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Replies to a reader: Part 3 of 3 (Australian independence)

Written by: CPA (M-L) on 15 June 2020


A reader has sent us three questions. Our responses required collective discussion with the Executive Committee of our Central Committee as there were details that are poorly remembered or were not personally experienced by some of us. After all, the questions relate to matters that stretch back four decades. The first deals with China’s Gang of Four and our past and current views on this group. The second deals with the Theory of the Three Worlds and our current view on that, whilst the third asks about the place of Australian independence in our revolutionary strategy.
In addition to replying personally to our reader, we are making our responses public as there may be a wider interest in these issues. The first reply was published on Tuesday 9 June and the second on June 11.  Today we publish our reply to the third question, below.
Hi B,
Your question reads:
“3) Australian independence: Could you please explain the party's strategy of achieving independence from imperialist powers before revolution?”
Our reply: We don’t think we would express it as “achieving independence…. before revolution”. The seizure of the assets of the imperialists and the smashing of the hold they have over us in all fields – economic, cultural, political, military and so on – can only be carried out by way of a revolutionary process of smashing their system and replacing it with a new system of anti-imperialist independence. In that sense, we would say “achieving independence through revolution” rather than “before revolution”.
Implied in your question is the related matter of the socialist content of the revolution. When we first developed what came to be called the theory of revolution by stages, there were some different interpretations put on this, both within the Party and in the ranks of our supporters. We attempted to clarify this at the 14th Congress (2015) in a Political Report which we adopted and which said in part:
The realisation that a two-stage theory of revolution accorded with the characteristics of Australia as a developed capitalist country dominated by US imperialism emerged and was accepted by us in the early 1970s.  Comrade E.F. Hill led theoretical development of this strategy and our younger comrades enthusiastically implemented it both within the Party and in a number of mass organisations influenced by us.
In developing and implementing this policy, two erroneous lines emerged.  The first was a rightist tendency to deny the socialist content of the theory, to over-emphasise patriotism and the maintenance of a national bourgeois economy during the first stage of the revolution.
In effect, this line accepted some form of intermediate stage between the anti-imperialist revolution and the socialist revolution. Its adherents discouraged mention of socialism for fear of alienating allies in the struggle against US imperialism. This line was publicly criticised in February 1978 in “For independence and socialism”.  This document clearly stated that the struggle for independence must not weaken the sentiment for socialism…
There is no intermediate stage between capitalism and socialism embedded in our two-stage theory of the Australian revolution. During the first stage, assets belonging to the imperialists and their local compradors will be expropriated by new organs of state power and pressed into service for the benefit of the majority of Australia’s working class and its allies. The first stage, the anti-imperialist stage, is defined by the socialist character of that expropriation which can only occur under working class leadership exercised through working class organs of state power.
The full text of the Political Report is on our website in the “Congress” drop-down menu.
In last year’s 15th Congress, we made the point in our Political Report that:
A further change from previous programs has been the decision to place less emphasis on the phrase “the two-stage theory of the Australian revolution”.  The content of that phrase remains as the essence of our theory and strategy of how to develop revolution in the conditions of Australia.  The phrase itself though, is rather clumsy and has contributed to the view, alleged by some, that we are bourgeois nationalists, essentially striving for a new democratic bourgeois state freed from imperialist domination and control.  Another area of confusion is associated with the CPA’s use of the phrase “two-stage theory” to denote a primary stage of democratic reform and achievement from which a secondary stage of transition to socialism will emerge.
It should be clear as a bell that this is our strategy in Australia’s revolutionary process to achieve socialism. It is important that the strategy does not become an end in itself, or that anti-imperialist independence is inadvertently separated from socialism.  We should be careful not to leave ourselves open to misinterpretation and distortions of our position.
The General Program adopted in the light of the Political Report contains the following section:
7. Our Revolutionary Strategy
The revolutionary strategy of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) is the continuing struggle for socialism through anti-imperialist revolution. This strategy in the struggle for socialism is based in the concrete conditions of Australian domination by imperialism. The present struggle to end capitalism and advance to socialism in Australia is the struggle for revolutionary independence from US imperialism, which currently dominates and controls the Australian nation state. This struggle can only be won through the organisation and mobilisation of a powerful anti-imperialist people’s movement led by the working class. Through this struggle the foundations for socialism, and the eventual move towards communism, are laid.
Success in this anti-imperialist independence struggle will see the assets of the foreign imperialists and their local collaborators, which constitute the core of Australian capitalism, seized and pressed into service for the benefit of the majority of Australia’s working class and the people. The expropriation of these assets imparts a predominately socialist character to this stage, and it can only be achieved under working class leadership exercised through new revolutionary working class organs of state power. This anti-imperialist struggle of Australia’s socialist revolution will empower the working people through the establishment and expansion of people’s own democratic mass organisations and structures based on participatory democracy.
The deepening of the socialist revolution and its extension to all economic sectors in which private capital operates constitutes the achievement of socialism. Independence and socialism are mutually dependent throughout the continuing revolutionary socialist strategy.
This Program and the Report to the 15th Congress are also on our website. 
We hope the explanation above answers your question. And thanks for sending us your questions – it gives us a chance to further refine and clarify our line.
Nick G.and the Executive Committee of the Central Committee


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