Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Why Vanguard Is Published"

Vanguard September 2013 p. 5
Nick G.

In September 1963, the first edition of the first volume of Vanguard announced its appearance under the heading above.
“Its main task,” according to its inaugural editorial, “will be to give a Marxist-Leninist analysis of the major events of our time.”

At that time, Communists who had been expelled from, or who had broken with, the former Communist Party of Australia were still in the process of reconstituting revolutionary organisation.
On March 15, 1964, the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) was born and Vanguard took on the role of expressing the viewpoint of the new party.

(Above: E.F. Hill, founding Chair of the CPA (M-L) led the struggle against modern revisionism in Australia)

The split in the international communist movement, with China on one side and the Soviet Union on the other, was the major backdrop to the split in Australia.
However, it oversimplifies differences in Australia on the application of revolutionary theory to this country to take the backdrop for the reality.

The truth is that there were major differences in this country over questions relating to the peace movement, to the ALP and parliament, to the trade unions, to Party organisation, to ideology.
The international schism provided the conditions under which these internal divisions were played out, but they had a life, an existence of their own.

The break with revisionsim
In reconstituting the Communist approach to politics, organisation and ideology in our country it was indeed necessary to break with the view that the Labor Party, by virtue of its majority working class membership and ties to the union movement, was a working class party or even a “two class” party.

[Above, Ted Bull, Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, Victorian Branch, and vice-Chair of the CPA (M-L)]

It needed to be said that it was a party of capitalism that operated within the confines of the capitalist parliament and within the limitations of policies that accepted the system of capitalism.
It was indeed necessary to break with the view that trade unions were vehicles for fundamental social change, even for revolution, and that winning positions of leadership within unions was a contribution to bringing about revolutionary change.

It needed to be said that trade unions were valued organisations for the defence of workers’ rights and conditions, but that trade unionism as an ideology tied the workers to capitalism and held back the political struggle by workers for the abolition of capitalism.

It needed to be said that the work of Communists as members of unions needed to penetrate to the depths of the workplace and that capturing positions of leadership created the danger of the isolation of officials from the rank and file or of unjustifiably elevating their importance within the Party compared to others working more directly with workers at the point of production.

[Above: Tribute CD to John Cummins, construction workers' leader and a fine comrade of the CPA (M-L)]
It was indeed necessary to break with pacifist illusions that rejected the role of revolutionary armed struggle against imperialism, and with views that imperialism had come to its senses and could be engaged in productive and genuine negotiations about ending its oppressive practices.

It needed to be said that so long as imperialism existed so did the danger of war and interference in others’ internal affairs. It needed to be said that the right to take up arms against oppression was a fundamental human right.
It was indeed necessary to break with methods of Party organisation that made Party members vulnerable to attack and persecution, and which pointed Party members in the direction of participation in local, state and federal elections.

It needed to be said that there was an ever-present danger of fascist reaction against the Party, and that the bulk of its members should be secretly organised in small workplace cells, and not declare their membership, rather than being public members organised into suburban or district branches.
It was indeed necessary to break with the watering down of the revolutionary teachings of Marxism-Leninism, for the revision of the ideology that guided the Party underlay all of the problems identified above. 

It needed to be said that there could be no peaceful transition to socialism and no state arrangement to protect and guarantee socialism other than the dictatorship of the proletariat.
It needed to be said that the approach adopted by Mao Zedong in leading the Chinese revolution to victory, and in continuing the revolution under the conditions of the dictatorship of the proletariat, was a new development and enrichment of Marxism-Leninism, and that his teachings on the danger of a restoration of capitalism were absolutely pertinent and necessary.

It needed to be said that embedded within the teachings of Mao Zedong was a consistent elaboration of the ethical standards to which Communists had to adhere in order to win the trust of the workers and the right to be taken as their leaders in struggle.
No mere observer

It was not as a mere observer, therefore, that Vanguard set itself the task of giving a “Marxist-Leninist analysis of the major events of our times”.

It described itself in 1968 as “not just a paper to be sold.  We do not want ‘sales’ so we can record higher circulation figures.  Vanguard is an ideological weapon and in the conditions of today can be used to combat and defeat the ideology of capitalism.”

Combatting and defeating the ideology of capitalism remains the major systematic task of this paper.
It does this in the absence of a staff of “experts”, drawing on the collective talents of writers and contributors who are embedded in their workplaces and their communities, active alongside the very people for whom they write.

However imperfectly, it strives to express the viewpoint of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) and to merge the Party with the struggles, aspirations and ideals of the working class.
Vanguard will eventually transition to an online format, enabling it to express the viewpoint of the Party on a daily, rather than a monthly, basis.  

This is a transition that must be accomplished with the support of the whole organisation and with the engagement of all of our readers so that we can provide a better service as we embark on our second half-century of publication.

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