Keynote to the 3rd National Conference of ILPS-Australia
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
International Coordinating Committee
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
28 May 2011
As Chairperson, I convey warmest greetings of solidarity from the International Coordinating Committee, the commissions, territorial organs and all member-organizations of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle on the occasion of the Third National Conference of ILPS-Australia.
We are deeply pleased to know that you are holding the conference in order to raise the level of your political consciousness and work in Australia by defining and taking up issues along the anti-imperialist and democratic line as well as in order to prepare yourselves, especially your delegation, for the Fourth International Assembly in Manila in July.
As you have informed us, the issues that you are going to discuss are of urgent importance and are the main content of your Country Report. We see certain issues as mainly the outgrowth of the US-instigated plunderous policy of neoliberal globalization and the concomitant policy of state terrorism, military intervention and wars of aggression, all misrepresented as war on terror, especially since 9-11.
Because the US and its camp followers like Australia continue to cling to these policies the crisis of the world capitalist system, which plunged to a new depth in 2008, has worsened, aggravated and deepened. The financial oligarchy and the entire monopoly bourgeoisie continue to escalate the level of exploitation and oppression and pass the burden of crisis to the working class and the middle social strata.
In more than three decades of neoliberal globalization, the monopoly bourgeoisie has failed to recognize and address the crisis of overproduction and tried in vain to overcome it by abusing debt financing at the level of government, corporations and the households and by waging a vicious class war against the working class, blaming so-called wage inflation and government social spending as the cause of crisis and consequently doing everything to press down the wage level and cut back on social spending.
The monopoly bourgeoisie has propagated the dogma that economic prosperity can be maintained by its having all the opportunities to accumulate capital and increase profits through liberalization, privatization, deregulation and denationalization of developing economies. Within this context, the monopoly bourgeoisie has denigrated social welfare in favor of corporate welfare, used new technology to split the work force and resort to outsourcing, played off the previous immigrants against the new ones and adopt oppressive laws to suppress and curtail workers’ rights, especially the right to unionize and to strike.
For sometime and to some extent Australia has buffered itself from the crisis that we have described above by benefiting from the mining boom and the export of mineral ores and food (wheat and meat) to China, India and other countries. However, the Australian state in the service of the monopoly bourgeoisie has harmed the interest of the Australian people from the very beginning by following the US-dictated neoliberal economic policy and letting the monopoly firms and the banks increase their profits, pay less taxes, press down the wage level, require the working people to work longer hours and subject them to the rising prices of basic goods and services.
The pro-US neoliberal economic policy is a systematic attack on the working class, the small farmers and the local manufacturing industry. The Australian state has churned out anti-worker and anti-union laws and regulations that limit the workers’ ability to unionize and to strike. Now, it is pushing harsh austerity measures and cutbacks on social spending to overcome the government deficit. The working people now increasingly see that their standard of living is under attack. They run up personal debt and receive less social services from government.
The Australian state continues the long history of dispossessing and discriminating against the indigenous Australians and attacking the poorest sections of the people. It widens the scope of “intervention” in the Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory. It plans to extend “income maintenance” into new areas, including welfare recipients. It pushes “welfare to work” conditions to reduce the number of people on pension and welfare aid.
It panders to foreign and domestic monopoly firms with tax concessions and infrastructure spending. It is pushing further the privatization of government services, education and health care. It gives big concessions to the big polluting energy and mining companies, while skimping on funding for clean alternatives.
Australia is bound by the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement which lopsidedly favors the US. It blocks certain investments from China in order to favor the US, Europe and Japan. The latest ”free trade” agreement now being pushed and negotiated behind closed doors by both the US and Australia is the so-called Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) which is supposed to include Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The TPPA aims to further liberalise trade among the Asia Pacific nations, but the main objective of the US is to use it as a one-sided mechanism to protect and enforce its copyright interests. As the world’s largest exporter of copyright content, the US is poised to benefit from tougher copyright standards. The other participants in TPPA are net importers and will be made to pay royalty to US companies without receiving any countervailing benefit.
The US continues to impose on the Asia Pacific countries an energy policy that favors the profitmaking by the US oil companies that control the oil and gas resources. Thus carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase the pollution of the environment in the Asia Pacific region. The conditions and factors of global warming have not been restrained but have in fact increased.
As in economic policy, the Australian government is subservient to the US in security policy. US-Australian military alliance is the key element in Australian foreign policy. Thus, Australia has followed the US policy of global war of terror. The US has major military bases in Australia that are used in wars of aggression sit unleashes. These US military bases are being expanded as part of the encirclement of China as potential US enemy. Instruments of electronic surveillance, which receive and transmit real time images from spy satellites, are based in Australia. They cover not only the Asia-Pacific region but also other parts of the world.
Australian military strategy is subordinate to that of the US. Thus, Australia is required to acquire planes, ships, weapons and other equipment that are compatible with those of US military forces. It keeps Australian troops and military specialists in Afghanistan. It supports the bombing and subversion of Libya. It consistently follows US positions regarding Palestine, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and every other major country.
In following the US policy of global war of terror, the Australian state has adopted anti-terror laws to undercut and curtail most civil rights of the people. It maintains harsh detention policies for refugees and asylum seekers. It has instituted greater powers of electronic surveillance by intelligence agencies.
The crisis of the world capitalist system continues to worsen. Thus, the Australian people have reason to worry that the global crisis would harm them more than ever before in terms of jobs, incomes and social benefits. They are concerned about the consequences of the mining boom, such as the loss of manufacturing industries, skills and uneven development. They are wary about the growing contradictions between the US and China. They are also concerned about climate change and related events that have afflicted Australia: the forest fires, floods, cyclones and rising level of carbon dioxide pollution.
The dominance of Labor Party bureaucrats and labor aristocrats, who have collaborated with the monopoly bourgeoisie over decades, has undermined and weakened the trade union movement. . At the same time, the Liberal Party opposition is pushing more extreme anti-people policies, flagrantly whipping up the most reactionary fears and prejudices, including chauvinism, xenophobia, racism and religious bigotry. Fascists are being emboldened as the monopoly media ridicule, marginalize or completely ignore progressive voices.
At any rate, fighting unions and militant leaders still command the respect and loyalty of their members and their community. In recent years, a significant solidarity movement has been developed across the trade union movement in support of strikes and picket lines. Union activists and sympathetic community members have been successful in gathering wider support, especially when unions on strike need to counter the threat of prosecution, heavy fines and detention.
The working people are dissatisfied and are in a protesting mood. The trend is steadily shifting towards militant resistance. The Australian people have a fine history of struggle and are now being goaded by sharpening crisis conditions to rise up. In recent years they have engaged in massive rallies against war in Iraq and Afghanistan, against Howard’s industrial laws and against culpability of the monopoly firms for environmental damage and disasters.
The US continues to impose its hegemony over Asia Pacific countries and transgress their national sovereignty and territorial integrity by economic, financial, commercial, political, cultural and cultural means. The broad masses of the people are outraged by the anti-national, anti-democratic and anti-people policies of the US and its rabid followers. They demand the end of imperialist plunder and war, the oppressive laws that stifle the right to form unions and strike, the pollution of the environment and aggravation of global warming and the persistence of US military bases and other military outposts in the region.
It is imperative for the organizations affiliated with the ILPS-Australia and the organizations cooperating with them to clarify and carry the issues and proceed to arouse, organise and mobilize the broad masses of the people, including the workers, the migrants, the women, youth, the intelligentsia and indigenous people, for the purpose of resistance against the evils of capitalism and imperialism.
ILPS-Australia must further strengthen itself and generate a mass movement in Australia in order to take a key role in building the ILPS in the Asia-Pacific and Oceania. There are now several chapters of the ILPS in the region and eventually more shall be formed. We are hopeful that they shall soon be able to establish a coordinating committee for the entire region. The 4th International Assembly of the ILPS presents itself as the occasion for discussing this prospect. ###