Saturday, July 30, 2022

Uncle Archie Roach will continue to sing and speak strength to First Peoples


Written by: Lindy Nolan on 31 July 2022

A few years back, a comrade questioned why I commonly used the word ‘grassroots’ and what it means. It’s one I hear and read First Peoples use again and again to describe themselves. 

Despite his fame and success, Bundjalung and Gunditjmara man, Uncle Archie Roach, a epitomises what it means to be grassroots.

Those who knew him personally and best will also know his inevitable weaknesses and failures. The brutal hand of ongoing invasion and of capitalist economic, cultural and political violence fell hard on him. Immense suffering through his life played out in both his early death at 66, and that of his life partner Ruby Hunter at 55.

Being grassroots is collective. It means the opposite to capitalism’s so-called Big Men of History, those that German communist and dramatist, Bertolt Brecht so powerfully demolished in ‘A Worker Reads History’ (1):

“Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
The books are filled with names of kings.
Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone? 
… And even in Atlantis of the legend
The night the seas rushed in,
The drowning men still bellowed for their slaves. 

“… Young Alexander conquered India.
He alone?
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Was there not even a cook in his army?                                                                                                              
Each page a victory
At whose expense the victory ball?
Every ten years a great man,
Who paid the piper?

So many particulars.
So many questions.”  

Tell me why

Archie Roach asked similar questions all his life.

His demeanour was gentle, but his message remains rock hard. “Tell me why” is both a song and the title of his autobiography. 

Everything published by him shows his kindness, generosity and humility, his lack of ego, as well as his courage to stand against injustice, even as he faced his own imminent death. He has much to teach us all.

Through cruel and bitter struggle both he and Ruby learned who they were and knew where they belonged – with their families, their Peoples and their Country.

Archie Roach joined many protests.

In 1988, he and other Aboriginal Peoples from every corner of these lands, united in Sydney on January 26 for the genuinely historic Survival Day March. They marched in defiance of the multi-million dollar “Celebration of the Nation” and its hideous national chauvinism. 

Many true words will be written about Archie Roach. The big end of town will also try and claim him as their own. But he remains always a grassroots’ man.
His life and voice will continue to quietly demand answers, to demand action.

(1) See ‘A Worker Reads History’ in full poem here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

US pushes for stronger control over South Pacific

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong listens in to Kamala Harris
 Written by: (Contributed) on 27 July 2022

Addressing the recent Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Suva, Fiji, in mid-July, US Vice-President Kamala Harris provided a Cold War diplomatic message which included the announcement that the US was opening two new embassies in Tonga and Kiribati, enlarging the regional Peace Corps provision, having an envoy to the PIF, and providing $600 million for economic development programs. (1) The diplomatic statement followed an earlier announcement the US was planning to re-open their embassy in the Solomon Islands, which was closed in 1993.

The fact that Tonga is part of Polynesia, Kiribati part of Micronesia and the Solomon Islands part of Melanesia, would tend to indicate the US is planning to establish the three countries as minor regional hubs and spokes, attached to broader regional planning over-ridden by Australia and Japan. The arc between Kiribati and Tonga, furthermore, swings through sensitive Australian military institutions in Queensland. (2) The Solomon Islands also forms part of the triangulation: references, therefore, to 'the regional surveillance centre in the Solomon Islands', reveal a significant part of the US regional military and security provision. (3)

Queensland, with nine military bases, is also regarded in defence and security circles as the front-line for Australian military operations. One military facility, Lavarack, near Townsville, hosts the 3rd Combat Signals Regiment, the 141st Signal Squadron and the 11th Combat Service Support Battalion. (4) Lavarack is also situated at an angle of 175 degrees east to Kiribati, and rests on a horizontal line to Tonga, at 21 degrees south, cutting through New Caledonia, another regional country of extreme significance to US planning. The triangular arc contains the south-west Pacific, which in recent times has been a major preoccupation for the Pentagon and its Cold War diplomatic stance with China. (5)

It has not been coincidental that the US focused their recent diplomatic efforts upon the PIF: following the 2019 Australian diplomatic debacle at the forum, China moved to win the 'hearts and minds of the PICs in a win-win situation'. (6) The fact that two of the countries at the forum, Kiribati and the Solomon Islands also switched their diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China later in the same year further increased China's strategic opportunities in the mini-regions.

While the three Pacific regions remain relatively small, with a total population of about 11.9 million, the countries have large exclusive economic zones, spreading over 7.7 million square miles of ocean, making them important factors for military considerations. (7) The large number of officially independent countries also provide enhanced lobbying power in international forums, including the United Nations.

It is important, therefore, to note the three areas of the Pacific have had a long and troubled history which has included colonial subjugation, 'black-birding', and in more recent times neo-colonialism based on the exploitation of vast mineral and natural resources and cheap labour. Many US mining companies, for example, use Australian-based company facilities for regional operations and the siphoning of wealth to elsewhere; they invariably keep their share-holders happy by paying large dividends while most citizens remain in poverty.

One of the main problems facing the US and their regional allies, Australia and Japan, however, has been accessing reliable intelligence about regional developments. While Pacific countries have become aid-dependent, many of their citizens remain suspicious about western interests in their countries: many foreigners, for them, come with dubious intentions, not necessarily in their own interests. In fact, it might be noted that the US and their allies have been shown repeatedly to be blissfully ignorant of local developments, languages and customs.

Military and security considerations are also problematic: while each country across the region has its own intelligence services, they are largely over-ridden by Australian counterparts in the southern part and Japan in the north. The military and security provision is then further over-ridden by US regional facilities which rely upon Pine Gap and other Australian-based sensitive facilities. But while it remains a technological achievement to fly a surveillance satellite over an area or monitor telecommunications, it is, however, another matter to access reliable intelligence from well informed local sources at ground level, referred to in official jargon as 'ground-human'.

References in Kamala Harris's diplomatic announcement, therefore, to the PIF and that the US was planning for increased Pace Corps provision in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu, together with re-establishing the US Agency for International Development (AID) has little to do with economic development programs; they are intended for assisting the US to access reliable grass-roots intelligence and establishing networks. (8) The Peace Corps and the AID have long been hosted in US embassies overseas, and many of their programs have been highly questionable.  

And the fact that the Australian defence forces have already undertaken joint counter-insurgency training with the Tongan counterparts as part of recent RIMPAC exercise, can best be viewed as a prelude to greater and larger US-led regional military programs. (9) Counter-insurgency provision is, invariably, linked to counter-intelligence and Cold War diplomatic positions and the politics of repression.

Reading publications from the previous Cold War throw extensive light upon present US diplomatic positions: references, for example, that 'US administration believes that the political and economic interests of the United States, security and stability in the region and its allies' trust must be based on military power … the US has a wide network of military bases and installations in foreign territories … as a kind of Asian NATO', show the connection and continuation of US projections from previous to the present Cold War. (10)

These US-led defence and security developments have drawn Australia even closer to the increased likelihood of real-war scenarios. When US Indo-Pacific Co-ordinator, Kurt Campbell, stated earlier this year the that region will most likely 'witness a strategic surprise over the next year or two', it provided a serious insight into their military planning. (11)

                                         We need an independent foreign policy!


1.     Countering China's influence at the Pacific Forum, The Weekend Australian, 16-17 July 2022.
2.     See: Peters Projection, World Map, Actual Size.
3.     Pacific ahead of the curve on challenges facing Indian Ocean, Australian, 18 July 2022.
4.     See: Wikipedia – Australian Military Bases.
5.     Peter Projection, op.cit., World Map.
6.     China's strategic objectives and ambitions in the south-west Pacific, Strategic Analysis Paper, Future Directions International, 31 October 2019, pp. 3-4.
7.     The south-west Pacific and Sino-US competition, Strategic Analysis Paper, Future Directions International, 23 July 2019, pp. 1-2.
8.     Americans prepare for big Pacific push, Australian, 13 July 2022.
9.     Forces combine, Australian Government – Defence, 8 June 2022.
10.   See: Disarmament, The view from Moscow, Asia-Pacific region, Vyacheslav Bunin, Novosti (Moscow, 1988), page 9, 29, and 33.
11.   Americans prepare, Australian, op.cit., 13 July 2022.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Downer gets a cold shoulder from angry workers


Written by: B. Bill on 22 July 2022

Workers represented by the AMWU, ETU and RTBU at Downer Rail's East Preston Tram Refurbishment project downed tools as a part of protected industrial action beginning on Tuesday the 19th of July this week, Melbourne's coldest morning of the winter.

There was a near unanimous endorsement of this course of action amongst the workforce (Only 3 scabs have attempted to work on) after Downer came to the table with yet another insulting enterprise bargaining offer of less than 2 percent a year for the life of the rest of the project, with workers handing back their free travel card in return! With the project expected to last around another twelve months, it's easy to see how insulting a 2 percent offer is in the midst of Australia experiencing some of it's worst inflation conditions in living memory.

Another piece of strong motivation for the workforce was the discovery that workers employed just around the corner at the old Preston Workshops by Yarra Trams, doing essentially the same refurbishment work, are on much better wages and conditions. This would be an absurd scenario in any case, but considering that Yarra Trams is a 50/50 partnership between Downer and French operator Keolis, Downer are paying two groups of workers, literally a kilometre away from each other different rates for doing the same work!

The fact that a web of companies can be set up like this by multinationals to rip off all the people of our state through rorting of public transport contracts is repeated in our Metropolitan train system, with Metro being a similar conglomerate of MTR, a Hong Kong rail giant, Chinese construction giant John Holland and local company UGL Rail. Privatisation has allowed these multinationals to not just rip off the state in general, but as seen here, the hard working employees that keep our network rolling directly.

Downer's East Preston workforce have decided they are worth every bit as much as their counterparts down the road and are determined to keep up their picket for as long as it takes to get pay and conditions parity. They are led on the job by a committed group of delegates from all three unions involved with a great mix of experience and youth. The picket is located on an incredibly busy thoroughfare and community support has been fantastic. All are welcome to show their support to the workers in person on the picket at 211-243 Plenty Road, Preston! Please follow the AMWU Victoria facebook page for updates!

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

July 20, 1972: A sidelight on the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.


Written by: Humphrey McQueen on 20 July, 2022

The 10 o’clock Thursday lecture on twentieth-century Australian History had barely begun when one of my students, Steve Padgem, burst into the Hayden-Allen tank shouting: ‘The cops are pulling down the tent embassy! We need help to stop them!’

The class moved from thinking back on what had happened in this country, into playing our small part in shaping its future. 

Public servants returned to their offices while full-time undergraduates sorted out who could drive whom. On our way out of the building we bumped into another stuff member, Bruce Kent, who joined us and took a carload of students.
No one thought it odd that a university lecture should break up to support the Aborigines against the government. Two years earlier, the Vietnam Moratoria had closed down entire campuses in answer to the trade union movement’s call: ‘Stop Work to Stop the War.’
The Students Union provided a base for Embassy residents, somewhere to eat, to shower and to get medical support. The VW Beetle of a history lecturer on study leave became the Embassy’s diplomatic vehicle. 
In those days, the embassy comprised a couple of small tents, nothing like the buildings and marquees today. Pulling it down should have taken the police no more than a couple of minutes. Yet they had not moved in. The press was turned out in full and a photographer had darted across the National Library to document the event.
The luck of having Bruce Kent along came to the fore. Bruce at been a Rugby Blue. He suggested that we arrange ourselves around and over a two-person tent like the two sides of a scrum. Interlocking bodies would be a more effective barrier than just linking arms. 
And so it proved when the police got instructions to get it over with. Not that we lasted long against them. At the end of the melee, I found myself pulling a thin tent pole in one direction while a sergeant tugged it away. As we stared at each other, I got the sense that his heart wasn’t in it. 
There had been six arrests but no thuggery. 
Four days later, on Sunday 23rd, the confrontation could not have been more different. The Embassy residents had decided to re-erect the tents. The McMahon government responded by calling support from a couple of hundred NSW wallopers. Protestors ended up at hospital. The bruised and battered gathered that evening at the Students Union. Their trauma is caught in the documentary, Ningla A-Na! now available on SBS On Demand.
A week later, the balance of forces had shifted again. Busloads of unionists and Aborigines arrived from Sydney and Melbourne. Canberrans turned out in their hundreds to swell the march across Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. The tents went up again, though everyone realised that this was an act of defiance, not a ninety-nine year lease. 
Needless to say, McMahon lost the courage of his own lack of conviction. He had been pressured into agreeing to removing the illegal eyesore by the National Party’s Minister for the Interior, Ralph Hunt. Frightened by the backlash, McMahon now listened to Nugget Coombs and invited Embassy representatives to a discussion at Parliament House. 
The prime minister opened proceedings by telling how privileged they were to be around the Cabinet table. At which, the Aboriginals got up and sat on the floor.
See Gary Foley, Andrea Schaap and Edwina Howell (eds), The Aboriginal Tent Embassy (2014).    
Humphrey McQueen. A wide selection of his writings are downloadable from


Coming soon to a farm near you


Written by: Duncan B. on 15 July 2022

TIAA-CREF. This mouthful of letters stands for the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America and College Retirement Equities Fund. TIAA-CREF is a New York-based pension fund and is the world’s largest investor in farmland.

TIAA-CREF has over US$ 10 billion worth of agricultural and timber assets in 10 countries. Nearly half of TIAA-CREF investments are in crops, with the balance spread among wine grapes, timber, sugar cane and horticulture.

TIAA-CREF has $2 billion worth of investments in Australian agriculture, making it the third-biggest investor in Australian farm land. (Canadian pension fund PSP is first with $5 billion worth of investments and the Macquarie Bank is second with $2.5 billion.) Australia is ranked third in TIAA-CREF’s portfolio behind the US (nearly $6 billion) and Brazil (about $2 billion). 

Western Australia has the largest area of TIAA-CREF investment (186,000 ha of crops), followed by New South Wales (138,000 ha of crops and horticulture). Queensland has 37,000 ha of crops and sugar cane investments and Victoria has almost 6000 ha of crops.

We can be sure that TIAA-CREF will be looking to increase its control of Australian agriculture. 

Meanwhile, Australia’s largest salmon producer Tassal has been the subject of take-over bids from Canadian aquaculture giant Cooke Inc. In late June Tassal rejected the latest offer from Cooke, which valued the company at just over A$1 billion. 

It’s just as well.  Cooke Inc is a company based in New Brunswick, Canada. It has many subsidiaries, with operations in Canada, the US, Scotland, Spain, Chile and Uruguay. If you visit Cooke Inc’s website you will read many fine words about the Cooke Inc’s commitment to sustainable fishing and its care for the environment. Unfortunately the fine words don’t match reality.

Since 2000, Cooke Inc has been hit with fines totalling $13 million for breaches of various regulations governing the environment, occupational health and safety, government contracting and financial responsibilities. This includes nearly $11 million for environment-related breaches. Incidents have included the use of illegal pesticides and the 2017 escape of a quarter of a million salmon from poorly constructed cages in Puget Sound, Washington State USA, which led that state to ban industrial salmon. Cooke Inc is a good match for Brazilian meat giant JBS with its history of corruption.

This shows the sort of vultures that are circling Australian agriculture. Only united action by workers, farmers and other country people can stop the foreign take-over of Australia’s agriculture.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Abe and Kishi: Wannabe war criminal and crook: Class-A War criminal and crook.

 Written by: Humphrey McQueen on 13 July 2022

Shinzo Abe 

Being shot to death was too good an end for Shinzo Abe. He deserved to spend the rest of his life in Abashiri prison on the Artic Circle for his revanchist (1) strategy and corruption.

Crook: Lying about being ill, Abe resigned in 2020. In fact, he was evading prosecution for a corrupt real estate deal involving his wife, Akie, and other Rightists. In the Spring of 2018, a public servant, Masako Akagi, had killed himself. His widow got a redacted 500--page report into the scandal, details of which had been spelt out in the media. Abe escaped prosecution for what is an everyday offence in the ruling Liberal-Democratic Party. Were all corrupt politicians disbarred from office, you would have to hand the country over to the Japan Communist Party. That would never do.
Revanchist: Abe headed the now dominant faction in the LDP which dreams of reclaiming Manchuria, Korea and Formosa (2). Unable to repeat what the Meiji had achieved in East Asia between 1860 and 1945, Abe initiated the current round of counterclaims in the South China Seas when his administration bought the Senkaku rocks from their ‘owner.’ Tokyo claims they are part of the Ryukyus, which is a bit of a stretch given that the rocks are 410 kms to the south-south-west of the closest island in the Ryukyus chain. The rocks are claimed by Taipei as well as Beijing. 
Moreover, the Meiji regime had grabbed the Ryukyus, and then the rocks as terra nullius, on its way to seize Formosa in 1894-5, where they wrought havoc until the Surrender in August 1945. 
The terms of surrender restored the islands, rocks and Formosa to China – but the collapse of the crooks around Generalissimo Cash-My-Cheque (3) impelled the U.S. corporate-warfare state to hold on to them, notably its base on Okinawa. Stalemate ensued until Tokyo trailed behind Washington in recognising the Red Bandits as the one true government of China. In 1971-72, both sides agreed not to dispute the other’s claims. And there the matter disappeared beneath the waves until the warmongering Abe faction troubled the waters, backed by the U.S. as part of its determination to write the rules for East Asia. 
Nobusuke Kishi (1896-1987)
Known as ‘the Monster of Showa’ (Showa is the title of Hirohito’s reign), Kishi drove hundreds of thousands of Chinese into slave-labour, referring to them as ‘dogs.’
Back in Tokyo he served as Minister of Commerce in the Tojo government. He spent three years in Sugamo prison awaiting trial as a Class-A War Criminal. He deserved to be strung up alongside Tojo.
Emerging through the ’black mist’ of money politics, Kishi owed his rehabilitation to the founder of a trading company, Shigeru Kinoshita. Instrumental in forging the anti-Left alliance of the Liberal-Democratic Party in 1955, by 1957, he had been chosen prime minister. It was as if the U.S. had saved ‘the Butcher of Poland,’ Hans Frank from the rope to succeed Konrad Adenauer as West German Chancellor. 
Kodama: Before the war, Yoshio Kodoma had been a Foreign Affairs Information officer in the Netherlands East Indies. In the late 1930s, he was gaoled for involvement in an ultra-Right plot to massacre all the political elite. He ended the war as advisor to the prime minister. 
Anticipating arrest as a war criminal, he handed his booty from Manchuria to conservative leaders. In Sugamo awaiting trial as a Class-A War criminal, he caught up with his ally from Manchuria, Kishi. Under the Cold War ‘Reverse course’ for de-militarising of Japanese life, the Occupation set Kodama free to organise union-busting gangsters. Kodama reclaimed his fortune, and got multi-million dollars bribes from U.S. corporations, to become the ‘Shadow Shogun’. 
In 1960, Kodama and Kishi again joined forces, this time to organise a 38,000-strong force of ultra-Rightists to protect Eisenhower during a planned visit to sign a revised Japan-US treaty in July. 
Desperate to get the Bill passed, Kishi sent 500 police into the Lower House to drag out the opposition members.
The pacificists were too strong. However, one of the Kishi-Kodama’s gang assassinated the secretary-general of the Socialist Party. The murderer spared the clique from embarrassment by killing himself in police custody.
On July 14, 1960, Kishi survived stab wounds from a fellow ultra-Rightist, believed to be a tool of one of the faction leaders hoping to take the prime ministership. That was how Kishi and Co. had played politics in the 1930s. 
The cancellation of the Eisenhower visit, the largest demonstrations in Japanese history and the stench of corruption led all the LDP rival factions to unite to force Kishi to resign in disgrace. 
Not that he lost influence behind the scenes, or faced prosecution for his post-war criminality. Among his legacies was the ultra-Right faction that pushed his grandson, Abe, into the LDP leadership and kept him there as the country’s longest-serving prime minister. Like Kishi, Abe looks forward to Japan’s possessing its own nuclear arsenal. He is survived by leaders who believe that having survived two nuclear attacks, the Japanese can ‘bear the unbearable’ of a limited nuclear exchange with China – a view promoted by the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington. 
As comprador prime minister, Albanese’s first duty was to hightail it to the QUAD in Tokyo to kowtow to this crackpot realism.
(1) Revanchist: a person supporting policy designed to recover lost territory or status
(2) Formosa, now known as Taiwan. The Kuomintang occupied it in 1949, after it was defeated by forces led by the Chinese Communist Party  and of the Peoples Republic of China was founded. Taiwan remained under martial law until 1987
(3) General Chiang Kai Shek, leader of the “nationalist” Kuomintang which from 1931-1936 refused to fight the invading Japanese army, preferring to attack forces led by Chinese Communist Party. In December 1936, a young KMT general, Zhang Xueliang, kidnapped Chiang Kai Shek and forced him to reverse this policy. 
Humphrey McQueen is the author of Japan to the Rescue, Australian Security around the Indonesian Archipelago during the American Century (1991) and Tokyo World An Australian Diary (1991). In 1988 and 1989, he was Associate Professor in the Department of Social and International Relations, University of Tokyo. 


Australian soldiers training for civil conflicts


Written by: Nick G. on 12 July 2022

Two recent training exercises for Australian soldiers, focusing on urban warfare and civilian “protection and control”, serve as a reminder of the centrality of the armed forces to the state power exercised by the capitalist class.

Operating under the name of the Australian Defence Force, the impression is given that the armed forces exist for the protection of the sovereignty of the Australian nation and the defence of its population.

With the sole exception of the fight for the defence of Australia from the threat posed by the expansionist Japanese militarism of World War 2, this has never been true of the deployments of Australians in military uniform.

Every other conflict in which Australian troops have been sent overseas has been for the service of empires (British pre-WW2, US post-WW2) that have dominated the Australian economy and controlled the political discourse.

Some might point to peace-keeping interventions in East Timor, various African countries and parts of the Pacific, but these are often legitimised under United Nations authority and are more often in the nature of a policing operation than an extended military conflict.

As a special body of organised men and women, inculcated with obedience to orders, and steeped in a culture that emphasises their remoteness from civilian life, the armed forces are an essential stand-by for occasions when working class militancy and strike actions threaten the economy of the capitalists.  The same heroes that fought the Japanese were sent in to the coal mines in 1949 as scabs in order to break the miners’ strike. In 1989, the RAAF was used to break the strike by the Pilots’ Federation. Both strike-breaking actions by the armed forces were implemented by Labor governments.

If the armed forces are held in reserve as strike-breakers, they are also held in reserve for any large-scale civil disturbance that might threaten the capitalist class’s hold on power.

It has always been the view of Marxists that the armed forces are one of the “chief instruments of state power” (Lenin). Our founding Chairperson, E.F. Hill, wrote in chapter 5 of Revolution and the Australian State (1974), that “The central purpose of these armed forces is to maintain internal order, i.e. in the final analysis to suppress any revolt by the people against the ownership of Australia by the monopoly capitalists” (p. 27).

A military definition of “protection”

Throughout May and June, soldiers of the 3rd Brigade’s 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) conducted “population protection and control” exercises at a simulated urban environment at Townsville’s Line Creek Junction. 

“Population protection” sounds fine, even if “control” doesn’t.  But it must be kept in mind that “population protection” originated in the Spanish–Cuban Ten Years' War (1868-1878) when Spanish forces detained Cuban civilians in camps in order to more easily combat guerrilla forces. Over the following decades the British during the Second Boer War (1899-1902) and the Americans during the Philippine–American War (also 1899-1902) used concentration camps to “protect” civilian populations. 

The concept of “population protection” had an established military meaning before the Nazis issued the Presidential Emergency Decree of 28 February 1933 which was the basis for "Schutzhaft", that is, "protective custody" -- the power of the Gestapo to imprison people without judicial proceedings.

During the so-called “Malayan Emergency”, the defeat of the Communist guerrillas was closely linked with the re-location by the British of ethnic Chinese in new villages where they were brought under Government control and “protection”. 

During the US war of aggression against Vietnam, the US imperialists and the South Vietnamese authorities established “protected hamlets” to intern peasant villagers in an attempt to break their support for the National Liberation Front. 

The racist Northern Territory “Intervention” in Aboriginal communities was justified as a measure to “protect” children from sexual and physical abuse. It was carried out by the Army following the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act.

So, we need to remember the military definition of “protection” when we read reports of ADF personnel practicing its implementation.

Practicing population control

“Molotov cocktails, rowdy crowds and canines chomping at the bit set the scene for population protection and control (PPC) training in Townsville”, read an army media release.

The release continues, “The infantry sections integrated closely with military police assets, which provided critical arrest teams, detainee processing capabilities and working dogs to enhance security, crowd dispersion and high-value target extraction… Keeping the crowds at bay, military working dogs provide PPC teams with an additional layer of defence.’

At the same time, soldiers from 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8/9 RAR), have been training to prepare for operations in densely populated cities and urban centres. The training was conducted at Queensland’s Wide Bay Training Area, an open terrain environment (and recognised for its valuable environment and biodiversity) which also includes an urban operations training facility that simulated a small township “populated by an enemy force”. 

In a report on the training exercise, Warrant Officer Class 2 Phil Brown said 8/9 RAR had increased its focus on urban operations training in recent times, and it differed from other types of training.

“8/9 RAR has been increasing the priority of urban operations training as more training facilities become available, and as doctrine is being rewritten for the contemporary environment,” Warrant Officer Brown said.

The rewriting of military doctrine for the “contemporary environment”, and increased focus on urban operations including population “protection” and control, should serve as a warning against complacency for Australians seeking changes of substance to the inequalities and injustices of capitalism, and the subordination of Australia to imperialist dictate and influence.


Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Abortion banned – who owns US “democracy”?


No dampened spirits here as Sydney women take to the streets on July 2

Written by: Louisa L. on 7 July 2022

We’re told the US is the world’s most powerful democracy, that we need to defend “the international rule of law”. But just whose law?

Seventy percent of US people support women’s rights to abortion. Yet the Supreme Court ruled otherwise. To ensure their election to the court, some judges said abortion rights were “settled”. They lied. Yet they haven’t been sacked. 

Now US health workers in growing numbers of places face jail if they put the needs of their patients before the rules of the state. 

President Biden flaps like a dead dodo. He reasserted US international power and alliances (with Ukrainian people’s suffering a gift to US imperialism after Trump’s isolationist withdrawal). But he seems incapable of assisting US women who have lost this most basic right.

Who loses out? The poor, of course. The super-rich will still have access to safe abortions, just like they did before Roe v Wade.

Cynically using division

Capitalism has two overarching strategies to ensure its rule: deception and force.  When the economy is going well, deception works best. In crises, force comes to the fore. 

The US ruling class is hopelessly divided. Like here, a far-right corporate alliance is led by climate wreckers. It favours hard tactics and cynically uses every division it can to gather its own mass support, while dividing those who oppose it. Attacks on women’s rights to safe abortion are part of this capitalist state oppression, using patriarchy as a tool. 

It’s a way to crush people, break their spirits, make them submissive, while endlessly shoving the bullshit of “democratic rule of law” down our throats. 

Just ask the world’s Indigenous women what “democracy” they experience. Even in the “good” times, they and their families disproportionately fill and too often die in capitalist jails. Their lands become prizes for mining and gas corporation.

Poisonous patriarchal colonialism 

Ironically, given the far right stand against abortion, in 1984 Gina Rhinehart’s father, mining magnate Lang Hancock said “something should be put in the water” to sterilise “useless” “half caste” Aboriginal women. He was howled down!

In fact, well before this, young Aboriginal, migrant and disabled women had already been injected with the long-term contraceptive Depo Provera without their informed consent – despite its significant side effects – until protest stopped it.

Fast forward to 2018, when NSW passed a law to fast-track adoption. It disproportionally affects First Peoples’ young people and their families, who make up 37 per cent of all those in so-called care. It takes the cost from the government of keeping kids as young as twelve alone in motel rooms, whose birth certificates it then changes so they can’t trace their families and hands the financial cost to those who adopt them. The cost of loss to children and their families is incalculable. So much for saying “Sorry”.

Denial of abortion rights, forced sterilisation, stolen children and forced adoption; they are branches of the same poisonous patriarchal colonialism.
Disempowering grief and trauma play out through generations. But First Peoples fight back, led by women.

Profound effects

In the last weeks, women worldwide took to the streets. We not only stand in solidarity with our US sisters, we know such attacks could gradually spread to our homelands, despite recent legalisation of abortion in all states here. We fight for our own rights.

At the Sydney protest on July 2, a woman spoke of her anger that we had to be on the streets again like we were in the 1970s, to ensure women’s abortion rights were safe. 

Everything the forces of the people win in this system can be taken away. Everywhere we look, hard-fought victories within capitalism have been overturned. 
When things are going well, the capitalist class doesn’t need to exert its rule by force. Far right street gangs that keep the state’s hands clean are not the main component of open rule. The courts, the laws, the police, the military and the jails are. 

The US superpower exerts decisive control in Australia, economically, politically, socially and militarily. 

There, commentators speak openly speak of potential civil war, the troops coming from the deindustrialised US wastelands of poverty and hopelessness and from the Bible belt. The Supreme Court gives them “moral” and legal firepower. 

Women are right to warn it will eventually have profound effects here. Unity, knowledge and confidence in the masses chart the path forward.


Saturday, July 2, 2022

Walkouts and combined state-wide strikes, for NSW teachers the struggle intensifies


Written by: Seb A. on 3 July 2022

Public school and Catholic teachers in New South Wales struck for 24 hours on 30 June in a massive show of strength. 25,000 teachers rallied outside Parliament House, filling Macquarie Street with angry teachers in red and yellow t-shirts emblazoned with the campaign slogans More Than Thanks and Hear Our Voice. This is the first time public school and Catholic systemic teachers have struck together since 1996.  

NSW Teachers Federation members have now taken 24-hour state-wide strike action three times in the last six months. This is the second time Catholic systemic teacher members of the Independent Education Union have struck recently, with their recent strike of 27 May the first in eighteen years.  
The NSW Teachers Federation More Than Thanks campaign aims to achieve a salary that addressees the rising cost of living and also attracts and retains new teachers to our public education system at a time of dire teacher shortages. Schools across the state are seeing multiple classes having to be merged under “minimal supervision” arrangements, senior classes being sent to school libraries to work on HSC courses without a teacher and classes simply being unable to be covered by a teacher.  
The Department of Education ordered principals not to share data or information on how serious the shortage is with their communities.  

Teachers are also fighting against ever increasing workload over the last ten years. The Independent Education Union Hear Our Voice campaign echoes the demands of Federation. Catholic systemic teachers are facing the same difficulties as public school teachers.  
The NSW Teachers Federation demands for a two-year Award with a 7.5% increase each year and a two hour increase in time allocated for lesson preparation have until now been ignored by the NSW Government and Department of Education.  
Until now.  
A statewide  4 May strike has forced several backsteps by the government and Department. They had sought to impose a totally unacceptable new Award to be heard in the NSW Industrial Relations Commission in May. Their three-year Award offered nothing on workload and a yearly increase of 2.04%, well under the current inflation rate of 5.1%.  
The day before the 4 May industrial action, the Department Secretary Georgina Harrison emailed all NSW teachers that she had called off the arbitration on the new Award until after the state budget in June.  
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet similarly backpedalled the day after the strike with an announcement that the budget would see a revision of the public sector wages.  
Arbitration of the new Award has now been pushed back all the way to October.  
The Premier then announced ahead of the state budget handed down 21 June that public sector wages would now be capped at 3% rather than the previous 2.5%.  
Government unites teachers against it 

Waves of teacher walkouts whenever a NSW Government MP enters a school continue. They began with two in the same day on 27 April at Marsden High School and Concord High School!  
These backsteps by the government have been caused by one thing alone: the united industrial action of New South Wales teachers. They come amidst a wave of industrial action by public sector workers, emboldened to take on the government and its legislated public sector wages cap. Bus drivers, nurses, rail workers, aged care workers and the Public Service Association have all recently taken strong industrial action. The current state of play in the teachers’ More Than Thanks campaign clearly demonstrates how the demands of New South Wales workers will be won: more strong and united industrial action.  
This is what will win the More Than Thanks and Hear Our Voice campaigns and get NSW education through the most serious teacher shortage ever. And it’s also what will result in public sector workers finally smashing the wage cap completely. Forget about the upcoming NSW state election – the organised action of the working class is what gets the goods! 

Friday, July 1, 2022

Towards Understanding Russian Imperialism.


Written by: John S on 2 July 2022

Russian imperialism is certainly on the march, determinedly challenging the “unipolar” hegemony of the US and NATO.

The book “Russian Grand Strategy, in the Era of Global Power Competition” (ed. by Andrew Monaghan), is written by, and from the perspective of, western military strategists, and purports to understand Russia as a rival to the supposedly legitimate moral, political and military authority of the US/NATO. However, it still provides valuable information about Russian planning and thinking. And it does get behind the simplistic propaganda that explains all Russian aggressive actions as caused solely by the megalomanic arrogance of one man, Putin.

The authors all operate from assumptions about US/NATO legitimacy and superiority. One uses the trite cliche of the world “rules-based order”, which is just code for the legitimacy of continuing western domination. What rules? Who has made the rules, especially since 1945? In whose interests do the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation operate?

The hypocrisy of these assumptions was starkly exposed at a recent WTO meeting where the participants refused to end government subsidies for illegal fishing. Capitalist governments continue to subsidise commercial activities that they themselves have deemed illegal- so much for rules! This is in reality the anarchy of capitalism.

Overall Russian Strategy

Russia (and the book’s authors) recognise the world’s increasing instability and volatility, and the intensification of rivalry between the previously dominant US/NATO, and rising powers such as Russia and China. Russia recognises the threats to itself and China posed by NATO’s expansion of its self-declared remit. NATO has been expanding its scope beyond the North Atlantic; NATO forces helped to invade Afghanistan and to bomb Libya. The recent NATO meeting in Madrid included government leaders from Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Russia sees the necessity of increasing its economic and politico/military strength, in order to protect its own frontiers, including its self-declared Exclusive Economic Zones, and to forward its economic and expansionist interests, across the whole globe. It has developed, and continues to develop, a range of economic, military and diplomatic strategies to further these aims.

It seeks not only economic and military strength and security, but also to establish itself as a recognised Great Power.

Economic Strategy

Russia has greatly expanded its internal exploitation of natural resources, especially hydrocarbons and of grains, and their export, particularly since around 2000. It has identified trade in strategically important goods as a key to profitability and strategic advantage. Russia is the largest exporter, or one of the largest exporters, of hydrocarbons, grain, armaments and nuclear power equipment.

Despite western sanctions (pre-Ukraine), Russia’s share of world trade in these strategically-important goods grew between 2010 and 2020.

Since about 2010, Russia has been shifting its trading priorities in these goods away from Europe, toward Asia, the MENA (the Middle East and North Africa) and Africa, in particular to China, India, the Stans and the Middle East. Its purpose is to

- get around US/NATO sanctions and economic blackmail

- enhance its political and economic independence

- access new markets in the face of increased US oil and gas production and predicted reductions in hydrocarbon demand in Europe because of its climate change strategies

- exploit the anticipated continuing and increasing reliance on fossil fuels in Asia, and

- feed off the economic growth of China.

Russia has a target of ½ of its energy exports going to Asia by 2035.

Russia’s role and influence as a gas and oil exporter has increased since 2000. Its exportable surplus (ie that available for export after internal needs are met) has increased over the past decade, while that of several competitors has fallen. It has coordinated with OPEC to avoid oil gluts and keep prices high. The dramatic increase in US shale oil production has complicated the world market, but US shale oil production costs are much higher than for Russian oil, so Russia is likely to outperform the US.

There is intense competition in the world gas market with Australia, Qatar and the US rivalling Russia. However, again Russian production costs are lower, and transport is easier through the system of pipelines to Europe. How this plays out during and after the Ukraine war remains to be seen. Russian Arctic gas production is in the process of ramping up dramatically, and Russia will be able to readily access growing Asian markets.

Russia has similar aims for its export of all parts of the nuclear fuel cycle, from involvement in uranium extraction through to reprocessing and disposal of spent nuclear fuel, targeting the same types of countries.

Armaments are exported, often on very favourable terms, to make money but also to cultivate friendly relations and influence with foreign governments. Despite sanctions, Russia is the world’s second-largest exporter after the USA, particularly to Asia (China, India and Vietnam are major customers), with MENA the second-largest area customer (especially Algeria, Egypt and Iran). This trade is likely to become more contested as rivals such as China, Turkey and India grow.

Russian policy is to maximise both its agricultural autarky(self-reliance) and the export of grains. In 2019, Russian food exports surpassed the value of all other Russian exports, excluding hydrocarbons. The main recipients were Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and North Africa. The diversification of trading partners is well underway. Russia is now the world’s largest wheat exporter. Russian wheat is cheaper to produce than its major competitors. Wheat exports overtook those of the US and Canada in 2017. With Australian wheat yields estimated to be falling due to the extra heat caused by climate change (by 27% between 1990 and 2017, according to the CSIRO as cited in this book) and US production flatlining, Russia is moving into new markets especially in South-East Asia. The objective of dramatically increasing grain exports (planned to double between 2017 and 2024) is specifically to make money and to exercise political influence and power.

State Monopoly Capitalism

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a feeding frenzy of (mainly) ex-officials grabbing and privatising as much public property as possible. While public services collapsed and the population sank into greater and greater poverty, a few oligarchs, employing mafiosi extortion, ran a chaotic economy that saw Russian national wealth and power decline.

Since 2005, the state has adopted a strategy of nominating “national champions”, singling out leading enterprises in each industry for nationalisation or close governmental control. These are privileged with complete or largely monopoly status in their industry. These include:

- The oil companies Yukos and Sibneft amalgamated into the Rosneft oil and Gazprom gas monopolies

- Rostec, which owns some 700 military equipment enterprises

- United Shipbuilding Corp which owns most Russian shipyards

- Rosatom, which has a virtual monopoly over all nuclear power, weapons and exports

- The VTB bank, which took control of most Russian grain marketing and transport in 2019.

This monopolisation provides massive profits to a very narrow ruling capitalist class and their bureaucrat partners. It also represents a marriage between economic and political power.

This state of state monopoly capitalism has enabled Russia to set, and make progress in, planned strategic economic, political and military objectives.

In the 1990’s, Russia was weak, chaotic and on the defensive.

Since 2000, Russia has been attempting to integrate its security and economic objectives and actions. Despite many ups and downs, Russia has made some progress, especially since 2015, in developing coherent strategies for coordinated economic and military development.

This progress has been rather stymied by the inertia of existing power and institutional structures, a degree of economic stagnation (despite export successes) falling living standards and decreasing popular support for, and trust in, people’s material prospects.

Overall, Russia has progressed its integrated strategic outlook and planning, with some successful implementation, (probably with greater effect than western nations) but is also restricted by the typical vagaries and chaos that are essential characteristics of a capitalist system.

Military and Geographical Strategies


Russia has invested heavily in mapping, especially the world’s oceans and sea routes.

It developed its own satellite mapping system in advance of the US, with receiving stations in Brazil, Nicaragua, South Africa and Antarctica. The information and detailed cartography are to be utilised for commercial and military purposes. It has recently been utilised in military activities in Syria, for example.
The Northern Sea Route

Russia is attaching huge importance to securing control of the Northern Sea Route (NSR), between the Russian mainland and the Arctic.

It has been angling for complete and exclusive control for security reasons. Since 2014, it has increasingly restricted access to other nations’ shipping and requires escort by Russian ice-breakers, despite US and NATO objections. It has constructed huge dual-purpose ports across the NSR- ports that double as naval bases and export points particularly for gas.

It sees the NSR as a key export corridor to Asia. It has built a huge ice-breaker fleet, including the most powerful ship in the world (with more of them to come). Production has begun on even bigger ones. These, and the impact of ocean-warming and the melting of the Arctic ice, are predicted to make the NSR navigable all year round, hugely increasing Russia’s export capacity to Asia.


Russia, like other imperialist powers, is engaged in frantic expansion and development of its military capacities.

It has analysed the continuing development of military technology, which, over thousands of years, has gone through several technological stages:

- Edged weapons

 - Gunpowder

- Rifled weapons

- Automatic weaponry

- Nuclear

The current sixth stage comprises precision-guided weapons, the weaponisation of information technology (cyber warfare), including propaganda and psychological warfare, and the supposedly decreasing importance of ground forces. This stage is evidenced by the facts that, in World War 2, it typically took 4,000 air sorties and 9,000 bombs to destroy a bridge; in Vietnam the US used 200 bombs; but in Yugoslavia in 1999, it took one aircraft firing one cruise missile. Drones have since taken this process further (though with frequently imprecise killings of innocent civilians). The current imperialist military orthodoxy assumes that the mass destruction of enemy infrastructure makes the taking and occupation of enemy territory unnecessary as a primary strategy.

The imperialists envisage a seventh generation of “ecological” weapons disrupting natural ecosystems, involving, for example, public health, environment, and water supplies, becoming operational sometime around 2050 - yet another reason to get rid of imperialism ASAP.

Current Russian military technology is constantly developing, and in some cases, is well ahead of the US/NATO, eg the S400 surface-to-air missile system, currently being purchased by NATO member, Turkey.

Russia’s emphasis on the importance of trade necessitates a focus on the world’s oceans, trade routes and factors affecting shipping.

Naval power has assumed top importance.

In 2015, Russia determined to develop a presence in all oceans, as a key part of its “geo-economic” rivalry with other powers. It prioritised the “near seas” -the Atlantic, Baltic, Mediterranean, Black and Caspian Seas; and, of course, the Arctic. It is also projecting itself into the South Atlantic, the Indian, and even the Antarctic Oceans.

The Russian navy has shown the flag in countries such as India, Indonesia and the Philippines, which are all target countries for increased Russian exports, especially hydrocarbons.

Planning documents cite the intensification of “great power” rivalries, and Russia intends to maintain and increase its access to resources and markets, and to protect its trade routes across the whole globe. It has embarked on a program of naval modernisation, modernisation of naval and merchant ports (often the same thing), huge increases in naval and merchant shipping capacities, and the development of human capital, in areas of training, safety and salaries. A 2019 document identified weaknesses to be overcome:

- An inadequate industrial base

- An outdated civilian nuclear fleet

- Low levels of maritime transportation

- The poor state of the civilian fishing fleet

In 2019, Russia adopted a whole-of -government approach to advance its maritime strength, involving the ministries of Defence, Economic Development, Transportation, Natural Resources, Foreign Affairs, Education and Agriculture.

Since 2008, port capacity has doubled, and turnover is increasing, often at the expense of neighbouring rivals. In the Baltic, gas pipelines and new transportation hubs for oil, fertiliser, coal and grain have taken much business from the ports of the Baltic states. Similarly, Russian ports in the Crimea have undermined business in Georgian and Ukrainian ports.

Russian imperialist expansion and aggressiveness has all the hallmarks of any imperialist power. It ploughs huge resources into constantly expanding economic and military capacity and activity, in order to advance and protect its access to resources and markets, and to contest any threat or competition. It endeavours to plan and act strategically, but is always hamstrung by the vagaries and chaos of capitalist financing, economic ups and downs, and internal ecopolitical rivalry.

When it acts, it is typically brutal and clumsy. Witness the attack on the Ukraine, designed to warn and intimidate the US/NATO from extending its reach east toward and around Russia. It has shot itself in the foot, as Sweden and Finland have now opted to join NATO, and Ukraine and Moldova are being fast-tracked for EU membership, and Georgia’s chances of the same appear to be improving.

How the attack on Ukraine will play out, economically and militarily, remains to be seen. It has certainly revealed weaknesses in Russian military effectiveness. It also exposed the typical callous brutality of imperialist powers as they bomb indiscriminately to try to cower a population into submission. Also problematic will be how and how much Russia can get around US/EU sanctions, continue to export massive amounts of gas and oil to Europe, and develop and access Asian markets.

Russia’s banking on Asian markets for hydrocarbons holding up as climate change forces all, but especially, European markets to transition away from fossil fuels, may also prove either completely illusory, or of only short-term benefit.

The intensification of world imperialist rivalry, of which Russian eco-military policy and development is an important part, is leading to more, and more dangerous, conflict, often via proxies such as Ukraine. The US is desperate to maintain its sole superpower status and its position as the world’s prime exploiter. It is lining up its allies and minions like Australia to back it militarily. Many other nations are breaking through and away from this control and are carving out their own slices of economic activity and exploitation. The drums of war are beating more and more loudly.