I would have preferred to discuss the high level of mass activities in the trade unions at this conference and relate our experiences to the delegates. However, I do wish to discuss some aspects of the differences within the world Communist movement and the position that our own Party occupies in regard to them.
I have been in opposition to some matters agreed to at meetings of our Central Committee.
I strongly opposed debate in public on the internal differences within the family of world Communist parties.
I have never believed and do not now believe in washing dirty linen under the eyes of the enemy. I was opposed to the public condemnation of a brother Party.
I am opposed to our Party taking sides because I believe it wrong in principle, and I feared it could take our Party into a bad position.
I contend that it is our Party’s responsibility to apply Marxism-Leninism and the 81 Parties’ Statement to the objective conditions of our country, and if in the process, our Party line corresponded with the Chinese line, then there was nothing wrong with that, or if our Party line corresponded with the Soviet line, then there is nothing bad in that either; but our position requires that we must be guided in our work by the scientific works of Marx and Lenin, and the Moscow and 81 Parties’ statements as applied to the objective conditions of our country, and not what the Chinese Party had to say or what the Soviet Party had to say.
The breach in the world Communist movement became crystallised at the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and became evident from the report to our Central Committee by our delegates who attended the Congress. I concluded from these events that the attacks launched against Stalin prior to, and at that time, were not an attack on Stalin as a man, but an attack on policy.
The Stalin image had to be destroyed in order to destroy policy. In my view the attacks on Stalin and presenting him somewhat of a tyrant, and a despot, corresponded with what the enemies of the working class had alleged over the years about Stalin, and the allegation about the suffering of the Soviet people during the period of his leadership, was in itself anti-Soviet, but even if it was not, it certainly opened up the way for great waves of anti-Soviet slanders.
Those of us who for over 40 years had followed with love and devotion the great achievements of the Soviet people and their leaders, including Stalin, and the fine way they shouldered their proletarian international responsibilities, through the most difficult years in the life of the young Socialist state, and their part in the anti-fascist war, were filled with great pride and joy and inspiration.
Of course we recognise that all persons who live make mistakes but, be that as it may, in my opinion, Stalin’s mistakes pale into insignificance when compared alongside the mighty achievements of the Soviet people during the period of his leadership.
I wish to refer to further manifestation of anti-Sovietism and I refer to the book which came out of the Soviet Union entitled “One Day in a Soviet Concentration Camp”. This trash was run in serial form in the Melbourne Herald and what I read of it I regarded as a slander against the Soviet Union.
The breach in the world Communist movement has developed into a campaign against the Chinese Party. This is also an attack on policy and must be seen as such. The condemnation in public of brother Parties is a feature of this campaign. In Europe during fairly recent months congresses of the Communist Parties of Bulgaria, of Hungary, of Germany and of Czechoslovakia were used as forums to attack in public the Chinese Party.
What sort of proletarian internationalism is this, where you invite a brother Party to your home (as it were) and then create facilities for an attack to be made on that Party? Are we to close our eyes to blows against the solidarity of the international proletariat? This sort of thing also tends to place in the shadows all the good decisions taken at these congresses and the thing that sticks in the minds and the hearts of the world proletariat is the crack and the dispute in the Communist family.
That was not the only bad thing in my view that occurred at these congresses, because the representatives of the Yugoslav revisionists were allowed to use the platforms of the Communist Parties of Italy and of Germany as a forum to split the international Communist movement. The leaders of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia are characterised in the 81 Party Statement as being revisionists.
These people regard Marxism-Leninism as obsolete. They set themselves against the international movement as a whole, they broke their links with the Socialist camp and accepted so-called aid from the United States imperialists.
These were the people that were brought into the Communist family, into Party congresses in Europe by the back door and without the approval of the Communist family.
Our Party delegation who attended those congresses, when reporting back to our Party in Australia, had no criticism of all this, but indeed had much criticism of the Chinese delegation.
I ask you, how can true Marxist-Leninists estimate these developments, and what conclusions are we entitled to draw? Surely you will understand why I expressed RESERVATIONS about that kind of situation.
We have a right, and indeed a duty, to differentiate between right and wrong on questions of principle and endeavour to straighten things out.
Our enemies attack us from all sides, they attack us from outside, and they attack us from within our own movement. That is not new. It is natural that they attack the light that guides our path. Therefore they attack Marxism-Leninism.
A genuine Marxist-Leninist Party must continue to struggle against revisionism because ceasing to oppose revisionism means to cease to take the path of revolution and a Party that does such a thing will be abandoned by the masses before it even realises that such a thing has happened.
The unity of our Party, and its monolithic strength, depend on preserving the purity of Marxism-Leninism. I stand by the 81 Party Statement as our guide and programme. It characterises modern revisionism as the main danger for the international Communist movement, yet those who fight against the ideologies of revision are branded as being dogmatic and sectarian.
Because I and other members of our Party exercised a right, and in my opinion a duty, to differentiate between right and wrong on questions of principle, this stand is now presented as being anti-Soviet, anti-Central Committee, and in opposition to democratic centralism. If this is the case, and I have strong reasons to believe it is, then I say it is a distortion and a deception.
I was opposed at the outset to our Party taking sides in the dispute then going on in the international Communist movement, which the Indonesian Party and the New Zealand Party and other world Parties refused to. I believed this would prevent our Party coming to grips with these differences in a principled way. I saw that once we took sides then we must go on and on contending one side right and the other wrong. I believe we should have taken up a position where we could give proper consideration to all the different documents and at the same time maintained warm, friendly proletarian international relations with all brother Parties.
In this way, we are not washing our hands of the international controversy, but would have helped to create the conditions within our own Party to have questions of principle solved in a Marxist-Leninist way.
Since that time, I have watched developments reach a position where the Chinese Party is attacked by the leaders of our Party at Central Committee meetings, and these attacks endorsed by majority vote on the Central Committee.
This grieves me, and I refuse to attack the great Chinese Party that has led over 700 million of the world’s people to Socialism, just as I would equally refuse to attack the great Soviet Party, or any other one of the world Communist Parties. To imply that my position is anti-Soviet is a wicked distortion of truth and a deception.
Regarding the allegation about being opposed to the Central Committee. Everyone has a mind of his own and I have had fairly wide experiences in the struggles of working class going back very many years.
During these years I have tried to come to grips with the Marxist-Leninist theories of scientific socialism and the class struggle. Based on all this, I stated my viewpoint and sought to differentiate right from wrong.
I did this at meetings of the Central Committee, and at State Committee meetings, and also some meetings of the State Executive, but outside of these I have not canvassed my views that were in opposition to those of the Central Committee.
I have long held the view that the test of one’s loyalty is what one does in practice, and in spite of what may have been said or implied about myself, and others at branch or section meetings, I want to say to you delegates that not one item of my practical work, or statements attributed to me has shown to be in opposition to the line of the Central Committee.
For the information of this conference, a member of our Party’s Central Committee, who is responsible for Party trade union work on a National level, recently visited other States, including Victoria. He reported to the last Central Committee meeting and had this to say at the conclusion of his report: “The Party comrades in the trade unions in Victoria are to be congratulated for their mass work and there is nothing in the work of our Victorian comrades that is opposed to the line of the Central Committee or the policy of peaceful co-existence”.
Comrades, let us look for one moment at what lessons history has for us on the question of opposition to decisions of Party Central Committee.
The history of the world Communist movement records many instances where members of the different Communist Parties were in opposition to decisions of their Central Committee from time to time.
As far back as 1914, Lenin was faced with a decision of the Central Committee of the Party of Russia at that time supporting the first World War which had then broken out. Lenin opposed the Central Committee decisions and denounced the war as an imperialist war. History has long since pronounced on the rights and the wrongs of that position.
Let us take a more recent event in the history of our movement. I refer to the position taken up by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India in relation to Indian aggression against China, over the border affair.
The Indian Party’s Central Committee supported Nehru’s action of aggression and many of these courageous members of the Indian Party’s Central Committee, who took up a stand in support of proletarian international solidarity, and against their Central Committee, are now in gaol.
Our Party’s Central Committee has since condemned the Indian Party for the position it took up on the Indian-China border question, so you see history has many lessons for us.
It is common knowledge that a high level of mass activity has been developed here in Victoria, and no doubt in other States also, particularly around the A.C.T.U. economic demands, against the Menzies government and its penal laws, in support of world peace, democratic rights and many other related issues.
Great unity based on organisations down below has been developed around all these questions. How do delegates to this conference think it was brought about? You are Communists, you will know, especially those of you who are active in your trade unions that this level of activity with its corresponding high level of class understanding was not achieved overnight. It has developed not in weeks or months, but over years of patient hard work, and organisation initiated by our Party.
I know from my own personal knowledge because I have been one of those who has been involved in this work at State Committee and State Executive levels on our Party’s trade union committee and on the Party’s trade union committee executive.
This level of mass work and level of understanding, and the unity is in fact the work of our Party and those we influence, and therefore is a tribute to the Party.
I have not the time to tell you, comrades, of the very many fine experiences encountered in this mass work, nor tell you about how the workers in their struggles warmly and enthusiastically receive our Party comrades leading the work on the trade unions.
The workers may not understand scientific theories of Marx and Lenin but they understand where we stand with them in their day to day struggles and their confidence in our comrades is expressed openly.