Monday, February 25, 2019

If the Women Want, the World Stands Still!

(From the International Bulletin of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party Turkey/Kurdistan February 2019)  25 February 2019

With the initiative of a women's strike in Argentina and Poland, the call for an international women's strike on 8 of March has spread in more and more countries since 2017 (1).

With the women's strike, an old means of working class struggle is claimed and applied by the women.

Drawing on the experiences of previous historical strike actions by women, the women's strike is one of the symbols of the rise of a new international women's movement. The masses of working women are using the means of strike for their most basic rights on the streets: right to abortion and any decision about one's own body, equal pay, the right to physical integrity, an end to violence and feminicides are just a few common ones in addition to numerous concrete demands.

These demands, as well as the resistances of women against sexist, fascist elected state representatives such as Trump and Bolsonaro (2), have gained an incomparable mobilizing power.

In the 21st century, the achievements of all past struggles for women's liberation have raised gender awareness to an unprecedented level. Women's movements are increasingly becoming the engine of social struggles and are more and more taking the lead in them. The gender of women is re-forming as a social and historical force. We can compare this phase with the time of the First International (3), in which the working class has formed itself as a historical force. A similar meaning is given to today's phase for the role of the female gender in the social revolution. Together with the women’s revolution in Rojava (4), as a concrete experience and guidepost to the women's liberation struggle, today's mass movements reiterate that this century will pave the way for women's freedom as a precondition for communism.

Women's Strike in Turkey

More and more countries are forming nationwide assemblies of women, which develop into new movements based on common demands and slogans. Also in Turkey, the women's movement has developed to a strengthened women's front through a nationwide meeting. This is all the more important as women are one of the most important dynamics in the fight against political-Islamist fascism and its attacks on the lives and political freedoms of the people.

Under the slogan "Women are strong together" over 1,000 women gathered on 5th to 6th January in Istanbul, following the call of 165 women's and lgbti+ organizations. Workshops have discussed ways to strengthen cooperation and proposals for future actions. The will and the need for common struggles were emphasized there, because the attacks of the political-Islamist fascist dictatorship (5) require a determined resistance.

Once again, attacks by the state for the legitimacy and promotion of child abuse and child marriage are the order of the day. After the women's resistance has prevented a law on impunity for men marrying the child they abused in 2016, this law is again being debated. Against this law, there will be a wide resistance of women.

The women's strike was also well received in this meeting. The possibilities for a first women's strike on 8th of March were discussed and it was seen that the socialist women are the driving force of the women's strike and mobilize the women to the streets with common symbols, such as colorful bows.

he women's strike will become a long-term means in the women's liberation struggle, and preparations for the women's strike in Turkey are also seen as a year-round task. The women's strike expresses the growing anger and rebellion of women against the patriarchal system in various forms.

The international character of the strike strengthens the women’s revolution in its attack on patriarchy. Communists have the responsibility to take their place at the forefront of this internationalist action and give this movement a revolutionary perspective, because the women's strike and the rising women's movements have to be understood as a source of strength and inspiration for the women's revolution, as half of the social revolution.

(1)  The International Women's Strike, also known as Paro Internacional de Mujeres, is a global movement coordinated across over 50 countries. It began with International Women's Day, on 8 March 2017, developed further in 2018 and is being planned in various countries in 2019.
(2) The ultra-right wing President of Brazil.
(3) The First International (also known as the International Workingmen’s Association) was established by Marx and others in 1864 to unite workers on the basis of a commitment to class struggle.
(4) Rojava, the Kurdish region of Syria, is one of two Kurdish frontlines in the war with ISIS.
(5) The Turkish government under President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan.

Further reading: See more articles by the MLPK here

Saturday, February 23, 2019

“Serve the People" – Learning from Ted Hill

(Ted Hill with Lin Biao and Mao Zedong at China's National Day celebration rally in 1966)

Ned K.        24 February 2019

Many Vanguard readers are probably aware that Ted Hill was a leader of the Communist Party of Australia in the 1940s and 1950s and initial Chairperson of the CPA -ML when it formed in the early 1960s. Vanguard readers are probably familiar with some or many of Ted Hill's extensive writings putting forward a Marxist-Leninist perspective and analysis of many aspects of Australian life.

Recently I read the book, "That Disreputable Firm, the Inside Story of Slater and Gordon". Slater and Gordon was the law firm where Ted Hill worked as a lawyer and barrister for many years. The book was written by Michael Cannon and it is worth reading just to gain more of an appreciation of what an incredible contribution Ted Hill made to the working class struggle and how highly he was regarded by the workers he represented in workers' compensation and other industrial matters and how well respected he was within the legal profession, even by those who represented the capitalist class.


Above and beyond this, Cannon shows in his book what an incredible caring, noble human being Ted Hill was, as this short passage below shows.


"In the last few years of his life, Ted suffered from Hodgkin's Disease...but his widow Joyce said 'he did not have time to die'. Each morning he still went to Brunswick baths for a swim, then walked his dog. Joyce drove him to work, where he would still spend ten to twelve hours per day. Even when nauseated from regular chemotherapy at Royal Melbourne Hospital, he continued his arduous routine."


The book also highlights the intense harassment and spying he endured from ASIO and other agencies of the state. He was even followed by plain clothes spies to the public telephone box near his house at all hours of the night where he went to make phone calls to avoid the phone tappers.


The book gave me an appreciation of how outstanding and conscientious Hill was in his chosen field of work, industrial law. He could have easily taken another path and lived the "high life' as a high paid member of the capitalist legal "club" such was his brilliance. However, he used his skills in service to the working class, putting in to practice on a daily, hourly basis his "serve the people" outlook.
The passage below from the book shows how skilled he was.


"Ted's brilliance as a young student soon became obvious. At that time the articled clerk's course consisted of one year's study: on passing that, four-year articles were signed, and nine further law subjects studied. The alternative was to do a full-time four-year university law course, followed by one year's articles. At Melbourne University Ted won every prize open to law clerks. In 1933 he was awarded the Harry Emmerton Scholarship in Constitutional Law and Legal History. The following year he won first class Honours and the Exhibition in Contract Law. In 1936 he was awarded the Bowen Prize for English Essays."


In 1937 he was interviewed by the Dean of the Faculty of Law Professor Kenneth Bailey who told the young Ted Hill that "he could have a great career” if only he would give up his radical ideas!


Hill refused and went on to study economics. In this faculty, Professor Douglas Copland demanded that Hill drop his Marxist analysis of history and adhere to traditional "theory of marginal utility". Hill, according to the book's author, concluded that "the function of universities in capitalist countries was to fill students' minds with a 'good deal of rubbish'”.


Hill represented hundreds of injured workers as a barrister, often marking each at a lower cost. Despite Hill's brilliance inside the court rooms, he never lost sight of the fact that the best defence for workers against injuries was vigorous working class campaigns for better safety on the job. He said "too many compensation cases take a purely legal course...This suits insurance companies which have infinite financial resources to delay and hinder claims".


Hill's working class outlook that he maintained throughout his long legal career is probably best summed up by the following quote from him in Michael Cannon's book.


"I have lived and associated with working people all my life, and over many years my profession has brought me into contact with numbers of workers and also members of the capitalist class... I have learned much more about the nobility of human beings from the workers and working people than from any capitalist."

Vanuatu, US imperialism and the “Defence of Australia” Doctrine

(Above: Xi Jinping meets Vanuatu PM Salwai)

(Contributed)       24 February 2019
Recent high-level diplomatic meetings between Australia and Vanuatu have received little publicity in mainstream media outlets, only a scant acknowledgement they took place and the outcome was partially successful.
It is not difficult to establish why this was the case:
Favourable diplomatic relations between Australia and Vanuatu remain central to the Defence of (of US interests in) Australia doctrine. In recent times the US has thrust greater responsibilities upon Australia to defend 'US interests' in the region. Needless to say, the diplomatic overtures met with opposition from Vanuatu. Full coverage of the diplomatic meetings, therefore, was not forthcoming.
In early February, Vanuatu Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu, visited Canberra for meetings with his Australian counterpart, Marise Payne. This high-level diplomacy was awarded twelve short paragraphs of coverage in the Australian newspaper, which acknowledged the signing of a new security pact although stated the outcome would not be exclusive only to Australia. Vanuatu wished to continue its diplomatic positions with both France, a former part-colonial power, and China. (1)
The outcome, therefore, fell short of US-led expectations that the Morrison administration would thrust a suitable agreement upon Vanuatu.
It is important, therefore, to consider the following factors:
Vanuatu forms a significant part of the Defence of Australia (DOA) doctrine where the northern Australian coastal is defended against military incursion. Vanuatu, together with the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, three Melanesian countries, form a significant and important part of Australia defence and security planning. It is important to note Port Vila, capital of Vanuatu, together with Honiara, capital of the Solomon Islands, rest upon the same arc from Pine Gap as a significant part of Indonesia with highly sensitive shipping-lanes. Port Moresby, capital of PNG, resides within the same arc, from the highly strategically-placed US military facilities based in central Australia, indicating a compatibility of signals communications converging upon the Pentagon.
Australia, historically, was a dominant player in the three Melanesian countries. In recent times, however, concern has been raised about increased influence from China inside the three countries, threatening the Defence of Australia. Despite constant denials, the Australian government think China is secretly attempting to establish military facilities and a defence presence in Vanuatu. (2)
It is interesting, therefore, to note official Australian government media releases about the security pact with Vanuatu spoke of it as being 'bi-lateral' with the stated aim 'to deepen our security relationship'. It was, furthermore, noted that while 'the umbrella deal would cover current security co-operation', no official reference was made to the DOA provision. (3)
Aggressive US-led diplomacy toward China over regional issues has taken place in recent years following the latter’s rapid economic rise, which has increasingly been regarded as a threat to long-standing US domination of the region. Recent warnings from former Australian diplomatic personnel including Michael Townley, who was Ambassador to Washington during the period, 2000-05, have stated that 'a collision between the world's two most powerful nations' was an increasing problem. (4) Many of the diplomatic hostilities have been played out in recent times in the South Pacific, a part of the region allocated to Australia under US-led defence and security planning.
Issues arising in the northern part of the region have increasingly been thrust upon Japan. US-led concerns about Taiwan and the DPRK are dealt with through Tokyo, as the northern regional hub for 'US interests'. Australia is the southern counterpart within the triangular web of diplomatic relations.
Last year, within the context of US-led regional planning, Australia, for example, signed a Pacific-wide security agreement at the Pacific Islands Forum. Both the contents and the style of the diplomatic initiative, however, saw the Boe Agreement (named after the Boe region of Nauru which hosted the Forum) clearly identify the different priorities of Australia, as a close ally of the US, and the Pacific Islands: the latter regarded climate change 'as the region's biggest security challenge'. (5) The same position was not automatically regarded by Australia as a major priority.
Australia has been criticised by Pacific governments as possessing a focus upon security, 'framing the Pacific through the lens of Australian policy priorities'. (6) Further criticism of Australia by Pacific governments has included their concerns with sustainable development: Australia has tended to ignore many economically-based development issues. Australian regional foreign policy, when dealing with economic issues, has also tended to be confined to neo-colonial type relations.
When Australia first embarked upon recent diplomatic initiatives with Vanuatu, Canberra had to consider ideological considerations within the corridors of power in Port Vila. They are surprisingly straightforward, but run counter to a great deal of US-led regional policy filtered through Canberra. It is for this reason the media releases about the diplomacy were neatly tailored so as not to cause unnecessary 'political fallout'.
From its earliest days of independence, Vanuatu became involved with the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), a United Nations-based body concentrated within the developing world. While a product of the previous Cold War, NAM has remained operational and a counter-weight to imperialism and neo-colonialism. In 2012, NAM had 120 affiliate member countries, was critical of US policy, possessed a commitment to sustainable development and was a strong supporter of many anti-imperialist and decolonisation struggles including Palestine and the independence movement in West Papua. (7)
The official position of Vanuatu is not as a passive bystander in NAM circles: addressing a Ministerial Meeting of NAM, last April, Foreign Minister Regenvanu, stated the vision of Vanuatu was to be: non-aligned from major global powers, to free people from colonial oppression, to ensure international peace and stability, to champion human rights and to ensure an inclusive and reformed multi-lateral order. (8)
The Vanuatu position concerning the OPM, fighting Indonesian occupation of the West Papua, has, however, proved a highly divisive issue. While Australia has increasingly courted Indonesia and turned a blind-eye to the illegal occupation of the country, successive Vanuatu governments have actively sought support for the OPM through such bodies as the Pacific Islands Forum. (9)
Australia, likewise, being drawn closer to US-led regional foreign policy 'in light of rising competition from China', has had to contend with Vanuatu possessing a 'fiercely independent foreign policy'. (10) The implications are not difficult to establish. Vanuatu has feared being drawn into 'the influence of Canberra's network of alliances', and is concerned about a return to 'the subjugation of the past', leaving little ambiguity about their strong anti-imperialist position. (11)
In this light, the present government of Vanuatu has maintained its position of not wanting to jeopardise 'its relations with other nations, including France and China'. (12) And, in conclusion to his recent high-level diplomatic visit, Foreign Minister Regenvanu, stated: “We are happy to enter into a security agreement with Australia.....we made it clear it won't be an exclusive agreement, and we can enter into similar security agreements with other partners as we chose.” (13)
It would be nice to have an Australian Foreign Minister possessing such as clear diplomatic vision for his country, as opposed to merely following US-led directives! Washington and the Pentagon clearly use Australia to serve 'US interests' in the wider region. But, the recent security treaty between Australia and Vanuatu was only partially successful. It did not fulfil US-led agendas; their diplomatic silence, subsequently, is deafening. It also remains to be seen how the US will expect Australia to deal with the situation which has arisen with Vanuatu. And they will.
We need an independent foreign policy!

1.     Vanuatu pact 'non-exclusive', Australian, 18 February 2019.
2.     Ibid, see also, Australia courts Vanuatu, 17 January 2019.
3.     Ibid., Australian, 18 February 2019.
4.     US, China 'on collision course' over power, Australian, 18 February 2019.
5.     Australian, op.cit., 18 February 2019.
6.     Morrison's Vanuatu trip, The Conversation, 17 January 2019.
7.     The Diplomat, op.cit., 17 January 2019; see also, Website: Why Vanuatu supports West Papua independence, Patrick Kaiku, Port Moresby, 11 February 2019.
8.     Ibid., Diplomat, 17 January 2019.
9.     Vanuatu seeks support for West Papua, The Vanuatu Independent, 13 August 2018.
10.   Diplomat, op.cit., 17 January 2019.
11.   Ibid.
12.   Australian, op.cit., 18 February 2019.
13.   Ibid.