Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The implausible deniability of Michaelia Cash

Nick G.

The heavy ROC that the Federal Government hoped to drop on the head of Opposition leader Bill Shorten has instead come crashing down on the feet of Michaelia Cash.

Cash was given the job of breaking the unions by Malcolm Turnbull.  Prior to her election as a WA Senator, she had been a solicitor for anti-union law firm Freehills. Honorary Associate Professor of Work and Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney Dr Michael O’Brien said at the time that Freehills “are well known as advisers to very big employers. I gather she’s not particularly a friend of unions but anyone who works for Freehills usually isn’t.”

One of her first acts was to take away employment from Australian workers by increasing the level of s457 visa workers in the offshore oil and gas sectors covered by unions such as the MUA.

She also drove the passage of the revived Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) legislation, attacking workers in the construction industry, and the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC), attacking workers everywhere.

If her name stinks in the nostrils of the working class, it is also starting to worry noses that are usually pointed skywards. She is a walking disaster for the bourgeoisie.

In November 2016, Cash bought an investment property alongside her own house in the exclusive Perth suburb of Floreat.  At a time when the Federal Government is showing absolutely no sign of being able to make housing affordable for low- and middle-income earners, it was her fourth property purchase. But what really got her into trouble was her failure to declare the purchase on her parliamentary register of interests. Politicians are required to update their register of interests within 35 days of purchase. It was only following questions from the media that Cash registered the new property - on 21 January - or eight days later than she should have.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull accepted Cash's apology, explaining she was "mortified" by the error, and emphasised the delay was only a matter of days and that Cash had been away on holidays at the time.

One wonders whether the ROC will take a similarly forgiving attitude to any union caught out on a technicality.

Then she further embarrassed the government by appointing the notorious Nigel Hadgkiss to head the revamped ABCC months after it emerged he was facing allegations of breaking the Fair Work laws he was meant to enforce.

Hadgkiss had to resigned from his $420,000 job after he admitted to contravening the Fair Work Act by recklessly misrepresenting union rights to enter workplaces in 2013 when he was heading up a Fair Work office for more than two years.

Cash kept her job, but not her already tarnished credibility, refusing to comment on whether she told PM Turnbull or cabinet of the allegations against Mr Hadgkiss before he took up the role in December or whether she had received any legal advice on the matter.

Now this bumbling embarrassment expects us to believe that she had no prior knowledge of the ROC’s decision to raid the Australian Workers Union (AWU) in relation to matters that occurred 11 years ago when Opposition leader Bill Shorten was its leader.  After denying that her office had tipped off the huge media contingent that arrived at the AWU hours before 32 Federal Police (surely the numbers indicate prior knowledge of a media presence!), she had to backtrack and “accept the resignation” of one of her media advisers who had done just that.

Even if she didn’t know that the ROC raid was to take place (warning: credibility gap!), and even if she didn’t know that the media was to be advised to be there to capture the event (warning: credibility gap!), the very least that can be said is that the anti-union and anti-worker atmosphere inside her office is so toxic that at least one of its staff could feel comfortable in taking the initiative to try and embarrass the union in this way.

Cash’s already-damaged credibility is a bit like a three-strand fence on a country farm: it neither keeps the air in nor the wind out. Her assurances hold no water; the conjectures they give rise to cannot be checked.

Still, she has her defenders and she has her scapegoat. Whether one respects her or reviles her depends on one’s class position.

She tried to abuse the workers, but can only amuse the workers.

Yes, she should be sacked, but then, more importantly, so should the system she admires and works for. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

October Revolution: Culmination of the independent agenda of the working class.

Nick G.

The 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution was the result of the Bolshevik Party’s outlining for the Russian working class, its own independent class agenda, and doing patient mass work so that the Bolsheviks, as the vanguard of the working class, moved from a minority within the Petrograd Soviet to the majority.

Unlike the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, who held a majority on the Petrograd Soviet throughout most of 1917,  the Bolsheviks absolutely refused to surrender the initiative to the parties of the capitalists and landlords (the Cadets and Octobrists) in the Provisional Government.

Australia in 2017 is obviously not Russia of 1917. We are not engulfed in the midst of a war between rival imperialist blocs; we do not have a semi-feudal landlord class and overwhelming numbers of impoverished and uneducated peasants; we have unpopular politicians, but not an autocratic Tsar; there is no unity between our workers and huge segments of the armed forces, with the latter sick of war and openly fraternising with “enemy” troops across the trenches; our workers do not have representative organs set to rival, and ultimately replace, the government of the capitalists.

In short, we are not in a revolutionary situation and the revolutionary movement is tiny.

But a revolutionary movement there is, and it exists to position the best elements of the working class within the unions and community organisations to offer conscious direction and purpose to otherwise spontaneous and fragmented groups engaged in struggles that ultimately share the common thread of anti-imperialist independence and socialism.

In Australia today, the independent working class agenda draws connections between workers’ immediate struggles for wages, conditions and the right to organise and strike, and capitalist class relations, the capitalist state, imperialism and imperialist wars. The independent working class agenda promotes the interests of the entire working class.

The legal basis for class struggle in Australia is severely circumscribed. It is illegal in all but the circumstance of enterprise bargaining, and then the right to utilise the strike weapon is blunted by a cumbersome process, and the “matters pertaining” to such industrial action is very limited.

Workers are no longer able to hold “sympathy” strikes -  those expressions of class consciousness through which workers in industries not directly involved in a strike, nevertheless walked off the job to support their class brothers and sisters elsewhere.

Even the simple expedient of a picket line is under attack: we have to go through the pretence of a “community picket” to protect the union and its members from hefty fines and jail.

Most of the significant stoppages in recent times have been “breakout” strikes – defensive fightbacks against attempts by employers to lower wages and conditions.  There are very few examples of aggressive attempts by workers to win newer and better conditions, or to smash through what has been, for several years now, an effective wage freeze. 

It is true that some union leaders are prepared to push the envelope, but this rarely involves the patient education and long-term mobilisation of the membership; rather, there is the large-scale drawing down of union funds instead of the drawing in of members in struggle.

When union legal action over some issue is defeated (eg the recent decision by the Federal Court on penalty rates), there is no unleashing of the workers. Instead, union leaders vow to “continue the fight”, “continue to challenge”, “continue to speak out”. In other words, to continue to avoid direct action by the workers, and to keep on with the same old same old.

It is the less well-organised sections of the working class such as the hospitality industry with high turnover of labour and high casualisation that have been purposely targeted first by the ruling class to reduce wages through cuts to penalty rates. Combined with the anti-worker labour laws, organising and mobilizing of these workers in collective action in the workplaces against cuts to weekend rates involves slow patient mass work, not dissimilar to the decades-long struggle to organize non-trades production workers in the manufacturing industries in the 1940s and 1950s

We know that the correct approach is mass work with workers to patiently educate them in the necessity for their own independent class agenda, and their own struggle in support of that agenda. Lenin had no idea at the beginning of 1917, sitting in exile in Switzerland, that he would soon be back in Russia writing the April Theses and directing a revolutionary struggle for Soviet power. Nor is it given to us to know when and where, and in what form, a single spark might lead to a qualitative change in the consciousness of Australian workers and to their breaking through the legal restrictions on their ability to fight as a class against imperialism and its local hangers-on.

All we can say is that the time will come.  Sooner or later, and preferably sooner, some event or incident or issue will cause such an upsurge of anger that the workers will not be able to be held back. Our task is to win their trust and assist them to put spontaneity on a firm, purposeful and conscious footing.

Australia-ROK Military Exercises: 2017

A decision to upgrade joint Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Republic of Korea (ROK) military exercises has provided an indication of heightening diplomatic tensions on the Korean peninsula and wider Asia-Pacific region and the role of Australia.
The proposed exercises form part of an increasingly aggressive US-led regional diplomatic position and are based upon reasserting traditional US hegemonic positions against a changing balance of forces.
The military exercises are based on real-war scenarios and have little to do with traditional regional defence and security planning.

In early October Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne announced the intention to 'increase military training exercises' with the ROK. (1) The upgraded diplomatic relations rested upon a 2015 agreement, Blueprint for Defence and Security Cooperation, for joint military exercises. (2)
The proposed exercises - Haedoli Wallaby off the Korean peninsula - are due to commence next month and include two ADF warships, the Melbourne and the Parramatta, together with a P-8A submarine hunter aircraft. (3)
The military exercises form part of a US-led aggressive regional foreign policy. While it has been primarily concerned with the northern DPRK, its main purpose is an attempt to encircle and contain China as a major rising regional force. With heightening diplomatic tensions becoming commonplace, western observers have recently even stopped denying the main purpose of the militarism.
A former ROK Ambassador to Australia, Kim Woo-sang, for example, was recently interviewed in the Joong Ang Ilbo Korean newspaper and advocated 'a new multinational meeting in the Asia-Pacific led by the ROK and Australia' as 'we face together the rise of China'. (4)
The disclosure followed other US diplomatic slips which have included Steven Hildreth, an official member of the US Congressional Research Service, stating 'the focus of our rhetoric is North Korea. The reality is that we're also looking longer term at the elephant in the room, which is China'. (5)
Generally, however, the US imperialists take a position of diplomatic silence when issuing directives about the Asia-Pacific and remain in a state of denial about their Cold War regional stance.
Current diplomacy reflects a long-term strategy
Behind the recent diplomatic positioning, nevertheless, lies far-deeper, longer-term military planning. Early in the previous Bush administrations in Washington, then Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld began planning for a Global Transformation of Defence and Security (GTDS). It included the building of Japan as a northern regional hub for 'US interests' linked to Australia as a southern counterpart.
The ROK was also instrumental in the three-way Pentagon, Tokyo and Canberra military planning. Hosting nearly 30,000 US military personal, the primary role of the ROK was rapid deployment with the Defence of Japan doctrine. The GTDS has now been implemented, with huge surveillance systems operational with 'deepening defence ties between Japan and Australia, and also trilaterally with the US'. (6)
The surveillance systems operate with little ambiguity about their real target and are primarily concerned with a military strategy to use sophisticated technology 'to offset numerical superiority of opponents'. (7) The development of space-based warfare systems also forms part of the same strategy. (8) 
The GTDS system has reliance upon 'US allies' taking forefront positions with regional hostilities although following Pentagon military planning and directives.
It is, therefore, no surprise to read recent diplomatic media releases which include 'US President Donald Trump reassured Mr Abe that the US was 100 per cent with Japan while Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia was ready to support Japan at any time'. (9) Australia also has other designated roles together with the security of US regional GTDS hubs.
Official media releases have clarified the role of Australia within the South Pacific region and GTDS frameworks of reference. In one, it was noted 'Washington has long regarded the Pacific Islands as belonging to our sphere of influence'. (10) In another, clear reference was given to the Australian role in the South China Seas, a sensitive maritime area fraught with political tensions over access and egress of shipping-lanes. (11)
What is particularly revealing about the recent US-led regional military exercises and war-drive has been the development of real-war scenarios. It has nothing to do with the defence and security of ordinary people. Sycophantic political leaders, totally preoccupied with US-alliances, are willingly placing their countries onto a war-footing with Pentagon planning to defend regional 'US interests'.
A trial run for later military conflict can be observed in the recent OPLAN 5015 military plan with the specific intention of a 'decapitation attack on the Pyongyang leadership'.  (12) Another plan, OPLAN 3100, has included a response to 'a small-scale provocation', an ideal setting for a US-led covert operation. (13) Numerous other examples have also been revealed which focus upon US-led planning for a 'fully-fledged war'. (14)  
Other disclosures include the creation of a US Special Unit to spy on the DPRK. (15) Linked to the US 8th Army 524th Military Intelligence Battalion with links to the CIA the stated intention was for the establishment of the stepping up of clandestine operations in October, 2017. (16) They are not conducive with the maintenance of peaceful diplomacy and include planning to identify more than a thousand targets in the DPRK for precision missile strikes. (17)
In the words of former US President Jimmy Carter, the region is confronted with 'the strong possibility of another Korean war with potentially devastating consequences'. (18) The sooner Australia develops an independent foreign policy, the better.

1.     South Korean forces set for war games in Australia, Australian, 11 October 2017.
2.     Ibid.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Ibid.
5.     U.S. Seeks New Asia Defences, The Wall Street Journal, Friday-Sunday 24-26 August 2012.
6.     Military build-up in the Asia-Pacific could be the key to diplomacy, Australian, 2 December 2014.
7.     Scramble to keep up with rising spending, Australian, 3 October 2017.
8.     Defence giant's bid for space supremacy, Australian, 20 September 2017.
9.     N Korea fuels Asia war fears, Australian, 30 August 2017.
10.   U.S. Moves To Counter China In Pacific, Australian, 1 December 2011.
11.   Australian, op.cit., 11 October 2017.
12.   Pyongyang hackers steal South's blueprint for war, Australian, 12 October 2017.
13.   Ibid.
14.   Commandos to kill Kim Jong-un, Daily Star, 1 September 2017; see also, South Korea is planning, Business Insider, Military and Defence, 29 August 2017; and, South Korea draws up secret plan, Daily Mail (Australia), 31 August 2017; and, US Special Unit,      Chosun Ilbo, 8 May 2017.
15.   US Special Unit, Ibid., Chosun Ilbo, 8 May 2017.
16.   Ibid.
17.   Business Insider, op.cit., 29 August 2017; and, Daily Star, op.cit., 1 September 2017.
18.   Australian, op. cit., 12 October 2017.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Holden – Australia’s “own car”?

Ned K.

On Friday 20 October 2017 the last assembled General Motors Holden passenger car rolled off the production line, bringing to an end mass production of passenger cars in Australia. Sad times for the thousands of workers directly and indirectly affected by the destruction of a whole industry, not just the Holden plants in Australia. Sad times for many families who grew up in Australia where the jingle "Football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars" did reflect an identifiable way of life with many working class people buying a Holden car in the knowledge it was made here.

The modern day version of the Holden, the Commodore, will continue to be in car yards in Australia but will be produced in General Motor's Opel plant in Germany. According to the Australian Financial Review reporter Simon Evans, General Motors "is attempting to blunt any consumer backlash against the Holden brand as it shuts down local car making after almost 70 years, with an unprecedented seven year warranty offered to entice new car buyers in a fiercely competitive market where 65 car brands jostle for sale."
General Motors is well aware that most people in Australia identify Holden and now Commodore as Australia's "own car", so how will these cars sell when fully imported from now on?
Chances are there will be a sales decline as it is also true that many people in Australia tolerated General Motors as long as there were still Holden cars made locally, but to what extent Holden was "Australia's own car" is only half the story.
Laurence Hartnett who was hired by General Motors from the UK to lead the company's manufacturing in Australia from the late 1940s wrote in his book Big Wheels and Little Wheels in 1964: "Australian money given readily by the Chifley Government as a most generous long term loan, enabled Holden to come in to production. So there is no question that the Australian people have a genuine financial interest in the Holden."
"Australian money started it, Australian money has made its profits."
The long term loan from the Chifley Government was 2.5 million pounds in 1944, a significant amount of money. It was this money that was the pre-condition for General Motors Holden (a company formed by the take-over of Holden Motor Body Builders by General Motors in 1931) agreeing to manufacture passenger cars from 1948 with the first Holden.
However the long term loan from the Australian Chifley Government was not the only pre-condition for the manufacturing of Holden passenger cars in Australia.
General Motors also demanded the following from the Australian Government
* The Government shall not itself engage in car manufacture. (In 1941 the Government had agreed with Australian Consolidated Industries to set up a 1 million pound company to manufacture motor engines and chassis in Australia with import control of engines and chassis - a direct threat to General Motors)
* No restriction on the type of vehicles General Motors Holden would make
*The Government to give General Motors first refusal on the purchase or lease of items of government-owned equipment installed in General Motors Holden plants during the war years by tax payers’ money
* Importation, free of duty and sales tax of machinery, equipment, tools unobtainable locally. Foreign exchange for this to be provided by the Government
*Travel to and from Australia by personnel required by General Motors in Australia, transport for equipment and development material from overseas to Australia to be given "suitable government priorities, and the allocation of foreign exchange for these purposes to be guaranteed" (from The Golden Holden by Arrowsmith and Zangalis 1965)
* The Government to drop its planned 10% tax on profits exported to the parent company General Motors in the USA.
General Motors got what they wanted not surprisingly from the Government.
Another significant point in the journey of Australia's "own car" was in December 1959. General Motors registered a US-owned company in Australia called General Motors (Aust) Pty Ltd, designed to buy out all Australian shareholders in General Motors Holden Ltd, the company formed in 1931. Under the Menzies Government, General Motors succeeded in doing so.
Laurence Hartnett said in his book Big Wheels and Little Wheels,"For General Motors to have acquired those shares was a harsh ungrateful act. And the Australian Government allowed it to happen. No other country in the world would have allowed a situation like that to develop".
From that point on, in terms of Holden being Australia's "own car", the destiny of the General Motors 100% owned car plants in Australia and all the thousands of jobs of Australian workers both direct and indirect relied totally on the decisions made by General Motors’ US owners.
Since General Motors in Australia announced the closure of manufacturing in Australia, the two main parliamentary parties, Labor and Liberal, have blamed each other for the closure. However both parties from early on in the life of General Motors Holden and indeed other multinational car manufacturers have implemented policies which fitted in nicely with the global plans of these same multinationals.

From the Chifley loan in 1944 to the Button plan of the 1980s, to the neoliberal policies of governments into the 21st Century, both Labor and Liberal have danced to the multinational car makers' various tunes.
Bill Shorten's latest announcement of a $1 billion Manufacturing Future Fund for car component companies to "retool and diversify" will leave the decision making and ownership of manufacturing in Australia in the hands of the corporations in receipt of the Future Fund, with history repeating itself.
As one young Flinders University graduate said recently at a forum on the Industrialisation and De-Industrialisation of South Australia: "These latest announcements (by Shorten) are really part of a 'small bar culture' and attempting neoliberalism with a human face."
October 20 2017 falls just short of the anniversary of the Russian Revolution which led to the working class, not huge privately-owned corporations, determining the economic future of their country.
That is the path of self-reliance that Australian workers will follow in ways appropriate to Australian conditions.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

On-going Lessons from the October Revolution

Josh S
The 1917 Russian revolution, though occurring a century ago, still provides salutatory lessons about many current issues including:
• the futility of terrorism.
• the nature of revolutionary resistance to state violence.
• the struggle for power and control of space.
• the need for leadership by a revolutionary party organisation.
The futility of terrorism
During the latter decades of the nineteenth, and in the early twentieth, centuries, many Russian revolutionaries sought to weaken or overthrow the Tsarist regime by attacks on, or assassinations of, nobles and government officials. However, not only were innocent people killed, but assassinated officials were merely replaced by others similar or worse, the masses were not roused or organised, and the anarchist or Narodnik groups were easily infiltrated by the secret police.
These desperate, idealistic rebels had no understanding of the need to educate, organise and lead the masses, particularly the working class, to overthrow the regime. They believed that heroic actions would create fear and paralysis in the regime and set an example for the passive masses, and this would all somehow lead to the downfall of the regime.
More recent terrorists, whether so-called revolutionaries in, for example, the USA, Europe and South America, or religious fundamentalists, have been variously motivated by:
• the desire to strike symbolic blows against capitalism, governments, and/or the armed forces, or the West, opponents of Islam, Shi’ites, or other supposed apostates;
• the belief that terrorist acts will inspire the masses to join the revolutionary struggle;
• the intention to incite the state to repress the people, who will then rise up against the state;
• the belief that military acts are educative for the population, giving them the confidence to challenge the state.
However, the terrorist actions have served only to:
• isolate the terrorists and enable governments to belittle and vilify opponents, and label all activists under the same umbrella;
• allow governments to get away with increased repression, and curtailment of hard-won civil liberties;
• alienate many in the population who either are unimpressed and remain passive, or who then support, or rally to, the government;
• fail completely to educate, organise and lead the population to take their own action leading to mass revolutionary action.
These terrorist acts, whether indiscriminate or targeted, are not only callously murderous, they have always been and always will be futile and counter-productive – they have never led, and never will lead, to the overthrow of governments or systems.
The nature of revolutionary resistance to state violence.
The use of violence in revolutionary struggle must be careful, responsible and calibrated. It must serve the political struggle, and must involve the masses in appropriate, careful ways.
Initially, the people, under the leadership of communists who understand the violent nature of the capitalist state, will take defensive measures to protect themselves against state violence and repression, and/or against violent attacks or repression by criminals, armed gangs etc. These people's actions may involve overt mass actions, covert organised actions, or actions by types of people's militias on behalf of the people and their struggle. In every case, the actions need to be part of an overall political strategy, and to be carefully planned so that the people are protected as much as possible.
The recent attacks on the Burmese military by the so-called Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, in response to the vicious repression of Rohingyas, seem to be sheer adventurism; they appeared to have no capacity or preparedness to protect the Rohingya from government reprisals.
In contrast, during the Vietnam war, the Viet Cong were very careful to avoid the association of the population in contested areas with Viet Cong military actions; indeed, the people often posed as government supporters or innocent bystanders, demanding government protection or that the government honour its promises; claiming that youths who had run off into the jungle to avoid being drafted into the South Vietnandese puppet army had been “kidnapped by the Viet Cong”. These tactics were developed by the National Liberation Front and local people working together.
The long period during which the revolutionary forces develop their military strength, experience and knowledge, and the people learn that political and military revolution is required to solve their basic problems, is often called the “strategic defensive”. The government forces are not challenged to major battles in fixed positions. The revolutionary forces gradually build their capacity and organisation, spread their influence over wider areas and gradually tie down the enemy, limit its ability to manoeuvre and attack at will, and force it to adopt a more and more defensive posture in larger and larger formations, and therefore, in fewer and fewer positions.
In Russia in 1917, the February Revolution overthrew Tsarism, and freed the hands of the bourgeoisie to pursue a slightly more modern, less constrained capitalist system, and to continue to pursue Russia's imperialist objectives in World War 1. The February revolution was in fact achieved by the workers of the major cities, the unrest in the countryside, and rebelliousness in the armed forces. The workers, and soldiers and sailors, established representative organisations, called Soviets, through which they attempted to define and pursue their demands, and to exercise political influence.

The Revolution was appropriated by the bourgeoisie, and remnants of the old feudal classes, aided by weak, opportunist organisations, like the Mensheviks and (so-called) Socialist-Revolutionaries, who constantly compromised with, and toadied to, the bourgeoisie. These latter groups held leadership of the Soviets and trade unions. The Bolsheviks waged a relentless struggle during 1917 to convince the workers, soldiers/sailors and peasants that a complete change of social and political system was required, and that the Soviets should take power to achieve the change.
That struggle involved intensive organisation and agitation around key popular demands to win support.
It also involved strong political actions to defend the people and their newly won rights. Soldiers and sailors elected committees which demanded a role in military decision-making. They overthrew the absolute control of the officer class and the death penalty in the armed forces, and resisted vigorously the Provisional Government's attempts to re-introduce it. They expelled, punished and sometimes executed the worst officers. They increasingly refused to obey orders unless these were endorsed by the relevant Soviets. They took their own independent action to protect the revolutionary forces. They increasingly became an independent political and military force as they realised that fundamental changes were required to end Russia's involvement in the War, and to provide land, food and hope to the Russian masses.
As well as agitation, the Bolsheviks also organised their own members and the working class, particularly in the big factories, into workers militias, independent of the Government. There was intense struggle during 1917 as the workers militias got organised, took arms, trained, and forced employers to pay the wages of workers on militia duty, while the Government tried every effort to circumscribe the independent workers militias and to bring them under government control. The workers militias enrolled women (for the first time ever Russia), kept peace and order in working class districts, distributed food in an attempt to avert famine, kept factories working as many employers tried to undermine the growing movement by closing factories to starve the working class into submission, regulated industrial disputes between employers and workers, protected meetings, and released political prisoners.
These militias and their actions taught the workers about the need for, and possibility of, completely replacing the old regime with new people’s organs, and prepared for the overthrow of the government and its armed forces.
The struggle for power and control of space
The period between the February and October Revolutions was a period of Dual Power, as the people's organised forces challenged the old system and gradually neutralised its forces, took power in increasing aspects and areas, until by October, the regime was sufficiently weak and isolated, and the few military forces that it could muster were easily and quickly defeated., the Socialist revolution achieved, and power was formally vested in the Soviets.
The revolutionary military process during 1917 was closely linked to the strategic political process, which itself involved organising and educating the masses, particularly the workers, soldiers and sailors, and to some extent the peasantry, although the latter's actions in attacking landlords, burning manor houses and seizing land were probably less organised and largely spontaneous. The military defeat of the feudal/capitalist system was the culmination of long-term political struggle and strategy, and went through defensive and stalemate stages before the offensive in October.
Subsequently, the remnants of armed forces loyal to the bourgeoisie or even Tsarism, combined with the intervention of 14 capitalist countries which were aghast that Russia had both left the War and had a Socialist revolution, mounted a counter-revolution. The ensuing civil war bled Russia dry, but the courage, determination and inspiration of the Soviet people, of all nationalities, again with strong clear leadership of the Bolshevik Party, enabled the revolution to defeat the counter-revolution, and then the construction of socialism.
The need for leadership by a revolutionary party organisation
The difference between the failed terrorist attacks of the nineteenth century and the unsuccessful Revolution of 1905, was due to two key factors:
(1) The overall political and military situation. By 1917, the whole Russian system was collapsing; people were starving, crops were unplanted or unharvested because peasants were sent off to the war, the transport system was in chaos, and soldiers were being slaughtered or dying of cold, hunger and disease at the front. But the tsarist regime and its feudal and capitalist supporters would not, could not, change course because of their subservience to, and reliance on, French and British capital.
(2) The steady construction and maturation of a revolutionary organisation that was capable of seeing what was required and of providing leadership to the people to achieve it.
As soon as the February Revolution occurred, clear differences were apparent among the supposed revolutionary parties. The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries could not see, refused to see, that merely overthrowing the Tsar would change little. They compromised and cowered, more afraid of militant uncontrolled masses than of the disastrous situation across the country.
The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, demanded that the revolution continue to a socialist conclusion, that power be taken by the people, in the form of the Soviets.
The Bolshevik Party had been steeled in struggle for decades, by the experience of struggle, and repression, jail and execution.
As a tight, experienced organisation, it had the capacity to pool information, perspectives and knowledge from across the whole Russian Empire, across all nationalities, and develop demands and strategies that responded to the political and military situations as they unfolded, and to the masses' needs and consciousness. It modified and refined strategies and tactics as situations changed, and these changes were implemented by the Party membership across the empire.
The leadership carefully analysed the changing situation, the strength of the government and of the revolutionary forces.
In late June, the workers of Petrograd and Moscow and some other industrial centres, were completely fed up with the Provisional Government and were ready for the next revolution. Spontaneous demands for a confrontation with the government and its armed forces broke out, and massive demonstrations were organised. The Bolshevik leadership realised that, as yet, there was insufficient support for an insurrection across the whole country, that rebelliousness in the armed forces had not matured enough, and that an uprising would be crushed. At the same time, they recognised that the revolutionary consciousness of the workers was the result of Bolshevik agitation, and that the Party still had to supply responsible leadership in this difficult situation. The Bolsheviks assumed leadership of the (early) July demonstrations which were attacked by the regime, but (doing the most difficult thing for a revolutionary organisation), reined in the spontaneity and adventurousness, and avoided the confrontation that the government tried to provoke. The movement had to take a step back, the Bolsheviks were hounded by the regime, and a military coup was prepared by the army and government leadership.
Although driven underground, the Bolsheviks kept agitating and organising across the empire, preparing the ground for a successful insurrection when the time was ripe.
The Russian empire covered many nationalities, who had long been oppressed by the great Russian chauvinism of the Tsarist regime. The overthrow of Tsarism created the opportunity for local bourgeois nationalists among most, if not all, nationalities, to agitate for secession from the empire, and the establishment of nationalist bourgeois or (semi-)feudal governments. The Bolsheviks, pooling information from across the empire, and determined to fight for a socialist revolution for all, agitated and organised both against the chauvinist Russian Provisional Government, and also against the opportunist local nationalist leaders, and advocated the maintenance of unity among all nationalities toward a socialist revolution across the whole empire.
After the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries deserted the socialist revolution, and used their leading positions in the Soviets and trade unions to oppose the continuation of the revolution, the Bolsheviks shelved their slogan “All Power to the Soviets” and adopted the strategy of concentrating their efforts on the workers and soldiers committees and the factories, steadily winning mass support which was organised into cells, committees and militia.
The Party had clear strategies for the development of Dual Power, for the organisation of workers militias, and for the preparation for the military insurrection. The Party carefully monitored events and the mass mood and consciousness, and the disposition and weaknesses of the enemy forces. It considered timing – when the enemy would be weak enough, and the people's forces strong and well enough organised, to stage the insurrection.
The Russian revolution would not have happened, could not have happened, without a committed, tightly organised and disciplined Party, to make the ongoing analyses, to develop the strategies, to agitate consistently across the vast empire, to organise the people politically and militarily, and to possess the accumulated pooled wisdom and courage to brave the tsarist and bourgeois repression and know when and how to strike.
Today's advocates of spontaneity, of movementism, of no organisation, of opposition without positive demands, of isolated acts, would do well to learn

Monday, October 16, 2017

“Human rights” in the service of US imperialism

Nick G.

Australia has been voted onto the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council. For the three-year term of its office, Australia will strengthen the hand of fellow member, US imperialism, in using the issue of human rights to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign nations.

Let us be clear: there is the human rights perspective of proletarian internationalism whereby the workers and oppressed peoples of all nations support each other’s struggles for liberation, and there is the “human rights” of imperialism, which is the right of imperialism to carry out provocations against its rivals and those who resist its drive for full spectrum domination.  The old cover for its aggression was “freedom” and “democracy”.  In the last decade or more it has increasingly covered its aggression with the deception of “humanitarian assistance” and “intervention to prevent human rights abuses”.

Historically, the Australian ruling class has shown little concern for the human rights of any but the biggest exploiters of the Australian people.  There were no “human rights” concerns when the colonialists unsettled the First Nations communities, stealing their lands and imposing genocidal practices on them.

There have never been champions from the bourgeoisie for the human rights of workers.  Whenever workers or their leaders challenge the interests of the bosses, they are fined, jailed and can now have their assets seized.  The human rights of Australian workers to organise collectively and to fight for wages and conditions improvements are so circumscribed and to be on a par with workers in, say, Turkey or Indonesia.

The 1901 Australian Constitution is concerned only with how to make capitalism a workable system, balancing the interests existing at the turn of the 20th century, namely, those of Britain, the separate colonies and the new federal authorities. It is an unreadable and dated document.  Its creators made no provision for a Bill of Rights or of any definition of personal rights and liberties.  It “disappeared” the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples completely, assuming the absolute correctness of their dispossession and genocide.

The Australian bourgeois state has been a pioneer in the move by developed capitalist countries to renege on the commitments they made to refugees and asylum seekers post-WWII.  It has outsourced the concentration camps into which refugees and asylum seekers are placed to compliant regional states such as New Guinea and Nauru.  Ironically, in 2016, the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea ruled that Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island was illegal and unconstitutional. Its Constitution contains a select number of human rights:

* the right to life, liberty and security of person and protection of the law
* the right to take part in political activities
* freedom from inhuman treatment and forced labour
* freedom of conscience, expression, information, assembly and association
* freedom of employment and movement
* the right to privacy and property

Elected alongside Australia is Spain whose “human rights” abuses of Basques and Galicians must now rank alongside its violent suppression of the Catalan independence referendum.

With terms yet to expire are such “human rights” defenders as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and the US imperialists.

So-called “universal human rights” in the hands of states such as these have their “universality” trampled on a daily, hourly basis. In any class society, the question of human rights is basically a class question. Human rights for working people require the elevation of the working class to leadership and control of the state – not as it exists now, but as it will be redefined and restructured to ensure that there will be no going back once independence and socialism are in place.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Broad United Front is developing against US imperialism in Australia

Max O.

On the heels of the Independent & Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) 2017 National Conference (8-10 September) two interesting and important articles were published that questioned the value of the US-Australian military alliance. The articles came from Richard Butler (former Ambassador to the United Nations; Diplomat in Residence at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York) and James O'Neill (a former academic, who practiced law in New Zealand and Brisbane and writes regularly on geo-politics, concentrating on international law and human rights).

In much the same way as Malcolm Fraser did in the latter part of his life, these two reflect the broadness of opposition that exists and is developing against US domination of the Australian polity. Richard Butler's, The Alliance: The Facts and Furphies examines the current misrepresentations of the alliance and James O'Neill's, Australia and U.S. "Joined at the Hip": Where's the benefit? scrutinizes our political leaders’ supine compliance towards our 'powerful ally'.
Both impressively make similar points on the nature of Australia's relationship with the United States. Unequivocally they affirm that the United States is a risky imperialist power; that remarkably both major parliamentary parties, Coalition and ALP, are slavishly committed to serving US strategic interests; that foolishly this acquiescence is dangerous for, and against Australia's interests.
Additionally, Butler points out that Australia's current political relationship with the United States diminishes our status as an independent nation. Our national sovereignty is sacrificed because, " Conservatives, within both main parties, believe that outcomes in international relations are ultimately determined by power, not principles or rules, and therefore, its best for Australia to be on the side of the most powerful state."
Giant furphies
Furthermore, he remarks: "When they address the issue of Australia’s national security, they assert that it relies upon our alliance with the US; indeed, they say, our ultimate national survival depends upon it." Butler suggests this craven approach to security is based on a number of giant furphies.
He comes up with 4 furphies that he thinks should be challenged:
1) "...that the US and all it stands for is solid and clearly resilient to the disaster that is the Trump presidency”;
2) "US society is seriously divided... This is more than what has been called diversity or the US ‘melting pot’”;
3) "...such a political crisis, it could be argued, would relieve us all, of the misbegotten Trump presidency.";
4) "...there is the abiding phenomenon of America seeking foreign adventures, conquest, war, as a solution to a lack of domestic political cohesion and the needs of its massive arms industries ...the most flagrant furphy of all of them is that we have joined the US in its wars in order to ensure its protection of us..."
Butler deals with these furphies with forceful counter arguments and concludes that the political situation inside the US is dysfunctional with the potential for Trump to initiate a major foreign war. The practice of blind faith by our political leaders of accompanying the US into military action will not in the end protect us, but in fact attract an attack on out territory.
If the US becomes involved in a nuclear exchange, the mere fact that we have US bases on our soil makes Australia a target in the eyes of North Korea, China and Russia. He reminds us that the justification for our involvement in US-led illegal wars and invasions put forward by such acolytes as John Howard, that Australia is part of an 'Anglo sphere', is an exceptionalist belief that is offensive to other parts of the world.
Supine compliance
James O'Neill, who gave a presentation at the IPAN the 2017 National Conference, in his article gives a historical background to why Australia slavishly submits itself to imperial powers, Britain in the past and the United States now. Since the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in January 1942 there has been no critical appraisal of Australia’s dependent relationship with the US.
This is reflected in the present by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's repeated sycophancy that Australia is “joined at the hip” to the United States on its defence and national security. Neither the Labor Party or the media attempted any critical commentary; rather as we have come to expect they demurred and fell into line.
This is not surprising O'Neill points out because, "Prior to that seminal event, Australia had never challenged its role as a colonial appendage to the British Empire. That status had led Australia into a series of wars, which in common with just about every other military misadventure before and since had only the vaguest connection with Australia’s national interest, if any."
He lists two the military adventures that Britain called on Australia to support: The Crimea War of 1850's, Australian troops fought with the British against the Russians over control of the Crimea peninsular; Australia followed Britain into the First World War at great cost to its soldiers to block Germany's challenge to British imperialist territorial domination.
However, "With the rout of the British forces in 1941-42 by the Japanese, it was obvious to Australian politicians that a new protector was needed, and the Americans required no encouragement to assume that role. The marriage of convenience that occurred in 1942-45 may have suited Australia in its perception of an imminent Japanese invasion, but then, as now, the bride’s dowry should have been scrutinized more closely.
"A relentless propaganda campaign through every possible medium has been waged since then to convince Australians that in 1942 and since Australia has been getting a good deal. The fake security blanket of the ANZUS treaty personifies that. The reality is somewhat different."
Indefensibly, the American empire since the WWII has caused unparalleled death, destruction and pillaging of other countries' resources, with Australia involved in three of the US’s current wars: Afghanistan, since 2001; Iraq, since 2003; and Syria, since 2015. O'Neill argues that these wars were all illegal under international law; were commenced under false pretexts and continue under ever-shifting rationales; have wrought death and destruction upon their civilian populations; and none could be legitimately classified as essential to Australia’s national security interests.
He predicts, "Given the slavish adherence to American imperialism, these wars are not likely to be the last to see Australian involvement. One has only to look and listen to the current belligerent (and remarkably ignorant) rhetoric over North Korea, China and Russia to see that the US has no plans to change its modus operandi of the past 200 years. On the evidence of past history and current policy stances, Australia will yet again be sacrificing its soldiers, its treasure and its reputation fighting other countries’ wars for other countries’ benefit."

Butler and O'Neill's analysis about the dangers of Australia's servile alliance with the United States has recently been verified by North Korea's warning, "...they will not be able to avoid a disaster". An understandable reaction after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister Marise Payne gave a provocative press statement condemning North Korea for its nuclear weapons and missile programs (whilst at the same supporting and participating in military exercises with the US and South Korea in the region) at the Demilitarized Zone village of Panmunjom village in early October.
Also, Trump's decision to decertify the nuclear deal with Iran has provoked outcry around the world, and in particular is not supported by the five other powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia - who were signatories to this agreement. Trump and the US ruling class are now more isolated than ever (the other five powers continue to reaffirm their commitment to the nuclear deal with Iran), although it is not the first time US imperialism has gone out on its own and ignored international law and agreements.
Correctly raising the ideological level, correctly leading the mass movement
Identifying the main contradiction, imperialism and the main danger, US aggression as the greatest threat of war is the most urgent task of anti-imperialists, especially communists. In addition, Australia's dependent client relationship to US imperialism needs to be confronted, exposed and explained to the Australian people.
The first steps in doing this have been undertaken in the present peace umbrella organisation of IPAN. Activists have carefully and correctly raised the ideological level of IPAN members and the wider peace movement, who now acknowledge more than ever the dangers of imperialism, in particular the threat of US imperialism and the need for Australia to achieve political, economic and military independence from America.
Links have been made in preparation to eventually mobilise all the classes that can be rallied to oppose military aggression when it does break out. The biggest class of course that needs to be involved is the working class, who will suffer the most in the event of war.
However, other classes such as the intelligentsia have a positive role to play in the united front against imperialist war, as Butler and O'Neill testify.
In fact, elements of the national bourgeoisie can also be allied with if they demonstrate a willingness to oppose Australia's involvement with US military aggression. It is the comprador bourgeoisie (From Turnbull's Coalition government, Shorten's parliamentary Labor party, Business Council, corporate monopolies, upper echelons of the state apparatus and military etc) that needs to isolated and attacked because of its umbilical attachment to US strategic interests.
In achieving a broad alliance amongst the Australian people all anti-war organisations, groups and individuals must be accorded a respectful place in the peace movement. It is important that Vanguard and other united front media fulfil the role of providing a credible and useful source of information and anti-imperialist analysis about imperialism's threat to the world's peoples.
Links to:
Richard Butler's, The Alliance: The Facts and Furphies
James O'Neill's, Australia and U.S. "Joined at the Hip": Where's the benefit?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fascism: resist the beginnings!

Nick G.

The resurgence of right-wing and openly fascist groups, both here and internationally, is a sign of the sharpening of class contradictions in the midst of fresh contentions between various imperialist groupings. A death threat against a leader of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD), concurrently the international spokesperson for the International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organisations (ICOR) by German fascists has lessons for revolutionaries in all countries, and especially for those in the bourgeois “democracies”.

The comrade against whom the death threats were made is Monika Gartner-Engel, pictured above speaking at a rally in solidarity with the Kurds.

The closest attention must be paid at all times to the preservation of the proletarian revolutionary movement and to the organisations at its core.

In Australia, our Party has adopted, since its inception, what might be called the “iceberg” principle, namely, the requirement that only a small component of the organisation has public visibility (a few more or less open spokespersons, its website and publications) whilst the identities of the majority of its members are not generally disclosed.

Given the anti-Communism that is propagated and sustained by all branches of the capitalist media, in most educational settings, and even amongst some otherwise progressive people and organisations, immediate declaration of one’s Party membership can erect unnecessary barriers to the successful implementation of political mass work.

Given the Australian state machinery of surveillance of revolutionary Communists, open proclamation of one’s Party membership can invite the attention of the police, ASIO and others, and open the Communists to various forms of persecution.

Given the existence of fascist groups prepared to act as an extra-legal violent shock force for the bourgeoisie against the vanguard forces of the revolutionary movement, careless disclosure of one’s Party membership can result in the intimidation of threats, or the carrying out of threats, against the safety and life of our comrades.

We reprint below a statement from the MLPD which refers to the fascist Alternative for Germany (AfD) and National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD).  An important call in the statement is to “Resist the beginnings!” of fascism.
Fascist death threats against Monika Gärtner-Engel and others

The Central Committee of the MLPD is issuing a leaflet to provide information about fascist calls for the murder of Monika Gärtner-Engel and residents of a house on Hauptstrasse in Gelsenkirchen:

From the Central Committee of the MLPD

Dear residents, on the 30th of September a called was issued in the Internet to murder Monika Gärtner-Engel. She is the Responsible Person for Internationalism on the Central Committee of the MLPD and Main Coordinator of the revolutionary world organization ICOR. I
n Gelsenkirchen she is a well-known, popular representative of the MLPD, a member of the City Council and a local politician of AUF. Via Twitter Monika Gärtner-Engel was viciously slandered, a distorted, manipulated photo of her was spread, and a call was issued to hunt and kill her: “Find her = Kill her!” it says in English.

Threat through the entryphone

In the night of 2 to 3 October residents of a house on Hauptstrasse in Gelsenkirchen were threatened through the entryphone: “I am your killer! I am coming for you tonight!” The “International Meeting Place”, known for its exemplary solidarity with refugees, the local office of the MLPD and the progressive book and crafts store and travel agency “People to People” are located in the house. During the night of 4 October a hate sticker of the neofascist NPD was pasted to the office of the MLPD.

In both cases charges were filed against persons unknown. Gabi Fechtner, Chairwoman of the MLPD, stated: “Of course, you can’t let yourself be intimidated by something like that. After all, 87 percent of the voters explicitly elected parties which are left of the protofascist AfD, and the progressive change of mood is appreciably stronger than the trend to the right.

But one must not take this trend to the right and such fascist death threats lightly. Their purpose is to intimidate. However, in the past they also have paved the way for brutal attacks including even the murder of antifascists, communists or migrants. It has not escaped the fascists’ attention that the MLPD and the Internationalist Alliance are gaining social importance, and so they step up their attacks.

Apparently, fascist forces think they are getting the upper hand due to the upgrading of the AfD, and so they crawl out of their holes...

Fascists encouraged by “left-wing extremism” campaign

The fascists are encouraged and incited by the ‘left-wing extremism’ campaign of those in power. From the AfD we increasingly hear fascist sentiments, but the fascist followers of Erdogan or the fascist IS also are active in Germany.”

Don’t budge an inch for the fascists

Gabi Fechtner calls upon “all democratic people to resolutely oppose such fascist activities and to increase their vigilance. We demand the prosecution and punishment of those responsible and the banning of all fascist organizations and their propaganda. Resist the beginnings! Don’t budge an inch for the fascists!”

All antifascists, democrats, friends and local residents are called upon and requested to unite against such fascist activities, to provide relevant information and to organize the protest, for example at the Monday Demonstration on 9 October 2017, 5.30 p.m., Preuteplatz square. Thank you!

Solidarity is growing

Immediately after the death threats were made public, the first declarations of solidarity were received. The editors of Rote Fahne express their unequivocal solidarity and sharply condemn the fascist threats. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The victory of the October Revolution was a victory over revisionism

Nick G.

The Great October Socialist Revolution, the centenary of which we celebrate this year, was the greatest practical vindication of genuine Marxism.

Its success was guaranteed by the leadership of the great V.I. Lenin and his unremitting struggles against every kind of bourgeois reformism and unprincipled opportunism.  In particular, it was his opposition to the watering down of Marxism, to the stripping away of its revolutionary essence, that educated the class-conscious workers of Russia, raising their ideological level to the point where, in the incredibly complex and ever-changing situation after the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in March 1917, they kept their eyes on the prize of a workers’ and peasants’ state rather than the bourgeois state of Kerensky, the Cadets and the Octobrists (parties of the capitalists and landlords).

Marx and Engels fought utopian and idealistic versions of socialism

Marx and Engels fought to establish their theories from the laws of dialectical and historical materialism. They analysed the history of class society from its inception through to the revolutionary upheavals of mid-nineteenth century Europe and wrote the Communist Manifesto in opposition to various types of utopian and idealist “socialism”. They also wrote at length to refute the influential, but unscientific, views of Duhring and Proudhon.

The ideological struggles led by Marx and Engels resulted, as Lenin noted, in the defeat of “pre-Marxist socialism”.  From that point on, bourgeois efforts to turn the workers from revolution and proletarian dictatorship could no longer stand “on its own independent ground, but on the general ground of Marxism, as revisionism” (Lenin On Marxism and Revisionism).

European revisionism

Scientific socialism extends recognition of the class struggle (which is in plain view of the blindest of Freddies) to the necessity for the overthrow of the capitalist ruling class by means of revolution. It requires that the workers smash the old machinery of state and create their own institutions to keep the restorationists of the old order in check.

Opportunists seeking to build parliamentary careers on the backs of the oppressed were then forced to “stand on the ground of Marxism” in order to fight it. Only as “Marxists” could they have the access to the advanced workers, could they have the credibility with the revolutionary vanguard of workers, that would enable them to divert the workers from the path of the revolutionary movement.

The German Eduard Bernstein was the first significant “Marxist” to “interpret” Marxism to support opposition to it.  He argued that the Marxism of the Manifesto was too impetuous, too youthful, and that in their later years, Marx and Engels matured to a point where achieving peaceful reforms through parliament was preferable to upheavals and revolution. Of course, it would be wonderful to peacefully legislate the ruling class out of existence, but it has never once happened in history. What Marx and Engels knew to be true still stands.

Other significant “Marxists” (some of whom were indeed Marxist at one time or another) included the Russian Plekhanov and another German, Karl Kautsky.
n 1895, Engels discovered that his introduction to a new edition of The Class Struggles in France, written by Marx in 1850, had been edited by Bernstein and Kautsky in a manner which left the impression that he had become a proponent of a peaceful road to socialism. On April 1, 1895, four months before his death, Engels wrote to Kautsky:

“I was amazed to see today in the Vorwärts an excerpt from my ‘Introduction’ that had been printed without my knowledge and tricked out in such a way as to present me as a peace-loving proponent of legality quand même (at all costs). Which is all the more reason why I should like it to appear in its entirety in the Neue Zeit in order that this disgraceful impression may be erased. I shall leave Liebknecht in no doubt as to what I think about it and the same applies to those who, irrespective of who they may be, gave him this opportunity of perverting my views and, what’s more, without so much as a word to me about it.”

The “peace-loving proponents of legality”, who sought to distort Marxism in their own image, later formed the core of those who placed defence of their respective fatherlands ahead of proletarian internationalism following the outbreak of the predatory imperialist war for the division of the world (1914-18).

Lenin denounced Plekhanov, Kautsky, and other leaders of the Second International as social-patriots (socialists in words, but bourgeois patriots in deeds), social-pacifists (socialist in words but pacifists rejecting revolutionary struggle against one’s own bourgeoisie in deeds), social-chauvinists (socialists in words, but reactionary chauvinists in deeds), social-nationalists (socialists in words but narrow bourgeois nationalists in deeds) and social-imperialists (socialists in words but supporters of imperialism in deeds).

These hyphenated “socialists” were the revisionists of a particular time and place, the time when competing capitalist ruing classes were using their “own” workers to kill other workers for the sake of a redivision of the colonies and financial spheres of interest of the world.

The fight for Red October

The February Revolution in Russia that led to the abdication of Nicholas II in March was the result of proletarian action but a gift to the capitalists and landlords.  The provisional government first of all refused to accept the overthrow of the Tsar, urging Nicholas to abdicate in favour of his young son who would ensure the Romanov dynasty via a Regency under his brother Michael. They wanted to keep as much of the old state intact as was needed for a more vigorous prosecution of the war effort.

From exile, Lenin exerted every effort to prevent revisionist elements from giving legitimacy to the new bourgeois rulers.  Intense struggles between the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks were played out in the Petrograd Soviet and other centres of workers’ revolutionary organisation. The subsequent victory of the October Revolution was a victory over revisionist influence in the working class.

Building socialism means fighting revisionism

After the death of Lenin in 1924, the key leadership of the Soviet Union was taken up by Joseph Stalin who, together with the Soviet people, was relentlessly demonised and maligned by the international bourgeoisie and imperialists.  In the 1930s, at a time when the rest of the capitalist world was in deep economic depression wreaking enormous hardships, hunger, homelessness and poverty on the majority of the world’s people, the Soviet Union was in the throes of rapidly industrialising its economy and collectivisation of agriculture, able to provide full employment, housing, high standard free education and health, real equality for women, free child care, security for the people and promote vibrant and powerful  art and culture of the working people.

The key to the successful construction of socialism by Stalin and the collective leadership around him was confidence in the strength of the working class and its ally, the peasants.  Stalin, and the majority of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union maintained confidence in the working class to achieve their goals at a time when so many around him argued that building socialism in such a backward and impoverished country as Russia was impossible without simultaneous socialist uprisings in the more advanced European countries. They argued that support from the latter was an essential precondition for building socialism in Russia.

The people of the Soviet Union could not have achieved such momentous social and industrial progress without enormous confidence, support and enthusiasm for socialism and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Indeed, revisionism feeds primarily on the lack of courage, the lack of confidence in the ability of the people to surmount incredible difficulty, evident in backward, wavering sections of the working class and the petty-bourgeois elements that are drawn to it.

The strength of the economic and political foundations of the Soviet Union enabled it to withstand the horrific loss of life and destruction of cities and infrastructure that were inflicted by the Hitlerites, with the urgings and support from other imperialist powers, in World War 2.  Indeed, the turning tide of World War 2 was the succession of defeats inflicted on the Nazis by the Soviet Red Army.

Yet war took its toll. Up to 20 million Soviet people had died, and there was huge economic destruction. The greatly increased economic and military power of the USA was now mobilised against a weakened Soviet Union. The 1948 Berlin Airlift hammered this power imbalance home. Not all Soviet leaders maintained Stalin’s confidence in the future.

Revisionism an ever-present danger

Following Stalin’s death in 1953, Khrushchev - in the face of strong opposition by leaders such as Molotov and Kaganovich - together with his revisionist followers in the Party, used the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to rewrite essential teachings of Marxism, introducing economic and political policies that refuted the continuing class struggle under socialism on the one hand, and on the other, created and favoured a new privileged social and political elite, and sought cooperation with, rather than defeat of, imperialism.

Erroneous theories such as the “state of the whole people”, the “party of the whole people” and the “disappearance” of the dictatorship of the proletariat facilitated the anti-socialist activities of managers now given responsibility for pursuing profit at all costs including the reduction of wage costs by putting workers on the scrap heap. It enabled party and government leaders to make decisions about the allocation of socially- and increasingly, privately-appropriated surplus value that took away the leading role of the working class and vested it in a new bourgeoisie.  As the power and influence of this group grew it quite deliberately sought the restoration of capitalism in the USSR.  State-owned means of production were transferred, either overtly or covertly, to private hands and those that remained state-owned functioned as components of state monopoly capitalism.

With such a high level of centralisation and monopoly in the formation of private and state-monopoly capital under Khrushchev, the drive for capital accumulation inevitably took on an imperialist perspective, in the first place through the unequal economic and political relations embedded in COMECON (the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) and the East European “people’s democracies”.  The imperialism of the Soviet Union under Khrushchev and his heirs, carried out by a party and nation still cloaked in the garb of Marxism-Leninism, was correctly characterised through a revival of Lenin’s term “social-imperialism”.  The post-Stalin Soviet Union, unfortunately and regrettably, was indeed socialist in words, but imperialist in deeds.

The logical conclusion of Khrushchev’s revisionism was the formal dismantling of the great Soviet Union by Gorbachev in 1991, and its degeneration into a land of corrupt and gangsterish rulers and an increasingly impoverished populace.

The rejection of revisionism by the people of former Soviet Union is expressed in the continuing public support for Lenin and Stalin and longings for the socialist country before dismantling of socialism starting with the Khrushchev era. In contrast, there’s been no sign of support for Khrushchev and his successors.

Nor has revisionism disappeared.  The Chinese Communist Party invented the “Theory of the Three Represents” to facilitate its transformation from a party of the proletariat to a party of new capitalist elements.  According to the Chinese Communist Party its priority is to build “harmony” between classes. Mao Zedong had taught that contradiction resides in all things, that class contradictions and class struggle would exist throughout the entire socialist era, and that ideological struggle against bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology would be required “for a fairly long period of time”.

History proves that in all Communist Parties existing in class societies, capitalist or socialist, revisionism is an ever-present danger, and class struggle doesn’t cease. In the circumstances of a party such as our own, a small party in a developed country, perseverance in building a revolutionary movement will always be under an immense pressure of bourgeois influence, ideas of class reconciliation, lack of scientific confidence based on dialectical materialism, and hence of revisionism. Nevertheless, we must persevere with the organisational, political and ideological principles drawn from scientific socialism, from Marxism-Leninism.

Is the cup half empty, or is the cup half full?  Are we inspired by October 1917, or gutted by December 1991? Times are tough and the Australian people are yet to build leadership or mass organisations capable of overthrowing capitalism. Yet, under the most difficult circumstances imaginable, the Soviet people managed to do just that. There can only be one answer: the cup is neither half full nor half empty: it is overflowing with lessons to integrate into Australian reality.

Lenin’s victory over revisionism, and the creation of the first workers’ state in history, continue to inspire us.