21th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties
100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist International.
The fight for peace and socialism continues!
Full Contribution of the Communist Party of Australia
By General Secretary Andrew Irving.
On behalf of the Communist Party of Australia, I would like to thank the Communist Party of Turkey and Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and send our warmest greetings for the hosting of this 21th gathering of the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties.
I would like to introduce myself Andrew Irving thenew General Secretary of our party.
We want to assurethis meeting of Communist and Workers Party’s of the Communist party of Australia’s determination and commitment to revolutionary change and that there can be nothing less than a socialist future.
I could dwell on the previous Secretary and his betrayal of our party and the workers of Australia but I prefer to focus on our successes and the positive and youthful developments within the party.
Our Party’s leadership is a strong collective and its members have a well established leadership role in working class movement,in the international worker and peoples solidarity movements and as anti-imperialist peace movement activists. Over a long period our Party has had a commitment to these struggles, the Communist International and the WFDY, WFTU, WPC.
Our party has a challenge one that we have not faced for a number of years.A significant influx of new enthusiastic members, including many young people. We have an exciting and daunting task to turn this wave of members into a tide of comrades that are strong, united, active, disciplined with a commitment to Marxism Leninism and the workers of the world.
On this occasion our party Celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the establishment of the Communist International
The third international was established in 1919in Moscow.This“communist international”was based on the revolutionary principles that most of the leaders of the Second International had abandoned. It set rules including breaking with the politics of the reformist social democratic parties, defending the Soviet Union and most importantly firmlybased on the principle of proletarian working-class internationalism.
In its 24 years of existencethe International promoted Lenin’s principles that communist parties be of a new kind which were active, firmly committed to the dictatorship of the proletariat and anti-imperialist andhad been part of the Marxist program from the beginning.
At the Second Congress of the Communist International that met in July 1920, the21 conditions for admission to the Communist International,submitted by Lenin, were accepted. These conditions were directed first against the Centrists; but not only against them. The Congress also corrected the "Left" mistakes of the Communists who did not want to work in the reformist trade unions and who preached the boycott of parliamentary elections, etc.
Lenin helped in an effective manner to overcome this tendency. Before the Second Congress, Lenin had completed his work: "Left Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder." This gifted work was a most important textbook of Bolshevik strategy and tactics for the Communists of the whole world.
On October 30, 1920, at a meeting held in the union movement headquarters,Trades Hall, in Sydney the Communist Party of Australia was established.
Early on in our Party’s life we had to waged a struggle againstleft-sectarianism in the form of anarcho-syndicalism within the party.
Eventually, the struggle for unity was successful and the syndicalists were defeated. However, that was not the end of anarcho-syndicalism in the CPA.
Like all deviations from Marxism-Leninism, whether of the “left” or right variety, it is a manifestation and reflection of the class struggle, and hence is a fate that recurs. Even till today.
Later in the 1920s, leftism again manifested itself, overstating the pace of revolutionary change and raising unreal expectations on the part of some comrades. An error also seen in the International. A related rightist error held out the prospect that capitalism was imminently going to “collapse”.
A right-opportunist group led by G Barrachi called for the party’s liquidation. When this attempt threat occurred future Secretaries of our party JB Miles and Lance Sharkey appealed to the Communist International for help in this inner party struggle to defeat these liquidationists.Finally this attack was defeated at our congress in 1929.
Following this challenge the Party embarked on a vigorous program of industrial organising and within 12 months the Party’s membership grew fourfold.
In the first decade of its existence our Party conducted a numberof international campaigns. The more important of these were solidarity campaigns with the great Chinese national revolution, the "Hands Off China" campaign, which exposed the armed violence of the British Imperialists against the Chinese people in their efforts to crush the revolution. Alsothere was assistance given to striking British seamen, many thousands of whom had left their ships in Australian ports and workers in the British General Strike and British miners, who continued to strike.
Another big campaign, in which the Party was able to secure stoppages of work at a number of enterprises, was against the electrocution of Sacco and Vanzetti in the United States.
A considerable campaign was devoted to the Pan-Pacific Trade Union Secretariat for the organisation of workers in Pacific countries into an international federation and especially in defence of the great Indian National movement.
The ruling class, on the other hand, took a different view of the Party’s prospects and in 1926 they tried to ban our Party. This attempted banning was not finally defeated until 1932.
A scant eight years later the ruling class tried again, this time via the anti-Communist, pro-Nazi, pro-appeasement they banned the Party on June 15, 1940 under laws intended to prevent the spread of Fascism.
This was only lifted when the Soviet Union and its Red Army were being viewed as the saviour of the freedom-loving nations of the world.At the end the ban the Communist Party had more members than we had at the start of the ban.
General Secretary of the Communist International Georgi Dimitrov in reporting to the Seventh Congress of the COMINTERN in 1935, emphasised the need to develop a united front with all forces willing to make a stand against fascism, both at the working-class mass level and at the level of relations among political parties. To switch from the “Third Period” of sectarian ultra-leftism to the “Popular Front” which called for unity against fascism. This change was no easy task but was adopted by all the COMINTERN parties.
As a part of our commitment and dedication to internationalism, the Soviet Union and other members COMINTERN our party organised support for workers, and communist struggles in many places, most notably by encouraging comrades to fight in support of the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939.
On the occasion of the 100th Anniversary we call on you comrades to change the existence of this “Meeting”. We ask you to re-constituteitand decide to make a new “Communist International”.
An International that continues its commitment to Marxism Leninism and the principles of proletarian working-class internationalism. As we are Party’s of a new kind that are committed to being with the people that are, active, firmly committed to the dictatorship of the proletariat, to the anti-imperialism cause and the Marxist program.We need to be the Vanguardin promoting the leadership role of the workers and the only solution is a socialism future.
Comrades the Communist International must unify our commitment to proletarian working-class internationalism.
The struggle of the CPA alongside workers continue in Australia.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are 709,000 unemployed in Australia as of July. The number of underemployed was 1.143 million. (ABS 6202.0 July 2019)
That makes a total of 1.85 million people in Australia who are unemployed or underemployed, seeking work or more hours of work, and who cannot find it.
Compare that to the estimate in May this year of less than 250,000 job vacancies.
This means there is not enough jobs. Instead of our government punishing the unemployed and stigmatising them as dole bludgers.The governmentignore what they are doing to people, how they are destroying the lives of so many citizens who have a lot to contribute to society.
One area our workers and unions are campaigning for is to bring in tough legislation to enforceregime to prevent wage theft, including in the gig economy and amongst visa workers. There are over 1 million temporary overseas workers in Australia which hasfew industrial rights protection and are underdirect threat of expulsion if they stand up for their rights.
Our government continueswith the lie thatworker wages and conditions areunaffordable, unsustainableand will destroy their sacred budget surplus they have promised.
Yet if we look at the best way to balance the books we need to look no further than the bloated military budget. What justifies spending $1 trillion over 20 years? That’s $1 trillion spend on killing machines, not to defend Australia, but to fight US’ wars and turn Australia into a target.
There are many areas of state capitalist welfare that should be cut including billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies. This capital could be usedin developing the renewable energy sector in Australia to creating jobs, improving the environment and contributing towards arresting climate change.
The last time I attended and spoke at this forum in 2006 the significant worker movement issue in Europe was the Lisbon agreement. In talking to the comrades here Ifound that many of the attracts against the workers included in this EU agreement had already been aggressivelyimplemented in Australia years earlier.
Wage theft and our Governments appalling track record
Workers across all industries are being exposed to an epidemic of wage theft.
The Australian Federal Coalitiongovernment’s indifference and active attacks on workers’ means there have been minimal moves on wage theft or ability for worker to recover their stolen wages.
Repeated wage theft cases investigated and exposed have been dragging on for years while workers wait for their stolen pay.
A gig is not a job
In Australia International gig Companies such as Uber, Airtasker, Deliveroo, and Airbnb have become household names with millions of Australians using them for the purchase of goods and services. Many do not know how these companies operate, what happens behind the scenes and how they treat their workers.
Gig for workers means short-term on-demand type contracts.
One of the biggest gig companies Airtasker employs people to do odd jobs.
An odd job is put up online and worker bid to do it, so they might say “I am willing to do your job for $15 an hour.” Another might say they will do it for $10, then another for $9. So they keep bidding until an amount is agreed in a race to the bottom.Multiple workers can bid for the same job.
Around the time Airbnb become popular, Uber was starting out and a lot of people referred to it as the “sharing economy” which has connotations of being fair, inclusive, warm and fuzzy.
How can it be called the sharing economy? This model of “disruption economics”is just a new form of extreme worker exploitation.
In Australia, and probably internationally the example of Airtasker has started a discussion in the labour movement about a new phenomenon of online businesses trying to engage workers directly, completely outside of the industrial relations systems of the countries they operate in.
Airtasker has been advertising on their site for worker at average wage rates cleaner below the minimum wage rates which showing they are actively involved in manipulating the market.
The model they are developing is leadingto even more extreme exploitative conditions of workers and in some cases actually dangerous exploitation.They have advertising jobs for electrical works that have no requirements for trades licencing or any of the other OH&S requirements that you would expect in that industry.
On each occasion the Australian Conservative Coalition government calls for the “rule of law”in their constant and steady flow of union-bashing legislation and endless attacks on workers and their unions for breaching bad federal capitalist laws. Theyhave paid for national government investigationcommission after commission in an attempt to demonise unions in the eyes of workers and the public.
It is nothing short of a political witch-hunt. The hearings are dominated by weak claims linking the trade union movement to all manner of criminal activity and bullying which the corporate media blasts out on a daily basis never missing the opportunity for a little embellishment.
The main target of union vilification is the building and construction union, the CFMEU which to date have been fined under existing laws over$16,000,000 AUD. This sets the scene for two bills that are currently before Parliament. They are the Ensuring Integrity and Proper Uses of Worker Benefits bills.
The main focus of this anti-union legislation that dates back the early 2000s are such things as:
The latest bills represent more recent trends of increasing interference in the running of trade unions, and the application of mandatory penal provisions including jail sentences. They also overrule the democratic rights of union members and the ability of officials to do their job.
The Ensuring Integrity Bill contains extensive provisions for the disqualification of union officials from holding office and the deregistration of a union or branches of a union. It also introduces a “public interest test” for the amalgamation of trade unions.
The Proper Uses of Worker Benefits Bill is also a complete misnomer. A number of unions, such as in the construction industry, where redundancy is a common feature, work is highly casualised and companies often close down. In this industry the union has set up worker benefits funds to protect workers’ entitlements. Participating employers contribute a weekly amount for each employee. These fund’s board have equal numbers of union and employer representatives and an independent chair. These funds provide a number of benefits for workers as well as contributing to redundancy payments to tide workers over until the next job.
The government wants to make these boards “independent” and put them on the same footing as corporate board’s.This is another unjustifiable raid on the Australian Workers Union movement. The government’s aim is to hand the control of these worker funds over to the banks, insurance companies and private vocational education companies that have rorted tax payers for millions of dollars!
Australian conservative Morrison federal government continues to defend increasing worker wage theft of the capitalists.
In Australia superannuation system is compulsory to raise additional worker retirement funds and is contributed to by workers and employers.Internationally it is now one of the largest funds of its type in the world.
“This government has reintroduced legislation that would effectively clean the slate for a large number of employers who have undertaken wage theft by not paying the required amounts into workers super accounts, estimated by Industry Super Australia to be an amount of $5.9 billion a year.”
The war on the Australian Indigenous peoples and poor continues
An Intervention has been applied to more than 70 Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. It included compulsory health checks for all Aboriginal children, some by the Australian military, and increased policing also with assistance from the army.
Those who received government payments, received 50 percent of their income as cash and the remainder quarantined in the form of a card which can only be used in certain retail outlets barring the purchase of alcohol, cigarettes or gambling. This represents Income Management of welfare payments.
Our Government is now moving a bill in parliament to establish a trial for 5,000 unemployed workers and Youth Allowance recipients. If any of these job seeker who tests positive for drugs or alcohol they will have 80 percent of their allowance quarantined.
These schemes targeted people deemed to be “at risk” living in “vulnerable regions” – initially, anywhere in the NT but they are moving to apply this control across Australia, mostly in poorer socio-economic areas. The amount quarantined will also be raised to 80 percent.
The cards initially targeted at Indigenous Australians in some of the poorest communities. Cardholders are stigmatised every time they use the card. Many feel it is paternalistic, harking back to the colonial days. Successive governments have extended its application, bit by bit contrary to the wishes of many of those affected. The card is a cheap cop-out for a government that is not prepared to allocate money for infrastructure and services in Indigenous communities and poorer socioeconomic areas where unemployment is high.
Toward the abyss of war
Australia’s Prime Minister Morrison’s recently had intimate talks with US President Trump which will have very serious implications for Australian and the rest of the world.
Australia is riding on the back of the US’s move into an abyss of warfare, climate change and disastrous trade relations.
In an unstable and threatening speech, Trump said Iran should be subjected to a nuclear attack because of its opposition to US interests. Morrison later praised Trump for his “measured and calibrated approach”!
Trump described the People’s Republic of China as “a threat to the world”. He said China had stolen intellectual property, property rights and more than US$5,400 billion in annual trade from the US. Morrison agreed with Trump.
The two discussed joint operations in the waters south of Iran. Australia is one of the only nations who has agreed to send troops, a surveillance plane and a Navy frigate for six months to a US-led effort in the name of protecting shipping lanes from Iran.
Saudi Arabia and UAEare currently conducting a criminal and inhuman war against the people of Yemen and Australia has been shown to be selling a significant quantity of arms to both countries and an ex-Australian army officer now leads the UAE army.
Trump’s speech about a possible Iranian nuclear attack on Iraq foreshadows the involvement of Australia in yet another US-led war. This followsAustralia historical trail, just to mention a few Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq and maybein the future China.
Most importantly Australia hosts one of the US most important communications installations the spy base at Pine Gap and as well as a growing number of US military bases and forcesstationed in the north of our country.
Australia has also committed to become more heavily involved in the US’s use of space for military purposes and aims to become the world’s top four biggest exporter of weapons and military hardware at a time of pressing and growing social needs in Australia.
It should also be noted that the Australian Government with its open attacks on Chinaputs in jeopardy the relations with our biggest trading partner. A countryto which goods worth $81 billion have just recently been exported from one of our states WA.
This support for US war fighting plans will cost Australian taxpayers billions of dollars and escalates the danger of conflict in the region and the wider world.
Socialism or perish
One of the largest protests in Australian and probably in the world as part of the student call for action to combat climate change, on the 20thSeptember involved over 300,000 students and workers ralliing around Australia. This “School Strike for Climate” which has grown at a remarkable pace as part of a worldwide mass movement, encompassing many different groups coming together to try and save the human species from extinction. Those that attended openly and loudly presented challenging ideas that were put forward by many young climate activists and NGO groups who argue for a “Green New Deal” and other policies that amounted to the greening of the economy despite capitalisms resistance.
The Green New Deal is essentially a shift to renewable energy, which entails a massive jobs program in the clean energy sector and mass investment in public transit and other public works.
The two significant aspects of the demonstrations in Australia was that it was organised in cooperation with and support of the union movement and that the students clearly called it a“strike” of students.
The demands for this environmental strikecampaign are:
Australia is also acting to support the call for a climate crisis via another significant new movement the Extinction Rebellion movement which is also directly confronting and blockading the complacency of the exploiters and those that wish to destroy our plant for their profits.
These are basic policies that can be supported by any socialist and will form part of the CPA program on the environment.
We ask, can there be a Green imperialism or only a Socialist solution to climate crisis
The climate crisis is the inevitable conclusion of the capitalisms need to expand, dominate and for ever increasing profits. Australia’s role in the climate crisis sits at the top of two systems: colonialism and imperialism. Firstly, Australia engages in colonialism by mismanagement the stolen lands of our indigenous peoples– including land clearing, poor water management, irresponsible agricultural practices, and a massive dirty energy and mineral mining industries. Secondly, Australia capitalists engages in imperialism by participating in overseas mining projects that exploit the worlds environment and local working class.
“Save Tuvalu, save the world”
Tuvalu, according to the United Nations, is one of the most vulnerable nation to rising sea levels, which could render it uninhabitable in the coming century. It is also grappling with an ongoing outbreak of dengue fever and does not have a supply of safe fresh water.
The leaders of 18 Pacific islands, including Australia, were in Tuvalu earlier this year to attend the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) with the question of climate change at the top of the agenda.
Recent PIFs had put climate change high on the agenda and had adopted a general statement largely about the need to address climate change. This year in light of the urgency of the matter, the Pacific Island nations were determined to adopt a stronger statement on climate change. In particular, that the smaller islands sought a commitment to limit global warming to under 1.5°C and a draft a plan for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. It also included a commitment from Australia to ban all new coal-fired power stations and coal mines.
Australia is the third largest fossil fuel exporter in the world, and as such a major contributor to global warming.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to make any specific commitments relating to climate change targets. It was insisted that all references to the word “coal” be removed, before Australia wouldallow any agreement.
Pleas for action from the drowning islands were met with an offer of $500 million in “aid” to adapt to climate change. The Pacific leaders were talking about the lives and future of their peoples. Already some islands are under water. Australia clearly was only interested in protecting the profits of energy and mining corporations.
In raising these examples of struggle in Australia and in our region the question is how the Communist International can become involved, set priorities and whether it is willing to respond with campaignsand take a Vanguard position.
To finish I would like to thank all the comrades here for listening to our Party’s contribution and hope comrades you return home buoyed up by the solid commitment of delegates here for a strong and united socialist future.
Long Live the Communist Party of Turkey and Communist Party of Greece (KKE)
Long Live the Communist International
Long Live Proletarian Working-class Internationalism