Friday, September 21, 2018

Raytheon: US imperialist “masters of war” exposed in Yemen conflict

Nick G.

The masters of war (“those who make the big bombs”) have been exposed in leaked US State department documents showing a cruel indifference to human suffering in Yemen.

The Houthis, a Shiite Muslim community within Yemen, launched a movement in 2004 to overthrow a pro-US and pro-Zionist government.  Backed by Iran, they have made considerable gains in the course of their struggle, and in 2014 took control of the capital, Sana’a, and most of the north of the country.

The previous government was supported by US imperialism through an alliance of nine pro-US states in the Middle East and Africa led by Saudi Arabia.  They had supported it militarily but intervened directly after the government fell in an operation called Operation Desert Storm.  They were joined by the US imperialist private mercenary army Blackwater (now Academi) and supported by the placement of US and British military personnel in the command and control centre responsible for Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen.

Civilian Yemenis have suffered through blockades on Yemeni ports by the Saudis and others. Starvation and disease have compounded the devastation of Saudi-led bombings and missile strikes. Last November, the Australian navy showed its indifference to the suffering by joining the Saudi navy in a training exercise not far from the location where the Saudi-led coalition was enforcing its naval blockade of Yemen.

With seven million Yemenis now starving, and 17,000 civilian deaths from Saudi military aggressions, the conflict has become a political embarrassment for the US imperialists who always try to cover their imperialist aims under the cloak of “humanitarianism”.

This leads to contradictions within US ruling circles. In the US Congress, a bipartisan group of lawmakers has been trying to cut off American military aid for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.  Their efforts were intensified last month when a Saudi air strike, using US-made missiles, struck a bus carrying school children, killing more than 40.

Their efforts were directed at Raytheon Corporation which plans to sell more than $2 billion in precision-guided missiles to Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E.

The sale looked to be blocked “due to a lack of progress on mitigating civilian casualties.”

Two days ago, the Wall Street Journal cited a classified memo showing that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had intervened to overrule concerns from most of the State Department specialists involved in the debate who were worried about the rising civilian death toll in Yemen. Pompeo overrode fears that more civilians would die in order to allay fears Raytheon would miss out on sales of more than 120,000 precision-guided missiles.

Raytheon has previously been the target of anti-war groups in Australia where it has a number of offices of production facilities.  Radical Christians entered its premises in Brisbane and tried to “exorcise” it, and several groups in South Australia opposed its “mentoring” of school students.

It should be kicked out of Australia altogether.

It will be when we win anti-imperialist independent state power.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Korean Peninsula: US imperialism losing initiative as two Koreas move closer


The high-level diplomacy taking place between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Democratic People's Republic of Korean (DPRK) is an important development for the Korean people. The peninsula has been divided for decades while the Cold War has burned very hot; the ROK was, and remains, part of US-led military and security planning to serve 'US interests' in the Asia-Pacific region.

The recent diplomacy, however, has to be studied in a broader context: the aggressive position of the US toward China, the tipping of the balance of forces against the US across the wider region and the position of Australia.

In mid-September, ROK president Moon Jae-in travelled to Pyongyang to meet DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, following months of diplomatic statements and preparations. It was the third visit by Moon Jae-in to the DPRK since taking office. The high-level diplomacy was intended to reduce long-standing tensions between the two countries, which eventually led to a commitment by the DPRK to dismantle nuclear facilities, 'if the US takes reciprocal measures'. (1)  
There were, however, other items of the agenda of the high-level diplomatic visit which revealed far more about plans by both the ROK and DPRK for the future of the peninsula.
Carefully-worded media releases revealed intentions to 'the repair of their road and rail links, the building of pipelines through the North to send Russian gas to the South, and the revival of visits to the North by South Korean tourists', suggesting moves toward a growing unity across the divided peninsula. (2)
The media release also drew attention to negotiations to increase trade between the two countries by reopening the Kaesong Trade Park in the North, financed by the ROK and China, which is intended by President Moon Jae-in to, 'be a prelude to investment by ROK firms in economic zones throughout the DPRK'. (3) The high-level diplomacy can be regarded as an important achievement for President Moon Jae-in who pledged the plans as part of his successful election campaign last year, even though they ran counter to United States’ imposition of an embargo and blockade of the DPRK.
Behind the scenes the rise of China has altered the balance of forces on the Korean peninsula. China is now a major player in the ROK economy: investment from Beijing rose 374 per cent to US$631 m in 2014, from US$133m in 2013 and US$28m in 2010. (4) While the rapid increase in investment from China has now dropped, the ROK has been drawn increasingly into the Chinese sphere of influence. (5)

Despite a high-level diplomatic meeting between president Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, in Singapore in June, the US, in reality, has little intention or ability to resolve the problems on the Korean peninsula. The US lacks the initiative and has been out-manoeuvred by developments; it have been forced out by an assertive ROK president, an DPRK leader eager to resolve problems and China as a major regional player with the Korean peninsula.
The Russian Federation has also become a player on the Korean peninsula: historically supportive of the DPRK, Moscow has recently pledged to also forge closer links with Beijing. (6) The recent joint military exercises with Russia and China have been accompanied with joint investment programs and official media releases from Beijing have stated that 'China and Russia could create a vital influence when the two countries worked together with a unified stance on global issues. (7)
Under such circumstances it is not difficult to understand the response from the US imperialists: they are faced with dilemmas and a presidential administration with a limited ability to deal with matters in a competent manner.
In fact, US foreign policy toward the DPRK and the wider region shows an inability to 'formulate a clear response' to the rise of China as 'America's leadership in Asia is rapidly dwindling'. (8) An official media release from Canberra recently acknowledged the problem with a statement from former Trade Minister Andrew Robb who said  'US attempts to contain China were futile and counter-productive'. (9)
The problem was clearly shown when Trump cancelled a visit to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in August. There was nothing new to say as they invoked a trade war with China which will further isolate them across the Asia-Pacific region. Secondly, the DPRK has undergone some economic reforms which have included the opening of 436 officially-sanctioned marketplaces since the 1990s which have also assisted their ability to counter US-imposed sanctions. (10)
The ROK has subsequently seized upon new opportunities opened by the developments: the Moon Jae-in administration announced before their latest high-level diplomatic visit their intention to reopen a government office in the DPRK. It was not an idle gesture, but a carefully-planned diplomatic initiative with mutually beneficial economic considerations. The proposed 'joint liaison office' was situated inside the Kaesong Trade Park and composed of about twenty ROK citizens and an almost equal number of DPRK counterparts, 'organising joint projects agreed by Kim Jong-un and President Moon Jae-in in April'. (11)
While it has been noted that 'talks between Pyongyang and Washington have reached an impasse', the joint liaison office at Kaesong announced their role in providing, 'round-the-clock consultation and a communication channel for advancing inter-Korean relations, easing military tensions and establishing peace'. (12)
Following the historic signing of an agreement between the ROK and DPRK at the end of the high-level diplomatic talks which included the creation of 'a joint military commission aimed at reducing tensions', and a firm commitment to establishing the Korean peninsula as a 'land of peace', the notion of ROK serving the military needs and security of 'US interests' was pushed a very long way down the agenda. (13)
Enlightened commentary about the role of Australia and its sycophantic relationship with Washington and the Pentagon has already noted that developments in the region such as Korea have implications for leaving 'Australia's whole foreign policy, which depends completely on US strength, in tatters'. (14)
We require an independent foreign policy with the utmost urgency.
See also: Joint Declaration Signed by Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and President Moon Jae In here
1.     North Korea to dismantle nuclear facilities, The New Daily, 19 September 2018.
2.     Keeping hope alight: Moon out to shine at summit with Kim, Australian, 18 September 2018.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Chinese investment in SK, The Business Insider, 15 March 2015.
5.     Bloomberg Markets, 12 October 2017; and, China's South Korea Investment, South China Morning Post, 15 March 2015.
6.     China, Russia to strengthen ties, Australian, 13 September 2018.
7.     Ibid.
8.     Australia's weak leadership will carry foreign policy costs, The Straits Times, 24 May 2018.
9.     Bring US, Asia together or pay the price: Robb, Australian, 3 July 2018.
10.   Moneyed elite key to N Korea revival, Australian, 28 August 2018; and, Kim slips the sanctions knot as nuclear talks stall, Australian, 19 September 2018.
11.   S Korea to open first office in the North, Australian, 14 September 2018.
12.   Ibid.
13.   Kim agrees to nuclear monitoring, Australian, 20 September 2010; and, New Daily, op.cit., 19 September 2018.
14.   Straits Times, op.cit., 24 May 2018.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Syria: provocations on the eve of liberation?



By all accounts the war on Syria may be coming to a close. With the help of Russia and Iran, the Syrian government may be able to mount an assault on the last stronghold of the US, Turkey and Saudi backed rebels in Idlib (There can be little doubt left in anyone’s mind of the involvement and support the US is giving to the terrorists).


An assault on the terrorist rebels will allow the Syrian government to gain control of the Syrian nation. For the Syrian people and for the peoples of the world this assault has to be supported. At a summit in Tehran, Iran and Russia elected to support a full-scale assault to rid Syria of the terrorists once and for all.  They rejected calls by Edorgan (Turkey) for a ceasefire saying “It is necessary for the fight to continue until all terrorist groups in Syria, especially in Idlib, are eradicated.”
In response, the US in late August deployed its missile destroyer USS ‘Ross’ to the Mediterranean and the USS ‘The Sullivans” to the Persian Gulf. The preparation of US military forces was condemned by Russia, with its Defence Ministry describing the move as “the latest evidence of the US intention” to take advantage of a false-flag attack”.
According to Russia Today, an independent news media, the false flag attack will be a chemical attack by the terrorists, not the Assad government. “Terrorists (are) readying chemical attacks to frame Damascus and provide pretext for US strikes,” it claimed. Eight canisters of chlorine were delivered to a village near Jisr al – Shughur for the terrorists to use, militants are being prepped by the private British security company ‘Olive’ and they have arrived in the same area as the chlorine. A chemical attack or a false chemical attack in Syria would provide the US with the excuse to use missiles against Syria as it did in the past. 
The call for terrorist action against Syrian civilians and the Assad government came from a statement issued by John Bolton, the new national security adviser to Trump.
On August 22 Bolton stated, “If the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons, we will respond very strongly and they really ought to think about this a long time”. This statement could be understood as instructing terrorists to go ahead and use chemical weapons so US imperialism can go into Syria and bomb.

Who is Bolton? According to Steven Feldstein, a professor at Boise State University, Bolton is a man that “believes that force and coercion are preferable means to advance U.S. interests. Bolton views international relations as a series of “nasty, brutish and short” struggles where military force is the deciding factor”. Coinciding with right-winger Bolton’s appointment to the Trump administration are the shenanigans in our own parliament.
The disposal of Turnbull reflects a right-wing shift in Australian politics to mirror the direction of Washington. US imperialism’s desire for war in Syria, Iran, Yemen and North Korea, supported by its lapdogs UK, France and Australia will not go away unless we make the capitalist war mongers so afraid of revolt in our own countries that they back down. We have to remember, as Clausewitz said, “that war is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse carried on with other means”.
We cannot allow the war in Syria (and also Yemen) to continue without protesting Australia’s involvement. These are wars that are criminal, against all principles of human rights, decency and the national sovereignty of these countries. 
At least one communist organisation has condemned the war on Syria stating, “The Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) unequivocally condemns the outrageous so-called “precision strikes” against Syrian government facilities by the US-British-French imperialists. The strikes are a gross violation of Syria’s sovereignty and a clear breach of International Law that the imperialists hypocritically claim to uphold”. (1)
Australia’s involvement in the wars in the Middle East cannot be ignored. Australia is part of a group that supports US imperialism unquestioningly. According to Renee Westra and Nathan Church, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security in a report for the Australian government, “only a core group of nations conduct military operations in Iraq and Syria, which includes Australia. The Operation’s mission is described as: ‘by, with and through regional partners, to militarily defeat DA’ESH (the Islamic State) in the Combined Joint Operations Area (Iraq and Syria) in order to enable whole-of-coalition governmental actions to increase regional stability”.(2) That effectively means replacing legitimate governments to increase regime suitability.
How much is all this war costing us? The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) stated in its latest defence budget review publication, “The Cost of Defence”, that the ‘cumulative real cost’ of Defence operations against ISIS in Iraq from 2014–15 to 2019–20 is approximately $1.3 billion.
The money spent on unjust wars should be spent on creating good affordable housing, a better education system, better medical care, creating jobs and creating an energy program based on renewable sources not fossil fuels, all of which will benefit Australian workers.
These wars do not benefit Australian workers and we have a responsibility to defend the workers of Syria and Yemen and protest against these wars. They are unjust wars for profit. We should be calling for an independent, peaceful Australia and withdrawing from the Alliance with US imperialism.
(1) See; for Central Committee statement “We Condemn Imperialist Aggression Against Syria!” April 15, 2018
Further reading:
Al-Jaafari: Syria will not bow to political blackmail or threats of direct aggression at


Friday, September 14, 2018

US imperialism and violations of Antarctic neutralilty


As United States defence and security planning increasingly concentrates upon the threat posed by China to its traditional hegemonic position, previous decisions taken by the Pentagon during the  Cold War about Antarctica have now become problematic.


The problem remains particularly sensitive by being linked to the US space program.


As the military drama unfolds, the US is likely to be exposed for flouting international treaties while expecting other countries to operate within a 'rules-based' environment.
Antarctica has had a unique eco-system from the beginning of time, supposed to have been protected from damage and destruction by whatever country planned exploration of its landmass or scientific discovery of its long history. The US, however, was never one to play by established rules.
Antarctica, for the US, has long been recognised as important for forming the lower border of the southern oceans, used by the maritime and naval fleets of numerous countries. There are three strategic sections of the Southern Ocean, which include: South Africa and the Cape of Good Hope, Chile and Cape Horn, Australia and the South East Cape with Tasmania. All three have remained vitally important for US-led military and security planning and its associated involvement in their political systems.
An international agreement signed by twelve countries about Antarctica in 1959 was supposed to provide guidelines to prohibit 'military activity'. (1) In fact, the treaty opened with the statement that Antarctica: "shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord." (2)
Further sections of the treaty also include reference to 'the promotion of 'international cooperation', and Antarctica shall 'be used for peaceful purposes only', with specific reference to the prevention of use of military equipment. (3) Despite the stated intentions of the 1959 treaty, Antarctica, for the US, formed 'the southern-most reach of the US Pacific Command'. (4) The treaty itself was arranged to restrict the former Soviet Union from having ready access to the sensitive southern oceans during the previous Cold War. 
During the period of the so-called New World Order, following the demise of the former Soviet Union, however, Antarctica became even more strategically important for the US. Technological advancements required further ground stations and the US imperialists were desperate to maintain their traditional hegemonic position within the increasingly globalised world. 
The US placed sensitive Global Positioning Systems (GPS) on Antarctica in 1995. It has been noted in official media releases as a critical enabler 'for the military operations of the US and its strategic partners for two decades'. (5) The system grew out the US space program and the race for technological supremacy in the 1960s. Initially launched in 1973, the original system was composed of 24 satellites 'for use by the US military'. (6)
The original US GPS system rested heavily upon defence and security considerations with the southern oceans. It relied upon support from South Africa and the Silvermine Maritime Operational and Communications Headquarters near Cape Town which opened in March, 1973, the military facilities having a range from Argentina to Bangladesh, North Africa to Antarctica. (7) Despite official sanctions against South Africa because of its apartheid policies, Pretoria maintained direct contact with the US through Puerto Rica, and Whitehall in London through Mauritius. (8) The system was also linked to similar US military facilities based on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, linked directly to Pine Gap, Central Australia.  
With the renewed US space-race, the US is racing to 'modernise GPS' by 2020. (9) A recent Pentagon report stated an official US Space Command would be established toward the end of the year. (10) The role of the command was defined as being 'responsible for a range of crucial space-based US military capabilities, which include everything from satellites enabling the global positioning system to sensors that can track missile launches'. (11)
With Australia following suit and establishing an Australian Space Agency (ASA) this year, it has been interesting to note developments. The official ASA website noted their priorities include communication technologies, 'ground stations' and 'remote asset management', which leave little to the imagination. It is, therefore, interesting to note the official Australian position about Antarctica.
A recent official Canberra media release noted the 1959 Antarctic Treaty 'continues to serve Australia's interests and that countries needed satellite communications devices to continue scientific research'. (12) The statement also included references to 'technologies that can be dual-use such as satellite communication, geo-spatial devices and remotely-sensed data'. (13)

The deliberate flouting of the 1959 Antarctica Treaty by US-led military forces should never have been allowed to take place. The fact those concerned are now attempting to promote and enforce a “rules-based” global environment in their own favour is ridiculous. We should be on our guard against such duplicity.
The further fact that all the information for this article was openly accessed from readily available source material has revealed two important factors: US-led defence and security planning has taken place within a culture of impunity of their own making; it has operated
on the basis of imperialist arrogance.
We urgently need an independent foreign policy before the US-led military planning for real-war scenarios become reality.

1.     Antarctic Treaty, 1959,
2.     Ibid.
3.     Ibid., Article 1, Part 2.
4.     Cold War's Polar Rivals, Australian, 6 September 2018.
5.     Ibid.
6.     GPS – Wikipedia.
7.     Maritime Operational and Communications Headquarters, The Star, South Africa, 10 March 1973; and, Security in the Mountain, The Star, South Africa, 17 March 1973.
8.     Star, ibid., 17 March 1973.
9.     Australian, op.cit., 6 September 2018.
10.   Trump wants American space force by 2020, The Weekend Australian, 11-12 September 2018.
11.   Ibid.
12.   Warning Antarctica is the new frontier for China's military, Australian, 6 September 2018.
13.   Ibid.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fight SA government’s privatisation agenda

Nick G.

Prison officers at the Adelaide Remand Centre walked off the job yesterday to protest at the State Liberal government’s plans to privatise the facility.

Under capitalism, prisons are part of the coercive apparatus of the state, yet as employees and union members, warders are entitled to fight for wage increases and better working conditions.

Even more so, when the issue at hand is a political one (the threat of privatisation), rather than a purely economist one (wages and conditions), then they should be supported.

The walk-out arose from measures announced in State Treasurer Rob Lucas’ first Budget.  Along with the Remand Centre’s privatisation, the government announced the closure of seven TAFE campuses (including three in remote locations), increased rents for Housing Trust tenants in bedsit and one bedroom cottage flats, saving $70 million by abandoning the previous Labor government’s plan to provide laptops to every Year 10 student, cuts to some public transport service and closure of three Service SA (motor registration) Centres and cuts to FTE staff in the education and environment departments.

There was visible anger during the march and rally at new Premier Steven Marshall who had told a Public Service Association delegates’ meeting last February (ie just before the state election) that he had “no privatisation agenda”.  The prison officers tried to outdo each other in shouting “Marshall…liar!  Marshal…liar!” throughout the march and rally.

Although there were some state Labor MPs scattered through the 1500-strong participants at the rally, they could not have been all that pleased when PSA Secretary Nev Kitchen remarked that the anti-privatisation struggle was not party political.  Everyone knows that Labor had its own privatisation agenda while in office, selling off the Land Titles Office and the Motor Accident Corporation in its last term of office.  It sold Land Titles to Land Services SA — a consortium of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board. Labor has built new schools and the new Royal Adelaide Hospital as Public Private Partnerships - the private sector owns the hospital and provides all its hotel (food, linen etc) services. It had placed TAFE under the control of the big end of town as a statutory authority. Business SA CEO Peter Vaughan, a public opponent of TAFE became the foundation Chairman of its Board.  And Labor renewed the contract for the private operation of the Mt Gambier prison, operated by notorious British multinational G4S.

The PSA and other SA unions have a huge battle to beat back the government’s privatisation agenda. Rob Lucas was the architect of the privatisation of the Electricity Trust of SA (ETSA) in 1997-8. The Liberals had gone to an election claiming that “We are not pursuing a privatisation course with ETSA.” It was a disaster, with electricity prices going through the roof.

Lucas is simply a privatisation ideologue and has been bruising for a fight with unions and the community over the issue.

There can be no course other than unity with and support for the prison officers.

Studies show no evidentiary basis for private prisons.

A 2016 study by the Business School of the University of Sydney found that: “Australia now imprisons more people than at any point in its history.

“Private prisons now incarcerate 18.5% of the prison population of Australia (Productivity Commission, 2014: Table 8A.1), and clearly play a large part in the functioning of the custodial system in Australia. In fact, Australia has the highest rate of private incarceration per capita of any country in the world (Mason, 2013: 2).

“Overall, we find that there is not sufficient evidence to support claims in favour of prison privatisation in Australia. As a consequence, it is our view that no further privatisations should take place before an appropriate level of information is made available to policy makers and the public in order to properly assess the impact of privatisation on the sector. In addition, there is a need for more research that engages directly with those impacted by the sector: prison employees and prisoners.”

Our future lies in the defence of the rights of all.

Unions and the community must close ranks and set aside differences while there is an opportunity for united action around an anti-privatisation agenda.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Union amalgamations must enhance the independent working class agenda.

(Written by union members from several industries)


Recently the CFMEU amalgamated or merged with the Textile and Clothing Trades Union and the MUA.

From an industrial occupational coverage perspective, it appears a strange amalgamation with a maritime worker, building site worker and clothing factory worker obviously performing very different work. However, the two largest unions are themselves products of amalgamations (the CFMEU: labourers and tradespeople in construction then further amalgamating with forestry workers and workers in some sections of mining and in energy; the MUA combining seamen and wharfies).


All three unions had a history of working together on campaigns that impact on the working class as a whole, such as the Your Rights at Work campaign which defeated the Howard Government's Work Choices and the MUA Patricks dispute in the late 1990s. In this amalgamation, the smallest of the three unions, the Textile and Clothing Trades Union is a fine example of two stronger sections of the working class supporting a weaker section as the textile and clothing manufacturers moved production to cheaper labour countries.

Strengthening the industrial representation of workers is highly desirable. At the same time, it carries within it the danger of reinforcing the worst aspects of trade union ideology: the belief that officials and lawyers are the answer to workers’ problems; that campaigning must be tightly controlled by the union and that rank and file organisation is too risky to that control; that instead of refusing to pay fines, as O’Shea did, membership fees via the chequebook can be used to head off conflict with the courts and the capitalist class.

Such a strengthening can also be said to arise from a position of weakness: a merger of desperation arising from the lack of working class militancy and power industrially, and the general decline of the power of the organised working class.

The inability to build a militant class struggle perspective and movement because of industrial legislation and fines,(lack of class conscious leadership also plays a part) in turn strengthens the tendency towards reliance on the ALP and parliamentarism. 
Logically then the struggle is fought on the capitalist class home ground - in the courts. Unless the unions can build strength on the ground amongst its members to take serious industrial action, the only logical alternative is to re-enforce your current position ie. pool the money to continue the court battles and pay the fines. 
Despite the outcries and fear-mongering of the LNP, capital in general is willing to accommodate larger unions - as long as they play by the rules. In many cases since the trend towards amalgamations started in the 1980s it has been highly beneficial to capital. Before where the employer may have had two or three unions to deal with in one industry, capital only has to deal with one leadership, and as long as that leadership is able to be bought off and can keep its members in line then happy days.

Contradictions within the newly amalgamated union will inevitably arise and will require the leaders of the new union put the interests of the working class as a whole above their own ambitions or factional parliamentary political interests. They will need to resolve contradictions in a non-antagonistic manner, if the amalgamation is to strengthen the position of all members of the new union in the class struggle.
Other union amalgamations are "in the wind" which cut across Labor Party factional lines and on the surface also appear to be "strange marriages". For example, some unions contemplating amalgamation, such as United Voice, have such broad industrial coverage already that an amalgamation with any other major union may stretch their organizing resources too far. Unions hit hardest by the destruction of mass manufacturing industries such as the AMWU, CEPU and AWU would arguably do the working class movement a favour if they formed one union. ALP political differences across such unions should be put to one side when considering the merits or otherwise of amalgamation.
The decline of union membership density to under 11% in the private sector will lead to more amalgamations. Provided they occur with the aim of developing an independent working class agenda to unite millions of workers, they should be supported. Where their aim is to tie workers to the dead end of the three-year parliamentary cycle or the self-interest of particular union leadership interests they should be opposed.