Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Preliminary proposals on the attitude and position of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist activists in the current mass struggle ...


Above: Shanghai protesters hold blank sheets of paper (white is the colour of mourning) with a sign that reads: “Urumqi – May the dead rest in peace”.        Photo: Flickr

Written by: Red China website on 29 November 2022

(We have translated this article from the officially sanctioned Red China website. The views are those of the Chinese author “Voyage One”. It is important to break through translation barriers and learn what we can from sources that appear trustworthy. A Chinese source has provided this additional comment: "Regarding to the covid policy, the Chinese government is, at least at the moment, still enforcing the so called "dynamic zero covid" policy, though there are signs that might indicate a relax in restrictions. In Australia, the people managed to push back the COVIDSAFE app that tracks user's movement and ended check-in at public indoor settings when it is no longer necessary for public health purposes. In contrast, China is still keeping its health code with a traffic light system and there is no sign of its ending. There have been cases of applying a yellow code for population control, so that potential "trouble makers" for the state, despite not being a close contact of a positive case, will not be able to freely commute, which is quite concerning." Our confidence lies with the Chinese working class – Eds.)

Preliminary proposals on the attitude and position of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist activists in the current mass struggle ...

November 28 2022    关于马列毛积极分子在当前群众斗争中态度和立场的初步建议 ...-红色中国网 (redchinacn.org)

Author: Voyage One

Dear comrades, in the past few days, large-scale protests and demonstrations against the reactionary lockdown policy of the bourgeois authorities have broken out in major cities in the country. After discussing with some comrades of the editorial department, I would like to put forward some preliminary suggestions on the current situation of struggle. Due to the rapid development of the situation, it is too late to consult with all comrades of the editorial department and comrades of alternate editors, and if there are errors and deficiencies in the suggestions, all comrade editors and netizens are welcome to criticize and revise their opinions.

On the 25th of this month, large-scale mass protests broke out in Urumqi against the reactionary lockdown policy of the bourgeois authorities and demanded the return to normal life. In the following two days, mass demonstrations broke out in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Chengdu, Lanzhou and other cities. According to preliminary information, the scale of demonstrations in various localities has ranged from several hundred to several thousand people, and has in fact formed a nationwide climax of mass struggle. In the mass struggles everywhere, part of them are led by petty-bourgeois liberals and have attracted the coverage and attention of the media of the imperialist countries.

Since the beginning of the Corona virus epidemic in 2020, the bourgeois authorities have repeatedly implemented the so-called "lockdown" policy of illegally restricting the freedom of travel of the people throughout the country, which has brought great difficulties to the daily life of the broad masses of the people, and caused a considerable number of unnecessary deaths in some areas for various reasons. In the name of epidemic prevention, the bourgeois authorities have forced the people to use the so-called "health code" in a vain attempt to exercise all-round surveillance over political activists and the general public, and to suppress all possible activities against exploitation and oppression at any time. After enduring years of hardship and the fact that the fatality rate of the Corona virus epidemic has dropped significantly, the struggle of the broad masses of the people against the lockdown is completely legitimate and deserves our support.

(Life in a cage: Shanghai June 2022      Photo Runen Liu      Flickr)

However, the large participation of petty-bourgeois liberals and the de facto leadership of the demonstrations in some areas make the current situation of struggle somewhat complicated. China does not have a revolutionary situation at present and not for the next few years. In the climax of this mass struggle, in addition to the participation of the broad masses of labouring people in Urumqi and other places, in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other so-called "first-line" cities of capitalist development, the demonstrations were mainly attended by petty-bourgeois liberals or students influenced by petty-bourgeois liberals (under the current political conditions, the student movement is actually a petty-bourgeois political movement). Because petty-bourgeois liberals are separated from the broad masses of the working people, and because the upsurge of workers' struggle has not yet arrived, the present upsurge of mass struggle does not have the conditions for developing into a revolutionary situation.

In the normal period of capitalist development, because the bourgeoisie controls all the traditional media and most of the social media, because part of the bourgeoisie is bound to collude with and use the petty-bourgeois liberals, and because international imperialism will inevitably fan the flames and raise the flag for China's petty-bourgeois liberals in order to interfere with the purpose of China's class struggle, it is still inevitable that petty-bourgeois liberals will play a certain role in the mass struggle and even steal the leadership of the mass movement in a certain period and in some places. This situation can only take place after the advent of the revolutionary situation, with the development of the struggle, and especially with the growing realisation of the broad masses of the working masses in the actual struggle that even their most basic and fundamental interests cannot be satisfied in capitalism.

As a semi-peripheral capitalist country with export manufacturing as its main function, the development of Chinese capitalism will inevitably create an increasingly powerful proletariat and semi-proletarian contingent, and the Chinese proletariat and semi-proletariat will inevitably put forward more and more extensive economic and political demands; and the Chinese bourgeoisie will inevitably not be able to obtain sufficient surplus value to maintain capital accumulation on a considerable scale and speed on the one hand, and to satisfy the minimum economic and political demands of the proletariat and other working masses on the other. This is the basic contradiction of Chinese capitalism.

The hardship and suffering caused to the masses by the Covid-19 epidemic, and the reactionary anti-epidemic policy of the bourgeoisie, has further exacerbated the contradictions of Chinese capitalism, but is not a decisive factor in the inevitable failure to resolve and overcome the contradictions of Chinese capitalism. There is also disagreement within the bourgeoisie as to the current epidemic prevention policy and the exact measures to be taken in monitoring and suppressing the people.

The development of the basic contradictions of capitalism in China is leading to the accelerated depletion of surplus labour in rural areas. The exhaustion of this surplus labour force to a certain extent will inevitably lead to a fundamental change in the balance of forces between the two major classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. This change in the balance of forces will eventually make the struggle of the proletariat against bourgeois exploitation more and more widespread and more powerful, until the general collapse of capitalist labour discipline will take place on a national scale. The struggle of the workers of Foxconn in Henan Province in the past period and the experience of their initial victories are an exercise in the general collapse of capitalist labour discipline in the future. The struggle of Foxconn workers, regardless of content and form, is different from the struggle of the masses everywhere to simply resist the lockdown, and even more different from the performance demonstration struggle led by liberal activists.

China's capitalist accumulation is inseparable from the brutal exploitation of hundreds of millions of workers providing cheap labour. Once capitalist labour discipline generally collapses, the capitalist economy can no longer be sustained; once the capitalist accumulation order generally collapses, the rule of the bourgeoisie can no longer be maintained. At that time, the logic of actual struggle will inevitably lead to a rapid political awakening of hundreds of millions of working people, thus creating conditions for the comprehensive and universal integration of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist activists with the working masses, and the short-term and immediate interests of the working masses will converge with their long-term and fundamental interests, so that the struggle of the working masses for the most basic and minimum interests will lead them to socialism.

Until the future revolutionary situation comes, the basic task of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist activists remains to make ideological and organizational preparations, to accumulate strength, to vigorously develop and build various informal Marxist-Leninist-Maoist groups, and to temper themselves in mass struggles.

With regard to the current climax of the mass struggle, we would like to preliminarily put forward the following suggestions, which we invite all comrades to discuss and criticize:

One. Think calmly, observe closely, and strive to understand the various classes and political factions participating in the current mass struggle and their role in the struggle.

Two. Comrades who have the capacity should actively collect information on all aspects of this mass struggle, paying particular attention to understanding the stance and attitude of their relatives and friends around them towards the struggle in various places.

Three. In principle, do not participate in any demonstrations that are indeed led by liberals, but there is no rush to criticize liberal leadership and its political slogans in public. Criticism of liberal positions and tactics can be carried out as appropriate when the struggle has come to an end and the position and attitude of the general public is more certain.

Four. If some Marxist-Leninist-Maoist activists themselves have the conditions and after observation confirm that some struggles are indeed spontaneous struggles of the masses against the bourgeois reactionary blockade policy or for the legitimate interests of other masses, even if liberals participate (but as long as they are not led by liberals), Marxist-Leninist-Maoist activists can participate in such struggles. The purpose of participation is not to guide or "lead" the masses, nor to put forward political slogans, but to gain experience and temper.

Five. It is recommended that progressive websites that exist openly in the country immediately begin to adjust the previous propaganda policy on epidemic prevention policies, stop supporting the zero-elimination policy of the bourgeois authorities, respond to the demands of the people in an appropriate way under the conditions of domestic class struggle, and cooperate with the people's struggle against lockdown.

Six. Soldiers are impermanent, and water is impermanent. Class struggle is a complex and sharp social phenomenon, which must be subject to historical necessity and cannot but also carry considerable contingency. The climax of this mass struggle is still developing, and although it will not develop into a revolutionary situation, it may still deal a heavy blow to, and shake the current bourgeois rule and accelerate the development of, the contradictions of Chinese capitalism. All Marxist-Leninist-Maoist activists must be energetic and ready to fight, adjust their understanding and judgment at any time in light of the development of the struggle situation, and be prepared to participate in even more arduous and greater battles in accordance with the needs of the development of the actual struggle.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Digicel and imperialist rivalry in the South Pacific

(Above: "My favorite South Pacific Cell Phone Company" by mjpeacecorps is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.)

Written by: (Contributed) on 28 November 2022

Moves by the US and Japan to both contribute $73 million toward Australian Telstra's acquisition of Digicel Pacific, has formalised a highly geo-strategic telecommunications system, linked to US-led triangular regional military and security provision. While there was talk of economic development, the Telstra system is more concerned with formal control over two sensitive areas of the Pacific in the name of 'US interests'.

Telstra took initial control of Digicel Pacific last year with US$1.3 billion made available by the then Morrison coalition government through Export Finance Australia. (1) The moves were taken following an interest in Digicel Pacific expressed by China Mobile, to prevent their control of telecommunications networks in the two sensitive areas of the South and West Pacific.

Numerous intelligence assessments of the problem have tended to emphasise China's rapid economic development has also included diplomatic moves to break out of the US-led Island Chain Conundrum, and into the wider Oceania area. (2) The moves have been assessed as a serious challenge for traditional US hegemonic and diplomatic positions.

In recent times a great deal of Cold War hostile diplomacy has been played-out in the two sensitive areas; a recent US government study has also found the US was no longer the dominant power in the Pacific with China becoming a major competitor. (3) The US military intelligence assessments of the problem also included a recommendation that the US should 'further rely on traditional allies, including Japan and Australia'. (4)

The US-led diplomacy has also included Japan shedding its post-war pacifist constitution and being elevated within the Indo-Pacific Strategy to a northern regional hub for 'US interests' in co-operation with Australia in the south. (5) It should, therefore, come as no surprise to find the three countries operating together to control Digicel Pacific.

While the Telstra acquisition of Digicel Pacific included reference to economic development, the real reasoning was based in military and security provision. An official government statement from Canberra, for example, noted the Digicel Pacific network provided 'reliable and high-quality telecommunications networks … which are … critical to support the prosperity of our digital economies. This investment will improve security and performance and deliver affordable mobile voice and data services in the Pacific'. (6)

Elsewhere, however, reference was openly made to the acquisition being done on the basis of 'making sure China doesn't get a foothold in the communications infrastructure of the Pacific islands nations'. (7) And conducted along diplomatic positions to 'strengthen relationships with the region'. (8)

The moves were also preceded by the Biden presidential administration announcing US$810 million for development assistance for twelve Pacific countries, 'as part of a new economic and security compact aimed at keeping them out of China's growing sphere of influence', together with the appointment of a US special envoy for the Pacific to deal with military and security matters with 'US interests'. (9) The US has also expanded its diplomatic footprint in the region by increasing their presence from six to nine embassies.

Neo-colonialism, however, remains a major consideration: many of the Pacific islands are rich in minerals and natural resources. Many of the mining companies and related industries remain based in Australia.

In recent times US-led regional defence and security provision has also been re-organised into the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) which has involved the US, Japan, India and Australia forming a 'Quad' with the incorporation of lower-level partners as spokes across the region, to contain and encircle China's influence. (10) Remote Pacific islands now appear set to join the IPS, if not as full members, as participants.

With these developments, the Cold War has come to the South and West Pacific countries with a vengeance; it has been noted, for example, 'on espionage, the appetite for our intelligence services to keep a closer eye on their citizens – and those of the PRC – is clear'. (11) And, 'all three countries would now collaborate more frequently … as geo-political competition with China intensifies'. (12)

These are indeed worrying developments; there would appear ever intention, by the White House and Pentagon, of escalating already hostile diplomatic positions into those of 'real war scenarios'.

                                        We need an independent foreign policy!


1.     Japan, US back Telstra's $1.6 billion Pacific telco buy, Australian, 17 November 2022;and, The US and Japan are backing Telstra's purchase, GIZMODO., 16 November 2022.
2.     Breaking out of the Island Chains Conundrum, China's Strategic Objectives and Ambitions in the South-West Pacific, Strategic Analysis Paper, Future Directions International, 31 October 2019; see also, FDI Papers, Strategic Analysis: 23 July 2019, 10 October 2019.
3.     Study: US no longer dominant power in the Pacific, Paul D. Shinkman, Information Clearing House, 22 August 2022.
4.     Ibid.
5.     The reasons behind Washington's push for GSOMIA., Hankyoreh, 12 November 2019.
6.     Australian, op.cit., 17 November 2022.     
7.     GIZMODO., op.cit., 16 November 2022.
8.     Ibid.
9.     US pact to put check on China in Pacific, Australian, 30 September 2022.
10.   See: Hankyoreh., op.cit., 12 November 2019.
11.   US, Japan back Australia's Digicel Pacific purchase, ABC News, 17 November 2022.
12.   Ibid.


Sunday, November 27, 2022

Victorian Election Result No Surprise - Labor Re-elected As Workers' Struggle Rises


(Photo: Dan Andrews Facebook page)

Written by: Ned K. on 27 November 2022

During the evening of the Victorian State Election on Saturday 26 November, I watched the results of the count on ABC TV. By 10.30pm it was pretty clear that the Andrews Labor Government would prevail for another term. 

For someone like myself living outside Victoria, this came as no surprise. In the lead up to the election, the big business media tried its best to get people to vote the Andrews Government out due to the long lockdowns of the Covid-19 pandemic period. Big business was hoping that its preferred parliamentary Party, the Liberal Party would then become the new Victorian State Government.

From the ABC coverage of the election vote counting, it looked like Labor first preference votes declined but not in the right seats to throw them out of office, while the Liberal Party embarrassed their big business backers by making no parliamentary gains at all.

The reduced first preference votes for Labor in traditionally strong Labor voting areas in working class suburbs highlights the limitations of Labor in office and limitations of parliament as an institution of capitalism in solving the problems of the working people.

On the eve of the election, the Andrews Government was aware of the unrest among its traditional voter base. It announced that it would fund the establishment of up to 50 new Early Childhood Learning Centres and conduct a review into public school cleaning standards. It also reminded voters of some of its other initiatives on issues such as wage theft.

All these frantic measures by the Andrews Government took place against a background of an increasing emphasis by progressive elements of the union movement in organising workers "on the ground" outside parliament, building working class power in workplaces and the communities. 

The Andrews Government in its third term of office will be put to the test by the further development of this growing and powerful grass roots movement of organized workers.

More experience of a Labor Government in office will be a good thing from two perspectives. Firstly, it will show more workers that parliament, even with a left leaning ALP in government is not the answer to their problems. Secondly, it will force the Andrews Government to make more concessions to workers' demands. Any concessions made will be the result of the increased level of struggle by workers outside parliament.


Even if the “Great White” iron fist comes, Foxconn workers will win!

(Above: Police in PPE beating a striking Foxconn worker)

Written by: Red China website on 27 November 2022 

Chinese workers are engaging in mass struggles across many provinces. In Henan province, the Taiwanese factory Foxconn, which manufactures Apple iPhones, saw strikes break out in October over managements heavy-handed methods to deal with a Corona virus outbreak, and disputes over pay and conditions. 

The factory, in the provincial capital Zhengzhou, employs around 200,000 workers. Struggles began when Foxconn imposed a “closed-loop” system last month under which staff had to live and work on-site, isolated from the outside world. The system sparked anger over strict quarantine rules, poor conditions, and Foxconn’s inability to stamp out outbreaks.

Management responded by refusing pay increases and recruiting outside labour with promises of substantial bonuses which never materialised. 

They also brought in police and security forces in white personal protective equipment, leading strikers to brand them the “Great White” iron fist.

We have translated the following article from a post on the Red China website.


Even if the "Great White" iron fist comes, Foxconn workers will win
2022-11-23 23:23| Posted by: 远航一号| Views: 1695| Comments: 78|Originally Posted by: "Patriotic masses"

Summary: There are now several objective conditions conducive to workers' struggle: the dynamic clearing of the authorities, the degree of organisation of Foxconn workers, and the situation of class struggle in Henan. The quality of the working class in Henan is improving and the strength of the Henan bourgeoisie is weak. We believe that the Foxconn workers will be victorious.
Foxconn workers will win despite the "Great White"iron fist.
Patriotic masses, 2022.11.23

According to past experience, if the employer does not find enough workers, the final result is that the employer compromises and pays.

Lou Yangsheng, Secretary of the Henan Provincial Party Committee, recently went to Foxconn. What Lou means is that to ensure production, he must either use iron fists or pay money. If the cost-benefit of the iron fist is not as high as offering money, then offer money, and vice versa for the iron fist. The cost benefit depends on whether the workers can be bullied or not. If the workers can be replaced by scabs at any time, the workers will be easily defeated. But now there are several objective conditions that are conducive to the struggle of the workers: the dynamic clearing of the authorities, the organization of Foxconn workers, the situation of class struggle in Henan. 

In terms of specific struggles, due to the epidemic in Zhengzhou, it is impossible for Lou Yangsheng to open up a large scale to promote the flow of labour between regions. It will be difficult for Foxconn management to find enough unemployed workers to replace the strikers. It is very difficult for Foxconn's management to effectively break down the workers now, unless they completely liberalize within a week and pull in tens of thousands of outside workers by bus. Some time ago Foxconn was caught in a labour shortage, and even civil servants and veterans were assigned to the factory. There was a place in the US in the last century where, at that time, the steel workers were struggling against the employer .  The steel workers were all veterans who had demobilised and returned from World War II, and because they had been on the battlefield, they were highly organized and fierce. This time the Foxconn workers are not less organised. From the videos it can also be seen that the workers have a division of labour, and when in conflict with the violent authorities, part of the workers are responsible for spreading the word and some for attacking.

In terms of the situation of class struggle in Henan province. Henan Province is inland and in recent years it has been a province with a high incidence of workers' movements, having overtaken Guangdong as "the province with the happiest working life in China" (the number of workers' collective actions is the highest in the country), the experience of the working class in Henan is increasing, and the education of the proletariat, especially the young proletariat, has been significantly improved by the internal volume of education in Henan and Hebei. The quality of the working class in Henan has been improving. In addition, the development of capitalism in Henan is not as good as that in coastal provinces, and the economic surplus held by the local government in Henan is obviously less than along the coast (Henan’s financial revenue is far lower than that of coastal provinces), the grassroots repressive forces are more passive, factional strife is more scrupulous, the repressive methods are more informal and uncontrollable. Once the repression starts, there is a risk of triggering a local social contradiction. The bourgeoisie in Henan is therefore weak, and this is reflected in the videos where we can see the workers overwhelmingly outnumbering the police who have come to control the scene.

(Above: List of the Top 10 collective actions of workers in selected provinces. The provinces are, from left, Fujian, Hubei, Sichuan, Zhejiang, Hunan, Sha’anxi, Jiangsu, Shandong, Guangdong, Henan.)

In addition to the favourable conditions mentioned above, there is another one that could be detrimental to workers: the issue of out-of-province people.

Foxconn is trying to split the masses by dealing with workers in two parts: those from inside and outside the province, but this disadvantage seems to be a secondary one at the moment, not a major aspect.

To sum up, we think that Foxconn workers will win.

What Ukraine and Taiwan say about Australia’s future

(Above: Menzies banned the Communist Party of Australia in World War 2 and led the referendum struggle to ban it again in 1951.)


Written by: Leo A. on 21 November 2022

In Mid-March of this year, less than a month after the start of its ongoing war against the Russian Federation, the Ukrainian government banned 11 opposition parties due to alleged “links to Russia”. 

Some publications have erroneously described this event as a ban specifically targeted at left-wing opposition, but while not all of these were leftist parties (and some may indeed have had ties to the Russian government), this is a very clear example of a bourgeois state using war as an excuse to silence opposition. 

More recently in late August, the Zelensky regime ratified Law 5371, removing workers’ right to bargain and unionise, destroying workers’ rights and working conditions. The new implementation of such blatant attacks on the Ukrainian working class could have big implications for Australia, as workers here already face an ever-escalating raft of laws designed to disorganise and disempower them.

It is well-known that every socialist revolution is ignited by some form of crisis, and that historically, war has often acted as such a crisis capable of provoking the working class into revolution. The most obvious example of this is how the Russian Empire’s participation in the First World War was a major contributing factor to the Bolshevik revolution. The ruling class is just as aware of this as we are. It is also well-known that the Australian working class currently has little to no control over Australian foreign policy, and that if the United States were to enter a major war, we’d be one of the first countries to get dragged in, as we always are. 

In fact, the Communist Party was banned by the government in Australia during World War Two, and a 1951 referendum to ban it again was narrowly defeated.  Members have been charged with treason. Such actions would intensify if war directly involved China, even though the Australian communist movement is too weak to pose more than a potential threat to capitalism at present.

Early August gave us a very loud reminder of how real the threat of such a conflict is. It’s no secret that the United States is firmly opposed to the PRC and the geopolitical opposition it presents to American global near-hegemony. The United States is already using against China most if not all of the tactics it used against the Soviet Union; however it seems clear by now that in spite of China abandoning socialism decades ago in a manner somewhat similar to the Soviet Union, such tactics simply aren’t working. The longer this continues without any major change to the global situation, the more the United States will consider war to be the only remaining option to accomplish its objectives. 

Events in Taiwan over the last six months demonstrate that the US may already be approaching this conclusion – the US clearly hoped that China would make a miscalculation that escalates the situation, in order to justify US actions to “defend” the island. The Communist Party of the Philippines has already reached this same conclusion about the United States’ motives. 

If such an escalation were to take place, Australia would undoubtedly be one of the first nations drawn into the conflict, against the interests of the Australian working class. 

To most everyday people, actions being taken against the working class in Ukraine may seem like they could only ever happen in a far-off country, but in reality what is happening there may well be attempted here if we get dragged into war with China or another major power. This is not to say that all opposition to our bourgeois regime will be crushed, leaving no hope for the Australian working class, but it does mean that we must be prepared for whatever actions are attempted against us.

So long as we understand the threats we could be facing, and know how to respond to such threats, we can prevail no matter what, and we can win. We will win.


Friday, November 18, 2022

Imperialist alliances strengthen in Asia-Pacific


(Above: PM visits Japan - Day 2 by UK Prime Minister CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.)

Written by: Ali K. on 19 November 2022

Recent developments suggest that the Japan and the UK are set to embark on a pact which aims to strengthen military co-operation and deter what they call the rising threat that China poses. This deal, known as the “Reciprocal Access Agreement” will remove the bureaucracy associated with military exercises and operations between the two countries and is also a significant symbolic agreement given the high levels of tension between the Americas and countries in the Pacific. 

The past two years have seen both the US and Japan increasing military efforts to prepare for a potential conflict between China and Taiwan. Recent statements from the UK show us that Rishi Sunak is no less hawkish than his predecessors – the Japanese Foreign Minister stated that both Japanese PM Kishida and Sunak had pledged to accelerate the consultation of a Reciprocal Access Agreement. What this shows us is that the American imperialist bloc is widening: no longer are Asian partnerships restricted to just the US, but other US allies can serve as deployment bases for other partners. It is clearly not “democracy” that the US and their allies are vying for in the Asia-Pacific but the strengthening of military imperialist relations and a monopoly on the extraction of value from the manufacturing hubs of the Global South.   

What does this mean for Australia?   

The UK and the US are not alone in their warmongering. In January this year, the Japan-Australia RAA agreement was signed in the name of bilateral security and defence cooperation under the Morrison government. The Australia-Japan Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation was also recently signed, again in response to a Chinese threat. The declaration for the original RAA which was signed suggests cooperation between Japan and Australia so as to “resist economic coercion and disinformation”, a dig at China’s rise in the Indo-Pacific. That the strengthening of Australia’s ties with Japan happened with the US and Japan engaging in joint military exercises is no coincidence. It points to a clear agenda of the Australian ruling class to participate in US and UK led imperialism, beholden to these ties by a history of economic cooperation and direct investment in key sectors of the economy. That the Joint Declaration was signed under the government of a Prime Minister to the “left” of the Labor Party ultimately points to a bipartisan commitment to be the running lapdog of US imperialism.   

Along with their military efforts, Japan is securing economic ties in Australian industry. This week, Madeleine King, the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia is visiting Japan to welcome further investments in Australian energy and resources. In 2020, Japan was Australia’s second-largest source of foreign investment, approximating $132 billion. Far from a healthy partnership as members of the ruling class may suggest, investments in Australian industry increase the stakes that Japan has in directing the production and distribution of key LNG ports. It is necessary to look past the appearance of foreign direct investment and into its actual content – which in Australia’s case is a greater reliance on investment from neighbouring countries to fund domestic programs.   

There is a solution – nationalising key industries will ensure a delinking from international finance capital and funding for key domestic programs like education, health and the well-being of all Australians.   

What we need is an independent, working-class and socialist agenda!  

Monday, November 14, 2022

Spy ships and underwater drones


(Above: Anduril underwater drone      Source: Anduril website)

Written by: (Contributed) on 15 November 2022

Hidden in recent budget papers, reference to a sensitive defence project involving the acquisition of a ship to form part of a network of sensors and drones, has carried all the hallmarks of clandestine operations. It also indicated US control of the sensor network, although Australian tax-payers have footed the $155 million for the vessel. There has been no comment from the present Albanese government; the acquisition originated in government and military planning during the previous Morrison government.

Recent federal budget papers provided the required authorisation for the acquisition of a new $155 million spy ship to form part of a newly established network of underwater sensors 'to detect foreign submarines and autonomous underwater vehicles'. (1) The use of underwater sensors is nothing new: its origins go back decades through the application of science and technology to warfare techniques. (2) The funding of the vessel was, however, given very little publicity or reference to the newly established nature of the network as ‘the US navy's primary means of submarine detection.’ Described as ‘one of its most closely guarded secrets', it is evidence of a highly sophisticated modern defence and security system. (3)

Submarines are used by governments primarily for intelligence-gathering, possessing the ability to move close to adversaries to monitor areas of interest. Their geographical range together with specific information about sophisticated equipment is rarely openly publicised. The US uses Australian military bases for regional operations, which host sensitive intelligence facilities; they remain notoriously secretive about the extent of their involvement in Australia. Information elsewhere contained in research papers, media releases and defence publications, however, reveals a great deal about their research and development program.

A published list of four major Australian universities researching the 'scale and test creation of magnetic field sensing optical fibres to use for remote undersea surveillance …(which) was of great interest to both Australian and US defence forces', in a mainstream Australian media outlet, has left little to the imagination about the role of academia in conjunction with the US-led military-industrial complex. (4)

There has also been reference to the manufacturing of three prototype autonomous undersea vehicles (XL – UAV), by US company Anduril Australia, capable of conducting missions along the sea floor at depths of up to 6,000 metres for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks. Their role is to 'have really sophisticated sensor processing on the vehicle so it can do things, like analyse the signature of the propulsion system, sonar reflections and so on to identify a vessel of interest'. This provides clear evidence of the nature of research and development. (5)  
References in an official defence media release revealed a carefully-worded statement about the ship carrying 'small teams … working with un-crewed remote and autonomous systems', indicating its use with drone warfare. (6) The sensor system would appear strongly linked to intelligence provision, with reference in budget papers to 'integration of undersea warfare and surveillance systems'. (7)

The sensor network would also appear to have 'fixed undersea rays … placed strategically … at key choke points on our approaches', which together with references to 'remote' would suggest off-shore sitings particularly in areas of traditional interest, including the South Pacific countries, revealing both range and capacity of the sensor system. (8)

Recent US-led criticism of moves by the Sogavare government in the Solomon Islands to establish a defence agreement with China, therefore, may have to be viewed in this light. The nature of the US-led diplomatic hostility toward the Sogavare government would appear out of usual context toward the small South Pacific country. The secrecy surrounding the Australian Defence Force construction of an Eastern Border Outpost on the remote Temotu province, however, might provide a suitable explanation for the US diplomatic position.

Recent high-level diplomatic initiatives with PNG, likewise, may have also followed similar intelligence assessments of the US regarding their sensor network as vulnerable. Moves by Canberra to follow US regional military planning and establish a Defence Co-operation Agreement with PNG, and upgrade Milne Bay facilities would also appear part of the main plan. The Milne Bay facilities face the sensitive and strategic Coral Bay and Solomon Sea.

Moves by the US to also establish an Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative and updating of their Island Chain Theory of regional demarcation across the Indian Ocean has also carried a similar indication of their new sensor network being used in a wider context of defence and security provision.

The spy ship acquisition followed directives issued with the Australian Defence 2020 Force Structure Plan, which requested investment in the sensor network and recent tenders have revealed the system will use 'fixed, mobile and deployable acoustic rays designed to detect diesel- and nuclear-powered submarines operating in Australia's maritime approaches, and to provide tactical cueing to Australian Defence Force and allied anti-submarine warfare forces'. (9) It should be noted that while the acquisition of the spy ship has been the legacy of the previous coalition government in Canberra and their overtly pro-US policies, Labor’s Defence Minister Richard Marles is strongly supportive if US imperialism, having been mentored in that role by former Labor leader Kim Beazley.   

While the US have maintained a tight-lipped approach with their government and military planning, Australian tax-payers have, nevertheless, been left to foot the bill:

                                           We need an independent foreign policy!

1.     Ship to help detect underwater hostile activity given go-ahead, Australian, 28 October 2022.
2.     See: Integrated Undersea Surveillance System (IUSS), Official US Government Website.
3.     Australian, op.cit., 28 October 2022.
4.     Co-operating brings results, Defence Research – Special Report, Australian, 30 April 2021.
5.     Autonomous undersea vehicles must be smart, Defence Report, Australian, 27 October 2022.
6.     Australian, op.cit., 28 October 2022.
7.     Ibid.
8.     Ibid.
9.     Ibid.

SA Unions’ Strong Support For First Nations Voice

(Above: Uluru Statement of the Heart       Photo by BrownHoneyAnt CC BY-SA 4.0)

 Written by: Ned K. on 14 November 2022

On Friday 11 November, SA Unions held its annual Organizing Conference. The theme for the Conference was "Building A Stronger Movement, Together". 

"Together" did not only refer to members of all Unions building a stronger workers’ movement but a movement committed to campaign for a "Yes" vote in next year's Referendum to see a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Australian Constitution and the formation of a Makarrata Commission for Treaty and Truth telling.

Guest speaker at the Conference was Lara Watson, National Indigenous Officer of the ACTU. She said that despite strong Union and community support for the Uluru Statement From The Heart, nobody should have illusions about the determination of the most reactionary forces in Australia to run a successful "No" vote campaign leading up to the Referendum to be held in late 2023.

She said a grass roots campaign by Unions on the scale of Your Rights At Work, Worth Fighting For to topple the Howard Government in 2007 was possible to ensure a "Yes" vote for the Referendum. 

Timing of the SA Unions Conference on 11 November, the day in 1975 that the Whitlam Government was dismissed by the agent of the British Crown and US Intelligence forces had significance in relation to the coming Referendum and the Uluru Statement From The Heart.

The Whitlam Government's dismissal was partly due to its mere consideration of the closing of the US military base, Pine Gap, also in Central Australia as is Uluru. First Nations People were also well aware of the danger of Pine Gap to their very existence as it was sure to be a nuclear target in any Australian Government support for a US instigated war against another big power, such as China.

On 11 November 1983, First Nations women led 700 women to Pine Gap gates and had 11 minutes silence for Remembrance Day. This was followed by a two week, women's only Peace Camp called Women For Survival. Several women were arrested for "trespassing" on to the Base.

The action of First Nations women in protests at Pine Gap in years gone by show that The Uluru Statement From The Heart and the coming Referendum for a First Nations Voice demonstrate their understanding of the need for Australian Governments to not only support the First Nations Voice but also to remove US military bases like Pine Gap which place First Nations land and very existence under threat. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Make the Rich Pay...and then get rid of them!


Written by: Nick G. on 10 November 2022

In 2013, in response to people’s demands to know how much – or how little -tax was being paid by businesses on revenue from sales for products and services in Australia, the Australian Tax Office began publishing an annual spreadsheet of entity (companies) income and taxation.

Such disclosures had been fought for years by the Business Council of Australia, by the huge multinational corporations that were notorious as tax avoiders, and their supporters in the Liberal and National Parties.

The figures really only dealt with the tip of the iceberg: in 2013, only companies with a sales revenue of $100 million or more were subject to scrutiny.

The Liberal argued that for privately-owned companies (those without shareholders), the data was an invasion of privacy and the Turnbull government exempted them in November 2015. The exemption didn’t last long, but when they were put back into the scheme the threshold was raised to $200 million, thus limiting the number of companies involved.

The thresholds currently stand at $100 million or more for Australian public and foreign-owned corporate tax entities, and $200 million or more for Australian-owned resident private companies.

In other words, we still don’t know in general what capitalist entities earning income in Australia are paying, or avoiding, in terms of their taxation requirements.

What we do know is that around one-third of those entities that are the biggest companies in Australia (most of these are foreign-owned) are still not paying tax, and that this figure of one-third has been quite consistent since the ATO began publishing the data in 2013.

As a matter of record, the latest data set, for the 2020-21 financial year, shows that 2521 companies had income above the current thresholds, but 801, or 32%, paid no tax.

US multinational Chevron Australia Holdings Pty Ltd is not included in the 32% because, on Australian earnings of $9,163,203,498 it paid a massive $30! 

Two other Chevron entities, Chevron Australia Downstream Holdings Pty Ltd (income of $ 1,720,618,927) and Chevron Australia Products Pty Limited (income of $ 1,599,962,958) paid no tax. We suggest these latter two chip in $10 each to help out their unfortunate sibling.

Spare a thought too for Nature's Care Holdings Pty Ltd which, on an income of $ 107,981,823 could not see its way clear of having to pay $1 in tax.  Surely their accountants could have avoided that for them. The company has nothing to do with environmentalism but is a manufacturer of vitamins which in 2018 was taken over by a Chinese state-backed consortium China Jianyin Investment Ltd (JIC) and private equity fund Tamar Alliance owned by Chinese firms Citic Pacific Ltd and Dah Chong Hong Holdings 1828.HK.

Years ago, our Party advanced the tactical slogan “Make the Rich Pay”.  It was based on the premise that the rich weren’t paying enough for the social programs of the people.  It now transpires that the rich constantly strive, and often successfully, to pay nothing at all, year after year.

As an immediate demand, “Make the Rich Pay….something, anything” still resonates.

However, the days when we continue to tolerate the rich at all are drawing to a close.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Privatisation and the Cost of Living


(Above:Woodside Flame      Photo: by Jim Bendon CC BY-SA 2.0).

Written by: Jed J. on 8 November 2022

Many Australian workers are struggling to make ends meet. What they earn is not keeping up with the steep rise in the cost of living, especially the rise in the cost of electricity and gas which is predicated to go through the roof in the near future.

Electricity and gas are not commodities that consumers can choose to buy or not buy. They are essential. Life without them in this day and age is unimaginable.

Businesses are also feeling the pinch. The higher charges for power could send many small businesses to the wall and the consequences for the economy could be catastrophic. 

The provision of these necessities was once under government control. That was before privatisation. Since then, like many other essentials such as education, health and public transport they have become commodities.

We used to live in a society. Now we live in a market.

Since privatisation the availability of these essential services has been in the hands of private companies whose main aim is to maximise profits. They do this by reducing their costs to the minimum and charging consumers the maximum they can get.

Now consumers are not just paying for the provision of these necessities they are also contributing to the massive profits the energy companies are making.

Due to the shortages of gas and electricity in the world today these energy companies are profiteering from the situation at the expense of households and businesses who are struggling to pay their bills.

Clearly in the minds of these capitalist enterprises the need to make profits is all that matters. If they can make higher level of profits by selling Australian gas overseas, they do so even though that means that Australian consumers will pay more.

They treat consumers as cash cows to be milked for every dollar they can get.

In a report recently released by the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analyses and reported on the ABC website, the extent of energy companies’ profiteering is exposed. Journalist Michael West is red hot summing up solutions to this grand theft. 

The report shows that between 2014-2021 households and businesses were charged $10 billion more than the “normal” level of profit.

According to the report the justifiable level of profit for this period would have been about $15 billion.

However, the regulator approved charges to customers that allowed for $25 billion to be milked from the consumers.

Some network companies in the Eastern States and South Australia, the report claims, gained super profits by persistently charging too much for network charges which make up to half of their customers’ bills.

This shows how their local customers have been funding super profits for the last eight years.

Why should Australian resources developed by Australian labour benefit only the local and overseas capitalist class?

Why shouldn’t Australian workers who are, after all, responsible for turning raw materials into products, benefit by paying less not more for electricity and gas?

Without the input of their labour there would be no products to sell.

The new Labor government can and should take steps to ensure that all Australians benefit from the money made from selling Australian resources. But will they do it? 

Currently they are “talking with business”, inviting a hungry fox into the henhouse. 

Renationalise the energy sector and taking over the development and distribution of electricity and gas on a cost recovery basis is the way to go.

This couldn’t happen through parliament alone. There has to be a mass movement led by the organised working class to demand that all Australians, not just a few greedy local and foreign capitalists, benefit from the country’s natural resources. 



Friday, November 4, 2022

Book Review: Rent


Written by: Duncan B and Alex M on 5 November 2022

Joe Collins, the author of Rent (Polity Press) is a lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. Rent is the sixth in a series titled What Is Political Economy? The other titles in the series are Work, Austerity, Money, Value and Consumption

When we think of rent we usually think of it as the amount of money paid regularly to a land-owner for the use of their landed property especially for farming or housing. This was the original meaning of rent and the one that affects many Australians trying to keep a roof over their heads. We constantly read of the problems of renters such as the shortage of affordable rental properties and constantly rising rents.

In this book Collins traces the history of rent from mediaeval times to the present day. He also traces economic theories of rent from pre-capitalist times, through economists such as the Physiocrats to classical economists such as Adam Smith, Ricardo and J S Mill. 

Collins discusses the work of Karl Marx who made extensive investigations into rent. The results of his investigations can be found in Capital Volume III. Marx saw rent as a relationship between classes, in this case the landowners and the capitalists, in the same way as wages are a relationship between the workers and the capitalists.

Collins continues his tracing of rent theory from classical economic theory through to what he calls mainstream rent theory and to modern political economy.

Under the influence of these theories the meaning of rent has broadened to include economic rent which means a component of the price paid to the owner of a factor of production above the amount necessary to maintain that factor in its current use, due to the monopoly position of the owner or the scarcity of that factor. With this scenario there can be many different types of payments which can be classed as rents.

Collins also discusses rent-seeking behaviour. He says (p46), “firms lobbying the state to enact laws or to implement regimes of regulation that manipulate the degree of competition in markets where they operate are considered to be engaging in rent-seeking behaviour.”

Rent-seeking occurs in all capitalist countries, (we can all think of plenty of examples in Australia!), but is very common in countries where the level of corruption in the government and public service is much higher than in Australia.

Perhaps due to the strictures of a word limit (the book is 116 pages in total) Collins states that it is not the objective of the book to ”advocate on behalf of a preferred view” of rent. Yet intriguingly he mentions that “here is one – the SoP framework – but it is of no concern in this current study to stake claims as to its superiority” (p.89). All very well, but then why mention it if you are not going to at least outline why such an approach to rent compares more favourably with others? Sometimes the brevity of Collins’ text makes for a somewhat challenging read, but this does not detract from his timely and important intervention into this area of political economy.

Anyone who has tried to study the concept of rent and its role in the economy will find this book useful in helping them to gain a better understanding of rent.