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E.F. Hill Funeral Oration at Memorial Meeting for Jim Scott (September 1970)
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He was a person of revolutionary integrity and principle. When Chairman Mao spoke of Norman Bethune he said: “Now we are all commemorating him, which shows how profoundly his spirit inspires everyone. We must all learn the spirit of absolute selflessness from him. With this spirit everyone can be very useful to the people. A man’s ability may be great or small, but if he has this spirit, he is already noble and pure, a man of moral integrity and above vulgar interests, a man who is of value to the people.”
We can say without doubt that Jim Scott fulfilled these tests.
Almost 50 years ago he joined the Communist Party in Australia. Its 50th anniversary is on October 30 next. He remained true to the end to the real spirit of Marxism-Leninism which underlay the foundation of the Party and is carried on by our Communist Party. There is an unbroken line from that foundation in1920 until the present time. Jim Scott was one of the great people who carried through this great work. He had a far longer membership than any of our present day members.
In the period of his membership great changes have occurred. The Party and the workers have undertone great tests. The revolutionary movement has advanced tremendously. It is true to say that he never wavered and he passed with great credit all the tests.
There is a constant striving by the ruling class to strip Marxism-Leninism of it revolutionary essence. This is an ever present attack. The pressure towards it, towards making the Communist Party respectable, is constant. But within this constant pressure there have been particular attacks. Let me mention two of these attacks.
In the war and post-way years, the American revisionist Browder elaborated a whole system of revisionism. The essence of it was the assertion that the nature of imperialism and monopoly capitalism had changed and now in the post-war world war II period, harmony would prevail. The leaders of the Australian Communist Party accepted this. Jim Scott rejected it.
He clashed with people like Sharkey and Thornton, the seemingly big men. Then in 1956 Khrushchov launched an allround attack on Marxism-Leninism under the guise of criticising Stalin. Jim Scott saw this despicable action for what it really was – an attack on the revolutionary essence of Marxism-Leninism.
In 1960-64 within the Communist Party of Australia, the main leaders deserted the cause of the socialist revolution. Jim Scott was one of that honourable band that stood up against this desertion and these modern Australian revisionists. He participated in the historic reorganisation of the Party in its Congress in 1964.
In the years since then, there has been a big struggle to build the Party ideologically, politically and organisationally. Jim Scott understood that the party must be put on a sound footing of Marxist-Leninist-Mao Tsetung Thought ideology, politics and organisation. He refused to have any part of attempts to divert him from it or to join sectional and selfish groups. He abhorred humbug and flattery. In his political life he knew only adherence to revolutionary principle.
We said in Vanguard that Jim Scott freely made his library available to all who were seeking the revolutionary path. He helped many a person along the path of revolution.
He took a particular interest in the trade unions. He had a great knowledge of and respect for the American Daniel de Leon, the author of the phrase “labor lieutenants of capitalism”. That led Jim Scott to repudiate trade union politics. He saw correctly the revolutionary role of the workers and the bankruptcy of trade union politics. Equally he rejected parliamentarism and derided those “revolutionaries” who participated in it or its handmaiden, municipal politics. Jim Scott in truth understood that the central question of revolution is the seizure of power by armed force and he understood that that is precisely where the revolutionary movement in the world and in Australia is headed.
He hated US imperialism with burning hatred. He loved the socialist People’s Republic of China and Albania with true revolutionary love. He saw Chairman Mao as the inheritor, defender and developer of Marxism-Leninism.
Jim Scott understood the contemporary world situation very well. He understood that the struggle for peace involved identifying the main enemy of the people. He identified it as US imperialism and identified its collaborator Soviet revisionism. All peace activities must be directed into struggle against these enemies. Only the complete defeat of US imperialism and imperialism and capitalism as a whole can ensure peace. The struggle for peace embraces armed struggle. The distinction between just and unjust wars is a matter of fundamental principle. Jim Scott fully supported just wars. He supported the great struggles of the Indo-Chinese people, the Arab people and all people struggling against US imperialism and its collaborators. This was in line with his anti-imperialist stand against conscription in World War I. He also participated in the Workers’ Defence Corps in the 30’s.
I myself saw Jim Scott comparatively frequently up to his death. I never failed to get help and inspiration from him. His conversation helped to clarify ideas. His wife died before him. She too was a veteran of the revolutionary movement and her loss was a sad blow to Jim. But their children too hold up the revolutionary banner. He maintained his great spirit to the end despite the affliction of near blindness. He maintained supreme confidence in the victory of socialist revolution.
Materialist dialectics teaches us that life and death are a unity – a unity in contradiction. In living, Jim Scott served the people in revolutionary struggle; in death, his inspiration lives on.
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