Published: The Vanguard, Vol. 13, No. 21, June 10, 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The parliamentary statement (June 1) of Fraser on foreign affairs and Whitlam’s reply to it show starkly just how deeply the contention and struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States affects Australia.
Parliament has its uses in revealing what is in the mind of the ruling circles, what are the divisions between them and what they propose to do.
Parliament had this sort of use on this occasion.
At the time of the semi-fascist coup of Kerr, Barwick, Fraser and Anthony we said that the coup had its origin in the contention and struggle between the superpowers. What was said in parliament on this foreign affairs debate amply proves the truth of that analysis. The U.S. imperialists got rid of Whitlam because he was too close to the Soviet Union. Their solution was the semi-fascist coup.
In order to understand this debate, we must keep clearly in mind that both the Liberal National Country Party coalition and the Labor Party are parties of capitalism. Each when in office administers capitalism. That is the whole reason for their existence. The “struggle” between them is blown up to try to present a picture of real struggle. Fundamentally it is a struggle for spoils of office. However ether factors do enter into it. Each serves monopoly capitalism. In Australia, each serves the dominant monopoly capitalists, the US. multi-nationals (and Whitlam affirmed this while of course ft was at the root of Eraser’s case). But there are divisions in the’ capitalist class, there are differences of opinion within it as to what to do in certain circumstances. And these divisions and differences have immense importance.
Mr. Whitlam came out very strongly in favour of detente and in defence of the Soviet Union. He correctly asserted his own and his government’s service to the U.S.A. and his opening up of proper relations with China and the Third World. There is no doubt that on China and the Third World, Whitlam and his government did a very good job. It is also true that he and his government asserted a certain measure of independence from the U.S.A. The most critical question of foreign relations though is the attitude one takes to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is an imperialist expanding power. It menaces the whole world end the people of the whole world. To fail to recognise this and to fail to act on that recognition is fraught with grave danger and helps the expansion and menace of the Soviet Union.
Mr. Whitlam did not attempt to deny that the Soviet Union is an imperialist power. His whole statement was based on the recognition that it IS an imperialist power. He spoke repeatedly of the superpowers (and “superpower” simply means a super imperialist power): he spoke of Fraser’s “antagonising one of the two mightiest powers in the world.” (That is, the Soviet Union).
Whitlam belongs to that section of the world capitalist class which believes in appeasing the Soviet Union. We oppose appeasement because it leads straight to war. Whitlam seeks to play on the genuine sentiments for peace held by the people. But Whitlam’s line is no “alternative” tower – rather it speeds up the whole process of war by encouraging the main aggressor and helping to keep up the illusion that peace can be won without struggle, by merely adopting a “sensible policy of conciliation”. The truth is that peace can only be won in active, hard mass struggle which involves the exposure of the real nature of Soviet social-imperialism.
During Whitlam’s term as Prime Minister we supported the policies he implemented which were in the interests of the people while opposing what was not in the interests of the people. But now Whitlam follows an appeasement policy similar to that followed by his Labor predecessors of the ’thirties in appeasing Hitler.
Appeasement is based on sacrificing other countries and peoples to an aggressive power. Before World War II Abyssinia, Spain, Austria, Czechoslovakia, China were all sacrificed to aggressors. This sacrifice was carried out under cries by the appealers of “Peace in our time”, the “peaceful intent” of Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, non-intervention and so on. Stalin’s warning in March 1939 came only too true: “Far be it from me to moralize on the policy of non-intervention, to talk of treason, treachery and so on. It would be naive to preach morals to people who recognize no human morality. Politics is politics, as the old, case-hardened bourgeois diplomats say. It must be remarked, however, that the big and dangerous political game started by the supporters of the policy of non-intervention may end in a serious fiasco for them.” World War II broke out in September 1939.
In 1968 the Soviet Union advanced into Czechoslovakia (a path followed also by Hitler): the Soviet Union has virtually occupied India (remember China occupied by Japan), has militarily interfered in Angola (remember Spain), occupies Eastern Europe and interferes in a host of other countries; it maintains huge naval, air and military forces spending over $100 billion a year in armaments. What is this but following the whole path followed by Hitler? How is this detente?
But Mr. Whitlam says we should not take sides. How can that be? It is just what Daladier and Chamberlain and Menzies said before World War II. Really they took sides with Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo. It is unfortunately precisely the path Mr. Whitlam is following in what is shaping up as World War III in which the aggressor is Soviet social-imperialism and in which Mr. Whitlam takes far too much the side of Soviet social-imperialism.
It is true, as we have said, that Mr. Whitlam did very important and valuable work in restoring relations with China. Regrettably his speech contained overtones of hostility to China. The People’s Republic of China is a great socialist country which has correctly and consistently pointed to the danger of Soviet social-imperialism. Included in the threat of the Soviet Union to the people of the world is its threat to China, against whom it waged actual war in 1969, on whose border it maintains 1,000,000 nuclear armed troops and whom it continually threatens. The champions of appeasement hope and plan to divert Soviet expansion against China just as in the days of Hitler they hoped and planned to divert Hitler’s expansion against the then socialist Soviet Union. It did not work then; it ended in fiasco for its exponents. A similar thing will happen this time. The Soviet threats to China have been correctly characterised as a feint to the East while attacking in the West. Events every day confirm this.
In his speech, Mr. Whitlam posed the question: “What possible gain can there be for Australia in taking sides in the dispute between China and the Soviet Union?” This is indeed a dangerous line. The dispute that exists undoubtedly affects China but it affects the whole of the world and the peoples of the world including China and her peoples. To talk about this matter as a dispute between “China and the Soviet Union” is just what the Soviet Union wants to cover its attack in the West. It is just this attack to the west that the Soviet Union is planning. The Chinese people without question are correct in warning the world, preparing the world, against the danger of Soviet social-imperialism.
The real dispute actually lies in the contention and struggle between the superpowers, U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism. It is that contention and struggle that is the cause of tension in the world. Each superpower is bent on dominating the world and struggling with the other in its efforts to do so. The younger, more virile and aggressive imperialism is Soviet social-imperialism. It is the more dangerous.
People like Mr. Whitlam claim to speak in the name of the labour movement. Actually when they speak of the “labour movement” they really mean the structure of the Labor Party. It in no way coincides with the interests of the Australian workers and other Australian working and patriotic people. These people exist quite outside this artificial structure “labour movement”. Certainly these people include many members of the Labor Party. Similar considerations go for Hawke’s “trade union movement” – it is an attempt by Hawke to impose on the workers a structure that he, Hawke, owns. At the present the pro-U.S. elements in Australia want to replace Whitlam with Hawke because they estimate that Hawke can serve U.S. imperialism more effectively.
Fraser certainly made a correct analysis of the aggressive character of Soviet social-imperialism, the fraud of detente and the need to curb the Soviet Union. But he did not and could not (because of his pro-imperialist position) point out that the basis of world tension is precisely the contention and struggle between the superpowers, that it was both superpowers which threatened the world. In calling for action against the Soviet Union he did not call on the Australian people -actually his whole solution is guns before butter, impose the cost on the people and take fascist measures against them. While we acknowledge his far greater accuracy of analysis of Soviet social-imperialism, we oppose to the end his attacks upon the people.
Neither Whitlam nor Fraser called for a people’s independent Australia, a struggle directed against both superpowers and against their contention and struggle.
Australian people are coming to realise more clearly that they must take the cause of independence into their own hands, that the struggle for Australian independence is directed against both superpowers and in particular against Soviet social-imperialism. They want no appeasement whatever of Soviet social-imperialism.
So long as their feet are planted firmly on the rock of their own struggle they will understand that in dealing with the Soviet Union they are dealing with an imperialist power and in dealing with the Labor Party and “labour movement” they are dealing with a party of capitalism and a structure designed to crush, them. Any misconception on either of these questions is certain to cause disaster. The Whitlam leadership follows the dangerous line of appeasement. Fraser takes a much more realistic line similar to that of Churchill and de Gaulle in pre World War II.
All those Australians who can be united against Soviet social-imperialism ought to be united. The path to real independence for Australia lies in driving out and keeping out Soviet social-imperialism and in defeating US imperialism.