Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Release Shen Mengyu!

Nick G.

Small, but well-organised rallies are occurring in China to demand the release of young female labour activist Shen Mengyu who was taken from her parents by three unidentified males in Shenzhen on Saturday August 11.

Shen (above) is a graduate in mathematics and computer science, but took the path of integrating with the working class and organising them in fights for their rights at work. (Her t-shirt reads "Unity is strength").

Her arrest follows the case last November when five young students, members of a Mao Zedong Thought study group, were arrested in Guangzhou Province.

In an open letter outlining her motives and actions, Shen Mengyu said: “During the time of studying at Sun Yat-sen University, I attended various extracurricular lectures, which opened a door for me to know the workers. I saw the workers who suffer from work-related injuries——their crippled bodies are the price of economic development; I saw the Foxconn workers who fell from the factory roof——their lives were as cheap as grass. I learned an occupational disease called pneumoconiosis. It’s so painful that the workers who got it would rather die. And I learned more: benzene poisoning, leukemia, noise-induced hearing loss…”

In the summer of 2014, she came in contact with cleaners in Guangzhou and learned about their experiences and a victory gained in struggle: “…the cleaning workers of the Guangzhou university town took industrial action to defend their rights. On the scene of protest, they told us about the hypocrisy and shamelessness of the property management company: deducting workers’ wages and benefits, not paying the contribution to social security and housing provident fund on time, asking workers to sign blank contracts, and evading the compensation they shall pay… The students who believed in justice took a stand to support these workers, and were also moved and educated by the latter’s solidarity and spirit of struggle. After the 20 days of joint struggle of the workers and students, we finally got the good news: the cleaning workers successfully defended their rights.”

After her graduation in 2015, Shen Mengyu turned her back on a white-collar career and obtained work at a Japanese-funded auto parts factory——Guangzhou NHK Spring Precision. She describes conditions at the factory:

“NHK mainly produces springs used on engines and clutches for car companies such as Honda and Nissan. After some brief training, I walked into the workshop for the first time. The roar of machines stung my eardrum, the smell of oil blew on my face, and metal dust filled the whole workshop. The working area was oily and shiny, and workers in it were busy and strained. The hazard sign of benzene and other chemicals made me nervous. Workers only wore disposable masks, which could neither effectively block dust nor filter toxic gases. Some of them even didn’t wear masks.

“The workshop’s temperature is high all year round. It becomes unbearable from May and above 35°C is common. In some places, it could be as hot as 50°C…

“The sufferings of pregnant women in the factory are more distressing. They have to work harder, because if they could not meet the quota, they will be abused by the management, such as pulling a face, not allowing them to work over-time hours (which considerably reduces their income) and insulting them verbally. In order to meet their quota, they have to give up the breaks which are provided to pregnant women by the labor law… Thus most pregnant women in the workshop would resign. This is also because the horrible working condition would hurt their babies.”

After listening to the workers, Shen was able to formulate a set of demands to be raised in 2018 at collective bargaining sessions. Despite opposition from the tame-cat company union, Shen was elected by the rank and file to a nine-person negotiating team. That was on April 13.  On May 28, she was sacked by the company and its union. However, the NHK workers dared to continue their struggle and by June had won a substantial wage increase, an improved annual bonus and management contributions to a housing provident fund.  Shen Mengyu established a WeChat online platform to publicise the successful struggle and took NHK and its union to court, although she lost the case.

She then took up the case of workers at a privately-owned (US-based) welding company in Shenzhen, Jasic International.  Workers in Australia might be familiar with their Chinese-made welding equipment. She encouraged them to set up their own union.

Protests at the Jasic factory broke out in early July after seven workers involved in attempts to establish the union were laid off. On July 27, after two weeks of protests, the police detained 29 people, including laid-off workers, their families and supporters.

Hundreds of Chinese university students penned open letters on social media in support of the workers, and around 50 travelled to Shenzhen to rally outside the factory.

Shen Mengyu took an active stand in helping to organise the workers and their supporters. However, on August 24, in an early morning police raid on their rented accommodation in the city, police detained more than 50 of the student supporters.

The kidnapping of Shen Mengyu, and the arrests of student supporters has seen protests by retired workers and cadres, small in number, but widespread across China. Remembering a young activist who had gone to organise the coal miners at Anyuan in Hunan Province in 1922 and 1923, many held his portrait at the rallies calling for the return of Shen Mengyu.

Integrating with and helping to organise the workers is a very high ideal, particularly for young intellectuals, embedded in Marxism and in the history of the revolutionary movement in China. No matter what honeyed words about Marxism drip from the mouths of senior leaders in China, Shen Mengyu has shown that what really matters is what happens on the ground.

After the long drought of capitalist restoration inflicted on the Chinese working class, it may well be significant that Shen’s given name “Mengyu” translates as dreaming of rain. A flood of struggle is bound to be unleashed if the authorities continue to repress workers and their allies.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Parliamentary crisis reflects ruling class divisions over who can best serve their interests

Nick G.

Now that the dust has settled and the blades have been wiped clean, what can we make of the latest coup to unseat a sitting prime minister?

Whilst the entire focus of the mass media has been on the personalities involved – their egos, the personal motives of revenge, the infighting – what has been the class basis of the instability and division that we have just witnessed?

Comrade EF Hill, founding Chairperson of our Party, continually pointed out that the ruling class always discusses its tactics against the working class.  Lenin pointed out that those tactics are not constant, but are subject to change:

“If the tactics of the bourgeoisie were always uniform, or at least of the same kind, the working class would rapidly learn to reply to them by tactics just as uniform or of the same kind. But, as a matter of fact, in every country the bourgeoisie inevitably devises two systems of rule, two methods of fighting for its interests and of maintaining its domination, and these methods at times succeed each other and at times are interwoven in various combinations. The first of these is the method of force, the method which rejects all concessions to the labour movement, the method of supporting all the old and obsolete institutions, the method of irreconcilably rejecting reforms. Such is the nature of the conservative policy …. The second is the method of “liberalism”, of steps towards the development of political rights, towards reforms, concessions, and so forth.

“The bourgeoisie passes from one method to the other not because of the malicious intent of individuals, and not accidentally, but owing to the fundamentally contradictory nature of its own position. Normal capitalist society cannot develop successfully without a firmly established representative system and without certain political rights for the population, which is bound to be distinguished by its relatively high “cultural” demands. These demands for a certain minimum of culture are created by the conditions of the capitalist mode of production itself, with its high technique, complexity, flexibility, mobility, rapid development of world competition, and so forth. In consequence, vacillations in the tactics of the bourgeoisie, transitions from the system of force to the system of apparent concessions have been characteristic of the history of all European countries   during the last half-century, the various countries developing primarily the application of the one method or the other at definite periods.” (1) 

According to the Marxist world view, instability in parliamentary political parties reflects contradictions inside the ruling class over when and how to subdue the workers through coercion and when and how to subdue them with concessions.  Monopoly capitalists threatened by competition from other monopolising capitals and faced with diminishing returns on their investments tend to support more conservative and coercive measures; those who require continuity of government policy and social stability for a favourable investment climate tend to support concessions in relation to general rights and liberties.

How does this scenario play out in Australia? Lenin nailed it as early as 1913 when he observed that “the Australian Labour Party … is a liberal-bourgeois party, while the so-called Liberals in Australia are really Conservatives.”  (2) From the very inception of federal parliament, the Australian ruling class thus had two political parties through which to exercise its options for greater or lesser coercion and greater or lesser concession. Instability in the conservative “Liberal” party reflected the conservatism that was its essential character, on the one hand, and on the other, the small-l “liberalism” through which it tried to broader its electoral appeal and keep the social peace and thus avoid rocking the boat of uninterrupted capitalist exploitation.

For its part, instability in the bourgeois-liberal “Labor” party “is born of the conflict between the bourgeoisie whom it really serves and the working class whom it pretends to serve” (EF Hill, The Labor Party? p. 7). (3)

While the logical extension of the “dry” or conservative position is outright fascism, the logical extension of the “wet” or small-l “liberal” position is capitalist social-democracy manifested in either a “left” Labor government (or, has been seen in some countries, a revisionist “Communist” or “Marxist” government).  However, the “wet” or bourgeois-liberal position, as the middle ground between these two extremes, overlaps factions in both the Liberal and Labor parties in Australia, and is one reason for the frustration of many voters at the apparent absence of any real distinction between policy directions of the two main parties. This dissatisfaction is shared by both the right of the Liberal Party and the left of the Labor Party. The right in the former attacks and undermines its “wets” while the left in the latter rejects the neo-liberalism of its “dries”.

Behind the personalities that emerge in the course of these splits lie the different sections of the ruling class and the imperialist interests that they rely on and are dominated by.  The sacking of Whitlam government followed its attempts to "buy back the farm" and its feeble strivings for independence - which had strong public sympathy but angered US imperialism.

Rudd had attempted to bring in a mining super profits tax as a revenue source for infrastructure spending that would have benefitted the general interests of the ruling class.  But that section of it tied to mining flexed its muscles and brought forward a challenge by Gillard.  In her acceptance speech following her successful challenge to Rudd, she said:

“There is another question on which I will seek consensus and that is the proposed Resources Super Profits Tax.
“Australians are entitled to a fairer share of our inheritance, the mineral wealth that lies in our grounds. They are entitled to that fairer share.
“But to reach a consensus, we need do more than consult. We need to negotiate.
“And we must end this uncertainty which is not good for this nation.
“That is why today I am throwing open the Government’s door to the mining industry and I ask that in return, the mining industry throws open its mind.” (4)

“Open the door to the mining companies” she did - immediately dropping the 40% resource super profits tax, amongst others, and becoming the darling of the mining monopolies and banks. 

In Turnbull’s case, he was able initially to depose Abbott as Prime Minister because Abbott had lost the confidence of the Business Council and other peak bodies of monopoly capital in his ability to successfully carry through a program of attack against the working people. Turnbull paraded his smarmy affability and his leather jacket on Q&A and held out the promise that a “wet” could deflect the people’s growing anger and regain lost electoral advantage through “progressive” social policy. It seemed at the time a small price to pay for social stability and “investor confidence “.  However, sections of the ruling class, and particularly those associated with fossil fuels and banking were not reconciled to the change: the coal and other extractive industries regrouped, while the banks were dismayed and angered when the Royal Commission slipped out of their control and began exposing too much of their theft and corruption.

Sections of monopoly capital within the ruling class began openly manipulating the far right amongst the conservatives to get rid of Turnbull and his soft liberals who could no longer be relied on for their complete loyally to protect the interests of that section of the ruling class (eg NEG, climate change, banking Royal Commission and company taxes).  (5) Murdoch's News Ltd and resources monopolies had been undermining Turnbull for a long time and had a big hand in orchestrating the semi coup in which Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton have been their loyal puppets.

Observing this instability, this “revolving door” of prime ministers, has heightened people’s cynicism about parliamentary politicians. Talk back radio during the most recent crisis has been full of anger and disgust with self-serving politicians.  But there is still some way to go before anger at politicians reaches a higher level of understanding, namely that parliament is a complete dead end for workers, that the parliamentary system and the politicians will never represent their interests, and that the working class needs to build its own institutions of democracy in an independent and socialist Australia. 



(3) E.F. Hill, “The Labor Party? Dr Evatt – The Petrov Affair – The Whitlam Government”, Melbourne, October 1974

(5) See our earlier article

New US bases in Argentina to strengthen its global domination

(Above: Argentinians protest new US base)


The announcement that US imperialism has planned new military bases in Argentina indicates revised military planning with three main considerations.


Firstly, Argentina has historically been a central regional hub for 'US interests'. During the period 2003-15, however, 'US interests' were threatened by centre-left governments in Buenos Aires.The present Trump administration now appears to be attempting to re-establish Argentina as a strategic, regional hub at the earliest opportunity.


Secondly, wider considerations including Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador continue to act as a threat to traditional US regional hegemonic positions. The US has, however, been hampered until recently with governments not wanting to be regarded as compliant with its foreign policy objectives.
Finally, US attempts to roll-back Chinese influence in Argentina, across the Latin America region and globally, will be assisted by military facilities in Argentina linked to others, elsewhere, including Australia.
Argentina was a long-time important regional hub for 'US interests' in Latin America. While it received less US military aid and had fewer US-trained military personnel than other countries throughout the southern half of the Americas, Argentina was a centre of operations for the Pentagon. (1) Soon after the new millennium, however, Argentina joined numerous other countries in the region and was less compliant with US imperialist dictate, causing major problems for US regional defence and security planning. Between 2003-15, the country was governed first by Nestor Kirchner until 2007, then by his wife, Cristina until 2015, both pursuing more independent and popular domestic and foreign policies.
Following the election of President Mauricio Macri three years ago Argentina has swung back toward the US and its foreign policy objectives. Since 2015, for example, the Argentina military has had joint exercises with US counterparts. The diplomacy displayed by the US toward Argentina has also become more aggressive in recent times revealing important military planning and a sense of urgency.
In July, US Special Forces undertook training of forty Argentine police officers for a 'Special Group for Federal Operations'. (2) The bill for the program, amounted to US$1.5 million and was paid by the Pentagon. What is particularly revealing about the training program was that it ran counter to sections of the Argentine constitution under Law 25,880 which requires congressional approval for the entry of foreign troops into Argentina.
Moves are now underway for the US to build three new military bases in Argentina, at Neuquen, Misiones and Ushuaia.
The moves rest upon US-led defence and security planning which began in the mid-1960s with technological advances which the Pentagon used to enhance hegemonic positions with global intelligence communications. (3) In October, 1969, readers of the Star newspaper in South Africa were to learn the significance of the Three As: Argentina, South Africa and Australia for defence and security planning for southern oceans and the centrality of their country for western defence and security planning. (4) In 1972, likewise, an elite British military journal, Brassey's Annual, drew attention to the significance of the Three As for western planning. (5)
Later, in early 1973, the whole military plan became operational; the Maritime Operational and Communications Headquarters at Silvermine, near Cape Town in South Africa was linked to similar facilities on Diego Garcia and Pine Gap in central Australia. (6)
The stated range of the Silvermine facilities included Argentine, north Africa and the South Pole, providing defence and security provision for the South Atlantic with Indian Ocean coverage to Bangladesh. Direct contact with the US was maintained through Puerto Rica, with similar contact with Whitehall in London conducted through Mauritius. (7) 
The military facilities have been continually updated, a trend which has continued to the present day with US defence budgets.
Using a Peters Projection Actual Size World Map, Scale: 1: 1,230,000,000, the distances between Buenos Aires, Silvermine, Diego Garcia and Pine Gap all remain a constant 17cms, revealing the compatibility of signals transmission systems. Later studies of additional US-led defence and security provision have revealed both Diego Garcia and Guam being developed as hubs for military operations. They, likewise, rest upon an arc of 17cms from Pine Gap, and have been noted as possessing 'a single goal of targeting China'. (8)
The final link in the chain of intelligence communications stretching across the South Atlantic from Argentina and the Indian Ocean is the further 17cms radius of the arc from Guam providing the connection with the US Indo-Pacific Command based in Hawaii.
It should be no surprise the US has linked considerations in Latin America with other military facilities in the Asia-Pacific region due to rising Chinese influence. Many governments in Latin America have attracted large investment and favourable trade with Beijing in recent years.
The US has also had a preoccupation with developments in Venezuela for nearly two decades. Left-wing governments have successfully challenged traditional positions of dominance by US imperialism. Despite massive destabilisation programs by the US the present government of President Nicholas Maduro is still popular and has planned further rounds of progressive legislation including raising the basic minimum wage to about $40 a month. (9) Venezuela, as a dominant country in the region, has also successfully lobbied other governments to not follow US directives, a move which resulted in the Trump administration actually discussing a possible US invasion of the country recently.
Elsewhere, in Bolivia and Ecuador, progressive governments continue to be actively supported by lower socio-economic groups. In the former, however, constitutional practicalities may involve major government changes next year. In the latter, the government has shown less motivation in recent times to challenge the US as the case of Julian Assange has shown. The US, nevertheless, remains deeply unpopular in Latin America following decades of their support for repressive regimes. They now appear, however, to be attempting to reassert traditional hegemonic positions by removing governments not compliant with their foreign policy objectives and to challenge Chinese influence.
A frequent complaint of US foreign policy toward China is that the Pentagon has adopted a Cold War mentality after equating the rising economic power of Beijing and its ability to shape regional and world affairs with increased military and intelligence capability. (10) The new National Defence Act recently passed in the US is another example of a Cold War position. It has been noted the draconian legislation 'puts Chinese companies wanting to invest in the US under closer scrutiny', particularly with supposed 'dual-use' technologies thought to possess civilian and military applications. (11)
It is interesting to note in this light how some elements of Chinese expertise have attracted more US attention than others: in 2009, for example, the government of Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner gave approval for China to develop a satellite tracking system for space research to study the dark side of the moon. Argentina was used as China required a strategic location on the far side of the world for communications. (12) The facilities became operational in 2016 and it is therefore not coincidental the newly proposed US base in Neuquen is near the joint China-Argentine satellite tracking system. (13)  
In conclusion, the US-led attempts to roll-back Chinese influence in Argentina also form part of larger military planning which include Australia through intelligence communications. We should be on our guard for possible Australian military connivance and involvement in the southern half of the Americas, following similar interventions elsewhere, including Iraq, Syria and the Korean peninsula, at the behest of the US.
1.     The Sun and its Planets, Diagram, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism, Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, (Boston, 1979), Inside Cover.
2.     Argentina's new US base, The Guardian, 1 August 2018.
3.     The Falcon and the Snowman, Robert Lindsay, (London, 1981), page 237.
4.     New Role for the SA Navy, The Star, South Africa, 4 October 1969.     
5.     Not in Europe Alone, John Biggs-Davidon, M.P., Brassey's Annual, Defence and the Armed Forces, (London, 1972), page 87.  
6.     Maritime Operational and Communications HQ, The Star, South Africa, 10 March 1973; and,
        Security in the Mountain, The Star, South Africa, 17 March 1973; and,
        Website: Naval Support Facility, Diego Garcia, US Defence Department; and,
        Fundamental Study of American Military Power, H. Fudzii, (Tokyo, 1986), page, 214; and,
        Website: SPACE.COM – Declassified US Spy Satellites Reveal, 18 September 2011; and,
        GCHQ, The Secret Wireless War 1900-86, Nigel West, (London, 1987), page 345; and,
        Website: Rhyolite Satellites, Rhyolite 2, NSSDCA / COSPAR ID 1973 013A.
7.     Star, ibid., 17 March 1973.
8.     US Intensifies Military Presence in the Indo-Pacific, Global Times, 24 July 2018.
9.     Millions flee Venezuela's crumbling economy chaos, Australian, 21 August 2018.
10.   Beijing tires of being target of Uncle Sam's 'Cold War' blasts, Australian, 21 August 2018.
11.   Cold War is over, Beijing tells US, Australian, 16 August 2018.
12.   Argentina's new US base, The Guardian, 8 August 2018.
13.   Ibid.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Anning speech: racism and division must not be allowed!


On the 14th of August 2018, Fraser Anning, senator and Katter's Australian Party member, gave his controversial maiden speech to an almost universally negative reaction.

This is largely due to his abhorrent comments regarding the nature of immigration, calling for a “final solution”, a plebiscite with which the Australian public would decide whether or not we return to the “predominantly European immigration policy of the pre-Whitlam consensus”. It was essentially calling for a return to the White Australia Policy though using more palatable rhetoric.

Anning, a self-described “Australian nationalist”, used the rest of the speech as a means to attack the economy and state of Australian industry, spout repulsive white nationalist talking points, and blame these problems on Muslims and “Gramsci-inspired radicals” or “Cultural Marxists”.


In this speech, Anning stated that ethnocultural diversity is known to undermine social cohesion and called for a dramatic cut of immigration intake to maintain this cohesion and national identity. He continued, “We as a nation are entitled to insist that those who are allowed to come here predominantly reflect the historic European Christian composition of Australian society and embrace our language, culture and values as a people”. This appears to be an attack on not only immigrants, but First Nations peoples as well, ignoring Australia’s long history prior to the imperialism of the British. He then goes on to attack Muslims, stating that they are “the least able to assimilate and integrate”, saying that they were behind Australia’s first “terrorist attack”, and that and that “while all Muslims are not terrorists, certainly all terrorists these days are Muslims”. According to the ABS’ 2016 census, 2.6% of Australians identify as followers of Islam. Anning’s comments are a disgusting, divisive slap in the face to this large minority that is already constantly under the attack of rigorous propaganda from the media.


A question remains, however. Given that many reactionary, racist, and divisive remarks are often made in parliament by members of other parties, would this speech have received such a large response had he used less offensive language? We can see that these ideas are not new in parliament. They come not only from members of the LNP or Pauline Hanson, they are also clearly reflected in Bob Katter’s response to the speech in question, which is as follows: “I love it. Our phones are on fire. Ninety per cent of Australia have been waiting for someone to say it and believe it. Absolutely 1000 per cent I support everything he said. His speech was absolutely magnificent. It is everything his country should be doing. It was solid gold.”


When Anning wasn’t blaming Muslims for all of Australia’s problems, he shifted the focus towards “cultural Marxists” instead. He accuses “cultural Marxists” of “degeneracy”, subverting society and values through the power of institutions; and blames them for the existence of the Safe Schools Program (which is intended to cater to the safety of LGBT+ students). He conflates Australia’s political trajectory from Whitlam’s prime ministership onwards (his emphasis on Whitlam) with Marxism, of which he has absolutely zero understanding. The Labor Party, of which Whitlam was a member, is, and has historically been a party of capitalism. While it has made some progressive decisions, it still serves capital before any other interests. We can see this in Ted Hill’s “The Labor Party?” booklet, written during Whitlam’s prime ministership. Anning’s conflation of Marxism with the current Australian political system is incredibly erroneous, though factually incorrect arguments such as these are consistent with the rest of his speech.


Anning has responded to the backlash, remarking that ““If that offends anyone then that’s the way it has to be,” and “I don’t regret anything.” This signals that Australia is in for even more unapologetic racism and other targeted attacks of groups in parliament for the foreseeable future. Australia must not allow such unacceptable behaviour to continue.
Full text of speech:
Katter quote and Anning response: