Imperialist rivalries and inroads by Chinese capital into sections of the Australian economy and growing political influence is worrying US imperialism who up to now had Australia’s absolute loyalty economically, politically and militarily.
The increasing penetration of Chinese capital has US imperialism agitated and whipping up anti-China frenzy. Preparations for war with China will undoubtedly drag Australia into the military conflict.
The threat to US hegemony locally and globally is overshadowing Australia politically, economically and militarily. These imperialist rivalries worsen the situation for Australia’s working people, but also sharpen the contradictions between imperialism and the people and push the struggle for independence higher up on the agenda. These conditions are opening up greater opportunities for the revolutionary forces to step up the anti-imperialist independence struggle and the promotion of socialism.
There are divisions and conflicted loyalties within different sections of the imperialist ruling class, and their servants in parliament, over Chinese investment in Australia. These contradictions are throwing Australia’s political landscape into some mayhem and evident in a myriad of ways. Nevertheless, there’s not much difference between the main parliamentary political parties’ comprador class in their willingness to sell Australia and the people to an imperialist bidder with the biggest nugget of gold. (eg Darwin Port, farmlands, selling off public instrumentalities, etc.). They make noises about Chinese interference and espionage but mainly to placate the U.S. dominant power, and public concerns about selling off the country. The Chinese know their vast reserves of capital will put them in the winning seat.
Presently, the LNP is rusted on to the US whilst sections of the ALP seek closer political ties with Chinese businesses. But both vie for Chinese capital to maintain capitalism in Australia and continue the exploitation of Australia’s working people and natural resources. Both major parliamentary parties are loyal to US global military and economic hegemony. On matters of US-Australia military and political alliance a few voices within the establishment raise concerns about Australia slavishly following the US into wars and interoperability into its war machine and multinational weapons manufacturers. Richard Butler, of Iraq ‘weapons of mass destruction’ fame, is calling for Australia to be more independent militarily and in a recent article refers to “US imperialism”.
Parliament, social democracy and the ALP
Bourgeois parliamentary parties and politics are increasingly unstable and reflect the crisis of capitalism and the sharpening contradictions and rivalries – decline of US imperialism and rise of China which threatens to replace US economic hegemony.
Amongst the people there is less confidence in capitalism’s ability to solve economic problems and provide security for the people.
However, capitalism is not being rejected in a mass way yet, there is cynicism. There is deepening disillusionment with main parliamentary parties and to a lesser degree bourgeois democracy and parliamentarism generally. For Marxist-Leninists this is the most important aspect of the developing trend – the (slow) shift away from reliance on bourgeois parliamentarism. This is not in any way to deny the present strong hold of bourgeois parliamentary democracy – and less confidence by the working class in the power of independent struggle of the masses. No amount of rhetoric in itself will convince the working people that Labor cannot uphold the interests of the people. Only people’s own experiences combined with analysis based on people’s own experiences can assist the development of this process.
These conditions especially place responsibility on the revolutionary working class and its party to assist the development of revolutionary consciousness and organisation of the masses. Objective conditions are moving fast, however the subjective consciousness and organisation is uneven and as always lags behind the objective conditions. This is the present reality that we need to take account of. It is partly due to a long period of absence of an active revolutionary Marxist-Leninist party deeply connected to the people. Economic conditions and the temporary victory and influence of revisionism is one aspect of these complex conditions. Bourgeois ideology of self-serving individualism, diminishing confidence and conviction in the revolutionary capacity and potential of the working class and the sugar-coated bullets of capitalism have paralysed some, and killed off others.
In practice the ALP has largely abandoned bourgeois social democracy, although the leaders still use the smokescreen of social democracy to deceive their progressive members, followers, workers and trade union activists. Capital has less capacity to make concessions. The ALP has lost much of the previously enthusiastic following by rank and file workers whose struggles it diverts more than ever from workplaces, streets and communities into bourgeois parliament and the ALP. Even the organised working class under the leadership of ALP dominated trade union bureaucracy has less confidence in the capacity of their own collective strength and struggle and hesitantly park their vote with the ALP, half-hoping Labor will somehow fix things up for the workers. This disengagement from independent working class struggle is vigorously pushed by union peak bodies and the ALP. And yet in conversations with workers and ordinary people there’s resignation and a sense of powerlessness about the futility of parliament, and also concerns about the direction Australia is moving in, including foreign domination by corporations, selling off Australia, privatisation, etc. For communists this is the more significant trend – though uneven and still not fully developed - that we need to assist and encourage in its growth.
Experience of Labor in government will deepen the exposure of its true character of serving capital. However, unless the experience of Labor is connected to Marxist analysis and used to point towards an independent working class struggle and agenda, independence and socialism, workers will not be able to get off the merry go round of parliamentarism (including Greens and independents), hoping that the next newly minted, chest beating politician will somehow be different. These conditions obligate the revolutionary working class organisation to not only assist in the understanding of the ALP’s service to capital, but importantly offer a political and practical direction of revolutionary independent working class struggle through our involvement in people’s struggles – mass work and mass line. We have to be at one with the ordinary people to know, understand and respect the immediate needs and developing consciousness.
Working class struggle and trade unions
One of the main contradictions in the working class movement today is the attachment to bourgeois parliament on the one hand and the (slow) movement in the opposite direction of growing disillusionment with parliamentary parties and politicians on the other. It’s a contradiction that will continue to develop and sharpen as economic and other conditions will compel the ALP to reveal itself to the working class as the party of the bourgeoisie. The main aspect of this contradiction is the disillusionment with Labor (and other social democratic parties) and looking beyond parliament to deal with attacks on the organised working class, privatisation, integration and subservience under the US imperialist military command, independence, etc.
Revolutionaries actively participate in the day to day struggles with workers - for workers’ rights, the right to strike, wages and conditions, secure jobs. In the course of participating with workers in these struggles we put forward an alternative independent and revolutionary direction of struggle that points to the root cause of peoples’ many problems – multinational domination of the country who hold the real capitalist ruling class power behind the façade of parliamentary democracy. We propose a new direction of an independent vision and an independent agenda for immediate demands and struggle. It’s not a blue print, but implemented and practised in diverse ways appropriate to local places and conditions – it needs infinite flexibility and creativity.
Militancy and struggle by workers organised in unions – Longford, Oakey, CUB etc. is mainly driven by rank and file workers who demand their leadership’s commitment. Without this persistence none of these struggles would have continued if left to union leadership. Significantly, most of these are in struggles against the multinationals.
In our work and connections with rank and file and union leadership we have to constantly reflect, review and assess our collective experiences, acknowledge and correct mistakes, and keep our sights fixed on building an independent, and revolutionary, working class agenda and leadership.
Anti-imperialist independence movement
The sharpening and more open imperialist contradictions and rivalries in Australia are raising anti-imperialist independence consciousness and sentiments more widely. Subjectively this consciousness is not widely defined in the scientific terms of Marxism-Leninism. However, in their varied forms and expressions they reflect the objective and undeniable facts and its truth. They will continue to mature as imperialist competition intensifies and the US more desperately and openly tries to tighten the screws on Australia and protect its domination. One of the many forms of this more conscious anti-imperialist expression is the growing demand for an independent Australian foreign policy and extricating Australia from U.S. wars of aggression.