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For Communism, for Socialism, but why for Independence?

Written by: Lindy Nolan on


Just above Warrane, Sydney Cove, in the colony of NSW’s earliest days, a young Gadigal or Cammeraygal woman, Patyegarang, exchanged language with a British lieutenant, William Dawes.

In the priceless dictionary they created together, the word car-rah-mah means ‘to steal’.

Invasion, the greatest theft of all, and the most brutal.

First Peoples have no trouble understanding that Australia is occupied by a foreign invader.  They live with its consequences every day.

Yet, their Lore, their language, and culture, their lives, come from sovereign Country never ceded. 

Marx and Engels lived at a time when “civilisation” was accepted as the opposite of “savagery”. The word “primitive” was then an acceptable description of pre-machine age societies. These concepts regrettably run through some of the works of Marx and Engels. The unfortunate term “primitive communism” was coined as a description of pre-invasion Aboriginal society.

The term nevertheless contains a truth, namely that private ownership of the means of production did not exist at that time. Land was not “owned”. Individuals and groups belonged to land in a form not recognised under British rule. 

Consequently, for the British invaders, First People were a double threat.  Their lifestyles were based on values long since discarded by people who had entered, and passed through, various forms of class society. Values of obligation, kinship, caring for Country predated the slave revolts, the peasant rebellions, ruling classes, capitalism or the working class.

Long before classes arose on immensely fertile lands beside the rivers of Egypt, Mesopotamia and China, First Peoples lived collectively in classless societies, sharing the lands’ wealth, “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.”  Distribution of food was determined only on obligations based on seniority and gender. No-one profited from the labour of another.

When First Peoples encountered those who were unsettling their collective and sharing lifestyle and destroying the creatures and the vegetation from which they obtained their subsistence, a second threat – that of resistance – faced the unsettlers.

For the double crime of “communism”, as yet unnamed but instinctively and existentially threatening to the invaders, everything about First Peoples’ ways of being and living had to be utterly destroyed. 

The irreconcilable contradiction between the values of the First Peoples and the values of the invaders saw the latter imposing both cultural and physical genocide on the former. This approach continues to this day. So does resistance.

Imperialist bloodbath
In the invader’s Australian constitution, its peoples are an afterthought, or even less. The British sovereign is the head of state and parliamentarians pledge allegiance to her, not just a colonial relic, a feudal one.

By World War Ⅰ, Britain had morphed from an old-style capitalist colonial power to an imperialist one. But useful colonial relics remained, not least in the subservience of Australia’s so-called independent governments. 

In 1914, then Labor Opposition Leader Andrew Fisher, famously pledged Australia to Britain “to our last man and our last shilling” in that first ever world bloodbath to protect British imperialist domination of the world’s peoples, resources and markets against its German rival. 

Australians fought under British command and British flag, a flag in which symbols representing the Irish and Scottish are impaled under St George’s Cross. It embodies domination by both English sovereign and English god. 

There it sits, in “our” flag. 

Great Depression to Iraq
Not enough that Australians paid with their lives. They must repay loans incurred fighting that “Great” War.  
During the 1930s’ Depression, Bank of England head Sir Otto Niemeyer came, demanding a nationwide ten per cent pay-cut by workers, the savings to pay the debt. NSW Premier Jack Lang refused and the British Governor sacked him.

Prime Minister Bob Menzies praised Hitler and Nazism before World War Two. In 1939, he declared Great Britain was at war with Germany “and that, as a result, Australia is also at war”. 

Off he trotted to England, dragging our young soldiers to defend its influence in Africa and the Middle East, leaving Australia undefended as Japan practised war-making and massacre in China, and armed itself for Pacific invasion.

Is any of this the hallmark of an independent country?

Wartime Labor PM John Curtin’s ‘turn to America’ speech, rejecting ties to Britain, marked a necessary alliance that soon became subservience. From Australian soldiers in New Guinea, the Japanese tasted their first defeat on land, while the U.S. inflicted the first significant damage to Japan’s air and naval forces, in the Battle of the Coral Sea. 

From war’s end, the “alliance” was only downhill. Vietnam War. Whitlam’s sacking by the Governor General in a coup engineered by the CIA, to protect U.S interests. Invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, opposed by over 90 per cent of Australians.

The right to exploit
It’s not a question of ethics or bourgeois nationalism. An Australian born ruling class would be no better than a foreign imperialist one. But the fact is, the current ruling class of this continent and its islands represents U.S. imperialism. 

What Lenin called the commanding heights of the economy is overwhelmingly foreign owned. Even Gina and Twiggy get their finance from U.S. bank, Blackrock. 

State borders mirror the original British colonies. For over a century they have undermined even a unified capitalist response, as state administrators of imperialist rule fall over each other to give foreign corporations the right to exploit Australia’s people and lands for their profit.

Our military is now a wing of the U.S. armed forces, particularly since its tilt to contain its Chinese rival in our region.

Now Covid-19 exposes an economy totally reliant on foreign controlled supply chains for basic needs.   

The imprint of thousands of years of class rule
People often think socialism is a soft alternative to communism. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Although led by communist parties, what arose in the 20th century was not communism. 

Surrounded by immensely hostile capitalist powers bent on its destruction, it was a stage on the path to communism, called socialism, where classes exist and class struggle is fierce. It was born from capitalism and feudalism in hunger, desperation and war, bearing the deep imprint of thousands of years of class rule.  

Under socialism, the ruling class is the vast majority of the people, led by the working class – which suppress the capitalists and the tendency of capitalism to arise again in the forces of small production and from ingrained individualism, cowardice and other capitalist traits. Exploitation is ended because capitalists cannot extract profit from workers. 

Stories from ages past
Both sobering and inspiring lessons must be learned from the decades of socialism, in the USSR till the mid-1950s and China till Mao Zedong’s death.
Here in Australia, anti-imperialist independence will break the back of the ruling class. It forms the base from which socialism unfolds. 

But communism is what we aim for! A classless society, where the needs of all human beings are met, their creative powers unleashed for collective benefit, when war and hunger and exploitation and struggle are sad stories of injustice from ages past. 

The 150-year guerrilla warfare by First Peoples is this land’s unfinished war of independence. So is Eureka. So is the outpouring of action when yet another young Warlpiri man was murdered by police in Yuendumu, and the tens of thousands of struggles big and small that collectively educate our Peoples to end class rule forever.

So, we greet this May Day with words that herald the establishment of communism in this land of many Peoples, languages and cultures, “For Independence! For Socialism! For Communism!”


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