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AUSTRALIAN
MARXIST
REVIEW

Journal of the Communist Party of Australia

ISSUE 67April 2018

CPA Contribution to the 19th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties

On behalf of the Communist Party of Australia, I would like to thank the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and General Secretary Gennady Zyuganov for the impressive and ambitious program of meetings and celebrations prepared for the representatives of the international Communist movement. The decision to hold the International Meeting in Russia was an obvious one. The centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution demanded that we meet here on the soil where those epoch-making events took place.

Over the next several days, we are rightly going to hear a lot about the victory of the workers, peasants and soldiers of Russia in 1917. It is undoubtedly true that we wouldn’t be meeting here, reviewing and planning our work, if it weren’t for those events. The road to social progress would have been much longer and more difficult. The creation of something like the Communist Party in Australia would have been delayed for a very long time. For this reason, our Party has gone to considerable effort to celebrate the Great October Socialist Revolution in a fitting way.

The backdrop to the 19th IMCWP

Unfortunately, the political and social backdrop for the centenary of 1917 is not encouraging. The political right is on the march in many parts of the world. Political forces previously considered too extreme and with such repugnant anti-worker and racist agendas are taking political office or dramatically influencing the policy agenda of country after country. Workers and other exploited people are resisting, but the accumulation of decades of ideological, legislative and even more direct attacks on the rights of workers and other exploited people have left us vulnerable.

The geopolitical situation of the world has deteriorated since our parties last met in Vietnam. The economic crisis facing the US, papered over for the time being, has deepened. Rivals to US economic hegemony are getting stronger relative to the US and this is causing recklessness and increased aggression on the part of US imperialism. Thoughts that the Trump administration would not last or simply continue the policy course set by previous administrations have proved incorrect. Trump’s election marks an escalation of the military and economic aggression against independently-minded, sovereign nations and emerging blocs that reject its dominance.

We see this in the Middle East with the US’s direct involvement and resourcing of terrorist groups determined to destroy the sovereign state of Syria. We see it in Eastern Europe and the tensions between the Ukraine and the Russian Federation. We see it in the threats and economic sabotage against Venezuela and the coup carried out in Brazil. And we see it in the provocations against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The Australian government has been drawn even more closely into the war fighting plans of the US. Australia volunteered to carry the war for hegemonic control from Iraq into Syria. It helped the US in its confrontational stance over the situation in the South China Sea and declared its willingness to fight a genocidal war against the DPRK. This is in addition to its boosted commitment to the US administration’s “Pivot” or rebalance to the Indo-Pacific region. This includes the establishment of new military bases, including the major one in Darwin, and hugely expensive acquisitions of military equipment. Over the next two decades, the Australian government has committed itself to spending more than one trillion Australian dollars and adopted the target, as requested by former US President Obama, of spending two percent of GDP on “defence”. This is a major theft from the Australian people who continue to have their living standards cut and basic rights curtailed.

The impact of the demise of the USSR

As we have been predicting for some time, the demise of the Soviet Union has been a tragedy for the people of the world. Millions of people have died and suffered losses in terms of living conditions and rights. The current wars and efforts at destabilisation are a continuation of US imperialism’s plan to retain global hegemonic power despite a loss of leadership in the economic sphere.

The US’s long term plans for global control have some way to go. The dismantling of the USSR in territorial terms is not complete. Obstacles remain to its unfettered access to the resources of the country, including the oil and other riches of Siberia. US imperialism sees the territorial integrity of China and its growing economic power, not as an opportunity for the enrichment of the people of the world, but as a grave threat.

The US wants to carve up these rivals and to install subservient regimes that will do its bidding. It is this perverse logic, the logic of capitalism and imperialism, that drives its efforts to surround the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China with client states, military bases, nuclear weapons and other military assets. The survival of humanity and the planet has been placed at risk by this reckless, anti-people agenda.

A major task before the international Communist movement is the building of a mass peace (or more correctly, “anti-war”) movement with a clear understanding of the origins of the threat to the peoples of the world. Our Party is playing its part but it must redouble its efforts as part of the overall strategy of removing the threat to peace through the building of socialism. Success in this area is a top priority of our work in the coming period.

Deteriorating conditions in Australia

To many outsiders, Australia may appear to have escaped the worst rigours of the global capitalist economic crisis. This is an illusion. Australians have suffered cuts to government employment, welfare payments and reductions in government services. Unions have been subjected to investigations where the most scandalous and baseless accusations have been made. The legal system has been used to limit trade union rights including access to their members in workplaces. A special police force was formed to harass construction workers and their trade unions, fining them thousands or, in the case of one union, several million dollars, for taking strike action. In fact, strike action is virtually outlawed. In the meantime, one worker per week dies on average on Australian construction sites.

Precarious jobs are predominant in the limited number of jobs being created in the troubled economy. Zero hour contracts are common as are underpayment and non-payment of wages. Workers from oversees are being used to undermine local pay and conditions. Automation and the employment of “artificial intelligence” are not being used to reduce the burden on workers but to severely reduce the numbers of jobs available.

A fightback by the peak Australian trade union council is underway but is yet to bite. Our Party’s influence in the trade unions is limited and we are yet to succeed in injecting a militant, class struggle spirit into the actions that do take place, albeit with very restricted objectives.

The rise of the right in Australia

Australia has not been exempted from the rightward drift in similar societies and economies. Fringe racist groups attack minorities including Muslims and recently arrived migrants. Resentment at high levels of unemployment, including youth unemployment, has given rise to slogans within trade union memberships of “Aussie workers for Aussie jobs.” Fringe ideas have representation within state and federal parliaments such as the racist, right-populist Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party.

Anti-science sentiments are on the rise with high level encouragement, particularly regarding the challenge of climate change. The Australian government has resisted international efforts to limit CO2 emissions and is captive to the fossil fuel lobby. Its recklessness, combined with the disruption from successive US administrations, is putting the survivability of the planet at risk.

The most pressing direct challenge to the working class in Australia is the ruling class’s war on workers and their trade unions described earlier. It has been accompanied by a media campaign to smear the image of trade unions in the eyes of Australian workers. The impact has been great, but the fightback is gathering strength. Much hangs in the balance in Australia at the present time. Police state tactics are being employed that must be stopped so that Australia doesn’t continue its drift towards a quasi-fascist state with even harsher conditions for our movement.

Revitalising the struggle

The challenges are great but the opportunities for Communists to assume their leadership role are also great. Our Party has experienced modest growth in recent years especially among young workers and students most of whom, for a time, were not interested in our historic movement. They come to us as the products of the media and education systems hostile to Communism. Real life experiences draw them to questioning the system and to learn and be active.

Our Party is about to hold its 13th National Congress in Sydney in December. Our 12th Congress was held in 2013 under the slogan “United and Active for a Socialist Australia”. The emphasis was placed on uniting and organising the Party for the period that followed. This year’s Congress has the slogan “Taking the Party to the People”. There is a shift in emphasis to look outward that is evident in the work of our Party from maintenance and consolidation. The time for very bold initiatives to build the influence of our Parties has arrived because what is true for Australia must also be true for many other parties around the world. We must work with a range of other forces in our struggle against the very aggressive agenda of capitalism and imperialism but the time has arrived to demonstrate leadership and initiative.

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