After decades of reactionary onslaught, the workers movement in Australia has reached some all-time lows. The overall downturn of class struggles is easily reflected in the Australian Labor Party (ALP) who have become unabashed neoliberals, openly encroaching on workers’ gains. The Australian Greens, posing as another “left” alternative, sits upon its niche appealing to petty-bourgeois yuppies, guilt ridden from the surrounding oppression but unwilling to do more than token gestures to appease their uneasy conscious. Both proud upholders of capitalism, neither offers any real options to workers suffering from the ever increasing poverty that besets us.
The origins of the weakness of labour lies are the products of a bourgeois offensive in Australia and around the world beginning in the 1970s. In Australia these attacks involved the ALP’s class collaborationist “Price and Incomes Accord” where the unions were crippled in their ability to demand better pay and conditions, allowing the government to dictate conditions as they please at the behest of the capitalists they serve. Any union which did not fully conform to ALP’s will were targeted for smashing, such as the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) which dissolved as a result of this. This offensive, which occurred throughout the world, culminated with the collapse of the Soviet Union, onsetting the defeat and isolation of communism in relation to most of the world proletariat for the decades to come. This was thanks in no small part to the Stalinism which painted itself, the gravedigger of revolution, as genuine communism, and its failures – which led to the complete destruction of much of the gains of the Russian revolution – as the failures of communism at large. After the counterrevolutions in the USSR and the Eastern bloc, many declared the “end of history” and the “death of communism” and with such liberal democracy – that is, the rule of the bourgeoisie – prevailing as inevitable. The prevalence of this ideology upon much of the working class led to major cracks and even the destruction of many ostensible socialist organisations, some of which abandoned even the pretences of proletarian revolution or socialism in general.
But in 2008, the global financial crisis rudely awakened capitalists from their “end of history” dreams. The years following were an invigoration of class struggle. In lacking proletarian leadership, much of the workers’ opposition to austerity were partly refracted through “progressive” parliamentarianism leading to a wave of support to left-bourgeois reformism. The traditional mainstream parties saw a resurgence of left liberals such as Sanders in the U.S. Democratic Party and Corbyn in the British Labour Party, while new supposedly “radical left” parties like SYRIZA in Greece and Podemos in Spain started to gain popularity and grow. Meanwhile, the Victorian Socialists were launched vying to gain success with the same “socialist” politics as the likes of Bernie Sanders. In contrast to likes of the French “socialist” Mélenchon, they have found relatively little electoral success, failing in their bid to gain any seat so far – although they were surely rewarded for their efforts by the hefty sums given to them paid by Canberra.1
Regardless of their results, parliamentarianism is a dead end for the emancipation of the working class. While we do not discount the use of parliaments as a tactic to push for a working class program, we should not aid in diverting the disenfranchised workers back into parliament, but rather advocate class struggle as the only consistent means to organise the workers and oppressed. There is a glaring need for regroupment of Marxists to fight for even the most basic democratic and economic demands so that when the next crash does occur – which capitalism guarantees it will – a Marxist group in Australia is prepared to pose the question of class struggle and revolution to the workers who are decimated by the tides of capitalism and fight to lead and to win, and not just seats in a parliament.
The rise of “progressive” parliamentarianism exacerbates the need to learn from the experiences of movements internationally who have shown their inadequacy as not only as a legitimate challenge to overthrow capitalism but for making capitalism palatable for anyone but capitalists. In places such as the Middle East, Brazil, Greece and France – where the class struggle has already heightened significantly – the lack of revolutionary leadership of the proletariat have left workers without genuine recourse.
Despite this, when faced with these inadequacies, the lack of class consciousness lead many self-proclaimed Marxists to lower their words and drop their arms to try to integrate themselves into these very movements; arguing how the foreseeable conditions are averse to any possibility for not only revolution but for fighting for revolution. These are the common features of what Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky termed centrism – that is, revolutionary in words, reformist in deeds. A centrist drops as much of the “baggage” of theory as it can in pursuit of a vague “revolutionary practice”, not realising that this very theory is the only way forwards for revolution in itself. In essence, they see revolution as an “objective” historical process, denying the need of a vanguard party to consciously and deliberately prepare both the elements required for revolution but also the victory of revolution – which is the highest stage of class struggle. To put it simply, centrism is a rejection of scientific socialism. Perhaps to them revolution will come around the same time the reformist social-democrats of the early 20th century saw fit to implement their “maximum program”, while in their daily practice they set all talk of revolution and socialism aside, only mentioning it on special holidays. We believe the socialist revolution can happen in our lifetime, and are ready to play a role in its preparation and execution.
Stalinism and the workers’ states
Stalinism has contributed greatly in crippling the working class movement ever since they usurped political power from the proletariat in the USSR and consolidated as a bureaucratic caste acting in its own interests. Stalin’s and his successors’ betrayals in their attempts to reconcile interests with world capitalism has in every step of the way crippled working class struggles and strangled revolutions.
Finding every chance they can get with tying the working class to its class enemies, Stalinists paved the way to delegitimise communism in the eyes of many, and enabling capitalists to go on the offensive. The obvious example is in World War II, where Stalin and his allies called for workers of the “democratic” imperialist countries to support “their own” capitalists to further their own bureaucratic interests. This class betrayal, set many would be communists into a flurry of vile chauvinism. In America, the CPUSA hailed the American concentration camps which imprisoned anyone of Japanese descent, including their own members. Meanwhile its Australian co-thinkers in the CPA, in the aftermath of nuclear bombs being dropped in Japan proudly displayed a cartoon of a racist caricature of a fat Japanese man with a target on his belly and a nuclear bomb dropping right above it – below the picture sat a caption that read “Jappy Ending”. They also played no small part in dismantling and misleading the radicalised workers and students during the 60s and crushed any possibility of revolution, most plainly seen in France 1968 where their treachery lead to ruin of the uprising. These disgusting betrayals paved the way to more and more open bourgeois attacks against the proletariat. And when they were put to the ultimate test of defending the workers’ states – of which they claimed they were the only “real defenders” – they proved that they were more fearful of the proletariat mobilised than of counterrevolution.
In spite of the bureaucratic mismanagement in the Soviet workers’ state, they still contained within it the gains of the Russian Revolution. It took a capitalist overthrow to reverse these gains which were earned with the expropriation of the expropriators. Marxists at the time stood and still stand with defending the bureaucratically degenerated and deformed workers’ states unconditionally, and to never give up at defending the gains of revolution until it is completely lost. In the collapse of the USSR, the bankruptcy of Stalinism was shown once again, and it has affirmed the need of a genuinely Marxist Vanguard party in defending the workers’ states. Such a party would need to win over the working class for the political overthrow of the Stalinist caste and in the aftermath completely imbuing the state with genuine workers’ democracy as well as eliminating all counterrevolutionary threats who have been allowed to encroach – and conspire to overthrow – so near thanks to the Stalinist misleaders. With the knowledge that socialism cannot be won only in one country, the victorious proletariat would fight for international revolution to overthrow the bourgeoisie of all countries. The window for proletarian political revolution for defence of the USSR and the Eastern Bloc has closed with their counterrevolution, but this does not mean we give up the defence of the remaining workers’ states which still stand evermore isolated in this world of increasing reaction.
In the aftermath of the Chinese Revolution, Mao soon looked to forge alliances with imperialists. But for Mao it wasn’t a fight against fascist imperialism by allying with “democratic” imperialists, but rather a fight against “Soviet imperialism” by allying with actual imperialists. Mere years after Japanese imperialists attempted to colonise China, Mao pushed for an alliance with them against the Soviet Union as well as promoting NATO as a body to fight this so-called “Soviet imperialism”. Mao did everything in his power to raise the threat of an inter-imperialist alliance with support of China against the USSR – a direct threat to the Soviet workers’ state. This was put in practice with Mao’s successors siding and supporting the reactionary Mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union as well as with the genocidal Pol Pot against the Soviet aligned Vietnamese workers’ state – in which both times the anti-Soviet side were being praised and supported in turn by American imperialism.
A workers’ state cannot persist without workers’ democracy. This was displayed very plainly when the degenerated and deformed workers’ states, lacking the participation of a politically active conscious working class, had to substitute this with introducing aspects of private property and market relations. This created a small capitalist class – as well as giving many already existing black market profiteers a legal bed – within these states which in the USSR were out in the open profiteering and pushing for counterrevolution by the time of Gorbachev’s Perestroika. From especially the 90s onward, caused by a mix of conciliation towards world capitalism as well as an attempt to increase productivity, the Communist Party of China (CPC) increasingly followed this route, dubbing it “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. This has created an increasingly strong capitalist class in China posing to overthrow the bureaucracy and destroy the gains of the Chinese Revolution. The CPC in trying to make allies with imperialists ignore this, knowing that their true fear is the power of the proletariat – whose struggle and fight occurs stronger and more often than any other country. We are at the point where now they are active capitalist enclaves in China in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs), which the CPC gives legitimacy to in disenfranchising workers for their caste’s narrow interests. This is similarly the case in the Chinese city of Hong Kong. When the former colony was returned to China in 1997, its liberation from the clutches of the British were bitter sweet as the CPC cut a deal with British imperialists ensuring that Hong Kong remains a capitalist enclave where the tycoons can prosper and the workers suffer under the “white collar sweatshop of the world”. Marxists stand against the “One Country Two Systems” policy as well as the SEZs which are an open betrayal of the Chinese proletariat with CPC approved capitalists dancing in their profits. This has created hubs of capitalists and reaction, as well as alienating workers in these enclaves who thanks to these policies could be won over by capitalists aiming for counterrevolution.
Marxists stand for the defence of the remaining deformed workers’ states, in spite and against the Stalinist bureaucracy. These deformed workers’ states include North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba and China. This defence includes supporting struggles of workers in defending the property forms being surrendered by the CPC as well as the struggles of workers already suffering under CPC approved capitalist inroads. For example, Marxists would support the 2009 protests by the Tonghua Iron and Steel workers defending their property forms against privatisation and would be on their side in any confrontations they would have had with the police acting under the behest of the CPC. Such actions imbue the workers with the consciousness necessary for proletarian political overthrow of the Stalinist bureaucracy, which without doing so ever endangers the Chinese workers’ state. We would also be on the side of the valiant workers throughout China during the Tiananmen Square protests, these struggles being caused by the anger of the population against Deng who was posing to increase the pace of creating capitalist inroads. The CPC were paralysed and completely fearful of these workers who fought against the increasing corruption and selloffs, with the bureaucracy itself close to splitting into class lines with the soldiers of the Beijing People’s Liberation Army refusing orders for mobilisation against the Internationale singing and red flag waving protesters.
It is a must for Marxists to defend the deformed workers’ states against capitalist counterrevolution, including the possibility of a military side with Stalinists in certain actions against capitalists and reactionaries. In such a bloc we would never liquidate ourselves nor give up our criticisms, but we would aim to “shoot in the same direction”, literally as well as through mobilising workers’ against the capitalists. Historically this has included militarily siding with the Stalinists against the Nazis, against the counterrevolutionary leadership of Solidarność in Poland as well as against the reactionary Mujahedeen. This does not mean we would politically support the Stalinists, which would be approving their methods of suppression, just as defending a union from capitalist destruction does not mean we endorse the union bureaucracy and its methods of defending the union.
Today in Hong Kong, as the CIA backed pro-imperialist riots rage on, the bulk of the rioters remain pro-capitalist, petty bourgeois and with a small minority of upper strata proletarians. Politically, it is dominated with xenophobic localists and colonial flag wavers who have and are mobilising for more and more imperialist intervention and even invasion. In defence of the Chinese deformed workers’ state, we would side against a counterrevolutionary takeover by the pro-capitalist reactionary movement, which could involve military support for the People’s Liberation Army as well as the Hong Kong police. Marxists say that not only is the workers’ side for the sweeping of the counterrevolutionary rabble – from the universities and from the streets – but an end to the “One Country Two Systems” policy as well as a complete expropriation of all the capitalists of Hong Kong, many of which partook in conspiring and launching this counterrevolutionary arrow. By showing to the workers of China that we take the defence of the workers’ state seriously, we can win over workers to the position that the only true way to defend the workers’ state – and its gains – in the long run is for a political overthrow of the CPC.
Against bourgeois reformism, for a Marxist perspective!
Bourgeois reformism is a dead end. In its essence it seeks not to overthrow capitalism, but to reform the state to something more palatable. But a state is not some classless representation of “the people” but rather an organ for class rule, in its core being defended by its special bodies of armed men – represented in a bourgeois state in the police and army. Its class nature, ever immutable, seems to those who do not seek a smashing of the state as inevitable, and as such they do not see capitalism as the main enemy but rather its grossest outpours. From this, it is unavoidable that those who cannot even think of grasping at the roots of capitalism are bound to accept conditions as how much the state can bend and if left in power – as the party of choice of the capitalists to defend capitalism – will eventually enact even the harshest austerity.
This is exemplified by the “Coalition of the Radical Left” (SYRIZA) in Greece. A party that gained popularity and was elected on the basis of opposing the austerity, only to turn around and push for the worst austerity Greece had yet to see in the current crisis. Those who cry that SYRIZA merely “capitulated” do not fear to venture to study the reasons for SYRIZA’s actions. Marxists at the time could clearly see the nature of SYRIZA, of it being fundamentally bourgeois in its perspective – doubly shown in its political bloc with the conservative party “Independent Greeks” (ANEL) – from its first day in power. By its nature, the SYRIZA government was unable and unwilling to attack the true cause of austerity, which made their “betrayal” a forgone conclusion. Meanwhile the Internationalist Workers’ Left (DEA) of Greece, international co-thinkers of Australia’s Socialist Alternative (SAlt), decided to liquidate itself into SYRIZA. In fact, Sotiris Martalis, a central committee member of both SYRIZA and DEA at the time of “the victory of SYRIZA”, declared those who opposed a coalition with the bourgeois reformists as having a “sectarian attitude” 2 with SAlt declaring proudly that the victory of SYRIZA was “A stunning victory for the left in Greece”.
When these statements started to reveal its glaring holes, SAlt and its international comrades offered no real perspective on its class nature, denouncing the “capitulation to austerity” without challenging any of its root causes, merely blaming it all on the leading Tsipras while doing the same as they did in SYRIZA but in Popular Unity (LAE). SAlt commented on the direction of the new group for the DEA that “Out of the mess of Syriza, a new political party, Popular Unity (LAE) was formed to keep alive the hope that there is an alternative to the path taken by Syriza.”3 In reality, there is no alternate path for Popular Unity if they were in government. Popular Unity, named after the bourgeois popular front of the reformist Allende, provided nothing new to the table other than being not in power. There is no fundamental change, despite perhaps their rhetoric to stand to the left of SYRIZA.
Neither the DEA nor SAlt are capable of providing a Marxist analysis, choosing rather to hide their gross support to a now openly pro-austerity bourgeois-reformist party and now backing another of the same creed. What is essential to Marxists is to defend proletarian class independence against the bourgeoisie. To call for a vote to a capitalist party is to give them an inherent political support. This lies completely contrary to the tasks of Marxism, which stresses the need for class struggle of the proletariat to work towards the overthrow of capitalism. We call such a vote class collaborationism: workers are led to collaborate with their oppressors’ machinations and schemes. What’s essential is a class line being drawn, of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie for the overthrow of capitalism. As such, it is a must to defend our own program, a revolutionary militant and scientific program of class struggle.
While it is certainly a task of Communists to address their base of supporters – that is, youth and workers who are attracted to those forces because of their apparent opposition to the status quo, we must do so on a totally different basis: engaging with them in unity of action when for the benefit of the working class in general on a variety of issues, as well as openly criticising their current political views and perspectives, especially their recognised leaders, who are in turn committed to the maintenance of the capitalist state.
Today, in the state of disorganisation and demoralisation of the labour and socialist movements, reformism is extremely conservative, the bourgeois-reformists, whether the new type or the more traditional type (such as Labour or Social-democratic parties in many countries) do little to change the situation of millions of workers and oppressed. Their necessity to sustain the capitalist state – with its permanent army and police, privileged bureaucracy, judges and congressmen – forces them to accept working class impoverishment as a fate. As it stands today, they at best are able to conduct some minor social programs which are barely able to cover for the deep worsening of real wages and living conditions, least to say a serious improvement in ordinary people’s lives. But when a revolutionary situation arises, it is quite likely that reformists may take a different route – in a bid to appease the masses as to contain them – they could be led to power to regulate relatively deep social reforms. If this attempt to tame the workers succeeds, when the revolutionary period passes by, capitalists are enabled to retract these reforms as they please. In either course, in time, this leads to deep frustration from their electoral base and opens space for charlatans and right-wing reactionaries who explore popular anger with outdated fallacies and conspiracy theories.
Attaching themselves to the politics of those figures and parties can only lead to self-sabotage of the socialist movement. In many cases, this leads the left to become the defenders of the status quo, capitalist democracy, instead of being seen as a force for social change allowing reactionaries to pose as enemies of the current state of affairs who will “change everything”. In Brazil Bolsonaro posed as anti-establishment; in juxtaposition, Haddad, the Workers’ Party (PT) candidate, abandoned even the pretence of it. The Brazilian left, weighed down by their ties to parliamentary democracy failed to fight bourgeois reaction through class struggle and instead went, almost in its entirety, with the PT narrative of blind expectation in the rigged electoral system.
The need of a Marxist position in the modern Australian left
Of all the ostensible socialist fauna in Australia, SAlt distinguishes itself as the largest. But beware those who accidently walk into the jaws of this beast in hopes of revolutionary politics. Socialist Alternative sees the militant tradition of workers in Australia too broken for “old Marxism”. Preferring to stay at large in the campuses, they have, in general, abandoned the workers’ struggles in response to the reactionary backflows of today concluding that such is rather an objective completely outside the picture of possibility, planned to be done at a time when the grass grows greener. Even when their members are active in unionising their workplace and class struggle they do not mention the need for a union opposition to the trade union bureaucracy, they do not mention the need to link today’s struggle with the need for proletarian revolution and lastly they do not stress how only a class-conscious revolutionary union opposition is really interested in leading the workers against the bourgeoisie without betraying them like the bureaucracy. 4 To put it simply, even when they do get involved in class struggle, they act as nothing more than left trade unionists. Their international politics derive from a similar perspective of defeatism. In championing imperialist backed troops in Libya and Syria. In joining the imperialists’ and Ukrainian fascists’ hue and cry against “Russian Imperialism” in Crimea. In praising the electoral victory of far right localist “democrats” in Hong Kong – whose support stems from their foot soldier rioters on the ground in what they rightfully see as a fight against communism. Socialist Alternative seeks an alternative to the proletariat as the driving force forwards. The fundamental question of class, is always at best a mere talking point – for them, it is never the lens to determine their positions. In reality, their positions are based on one thing – popular opinion. This allows them to have a seat at the back carriage of bourgeois forces, riding along and giving them backing and a left cover in their struggle to dismantle the proletariat at home, and overthrow workers’ states internationally.
Victorian Socialists, a unity project of Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance, has personified their conciliation with the trade union bureaucracy, with one of the most prominent figureheads of their campaigns being former Geelong Trades Hall Council secretary Tim Gooden. During the Victorian election, they made it clear they were going to give their preference votes to bourgeois “progressive” forces: “Our preferences will go 100% to progressive parties – the Greens, Reason, Animal Justice and Labor – before any of the right wing parties or Druery micro parties.” 5 By doing so, the Victorian Socialists avoided facing any workers who support Greens and especially Labor with the fact that these parties act against working class interests – hence, refusing to expose their true nature. They are not looking for an independent class position – that is, a position of the workers against the bosses – but rather electoral gains while still collaborating with the “lesser evil” capitalist forces, by not daring to threaten their electoral aims through actively directing their “preference votes” – which in the case of them not getting a seat it would entail all their votes – into the bourgeois forces.
Such class treason dissolves any possibility of a vote of “critical support” which could have been a tactic Marxists could have called for in the case that they drew a class line, however crude, of workers against the bosses. But Victorian Socialists have failed in this elementary task of proletarian independence and, because of this, calling to vote for them would be akin to calling for a vote to SYRIZA and others who actively seek to sell their snake oil to the workers. It ultimately means that, if elected, a Victorian Socialists representative would certainly give their support to the agenda of the “progressive” bourgeoisie, helping those parties attack and demoralise the workers.
One of the most undemocratic aspects of the Australian electoral system is its mandatory preferential voting in which voters and parties themselves have to assign multiple “preferences” – parties to which their votes should be given to in the case the higher priority vote has any “flowover votes”. Least voted candidates are eliminated and their “preferences” receive their votes until one candidate reaches the required votes needed for a seat. Because of this system, voters cannot support only one political platform but rather have to vote for many or all of them, picking only their favourite order. For opportunists this is not a problem, as was demonstrated by Victorian Socialists as they can comfortably assign their preferences towards the “lesser evils” of the ruling class. But for revolutionary Marxists, whose main purpose in running the elections is to propagate and solidify the position of workers’ independence and their struggles against the capitalists, it is hell. Marxists must demand a change to voting system in which the candidate with the highest number of votes gets elected, not the candidate that made the most deplorable deals. We also would avoid any political support to any bourgeois party and its aims by refusing to vote for them even in the current system.
While in practice playing the role of left-wing auxiliaries of Labor and the Greens, in their own political manifesto, Victorian Socialists defends a perspective which they claim to be socialist6:
The right’s propaganda doesn’t work anymore: millions want a society that works for people. We want large-scale public ownership of key industries, equal and free access to world class healthcare and education, cities where everyone can afford secure and good housing; we want the right to strike, and the guarantee of workers’ rights; we want people in power who will fight racism, reject law and order myths, and extend women’s and LGBTIQ rights. We want a fight against climate change that puts a critique of capitalism, a system literally capable of destroying life on earth, at its centre. We want socialism, and we’re fighting for it.
While those demands are legitimate, the achievement of workers’ interests is not presented as viable only by overthrowing the capitalist state, but rather by voting socialists into it. While opposed to capitalism vaguely, it is also not against private property of the means of production. The platform goes on to say: “Victorian Socialists will tirelessly work to show that it’s possible to fund social services by making corporations pay their fair share.” On their housing project, it is stated that “We need a whole new way of regulating and managing private rental.” No comment about the need of eradicating capitalists and real estate owners through revolutionary expropriation. No serious reform can be made while the capitalists are still in control of the economy, whether or not they pay “their fair share”. It is important to remember that it is also the capitalists and their auxiliaries who are in control of the police, the courts and state bureaucracy, instruments used to prevent any serious change made from “within”.
Victorian Socialists say that “Australia is one of the richest countries in the world. We can afford a decent society.” as if the matter could be solved by redistributing some wealth from the rich to the poor. Also, there is no comment about Australia’s role as a minor imperialist partner in the exploitation of underdeveloped countries or the need of uprooting the class structure of society. Sure we can live in a decent society, a socialist society. But it will not be achieved without expropriation of the capitalist robbers and demolition of their state by revolutionary means. It will not be achieved by merely raising taxes on corporations or regulating them.
Marxists do not rule out working class organisations participating in the elections for the capitalist state. But their role in them, especially if elected, should be to prepare the dissolution of such state, including its repressive apparatus, and its replacement by workers’ organisations – the dictatorship of the proletariat. To expect to do so without a revolutionary transition of power leads to spreading electoral illusions.
To uproot capitalism, we must fight all forms of oppression
Within the Australian working class there are many splits and divisions due to reactionary ideologies. This includes intense racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia. This is a reflection of the backward consciousness of the proletariat, with their accepting of much of the bourgeois ideology injected into them from birth. Such ideologies are derived from social conditions created and beneficial to the ruling class, which is able to better exploit and divide different sections of the workers and turn one against the other.
For a revolution to be successful, all those oppressed by bourgeois society must be unified into a militant revolutionary bloc led by the proletariat and its party. Marxists must declare that the enemy is not immigrants or the “dole bludgers”, but rather the system which ruthless attempts to pit white workers against Aboriginals, Torres Strait Islanders, Africans and Asians; men against women; Australian workers against the “Asian hordes off our shores”; cisgender and straight workers against transgender and gay workers, etc. As a part of this, we demand full citizenship rights to all immigrants, mobilised workers’ defence of them and their families against bigotry and deportation threats, and equal pay for equal work. Those workers which are the most oppressed under capitalism have all the reasons to be its most militant grave-diggers and the first rank in the socialist movement.
One burning question is Australia is that of the rights of indigenous populations. Their land rights are thrown in the bin much more frequently than they are recognised by the Australian state, which traces its roots back to the British colonies that ruthlessly and forcefully fenced off the land of indigenous Australians for the sake of shameless profiteering by the early white capitalists. Since 2007, the Australian government has occupied dozens of aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, tearing into shreds the previously granted land rights, in the name of “stopping child abuse”.
While Marxists commend and seek to participate in the brave fights that lead to regaining a portion of the land taken – and retaken – from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, we recognise that whatever rights and autonomy granted to them under capitalism will be thrown aside as soon as it suits Canberra in their endless bid to grab as much land as possible to sell to the highest bidder.
We believe the task of liberation of Aboriginals, Torres Strait Islanders, immigrants, women and all the oppressed by capitalist society can only truly occur with the abolition of private property and the end of commodification of humans by other humans through wage slavery. Proletarian revolution is the first step in this process, after which it is essential that all indigenous communities are granted full autonomy and rights; and given every tool possible to aid those who want to participate in voluntary integration – which only after capitalism can be truly voluntary. A post capitalist society must guarantee complete equality not just by law but in reality.
For women, this means that a workers’ government established after the revolution would guarantee equal pay for equal work in all occupations; it would also smash the family relations which chain women to the household by building communal restaurants, laundries and day-care centres. This principle of equality must be guaranteed to all who suffer oppression under capitalism.
Marxists have no doubt the difficulty of this task with the rampant prejudice that is happening in Australia on a day to day basis. Only through active proletarian struggle for the rights of the oppressed can the workers who are oppressed not only by class relations but doubly so through ruling class institutionalised bigotry be convinced of the honesty and correctness of the revolutionary perspective; only by fighting against all the workers’ prejudices can unity of struggle be achieved.
The tasks ahead of Marxists
Genuine Marxists should look to form a revolutionary nucleus, an initially small, concentrated cadre of Marxists fighting not to gain instant popularity in such a reactionary epoch, but to plant the seeds of a revolutionary party not at an indefinite ill-defined time of “better class consciousness”, but right now. This nucleus, to not fall prey to its national conditions, must link hands with likeminded comrades internationally to form a platform with the common goal of the rebuilding of an international Marxist organisation, as well as link the struggle of the Australian proletariat with the workers of all countries. To maintain a Marxist program we must stress class independence and a refusal to reconcile with the capitalists or their lieutenants in the trade union bureaucracy.
There must be emphasis on intervening and participating in class struggles with the aim of connecting the present day trade-unionist consciousness with the necessary struggle for working class power. We must propagate that only Marxist politics are capable of leading the workers in the unions without betraying them. Stressing how even in the smallest strikes only such a union leadership is interested in not capitulating to the bosses. We must also demand the organisation of the millions of nonunionised and unorganised workers, who are left behind by the union bureaucrats. No matter the “thousands of leaflets” that a union bureaucracy can produce, revolutionary cadres must stand against them loudly and defiantly. Such a project may need to be underground in unions in which such positions are banned, but nevertheless it is essential to persevere as the goal is to not sect ourselves away from workers but to create a revolutionary movement within the working masses. A Marxist nucleus’ politics would stand against the opportunism of ostensible socialists such as Socialist Alternative and its parliamentary vehicle in Victorian Socialists. While it may be necessary to work together on common goals, we cannot drop any of our criticisms of their opportunism which only lead to failure in the long run for the emancipation of the working class
So what is the task ahead for Marxists? To fulfil the aching need for a Marxist nucleus, based on the principles developed over a century of revolutions since the October Revolution in Russia, led by V.I. Lenin and L.D. Trotsky.
Towards a Marxist Nucleus of Australia and the World!
- This can be seen when you go to any article where they talk about their unionised members such as https://redflag.org.au/node/6609 and https://redflag.org.au/node/6507