VANGUARD - Expressing the viewpoint of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
For National Independence and Socialism •


How the Australian state machine breeds terrorism

Anti-Vietnam War demonstration outside Phillip Street Court, Sydney. Wiki Commons Image courtesy of the SEARCH Foundation, from the collections of the State Library of New South Wales

In 2003, when Australia joined the US invasion of Iraq, Coalition politicians were obsessed with terrorist threats. 

They ignored the fact that imperialist war is terrorism at its worst. They ignored that Sadam Hussein was an enemy of Al Qaeda. They knew Iraq would become another wartime training ground for terrorists to overflow from the US war on Afghanistan declared just two years earlier, after 9/11.

Yet for years there was only one terrorist attack here, at Sydney’s Lindt Café. The perpetrator was on bail for 43 sexual assaults, and organising his wife’s murder. Not terrorism?

But what has shifted in 20 years since then, for seven teens, at least one with mental illness and disability, to be charged with terrorism? With their right to silence and independent lawyers denied, much reduced levels of evidence needed, and presumption of innocence reversed, not guilty verdicts are unlikely. 
But surely, even with churchgoers quickly defending their priest, a trained terrorist had time to inflict a fatal blow.

US imperialism and traitors like John Howard

People capitalism calls terrorist usually take individual action because they feel powerless against injustice. They don’t understand real change comes from mass action. 

In 2003, at one southwestern Sydney school with a high Muslim enrolment, every staff member, from teachers to cleaners, wore purple ribbons against the war. When students walked out statewide, the school was almost empty of older students of all backgrounds. At a peace assembly, the principal told the whole school, “We should not go to war with Iraq. If we don’t stop the war, at least we will have tried.”

He knew 94 percent of Australians supported his stand. The Muslim community knew their enemies were US imperialism and traitors like John Howard, not our peoples.

And now? At the same school, students have been suspended for refusing to remove the keffiyeh. They’ve been hauled to the principal and berated for drawing Palestine flags on their hands, or wearing Palestine bracelets. 

Teachers at some schools refused orders by principals to remove keffiyehs. Those principals mostly backed down, knowing they risked community backlash.

Staff and students have been told not to discuss Palestine at all. Repeat that at schools across the region. It’s statewide department policy, backed by the government. To their credit, some principals refuse to cave in to this abusive, US imperialist-driven policy.

So, troubled young people without guidance went underground to seek answers.

Funding cuts bite

The NSW Teachers Federation took a good stand on Palestine, much to the fury of Zionists. It has supported staff. But it’s nowhere near as strong as it once was. Funding cuts have savaged the state system. 

State schools enrol the vast majority of students with disabilities, especially the most complex and serious ones. In April, the Australian Education Union revealed, each state school student eligible for Commonwealth disability payments, on average, receive $2,941 while private school students get $10,000. 
The parents of the teenager charged over the stabbing said their son had severe behaviour issues at home and at school. Did that teenager get the help he needed?

Did the school he attended have teachers to staff each class? For two decades, the union repeatedly warned governments of predicted teacher shortages. Ignored! Last year shortages hit with a vengeance. Especially in poorer areas, students frequently had no teachers. Parents who could, turned to private schools. State school enrolments plummeted.

 Instead of tackling the problem, the government squeezed teachers. It demanded deputies and assistant principals head back to classrooms. It didn’t know that in primary schools they’d never left!

For years, elitist private schools with higher wages, better conditions and fewer discipline problems (because any student with problematic behaviours would never be enrolled) lured teachers into their system. 

Collective antidote

Meanwhile, an epidemic of teacher-sackings plagues the state system. It takes just three months to sack a teacher. 

There are still many strong principals who support staff. But authoritarian behaviour and culture is rewarded with promotion. Secretive “Teacher Improvement Programs”, TIPs, are largely a tick-box affair for supervisors. Now union reps are being sacked, or pressured to resign beforehand.

All unions have been systematically disempowered by repressive industrial policies of successive Labor and Coalition governments since the mid-1980s. There’s an old union saying, ‘An injury to one is an injury to all’. Even unions that lead successful wages’ strikes can’t survive if they can’t protect their members. 

In 1970, unionists round the country were strong enough ‘to stop work to stop the Vietnam War’. Despite being bigger than the three 1970s anti-war protests, in 2003 the working class didn’t go on strike against Australian war against Iraq. Unions were no longer strong enough.  

Both war and terrorism arise naturally from capitalism. Collectivism, embodied in the working class, is its antidote. It’s time to do much more, learn much more, build organisation and strength. Capitalism is the problem. It has to go!