Culture and Life
by Rob Gowland
Murdoch supports May Day — Oh yeah!
On Friday, April 27, The Australian, flagship of the Murdoch press and a paper not noted for any left-wing bias, devoted about two thirds of a page to an article by Margot Denney promoting the M1 blockade of the Stock Exchange on Tuesday May 1. The Sydney Sun Herald over the weekend and the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday (April 30) followed up with substantial articles on the M1 preparations at the headquarters of the Democratic Socialist Party. Not a single solitary word is said in the latter articles about the Ml demonstration that is being organised by the Global Action Coalition or the traditional May Day march to take place on Sunday, May 6 in Sydney. And what promotion: large colour photos, very sympathetic (there was not a hostile paragraph in The Australian coverage and only one that was even critical), interviews with several activists, and the inevitable plug for the Trotskytst Green Left Weekly. For 50 years, during which time May Day Committees in Australian cities have regularly held May Day commemorations, the mass media has never given such coverage. To maintain the fiction of "balance", The Australian devoted three paragraphs to the actions of the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC), which has distanced itself from the M1 Stock Exchange blockade and will be holding a march and rally of its own on the day. It has invited M1 participants to join its march as it passes the Stock Exchange. VTHC Acting Secretary Brian Boyd says in the article (the one critical paragraph I mentioned): "If you blockade somewhere, you have to be there to win — you have to feed it and support it with infrastructure. You don't just stand against a wall for a day and walk away at the end of it. It doesn't achieve very much." Although the MI blockade is clearly a divisive rival to the traditional May Day activities, The Australian endeavoured to put a positive spin on it. The paper bracketed Boyd's comments between Denney's curious view that "the Melbourne version of MI will gain strength from Victorian Trades Hall Council members" (as they march elsewhere!), thereby attempting to suggest that the VTHC was supporting the Stock Exchange action. A comment from an MI spokeswoman simply incorporated the VTHC march into the M1 action regardless of the wishes of the VTHC, fatuously — and dishonestly — adding, "that [it] is part of the idea of mass protest — everyone is invited". The massive May Day demonstrations in Europe, Africa, Latin America, India and in the socialist countries barely rate a glimpse on the TV news and only an occasional photo in the Murdoch and Packer media like The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald. While the capitalist media routinely plays down or completely ignores the marches, demonstrations and strike pickets by unionists and shifts attention to the more "colourful" behaviour of the Trots and the anarchists, the bourgeoisie itself pays close attention to the actions of organised labour. They know that it is organised labour that they have to fear. This is their real enemy. The capitalist ruling class is not stupid — far from it. If it uses its media to publicise activities such as M1, it has good reason. The boss class has always used its many resources to run down the organised labour movement, to convince working class people that their interests are the same as those of their boss, that resistance is useless, that ordinary people are powerless, that the world is a morass of scary, random acts of violence and mayhem, and that political activism is an aberration. But the capitalist class also know their dialectics. They know that life itself will propel people towards taking action in defence of their jobs, their democratic rights, their living standards, their health and welfare. So they look for ways to divide and divert opposition by promoting some and ignoring others. They turn to the tried and tested outlet of Trotskyism and anarchism. They know that these two trends, which try to present themselves as "left" and "militant", have never led to a successful revolution and have never actually threatened the rule of capital. They always end up in splitting and dividing the movement. In Australia as elsewhere, the role of Trotskyist organisations is divisive. They routinely attempt to "take over" other organisations for their own narrow purposes. In the M1 action, they are making use of the rapidly growing anti- capitalist and anti-globalisation sentiments of many people and organisations and although there is an Ml coalition, they, in effect, claim it as their own. For example, when one person contacted the Ml committee they received back a copy of Green Left! Green Left Weekly has an "interesting" coverage of topics. It played a divisive role during the MUA waterfront dispute in 1998. It gleefully repeated every CIA fabrication about "Serbian ethnic cleansing" in Yugoslavia and refused to join protests against NATO's bombing unless the government of the Socialist Party of Serbia was condemned. This approach objectively left them supporting imperialism. And not for the first time. They supported the carve-up of Yugoslavia by imperialism in Croatia and Bosnia and were foremost in vociferous support for the CIA funded, armed and promoted, KLA, the Albanian separatist band of cutthroats. ' Green Left supports "self-determination" for Tibet and its stand on Taiwan is problematical leaving the impression that they are in favour of slicing off Taiwan and Tibet from China which are major objectives of imperialism. Some Green Left headlines tell the story: "China increases war spending while its economy sags", "Will Chen Shui-bian lead Taiwan to independence?" "Human rights deteriorate" [in China]. All of these headlines could have found a place in the daily media because they reflect the current campaigns of imperialism against socialist China. It recently called for the South African Communist Party and COSATU (the Congress of South African Trade Unions) to break their alliance with the ANC under the headline "COSATU'S hands tied by ANC alliance", a line that was being pushed at the time in the capitalist media. It then went on to attack the South African Communist Party under the headline "Who is bringing the SACP's name into disrepute". Those who follow the DSP, Resistance and Green Left Weekly banner in blockading the Stock Exchange on May 1 should ask themselves why the capitalist media has given such lavish free publicity and take a long hard and objective look at the policies adopted on many other issues.