Saturday, January 21, 2017

War-games or Reality? The Korean Peninsula: early 2017


A small monument, on display to commemorate wartime abuse of Korean woman by occupation Japanese military forces, has created a major diplomatic rift between South Korea (ROK) and their US-led defence and security allies.

Behind the rift, however, lie far more pressing contemporary issues which have created: an escalation of regional tension centred on the Korean peninsula; a rapid polarisation within the ROK.
A bronze status of a young, seated woman with a small bird lodged on her shoulder, has come to symbolise the struggle of Korean women to publicise their enforced sexual slavery during the war-time Japanese military occupation of their country. Soon after one of the statues was placed outside their consulate in Busan, the Japanese government in Tokyo recalled its ambassador to Seoul and the Consul-General to Busan in protest.

The main Japanese Embassy in Seoul also had a similar monument placed outside the premises, which was removed following protests from Japan. It was, however, soon replaced by peace activists who were subsequently supported by local ROK authorities. (1)

The dispute over comfort woman has raged between the two countries for decades. While Japan was eventually forced to settle compensation claims over the matter, many Korean people do not accept their apology. The matter is further aggravated by successive Japanese political leaders continuing to pay homage at war-shrines, including the Yasukuni site, where fourteen Class A war-criminals are buried. Progressive forces in Korea argue the homage depicts continuing respect for Japanese militarism and all which accompanied it. (2)

Korean people, together with many others across the Asia-Pacific region, have long and unhappy memories of Imperial Japan and their atrocities committed during their brutal occupation from 1910-45. It is not surprising, therefore, moves by the United States in recent times to change the status of Japan from a client state to a fully-fledged regional hub for 'US interests' has rekindled those fears of militarism and war.

The moves, given an urgent priority by US presidential administrations, were accompanied by Japan conveniently losing its pacifist constitution and hosting numerous sensitive US military facilities which have been mirrored by similar moves in Australia. Today, the US-led Global Transformation of Defence and Security (GTDS), has Japan in the north of the region, with expanded facilities in Australia in the south which is increasingly littered with official, semi-official and non-official military facilities. The triangular relationship is an important part of US planning to reassert hegemonic positions threatened by the rise of China and those countries with sympathetic diplomatic relations with Beijing.

The Korean peninsula is one area of the region where continual war-games have had seemingly real-life scenarios. The ROK, for example, has strong diplomatic relations with China. The US, therefore, have sought to prise the country away and reinsert it into more US spheres of influence which has included partial relations with the GTDS. The moves have been accompanied with joint military manoeuvres between the US and ROK toward the northern DPRK. There has been little left to the imagination with US military forces in the ROK being placed 'on their highest level of alert' early last year and subsequent drills using live ammunition. (3)

The recent ROK announcement it would host a highly sophisticated US THAAD system has caused still further serious regional concerns. The system is linked into larger GTDS networks. Initially President Park was not in favour of accepting the THAAD system. Influence, however, was brought to bear and the government caved in. It led to considerable opposition not only from within the ROK but across the wider region. (4)

Soon after a scandal broke in Seoul implicating President Park in serious financial corruption which has led to her impeachment, the removal of senior government officials and raids upon leading corporate institutions accused of fraudulent behaviour. It is alleged 'conglomerates such as Samsung, Hyundai and LG donated millions of dollars to foundations controlled by Ms Park's confidante Choi Soon-sil in exchange for political favours' (5)

For ROK legislators and judicial figures the matter is quite clear-cut: the chief prosecutor appointed to deal with the scandal, Kweon Seong-dong, has already stated 'Ms. Park abused her position by broadly and gravely violating the constitution to commit corruption and turn state affairs into a profit tool for confidante Choi Soon-sil'. (6)

In recent weeks millions of ordinary Korean people have taken to the streets in massive demonstrations across the ROK in protest at recent government behaviour. Opposition to the remains of the Park administration show no sign of abating.

There are 28,500 US military personnel stationed in the ROK, the decades-old treaty being officially for the defence of Japan and rapid deployment elsewhere in the region. The size of recent demonstrations together with the political paralysis in Seoul, however, must now raise questions in Washington about the operational effectiveness of US forces in the ROK.

It is particularly significant to note the THAAD system is scheduled to be operational shortly before the end of this year, the timing of which coincides with the final months of the Park administration. The US-led western defence and security officials responsible for the THAAD system clearly want Park to remain in office until her official presidential term is completed, for other, ulterior motives despite the problems which have arisen. They fear new elections may produce a president not sympathetic to their foreign policy.

The mass of Korean people, by contrast, want her to go immediately. Recent reliable opinion polls show 'her approval rating has fallen to 4 per cent with 80 per cent of people recently polled saying they backed her impeachment'. (7) A major struggle is therefore taking place in the ROK, with far-reaching implications for the wider region. It has not been particularly difficult to identify which close ally has taken the lead to defend US regional military planning.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suddenly announced he would arrive in Sydney on 13 January, at only a few days’ notice, for 'a chance to discuss security arrangements' and to 'deepen ties with the major countries of the Asia-Pacific' with the Australian government. (8)

While the nature and contents of seemingly hastily drawn up agendas for the several high-level diplomatic meetings taking place in Canberra over a usual Australian weekend remain classified, recent developments in the ROK were obviously a priority, with pressing major defence and security considerations affecting US military planning for Japan and Australia.

Secondly, the matter of strained diplomatic relations between Japan and the ROK over the monument outside their consular facilities in Busan and implications for Australia might also be more than a passing interest. Recently, the Australia-Japan Community Network lodged a complaint under Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 'over a monument at inner western Sydney's Ashfield Uniting Church commemorating the suffering of the more than 200,000 women and girls forced by the Imperial Japanese Army into prostitution' might well also be more than a passing consideration. (9) The present Japanese government are clearly worried about adverse publicity into their shameful past and continued honouring of those responsible for the atrocities with specific reference to the Korean peninsula and elsewhere.

The US, likewise, are also concerned their military planning in the ROK is being met with obstacles: they appear, in recent times, quite desperate. The tone of the media releases has highlighted the rising tide of militarism.

A recent statement from the US, for example, included the establishment of a special unit and brigade within the ROK military with the intention of 'removing or paralysing North Korea's wartime command structure' including 'new hardware such as Chinook helicopters' with capacity to infiltrate and successfully implement the operation. (10) The statement also included a 'targeted information campaign' to create social turmoil and civil unrest, making the country ungovernable.

The statement, however, was economical with the words and failed to acknowledge the fact both sides of the Korean peninsula remain in a potential war-situation following failure to resolve the war of the early 1950s. The position of the US-led planning, therefore, can best be viewed as a definite statement of intention as opposed to merely a war-game.

And following the US-led military initiatives against the DPRK one can but question whether another recent announcement was also linked to their wholesale warmongering on the Korean peninsula: during mid-2016 Australia and Singapore updated their military alliance with a $2.25 billion expansion of training facilities in Queensland. A statement issued about joint military training provision between Special Forces from the two countries also included personnel from the ROK in what appeared to be stabilisation of civil unrest, counter-insurgency and elimination of 'stay-behind' agents. The massive expansion of military training provision included such specialities as 'planning a mock city with multi-story buildings for soldiers to hone their urban warfare skills', and to, 'storm and seize control of a terrorist hideout' in a mock village. (11)

Progressive-minded people across the Asia-Pacific region should note recent developments with alarm. The US imperialists and their allies are preparing for a real war to reassert hegemonic positions in the region.

Perhaps we should all start collecting money to buy small monuments to place outside Japanese diplomatic facilities before it is too late.
1. Envoy recalled in statue stand-off, Weekend Australian, 7-8 January 2017.
2. Monk sets self alight at Park protest, Australian, 9 January 2017.
3. US troops in S Korea put on highest alert, Australian, 12 January 2016.
4. China slams US-S Korea decision to deploy THAAD Air Defence System, Sputnik International, 8 July 2016.
5. Samsung heir to be grilled for 'bribery', Australian, 12 January 2017.
6. Park 'crucified' by mob: lawyer, Australian, 6 January 2017.
7. S Korean President prepares to quit, Australian, 30 November 2016.
8. Regional security focus for Abe visit, Australian, 12 January 2017.
9. Envoy recalled in statue stand-off, op., cit.
10. Special unit to kill Kim, Australian, 6 January 2017.
11. Singapore's military training area, Straits Times, 9 May 2016.

Chinese "Long March" In Australia - Opportunity to Build Ties Between Chinese and Australian Peoples

Ned K.

In May 2017, events are taking place in the South East of South Australia and western Victoria to celebrate the 160th anniversary of Chinese gold seekers trekking over 400 kilometres from the seaside town of Robe to the goldfields of western Victoria. Part of the celebration includes a community "Long March" from Robe to Melbourne, following the route taken by some 16,500 trekkers in 1857.

The "Long March" will include participants who are direct descendants of those Chinese who made the journey from southern China 160 years ago. Some of these descendants are coming from China for the walk while others are Chinese Australians.

The celebration of the 160th anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between the Chinese and Australian people and build stronger ties between the peoples of both countries at a time of growing tensions between China as a growing power and the USA as a declining but still dominant imperialist power.

In 1857 most of the Chinese people who made the long overseas journey from southern China by boat to Robe were poor people desperate to find a way to improve the lives of their families at a time when the Chinese people were exploited by a feudal regime supported by expanding European and US colonial powers.

According to Fiona Ritchie in a paper called "From Guichen Bay to Canton: The Chinese Trek to Gold", most of the Chinese who came to Robe in 1857 did so to avoid paying the 20 pound poll tax imposed by the Victorian Government on Chinese arriving by boat in Port Phillip Bay from 1853.
Ritchie points out that most of the Chinese had to borrow money from loan sharks in China to pay for the journey by boat. Those who did not own land for security on the loan had their families in China placed in indentured labor in China to work off the loan for two years or more.
The colonial merchant capitalists from England, Holland and the US provided the poorly equipped boats for the journey. These sharks were the "people smugglers” of the 1850s - from the colonial powers. Ritchie describes the conditions on the boats in the following way:

"Often they (Chinese) were confined below decks because the crews were fearful of these unfamiliar people...many Chinese died on board or arrived dying of fevers or dysentery. The British Consul of Armoy recorded that on one ship, the lack of food and water had led to the loss of 70 Chinese lives in a few days"
On arrival in Robe the "boat people" set off across difficult terrain with unknown water supplies, averaging about 35 kilometres per day until they reached the goldfields. They often had to avoid the larger towns in Victoria such as Hamilton as the Victorian Government officials were on the prowl to get the 20 pound poll tax.
Unlike today's "boat people" the majority of Chinese (about 48,000) returned to China of their own free will. How many of those went back with enough wealth from gold finds to improve their families’ lives in China or at least pay off their loans is not known. The remaining 15,000 stayed in Australia and some of them survived long enough to have a family here and contribute as Chinese Australians for generations to come up to the present day.
The similarities between the desperate lives of the Chinese gold seekers and the Chinese workers in Australia today on 457 visas or other sham contract working arrangements are pretty obvious. Unfortunately the attitude of reactionary elements within Australia is the same 160 years later with Chinese being seen as a "threat to the Australian way of life” (so called!).
The celebrations of the 160th anniversary of the arrival of Chinese gold seekers at Robe is an opportunity to strengthen ties between the peoples of both countries. The world has changed between 1857 and 2017 as has the power relationships between Australia and China. In 1857, Australia was firmly in the British colonial empire, while Chinese people were on the verge of an earth-shattering revolution against feudalism, colonialism and imperialism. In 2017, Australia is in the clutches of the US empire but has such strong trade links with China that the Australian capitalist class has conflicting allegiances depending on their sectional economic interests. Some related to defence and military are particularly tied to the US empire while increasingly the agribusinesses are closer to China. The obvious example is the big and medium sized wine industry companies. Some of these wine companies are themselves US owned such as Accolade which adds to their conflicting interests.
The rise of the reactionary ultra conservative Trump represented interests in the USA trying to fuel the anti-China mantra to cover up the internal economic crises that just do not go away for the imperialist system known as "globalisation". However, threats of a clamp down on Chinese trade and cuts to Chinese goods and investments are likely to fall on deaf ears in China.
At the January 2017 World Economic Forum at Davos, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping announced China planned to invest $750 billion in the next five years and accept $600 billion of overseas investment in China. He also estimated that in the next five years, 700 million Chinese tourists will be making overseas visits.
The latter figure is probably the starkest difference between 1857 and 2017 regarding movement of people from China to overseas countries such as Australia. These 700 million are working Chinese or the new capitalists or state capitalists of modern day China. How this figure will compare with the number of overseas Chinese on working visa arrangements is not readily available.
The other change is the degree of Chinese investment in Australia now compared with 1857. As Chinese leaders have chosen the capitalist road, the increase in overseas investment is an inevitable trend as Lenin pointed out in 1913 in his "Critical Remarks On The National Question”: "The second (historical tendency of capitalism) is the development and growing frequency of international intercourse in every form, the breakdown of national barriers, the creation of the international unity of capital, of economic life in general, of politics, science etc."

Lenin further said that this tendency "characterises a mature capitalism moving towards its transformation into socialist society."
History does not go in straight lines. What would Lenin think of the present day "capitalist roaders" in China, entering the world stage as an economic power having turned its back on the socialist road of post 1949 China?
One thing is certain. Lenin if alive today would support the strengthening of ties and understanding between the Chinese and Australian people and the strengthening ties between Australian and Chinese workers including those Chinese, who like the 1857 "boat people", come to Australia to lift themselves out of poverty.
Neither the Chinese people nor Australian people have a desire to be caught up as cannon fodder between rival modern day "empires".

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Capitalist Industries Come and Go - But Collective Power of Workers Remains

Ned K.

There is evidence that the attacks by the ruling class on workers’ pay and conditions and on their mass organisations (trade unions) are having an impact with union membership in the private sector being somewhere between 11% - 13% and strike action by workers at low levels. 

However the seeds of regeneration of the ideals of collective action by workers as the way forward are being planted. 

The enterprise agreement struggle by Baiada poultry workers in Victoria a few years ago; the MUA Here To Stay win of 1998; the fact that private sector precariously employed disability sector workers are joining unions in numbers never seen before; the exposure by migrant workers of sham contracting at 7 - Eleven convenience stores; the organised, persistent campaigning by child care workers for quality care and better pay and conditions; and the recent win by CUB maintenance workers are some notable examples of this regeneration.

This regeneration is not what the ruling class had planned. Since the 1980s imperialism, particularly US imperialism had other plans for the Australian working class, aided to one degree or another by the ALP and ACTU leaderships. 

In 1982, 39% of private sector workers were still in unions. By 1986, only 15.5% of these private sector union members worked in 'blue collar' factory work due to imperialism's restructuring of the economy to suit its global production plans. Whole working class unionized communities were destroyed as imperialism "deconstructed" Australia as a manufacturing country. For example, in 1986 14,000 workers' jobs were lost at Port Kembla. Similar stories could be told at Newcastle and regions of the economy reliant on the car industry and white goods industry. 

From 1986 to 2008 union membership density overall fell from 45.6% to 18.9% of the combined public and private sector workforce. Union membership numbers fell from 2.7 million in 1990 to 1.7 million in 2008. Public sector union membership declined from 70.6% in 1986 to 41.9% in 2008. In 2008 only 13.6% of workers in the private sector were in unions.

The steady decline of blue collar jobs in Australia hit the core of union collective power over a long period since the late 1940s, union membership still remained strong with a growth in white collar unionism of 89% between 1969 and 1981. Even in the Depression years of 1929- 30s when thousands of blue collar workers lost their jobs, union membership (collective voice) did not fall below 42% density.

Imperialists tried to destroy “generational experience”

"Generational experience indicated that an improvement in one's lot could only be won by collective action, not individual action" (“The Rise and Decline Of Australian Unionism...From The 1820s to 2010" by Bradley Bowden).

It was this "generational experience" about the imperative of collective action by and for workers that imperialism set out to destroy in the 1980s in a systematic way. To do this, imperialism needed a willing state apparatus to assist. It found such a willingness from both Liberal and Labor Parties. Herein lies the crucial difference of the 1980s regarding union membership decline compared with union membership highs and lows of previous decades. In previous decades, imperialism tried to weaken working class strength with "Cold War" tactics, targeting Communist Party influence in unions. While they succeeded in weakening the organisational and political influence of the Communist Party from its immediate post World War 2 days, it was not until the 1980s that imperialism succeeded in systematically breaking down the minimum award standards.

Hawke and Keating join the attack 

In 1986 under the Hawke Labor Government determination of wage increases became dependent on workers trading off award conditions. This was significant because it ended the ability of workers to organize across an industry/industries through award-based campaigns.
In 1987 the Hawke Government went one step further through "award restructuring" through which "one worker did the job of two" (or in some cases three!).

In 1991 the Labor Government presented workers with "enterprise bargaining" to make sure workers were "internationally competitive" in Treasurer Paul Keating's de-regulated financial system which accelerated movement of finance capital in and out of the country in the interests of multinational corporations. Enterprise bargaining was sold to workers by a compliant ACTU leadership who assured workers it would give them a direct say in determining pay and conditions at the enterprise level and only where workers were members of unions. This was the beginning of splitting/dividing workers in manufacturing industries with the subliminal message from individual capitalists that if workers were not 'reasonable' in negotiations their jobs would be exported overseas. Enterprise bargaining also weakened the working class value of the "strong supporting the weak". How could enterprise bargaining work for an aged care worker if enterprise bargaining was about "productivity and efficiency" as the pre-condition for increases in wages and conditions? 

In 1993, the kowtowing to the needs of imperialism by the Labor Government and Liberals in "Opposition" got worse when Prime Minister Keating and his IR Minister Laurie Brereton introduced a non-union bargaining stream into the Industrial Relations Act. This opened the door for a "race to the bottom" in pay and conditions and also further encouraged employers to try and keep their workplaces "free" of union "interference". This non-union stream bargaining was the nail in the coffin regarding the established principle that workers had won over decades and decades of struggle - namely that employers recognised unions as the sole representatives of workers for purposes of negotiating pay and conditions.

In 1996, the new Howard Government built on the work done by the Labor Government in service to imperialism by taking non-union enterprise agreements to their capitalist logic next step - individual contracts called Australian Workplace Agreements.

In 2006, Howard tried to complete the destruction of the award system completely by making it possible for employers to have enterprise agreements that only had to have five minimum conditions of employment as the no disadvantage test. This took regulation of wages and conditions back to the days of the Masters and Servants Act of the 1800s. 

In 2007 union members and their communities succeeded in throwing out the Howard Government through a grass roots Your Rights At Work, Worth Fighting For" campaign. This campaign was successful despite the decline in union membership caused primarily by the complicity in imperialism's attack on the working class by the Labor Party and Liberal Party leaders. During the Your Right At Work campaign, some ACTU leaders including Greg Combet showed what can be done when union leaders support workers and provide them with the opportunity to organize. However even in this campaign of great grass roots momentum, there was hesitancy by the ACTU and eventual capitulation to ALP leaders who wanted the campaign changed to Your Rights At Work Worth Voting For. The message to workers was changed to campaign all you like to get Labor in office and that will be all that workers need to do. After that, leave it the "political wing” of the "labour movement” to deliver for workers.

In 2010 the Labor Government under Rudd 'delivered' by introducing for the first time an explicit no right to take action by workers. It did this by including in the Fair Work Act an extremely limited and exclusive right to take "protected" action during the bargaining period.
In 2016 the Turnbull Government succeeded in re-introducing the ABCC to suppress and weaken building workers and also changes to governance rules for unions which are designed to tie union financial resources up in endless court cases about how they spend their money.

Workers find ways to organise and fight

Despite all these attacks on workers and their mass organisations, the rate of decline of unions has slowed and as mentioned at the beginning of this article, workers are joining unions in areas where there has never been union presence before. This is as it has always been. As capitalism has changed and developed in Australia, the capitalists have for a time succeeded in being "free" of "union interference" but the workers have eventually found a way to organize collectively to protect and advance their interests.

A recent historical example of this was the Clean Start Fair Deal For Cleaners campaign. The cleaning industry union was one of the most affected by the ending of preference clauses in awards and the reactionary change to enterprise specific bargaining as the main way for workers to improve their wages and conditions. In the Howard period of 1996 to 2007 the property services industry decided the best way to destroy cleaners as a collective force and thereby lower cleaning costs (a non-core business) was to employ from the influx of the 500,000-strong international student and migrant worker workforce who had over stayed their visas.

The cleaners union at the same time decided to launch an industry wide Clean Start campaign to turn the property services industry exploitative plan on its head. The property services and the big banks were so confident that the union could not organise these temporary migrant workers that they refused to even meet with the union representatives. How wrong they were as the union succeeded in mobilising thousands of overseas student and migrant workers to take collective action in the streets to win a 38% wage increase over 4 years and significant changes in working conditions that still exist today.

So the message for workers to their union leaderships is that they must give their members and potential members the opportunity to struggle. It is not workers who are apathetic and who do not want to struggle. What is missing in some cases is leadership. By telling workers’ stories where they win, wins great or small, it exposes the 'do nothing' supposed leaders who are holding back workers.

Workers telling and spreading their stories is a powerful weapon. "Yes We Can" not "No you can't" should be the only saying that workers hear from leaders.

Monday, January 2, 2017

George Michael: Talent for Whom?

Pat F.

It seems the world is mourning the loss of pop singer George Michael. 

George’s life is being highly praised in the commercial media, as a great achiever, a great artiste, and a good person.

George’s death is being mourned because he was a pop music performer, whose records sold millions of copies in many countries. He made millions of dollars from his concerts and record sales.

He also gave millions of dollars to tax deductible, registered charities.

He is particularly noted for being the first Western pop star to take pop music to China after the death of Mao Zedong.

He was honoured in his lifetime by the royal family.

For these reasons his life is being celebrated, and his death mourned by the mass media in Australia, Britain, USA, and other capitalist countries.

Requiem for a Dead Sycophant

Personal crises in George’s life are cited to add to his mystique.

Who doesn’t have periods of strife in their life? Is that the key criterion for a worthwhile life? 
I would have thought money, tax evasion, rubbish music and royal patronage were not what we value in a life.

We value those who serve the people, in large ways and in small. We value those who serve the people to the extent of their ability and to the extent of their opportunity.

We value those who care for their children, and families. We value those who serve the people in political work, in unions, and party. We value those who help others in need directly, not through tax deductable charities. We value those who care for the prickly and snappy, not just the soft and furry.

We value those who do what they do as well as they can and don’t judge things by their profitability.

We value people who don’t sell their talent to serve the interests of the capitalist class. We value people who use their talents to expose and oppose the capitalists, and to organise and inspire the working class.

We do not value those commercial sycophants who think that when the Royals fart, they exude Eau de Cologne.

American People in The Mood For Change

Ned K. 

People in the USA have been alienated from the country's two-party (Democrat/Republican) system for decades. 

The rise of Trump to the position of President is a symptom of this alienation. Although standing for one of the two parties, it is arguable that he only won the election because many who voted for him saw him as outside the mould of the usual Republican or Democratic Party Presidential candidate.

The history of the two-party system in the USA is riddled with records of people's alienation from the political system. The most obvious recording of this is the millions of people who do not even bother to vote, decade after decade, as they see no difference between the two parties.

In the 1990s, the Survey Research Centre of the University of Michigan released research which showed that basic discontent and political alienation in 1940 showed that 20% of people identified as "independent" of the major two parties. By 1974 this had grown to 34%.

In 1992 a New York Times article showed how easy it was for the two parties to manipulate people's alienation and desperate need for answers to their life situations by how they framed questions in opinion polls. 

For example on the issue of "welfare", used in the recent Presidential campaign, if the word "welfare" was used in the question about what a government should spend money on, 44% said too much was being spent on welfare, while 50% said the right amount was being spent on welfare or too little.

However when the question was put about whether the government should spend money on "assistance to the poor", only 13% thought too much was being spent and 64% thought too little was being spent.

Another issue that has fortified people's alienation from the two-party system has been the taxation system. Both Democratic and Republican Parties as far back as Kennedy and Johnson in the 1960s have lowered the corporate and high income earner tax rates. These Democratic Party 1960s governments lowered the war time tax rate of 90% for high income earners to 70%.

Reagan followed the Democratic Party lead when his government, with Democratic Party support, lowered the tax rate on the very rich from 70% to 50%. Then in 1986 Reagan lowered the top tax rate to 28% such that "a school teacher, a factory worker, and a billionaire could all pay 28%" (Bartlett and Steele: Who Really Pays the Taxes?").

From 1978 to 1990, $70 billion a year was lost in government revenue and the wealthiest 1% gained $1 trillion!

So what has all this got to do with Trump? He and his backers have made manipulation of people's discontent with the US political parties an art form while at the same time introducing nothing new that will be of fundamental benefit to the majority of American people. The ruling class of the USA knows it is in trouble. Even one of capitalism's intellectual elite, Fukuyama, is predicting "The Coming Collapse of America" (Australian Financial Review 22-27 December 2016).

So why haven't the American people seen through Trump and moved to the political Left some people may ask? Many millions arguably have by not voting at all in the two-party race for the spoils of office. However to find the reason why there is no unified identifiable workers' party in the USA, another look back into history gives the answer. In the 1950s-1960s a working class movement led by Afro-Americans and progressive white working class and intellectuals did develop. It was systematically smashed by a combination of the FBI and other secret forces of the state backed by ruthless anti-union laws at the point of production to weaken workers' mass organisations.

This combination of deception and brute force will no doubt be a feature of Trump's rule and provide fertile ground for renewal of the anti-imperialist working class movement in the "belly of the beast".

Where To For Russia - 100 Years on From Revolution?

Ned K.

The annual slow-down of capitalism in the 'West' over Christmas and New Year provides a bit of time to read and reflect. 

This Christmas I was a given a book as a present called "Secondhand Time - The Last Of The Soviets" by Svetlana Alexierich. 

Alexierich is Ukrainian-born but has spent considerable time in Russia and Belarus interviewing people of diverse occupations and age groups. She attempts to capture what she describes as 20th Century "Soviet civilization", its collapse and its capitalist aftermath through the day to day experience of its people.

Alexierich is no lover of socialism, and even less a lover of Lenin’s and Stalin's leadership of the Soviet Union. What emerges for the reader is a picture of Russia which has always been an enemy of the West since the Bolshevik led Revolution of 1917 through to the present day as a competing capitalist power.

The book starts off with older-aged Russians criticizing the "free market" ideology of the capitalist restoration in Russia and the attempts by the new gangster capitalist ruling class to obliterate from history the initial successes of building socialism in one country and defeat of Nazi German imperialism in the Second World War.

Alexierich "balances" the older Russians' views on the restoration of capitalism with interviews with people who were in their twenties and thirties in the 1990s who expressed support for the "freedom" of the capitalist market economics.

Alexierich favours "free market" economics, but she is critical of how the gangster capitalists have implemented it and as a Ukrainian, falls firmly on the side of the West against Russia as a rival imperialist power. 

An irony of the book though is that she perhaps unwittingly provides another alternative path that awaits Russia. She interviews an unnamed (for good reasons!) university professor who says: "At the end of the nineties, my students would laugh when I told them stories about the Soviet Union. They were sure that a new future awaited them. Now it's a different story...Today's students have truly seen and felt capitalism: the inequality, the poverty, the shameless wealth. They've witnessed the lives of their parents...and they're oriented toward radicalism. They dream of their own revolution, they wear red T-shirts with pictures of Lenin and Guevara".

Experience is a great teacher and in the year of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, perhaps the seeds of a second revolution are being sown. Trump's alleged desire for closer ties with Russia may be more far sighted than one thinks as the US would no doubt prefer a Russian imperial rival rather than an even more dreaded new socialist rival!

Welcome 2017, Centenary Year of the Great Soviet Bolshevik Revolution

Nick G.

The Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) welcomes the arrival of 2017, the centenary year of the great Soviet Bolshevik revolution.

We extend to all members and friends the compliments of the season in the communist spirit of anticipating further great struggles by the working class for socialism and anti-imperialist independence.

Those struggles will continue to enrich the independent working class agenda and assist all workers to see past the restrictions of reformist bourgeois trade unionism, social democracy and parliamentarism.

Living under the system of imperialism, we continue to be threatened by wars arising from the rivalries between imperialist powers.  US imperialism is creating provocations directed at China and insisting on Australia’s involvement in those provocations. No good will come of this.  It is now more than ever necessary to demand an independent foreign policy, a policy based on a peaceful and independent Australia.

Contradictions embedded domestically and internationally will sharpen and require scientific Marxist analysis to be handled for the benefit of the people.  The core of good, solid members of the CPA (M-L) must be expanded boldly and those interested in joining us in our work encouraged to contact us, personally where possible, or via our contact address (Email: ).

Our Party is small but its influence is felt beyond our own circle.

Its further development - organisationally, politically and ideologically – will best be measured in the trust that is conferred on our leadership by workers engaged in struggle.

The thunder of 1917 and the achievements of the Soviet people under Lenin and Stalin were temporarily quietened by the revisionism of Khrushchev in 1956 and the accompanying restoration of capitalism, leading to the formal abolition of the great Soviet Union by Gorbachev and Co.

In welcoming this, the centenary year of the Bolshevik revolution, we affirm our confidence in the socialist road and reflect on the immensity and inevitability of the tasks we undertake in our own country and for our own working class.

For independence and socialism!