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


We swim in a toxic sea of capitalism. But we needn’t drown: Humphrey McQueen’s powerful new pamphlet on Capital launched

Marking our party’s 60th anniversary, Vanguard invited Marxist historian Humphrey McQueen to Sydney to lead a discussion of his new pamphlet, on Karl Marx’s ‘Capital’. 

The pamphlet’s cover ‘invites job reps and community activists to share insights from Capital into how we are exploited, how nature is plundered and how to put an end to both.’
Veteran comrade Lindy Nolan introduced the discussion.

We’re on Gadigal land, never surrendered, paying respects to all First Peoples for their sacrifices and ongoing resistance. May they grow in unity and strength.

Humphrey! Humphrey McQueen. I doubt there’s an Australian alive who’s studied Capital more deeply, or given more practical guidance from it. But thanking him means thanking Peter Curtis, for connecting us with this rebel with no phone or internet. Humphrey’s in person, so I’ll be relatively brief.

We swim in a toxic sea of capitalism. But we needn’t drown. 

To chart a way forward, we seek truth from facts, not from wishful thinking.

The struggle for communism in the world – and in Australia – is littered with mistakes, rich with lessons. And with inspiring victories. Vanguard and the CPA(ML) are 60 this year. We’ve just reprinted the party’s first book, also from 1964. 

Hogtied to capitalism

Emerging from the most bitter split in our movement’s history, a split destroying lifelong friendships and even families, EF Hill’s Looking Backward: Looking Forward, Revolutionary Socialist Politics against Trade Union and Parliamentary Politics, analysed collective errors, based on deep study of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao. The key was it analysed Australia. 

Hill proved that, despite working class support, Labor was a capitalist party. The left labelled him “sectarian”. 

Workers rightly hate when the left cannibalises itself.  We were all guilty, for the stakes were high, liberation or exploitation, destruction and endless wars for profit. But real sectarianism is separation from the people.

All of Australia’s left grouplets are growing now, but none of us is capable yet of leading a revolution. 

In 1964, Hill also challenged trade union politics, because while trade unions at their best teach workers that if you don’t fight you’ve already lost, and teach them to organise as a class – touch one, touch all – at best unions only win crumbs from the capitalist feast. Now more than ever, unions are hogtied to capitalism. Dialectically, new laws enforcing permanency, applied to those few unions like the NSW Teacher Federation whose members still elect its organisers and officers, now demand, once elected for over two years, members won’t be able to remove them.

Betraying workers for the new US boss

After WW2, the communist party here was over 20,000 strong.  Hill’s book also showed how the anti-Marxist, class-struggle-denying ideology of US “communist” leader Earl Browder gripped the Australian party, paving the way for our new best buddy to shove British imperialism aside, betraying the workers and allies who could have fought this new master.

We’re now little more than a US imperialist puppet. It holds the commanding heights of our economy, our military is a wing of US forces, its culture poisons Australian minds. 

It dominates through division and conquest, deception and force. What ever-diminishing peoples’ rights we still have, were won and defended in hard struggle.  

In 1964 Hill showed Australia was a capitalist dictatorship, with parliament its “democratic” window-dressing.

Examples are endless. 94% of Australians opposed the war in Iraq. Howard joined the US invasion. This week 30% of the NSW prison population is Aboriginal. If the laws, courts, police, military, jails are independent, above classes, why are the biggest criminals living in unimaginable luxury instead of in jail?

The ruling class chooses violence

Resistance is growing. Palestine opens ever more eyes to reality, of who rules, who benefits. Who in their right minds would choose violence, invasion, destruction of the planet? The capitalist class, over and over again. 

Mao Zedong said communists must be like fish in a sea of people, because it’s the masses who create revolutionary change, not small groups of likeminded people isolated in left blocs. We listen, take the ideas of the masses, collectively concentrate them into theory, take them back to the people to be tested in practice, in an ongoing spiral of learning for revolutionary change. Underpinning this, constantly enriched in struggle, are 170 years of Marxist theory. The voice of peoples’ needs demand action from Humphrey McQueen’s new pamphlet.

Marx said there’s no crisis capitalism can’t recover from, until workers and oppressed peoples organise to defeat it. US imperialism and its hangers on will never willingly surrender. If threatened, they will choose violence. 

Right now we need to listen, to study, to organise, to build the peoples’ forces in struggle, build a party steeped in humility serving them, like fish in as sea of people. Our party strives and organises to be one day worthy of the Australian working class and its allies. 

We’re glad Humphrey is a friend of our party.

Today we’ll listen and ask and collectively learn from each other.

My party had the good fortune to marginally contribute to the first version of this profound pamphlet for workers and community activists, then an extraordinarily skinny summary of Marx’s monumental three volumes.

This second bread and butter version launched today is far richer, collectively created from 14 years of group study in Canberra. Humphrey says The Communist Manifesto is poetry that begs to be read aloud. His new pamphlet is an epic poem, for understanding, for organisation, for liberation, for survival.

As Rosa Luxemburg wrote, the choice is simple socialism or barbarism.