Monday, December 1, 2014

Our Comrades: Paddy Malone

Patrick “Paddy” Malone was a founding Vice-Chairperson of the CPA (M-L).  State Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the Builders Laborers Federation, and a member of the Central Committee of the former CPA, Malone was a widely-respected and much-loved leader of the working class.
We reprint here three articles on Malone.  The first is Comrade E. F. Hill’s funeral oration for Paddy Malone, the second an article on Malone by Marxist historian Humphrey McQueen, and the third the text of a letter sent by Malone to BLF members wishing him a speedy recovery from illness which, six months later, claimed his life.
E.F. Hill’s funeral oration for Patrick Malone
Patrick Malone has left behind him a lasting monument. It is a monument of a man of the greatest single-minded integrity. That integrity came from his devotion and adherence to the cause of the liberation of the workers and all oppressed people.
At all times there are certain men in whom there are concentrated the real aspirations and hopes of the workers and oppressed, the poor, the small people as it once was said. This is because these men see further, understand more and are able to point the way ahead. Patrick Malone was such a person.
He had no mere sentimental devotion. Of course, he was a sensitive man – sensitive in the sense that he felt for the sufferings of his fellow man. But he based his approach to the problem of ending those sufferings on science – the science of what we call Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, the science of Communism.
That science shows that society is divided into antagonistic classes, in our country the working class and working people on the one hand and the great monopolies on the other. Their interests are irreconcilable. One struggles against the other. History shows that in the end the working class in bitter and armed struggle will seize political power from the monopoly capitalists. Then there will be the political rule of the vast majority over a tiny minority. Instead of the dictatorship of a tiny minority over the vast majority the reverse will be true. Socialism will be born.
Our comrade Malone was the most devoted socialist. For 29 years he led the builders’ labourers in this state and played a leading part amongst all the builders’ labourers in Australia. He was an exemplary leader of this most important and heroic section of workers precisely because he was a Communist.
There are those who say there must be no politics in the trade unions or who say the Communists are all right in the trade unions as long as they don't bring their Communism into them. But Patrick Malone understood that it was precisely because he understood Communism that he likewise understood the trade unions and the workers. Without Communism he would have been in danger of sinking to the level of those who wallow in the filth of trade union officialdom which sees the job as just a comfortable niche in life, as a means of climbing to a position of power and privilege on the backs of the workers, as a means of a comfortable parliamentary career or something of that kind.
Our comrade Malone could have done all those things. He repudiated them. He had a lofty contempt for that sort of thing. His contempt was part of his Communism. He was disciplined by service to the people. He had the spirit of absolute selflessness. Again his service to the people was not some vague notion of doing good but a precise notion that only waging the class struggle can solve the fundamental question of who rules whom. Communism teaches that "the right task, policy and style of work invariably conform with the demands of the masses at a given time and place and invariably strengthens ties with the masses, and the wrong task, policy and style of work invariably disagree with the demands of the masses at a given time and place and invariably alienate us from the masses", He pursued that approach in his work among the builders labourers and other workers.

Patrick Malone was deeply loved and respected not only by builders’ labourers but by all the workers. His name was a byword for integrity and courage. He enjoyed great mass standing. His interests were inseparable from the interests of the workers in Australia and throughout the world. Born in Ireland 66 years ago but spending his adult life in Australia he maintained a keen interest in the struggle of the Irish workers and peasants against the ruthless oppression of British imperialism. Of all their struggles, including their present struggles, he had a vast knowledge. He gave his full support to the Irish people's struggles.
He knew the problems of the Australian workers intimately. He had worked in the hardest forms of work not only as builders’ labourer but on the Queensland cane fields. As a rank and file worker he participated in many struggles. With the Victorian builders' labourers he waged a great struggle against the sort of union the Labor party leaders would impose on the workers. In the thirties he led the struggle against the then officials of the union, people who were simply gangsters, politically and personally corrupt, users of violence and intimidation against their own class brethren so that they could use the union apparatus for their own selfish ends.

Malone as a leader of the builders' labourers steadily built up their strength so that recently they have waged a historic battle against the bosses. Every form of violence, repression, court injunctions, police, were thrown against them. But they replied in kind, waged a tit for tat struggle, and won great victory for builders' labourers and all other workers. Without the work of the past, without Malone and the wonderful people he has influenced and trained, and without his own wise counsel over the last few months given from a bed of acute pain and very serious illness, this would not have been possible. Truly he served the people. This great struggle broke from the bounds that the capitalist class would put on the trade unions of confining them to mere economic demands and "peaceful" struggle. It showed that trade unions must be fighting organisations of the workers who and which utterly reject all attempts to make them into tamecats, to adapt them to capitalism.
Whether they use soft or hard tactics the capitalists maintain utter ruthlessness, force and violence. They never depart from it. Malone understood this and understood that the workers must prosecute their own struggle to the end never conceding an inch. We may look back still further. In the great penal powers struggle he was already very ill. But he played an important part by his wise counsel. One of Clarrie O'Shea's first actions on his release from gaol was to go to see Malone in the Melbourne Hospital so much do we Communists support each other. Still further we go back to the great depression struggles of the thirties, the struggles of the workers in the post-World War II years, there too we find Malone in the thick of the storm and stress of struggle. He faced struggle with joy.
In 1948, he played a leading part in the huge struggle against and defeat of the Essential Services Act, an Act aimed at the heart of the workers; then against the provocation around the informer Sharpley, against the Communist Party Dissolution Act, the Petrov conspiracy. In short, in every struggle over the last 40 years Malone was a leading figure.
Throughout it all, he maintained his simplicity, his modesty. He never forgot that Communists must be pupils first, always willing to learn, to accept criticism on the basis that if "we have shortcomings, we are not afraid to have them pointed out and criticised, because we serve the people".
No one could ever accuse him of being pretentious or superior. Of course the enemy, I refer to the class enemy, tried in every way to win Malone over. We are all too familiar in our country with the trade union official and trade union that have simply become adapted to capitalism. Malone was subject to immense pressure to that end. It failed. Attempted bribery, flattery, intimidation, violence, all were wrecked on the rock of his revolutionary integrity.
We who have worked with him for almost 40 years learned to love and respect him. He embraced Communism and together we sought the path to Australia's real independence and socialism. All the struggles of which I have spoken were part of it. We sought together. We made many mistakes. Together with other workers we won great victories.
Within the Communist movement those pressures to conform, to adapt to capitalism, operated strongly. In 1960-1-2 the question became whether to maintain the revolutionary essence of Communism or to desert it. Almost all the old leaders of Communism in Australia and the so-called Western world deserted. We call them revisionists. They seek to revise the revolutionary heart out of Communism – an impossibility.
From the beginning Malone stood up against it all and was literally counted. He was subject to intensified abuse, intimidation, flattery, attempted bribery. He carried his opposition to revisionism through to his closing breath. Today the revisionists are revealed as disgraceful traitors. Malone's stand has been more than vindicated, And he propagated the revolutionary essence of Communism. He rejoiced that the world revolutionary movement has produced the great genius and leader, Mao Zedong, who has lifted up revolutionary theory to an entirely new and higher stage. Malone studied, wrote and spoke about it all so as to equip the people the better to fight against their oppressors.
He understood the great importance of every working person knowing revolutionary theory. On the basis of scientific analysis he understood that Australia's main enemy is U.S. imperialism which inspires everything reactionary, props up everything reactionary and he understood that all opposed to this No. I enemy and its Australian collaborators, the traitor monopoly class, must unite in determined struggle.

He lived to see the great fruits of this line in Australia and throughout the world. He rejoiced in the revolt of the young people against reactionaries. He supported them with all his might. Not for him the cry "It is terrible" but for him the cry "It is fine". 

In keeping with all this and from the very beginning, he occupied with honour the position of Vice-Chairman of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist).

He spurned parliamentary politics as the sham and not the reality of politics. He spurned the idea of trade union politics as the solution of social problems. He embraced only revolutionary politics, the politics of class struggle. Not for him an easy parliamentary career nor an easy trade union career as a kept hireling of capitalism, a labour lieutenant of capital. He was a giant.

Comrade Malone suffered for many many years from a serious illness. It was much worse in the last two years. He suffered pain and discomfort. None of it ever quenched or even dampened his service to the people. Through it all his wife Dorry played a wonderful part. Nothing was ever too much trouble for her. She gave of her all as all workers do to each other in adversity, I speak for everyone in extending to her, heartfelt sympathy and offering her the great support of the workers.

Comrade Malone has left us. He has inspired many by his work and example. He has died. But his work lives. The cause of socialism that he served so well and so nobly and in which he had calm and supreme confidence is triumphing. 

Its victory is assured.
Paddy Malone by Humphrey McQueen

Paddy Malone learnt to struggle during the war for Irish independence. In 1917, his father sent the thirteen-year old to work on a farm in his native county of Tyrone. Immigrating to Melbourne in 1927, he laboured for the State Rivers Commission where the AWU enriched his education. Out of a job by 1929, he tramped the countryside, making his way to Cairns. The cane-cutters and small growers there were at the mercy of the monopoly Colonial Sugar Refinery, with its allies in the AWU and the State Labor government.

Malone drifted back to Melbourne in 1934 to find work on a building site, and married in 1938. He linked up with BLF militants, though his name was not prominent. From the start, he was a quiet achiever, his manner matching his lilt. He topped the ballot for the committee to investigate the branch in July 1939, and came onto the executive later that year after the defeat of the old gang. However, he lost a ballot early in 1940. Next April, he attended his first ACTU Congress. From there, his rise was rapid. After a branch meeting chose him as acting organiser, he learnt to ride a motor cycle. He became State secretary early in 1941, about the time he joined the then illegal Communist Party.
Shortly afterwards, he pointed out that his Italian members ‘were in some instances better unionists than Britishers’. After the war, union policy was a blanket objection to immigrants as labourers, ‘irrespective of what he might think himself’. Again, his Communism kept him apart from ethnic prejudices against the Displaced Persons (‘Balts’). However, he had to convince his rank-and-file. He could lead, but not over-ride.
Malone played a key role in defeating the 1948 Essential Services Act which had aimed at the right to strike. Next year, before the Royal Commission into Communism, he protected his comrades by claiming that his union duties had stopped his attending any Communist gatherings. If he had ever been to one, he could not remember who else was there.
Prime Minister Menzies named Malone in 1950 as one of the ‘traitorous minority’ determined to damage ‘this great and beloved country’. Labourers did not share this view since Malone was re-elected with ever larger majorities. In 1952, he won by 819 to 165. In 1958, he was ahead by 816 to sixty-one.
Malone kept the branch safe from the Industrial Groupers and the gangsters who grabbed control in all the other States. Those Federal officials were after any excuse to intervene in Victoria. When they told him to pull out of one strike, he did as told. But his comrades in the Plumbers stopped the job until the employer settled with the BLF. Without Malone’s steadying hand, the Federation might have ceased to exist. Keeping Victoria on the Left was an anchor for the defeat of the Right in NSW.
Having served as secretary of Eureka Day Committee in 1948, Malone was keen to mark its centenary in1954. When the BLF joined the commemorations, he called on members to recapture Eureka’s fighting spirit in their current struggles. To that end, he had spelt out ‘a course of action’ to steer the union through a period when capital had the upper hand. The union, he advised, had to ‘impose the minimum hardship on our members and of such a nature as to condition the Master Builders’.

Malone guided all Victorian building workers in their struggle for the Building Industry Agreements from 1956, which broke out of the arbitration system. He knew ‘from experience, our members would require all of their allies possible, therefore maximum unity amongst all building workers on the jobs must be worked for’.

His fighting the boss kept him safe from the fantasies of a peaceful transition to socialism or peaceful coexistence with the imperialists. He, therefore, accepted the position of vice-chairman of the CPA (M-L) from its formation in 1964.
Paddy saw every penny of union dues as a trust for his members and his class. After the 1960 Federal Conference elected him as treasurer, he worried about spending £40 on a Conference dinner for the delegates. He also suggested that Conferences be held every two or three years to cut costs. In 1965, he convinced the officials that the Federation could not afford a dinner. Norm Gallagher had owed his start as an organiser in 1952 to Malone, just as his success as Federal secretary from 1961 drew on Paddy’s guidance.
Paddy needed time off in the 1950s and again in the 1960s because of a cancer. Although his energies were failing, he retained office until a few days before his death on 14 October 1970, aged 66.
Party chairman E F Hill opened his funeral oration by pointing out that Malone had bequeathed ‘a monument of man of the greatest single-minded integrity. That integrity came from his devotion and adherence to the cause of the liberation of the workers and all oppressed people’. The service spilt onto the steps of the Trades Hall from the BLF office which was a nerve centre of the campaign to expose the murder for profit behind the collapse of the Westgate bridge on the day after Malone’s death. His farewell was one more action for a life-long militant.

 Paddy Malone’s letter to building workers

In 1970 as he lay ill in bed, Paddy Malone received a letter from Builders’ Labourers Federation (BLF) members on the Costain-Dillingham site on Bourke Street, Melbourne.  The letter was written out of concern for Malone by rank-and-file members of the BLF.  There is not an ounce of self-pity in Malone’s reply.  Instead, he speaks directly to the workers as a Communist, using his declining strength to educate them in the reality of struggle against capitalism and for socialism.  Malone died six months later.  The text of his letter follows:

"Dear Comrades,

"I have just received your very warm and friendly message expressing your concern about my ill-health due to a rather long and painful illness, and also wishing me a speedy recovery so that I can once again help to lead in your day to day struggles.
"I want to tell you that your message came as a great and pleasant surprise, especially as it was signed by 37 members on your job.
"I regret having to inform you that my present illness is a severe one with the result that my recovery is not as speedy as I would like it to be; however your very kind message is an excellent stimulant to my morale and does strengthen my will to fight back to health.
"Your day to day struggles referred to are never ending due to the present cruel system of capitalist exploitation. The constant drive for profit by employers and especially by the big monopolies intensifies with each passing month and therefore the living standards of you and your family are continually being depressed.
"Because of this we must continue to build strong organisation on the job so that we can effectively fight to maintain and improve our living standards; but still more important is the need to begin in a more conscious way than ever before to strike blows at the root cause of our day to day problems, and that means to challenge the social system of capitalism itself.
"Only by doing so and by taking part in the wider working class struggle to establish working class political power shall we be able to have things organised for the benefit of the people and not for a few billionaire organisations.
"I want to thank you one and all for your very kind message which I appreciated very much and to wish you every success in your day to day struggles".

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