Monday, March 25, 2019

Trump, Bolsonaro and Brazil in the service of US imperialism



The recent high-level diplomatic meeting with US president Donald Trump and his Brazilian counterpart, president Jair Bolsonaro, was primarily concerned with defence and security issues.


It should come as no surprise the US imperialists have sought to strengthen links with Brazil, a major player in Latin America, following the left-ward drift of many countries in recent decades. Far-right president Bolsonaro has also shown himself only too willing to openly identify with the US.


The talks, however, rested in two important considerations:
     the defence and security of the South Atlantic;
     the resurgence of far-right nationalist popularism.

In March, incoming Brazilian president Bolsonaro made his first foreign visit overseas to the US for 'security talks at the White House' with US president Trump. (1) Bolsonaro was accompanied by a delegation composed of six ministers. Official diplomatic media releases noted that the two countries were 'working in concert on a number of regional issues'. (2) The notion of working in 'concert' between the two countries has an interesting history, both official and unofficial. The latter including several shades of grey, with the military planning involved for defence and security considerations.
It is not particularly difficult to establish what the US regards as important regional issues.

In recent decades a significant number of governments have been elected across Central and Latin American on anti-US sentiments. This development, following on from the previous US presidential Bush administration, was in opposition to attempts by Washington to impose regional trade agreement upon the entire southern half of the Americas. Needless to say, the grandiose plan failed, backfiring in a spectacular manner. The US has sought for over two decades to regain their domination.
With Bolsonaro now at the helm in Brazil, the US imperialists have seized upon an opportunity in their favour. The Trump administration clearly intends to exploit favourable relations with Brazil.
Brazil is a major player in Latin America having the largest economy in the southern half of the Americas: its geographical size, large manufacturing base, strong financial and banking system together with a big merchant fleet for imports and exports, enhances its diplomatic standing. Its links with Portugal as a former colonial power, likewise, have historically provided Brazil with strong links to a major player in NATO, the Atlantic and Europe; further links with other former Portuguese colonies in Africa, similarly, have seen Brazil undertake major diplomatic initiatives with Africa countries.
The role of Brazil, therefore, has been very important for US military planning in the South Atlantic, with some interesting historical points of reference.
The previous Reagan administration in Washington during the 1980s established high-level diplomatic initiatives for a South Atlantic Treaty Organisation (SATO), resting upon earlier military planning and security considerations. (3)  
In 1972, for example, Brazilian vice-admiral Hilton Berutti Augusto Moreira, was an advocate of initiatives:
          to provide Brazil with adequate maritime power and to take maximum advantage
          of the country's geo-strategic position are essential decisions for the attainment
          of the national objective of rapid development and for support for a high degree
          of effective national security. (4)  
In the early 1980s a statement from Thomas Enders, Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, noted US-led defence of the South Atlantic was 'one of the three main objectives of the US in Latin America', primarily due to the centrality of Brazil for US foreign policy. (5)
Developments, elsewhere, however, had far-reaching implications for US foreign policy with Latin American countries including Brazil.
Behind the foreign policy, considerations which included the official opening in March 1973, of the Silvermine Naval Communication Centre, near Cape Town, South Africa, were important. Silvermine had the role of monitoring shipping and air traffic from North Africa to Antarctica, westwards to Latin America and eastwards across the Indian Ocean to similar US-based facilities on Diego Garcia. The extended range eastwards was then linked to Pine Gap, Central Australia. (6)
The US-led coverage of both the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean formed the Southern Ocean Defence Plan (SODP), an ambitious military plan to provide the US with hegemonic advantage over adversaries. (7) It is particularly interesting to note initiatives to establish the SATO section of the SODP also lay in US assessments that NATO was a 'leaky sieve'. (8) The US wanted to create an alternative to NATO, to serve 'US interests'. 

The real reason for the SATO initiatives, therefore, lay in US attempts to support Apartheid South Africa through covert means. The US, with its own large black population, needed to distance itself from the problem of racialism in South Africa and not have to deal with European countries who complicated the matter for Washington and the Pentagon.
Countries in Europe which were NATO members were regarded by the US as not being completely supportive of US-led military planning. Many of them openly backed sanctions against South Africa, including UN Security Council Resolution 418, which imposed a mandatory arms embargo upon the Apartheid State in November, 1977. Numerous M.P.s across Europe supported the Anti-Apartheid Movement. The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Jamaica, May 1975, actually voted to support Cuba and national liberation movements in Southern Africa. (9) 
The legacy has continued, with the US continually questioning traditional allies about their support; many of the considerations of the Reagan administration are now being re-floated in the White House. While decades have slipped past, the US far-right still retain their positions in the Pentagon as shadowy figures within the corridors of power. They were quick to latch onto Trump, to serve their agendas.
Trump, for example, 'has been unstinting in his criticism of NATO's European members, accusing them of free-loading on the protection offered by the US military'. (10) Most NATO European member countries also have strong trade links with China, which have been frowned upon by the Trump administration, including a number which have not supported the US demand to ban Huawei from their telecommunications networks. The European tour by China's President Xi Jinping, has further increased diplomatic tensions with the US and Europe. While Portugal and Greece both signed for the China-led Belt and Road Initiative last year, Italy is now following suit, with France also expected to sign several co-operation agreements. (11)
While the SATO military plan eventually unfolded in fiasco with the Malvinas War which pitched Argentina against the UK in 1982, other considerations included the re-interpretation of the original NATO Charter to include Latin American countries as members or supporters, if required. US Admiral Harry Train, from the period, noted 'there is no NATO border. There never was the slightest thought in mind of the drafters of the NATO Charter that Article 6 should prevent collective planning, manoeuvres or operations south of the Tropic of Cancer'. (12)
The recent high-level diplomatic meetings between the US and Brazil were primarily concerned with two areas of security: the present crisis in Venezuela, and the 'pushing back against growing Chinese economic influence across Latin America'. (13) The chosen method of operation has drawn upon US-led defence and security initiatives which included the proposed SATO.
It was furthermore noted by an unnamed US official that the talks were 'a new North-South axis'. (14) And the stated outcome, therefore, was an invitation by the US for Brazil to be considered a possible member of NATO.
Against the backcloth of the US-Brazil diplomacy, however, lie far more insidious considerations including the resurgence of the far-right.
President Bolsonaro has been openly described as a far-right figure, with former paratrooper military credentials. It is also interesting to note he included his son, Eduardo, who is also an M.P. in his delegation. Eduardo Bolsonaro is closely linked to the far-right Brussels-based political grouping usually referred to as The Movement. (15) The organisation, established by former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, has the stated aim 'to promote right wing nationalistic values and tactics', with Europe as a main theatre of operations. (16)
Involvement of the Bolsonaro family with The Movement reveals how their Brazilian connections have become useful intelligence assets for the Trump administration and the nefarious agendas of some of those closely associated with the White House and Pentagon.
Two related matters, therefore, arise.
Firstly, a significant number of the NATO member countries have far-right wing political movements, in some cases with ruling government experience.
Secondly, the new Brazilian government of President Bolsonaro will be undertaking a second high-level diplomatic meeting with Israel in late March. It should be no surprise: many far-right political movements now openly support Israel. Decision-makers in Tel Aviv are only too pleased to accommodate Christian-Zionists, who serve their purpose. In Australia, for example, far-right political figures including Senator Fraser Anning have actually been responsible for lobbying support for Israel. (17)
With both considerations, Brazilian involvement with the US and NATO will strengthen the hand of the far-right in formal political and military bodies in Europe and elsewhere.
We should be on our guard!
We need an independent foreign policy!

1.     Trump floats idea of Brazil joining European alliance, Australian, 21 March 2019.
2.     Brazil's Trump to meet the real thing, Australian, 19 March 2019.
3.     The politics of South Atlantic security: a survey of proposals for a South Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Andrew Hurrell, International Affairs, February/1983 – 0020-5850-0179, pp. 179-93; and, The military pact project in the South Atlantic – Pretoria opts for Latin America, Le Monde Diplomatique, March 1977; and, United States and South America, The reactions of Brazil, Argentina and Chile, El Universal (Caracas), 8 June 1981.
4.      The politics of South Atlantic security, ibid., page 185.
5.     El Universal (Caracas), op.cit., 8 June 1981.
6.     Silvermine Communications Centre, Signals Units of the South African Corps of Signals and related services, Walter Volker, (Pretoria, 2010), page 609; and, UK decision to leave Persian Gulf – implications, Le Monde Diplomatique, December 1976; and,      Maritime Operational and Communication Hq., The Star (South Africa), 10 March 1973; and, Security in the Mountain, The Star (South Africa), 17 March 1973.
7.     New role seen for SA navy, The Star (South Africa), 4 October 1969; and, Not in Europe Alone, John Biggs-Davidson M.P., Brassey's Annual – Defence and the Armed Forces, (London, 1972), pp. 78-87.
8.     Veil – The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-87, Bob Woodward, (London, 1987), page 212.
9.     Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Kingstown, Jamaica – 29 April – 6 May 1975, Final Communique, Section 16 The Caribbean, page 4, Section 17-26 Southern Africa, pp. 4-5.
10.   Australian, op.cit., 21 March 2019.    
11.   Xi starts European tour to sell Belt and Road in a house divided, Australian, 22 March 2019.
12.   The politics of the South Atlantic, op.cit., footnote 72, page 193.
13.   Australian, op.cit., 21 March 2019.
14.   Ibid.
15.   Australian, op.cit., 19 March 2019.
16.   Ibid.
17.   Anning is no Nazi or anti-Semite: senator, Australian, 9 January 2019.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

School strike for Climate - Australia

On Friday 15 March, hundreds of schools across Australia came to a halt as more than 60,000 school students and many family supporters and teachers turned out at lively rallies, demanding decisive action to protect the environment from the ravages of climate change. More than 50 rallies took place in different cities, regional centres and towns as part of the world-wide day of action School Strike 4 Climate. 

Compilation of state reports from School strike for Climate

On Friday 15 March, hundreds of schools across Australia came to a halt as more than 60,000 school students and many family supporters and teachers turned out at lively rallies, demanding decisive action to protect the environment from the ravages of climate change. More than 50 rallies took place in different cities, regional centres and towns as part of the world-wide day of action School Strike 4 Climate. 

Their enthusiasm and determination were complemented by their obvious knowledge and respect for the scientific facts and the undeniable evidence that climate change is caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Their creative hand written and designed cardboard placards and banners pointed the finger at the greedy fossil fuel monopolies, the destroyers of native forests and rainforests and the subservient parliamentary politicians who have failed to do anything about this threat to humanity other than issue timid statements.

While Prime Minister Morrison copped most of this, the school students didn’t let Labor Party leader Bill Shorten completely off the hook, sending a strong message to show some guts and stop the Adani coal mine venture, end coal-mining, and convert to renewables by 2030. In the lead-up to the federal election the illusion that Labor will challenge the domination of the corporate monopolies is still strong.

The overwhelming positive aspect is the growing mass movement of young people keenly aware of the environmental crisis, seeing it as a broad political issue, and not simply as an individual and personal issue.  They showed their preparedness for defiant struggle against the corporations and politicians who continue to roll out policies to protect the multinational fossil fuel corporations.
Across the country, tens of thousands of school students laughed off the politicians and Education Departments’ threats of disciplinary action. They ignored lectures and demands that they should protest outside school hours.   Their courage and defiance won wide support from parents, families and communities. 

Packed trains, trams and buses delivered waves of excited school students to their rallies in cities and regions.  The sheer joy and amazement at the huge numbers and discovering their new collective power rippled through the rallies.  Private or state school, it didn’t matter. They were united in their excitement and determination to send their angry message for the whole world to hear.

They danced, hugged each other, chanted, roared and waved thousands and thousands of homemade placards above their heads. There was a sea of cardboard placards and hand-drawn caricatures of politicians. Rebellious, “The seas are rising and so are we!” or witty, “Fires in Qld, Floods in NSW, Idiots in ACT” or quietly telling deep truths, “I stand for what I stand on”, “Trickle down didn’t work for the Murray”, “Sorry for the inconvenience we’re trying to change the world”, “100 companies cause 71% of emissions…WTF!”, “You didn’t complain when we had Monday off for a Horse Race.”  The atmosphere was electric. Parents and grandparents listened to school students they didn’t know, their eyes shining with pride and hope for the future. 

Tens of thousands of students marched through their cities, blocking and disrupting traffic.  The First Nations’ school students and staff travelled long distances to join rallies.  In Sydney the young Gamilaraay mob from Walgett, 10 hours’ drive north west of Sydney, spoke first-hand of the water crisis. MUA, United Voice, NTEU, Retail and Fast Food Workers Union and other unions were there.

In Melbourne a 10 years old school student delivered a powerful speech with evidence and facts on climate change, passionately demanding that all politicians and corporations take immediate action.

It was a tremendous show of solidarity with other students across the entire world who were taking part in the international ‘School Strike 4 Climate’. 

After speeches and music, the rallies marched through the city streets, led by the school students  with supporters following, to many cheers and waves from onlookers. 

The magnitude of the event affirmed to all the importance of mass movements and direct action in the ongoing struggle against the vested interests intent on maintaining their financial and social hegemony.

Only a revolutionary socialist movement for national independence can win the fundamental change that Australia needs to prevent permanent damage to our precious environment.  

Nationalise mining, power and water!  

Power to the people, not the multinationals!

Trump security chiefs sniff out the South Pacific as new Ambassador arrives

(Contributed)         18 March 2019

The sending of two senior United States security personnel to the South Pacific and elsewhere has shown how the Trump administration is determined to push Cold War diplomatic agendas on Australia's doorstep. The brief visit to the region was accompanied by other significant developments.


The US, under terms of the so-called alliance, expects Australia to follow its diplomacy. It has been interesting, however, to note voices of dissent in Canberra, within the higher echelons of class and state power.
In early March an official visit by Matt Pottinger, Senior Director, Asia Affairs (in photo behind Trump), together with Alexander Gray, Director, Oceania and Indo-Pacific Security, for the National Security Council (NSC), to the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu and then Australia, New Zealand and Japan, received the bare minimum of media coverage. (1)
Later media releases, however, revealed further official visits had also taken place at the same time, with a, 'flurry of visits by US officials to the Pacific Islands'. (2)
The NSC is a Washington-based advisory body composed of those closely associated with the Trump administration. The fact two of the most senior personnel (Pottinger has been referred to as Trump’s “primary point of contact on US-China security issues” and “among Trump’s longest serving aides”) were sent to the South Pacific has revealed US priorities. Incoming US ambassador to Australia Arthur B. Culvahouse, stated, 'I do expect a number of very senior administration officials to visit Australia this year'. (3)
The moves, by the US, have also coincided with Australia establishing an Office of the Pacific, linked to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Whether the two senior US personnel concerned together with others, were part of the recent reorganisation of the US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) with priority given to emerging threats has yet to be established. It would appear likely they were. Whereas ordinary intelligence operations are concerned with wholesale spying, military intelligence assessments are invariably the product of military mind-sets and concerned with balances of forces and military preparedness.
Documentation about the changes within DIA organisation, for example, included references to agents who did not work undercover together with naming the so-called Defence Clandestine Service (DCS), which 'reflects the military's latest and largest foray into secret intelligence work'. (4)  
The three Melanesian countries of the South Pacific, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, form a strategic part of the Defence of Australia doctrine where northern shores are protected by a buffer-zone against foreign military incursion. And they have most certainly become the main focus of US-led military intelligence operations at the present time.
While all three countries have had Chinese ethnic minorities since the nineteenth century, in recent times large-scale investment programs from China have provoked a furious response from US-led western allies. Matters came to a head at the APEC summit in Port Moresby last November, with an announcement that the US would take a leading role in establishing the Lombrum military base on Manus Island.
That both Pottinger and Gray also visited Australia and Japan as part of their South Pacific fact-finding tour should come as no great surprise. US-led regional military planning has included the elevation of Japan to a major hub for 'US interests' in the north, with Australia as a southern counterpart. The triangular diplomatic relationship is primarily focussed upon China, with greater responsibility for the two hubs to pursue Pentagon directives, as required. It is no accident that the implementation of the major diplomatic moves coincided with the establishment of the DCS. The triangular diplomacy has provided the framework for the DCS to operate within.

Evidence of the triangular diplomatic relationship between the US, Australia and Japan, and their special focus on the South Pacific has not been difficult to identify; last year, for example, US-led initiatives to quash an arrangement between Huawei Marine and PNG for an underwater telecommunications cable deal proved unsuccessful. (5) In response, the US and its two regional hubs have subsequently stepped-up their position against China in the region.
The fact that both Pottinger and Gray also visited New Zealand is significant for two reasons: NZ forms an active part of the Five Eyes intelligence networks. Secondly, NZ has always taken a much more proactive role with educational and training provision in the Pacific. Many islanders have relied upon NZ facilities for specialist education and training of all levels. Educational institutions across NZ will obviously possess many useful contacts across the wider region.
A number of other important considerations have arisen.
The US war-drive is about to accelerate into over-drive with an announcement from the White House defence budget for proposals including a five per cent increase to $750 bn. for the coming year. (6)
Secondly, the Trump administration has finally got an Ambassador into Canberra after a lengthy delay, since 2016, when the previous ambassador departed. The incoming Ambassador Culvahouse, has already revealed a set agenda which has included a stiffening the Australian spine on China. (7) What has been particularly revealing about his appointment is that Culvahouse has been officially referred to as Ambassador to Australia while elsewhere he has been labelled an envoy. The latter, in diplomatic speak, is usually a specific position for greater responsibility across other countries.
It is also particularly relevant to note how the US finds dealing with Coalition leaders in Canberra easier than their ALP counterparts. Right-wing Liberals and the National and Country Party friends were not overtly concerned about the long-term absence of a US ambassador; senior coalition leaders would appear to have a cozy relationship with their US counterparts without having to discuss matters through usual diplomatic procedures. Culvahouse, however, was pushed into Australia, 'ahead of the federal elections', which the ALP is expected to win. (8) The speed of his arrival in Canberra following the latest political opinion polls was obviously a serious consideration: Culvahouse noted, for example, the speed of his departure had actually cut short his time at 'ambassador school'. (9)
Two points, therefore, emerge.
As the South Pacific has already being specified in official US foreign affairs media releases as 'strategically vital to the US and its regional allies' in the context of countering China's regional influences, the question arises whether this is the main reason why the US requires Culvahouse as an envoy? (10) Will Culvahouse reside in Canberra while making forays elsewhere in the name of 'US interests'?
Secondly, high-handed US diplomacy has also been accompanied by the NSC opening an investigation into what they described as the 'grey area' of Chinese covert influence in Australia. (11) The NSC was not asked to open the investigation from Australian sources. The Trump administration took the initiative as part of their planned regional war-drive.
Such moves, by the US, have already set the wheels in motion for the new Cold War, much of which is being waged in Australia. Recent legislation, including the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme, is little other than a wholesale domestic spying program. (12) It forms a conspicuous part within overhauled espionage provision 'unveiled by the Turnbull government' which stoked the fires of the new Cold War at the behest of the Trump administration. (13) The new Cold War has affected every level of Australian society: academic, political, and economic.
The response, therefore, from some senior Australian decision-makers to the US-led initiative has been interesting to note.
A recent media release from Andrew Robb, a former Coalition cabinet member responsible for negotiating the 2015 FTA with China, has noted problems arising with an 'American obsession with China'. Their preoccupation that 'Beijing's rise needs to be contained rather than embraced', has left little to the imagination. (14) He added that the problem was 'security interests which has largely been driven by the US'. (15)
Another figure, Stephen Fitzgerald, appointed as Australia's first ambassador to Beijing in late 1972, was recently interviewed about regional affairs. He drew attention to the problems of 'economic and political disruption in the Asia-Pacific', and said that 'Australia, not the US, is living in a Chinese world', followed by the statement that 'we must deepen engagement with China and the region', inferring our diplomatic relationship with the US was detrimental to our standing in the wider region. (16)
Finally, analysis from Professor James Curran, Sydney University, about recent US diplomatic initiatives within the region and the appointment of Culvahouse as ambassador, included the comment: 'this ambassador will note that.....we're not signing up to the US cold war in Asia'. (17)
Statements from the people above reveal wide divisions at the higher echelons of class and state-power toward US-led regional diplomatic initiatives. They have a different position to the present Morrison government. The question might be asked is whether this is one of the main reasons why the present Coalition government in Canberra remains dysfunctional?
Are the present Morrison cabinet merely money-grubbing faceless wonders wanting more US patronage and ill-gotten gains for themselves and their families?
It might be a very useful project for a researcher to establish how many times members of the present cabinet and their families have visited the US recently, how many of their children have entered into US-based 'scholarships' and where their business interests really lie.
We need an independent foreign policy!
1.     Donald Trump's Top Security Advisers Visit the Pacific,  ABC News, 4 March 2019.
2.     Warning on China's 'loan diplomacy', Australian, 14 March 2019.
3.     Ibid.
4.     Pentagon plays the spy game, The Guardian Weekly (U.K.), 7 December 2012.
5.     US in underwater battle with China for internet control, Australian, 14 March 2019.
6.     Defence, border spending rise as White House proposes $6.6 trillion budget, Australian, 13 March 2019.
7.     US envoy arrives to 'translate Trump', Australian, 13 March 2019.
8.     Australian, op.cit., 14 March 2019.
9.     Ibid.    
10.   How to counter China's influence in the South Pacific, Foreign Affairs, Council of Foreign Relations, 13 November 2018.
11.   Trump orders probe into Chinese influence, The Weekend Australian, 13-14 January 2018.
12.    A-G's warning to foreign agents, Australian, 11 March 2019.
13.   A-G's warning to foreign agents, Australian, 11 March 2019.
14.   Robb: China relations 'turned to custard', Australian, 12 March 2019.
15.   Ibid.
16.   Why Canberra must reset its relationship with China, Australian, 12 March 2019.
17.   US Envoy, Australian, op.cit., 13 March 2019.  

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Brenton Tarrant and the evil of fascism

Nick G.        16 March 2019

Whether it is a white supremacist or a religious extremist, the use of terrorist violence against randomly selected innocent targets is a crime.

We apply the word “fascist” to such terrorist activity whether it comes from ISIS or from racists.

At our 15th Congress in 2015, we offered an analysis of terror that attributed the most widespread use of terror to US imperialism.  (We append this section of that report to this article.)

There are two types of fascism that we must oppose.  The first is the legal fascism of the state in the form of draconian anti-union legislation and attacks on civil liberties. 

When fascism first emerged in Italy and Germany, Communist leaders identified its class basis.  As early as 1923, German Communist Clara Zetkin wrote: "Fascism is the concentrated expression of the general offensive undertaken by the world bourgeoisie against the proletariat.... fascism an expression of the decay and disintegration of the capitalist economy and as a symptom of the bourgeois state’s dissolution. We can combat fascism only if we grasp that it rouses and sweeps along broad social masses who have lost the earlier security of their existence and with it, often, their belief in social order....”

Perhaps the most influential definition of fascism was provided by the Bulgarian Communist Georgi Dimitrov at the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International in 1935.  Dimitrov began with an analysis of fascism, which he characterized as "the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capital," intent upon wreaking organized "terrorist vengeance against the working class and the revolutionary section of the peasantry and intelligentsia." With respect to its foreign policy, Dimitrov condemned fascism as "jingoism in its most brutal form, fomenting bestial hatred of other nations."

Both definitions point to the adoption of fascism by the most reactionary sections of the bourgeoisie in its class war against the workers.

Both offer explanations of how people, including sections of the working class, those who “have lost the earlier security of their existence” and those who are encouraged to have a “bestial hatred of other nations”, can be swept up in support of fascist ideas.

Hence, we have the second type of fascism: street thugs and lone wolves of the Brenton Tarrant type who, on the one hand, are used by the bourgeoisie to try and intimidate, harass and threaten socially progressive peoples and who, on the other hand, develop personal agendas for eliminating by violence those they identify as racial or religious enemies.

Historian Peter Cochrane’s study of Australian motivations for involvement in the First World War reveals how “Among the paramount concerns…was the sanctity of Australia’s race purity” (1).

It is a concern that continues to motivate people like Brenton Tarrant.  In the course of a century it has diminished but never disappeared.

On one right-wing Facebook page a person complained that Tarrant’s massacre of Muslims at prayer will “give all white patriots a bad name”, to which one woman replied “Good on him!”  Another wrote, “Best video I seen all week!” referring to the live streaming of his murders by Tarrant.

At the time of writing this article (afternoon of Saturday March 16), Peter Dutton had had a photo of the Australian flag flying at half-mast outside his electorate office “out of respect and in condolence for those killed in the terrorist attack in New Zealand” posted on his own Facebook page.  In the space of 5 hours it had attracted 117 comments.  Some thanked him for showing respect, some reminded him of his own responsibility for Tarrant’ actions: “Maybe if you toned down your anti Muslim vitriol these ultra right activists will not feel so empowered.”  Both sentiments were outnumbered by expressions of outrage from right-wing anti-Muslims who accused him of not flying the flag for “40 Christians killed by Muslims in Nigeria”, for 20 Christians killed in an ISIS church bombing in the Philippines last week, and similar outrages.  This was his own right-wing constituency turning on him in droves.

Nazi-sympathiser Fraser Anning MP appealed to that same constituency when he wrote that “The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”

Petitions demanding his removal from parliamentary office quickly appeared, one garnering 235,000 signatures in just 17 hours. 

While there has been an overwhelming repudiation of Tarrant’s actions by all except a small hard-core of racists, the question must also be asked as to how he was able to plan and undertake such an action without being discovered by intelligence operatives.

New Zealand is part of the Five Eyes intelligence network (with the US, Britain, Australia and Canada).  It is not an isolated backwater as some have made out.

The network’s shared capacity for surveillance and data gathering is formidable.  US author Alfred W, McCoy speaks of the US National Security Agency (NSA) “sweeping the skies and penetrating the World Wide Web’s undersea cables”, making it “capable of capturing the confidential communications of any leader on the planet while monitoring countless millions of their citizens.” (2)

He refers to the agency’s X-Keyscore program that “had collected 850 billion ‘call events’ in 2007 and forty-one billion records for a single month in 2012.”  All of this continually accumulating data is sifted through by algorithms searching for key words and phrases linked to terrorism and to anti-US sentiment.  Perhaps Tarrant’s boasts on social media prior to his murders that he “will carry out an attack against the invaders, and will even live-stream the attack via facebook” was simply lost in the mind-numbing mass of data scooped up by the US and its Five Eyes partners.

Perhaps the pictures he tweeted two days before the attack of the weapons and gear he would use in killing Muslims was similarly lost.  Or perhaps US, Australian and NZ agencies simply weren’t looking in the right place: they have traditionally taken little interest in right-wing extremists, concentrating in an earlier era on Communists and anti-imperialists, and since 9/11 on Islamic religio-fascists.

“We must be a blade at the throat of fascists,” wrote imprisoned US black revolutionary George Jackson.

We must take seriously the tasks of combatting fascists in the streets and in the corridors of political power.

Down with the ISIS-style religious fascists!

Down with the fascism of white supremacists!

Oppose all attacks on democratic rights and liberties!

(1), Cochrane, Peter Best We Forget: The War for White Australia 1914-18, Text Publishing Company, Melbourne, 2018

(2) McCoy, Alfred W. In the Shadow of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power, OneWorld Publications, 2017
Appendix: from the Political Report to the CPA (M-L)’s 15th Congress

The war of terror

In the final analysis, the war of terror is the means by which imperialist finance capital maintains its domination over the people and nations of the world. The reactionary classes deploy terror to maintain their rule. The standing armed forces of the imperialists routinely adopt tactics which lead to overwhelming “collateral damage” amongst innocent civilians. They also have a long history of deploying death squads and other irregular and mercenary forces to take out what a new Pentagon manual identifies as “unprivileged belligerents”. In relation to peace activists and progressive forces in their own imperialist and developed capitalist heartlands, they use fear of terror by real or imaginary opponents to control the people with draconian “anti-terror” legislation.

For more than a decade, the imperialists have inverted logic and tried to claim leadership of the “war on terror”.  The whole history of colonial expansion and imperialist division of the world has been one of the employment of terror against people fighting for freedom from enslavement, for national liberation and for independence and socialism.  Whether it is the plunder and pillage of standing armies or the disappearances and assassinations of clandestine death squads, terror has been the way countless people throughout the world have experienced capitalism and imperialism. 

The terror imperialism now claims to be fighting had its origins in the Soviet social-imperialist invasion of Afghanistan. British and US training of religious zealots to fight the Soviets quickly extended to training and equipping similar groups for the purpose of achieving regime change in targeted countries including Iraq, Libya and Syria.  That zealotry has seen the trainees outgrow the role assigned to them by imperialism; it has seen them with their own religio-fascist agenda turn around to bite the hand that fed them.

Groups like ISIS have emerged as a type of international lumpen-proletariat.  In advanced capitalist countries the lumpen-proletariat consists of people who cannot or will not live as members of the working class, people broken in spirit by poverty, lack of education and opportunity, health failure, and drugs. Their escape route from all of this is criminal activity and criminal violence through which they seek to empower and enrich themselves.  They aspire to live like the idle rich they see at the top of society. 

ISIS recruits come from all strata of society and include educated and articulate youths. They hate imperialism for its wanton random violence against the communities from which they come and for its failure to embrace the Prophet, but they are not conscious anti-imperialists.  They aspire to have an empire of their own, the Caliphate and murder and terrorise any who stand in their way.  Their open fighting is directed at armed opponents, including genuine anti-imperialists, but their terrorism is directed at non-combatants, at innocent civilians, including in the imperialist and developed capitalist countries.  Ultimately terrorism is a political response to injustice that fails to understand that only the masses create positive change. ISIS terrorism is the personally brutal mirror image of the impersonal brutality of imperialist drone attacks and the rain of Zionist phosphorous bombs over Gaza.

Whether you behead the person next to you or simply feed coordinates to a drone from the safe distance of Pine Gap, you are equally a terrorist as far as your victims are concerned.

ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks in Australia, France, Britain and elsewhere give the ruling classes of those countries the excuse to intensify surveillance of all progressive politically active people. We have already seen a vast expansion of police and security powers in this regard. We are also seeing the roll-out of a campaign encouraging teachers to identify potentially “radicalised” youths.  A number of case studies are presented including a young girl who leaves her supportive family to become an environmental activist.  Of course, there is the obligatory case study of a Muslim youth, but the lumping together of people exercising legitimate democratic rights with those coming under the influence of ISIS shows how terrorism enables the ruling class to spread its repressive net ever more widely. The goal of “deradicalising” ISIS followers can never succeed so long as it denies the existence of imperialist violence and terror.

Marxists eschew terrorism. The terrorism of imperialism is the much greater and the more dangerous and perfidious of the two terrorisms we have discussed.  It will be directed at the revolutionary anti-imperialist movement when it develops to a particular level of influence in Australia.  It will come from the authorised state agencies of violence and it will come from fascist thugs to whom the state will turn a blind eye and encourage.  We will only be able to defend the advances we make in the development of the movement for independence from imperialism by countering the violence of the state with the organised resistance of the revolutionary movement.  Our activity will arise as a defensive measure and gradually assume an offensive capacity, but it will always be organised against identified agencies of the capitalist state and will never take the form of indiscriminate and random violence in which members of our own class become victims. 

We will never practice terrorism or endorse terrorist activity.