Australasian Spartacist No. 201

Winter 2008


Socialist Alternative: Cheerleaders for Capitalist Counterrevolution

Defend China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba!

We reprint below a Spartacist League leaflet issued on 4 March.

No doubt still high on social-democratic euphoria over Rudd’s newly-elected federal ALP government, a band of belligerent Socialist Alternative (SAlt) cadre, screaming and jostling, tried to prevent two supporters of the Marxist Spartacist League selling outside their 2 February Sydney University “public” event on the Russian Revolution (communists were barred from attending). Our supporters completed their sale, at a distance from the anti-communist SAlt honchos, whose despicable attempts at intimidation and political suppression included threats to call campus security. Confronted with the current issue of Australasian Spartacist [No. 200, Summer 2007/08], headlined “Rudd’s ALP Rules for Racist Australian Imperialism,” what really had these hardened Laborites in a frenzy is our Trotskyist program of unconditional military defence of the deformed workers states—today, China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba—against Australian and U.S. imperialism. A particular target of their hostility is our defence of China and North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons as a necessary deterrent against the imperialist nuclear cowboys in Washington and their Australian junior partners.

It is laughable for SAlt to present themselves as Marxist authorities on the 1917 Russian Revolution. From their hatred of the former Soviet Union to their treacherous call for workers to vote for the capitalist Greens in the recent elections (an act of class betrayal), SAlt’s traditions have more to do with the Menshevik opponents of the Russian Revolution. Led by Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolshevik Party, the Russian Revolution established the world’s first workers state—a historic victory for the international proletariat. Despite its subsequent degeneration under a nationalist parasitic bureaucratic caste, which usurped political power from the Soviet proletariat in a political counterrevolution beginning in 1923-24 under J.V. Stalin, the proletarian property forms created by the October Revolution of 1917 remained. Based on these collectivised property forms, the Soviet state remained a workers state, albeit bureaucratically degenerated, until capitalist counterrevolution in 1991-92. It was the elementary duty of revolutionaries to stand for the unconditional military defence of the Soviet degenerated workers state and the deformed workers states created in the Stalinist image following World War II—in Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, Cuba and Vietnam—against imperialist attack and internal capitalist counterrevolution.

Not so for Socialist Alternative. Their political origins go back to the late Tony Cliff and his followers in Britain who were expelled from Trotsky’s Fourth International in 1950 for reneging on this program of unconditional military defence. Bowing to the pressure of anti-communist Cold War hysteria during the Korean War, Cliff capitulated to the British bourgeoisie and the then-ruling British Labour Party, refusing to defend the Soviet Union, China and North Korea against the imperialist attack. Cliff’s claim that the Soviet Union was “state capitalist” (promoted by earlier social democrats who had opposed the Russian October Revolution of 1917) was the “theoretical” justification for his pro-imperialist program. Today SAlt continue to re-hash this bogus “theory,” ranting about an imagined capitalist “North Korean ruling class” while actually falling in behind blood-drenched “democratic” imperialism.

Ever since the Korean War ended in a stalemate, the strategic aim of U.S. imperialism, backed by Britain and Australia, has been to isolate and destroy the Stalinist-led North Korean deformed workers state, on the road to overturning the gains of the 1949 Chinese Revolution. Today this includes the encirclement of China with imperialist military installations from South Korea to northern Australia to Central Asia. Backing the imperialists’ drive for capitalist counterrevolution in China, in every issue of their paper, in their “who are Socialist Alternative?” column, SAlt pushes hostility to China labelling it an exploitative society “essentially no different from the West.” They have promoted the CIA’s “Free Tibet” rallying cry for counterrevolution and lauded pro-imperialist “trade-union activist” Han Dongfang who has been featured on radio broadcasts of official mouthpieces of U.S. imperialism, Voice of America and Radio Free Asia.

SAlt have a long history as anti-Marxist opponents of the revolutionary workers movement and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Throughout the 1980s as then-members of the Cliffite International Socialist Organisation (ISO), SAlt cadre tailed the anti-Soviet, union-busting Hawke/Keating Labor regimes. They sided with the woman-hating, CIA-funded mujahedin cutthroats against the liberating forces of the Soviet Red Army in Afghanistan and championed the anti-semitic, anti-abortion and reactionary Solidarność—the chosen instrument of the Vatican, Wall Street and Western social democracy for capitalist counterrevolution in Poland. They cheered the Yeltsin/Bush capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union in 1991-92, which ushered in mass unemployment, starvation and nationalist fratricide.

SAlt’s loyalty to capitalist “democracy” and “human rights” imperialism was also demonstrated in September 1999 when they participated in the chauvinist “troops in” rallies for the Australian military occupation of East Timor with placards proclaiming “East Timor—blood on Howard’s hands.” They enthusiastically supported the union bans on Indonesia that were organised by the Laborite trade-union misleaders to speed up the Australian imperialist military intervention. During the imperialist war on Iraq beginning in 2003, SAlt refused to take a side in military defence of neocolonial Iraq. Showing faith in the capitalist rulers, they instead helped build popular-frontist “antiwar” coalitions with “peace lovers” from all classes to appeal to the bourgeoisie for an end to the subsequent occupation. A key demand of these coalitions, “Bring the troops home,” dovetails with the bourgeois Greens and ALP push for a more aggressive role for the Australian imperialist military in the Asia-Pacific region, including against North Korea and China.

Peddling the lie that the capitalist rulers can be pressured to act on behalf of the oppressed, class-collaborationists like SAlt sow reformist illusions in the capitalist state. However this state, consisting at its core of the police, courts, prisons and military, exists to uphold the rule of the bosses over the working class and oppressed. It cannot be reformed—it must be shattered through workers revolution. Key to this perspective is the fight to mobilise the working class in independent class-struggle opposition to the capitalist rulers at home and abroad. We demand: Australian troops and cops get out of Aboriginal communities! Australian imperialist troops/cops get out of Iraq, Afghanistan, the Pacific and East Timor!

Our unconditional military defence of the Chinese, North Korean, Vietnamese and Cuban bureaucratically deformed workers states against imperialist attack and internal capitalist counterrevolution is a cornerstone of our revolutionary program. Within this framework we also fight for proletarian political revolution to oust the parasitic Stalinist caste that sits atop these workers states and whose bureaucratic mismanagement and appeasement of imperialism paves the way for capitalist restoration. Our defence of the deformed workers states is a defence of the overturn and expropriation of capitalism. To abandon defence of the deformed workers states is to abandon the cause of international proletarian revolution.

The International Communist League (ICL) has fought, and will continue to fight, tooth and nail against capitalist counterrevolution. When Solidarność made its counterrevolutionary bid for power in Poland in 1981, we forthrightly said: “Stop Solidarność Counterrevolution!” In late 1989, the ICL intervened to fight to bring revolutionary leadership to the incipient workers political revolution in the East German (DDR) deformed workers state, fighting for a government of workers councils. Against the capitalist anschluss that eventually swallowed up the DDR, we uniquely fought for workers political revolution in the East and socialist revolution in the West, as the road to a red soviet Germany in a Socialist United States of Europe. In Moscow in 1991-92, we fought to mobilise proletarian opposition to the impending capitalist catastrophe including distributing over 100,000 Russian-language leaflets calling for “Soviet Workers! Defeat Yeltsin-Bush Counterrevolution!” The overturn of the world’s first workers state was a historic defeat for the international proletariat, throwing back political consciousness, albeit unevenly, such that today few workers identify their struggles with the fight for socialism. It has also removed the primary military and political counterweight to rampant imperialist pillage across the globe.

In this deeply reactionary post-Soviet world, the bourgeoisie has introduced draconian racist “anti-terror” legislation that shreds the democratic rights of all and ultimately is aimed against the left and labour movement. Finding its echo on the campuses, in recent years Sydney Uni administration has unleashed its security guards to repeatedly harass, censor and drive leftists off the campus. It is in this context that SAlt cadre threatened to call these private cops of the capitalist administration against our comrades on 2 February. SAlt’s attempted censorship and threats can only serve the interests of the bourgeoisie, which is hell-bent on promoting its “death of Communism” ideology in the service of erasing all memory of the historic significance and gains of the Russian Revolution.

It comes as no surprise that SAlt has welcomed into its ranks one Azlan McLennan, the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) anti-communist thug who punched a female SL supporter in the face at a 2006 Melbourne trade-union rally! (See “We Will Not Be Silenced!” Australasian Spartacist No. 196, Spring 2006.) In widely exposing and condemning this DSP thug attack we asserted that, in the polemical traditions of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, we will continue to argue program and principle against pseudo-socialists such as the DSP and SAlt in order to clearly expose and defeat their sellout politics. This is part of the struggle to win workers and others from the poisonous grip of Laborism to the Trotskyist program necessary to fight to sweep away racist Australian capitalism through workers revolution. We fight to build internationalist proletarian vanguard parties like Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks, which can lead the working masses in new October Revolutions to open the road to a classless communist future. Workers, leftist youth and all those interested in joining this historic fight should check out our revolutionary Trotskyist program.