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Australasian Spartacist No. 195

Winter 2006

Down With Neocolonial Exploitation and Plunder!

Australian/UN Imperialist Troops/Cops Out of East Timor and Solomons Now!

We reprint below a Spartacist leaflet which was reissued on 15 June.

JUNE 4—Acting as neocolonial overlords Australian imperialism has once again dispatched troops to occupy East Timor. Seizing on escalating communalist violence in early May, the Australian government positioned two navy ships within view of the capital. Then, after pressuring East Timorese leaders to accept “assistance,” they rushed in some 1,300 troops along with armoured personnel carriers, tanks and Black Hawk helicopters to impose imperialist “law and order.” They are joined by smaller troop and police contingents from Malaysia, Portugal and New Zealand. As with the 1999 Australian-led UN occupation, the Australian military presence in Dili today has nothing to do with protecting the East Timorese people and everything to do with defending the interests of Australian imperialism and its allies.

Using the “war on terror” as a pretext, jackal Australian imperialism spends up to $60 million a day on the military to ramp up its capacity to support their U.S. big brother’s bloody interventions across the globe, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, while pursuing their own predatory interests in the region. Backed as usual by “strong” and “unqualified support” from Labor leader Kim Beazley, Australian prime minister John Howard has not ruled out taking complete control of most facets of East Timor’s government administration while disarming the population, just as they have done in the Solomon Islands. Currently some 550 Australian troops and police occupy the capital, Honiara. Meanwhile Australia’s ongoing brutal and deeply racist neocolonial domination of Papua New Guinea robs its natural resources while leaving the population impoverished and downtrodden. U.S./Australia out of Iraq and Afghanistan now! Australian, all UN/imperialist and allied troops/cops get out of East Timor, the Solomon Islands now!

In the wake of 350 years of Portuguese rule, more than two decades of Australian-backed Indonesian occupation and more than six years of “independence” under UN/imperialist bayonets, East Timor is one of the poorest countries in Asia with massive unemployment, illiteracy, lack of potable water and low life expectancy. During the Australian-led UN occupation, the Australian military attacked desperate job seekers, terrorised women and tortured suspected pro-Indonesian “militiamen.” On 4 December 2002, UN/Australian-backed East Timorese police fired on unarmed high school students protesting cop violence. Eighteen protesters were shot and up to five killed. The impoverished East Timorese masses are seething with discontent. Enforced squalor has inflamed communal tensions between the loromonu people in the west and the lorosae in the east of East Timor. Using “divide and rule” tactics the imperialists seize on such tensions to maintain their domination.

In March, the prime minister, Mari Alkatiri, sacked some 600 soldiers after they protested alleged poor conditions and discrimination against those from the west. Divisions within the East Timorese military and political leadership were further inflamed when pro-government police opened fire on a demonstration by the sacked troops and youth on 28 April, killing at least five and wounding many others. Following a split in the army and police, the situation descended into communalist violence, leaving 27 dead with up to 100,000 Dili residents fleeing their homes as arson attacks escalated and rumours circulated about further violence and an impending clash between the army and police.

Imperialist Machinations Over East Timor Oil, Gas

After receiving U.S. backing to once again occupy East Timor, with racist arrogance Howard declared, “The country has not been well governed and I do hope the sobering experience for those in elected positions of having to call in help from outside will induce the appropriate behaviour inside the country” (Weekend Australian, 27-28 May). Backed by their military might, what the U.S./Australian imperialists clearly seek to “induce” is “regime change” that results in a government that better kowtows to their interests. Indicative of imperialist machinations is the Australian military’s sympathetic stance towards the leader of the “rebel” soldiers, Australian-trained Major Alfredo Reinado.

In the imperialists’ sights is Alkatiri, a long-time Fretilin leader whose leadership was re-endorsed at a recent party conference, a rebuff to demands, including by Reinado, that he resign as prime minister. Alkatiri, a bourgeois nationalist and no friend of the oppressed, has nonetheless been an irritant to powerful reactionary forces since becoming prime minister. A Muslim in this predominantly Catholic country, Alkatari offended the Catholic Church by attempting to make religious education in schools optional. His refusal to accept loans from the blood-sucking World Bank, attempt to declare a national day of mourning following Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s death, and bringing in Cuban doctors has put him offside with the U.S. and Australian governments.

But what has also raised the ire of Washington and Canberra was Alkatiri’s ultimately unsuccessful attempts to get an equitable deal for East Timor from the rich oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea, and his preparedness to look to other powers including Portugal and, more significantly, China. While relentless bullying by the Australian government culminated in a “deal” in April 2005 that resulted in East Timor ceding its rightful claim to fabulously resource-rich territories in the Timor Sea for up to 60 years, Alkatiri’s reported stubbornness in negotiations infuriated the rapacious Australian imperialists. They were further rankled by his appeals to the European Union for assistance and rumours that he was going to award a major gas project to the Chinese oil and gas company, PetroChina.

Defend the Chinese Deformed Workers State!

The current occupation of East Timor serves to shore up U.S./Australian military control in the region. The so-called “arc of instability” stretching from Fiji through to Aceh has long been a region of great power rivalries in which at least since the end of WWII Australia has often claimed a special “responsibility.” Following the tsunami catastrophe in late 2004, the U.S., Japan and Australia rushed large military detachments to Aceh near the entrance to the strategic Strait of Malacca through which much Japanese and Chinese trade passes. The recent successes of the Chinese deformed workers state in obtaining resources and providing aid in the Asia-Pacific region have alarmed Washington, Tokyo and Canberra. Encouraged by the U.S., a resurgent Japanese imperialism has become increasingly provocative and bellicose towards China.

While Australian business leaders do not want to jeopardise trade with China, the jackal Australian imperialists share the U.S.’ strategic aim of capitalist counterrevolution in China and a return to the untrammelled imperialist exploitation that existed prior to the 1949 Revolution. The current Australian military interventions in the Solomons and East Timor follow recent visits to Australia by U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Japanese foreign minister Taro Aso. These visits culminated in a ministerial level Trilateral Strategic Dialogue between Australia, the U.S. and Japan and follow last year’s reactionary U.S./Japan security agreement, which transparently targeted the North Korean and Chinese bureaucratically deformed workers states. Down with the U.S./Australia counterrevolutionary alliance! For the unconditional military defence of the Chinese, North Korean, Vietnamese and Cuban deformed workers states against imperialist attack and internal counterrevolution! For proletarian political revolutions against the Stalinist misleaders whose bureaucratic mismanagement and appeasement of imperialism pave the way for capitalist restoration!

As a second-rate imperialist power, the Australian rulers are anxious to aggressively assert themselves in their “own backyard.” In securing and expanding regional areas of exploitation, the bloody Australian rulers help to prop up venal anti-working-class regimes that will do their bidding. The recent diplomatic joust between Australia and Indonesia over Australia’s granting of temporary protection visas to 42 West Papuan asylum seekers in no way undermined the military ties that have been reforged between the U.S./Australia and the Indonesian military. These ties include Australian military training of the Indonesian Kopassus killers who have spent decades terrorising and murdering West Papuan independence fighters in order to enforce the imperialist rape of their land by the likes of the gigantic U.S.-owned Freeport-McMoRan gold and copper mine. Today while Australian companies such as Woodside Petroleum siphon off East Timor’s oil and gas, Leighton Holdings, BHP-Billiton and other imperialist companies reap huge profits throughout Indonesia.

In recent massive protests across the country that pushed back draconian anti-worker laws, the Indonesian working masses demonstrated their power to take up social struggle. Ending imperialist subjugation in neocolonial countries such as Indonesia requires forging a Trotskyist party to mobilise the working class and rural toilers in victorious socialist revolution against their own national bourgeoisie. If such revolutions are not to be militarily or economically strangled they must be extended internationally, above all to the imperialist centres. Down with the reactionary Australia/Indonesian military alliance! Racist Australian imperialist military/cops out of Indonesia, Philippines now! Asylum now for all refugees! Indonesian military get out of West Papua! U.S./Australia keep your bloody hands off!

Workers Must Oppose Racist Australian Imperialism

The reactionary period ushered in by the counterrevolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union in 1991-92 has been marked by escalating militarism abroad and increasing repression at home including racist terror against refugees and other minorities and a savage union-busting agenda. The bourgeoisie is particularly escalating its material and ideological offensive against Aboriginal people, viciously blaming them for their own oppression. In the face of social pathologies caused by grinding capitalist oppression, the capitalist media, echoed by kept mouthpieces like ALP president Warren Mundine, demand increased state intervention in Indigenous communities. When one considers the more than 200 years of racist state terror in which the Aboriginal people were nearly exterminated, their lands and children stolen from them, this is obscene and serves only to legitimise the ongoing racist cop terror and systematic discrimination and poverty suffered by Aborigines.

The road to liberation for the Aboriginal people and all the oppressed lies in the struggle to mobilise the working class against the bosses and their state. What is necessary is a struggle within the workers movement to fuse class-struggle opposition to union busting with the fight against racist terror and imperialist marauding abroad. The chief obstacle to this is the pro-capitalist ALP and Laborite trade-union tops who push reactionary bourgeois ideology into the workers movement. This is illustrated by the furore surrounding horribly oppressed overseas “guest workers.” While some unions, under pressure from their multiracial working-class base, have on occasion fought on behalf of these overseas workers, there has been much xenophobia from the Laborite tops. In his budget reply speech ALP leader Kim Beazley ranted against foreign workers. And ACTU president Sharan Burrow, while noting that “guest workers” are exploited and that the government has used such programs to drive down wages and conditions, has railed “If there are jobs available they should first go to Australians” (ACTU website, 24 February). Such poisonous nationalism serves only to pit workers against their overseas class brothers and sisters while fostering racist divisions at home. Workers must unite against the exploiters rather than be played off against each other. Fighting for union defence of the oppressed, and against Laborite nationalism, would undercut the bosses’ divide-and-rule schemes and bring into the unions new sources of fighting strength providing a bridge to class unity with workers of the region. Full union rights and conditions for all workers! No deportations! Full citizenship rights for all immigrants and “guest workers”!

The pro-capitalist union misleaders demobilise working-class struggles by pushing nationalist divisions, reliance on the courts and the dead end of ALP parliamentarism. The ALP is a bourgeois workers party; while based on the trade unions, it is thoroughly bourgeois in its program and leadership. Workers need a proletarian internationalist revolutionary party. Such a party, fighting as a tribune of all the people, will be built through splitting the working-class base of the ALP from the pro-capitalist leadership.

Reformist and Centrist Left: Waterboys for “Democratic” Imperialism

It is an elementary principle for Marxists to uncompromisingly oppose the imperialist depredations of their own ruling class. Not so for the reformist and centrist left in this country, who bear their share of responsibility for opening the way to the current imperialist occupation of East Timor. In September 1999, virtually the entire left—including the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP), the International Socialist Organisation (ISO), Socialist Alternative (SAlt), the Socialist Party (SP) and Workers Power (WP)—cheered on the anti-Indonesia actions led by the Laborite trade-union bureaucrats which were explicitly designed to speed up Australian military intervention. They enthusiastically marched in demonstrations behind the ALP parliamentary and union misleaders screaming for Australian “peacekeepers” to “save” East Timor. Leading the social-chauvinist charge were the DSP who built the marches, openly demanding “Send Australian/UN Troops NOW!”

As the reality of colonial occupation became obvious, most of these groups scrambled to cover their treacherous role. Socialist Alternative, who posture against Australian imperialism, recently took “most of the left” to task for having “cheered on Australian troops as they set off to ‘liberate’ East Timor.” In fact at the time SAlt participated in the “troops in” rallies carrying placards screaming “East Timor—blood on Howard’s hands, Support union bans on Indonesia” and demanded “bigger and more militant demonstrations in the streets” (Socialist Alternative, September 1999). Likewise, the Socialist Party (SP) claim to have been “Almost alone of the left” in “opposing the Australian intervention in 1999.” In October 1999 SP (then known as Militant Socialist Organisation) hailed the chauvinist rallies and trade-union actions as the “magnificent response of the Australian people” claiming “If it wasn’t for the pressure of the Australian people, Canberra and ‘our’ armed forces would be once again putting the ‘national interest’ (i.e. protecting the interests of Australian bosses in Indonesia) before the massacres of the people of East Timor” (Militant, October 1999).

The Laborite lefts’ support to “human rights” imperialism over East Timor was preceded by their championing of capitalist “democracy” against the former Soviet degenerated workers state. Along with the ALP, the ISO (from which SAlt later emerged), SP, DSP and WP all hailed Boris Yeltsin’s U.S.-backed counter-coup in August 1991. This was a pivotal event of the 1991-92 capitalist counterrevolution, which plunged the former Soviet peoples backwards into bloody nationalist fratricide and destitution. From despicably backing the Laborite union tops’ support for imperialism in 1999, most of these reformist groups moved seamlessly into various cross-class anti-war coalitions with the 2003 imperialist bombardment and subsequent occupation of Iraq. Far from opposing Australian militarism, these coalitions demand that the Australian imperialist government “Bring the Troops Home!” In pushing such demands the reformist left fall into line behind their bourgeois Greens coalition partners and the ALP who push for a more concentrated and aggressive role for the Australian military in the Asia-Pacific region. In this they particularly target North Korea, behind which lies their strategic prize, the Chinese deformed workers state.

The reformist and centrist left share a touching faith in the capitalist state, peddling the lie that the capitalist rulers can be pressured to act on behalf of the oppressed. The role of the capitalist state—the police, courts, prisons and military—is to uphold the rule of the capitalist class over the working class and oppressed. In imperialist countries this apparatus serves to defend the plunder of natural resources and exploitation of labour in the neocolonial world. Every action of this state, from police attacks on leftist demonstrators to foreign “aid” to military expeditions abroad, is for one purpose only—to enforce the interests of the fabulously rich capitalist exploiters at home and abroad.

Against the social-chauvinist left who lined up behind the White Australia capitalist rulers in 1999, the Spartacist League exposed the lie that military intervention could bring independence and “freedom” for the East Timorese. Standing on the socialist principle of not one person, not one cent for the imperialist military, we campaigned in word and deed against Australian imperialist intervention, demanding as we do today that Australia, the U.S., the UN and all their camp followers get out of East Timor and stay out! As we concluded in our 3 December 1999 statement:

“In this country solidarity with the Indonesian and East Timorese masses means above all the struggle to overthrow the Australian ruling class through workers revolution. The complete social and national liberation of the East Timorese and myriad other oppressed peoples of the region requires the smashing of imperialism and the construction of a socialist Asia, from Indonesia to Korea, from Australia to Japan. It is to this task that the International Communist League is dedicated….”

—“Australian/UN Imperialist Troops Out of East Timor!” reprinted in Australasian Spartacist No.170, Autumn 2000

For a workers republic of Australia, part of a socialist Asia!


Australasian Spartacist No. 195

ASP 195

Winter 2006


Down With Neocolonial Exploitation and Plunder!

Australian/UN Imperialist Troops/Cops Out of East Timor and Solomons Now!


For a Class-Struggle Fight to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!


U.S./Australia Hands Off Iran! Out of Iraq Now!

Imperialists Threaten Iran


Down With State Terror Against Aborigines in Central Australia!



Israel Out of the Occupied Territories!

Imperialists, Zionists Starve Palestinians


Scrap the Sex Offenders Register!

Britain: Anti-Sex Witchhunt in Schools


Social Chauvinists and Shameless Opportunists


Defend Chinese Deformed Workers State! For Workers Political Revolution!

"Left Forum" Debate on "Market Socialism"


Campaign Update