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Issue #1903      February 17, 2020

Communism is National as well as International

This week marks our new monthly theory theme: internationalism. Presented here is an article by former CPA president E W Campbell on the international and national character of communism and why both are important. On the following page, we are celebrating the 172th anniversary of the publishing of The Communist Manifesto, the founding document of our movement. In celebration we are looking back at what the CPA had to say about it at the 150th anniversary in 1998.

In the third of his recitals of lies against Communism, Prime Minister Menzies charged the Australian Communist Party with being “an integral part of the world Communist revolutionary movement, which, in the King’s Dominions and elsewhere, engages in espionage and sabotage and in activities or operations of a treasonable or subversive nature.”

“Communism is a world movement,” Menzies declared.

This is the one true statement in the whole of his recital, but the conclusions he draws are as false as the promises which won the elections for the “Liberal” Party.

The international character of Communism has never been denied. On the contrary, it has been boldly proclaimed since the movement’s inception more than a hundred years ago. The immortal Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels closes with the great rallying call: “Working men of all countries, unite!”

Capitalism is international in character. This is particularly apparent, in the present epoch of imperialism, wherein big capitalist monopolies, having achieved domination in the internal market of their “own” country, have combined with monopoly capitalists to form international cartels to control the world market.

P G Spender, Minister for External Affairs in the Menzies Cabinet, typifies the international character of monopoly capitalism. Spender is a director of the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company, whose headquarters are in America, and whose ramifications extend throughout the capitalist part of the world.

Others who sit in the Menzies Cabinet have close ties with the Collins House monopolists, who have among other things, investments in Malaya worth about £25 million.

Because capitalism is international in character, the working class movement, in order to succeed, must also be international.

This lesson was learnt by workers long before they realised the need for Communist parties.

The First Workingmen’s International was formed in London in 1864. Under the leadership of Marx and Engels it united British trade unionIsts, Chartists, French Socialists and workers’ of other political trends. It went out of existence after the defeat of the glorious Paris Commune in 1871.

The Second International – the Labour and Socialist International – was formed in 1889. The British Labour Party was one of the leading parties in this International, and Ramsay Macdonald, who later ratted to become a Tory Prime Minister was one of its most prominent spokesmen.

The Second International collapsed ignominiously in 1914, when its opportunist leaders shamefully betrayed working-class internationalism by deserting to the side of their own capitalists in the imperialist war.

The Third – Communist – International was formed in 1919 and existed up until 1943, when it was voluntarily dissolved because it was no longer practicable to guide the international movement from a single organisational centre, and because the Communist parties had reached such a stage of ideological and organisational maturity that they were well able to apply Marxist-Leninist theory to the conditions prevailing in their respective countries.

There exists at present a Communist Information Bureau, which embraces eight European Communist Parties, and whose purpose, as the name indicates, is to exchange and disseminate information of mutual benefit on Communism and related questions.

The Communist Party of Australia, which was formed in 1920, became affiliated with the Communist International in 1922 and remained affiliated until 1943. Since then it has had no organisational connection with any overseas body.

Shorn of its obscure verbiage, Menzies’ recital is reduced to a repetition of the hoary capitalist lie that Australian Communists take their orders from Moscow and are primarily interested in advancing the interests of the Soviet Government.

To bolster his slander, Menzies, seemingly, found no irony in turning to a foreign source for arguments.

He quoted as his authority on the “viewpoint of Russian Communists” a report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the US House of Representatives, entitled “The Strategy and Tactics of World Communism.”

In so doing he confirmed the international character of capitalism, and in addition revealed that the “Liberal” Party and the Australian capitalist class are an integral part of the world counter-revolutionary movement, whose headquarters are in Washington.

The Yankee Government’s cooked-up document brazenly attributed to communists the views held by the imperialists – “They are incapable of accepting the idea that peace can endure from now on, and they expect one more catastrophic war.”

It described the Communist Parties outside the Soviet Union as “junior partners or auxiliaries.”

This slander is refuted by the general secretary of the Australian Communist Party. L L Sharkey, in his pamphlet, Australian Communists and Soviet Russia.

“The Australian Communist Party has no relations, official or otherwise, with the Soviet Government, nor did we ever have such relations. Formerly, there existed the Third International, now abolished and, like the Communist Parties of every other country, the Australian Communist Party was affiliated.

“The Communist International had no relations with the Soviet Government, but was an independent organisation ... ”

Posing the question, “What is the true relation of Australian Communists to the Soviet Union,” Sharkey answers:

“First, the Australian Communist Party fights for Socialism; Socialism is already a fact in the Soviet Union. This at once establishes a community of interest, not only between the Communists and the Soviet Union, but between the labour movement as a whole, which desires to see socialisation of industry similar to that already attained in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ...

“Secondly, Australian Communists subscribe to the slogan propounded by Karl Marx, ‘Workingmen of all countries, unite!’ That is to say, we are internationalists and believe that the working people of all countries must co-operate in order to improve their living standards and achieve the goal of a Socialist society ...

“Our relation to the Russian people can be summed up, then, as based on the Marxist principle of working class internationalism, of support for them in their struggle to establish a Communist society in their own country, and of using the lessons of their experience in building socialism, to the advantage of the Australian labour movement.”

Adherence to working class internationalism does not mean Communists are lacking in national pride.

This was made clear by Lenin in an article written in December 1914, entitled The National Pride of the Great Russians.

“Is the sense of national pride alien to us, Great-Russian, class conscious proletarians?” Lenin asked. “Of course not! We love our language and our country, we are doing more than anybody to raise her toiling masses ...

“It pains us more than anyone to see and feel the outrage, oppression and humiliation inflicted on our splendid country by the tsarist hangmen ...”

This is also the attitude of Australian Communists. We love our language and our country and are doing more than anybody to raise living standards, defend peace and to save our country from falling a victim to the war plots of the Yankee billionaires.

It pains us more than anyone to see and feel the outrage, oppression and humiliation inflicted on our splendid country by the “Liberal” hangmen, who are destroying democratic rights and betraying our national independence to the foreign imperialists of America.

Ours is an Australian Party. It is part of the world revolutionary movement but is deeply rooted in our own national life and traditions.

Australia has what might be called a militant-democratic tradition established in the course of the mass popular movement to end convictism in the 1850’s, the armed struggle of the gold diggers at Eureka in 1854, which expedited self-government and gave the institutions a more democratic form than they would otherwise have had, the strikes in Sydney and Melbourne in 1855-56 which won the eight-hour day for building workers, and the great popular struggle to break the squatters’ land monopoly.

Therefore, Communists, by leading militant unions and attacking the Collins House industrial and financial monopolists, as our forefathers attacked the land monopolists, and by calling on the Australian people to prevent our country becoming a colony of American imperialism, as it was once a colony of British imperialism, is living up to the best Australian traditions.

Australia also has an anti-militarist tradition. For three-quarters of a century after the British Redcoats withdrew in 1870 there was no standing army in this country. Anti-militarist feeling was so pronounced that two conscription referendums were defeated during the first world war.

Therefore, Communists, in leading the fight for peace, for banning the atom bomb, and for general disarmament, are again acting in the best traditions of their country and its working people.

The significance of the Australian militant-democratic tradition in preparing the way for Communism is discussed by Lance Sharkey in his booklet, Australia Marches On. Referring to the formative period of the Australian nation in the last century, he says:

“It was in this high, wide and handsome period that the independent, individualist character of the Australian toilers was most pronounced. The workers were not so dependent on capital, on employment in mass industries, which made them more independent in character than their fellows in more strongly established capitalist States ...

“Monopoly capitalism must never be allowed to crush the characteristics of independence, pride in themselves, and initiative of the Australian masses.”

That is precisely the aim of Menzies’ fascist legislation, to crush the characteristic fighting spirit of the Australian working people as a prelude to plunging our country into a disastrous war organised by the foreign imperialists of the United States.

The attack on the Communist Party is not only an attack on the labour movement as a whole, it is also an attack by monopoly capitalism on all that is best and most progressive in the Australian nation.

Therefore, in defending their democratic rights, the Communists are not only defending the interests of the working class, but also the interests of Australia as an independent nation.

This article appeared in Tribune, May 1950.

Next article – Communist Manifesto: Its Relevance 150 Years on

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