Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

E. F. Hill

Australia’s Revolution: On the Struggle for a Marxist-Leninist Communist Party

Stenographic record of a discussion in 1960 between leaders of the Communist Party of Australia – L.L. Sharkey and R. Dixon – and Mao Tsetung, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China

The following document is from the verbatim record of a discussion between L.L. Sharkey, General Secretary, Communist Party of Australia and R. Dixon, National President Communist Party of Australia and Mao Tsetung, Chairman Central Committee, Communist Party of China. It took place on September 25, 1960 on the eve of the International Communist meeting. It is published because L.L. Sharkey and R. Dixon denied that the decisions and line of the Communist Party of Australia ever fully accorded with those of the Chinese Party. After reading it, you will be better able to judge the truth of this denial.

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SHARKEY: First of all, I must say that we fully support the stand and views of the Chinese Party on a number of matters of principle, such as the question of the nature of our epoch, the question of preventing war, the nature of imperialism, peaceful transition, general and complete disarmament and others. There are other particular questions about which we are not very clear.

The occurrence of differences on matters of principle within the Communist movement can only benefit the class enemy. It grieves us. Like the Chinese Comrades, we hope that after discussions these differences can be resolved on the basis of the principles of Marxism-Leninism. The Chinese and Soviet Parties must unite.

MAO TSETUNG: Yes, there must be unity. As far as we are concerned, we surely will uphold unity. There are certain people who do not want unity. These are the real revisionists. There is not complete unanimity in any Party. Do you think there is complete unity and unanimity in your Party?


MAO TSETUNG: Do you think it will be able to stand the test of storm and stress?

SHARKEY: Let’s hope it can.

MAO TSETUNG: Among cadres of the lower levels, is there opposition?

SHARKEY: There may be. But as far as the comrades of our Party’s Political Committee are concerned, there is complete unanimity. At the present stage, we have not yet discussed this question at the lower levels.

MAO TSETUNG: It is good to have the support of the majority. It is good to have the support of the majority in the Central Committee.

SHARKEY: It will be possible to get the support of the overwhelming majority at the plenary session of the Central Committee. Two days before Comrade Dixon and I left Australia, the Political Committee of our Party met for two days. Discussions were held on the basis of the reports made by Comrade Thornton and by Comrade Manson of the New Zealand Communist Party. The eleven members of the Political Committee of our Party were unanimous in supporting the stand and views of the Chinese Party.

DIXON: As a matter of fact, we had already studied some time ago the three articles published by the Chinese Party in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of Lenin’s birth. We decided to support the Chinese comrades.


MAO TSETUNG: We know your Party had argued with the British Party. There had also been arguments between our Party and the British Party on the question of peaceful transition.

SHARKEY: Our argument with them was also on this subject.


SHARKEY: The CPSU was the initiator of the proposal for general and complete disarmament.

MAO TSETUNG: I still do not understand what is meant by general and complete disarmament.

SHARKEY: Nor do I. It was when the Soviet Party raised this slogan that we came to realize the serious nature of the question. Even in a small country like ours, which is not a major imperialist power, the bourgeoisie is always talking about increasing military strength and preparing for war. And war is actually going on in many places. The Australian government sent troops to Malaya to take part in the massacre of the guerillas. At this moment the Australian government is planning to pass laws to step up its repression of the people. This is directed against our Party and the entire Labour movement. During the Korean war when our comrades were arrested for opposing the Korean war and for supporting China, they were only sentenced to a few months in prison. But under the new law they want to pass, such cases would be sentenced to death.

MAO TSETUNG: What kind of cases would be subject to death sentences?

SHARKEY: According to the language of this law, those who support the “enemy” can be sentenced to death, those who commit “high treason” can be sentenced to life imprisonment and those who commit sabotage can be sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. These are all preparations for war. These people are certainly not thinking about general and complete disarmament. Quite the contrary, they are preparing for war. In the present election campaign in the U.S. both the Republican and the Democratic Parties are preaching arms expansion and war preparations. It is a campaign about who can do better in expanding armaments and preparing for war. Therefore, this idea of the CPSU is entirely illusory and unrealistic.


SHARKEY: Some people are nourishing the illusion that the money saved from disarmament can be used to help the undeveloped countries and that it is possible that imperialism will disarm itself. However, the imperialists themselves know very well that if they were disarmed the working class could seize state power by a strike of the workers.

MAO TSETUNG: Yes, how wonderful it would be if it could happen.

SHARKEY: Let us look at the situation in Australia and the situation in capitalist society in general. In order to make money, the bourgeoisie is expanding armaments and preparing for war. For instance, in a small country like Australia, last year the steel companies made 20 million pounds of profits and the U.S. owned General Motors Company in Australia made 15 million pounds. All this is going on while there is a constant crisis in education and a shortage of hospitals, while roads are in a terrible condition and water conservation projects are lacking in spite of frequent droughts. The bourgeoisie is not investing in these fields because it cannot make much money there.

As a result, the monopolies are reaping huge profits, while the social system is going backwards. Armament expansion and war preparations bring huge profits, but educational undertakings, etc., bring little. It is only natural that the bourgeoisie is engaged in the former and not in the latter.

MAO TSETUNG: This corresponds to the objective laws of development and is true of all capitalist countries.


MAO TSETUNG: The pledge not to resist violence is exactly what the bourgeoisie needs. The Labour Party is against class struggle. A genuine Communist Party must be a Party for class struggle.

SHARKEY: The very reason for the existence of a Communist Party is to carry out class struggle.

MAO TSETUNG: Otherwise, why shouldn’t the Communist Party join the Labour Party?

DIXON: In our Party’s history, right opportunist ideas have frequently appeared within the Party. Those people want to liquidate the Communist Party. They want the Communist Party to join the Labour Party and to turn the Communist Party into a left-wing, or ginger group, of the Labour Party. Right opportunism emerges at all the important junctures and stages in history. There have been differences between our Party and the British Communist Party for a long time. One difference is on the question of peaceful transition and another is on the attitude towards the Labour Party. The British Communist Party raised the slogan of forming a left Labour Party government. In their minds, of course, such a government would include the Communist Party. But we do not think the reformists would be so generous as to include the Communist Party. In 1947 and 1948, the British Communist Party distributed a lot of material in Australia to spread this idea, until finally our Party was compelled to criticize this idea of the British Communist Party. Then some people said we should not have criticized the British Communist Party. Comrade Pollitt was angry with our criticism and he asked us whether we dared to criticize them publicly. We said “Yes”, and so a public debate occurred. Our debate with the British Communist Party has gone on for thirteen years and the differences have still not been resolved. We hope the differences between the Chinese and the Soviet Parties will not last as long as the differences between the Australian and British Parties, The differences between our Party and the British Party have not had a great impact, but the differences between the Chinese and Soviet Parties are bound to have a very great impact. The two are not comparable.


MAO TSETUNG: They can exert pressure on us, they can recall their specialists, carry out economic blockade, etc. Cultural exchange between China and the Soviet Union is no longer possible. The magazine, “Sino-Soviet Friendship”, has already ceased publication. As to whether trade between the two countries will continue, we are not yet sure. Certainly the volume of trade will be reduced, because the withdrawal of specialists will create difficulties for the factories designed by these specialists.

SHARKEY: Khrushchov talks loudly of opposition to the U.S.A. exerting economic pressure on Cuba. But he, himself, is exerting economic pressure on another socialist country. This is worse than what the U.S.A. has done.

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