Let me discuss some random questions and experiences that I have encountered. One may be asked questions in conversation, at a discussion, in a meeting or in a host of other ways. One thing can be said for certain and that is, that all my life people have had a deep interest in Communism whether it be sympathetic, just curious or hostile. No one really escapes from this process.
It sometimes irks me to hear some “authorities” denouncing Communism when they don’t really know the first thing about it. They repeat the prejudices conjured up by the monopoly capitalists in their efforts to destroy Communism. Just a few years ago I participated as one of the guest speakers at an Asian students’ seminar. (I may say I was taken there by a stalwart revolutionary who amongst other jobs had been a taxi driver. He volunteered to take me. I asked him did he know where to go. “Just give me the address”, he said. I did. Before long we were hopelessly lost. He said: “I’ll ask at a garage!” This he did, got some directions and again we were lost. He said: “I’ll ask the next bloke who comes along!” It was half-light and my comrade was blind in one eye. He suddenly said: “Here comes a bloke, I’ll ask him”. As we got near he leaned out and said: “Hey mister, can you tell me....it’s a bloody horse” he said to me. It was indeed a horse.) My fellow guests were two university teachers and a clergyman. I was there to talk on Communism. There were questions directed by the audience to the speakers. The questions directed to me concerned Communism. I did my best to answer them. In answering a question on his subject, another guest speaker went out of his way to denounce Communism and gave a garbled account of it. I am certain he had never read a word of the classics of Communism. He had read what someone else said Marx had said. When next I spoke I said that if someone asked me a question on nuclear physics I wouldn’t be able to answer, for I knew little or nothing about if, I ventured to suggest that where people had no knowledge of Communism they had no right to speak and doubted whether the gentleman who had discoursed on Communism had even read Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto. He didn’t assert that he had; on the contrary asserted that he had not, but had read an “authoritative” book on Communism. One can only talk in a way to command respect on any subject if one has at least made some study of it. It is a different matter to seek information. Soon after this experience, I was at a meal with some non-Communist friends. They commenced an argument amongst themselves about Communism. I took no part in it. Ultimately they appealed to me. I declined to comment on their argument but I did ask them what they knew or had read about Communism. Each of them said nothing except what was in the newspapers. From time to time I have glanced at university courses on Marxism. Only very rarely are the texts by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong prescribed. Almost invariably the texts set are by “commentators” on Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong. I have asked many students of these subjects what they are set to read. Only in the exceptional case is it material by any of the classic writers of Marxism. When it is, it is only a snippet. There are hosts of writers about Communism. Most of them are hostile to Communism and “prove” it wrong. From the very inception of Communism an enormous literature has grown up to “refute” it. This is a self-defence mechanism of capitalism. Instead of being “repudiated”, proved wrong, etc, it has obstinately refused to go away. From the two men, Marx and Engels, it has grown into a world wide force, been taken up by millions and guided great socialist revolutions to victory. It is truth which embraces and is embraced by more and more people. Anyone who thinks about social matters should read at least something of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong whether or not they come to agree with it. I hope they will agree with it. But one cannot force people to agree. One cannot debate intelligently a subject of which one knows little or nothing, particularly in our times when Communism is a question in the minds of many. The consistent attack both crude and subtle on Communism, day in and day out by the press, radio and television, helps people to get interested in Communism and to appraise it. If Communism could be strangled by silence, then there would be silence. That has proved impossible. The next best things are abuse and persecution. They have failed to destroy it. Indeed interest has been enhanced. After the retirement of Sir Charles Lowe as a judge (the Sharpley Royal Commissioner), I met him at a legal function. He said to me in the manner of the lawyer but in a friendly way: “Tell me Hill, what is all this about China?” I started to try to tell him something about China. Then I realised my inadequacy. It was a pretty large undertaking. So I said: “Would you like me to send you something to read?” He said: “Very much”. I sent him material from Chairman Mao, and other material. Subsequently he wrote me a letter of appreciation and expressed a real interest. That is one aspect. At the other end of the social scale thousands and thousands of Australians have done some study of Communism. This has left a rich legacy. In significant numbers they still do. The debate about Communism will never die away and therefore at least a minimum knowledge of it is necessary.
People ask what the difference is between Communism and socialism. Probably we use the terms carelessly. I describe myself as both a socialist and a Communist. Communism describes the overall principles which embrace socialism as one step. All Communists accept that the social system that will replace capitalism is socialism. We accept the type of society 1 have tried to describe. Frederick Engels’ book Socialism, Utopian and Scientific describes scientific socialism in a splendid and graphic way. As Communists we hope to participate in achieving socialism in Australia, that is, the ownership of the means of production by the workers and working people, the extension of the socialised process of production into socialised ownership. (Of course there is still private ownership of consumer goods; only the means of production such as mines, factories are socialised.)
In the more exact sense, socialism is the first stage of Communism. Our ideas are of continuing Communist revolution by stages. The ultimate aim is Communism. It is impossible to pass directly from capitalism to Communism. There are necessary stages. Thus in Australia there is the anti-imperialist independence stage passing to socialism and the building of socialism into Communism. Socialism arises from capitalism. Because of that, it bears capitalist birthmarks and includes capitalist hangovers. Ideologically there are strong capitalist influences. Take for example education and school textbooks, a powerful source of ideological influence. It is impossible overnight to change all that or to change the minds of teachers and students. It is a process. Even more important are the economic hangovers of capitalism. The capitalist class is powerfully entrenched. When overthrown it becomes more desperate. It uses its internal and external connections to work against the new society. Likewise the international anti-socialist forces interfere in a new socialist country, and for that matter in the old. Then the use of the means of production has been thoroughly distorted by capitalism with its sole motive of production for profit. The productive forces in the early stages of socialism cannot yet satisfy fully the needs of everyone. Capitalism even suppresses new means of production to protect vested interests or where profits are threatened. All this can only be overcome gradually. There is thus constant ideological, political, economic struggle. Socialism operates according to the maxim “From each according to his ability, to each according to his work”. Everyone does his best but people are different. They make different contributions to social production. They are rewarded differently according to their different contributions. One gets more wages than another but there is not the huge discrepancy that exists in capitalism between owners and non-owners. Under capitalism workers do not quarrel with each other because the skilled worker gets more than the unskilled but they each have a common quarrel with the monopoly capitalist who reaps huge profits from the labour of all workers whether they be skilled or unskilled. This differential in wages does operate in socialism but it is of an entirely different quality because its aim is to build socialism for the benefit of all and not to enrich a handful of parasites.
Gradually, fairly rapidly historically, socialism is built up, the productive forces are expanded. It ultimately reaches the stage where the maxim of Communism “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” is realised. There are corresponding developments in man’s ideas and politics. The productive forces develop to the stage where all the needs of all men can be satisfied. It is like a well ordered family with sufficient income to provide for the needs of all the members of the family. Each member helps himself according to what he needs.
Mao Zedong pointed out that the transition from socialism to Communism would take a whole historical epoch. In that period there would be struggle against capitalist ideas, against the remnants of capitalism. But the working class and working people would win. This is historical necessity. Capitalism has become a fetter on production, suppresses the individual, distorts everything for the sake of profit. Socialism breaks the fetters, releases the individual and turns those things that have been turned upside down by capitalism back on their feet.
Socialism in this sense is the first stage of Communism, the stage of emergence from capitalism and still bearing the birthmarks of capitalism.
Labor Party spokesmen often equate nationalisation and socialism. Thus they present the railways, the post office and like institutions as “socialist”. This is not socialism at all. Such institutions are run by the state in order to serve the monopoly capitalists. They are often of such dimensions and cost, and profits so small, that single monopoly capitalists can’t handle them. In these circumstances, the state acts for all the monopoly capitalists. There is an increasing tendency for this sort of state monopoly capitalism because capitalist crisis compels the monopoly capitalists to shift the ever growing burden of risk in private enterprise onto their state. In this way losses are borne largely by the people in taxation. This can be seen in high costs of railways, electricity, postal charges, etc. Socialism demands a change of state power from the monopoly capitalists to the workers and working people. When the socialist state takes over industry, then the people’s state owns it.
Capitalist nationalisation has the advantage that it shows as parasitic and unnecessary the private monopoly capitalists. It also provides the form, though not the content of socialism. This matter too is one that is confused by Labor Party leaders and revisionists.
In our own case we may well favour within capitalism a struggle to nationalise key industries. It would be as part of a continuing struggle for independence and socialism and not as a “socialist” aim.
A very common objection is to the use of force. I too do not like force. Indeed it is one of my objections to capitalism; it protects its rotten existence by force. In reality, capitalism every single day kills many, many people world wide. Right here in Australia it kills the black people as certainly as though they were shot. It is cold hard fact that the infant mortality rate amongst black people is at least twenty times higher than among white people. Twenty times is the official acknowledgement. The lifespan of an Aboriginal person is 20 to 30 years less than the white. Everything about the black people is in like degree. What is that but force? True it doesn’t have the dramatic quality of guns; it is nonetheless as deadly. This is to say nothing of unemployment, poverty amongst the Australian people as a whole (including the over 50 percent black people unemployed). It is to say nothing of the millions of oppressed people in India, Indonesia, Asia generally, Oceania, Latin America, Africa. Millions of them die or are maimed by malnutrition, disease, poverty.
Again it is to say nothing of the almost continuous wars imposed on the people by imperialism. In addition to the First and Second World Wars in which millions of people were killed by guns, high explosives, gas and nuclear weapons, the period between the two wars and the period after World War II have seen continuous local wars, some big, some small. It is only necessary to mention the US aggression against Korea and Vietnam, the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, Soviet backed action in Zaire, Angola, Ethiopia, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. All this is inevitable under capitalism and its highest stage imperialism. It is because of the social laws inherent in these systems.
The force of civil war to end all this is insignificant as against the destruction, force and violence of capitalism and imperialism which come about as the result of the operation of the social laws within them. It proves they are historically obsolete. Indeed it is the operation of these social laws that compels the people to take up counter-violence. And if the people are conscious of the operation of these social laws, then they will make the appropriate preparation for counter-violence. If they are well prepared, their violence will overwhelm capitalist and imperialist violence comparatively rapidly, limit casualties and bring about a social system from which violence is removed.
It brings me to another question. At the Sharpley Royal Commission when I was asked about my views on the nature of law, I said it was capitalist law to oppress the working people. I paraphrased Anatole France that the law in its majestic impartiality punished alike the rich and the poor for stealing bread and sleeping under bridges. The gentleman who in technical terms appeared to assist the Commission showed great anti-Communist zeal. He asked me scornfully what I would do with those who committed rape and murder. I said I thought even they were crimes which arose from the nature of capitalism and with the ending of capitalism, they would gradually die away. I very much like the way Lenin dealt with this question in his famous book The State and Revolution. In speaking about the withering away of a repressive state apparatus under Communism, he said: “We are not Utopians, and we do not in the least deny the possibility and inevitability of excesses on the part of individual persons or the need to suppress such excesses. But, in the first place, no special machine, no special apparatus of repression is needed for this; this will be done by the armed people itself, as simply and as readily as any crowd of civilised people, even in modern society, parts two people who are fighting, or interferes to prevent a woman from being assaulted. And secondly, we know that the fundamental social cause of excesses which consist of violating the rules of social intercourse, is the exploitation of the masses, their want and their poverty. With the removal of this chief cause, excesses will inevitably begin to ’wither away’. We do not know how quickly and in what order, but we know they will wither away. With their withering away the state will also wither away.”(emphasis Lenin’s)
There is an assertion sometimes made that “you can’t change human nature” and therefore Communism cannot succeed. One should reflect on the assumptions in this assertion. It seems to proceed on the assumption that the maker of the statement is all right but you can’t change his fellow human beings; they all have defective, selfish natures. Scarcely a modest assumption! And it proceeds from the assumption that “human nature” is bad, selfish and can’t be changed. We can’t stop another from having a view on these questions just as that other can’t stop our having a view. Human nature is an abstract generalisation. But it can be said without fear of contradiction that human beings are very good when they are workers and working people. They act in solidarity, protect and cherish each other. They go on strike together, endure all sorts of privations for the good of their class. A few really bad people emerge from the working class. That is due to the pernicious influence of capitalism. The workers as a class are inspiring, an indomitable force. I do not worship them in the abstract. I only say that their way of life, attitude to each other, is a whole epoch ahead of the dog eat dog life of the parasitic capitalist class, some of the poison of which infects some workers. I have learned much more about the nobility of human beings from the workers and working people than from any capitalist or any who have attached themselves to the capitalist class. There are some capitalists I am certain you can’t change. They are beyond the pale, diehards without a single redeeming feature. They live vicious lives. Every kind of thinking, every human being is stamped with the brand of a class. It is not a question of “you can’t change human nature” but a question of changing the class positions and winning socialism. Then the workers and working people freed from the oppression and poison of capitalism, flower in their full magnificence Sometimes people say to me, “you have more confidence in the people than I have”. I do indeed have immense confidence in the working people I have lived and associated with them all my life, and over many years my profession has brought me into contact with numbers of workers and also members of the capitalist class. It’s not a reflection on any individual to say the contrast between the two classes is qualitatively in favour of the working people They are a different and splendid class.
There is the question of religion and our attitude to it. For my own part, I reject religion completely. I have no belief in God. It is quite incompatible with materialist philosophy which takes its stand on a material origin of the world and offers scientific explanation for everything. It rejects God’s creation of the world. Certainly we agree there are phenomena that are not yet explained. The process of scientific explanation continually unfolds. Fields hitherto not known are conquered by science Not so long ago, for example, fantasy was rejected in terms of having as much chance of being realised as putting a man on the moon. Men were put on the moon and another field fell within scientific explanation. In the end, the question of belief in God is a question of arbitrary faith. Some people have it. I do not quarrel with them but we reject it. Everything can be rationally and scientifically explained without resort to God. Then there is the identification of “good” with Christianity, the Christian ethic. When objection is taken to the conduct of certain Christians or the landholding and capitalist share holding of the churches, some say but that is not Christianity. This Christianity is a very elusive thing. I believe that it is because it has no real foundation. There is no necessary coincidence between “goodness” and Christianity. In any case, Christianity is only one of many religions and within all of them are many schisms.
Once I met a world famous surgeon at a party. He said to me, (I have to accept some praise bestowed on me for this anecdote) “I don’t know how such a good person as you has no belief in God”. I said to him: “I don’t know how such a good person as you” (and he does serve the people) “has a belief in God”. It came simply to a question of his faith. We remain the best of friends. There was a judge with whom I was friendly. He was a devout Roman Catholic. He asked me about Communism and religion. I said that “philosophically Communists were materialist and rejected a belief in God but as far as the state was concerned Communism stood for religious freedom and for freedom of anti-religious views”. He asked me for Communist literature on the matter. I gave him Lenin. He read the Lenin and marked out passages in it to ask me questions. We discussed it all. I didn’t convince him nor he me. He sent me a nicely inscribed book The Church and I by Frank Sheed. I read it and learned quite a lot from it. It did not convince me I mention this to show that this matter can be debated with ease It is not necessary to have great divisions among people on this sort of issue.
Under socialism the state does not interfere with the religious beliefs of people. It also encourages anti-religious, scientific propaganda and consideration of the matter. Certainly it would prevent use of the cloak of religion to “excuse” sabotage of the socialist system.
Capitalism, capitalist ideology puts as it were a ring, a circle around a lot of these questions and tries to confine the debate within the circle. Thus Communism itself is outside the circle. It is heretical, criminal to embrace Communism while everything about capitalism is acceptable. Or if it permits debate about Communism, it distorts Communism and confines the debate within its distortion. This is the circle of capitalism. So it is with “democracy”. On this reasoning, the only democracy is “parliamentary democracy”. Any other view is heretical. So the debate proceeds on the assumption of the sacrosanct character of parliament. I have tried to point out that this democracy is democracy for the rich and little democracy for the poor. The working people don’t have the great printing presses nor resources to enjoy freedom of the press, radio, television. This is so for all the formal freedoms of “democracy”. Yet “democracy” and its “great advantages” are preached from the cradle to the grave. The whole thing proceeds on the assumption of the wondrously good nature of capitalism. “Politicians” is synonymous with parliamentary politicians. Yet real politics are the politics of the class struggle, people’s struggle against the oppression of capitalism in one or another of its aspects, and the highest form of politics is the armed struggle for the overthrow of capitalism. The word “politician” is now a dirty word because parliament is so discredited due to the degeneration and crisis of capitalism and their effect on the institutions of capitalism. To get rational debate this circle must be broken from, the limits imposed by capitalism must be exceeded. I recall participating in a television programme where one of the interviewers kept at me about parliamentary elections and their absence in Communist countries. Actually it is necessary to analyse the whole thing from the point of view of the respective classes, show how parliament serves capitalism, is a fraud in the name of democracy. When he pressed me, I made the error of debating it on his ground, the capitalist ground. Instead of that I should have persisted in making a class analysis and thus breaking the circle.
The press, radio and television all proceed on the assumptions of capitalism and are powerful weapons in its maintenance. Sometimes I am asked why I continually say I prefer to speak to the working class press and not to the capitalist press or to their radio or television. I do not absolutely exclude talking to the capitalist press but I have a view about it. This press parades its “objectivity” “fairness”, “willingness to put all sides”, and so on. Actually it never does do this. When it occasionally puts two sides, this is only to build up capital for “honesty” and that is then used more vigorously to put the assumptions of capitalism and attack the workers. This is the central function of the capitalist press, in which I include radio and television. Consequently when a Communist participates in the press he is often being used to serve the capitalist press. There are exceptions in certain circumstances. Sometimes it is advantageous notwithstanding this to talk to the press. But I have no wish to build up the capitalist press in order to give it more capital to attack the working people. Assume I did talk freely to the press, then the press is representing that it is fair, it gave Hill a go. Under cover of this it attacks the people and Communism.
Who could deny the gross bias and lies of the press? That is all right. I make no complaint about it. If it is said frankly and openly that it is telling a pack of lies on behalf of capitalism it would be entitled to some respect. If it did that, it would not be capitalism. In fact capitalism is a biased system just as is socialism. In my turn I am biased against capitalism, against the capitalist class, against its press. I will do everything I can to oppose them. At least there is no pretence in that position, unlike the pretence of the press that it serves the community, is “fair”, “objective”, etc.
This is the essence of the question. I can recount various experiences with the press, which over the years has attacked Communism and me personally. Again this is the nature of capitalism. In the ’forties a couple of us went along to see Sir Keith Murdoch, proprietor of Melbourne’s Herald and radio station 3DB. Our purpose was to ask him for radio time, to be paid for, for the Communist Party. We were ushered into his presence, explained our mission, whereupon he said in a most lordly and authoritative way: “Certainly we will sell you time, it is the policy of the house (of Murdoch) to give everyone a fair go.” I may say up till then I had never heard “house” used in this way and for a moment he had me puzzled. But he did sell us time It lasted one session. Then he cancelled it.
At various times, press, radio and television representatives have pressed me for statements or appearances. On occasions I have complied. It is quite incidental to the main point I have just made but it has some interest to recount a few more experiences. On my return to Melbourne from a trip to China I got off a plane to find myself surrounded by pressmen and radio and television representatives. I had no sooner put my foot on the ground than one of them without so much as a “by your leave” or anything else thrust a microphone against my mouth and started to ask me questions about a secret Soviet document I had taken to China. I remained silent. Then the others fired question after question at me about this “secret document”, followed me into the terminal and surrounded me. I refused to talk to them. Then one had the decency to say, “Leave him alone, after all he’s been on a plane all night.” In truth, I did not know what they were talking about when they spoke of a secret Soviet document. I had never heard of it. I had to make enquiries of fellow Party members to see what it was all about. They told me the journalist Denis Warner wrote an article in which he said I had suddenly left Australia to go to China to take a secret Soviet Communist Party document about nuclear weapons. I knew nothing about Warner’s statement which was sheer invention anyway, a plain unvarnished lie. Had I had such a secret document, certainly I would have done something about it. But I didn’t.
I decided after consultation with my colleagues to offer myself to the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s television programme “This Day Tonight”. They had been among the more courteous interviewers at the airport. Couchman, the immediate compere, was anxious to put me on but I said I would only appear if there were no comment and no cutting of any kind. Until I got that undertaking, I refused to have anything to do with it I was solemnly given the undertaking. Sure enough the undertaking was broken by Peach, the main compere. This was in accordance with a long line of previous experiences. In my earlier days, I did freely make press statements. On several occasions I had undertakings that what I said would either not be published at all or published word for word The undertakings were never carried out; not a single, solitary time. Always there was some excuse.
Some years ago I was offered $100,000 to write my reminiscences Jocularly I said that I might do it for $2,000,000. Thereupon the representative of the monopoly capitalist concerned said: “Mr. Hill I am sure they will go up!’ I said: “Forget it, I was only joking.” I didn’t write those reminiscences. I regard this episode as just another in the effort to adapt Communism to capitalism, to bribe me personally and to gain capital for the press to sustain their attacks on the working people and Communism.
I do not believe crude bribery, payment of money or other gifts is the main method of trying to adapt the workers and Communists to capitalism. This is but one of a far-reaching process. At that, it is probably the minor aspect of a process of propaganda, flattery promotion, social “advancement”, intimidation, gaols and so on.
Although in the ’thirties I had been “flattered” by having the ’bait’ of a Labor Party leading position dangled before me, in the ’forties I was twice offered bribes, one in the form of an offer to pay off the mortgage on my house and the other to provide me with a big policy of insurance, each under the pretext of looking after my family, offered as a barrister all the legal work of a big group of insurance companies, and a few other things, I do not regard that sort of thing as the real danger. The real danger comes from the comparatively, I emphasise comparatively, easier life of the working class here than in backward countries and the payment of higher wages to a distinct section of the workers, the more skilled. Add to that, superannuation, long service leave and various other devices to tie the workers to the capitalists and it is not difficult to understand that capitalism in a country like Australia provides a material base for diverting the class struggle The important part of it is that it suborns only a minority. I certainly also support the best possible conditions for the workers. The vast majority retain their independence and their independent class position. Desertion can take the form of outright treachery, revisionism (capitalism in the guise of Communism) or plain desertion or a variety of other forms.
Commonly the gentlemen of the press etc. say that it is my duty to make statements or to appear on television. Duty to whom? may well be asked. I do that through the working class press, the newspaper Vanguard, the journal The Australian Communist and others. I do not think it desirable to make personal attacks on particular representatives of the bourgeoisie. But for those who call themselves working class representatives, I think one reasonable enough criterion to test whether or not they really try to represent the interests of the workers is their attitude on this question.
There is no doubt whatever that the press resorts to sheer invention. Some years ago a journalist named Hughes published a story about my being mixed up in the export of sheep to China. It was complete news to me. It was sheer, unadulterated invention. I would have no objection to doing something to promote better relations between China and Australia, but this “story” was simply untrue. I happened to be in the Victorian provincial city of Ballarat at the time doing some court appearances. This wouldn’t have been generally known but no doubt was known to the secret police. The story had no sooner appeared than the motel where I was staying was deluged by telephone calls from the press throughout Australia. Barristers have a very good trait, they will almost always help a colleague. My professional colleagues took all the calls and successfully diverted the gentlemen of the press. But this sheer invention led to an attack in parliament on me. I may say parliamentary attacks have been a hazard of my life.
This year, 1978, Warner invented another story that when I travelled at the end of 1977 from Peking to Phnom Penh I carried a secret message from the Chinese to the Kampucheans. It was a complete lie. Certainly I would help the Chinese or Kampucheans in any way I could. So I don’t object to the story in itself. It would never arise anyway. Yet it was published in many papers throughout Australia. Warner also implied that he knew me well. As far as I know, I have met him once, maybe twice, when he was on panels of television interviewers, and spoken to him on the phone once when he rang me to ask my assistance to get him a visa to China!
Messrs. Warner and Hughes are simply doing their job for the monopoly capitalists in the never ending attack on the working people and on Communism. If they said that openly, that would be fair enough. I on the other hand try to do what I conceive to be my job of representing the interests of the working people and Communism. I say so: I don’t conceal it with a lot of hypocrisy and lying rubbish.
There is still another aspect of all this. There is not the slightest doubt that the monopoly capitalist press has a close connection with the intelligence services and secret police. These services plant people in the press, etc. It is a well recognised “cover”. They use the cross-examiner’s technique of the startling statement, even if totally untrue, to provoke a reaction. Hence stories like those of Hughes and Warner. In interviews they seek to get information they think you might have. They reproach you for not co-operating. On the very occasion on which I appeared on Couchman’s “This Day Tonight”, the Melbourne Herald had run a large article which said I was a scoundrel or frightened because I wouldn’t talk to the press, a terrible crime. I confounded the Herald when I turned up on “This Day Tonight” but they never qualified their original assertions.
The daily press uses the most repetitious jargon and cliches. It accuses us of doing just that. If it deigns to notice material of our Party it is certain to condemn Communist jargon and cliches. I may say immediately that in my opinion there is an exact terminology for Communism as there is with all sciences. The press however is like the needle stuck in the groove on a gramophone record. It condemns every strike in set terms: “Holding the community to ransom”, “industrial bandits”, “irresponsible”. If you go over the press files for 100 years, you will find these tired old phrases. What is this community of which the press speaks? Really it is the handful of local and multinational monopoly capitalists. Yet it is precisely these parasites and their system which do hold the common people to ransom. Makers of millions and millions of dollars’ profit out of these very workers resist minor advances in wages and conditions. They speak of demonstrators as “mobs”, “hooligans”, the police as white haired heroes. The real mobs and hooligans, not many it is true, are these same monopoly capitalists, and their press is the spokesman for them. The police are real mobs and hooligans. The murder of a black man passes by but the killing of a white man by a black, why, the worst of all crimes. Like everything else, one has to ask what is the class essence of it all. The press speaks for the monopoly capitalists; it conceals it all under terms like “community”, “public”, “Australia’s interest”. Worried about its image, it sets up a Press Council composed of itself and an “independent” Chairman. What hypocrisy and rubbish! There will never be “fair”, “unbiased” press reporting. Our working class Communist press is correctly biased against the capitalists; it makes no secret of it. That is reality. There is no need for hypocrisy. But the capitalist press denies its bias, unfairness. It is all part of the deception of capitalism.
You will see implied in some of the press material that Communists in some way were agents of the Soviet Union and now are agents of China. They refer to the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) as “Peking Communists”. This even causes confusion among honest people. Our relations with the Communist Party of China are relations based upon a common adherence to Marxism-Leninism. Each is an independent Party. Each is equal in the international Communist movement. We are not affiliated to the Communist Party of China. We are not bound by any decision of the Communist Party of China. We believe that only the Chinese Communist Party can sum up the experience of the Chinese people’s revolution and find the correct road to build socialism in that country. We regard Chairman Mao Zedong as a classic developer of Marxism-Leninism. We study him earnestly because we believe he revealed and expounded general social and scientific truths. We do not regard his writings as holy writ. It is the general truths revealed by Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought that we regard as requiring integration with the actual conditions in Australia. They are a guide to action.
I have recounted that never in all my exchanges of opinion has any Chinese Communist Party leader told me what to do in Australia, and that is the experience of all Communists. We exchange views and recount experiences. Of course one gets help from that and doubtless they get help from the exchanges. In my own conversations with Chairman Mao he did not attempt to analyse Australia, yet I got great help from his exposition of general Marxist truths.
Sometimes people ask me why I go to China. There is frank and honest discussion, no superiority. I go because international exchange of Communist views is helpful all round. Though conditions vary from country to country and revolutionary struggle varies, yet the Communists have the common ultimate aim of world wide socialism and the building of Communism, a truly united world.
The ultimate test of whether or not a Communist Party is a genuine Communist Party lies in practice. The judges in our case are the Australian workers, working and other patriotic people. They sense the correctness of the slogan of independence and socialism promoted by us, just as they are beginning to repudiate parliamentarism and trade unionism and rely on their own struggle. I am sure that in due course they will come to understand the role of force, their own force; in Communist terms, they will understand what Marx said: “Force is the mid-wife of every old society pregnant with the new!’ Australian capitalism is pregnant with anti-imperialist independence and socialism.
When I speak of the old Communist Party’s errors, I acknowledge responsibility for participating in many of them. Neither I nor those of my contemporaries who repudiated revisionism are lily white and pure. It is critical to a genuine Communist to engage in self criticism. In a formal way within the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) I made a long self criticism and others have done the same. We do not do this in the sense of breast beating but in order to examine mistakes, the reasons for them and how to get over them. Mistakes are scarcely avoidable. Only he who does nothing makes no mistakes. It is however avoidable that we gloss over mistakes or rationalise them away.
Let me conclude.
In my boyhood I lived in country towns. I saw a good deal of rural life. The rural people are a vital factor in the struggle for independence and socialism. Australia was largely an agricultural country up to World War I and even up to World War II. It provided imperialist Britain with food and raw materials for British factories, it imported British goods. This is a process characteristic of colonialism. Especially in World War II and after, Australia passed from being an agricultural-industrial country into an industrial-agricultural country. But primary production is still vital. Now the dominant imperialist power was the US.
In the last 10 years the mineral “boom” has added still another factor. Industry declines because it is expendable by the multinationals. In crisis conditions the multinationals wind down their Australian factories. They turn to other fields. The decisive multinational and local monopoly capitalists have grabbed Australia’s mineral resources (said to be non-existent in my boyhood simply because then those minerals did not fit into imperialist needs). Thus I have witnessed what happens to a subordinate country. Its economy is developed (and distorted) to suit the needs of the great imperialist powers. Australian people have resisted. They resisted British imperialism, US imperialism and now both superpowers – the US and the Soviet Union. The period of my life has served to underline the great cause of independence. Without independence of imperialism, Australia will be bent and distorted this way and that way to suit the requirement of imperialism. But the decisive factor is becoming the struggle of the Australian people.
My life has spanned part of one World War (I just vaguely recall the armistice of World War I), the whole of another, and today the threat of a third war hangs ominously over the world. The economic crisis of the ’thirties with its army of unemployed turned me towards Communism; participation in the struggle against attacks on democratic liberty and against fascism and the appeasement of fascist aggression by a section of the monopoly capitalists greatly strengthened my Communist beliefs. I have lived through periods when hundreds of millions set out to build socialism. The last 60 years have been momentous times. The world has been convulsed by tremendous social upheavals. This marks the death throes of capitalism and heralds the new society of socialism. Economic crisis and wars, poverty in the midst of plenty, will be abolished by socialism. In an historically short time socialism will be world wide. Man will come into his full splendour.
Socialism is inevitable in Australia as everywhere else. Some say to me “Why do you waste your time, you’ve been mixed up in the struggle for socialism for more than 40 years, it hasn’t happened and if it does happen, it won’t be in your time:’ I am sure it will happen. If it’s not in my time, so what? I certainly would not regard my efforts as wasted. Precisely because I believe it is inevitable and that part of that inevitability is the struggle of man, I believe that those who understand this have an obligation to humanity to participate in the struggle, to serve the people. To do otherwise, to desert the struggle, is disgraceful. It is not a question of what personal advantage an individual gets. What a shabby criterion! It is a question of serving the people to free them from exploitation, oppression, poverty, unemployment, war. What greater service could there be? And if it is for a generation to be, all the greater the obligation.
I think the old society of the world is heavily pregnant with the new – socialism. World wide the productive forces have developed tremendously. The gigantic development with new machines, computers, automation, enriches the few and impoverishes the many still further. The oppressed nations will rise in revolt. The workers in the capitalist countries will rise in revolt. China strives to master the Chinese road to socialism. The superpowers threaten the world with war. Isn’t all this the eve of collapse of imperialism and the world wide victory of socialism? I believe so.