Australasian Spartacist No. 215
Obama/Gillard's Anti-China Provocation—No to U.S. Marines!
Down With Counterrevolutionary U.S./Australia Alliance!
On 17 November, in an address to the Australian federal parliament, visiting U.S. president, Barack Obama, announced that American imperialism intends to make its “presence and mission in the Asia Pacific a top priority.” “The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay,” declared the U.S. Commander-in-Chief. The day before, in a direct provocation against the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Obama and Labor prime minister, Julia Gillard, jointly announced a deepening of U.S. military ties with Australia. The agreement includes expanded U.S. access to air and naval bases in the Northern Territory (NT) and Western Australia (WA), and a permanent troop presence in Darwin of 2,500 Marines by 2016-17.
In 2009 the ALP government released a Defence White Paper that outlined a vast program of military spending while hawkishly targeting China. Alongside Canberra’s increasing militarisation of the north, this build-up is designed to work in concert with the expansion of U.S. military forces in Australia under the reactionary U.S./Australia alliance. A second rate jackal imperialist power, Australia looks to the U.S. for protection. As such, Canberra has offered its services in countless dirty murderous operations, including the U.S.-led wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, while pursuing its own predatory interests in the region. The projected Marine air ground taskforce in Darwin will provide Washington with a rapid intervention force to carry out whatever forward imperialist dirty work is required.
Obama’s “strategic decision” for U.S. imperialism to play a larger, long-term role in “shaping this region and its future” is ominous for the worker and peasant masses of Asia. Having now withdrawn troops from Iraq and projecting to scale down in Afghanistan, Washington is once again focusing its gun sights on China after being temporarily deflected following September 11, 2001. Obama demands China “play by the rules” of capitalism and, using language straight out of the 1950s Cold War and 1980s Cold War II against the Soviet Union, lectures that “prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty”! For the imperialists, “freedom” means being at liberty to loot impoverished and subjugated nations, fomenting racism and communalist slaughter as they ensure their continued class rule over the exploited masses.
The proletariat of the U.S., Australia and throughout Asia have a vital interest in vigorously opposing this imperialist militarism. We Trotskyists of the International Communist League (ICL) have long stressed that the future for workers in Australia lies in common struggle with the working masses of Asia against capitalist exploitation. Our fight for a workers republic of Australia is part of our perspective for socialist revolutions throughout Southeast Asia and beyond. Key to this proletarian internationalist perspective is our unconditional military defence of the Chinese bureaucratically deformed workers state against imperialist attack and internal capitalist counterrevolution.
In 1949, China experienced a profound social revolution as the peasant-based People’s Liberation Army (PLA) led by Mao Zedong’s Communist Party (CCP) overthrew the imperialist-backed bourgeois-nationalist regime of Chiang Kai-shek’s Guomindang. The victory of Mao’s PLA destroyed the Chinese capitalist state, smashing the rule of the Chinese bourgeoisie and landlords, and liberated the Chinese masses from the yoke of imperialist subjugation. It led to the development of a collectivised economy that laid the basis for massive social progress for the worker and peasant masses, particularly women.
However, unlike the 1917 Russian Revolution, which was carried out by a class-conscious proletariat guided by the Bolshevik internationalism of Lenin and Trotsky, the 1949 Chinese Revolution was bureaucratically deformed from its inception under the rule of Mao Zedong’s Stalinist peasant-based CCP regime. Resting atop the workers state, this parasitic nationalist bureaucratic caste modelled itself on the Stalinist regime in Russia that, beginning with a political counterrevolution in 1923-24, usurped political power from the working class. Despite decades of the bureaucracy’s “market reforms,” China’s economy remains dominated by state-controlled banks and the core of its heavy industry remains collectivised, an historic gain for the world’s working class that the imperialists have long sought to overthrow.
The imperialists want to return China to the pre-1949 days of unbridled imperialist exploitation. In seeking to restore capitalist rule, they pursue a multi-pronged strategy of economic and political subversion combined with intensifying military pressure against China. In contrast to social-democratic reformists such as Socialist Alliance (SA), who pronounce China capitalist and join with pro-imperialist counterrevolutionary causes from “Free Tibet” to “independence” for the anti-communist bastion of Taiwan, we Marxists declare that it is in the direct interest of the international proletariat to defend China and other countries where capitalism has been overthrown—today, North Korea, Laos, Vietnam and Cuba. This includes supporting North Korea’s and China’s development and testing of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems as a deterrent against the threat of annihilation by the nuclear-armed imperialists in Washington, backed by their lackeys in Canberra.
At the same time, the ICL fights for proletarian political revolution in the deformed workers states to oust the Stalinist misleaders, whose bureaucratic mismanagement and conciliation of imperialism paves the way for counterrevolution. The Chinese bureaucracy, in its pursuit of “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism, have supported the U.S.-led “war on terror” under which banner the imperialists have occupied Iraq and Afghanistan while threatening one of China’s main oil suppliers, Iran. Proletarian political revolution, establishing regimes based on workers democracy and an internationalist perspective, would be a beacon for the oppressed working masses of Asia and the entire world. Ultimately to defend and extend the gains of these social revolutions requires fighting for socialist revolution in the imperialist centres. The fight to defend the deformed workers states against imperialist attack and internal capitalist counterrevolution is crucial to bringing to the proletariat in Australia as well as in Japan, Europe and the U.S., the consciousness necessary to overthrow their own exploiters.
Smash ANZUS through Workers Revolution!
Obama’s visit to Australia was timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the blood-drenched ANZUS alliance. The signing of the ANZUS agreement in 1951, just two years after the Chinese Revolution and in the midst of the Korean War, followed the Australian capitalist rulers switching their dependence from Britain to the U.S. at the end of World War II. ANZUS immediately became a Cold War weapon, particularly targeting the Soviet Union and Vietnam. Under this alliance, the U.S. and Australian military have carried out the slaughter of millions of workers and peasants in counterrevolutionary wars from Korea to Vietnam as they acted to “contain” pro-Communist insurgencies roiling across Asia in the wake of the unravelling of British and other colonial rule, and the defeat of Japanese imperialism in the Pacific War.
In Indonesia, Australia’s security forces collaborated with the CIA to help orchestrate the 1965-66 military-led anti-Communist massacre, serving to “stabilise” Southeast Asia under the imperialist yoke at the cost of more than a million lives. The subsequent stinging military defeat of U.S. and Australian imperialisms in 1975 by the heroic Vietnamese workers and peasants was a great victory for the working people of the world. Not least, it punctured a hole in this country’s “culture” of racist white supremacy. The proletariat here owes a special debt to the Vietnamese masses—a debt they will be in the forefront of helping to repay when, under the leadership of a revolutionary party, they sweep away Australian capitalist rule and establish a workers state.
Today, Australian imperialism plays an aggressive role as a counterrevolutionary gendarme under the U.S. umbrella, acting to help shore up U.S. and Australian control and capitalist “stability” in the region. This includes its police/military occupations of East Timor and the Solomon Islands, Butterworth airforce base in Malaysia, training of special forces in Indonesia, and training troops in the southern Philippines.
Under ANZUS, Australia hosts the top secret Pine Gap satellite spy base and provides U.S. access to the Geraldton tracking station and other facilities that were key to the imperialists’ counterrevolutionary Cold War II offensive against the former Soviet Union. Pine Gap is part of a string of U.S. military installations from South Korea to central Asia that assist in bloody imperialist interventions while targeting the deformed workers states, particularly China. In 2010, WikiLeaks revelations confirmed that Australian spy agencies target the Chinese military and Canberra’s beefing up of Australian naval capabilities is aimed at countering China’s influence, including in the Asia-Pacific. Leaked cables also report on former Labor prime minister, now foreign affairs minister, Kevin Rudd advising U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, to be prepared to use force against China.
As part of its military encirclement of China, the U.S. is strengthening a web of reactionary alliances, from South Korea, to Japan, to the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and the Indian subcontinent, with Australia as a southern anchor. In the words of Hillary Clinton, America is “expanding our alliance with Australia from a Pacific partnership to an Indo-Pacific one, and indeed a global partnership (“America’s Pacific Century,” November 2011). This is, in part, about dominating vital sea lanes, including the Strait of Malacca, the narrow channel between Malaysia and Indonesia through which 40 percent of the world’s trade passes, including most of China’s oil and a significant portion of its iron ore imports. Now the U.S. is using China’s dispute with neighbouring regimes over the potentially resource-rich Spratly Islands in the South China Sea to ramp up further military and other pressure against the Chinese deformed workers state. Beijing claims the U.S. is sending ships into these waters to collect intelligence close to China’s coastal territories. Indeed, in April 2001 the U.S. was caught out engaging in military/espionage missions off China’s coastline (see “U.S. Spy Plane Provocation: Defend China!” Workers Vanguard No. 756, 13 April 2001).
Our American section carries out a particular obligation to oppose the military machinations of its own ruling class, which emerged from World War II on top among the imperialist powers; this top cop of the world is the main military threat to the deformed workers states and chief enemy of the peoples of the world. As proletarian internationalists we fight to smash the ANZUS military alliance through workers revolution! We say: No U.S. Marines to Darwin! All U.S. bases and military installations out now! We stand for class-struggle opposition to the Australian imperialist military. In the tradition of our revolutionary communist forebears—Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht and Lenin—we demand not one person, not one cent for the Australian imperialist military! Implacably opposed to Australian imperialism, we demand that U.S./NATO/Australia get out of Afghanistan and Pakistan and that the Australian military get out of Malaysia, the Philippines, East Timor and the Solomons and keeps its bloody hands off the South Pacific!
Today’s militarisation of Australia’s north not only targets the working masses of the region and particularly the Chinese deformed workers state but has also sharpened deep racist reaction within capitalist Australia. Since 2007, scores of Aboriginal communities in the NT have been occupied by police and military in a land grab serving the bourgeoisie’s desire for unhindered access to mineral resources on land previously under some measure of Aboriginal self-government. Meanwhile desperate refugees have been intercepted on the high seas by heavily-armed Australian naval vessels and turned back or redirected to Indonesia. The brutal “White Australia” capitalist order was built on the slaughter and degradation of the indigenous inhabitants and the systematic exclusion of Asian and dark-skinned people. As part of the fight against the whole capitalist-imperialist system, the multiracial Australian working class must champion the cause of the deeply oppressed Aboriginal people and refugees. We say: Full citizenship rights for all immigrants! No Deportations! Cops and military get out of Aboriginal communities now!
Nationalist Laborite Anti-Communism
Renewed sabre-rattling against China has been met with disquiet by sections of the Australian bourgeoisie who have accrued massive wealth from mineral resource sales to China. In fact, it is only due to China’s booming resource markets that Australia’s economy has not been plunged into recession like most of the capitalist world—across the U.S., Japan and Europe, millions have been thrown out of work and/or made homeless. While China cannot avoid the pressures of the world economy in which it now plays a significant part, it is not subject to the wild swings of those market-driven economies which are based on private ownership of the banks, mines and factories. Its economy continues to grow at a rate unmatched by any capitalist country.
With China now Australia’s largest two-way trading partner, companies were reportedly lining up for a meeting with the Chinese vice-president when he visited here in 2010. In contrast, the Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported that the state dinner with President Obama was largely ignored by CEOs, with the heads of BHP, the major banks and airline companies all declining invitations. One company director remarked, “Corporate Australia recognises our economy is fundamentally tied to China, not America.” However, whatever conjunctural concern that sections of Australia’s capitalist class may have about Obama’s recent visit, they deeply share U.S. and Australian imperialisms’ strategic aim to restore capitalist rule in China.
When the Chinese state-run Global Times responded to Obama’s visit by warning that “Australia surely cannot play China for a fool” and that it could “be caught in the crossfire,” Kevin Rudd sharply responded, “Our national security orientation is a matter of Australian national sovereignty and we believe in a strong Australia” (AFR, 17 November). In the ALP, with its thoroughly pro-capitalist and staunchly anti-communist leadership and program, the bosses have a government deeply committed to the imperialists’ counterrevolutionary goals. In 1949, the same year the Chifley Labor government sent troops to smash the powerful coalminers’ strike, it also dispatched warships to take supplies up China’s Yangtze River to Chiang Kai-shek’s counterrevolutionary forces. Backed by virtually the entire reformist left in this country, one of the ALP’s greatest crimes against the working class was its loyal service to the imperialists’ drive to restore capitalism in the Soviet Union, leading to the counterrevolutionary destruction of the world’s first workers state in 1991-92.
Today, while the ALP government marches in lockstep with the U.S.-led militarism against China, the pro-capitalist Laborite union misleaders continue to push anti-China protectionism. Last August, just prior to BlueScope Steel announcing more than 1,000 job cuts, pro-ALP union tops, including Paul Howes from the Australian Workers Union, sought to pressure the Gillard government to back the U.S. campaign for China to revalue the yuan in order to protect Australian manufacturers. Fostering the lie that the workers and the bosses share common interests, they called for a joint campaign with the manufacturing bosses to demand the government “muscle up to China.” The union tops work overtime to tie workers to Australian capitalism by portraying Chinese manufacturing as a threat to jobs. With slogans like “Make it here, or jobs disappear” these nationalist union misleaders demand government subsidies for Australian capitalists and do next to nothing to mobilise their base in industrial action against the bosses’ attacks and government’s anti-union laws.
In opposition to this poisonous Laborite nationalism and class collaboration, we fight to build an internationalist revolutionary workers party that mobilises the working class in struggle in complete political independence from the capitalist exploiters. Such a party will stand on the important but all too rare examples of international class-struggle action by the organised labour movement, especially maritime, including solidarity with the Indonesian independence struggle in the 1940s and with the Vietnamese Revolution in the 1960s. Such traditions and practices must be revived and put into practice around an internationalist class-struggle program. A Leninist-Trotskyist party will be built by splitting the working-class base of the ALP from the pro-capitalist leadership, centrally through the political fight to replace the social-democratic union misleaders with a class-struggle, revolutionary leadership.
Reforge the Fourth International!
In a 23 November Lateline interview on the ABC, former Labor prime minister Paul Keating criticised the fact that Obama delivered his anti-China speech in federal parliament, complaining that the Australian government should not have allowed itself to be “verballed” and “part of that particular kabuki show. Not to be fingerprints all over it.” While strongly backing the U.S./Australia alliance, Keating opined that “the whole notion of Australia as a middle power trying to project an independent foreign policy was hugely inhibited by what happen[ed] this week.” Such nationalist views are widely imbibed by the Laborite reformist left in this country, including the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) and SA.
The CPA welcomed the U.S. presidential election of Democratic Party candidate Obama, and the election of the Rudd/Gillard federal ALP governments here, in both instances betraying the class interests of workers. Now they complain that Rudd, Gillard and Obama have “not delivered on the promise for change” and moan that “Australia’s sovereignty was torn to shreds last week in Canberra” by Obama’s visit. Similarly peddling nationalist bourgeois pacifism, SA declare “US bases in Australia a setback for peace” (30 November) and call for “a foreign policy that serves the 99% in Australia.” Opposed to independent class opposition to imperialist militarism and worried that Australian imperialism’s interests are being overlooked for those of its U.S. big brother, these “little Australia” nationalist opponents of revolutionary Marxism echo and regularly call for a vote to the anti-Communist, anti-China Greens, who have long demanded to bring Australian “troops home” from Afghanistan in order to defend bloody Australian imperialist interests in the region. This in fact dovetails with the militarisation of the Asia-Pacific sought by Obama and Gillard.
The imperialist build-up comes at a time when sharp economic crisis grips the capitalist world and underlines how capitalism in its epoch of imperialist decay leads inexorably to war, unless the problem is destroyed at its roots by socialist revolution. Under the system of capitalist imperialism, the ruling classes of the richest capitalist countries are compelled, through their very inner workings and thirst for profits, into an unrelenting drive for new markets, ever-greater supplies of natural resources and sources of cheap labour in the neocolonial countries. The various imperialist bourgeoisies enforce their neocolonial looting and protect their spheres of exploitation through the expansion of their military might. As Karl Marx made clear, the workers of all countries must unite, rejecting the divide-and-rule capitalist machinations parroted by the current misleaders of the working class, to throw out their exploiters and take the future in their own hands.
Since the 1991-92 collapse of the Soviet Union, a world-historic defeat for the international proletariat, the working class has been taking a beating with few workers today identifying their struggles with the ideals of socialism. However, contrary to the wishes of the capitalist-imperialist rulers, class struggle cannot be legislated or repressed out of existence but is a product of class-divided society. As long as capitalist exploitation and oppression exists new struggles will inevitably break out, including against imperialist militarism.
In the tradition of Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks we understand that only through implacable opposition to one’s “own” imperialist bourgeoisie can we build the national sections of a reborn Fourth International needed to lead the proletariat in revolutionary struggle to smash the capitalist-imperialist system. Like our comrades in the U.S., Japan, and other sections of the ICL, comrades of the Spartacist League of Australia fight to build such a revolutionary vanguard party to lead the multiracial working people in this country in sweeping away the capitalist rulers and establishing their own class rule. This requires an intransigently proletarian internationalist perspective. Down with Australian imperialism! Defend the Chinese deformed workers state! For a workers republic of Australia, part of a socialist Asia!