Written by: Revolutionary Youth Communist League (Bolshevik) on 28 June 2023
The extraordinary events surrounding private military contractor Prigozhin’s march on Moscow, and subsequent intervention by Belarus, are best explained by Russians themselves. Here we reprint a statement from the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Youth Communist League (Bolsheviks) written during the march on Moscow, with an update following the Belarus deal - eds.
Statement of the Central Committee of RKSM(b) on the rebellion of PMC Wagner 25.06.2023
On June 23, 2023, the owner of the Wagner private military company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, declared a rebellion and moved his troops into the territory of the Russian Federation. The Russian President Vladimir Putin called these actions «a treason» and «a stab in the back», while drawing analogies with the actions of the Bolsheviks in 1917. On the morning of June 24, the Wagner troops controlled key facilities in Rostov-on-Don and Voronezh. Fighting is already under way near Voronezh, there are casualties. A counter-terrorist operation regime has been declared in Moscow and a number of other regions of Russia. The situation is changing very quickly.
1. What happened, regardless of the outcome, is a natural consequence of a deep political crisis that has developed within the Russian ruling class amid a stalemate in the war in Ukraine.
2. As we have often emphasised (https://rksmb.org/rksmb/official/revkomsomol-protiv-imperialisticheskogo-peredela-ukrainy/), the war in Ukraine is not the defence of the Ukrainian people from the «Moscow barbarians» and is not the defence of the people of Donbass from the «Ukrofascists», but the clash of the imperialist interests of the West, on the one hand, and Russia, on the other. Russia gets tacit support in this confrontation from a group of countries united behind Chinese capital – a fact which proves the global rather than regional nature of this conflict.
3. From the very beginning, the so-called «special military operation» did not run as was planned by the Russian leaders. Russia has entered the war weakened.
A particular reason for the weakness of Russia is the inconsistency of the Russian bourgeoisie, which until recently tried to negotiate with its «Western partners» on the division of the spheres of influence at the expense of Donbass inhabitants’ lives. We must remember that it was Russia that stopped the offensive of the Donbass militias against the reactionary regime that arose as a result of a right-wing coup in Kiev in 2014.
was Russia that pushed through the Minsk agreements, which left the Donbass defenceless against the Armed Forces of Ukraine. As a result, the ruling elite of Russia itself allowed Western imperialism to prepare its Ukrainian puppets for war as best as possible. The price of such Kremlin’s policy is thousands and thousands of ruined lives of working people on both sides.
The fundamental reason for the weakness of Russia is the economic and social policy that the Russian bourgeoisie has been steadily pursuing for all the decades since the fall of the USSR. The Yeltsin and Putin eras differ from each other significantly in the external features (rhetoric, symbols, foreign policy statements, etc.).
Since the beginning of the 21st century, the ruling class of Russia has tried and is still trying to cover its goals up with patriotic rhetoric and references to the Great Patriotic War – sacred to the Soviet people. However, at its core, this is the same power of capital that parasitises on the natural and human resources of Russia.
The bourgeoisie under Putin is the same class that was formed as a result of the controlled dismantling of the Soviet economy, which is a symbiosis of the repressive machine created by Yeltsin and the oligarchy. Under both Yeltsin and Putin the impoverishment and even extinction of the Russian people, the degradation of the education system, the plunder of natural resources, and the destruction of industry (including the military) – all continue.
Suffice it to say that even in 2023, the bankruptcy of Russian military enterprises continued. The Kremlin propagandists are trying to drape the real state of affairs with bravura rhetoric, but the fact remains: Putin is Yeltsin’s faithful disciple in the robbery and destruction of our Motherland. And this, of course, could not but lead to the deplorable state of most public institutions, including the Armed Forces.
4. The Wagner private military company emerged as a tool of Russian imperialism that effectively serves its foreign interests in cases where the official use of military force would be impossible. The basis of Wagner was the Slavic Corps PMC, created in 2013 by Russian businessmen allegedly to «protect fields and oil pipelines» in Syria, in fact – to participate in the war in this country.
Later, PMC Wagner defended the interests of Russian imperialism in Libya and the Central African Republic. PMC Wagner consists of the well-equipped and trained mercenaries. Consequently, when the course of the war has revealed the weakness and low motivation of the Russian military personnel, the ruling regime was forced to resort to professional mercenaries.
PMC Wagner has become one of the most combat-ready units on the Russian side, which fuelled the ambitions of its owner. It is worth noting that the very name of this PMC, its «Blood, Honour, Motherland» motto, the repeated public statements of their representatives testify to the ultra-right views of the founders and many common soldiers.
We emphasise that PMC Wagner was created by the Russian ruling class and was its tool for a long time, while Yevgeny Prigozhin himself is a big businessman who personally knows Vladimir Putin and has certain privileges thanks to this acquaintance.
5. Getting involved in a military adventure, the Russian bourgeoisie still showed inconsistency, tried to manoeuvre and looked for ways to reach “an agreement”. This can be evidenced by the numerous statements about «red lines» that did not entail any consequences and the absence of strikes against the military-political leadership of the enemy. The price of such a policy is fruitless sacrifices. All this did not go unnoticed.
1. The unfortunate course of the war in Ukraine for Russia has strengthened the centrifugal tendencies within the ruling class. One part of the Russian oligarchs hastened to gain distance from the Kremlin and show loyalty to the West. The other part still follows the president. The third part is dissatisfied with the Kremlin’s cautious, half-hearted policy and wants to see drastic measures.
2. The rebellion of Prigozhin’s PMC reflects the interests of a certain group of the bourgeoisie, which is aimed at emergency measures for the sake of a decisive turning point in the war. This requires the immediate establishment of a fascist dictatorship, i.e. direct terrorist dictatorship of the most chauvinistic and reactionary group of big financial capital.
3. At the same time, the behaviour of Prigozhin himself, his criticism of the goals and methods of the so-called “special operation” make us suggest that this group is also ready to participate in bargaining with the West and perhaps offer them more favourable terms for a compromise. It is significant that the rebellion is taking place amid an unprecedented increase of NATO military presence along the western border of Russia and amid constant threats to use the nuclear weapons.
4. However, the current ruling regime in Russia is also moving towards fascism, which we have repeatedly warned about. In other words, both sides are interested in establishing a fascist dictatorship. The only difference is who, when and by what means will lead Russia to the final establishment of fascism – be it fascism «from above» established by the current regime, clumsy and burdened by a corrupt bureaucratic apparatus, or fascism with the elements of anarchy performed by PMC thugs.
5. Thus, the military conflict that has begun in Russia is neither a «civil war» nor a «revolution», but rather a struggle between two reactionary groups of the Russian bourgeoisie striving for fascism. Both sides of this conflict bring suffering and death to the working people. Both sides, with all their contradictions, are much closer to each other than to the peoples of Russia.
6. The labour movement in the country is still weak. The communists are also weak and fragmented. That ideological, political, organisational work on consolidation, which is carried out by the RKSM(b) together with other communist groups, is still far from complete.
7. The key tasks to the communists in these conditions are:
In any case, do not support any of the groupings of the bourgeoisie that have grappled with each other. To explain the pernicious effects of such support to the workers and the youth. To explain that, regardless of the winner in this fight, the result for ordinary citizens will be worsening social security and further crackdown.
To strengthen the ties with the working class and with the military on an everyday basis. To spread the propaganda among them tirelessly, to explain the class goals and the meaning of what is happening. In the course of the propaganda work, to exercise caution, taking into account that now, more than ever, the Russian Federation is very close to the conditions of a fascist dictatorship.
To promote self-organisation of the workers in factories, to promote the creation of newly-made workers’ organisations before they are outlawed. In the areas that are in the war zone or nearby, to encourage the workers to form self-defence units to maintain order.
The crucial class battles are yet to come.
The Central Committee of the RKSM(b) 24.06.2023
Update as for the evening of June 24, 2023
The media report that the Kremlin and PMC Wagner have reached an agreement through the mediation of Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus. Prigozhin retroactively called his actions a «march of justice» and announced that he would turn troops back. The rocket attack on the Wagner camps, which allegedly took place on the evening of June 23, has already been forgotten.
Does this ever mean that the story is over? No. The contradictions that became the source of this rebellion have not been eliminated. The reached agreements are only a fragile truce before a new struggle between various factions of the ruling class of Russia. When and in what form they will proceed – we do not know, but the reasons for what happened we have stated above.
The only way to put an end to Russia’s slide into a national catastrophe is a socialist revolution led by a strong, organised, ideologically armed working class.
Readers of the Business section of the Australian newspaper in early June, had the opportunity of viewing a photograph of a CEO of a major corporate organisation wearing a garish shirt in a demonstrative pose. The individual concerned was warning those in attendance at the Morgan Stanley Australia Summit in Sydney about AI; billed as an AI guru, she insisted it was the 'greatest innovation of our time'. (1)
AI was attributed with the ability to raise global productivity, lower prices, solve inflation and so on. No practical evidence was provided. Information about social and economic matters is one thing, for the corporate classes to change the system which has served them well, is something rather different, particularly in an era of price / profit inflation.
The announcement followed a warning two days earlier that 'AI systems will be powerful enough to kill many humans within two year … the technology could eventually lead to the extinction of humanity', from a joint statement of 350 so-called AI 'experts'. (2) Remember Dr. Strangelove? He would appear to still exist in the minds of the 'experts'; fear of being controlled by machines, gadgetry and external forces is also symptomatic of deeper, darker psychological states, and mental illness.
And, why would the corporate sector want to kill the goose which has laid the golden egg?
Such people have a vested interest in the maintenance of capitalism; it continues to provide their social class with ever increasing profits. As opposed to the working class.
The statements carry a familiar ring reminiscent of the millennium bug, where all the world's computers were going to suddenly fail with the new century beginning. The apocalypse never happened, it was basically rubbish, although quite typical of the paranoid mind-set and right-wing political thinking of the Australian business-classes.
A recent military publication, however, has provided a short, concise account of the development of AI. It began with the problem of human processing of data, and the ability of Artificial Intelligence to produce findings in a few seconds. The development of the internet has produced a situation whereby huge streams of data appear every minute. Research conducted at the University of Melbourne, in conjunction with the Australian Defence Forces have already developed an AI platform 'designed to gather and analyse key intelligence sourced from social media sites'. (3)
The report also listed what was regarded as important criteria for analysis: time of disaster, military attack, mass uprising and political unrest. It also included reference to 'Real-time Analytics Platform for Interactive Data-mining, to deliver the required analysis in real-time, that, 'cluster networks of tweets, users, keywords and topics, and deep dives into discussions on particular topics or between persons of interest, quickly zeroing in on significant data'. (4) Such is the nature of class and state power.
The development of AI would appear to be based on an upgraded Echelon system, which was introduced into telecommunications networks toward the end of the last century. Concentrating upon computer programs designed to be activated by keywords, the US-led system has the ability to intercept all 'telephone calls, faxes, telexes, internet messages, and other electronic communications'. (5) It has been noted the Echelon system 'has created an awesome spying capacity for the US, allowing it to monitor continuously most of the world's communications targeting civilian as well as military traffic'. (6) Knowledge is power. As the US well know.
The Echelon system is based at Fort Meade, Maryland, and is central to a vast, global network of military facilities; it is also based on the UKUSA military alliance which has been upgraded to also include Australia, through Pine Gap, with the AUKUS. (7) The facilities have a capacity 'that tap directly into land-based telecommunications networks'. (8)
Advances made to internet communications during the last decade enabled to US and their intelligence services to shift attention to 'finding ways to exploit the global reach of Google, Microsoft, Venizon and other US technological powers', for intelligence-gathering and analysis. (9) Spies, and intelligence agents, have no need to tail persons of interest around, for hours, days, weeks and months: they can access required intelligence data from an office with the required search-engine, with relative ease.
The US, furthermore, have provided no reference to the sovereignty of Australia or civil liberties of its inhabitants. In fact, it would appear Australians are regarded as targets for the repressive technology, if, and when, required. We have few, if any, safeguards, to protect us from the abuses of power. The whole AI matter remains confined to the question of control: the US and their supporters around the world fear competition. It can be viewed from public statements issued by the British government which has begun a global effort to regulate AI as Westminster begins planning for a summit 'designed to set international rules for the technology that … Prime Minister Rishi Sunak … acknowledges pose an existential threat to humanity'. (10)
An official statement from Westminster about the issue was both measured and circumspect, although typical of Yes, Minister, and devoid of meaningful content. British Security Minister, Ted Tugendhat. for example, did not accept what he referred to as 'exaggerated fears of AI destroying humanity', but accepted it would be difficult regulating and managing the problem.
Tugendhat then drew attention to business culture and directed them to recognise 'their responsibilities'. (11) But, after forty years of economic rationalism with de-regulation, privatisation and liberalisation, business culture accounts for very little, if measured against ethical and moral considerations: does Tugendhat really think business organisations, in competition with each other, are not going to use AI for ulterior motives and self-advancement? The race-to-the-bottom mentality became standard business practice, with all which that entails, decades ago. The uses and abuses of power merge in a grey fug.
Data-mining has also been used by Australian government departments in recent times: a reference to the Australian Bureau of Statistics included their access to banks and vast troves of transaction data streams, together with similar requests from supermarkets for their transaction data about customers. (12) So much for confidentiality with our financial transactions.
CentreLink, likewise, has also been noted as gleaning information about clients from social media. The government department, however, has shown no inclination, whatsoever, toward using AI to establish benefit entitlements for those without work, or pension entitlements for retired workers. In comparison to their haste to implement the Robodebt program, which was designed specifically to penalise the poorest and most vulnerable sections of Australian society, the position of CentreLink is clearly a disgrace.
These developments have far-reaching implications for progressive political organisations and trade-unions as they have already been used to strengthen class and state power, welded by the business-classes. It is not difficult to find everyday examples. The corporate sector appears curiously reluctant, for example, to use AI for dealing with the problem of wage-theft in Australia. But then, why would they? They have shown, on numerous occasions, to have a vested interest in initially denying it, then attempting to cover it over without suitable explanation when successfully challenged by trade-unions.
US-led AI has become a standard practice in everyday society, the question of who controls it, and who is accountable, nevertheless, remains:
We need an independent foreign policy!
1. Greatest innovation ever: Ai to slash prices, guru insists, Australian, 9 June 2023. 2. We have two years to save the world, warns Ai chief, Australian, 7 June 2023. 3. Fast, on-the-ground military intelligence gleaned from social media, thanks to Ai, Defence Research, Australian, 5 April 2023. 4. Ibid. 5. Echelon, Espionage Spies and Secrets, Richard M. Bennett, (London, 2002), pp. 89-93. 6. Ibid. 7. Ibid. 8. Ibid. 9. See: The intelligence coup of the century, The Washington Post, 11 February 2020. 10. British PM to host Ai summit, Australian, 9 June 2023. 11. Brits join Canberra in fight to stay ahead of China on Ai, Western Security, The Weekend Australian, 10-11 June 2023; and, UN chief proposes code to tackle 'grave digital harm', Australian, 14 June 2023. 12. ABS dives deep for data on the economy, Australian, 7 May 2020.
photo by fabrikasimf at freepik.com
Written by: (Contributed) on 26 June 2023
A recent statement from a well-placed defence and security specialist and colleague in Canberra has provided a fascinating insight into US-led Cold War neo-colonial diplomatic relations between Australia and countries across the Pacific. Related information elsewhere has shown how the business-led lobby expect government subsidies to pursue neo-colonial ambitions, while returning very little, if anything, back to the Australian economy to benefit the working class, or Pacific Islanders
A statement issued by a senior fellow at the Strategic Analysis Australia business intelligence organisation and an 'expert associate' with the National Security College together with a colleague identified only as an independent consultant have revealed a major Cold War drama being played out in the Pacific, with the US expecting Australia to take a leading role. The seventy-centimetre column statement, issued through mainstream media, was couched in diplomatic jargon and insisted Australia 'should encourage Pacific leaders to establish a regional deep seabed mining agreement'. (1) Even the title of the statement left little to the imagination: it was expected Australia push a pro-US diplomatic line on Pacific Island nations. (2)
The statement was, nevertheless, highly critical of Australian governments for having 'remained silent … but now is the time for us to stop dithering on seabed mining … doing or saying nothing is no longer a credible policy option'. (3) The statement that 'Australia should be at the forefront of this emerging industry in our neighbourhood', is little other than a strengthening of the existing neo-colonial position toward the Pacific Islands. (4)
No concern for Pacific Islands’ sovereignty
Elsewhere in the statement, equally dismissive positions are taken against Pacific Island nations and their sovereignty, as 'independent' countries: it advocated the countries should adopt 'surveillance capacity and policies that reflect regional and national development strategies and meet environmental standards'. (5) No reference or acknowledgement was given to the role of the Pacific Islands Forum. The regional representative body has long-standing policies which collectively favour member countries.
It is not difficult to establish the role of the US behind this diplomatic position. Those with experience of walking the corridors of power in both Canberra and Washington have recently tabled a report highlighting the importance and significance of critical minerals: they took care to not refer to the deposits in the Pacific, although suggested the matter should be 'a key pillar of the AUKUS alliance … and … the solution is for AUKUS and its partners to engage Australia as the spearhead of mineral diversification'. (6) Further reference to Australia being responsible for 'bankrolling their development through offtake agreements and use strategic stockpiles', is, perhaps, a perfect example of the use of loaded yet ambiguous political spin designed to cover over references to neo-colonialism and exploitation of the Pacific nations. (7) It, nevertheless, carries hallmarks of 'Yes, Minister!'
The diplomatic move to establish a deep-sea mining agreement has followed similar moves to create an Indo-Pacific Charter, centred on the so-called Quad and including South Korea, Indonesia, New Zealand and the Philippines together with other South Pacific States. (8)
The US-led Quad seeks to dictate terms and references to 'allies' for the defence and security of 'US interests'. It is not difficult to establish what their recent preoccupation has been.
Exclusive Economic Zones: Chinese and US-Taiwanese rivalry
Many of the Pacific Islands have large Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) with deep-sea deposits of rare minerals including, manganese, cobalt, nickel, gold, silver, copper and a wide range of rare earths, used for research and development of semi-conductors and AI.
Before September, 2019, Pacific nations had combined EEZs distributed almost equally between those countries which were diplomatically linked to Taiwan and those with China. Following the Solomon Islands and Kiribati switching diplomatic allegiance to China, however, the distribution of EEZs is now about eighty per cent in favour of China and only twenty per cent with Taiwan. (9) The EEZs tend to be disproportionate to size of landmass.
The matter arising is further evidence of the rapidly changing balance of regional forces across the Pacific: the rise of China has been assessed as a threat to US hegemony. A leaked US-led intelligence assessment has also thrown light upon the increasingly paranoid mind-set of the Pentagon: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi took a regional diplomatic tour of Pacific Islands last year. He was clearly tracked by US-led surveillance systems which noted the countries visited and those with whom he met. Concerns about secrecy were raised after Wang Yi had a four-hour visit to Kiribati capital, Tarawa, indicating the US felt particularly uncomfortable about a high-ranking Chinese government official visiting the tiny Pacific Island state of Kiribati. (10)
Many of the Pacific EEZs are considered by the US as highly strategic: Kiribati, for example, is located in a sensitive area on the equator, including the Gilbert Islands, Phoenix Islands and Line Islands, which are used for satellite tracking and surveillance. (11)
Fears exist, in Washington and the Pentagon, that China will use more favourable diplomacy in the region to gain access to mineral deposits. In fact, a recent statement from the US-backed Australian Strategic Policy Institute included reference to Beijing already having established a commanding lead over Western nations, 'even after combining the research and capabilities of the AUKUS nations'. (12)
US and China seek Pacific minerals
In recent times China has increased its diplomatic position in the Pacific through aid programs with an emphasis upon economic development. In fact, the main explanation about the diplomatic switch made by the Solomon Islands and Kiribati was that both countries wanted assistance for economic development: most Pacific Islands have fast-growing populations but lack basic infrastructure and employment. (13)
Against this backcloth of rising diplomatic rivalry between the US and China, lies the so-called 'alliance' whereby Washington and the Pentagon rely upon Australia as a regional policeman for 'US interests'. The former right-wing Morrison coalition government in Canberra allocated $2 billion toward various critical minerals projects, and the present Albanese government has furthered the funding by promising $1 billion for 'value-add in resources'. (14)
This funding, however, is primarily for the corporate sector to further its neo-colonial hold upon the Pacific countries for their mineral deposits.
Australian and Pacific peoples pay for private corporations to exploit sea-bed wealth.
Two important factors emerge: the developments are another continuation of the neo-colonial tradition which has been foisted upon the Pacific countries from elsewhere, with little benefit for the islanders themselves; ordinary Australian people, likewise, are expected to fund the corporate sector who then provide dividends for shareholders. The working class, in the countries concerned, see few benefits from these financial transactions: those 'benefits' which do arise, remain highly questionable and rarely straightforward.
The diplomatic moves have also taken place with little reference or publicity for the stance taken by President Surangel Whipps Jnr of Palau, who raised concerns last year about the 'potential impact of deep-sea mining on ocean biodiversity', and called for a regional moratorium together with a petition for a ten year pause on deep-sea mining while further research is conducted. (15)
It is not difficult to establish why Pacific Islanders remain apprehensive about mining and mineral exploration: the devastation of whole areas of PNG with the OK Tedi mining project in the Western Province and the lasting legacy of Bougainville, provide evidence of the callous position of Australian diplomacy. There are numerous other examples, elsewhere.
It has also been noted that, 'Australia has remained silent', over the deep-sea mining initiatives: diplomatic silence, however, is usually deafening. They do not want discourse, for obvious reasons.
The funding of the various projects, nevertheless, would appear to indicate Canberra has already given tacit support for deep-sea mining in the Pacific. The corporate sector and US mining companies registered in Australia also have their snouts already well into the trough, as bludgers sneaking a free lunch for themselves and their shareholders.
The Australian working class as tax-payers, however, have been left to foot the bill, while Pacific Islanders will be left to clean up the rubbish and environmental hazards: the fact many of the Islanders rely upon fishing for their livelihoods has not even been given any publicity, whatsoever.
This whole shoddy Cold War drama is a disgrace! It does not do Australia proud.
1. Our chance to take charge of the seabed mining legislation, Australian, 19 June 2023. 2. Ibid. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid. 6. See: Beazley, Mining vital for AUKUS., Australian, 22 June 2023, which is a review of a report published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, by Kim Beazley and Ben Halton, June 2023. 7. Ibid. 8. Wartime charter a handy blueprint for the Indo-Pacific, Australian, 4 May 2023. 9. China now controls 80% of the Pacific EEZ., US v. China, Japan Forward: Politics and Security, 14 February 2020. 10. See: China's secrecy in South Pacific, Editorial, Australian, 30 may 2022. 11. Threat to INDOPACOM., US v. China, Japan Forward: Politics and Security, 14 February 2020. 12. Push to reverse China influence, Australian, 6 June 2023, with an included chart, Critical Tech Race, detailing six critical areas of research and development. 13. A Helping Hand 'Compact', US v. China, Japan Forward: Politics and Security, 14 February 2020. 14. Critical minerals strategy falls short, Australian, 20 June 2023. 15. 'Not worth the risk', Reuters, 28 June 2022.
The Russian imperialists have confirmed the movement of tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus.
Tactical nuclear weapons can range in size from the equivalent of one kiloton (one thousand tonnes) of explosive TNT to 200 kilotons, the latter dwarfing the 15 kiloton bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Russian President Putin has declared that the nuclear weapons would only be used if Russia's territory or state was threatened.
Putin cannot be trusted. He strenuously denied that the Russian troops massed along the Russia-Ukraine and Belarus-Ukraine borders were not there for the purpose of invading Ukraine, a denial repeated right up until the day of the invasion.
The invasion was then justified on three grounds: it was needed to de-Nazify Ukraine, to protect ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians in eastern Ukraine, and because NATO expansion posed a threat to Russia’s territory and state.
Putin has threatened to use tactical nuclear weapons before, earning a rebuke from his Chinese friends who, in their February 23 Twelve-Point Peace Plan for Ukraine, stated: “Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought. The threat or use of nuclear weapons should be opposed. Nuclear proliferation must be prevented and nuclear crisis avoided”.
Russia and the United States each have up to 2000 tactical nuclear weapons. Russia justifies basing some of its weapons in Belarus because the US imperialists have at least 150 spread across Europe with 50 in Turkiye and others in Italy, Belgium, Germany and Holland.
Just over a week ago, on June 12, the Stockholm International Peace Institute released its 2023 Year Book, with the following table of major, non-tactical nuclear weapons distribution in the world:
Russia and the US are the standout leaders of the nuclear weapons club. They each have over 5000 nuclear warheads, with a sizeable proportion of those already attached to missiles and in readiness for immediate attack.
All nine nuclear weapons states have consistently voted against an annual UN General Assembly resolution since 2018 that welcomes the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and calls upon all states to sign, ratify, or accede to it “at the earliest possible date”.
The Treaty prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed on their territory. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of these activities.
For the first five years of the Treaty, Australia – which is to the US imperialists what Belarus is to the Russian imperialists – voted against the Treaty in the UN General Assembly. Last year, it timidly took a step outside the US shadow and abstained on the vote.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese pledged in 2018 to sign the TPNW, and must be held to his word. We support the campaign led by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) to demand Australia sign the TPNW as a step towards the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons.
We also support the demand for all nuclear weapons states to pledge not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. The No First Use (NFU) demand is aimed at the immediate relaxation of international tensions prior to the agreement by nuclear weapons states to destroy their stockpiles. It commits a nuclear-armed state to never use nuclear weapons first under any circumstances, whether as a pre-emptive attack or first strike, or in response to non-nuclear attack of any kind.
To date, China is the only country to have made an unconditional No First Use pledge. It made it when it was still a socialist country under Mao Zedong’s leadership in 1964, following its first nuclear test explosion. The Soviet Union also had such a policy, but abandoned it in 1994 in the wake of the Soviet Union’s demise. India maintains a policy of NFU with exceptions for a response to chemical or biological attacks.
Neither China, India, Pakistan, North Korea nor Israel have nuclear weapons currently attached to missiles.
It is important that pressure be placed on the Albanese-Wong-Marles group within the Labor government leadership to demand that US imperialism make an NFU commitment. A US refusal to join China, its main adversary, in a NFU policy exposes it as a country prepared to use nuclear weapons aggression.
Refusal by the US to commit to NFU strengthens our case for withdrawal from the AUKUS arrangements which could involve Australia being complicit in any such US nuclear aggression.
The demand is more likely to be achieved than an agreement to destroy and prohibit all nuclear weapons in the near future. Both Obama and Biden have given support to NFU, although they have not enacted it as a policy.
The demand should also be made on all nuclear-armed states, especially Russia.
At the present time, the main danger of the use of nuclear weapons, tactical or otherwise, comes from the pushing and shoving between the US-NATO on one hand, and the Russian imperialists on the other.
While revolutionaries must never be afraid of nuclear weapons, their capacity for massive destruction is very real. That includes Australian territory where US bases would be attacked in the event of a US war with China. The most important of those bases, including Pine Gap, North West Cape, the marine rotational base outside Darwin, and the Tindal Air Bae outside Katherine, are on unceded First Peoples’ lands, endangering their communities and nearby non-Indigenous Australians in the event of an attack.
Whatever contributes to the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons must be supported.
A survey of business leaders' salaries has revealed recent increases of double the rate of inflation. Those concerned, however, have continued to campaign against increasing wage rates for their workforces even to much lower percentages. The contradictory behaviour is symptomatic of a power relationship based upon rampant exploitation by the business-classes, with double standards and rigged rules, devoid of any moral or ethical considerations for anyone else but themselves.
Economic rationalism has increased the exploitative relationship to new heights, with massive accumulation of wealth, which clearly does not trickle down to lower socio-economic groups.
In mid-June the Governance Institute of Australia issued their latest Board and Executive Remuneration Report, with details of how base salaries for managing directors had increased by an average of 14 per cent while CEO salaries had risen by 15 per cent. (1) The comprehensive survey, conducted in conjunction with McGuirk Management Consultants, included findings from 1167 boards in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, including 226 listed companies. (2)
The study also found managing directors of 200 ASX-listed companies had recorded an average of 19 per cent salary increases. (3) The large salary increases, however, form only part of the economic relationship: 52 per cent of listed managing directors were also shown eligible for performance bonuses, with an average maximum bonus paid of 89 per cent. (4) Of listed CEOs, a total of 51 per cent were eligible for performance bonuses, with an average maximum of 72 per cent. (6)
The fact the average fixed remuneration of an ASX-listed managing director is $1.58 million, clearly shows a massive discrepancy in spending power when compared with lower socio-economic groups. (7) The snouts of the top end of town were clearly in the trough.
While Governance Institute chief executive Megan Motto stated the large salary increases were 'an indication that a tight labour market and the rising cost of living was playing out at the executive level', those who benefited from the salary increases have tended to show little regard for lower socio-economic groups experiencing the same problem. (8) In fact, many have openly advocated small wage increases for workforces not even in line with CPI, despite drastically reduced living standards for lower socio-economic groups.
CPI, furthermore, is only part of the economic landscape, and not particularly accurate.
A recent study, for example, found employees were experiencing a 9.6 per cent percentage change in the cost of living. (9) The CPI, however, has remained at around 7 per cent, not accounting for interest rate increases and other criteria. (8) Food prices, meanwhile, have increased by 9.2 per cent, bread by 13.4 per cent, imported oils and fats by 20 per cent, electricity by 12 per cent, travel by 20 per cent. (10)
For the record, recent studies have concluded the average weekly wage in Australia currently stands at $1,376.60 per week, and $71,585.20 per year, with the new basic minimum wage recently being increased by Fair Work Australia to $882.80 per week. (11)
Lower socio-economic groups are likely to spend far more of their disposable income on basic essentials than higher socio-economic groups. The cost-of-living is a decisive factor.
The exploitative relationship between owners of businesses, their managers and workforces takes place within an environment shaped by the rich and powerful. They have made the most of the rules for self-benefit. Government departments, for example, frequently turn a blind eye to wage theft, unless prompted by trade unions to take the required action against employers. They have no wish to upset the business-classes, and fear their reaction.
Recent economic trends have also taken place amid a flood of business investment into Australia, showing returns remain sound. (12) Spending on equipment, plants and machinery, for example, has increased by 3.7 per cent to $17.1 billion, the largest increase in over two years. (13)
And at the top end of town, global wealth has continued to grow: reports from banking and financial institutions have revealed aggregate global wealth grew 12.7 per cent in 2021, despite the pandemic. (14) It was noted that it was 'the fastest annual rate ever recorded'. (15) In 2020, the richest one per cent of the world's population took two-thirds of the $42 trillion in new wealth, the remaining 99 per cent were left with the remainder; during the previous decade the richest one per cent and the other 99 per cent each acquired about half of all new wealth, pointing to the fact that inequality and the rate of inequality are both increasing. (16)
While higher socio-economic groups monopolised the massive accumulation of wealth, none of it trickled down to the working class, who have experienced a rapid decline in their living standards. The trickle-down effect, incidentally, was always the claim of the advocates of economic rationalism, who used it to publicise their model for economic development. The opposite took place: 131 billionaires doubled their wealth during the pandemic. (17) But then, that is what double standards and rigged rules are about.
The fact many of the higher socio-economic groups which reside in Australia do not pay income tax also remains, furthermore, a matter of serious contention.
1. Chief executives pocket an average 15 pc pay rise, Australian, 14 June 2023. 2. CEOs in clover as pay soars by 15 pc., Australian, 14 June 2023. 3. Chief executives, Australian, op.cit., 14 June 2023. 4. CEOs in clover, Australian, op.cit., 14 June 2023. 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid. 7. Chief executives, Australian, op.cit., 14 June 2023. 8. Cost-of-living crunch, chart, Interest rates rises fuel cost-of-living crisis, Australian, 4 May 2023. 9. Ibid. 10. Average Weekly Wage – Australian Bureau of Statistics, 23 February 2023. 11. Thinking about retirement? Rampant inflation means you'll need a bigger nest egg, Australian, 21 March 2023. 12. See: Business investment jumps in early-2023, Australian, 2 June 2023. 13. Ibid. 14. See: Global Wealth Report, 2022, Credit Suisse; and, Global Wealth Report, 2022, The World Bank. 15. World Bank, ibid. 16. See: Survival of the Richest, Oxfam publication, 2020. 17. See: Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
(Above: joint planning Australian and PNG militaries Photo: PNG Embassy, Australia)
Written by: (Contributed) on 18 June 2023
A defence and security agreement between Australia and Papua New Guinea has to be viewed in the wider context of increased US-led militarisation of the Indo-Pacific region.
The agreement, nevertheless, forms an important component part of traditional Australian military and security concerns following intelligence assessments about the vulnerability of sensitive northern approaches.
In early June, with the bare minimum of publicity, an announcement from Canberra stated Australia and PNG were close to reaching agreement on a defence and security agreement scheduled for completion by the end of the month. (1) PNG, historically, together with the similar South Pacific countries, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, have had strategic significance as buffers, protecting sensitive northern approaches to Australia. In recent years, a constant stream of well-publicised intelligence assessments has warned about the increased presence and threat from China, in the South Pacific and wider Indo-Pacific region.
It is, therefore, hardly surprising to find both the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are also being considered for similar defence and security agreements with Australia.
Within the corridors of power in Canberra, however, there remains widespread US influence: the so-called 'alliance' has bound Australia ever closer to Pentagon regional military planning. The sovereignty of Australia accounts for little in the eyes of the Pentagon. The recent Defence Strategic Review, for example, contained numerous references to the perceived vulnerability of northern approaches to Australia and the role of the US in large-scale military upgrades to secure 'US interests' elsewhere in the region.
Reference in the review to a 'network of bases stretching from the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean across northern Australia to Townsville, must allow the ADF the capacity to deny an adversary's attempt to project power against Australia through our northern approaches', clearly shows the strategic importance of the South Pacific countries and elsewhere. (2)
It is, therefore, not coincidental the US have also recently signed their own defence agreement with PNG. (3)
The arc, from the Cocos Islands to Townsville, also swings through sensitive areas of Micronesia, where a number of the countries remain under US political and diplomatic control and form strategic parts of Island Chain Theory, designed to restrict access and egress to the wider region. (4) As members of regional trade and other bodies, the US uses its protectorates as pawns with diplomatic manoeuvres which include Taiwan.
The list of Australian bases in the network include: an upgrade to the airfield on the Cocos Islands for the specific purpose of intelligence and surveillance assets; major works at Tindal in the Northern Territory in conjunction with the US; Darwin, to cater for rotational deployments; Townsville, Learmouth and Curtin in north-west Australia; Scherger on the Cape York peninsula; and elsewhere. (5) The review also stated that, 'the RAAF's northern bases will be hardened, and developed as regional logistic hubs'. (6)
Planned upgrades at Townsville have, furthermore, already been designated as an ADF 'jumping off point for operations in the north as well as the Pacific together with those on Cocos Island as 'vital for offence as well as defence and, as such, are front-line installations'. (7)
It is not difficult to establish the role of the US and Pentagon in these military plans.
In fact, the review has included a statement that 'intense China-US competition is the defining feature of our region and our time'. (8) Australia remains little other than an appendage.
An official statement from the US Department of Defence has noted the strengthening of US regional force posture, by, 'launching a series of new force postures with Australia … including increased rotations of US bombers and fighters at Australian bases, alongside expanded maritime and ground forces co-operation'. (9)
The same factsheet also lists five forthcoming US-led regional military exercises, which increasingly resemble a preamble for 'real war scenarios'. (10)
These developments place Australia as a client state of the US, not as a regional ally:
We need an independent foreign policy!
1. PNG security pact nears completion, Australian, 2 June 2023. 2. Comprehensive upgrade works to northern bases 'imperative', Defence Report, Australian, 25 May 2023. 3. Factsheet: Secretary Austin's 7th trip to the Indo-Pacific region, United States Department of Defence, May 2023. 4. See: Peters Projection, Map of the World, Actual Size. 5. Comprehensive upgrade, Defence Report, op.cit., 25 May 2023. 6. DSR calls to strengthen northern bases, Defence Report, Australian, 25 May 2023. 7. Mission critical, money neutral, Australian, 25 May 2023. 8. Ibid. 9. Factsheet, op.cit., United States Department of Defence, May 2023. 10. Ibid.
While workers struggle to cope with the impact of rising interest rates, Westpac has sacked 500 workers in the last two weeks and says it will "let go" another 116 workers in coming months.
"Letting go" is the big banks and other corporate giants' euphemism for sacking workers and throwing them on the unemployment scrap heap of capitalism.
The Finance Sector Union national secretary, Julia Angrisano's statement said, "Westpac is wallowing in record profits on the back of mortgage interest rate rises but that hasn't stopped its insatiable appetite for job cuts."
The sackings come at the same time as Westpac increased its half year profits by 22% to the amount of $4 billion.
No doubt Westpac and the other big three banks will say that their profits are distributed to shareholders and to repay money borrowed from overseas banks. However, most of the shareholders are big corporations and very little of the big banks’ profits end up with mum and dad shareholders or modest income self-funded retirees.
In the late 1940s there was an attempt by popular demand to nationalize big banks.
The High Court ruled that this was not allowed under the Australian Constitution.
This showed how much the Constitution served the interests of the corporate ruling class rather than the people when it was made.
Nationalizing the big four banks is needed as part of securing an independent financial sector which puts people's financial needs before profits.
Nationalizing the banks as a demand on the federal government will have popular support.
With the transfer to renewable energy and electric vehicles, the race is on by multinational corporations to control the mining and processing of copper. The largest copper mine, Olympic Dam in Australia, is owned by multinational corporation BHP which also owns the Escondida Mine in Chile.
BHP has recently bought Oz Minerals copper mines, Prominent Hill and Carrapateena in South Australia located south west of Olympic Dam and its town Roxby Downs.
Smaller locally owned mining companies are Rex Minerals and Enviro Copper. Rex Minerals have received the go-ahead to mine copper on farming land near Ardrossan in South Australia. Enviro Copper plans to revive the copper mine at Kapunda in South Australia's lower north using an insitu method backed by the CSIRO and University of Adelaide.
In the 1860s to 1880s copper mining at Kapunda and the Copper Triangle of Moonta, Kadina and Wallaroo was a major export from the colony and also gave rise to the proud working class communities of those regions, with a strong Cornish background being a feature of the miners.
While the colonial government got some money from the copper mining of that period most of the profits went overseas to the headquarters of the British empire.
With copper resources in South Australia in high demand again, the SA Labor Government is looking forward to increased royalties from the corporations owning the copper mines and processing of copper.
According to an article in the Adelaide Advertiser on Saturday 17 June, the current price of copper is $US 8,300 per tonne. To give an idea of the amount of money per year that amounts to, BHP will produce at just its Olympic Dam mine alone 200,000 tonnes of copper in 2023.
Enormous profits will flow to BHP, far in excess of the royalties paid to the SA Government.
As even the Adelaide Advertiser article points out, "BHP on occasion built up expectations of expanding Olympic Dam with multi-million dollar investments, only to change its mind. It canned a planned $20 billion expansion of Olympic Dam in 2012, embarrassing the then Labor state government which had pinned its economic hopes and dreams on the project going ahead.”
BHP like other multinational corporations makes decisions based on its own global economic interests and cares little for First Nations people on whose lands the copper mines exist, the workers who mine the copper and service the mining facilities, state governments and the people (in this case in SA).
In this day and age when electric vehicles and renewable energy are essential services in the people's struggle to prevent environmental catastrophe, the mining of rare earth metals and minerals like copper should be in the hands of the people, not multinational corporations who exist to make profit for a rich minority.