The Guardian • Issue #2088

Coming up in the Australian Marxist Review

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2088

Guardian readers should also be Australian Marxist Review (AMR) readers if they want to know more about Communist theory and history than is usually covered in a weekly newspaper. The AMR is the Communist Party of Australia’s long-form journal, and like the Guardian can be subscribed to via the website, or read online.

Like the Guardian, we might add, the AMR needs donations to the Press Fund to keep the good work going.

Here are some tasters from the coming AMR, issue 76

What’s going on with democracy and socialism in Vietnam today? The AMR features an article by Dr Vu Trong Lam on “Raising awareness and addressing correctly the practice of democracy – rule of law and social discipline nexus in Vietnam today”. The Australian Marxist Review believes this article will be useful in deepening members of the CPA understanding of the development of Socialism in Vietnam and for strengthening the relationship between communists in Vietnam and Australia.

In October 2023, the 23rd International meeting of Communist and Workers Parties took place in Izmir, Türkiye. CPA General Secretary Andrew Irving was there, and has recommended publication of a speech from that conference by the Communist Party of Italy which gives a Marxist-Leninist analysis of a range of significant international questions. Andrew recommends it to “ those who are interested in the transformation of society from capitalism to Socialism.”

The AMR also helps deepen our knowledge of Australian Communist experience with a series of long form interviews with experienced comrades from around the country. This edition features an interview with Comrade Sally Mitchell, covering her life as the daughter of communist parents, experience in the Eureka Youth League and the Young Socialist League, as well as an 18 month visit to the Soviet Union.

Like Vietnam, China is subject to a mixture of neglect and lazy stereotyping in most Australian and western English-language media.  Comrade Roland Boer who lives and teaches in China has provided to the AMR the reflective piece “Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom: My Experience of China Today” to capture his reflections arising from returning to China following the opening of borders and of the inspiring changes and developments in the building of a modern socialist country in China today. These changes particularly detail the self-reform processes led by the Communist Party of China in strengthening advances in China’s socialist modernisation.

Guardian readers have recently seen excerpts from Comrade David Matters speech on Lenin in this paper. AMR #76 presents an interview which covers the experiences that led David to socialism and a look at some of the blind alleys that can divert people from a truly revolutionary position.

You may also recognise William Briggs’ name from frequent contributions to this paper. William was the last Guardian correspondent to the Soviet Union, and in a reflective piece, ‘To Moscow and back again,’ he provides an illuminating testimony of the final years of the Soviet Union and of his experience of the counter-revolutionary wave that destroyed socialism there and in eastern Europe.

Excerpts from AMR 76

From ‘Raising awareness and addressing correctly the practice of democracy – rule of law and social discipline nexus in Vietnam today

The practice of democracy in politics, in political participation, in social governance of citizens has the following outstanding manifestations: meetings and exchanges between deputies of the National Assembly, deputies of the People’s Council, and voters before and after national congresses are organised so that the voices of citizens can be heard, their recommendations on the Party’s undertakings and the government policies and laws can be listened and deputies can present their report on how they hear the people’s opinions.

The voice of the people at the grassroots level is heard and respected. Their reasonable recommendations on government policies are heard by deputies who submit them to competent authorities to make timely adjustments. It shows that the people’s right to mastery, and their involvement in assessing and reforming policies are respected and implemented. Citizens’ petitions and complaints about violations of democracy and laws; manifestations of bureaucracy, irresponsibility; unethical deeds; acts of bullying, harassment, and corruption of public officials have been gathered, investigated, and handled. It is an attitude of respect and protection toward citizens by practical actions.

Significant progress has been made in reducing insubstantial meetings with citizens, stopping making empty promises, and shirking duties of public agencies. Citizens can raise their voices to complete draft legal documents and draft documents of the Party through Congress. Democracy in recent years has also been strengthened by creating an environment and mechanism for citizens to control State power, prevent violations of laws and Party’s rules among officials and Party members, interest groups who harm the common interests of society, tarnish the reputation of the Party and cause the decline of State power.

From the speech to the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties (IMCWP) by the Party of Communists (Italy).

In Western Europe we have no Iranian, Chinese or Russian military bases, nor will we ever have them. We have no governments run from outside, except by the USA. The task of communists in Western Europe is to fight against their own imperialism, as Lenin taught us. Opportunism leads to an alliance with its own imperialism, as Kautsky did; we have to do just the opposite. Popular feelings against US dominance in our countries are widespread in broad, even contradictory circles. The anti-Chinese and anti-Russian propaganda is overwhelming and it fuels the people’s adherence to align themselves with imperialism in their own home country. Countering this propaganda, destroying the construction of the phantom “imperialist” dangers of China and Russia is the main aim of our propaganda. The propaganda’s vision of the pro-imperialist left that jointly denounces both NATO and China and Russia does nothing but fuelling confusion among the popular masses, leading them to a state of resignation (“they are all the same”) that eventually leads to apathy and acceptance of the “inevitable” reality (“we’re on this side, because on the other side it’s the same or maybe even worse!”).

From Sally Mitchell interview

SM: No, not obviously this end, that end they were just not very good at hiding it [phone-tapping]. So you if you were aware of that, I must admit that I think maybe I’m a bit blasé with some of our younger comrades about this issue because I have grown up just knowing that the government will spy on you, the government are arseholes, they do invade your privacy, they do things that they don’t tell the rest of the world that they are doing, they do listen in on your phone calls. I now recall clearly, I was back home here, Dad had gone back and we were not sure when he was coming home. It was around that time that I was expecting to get a call from him to let me know. I got a phone call from somebody else. ‘I hear that your dad is coming home on such and such a date’. There was no reason for that person to know that sort of information. Absolutely none whatsoever. It was so far out of the realm, I knew that they were family friends that sort of thing, but for them to have that sort of information, there was no way he got it through anywhere else other than ASIO. You know. We always knew that they were doing it. Dad used to say when we were kids ‘no staying on the phone any longer than 2 minutes’, 5 minutes, whatever. You would hear clicks in the line and things like that.

From Roland Boer: ‘Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom: My Experience of China Today’

I have noticed a significant return of social trust. The value of social trust comes out of China’s millennia-long cultural tradition, in the sense that you can trust the person with whom you are dealing. Of course, China’s history has had periods when there was a distinct lack of social trust, most recently the “wild 90s” and its aftermath in the first decade of the new century. For most people, this loss of social trust was an affront to deep cultural values, so they have welcomed in so many ways the return of this value into daily life.

From the David Matters interview

The reactionary teachers were better at recruiting us towards communism than the progressive ones. In Primary School, in South Berkeley, we had a Social Studies teacher who was a full-on liberal, so we hated him from the beginning. He would give us a lecture on the dangers of the Soviet Union. When I first heard about the Soviet Union I was 10 or 11 years old and I wrote a little paragraph, which for me was extreme writing, and I wrote that Communism was a good idea because the people won’t go hungry anymore. I’ve experienced hunger.

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