just to keep the reduced course load going. Other TAFEs will also have to raise their fees.

Regional TAFEs will be hardest hit, with 100 jobs going by the end of the year. Sunraysia will cut spending by $3 million. Chisholm’s Institute’s Mornington Peninsula, Bass Coast and Cranbourne campuses are at serious risk next year.

Australian Education Union leader Mary Bluett said that the exposure brought no surprises.
TAFE CEO’s have publicly opposed the cuts. This is very positive indeed and it assists teachers, unions, students and communities to fight back. There has been a broad range of activities, including meetings, actions on campuses, and rallies at politician’s offices.  A number of large and vocal demonstrations have taken place in Melbourne and regional centres. Notable regional examples were the protests in Bendigo and Ballarat that brought together people from many walks of life.

Action against cuts is building

Action is building great unity in opposition to the cuts. A massive majority of Victorians do not want the cuts. It is understood that this is an act of vandalism that will bring about a great deal of economic and social damage. The Baillieu government becomes more unpopular with every passing day.

Church groups have joined in to oppose the cuts. Even the Australian Industry Group (normally a strong backer of the Coalition) has sought to distance itself, labelling the cuts as an absurdity. There is a fear that it has gone too far. Farmer group are also being vocal in their opposition. Agricultural and animal husbandry and other farming related courses are vulnerable. The Australian Education Union, National Tertiary Education Union and the Independent Teachers Union are working together like they never have before.

This is a battle that is going to become even more intense. While action so far is something to be proud of, those involved know that the situation will demand continuously working out the best strategy and tactics to employ.

A lot can be learned from the experience of the Kennett era school closures. This assault was brought to a stop by appropriate union and community action. Highlights were the Richmond, Northland and Fitzroy secondary collages, where teachers, students and parents, with broad based community support, were able to serve as focal points. All dared to think and act outside the box. The schools were saved and the government forced to abandon further school closures.

The situation is a little different with today’s TAFE closures. Strategy and tactics will be different. But a boldness to act creatively is still needed to stop the attack in its tracks.

Lenin's "The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism"

Vanguard October 2012 p. 6
Duncan B.

Lenin’s The Three Sources and Three Component Parts of Marxism, written in 1913 is a handy introduction to the basic principles of Marxism.

In developing his theories, Marx drew on the three main ideological currents of his time – German philosophy, English political economy, and French socialism.

Lenin wrote, “The Marxian doctrine is omnipotent because it is true. It is complete and harmonious, and provides men with an integral world conception which is irreconcilable with any form of superstition, reaction, or defence of bourgeois oppression. It is the legitimate successor to the best that was created by mankind in the nineteenth century in the shape of German philosophy, English political economy and French socialism.”

The philosophy of Marxism is called materialism. What is materialism? Engels put it in a nutshell in his philosophical work Ludwig Feuerbach, “The great basic question of all philosophy, especially of modern philosophy, is that concerning the relation of thinking and being, of spirit to nature… Which is primary, spirit or nature? The answers which the philosophers gave to this question split them into two great camps. Those who asserted the primacy of spirit to nature and, therefore, in the last instance, assumed world creation in some form or other... comprised the camp of idealism. The others, who regarded nature as primary, belonged to the various schools of materialism.”

Dialectics is an essential part of Marxist philosophy. Marxist dialectics teaches us, as Engels put it, “that the world is not to be comprehended as a complex of ready-made things, but as a complex of processes, in which the things apparently stable no less than their mind-images in our heads, the concepts, go through an uninterrupted change of coming into being and passing away...” This way of looking at the world helps the workers to see that capitalism is not eternal.

The Materialist Conception of History
Historical materialism is one of Marx’s great contributions to philosophy. “Historical materialism” means the view of the course of history which seeks the ultimate cause and the great moving power of all important historic events in the economic development of society, in the changes in the modes of production and exchange, in the consequent division of society into distinct classes, and in the struggles of these classes against one another.”

As Marx wrote in his Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, “The mode of production of material life determines the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.”

Political Economy
Marx devoted considerable attention to the study of the economic system of capitalism. His monumental work Capital is the result of his studies. Central to the capitalist economy is the concept of surplus value. The wage-worker sells his capacity for labour (labour power) to the owner of the factory, the capitalist. During his working day, the worker works to add value to the raw materials supplied by the capitalist. The labour of one part of the day is enough to cover the cost of maintaining himself and his family (wages), while for the other part of the day he must work to create surplus value for the capitalist. Surplus value is the source of profit, the source of wealth of the capitalist class.

Marx did not invent Socialism. Socialists and socialism had been around for many years before Marx. Socialism before Marx was what is called utopian socialism. Utopian socialists criticised capitalism and dreamed up fanciful schemes to end it, but they could not explain how the capitalist class exploited the workers or point to the social force which is capable of creating the new society.

Class Struggle
Marx also did not discover the theory of class struggle. Class struggle has gone on ever since classes emerged from primitive societies – from the struggles between slave-owners and slaves through the feudal system to the modern struggles between the capitalist class and the working class.

Marx wrote on this point to the socialist Joseph Wedemeyer in 1852, “As to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering the existence of classes in modern society, nor yet the struggle between them. Long before me bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this struggle of the classes, and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of the classes. What I did that was new was to prove: 1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular historical phases in the development of production; 2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat 3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.”

The Lesson of Lenin’s Article
Lenin wrote in The Three Sources and the Three Component parts of Marxism, “People always were and always will be the stupid victims of deceit and self-deceit in politics until they learn to discover the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises. The supporters of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realise that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is maintained by the forces of some ruling class. And there is only one way of smashing the resistance of these classes, and that is to find, in the very society which surrounds us, and to enlighten and organise for the struggle, the forces which can – and owing to their social position, must – constitute the power capable of sweeping away the old and creating the new.’

In Australia that power is the Australian working class and its allies.

Imperialist exploitation creates refugees

Vanguard October 2012 p. 6-7

Statement issued by the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)

Asylum seekers and refugees hoping to settle in Australia are mainly escaping wars of aggression and occupation, poverty and oppression created by the brutality of imperialism. They should be treated humanely and decently. No asylum seeker should be locked up in prison camp conditions, off-shore or in Australia, but instead be provided with proper housing and support in Australia while their position is being considered. That’s what most of the Australian people want.

The mass dislocation and movement of refugees is nothing new in a world torn by capitalism and imperialism. Mass migrations of refugees fleeing wars, poverty, oppression and dispossession have been a constant feature across the world for tens of hundreds of years.

Early human society split into two main classes; the dominant minority exploiting ruling class that took possession of land and the means of production, and the exploited and oppressed class of the majority, the creators of all the wealth and profits in society.

The exploitative economic and social class systems of slavery, feudalism, capitalism and now imperialism, the most developed form of capitalism, have inflicted great suffering on the people of the world, forcing many to cross borders fleeing colonial and imperialist wars of aggression, dire poverty, hunger and repression.

In today’s world, the number of refugees is rising as a direct result of the imperialist powers’ intensified competition for world resources and the exploitation of labour power for profit maximisation for the ruling class of monopoly capitalists.

You don’t have to look far to find the vestiges of old colonialism and the newer hand of imperialism, directly or by proxy through its local puppet regimes, where there’s poverty, deprivation, displacement and unending wars of imperialist aggression, such as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Egypt, India, Pakistan.

Today, more than one billion people worldwide live in abject poverty, while the majority of the world’s wealth is in the hands of just a few obscenely rich global corporations and a tiny handful of individuals. And now, the people of the poorest developing countries also face the devastation of climate warming that’s wreaking havoc on their lives and their countries’ survival.

The catastrophe of climate warming is created by capitalist and imperialist exploitation of the natural environment and great masses of people for private profit. Crises in global food security and biological diversity, in the availability and quality of fresh water (being grabbed everywhere by multinational corporations as a private tradeable commodity), and accompanied now by the threat of rising sea water levels, will add to pressure on the world’s poor to relocate or to perish.

Migrants and refugees are part of Australia’s working class history and culture
In Australia, from the time of the British colonial invasion and violent occupation of Aboriginal lands in 1788, the uninterrupted flow of capital into Australia brought with it waves of immigrants and refugees as a primary source of labour power. To this day the dominant interests of foreign and local monopoly capital in Australia continue to brutally dispossess and oppress Australia’s Indigenous people.

The Australian government’s immigration policies have always been primarily driven by the economic needs of capital’s labour markets. In the aftermath of the devastation resulting from World War Two and the ensuing post-war reconstruction, there was a shortage of labour worldwide. In Australia, the small population could not meet the labour needs of the post war rapid economic growth and development. New immigration policies designed to meet capital’s demand for labour opened Australia to cheap labour from Europe. Immigrants from Britain and East Europe were largely given preference. However, people from Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain also came in their thousands; many were communists and militant workers fresh from struggles against fascism in Europe. 

Presently, in the world wide capitalist economic crisis there is a massive over-supply of cheap labour with hundreds of thousands of workers criss-crossing the globe in search of work. It is far cheaper for capital and the capitalist class state to utilise this mobile, cheap labour on temporary work visas (guest workers) without having the obligation to provide economic and social entitlements that are bestowed on citizens and permanent residents.

The material wealth and rich cultural traditions of this country were created by migrants and refugees from every corner of the globe settling in Australia. Migrants and refugees have always been an important part of Australia’s working class. To this day migrants and refugees toil in factories, mines, on building sites, abattoirs and in the agricultural industry. Today, as jobs in Australia’s manufacturing industry disappear, many immigrants and refugees work in the largely unskilled jobs in the services industries as cleaners, taxi drivers, in hospitality, meat processing, storage and warehousing and call centres. Intense exploitation of immigrant workers and refugees is on the increase, particularly of workers on temporary migration visas and guest workers. Full credit is due to unions in areas such as manufacturing, meat processing and construction, who have fought employer abuse of workers on temporary work visas and built unity between Australian and overseas workers at the point of production.

Today many recently arrived refugees and migrants are actively involved in their workplace and union struggles for better wages and conditions, workers’ and union rights and a better world for the people.  They stand shoulder to shoulder with their workmates from all corners of the world; Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe. Many lead the struggles against some of the most rapacious and oppressive bosses.

Migrants and refugees have always stood at the centre of Australia’s working class struggles and union activism, often in the forefront of many struggles in the mines, sugarcane fields, on the waterfront, on building sites, and in many factories. Struggles against fascism and imperialist wars have often been led by migrant workers and refugees who fled political repression in their own countries.

Australia’s multiculturalism was born at the Eureka Stockade rebellion in 1854, where people from twenty one countries took part in Australia’s popular uprising against British colonial oppression. Many Eureka rebels were political and union activists in their own countries. Raffaello Carboni, an Italian political revolutionary who fled repression, was one of the main leaders of the Eureka rebellion.

A smokescreen of racism and chauvinism

Australia’s ruling capitalist class has always sought to foment and incite racism, deliberately equating patriotic working class nationalism with the chauvinism of capitalism and imperialism. It does this to sow divisions amongst the people, and spread the backward ideology of capitalism, when it suits its economic and political purpose.

The ruling class scapegoats refugees to divert attention from capitalism and imperialism as the root cause of many problems. Every new wave of refugees and immigrants is demonised and subjected to unfair treatment as capitalism tries to undermine hard won workers’ wages and conditions.

It is imperialist globalisation and the capitalist economic crisis that is wiping out Australian jobs and job security, decimating Australia’s manufacturing industry and wrecking the environment, not the refugees. Monopoly corporations, hell bent on extracting maximum profits at minimum cost, are the reason that no action is taken to quickly reduce carbon emissions and stop climate warming. The real problems for Australia’s people and the environment are not the refugees, but the imperialist multinational corporations who lead the attacks on Australian working people’s rights and conditions, and who are syphoning out of the country mega-profits made from the labour power of Australia’s workers, many of whom are migrants and refugees.

Unite the people; Target imperialist domination of Australia

Just imagine what Australia’s working people can do with the massive profits they create for the multinationals and the banks. Building an independent and self-reliant economy that develops local agricultural, minerals processing, manufacturing and renewable energy industries will create many new jobs and help reduce global climate warming. Funds will be put into welfare and services for the people.

The blame for climate warming lies solely with the profiteering multinational corporations who tear up the environment, refuse to cut back on emissions of greenhouse gases and pollute the world’s waters.

There is no real solution to the global plight of refugees whilst the world and its people continue to be plundered and exploited by capitalism and imperialism. The only solution is to work towards getting rid of this barbaric system.

For us in Australia today, it means working to unite the great majority of Australian people from all cultural and national backgrounds in the many struggles for a truly democratic, independent and socialist Australia.

Gina "Ironheart" blurts out the capitalist daydream

Vanguard October 2012 p. 8
Bill F.

In a fantasy world, surrounded by sycophants and consumed by greed, Gina Rinehart has suggested that the mining companies could hire African workers for ‘as little as $2 a day. No doubt she would also be looking for ‘trade-offs’.

Coming from the richest woman in the world, worth $18 billion and increasing at $600 a second, this is enough to make a decent person puke!

In spite of their obscene profits and tax-dodging schemes, she reckons the mining companies are finding Australian workers “too expensive”. For their part, the big mining companies, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, are silent; happy to let Gina bask in the media limelight and make the argument for slavery wages.

Australian workers, their unions and supporters have been appalled and outraged by her comments, seeing them as further cranking up the ‘guest worker’ scenario already being promoted by another loudmouth local mining boss, Clive Palmer.

Similarly, the Western Australian government proposal for ‘special economic zones’ seeks to carve out regions and enterprises that would be exempt from Australian industrial laws (weak as they are), free of trade unions, with imported workers on individual contracts, low wages and crap conditions.

Ask workers in the Philippines and what they think of ‘special economic zones’ and they will talk about company goons and spies, company police forces and military compounds – that’s where all this is heading!  

For now, this is a tactic to threaten Australian workers, weaken their unions and create divisions within the working class. As the global capitalist economic crisis of overproduction continues and the rate of profits falls, ever more vicious attacks are made on the working class, the creators of surplus value and the wealth expropriated by capital.

Insulting Australia’s history

History Professor at La Trobe University, Marilyn Lake, has pointed out that Ironheart’s comments insult and undermines the proud achievements of the Australian working class over decades of struggle.

“Australia pioneered the practice of defining wages in terms of the sum required to afford people a decent standard of living, rather than as the least amount that employers might pay. The living wage was defined in opposition to starvation wages and slave labour. Human needs were given explicit priority over the maximising of profits. We decided in the late 19th century that decent wage levels should be enforced by governments through arbitration courts and wage boards.

“Talk of introducing restrictive economic zones to enable mining companies to employ coloured labour on lesser wages in inferior conditions is contrary to all that Australians have worked for over 100 years. Once in Australia, all workers should have access to good working conditions and decent wages, sufficient to sustain them as Australian citizens.

“Gina Rinehart and her political supporters must surely be ignorant of these distinctively Australian traditions, of our achievement in fashioning a social democracy that drew the eyes of the world to Australia. These national traditions symbolised our early commitment to the ideal of equality of opportunity, the refusal of hereditary privilege and gross inequalities in wealth and position.”

Africa offended

In Uganda, where foreign owned mining companies are digging up vast fortunes and many thousands of workers subsist on as little as $1 a day, there was anger over her implication that people were content with that.

The host of Uganda’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Alan Kasujja, described 'Ironheart’s' comments as “extremely offensive” and pointed out that the scarcity of jobs meant many workers in Africa had little choice but to accept $2-a-day working conditions. “It is true that in my country, it is not unusual that some workers earn as little as $1 a day, but the truth of the matter is that people are looking for jobs and are willing to do the most ridiculous things to earn a living,” said Kasujja.

“She is just removed from reality and we think: there’s another person who lives thousands of miles away and doesn’t give two tosses about Africa. She is welcome to visit and see that we have dreams and ambitions - we are an aspirational country. Those people who work for $2 a day look to a future where they can earn $10 a day.”

If Gina’s wishes come true, she might just get a lot more than she wants. African workers are not docile slaves, any more than Australian workers. As strikes and protests spread across South African mining towns following the police shootings at Marikana, there has been an upsurge of militant union activity in other mining communities in Africa.

For all the vast difference between the situation of Australian and African workers, they have more in common than with the likes of Ironhearted Gina.